BESTOWING THE GIFT OF WORDS – Marilyn Armstrong

And thus shall I bestow upon you the gift of gab, the talent of words, the ability to write with clarity and precision.

Congratulations. You are a writer. But — how do you know?

Because you write. Could you be a better writer? Probably. We can all be better writers. I’m a much better writer now than I was when I started blogging and I was a pretty good writer before that. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write because as soon as I could read, I could write.

Every style of writing has special ways of handling issues.

For children’s books, much is made of making sure kids never have to look at a word that’s too “hard” for them. With which I disagree because that’s how I got a vocabulary. You see a word you don’t know. You ask someone or look it up. Now, you know a new word.

Technical writing, when I started doing it, was a wholly different. With a few other people, we sort of invented it since it was a new field and the “rules” didn’t yet exist.

I learned to write tightly using almost no adjectives or adverbs unless those words were a specific definition of an item. It produced something that has served me very well — and extremely clean style of writing that makes it easy to adapt to other styles. Non-fiction, mostly.

The baseline for tech writing is making complicated information easy to understand for anyone with any kind of background, technical or not — and that includes old people, little kids and everyone in between. It also means I give really good directions.

Just remember: You are a working writing, even if no one ever sends you a check.

Maybe now you want to join a writing group or take a seminar. As you are already a writer, you are many steps ahead of where you were. Writing classes can be useful. You can focus on refining and organizing your work — and on finding how to get a publisher. Seminars won’t teach you to write, but they might teach you to market your product.

I never took courses, per se, but I needed to learn a lot about style and design. I read books. I also read other documents to see how they handled material.

I also needed to learn to design books. In big corporations, they hire designers to do that, but I didn’t work for people who had a budget. Instead, I did it all.

It turned out, designing was the MOST fun I ever had while getting paid.

As for whether or not blogging “is writing?” What a silly question. Writing is. Blogging is no different than writing short features for newspapers or magazines. All kinds of writing are writing. We give them different names, but it’s all the same creative process. How you apply your talents has a million applications.

Names don’t matter. Ignore the fools who feel like they need to put everything in a box. Keep doing what you’re doing!

You GO!

THE AMAZING CHANGING SEASONS: APRIL 2018 – Marilyn Armstrong

The Changing Seasons: April 2018

Speaking of changing, what a month! For that matter, what a couple of months this has been. Crazy weather.

The Nice Weather Gallery

Not that crazy isn’t an inherent part of our New England weather. The northeastern piece of this continent has weather that is utterly unpredictable, especially as winter tries to turn into spring and generally fails.

Good morning little red finch!

Typically, we get winter. Then we get the end of winter which is like winter with occasional warmer days sandwiched between cold ones.

The Not Nice Weather Gallery

I suppose what has made this “spring” particularly difficult has been the cold. By this time of year, I’m usually turning down the heat, opening the windows. Cleaning out the garden. Getting excited about daffodils and glorying in the yellowness of forsythia.

As of right now, we have no flowers. We have had crocuses and they were lovely and we have a lot of growth — the beginning of what I fondly believe will be flowers in a couple of weeks. Maybe even less. But as of right now? It’s the end of the winter. Freezing temperatures at night, warming into the high forties or low fifties in the middle of the day.

Snow along the road

And then there were the super storms. We are not on the seashore, so we didn’t get the kind of battering people living closer to the ocean have gotten. During the past ten years, we’ve gotten giant storms, often stretching from coast-to-coast or taking up most of the Atlantic Ocean.

The scientists dealing with climate change believe these super storms are prime indicators of climate change.  It’s not that we don’t get strange weather in New England, but rarely do we get three super storms with hurricane-level winds in less than two weeks. With snow and rain and sleet and flooding.

Almost daffodils

It’s sort of like the weather we have always gotten multiplied by a factor of five. Very intense weather packed tightly together.

We will have spring and in many places, today was the day it seemed to show up. It was love here today. Blue skies, moderate weather and the song of the Carolina wren can be heard all around the property.

Christmas cactus ready to bloom again

Tomorrow, there will be rain and wind — but after that, I think we will have a few days of spring and then it will be summer. I’m hoping I can get down to clean up the garden before the flowers open. It’s really hard to rake when the day lilies are blooming and the roses are rampant in the garden.

EXPELIO TRUMPUS! – BY ELLIN CURLEY

David Brooks wrote an editorial in the June 2, 2017 New York Times called “The Axis Of Selfishness.” I just reread it. It really helps you understand where Trump is coming from. It makes his attitudes and actions a bit more comprehensible.

Brooks posits that Trump has a very dark view of humanity and the world. Trump believes that man is motivated solely by selfishness and self-interest. Life is merely a competitive struggle for gain and dominance at the expense of others.

There are only winners and losers. There is a limited amount of ‘stuff’ to be had and everyone has to try to get as much as possible for themselves. You are either on top or you are on bottom beneath someone else’s heel.

There is nothing in the middle. No area of compromise, no mutual interest, no sharing. No neutral zone where people coexist in peace, prosperity and equality.

This explains a lot. He is simpatico with brutal dictators because they share his philosophy of life. They are ‘winners’ who have come out with the most power and the biggest piece of the finite pie. It’s every man for himself, us against them, eat or be eaten, dominate or be subjugated in a dark world with no humanity or humanism.

No touchy feely stuff like morality, good, selflessness, compassion, caring, or justice enter his world. It’s as if those qualities don’t exist for him. That really is sad. If he weren’t screwing up the entire free world I might feel sorry for him — another squishy emotion that he doesn’t recognize.

If this is how Trump sees the world, his behavior almost makes sense. No wonder he’s such a dick! No wonder he’s paranoid. No wonder he thinks all Muslims are out to kill us, that Western European democracies as well as Canada and Mexico are out to cheat us, that all non wealthy, non white Americans exist entirely to mooch off everyone else — and all liberals want only to destroy him.

No wonder Trump can’t let anything go — or stop tweeting. He has to be right and everyone else must be wrong. No wonder he has to demean others. In his mind, the only way you can lift yourself up is by denigrating others.

Brooks says the problem is that Trump’s worldview is self-perpetuating. If you act aggressively, competitively, and selfishly towards all others (people or nations), they will respond to you in kind. Thus your misanthropic attitudes are confirmed and the vicious circle of the worst humanity has to offer goes around and around.

The rest of us acknowledge the existence of greed and venality, but we believe social evolution pushes mankind to be cooperative, empathetic, idealistic, loyal, and righteous. We believe humanity is designed to strive for these ideals in our personal and public lives. We can see the wonderful world we can make if we work together and care for one another.

In our world, Harry Potter beats Voldemort every time. In Trump’s world, Harry Potter is a minor character with little power or even influence. Voldemort is the undisputed king.

I don’t want to live in that world! Neither does most of America.

We have to hope the people who share our better view of life can muster the strength needed to banish Orange Voldemort’s darkness, and bring back America’s light. We have to fight to reinstate compassion, decency, justice, and right as the guiding forces for America.

EXPELIO TRUMPUS!

BRONZE ORIENTAL FIGURINES – Marilyn Armstrong

I decided to try to see if I could get some better photographs of two of my old bronze figurines. I’ve pretty much pinned down the provenance on Vishnu riding Garuda as being most likely 17th or 18th century Chinese — or possibly from Tibet.

He has his original medallion from Chinese authorities indicating his status as an antique. It’s a small piece, as most of these items are. It has been certified by the Chinese government as an official authorized antique.

Bhoddivista buddha – a perfected soul returning to help others achieve perfection. The stuff that looks like gold on the figure is actually gold. Probably 1700s, but possibly 1800s.
Bhoddivista -(Corrected colors) If anyone recognizes this fellow, I’d appreciate the help!

The other item has been harder to pin down. I have no provenance on him. he is a buddha — what is called a “Bhoddivista” — a perfected soul that has returned to be a help to others seeking perfection.

When I talk about provenance, that is the issue. Identical items may come with “official” a government or museum insignia. Even though they are identical to items which do not have the same insignia, their value is significantly lower because without it, proving provenance — where the piece came from and its likely age — is difficult.

This does have the Chinese government insignia. Probably 1700s, but could be 100 years earlier. Possibly from Tibet, but claimed by the Chinese (who are also claiming Tibet)
Vishnu riding Garuda the power of whose wings were said to allow Vishnu to circle the planet in a mere two beats of his wings.

It’s easier when you are dealing with porcelain because porcelain was fired in kilns that often leave specific markings on the base of pieces fired within.  Most of my pieces came without provenance because getting them certified would have cost me at least three more money.

Identical piece, but the seller didn’t want to battle with the Chinese government for their insignia. And who could blame them?

That little metal tag is the Chinese government’s seal of authenticity. This piece is old. How old? I don’t know. 1500s? 1700s? Somewhere in between? Hard to tell with anything made of bronze.