NOT INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, OR TWITTER – Marilyn Armstrong

I used to look at the posts that came to me. There was stuff to read. Thoughtful pieces full of ideas, humor. Whimsical material. Ideas to ponder. Often heartfelt pieces about personal tragedies, working through issues, finding answers to important questions.

I didn’t read everything. I never could get all of it in a day, but at least everything I read had meaning. Even if it was about a travel day or examining ancient rocks. Mountain climbing, dog-walking, memories — there was a heart in it and a bit of soul.

All I see these days — with some obvious exceptions are lists of supposedly personal (but not really) questions, riddles, games, and really bad short poems.

When I say “I don’t like poetry,” that’s not really true. I love poetry. I love good poetry. I love poems filled with emotion and humanity — or humor. Not just rhyming for the sake of making the final lines match. I used to read poetry. Amazingly, I even bought books of poetry and memorized it.

About the writing. Maybe it’s me, but with the aforementioned exceptions — people who have been writing for a while and know the difference between flipping off a “meme” or a comment and a post worth investing time into — where have they gone?

They’ve left, is what has happened. They got tired and went away. Between the crazy software and price rises … and now, one MORE price rise … and the resulting loss of quality … why bother?

Some people began writing but gave up in favor of puns, puzzles, and games. None of which are particularly inspiring for readers. They may be fascinating to those who write them, but for me? How many times do I need to find out all about the same person I read about yesterday? How many times does the same person need to answer supposedly “intimate questions, the answers to which are not intimate, but essentially identical to the previous?

Questions and answers are fun sometimes — but that’s not a post. It’s not for thinking. It’s not even worth getting to the bottom of the page before abandoning the piece. I have stopped adding a “Like” to the bottom of these pages because I don’t like them. I should stop saying I do.

So many of the people who used to write strong pieces have left and I don’t blame them. What’s the point in writing meaningful material if all that’s left for you to read are nonsensical puzzles and a dazzling array of Q & A?

This isn’t blogging. It’s gaming and after a couple of weeks, it’s also boring. The lack of thought and ideas is mind-numbing.

I put a lot of time into my writing and photography. I’m not the world’s best writer or photographer, but I work at it. I write, rewrite, edit. Republish when new facts are available. Even when a post isn’t as good as I’d like it to be, it’s never “tossed” off. I do the best I can and hope that I manage to connect, even a little bit. However it comes out, it comes from the heart. I’ve put time into making sure that it says something.

And a merry whatever you celebrate to one and all.

As WordPress gradually destroys itself, I’m sure I’ll go down with it. I’m losing the will to push on. The more I read of the “new stuff,” the less I feel compelled to keep writing. It’s not that I don’t get read. It’s that there is so little worth reading for me.

I keep hoping that someone will realize puzzles and Q and A is not interesting. It has no center, no concept.

This is not a rant. More like a moan. I feel so sad about this and I’ve been thinking about it for a while.

Yesterday, I went looking for something worth reblogging because if someone else has written it, there’s no need for me to try and do the same thing. Let the original author speak for him or herself. I discovered I’d already read, commented on, and plucked out the best of it. And it was surprisingly little.

Blogging isn’t only about “self-expression.” It’s also supposed to have some value of its own. You know, legs to stand on. If the stuff you are churning out has no value, why are you bothering?

HARVEST MOON: A SQUARE FOR BECKYB #7 – Marilyn Armstrong

MOON TIME – 
A New Square for Becky B

Before we had calendars, the moon was our calendar.

The month was new when the moon was new and was growing old when the moon began to wane.  At month’s end, all was dark.

Full moons have names, too.

We know that the Harvest Moon comes at the time of the harvest and that the Wolf Moon follows a month (moonth) later. The moon makes our seas rise and fall — and makes us loony.

This was the full Harvest Moon on the first day of Autumn, September 2016.

Full Harvest Moon, September 2016

TOO MANY BIRDS — Marilyn Armstrong

I took my empty glass to the kitchen to get something to drink. Or, anyway, that was the idea. I put the glass on the counter and looked at the plant hanging on the kitchen window. It needed some water.

Maybe they all (finally) needed water.

I left the drink where I’d stood it. Filled the little red watering can, then thoughtfully dribbled water across the kitchen floor while getting my socks thoroughly wet at the same time. I am nothing if not graceful.

I watered — finally — the two Christmas Cacti and all the other plants, including the budding orchids and the big Philodendron. Emptied out the rest of the water while dousing my feet a little more.

A downward traveling Nuthatch

I turned around and said “Oh,” because there were birds. One squirrel in the flat feeder — and maybe a dozen birds fluttering and a few more striding the deck. Some new ones, too. Mourning doves were on the deck, picking up pieces of seed the birds had tossed aside. Also, I saw a few Slate-Colored Juncos. Those are the strutting birds who clean up anything let by the flying birds and the “stuffing her face” squirrel girl.

Suddenly, all other thoughts were forgotten and I found myself taking pictures of birds. I couldn’t help myself. As if I’d been hypnotized, the fluttering birds were waiting for me. On the deck, on the feeders.

Far in the woods, I saw a big red-headed woodpecker. I couldn’t get a picture — he was outside the range of my lens. I just got a flash of him in the trees. He was a big one!

Slate-colored Junco

I noticed new birds — a dark-headed, white-bellied bird with dark eyes and a white beak which I finally decided had to be a Slate-Colored Junco because he was the only bird in the book the looked remotely like him … and the Gold Finch that had to be a Gold Finch even though all the finches should have already flown south. He had to be one anyway because there was nothing else he could be.

Part of the clean-up crew: a mourning dove

Garry pointed out that we’d had a lot of storms and birds do get blown off-course.

I have ascertained that when you are trying to figure out what a bird is, especially when there are a lot of birds that look very similar to that bird, after you have eliminated all the birds he or she cannot be, then he or she must be whatever remains as long as it bears some resemblance to the image you are staring at.

You would think, if you have a clear photograph of the bird and you know where you are, it should not be that difficult to figure out what bird you are looking at. You’d think that but you would be wrong. Or at least if you are me, you’d be wrong.

Gold Finch in the wrong region

There is a section of my “Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds” called “Confusing Fall Warblers.” They come in yellow, green, beige and many variations in between. Some of the birds interbreed too, so there are many variations on the variations and even though they are all supposedly gone from this area by now, the weather hasn’t been normal and neither have the birds.

I had to take the SD chip and stick it in the computer to see what I’d gotten and while I was at it, process some very pretty pictures of the blooming Christmas Cactus.

Bird in a tree

That was when I realized I was still thirsty and my glass was still on the counter in the kitchen and my feet were wet.

Birds. I’m totally hooked. Just as well, because if it weren’t for the birds, I’d probably be watching the news.

WHEN ADONIS CALLS – Rich Paschall (A Reblog)

A Modern Opera, a review

It is likely I would not have gone to see a local opera company had I not already been familiar with the work of the poet, Gavin Geoffrey Dillard.  After all, I have seen plenty of opera at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and plenty of local theater.  But this has an intriguing premise that was too good to pass up.

I first encountered Mr. Dillard in the late 1980s.  I was looking for a book of poetry that was well reviewed and actually contacted him at the publisher.  I found earlier works as well as later and even exchanged correspondence with the author.  His poetic style is unique, varied and always interesting.

Originally the librettist, John De Los Santos, had proposed an opera based on Dillard’s autobiography, In The Flesh.  Dillard countered with the idea of an older poet with a bit of writer’s block, and a younger one who becomes his muse.  The idea came to him as he had been in correspondence with a younger fan/poet over a certain length of time.  They exchanged poems just as the characters of the opera do.  The opera, however, is not a telling of that, but rather uniquely original.

De Los Santos constructed the work in 5 sections.  A couple of collections of older works of Dillard provided the voice of the muse/younger poet, while more recent works provided the basis of the older poets words.  De Los Santos advised that he was able to put the pieces together in just five months.  You will find that remarkable if you are lucky enough to catch the show.

Director /choreographer/librettist John De Los Santos approached composer Clint Borzoni for the music.  At first, he was unsure of the project but got rolling as the words suggested to him the music.  He has crafted a work that would be challenging to the seasoned professional.

Dillard with Kistler (left) and Wilson (right)

The two young men who provide an entire full-length opera in the Chicago production are up to the challenge.  Jonathan Wilson plays the poet while Nathan James Kistler is his muse.  They are always engaged and engaging.  The time moves quickly when performers keep your attention on the storyline.  Like any good opera, the company projects the words above the performance area.  This is particularly helpful with the unique work of Dillard.

The story is aided with the interpretive dance of Jay Espano and Christopher Young at various moments throughout.  For their purposes, a larger stage would have been helpful, but they manage well nonetheless.

Thompson Street Opera Company’s production at the Broadway Theater at the Pride Arts Center is the second production of the opera.  It premiered at the Ashville Lyric Opera in May 2018.

Finally, don’t be put off (or turned on) by the Opera Company notice that there is full male nudity in the show. It lasts about 3 seconds on a darkened performance area and the lights go out quickly.  If you see anything at all (I didn’t), then I suggest you have probably seen such things before.

SPEAKING OF SQUIRRELS, A LITTLE DIY FOR YOUR SPARE TIME – Marilyn Armstrong

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