Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Celebrating Life

It’s been awhile since I indulged my blog. This past summer, I visited family in Michigan and Arizona. July was busy with a Leisure Learning writing course at McNeese State that spurred my creative juices. In between I researched markets and contests, learning Duotrope idiosyncrasies and submitting some short fiction pieces.

I’ve written before that I’m time challenged. For those of you who have an orderly mind, it’s a gift. For the rest of us, time is slippery. Today, as I wrote the date in my journal—Aug. 20th, it hit me in the face. It’s our son, Clay’s, birthday. He would be thirty-seven.

I do remember that hot August in ’77. My mom and mother-in-law both traveled from Michigan to take care of our three-year-old son and me after the baby’s birth. There was a huge rain storm that week, and I recall watching a man paddle a canoe down our street while I stood at the window and watched, cradling Clay. Our first flood together.

There were other storms: twenty-some stitches down an arm after scaling a chain link fence, broken down cars, no date for the prom, the only grade below A in typing, normal life with a sensitive over-achiever.

Twenty-three-years old, Clay lived and worked in Houston for only a few months before the city was devastated by a massive flood. I remember anxiously watching scenes on TV of highway underpasses clogged with water. A familiar ten lane freeway reduced to a drainage ditch. Clay survived the high water, but a few weeks later we were summoned to Houston for another storm.

Encephalitis was the diagnosis, but with no known cause. The doctors treated the symptoms for 2 ½ months before we were forced to concede. His flood was over.

It’s been 13 years – where does time go? Many good memories packed away, many life experiences richer. Thank you, Clay. Happy Birthday. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Cuban Missile Crisis

Where were you October 1962? I was in the third grade - almost 9 years old when Kennedy went toe to toe with Russia's Prime Minister Khrushchev. A few nights ago, I watched a PBS presentation, The Man Who Saved The World. It seems a Russian submarine commander refused to go along with his comrades. It took three keys to program and fire a nuclear missile aboard the subs prowling the waters off the coast of Cuba. The commander spurned the idea. 

It would be many years before the truth concerning the sub’s nuclear capabilities were acknowledged by the Russians. Loaded for bear with atomic warheads the Russians were ready to do battle, while the oblivious American Navy threw depth charges trying to force the subs into submission. One missile would have taken out the U.S. Naval fleet poised in the Gulf. This act of war would have Kennedy launch atomic weapons pointed toward Russia and visa-verse. 

I admit I can't remember much. My poor memory necessitates my being a fiction writer. We lie. However, I do remember the "fall-out shelter" born in our shallow basement as fear melded my mother's heart. Each week a few cans and provisions were added to the larder in our cellar. A first aid kit, jugs of water, but what set our bomb-shelter apart, we had a Geiger counter. 

Purchased through a magazine offer, the 10" square box had a plastic hose running from one side with a metal wand supposedly used to detect radiation. The face of the box sported a V-shaped window. When the switch was on a red pointer flipped from one side and back, indicating the battery was good. No one knew exactly how to use it. Of course, there was no way to test, and if it didn't work, there was no getting your money back. For the longest time we weren't allowed to touch "the box". But as I got older, I remember sneaking down the cellar with friends, pointing the wand and making guttural sounds, going crazy with radiation beams wafting from the lone window, and falling down convulsively. Poor Mom.
I wonder how her fears affected a third grader, and then I remember my report card from 4th grade. It showed I gained 60 lbs. in one year. That's another whole kid.
Bun candy bars aside, I think it was the radiation.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

At the Blog Hop

Sounds like a 50's tune with a millennium twist. Thanks goes to my friend Linda Todd, "Incurable Itch of LF Todd"  http://lindaheberttodd.blogspot.com, who tagged me to answer some questions that burn in the minds of my readers...

Questions:

1.  What am I working on? 

I'm putting together a query package for a children's book I wrote a few years ago and just recently revised, Al-lee Alligator and the Big Fat Lie. This is a step away from novel writing which is what I wanted. Short fiction seems like a relief after writing two novels. In this process my creative juices have spawned some fresh poetry and a flash fiction idea.

2.  How does my work differ from others in my genre?

That's a trick question. I attempt to write my thoughts, my voice. As writers we're told over and over to be unique, but publishers really don't want too different. It's a tightrope that I'm trying to learn while juggling quirky. Unfortunately, my chartreuse tights keep falling to my cankles.

3.  Why do I write what I do?

It is impossible for me NOT to write. It is what makes me happy, solid, human. Writing is a gift, and I follow my heart.

4.  What is my writing process?

The process differs depending on the genre. I love poetry. It usually surfaces when I'm at my most creative. Always in longhand first. Short story ideas I write down the bones longhand, then head to the word processor to fill out, cut and paste. Novels are another world. Lots of Post-its and scratch paper before I get out the newsprint sketch pad. I plot scenes and organize while I jot character dialogue longhand. I'm trying to learn to write fast and revise after, but I'm a sick perfectionist that has a hard time ignoring even the red lined spelling errors. I'm hoping the third time is the charm. There's a mystery jangling around my head, or is that the ice cream truck?

Sorry for my slow response. I'm in the process of creating a new website! www.chrisbaldauf.com
Improvements are forthcoming as I figure out where I left my tights.


Next on the BLOG HOP check out another member of the Bayou Writer Group - Peggy Borel at  www.peggyaborel.com/BLOG "Aspire to Inspire."

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Frozen Kingdom

Recently, freezing rain shocked our south Louisiana sensibilities. As I sat warm in my living room, I watched some brown finches duck under a leafy green bush near the porch to escape the icy drizzle. While I pondered the small birds plight, white accumulated on the wood planks of our wharf. Mist rose from the chilled river in buffs that scurried across the ripples from the North Wind's breath.
Twice in sunny weather, I've spotted a bald eagle taking flight from the trees on the far bank. It prompted me to write this poem:

Frozen Kingdom

Where is the eagle?
Where does he roost in an unlikely storm?
The sparrow hops beneath the evergreen,
but not his majesty.
No cover for the king, whose wings require space.
Free to rise above his realm—
glide the frozen pathways of the wind.

Around 10am, hoping to glean some warmth through osmosis and a familiar laugh, I called my aunt in Phoenix. As we spoke I looked out the window and perched on a dead pine, 150 feet in the air sat my eagle. I ran to get the binoculars. This is my third sighting and the first time I've seen him perched. His backside towards me, he glance over his shoulder to reveal that magestic white head and hooked beak, and I saw his eye close. From this direction, I'm not sure if he was blinking or if that was a wink, but with that he took wing and was gone.
What a writing prompt—what motivates you?

Monday, January 27, 2014

carnose

fresh paper, like fresh meat
a ravenous appetite
to touch the lined sheet
tear nourishment from my pen
rip the fear
calm the hunger pangs

Friday, January 10, 2014

Starting Anew


In mid-2013 I wrote about setting goals and professed that I would write a blog per week. But alas – life happens.
I’ve been trying to organize my office space, files, and catch up on emails. My old friend, Jack Odell, is a pastor who writes a popular blog I follow called: midweek Manna. www.midweekmanna.com One of his recent posts, We Need More of These Things, talks about having more stuff, but needing MORE generosity, kindness, tolerance, and prayer in our lives.
This resonated with me, and I’ve decided it makes a terrific New Year’s Resolution. I want to start anew with more generosity, being kinder and more tolerant of my fellow man and myself. This is all possible because 2014, I will strive to center myself in prayer. Thanks Jack.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Treasures

On a recent trip to the Grand Canyon, I used the excuse to visit a cousin I hadn’t seen in years. It was good to catch up and share old memories. A gracious host, we had the run of her home that was filled with her various collections. Every flat surface contained fun and whimsical collectables from cookie jars to cartoon action toys.

Returning to my home turf, I started thinking about my collections. What have I got sitting on the shelves of my ego? Dusty memories, antique grudges, and hurtful platitudes (still in their original containers) line the shelves of my mind. It’s easy to store wounds, put them away in glass cases where I hash them over periodically from a safe distance. Forgiveness takes work. I don’t want to dust the toys of indignation and self-righteousness I have stored.
 
Visiting my attic, I see several skeletons. Maybe I’ll take them out for Halloween--give them a good cleaning.