Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Porcelain Birthday Wish! Ouch!!!!

Happy March 28th! Things are going great here. I hope you are doing the same.

Of late, I've been working on the first story for Three Seconds On, Three Seconds Off - Volume II. It is a very emotional tale from 1964 and I've made use of a series of flashbacks to help me tell it. I enjoy seeing flashbacks in the works of others, but at first, I found them a bit difficult to write myself. I assumed that my writing habits were in the way so I did some brainstorming.
I tend to get small blocks of time in which to write - typically five to fifteen minutes, zero to five times a day. The sporatic intervals of interruption totally prevented me from remembering where I was in the telling, so I finally got creative in my approach to writing flashbacks. I took the story's timeline and wrote it succinctly. With the short outline in easy reach for reference, coming back to the place I had left off wasn't too tough. The story is progressing nicely now and I hope to begin work on the second one in a week or so.

As for my recent adventures, I don't often stop my semi just to take photographs, but yesterday I made an interesting exception. Over time, I have taken several nice shots. Some are artsy, some are scenic, this one is funny. In honour of this picture, I have launched a new slide show category: Adventures in Trucking. Enjoy - and thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Family Gatherings and Changing Weather

On March 21st, Diana and I took our family out to Boston Pizza for a very tasty and fun supper. Our two grandchildren, Triston and Brandi and their parents had come to visit for a couple of days. The main purpose of the visit was to assist our youngest daughter and her husband in moving to Dawson Creek, B.C. With the U-Haul trailer packed to the rafters and the apartment clean, we gathered to eat, relax and enjoy. March 20th and 21st had been beautiful days. It was shirt-sleeve weather both days, but by Sunday morning, a nasty storm front had moved in. The entire Province of Alberta was blanketed with snow. The warm temperatures initially melted the moisture, but after a few hours, the roads were covered with ice. The trip from Southern Alberta to Dawson Creek can be made in less than twelve hours of driving - if you travel over 110kph (70mph). We worried all day as six members of our family navigated the route. They left at 5AM and finally arrived in Dawson that night, just after 10PM! Ouch!! We were grateful they had visited and grateful for the wonderful weather to load in, but the final day of their excursion was brutal! Here are a few shots of the snowy aftermath.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sun Dogs and Lightning Strikes

As a writer, I try to present a groundswell of movement in my work, whether it be fiction or non-fiction. Since my last post was rather serious, a little mood lightening seems in order.
These two sets of photographs were taken on August of 1997 and February of 2008. Both photos are multiple images - put together in Photoshop, but the pictures of the lightning began their lives as slides.

For the 1997 panorama, we were camping at a lake near Cardston, Alberta. The night was unusually calm, but not across the water. If memory serves, my exposures were in the neighbourhood of 60 seconds each and I used four images to make the finished scene. An hour after packing up my tripod, the wind came up and blew so strongly that the next morning we packed up our wet stuff and relocated to a more protected campground about 30 kilometres away. Oh the memories!

As for the sun & sundogs, the ambient temperature was around –25 Celsius (-5 Fahrenheit) and I was heading south in my semi, after just unloading some grain. Some who view this photograph may think that the giant rainbow-like circle is lens flare, but not so. Except for a bit of flare over top of the snow, what I actually saw was perfectly captured by my faithful camera. Sundogs occur on cold days when there is moisture in the atmosphere for the sun to reflect off of. As the light bounces through the moisture, the effect is similar to a rainbow. Usually, sundogs are not seen in pairs, nor are they normally so large.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

My Response to Big Love

Big Love is a television series (in North America) that, as far as I have determined, depicts a man who is married to more than one woman. I understand that the show also suggests that some of its characters are faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (sometimes called Mormons). (I have only seen advertisements for the series - not the show itself.) The polygamous relationships and religious activity portrayed in the show are probably interestingly dramatized. I expect that the quips are witty and that there is plenty of emotional and sexual tension proceeding from the mouths and actions of well-groomed actors and actresses. I think, however, that caution is in order.

Interestingly enough, when we, as human beings, watch a television show or read a book, it is easy to embrace the notion that we are witnessing a lot of truth blended with a little fiction. After all, television and print media can often be defined this way. The real trick is to determine how much of the dramatization is truth and how much is fiction?

Our own particular experience with life lets us filter what we see and come to our own personal conclusion about the percentage of truth and fiction we are witnessing. The opinion of another may even help us decide our own minds. But what happens if our personal filter lacks sufficient experience, information, understanding or maturity to accurately process the scenes that our eyes and ears are gathering up for us to consider? This dilemma, of passing accurate judgement, induces me to worry about a show that dramatizes polygamous and religious relationships - especially when the writers, actors, actresses, producers, etc are diligently and dogmatically working to ensure the success of their TV series. Perhaps Big Love is an accurate portrayal of both plural marriage relationships and the church, but before you decide, I would invite you to consider this…

I've heard it said, "You should never spoil a good story with the truth." For some writers, this line seems to capture the essence of their work. After all, when your next meal depends on your ability to entertain, I can see how easy it might be to rationalize your creative process into ignoring self-evident moral standards and write what sells.

As a non-fiction writer, I have been tempted to embellish truth. As a fiction writer, I have considered creating character interactions that are surreal or amoral, but still believable. Character interactions, in print or on the screen, may be entertaining, but some I have seen and read are nothing more than the effects of an overzealous, morally rationalizing writer trying to provide sufficient sensory experience for their audience, thereby hoping to ensure an enduring pay check (and a next meal). When a book or television program purposefully purports to portray truth, while underhandedly slipping fiction into our minds, I would be a poor citizen of earth if I didn’t condemn the action. I hope that Big Love isn't guilty of this.

Polygamy is a lifestyle that most of us know very little about. How much do you know about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints? In my opinion, it is in the best interest of us all to become informed – because others have the right to write whatever they want, be it truth, fiction or a blend of some sort. If you are interested, the church has made an official response to an upcoming episode of Big Love. If you want to read a good story that portrays polygamy, you could try the book, Season of Sacrifice by Tristi Pinkston.