One of my writing buddies has a new book out. The World is Full of A**holes is a picture book for adults, and one that’s just what I needed at this point in time. It was written by K.L. Harris and illustrated by Nik Henderson, with the art and words complementing each other wonderfully.
Picture books for adults is a trend I’ve noticed over the last few years. I like it. I mean, I’ve been known to lose myself in 800-page tomes without illustrations and find it a satisfying experience. But sometimes, especially for deeply felt issues, going back to the format of a simply-delivered message is an effective salve. A poetic reminder that the world is full of assholes but that there are ways to deal with them and to keep from being them is the equivalent of a nudge to remember to drink enough water and to make sure I’m getting a little exercise on the regular. Basic messages and steps that make a huge difference in life.
The playful wording makes the book fun to read. When Harris lists the places and ways we might encounter assholes in our daily lives — “Assholes can be doctors, teachers, or people scooping ice cream” — the illustrations rely mostly on grim color combinations. But things lighten up considerably when the author pivots to the topic of guardians, “People who’ll speak up when you’re not treated right.” The world is full of those, too.
My son-in-residence consented to walk around the neighborhood with his old mom today. We live in an interesting part of the city and always find something new to catch our attention. The neighbors did not disappoint today.
I should note the skeletons and tree stump art are not in the same yard.
I did a thing, as part of the River Front Reading Series in Kansas City. Sorry about the glare on my glasses and the fact that I kept moving my head around trying to minimize it. But if you can overlook that and want to hear me read some poems, here’s a link to the video. I’m the first reader. I recommend sticking around for the second readers as well. I enjoyed her work a lot. Also, check out other River Front videos on YouTube.
The trees I saw on yesterday’s walk inspire me to share a poem I wrote.
Instead of dreary gray strands threading subtly widening paths about my head, I desire blazing red for my autumn color interspersed with patches of can’t-peel-your-eyes away yellow and clusters of an orange so perfectly sun-toasted it holds its own as an independent hue not remotely a blend of the other two. I wish for the colors to burst out all at once so that people I meet will feel their breath catch at the splendor, the glorious culmination of my maturity.
Today’s walk happened in the last 40 minutes of sunlight. My neighborhood is not too far from downtown, but also not too far from a couple of trailheads that go into a wooded corridor.
Barred owls were calling to each other. Whoo-hoo-hoo-HOO. Whoo-hoo-hoo-HOO. Where are you? I’m here. Like my husband and I yelling, “What?” to each other from different rooms.
And the neighborhood gang that has been raiding yards and gardens was caught in the act (see above.) I’ve watched these young ‘uns grow up during the course of this year, having seen them first when the two tawny ones were awkward spotted fawns stopping traffic in front of my house.
I don’t know why it surprises me when animals adapt and make their homes in cities. I’ve done the same thing, after all. I can’t begrudge them too much for the tomatoes they’ve eaten. They left us plenty, and we humans keep taking more and more land for buildings. They’ve got to feed the family somehow.
I put on blinders to everything that needs to be done at home and went out for a bike ride with Frieda this morning before the temperature reminded me too harshly that it’s still summer. Like most everyone right now, I find it a constant effort to manage my stress levels. I would love to go camping and spend a few days unwinding, but that’s not possible at the moment. So I take what micro-breaks I can get — sitting on the deck for a few minutes in the evening with a mocktail (I don’t drink much alcohol) and some music, or finding a less-traveled spur of the MKT Trail where I can be “away from it all” for a couple of minutes, right in the city.
The illusion of being out of the city:
On the main trail, an interesting rock with an interesting puddle in an indentation.
In an effort to learn more about the rock, I took an accidental selfie. In case you can’t read the print, the rock is several million year old limestone. I wonder how many other creatures have stopped to look at it throughout the millennia.
One of the great blessings in my life is that somehow I have become acquainted with a number of accomplished writers, artists, craftspeople, and musicians. I try to save most of my book, art and music budget for those independently producing their own work, or who are just starting out — folks who have worked hard to produce something great, but haven’t already amassed a huge amount of money doing so. It’s important at all times to support independent artists, but even more so currently.
I wondered what I could do to help promote this. And then it came to me. Aha! I’m a blogger. I can at least let my few readers know about some artistic delights of which they might be as yet unaware. I’m going to try to do this semi-regularly.
First up is Triflemore, touring musicians who describe their sound as zenfolk. I met them first as good and caring neighbors, discovering later they’re excellent musicians as well.
I’m not expert enough in musical parlance to write in-depth reviews. What I can say is that the feel of their music often makes me envision rolling green hills and groups of people sitting around fires, visiting after a long day of productive work. Definite Celtic vibes, with contemplative lyrics that somehow pull off the paradox of feeling grounded while simultaneously taking flight.
A friend introduced me to a new piece of exercise equipment for writers. It’s simple and basic, and therein lies the beauty. It’s call authorcise, and can be found at nevernotcurious.com.
When you click on it, a prompt appears, along with a countdown clock. You have 150 seconds to write, following the prompt or ignoring it, as you choose. At the end of 150 seconds, you have three options — stop and let your work disappear; download what you’ve written to your computer; or keep writing for another 150 seconds.
It doesn’t sound like any time at all, but once I start, I’m surprised at how much I can produce in two and a half minutes. I’ve found it useful just to get me going and in the writing frame of mind, like doing warmups before physical exercise, or finger exercises before playing the piano. But I think it could also be valuable for works in progress, to help you muscle through when you’re bogged down.
Lately, I’ve been pretty exhausted by my job and things. Stuff. Events. Tasks. Overthinking. Worry.
Normally I work Tuesday evenings. But I had some vacation time to use, so I’m able to blog instead. I couldn’t have better timed my ask for random hours off. Gorgeous evening for walking and trying to focus on the miracle that is every day nature.
Amazing how life can look so different if you change your vantage point. Perspective is a heck of a thing.