The Lucky Lad

adventures in dysthymia

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Comfort, a poem

Comfort

Black-velvet Jesus on one wall,
black-velvet Elvis on the other;
plaster madonna on the shelf,
plaster child, plaster mother.

Skeeters buzzing at the screen,
tree-frogs clinging to the pane;
sweet-tea pitcher on the table,
distant thunder might mean rain.
Hound-dog whimpers at the door,
chuck-wills-widow calls to the moon
rising through the sugar pines;
crickets join night’s age-old tune.

Grits are bubbling on the stove-top,
chicken sizzles in the pan.
Sip my tea, ice melts away;
cobbler’s cooling, by the fan.

Dusk sings on the fields and hills,
full of darkness, slow and deep;
hear the rumble, rain is coming,
rattles the roof, soothes my sleep.

Jesus watches over me,
Elvis sings my lullaby,
stars of heaven guard this house
till the morning takes the sky.

Stephen Brooke ©2014

This might be words toward a possible song. Or maybe it’s just a bit of verse and will go no further. A bit of unlike me, either way. Anyway, neither the poem nor its title should be considered finalized.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Pear Season

Peach season is over but that only means that it is time for pears. And I have plenty of them, the hard(ish) cooking pears. Not that one can’t eat them fresh, though it is best if one removes the heavy peel first.

I processed my first batch of them a few days ago, cooking up the slices mostly to see how they would come out and if I wanted to bother with an attempt at canning. I must say, the result had about as much flavor as paper and was not much sweeter. So I ran them through the food processor to see if they would be acceptable as sauce.

Now I use a fair amount of apple sauce in my baking — it is a good and somewhat healthful substitute for some of the sugar and shortening (incidentally, I also employ prune juice in this manner at times). I tried out my pear sauce as a replacement and it seemed to bake up quite nicely and taste fine. However, the spice bread I made was definitely drier than usual the next day, so I suppose the pears are not a perfect substitute.

But I may process more anyway, and put up some slices as well. I don’t know if I’ll bother to can though, just freeze a few quarts. And I will be baking something with fresh pears soon. It’s been too hot here the last week to bake at all!

I reckon this was probably the worst heat wave of the summer and, truly, the only really bad one we have had. That’s not doing so bad considering we are entering late August already. Yep, fall is on the way and kids are back in school. That means both more chance of surf and fewer people in the water when there are waves.

If I did not so detest cold weather, I would be welcoming the coming of winter.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ground, a poem

Ground

Life is a balancing act,
a tightrope walk, where each
of us must fall off
in the end. How far
is it to the ground?

Stephen Brooke ©2014

A little poem-thought that sat in my notes as an unsatisfactory cinquain for a while. I don't know if this is that much more satisfactory but at least it is finished.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Chiaroscuro, a poem

Chiaroscuro

Out on Peanut Road the trucks are rolling,
rumbling, basso continuo in the dark.

Dawn is half an hour away and the dogs
are eager for me to fill their bowls. They hear

the musics of the morning, mist-diffused,
rise from these fields, dewed webs of night time humming,

pulsing, pianissimo in tremulous
resonance, in tensions of light and dark.

The sun will sing its way into the day
as every voice of dawn joins in the chorus,

cardinal and mocking bird take up
the tune, rising, rising, on the stillness

to skies of promise. I am hidden here,
in chiaroscuro of my own hand,

the semblance of a man rapt in his shadows.
Fog and trees obscure the light of headlamps;

soon, those who hurry to a job somewhere
will be on the road, and tractors making

their way to fields of cotton or of peanuts.
Whether they spread poison or fertilizer

this day, I do not know. Sometimes both
at once, life and death together sprayed

up and down the rows, the farmer a god
handing out salvation and damnation

to those below his wheels. When the sun
has burnt away the mist, where shall we hide?

Out on Peanut Road, the traffic murmurs
of morning. There is coffee in the kitchen.

Stephen Brooke ©2014

Peaches and Processors

Yesterday, I picked the last half-dozen peaches from my trees. Today, I shall bake the last cobbler from fresh peaches for this year. Never fear, though, there are twenty quarts put away in the freezer. The crop should grow larger over coming years — this was, after all, really the first time I had enough to bother with them. I do think I shall need to can them next year or, maybe, purchase a small chest freezer.

Now, the pears are about ready. There will be an attempt to can a few of those, perhaps in the form of pear sauce. No room for frozen ones! It may be a while before I have more than the one old tree bearing but I have put in several small ones that will have fruit eventually. These are the ‘hard’ pears for cooking, not for fresh eating (though one certainly can eat them right off the tree).

* * *

I’ve taken a little hiatus from working on the novel while I attend to other necessary chores. This does not mean that I have forgotten it — I find myself jotting down ideas and bits of dialog from time to time. I probably needed to let the story develop in my mind this way for a little while. I am not one to just sit down and start writing without a good idea of where I am going.

And I continue to use Open Office Write as my primary word processor. I am sure Libre Office is every bit as good. I did come close to switching over when development of OO came to a halt for a while before it was handed over to Apache and elements of IBM’s Lotus variant were added in.

But the Open Office suite is, it must be admitted, rather bloated. I don’t really need most of the other components. I have fooled with the spreadsheet but haven’t much use for it. The Draw program is okay for some simple layout applications but, then, I have and use Corel Draw quite a bit so I don’t really need the OO offering.

I tried out AbiWord recently to see if using a ‘lighter’ word processing program (especially on my notebook) would make sense but have since deleted it. The reason might seem trivial but it boils down to the fact that AbiWord will not automatically add en-dashes and em-dashes to my writing. I do not have time to type in an ‘alt+’ code each time I need these. Still, it is better than using the execrable Microsoft WordPad!

* * *

Although I am officially retired from location recording, I may come out of that retirement briefly and go record my friend Lynda’s piano recital out in Marshall Texas. She left Tuskegee a couple years ago and now teaches at Wiley College. We briefly lost touch while each dealt with the problems in our own lives (I was concentrating on my mom’s care in her final years) but got back into contact around last Christmas.

It’s an opportunity to get out and do something and to reconnect with someone who is important in my life. So we shall see.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Cobbler, a poem

Cobbler

I am a gobbler
of peach cobbler,
with ice cream laid on thickly.
I can’t resist
Nor do I desist;
It disappears quite quickly!

A golden crust
is a must,
with fruit that’s sweet and ripe;
bite after bite,
if it’s done right
you’ll hear not a single gripe!

The cobbler beckons,
I do want seconds —
I can’t resist that aroma.
But if I ate
another plate
I’d go into a coma.

Stephen Brooke ©2014

Just some silliness. I have been baking cobblers with fruit from my own trees --- despite pinching off more than half the fruit when it first developed I still have a prodigious pile of peaches to pit and peel!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Of Brothers

I have finished a good draft of the first ‘Tale’ of the fourth and final (yes, for sure!) Book of Donzalo’s Destiny, THE HAND OF THE SORCERER. It came out a little longer than typical, at a bit over 25,000 words. This section is titled ‘Of Brothers.’ One more tale of similar size and I shall be done.

Except, of course, for rewrites and editing and all sorts of stuff. I could actually see having the novel out before the end of the year if I don’t dawdle. Then...I look back over the previous three books and fix anything that needs fixing. Easy enough when one uses a print on demand plus ebook approach. But time-consuming, still.

Once I finish with that task, I do intend to put all four Books together as one largish novel (which they really are, after all) and offer it, print only. Maybe even in a hardcover edition if anyone shows interest.

If I can shift gears after so much time with Donzalo and his world, I do hope to work on something completely different then. A Serious Literary Novel, maybe. And all those illustration projects I have put off for so long.

Eventually, I do intend to return to Donzalo or, more properly, his friends and world. Old Donni has pretty much made his mark and is going to retire with his lady love, I think. Who will end up being his lady love? The fiery Lady Fachalana? The sweet but murderous spy Ansa? His first love, Princess Lomela? We’ll find out when I finish the last Tale!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

All the World's a Stage

Oddly, though I have suffered from crippling social anxiety in everyday life, I have never had a problem with getting on stage and performing. This assumes that I am well rehearsed, of course. Including my ad-libs.

I like to tell folks that when I am on stage I am not a musician but an actor playing a musician. Even when I’m not on stage, I’m not much of a musician.

But really, that’s it. I play a role. The advice to ‘be yourself’ is very, very wrong for me! I have to become someone else.

In a way, it is like creating a character in a story. There is certainly something of me in every character I write, but they are not ‘me.’ They perform on the page even as that other character I create performs on the stage.

A song, for me, is most often simply a conveyance for my words. This is not to say that I have no interest in writing good music. But I admittedly have little interest in being any sort of particularly good player. I do not like to jam. I am interested only in being sufficiently proficient to get my songs across.

That is more a job than a pleasure. As is learning to sing well, craft my words, and all the rest. The pleasure comes when those who listen or who read ‘get’ it. The goal is to communicate. All else serves that.

All the world’s a stage. I hope only to say my lines well.