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J. J. Brown, Wordslinger

"I Sling Words As I Go Along."

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horses

So, every morning, I get to do the most amazing thing…….

………I get to feed horses and bask in their grounded presence.

While with the horses, I’m also privileged to see real magic in this world – nature.

Nature just is.

Just a couple of blokes, hanging around…..

There is no good, there is no evil.

Just pure instinct in motion – like a red-tailed hawk capturing its breakfast or a hummingbird taking a long drink of water from a puddle.  Or four turkey vultures unwittingly re-enacting a scene as the Fab Four in The Jungle Book (1967).  Or a four-foot long gopher snake sunbathing before slithering off into the bushes for a quick snack.

There is so much more that I’m witness to and I wish I could have you see what I see.

A young red tail hawk.

I truly feel like I’m living a Disney movie – sometimes the G-rated cartoon (because it does get silly and whimsical), but most of the time, it’s more organic and earthy, like Middle-Earth.

Nature is magic.

It has both light and shadow.

It is primal and ancient and has no regard for you.

Treat it with respect and you will be granted more than you asked.

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Evening Thoughts (4)

1. Raise your vibe. Everything else will start to fall away or into place.

2. Embrace your inner child. Wear pigtails and put banana stickers on your nose. Have fun. 🙂

3. Be delighted to see the people you care about and love, whether friends or family.

4. Chill out with a horse. Sometimes, the best wisdom comes from the silent presence of a 1200 pound animal.

5. Put a little sparkle into your outings.

6. I am one with the Force, the Force is one with me.

7. Be brave. Be true. Stand. All the rest is darkness. (from IT, by Stephen King)

So, I’m working on some posts for my Patreon page….

…..setting some of them up to go live at a later date.  I like setting up multiple posts this way, so that I’m sure my subscribers are getting fun things to look at.

“What? The waste basket was trash-talking me.”

One of my tiers features the thoughts and adventures of Henry the Gray (my cat) and Best Bud Mare (my horse).

Henry the Gray is very laid back in his approach to life, which I find admirable.  He’s also somewhat sarcastic and does not approve of changes in his schedule.

His favorite things include: having morning meetings at the kitchen table; early morning inspections of the back yard; late night inspections of the garage; treats.

His dislikes include: vacuums; the garbage truck; the gardeners; having his stomach touched.

 

“Don’t look now, but there’s an apple on the ground behind you. Look out!!!”

Best Bud Mare has come a long way since I met her three years ago, when she was a little bit spooky and not sure of her surroundings or what was expected of her.  Now she comes right up to the gate, to see what I’m doing and always wants to be a part of things.

Her favorite things include: getting her itches scratched with the blue curry comb; taking selfies; learning how to do new things, like having her feet handled by the farrier; eating carrots; having her mane brushed out so that there are no more tangles; hanging out with her human.

Her dislikes include: loud noises; backing into a sneaky fence; being left out of projects; not hanging out with her favorite human; not getting brushed with the blue curry comb; apples.

 

So, their stories and thoughts and observations will be found over at the Patreon page I’ve established.

I’ve left some posts unlocked, so that those who are not familiar with my writing style can have a sample of what I’m offering before they subscribe.  You can find the unlocked posts here, where you’ll also be able to learn about the different tiers and what they have to offer.

Feel free to take a look.

Best wishes.

So, my Patreon site is live……

……and I’ve posted some things there, so that it’s not a blank canvas to newcomers.  It took some time to work things out to my satisfaction, but I’m excited by how I’ve got it set up.  As time goes on, I hope to add to what I’ve already established.

There are a few posts that I’ve made open to the public, which I’ve done as introduction to who I am as a writer and budding artist.

Then, in their own words, my cat, Henry the Gray, and my horse, Best Bud Mare, will narrate their daily lives for those subscribing to the $3 tier.  I’m approaching it as an on-going series of children’s stories or bits of levity in a world that feels a little dark.

In subscribing to the $10 tier, I’ve designed posts that focus on my love for traveling and how I use location as inspiration.  Subscribers to this tier will also have access to the $3 tier.

For the $20 tier, I’ve challenged myself to write two serial novels. One is a fantasy/mystery and will involve reader participation – there will be four options and whichever option receives the most votes will carry the story forward.  The second serialized novel is based on myself and my friends as kids and the true-life adventures we shared in that really actually, never happened (but should have).  There will be a few other things there, as well as access to what is posted in the other two tiers.

There are also some posts open to all patrons who subscribe.

Right now, the second serialized novel’s first entry is open to the public, which I will close on March 10, 2017.

This is my site on Patreon. I encourage you to stop by and take a look at it.

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So, here I am again…….

……..about twenty minutes away from midnight, this time. I just got home from an event, but I’d been working on a couple of posts about history all day. It’s working out that it’s going to be more than just one post, which is fine, because there’s a lot to ruminate over. I’m thinking there’ll be two posts, at least, but who knows?

It could be more. I am quite loquacious, when the occasion calls for it.

Ah, it’s moved up to fifteen minutes before midnight.

What thoughts do I have, this late?

Random ones.

I went to bed early last night, around 9 or 9:30. I woke up at one in the morning, didn’t get back to sleep until four. I had the weirdest dream about being in a play with a celebrity and having a phone conversation with him about statements two people claimed I made (one named Sarah, the other’s name escapes me at the moment).

I kept having to move around to a different spot, because there was so much external noise from the streets and businesses around me. (It is fortunate that, even in my dream, I had a cell phone.) I put him right, that what was said to him  by those two people was not from me. He accepted my words with gracious humility and apologized.

Then I had to go round up loose horses. None of the equines resembled mine, but the location the dream horses had escaped from was the same spot where I keep my real horses. And later, I went to a local tavern, located in the middle of a national forest. The word ‘tavern’ was in the establishment’s name and a friend owned and worked there.

There were some other random bits (running into an old college class mate, an auditorium and popcorn, of all things) before I finally woke up at 7:30. That’s a lot of dreaming in three and a half hours.

(Five minutes before midnight.)

I’m not sure what any of that means – I had a friend named Sarah once, but we lost touch many years ago. Not even sure about the meaning of the phone call – I don’t know the celebrity in question, nor would he have any reason to call me.

(Three minutes.)

The horses are probably the simplest part of my dream to interpret.

They’re hard to wrangle and they want their treats. Also, they love to be dramatic about their breakfast.

See you anon.

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So, I’ve been having a difficult time with today’s post…..

…….and I’ve got nine minutes to get this one done. I’ve already started three and put them aside, primarily because I want to give them more thought and make sure I source the content properly.

Yeah, it’s that kind of day.

So, I’m going to dash this one off quickly and I apologize for the lateness of it. I had fairly full day – running errands with a friend, tap dance, trivia and horses took up most of it. Then the contrary blog posts and here I am, nearing midnight and this is the one that’s going to go through.

I finished a painting I’d started two weeks ago – I would have finished it the same day I’d started it, from the initial sketch to the final touches, but I needed a specific color that I neglected to buy and then life and play rehearsals happened and there the time went.

Four minutes left.

I hope all of you had a lovely day.

Best wishes to all of you.

The Horse Tree

A fierce wind sweeps through the tree,
Stirring branches with restless ease,
Leaves dancing wildly, playing
In coltish movement.
A low creak emanates from the depth of the tree,
As its massive trunk shifts with the wind,
Its uneven fork listing from side to side.

The stallion leaps forward,
Snorting loudly, ears flicking back and forth,
Tasting the wind,
Its coal black coat glistening in the sun.
Tossing his head, elegant and proud,
He trots,
Light as air,
Yet controlled, deliberate.

He spies his shadow –
It grows long, then short
As the breeze dances along the tall grass.
Striking out a foreleg,
He kicks up dirt,
Shrills out his challenge in a long, piercing note.

It hangs in the air, then fades to an echo.
Whirling to face the sun,
The stallion bolts,
His silky mane streaming out behind him,
His long thick tail a banner in the wind.
His strides come
Long
Fast
Exultant.
His freedom.

He revels in the wind
That caresses his skin,
His heart swells with joy
And he turns his muzzle to the sky.
Glorying in the beauty of the day,
He heralds his presence to the world,
His pace slowing to a mile-eating trot.
He half-rears, snorting, blowing furiously,
Sees the distance he has come,
And the distance he yearns to fly.

He hesitates,
The fields’ grasses and wild flowers
Beckoning him forward,
Teasing him, whispering to him
To come, play with them, forget the time passing by.

Shaking his head, he nickers, deep in his throat,
Wanting to play,
Wanting to stay,
Wanting to forget that time passes.
He looks again at the sky,
Turns his nose to the wind,
Scenting the air,
And knows that his time grows short.
For the hot yellow of the sun begins
To smolder into burnt orange,
Shadows into bruised purples as daylight fades.

Head and tail high, he dances forward.
One step
Two steps
Three steps.
On the fourth, he rears to his full height,
Screams his dominance,
Then whirls, gallops back to where he had come,
Knowing full well,
That he will return.

His limbs grow heavy,
Thick, as if he had traveled thousands of miles
Instead of a paltry few.
Nostrils swelling as he sucks in air,
The stallion put forth a final burst of speed,
Sweat marking his haunches with the effort it took.
Nearing his starting point,
He whistled his triumph,
Having bought his freedom
For one more day.
He slides to a halt, scattering dirt and pebbles,

Rears high, reaching to touch the sky,
Twisting his body,
His coat begins to harden into rough grooves,
Joining his hind legs,
Growing solidly one with the earth,
Thickening into a single part,
Becoming the trunk.

His forelegs branch out,
Supporting smaller branches,
Bearing leaves.
He throws his head back,
In an eternal cry,
Which the wind will carry
For all time, past and present,
And into the future
As he stands, frozen,
Caught forever in the guise of a tree.

 

Running horse.
Running horse.

Musings on imagery, metaphor and an unexpected journey…….

The way is shut. It was made by the Dead and the Dead keep it, till the time comes. The way is shut.
J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings

So went the phrase ’round and ’round my mind in January of 2013.

But it wasn’t the hall of the Dead that Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas found themselves in, trying to raise an army that would help turn the tide against Sauron and his armies that I was thinking of.

It was my metaphoric heart, wounded and frightened, that screamed this line every time I tried to push myself past the hurt. No need to go into the cause – suffice to say, it was not a pleasant experience. It left me jumpy, terrified of my own shadow, distrustful of even my nearest and dearest.

Still, I wanted to be past that pain, beyond it, free of it. I purged the bulk of it into one novel – while a great step forward, it was only the first step in a long journey. I wanted to skip the journey and speed up time so that I could just be me and whole again. Of course, it takes time for such wounds to heal properly. In January of 2013, I wanted to be healed, right then.

I had begun revising and editing my third novel that same month- although a mystery, it was, at its core, also a story of that self-same metaphoric heart. I began with re-writing the ending, which at the time, was a Debbie Downer. I mean, it was sad and angry and hurt. It worked, it was a great ending, but it just didn’t work for the characters. So I re-wrote it with a much more upbeat and optimistic tone.

And this is where the heart imagery really began to show itself.

I kept finding places in Novel #3 to insert a new scene or flesh out an old one, or replace one altogether. I called the act cracking open the story. The image that came to mind was of the cracking open of the chest, as if for open heart surgery. Gruesome image, yes, but how else do you begin to repair an injured or broken heart? Looking back on it, that’s exactly what I was doing – prepping to repair and heal my heart.

At around the same time, I had also begun taking care of some horses, where I met an equine I came to call Best Bud Mare. Horses have, on more than one occasion, saved my soul. I would even go so far as to say that they have saved my life. Not in a dramatic fashion, the way Trigger or Silver or even The Black Stallion would, but in quiet and calming ways. They allowed me to just be, without demanding anything of me, which is what I so desperately needed. One even offered a shoulder for me to cry on when I was feeling overwhelmed with hurt and grief. I had never felt so loved than in that moment.

When I met Best Bud Mare and her equine companions, I was starting to come out of that space. I wasn’t ready to deal with people except in the most minimal of ways. I rarely left my house, except to see the horses. I remember I was wearing a crystal charm in the shape of a heart. One day, over the summer, the charm disappeared. I had literally lost my heart. I have no idea where or when. I noticed only that it had fallen off my necklace.

Converging on my third novel and my care-taking of horses, another passion, theater beckoned in the form of a question: “When are you going back to acting?”

To which I flippantly replied, “When I’m ready to put my heart back on my sleeve.”

And, after a couple of years and three plays, I am returning to the stage by deliberate choice and am currently in a local production of an Agatha Christie play. I also have my eye on another production, Shakespeare’s The Tempest as the powerful and humble sorcerer Prospero.

My heart is singing, my blood is racing and I have goosebumps every time I interact with my fellow actors on the stage as we rehearse.

I have followed my heart.

Follow yours and see where it leads.

So, a few years ago, I picked up a blank journal……

……..and jotted down the kernel of an idea for a story (woman inherits farm in foreign country, travels over with intention to sell, finds horse in back yard, hilarity ensues) and then promptly forgot all about it.

This happens with me a lot. I have stacks of journals with story kernels that have yet to blossom into full-blown stories. I don’t really worry about it, because I know when the right combination of inspiration and willingness to hear the story happens, words get written.

So, while traveling on tour in Ireland, as I observed the countryside from my seat on the bus, I saw a lot of homes – modern and historic – dot the fields. One such older home that had clearly been vacant for some time and in the back yard, I saw horse wearing a green blanket. It was staring towards the road, its attitude one of complete surprise.
I recalled the kernel of an idea and immediately, the story came to me, full-blown. I had fully developed scenes, bits of dialogue, characters, plot, background – I had it all within seconds of seeing that horse in the green blanket.

I didn’t write anything down right away – I needed it to percolate for awhile before putting it down on paper. Part of this was because I had issues with finding the right names for at least one character (in the novel I’m currently working on, one character not only changed his name eight times, but his nationality as well). For me, finding the right name is important – it is the identifier of the person, it holds the key to understanding and it has power.

So, even though I had found the journal I’d jotted the kernel of an idea in, I held off writing anything down, even basic notes. The story kept building itself in my mind, but it wasn’t until I found the right names for the characters that I felt free to add the scenes and notes to the original idea for the story.

It’s funny how an idea I’d had years ago seemed to come to life upon seeing that horse in the green blanket. I wish I’d had time to snap a picture of it and I wonder, even now, what had held his attention, what it was that had surprised him.

I suppose I will never know about the real horse, but I can have a lot of fun imagining what comes next.

 

***
Editor’s note – this blog post is published concurrently on Citizens Journal VC

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