A Mushroom, a Duck and an Owl …..

What do mushrooms, ducks and owls have in common?
I like them – read why.

Mushrooms come and go quietly and surprisingly and are harmless, unless you eat the wrong one.

Ducks quack a lot but are endlessly amusing and never run down pedestrians while texting.


Owls sleep all day, make soft pleasant hooting noises and fly silently.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Photography, Wildlife

Are We There Yet?

How many words should there be in a children’s novel? A scientific survey of one novel gave me the answer – 35,000. That was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl. If that is a good number of words for Mr. Dahl then it works for me. I confirmed this number twice by different methods. Being an estimator for 10 years, I have a pretty good idea how to count, so the first test was this: I counted how many lines it took to get to 100 words on a typical page. I extrapolated the count for the whole page, and then went to the last page and subtracted that number from the number of the first page to get the number of pages from the beginning to the end. Then I multiplied that by the number of words on my sample page. From this I subtracted the pages with illustrations and blank areas  by quickly flipping through the book. I arrived at 35,000 words. To check this, I scanned another random but typical looking page and sent it to OCR. I exported that to my word processor and got the word count. I then counted every page with text, leaving out illustrations and blanks, to arrive at a net total of pages with text. Not surprisingly that gave me 35,000 words. Enough already!

My novel-in-progress stands at 25,000 words, plus the 1000 or so I just finished typing this morning. I have been reducing the gross word count by judicious editing, if not ruthless, so the 25,000 words are all keepers. The question now is, how to wrap up the story in 9000 words? Easier said than done. The writing continues apace, but it is clear that I will not hit 50,000, so there will be no “winning” Nanowrimo. Shouldn’t there be a category for children’s books? Oh well, you can’t win them all.

While setting out various events in the book I realized that my choice of a 1939 Royal KMM typewriter didn’t fit the timeline, so I have revised the machine to a 1914 Royal 10 instead. This has worked out better than expected for numerous reasons. I prefer the look of the older machine, which in my opinion would be more attractive to kids of all ages. Here is a picture I downloaded of a 1914 Royal 10 (thanks to sevenels). Now if I can be so lucky as to find one in a thrift shop for $25….

Royal 10 twin window

Here is the last page written to date:

Did I mention there is a pony in the story? It’s a kid’s book! There has to be a pony. Or magic, or both!

Leave a comment

Filed under Books and Short Stories, NaNoWriMo, Typewriters, writing

Typing Against Oblivion

Nanowrimo is here and as usual, I devised a cunning plan on November 1st. Of course we all know that the brain works in mysterious ways and so the whole thing was undoubtedly hatching in my subconscious before I knew what was going on. I had had several suggestions from my fans (all 2) that I undertake a children’s book for my next trick. Now that I am a grandpa I suppose the time has come. Regardless, the book is underway. It is being typed, as all great literature generally is, on a manual typewriter. It also features a manual typewriter, Royal KMM 1939, with magic powers. This is indubitably due to the fact that the word MAGIC appears on it. Also because my Mom used one when she was a typist at the CPR long time passed. I think it was a KMM, and in any case it had the same big Royal logo on the back of it, so I accept that as evidence enough for this jury of me.

Well, it’s going smoothly and I am enjoying the process. There really is no more gratifying experience than reading to a child, and this is kind of like doing that for a whole bunch of them. Hoping, naturally, that one day one child somewhere will actually read it! Maybe two or three… One minor glitch is that Nanowrimo has a 50,000 word target, and that is more words than most kid’s books. So I will try to write too much and edit it later. In actual fact – as if there are facts that aren’t (alternate facts aside) – I am using an entirely new method this time. I am editing as I go. This is often considered a no no, but I’m finding that it is improving my writing. I see so many things to rewrite that I’m avoiding repeating those sorts of errors whilst typing. Positive feedback loop through continuous iterative editing.

Lastly I wish to report that I am using one of my Olivetti Studio 44’s, mainly. I dug it out of the basement and have discovered to my delight that it is a pleasure to type on. It easily beats the vaunted SM9 or any other SM’s. I prefer the SF models anyways, and I have used mine a great deal. I now have at least 7 of these, from various eras. They’re all identical under the hood. But for now I am sticking with the 44. It has a soft touch and that makes quite a difference with muscle fatigue, believe it or not. There is very little recoil. Some folks don’t like the softness of Olivetti’s, especially the 22, but for me I appreciate that, for their gentleness on the fingers, hands and forearm muscles. Last year I got a terrible pain in my elbow after a month of typing madly, which may have been exacerbated by the snappy action of the typewriters I used. Some are worse than others, but the 44 and 22 are some of the softest machines you can find.

Olivetti – Underwood Studio 44 – made in Canada

EXCERPT:

4 Comments

Filed under NaNoWriMo, Typewriters, writing

gOOdbye octo-ober

I just squeaked this in so I wouldn’t miss posting for an entire calendar month. I’m torn between writing a novel for Nanowrimo or doing some other creative endeavour, such as sketching. As of Hallowe’en night I have no plot ideas, nothing, so it may be sketches. You never know about this however, because all of a sudden – blam!!! an idea comes forth like a thunderbolt (lightning bolt that is – thunder has no bolt). I may secretly be hoping that the ___bolt doesn’t arrive, so I can avoid the whole thing of hours writing (typed double spaced) and then a year of editing. It’s the aftermath that ruins the fun. If I could be content with sloppy work that would be better. Some might say I am, and who knows but they may be right, and yet I like to think that my work is honed like a Gillette Blue Blade (not the rusty ones). Well here is my creative output for the day, in preparation for a burst of creativity in November… ahem!

jack O – 2017

sitting on the peter verin memorial bench, looking south east

peter verin memorial bench, looking north east

park bench, looking north eastish

Dorothy, my 1926 Remington Portable (German)

3 Comments

Filed under NaNoWriMo, Photography, Poetry, Sketching, Typewriters

Autumn, Day One

Birdhouse #1 – a sparrow roost

My birdhouses are empty now, so today I emptied their contents. We watched several sparrow families use the 1st house this summer, but we didn’t see any birds using the 2nd one. However, there were nests in both houses. House 1 has a 1-1/2″ diameter hole, while house 2 has a 1-1/8″ hole. The nests I removed were very different from each other, the first being very deep, from the bottom up to the hole, and rudely constructed of sticks and straws. The 2nd nest was entirely different, made of small soft threadlike bits and the top surface lined with fluff, that looked like fine cotton wool.

house 1

nest 1

house 2

nest 2

Leave a comment

Filed under Animal psychology, Birds, Photography, Poetry, Typewriters, Wildlife, writing

Camping With Typewriter

We had 5 days out camping around Southern Vancouver Island. On day 1, before we got to out first destination we stopped for lunch then went to a thrift store nearby, where I bought a typewriter for $10. I hadn’t thought to bring one along with me, but this seemed like an omen. If it wasn’t for that I would not have written these two poems. I present their edited versions, and some pictures. We had a variety of geography on this voyage, from the ocean to a lake to the alpine zone. Lucky for us to live so close to all this!

Underwood 378 – $10 cheap!

First stop was an ocean-side camp at a rocky beach called French Beach. We camped in the forest of tall trees, and rode our bikes down the road to the beach where we swam in the frigid water in wet-suits. This was on the Juan de Fuca Strait, looking across at Washington and the Olympic Mountains.

French Beach

Ocean Beach Summer Night

Briefly a rush of truck tires from the road nearby
Then a softer sigh, we look to the sky
A raven so black whooshes through the air
Voyaging from perch to perch in treetop bare
Campers pass soundlessly with dogs
None barking, quiet like beach logs
Tiny flies flit there and here
End up dead in our beer
We pick them out and drink up
We have no fear

Next to us the water tap and garbage bins
Two outhouses, one women’s, one men’s
Through the trees waves endlessly pound rocks
Where earlier we stood without socks
Watched them rolling thunderously, splash
Sometimes offset, sometimes one great crash

A zipper dumping energy like a long liquid spear
Which makes its mark and instantly disappears
To reappear in the following frame
Tag for the ocean is a favorite game
Any hour may bring change
Fast, unpredictable as a sneeze
But tonight there is a warm breeze
And the happy waves play without fights
Like children do on summer nights

djn
August 28 2017
French Beach, BC

Up the road a ways we camped on another coast, beside the air force. Jets and big choppers were flying around. We were on the inland waters, looking eastward into the endless mountain ranges of British Columbia. Some of the most inaccessible territory on the planet, yet so close by. There are no roads north from there, no “civilization” for hundred of miles, only countless square miles of forest and mountains.

Kin Beach

The Force Is With Us

Roaring jets remind us how
Beside this camp an air force lurks
Ever ready to strike if called
Who or what we don’t ask
Sitting in this field of grass

Writing, reading as the sun sets
another long day in the car
another camping meal enjoyed
chirping crickets and songs of birds
announce the end of their day
chirping and hunting for prey

the road gets longer year by year
how long it seemed to get here
travelling is not so easily done
a short trip is as hard as a long one
or are we weary from the sun?

still, we do enjoy these camps
discovering new places like tramps
later we remember them again
forgetting how we endured pain
remembering sunshine forgetting rain

fondly recalling pleasures from simple things
reading by lantern light and optical illusions
playing cards against a chain link fence
warm nights and stars, noises from cars
snuggling into a narrow bed, banging your head

tired and dirty we are now
in a day or two we’ll have forgotten how
we walked across a field before bed
felt the cold descending, instead
sitting inside on comfortable chairs
do the wash, arrange socks in pairs
go upstairs to bed, turn on a light
lie inside the covers, say goodnight
set the alarm, close our eyes
sleep to be awoken by surprise

djn
August 30 2017
Kin Beach, Comox, BC

From here we made a day trip to hike in alpine meadows. Driving from the beach we looked ahead across the valley to a huge glacier on top of the mountain. Once in the alpine we walked through a pristine wilderness of forests, lakes and meadows full of berries and flowers. Then a rescue helicopter arrived to help an older lady who was backing up to take a picture and fell off the boardwalk, breaking something in her shoulder. A strange sight to see a chopper setting down between tall trees into a tiny clearing.

1 Comment

Filed under Great Hikes, Photography, Poetry, Thrift shop finds, Travel, Typewriters, Wildlife

The Great Canadian Eclipse

We contemplated a trip to Oregon to see the eclipse but decided there would be too many people on the road, so we stayed in Victoria and watched it from the top of our mountain.

Fortunately the day dawned clear, and not a cloud in sight. We arrived around 9 am to find quite a few others already set up.

One guy was talking away to his phone making a selfie video. Others had their cereal box viewers ready and some were seated in lawn chairs under the shade of a beach umbrella.

Very few had the special sun goggles, but we did.

I made a pinhole box viewer and installed a camera with a macro lens, with which I was able to photograph the moon’s transit.

The results did not really do justice to the eclipse, however. I managed one pic by shading the camera lens with the sun goggles and snapping a picture directly.

That was the best shot. Although it did not get dark, merely dimmer, it did cool off substantially. We saw a 90% eclipse. As soon as the moon went past the maximum everybody departed. The summit went from 70 people to a dozen within minutes, and so too we headed back down.

I saw an eclipse once before, but I can’t recall where or when! I’m pretty sure I’ll remember this one.

1 Comment

Filed under Eclipse