A Mostly Wordless Wildlife Wednesday

No matter what you call it, I hope you all are enjoying Summer Solstice (if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, that is)!

While gardening a few days ago, I looked up and lo and behold . . . visitors . . .

Well hello there, raccoons

 

And then the four cubs saw me and proceeded to climb up this tree. I estimate them at about 3-5 pounds/each.

 

Raccoons in tree

 

Finally, I lured them down with half of my lunch (bread and pear-applesauce). It was quite fun for this animal-lover. I hope their mom was alright (foxes have been afoot lately).

 

Raccoons came down

Have a wonderful, not-hellaciously-hot summer!

 

And now, huzzah for life-saving soap

EcoSoapBankBelieve it or not, but there’s actually a lot of good news out there, on both micro and macro levels. People helping other people, sacrificing their time, money, or even their lives for others. The thing is, sometimes you have to dig for the positive stories.

Out of this seeming dearth of positivity and light, Damyanti at the Daily (w)rite brainchilded and then created the We Are the World Blogfest (WATWB).

WATWB (or #WATWB in twitterspeak) aims to take the digging out of the equation. That’s less hassle and more heart-warmers and smiles for you!

On the last Friday of every month, anyone who’d like to participate and link up to the We are the World Blogfest can do so—provided you have a positive news story to share with others. As I understand it, the WATWB story does not have to be one you reported on, but more like a feel-good piece of information or narrative you’d pass along to a friend or relative to cheer them up or inform them.

Soap pumperI recently read about an organization that is addressing some of my favorite subjects—bacteria, viruses, and epidemiology—in a very tangible and humanitarian way. It’s called the Eco-Soap Bank. You might have seen this organization or its founder, Samir Lakhani,  reported on in various media, because of his recent CNN Heroes award.

In short, when Mr. Lakhani was studying in Cambodia he observed a baby being soaped up in a bathtub with common laundry detergent, because normal bar or hand soap is prohibitively expensive in poor areas of the world. Soap is a basic barrier to blocking disease, and hand-washing a seemingly simple action to prevent disease spread, especially waterborne disease. Did you know that diarrheal diseases KILL approximately 525,000 children worldwide under the age of 5 years every single year (World Health Organization, May 2017 data)? Of course, this problem is accentuated in some parts of the world with less or even no access to clean drinking water, vaccines, and something as taken-for-granted (by most of us) as soap.

Well, Samir saw that need and he tackled it by founding Eco-Soap Bank, which addresses three problems at once. First, it recycles old soap from hotels and other donors that would otherwise go to waste (pulling collected scraps together that are then thoroughly sanitized). Second, the soap bank provides jobs and education to women in so-called developing countries so they can fully care for their families. And third, that recycled, sanitized soap freely goes out to hospitals, schools, and communities that would not otherwise have access to or be able to afford it. So far, Samir’s Eco-Soap Bank organization has donated sanitized soap to a projected 661,000 people and counting (recycling 24,000-plus pounds of soap in the process).

My final thought is, simply enough: Wow! If young people like Samir are in charge of our planet from here on out, the future looks much healthier and brighter indeed.

If you’d like to help Eco-Soap Bank or find out more about their efforts, please visit their Web site.

Likewise, Damyanti features a ton of other wonderful and worthy news contributed by co-hosts and friends. Get in on the good news the last Friday of every month!

Friday Fictioneers: House-Called

It’s not often these days that I get to participate in Friday Fictioneers, but I love the photos Rochelle chooses, as well as reading what people come up with. And so, this fantasy drabble sprang forth. Hope you like it.

FridayFictioneers_24march2017

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

House-Called

genre: fantasy

Pearl placed the last of the enchantments. Each spike brimmed with unseen poison; every adamantine bar thrummed with mojo enough to keep terrors at bay. Continue reading

Whatever this is, it is

Dog & frog

Dog and frog. A friend’s Yorkie, not mine (sadly, as he’s a sweetie).

Here’s something not-so completely different. A proem (ranting + poem).  AU NOTE: Have fun, ghost of Dr. Freud!

Vestigial Child
(3-13-17)

What raw ravaged
seed defines me,
I cannot catalog,

but I can define
each wound
by its unwounding.

This sediment here,
youth; that, betrayal
of not telling.

This layer bounded
by leeched limestone laid
where each burial was swift

centuries chipped in
to what passes for
my soul these days.

Eggshell white
pieces, piecemeal.
Peaceful never.

Hurt rage ranging
as far as the tether
allows, sears, marks,

won’t give, won’t forgive.
Scars come unconditionally
coddling the cold warmth

of phenotypic oddity,
biological prop
vestigial child

mad witness to
your own match
immolating from within

an egg hurled
in that moment
coming full cervix

and splattering on
brutal bedrock:
stone of masculinity, madness

metamorphic as cell,
seed, shell. Birth, death
swaddled in light

bundle of bagged
flesh, fresh bulb
in welcome ground

stunted womb
rooming, roaming
from wing to web to ring.

Every decade
laying down silt
in slighted skin

peeled-back
curetted and curated
to show off. Look:

See that charred
oath dashed to hell?
Shelled-out hulls

fall easiest, prey
to gravity, strung
causing welts,

coiling Weltschmerz
around figments
of neck, rendered delicate

by one’s own
sublime grief, a
doppelgänger, which

won’t get out of
the way. Ghost
obscures the body

until all that remains
is the conversation
with the shadow.

Terrific Tuesday to You: Writing Updates, Shout-Outs, and Some Markets

Open for Business_blog.jpg

And to think: I actually dimmed this somewhat to take down the brightness.

Well, hello there! I shall have been returning and I have returned. (?)

But seriously, welcome (back)! I’m glad to have you visiting me.

On top of the busted ankle, so to speak, I’ve been doing copywriting out of my ears. Not titillating writing, but it certainly helps with the bills. And the Randys, Adams, Jakes, Simons, etc. (Or should I say with the GEs, Maytags, and fine furniture everywhere on the Internetz and on this great little dot we call a planet?)

Anyway, since I love doing the writing market posts, I figured what the heck. I’m behind in weekly posting once again. This is a good way to go, methinks.

Perhaps these will help you? I do hope so. Continue reading

Feminism + Bicycles + Fiction — How You Can Help Support One or All

blog_feminist-family-bicycling

My Feminist Family on the Prairie (yes, men can be feminists, too)

Believe it or not, there is a connection between feminism, bicycles, and fiction. Witness the fiction anthology Biketopia: Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories in Extreme Futures from Microcosm Publishing, an anthology now in its fourth incarnation. I am proud to be an author in the fourth Biketopia, and I’ve got a favor to ask on behalf of all the authors and the publisher.

But first, a little bit about the latter. Microcosm Publishing, whom you can find on Duotrope, on their Web site, and all around the social media sphere, occupies a subversive publishing space—if feminism, LGBT rights, veganism, mental health, and a punk attitude qualify as such. Book titles upcoming or already published by this Portland, Ore., company include: Trump: A Graphic Biography; Cats I’ve Known; Out of the Basement: From Cheap Trick to DIY Punk in Rockford, IL, 1973-2005; Bikequity: Money & Class; and The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism. For myself, I was drawn to a publishing company that’s been around more than 20 years and supports women who write while making a statement of engagement with our environment, politics, music, feminism, do-it yourself, relationships, and so much more.

Support a Feminist Fiction Endeavor (That I Happen to be Included In)

But there’s a small hitch to Biketopia four. It’s not completely funded. Not yet.

This is where you come in!

There’s a crowdfunding campaign at this very moment to ensure it makes its way into the world. Featuring 11 stories and a batch of reviews that are dystopian or sometimes even utopian,  Biketopia: Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories in Extreme Futures awaits full funding.

I cannot speak for the authors in this anthology, but as a writer among their number, I can say that my story focuses on a dystopian future in arid, desolate Colorado. Inspired possibly by subliminal crossflow from too many “Twilight Zone” marathons, I wrote about a protagonist who owns and runs a dusty diner alone but for two canine sidekicks. Then, she meets someone, and everything changes from there. So, pretty simple plot, without giving too much away.

Looking at the other story synopses, I am stoked to read Biketopia four, which includes a few comics within as well. Here are a few story blurbs from the Kickstarter fundraising page:

  • In the solarpunk future, will robots have rights, too?
  • What is the secret behind some people’s seemingly random plague immunity, and is it okay for them to take your bike?
  • When your health is closely monitored during a pregnancy, who gets to decide if bicycling is healthy or dangerous for your unborn child? (text by Microcosm Publishing)

May the Fourth Be With Us, and How You, Too, Can Submit

Please consider supporting Biketopia four via the Kickstarter drive; with a minimum of $10 you get the latest anthology. With a donation of $25 or above, you get all four Biketopia anthologies. The goodies abound, with a variety of levels from which to chose.

I’d be ever so pleased, not just for myself but for the mission of Microcosm, if you’d consider donating to the campaign and checking out Microcosm’s site. In addition to the previous book titles mentioned in the intro, you’ll see that MP offers up ezines to coloring books to stickers for your bike and all kinds of books including self-help and vegan recipes inspired by Morrissey (whose band, The Smiths, are no relation to me, sadly).

Finally, Biketopia five is, ahem, gearing up for action, too. Through March 1, you can submit your feminist-inspired science fiction (though you need not be female or identify as such) stories of 2-6K words, to Biketopia five, with a theme of “Intersections.” In fact, they say “We especially welcome submissions from writers of color and transgender and nonbinary writers, and seek stories that portray more diverse perspectives than are classically found in sci fi.”

So, get on that seat and ride your creativity into worlds unimagined!