My little nut tree

It is funny the way inspiration strikes. The suddenness of it all sometimes appears to suggest the idea has popped up out of nowhere. A stray and passing thought roped in and corralled long enough to pin into some substantive thought.

Of course, it may have an element of that. However, the other day, when I was looking around for something to write for my writers group down here on earth, with the subject of fruit and or nut, and with no idea if it was to be fiction or non fiction, no idea if I was to write on one or both.

No idea at all, and only a couple of days to produce something. I do not believe I should not have something as it is my group and leaders should always lead:)

Then a glimmer of an idea took over, I jotted three words down.Note form. Wondering how I could enlarge it.

Then I began writing, for an hour, ending with a complete short story. A take on the nursery rhyme of a nutmeg bearing tree. Now,

A) I haven’t thought about that rhyme for at least thirty years maybe longer.

B) The tale was right out of my personal historical past, when I read it to my friend from forever/editor she laughed at the obviousness of it.

C) I did not realise, when writing it, that it was me in the tale.

The other members of my writing group recognised the rhyme – they were meant to, but not knowing me as well as friend from forever did not pick up on just how personal it was.

It was the smoothest easiest short story I had ever written.

Of course, it will need a great deal of tweaking to remove my angst from it. A great of polishing to fill in detail and layers but I was amazed at where it had come.

Had the idea been sitting waiting patiently until the door opened a chink.

Been raging in the darkness angry at being denied.

Or did my imp of a whimsy pick up an assortment of ideas and experiences and chuck them through the door at me.

Who knows but it was fun:)

Next month my members have chosen the police alphabet from Alpha, Beta right through to Zulu for the subject. Write something to include every word in no particular order! At least I have a month as opposed to the three days on that tree.

Blogs:I have had a reasonable week on the blogging front

On alberta reads there has been three posts
1) A rant on identity theft in fiction writing on Musing Monday
2) A muse on YA over 60+ years
3) And yet again proof I am hopeless near a bookshop on Friday Finds
On didyoueverkissafrog there has been two
1) Another in my I love my garden but. . Series on planning and bad weather.
2) And a Something New Every Day on coral reefs unpinning the Peak District.
A short piece on John Milton and his invented words
ROW80  can be found here on sefuty chronicles http://sefutychronicles-albertaross.blogspot.co.uk/
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when society collapses

The world of The Sefuty Chronicles is a grim place. During the Great Wars caused by climate change and lack of resources, many towns, villages and farms chose to hide, from the rioting hordes of desperation, behind rings of land mines. This was done with the promise of release when the war was over. The war never was over, the fighting became more localized, smaller but never finished, there was to be no rescue.

 Not for 50 years.

So what resources did they have to enable them to survive on limited land, limited free sources?

They had their own knowledge, gleaned from a time when all modern conveniences had been at hand. If they were lucky they had a library of books, but it was chance what subjects they covered.The towns and villages had food for awhile in their shops and seeds and plants in their nurseries and the farmers had crops or livestock to hand.

Expertise in the various populations was variable. The farmers and gardeners probably being the better off. But they had a lack of artificial fertilizer and all them had a lack of mobility, due to the mines therefore any hope of trade or exchange was minimal. Vets and doctors only they were within the rings of mines – and how long would medicines hold out

What you had when the mines went down, was what you had.

For a few months that would probably have sufficed, after all, with proper management, products in shops and barns could be rationed and kept.

But 50 years and then it’s a whole new game.

And what of those who did not choose to be put behind the mines. Those who trusted that the authority which had kept security in place for so long. Those who ‘knew’ authorities would help, after all, what did they pay their taxes for? What was in store for them when those authorities fell?

When security vanished and law and order became an historical footnote.

Theft, looting, chaos?

Is it possible to reorganize society without those three aspects coming before? Can the good and the righteous prevail against those who disdain these virtues? Indeed can the good and the righteous remain so, if their families are starving and there are bleak choices ahead?

What would happen to the authorities and the security forces? Could they have made a comeback within those 50 years and rescue the population? Would they consider them at all in the aftermath of the Great Wars?

Is it possible for a nation’s authorities to completely abandon the population?

What? who? would be needed to restore a nation to peace?

In 50 years how many would still be alive?

 So that was the premise of the Chronicles, Now with this 4th part, The Children’s Tale, a new generation is growing up, the great wars and famines have gone, the millions fighting for resources are dead. What manner of world are the children inheriting.

Safe and secure?

Lawless and cruel?

Is  it a world which can be rebuilt?

 WHAT ELSE HAVE I BEEN UP TO?

To find where I have been the rest of last week try my reading here, thoughts on an old poem and my take on the UK NHS.  If you are looking for my progress with writing and ROW80

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Mess with our food at our peril.

Then we were taken to the seed bank. Well, it was, as I could see Ellen thought it would be, the highlight of the day. The Security was intense but the results were well worth it. It may not seem that exciting to look at, not like the Library, but oh all those drawers filled with the future of life. Many of them no longer have a niche Outside to grow in but still the Scientists germinate and grow them to collect the fresh seed and store it for that magical ‘one day’ that we all know we’ll never see.        Ellen’s Tale by Alberta Ross

From the very beginning of The Sefuty Chronicles food security has been at its heart. Sefuty itself stands for it; Se & ty = security, Fu= food(as pronounced). No matter what happens to us  or the world in the future, food security is still the most vital aspect of living.

Always has been and always will. There is a long history of collapsing civilizations, when the lack of food security has driven the demise of mighty empires and nations.

We mess with food supplies at our peril.

I have blogged before about how precarious our hold on this security is. Natural disaster, or man made one. The global economy binds us all together in the world in a frightening way. I cannot quote other countries, but this small overcrowded island is self sufficient only to the tune of 58.9%, despite the government of the day, back after the 2nd world war, declaring we should become self sufficient in the matter of food we import. We have 65 million people (and rising) to feed and have areas already designated ‘arid’ zones – when I was at school ‘arid’ zones belonged somewhere overseas.

Okay, most of us here could survive on half what we eat now, if something drastic happened, but for how long, and how well?

 All food comes from seeds. Even the meat and milk, grass feeds the animals who provide it. Our wood and many of our fabrics come from seeds. Life on earth as we know it would not have flourished, nor will it, without the humble seed. So when we allow governments to pander to powerful companies on the matter of seeds, allows them to dictate what and how our farmers can select and grow seed, meddle with diversity, and say okay to monoculture, there comes again and again those moments when, stunned by disbelief as to the stupidity of politicians, one  yells

‘When will we ever learn’

 ‘Doesn’t history teach us anything’.

This country doesn’t have to go far back in our history to remember the Great Hunger in Ireland when that country lost a million  from starvation , when the potato crop they relied on failed, then a million more emigrated. If our conveys had not prevailed during the Second World War we probably would not, as a country, have survived.

Still, today, millions are on the move because without the food, or the means to produce the food, people are forced to either die or move.

Mankind’s stupid gene means we don’t ever learn our lessons, how can we be so clever and yet so stupid at the same time?

In the meantime this week

on Alberta Writes: I shared a quote on the importance to me of reading, and a thought on the word Rizzle

Did you ever kiss a frog: I shared some new (to me:) facts on cats

Alberta Reads: I’m struggling to work how to order my over flowing collection of books and also some new books I have bought ( like I need new books!)

I also post my progress on my work in progress  on ROW80

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Magic of Seeds

A little less grim this week.  If you just want ROW80 scroll down:)

The Sefuty Chronicles is at it’s heart  a Tale of food security Sefuty being made up of the two words.

Many of you are gardeners; some may even be grander persons working a small holding, a farm.  There are  indisputably many who know so much more than I do on the usefulness of seeds.

I fell in love with this particular magic quite late in life, back in the late 70s after having already fulfilled my first grand ambition in life, of travelling around the world.  I had come home determined to grow some herbs and create beautiful soap -  don’t ask, another tale altogether – my parents were gardener’s but more of the plants-man type than the seed growing ones. In fact they mostly cursed seeds , the most likely offenders being those prolific weeds which seem to pursue personal vendettas against plants-men.(please do not respond with PC speak – man/men as in human kind)

 I opened a packet of lavender seeds – tiny insignificant seed and scattered them forth onto small pots of earth. I followed instructions – I am good at written instructions – and waited impatiently.

 Everyone warned me they may not all grow, maybe I’d be disappointed.

 I am willing to swear they did all grow, dozens and yet more dozens of tiny lavender bushes peeped out at me.  Seeds, earth and water – now if that’s not magic I don’t know what is.  Yours truly was hooked on a line stretching to the next century.  Flushed with success I threw seeds at every available patch and pot of earth, they grew, they grew. Not all with the 100% of those first but they hustled and bustled their way to the sunshine. I am still indulging.

 I needed to know more, I read everything I could find on the seeds, the growing the tending. It led me of course as all my wanders appeared to do down the path of the world, the globes, the planet.  Seeds I found were the staff of Life not bread, as I had always been led to believe. 

 No seeds, no life.

 Well of course it isn’t that simple I know, I know, no need to chastise me.  After I could say it about water

 No water, no seeds, no life

Or oxygen and carbon dioxide and warmth and. . . . and . . . and. . . but you get my drift.

 In the wonderful way time elongates back into the mists of caves and bearskins I discovered those wonderful heroes of mine (early man) knew all about seeds, all about the tending the harvesting the use of them. 

 Clever, clever, early man.

 When did the apes notice the effect of seeds and the next meal I wonder?

 When did early man suddenly decide to crush some seeds, leave them lying around and then cook the rising concoctions  and slice their bread, I wonder?

 When were we ever so clever again, as early man was?

 So we have a magic seed to rival Jack’s beans – happy and content in which ever patch of land it had opened roots. Bathed in sunshine and just enough warmth to suit whatever plant it is destined to become.  Stop for a bit, think about it, a tiny seed with the whole of the grown plant within it.

 Magic.

 But we know the climate has changed many times, so those warm lands may be icy one day, those icy wastes of now may have been tropical forests at some time.  Now here’s the real magic, those insignificant tiny cases of life are not just that – they have more magic hidden within those casings than we can ever dream of.

They can adapt, they can change their DNA to suit themselves. 

Well, yes, we can do that, but we are big, we are supposedly sapient – although I do have my doubts on that point:) and we have labs and scientists with doctorates to do it

  Seeds are just things to curse because they have decided the rose garden is the correct place for them

They adapt and early man noticed this, they gathered the strongest of their early crops each year to sow again the next and over millennium the plants being grown for food changed almost beyond recognition, always suiting their conditions.  The magic of the seeds and the cleverness of early man combined.

 Now, I fear, the cleverness of man has begun to tamper rather than go with the flow.  Now it is not enough to take those best suited to conditions but to take them and ensure their ever changing seeds can no longer change.  Infertile food crops? What is that about?

 Apart, of course, more money for huge companies who control the seeds. As weather and soil conditions change, where are the generations of seeds which magically adapt. 

 To breed super crops to feed the billions seems like such a good idea.

To deny farmers the ability to find the new stronger generations is not.

 To cut costs to the farmer and thereby supposedly the cost to the billions sounds laudable but

To create miles of mono-culture, which can be devastated in one new disease, is not.

 Late, very late in the day, seed banks are being set up as insurance against the worst, however, they are climate controlled by man made means – if the lights go out what then? Small voices sounding sense, warning of trouble ahead, battle against company’s greed and self righteous mantra of feeding the starving millions.

 At the moment there is more than enough food being grown in the world to feed everyone. 

The millions starve because they have no power

They starve because those that have, waste/throw away over half the food produced

They starve because of our ignorance and greed.

 Let those magic seeds feed the world, they can do it, if inherited and learnt wisdom are allowed to tend them. Let man’s knowledge help but it should always be partnership between magic and man. 

 This week I can be found blogging about book-groups on Musing Mondays and review stars on albertareads

Also about rules of general  punctuation on Writers Quote Wednesday and the apostrophe on alberta writes

A piece about my race against age and crocheted scrumbles on kissafrog

ROW80 tries to sort out the muddle that the latest in The Sefuty Chronicles has become!

 

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A million people on the move

I have been missing from here for a long while but not been idle – promise you.

It was a mixed summer last year. While the draft editing and structuring of The Children’s Tale (the Fourth in The Sefuty Chronicles) gathered momentum the international news went from bad to worse. In Ellen’s Tale (the first of the Chronicles, published in 2009) an old man declares the northern part of the world committed genocide on a massive scale by refusing to help the flood of refugees from the effects of climate change on the southern half of the world, lack of land,famine and war driving them to the North. In this the fourth instalment of my dystopian world the refugees are home grown, as law and order has broken down.  The refugees are chiefly women and children, fleeing from raiders and gangs, homeless, starving and ill.

It was difficult to write Ellen’s Tale even though I was imagining the scenario in the future, it has been even more difficult to write this last year knowing that over a million displaced people are actually on the move.

 They are displaced by war primarily, however, the problems in many of these countries have food as an ever present strand in their problems. They flee war, famines, no hope, they are risking their lives on the sea, walking, walking thousands of miles, hoping for a life.

 It has felt voyeuristic writing about this misery while it is unfolding on our doorstep.watching the comments on the news – the ill feeling toward these desperate people rising in volume as I foretold in Ellen’s Tale. Of course not as yet as violent as I had written back in 2009.

 Can the politicians stop the crisis growing or will they yet again make things worse.

Blogs:

 Books, Spices and Birdsong

another instalment in my series on I love my Garden but. . .clearing an out of control wilderness.

Dobet,Dowel,Dobest – a writer’s quote

 And This is why I don’t do Bookshops

A comparison of  Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey and The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer;  two books I have read recently which made a deep impression of me

 Those looking for ROW80  scroll down the Where Did the Esq Go

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Genes and bionic limbs

When I set out to write The Sefuty Chronicles most of the speculative science included in the stories was based,I hoped, on realistic achievements by the time of the setting.

We are without doubt a very clever and innovative primate, if not always the most ethical. Science and technology leaps ahead of control daily. We should tread carefully, indeed the various ethic committees are busy,busy busy dealing with the problems.

One of the most exciting strands, to me anyway, has been the strides that DNA manipulation progresses.

I worry about the way it will go when it strays form the compassionate ideals of helping those with genetic disorders, however, the fact of their doing is enough to marvel at. The technology advances required for the apparatus of these scientific breakthroughs are equally amazing to a techno-phobe, non-scientist such as I.

Some readers have not liked what I have written although, at the same time, admitting humanity might well be able to change a human into something not quite human by the end of this century. New limbs which merge seamlessly into the flesh and inner mechanics of our mind are practically here there will be no effort in the future. If of course we haven’t spoilt our chances of enjoying these advances by trashing the planet so effectively there is not the wherewithal to pursue the science.

This week I have been catching up on the state of the bionic limbs , it is a short step to clothing the robotics in flesh! and the manipulation of genes. 

In the meantime there is  No Man so Beautiful ,

also a review on a great read The Earth Hums in B Flat  .

A small nostalgic look back at my youth and books.

Eat, Drink & Be Merry,The second part of how the King James Bible has influenced the English Language.

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Of Mice & Memories

Way back, when I first penned Ellen’s Tale, I had a ‘humane dictator’ in charge of the City. He was and still is, in The Children’s Tale this the fourth part of The Sefuty Chronicles (WIP), a ‘good’ man, although my characters have conflicting views on that term ‘good’. I like the idea of a benevolent dictator even though those terms do not fit and never will.

Over the recent decades the knowledge of the lasting damage and pain caused by PTSD  (post-traumatic stress disorder) has become more widely known among the public; research was ongoing to find the best way to treat it. Combined with a (almost) lifelong interest into the ways that the mind can be changed (brain washing, propaganda etc) this was one aspect of a soldier’s life I decided the science would move forward on, over the coming decades, to something worthwhile and real.

So in his care of the child soldiers under his command my dictator set up the mind manipulation rooms, where the horrors of war could be softened.  Removal isn’t always the best option as the memory of stressful and dangerous events can help us deal with future events.  This is a dictatorship so I had removal kept as a form of punishment!

I was told by some of my friends that this wouldn’t happen,  I think they didn’t want to believe it! but they did not read the science journals, it was happening, I told them. As Ellen’s Tale was being written the brain was being examined in all its wonderful complexity.

This year nine years on I have been reading of the research on mice and memories and the hope for PTSD sufferers. Maybe my dictator was onto something:)

In the meantime you can catch up on my other thoughts on various matter on

Musing Monday where I prove I can often be a raging Luddite – Waterproof books indeed!

I have a misunderstood soft spot for rodents

(the links are not working today so you will have to scroll down for this one – sorry:) Am reminded of the old days and typewriters on Writer’s Quote Wednesday

Smile on Three Things Thursday

and began a short series on how the King James version of the bible has influenced the English language. A Committee’s Sublime Creation

The next round of ROW80 begins this coming week so I need to re-evaluate my goals for the next few weeks

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Is there a universal ‘wrong’

So JuNo finishes in a few days and The Children’s Tale has shaped up reasonably well this month. I didn’t have to resolve the problem the children have with what is evil, as why would they be able to solve the problem no-one else can? But their puzzle has left my brain struggling again to work out the whys and wherefores of the question.

The news is full of varying aspects of the question as it always seems to be. If only it was as straight forward as the press would have us believe. The results are clear, in whichever country we belong, whichever culture we participate in. However, the acts of violence and ‘un-natural’ behaviours often are only wrong depending on one’s viewpoint. The instigator would, one supposes, believe they are right indeed in cases ‘know’ they should act in these ways.

So is there an universal ‘wrongdoing’, an universal evil that every person in the world could agree upon?

There does appear to be behaviour in every culture which is considered ‘wrong’, which is morally suspect – morally to that particular culture – if not to ours, although many of them are similar. Humanity have the same basic needs and rules to ensure them however even though humans do have a keen sense of ‘wrong’; the tangle my brain gets into is whether behaviour can be judged fairly, if there is no universal wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a product of my time and culture as much as anyone and do pass judgement on others when my moral code is transgressed. But the world often makes no sense when I read the papers, try and absorb the calamities f the world that unfolds day after day, when I struggle to think of what possible answers there could be. When I make fictional children endeavour to pass judgements which may have an impact on their tomorrows.

Musing Monday found me with six books lined up to read!

Tuesday found me dancing through life fromballet to line via belly dance

The Wednesday writers quote was about ‘splendid moments in time’

I sneaked an extra smile in on Thursday

And because of series four of The Game of Thrones pondered ‘cide’ words.

Not an idle week and with a little effort I will make my 50000 words for JuNo by the end of this coming week so feeling reasonably satisfied.

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The question of evil

Juno is full steam ahead for this month and I am hoping to Finish The Children’s Tale up to editing status. Being a bit of a coward I have left some of the more difficult bits until last:) This, the fourth tale in The Sefuty Chronicles is, as the title suggests, about children. The children who have inherited the mess left by their forebears. The children who are asked to step up and try to take on tasks they have no experience or guidance to do. Well, very little anyway.

Children in times of trouble and adversity, have to grow up quickly and become adults before the the age that many of us in the West consider correct.

One scene I have been struggling with is one where they discuss what is wickedness or evil and why is it? As over many decades I have pondered this subject myself and never come up with a definite answer to the question, I find it a puzzle as to how to write it for these children. Products of such a dysfunctional world, almost devoid of any kind of security, law or moral framework, how do they puzzle their way through the maze that greater minds than myself have struggled with and failed. How can they avoid or arm themselves against it if they do not understand what it is or isn’t?

Is it a given in the DNA or a learnt reaction? Can it be nulified or changed? Is it inevitable? Are their degrees of grey from black to white Most of all is there a constant across all cultures as to what is wickedness?

I am re-reading Mary Midglys book on the subject – Wickedness. I enjoy her books but they are slow going for me as I have no history in philosophy and there are so many references for me to read as I go along. Her style is easy and elegant and her teasing out of this question both fascinating and stimulating.

Whether or not it will help my children only time will tell.

In the meantime in between times I have finally posted my A-Z review/roundup - only a month late but as you know my machine was down. Also on Three Thing Thursday what made me smile/happy this last week.

My writer’s quote last week is one that effects me on almost every book /short story I have ever written – the pesky business of the ending:) I have also been pondering the subject of phobias.

Any who want ROW80 update, it is here a few hours late (I must do better or stop reading or gardening and get my posts written on time!:)

 

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Missed May:(

I have been missing for a month now, due to a crashed Internet connection. It is sorted, except for one e-mail address:(

 It is not so much the inconvenience of not being connected – I am not a great Facebook fan, neither am I on Twitter constantly. However, during the course of years of being here in cyberspace one gathers commitments. I join things – challenges, networking connections. I say I will do things on a regular basis. These connections are only here in cyberspace, I cannot pick up a phone and say, sorry won’t be able to post such and such tomorrow.

I do not like letting people down like that .It is rude. But not so much my rudeness. A friend from down here managed to send a message to one site., and my local village library to another couple. Being without for a few hours or a day is not a problem, but it is scary how much we want (I say want rather then need!) the Internet.

 Anyway  I am back. I was going to post a couple of times last month on short story writing and I might still do so, a bit behind of May which was write A Story a Day month. This is the month each year that I work on my short stories, gathering together odd ideas, drafted scenarios and try and lick them into some kind of form and structure. They can be polished later; one a day does not for polished story make:)

As i mentioned last time, my friend from forever/editor had requested I produce another reworked fairy tale/nursery rhyme book of short stories this year, so ever obedient that is what I devoted most of the month too. However thirty one stories are not needed in that genre so I also worked on the ordinary shorts I had started last year. It was a good month of indulging in the darker side of my imagination! It does always amaze me how dark that can be. I spend hours dreaming up gloriously nasty but deserved fates for my characters. On the surface I appear to be a perfectly harmless, if untidy, overweight, old woman.

 You just never can tell.

 This month is JunoWrMo a writing challenge to write 50000 words in the month of June. I am hopeful that The Children’s Tale will be finished by the end of June. While I have been editing I have ripped out a big chunk from the middle, which needs replacing, and the end needs re-writing. So fingers crossed. The children have really taken this story between their hands and are determined to give their side of the events.They have dictated where to go and what to reveal. They keep their secrets.

 So now I am back online, hopefully I will be blogging again this week, with all the usual. About books on Monday and maybe Friday, on Life, Tuesday, Writers Quote on Wednesday, something to smile about on Thursday, and a piece about words on Friday.

 That’s the plan.

It’s good to have a plan.

Maybe I need a plan B as well:)

ROW80 update here

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