Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Rotten Treasure

The moment you breathe a sentence that includes something about your dog, every person within a mile's hearing range will spurn out yarns of stories about their dog. Starting up the topic is a dangerous business. Only do it if you have time to listen, are ready to fight for air time to counterattack with your own story, or you are a writer and no one can interrupt.

After reading this, your only way to avenge yourself will be to post your canine story in the comment section at the end. I wish you luck.

Our backyard is a doggie Disneyland. Wide open space, soft soil from the never-ending Pacific Northwest rain, and alone time when pesky humans are away at work. It is the quintessential locale for wrestling, romping, chasing, and digging.

Have a biscuit you want to bury for later lavishing? Trot out behind one of the three trees and hide your treat.

Have free time to bask in the sun and survey your land of wonder? Sit on the ramp leading to the dog door and contemplate life.

Want to play dig-and-find? You just might discover an old rotted tennis ball left behind by a former dog inhabitant. And this is where our tale begins.

Daisy, eighty-five pound St. Bermastiff, had unearthed an old rotted tennis ball. Partially chewed open, soft from years of underground life, smelling like soiled socks and sticky sweat--it was every dog's harbored dream. And it was her discovery.

But then came Morris, fifteen pounds of part Maltese white fluff. He knew there was no way of throwing his weight around to get the ball. It was going to take intellect, planning, and a damn good scheme. Who knew how long it took for the diabolical plot to sift it's way out of his white fluffy head.

When Daisy was snout deep in the scent of her treasure, body poised above the rubber insides, delight scorching her muscles, mind focused solely on the ball, Morris knew it was time to make his move.

Standing on the dog door ramp, he barked incessantly at nothingness. Daisy, forever trusting in her life companion, dropped the ball and ran beside Morris. She was ready to defend our home from a non-existent intruder. Joining the barking chorus, she did her duty as a protector.

Morris gave a couple more woofs, then set in for the backside maneuver. Galloping quietly away, he gathered up the ball in his tiny mouth with it's cute little tongue, and stole the treasure. Dashing into the open door, he leaped upon the couch and savored the dug up debris. Daisy was still barking at the air.

Minutes whisked away until the Invisible Intruder was barked away. Daisy, her job complete, trotted back to play ball. Gone. It was gone.

The only explanation could be is that the intruder had reburied the ball. Gazing out at her terrain, she knew the search for the ball must continue. It was out there somewhere.

This morning, she searches yet again. Digging holes in our backyard, ensuring that we will never have a level lawn, she is on a mission. With every claw full of unearthed dirt, she is one drop closer to finding her lost ball. And Morris is ready to help with her next discovery.

They work well together.

Another pair who work well together is Scout and the elephant living in his backyard, Ellie. In this book, they are pairing up to spin on her belly on a frozen pond. Great fun and laughter comes with this story:

Heather Leigh,
Proud Pet Companion  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Be Obnoxiously Noisy

I Can't Keep Quiet is a singing group formed to vocalize about the deeds of our White House. Whatever your political views, their song is intoxicating. Their story is as well. Turns out, they spent two days rehearsing via internet before meeting at a Peace Rally and performing that day.

After hearing their song on Face Book, I thought about what I do to be boisterous. Singing isn't something you want to hear from me. Just trust me on this one. Instead, I blow it out through writing.

They spent two days, about the same that I spend working on these posts. Okay, that's an exaggeration. What I actually mean is that I will spend the first day writing the rough draft for around an hour. The next day will be to revise, re-view, and polish. If I'm feeling confident, I'll wait a few hours, re-read several times, and finally post.

Which is a huge difference from when I first began the blog gig. Back in the good ole days, I was finished with  the entire thing in less than thirty minutes. But as time goes on, I spend more of it haggling away to wrestle out a page and a half of prose. This means that either I am trying harder to make it good, or am losing my quick speed ability to write. I don't know. I would like to believe that it's the first explanation, But that may be writer ego shielding my eyes from the truth.

In my not so incredibly vast, but not too limited, experiences, I've discovered that the more that I know about a subject, the less I know. Know what I mean? I shall give an example.

About two hundred and ninety-seven years ago (never knew I was that old, did you?), I had some schooling in electricity. I went in knowing all that needed to be known: plug in appliances to make them work, and the words behind AC/DC (not the heavy metal band, silly). Soon, I discovered a murky, hidden electrician secret.

We don't really understand electricity. Oh, sure, you can converse about voltages, series and parallels, conduits, all of the usual rigamaroo. But electrons move all over the place. They do not follow a leader. They bing, boing, and ping wherever they fancy. Copper can harness, voltage drops can guide, but no one is truly in charge of individual movements.

In the end, I found that there are a lot more questions to ask than there are answers to meet them.

So here I ping back to writing. The can't quiet group got their sensation done in two days. How did they know it was done? They harmonized, went live, taped, youtube posted, and were done.

How do I know if I'm done, you ask? As my children's book writing teacher told the class, you're done with your story when you are sick of reading it, over and over and over again.

Even then, I'm not done. Once a book, blog, or story is published, it is unwise for me to go back and re-read. There will be a plethora of words attacking me that are not satisfying. Pitchfork, going for the monster type attacks. Scary stuff.

It's become so bad at points, that I've taken off three books from all ready being sold, indie publishing sites. After soothing the beasts of ineffective, glaringly noxious words, phrases, sentences and even chapters, they were put back on the shelves.

In order for me to progress in churning out books, I have come to accept that perfection is not in my writing vocabulary. Which is why I so appreciate the can't quiet group, live theatre, and live music. Those people expose themselves to chances of imperfections--while others are watching them! AND, depend on others to do the right thing. Vulnerability up the yin yang. At least I have a delete button before I hit that publish button.

We've all heard that phrase, Follow Your Bliss. Whatever your--yes, I am talking to you directly Reader-- bliss is, don't suppress it. Let us hear what you can't keep quiet, in all of it's imperfect beauty. If you go for suppression, you will implode. Scientific fact.

Comment below on your bliss. We want to know.

Here is the first book that I took off the ebook shelves and re-wrote. Hope you enjoy this final revision:

Heather Leigh,
Rolling in Imperfections

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Stampeded And Smitten

When my sons were one and four years old, we sold everything and moved to Costa Rica. Yes, we did it. Gave up suburbia in the U.S. with it's safety nets and green, over-watered lawns, to live in the jungle. What  possessed us? A desire to try something new, live the Pura Vida lifestyle, and madness.

We didn't know we were mad until we attempted to live with the locals. It was then that we discovered what Pura Vida, pure life, is really like.

Sure there was a beautiful river across the dirt, chicken pecked road. It was a deep turquoise green. The boys and I went daily to play, splash and pretend we didn't live in heat bordering on hell temps. All was fun and games until that week of torrential rain.

Turns out the rain was so severe upstream, that it decided to bring down an alligator for show and tell time. So now our play zone was an unusable petting zoo.

Then there were the absolutely fascinating ants. To study them in a far away classroom, they're remarkable. Could hold my ADD mind for hours. Living with them is another story.

There are the fire ants. Those little hellions are drawn to human ankles for a loving bite. But the bite for us two-leggeds feels like zaps of fire. Horrid enough to experience daily, but even worse when it is your children getting bitten.

Oh, and the ants so small they are barely seen. Those can get through zip lock bags. How do you keep food sanitary if they can even get into a zip lock?! Refrigerator, of course. ALL opened food containers were stored in our fridge. Made for one heck of an overstuffed appliance.

Ant stories could take on several blog posts. To get the full jungle life effect, we should be discussing the amount and size of the ticks, cockroaches, and mosquitoes. But I want sweet dreams tonight. Not a head filled with life's little monsters.

Before we moved back to the States for less Pura Vida and more libraries, public drinking fountains, and to teach the boys what escalators at the mall are for, I got the idea for a book series.

While hiking in the jungle, my oldest son loved to be first on the trail. He thought there was nothing more fun than pretending to use a machete. Holding back vines and branches, he led the way for us dependent adults.

It was on one of those walks that an accompanying friend told me that he had a Scout personality. He enjoyed helping others--still true to this day.

Hmmm. Something about that name stuck with me. In fact, it leeched on. After being back in the land of concrete, I started writing about a ten-year-old boy, Scout.

Eavesdropping in on the kids at my son's school, I wrote in their dialect. Striving for fifth grade humor, I wrote and wrote. So many bloody words spilled like a biting, hungry vampire, my head hurts just thinking about it. Ouch.

From these not-so-great stories, some good things were revealed. Scout had a quirky, borderline whiny personality, and an unusual penchant for getting into crazy situations. He had a friend named Matt and came from a circus family.

However, after months of writing Scout stories, they never got above barely humorous. Nothing that I would venture to publish. Until, Ellie.

One day, while Scout and Matt were goofing around, he ran into an elephant. Literally. He was running down the sidewalk and crashed into a a female gray fattie.

Don't distress yourself about offending the new character. She relishes her stout side.

I don't always know when a new character is going to pop out like a Star Trek ship coming out of hyperspace. But Ellie was ready to be born. She planted her body on the sidewalk, in the path of a running Scout.

As soon as we met her, I was smitten. Her attitude, boldness, charisma, and wild streak were too much for me to resist. I knew I was turning a blind spot on her borderline wickedness, but I was addicted at the first, "harumff," from her trunk.

Scout and I invited her to his stories, and to live in his backyard. It has been a love/hate relationship ever since. Drama Queen eloquence and galloping humor.

Thus was born Scout and Ellie.

From there, the stuck in the mud, confusing stories I had been writing, became laughable and ready for publishing. Alas, a token for my troubles.

Ready to read the stories that started in the pura vida jungles? Thought you would be. Here is a link:

Post your thoughts on elephant behavior in comment box below. Ellie is an avid reader.

Heather Leigh, 
Smitten by an elephant

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Humboldt Conspiracy Spring Day

Spring days in Humboldt County, Pacific Northwest, are deceptively perfect. They hypnotize us innocent Spring Lovers into forgetting the other three hundred fifty-nine days of wind, rain, fog and constant chill.

Without hose-watering, our grass is a rich green. This gives a manipulative boost to background colors to create a faux grandeur. Black and orange fat cat, tiny yellow flowers, weathered wood saw horse; all are thrown into a deeper shade and meaning. Each everyday shade is granted a seemingly innocent ticket to inch into our visionary soul and suck out previous memories. The times they hid in fog? Gone, flown south, don't know what you're talking about

Walking through that infamous farm behind our backyard, there are black and white cows with melted chocolate colored eyes, thick, long black eyelashes that laugh at the concept of mascara, and fur invitingly soft. They keep us entertained by pretending to be more frightened of our fifteen pound Maltese than they are of the piglets. Those fat rascals even leap lightly when he enters their pasture. But you and I know that when they form a group to gaze at Morris, it is yet another act to keep us diverted from the painful truth of the dreary cold of the rest of the year.

Those piglets? Don't even open that version of Pandora's Box of Cuteness. They are long-haired, plump piles of adorableness to the point of being lewd. Even the big pig mommas are in on the jinx of being winsome. The breaking point for me is when they snort. Who can stand such moments and not be swayed into thinking this is how life always is in Humboldt? Takes one strong character, I can tell you that.

Okay, and don't get me started on the baby bull lying protected behind mom and dad. The appealing atrocities extend to the way in which the parents wrap their tongues around the grass before pulling it in. Oh, did I not mention that? You can actually pull out some of that grass around your ankles and hand feed the animals. Of course, be sure that you are only offering the grass. Don't mix in your finger-food fingers. The illusion of perfect day would be lost in an Emergency Room visit.

What is that sound? We can only hear it on non-rain days. The usual pitter-patter rainfall normally distorts the ear from the rush of our dogs racing through tall grasses. We can just make out the top third of our bounding, forever playful Daisy, St. Bermastiff. Only glimpse little guy Morris when he is on the up side of his leap-run. Both are in on the gig as their pink tongues hop along with them. They know the route to follow as we hike the perimeter of the small farm.

I am not sure if our neighbors are in on the deception game, or have been deceived themselves. Never can tell about these things. On our way home, we discover they're moving. Friendly neighbors giving away kitchen wares, clothing and a big, comfy couch. We grab what we will use. Chat about where they are going. Share a love of music conversation. Wish them well in future times.

Walking across our lawn with a freshly planted flower garden bordering the house, we notice a swallow bringing fat worms to her babies.Tucking the dogs inside, we observe Cautious Momma Swallow. She waits until not a peep of noise or movement could be prey about to pounce. Then, flies into the nest in the eaves of our house.  Even unseen baby birds in on the conspiracy. Another nest a few feet away, being built for yet another family.

Our Maple tree has burst with spring leaves. Happened all in a night, it seems. Green a shade lighter than the lawn. How do the plants learn of the weather-forgetting plot? Mother Nature's influence is strong, indeed.

Entering the house, dogs are quiet from their run. Or, they're destroying my slippers in the backyard. Never can tell with those two. They can only be expected to be sweet for so long.

Wishing you as lovely a Spring Day as ours. And that you develop temporary amnesia the coming of winter.

Spend the rest of the day reading with your child:

Heather Leigh,
Easily Manipulated By The Wondrous

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Behind The Scenes, Take One

None of my friends have expressed an interest in watching me create. I have figured out this is because readers don't know what they're missing. The scenes from Hollywood movies of writers are dramatic lies. Those movie scenes show us throwing papers on the ground, going for bouts of anger, in moments of moving joy, and partaking in hair-pulling anguish.

All rubbish.

So to clear things up, I am going to install a video recorder in my home office. It will slowly scan from the computer screen, to my typing fingers, and onto my fully concentrating face. Reality TV of the writer.

Every hour or two, I'll be shuffling into the kitchen for a cup of tea. That means I'll need a second recorder. Oh, but then at least once, sometimes even twice, I meet the cat outside for a sit-and-stroke fur break.

With all this running around ruckus, perhaps it would be better to simply hire a filming crew. They'll probably do it for free, as they'll be enamored with the process of writing. Gosh, I wonder how long it will take for a live feed to go Viral on YouTube.

I know what you're thinking. You're wondering how loving a person I must be, to allow the intrusion of a film crew into my home office. But, hey, I can't defend myself here. I am just some kind of wonderful when it comes to my fans. You're worth every Paparazzi I have to endure.

Hmmm. What else should the crew film? Oh, of course, my hour long, daily meditation. While not giving all of the suspense away, let it be known that I will be sitting in a chair, eyes closed, silently repeating a mantra.

Depending on the weather, this can go down inside or in our backyard. Everyday, you will rise with the excitement of not knowing which place I will be performing in. If that's not a get-out-of-bed motivator, I don't know what is.

I picture bars filled with rapt audiences watching TV, waiting to discover if I am going to take a deep breath, look like I am in an Astral Projection Mode, converse with a past life me.

Final film crew subject: Before stumbling out of bed in the morning, I generally allow time to come up with ideas for writing. I lie there, appearing to sleep. What is really going through my mind? Could be a blog post, a book chapter, or even a Toastmasters speech.

Those tough choices of which I dwell upon, may never be known by you. This leaves you to conjecture for the rest of the day. That is my gift to you--keeping your mind active, wondering what I am thinking about.

Anyone know of a good film crew? One that won't interrupt my immensely creative mind coming up with best selling novels? That really appreciates true art in slow motion? Please post comments in section below this post. We all need to do our part to share in this adventure.

My last exciting creation? Glad you asked. This is the perfect month to celebrate Santa:

The anticipation of jovial times is making me hungry for dinner. Have a splendiferous day!

Heather Leigh,
Star and Creator of that new hit Reality TV Show

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Prejudice Wind

Wind is accepted as fact when it's being pushy, against something. It can go around, fierce as it wants to be, but if has no obstacles, it blunders forward as a nothingness. And what fun is that?

I'm watching wind effects while waiting in the car for my son. There is no evidence of wind in the trees, all is hushed and still with those green giants. But the clouds are moving at a good clip, all the way to the horizon.

On the ground, air currents go in waves. Starts and stops. Dips and doozies. Ebbs and flows. Flighty and imaginative, then thoughtful and shy. No apparent pattern or rhythm, not even a complicated algorithm to explain speed choice. I believe Chaos is it's middle name; if not, it should be.

But that's ground-bound breezes. Clouds have their own monotony: keep going.

Clouds with wind don't stop and hang out, chat, do a bit of zig and zagging, nothing fun. They are all about the business of getting to their destination. Don't they know they have no real destination? There is no place that a cloud has to get to. But they act like they are in a huge hurry, and do not have time to talk with the likes of us lesser beings on the ground.

Why the difference? Are the winds of earth and sky not connected? Is there a different set of nature standards for those things that are higher than humans?

I wonder about birds in the midst of this pandemonium. At what point in their upward flight do they go from the low-brow, creative fun of varietal winds, to the dullness of single cloud motion. I wonder if they have a preference. Would you have a preference if you were a bird?

Birds of prey must be in adoration of those lofty, consistent, uptown breezes. All they have to do is glide up to one, spread their wings, then sail along. With their long-range focused vision, they can hang out up there and wait for dinner to present itself. Sooner or later, some mouse, snake, or ferret is going to slink out and offer it's body to be a meal.

It's the more common, less impressive birds that dig the upheaval of changing-velocity winds: pigeons, doves, robins, sparrows and swallows. They are probably the ones who get more invitations to the really cool bird parties. They're the chirpers with swag.

The ambidextrous feathered friends are the ones into both levels: ravens, seagulls, turkey vultures. They're the crazy, can't be fully trusted in a crowd, bunch. You just never know which way they will go: all the way up, pie-in-the-sky high, or down in the drifts.

The truly odd ball, eccentric clowns, are the ones who only like to fly over waves: pelicans. Well, if you've ever seen one up close, this will already be obvious. Those things have this long, sharp thing on the end of their beak that looks like a dangerous, venom filled, slightly curved, fingernail. Creepy.

Which kind of bird would you choose to be? Think you could pick a bird, then defy your friends, and soar where they're afraid to go? Are you that wild? What about your partner? Post your answers in the comment box.

Think I will roll down the window, and feel a touch of wind on my cheek. Might as well mix in with what I am writing about. Seems rude not to.Heather Leigh, Leaning Toward Ground-Bound Winds

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Dark Ant Honey

This morning I was entertained by an ant. He was circling around the lip of a saucer, dizzy with the scent of honey.

Background story: Years ago, we lived in Costa Rica. There are over one million highly intelligent ant species living there (perhaps I exaggerate, but not by much). But as smart as those black droids are, they cannot swim. When you have honey that you want to eat without the added ant protein, there is a human invention called a bowl and saucer.

Put a bit of water in the saucer. Position a bowl in the saucer. Place your honey pot in the bowl.
Instant moat.

Crazy cool, huh?

So now, this honey-starved Scouter Ant is beaten down by his non-ability to swim. Imagine the poor little guy. He gets a whiff of the most enticing food known to his tribe, and is hyped to rush to the farm and show off his discovery. He is picturing himself in glory and fame. The others will be wiggling their three portioned body in envy. Perhaps even the Queen herself will give him an award. His name, Number One Million and Twenty-two, will be memorized by ant kids in antstory classes for decades.

Coasting the saucer lip, he is dizzy with imagined accolades. All he has to do is find a way in. The entrance must be on the other side of this curve, he is thinking. It can't be far now.

Switching to my viewpoint, I'm laughing at the poor creature. Yes, I am a vegetarian, sworn to avoid eating things with a face. But I am not above chuckling away at the confusion undergoing this woeful being. I have my dark side.

My giggling continues as I prepare the morning smoothie.

Sipping the cool blended fruit, I recall the 'bridge ants' of Costa Rica. The moat blocker trick didn't last more than an hour once these guys caught wind of the golden syrup. Using their bodies, they worked collectively to form a bridge from the saucer lip to the top of the bowl. Once constructed, fellow troopers marched across and grasped tiny balls of sticky stuff and raced back home.

See? I told you there were over a million types of ants in the Pura Vida country.

Luckily for those of us living with the less intelligent U.S. ants, there are no body bridges. You're free to use the saucer/bowl trick to protect your sweets.

We all love a good ant story. Kindly relate yours in the comment section at the end of this post.

In addition, pick up one of my books. Be the bridge of humor for a child.

Scout and Ellie books are awesome for the kid in your life

Heather Leigh,
Humorist with a dark ant side