Archive for September, 2010

The Three Cockerels

In 1974 in the Bay area, we live in a house on one-half acre. We keep chickens for eggs. One spring, I decide to raise cockerels for meat. I have a brooding hen, so I buy three cockerel chicks for her, small peeping fluffs with black eyes. I sneak them into the nest of the hen while she is sleeping that night, replacing her eggs with the chicks. They nestle under her warm body. In the morning, she thinks she has hatched the chicks. I see her feed them by mouth that day, but the next day she pushes them out of the nest to learn how to eat bugs, eat chicken feed, and drink the water.  At night, they continue to nestle down with mother hen until they are too big to fit in her nest.

Later, one day at dawn, we wake up to an awful noise—loud and ugly. The cockerels have turned into young roosters, and their voices are breaking, like teenage boys. On the third day, I go out to the chicken yard, grab one in each hand by the neck and whip them around until the weights of their bodies break their necks. I grab the third one and do the same. No more crowing. Chicken dinner.

 The Skunks in the Henhouse

Our henhouse in Idaho attracts skunks. One day the skunks get in the hen house, eat the chickens, and settle in. I don’t want to go in there to chase them out.  I call animal control, and they tell me to play music, bang pots and pans, set off an alarm clock, scatter moth balls. So, I hook up a radio and play it day and night. I go out there once an hour during the day to bang pots and pans and reset the alarm clock. I throw moth balls at the skunks.  After a few days of this, the skunks give it up and leave. They take off across the pasture with their tails up in the air. My husband gets his shotgun and shoots one of them in the pasture. None of us wants to go get it, so we leave it. The smell is bad, and we debate over which one of us is going out there to bury it. Then it disappears. We think our neighbor buried it.


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Break through the dreaded writer’s block with these helpful tips


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This past weekend Elaine Ambrose and Mill Park Publishing sponsored their third annual writing retreat, “Write by the River”.   Tony Doerr taught us to take a closer look at our language.  Amanda Turner told us how to lay the first bricks of a platform,  Alan Heathcock demonstrated steps we can take to add relevance to our writing.  Gretchen Anderson brought humor to the page and Elaine Ambrose gave us some auditory inspiration.   A great weekend of lively discussion and helpful feedback.

Stay tuned to the IWG Blog for more info on upcoming retreats.

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I wish I could travel with you, good friend

And see the world through your lidless eyes

Oh, what it would be

To regenerate

These defunct gills

Shed before

I was born and                                                                                                                                   

Forced to breathe air

To taste instead

The breath of

Silvery sweet streams

Grateful, I would follow

My earnest shepherd

As we glide through currents

Hovering above graveled depths

With the grace of a raptor

Yet, I am flawed

In my human skin

Unable to compete with

Your ceaseless undulations

Sinuous, provocative

An unrehearsed rhythm

As old as the cosmos

But still you do not tire

In your slippery attire

It is not in your nature

To complain of fatigue

For sleep means certain death

Ancient and unblinking

Nothing revealed in your

Insomniac stare

I am legions behind your wisdom,

My Pectoral Prince

You, a riparian ruler

And I, your silent servant

Bow-down to my master

Knee-deep in your aquatic empire

My fishing line hums

With each hopeful cast

No a cappella piece

This melodic composition

And the waltz we engage in

You ignore my invitation

Into calmer legato pools

Refusing to leave the

Safety of rippling minuets

And their discordant crash

Against the banks

Yet creates

A pleasing timbre to my ears

These trickling rushes

And willowy winds

A fine accompaniment

For our musical interlude

But like a magnificent maestro

You hesitate

Before the grand finale

And the thundering crash of your tail

I am left startled,

A lone spectator in this theatre

Who mourns the empty water

That you disappeared from

Your genius acknowledged

With my standing ovation

Donned in waders

And untouched fly

As always

I eagerly await your next performance

Light of the earth

And salt of the sea

No difference

To you, good friend

A dorsaled demi-god

The ancients praise your

Tenacious spirit

The creator must be laughing

At those

Marvelous minds

Who will never solve

Your wonderful riddle

Tucked, in that primitive brain

A thousand mile journey

Still starts with one step

Or stroke of water

And mine now

Begins with yours

The sea beckons

Fearless, you venture

Your instincts as mysterious to me

As the rotations of the planets

Honing past unforeseen obstacles,

Concrete dams

And plastic cans

Oil slicks and pesticides

That scar and pock

Your suit of armored scales

But you prevail,

Oh majesty, thee!

Are we already too late

To appreciate

Your selfless surrender

No nails in your fins

Or cross upon the water

But a sacrifice

Just the same

Could it be?

That day,

As I walked above the canal

I found you

Battered warrior

With ebbing breath

And peeling skin

At the tail end of your quest

Your life unfolding in every painful breath

How was it

A god as yourself

Was to be

In such a place

Littered among discarded shopping carts

And plastic bags

Forgive us,

For we know not what we do

But only in what we see

And that day

I witnessed

The death of a king

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To make life easier on The Cabin’s staff (who handles our membership applications and renewals), the IWG board has come up with a policy to make renewals easy for everyone. It mirrors the Cabin’s policy of everyone renewing at the same time. We’ll all renew our one year membership in September of each year, with an effective date of October 1.

This means that everyone who has joined the Guild prior to April, 2010, will be asked to renew their membership now. For the first renewal, some people will have been members for more than 12 months before renewing, and some less, but after that, it’ll equal out. (If you would like some adjustment made to your membership fee due to this policy, do not hesitate to request it by writing to info@idahowritersguild.com.) Membership cost is still only $25.00.

You can renew your membership ONLINE, and then either pay via Paypal or send a check to the Cabin, by going to:


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If you think you’re ready to start querying agents, check out Query Shark first.  Skip the rookie mistakes. http://queryshark.blogspot.com/

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Get Literary This Week!

9/7 – Open Mic Poetry at Alia’s Coffee House on Main Street between 9th and 10th, downtown Boise. Poets can read their own works or the works of others. Reading starts at 7pm, sign up at 6:30pm.

9/8 – Drop In Writing Workshop at The Cabin. Taught by Malia Collins and Adrian Kien. All are welcome to attend this informal community workshop for writers at all levels. Bring pen and paper and a willingness to explore. 6:30 PM at The Cabin. Free.

9/8 – Boise Nonfiction Writers meets at the Collister branch of the Library! (State And Collister) at 6:30pm. Take something you’ve written to share. This is free and open to the public. www.sageecosci.com/writers.html.

9/9 – The Writers’ Block – Victoria Gray and Ken McConnell, President and Vice President of Partners in Crime. We’ll be discussing genre fiction, writing groups and Mayhem in the Grove. If you have any appreciation for mystery, suspense, or true crime, be sure to tune in. Listen live at 1pm MT at www.RadioBoise.org or check back at www.RadioWritersBlock.com to download the show.

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