Using Your Outside Voice

Before publishing my very first blog post, I ran it past my teenaged daughter Bea.

She said, “Mom, you’re using your storyteller voice again.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

She shrugged. “Oh, you know…narrative, formal, soft and wise. You might think like that inside your head, but it’s not the way you talk.”

“How do I talk?”

“You’re funny.  And sassy.  Mom, your idea is good.  Just say the same thing, only write like you’d say it. Write in the same voice you used to write Real Troopers.”   Out of the mouth of babes.

How many times were we told as children to use our Inside Voice, the demure, soft, polite, quiet voice that will offend and disturb no one?  I’ll tell you: LOTS.  Now my own child was urging me to use my Outside Voice, that of the goofball, smart ass, class clown.

It’s the sometimes-too-loud voice that spills out of my mouth when I’m with trusted family and friends. As Bea observed, it’s the voice I use in my novel-in-progress, Real Troopers.  Maybe I struck the right chord in Real Troopers because it’s about sassy funny Girl Scout leaders, written from the point of view of a middle-aged woman who is desperately trying to find her real voice.

So I turned that first post into more of a conversation than a story, and Bea was right—I like it so much better.  I’m happier when using my Outside Voice, in my backyard, in my living room, and in my writing.

Or perhaps I should say, ‘When I allow my Inner Voice to go Outside to play.’

All I need now is to make my readers a virtual cup of coffee, and come to the table–or the computer–in my jammies for an early morning chat.  Hey, got a minute? Wanta cuppa? Cream or sugar?

All words and images copyright Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself.

BTW: Adventures in Hats is my daughter Bea’s writing blog.  I won’t embarrass her by telling you she’s won awards for her poetry and her stories.  But I will say that I can almost hear her voice when I read it, and her illustrations are delightful.  If you drop by, tell her I said ‘howdy!’

Back Down to Earth

There is freedom in cutting loose one’s bonds to float high above the rest of the world.

To be quiet, and alone in one’s thoughts.

It is a space and place that I do sometimes share.

Just when I find myself adjusting to the elevation…

…and the solitude…

Just when I start feeling too comfortable, too removed…

…I feel a tug on the heartstrings that brings me back down to earth.

Sometimes it’s as simple as discovering on my front walk a baby bird that needs to be returned to its nest.

More often it is my own baby birds, coming home to roost.

Even just for a little while.

All words and images c2014 Naomi Baltuck.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Travel Theme: Above.

 

 

 

 

 

Fifty Shades of Yellow

Purple is my favorite color, and it always has been.  But I love yellow for its cheerfulness.

It’s my daughter Bea’s favorite color.

And she wears it well, don’t you think?

She isn’t the only one.

Whether yellow comes as a tasteful accent…

…a warm background…

…a pleasing bit of contrast…

…or a big splash of color…

…Ma Nature wears it well too.

…and so do her children.

We’ve borrowed this sunny hue from nature to brighten our homes on the outside…

…and on the inside too.

It shines a cheerful light through the darkness…

…and lifts our spirits.

It warms us from the inside out.

Yellow comes in many eye-catching colors and goes by many names…goldenrod, schoolbus, taxicab yellow…

Maize, saffron, lemon…mmm, yellow never smelled so good.

 Yellow means different things to different people.  Does this signal mean approach slowly?  Or go very very fast?

It might depend on whether you’re coming…

 

…or going.

Is it animal, vegetable, or mineral?

Never mind.   That’s neither here nor there.

Want to dance?

All images and words copyright 2014 Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Yellow.

Proud Mom of a Starfleet Cadet

Last month we attended Sue and Rick’s White Elephant party.  Remember Sue?

Everyone brought a wrapped “White Elephant,” something new or used to pass on.  We drew numbers, with number one picking a gift and unwrapping it.  The next person could choose an unopened gift or lay claim to someone’s opened gift.  But a gift couldn’t change hands more than three times.

I’ve always been a Trek Geek so in my opinion, the best prize was an email address “@ starfleet.com,”and that’s even before I realized it was the gift that would keep on giving.  It was snatched twice by Star Trek officianados, AKA Trekkers.  When my daughter Bea’s turn came, she commandeered the Starfleet address and no one could take it from her, as she was the third to claim it.  At the holiday’s end, she returned to school.


Soon after, I received my first email from my cadet at Starfleet Academy.  She had enlisted!

Dear Mom and Dad,

 I just wanted you to know that I have settled into my dorm room and all is well. My roommate is an Aaamazzarite. It is a little awkward between us still because I can’t pronounce the name of her species. On the bright side, however, Aaamazzarites are hairless, so vacuuming is quite easy. It’s better than last year, when I roomed with that girl from Sigma Iotia II. She kept trying to extract protection money from me and teach me some weird game called “bizz fin.” 

I started classes yesterday.  I’m pretty excited for Andorian Early Empires, though there is only one other person in the class, and he’s…well…Andorian. Wish me luck. I’m also in Xenolinguistics, Intelligently Fudging Incident Reports (which, legend has it, Kirk got an A+ in), and the Starfleet Graphic Novel Project, which follows the struggles of 13 female Starfleet captains back when sexism was still a thing.

 I also made a couple of friends. One of them is a fellow student of xenobiology. We’re both interested in extraterrestrial ecology. He seems pretty fun, although he’s strangely obsessed with mustaches. The other guy is a Ferengi. He talks really quickly and likes juggling gold-pressed latinum. Unfortunately for him, he is very good at juggling but has no latinum to juggle. He plays the Vulcan lute surprisingly well. 

Anyways, I’ll let you know how things go. I love you and miss you!

 xoxo,

Bea

Upon reflection, Bea at Starfleet Academy made perfect sense.  She was always keen to explore strange new worlds…

–especially her own little world.

I recalled the voyages of the star child Beatrice.

Her ongoing mission…

…to seek out new life…

…and new civilizations.

 Rife with pirates…

…cannibals…

…and pink fuzzy brainsucking creatures.

From the tiny…

…to the towering.

And at great personal risk…

…To boldly go…

…where no man has gone before.

She is well qualified.  A Starfleet cadet needs to be flexible.

She always manages to bounce back…

…blend in with the locals…

…and keep her head.

We can hardly wait to beam down to the Academy in San Francisco to check out her new Starfleet digs.

Barring any transporter accidents…

…which can get SO messy.

We’ll tell you all about it.  In the meantime…

Dear Bea, 

It’s good to know you are all settled into your dorm.  Life goes on, but it isn’t the same without you.  To cheer ourselves up in our Empty Nest, Dad and I took a short trip to Risa.  When they say what happens at Risa stays at Risa, they aren’t kidding.  He left six bars of gold pressed latinum at the Dabbo tables.  It’s lucky I’m such a cheap date.  All I needed was a l’il sippy cup of Romulan Ale, and a few hours in the Holo Suite.  I like that program about The Battle of Hastings, only I programmed it so that King Harold Godwinson could kick William the Conqueror’s ass right back to Normandy.

The bad news is that we asked Grandma to take care of your pet tribble, Odysseus, while we were gone.  Unfortunately, Grandma forgot she wasn’t supposed to feed it.  By the time we got home, five days later, there were eight generations of tribbles crammed into the cage, and they had all died of suffocation.  We put them in stasis and can have the funerals—228 of them–when you come home for spring break.  Maybe we can get you a nice Cardassian Vole.  

Don’t turn your back on that Ferengi, and don’t get killed!

Love,

Mom and Dad

 

Copyright 2014 Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Travel Theme: Letters

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Justaposition

The Very Picture

The king was plagued with the heavy burden of responsibility. “Drought and famine, war and rebellion, disease and disaster, one after the other!  I must find a way to quiet my troubled heart, so I can sleep at night!”  He offered a reward to the artist who could paint him a picture of perfect peace.  Artists came from all over the kingdom, each bringing his own vision of peace.

 

One painted a sheltered mountain valley.

Another a pristine lake, still and calm, a perfect mirror to reflect a clear blue sky.

There was an orchard in full bloom.

Fluffy clouds with silver linings.


Cheerful sunny days.

And so many sunsets!

The king studied them all, and at last he decided.  He chose a painting of a waterfall, tumbling down a mountainside, beneath a dark, angry sky.

“But your majesty,” said his counselor. “Why this painting? This is a portrayal of chaos.”

“Look closely,” said the king.  He pointed to a sheltered spot behind the waterfall, where there was a ledge between the jagged rocks. Upon that ledge a mother bird had built her nest.  Snuggled beneath her wings, safe and warm, were her precious chicks.

“I understand now,” said the king. “Peace happens not only where there is an absence of strife and suffering.   In the midst of chaos, if there is calm in your heart, will you know the true meaning of peace.”

(Mrs. Bradford Ripley and Her Children, 1852. By Robert Walter Weir, Detroit Institute of Art)

(Sculpture for his friend Robert Arthur by Samuel Murray, Detroit Institute of Art)

Copyright 2013 Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Enveloped.

Click here for more interpretations of the Weekly Travel Theme: Peaceful

Who Turned on the Lights?

People find the light in their life in so many ways and places.  It can be as easy as turning on a switch.

 

Some find all the light they need in a sunset…

…or a moonrise.

Others find illumination in a church…

…a synagogue…


…a mosque…

…or a library.

Sacred is a place that lights up your heart.

It isn’t always easy to find…

Some look for it in food…


…at the bottom of a wine glass…

…or through yoga.

Some light up with the joy and anticipation of adventure.

And what constitutes an adventure is very personal.

Sometimes light comes from the joy of creation in all of its many forms…

 

Everyone’s light shines through differently.  To each his own.

For me, love shines brightest of all.

 

It’s our life’s work and pleasure to follow the light…

…or to make our own.

It is there.

It is there.

It is there.

All words and images copyright Naomi Baltuck.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Shine.

Flying High

Last week my son Eli and I got into the car and drove down to Sea-Tac airport.

It was a beautiful day.  We saw honest-to-goodness sunshine for the first time in a long time.  I was glad I remembered to bring my camera.  Turning onto Main Street, we saw the Olympics in all their glory.

Eli and I have a very simple system for sharing the camera. If I’m driving, it’s “Eli, quick, take a picture of that.  Without the power lines, if you can!”  Sometimes he gets excited, and says, “Ooh, Mom, can I have the camera?”   South of downtown Seattle, we rounded a bend, and gasped at the magnificence of Mt. Rainier, looming over the city like a great white ghost.  “Quick, Eli, take a picture!”

He got a good one.  Only this time, I asked him to take another, with the carpool sign in it.  At the time I wasn’t sure why, but I realize now it’s because I wanted to remember being together in our little family carpool, sharing that moment in our beautiful home town.
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Everything seemed so natural, and ordinary. Except this time, we parked at the airport, checked his bag, and grabbed a cuppa joe and a goodbye kiss, before he boarded an airplane to Argentina as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant.

While inching his way through the maze toward the security gate, we waved and smiled at each other each time he passed by.  He reminded me of a kid waiting in line to go on the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland.  Only this was the real thing.  My son put on his shoes, grabbed his backpack and ukelele, and gave me one final salute before hurrying off to his gate. Then I went to the parking garage, got into my car, and blubbered.

I’m so proud of my son.  He’s courageous and adventurous.  He’s doing what all our baby birdies are supposed to do.  We hatch them, and nurture them….

They test their wings…

 

…and then they fly.  That’s their job.

My  job is to miss them, and worry, and love them wherever they are, and to get on with my life.  I had shows to rehearse for, a manuscript to finish, out-of-town company coming to visit.

It seemed impossible that I should be arriving back home while Eli’s plane still sat on the tarmac waiting for take-off.  I swung by the water, and saw that the sun was still shining.  Cars and people were still coming and going.

Ferry boats too.

On the way up the hill to our house I passed another familiar sight.  I’d always appreciated the simple beauty of this little wooden structure, vaguely wondering who had built it on such thickly forested unoccupied land–and why.  That day I perceived it as a work of art, an invitation, a gateway to adventure, to the unknown, to the future.  And  I stopped to take a picture for Eli.

Click here to read Elaiya Blogea, Elijah’s very funny, very interesting blog about a year in Salta.

All images and words c2013 Naomi Baltuck.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Travel Theme: Transport.

You Mean It’s NOT a River?

Some people say life is a river.  I think it’s more like a mountain.

 

It has its ups…

…and downs.

It can be glorious.

Mysterious.

Precarious.

Fraught with fire…

…and ice.

No one can climb it for you.

But, oh, what a trip.

As you find your way…

…the climb can be difficult.

But there will be beauty all around you.  In little things….

…or stretched out before you in all its grandeur.

Life is a delicate balance, a precious jewel, a piece of work.

May there be friends to share the journey.

Look before you leap.

Wear the proper footwear.

And remember, we don’t trip on mountains.  We trip on molehills.–Japanese proverb

All words and images Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Theme:Path.

One Village

In my travels I prefer a village setting to a big city, and will bypass London for thatched roof country, or head straight out of Rome to explore the ancient villages of Umbria , Tuscany or Ligurnia.  All over the world, they are so different.

On the little island of Aeroskobing in Denmark…

…or above the clouds high up in the mountains of Switzerland.

At sea level in Iceland…

….or at the foot of a Norman castle in Ireland.

In the shadow of Cesky Krumlov Castle in the Czech Republic…

…or on the shore of a fjiord in Norway.

Beneath an ancient Roman aquaduct in Spain…

…or on a little cobbled street in Dorset.

Each has its own unique story and history…

Tastes…

 

Traditions…

Colors

And characters…

All so different and yet so familiar.

Almost like family.

Copyright 2012 Naomi Baltuck

Sun (Worship)

Sunset at Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires.

Reconstruction of an ancient home in the Jewish quarter of Cordoba, Spain.

A minaret at sunrise in Cappadocia, Turkey.

Traitor’s Gate in the Tower of London, where prisoners came in by boat, and looked back one last time at the sun.

In Seattle we have our own kind of sun worship.

All words and images c 2014Naomi Baltuck.

Click here for more interpretations of the One Word Photo Challenge: Sun.

Click here for more interpretations of Cee’s Oddball Challenge: Week 38.