Staying Connected at the Holidays

Most of us have a love/hate relationship with electronic media. It has dumbed us down (and as climate change proves, we probably weren’t all that bright to begin with). It’s created a world populated by people who spend their time chasing ‘likes’.

But…. it helps me stay connected to my family. We’re scattered across three continents and four countries. It’s cool when we get to share our various parts of the world with each other. These days, being so far apart is a big-time bummer. The COVID crisis prevented us from reuniting, and I feel farther away than ever from my sisters and nephew.

So we talk twice a week, at an hour when across the globe Niko is getting home from the bar he owns, I’ve finished dinner, and Pam and Barb are eating breakfast or getting up. We always appreciate the calls when Niko checks in at two in the morning his time….

I don’t know how the rest of you manage to keep in touch with the people who matter to you. I only know that it DOES matter, perhaps more than ever before. Our world is fragile, and our lives have meaning because of who we allow into them. Go ahead: make that phone call or Zoom call or visit in person if you can. I am really, really looking forward to hugging my family members once again.

In the meantime, we chat.

Merry Christmas to you and your families, wherever you are!

 

NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2021.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out. Books make great gifts!

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was honored as 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist for the Independent Author Network. In addition, The Trail Back Out was an American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was a semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts, and is now a Finalist for Greece’s international 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

My Imaginary Friends: #10 A Golden Retriever

He was the world’s coolest dog. Our family pet Sam was a really, really smart golden retriever with a sense of humor. When we were kids, in the winter time he loved to track my youngest sister Barb. He’d go looking for her and then freeze so she couldn’t spot him sneaking up from behind. Sam got a running start, charged up from behind across the snow – and once he reached her, he’d ever so delicately stand up on his hind legs to put his front paws on her shoulders, very gently tap, and drop back to all fours and watch her tip forward.

Barb would do a face plant in the snow and come up crying, covered in so much snow that she looked like the Abominable Snowchild. Meanwhile, lined up in the living room at the sliding glass doors to watch (because Sam loved an audience), Barb’s sisters and parents would be crying too… with laughter.

Sam walked us to the corner each morning where we waited for the school bus. Kids on the bus  would already be lined up at the windows on the left hand side. Once the driver closed the doors and headed down the road, Sam raced him. He ran alongside the bus, all us kids cheering him on, until the driver turned at a street lined with hedges. Sam sailed through the air in an incredibly high, graceful jump over the hedge. I’d swear he was showing off…. and then, his display of doggie dynamism finished, he turned and headed back home.

The greatest dog in the world. When it was time to imagine a dog as the companion for Coreen, my traumatized survivor of an end of the world cult in Tsunami Cowboys, he had to be a golden retriever. – Jadi

NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2021. Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Competition

Prepare to meet Todd, a hero with dangerous fantasies. Coreen, trapped in a cult. Ronnie, dreaming other people’s futures. Guy, waiting for disaster at a Christmas Market. And Lynn, the connecting thread, taking a train with a seductive stranger. By turns terrifying and funny, this is the story of people riding life’s waves… the tsunami cowboys.

This link will get you there.

Books make great gifts! My other books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out.

The Trail Back Out was honored as 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist for the Independent Author Network. In addition, The Trail Back Out was an American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was a semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and is now a Finalist for Greece’s international 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

My Imaginary Friends: #9 The Tidal Wave

Current events often find their way into my books. I wrote about the tsunami in Japan not long after it occurred. One of my characters in Tsunami Cowboys (the title I am most proud of thinking up!) can dream the future:

Ronnie’s coworker Yoshiko Sakei appeared in the next vision. Yoshiko came to the States for college and ended up marrying Erik Gross. She became an American citizen forty years ago. She’s nearing retirement, and she and Erik plan to move to Honshu. Yoshiko feels a secret guilt: she’s enjoyed the irresponsible freedom of a Japanese person living outside the home country.

Kyoto parade
Kyoto parade

Yoshiko tells Erik, “Let’s go back and care for my parents.” Erik likes the idea, because a Western man in Asia has lots of advantages. Gaigin aren’t expected to fit in.

They sell their home and plan to move as soon as Yoshiko stops working.

Miyajima
Miyajima
Kyoto train station
Kyoto train station
Kagoshima Aquarium
Kagoshima Aquarium

The vision shifts. Zen landscapes,

Bamboo forest
Bamboo forest
Zen garden
Zen garden

crowded city streets with tall buildings,

Tokyo
Tokyo

monks in yellow,

Kyoto temple
Kyoto temple

geishas in colorful kimonos,

Geishas

salarymen in somber business suits all kaleidoscope through the dream. A few exquisite pieces of lacquer ware and a hand painted folding screen decorate a small space.

Zen interior
Zen interior

Yoshiko and Erik sit at a table across from an old Japanese couple with gentle smiles and parchment paper skins. The four of them drink tea. In the next scene they lie asleep in blankets on spotless tatami mats.

All four open their eyes as the light wood of the house splinters into match sticks. They look shocked in Ronnie’s direction – and the dream blows apart.

– from my chapter Precognitious in Tsunami Cowboys.

Notes: © Jadi Campbell 2021. All photos and images © Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photos of our trip to Japan and his photography may be viewed at viewpics.de.  Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Books make great gifts!

The Trail Back Out was honored as 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist for the Independent Author Network. In addition, The Trail Back Out was an American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was a semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and is currently a Finalist for Greece’s international 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

The Trail Back Out is 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Finalist for Fiction: Short Story Collection

I am honored, awed, and humbled that my short story anthology just received its third distinction. I was notified that The Trail Back Out was selected as a Finalist for the 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award (Short Story Collection) by the Independent Author Network. Go to this link for the finalists and winners:

2021 IAN Book of the Year Awards

The Trail Back Out was also named a 2020 Best Book Award Finalist in Fiction: Anthologies for the American Book Fest. In addition, the title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

I’ve been going for long walks on the trails in the woods and orchards here, trying to absorb the news. The Trail Back Out is available for purchase and download.

NOTES: ©Jadi Campbell 2021. My other books are Grounded, Broken In: A Novel in Stories and Tsunami Cowboys.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award.

Broken In: A Novel in Stories was a semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts. And Broken In just received a second distinction, which will get its own post!

Click here for my author page to learn more and purchase my books.

Here is what readers can expect: From tales of Eddie, high on LSD and trapped by “What Died in the Fridge”, and a compulsive gambler hiding during a Category Five storm in “Better Weather”, to the luminous title story of two strangers meeting by chance in the backwoods during a pandemic, the stories describe the pain and humor of being alive. Included in this collection are “Rules to Live By”, a funny and deeply thoughtful story about what we choose to teach our children. The author examines our responsibility to others when a hunter is shot and left for dead in “The Green Under the Snow”. In “Do Dreams Float?” a wife considers a hit-man’s offer of revenge. And the eternal search for happiness is carried out by a gloomy little girl nicknamed “Princess Rain Clouds”. In ten stories, Campbell paints vivid descriptions of everyday life in strange times. Whether during the upheaval of the last century or the present COVID-19 crisis, The Trail Back Out guides the reader through a labyrinth of questions about how to live and love.

Today’s Birthday: The Oracle (aka Margaret Eleanor Atwood)

Margaret Atwood was born on November 18, 1939 in Ottowa, Canada. I read everything by her that I can get my hands on, and this post is in her honor.

I’m a life-time bookworm. If there was a support group for people addicted to books, I’d be the woman huddled in the chair who’s the first to raise a hand and announce, “Hi, my name is Jadi, and I’m a habitual reader.”

“Hi, Jadi!” the group would chant back.

Naturally, the long corona virus lockdown only encouraged my addiction. Get stuck in a situation where I can lay around and read all day?! Sweet!

I thought I’d try something new. A lot of my books are old (“Hi, my name is Jadi, and I can’t throw out or give away old books….”), so I’m reading them a last time and then – (sometimes) – make the painful decision to pass them along. There’s a terrific little free book exchange by the tram stop here in our town. It’s a repurposed British telephone booth, perfect for the job.

Of course, I’ve read and reread some of my books so many times that they are now old and battered and literally falling apart….

Yeah, time to order a new copy. I think this one might hold up for one last reread

Like The Handmaid’s Tale. I was devastated by Margaret Atwood’s book and devastating is the word I hear from everyone I know who’s read it. I  read the book when it was first released in 1985 and I’ve reread it over and over since then. She is prescient; she is one of our most important voices. Just read the news from around the world, starting with Texas.

Turns out that The Handmaid’s Tale is not a fantasy.

Writers like Atwood and their books, all books, deserve to be read and reread. I may find a support group, but I can’t give up my reading habit.

NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2021. To see Uwe’s photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out. Books make great gifts!

The Trail Back Out was honored as 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist for the Independent Author Network. In addition, The Trail Back Out was an American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was a semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts. Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

My Imaginary Friends: #8 A Kid Parading in a Frog Suit

I probably marched in a half-dozen Halloween parades as a little kid. Our mom was full of energy and did things like sew matching Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee outfits for me and Pam. Another year we were Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy, complete with red yarn for hair. One Halloween she painted Barb up as a clown…and even provided her with a real cigar.

Mom once helped Pam make a papier-maché witch’s head complete with a long nose that had a wart on the end of it. Pam won the Most Horrible award that year!

Costumes got passed on down through the years. In those days you could still go to antique stores and rummage through trunks of musty-smelling old clothes: we scored blouses with whale-bone stays and jackets complete with mothballs and moth holes. But the costume of legend is a Halloween outfit from my dad Bobbo’s childhood. Bobbo had a full body frog costume that was green with yellow spots and had a matching head that buttoned onto the neck. The illusion was complete with a pair of swimming flippers that Mom dyed green (of course) with food coloring.

Best Halloween costume ever!

Bobbo’s costume sadly has gone missing but this is a mask I wore at the Oregon Country Fair. I felt completely at home in it

Once inside that suit, I was a frog. Literally, because an adult needed to unbutton it from the outside in order to extract the child inside.

Our grade school held an annual parade on the grounds and the town would come watch us march around the grass. But once my part of the line began moving, I had a problem. Actually, I had two problems. The flippers were adult-sized, and I was maybe eight years old. I kept tripping, because they wouldn’t stop sliding off my shoes…

I stumbled yet again and picked those flippers up off the grass for the last time and in desperation put them on over my hands, trying to catch up with the children ahead of me who I could see (kind of) through the eye holes in the frog mask which were located somewhere higher than my own eyes and meanwhile the head was growing hotter and hotter because I started to cry for a couple minutes and that in turn totally steamed up the enclosed space inside the mask which of course was nonporous because it was painted with some no-doubt noxious and maybe even toxic 1930’s paint mix…..

Half a century later all this found its way into my short story What Died in the Fridge. A wonderful postscript: when my oldest friend Doris read the book, she immediately recognized the scene!

Happy Halloween!

NOTES: © 2021 Jadi Campbell. Uwe’s images from our trips and his photography may be viewed at viewpics.de.  You’ll find What Died in the Fridge in my short story collection The Trail Back Out. The Trail Back Out was a 2020 Best Book Award Finalist for Fiction Anthologies. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out. Books make great gifts!

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was a 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies for American Book Fest. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was a semifinalist for the international Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

For My Friends Who Have Lost Loved Ones to COVID: Calling the Soul

Friends across the globe from all the stages of my life have lost parents, spouses, family members and loved ones to COVID. I have been thinking alot about the ways we are all tied to one another in joy, in grief, in loss, in trying to live together and ease one another’s pain. Here is a story about how a very different culture keeps people they care about literally connected to one another, in a ceremony that creates unity and restores harmony to both the individual and the community. For some reason this post has gotten a lot of views recently. I wrote the essay after several trips to Laos. May it offer some comfort and peace. — Jadi

 

Note the white cotton threads

When we visit the temples in Laos, we often see monks tying special white cotton strings to the wrist of a person’s right hand. Sometimes the monk ties connecting strings to whole groups of people. What are the strings, and what is their significance? The answer, it turns out, varies in the different regions of Laos (as well as the Sipsong Panna autonomous prefecture of the Tai Lü in the extreme south of Yunnan, China, and Northern and Isan Thai cultures). And the meaning depends on time and place….

Full moon Vientiane, Laos

The strings are tied in the Baci ceremony, and their significance depends on the occasion. Take weddings, for instance. According to an old Laotian legend, the cotton threads are tied to ensure a happy marriage. We each have a tree in the heavenly garden, and that tree has branches intertwined with your predestined partner. When our trees come to this earthly existence, the cotton threads binding them are cut and we’re born separated and alone. If you can find your soul mate again after searching for him or her, at your marriage you are rejoined by retying the thread.

In Laos threads are also tied on newborn babies and their mothers [1] or on people going home or departing from home, which explained the many men, women, and children wearing these bracelets we saw at airports. The ceremony is performed for specific life events: success, health (both for the cured and the sick), and annual festivals like the sacred Wax Castle Procession in Vientiane. We witnessed a high number of Baci ceremonies during that time. [2]

The ceremony is done after a death, too, to bring back any wandering  missing spirits and reinforce the harmony of the surviving family members.

The entire ceremony is rich is symbolism. The white color means purity, and the strings are believed to bind the 32 kwan, organs or parts to the soul, to prevent them from wandering away. The Baci ceremony is also known by the term su kwan, “calling of the soul”. [3] When kwan wander away from your body, this creates an imbalance in the soul that may lead to illness and bad luck.

Foundation stones are honored

The ceremonies take place in Buddhist temples, but kwan and the Baci ceremony predate Buddhism. [4] I’ve had strings tied to my right wrist in Buddhist and Hindu temples from Laos to India, but have never taken part in a Baci ceremony. Regardless, the white bracelet should be worn for at least three days. Then the threads can be unknotted or allowed to fall off on their own, but should never be cut.

Dedicated to my friends who have lost loved ones to the pandemic

NOTES: [1] A Baci ceremony for new mothers and their babies is performed to welcome the baby, and to recall any kwan that may have wandered away from the mother during the birth. [2] The Wax Castle Procession falls on an especially auspicious lunar calendar date: the full moon of the seventh lunar month. [3] Concept of Kwan: Kwan are components of the soul but have a more abstract meaning than this. The kwan have been variously described by Westerners as: “vital forces, giving harmony and balance to the body, or part of it”, “the private reality of the body, inherent in the life of men and animals from the moment of their birth,” and simply as “vital breath”. – Pom Outama Khampradith, Bounheng Inversin, and Tiao Nithakhong Somsanith, writing for Lao Heritage Foundation. P.S: Baci in Italian means kisses, and it’s also an awesome chocolate candy that contains a whole hazelnut at the center.

©Jadi Campbell 2018. Previously published as Laos White String Bracelets: The Baci Ceremony. All photos ©Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s photos and pics from our trips go to  viewpics.de.

To learn more about kwan and the Baci ceremony: Laos-guide-999, Baci, UNESCO

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out. Books make great gifts!

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was a 2020 Best Book Award Finalist for Fiction Anthologies for the American Book Fest. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was a semifinalist for the 2020 International Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts. 

Hiroshima at 8:15 A.M.

To mark the 76th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, I am reprinting my post 8:15 A.M. This tragedy must never be repeated. – Jadi

At 8:15 a.m. some 65 years later,

Birds perch on the Dome.

It’s startlingly calm. A becalming place

Green, tranquil, filled with standing statues

tourists with cameras and

prayers for peace and

pray-ers for peace and

Classes of school children

running

water everywhere.

They bring chains of 1,000 cranes

folded in loving memory of Sadako Sasaki

Her cranes became tinier

leukemia advancing until

Sadako folded symbols of longevity and healing

with the aid of a pin.

At 8:15 a.m. some 76 years later,

Five cranes hold sentinel on

ruined

blackened

girders

The skeleton now, simply,

called the A-Bomb Dome.

Statues are the world’s countries’ monuments

to Hiroshima reborn, arisen

declaring her residents will,

forever, live

in a place called The City of Peace.

Classes of children, schooled in knowledge of what

unthinkable tragedy

took

place

here

stand for photos before the fountain with the flame

in the center burning

until the last nuclear weapon is dismantled;

Before the cenotaph shielding

names of the dead, reopened, names

added on August 6th.

The Peace Park, the terrible

hypocenter.

And the tourists with cameras?

We bear witness. We come to

ask, Why?

How many

angels danced on the head of a pin?

We come to see The Truth or

as much truth as we can bear.

Seeing demands the clearest sight

possible when your eyes are filled

with the pin pricks of tears

Water,

like the water the burned begged for as they died

The peace fountains spouting outside the museum

the river that flows

calmly, becalmingly

near the A-Bomb Dome,

where the cranes have taken up residence.

(17 October 2010 21:27 p.m. Updated 6 August 2021.)

NOTES: Text © Jadi Campbell 2010.  Previously published as 8:15 A.M.  Photos © Uwe Hartmann. I wrote the first version of this poem while we visited Japan in 2010. The atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima at 8:15 a.m.on August 6, 1945. Sadako Sasaki lived 2 kilometers from the epicenter. She was 2 years old at the time, and died of the radiation exposure 10 years later. Sadako is famous for folding origami cranes. According to the Japanese legend, anyone who folds 1,000 cranes will be granted a wish: Sadako hoped to be healed. Today classrooms of children all around the world send strings of paper cranes to be displayed at Sadako Sasaki’s memorial in the Peace Park. Her statue and story are a powerful reminder of the innocent lives lost.

The cenotaph is opened each August 6th and the newest names of the dead are added. Its arched form provides a shelter to the souls of the victims.

The Peace Park contains statues dedicated by countries around the world; a museum; and monuments. We visited at night and the Dome (the only building left standing after the blast) was occupied by cranes. The image of this World Heritage Monument and the symbolic birds took a powerful hold on my imagination. When we returned at daylight to visit the park it overflowed with classes of laughing children, stunned tourists, and an atmosphere that is impossible to describe. It is a place of shared tragedy, and humanity.

The cranes were still there, perching in the Dome.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was a 2020 Best Book Award Finalist for Fiction Anthologies. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was named a semifinalist for the 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Prize.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

My Imaginary Friends: #6 Rocky

When I was a kid, we spent every summer in the woods. On the day school let out, either early in the afternoon before lunch time, or ten to fifteen minutes before the end of the school day, a scratchy announcement came over the school’s intercom. “Will Jadi, Pam and Barbara Campbell please collect their things and come down to the Principal’s Office?”

All the other kids watched us with round-eyed excitement. “You and your sisters got called the Principal’s Office, what’d you do, you guys must be in biiig trouble!” they chanted.

My parents would be standing at the front doors to the elementary school, chatting with the principal or his secretary. Out in the street the VW bus waited, packed to the gills. If that microbus was a fish, it would have been a stuffed bass.

Tiger the cat lay on the front dashboard. We got a dog a few years later and the family dog and cat accompanied us everywhere.

Once the kids had been collected, my parents drove to the camp we called home from that last day of school until the week before school started again.

**

My father was a research entomologist. He and his Forest Service crew set traps in the woods to see what might be eating gypsy moths. Each year those traps yielded a flying squirrel (one glorious year, two of them). Dad brought them back to the cabin where we’d set up a cage for the creature we inevitably named Rocky.

The campsite we returned to every June had a screened-in porch that filled the side of the building looking at the lake. We put Rocky’s big cage there, built him a nest up by the warmth of the bricks of the back of the fireplace, and let him out each night when he woke up.

Watching Rocky fly through the air of that porch was better than any t.v. show.

 Years later, I wrote about a little girl visiting her cousins. They always have critters, and she meets a flying squirrel for the first time. His name, of course, is Rocky. – Jadi

Flying Squirrel Images | Free Vectors, Stock Photos & PSD
Image courtesy of Free Vectors, Stock Photos & PSD

Hannah and her brother clustered with their cousins in the cabin’s screened-in porch. “What’d you catch this summer?” she asked.

Dom was carefully lifting a cardboard box out of a wide mesh wire cage. “A flying squirrel! We named him Rocky. Right now, he’s sleeping. Flying squirrels are nocturnal. That means they wake and get active at night.” Dom pointed at the wall. “Rocky likes to fly around the porch. We helped Dad build a home for him!”

Hannah saw that Uncle Aaron, with the help of the children, had erected platforms around the backside of the fireplace.

“And he really flies?”

“No, Princess,” Dawn answered. “Rocky has webs of skin between his legs and torso. They spread when he leaps to give him flight conductivity.” Like all the Schroyers, Dawn’s speech became pedantic when she got the chance to explain something. But Hannah wasn’t listening. Exclaiming, she crowded close as Dom gently lifted a tiny furry body out of the box and handed the creature to Ryan. Large black eyes looked at her.

“He kind of looks like a chipmunk. Can I hold him next?” Hannah put out a hand.

Ryan shook his head. “Mom says, never disturb him during the daytime. But we wanted to show you him. Tonight when he’s active we’ll let him out of the cage for a while. When Rocky gets used to you, he’ll eat out of your hands!”

“What else have you got?”

“Alive or dead?”

Hannah looked at Dom in horror.

“She means animals that are living, as in, breathing,” Jake prompted.

“You remember the ranger camp on the north end of the lake?” Dom asked. “Dad knows the head ranger. He brought us Rocky. Remember how last year they brought us a flicker with a broken wing?”

“So, this year we have Rocky, one diamond back turtle, and three frogs,” Dawn listed proudly. “We had a garter snake, but Mom made me let it go already. We put all the others in the fish cage out by the dock for the summer; we’ll let them go later. We have to keep Bello away from the frogs, though! That dumb dog thinks he can eat them!”

Hannah listened, tasting a familiar sour jealousy. Her father was allergic to cats. And dogs. And anything with feathers. They had talked Fred into a tank of guppies one Christmas, and before Easter the fish had floated belly up, covered in lurid, fuzzy moss. That was her family’s single venture into pet ownership.  – from my short story Princess Rain Clouds in The Trail Back Out

NOTES: Jadi Campbell 2021. All photos and images © and property of Jadi Campbell. The Trail Back Out was a 2020 Best Book Award Finalist for Fiction Anthologies. The title story was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

To see Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de. Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

 

 

Hard Times in Sugar Town

POSTED ON  by URBANSPY777

 

HARD TIMES IN SUGAR TOWN by Jadi Campbell

“History does not repeat itself – at best it sometimes rhymes.” –  Mark Twain

HARD TIMES IN SUGAR TOWN by Jadi Campbell

July 5 at 20:00 hrs in MERLIN

HARD TIMES IN SUGAR TOWN is an evening of songs from the Depression Era and an original story by Jadi Campbell featuring Derrick Jenkins, Tiffany Estrada, Frank Eisele. This show is the FIRST LIVE installment of the DARK MONDAY @ series in 2021!

…………………………….

The Dirty Thirties were a time of failed crops and banks, repossessed farms, and massive unemployment. The decade generated a great creative response to the country’s suffering, with the brilliant banter of screen stars, and poignant and pointed music lyrics.

Today’s soaring unemployment, small business failures, and uncertainty about the future are reminiscent of a bygone era: the Great Depression, which lasted from 1929 until 1939 and was the worst economic downturn in modern history. The historical parallel to the Pandemic Present is remarkable and the results quite similar: insolvent businesses, shuttered store fronts, financially concerned families fearful to make large purchases, and long lines forming at food banks.

When the U.S. stock market crashed in October 1929, it brought HARD TIMES to the nation. The Great Crash soon became the Great Depression – for millions of businesses and individuals, fear and failure became as commonplace as the optimism and prosperity had been before the economic collapse during the high spirited Roaring Twenties. In the downward spiral which lasted for a decade, society was devastated. During the bleakest point of the Great Depression, about a quarter of the U.S. workforce was unemployed. Those that were lucky enough to have steady employment often saw their wages cut or their hours reduced to part-time. Sound familiar?

Mark Twain states – “History does not repeat itself – at best it sometimes rhymes.”

During the 1920s, business owners pretty much did whatever they wanted and the rich got obscenely richer. Like today’s corona virus-driven economic crash, the Great Depression devastated a nation where things were already awful for a lot of people. Like the opportunists of today, business titans of the 1930’s, such as the 18 year old millionaire Howard Hughes, actually grew their fortunes thanks to shrewd investments, fortuitous timing and entrepreneurial vision.

The downtrodden population was in dire need of distraction and uplifting entertainment to take their minds off the troubling times at hand. Even as many Americans struggled to survive, they still found ways to have affordable fun. Miniature Golf became fashionable and a plethora of Board Games such as Scrabble and Monopoly were introduced.

The opportunity to earn money while having “fun” drew many desperate couples to participate in Dance Marathons. These became more than just a form of recreation and could last for days or weeks. As long as the dancers kept dancing, they had food (usually 12 meals a day), shelter and the chance to win a cash prize. Each hour they were allowed a break for 15 minutes, during which they might lay down on a cot and have a nurse attend to them. Because they had to stay moving for the other 45 minutes per hour, dancers learned to sleep while their partner held them up and dragged them across the dance floor.

Radio was at the height of its popularity and a pleasantly inexpensive form of entertainment for 83 percent of the population that owned a wireless set. New program formats were created – Daily Soap Operas, Game Shows, Radio Westerns, Crime Shows, Mystery Programs. Listeners tuned in to hear about current events, the latest baseball scores or juicy Hollywood gossip. In 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt revolutionized the way presidents communicated with Americans by talking directly to them through the radio. During his“fireside chats,” as they became known, he spoke of issues that affected everyone; like the banking crisisthe New Deal and the Dust Bowl.

This was also the Golden Age of the Hollywood Film Industry. Tickets prices were under a quarter for the whole of the 1930s – down from 35 cents in 1929, so spending time in the cinema was an affordable form of escapism for many. The technical transition from Silent Movies to Talkies was fully achieved and many revolutionary new genres were created such as Screw Ball Comedies, feature length Cartoons by Walt Disney, lavish film musicals featuring the dizzying choreography of Busby Berkley, as well as the popular series of dance themed movies starring America’s Sweethearts – Fred Astaire & Ginger Rodgers. What better way to forget your troubles for a few hours?

Many composers of what is today considered the Great American Songbook, wrote songs specifically for the movie industry; among them George & Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern. These were melodies with words to console, lift spirits and have the audience leaving the lavishly designed and decorated cinemas whistling and singing… ready to face yet another dreary day.

As lyricist Dorothy Fields wrote in one of her popular songs in 1936 – Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again!

Photos by Uka Meissner deRuiz

NOTES: Original post by Charles Urban and New English American Theater (NEAT). The show will be posted on YouTube and available for viewing from July 6th-onwards!

Our film version will be broadcast in wonderfully nostalgic and appropriate Black & White beginning Tuesday, July 6 on the MERLIN YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/c/MERLINSTUTTGART0711/videos