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Friday, December 5, 2014

The Now

I see that my last blog was in October. And the one before that was in August. Looking back I see that I've switched to a every other month schedule. When I first started blogging I thought I'd write one twice a month, and for a while I did. Soon it will be 2015. I wonder what my new goals should be: my goals for blogging, my goals for writing, my goals for life... Maybe instead of trying to reach the stars, I will star in my reach.

Well I met the goal for my Indigogo fundraiser and the wheels of publication are turning. It's too early for an end of the year wrap up, but soon. I tried nanowrimo the basic idea is that participants try to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in the month of November. I don't think the expectation is that you actually write a real novel, but that you simply write 50,000 words in November. At least that's how I took it. It takes a lot to write 50,000 words in one month but I did it. I can't say that these words are worthy. Most of them are worthless. But I feel that I learned what it takes and that I now have a few more strategies. To balance this fast writing exercise I am thinking of reading  The Art of Slow Writing

Today I was realizing that not everyone has the same "now". Now is not an absolute thing my now may come a little later than yours. In fact there maybe Eastern Standard Now, Mountain Now, Pacific Now, Central Now. Think of all the different "now" zones there might be. I realized this when I was fetching acorns from the river. I had put them in a mesh bag and tied them from a long string to a fallen tree limb overhanging the waterfall so that  the bag of acorns would be suspended in flowing water to leach the tannins out of the acorns. My sweetheart Ross had gathered them, shelled them, a dried them. But he gave them to me to take to the river because he knows I like to go for walks. Now two weeks later the time had comer to take the acorns out of the river. This time we went together walking through the woods to find the acorns I had hidden. When we got to the place where I had tied the bag from the tree into the river, the string was gone. The acorns were no longer hanging from the tree into the river. Apparently they were gone. Ross immediately complained that he had done so much work and now I had gone and lost the acorns. He characterized the whole incident as a disaster in minutes. We briefly looked around for the acorns in their white bag and shortly Ross said that he was heading back. At which point I demanded he handover the plastic bag that we had brought to keep the acorns from getting us cold and wet. There is snow on the ground and temperature is around 30° today.

 "You think you're going to find them? " He said.

"Well if I do I don't want them to get me dripping wet and freezing cold." I said. 

Then I walked downstream to the bridge and then followed the water back up toward the falls looking to see if the bag of acorns had been carried downstream. Finally I got close enough to the original spot that I saw Ross' footprints in the snow where he had looked for the bag of acorns. I was about to stop looking at that point because I thought: Well, Ross has already looked here. But then I thought:  Ross always gives up too easily. And so I looked a little harder. It was just at that moment that I saw something. I saw the string frozen and snagged between rocks in the downhill stream. I was just able to stretch out on a snowy log and reach the string pulling, and hoping the bag of acorns were still attached. Pulling on the icy wet string finally the acorns in the bag were dislodged from a shelf of rock up higher and overflowing with ever more water. 

I love that moment when you see something and you realize what it means. It's just like in a movie when the camera is suspended over something and you know that for the smart person there's meaning there. And it clicks, it clicks when the character sees it, just like it clicks for me through the cameras eye. I see it and the character reaches forward and does the necessary thing. That's what it was like when I saw the string. I wasn't even sure what it was at first but I knew it was different. It was standing out as if meaningful.

I felt pretty good going back home being able to show Ross that I did find the acorns and there is really something to not giving up. And I realize how different we are. How he tries to do things carefully so that they turn out alright. Where as for me I don't try to do things carefully at all. I just feel like what happens is a throw of the dice. It's afterwards for me, thats when I try to make things right. Afterwards is my now that's when I really do something, and that's when I make things alright.

I think I'll stop here because that's one full thought and that might be enough for now. Next time maybe I'll write about why when you are grown up the time between brushing your teeth in the morning and brushing you teeth at night seems so short compared to when you were a child.

                                 We have been blessed with many turkey sightings just lately.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Your gifts mean so much to me. Because of your donations so far I will be able to employ a copyeditor, purchase an ISBN, buy 25 books, and get my novel reviewed. If we can raise another $634  for The Literature Preferred by Wild Boar I'll be able to purchase 25 more books to sell at my various events, and I would also be able to allocate funds for marketing and PR. The only thing that is set in stone at this point is that I will be spending at least $650 on a copyeditor I have lined up, I ll be buying an ISBN, getting a review, and buying 25 copies of the novel. I am very lucky that there are some things I won't have to pay for as I have sisters with graphics talent for the book cover and formatting work.

I ask you please if you have not yet donated to consider giving whatever you can to help me bring this project to fruition. I am also hoping to create an audio book of the novel. The decision to donate or not is your choice and completely up to you.

The world needs every creative voice to be heard at this time, and I look forward to contributing my work to our culture.

Kindest regards,
Alice Eckles

On the thermometer graphic I have also included the funds donated off line. I can't assume that these kind people wish to be publicly recognized but I have three more anonymous donors to thank. Thank you Anonymous!

There are 10 days left to this fundraiser and I look forward to writing blogs on other topics soon!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My Indigogo self publishing campaign

I have completed a novel, The Literature Preferred by Wild Boar. Writing this novel was a way for me to explore a suicide attempt in my family history, it is set in the future and has sci/fi fantasy elements. Ultimately it's an optimistic novel about the end of the world as we know it.

I have recently launched an Indigogo crowd funding campaign to self publish my novel. I hope that you will visit via the link and share the link. There is also a link to a sample chapter of the novel on the site. I invite you to read it and to support my project in any way that you are able.

Below is a picture of the 10$ card perk in the process of being created by me,  Alice Eckles 

I haven't posted a blog lately and I'm not sure why that is ... Could be because I'm really busy and have been through some transitions. For instance I finally sold my house and that is a change for me, and we just finished putting a roof on our honey house and we will be extracting honey very soon. 

I went to the redwoods this summer for my nieces wedding.

I've been  growing shiitake mushrooms for Middlebury Natural Food Coop

And picking wild blackberries 

And I made this chapbook of a short story I wrote. It's available on my 
my Etsy store, DancingBeeArt

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Self-publishing, my fundraiser, and a story called On The Mend

Alice Eckles, writer, is kicking off an Equal Exchange fundraiser! She’s offering delicious, organic fair trade coffee, as well as incredible organic fair trade chocolates and flavorful teas. Also available are handcrafted items, handmade gift wrap, and Ten Thousand Villages crafts.  The items are fairly priced and Alice Eckles, writer, makes an excellent percentage on every product.

We also have an online store where far-away friends and family can purchase items to be sent directly to their homes. Shipping is free for orders $75 or more!

Send friends to shop here: 
If you live close to Alice in Middlebury, Vermont please order by catalog, let me know what address to send it to and I’ll mail it right out.

Catalog order forms due:
 July 25th for the first round
Or any time after that for later rounds
Alice Eckles, writer fundraising goal is $3,000
Together we can raise the funds to support:
·      Publish and market The Literature Preferred by Wild Boar.
·      Snacks so Alice can focus on writing.

·      Research for next novel and nonfiction book.

Thank you for your support!

Alice Eckles,
aleckles at gmail dot com

If you would like to read a science fiction short story called, On The Mend, please make a donation using the DONATE button and send me an email requesting On The Mend. My email: aleckles at gmail dot com. Here is the first part of the story:

On The Mend
by Alice Eckles

I was happily married; I wasn’t looking for love or even sex. I just wanted someone to read what I wrote with interest. That’s how I met Serena. She responded with vigor to a story I had published in a little known literary magazine that didn’t even pay. My work had only just begun to get accepted here and there. It seemed to me, as it must seem to every “emerging” writer at some time or other that nobody cared. I was pretty skeptical of writing as a career path. At first I kept telling myself that it was better than visual art where my wife and I had both started at Cranbrook Academy of Art gazillion years ago, but I had been at this for thirty years and I hadn’t emerged yet. Serena looked up to me though, maybe because I was published, at least that’s what I thought at first. It turns out she just liked my writing. And I mean “just” as in only and “liked” as in the past tense of like.
I was unbelievably hungry for her attention. Having started my “writing career” late in life, and perhaps because I’m a classic “middle child” I felt that the lime light was never on me, I can think of any number of excuses for why, as a full grown adult I am insecure and defensive about my work as an artist or a writer. I’m generation X, so though I crave respect, I am marked by the signature of my generation: a disenfranchised slacker, a misfortunate star. Or I could say my craving for attention simply stems from an overpopulated planet where there simply is not enough attention to go around. But really there is no excuse, unless being permanently immature can be described as the human condition. At any rate I hit the attention jackpot when Serena found me. She read everything I wrote and gave me detailed “response papers.” She considered this her study, because she wanted, she told me, to become a writer like me.
My Wife, Marilyn, knew about my special friend, how I looked for Serena’s emails, and met her for lunch in Vergennes, a historic town of mutual interest half way between Serena’s home and mine. Marilyn never begrudged me my female friends; she liked to have male friends herself. We were both artists years ago when we first married right out of college, but we had both changed. I gave up visual art for writing, and she went even further afield becoming the town’s Director of Business Development and innovation. There are lots of men in her business, and lots of women in mine. On the physical plane, where we live our actual lives, Marilyn and I adapted, survived, even triumphed together.
To finish reading the rest of this 3,400 word story please use the DONATE button and shoot me an email. Thanks, Alice 

Here is a picture taken on my first research trip for my next book, those in the know will recognize it:

Monday, May 5, 2014

Stereo Type Story

Once upon a time there was a white man. He could do what ever he wanted because he was a white man. This white man had a white woman for a wife. She was good at cooking, and was a victim of other people’s problems because she was a white woman. They had two children with runny noses, and since they were American children they were brats. The couple had some fat relations. These relations were sloppy and terrible at sports, because they were fat people. Some of the fat people were rich though and this changed the relevance of neatness or glamour and sports. The wife had a fat black friend, a woman, who was not rich. This fat black woman babysat the children, for extra cash since she did not make much money at the obscure sport of discus throwing. Even though she was fat, she could be good at sports because she was black, which sorta trumps being fat. It would be easier to change her weight than her financial position so there was no point in being skinny since she'd never be rich. The white man and the white woman weren't rich either. But they had richer relations and appeared more well off then they were, since they were white and paid attention to detail.

Now in this story there is a friendship, seemingly impossibly so, between the white wife and the black babysitter and discus thrower. The white woman was skinny, and appeared rich even though she wasn't. So the women were both victims, since that's what society dictates. Yet on totally different levels. The wife gave the discus thrower plates toss high into space. It came to pass that the white woman and her husband had only paper plates to eat from.

This made the white man very angry, and when a white man gets angry something has to happen, and some women have got to roll. So obviously they got divorced and the brats went to live with the babysitter temporarily.

The wife was no longer the wife so she lost her identity. She thought being a white man was pretty nice, you get to get angry and make things happen. So she cut her hair very short. Luckily since she was skinny it wasn't too hard to tape down her breasts and wear boy jeans. She couldn't totally pass so she became a dyke. Not that she freaking cared about sex one way or the other. She just wanted a little bit of what was not contained in "divorced white woman, with two brats"

She moved in with the poor fat black woman who was taking care of her kids. They were friends, and miraculously, perhaps because this friendship is the only non-stereotype thing in this story thus far, or perhaps because of the new dyke's generosity with plates, the friendship did not fall apart under the stress of the predicament.

This made the man furious, and he stormed into the house one night and tried to rape the black woman. The new dyke took a knife from the kitchen and stabbed him in the back. The black woman took the knife out of the dead man's back and threw it to kingdom come. The police came and took the black woman away, since it was obvious that it was her crime.

The two snotty nosed children were very upset that their babysitter was gone and with much ado a legal case was born. They were able to get her free and to absolve guilt with the self-defense act, but this time the friendship did not survive.

The two women went their separate ways to heal far from the dynamics of the web of stereotypical interactions that had flung them like discs that are sport to shoot at.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Lines of Advice about problems

Finding injured Luna moth. Photo Credit: Alice Eckles 

People choose the wrong problems. Ultimate advice: “Choose new problems!”

Choose problems that are interesting to you if you are a do-it-yourselfer, or to others if you prefer to delegate. 

Choose a problem that generates healthy enzymes as you chew it, if it doesn’t have any health benefits tear yourself away and let the problem un-manifest.

Due to an unidentified problem… grounds for divorce from corporate entity.

Speed up the fail, recover, and try again process by choosing problems that help you learn faster.

If all else is lacking use will power to plow through problems.

Distract problem pushers with new problems that are more to your liking.

Promote the problem to relevantly talented persons. 

Disown the unsolvable.

Embrace the unsolvable. 


Leave it to God.

Leave it to Beaver?

Forget all your cares with free association.

Problems need gentle roaming focus.

Problems, the creation, and all reality, will not offer cooperation under militant conditions. 

Until you accept that you are nowhere, you will never get anywhere.

There is no progression free of its origins. 

Notice things with your eyes: Images go into two files, danger and opportunity, with descriptive notes. 

Generate questions and search for answers via google, people, and deep research including books, walking, targeted interviews, overactive listening and writing. 

Share the dangers and opportunities with the appropriate people.

Strive to mitigate the downside and optimize the upside.

Strive to be the secret ingredient of a favorite recipe that will be passed down.

It is the beneficent unknown that most benefits future generations.

The secret ingredient stimulates the unique gifts of future problem solvers.


Problems are best solved on site, which is a good reason for being there.

One snowflake at a time to bury the problem
I glide, knowing the simplicity of drift.
I expect, if anything, a stream of disasters.
We drink to celebrate disappointment.
This batch of mead I made of last years raspberries,
nothing store-bought in it:
fizzy, sweet, and pink delicious.
We each ate and read our books, and
cheese named Alice in silence perfect.

I almost forgot the most important one:
Do not try to succeed as an individual person.

Zeros don't add.

Commentary: losses do not add up, they don't get counted and added, because each is a zero, a nothing, and as such can not be added . Therefore I can only count my blessings, only they remain to be counted.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Merry Month of March

Already my new date book looks worn. I have nothing ready for this month’s blog post.  Instead here’s an update on my life and writing life. I finished a nice new science fiction short story that I’m submitting here and there. Still looking for an agent for my novel, but I have started my next book project. I’m going to write about my grandmother Adele Dawson 1905 - 1992. She was an artist, writer, and herbalist who inspired me, and many others in Vermont and beyond. I had the idea recently of writing it as a biography and then continuing the story after death as a novel all in one book. She was interested in dowsing and other esoteric fields so it would seem appropriate. I think I’ll learn a lot from this process, researching Adele’s life and the herbal movement she was a part of. I also hope to continue writing short stories more often too, because it is much easier to have an idea and immediately write it and finish it … other wise I store up all these story ideas with notes and sketches and it becomes too overwhelming to look back too much of a tangled ball of yarn that I can’t find the end of, like quicksand.

Here are some links and pictures of some of the new things in my life:

Middlebury Women for Democracy, an informal group recently started to get more women in elected town government offices. The picture below was taken at a meet and greet for the women candidates at the Ilsley Library. I have also been involved in groups opposing the Addison County "natural" fracked gas pipeline, a much larger issue. But all these things are related and by being alive in all our places we promote the health of the planet.
Photo credit: Ruth Hardy pictured at far left took the picture with a timer, next from left to right is Susan Shashok, Alice Eckles, Laura Asermily, Heather Hoxie Seeley, Jennifer McCarty, and Amy Sheldon

I've become involved in an effort to preserve and improve our town theatre, and its new sister non-profit Addison County Arts Council (we just sent in the papers, so officially I'm not sure we exist yet)

Photo credit: From the Marquis Theatre Google Plus page

I have a new job at a new restaurant in town, the Lobby. Read all about it in The Middlebury Campus here
Photo credit: From the Lobby's facebook page
And I found this group that assists me with my interest in science fiction-ish sorts of things: Geek Mountain State. Also, Phoenix Books is a wonderful bookstore in Burlington and Essex Vermont that I support as a reader, and supports me an an author. 

Photo credit: From the Geek Mountain State website
The last new thing in my life that I can think of for this year is regular yoga practice at Vermont Sun with my friends Ambika and Prem 

Photo by Ruth Eckles

Sunday, February 16, 2014

There Are Many Ways To Increase Your Luck With Clover

Collecting four leaf clovers is a hobby that children and adults can take up as a pastime, and to prevent nature deficit disorder.

White clover, trifolium repens, attracts butterflies and honeybees and it used to be more prevalent and treasured than it is today. When I was a child I remember it was in every lawn from the school to home. My father who collected stamps suggested that I too needed a hobby to keep me from getting bored. He suggested that I might want to collect something. We went over ideas of different things I could collect, and when the idea of four leaf clovers came up I was excited about it because I loved the idea of collecting good luck! What could be more useful? And so I started searching for those special four leaf clovers and became quite good at finding them. I found enough to fill almost every page of my Romona the Brave book. I even found a new friend who liked to catch bees in a jar out in the clover fields. If I didn't have all that luck stored up from my childhood hobby, who knows where I would be!

Clover is an edible wild herb, supposedly eaten by the Irish in times of famine. Clover is a popular forage for turkey, rabbit, deer, woodchuck, and many other mammals. Many poems have been written to honor the clover, and there are many practical reasons to treasure clover as well. Walking barefoot through the clover is a memory shared by many, a memory made all the more clear by the sting of a honeybee.

How to find four-leaf clovers

More four-leaf clovers seem to come up in the spring. You could say that spring is the luckiest time to search for them. And if you find one four-leaf clover keep looking around in that area and you are likely to find more. the genetic code that produces four-leaf clovers is located in the rhizome and since many stems come from the same root four leaf clovers tend to appear more than one at a time and may come up in the same place in the following years.

O.k. So it's spring and you are going out to find your first four-leaf clover. Estimates are that there is about 1 four leaf clover per every 10,000 three leaf clovers, which sounds bad till you add this: there are about  10,000 clovers per 3'x4' area of clover patch! I learned this from Jim Frost's statistic blog, The best thing to do is sweep your eyes over such a patch, keep them moving and don't fixate on any one spot until one of those clovers stands out as being different from the rest. Brush your foot or hand over the tops of the clover to see what is underneath, but don't look at the clovers one by one. You want to scan the whole patch for that one that has a different pattern than the rest. You will develop the skill of a trained visual inspector. Plant your lawn with clover and mark the spots where you have found four-leafers and you will also build a knowledge base of locations where you are likely to find them again. Before you know it you will be the luckiest person you know.

What to do with your four-leaf clovers

Lucky people usually want to share their luck, and four-leaf clovers can be saved and shared by pressing them like flowers between the pages of a book. Once pressed there are all sorts crafty directions you can go in to make four-leaf clover gifts. A pressed clover can decorate a bookmark, become part of a home made card, it can be framed, perhaps combined with a poem. When I was young I used to find a nice smooth rock and with Elmer's glue I'd stick the clover to the rock and paint the glue as a "varnish" over the surface of the clover and the rock. More mature artists can epoxy clovers into works of art, pieces of jewelry, or whatever strikes their fancy. Using a button maker, clovers can be incorporated onto pin-on  type buttons. They can be framed in glass for a window decoration, or simply ironed between wax paper. These are just a few ideas for sharing four leaf clovers as gifts, after all, "your luck is how you treat people".

Aside from finding four-leaf clovers there are many reasons you might want to grow white clover

White clover is a member of the pea, or fabaceae, family. the Latin name for white clover, Trifolium repens, translates into: creeping three leafed plant. It's a low growing perennial good for use as a ground cover or lawn substitute. The high nectar flowers that honeybees and Beekeepers love pop like white balls to the top of low growing clover matts, each one a globular cluster of  40-100 pea shaped flowerlets. Clover reproduces by seed and also from the creeping stems which root at the nodes.

If having a low maintenance lawn that can be mowed as little as once or twice a year, and providing forage for honeybees and other pollinators, as well as other wild life including birds and mammals isn't reason enough to plant clover, just wait there's more. White clover can be used as a living mulch, giving benefits above and below ground while it grows between the rows in your vegetable garden, orchard, or vineyard. Above ground white clover prevents most other weeds and grasses from crowding your plants, just like normal mulches, clover helps retain moisture in the soil. White clover can withstand foot traffic, and all the while attracts pollinators. Below ground the clover is fixing nitrogen in the soil and improving soil tilth and friability almost immediately with its root system. The clover can also be used as a cover crop and tilled in later. To learn more about low maintenance natural farming and the idea of planting crops along with white clover read The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka, and let white clover become a part of your polyculture.

White clover also helps prevent erosion that's one of the main reasons we planted it on our land after clearing the trees where we are planning to build a house. Of course we are Beekeepers so we also did it to help our bees bring in more honey. Finding four leaf clovers at the corners of where our house will someday be also helps us feel lucky and optimistic about our project here on the land. We bought a few pounds of white clover from Northeast Organic Framers Association during their yearly bulk order sale. Territorial Seed Company also sells it. Walking all along our new gravel driveway and along any bare slopes created by the excavator we spread the clover seed with a shoulder seeder/spreader, and we did it again the following year. It is good if you can get the timing right to "frost plant" the seed by broadcasting the seed at the end of winter when it is still cold and snowy. As the temperature of the earth changes and frost heaves the seeds will fall into tiny cracks created by these changes and will germinate in those moist crevices.

Possible culinary and medicinal uses

Besides being an excellent forage crop for livestock, clover can also be a survival food for humans. White clover is high in protein and I have eaten it in salads in small amounts, and it tastes fine, but I have not been able to find a reliable source of information on culinary and medicinal uses of white clover. The leaves may have been used by Native Americans in tea for coughs, colds, and fevers. but other sources say it is non-native... The medicinal and culinary uses of white clover remain vague and an area ripe for discovery today!

The story of why four-leaf clovers are lucky

In the spring when the clover first returns all bright and fresh, that’s when beginner’s luck is at it’s best. When the young chickens lay their first little eggs in unexpected places around the yard, that’s the best time to find anomalies like the four-leaf clover at your feet. At first you may find a few small tattered ones left over from winter, then more and more beautiful fresh grown four-leaf clovers seem to float to the top in clouds of clover.

We have four leaf clovers thanks to Eve who had the quick thought to snatch a four-leaf clover on her way out of paradise, after mankind's Fall. Overcoming her hard luck in exile she has planted the rhizomes of that remembered paradise in the post-Eden world. As the old saying goes: One leaf for fame, one leaf for wealth, one leaf for a faithful lover, and one leaf to bring glorious health! Such are the boons the four leaf clover is said to bestow.

You may find clovers with even more than four leaves. When I was young I found clovers with five, six, and even seven leaves. These are even luckier and you can decide what kind of luck the extra leaves are for. They are like wild cards or aces you can use them how ever you need to at the time.

Find a good book and stash the clovers between the pages. Think of this as your good luck savings account. You may need it as you grow older, there are many challenges in life. It is helpful if you have learned to find that remembered piece of paradise from your childhood, four-leaf clovers represent this. Wherever you are, once you have the eye, you will see a bit a Eden shining through.

I found this tattered five leaf clover in our yard.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The new year begins... with ice

Hello all in 2014,
I was inspired to combine my resolutions of writing and walking into one activity after reading an article in Poets &Writers , Pedestrian Adventures: Walking to Inspiration by Celia Johnson. I went for my usual walk and took my cell phone with me using it to record my voice as I put my observations into words. I love to walk in the woods but I was surprised at how recording my observations in real time increased my joy and excitement. What follows is a transcription of the recording. It's not a Tanka as was written about in the magazine, and the point is not to create esteemed poems for magazines. The point is that this activity fills me with joy, and and reminds me of my happy relationship with nature.

They stand like angels
these forest trees
making heaven
of South Mountain

Moss mounds of crystal-mold
feathery tendrils I try to name

In the air I smell your scent
musky urine scent, see your paw print

In the road deer tracks
maybe someday we will cross paths,
out walking at the same time.

Skeletons growing, islands of frozen fluffy water

Eyelash edges, I pull my furry turtleneck all the way up

Like angels playing pick-up sticks
crystal cords crisscrossed over
a banquet of silver white star fish

My snow angel from last walks visit is snowed over, no longer visible.

Ice topped river
you can hear
but cannot see it flow
Except here
       an opening
in the ice
          where burbling, it wiggles

The raven calls out and cuts
                       across the sky
Three times I say this, and three times he does it,
now with a partner
They circle and sing

In the summer we call this area the swamp
In the winter what shall we call it?

I almost fall into the water looking at a stick turned thick coral reef
One walk around our loop is all I can take -
my freet are half frozen.