Life Ambience

Glowing-Street-Light--59343I found a great word today:

Ambedo: ‘A kind of melancholic trance in which you become completely absorbed in vivid sensory details—raindrops skittering down a window, tall trees leaning in the wind, clouds of cream swirling in your coffee—which leads to a dawning awareness of the haunting fragility of life.’

Then, looking it up, I discovered the real meaning of ambedo is to gnaw or nibble.


But the fanciful meaning engaged my mental gears.

Repetitions of sensory encounters can leave impressions that last years. We forget about them and suddenly there they are again, comfortable or frightful. I won’t dwell on the latter, but I am reminded of certain things.

When one is young, house noises can be large and scary. But we soon forget they are there and we grow up, move away, and come home only for visits, perhaps.

We lie in our old bed, the house is quiet, we hear the thunk the fridge makes when it turns off and on. There’s a lamppost outside that throws light through the crack in the blinds and creates the warm glowing reflection on the portrait of the grandparents on the wall. Someone left the bathroom fan on, which hums softly, with the faintest of squeaks every 8th rotation. And we fall asleep easily with the sensation of being swaddled by the familiarity and security of the subconscious memories.

The day my husband proposed to me he was wearing his leather jacket. Smells are high impact sensory triggers. Each spring and fall when he pulled out his leather jacket and wore it, guess what memories, thoughts and feelings went through my head? Just a smell, and I was pulled out of place and time to somewhere else.peonies21I finally have some mature peonies growing in my garden, and what do I feel when I cup one of those puffy big blooms in my hands? I am 7 years old again, in my Oma’s garden, and she is creating in me an awareness of the beauty and variety of flowers and birds that I’d never realized before. Flowers were no longer just flowers. They were cosmos, and marigolds, and delphiniums–oh my! And I draw a deep breath of the sweet fragrance of my peony and remember the wonder of those days.

And what is it with rain? We don’t get too much around here, so maybe that’s why I can still enjoy it. But something I have not yet figured out is why I get the urge, in a hot summer storm or downpour, to dash out barefoot and dance in it? Is it something about being washed clean, (as if I never take a shower? 🙂 ) More likely, I just want to be a part of the wildness, the energetic charged ions in the air. Free from all restraints. And I remember learning the beauty of a thunderstorm from my mother, watching from our covered porch every flash in the sky.shutterstock_111999368

Sights without attached memories can influence and absorb us. Why do we like to skip stones on a still lake, watching the ripples? Or walk through woods with sounds and smells so different to what most of us know in the cities? Why do we like our chosen coffee or tea? Is it the taste, our morning ritual, or the ambience they wrap our souls in?

It’s cause and effect.

Take note all my writer readers–sensory perceptions and their influences on your characters and story can help with fleshing it all out and creating mood.

Ambedo” does exist, although not by that name. What are some of your “ambedo” moments?


Christina’s motto is:
“Some people see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say, why not?” (George Bernard Shaw)

Story’s Little White Lies

134170985_istockphoto_thinkstockIt’s funny how as a writer I find myself becoming, at times, a better oral story teller. I just caught myself retelling a small scenario from church to my husband and simplifying some of the details to make a better verbal impact and a greater punchline.

Huh. Did I just lie? Did I just go against everything I’ve been taught all my life and tell a Lie?

Interesting. And all the more so because it’s becoming a bit of a habit.

There’s nothing worse than listening to someone tell a story and having them use a lot of “sort-of’s” and “kind-of’s,” or “a little bit’s.” Or describing something as “like a this thing–well, no, maybe it was more like a that–” They try to get the details just so and for many things, like telling how father’s iridectomy went, the details count. After all you don’t want Aunt Bertha passing the story to Uncle Curt and suddenly father’s iridectomy becomes a triple bypass complicated by a plantar’s wart and his body odor and he had an out of body experience in the midst of it.story-fun

If your child’s teacher calls to tell you your child spit on the janitor’s head, you better hope she’s not fiddling the truth, when your child only sneezed on the water fountain.

Nooo, we don’t want that sort of false retelling. And when the boss says you’re getting a $10 an hour raise and you open your next paycheck to find a 10 cents a day decrease— well there’s h— oops, certainly something to pay.

So how do we tell a story for the sake of a good story? Cause I know I’m not alone.

Because I’ve caught myself altering the strict truth of story simply for love of telling it well. I doubt I’m the only one. Let’s hope I’m not heading for perdition. Story gets into ones blood. It’s been part of civilization ever since—ever. Like since the first cave-men with no language, spoken or written, played charades to tell each other what happened out in the fields that day. of course they’re gonna swap the details to out-do one another.storytelling

What does fiddling the facts comes from? Perhaps some of us get tired of listening to stories from people who have to reclaim every detail, important or not, that slow down the story and cause you to lose interest. The tension is stretched to uselessness by constant correcting themselves or telling too much back-story in a backwards manner, whether it pertains or not.

Or it’s because, as of we writers, the editing of the written word, the maximizing of each phrase to carry the story, the careful choosing of words to say more than they do at face value, has taught us to edit more carefully the spoken story too.

It’s the essence that counts. The overall effect. The end result. Carried only by choice details, not all and sundry.story1


So what if the little boy in church today actually hummed a different tune than the Star Wars Theme song? If not, it was certainly a lot like it and created the same impact–a wave of tittering in the rows nearest him. So later when I told my husband, it would have lost the giggle factor if I’d out loud speculated if that’s what song it really was. The acoustic quality of the tale would have failed entirely, thus vetoing the point of the tale.

And it was funny. The little guy belted out that tune right during a pause.AA_New_Logo♫ ♯♪ Dun da da DUN dun, dunta da Daaaa…♫ ♯♪

Christina’s motto is:
“Some people see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say, why not?” (George Bernard Shaw)

Give Them Wings

Being a creative person, I get asked a lot, “How do you have such great ideas?”

There’s a few ways. I keep my eyes peeled. Not just at other people’s creativity, but at nature, patterns, colour combinations that please the eye, those that don’t—I observe people, places, things. And I listen too.

Yes it helps to have a natural bent towards creativity, but like anything, it can lay dormant, or be

One thing I have found true in both creative arts and creative writing, that ideas develop by doing. Again as with anything—practice-practice-practice.

Most projects I tackle, whether it’s sewing, or woodworking, or writing, start with a single idea, a vision, a spark. By the time I’m done, it has usually become quite different. Why?

In the doing, as I go along, I get more ideas because maybe a technical glitch has changed the vision, or I’ve come across something I hadn’t anticipated until I got right down to the details, and so I’ve adjusted the original plan to improve things, or as I fiddle with materials or words, I discover that if I use this instead of that then I can add the thingy to the whatsit and really make the project pop.drawing-board-670027_1280

Ideas occasionally fall from trees, but they need to be fed to grow. One must toss them around, chew them up, spit them out, and rearrange. The perfect sewing project rarely exists. Often one must take in a pattern here and there to make it fit.

An architect can have a great idea for a house, but perhaps the property is too narrow. He has to shuffle it around, change the layout to get it to work.

When moving into a new home, we have to fit all our old furnishings into a completely different space and organize it sensibly. That also requires a type of creativity and some rethinking before we get it right.

So with writing. I have found that the best points and connections and subtleties in my stories come from being immersed in the writing, completely unplanned. somewhere deep inside, the subconscious mind takes all your knowledge and observations and feeds them where they’re needed if we give it the chance. If I never take that original idea and start brainstorming and working it like a baker kneads dough, I would never progress.cargo-jet-108882_1280

The world progresses on ideas that were just tiny sparks. Take your favorite ideas and be bold enough to give them wings..

Christina’s motto is:
“Some people see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say, why not?” (George Bernard Shaw)
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