George Collette’s Round Barn

Photo credit: farmalldanzil on VisualHunt / CC BY

When I was growing up, everyone had a barn. Course back then everyone lived on a farm that’s just the way it was. Barns told a story, like how well your farm was producing and what kind of farmer you were. Mostly though they were the kind of barns you imagine when people talk about barns. There was one fella whose barn everyone knew cause it weren’t like any of the others.

George Collette’s place was just east of the old Main Highway and Meridian Road. I knew him as Mr. Collette back then. I was only a kid, and us kids didn’t go calling adults by their first names lessen we wanted a whooping. Well, Mr. Collette was a man of efficiency as he would tell anyone who would listen, and the most labor-saving of barns was a round barn. You heard right, a round barn.

He didn’t need much prodding to get him to recount the reasoning behind his decision to build a round barn. Seems some fellas over at the University, that’d be the University of Illinois, had built round barns as part of their Agricultural Experiment Stations. Mr. Collette had visited the University and one barn, the Dairy Experiment Barn had impressed him enough so as to inspire him to build one for himself.

The barn boasted a silo in the middle to make it easier to feed the dairy cows. That along with other efficiencies, he said lead to greater milk productivity. He was also quick to mention he housed fifty purebred Holstein cows in his revolutionary barn. The Holstein was the premier breed for milk production. Centuries of breeding developed an animal with the exact characteristics needed to obtain optimal milk production from a dairy animal. He could go on for hours.

But progress moved us forward and people don’t live on farms or have barns or worry over breeds of dairy animals. I grew up and George and I were right friendly. He’s gone now nearly twenty years. Every now and again I get out just east of the old Main Highway and Meridian Road. His barn is still there, and it don’t look all that bad. Some fancy city folks came out and hung a plaque on it. It is now on some list of “Historic Places”. I don’t know much about history, to me, it was just the way we lived.

For more information on Round Barns click here.

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Close Enough – Warm Up Exercise

Photo credit: MTSOfan via Visualhunt.com /  CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: MTSOfan via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

She dipped her hands into water before cupping them around a blob of clay she had thrown on to the wheel. The clay was cold. The wheel began to spin. She kneaded it, using the rhythmic motion that started every dance. Drawing it up and pushing it down, centering it on the wheel. The clay warmed to her touch. It yielded to the guidance of her fingers as  she began drawing it up into the shape her hands knew so well. The shape her hands had touched every morning. It had shattered with news of the accident.

She pushed the feelings of frustrations, anger and loss from her mind. She didn’t want to infuse the clay with those emotions. Instead she closed her eyes and focused on the memory of that long-ago day, a day she recalled as if it were yesterday. She could smell the scent of him, feel the heat of his body as he placed his hands on hers. She felt the clay being molded by her hands, changing with the pressure she applied.

She stopped the wheel and opened her eyes, smiling at the form which stood before her. It wasn’t exactly the same, it could never be that. But it would bring her at least some comfort. She carefully removed it from the wheel and attached the handle. She knew the next steps, they wouldn’t be easy to endure. Time to cure, time to endure the fire of the kiln, and the multiple steps of glazing to forge the impenetrable outer layer that would protect the contents.

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The day had finally arrived to open the kiln. Inside her best friend waited for her, the one who knew all her secrets, her sorrows and her happiness.

“Yes Friend, the coffee is ready. Should we try it out?”

The steaming brew cascaded into the cobalt blue interior. She stared at the black pupil encased in blue. His eyes. No, it wasn’t exactly the same. But it would have to be close enough. Close enough to allow her to return to the daily rhythm of life, close enough to pretend that she was moving on.

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

A Few Miles – FFfAW

Title: A Few Miles
Source: Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers – Week of February 7, 2017
Word count: 170 words

Credit: Mike Vore

Credit: Mike Vore

He watched as Billy and his men pried his first love from her resting place. While the crew loaded her on the flatbed, Billy came over to shake his hand again.

“Got a lot of miles left in ‘er. I’ll git ‘er back on the road.”

“You do that.”
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He heard a car on the gravel drive and went to investigate.

Billy jumped out of the red truck.

“Whacha think?”

“Can’t be.”

“Tis.”

“Didn’t look this good when I bought her.”

Billy tossed the keys at him. He caught them with clumsy gnarled hands.

“Take “er.”

“You ain’t gittin’ your five large back.”

“Drive ‘er. When your tired of ‘er, call me.”

__________________________

Billy answered, even though he didn’t know the number.

“My Pa left me a note. Says to call you bout the truck.”

“I’m sorry.”

“What? He ain’t dead. Done run off with that red head over in Jasper. Says to tell you the truck ain’t the only one whats got a few miles left.”

Billy laughed.

 

Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer

A Little Experiment

Call me Guinea Pig.

Photo credit: wcn247 via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: wcn247 via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC

Over the last few months I have been on a quest to discover the right process, the right combination of factors to produce a known and quantifiable result. To be precise I have been searching for the method I need to employ to get my first draft completed.

I have been doing the normal things you do when you start out, tracking number of words written, duration of writing and any comments on the writing period. The results at first were great. But you must account for the initial euphoria that ensues with anything new and exciting.

At the same time, I was studying other processes people employ in various disciplines. From those observations one thing emerged which ran across all types of disciplines. Except writing. That one thing was a warm up. Professionals tended to utilized some type of warm up prior to beginning the real work. Athletes, musicians, singers, painters, photographers, they all did a warm up before they started the real task in front of them. The warm up looked different for each of them, but it was there.

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I also happened across a program that delved into how habits are formed. One telling comment stated that the most productive people have developed cues which trigger a habit allowing them to go thru the day without having to make real decisions.

How can I apply these seemingly different ideas to my writing? How do writers warm up? How can I set up a writing cue? Will doing any of this matter? Since I had been tracking my daily word count I could do something interesting. I overlaid the days I had posted to the blog with the daily word count and an interesting pattern began to emerge.

On days with an initial blog post prior to writing, the word count was generally higher than on days without a blog post. On days where the word count was not appreciably higher, the trend was that it took less time to write the same quantity of words.

Photo via Visualhunt

Photo via Visualhunt

As with any light bulb moment, it raised more questions. Is a small writing piece really a “warm up” for writers? Can it be used as a cue to trigger the mental coding of a habit? Does the duration of the “warm up” significantly impact the number of words or the length of time to write those words? Does publishing to the blog have an impact? Is it a matter of how many words are written in the “warm up” or is it simply the “warm up” itself that triggers the habit? How do I tailor this for me?

These are my initial thoughts i.e. the experiment. I like writing to a photo prompt, so I will use a photo as my jumping off point. I will not specify any format or word count. Applying the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) algorithm it will be photo prompt, write, track, write on draft, track.

Let the experiment begin.

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer