Hello Everybody !

I want this to be a place where creative folks can come and express ideas, talk about art, music, photography, writing, books, magazines, ghostly encounters, history, events of importance to creative minds, and just have fun. I also hope to share adventures and stories along the way. If you would like to be a guest or if you have an event that you would like to share please email me at lindajburns@gmail.com

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Don’t Blow Up the Backyard When the Preacher is Visiting

For those who asked for one more story...
Once upon a time in another lifetime, there were mischievous boys. Not mean boys or venomous boys, just mischievous, extremely intelligent, and bored out of their minds during late summer boys.  If “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”, maybe this is where the saying started.
The” boys” were out of school for the weekend. School had just started back after a long and eventful summer. Every day was another adventure and  though  it was only days out from the trouble they cooked up this summer with copious science experiments from the chemistry sets, the wheels were never idle for long in these young minds.  The chemistry sets were last year’s Christmas presents from clueless parents.
I have explained previously in another story how it came to be that the “boys” had learned from the local library this past summer how to make gun powder! Who needs the internet?
In today’s world making gun powder would be a real problem as times have changed so much since the early sixties. I'm sure we would be called terrorists now, but thankfully this was a simpler time. Life barely resembles the free, imaginative world that I grew up in. Many times I long for those simpler days and the chance to be a creative, imaginative child without being thought of as a menace to society. I’m not saying that we didn’t do some things we probably shouldn’t have done, but in this time period parents ruled with discipline, a good belt, and the fear of God. There was also the “talking to” that was sometimes worse than any imagined spanking.
So the boys had their gunpowder. They tried various things like making their own firecrackers and blowing up plastic soldiers, the ones they hadn’t melted with magnifying glasses, and blowing holes in the ground and exploding things in open culverts. Culverts always had that pleasant echo. Most experiments were tried carefully out of earshot of home and parents. Of course these small events were gradually escalating as the boys became bored.
We could all see where this was leading. Things were destined to happen sooner or later. It was just a little sooner than later.
It was a bright, clear-blue cloudless Sunday afternoon in early Autumn. Leaves had begun their slow swirling dance with mother- nature, but the temperature was still just warm enough to be delightful. The air was dry and there was a slight southerly breeze today. It was the perfect afternoon. Church was over a couple of hours ago, Grandma served up a fried chicken feast fit for a king at lunch, or as it turned out today, the preacher. Actually because of the preacher’s visit, the kids had been delegated to play outside for the duration and try to be on best behaviors.
That statement became short lived as Jamie asked Ronnie, my brother, “what would happen if we put that in a metal pipe?” They had their usual debate over what would happen and seemed to feel the noise would be minimal and the damage almost none existent. To those of you who haven’t been paying attention, this idea equated to what you would hear about in today’s news  as a pipe bomb.
The kids had a piece of left over pipe from a plumber’s recent visit. They proceeded to fill it full of gun powder and sealed it up. I’m not sure if they did anything else or not as playing with gun powder was not my forte until later, but I know they added a fuse and buried it in a hole in the ground partially sticking out. I was beginning to think “boy this ain’t gonna be good”, but I too was fascinated and glued to the spot. They made Jamie light the fuse. He always got the bad jobs because he was the skinny kid and could run faster.
Five, four, three, two, one . . . kabooooom!!!!  “Holy crap” I yelled as the sound reverberated around the block. I was thinking to myself they just might have used a little too much powder. Dirt and metal flew everywhere. The sound was deafening! There was a big push of warm air. Windows rattled all the way down the street and then came my Mother flying out of the house. Grandma, Grandpa, the preacher, neighbors, visiting aunts and uncles and even the dogs! Mother had initially thought the water heater exploded. Then she exploded, all over us! She made more noise than the gun powder. She looked around to make sure no body parts were missing and then she yelled for everybody else to “leave now”. She added something about “just wait until your parents hear this one” as my brother and I were summoned into the house “now”!
It was not a pretty sight when the preacher left. I think she broke a belt on Ronnie’s behind. I skated off  scott-free with no problem as I was just an innocent bystander. Right.  But it worked to my advantage.  There was grounding and grounding and more grounding. Ronnie just couldn’t make her understand that it was only curiosity and he just wanted to see what would happen. That set her off again, but there was only so much yelling she could do. We were sent to our rooms and tomorrow was a school day, so that was a blessing. I think this was the night he thought up the sulfur smoke bomb, but that was something else entirely.
Things quieted down in a few days. Neighbors started speaking again and soon the Autumn days turned cool and into Halloween. Thoughts and comments about the pipe bomb in the backyard melted away but the memory survived.
I will never forget those glorious days of total freedom and my love of childhood friends. I can still see the explosion after all these years and every time I do I smile. Not just a turned up corner smile but the big one, like that Cheshire cat. And where ever all the boys have come to be, I still love each and every one of you, pinky swear!
                                                                                                           Joyce Burns
© Joyce (Tidwell) Burns, ChynaMoon Creations 1997-2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Switching Gears

Watercolor Manipulations
 I love, love, love photographs. Taking them, looking at them and manipulating them, especially with watercolor techniques. The above are a few samples, but it's a favorite thing to do. Nothing is more fun than adventuring out and taking photos in the most unlikely places at the most unlikely times and then bringing them home to play with.

After living in a cubesicle all week it does a lot for one's sanity to get out and away from the fast pace and see what mother nature has been doing. But a word of caution. Always be aware of your surroundings and have an escape route planned. These days anything is possible and one runs up on the most unlikely events. Just ask some of my close friends what I ran into on the Natchez Trace taking photos in the woods!

Art also comes in handy for doing your own book covers and illustrations if you are planning to publish a book. Art can be quite an expensive commodity. And don't let anyone tell you what you should do. That's why they call it original.

The main thing is to have a lot of fun at what you are doing. Being a little crazy helps with creativity but make sure its the good kind of crazy :>)

More fun later. Got to feed all my four-legged kids (and maybe a possum).

© Joyce (Tidwell) Burns, ChynaMoon Creations 1997-2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Possum and Grits, Oh My

Forget the grits. Without a doubt, this story belongs to the possum!
Years ago, I had a lot of cats. And for some odd reason, the cats had cats, cat cliques if you will. At dinner time they brought home friends, just like your kids do when you have planned a meal for four people and six extra bodies show up and eat you out of house and home.
But as I am tempted to quote occasionally, “life happens”.
Somewhere along the way the cats began inviting possums to dinner. The first time I noticed anything odd was at feeding time one night when I looked out my sliding glass door and saw a really u-g-l-y cat with a hairless tail, sitting in the middle of one of the food bowls, eating with all the other cats. A note here everyone, I did not have my glasses on at the time of this sighting. On closer inspection a night or two later, I saw it was actually not a cat but a very brazen possum. I let it dine that night too, as its teeth and claws looked quite sharp gleaming in the moonlight. After dinner it moved on.
The possums and cats soon had a close kinship. My cats love everyone and it got to be a routine thing that they would occasionally invite the possums to dine. So be it I thought. There was always room for one more.
I wasn’t quite ready for my next adventure, however.
You know how sometimes in the middle of the night when you are snug and cozy in your soft warm bed and mother nature is determined you are going to get up and trot all the way to the bathroom? You try so hard to resist getting up but your kidneys are plotting against you? Well, it was one of those nights.
I rolled out of bed, made the quick trip down the hall and turned on the light. Another note, I don’t always turn on a light on nightly adventures as I am like a sonar detector in the darkness. I can go from one end of the house to the other without so much as a bump. So I am not sure what made me flip the switch on this time, but in retrospect I’m certainly glad I did!
There in the hazy, fluorescent glow of my otherwise sparkling bathroom, was a site to behold. Smack in the middle of my commode in all its furry glory was the cat-food-eating possum. However, he had eaten his last kibble. He was stone, cold dead. Somehow the possum had drowned in my toilet! It was a site to behold, though one you don’t necessarily want to remember. How he came to be in my bathroom and met his tragic end is a mystery for the ages. Some things we just aren’t meant to know.
The next step was fishing it out. All I could find to remove the critter was a bent, metal coat hanger. But first I made a picture! You may think me morbid or ghoulish, but believe me no one is going to believe a story about a possum drowning in your toilet without the picture to prove it! So I took my picture, which I have to this day and would show to you, except for showing respect for the possum.
Eventually I got him fished out of the bowl and disposed of the remains in a respectful manner. After all, meeting a death like that deserves a little dignity.
And later, when I finally made it back to bed and couldn’t sleep because I thought I heard an army of possums scurrying around everywhere; a thought occurred to me quite clearly.
Can you simply imagine a slightly different scenario where I didn’t turn on the light and the possum was in the toilet but wasn’t dead? I still get shivers thinking about that one. And further, can you imagine if I had to go to the emergency room at the hospital where I work and explain to my co-workers how I got possum bites on my hind quarters at three o’clock in the morning?
Sometimes you just know that God, in whatever form you perceive him to be, is truly watching over you!
Rest in peace, Mr. Possum. Hope you made it to possum heaven.
Joyce Burns, 2011

© Joyce (Tidwell) Burns, ChynaMoon Creations 1997-2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Gentry's Barber Shop

Some of the best memories I have are of hanging out in my grandpa's barber shop. He, Earl Gentry, was a barber all his life and worked in and owned several shops from New Albany, Mississippi, to Aberdeen, Verona, Tupelo and even in Arkansas. He loved his job and all his customers.

I can still see the combs in their sterilized solution jars, hear the clippers and smell the hair tonic, aftershave, and talcum powder and I still keep his bag of tools even after all the years he has been gone. I remember sitting in that big chair, with him smiling down at me and cutting my bangs, the cool marble chair arms and the black leather seat. The foot rest I loved to sit on when no one was in the shop, the letters Koken embossed on the foot rest.  And grandpa, always in a freshly starched, crisp white shirt with a bow tie and dress trousers with perfectly shined shoes. I remember the nickles he would give me and my brother to go get a coke or an RC cola in the tiny country store next door, and the dusty parking lot when the roads were still made of dirt or gravel. I can almost taste the time.

Barbers in the early days had to have a lot of training to be certified. My grandpa traveled around a lot teaching at schools to help students get certified. He told me one time that one of the tests was to shave a balloon with a straight razor. I know how very sharp those razors were and many times watched him sharpen them on his strap. 

I remember stories too. One man that was a regular customer was known for being a little tight with his money and one day as he was sitting in the barber chair, grandpa happened to look down at the man's feet and noticed the man had his feet crossed but something didn't look right. What really caught his attention, was that the man's shoes were on the wrong feet  He later discovered that the man was known for occasionally wearing his shoes on the wrong feet so the heels would wear evenly and he wouldn't have to buy more shoes or have them repaired.

Grandpa always had something interesting going on in the shop and always had wonderful stories to tell. And he never met a stranger.

So next time you happen to be in a barber shop, remember my grandpa. If I know him he is still just around the corner some where in heaven making folks look nice for Sunday. 

© Joyce (Tidwell) Burns, ChynaMoon Creations 1997-2011

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Boys and the Chemistry Set

In another lifetime, when television was brand new and mircowaves were years from invention. Way back before Homeland Security, terrorists, political correctness, the internet, video games, recording devices for movies, cell phones and everyone “saving you from yourself” or minding your business, there were simpler times.

In this era of the late fifties and early sixties there were very intelligent and very bored kids.

In my tiny rural town in north Mississippi, there was a small group of boys, my brother included, who were notorious for their mischievous natures and for getting themselves into trouble. Not the kind of trouble of today where one human being is mean to another or hurts someone, but what folks used to call “creative mischief”.

Back in this time period, kids got really cool presents for birthdays and Christmas. Gifts for boys were very science or sports oriented, sports being baseball and football. The science interest was due in part to the space race. Hopefully little boys would grow up to be scientists that would somehow save the world. This being said, the most popular gift of the day was a Chemistry Set.

I doubt if a genuine set could even be found these days, but if one was found it would probably be considered something lethal. These “toys” were not watered down anything. They contained real chemicals, weather instruments, measuring devices, gyroscopes, microscopes and many other small bits and pieces for performing experiments. The goodies came packed in large metal, fold-out cases with a place to store these treasures for future use. Usually they had big bold lettering on the front in bright colors announcing to the world that a kid had scored the ultimate gift.

Also before the internet was the public library. The boys would visit the library for hours in the summertime. It was their research laboratory and only a short bicycle ride away. Maybe you might see where this is headed but parents were oblivious, being more concerned with weekend outings than what their darling children could be doing. Besides, going to the library seemed like a fine idea. They were growing their minds for the next school year.

What the parents didn’t know was that the boys, always fascinated by western movies, dime store spy novels and heroes making their own bullets were studying how to do this. So these quiet children put together the formula to make gun powder! The ingredients at that time were readily available and it wasn’t long before the group began playing and experimenting. By the time school started that year they had become quite expert at small explosive devices, mostly used like fireworks. Not really anything harmful.

Then along came Halloween. One of the boys got the idea to put some gun powder in one of the cannons at the local Civil War monument. They had argued previously over how far a cannon ball could shoot out of a cannon. They discussed circus people being shot out of cannons, all manner of stories ensued. There were all sorts of opinions. And then it happened. One of the group double dog dared the others to prove the cannon would shoot.

It was Halloween evening, late. Scientific curiosity had gone awry. The boys headed to the Civil War monument and there they stuffed their home made gun powder into the barrel of one of the cannons in an effort to prove their scientific theories. Of course they didn’t have any cannon balls so the stuffed the barrel with bodock apples (the grapefruit sized fruit of the southern bodock tree, very hard and green and sticky with a milky substance that oozes out),as many as they could stuff into the barrel.

They picked the skinniest kid to light the homemade fuse as he could run the fastest. The other boys waited patiently across the highway. It was after midnight. Sammy lit the fuse and ran like the wind. He made it just to the edge of the lot when the flash and the resounding boom hit the cool night air.

It sounded as if the Earth had split into! The horse apples (bodock fruit) exploded into a million pieces and splatted out, but the flash from the barrel was a site to behold! The noise was deafening and nearby windows rattled in in their frames in the blackness of the night. The other boys had already made it two blocks down the street before Sammy could get across the highway.

He was the only one to see the caretaker running across the street in his underwear to the still smoking cannon. Running around the monument in circles and swearing like a sailor, seemingly looking to see if anyone had died.

Down the street the boys were fearing death from parents and the retaliation of the Civil War memorial people as they waited for Sammy. When he caught up with them and finally quit swearing, they headed home, each one separately sneaking into the safety of their warm beds.

In the morning they feared the worst but everything was eerily quiet. The explosion didn’t even make the paper.

Later that day when the group finally gathered they breathed a sigh of relief and swore they would never do anything like this again, however as being scared wore off they all related to each other how cool the event had been. Things were quiet for a few days, at least until the following Sunday afternoon when something in our backyard exploded while the preacher was visiting! But that’s a story for another day.

The cannons were welded shut and the chemistry set is gone now, but that gift has lasted a lifetime. And an additional note, the boys were later known to occasionally put cherry bombs in those cannons, experimenting with the intensity of the sound, of course.

My brother is gone now and everyone has scattered to the four winds, but that wonderful chemistry set and those lovely boys will live in my memory and my heart forever.

For my guys, wherever you are : )

Joyce Burns
© Joyce (Tidwell) Burns, ChynaMoon Creations 1997-2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Elvis Connection

Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8, 1935. People come from all over the world to see the small house in which Elvis was born and pay tribute to the"King of Rock and Roll". Elvis is well remembered in his hometown and each June there is a celebration in his memory," The Elvis Festival ". Lots of music, food, impersonators and good times.  

There are many "Elvis" attractions around town, but none quite so unique as the 21.5 foot guitar at the corner of Green and Crossover streets in Tupelo. It was built by Precision Machine, Transport Trailer and FastWrapz.com. The strings and frets of the guitar are made of fiberoptics and change colors as it plays Elvis music 24 hours a day. Owner, Larry Michael says the giant guitar is inspired by smaller guitar sculptures in downtown Tupelo, which were created by Digital Impressions. More about Tupelo later. It's quite a town!

© Joyce (Tidwell) Burns, ChynaMoon Creations 1997-2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thoughts for Today

Thoughts on Memories
It’s funny
how angry words
are only spent and recognized
in present time.

The yield of hurt Is indisputable,
yet in retrospect,
all that is truly remembered
are soft sided,
gentle words,
and warm touches.

Harsh words
of rage and hate
for all their perceived power,
simply float away
on the breezes of time,
leaving only
the residue of happiness
as we
bask in the sunlight
of warm recall;
that which we want
and choose
to remember.
this wedge
of the human condition.
                                         Joyce Burns 2011

© Joyce (Tidwell) Burns, ChynaMoon Creations 1997-2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It's Been a Sweet Summer

Though the weather is still hot, good ole summer is almost behind us. It has been a really hot one, but at the same time a lot of fun. During the summer I had quite a few outings in the local woods and back alleys seeking places to take nice photos. I love to have warm memory photos on cold winter days so they instantly transport me back to the steamy heat of summer and all that she has been.

This particular photo frenzy was on a quiet, late Sunday afternoon trek to a place where I wanted to get some nice railroad track shots. As I was standing in the middle of the tracks, close to a curve, my feet started to vibrate against the rails.  It suddenly occured to me that there would be no warning whistle should a train suddenly appear. Duh! Yes, just then a train suddenly appeared! Instinctively I jumped from the track and rolled downhill to watch the train pass. The third photo on the right was shot from my landing place in the bushes, and though not a good shot, it serves as a reminder to be a little more cautious next time I venture out alone in the middle of no where. But then, that's why they call it an adventure, right? Life is good!!

© Joyce (Tidwell) Burns, ChynaMoon Creations 1997-2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

Who reads this stuff anyways?

I've been told I should 'give it up' that 'nobody reads this stuff anyways'.
Maybe you're right. I haven't seen anyone beating down my door, yet, but somehow it's therapeutic whether a single person reads it or not. Hopefully someone might. Hopefully something might ease a heart, comfort a pain, heal a soul, grow a smile, twinkle an eye, ... just maybe!
I keep thinking about author John Lock. A million in ebooks in 5 months because he refused to let anybody tell him how to do the whole process! He did it his way, and it worked. It's called c r e a t i v i t y. And I love it!
Folks are out there you just have to take them somewhere they haven't been before and make it an adventure they will never forget. So saddle up folks. Pretty soon we are going adventuring!
"To have something you never had, you have to do something you never did". Not sure who said it, but I like it. Hope tomorrow is a wonderful beginning for each of you : )

© Joyce (Tidwell) Burns, ChynaMoon Creations 1997-2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ahhhh Saturday, but much to do

The sun is shining and although it is still quite hot, the hint of autumn is in the air. I look forward to being outside for a while. It's been so incredibly hot this summer, things that I usually enjoy outside were just too miserable to do for very long. Because of the heat I got a lot of writing done, but after being at work all day I long to get out and about.

Wanted to say CONGTATULATIONS to the new Southern Writers Magazine. The inaugural edition has hit the streets and is great! The staff has done a wonderful job and deserves applause for helping to give Southern writers a new voice. Tricia Goyer is the featured author for this edition with so many other wonderful writers in the wings. Please support their efforts with the wonderful publication.

Also if you are in the Gulfport, Mississippi area today stop by Negrotto's between 3 and 6 pm for a book signing. The book is "Ndovu the Elephant" by Phillip Levin. A pictorial of Africa with a heart warming story. I'm sure you will enjoy the afternoon immensely.

On another note. I wish to say I am also very proud to be associated with the Mississippi Writer's Guild and the Gulf Coast Writers Association. Both are excellent resources of information and support for beginning to professional writers. Thank you for the wonderful job you are doing to help promote writing!

© Joyce (Tidwell) Burns, ChynaMoon Creations 1997-2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

You Can't Make Me Fit in a Box!!!

Hello world! A new adventure begins.

While thinking about my virgin post here I considered many things. So many topics I hope to discuss, friends I hope to meet, debates I hope will challenge my grey matter, other opinions to make me think, and so much more. I love creative people and hope to meet many here.

Today what is on my mind is the journey I just completed with the publishing of my poetry book, Life in the Pond. It's been out for a year on the 20th of this month, self-published (did I just say a dirty word)? I actually had the opportunity to go with conventional publishing. It was a difficult decision, but I turned them down. The contract was limiting, they wanted my rights tied up for a period of time, I was basically not going to make much money since I was unknown, and on top of that, it was poetry (another dirty word)!

Agents don't want to touch an unknown poet. Poets, like cats, are independent and don't fit into a box. Unless you are a best selling author of other genres, a successful poetry book is an underdog, however it is published. Add the words self-published to your book and it will just about kill it.

I'll admit whether SP or conventional, there are some very bad poetry books out there, but also some very bad regular books. Just because a book is self-published doesn't automatically mean it is bad. Give the good ones a chance. Keep your arrogant opinions to yourself until you actually read a book. Then you can judge your heart out.

Like everything else, most times it's who you know, how much money you can throw around, what you are willing to do to have a best seller, or another option, old fashioned hard work! So market, market, market, but smart market.

I was about ready to throw in the towel earlier this week until I ran across self-published author, John Locke. He was like a breath of fresh air. You may like or not like his books but you have to admire his spunk. He sold one million e-books in five months! Wonder what conventional publishers have to say about that? He writes what he thinks and feels and doesn't care if every single word or grammer phase is perfect. That's not to say he doesn't make everyone as perfect as possible, but truth is NO PUBLISHED BOOK IS PERFECT! Doesn't exist. You will find errors in any book you pick up if you are savy enough to catch them.

So you don't get me to quit this round. Thank you John Locke for you amazing words.
Hope you sell a million more. Hopefully when I get my path figured out, I will follow you to the Amazon club! Keep writing everyone. It is good for the heart and soul. And don't let ANYONE put you in their box.

© Joyce (Tidwell) Burns, ChynaMoon Creations 1997-2011