How To Spin a Good Yarn

Sometimes it takes a little imagination to spin a good yarn
Sometimes it takes a little imagination to spin a good yarn

“Spin a Yarn”

I have taken this week’s Illustration Friday topic and expanded it from the original “yarn” to the more colloquial “spin a yarn”. This term is kind of aphorism for storytelling in general, so what follows is a short discussion on storytelling.

Step 1

A strawberry moon is a rare astronomical event that occurs when a full moon falls on the solstice
Spinning a good yarn begins with observing an actual real life event. This yarn  begins with the observation of a strawberry moon, a rare astronomical event that occurs, when the full moon falls on the solstice. In reality, such an event just occurred a few days ago.

Step 2

Spinning a good yarn begins with stretching the truth a bit.
Spinning a good yarn is enhanced when the truth is stretched a little bit. Maybe the man in the picture heard the owl or possibly just saw the bird fly by.

Step 3

Next you need to fib a little bit
Next you need to fib a little bit more. A flying canoe is definitely in the land of make believe.

Step 4

Finally there comes the big lie
Finally there comes the big lie. In this case it is the lake monster.


a pen and ink drawing of the star motel
a pen and ink drawing of the star motel


The Star Motel

Not to be confused with the Bates Motel, this is the Star Motel, where stargazing is the most popular nocturnal activity.

Once In A Very Blue Moon

A Full Moon

Coming Soon

On tomorrow night August 31st a blue moon will occur. No the moon does not turn blue, for this common pair of words is used to describe the uncommon occurrence . And that unusual event is when a full moon occurs twice in the same month. Since a complete lunar cycle takes 29.5 days and every month except February has 30 or more days, a blue moon can occur during eleven of the twelve months. According to NASA, a blue moon occurs on the average about every 2.5 years.

When The Moon Appears Blue

Normally the moon does not appear blue, when it is full. In fact, a twice-a-month ‘blue moon’ has the same color as any other full moon. However, atmospheric effects, like the presence of volcanic ash, smoke from forest fires or ice particles in the sky, can give a full moon a bluish tint. Documented cases of the moon taking on a blueish color are presented at the space weather website.

Optical Illusion

Some blue moons may be all in your head – or at least in the retina of your eyes. This might happen when a person moves quickly from an indoor location, illuminated by an oil lamp to an outdoor site, where the full moon hangs high in the sky. This quick change of scenery can cause the moon to appear blue for a short period of time. Not surprisingly, this phenomena has more to do with the nature of human vision  than any celestial event that occurs in the night sky.

Nanci Griffith
Nanci Griffith is a popular singer who crosses folk with country, photo by Jem1234, from Wikipedia

Popular Slang

Over the years a saying, ‘once in a blue moon’ has developed. More a musical-poetic interpretation of the phrase you might what to check out this song that is performed by Nanci Griffith, entitled Once In A Very Blue Moon. It is a woman’s lament about events in life that only occur on rare intervals. And if you are into lyrics here a is the opening verse and chorus. By the way these words were written by Patrick Alger & Gene Levine.

I found your letter in my mailbox today
You were just checkin’ if I was okay
And if I miss you, well, you know what they say…

Just once… in a very blue moon
Just once in a very blue moon
Just once… in a very blue moon
And I feel one comin’ on soon

New Shoes

cover image for New Shoes
Cover image for my newly, self-published e-book, New Shoes

The Cover

Today, I self-published a new 3,000 word short story at Smashwords. Tomorrow, I will probably add the ebook to Amazon. The story was easy to write, but coming up with a decent cover was a challenge. I can’t say I’m really excited about this one, but it will have to do for now. I used a couple of free images I found at Morguefile to create this undersea collage.

The Story

The story revolves around a young Louisiana fisherman named Jacque LeBeaux and a bunch of trouble he has gotten himself into with some not-so-nice mobsters. I don’t want to say too much, because it will spoil the sea adventure tale….. But I will say that there is a lot of banter and dialogue that goes on between the main character and his captors. You’ll just have to download it and read it to find out how things turn out.

Leaving Las Vegas

Las Vegas bail bonds ad
Las Vegas abounds with bail bondsmen. Fortunately, I escaped without need of any of their services.

Extended Stay

I never expected that my three-day visit to Las Vegas, NV would turn into a three week overnight stay, where most of waking hours were devoted to my job search. Overall, Las Vegas is a pretty strange city, at least to someone there on his/her first visit. My initial impression was how large the place is and then there was the ever-present desert, which on this part of the planet, was very dry and quite extensive. The population of Las Vegas is almost two million and overall the city is described as being the driest county in the driest state of the union. In fact, why I was there, it barely rained, with much of that moisture being re-evaporated into the air by means of walking rain. During my visit I was fascinated by the city, but this was often negated by the emotional stress involved in trying to find a job in a state with 12% unemployment.

Mission Church in New Mexico
Mission Church in New Mexico

Out of the Mission

As time went on and my job searches continued to yield no fruit, I had to shift my living quarters from a hostel to a Christian Rescue Mission. The price was right and contrary to my expectations, the required religious services were quite enjoyable, due to the outstanding musical contributions from a dozen or so of inspired and very talented musicians. However my love of music and by easy going nature could not prevent me from being kicked out of the place, for arriving late to check-in on my last night. This merely meant that my planned departure got bumped forward by 24 hours.


Night of the Super Moon

My eviction came at 4:15 on Saturday afternoon, so I picked up my bags and took a local bus to Boulder City, a Nevada city located just a few miles from the Arizona border, where hitchhiking was legal. The bus contained only a few passengers, but one adventurous soul had brought his mountain bike with him, so he could observe the rare astronomical event from a desert mountain. The “supermoon” arose 9p.m. and true to its name lit of the desert countryside like a Fourth of July flare. From the side of the highway, the night landscape came alive under the reflected sunlight from orbiting sphere. The light from the full moon made my nocturnal hike to Boulder Dam, all the more stunning, as the moon cast its glare on the rough mountain terrain. Finally around midnight, I set up my tent and crawled inside. However, the intense lunar glare made it hard to sleep. Still, I had  a lot to be grateful for: I had left Las Vegas without incident.

The Colors of Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay Urban Scene

Thunder Bay used to be called Port Arthur, but now goes by a more colorful handle (my opinion) that owes a lot to the natural forces of nature, which for some reason put on fantastic thermo-electrical displays, when they pass over the rocky harbor and bay. I was witness to one such event and it was quite impressive. It also seems to be a slight deference to the ever-present Native American community, which is quite prevalent in this Ontario town.

Shadows Cast On a Red Door
Red Pattern On Red Door

For me, Thunder Bay was a great place to take pictures, mostly because it was a city in need of repair. I love the old, functional architecture in need of small repair and a fresh coat of paint, as well as the towering grain elevators that lined the edge of Lake Superior, a  body of water that the locals affectionately refer to as Gitchee Gumee.  Along with this post are a few of my favorite results from my photographic efforts.

Yellow Night Light

The above is twilight shot taken while a deep blue afterglow remained in the night sky. For me this brief period when photocell operated lights come on and cast contrasting shadows against a slowly darkening sky, are amongst my favorite times of day. Here’s one more picture.

Twilight Parking Garage
Twilight Parking Garage

Best Free Ride In America

Lower Side NYC Skyline Viewed From the Staten Island Ferry
Lower Side NYC Skyline Viewed From the Staten Island Ferry

Free Ride

The Staten Island Ferry just may be one of the best free activities in all the US. These boats carry passengers only back and forth from Manhattan’s Lower Eastern tip to Staten Island. Designed as a commuter transport that run around the year, this 25 minute one way trip also attracts an inordinate amount of tourists and sightseers. Where else can you get a grand view of the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan Skyline and Brooklyn Bridge in less than an hour without paying a dime, unless you splurge for a hot dog or ice cream. And don’t forget the majestic Verrazano Bridge that gateway to the sea, where all the oil tankers pass through on their way to harbor.

The Ferry at dock
The Ferry at dock


During peak hours the ferry company of New York has to keep as many as five of these boats in service to service the commuter traffic. Once on board there are many places to sit indoors, where the temperatures are kept warm, no matter what the month. However, non-locals tend to flock to the open-air docks, where they can watch all the sights pass by and smell the salt air. Perhaps the best time to make the one-hour round trip is just after dusk when the lighted up buildings are accented by the dark blue afterglow of the twilight. The terminals are also an unique experience, as travelers get a chance to mingle with the large local crowds that are always traveling back and forth on the large metal watercraft.

Statue of Liberty surrounded by sailing schooners
Statue of Liberty surrounded by sailing schooners