Thursday, March 31, 2005

Chapter Seven

First things first:

     <Photo courtesy Eastman Kodak Co.

Mama's staying close to the nest box today and looking miserable. I suspect another egg is due shortly.

More misery: this damned infection really has a 'grippe' on me. (Medical humor - har,har.) When my head isn't pantomiming a cotton wad it's throbbing like a clumsy carpenter's thumb.

Oh, well. Onward.

Chapter Seven: A Long Way From Home

The sun was fast fading in the west and the shadows were growing long as the silvery rodent awoke and began to groom herself, carefully inspecting her belly for any damage that might have been inflicted by the cruelly sharp talons of the owl. She found a few tiny pinpricks that had scabbed over rapidly. Concluding that she wasn't seriously hurt, she quickly engaged all her senses in an attempt to determine the status of the world around her. As there appeared to be no immediate threat, she decided that her first order of business was to distance herself from this tree that she knew to be a source of potential danger. She emerged from her covert and began the laborious process of climbing down the trunk of the tree. Since the gray bark was rugose and channeled, offering many toeholds, she made good time and reached the ground before the sun had sunk fully below the horizon. Moving warily away from the trunk, she found herself wending her way among many irregular, odoriferous objects that, when trod upon, broke open to reveal pale ivory bits reminiscent of twigs, along with what seemed to be bedraggled tufts of fur. She had never before encountered such articles and could not know that these were owl pellets, but they made her uneasy all the same.

As she cast about with all her senses, she began to realize that her present environs differed remarkably from those with which she was familiar. The smells, sounds and sights that now buffeted the tiny creature were quite foreign and unaccustomed, causing her a measure of disquietude. It occurred to her that she had been carried a long way from home, and she had no idea how to return.




The tree from which she had recently decamped was one of a number that were irregularly ranged along the southern edge of the savannah in which she made her home. Although at this juncture the boles were spaced far apart, the forest grew denser as it deepened, like the walls of a burrow that narrowed to a claustrophobic end. The relatively bare ground just inside the edge of the jungle rapidly gave way to a riotous profusion of underbrush - saplings, shrubs and colorful, exotic blooms all clawing for a small space in which to survive. Gathering gloom pervaded the gaps beneath the bowed branches of the farther trees, lending an air of brooding menace to the dank and fetid atmosphere. The shrill and frenzied cries of nameless, terrifying creatures echoed faintly and incessantly from the shadowed inner reaches of the immemorial woodland. Clammy tendrils of pallid mist spiraled lazily up from the moist and humid earth, tickling her nose with the mysterious odors of this unknown and mystical realm.

Recalling the gruesome fate that had almost befallen her, the sleek, silvery creature darted into the forest, seeking security from the inimical regard of hidden, unseen eyes. She remained ever alert for the unforeseen dangers that awaited her if she was not careful.

She scurried gingerly from the protective roots of looming trees to the drooping, moisture-laden foliage of strange and fantastic plants, pausing on occasion to imbibe drops of liquid from the dependent leaves. Insects intermittently trundled purposefully across her path and she sniffed at each one, filing the scents away in her memory for future use.

Cautiously, carefully, she proceeded further into the depths of the woodland, marveling at the variety of flora and fauna to which she had never before been exposed. She discovered a myriad of fruits, nuts and seeds with which she was unfamiliar, and she warily investigated each and every one, taking a single taste of everything that smelled good, avidly devouring those that pleased her discriminating palate. Soon she was quite satiated, and she began to consider whether she should search for a secure spot to curl up and rest. She crawled under a growth, the leaves of which hung right down to the earth and completely hid her from the sight of predators. Drowsing, she wondered how she would ever be able to find her way back to her burrow, and pondered whether she might have to begin a new life here, trapped in this alien environment. Her sleepy musings slowly fragmented into troubled wisps and snippets, phantoms of dream and nightmare alternating as she slipped into a light and fitful slumber.



    <Savannah & Jungle

This isn't up to my usual graphic standards, but I'm not well. Sorry.

(Let's see: falcon update, whine, story & charmingly cheesy map, have I left anything out? Don't think so. Oh, Albert, thanx again for the shout-out; I got some lurkers out of it.)

Journal's done, dishes are done, ummm ..... BED!


Story & map copyright Malcolm Mott 2005




Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Chapter Six

Chapter Six: Journey

Her labors required most of the night to accomplish, and moonset was nigh as she started out again from her burrow to retrieve the last of the nuts. She had managed to fill two cells and part of another with her prizes, but she was loath to leave even one behind, for who knew when the rains would begin to fall anew? Scampering along the route which she had now committed to memory, she thought ahead to the moment when she would be able to settle into her soft nest, secure in the knowledge that she had harvested an adequate supply of food to tide her over in case of storms.

A slight rushing movement of air suddenly ruffled her fur and she felt a tight constriction around her middle as if she had been snared by steel bands. Sharp, tiny barbs dug into her belly, and she felt her feet leave the ground. She began to wriggle violently; she whipped her head frantically from side to side, attempting to snap at whatever was clutching her. This was an entirely new experience for her, and she cared for it not at all. Failing to connect to anything with her teeth, and lacking any comprehension of what was happening to her, she began to shudder in an extremity of fear as the argent moon shone pitilessly down upon the land and the predawn breeze combed roughly through her quivering whiskers.

It seemed to her to be an eternity that she was speedily borne through the suddenly hostile darkness, disoriented and lost as she was in a fog of terror. The end of her journey came suddenly, as she was jarred against an unyielding surface that felt like intertwined twigs. She found herself staring fearfully up at two large white creatures which seemed to consist of nothing but huge round eyes and gaping maws. They were each emitting a horrid rasping noise as they craned their necks toward whatever was clutching her in an iron grip. Her gaze shifted upward as something descended from out of the darkness, pale and round and growing larger as if the moon were plunging from the sky, falling directly toward her. She squirmed violently to avoid it, and felt a number of loose twigs at the edge of the nest shift and give way, slipping out from beneath her and causing her to scrabble futilely to maintain a foothold on the sliding surface. She found herself plummeting earthward as the owl that held her momentarily lost its balance, spasmodically releasing her from its talons as it attempted to regain a precarious purchase on the nest.

She fell for some distance before landing roughly upon a large branch. It knocked most of the wind from her, but as she saw the dim outline of the owl soaring about, fully intent on relocating its prey, the frightened mouse scuttled feverishly down the length of the branch, her inkdrop eyes wide as she searched for some way to escape the inevitable. As the owl spotted her and swooped closer, preparing to pounce, the little rodent dashed into a small opening in the trunk of the tree and burrowed in as far as she could, turning to peek fearfully out again to see what might happen next. The owl landed on the branch and strode to the hole, first peering in with one eye and then inserting its beak into the claustrophobic cavity, snapping viciously at the cowering mouse. She huddled against the back of the restricted space, praying that she was in far enough to avoid being taken captive again by the furious feathered frenzy.

The enraged owl, disgusted with itself for so easily losing its plump, tender prey, made many futile attempts to recapture the tantalizing tidbit. Eventually it became frustrated, concluded that it was wasting its time and emitted a peevish rasp before flying off to seek easier prey. The relieved little mouse curled up into a tight ball, deciding to stay where she was until she could be sure that she was no longer being hunted.


I thought about including chapter seven because this chapter was short, but my energy is flagging, so I think I'll wrap it up for now.

P.S. Please see my previous journal entry for some falcon photos courtesy of that most excellent photography company,

Eastman Kodak Co.

Thank you for stopping by. Peace.

All content copyright Malcolm Mott 2005


The Day of the Falcon

   < 1st egg laid between 8:00 & 8:15


   < Papa Kaver coming for a visit


   < Pensive Mariah


I really hope these don't load as slowly as the first photo - these are low-res so maybe they'll load more quickly. They're in chronological order - from last night to midday. The next egg (or eggs) will probably be laid sometime tomorrow. If you are viewing the website, you may notice that the egg is often unattended. Some people worry about this, but incubation does not begin until all eggs are laid, and the first eggs are unaffected by the apparent inattention.

I'll continue updates because it's an easy way to waste some journal space.

I wanted to make this a separate entry from the story for no particular reason. The next entry will continue Lona's adventures.





Tuesday, March 29, 2005


     < CT scan of maxillary sinusitis

It's baaa-aaaccck!

I'm for bed with my bag of cheesy packing peanuts, glass of chocolate milk and a Snickers bar. Won't cure anything, but I'll feel better.

Our heroine continues to gather her macadamia nuts. More when I feel better.

Mariah is sticking close to the nest box but as yet hasn't delivered any eggs. I'll let you know.

I shall now return to the malaise and misery of the medically afflicted.



Monday, March 28, 2005

Peregrine Update!


This is Mamma Mariah, resting in the indentation she made a few days ago. Last year her first egg was laid on April 1st (if I remember correctly) so it probably won't be too much longer. She left the nest shortly after this shot, so it may be she was just trying it on for size. I'll be checking in on her frequently for the next week or so.

This photo is brought to you courtesy of EASTMAN KODAK CO., the best film company in the world (I mention this so that they won't attempt to remove my posterior via lawsuit.) I hope you enjoy the remains of the day. Peace.

Chapter Five

Chapter Five: Evening

On the evening of the day on which her life had effectively changed forever, she had awakened, yawned hugely, stretched, licked her paws, then thoroughly scrubbed her whiskers and face. After she had completed her ablution, she moved languidly to the main entrance of her burrow, peeking out and sniffing the air. A tiny moth, resembling a bit of bark, flitted past her nose, causing her to appear comically cross-eyed as she attempted to focus on it.

The slanting golden rays of the semitropical sun were a welcome relief from the steady rain that had fallen over the previous several days. It had been impossible for her to venture out in search of food, especially since a portion of her burrow had become flooded. She had found it necessary to deplete the small amount of stores which she had been able to set aside, and her stomach was beginning to growl. She looked forward to a good meal and a long evening devoted to refilling her empty pantries.

She ventured slowly out, nose and ears ever attuned to detect any indication that danger might lurk nearby. She darted from cover to cover, like a pinball in full play. Much of the vegetation under which she crouched retained a substantial film of moisture from the recent rains, and she found that her fur became rapidly saturated, forcing her to pause frequently to lick herself dry. This was beneficial in that her thirst was quenched, pleasing rather than irritating her, and after each halt she continued contentedly on in search of food.

A soft, silken shroud of dusk had spread itself across the land by the time she located a lonely stand of wild maize. She searched diligently among the tall, slender greenery until she discovered an ear which had fallen from its stalk. She sniffed at it avidly, decided that it was edible and gnawed through the tough outer husk to reach the sweet, tender kernels within. As she ate, she eyed a rambling train of ants that had disgorged from a diminutive anthill near the base of one of the stalks. Like electrons shed from a stream of atoms, several individuals peeled off to head in various directions as the main body continued on, headed directly toward her meal. Antennae waving furiously, the ants swarmed up and over the ear of maize, gnawing off tiny morsels to carry back to their nest. As they invaded the section of cob upon which she was dining, she became annoyed and began to snap at them, hoping to drive them away. Catching one between her teeth, she chewed on it experimentally, quickly spitting it out as the acrid taste of formic acid irritated her palate.

As she had eaten her fill of the maize, she decided to leave the remainder to the voracious ants and begin her search for seeds and nuts with which to restock her larders. Whiskers twitching, she raised her nose and sniffed the evening air. A familiar scent reached her nostrils and she trotted forward, halting as another mouse rounded one of the stalks and stared in her direction. This newcomer was of a slightly larger build, with a coat the color of cocoa and a tidy beige belly. Her senses quickly informed her that this was one of her brothers, whom she had not seen since leaving the nest three weeks before. The kindred kits approached each other, twitching their whiskers and sampling the air, assuring themselves that nothing was amiss. Communicating, as mice will, with pheromones, scents and sounds, they compared notes about good things to eat and where they could be found, and traded news about the comings and goings of other members of their family. After they had caught up on all the recent events, they genially said their goodbyes and went their separate ways.

The moon was approaching fullness this warm summer night, shedding its silvery brilliance over the grassy uplands and the verdant trees of the ancient and mysterious forest, a place to which the tiny mouse had never ventured. She would actually have preferred the total darkness of a new moon, opining that it would have provided her an extra measure of safety from the predators that prowled the night in search of such as her. Be that as it may, she did enjoy the play of moonlight over the rocks and grasses through which she wended her way, even as she avoided it in favor of the deep shadows that shielded her from view. All of her senses were on full alert, tasting the air and scanning far and wide with ears and eyes. The air was redolent with the scents of moisture and greenery, and less definable things. The stillness of the evening was punctuated by the soft breeze rustling through the grass, the buzzing of small insects, and the occasional wild cries of large animals moving about the nightscape, sounding thankfully distant to her quivering ears.

At most times she would not have strayed very far from her burrow, but the multitude of mice this year had depleted the supply of readily available foodstuffs and she found herself having to travel further afield in order to locate storable seeds and nuts. On this night she continued on for a long time before she detected the delectable aroma of something edible. Moving forward warily, she discovered a batch of largish nuts with olive green hulls that had likely been shaken loose by the recent heavy rains. She was unfamiliar with these particular nuts, but they possessed an enticing scent and she was persuaded that they would make an appetizing addition to her pantry. To her chagrin, the nuts were so large that she could carry only one at a time. Heaving the mousey equivalent of a sigh, she began the long trek back to her burrow with a succulent nut clenched firmly in her teeth.

I hope that, in some small way, I have given you an indication of what it is like to be a mouse. Any verisimilitude in my tale is derived from direct observation of my pets, and I extrapolate from that to imagine what it must be like in the wild. Oddly enough, in popular literature people, particularly women, are portrayed as being afraid of mice (the farmer's wife being the rare exception), when in actuality the opposite is the case. If you have ever stood at the base of the Empire State Building and craned your neck to see the top, you know how a mouse would feel if it were to look up at you. When we contemplate our insignificance in relation to the unutterable vastness of the universe, we can only imagine how a mouse must feel.

It occurs to me that I have not given my heroine a name. You may call her what you wish; I tend to think of her as Everymouse. If you need a name, you could think of her as Lona. I have read somewhere that it is Spanish for 'solitary', and it will do just fine.

Until tomorrow, peace.

All content copyright Malcolm Mott 2005




Sunday, March 27, 2005

Happy Easter

     Naughty Peeps take advantage of their access to a photocopier to photocopy their nether parts.

     The perils of being naughty Peeps - a cautionary tale.


I'm sorry. I couldn't resist this. I have borrowed these photos from, I hope they don't mind. It's a very clever site; I hope you will visit it just to get your grins for the day. Warning - there is some Peep violence involved, and possibly inappropriate and disturbing Peep behavior. If images such as this make you squishy, you may want to avoid it.

The story will resume tomorrow. Happy Easter and, of course, Peace.


Saturday, March 26, 2005

Chapter Four

Chapter Four: Reverie

Panting heavily, the tiny creature sprawled upon a soft pile of fallen leaves. The late afternoon sun blanketed the clearing in the forest with a mottled coverlet of gold, green and gray, and had warmed the air to such an extent that even the ancient, towering trees could not provide the soothing coolness that the fatigued little mouse required in order for her to continue her exertions. She needed to rest for a while, and deciding that she would be much safer if she was concealed, crawled under the decomposing leaves, dragging the talisman after her.

Her extended trip through the bowels of the temple had been largely uneventful. Negotiating the rugged landscape of the floor of the temple while towing the torus had, of course, taken a very long time and necessitated using much of her store of energy, but nothing dangerous had occurred to delay or deter her. Occasional aftershocks had manifested, compelling her to hunker down and wait them out, but they had been weak and incapable of causing further damage. In her travels she had seen many strange and singular items that, had she been given the opportunity, she would have enjoyed investigating, but her mission was too important to interrupt just to satisfy her curiosity. After laboriously making her way through the tangled, complicated maze of the structure's interior, she had finally located an open doorway which allowed her access to the outdoors.

Now, as she lay quiescent, resting comfortably under the leaves, she gazed wonderingly upon the violet talisman, drifting into a reverie, thinking back over the recent past and pondering the extraordinary circumstances which had brought her to her present situation.


Just two days before she had been living an uneventful life, engaged in a familiar and comfortable routine. She had only recently moved out of her mother's nest, parting from her brothers and sisters, to establish an existence of her own in a nearby location. She had sought out a soft patch of earth among the roots of a towering tree and excavated her very own burrow, digging spacious cells where she could store the grains and nuts that she fervently hoped to gather. She had already completed her sleeping chamber, furnishing it with soft grasses and prized toucan feathers which had fallen from the wide blue sky. She had also dug an elimination chamber, with a separate entrance for efficient clearing, and lined it with small fragrant chips gnawed from the bark of the cedar beneath which she lived.

She had been required to defend her territory only once, when an opportunistic interloper had happened upon her cozy burrow while she was out gathering grass. A fierce tussle had ensued, with minor injuries occurring to both combatants. Her tail had been sore for a week, and there was still a small knot of scar tissue a third of the way down its length, but she had prevailed and fought the offender off.

The plucky little mouse had quickly discovered that there was no shortage of suitors in the savannah in which they all amicably resided, but she had as yet made no choice from among them. Unfortunately, this had created some uncomfortable moments as she had occasionally been forced to abandon her activities, run, and hide so as to escape the attentions of an overly ardent wooer. She had decided that she would make a selection in her own good time, and she chose to tolerate the infrequent interruption in order to preserve her precious individuality.

She had eventually established a comfortable routine, slowly exploring the area in which she lived, ranging over the savannah and discovering various places in which valuable nuts and grains could profitably be obtained. She had marked the exact locations of several distinctive landmarks such as boulders, bushes and trees,and filed them away for future reference. She had also taken time to observe and occasionally interact with the diverse denizens of her compact little world, making friends (or enemies) with the multitude of mice that were not members of her immediate family circle, and avoiding the fearsome predators that sporadically stalked among the tall grasses, searching for a plump, tender, grain-fed snack.

Taken all in all, her life had, up until now, been a quiet, pleasant and comparatively placid one, marred only by the recent unexplained disappearance of her father, who had not often been present in her mother's nest but whom she had, from time to time, encountered while searching the grassland for food. At their first meeting he had appeared threatening, but after recognizing her as one of his own had accepted her and taken her into his confidence. While her mother had taken her kittens outside the nest and taught them basic survival techniques, her father, veteran that he was, had imparted to her some of the more esoteric lore that he had painstakingly acquired.

She looked forward to their infrequent meetings; she had not, however, seen him for days, and one of her sisters,closer to her father than she, had informed her that he had been absent for almost a week. She had heard no further news of his whereabouts, and feared the worst. She felt a keen sense of loss, understanding that he was probably gone forever, but could still summon hope that he might yet return to her. Meanwhile, she did her best to carry on without him.

We are all (he opined) shaped, to a lesser or greater extent, by our pasts. How we integrate our experiences, the accumulated detritus of years, determines how we live in the here and now, and the paths our futures will follow. Each individual is a compendium of knowledge collected along life's way, and each individual filters that knowledge through the sieve of her or his own viewpoint. There is, it seems, no one universal way to look at and understand a given situation. Emotions tend to interfere with an objective view of many of life's dilemmas. What's my point? I'm not sure I have one; I sometimes just spew out whatever my subconscious conceives and transmits to my consciousness. Consider it a fragment torn from Malcolm's Massive Compendium of Generally Useless Ramshackle Knowledge.

That's all until next time. Peace.

All content copyright Malcolm Mott 2005

Friday, March 25, 2005

Chapter Three

Chapter Three: Talisman

Gray dawn was just beginning to filter through the ravaged remains of the rambling temple when the little mouse was awakened by an abrupt and terrific jolt. She discerned a vibration in the earth and a deep, distant reverberation penetrated her perked and quivering ears. She scrambled to her feet, peering frantically about, attempting to determine what new threat might be approaching and preparing to flee in whatever direction would offer her the best chance of security. The ground began to tremble more strongly, and she commenced to dart frenziedly from one spot to another, unable to settle on a location which would shelter her from this nameless, incomprehensible enemy.

A ceiling stone, already perilously loosened by depredations of time and weather, crashed resoundingly to the ground, narrowly missing the panic-stricken mouse and causing fresh paroxysms of fear to erupt within her trembling breast. Nevertheless, this particular and intimate danger was at least familiar and understandable, and the realization cleared her mind enough to allow her to conceive a concrete plan. She rapidly searched about for somewhere in which to hide herself, an overhang or covered space in which she could cower, and saw the cyclopean column of stone upon which she had landed the previous night. As the tremors intensified and more masonry plunged to the floor of the temple, she sighted an opening between two fallen blocks at the base of the column and made a mad dash for it.

Reaching the comparative safety of the tilted stones, she spun about and peered outward, watching as dust and grit filled the air, filtering through the strengthening rays of the sun. The rumbling of the earth continued unabated, shifting but not collapsing the blocks which formed her covert. Throughout the interior of the temple, everything seemed to be in motion, jerking and dancing to the relentless beat of the earthquake's drum, the percussion of the planet.

Lost in the greater cacophony, an almost imperceptible grating sound was emitted by the shimmering violet talisman as it slid slowly toward the edge of the swaying stone column. It slipped over the lip and dropped to the sloping pile of scree, striking it at an angle and rolling downward.

The mouse watched mesmerized as the torus rolled to a stately stop directly in front of her and, wobbling, settled slowly to the floor. It appeared to her to be gleaming with an inner light, and she stared at it, losing herself in its depths, becoming completely oblivious to the gradual cessation of the fury of the seismic disturbance.

An inexplicable interaction commenced between the tiny creature and the glimmering object. The talisman pulsed with radiance that shifted through a spectrum from lavender to deepest purple to indigo, and was mirrored in the luminous, liquid orbs of the hypnotized little rodent. As in her dreams, she witnessed sweeping vistas of space and time, and watched as a black void enveloped her and myriad planets swept and rolled beneath her. Shapeless, misty entities seemed to flit and float through the illimitable ebon distances, and she could not tell whether they were ignorant of her presence, or if she was an object of their furtive regard.

Quivering, she convulsively paddled her limbs in a futile attempt to escape this mystifying milieu into which it seemed she had been swept. Her heart throbbed rapidly in her breast, and her thoughts fled in all directions as she sought to make sense of the senseless.

Abruptly, the scene before her shifted, and she found herself floating above a field of golden blooms. Blissful calmness slowly spread through her as she watched beautiful butterflies flutter from flower to flower and bumblebees buzz somnolently between the blossoms. Gradually, she became aware of a subliminal rhythmic thrumming that lulled her and communicated to her confused mind a pleasant sensation of well-being. At length she became convinced that she was safe and that there was nothing to fear.

Her sense of heavenly peace lessened, but did not entirely dissipate, as she slipped slowly from her entrancement and looked about herself. Memories of the lately ended earthquake returned to her and she peered suspiciously from cover, but saw nothing but dust drifting down through the hazy sunbeams. She ventured out and cast a wary eye about her to assure herself that there was nothing further to fear. Once more she engaged the full range of her senses, nose, ears and eyes all keenly attuned to the ambiance of her surroundings.

Her survey completed, she glanced again at the lustrous talisman which had so captivated her. As she did, a decidedly unmouselike thought occurred to her. She hurried to a long, thick shred of bark which had detached itself from a nearby vine and grasped it with her tiny teeth. Dragging it back to the violet object, she crept into the round hole at its center and began to force her muzzle under the rim, attempting to lift it enough so that she could crawl under it. As her nose came into contact with the rounded inner surface of the talisman, she felt a momentary tingling, a faint echo of the feeling which she had experienced as she sprawled upon it the night before.

With a modicum of difficulty, she managed to insinuate her body into and through the narrow central opening of the talisman, drawing the end of the stringy bark behind her. She moved to the other end of the string and took that too tightly between her teeth. She tugged at it to more accurately gauge the amount of resistance she might be expected to encounter. To her great surprise, while not weightless, the object did seem to be capable of being moved with a minimum of effort. Gratified, the plucky little mouse began to tow the talisman steadily in her wake.

That's today's installment, my friends. As I have begun to relive this little tale, the feelings that impelled me to write it in the first place seem to be rising again, and will perhaps aid me in continuing the journey when I reach the point at which it became difficult to continue. I reached a nexus of sorts from which plotlines extended in myriad directions, and I lost my way.

You've probably noticed that what I write tends to be over the top, but I have no editor, and even though I have read some books on writing in which the authors encourage me to treat my baby mercilessly, I find it really hard to do that, and become overindulgent with myself. But hey. Warning - it's only going to get worse as the tale goes on.

My influences are too numerous to list, but among the towering stacks of my favorite authors are H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, Frank Herbert and Jack Vance, Isaac Asimov and Fritz Lieber. I'd like to think they would smile indulgently upon me and not sneer too often.

Thanx for listening. May we all someday meet the Light. Peace.

All content copyright Malcolm Mott 2005

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Chapter Two

Chapter Two: A Realm of Ruin

Mice are normally the most timorous of creatures, seeming to realize that they are but a whisker's-breadth from the bottom of the food chain. Their needs are simple: reliable sustenance, secure shelter, and a paucity of predators. They spend most of their time and energy in pursuit of these goals. When they dream, the stuff of their dreams is likely to be of the primitive sort: endless stores of seeds, nuts and berries; soft, plentiful nesting material; and agreeable companions. Their nightmares may be much like ours: being chased; falling; drowning; being crushed by large objects.

The phantasms that at times threaded their way through the more familiar dreamscapes to which she was accustomed were totally alien to the mind of a mouse: visions of behemoths that towered into the sky, so vast that they barely noticed the tiny creatures which scurried out from beneath their enormous bodies and lumbering feet; brightly blazing suns and slowly spinning galaxies like lambent will o' wisps reflected in a black, limitless pool; incredible vistas and nebulous objects that beggared description and comprehension.

Affrighted and shaken by these unwanted glimpses of nameless apparitions, the shivering mouse slowly struggled up through the layers of sleep that enfolded her. As her eyes opened, she attempted to gauge the time of day. Late afternoon sunlight slanted through holes in the roof of the structure, and long were the shadows cast by the objects it struck. The petite rodent raised her twitching nose and sniffed the dusty air; she lifted her ears skyward and listened alertly for signs of nearby peril. Her eyes settled upon the body of the dead fer-de-lance, and vivid memories of the previous night's mortal battle returned to bemuse the tiny creature. She spent a few moments marveling at her own temerity before resuming a vigilant surveillance of her surroundings.

Satisfied that there was no imminent threat to be detected, she began a thorough and fastidious toilette. As she groomed herself, she noticed that her wounds had closed and, though not completely healed, seemed to be less serious than she had at first thought. The mouse felt surprisingly little pain, and was grateful for that.

She bided her time until the last rays of the setting sun gave way to a silken shroud of dusk, then made her way toward what her keen sense of smell assured her would be a likely source of water. Locating a hollow in the stone floor that contained a small quantity of liquid, the mouse delicately lowered her muzzle and drank, all the while keeping her senses keenly attuned to her immediate surroundings. The water, though somewhat brackish, was cool and refreshing. After quenching her thirst, she sniffed the air again, hoping to detect a source of nearby nourishment. A faint odor of some sweet fruit reached her quivering nose, and she carefully began to wend her way through the humped and shattered landscape in the direction of the tantalizing scent.

As the tiny rodent made her way among numerous daunting obstacles, she gazed about, not only to watch for predators, but also because she found herself struck by an uncommon curiosity about the oddities that lurked all around her. Instead of darting from shadow to shadow, as she normally would, she paused on occasion to peer around at the massive masonry. The interior spaces of the temple were vast, with various graven images adorning the walls, and here and there, standing sentry over a realm of ruin, loomed grotesque and crumbling statues. The images on the walls were hideous and horrible, demonic visages that appeared to grimace and leer at the little mouse. The statuary was no better - the eroded stone stelae depicted astonishing beings of considerable height, standing on their hind legs and holding incomprehensible objects with their front paws. She recoiled from them at first, fully expecting them to spring to horrible life like animated golems and lumber toward her, crushing her unavoidably beneath their enormous stony extremities. They did not bear any but a vague resemblance to creatures that she had encountered previously, and the little mouse hoped she would never have to face them in future.

There was a plenitude of vegetation that had invaded the structure over the centuries - seeds, dropped by birds, had grown into mighty trees; vines and ivy had crawled over the outside and into the very heart of the temple. Below the spreading branches of one of the massive trees, the silvery mouse discovered the source of the pleasant odor which had drawn her there - dark green fruits with smooth, thin skins, nearly as large as her entire body. She bit into the juicy interior of one and relished the sweet flavor of the black, jelly-like pulp. There were a small number of seeds at the center of the fruit, and she devoured those too.

After having gorged herself on one of the fruits (for they were so large that one was all she could comfortably handle), the silvery creature once more engaged her senses and sought for any signs of danger. Apart from an almost imperceptible humming, a vague disturbance of the air which caused her to shudder involuntarily, she could detect nothing threatening, so she crawled into the protective shelter of gnarled and mossy roots which extended from the base of the tree and curled into a ball, gradually drifting into a dreamless, seamless slumber.

That's it for today's edition. Stay tuned. Peace.

All content copyright Malcolm Mott 2005

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Persistence of Mind

I'm so used to including an image here, I thought I'd throw in a rendition of one of our youthful preoccupations. Bonnie and I have both been Dungeon Masters, years gone now, but D & D is still in the blood. There is something so powerful about creating a milieu, populating it, and watching as it plays itself out . . . In the end, it seems, all artistic endeavors seem to mimic and point the way to the original act of Creation.

Chapter One: The Chase

The tiny creature fled across the forest floor, avoiding the moonbeams that dappled the fallen leaves. Her heart beat rapidly in her chest as she exerted herself to the utmost in the attempt to escape her pursuer. Her bulging eyes of liquid jet searched through the shimmering shadows cast by the ancient trees for some means of concealment.

The night was alive with sounds, subdued and strident, but the soft, silvery creature had ears only for the barely perceptible rustling that followed in her wake. The chase seemed to have lasted for ages, although it had been only a short while, and exhaustion was beginning to nibble at the edges of the little creature's consciousness. She felt that she must find some shelter shortly, or she would surely perish.

Ahead, eerily limned in the limpid moonlight, a crumbling structure towered against the surrounding shapes of scabrous, moss-encrusted trees. Constructed of megaliths wrenched from the crust of the young planet, it crouched in a clearing like some silent and deadly beast waiting to spring upon its unsuspecting prey. Moonlight silvered the runnels of moisture coursing down its cracked and vine-covered sides.

The fleeing creature swerved to avoid a large black beetle that lumbered into her path, and almost lost her footing as she struck a slimy patch of leaf mold. Regaining her balance, she veered again as a gigantic obstruction loomed suddenly out of the dimness. As she ran, gasping, along the length of rugged blocks comprising the structure's graven walls, she perceived a slit of deeper darkness on her right, and darted unhesitatingly into the recess thus revealed. As she scurried along between the narrowing walls, she pricked up her ears, hoping against hope that she would hear nothing but the sweet sound of silence.

Faint, sinister slithering echoed along the constricted passage, dashing the tiny creature's fervent hope. She put on another burst of speed, careening into a vast, dimly lit open space that at first seemed as large as the forest she had so recently quit. Peering rapidly from side to side but never daring to slacken her frantic pace, she scrambled over tumbled slabs of stone and moist, roughened tree roots in her quest to escape her relentless pursuer.

Once again her tiny, aching paws slid in something slick and foul, but this time she could not right herself and tumbled headlong down a steep slope of sharpened shards of stone. She fetched up against a hanging vine covered with shaggy strips of peeling bark. Without thought for consequences, she bunched her hind muscles and leapt for the thick barrel of vegetation. As she gained a precarious purchase upon the vine, she spared a look back and, with a sinking feeling, saw a pair of vile, glittering eyes following in her wake.

The shivering creature scrambled fearfully up the vine, feeling a series of vibrations as a weight attached itself to the woody shaft. She felt that she could no longer go on, that her muscles must at any moment give out and leave her unable to avoid the dripping jaws of the predator that hounded her so mercilessly.

From an enormous dark-stained pedestal close by the vine, the creature detected a faint glimmering of purplish light. As the frightened and exhausted mouse stared at the light, attempting to determine if this was some new threat, the effulgence seemed to grow stronger and brighter. The source of the gleam appeared to be an object in the form of a modified torus, seemingly crafted from a single violet gem. Unaccountably, she felt drawn to it, as an iron filing to a magnet. Abruptly she flung herself from the vine and landed, sprawling, squarely atop the object.

With horrified fascination, the tiny mouse watched as a snake corkscrewed up the vine and rapidly reached a point not far above the platform upon which she crouched. As the fearsome fer-de-lance began to uncoil itself and extend its length outward, there came a flash from beneath the quailing rodent, and an electric sensation skittered through her body. Her eyes momentarily mirrored the iridescent violet hue which emanated from the crystalline object, and she sensed her exhaustion slowly draining away. She felt as if she had imbibed a refreshing elixir . . . and there was something more . . . something which she had never before experienced.

Before the mouse had time to fully analyze this new feeling, the reptile dropped sinuously to the tablet of stone and slithered toward her. Its fangs glittered evilly in the pale moonlight, and it seemed to be grinning as it prepared to strike.

Then the mouse did something that she had never before considered doing, an act completely foreign to her nature. She leapt directly at her enemy and connected with the snake's spine, her small toes seeking purchase at the interstices between the scales. She swiftly clambered up the length of the fer-de-lance as the reptile reflexively struck out at empty air. Stopping at a point just below the questing head, the mouse bared her own sharp little teeth and ferociously bit into the neck of the snake, which began to thrash, whipping its whole body back and forth and side to side. She hung on grimly, working her sharp incisors deeper and deeper beneath the squamous skin.

Blood began to seep, and then suddenly to spurt, from the deepening wound. The snake was now coiling and uncoiling rapidly, attempting to escape the unfamiliar and unwelcome sensation of pain. The furious paroxysms brought the pair of entwined combatants closer and closer to the edge of the platform upon which they battled, and another spasm sent them tumbling over the rim, plummeting toward the unyielding surface far below.

They struck a scree of shattered masonry and rolled down it, all unheeding of their danger, locked together in a struggle that surely only one could win.

As the fer-de-lance's head dipped to the rough ground and scraped along the stones, twisting and rolling, the mouse was carried along and dragged forward, the jagged surface clawing at her and inflicting upon her some agonizing abrasions. The pain caused her to relax her toes and release her grip, and she rolled away from the vicious writhing of the ravening reptile.

Yet again the snake struck out with its needled fangs, grazing the heaving flank of the exhausted yet exhilarated rodent. Then a look almost of surprise passed swiftly across the evil visage of the fer-de-lance and, as the copious flow of its precious lifeblood slowed to a trickle, its formerly golden, glittering eyes began to film over and their lids drooped, then slowly closed. A last shudder passed through the length of its body, and it lay forever still.

The mouse, sore and bleeding, crouched for an unknown time watching for any sign of movement from the dead reptile, ready to spring away at the slightest stirring. But there came none, and eventually the tiny warrior crawled slowly into the shadow of the entablature that stood serenely in the center of the room and hunkered down to sleep. She was completely unaware that far above her, the crystalline torus continued to glow dimly with a chill interior light.

Well, I guess this represents the first "official publication" of my work. I'm not going to beg, but any writer appreciates some feedback, and I hope those of you who read this will offer at least a little.

I thought I would toss in this small tribute to H.P. Lovecraft, and this one's for you, Albert.

The mice run swift beneath the moon and none of us is safe.

Observe them now as they converge upon a hapless waif.

Their glaring eyes, their fearsome teeth; she doesn't stand a chance -

The fevered orb shines brightly down upon their vict'ry dance.

No longer do they crouch and hide within the shadows deep

but boldly fare they forth in hordes to hunt us as we sleep.

No longer timid, shy, and meek, they've overcome their fear

and we've become their chosen prey. Beware! for they lurk near.

That's all for tonight, folks. Be here again for another thrilling installment. Peace.

All content copyright Malcolm Mott 2005



Tuesday, March 22, 2005

One Thing More

Something you may not know about candy -









Peregrine Alert!

Every year at this time, a pair of peregrines produces a clutch of eggs at Kodak Tower in Rochester. is the place to check out if you want to witness the miracle of life. Mariah, the mother, is preparing the nest today, so I imagine the eggs will be along shortly. Just thought you might like to know.

My Only Friend, The End . . .


This is Big Blue, lord of Diatoms. It speaks for itself.

Albert, thanx for the kind words. You know how to cheer an old graybeard. I've been fortifying myself with massive quantities of sucrose and caffeine, so I'm feeling more myself today. Perhaps because of the infection, I've lately been to the South Pole much more often than the North Pole.

It's difficult for me to be entertaining on a daily basis, more so than for other journalistes, for reasons I explained yesterday. Maybe for the nonce I'll print such chapters of my aborted novel as I deem fit for reader consumption; that was, after all, the original purpose of this journal. If you bother to read them, keep in mind that it is barely literature; it was meant to be an entertainment for some of my nieces and nephews.


You may have seen this before; it's one of my mice, and the heroine of the story.

This is the laughably titled "author's note"; it will do for now.

This story was told to me by a mouse. Not one of my mice, certainly; my mice don't talk - not to me, anyway. Amongst themselves, they may be discussing the Grand Unified Theory of Everything, for all I know, but if so, they haven't seen fit to share it with me. They do communicate, with eyes and subtle gestures; they'll stare at the food dish or water bowl and then at me as if to say, "Why isn't this full? What's the deal, clown? Get up off your fat ass and fix this!"

Nevertheless, I'm reasonably sure that some mouse, somewhere, felt the need to communicate this story to someone and I was tuned to the right frequency ("What's the frequency, Kenneth?" Damned if I know. Dan Rather didn't either.) This mouse, wherever she may be, dictated the story to me pretty much the way you see it. If I tried to take too many liberties or aim the story in a direction of my own choosing, she stopped narrating and I didn't have anything to write down until I began listening once again. ("That's not the way it goes! What's the deal, clown? Sit down on your fat ass and fix this!") Mice can be irreverent.

Anyway, this story appeared one day, just as it begins, and was told to me  just as you will read it, if you care to. I liked it; I hope you will too.

Recommended reading - Elizabeth Peters . . . the Brother Cadfael novels

What I'm reading now - "Blood on the Street" by Charles Gasparino


Content copyright Malcolm Mott 2005

Monday, March 21, 2005




Distressed. Depressed. Obsessed. Repressed. Unimpressed.

I try not to offer opinions on the events of the day, because mine mirror those of so many others, and there is no real need to add to the general discourse. What I observe of the news causes me to wish that humanity was a much better species.

There are other worlds than this, and someday I hope to visit them.

Above is the penultimate Diatom. Bonnie chose the color for this one, and I concurred. It seems appropriate. (This isn't Big Blue; I saved that for last.) I have spent a month exploring the intricacies of these creatures, and I'm tired.

 I began this journal with the idea of committing a novel to print, but the novel was uncooperative. I have continued on mainly to provide a showcase for my little critters, of which I am perhaps overfond. There may be more Diatoms in future, but for now this period of my life is closing.

Unlike many J-landers, I have never before kept a diary or journal. I question the wisdom of continuing this effort. Most journalistes provide accounts of their daily lives or offer their opinions on affairs political; some offer humor or whimsy. (If you haven't read the Lord Peter Wimsey novels by Dorothy Sayers, you are depriving yourself of some excellent reading.)

My daily life is one of dismal sameness; no one would find it interesting. My opinions are also uninteresting, and people with far more talent than I can muster are articulating them more than adequately, elsewhere. My occasional spasms of wit and whimsy don't provide enough material for an ongoing enterprise such as this.

Introspection can be a wonderful thing, but sometimes it can be toxic.

Pray for better days; pray for humanity.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Money, It's a Trip . . .

This is the Diatom I named "The Big Yellow Box". It's the first one that consumed so many pixels (almost 500 KB.) The name is a nod to our town company, Eastman Kodak.

It takes money to make money. This seems so obvious as to not need repeating. And yet . . . if you don't have much to begin with, it is difficult to acquire more.Most of us who work or who have worked know how quickly a paycheck appears to disappear.

Money is the most valuable commodity in the world. Everyone wants it; everyone needs it. Few can live without it.

You must value your money more than anyone else. Whole industries (and many livelihoods) are devoted to the sole purpose of separating you from your money. Capitalism can be defined as the process by which consumers are induced to purchase products they don't need with money they don't have. (I lay claim to this definition; I used it in a chat room last year and now I discover that it has popped up on at least 1 website.)

The whole "financial services" sector is devoted to earning money using your money, and if you don't have much they will be happy, nay, eager, to advance you whatever you think you need.

For many years, I was financially illiterate. The business page of the local newspaper may as well have been published in Aramaic for all the sense I was able to glean from it (and, I must admit, I didn't try very hard.) The death of my father changed all that. He had an extensive knowledge base of matters financial but, for reasons known only to him, chose not to share it. My introduction to financial lore began when I studied the types of investments that he had included in his portfolio. The investments had to be liquidated, but I learned from them.

In the fullness of time, I was invited to meet with a couple of advisers. One (in the employ of a major brokerage) encouraged me to place my money in a "wrap account" that would pay them 3% quarterly. I politely declined to be sheared so thoroughly. The other (working for a bank-affiliated brokerage) tried to interest me in a variable annuity (he never named it as such, but I had accreted enough knowledge by that time to know a turkey when I saw one) and I declined that also.

What I learned from these "advisers" was that they were glorified salesmen and that they would be working not for me, but for themselves and their companies. I don't begrudge them the wherewithal to earn their livings, but there are plenty of rich, lazy, and stupid people waiting to be fleeced; my paltry sum is as nothing to them, and I prefer to handle it myself.

I received my true education by visiting the library and browsing the financial section. I read Suze Orman. I read John Bogle, Burton Malkiel and Peter Lynch. I read selections from the "for Dummies" series. And I learned.

I encourage everyone who truly cares about their money to at least try this. If you do, you will learn much more than any "adviser" would wish you to know.

A Tale of Two Brothers: A Parable

A patriarch, who for many years had toiled in his fields, died and left his two sons a storehouse of grain. The brothers divided the grain evenly, and each took his share back to his farm. The older brother put most of his grain into storage, biding time until the season of planting, keeping out just enough to feed his family and livestock. The younger brother, foolishly believing himself to be rich, began trading his grain in the marketplace for material possessions, seeking to impress wealthier farmers with his improved standard of living.

When the season of planting arrived, the older brother sowed his field with a quantity of the stored grain, and at the harvest was rewarded with plentiful crops. The younger brother, having saved only a little grain, was forced to go to the wealthy farmers to borrow money with which to buy more seed, as he could not eat the goods he had purchased.

Eventually, the older brother prospered and grew wealthy, but the younger brother lost his farmstead to the wealthy farmers, for he had not been able to grow enough crops to feed his family and pay his bills.

Parable copyright Malcolm Mott 2005

May the sun shine on your crops.

Friday, March 18, 2005

What a Drag It Is Getting Old . . .


Try not to acquire one. It's no fun. My thoughts are scattering like mice beneath the hooves of a herd of stampeding stallions. My attention to detail (a favorite phrase of one of my old bosses) is suffering to the point at which it's difficult to work on Diatoms.

The one above is superficially akin to the previous one in the outer circumference, but the inner construction is quite different. The ocular appearance of the heart of this one is . . . well.

Head, throat and chest are bitter battlegrounds. (Must . . . stop . . . whining . . . )

I wanted to do a short essay on money today, but there's no way it's going to be coherent. Maybe another time.

The news . . . despoilation of the environment . . . of the lives of hard-working middle-to-lower-class Americans . . . of the future . . . a hell of a day.

I am a sincere believer in the power of positive thinking, but sometimes it's damned hard. Maybe I should crawl into a dark corner and seek the light . . .

Love yourselves, but not to the exclusion of others. Peace.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Darn! I forgot!

Product waiting for the proper market:

Now you can be flirty and fashionable in any clime at any time, and still protect your privates from the ravages of the elements!

Introducing: (taa-taa-daa-daaahhhh!)






The "Thermal Thong"!

Now in a wide variety of stunning and attractive colors!

Coming soon to a fine emporium near you!

The Smallest of These ...

The Diatom pipeline is beginning to run dry. As of this moment, there are only 3 more. Today is the first day I have begun without working on one in progress or starting a new one. It's been a month and 22 designs. Is my life becoming my own again?

Pets: those of us who share our lives with them are thereby enriched. Some there are who treat their pets as mere possessions, of no more account than a small appliance; I cannot help but feel that such people display a deplorable lack of compassion and are, to a degree, bereft of true spirituality. When I was very young, I suppose that I thought that way; my defense is that I was very young. It is no way to treat another living creature, especially the ones we have chosen to be our companions.

I have had a variety of pets through the years; the first, when I was a 'tweener, was a black puppy. It was so young that we had to provide for its bed a small clock,the sound of which was supposed to mimic its mother's heartbeat. I was not privy to the discussions between my parents, but within a short time the puppy quietly disappeared, and I got the distinct impression that my mother was very relieved.

One animal that touched my family the most was a sparrow hatchling that had fallen from its nest, which I had brought home to my mother, with tears coursing down my cheeks, imploring her to please help me save the poor little creature. I have nothing but respect for both my mother and father, who wholeheartedly entered into the effort (my mother actually brought herself to cut up worms to feed the baby bird, perhaps not realizing that sparrows are primarily seed eaters. Of course, it was so small that it was nearly impossible to determine what type of bird it was.)

The rescue was a spectacular success; the day my parents took the now-grown bird into the back yard and released it was an emotional one. Peeper, as we had named it, was reluctant to leave, and lived in our back yard for some months. Eventually he found a mate; they, and soon their offspring, entertained us with their antics. Peeper and his family would gradually go on to explore the wider world, but they would continue to return regularly, and the whole family were happy to accept seeds from our outstretched hands.

We have shared our lives with small amphibians, many fish, a cat (which, sadly, we had to relinquish to friends; we had a parakeet at the time, and it became too much to handle. We allowed the parakeet to freely come and go from its cage, and the cat got too frisky.)

We have had a number of parakeets to keep us company along the way; after our last one died, we agreed that we were becoming too old ourselves to adequately care for aging birds, so we switched to mice. They are relatively low-maintenance, and their caperings and antics are constantly amusing.

We have learned a lot from sharing our lives with these loving companions; I have mentioned before that animals display emotions and personalities, each individual animal unique in some fashion; God created them just as HESHE created us, and surely imbued them with souls, equivalent to those which HESHE has given to us.

Life, all life, is supremely precious. Please value it.


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

It's Just Another Day

They say that waking up is/ hard to do

Now I know/ I know that it's true

The fog of snore.

I included this particular Diatom today because as I awoke, the mystic in me rose to the fore. (This was the one I called the "considerate" Diatom, and is the one I may use when I wish to meditate. There's a lot to ponder in this one.)

I included this in queenbigo's journal the other day, but I'm tossing it in here just because, darn it, I like it!

SPOILER ALERT! In the final Harry Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Moldy Sock", it is at last revealed that Dobby is actually Lord Voldemort and that he is Harry's true mother! (If you haven't yet read this series, please do; it's well worth it.)

Bernie Ebbers is guilty of all charges, proving that folksy charm isn't always efficacious. Whatever one may think of him, and his 'mushroom defense' (he was fed feces and kept in the dark), he was the CEO of Worldcom, and he had a responsibility to the employees and shareholders to make certain that the company was being run properly.

If you are the head of a major corporation, it is your job to know what goes on at all levels of the company. That's why you were hired. That's why you have underlings who report to you. If you are too incompetent to handle the job, you don't belong there.

A miracle! The sun is rising in the west! A judge in California has struck a blow for basic human decency and equality. Rejoice.

Seek your center. Observe and analyze what you discover. Employ your inner strength to overcome the demons within. Peace.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Shine On Until Tomorrow

Aside: Don't worry, Albert, I'll omit from the tales I tell any mention of real-life grue - there's plenty of that on the news channels.(I could tell some tales to make your scrotum shrivel.) BTW, if you haven't signed up for cable yet, you must! I was a holdout for a long time also; I waited until the mid-90s, but once I did, I didn't look back. I still resent having to pay for television, but there are so many informative shows, even in the standard tier, that I don't regret my decision too awfully.

I truly appreciate your comments. Thank you.

Today's Diatom is vaguely unsettling; the suggestion of demonic visages at the N, E, S, and W positions is there, at least to my eyes, and I had no idea when I was crafting the skeleton that these would occur. I'm just glad I didn't use a hellish shade of red for this. I also note the possibility of images of tortured souls between and slightly below the scowling demons. (Of course, you, the viewer, might see something completely different in this pattern.)

I don't have a lot to say today, other than to mention that I will generally say little or nothing about my wife in this journal. She is protective of her privacy, and I must respect that.

Occasionally I attempt to instruct my mice in the art of singing, a la the Greek chorus in the movie Babe, but they just gaze woefully at me with their large, liquid eyes, as if to say, "You're not very bright, are you?" They sure know how to hurt a guy.

If we are all considerate of others, we'll all shine on. Let it be.



Sunday, March 13, 2005

A Great Good Day

This 16th Diatom is my personal favorite; except for Albert's Diatom, it is the only one in which I directed much of the growth myself, rather than allowing the Diatom to determine how it should look. I consciously engaged both the circular and straight aspects of the design element, and this was the result. This is also, at least for now, the last of what I consider to be the "minor" Diatoms; the remainder fall pretty much in the category of  "major" Diatoms (especially 'The Big Yellow Box' and 'Big Blue', which you will be seeing shortly.) Big Blue was finished the day before yesterday, and consumed 5 days of my life.

(My Lord. I'm naming these creatures now! What's happening to me?)

I'm feeling jovial, expansive and somewhat playful today (mainly due to the fact that the newest Diatom is considerately limiting its growth to a reasonable size), a state which is unaccustomed, to say the least, so I'll let the psychic sanitation vehicle haul a load of nostalgic trash to my landfill.

A Snippet of History:

For a while, Bonnie and I worked at a couple of plastics factories. WARNING! LEAVE NOW! The first was almost literally a hellhole, with ancient, decrepit machinery constantly bleeding oil onto the floor, such that liberal applications of absorbent material were necessary to ensure employee safety. And the heat! And the stench! However, the upside was that since there were so few of us, we enjoyed a degree of autonomy almost unheard of in a company setting, and we became quite proficient at fixing the machines on the numerous occasions upon which they would wheeze exhaustedly and temporarily give up the ghost. (Yes, there were ghosts in those machines.) Bonnie was deservedly proud of her skill in effecting repairs.

The second factory was decidedly different, described by its owners as "state-of-the-art", and it was quite nice (as those things go), but the employees (of which many were temps) were treated as little more than adjuncts of the godlike machines (and were much more expendable.) A more dehumanizing experience (in day-to-day life, at least) would be difficult to come by.

The employees were unceremoniously gathered into a group each morning and given their machine assignments for the day (we came to refer to this procedure as the "cattle call".) This would have been fine except for the fact that our supervisor was in the habit of playing favorites (the more senior employees and the egregious suckups were the lucky recipients of her largesse) and those who were newly hired got the most labor-intensive, foul assignments.

For those who care, there are 2 types of injection molding machines - the automatics and the manuals. The automatics were the plum jobs because (surprise!) they eject the parts automatically and all the employee must do is gather and containerize the parts. The manuals require the employee to not only open and close the door of the machine at set intervals (yeah, yeah, big deal, right? You have to be there) but also to remove the parts and possibly insert components (such as bushings). Then,as the machine is busily producing the next batch of parts, you must perform various operations such as cutting off runners and trimming flashing, and inspecting random parts for defects. And those parts can leave blisters on your hands, even if you're wearing woolen gloves.

One more thing: you cannot, for any reason, leave a machine unattended.If you need to answer a call of nature, you must first attempt to attract the attention of a passing coworker (you should be so lucky) and wheedle and cajole them into momentarily covering for you. This type of occasion always provides much amusement for and elicits much merriment from your coworker.

After roughly 2 months of this, realizing that we were not soon to enter the exalted ranks of the favorites, we decamped for more felicitous pastures.

Well, that's my bit of nostalgia for the day; if you enjoyed it, I can regale you with tales of an unexceptional bookbindery.

Thanx for listening. Peace.



Saturday, March 12, 2005

His Brain is Squirming Like a Toad ...

Aside: Thanks for the comment, Albert. I follow where my reasoning takes me, and if that hits me in the ego, too bad. (I think Cynthia may not return or leave more comments; this isn't the most interesting of journals, after all.)

I like this Diatom. The delta-wing-like formation is repeated, once in light and once in dark. It reminds me of a Mandala.

Sociopaths. What is lacking in the genetic makeup of such an individual that he (or she) can perform acts of such utter depravity? I would hate to have to seriously consider the fact that the Creator might have actually included such a gene in our DNA, so I prefer to think that it is due to some mutation, some freak that removes the societal controls that the majority of us manage to exercise.

I find it interesting that antecursors (I may have just coined a word) to Jack Ruby are alive and well. There are people perfectly willing to kill Nichols for what he is presumed and acknowledged to have done. Apparently in many the impulse to kill lies not too far below the surface. This is discouraging. Have we progressed so little as a species?

Why is someone like Brian Nichols fully capable of cold-bloodedly taking life almost instantaneously, while the impulse to kill is only triggered in others in response to acts committed (or allegedly committed) by someone like Nichols?

Someday, perhaps, there will be answers for these questions.

Bad word of the day:


Care for each other.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Fixing a Hole ...

Today's Diatom is a special one in a couple of respects - it is the only design that has an outer rim which is not smooth - a function of the heart. It is also not complex - but it does have a type of elegance. One interpretation of this one could represent the energy of creation (my personal interpretation is of pain - but that's a tale for another time.)

I have reached the conclusion that these critters are not art - they are craft. My reasoning is that art cannot be reproduced exactly and precisely in its original medium and form; anyone, however, possessing the patterns and knowing the techniques, could replicate these, much as an afghan or table could be duplicated.

Therefore I shall consider myself a craftsman. I do think, however, that these patterns do approach art, in the same way as a mosaic or stained glass window can approach art. I like to think that I have created a new craft form.

Bad word of the day:   inflexibility

True kindness never kills.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Art and Creation

As I work on the Diatoms, the mind wanders in various directions, and I began to think about art and creation. What is art? This is a partial definition drawn from the AOL Merriam- Webster Dictionary -

The conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects ... art implies a personal, unanalyzable creative power ...

All artists use a medium, various materials, to create their art - Christo, for example, uses metal and cloth; almost any sort of material can be used to create art. But beyond the materials used, what goes into art is the artist's emotions - the self made manifest. Each work of art is necessarily invested with first, the artist's inspiration, and then his or her emotions as the artwork takes shape and comes to life.

This is, of course, equally true in the writing of a work of fiction. All of creation, no matter of what type, comes from within. This may truly be what separates us from the animals (but then, people have given elephants and monkeys paintbrushes and paint and turned them loose on canvases, and they have created something. Is this to be considered art? Did it spring from the well of the animals' emotions? Who's to say?)

I guess what I'm trying to say, in my rambling fashion, is that God, through his/her own act of creation, has given us the ability to create. Our acts of creation are drawn from the experiences which we have undergone, so each artist's creations will necessarily differ from those produced by someone else, and it seems that, if the art is pure and not produced by a hack whose only motive is profit or aggrandizement, then each creation is valid and worthy of being considered art.

I have included my "Vertigo" series; I produced them when I realized that my prospective novel had been sucked into a black hole.

Alone, we are vulnerable; with others, there is nothing we cannot do.

Bad word of the day:   hostility


I Read the News Today Oh, Boy

This 13th Diatom bothers me for a couple of reasons. I really like the center, but the outer periphery seems almost to have an aura of gloom and foreboding. It feels like a bright soul beset by woes.

It looks as if the jubilant Republicans will finally manage to get their bankruptcy bill passed. Good news for the consumer! Now your debts will dog you forever. The only way to protect yourself from the greedy and heartless financial "services" sector is to forego your cards or use them as if they were debit cards. If everyone who carried credit cards used them for convenience only, you can bet the issuing companies would scream bloody murder and start slapping on new fees penalizing people for not carrying revolving credit. Believe me, these companies are making mountains of moola from people who carry a balance (I know whereof I speak here.)

Perhaps the Diatom represents the poor consumer, beset and hedged about by inimical corporations and their congressional lackies.

Further rants on evil corporate entities to come. Until then, love is not all you need, but it sure helps.

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

A Change of Pace

News story: Texas Instruments lowers guidance by $100,000,000 on slower-than-expected sales of chips to manufacturers of large-screen and plasma televisions because consumers are slower to buy than was expected.

I have composed a chart (mainly for myself) that attempts to show the repercussions of this fact. The Sol of this financial solar system is you, the consumer. You shed your life-giving energy (in the form of cold, hard cash) which reaches and sustains the planets that orbit you. Of course, each planet possesses gravity, and affects, to some extent, all the other members of the system.

Each planet also possesses satellites, in this case investors. All these planetary bodies depend upon you, the sun, to nurture them. If you were to cease emitting your life-giving rays, they would wither and die.

The paradox of this system is the fact that you may be not only the sun, but also, as an employee, a satellite of one of the planets. The planets must nurture you, the satellite, so that you, the sun, may in turn nurture them.

In reality, of course, planets do not nurture satellites, and we see that nowadays corporations are less and less inclined to offer benefits to their employees, in the name of competition (even though these same corporations are said to be flush with cash.)

As employees have less money to spend, corporations' profits are reduced, and so they cut back even more. Highly paid employees are laid off, forcing them to seek jobs that pay substantially less (it is a fact that employment in the manufacturing sector is dropping, while the low-paying services sector is increasing employment.)

Eventually, much of the population will have little money to spend on anything but the basics, forcing corporations to depend on the relatively small portion which possesses most of the money supply. Does this sound like a recipe for success, or does it sound like a disaster in the making? We'll see.


Monday, March 7, 2005

Can't Trust That Day...

Today's Diatom is a special one - it was inspired by the creator of Albert's World http://lamove04/AlbertsWorldofArtsyFun (pimp of the day.) Once I had the inspiration, it came quite easily.

I'm not sure if I can call these critters artistic; I feel more comfortable with the concept of graphic design. I do, however, enjoy working with pixels, rather than the more conventional materials (pencils, oils, etc.) I may be alone in my fascination with the patterns that evolve from my work, but I haven't seen anything else like these anywhere else, so I'll soldier on.

A short note about language. I love words and language; always have. You will seldom see anything in this journal that could be considered obscene, profane or vulgar; my days of rebellion are over, and there are people who allow words to have power over them, and who are easily outraged. I personally find this deplorable; words are just that - words. That people allow nouns, verbs, or adjectives (or various other parts of speech) to exert power over them emotionally - I find the concept difficult to grasp. However, as I said, I will try to protect tender sensibilities by restraining my vocabulary. Besides, why would you want to use a word like s**t when you could use a fun word like feces?

Make the effort to meet somone new today. The more people we know, the more connected to humanity we are, and the more we learn to accept others' differences.

Bad words of the day:



Peace - Bonnie & Malcolm

Sunday, March 6, 2005

Sunday Mornin', Comin' Down

Yet another Diatom. This one shares the coarser flesh of #4, and is one that most clearly demonstrates how the orientation of the design component can render either a circular or a straight line.

I spend so much time discussing these creatures because this is the direction in which, for whatever reason, my inner energy is being channeled at this time. I go with the flow, I run with the sun.

I have just finished the largest Diatom so far. It took 4 days to complete, and as I write this another is being born. It never ends. This is true compulsion.

(Note to Albert: the new one is designed with you in mind. I don't know how it will turn out (the Diatoms direct their own growth), but the skeleton has a distinct motif. You got my creative juices flowing, and the new Diatom will be coming shortly, if you know what I mean.)

Time to feed the body as well as the soul. Until next time, be as kind as you can. It will come back to you eventually.

Friday, March 4, 2005


Very good early morning, fellow Netizens. My main purpose here is to write about my obsession, Diatoms, and so I will open this entry with my thoughts on this one. It resembles, at least to me, a tortoise shell. When the central portion evolved, it reminded me of a headless frog - make of that what you will.

This journal is my psychic landfill; feel free (if you are so inclined) to dig through the trash to see if there are any diamonds.

I have to admit here that this entry is being written solidly under the influence; I don't often indulge, but by no means am I a teetotaller. I have read somewhere or other that occasional applications of alcohol can improve an oldster's mind; I am all in favor of that concept.

For those who have not done the math, I am 56 years old. I have had many years of experience in the art of experimentation (make of that what you will.)

I am totally blitzed now; I think I should close this until I am more in control. Two words: Battlestar Galactica. At some point, when I am more in control, I will offer my thoughts on what I watch, and why.

Peace and love, Malcolm

A Life in the Day

Hello Netizens and lovers of all things Diatomic. This ninth Diatom shares a heart with Diatom #3, but the skeleton evolved in a completely different fashion.

Since many journalistes chronicle their day-to-day activities, there's no reason why I shouldn't also.

I consider myself an eremite, but that has a religious connotation, so I'll call myself a recluse. I tend not to leave the house, since I am only technically ambulatory. Toppling in public might be amusing for viewers, but since no one pays me to do it, I would rather refrain.

The main joy of being a recluse is that I have absolutely no set schedule. If I wish to fall asleep at 2:00 pm and wake up at 9:00 pm, there is nothing to stop me. I am able to do what I want, when I want, beholden to no one and needing to impress no one. This, to me, is true freedom.

TV and the Internet are my links to the outside world, and I make full use of them. The Net, especially, is extremely useful for the physically challenged. It allows me to do many things that I couldn't otherwise do, and as a reference tool, it is invaluable. Also, it has allowed me to discover Diatoms. (For those who care, there are some excellent diatom websites out there.)

The Net has been compared to a web, but I liken it to the World Tree of Norse myth, Yggdrasil (there are some excellent Yggdrasil sites, also.) Each computer is like a tiny rootlet, sucking nourishment from the world and delivering it to the central trunk, which is thereby enriched and empowered to grow larger.

Okay, now I'm beginning to blather. Treat each other with respect and dignity. Peace.

Thursday, March 3, 2005

Creative Fugue

I don't have a lot to say about this Diatom.

It's not a great day, so I won't say much.

It occurs to me that my earlier remarks on abortion may be amenable to misinterpretation, so I'll briefly expand upon the subject. As may be apparent, my "religion" is uniquely my own, it comes from my own heart and is the result of long years of thought. My objection to abortion is solely directed to my view that the taking of life knowingly is wrong. That being said, understand that it is also my view that the rights of the living carry more weight than than the rights of the unborn. If any woman feels unable to carry a prospective life to full term, and place the baby for adoption if she doesn't feel capable of properly caring for it, then it should be her right, if she is comfortable with that option, to have an abortion.

My personal view is that all souls will be delivered into the world eventually; if not in one body then in another. I do not believe that abortion represents the irretrievable loss of a soul.

Since I have strayed onto the subject of souls, I may as well state my belief that all creatures, great and small, possess souls. Pet owners come to understand that each animal has a unique personality. I believe that if you have a personality, you have a soul. It has also been my personal experience that in various ways, animals express emotions. It seems to me that emotions and a soul are inseparable.

Please live as if you will be called to account, in the next life, for what you have accomplished in this life. It may be that you will.

Wednesday, March 2, 2005


Good morning, seekers after Diatomic wisdom. At the risk of putting you to sleep, I thought I would explain how this project originated. The first picture is the first, most basic, and yet perhaps most elegant of the Diatoms. It is the diatomic equivalent of Lucy, the first hominid (that we know of, anyway.) This arose from my attempt to refine an earlier star pattern that I designed (it can be seen in the top row of picture #2.) If you're really interested, the whole thing began with picture #3. I was exploring the use of pattern variations derived from Greek designs, and since I enjoy mazes, I played around with designs which incorporated that motif. As I viewed this particular pattern in the file preview, I realized that the pattern was so dense that the program could not render it accurately in its diminished size, and the result inspired me to try to replicate, as far as possible, what I was seeing. Picture #2 is the culmination of that effort.

While reproducing the stars, I discovered that it was possible to refine the design, to make it less fuzzy, to make it clean and sharp. As I reproduced that star, I became aware of a single design element which was repeated over and over. In fact, except for the very heart of the pattern, that element is the only component of the design.

This led to my wondering what else could be done with that component, and I began to experiment with the component and various pattern hearts. The Diatoms, in all their variety, are the result.

Wake up! I'm done. I'm sorry, but I felt the need to explicate the long, strange trip that I undertook.

I really don't mean to be boring, but this is a journal, and I had to get all of that off my chest. I will keep posting the Diatoms; as of now, a new one is being born.

Except for short notations on each Diatom, I have no more detail to go into; if you have bothered to read all the entries, you know the whole story of one man's descent into a sort of madness.

Well, that's all for now, folks. I hope you enjoy the pretty pictures. Be humane to one another; you never know when you might need someone's help.


Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Tiny Tyranny

"There, you're birthed! It's finally over."


"What do you mean, no? You're complete. You told me so. There's no more to do. Can I eat now? Can I sleep now? It's been damn near 36 hours. Coffee is not food, you know."

You snuck off and ate a can of soup. Don't think that because you turn off the laptop I don't know what you're doing. I exist in your head, you know. Now post me.

"What?! I never post newborns immediately. They have to mature first."

Post me.

"Look, I can't. I have to post the first ever Diatom and explain its genesis."


Microscopic Madness

This is the sibling of Diatom #2 - same skeleton, different flesh. Believe it or not, the pattern is exactly the same, but different elements have been emphasized due to the deepening of the hues of the heart (neat turn of phrase, no? Geez, what a fathead!)

There are 17 of these little creatures so far, and the variations seem endless. Each time I think I have reached the end of creation, another insists upon being afforded silicon life. Where (or if) this will end, I have no idea. It somewhat alarms me that there may be no end.

My choice of auditory pleasure dictated that I include one of my other graphic pursuits (perhaps it's the planet of the Diatoms; who knows?) I was at work on a representation of Jupiter's moon Io when the Diatoms hijacked my attention; maybe someday I can finish and post it.

Suppose God was bedeviled by a thought one day (can God be bedeviled?) and was inspired to create creatures? Suppose the creatures began to insist that more of them be created? How would God have felt? Would HESHE have felt compelled to continue, or would HESHE have said the hell with it?

As any artist you care to name might say, I do this because I can; I do this because I must; I do this to please myself, and if you at all enjoy it, then I have touched you in some small way. That can't be a bad thing.

I believe in a Creator. I do not believe in organized religion. Too many horrors, too many deaths have been perpetrated in the name of Religion, to allow me to believe that the Creator wants it that way. I doubt that the sight of flowing rivers of blood excites and pleases God. I read a post some time ago, and I paraphrase: "I love God, and I love war." The thought process that was capable of generating that statement is totally alien to me. At the risk of committing heresy, I offer the thought that most of organized religion is an implement of the devil, insinuated into the human psyche so as to spread quiet evil and ultimately produce and gather more warped souls.

Enough of these darkling thoughts. I guess lots of coffee at 4 am will do that to a person. Hell, only my friends are going to read this journal anyway.

Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of "Diatoms in Spaaaaaaaaace." May your sun shine brightly.