Monday, April 02, 2007

Hello, Young Lubbers (with apologies to Rodgers & Hammerstein)

Lub Fest!
Large view

Eastern Lubber Grasshoppers, Romalea guttata, Family Romaleidae (Lubber Grasshoppers). These juveniles were among my first awe-inspiring moments after we moved down here. I had never before seen grasshoppers with racing stripes....

Mary called my attention to this Lub Fest at around 5:30 PM as I performed my first weed-whacking of the season on Sunday. (My first reaction was, "Oooh, how cuuute!" Lubbers are pests, but I trust these will supply some good meals for the birds who hang around the premises. Adults are toxic to birds, according to the University of Florida, but I don't know about the nymphs.) The youngsters have gathered on a young oak in our front yard. They include both the yellow and the red "racing stripe" variety. We thought for certain our oakling would be eaten away by this morning, but it's still very much intact.

Hello, Young Lubbers: The Video

My wayward lens cap makes a brief cameo at lower left near the end.

Meanwhile, I'm about to begin Chapter 10 of Book #5.

That's less verbiage than it sounds like because these chapters are coming to me in vignettes. I think that's a function of the stage-setting: showing an overview of landscape and cultural changes that have occurred in the 15 years since Book #4, presented through the "You Are Here" establishment and points of view (POV) of two characters.

That's another change from the preceding volumes, which used multiple POV. Book #4 in particular had been an ensemble piece. In contrast, I'm limiting Book #5 to two POV: that of the title character from the new generation and that of a major protagonist from the old generation. Book #6, which I've also started drafting, has a different structure still, and will be the only volume in the series written in the first-person, through the eyes of several new generation characters. I'm still working out the story line for that one, but I have a rough outline of where I want to take it.

This may sound like I know what I'm doing. I don't. But that's part of the adventure. The title character is about to leave his home on a journey toward his eventual meeting with POV #2. That meeting, after a brief journey section, will begin the heart of the story. I see the overall structure as having four parts:

1) Statement of the problem/theme (main characters/setting intro)
2) Journey to the main development (world-building/recap)
3) Pas-de-deux (the heart of the drama/resolution of the problem)
4) Denouement (theme restatement/passing of the torch/bridge to Book #6)

If this were a symphony, the movements would be: (1) Allegro/Adagio; (2) Moderato; (3) Allegro agitato/Scherzo/Grave; and (4) Andante doloroso, ma non troppo

Or: (1) lively and fast, then slow; (2) at a moderate pace; (3) fast and agitated. "Scherzo," traditionally translated as, "a joke," is often a humorous interlude played in triple time, but mine will be more along the line of catharsis, followed by a slow and serious aftermath; and (4) moderately slow and sad, but not too sad.

It's also a first draft, which means everything is subject to change.

"Music fuel" for the writing has included Hector Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique and the 5-and-a-half-minute movement "The Funeral of Karissima" from Arnold Bax's The Truth about the Russian Dancers, left on auto-repeat. I think the next section might rely a bit on Richard Strauss's Ein Heldenleben ("A Hero's Life," appropriate for a Bildungsroman like this), but I won't know for certain until I headphone myself in. The piece has been playing in my head, which is the equivalent of a young student waving a frantic hand in the air, shouting, "Me, me! Pick me!"

I've got a portrait sitting scheduled, in the attempt to get a decent publicity shot.

Mary called my attention to this article about recent high pollen counts. She's the one with the environmental allergies (enough to merit two antigen shots a week), but for several weeks until a few days ago I'd been feeling poorly enough to finally get a checkup and bloodwork done that I was due for, anyway. I started feeling considerably better and back to my old self on Friday, about the time the pollen reports for our area had dropped from High to Medium/High.

According to the article, a pollen count of 120 particles per cubic meter of air is considered extremely high for the Southeast. On Thursday, the pollen count for Atlanta had reached 5,937 particles: the second-highest level the Atlanta Allergy and Asthma Clinic had ever recorded. I'm not sure how our area compares with Atlanta, but on's scale of 1-12, we've been ranking up over 10. Today we're down to a sprightly 8.8.

I'm just happy to be feeling better.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have thought they'd be more active. Are they just hanging around checking each other out?

Glad your feeling better!

11:26 AM  
Blogger e_journeys said...

Lubbers get their name from the fact that they are very slow-moving, which is why the adults have become toxic as a defense against predators. These juveniles jumped off the oak when I shook it, but soon returned. I haven't seen them since that one day, and the oak continues to flourish, seemingly unconsumed.

12:40 PM  
Blogger Kalibhakta said...

OMG, I remember those from when I was a kid in Florida...

gracias, senora.

9:14 PM  

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