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Multi-talented fellow Muse author, Stan Hampton, has agreed to share some of his stunning photography with us today. Thanks for coming, Stan.

Wind SculptingFinal_MG_4489 August 2013

When was the last time that you watched the clouds?

Not looked, in between tweets, text messages, and other social media, let alone computer games, but actually took the time to watch the clouds?

I am fascinated by the slow movement of the clouds and how their shape changes while you are watching. Add the play of sunlight across them—even the time of day—and the play of light and clouds take on a whole new sense of being. The clouds can look fluffy white, or thin grey, and during storms, a mixed hue of dirty white, greys, and blacks. Sometimes the clouds move lazily across the sky as if in no particular hurry, while other times they are racing as if bound for a distant destination. _MG_5082 May Rains 2015

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And at night, particularly during the full moon, clouds take on an entirely different aura. Some might say the moonlight adds a mysterious, perhaps haunted ambience to clouds that become dirty white, light grey, or dark grey, particularly when drifting across the face of the moon. Especially in moonlight, when the clouds change, alter their shape, it seems as if in response to invisible, ghostly hands.

Particularly impressive, out on the Kansas plains, are the late afternoon thunderstorms. Huge thunderheads with anvil shaped tops peek over the western horizon; as the hours pass they grow larger until you have to crane your head back to see the face of the thunderstorm towering over you. By then the clouds are bathed in angry and strangely hypnotic pastels of red, yellow, white, grey, and almost black. When such thunderheads are lit by flashes of lighting within, or lightning arcs across the outside face of the storm, they are particularly awe inspiring. And maybe a little frightening.

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Ultimately—at least to my way of thinking—clouds, and the way the wind sculpts them minute-by-minute, is something primal and eternal. The sculpting has been a part of life since the wind and clouds first appeared in the world. Invisible fingers mold the clouds into pleasing or puzzling patterns, take away from the shapes, or add to them.

Just like no two snowflakes are alike, no two clouds are alike. Each is unique and ever changing; they always have been, and always will be.

And then, I wonder. In a world, in a time when there was no speech other than an early proto-language, how and what did our distant ancestors think of the changing shapes of the clouds overhead? How did they try to explain the clouds, or what first stories were created from watching the clouds?

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How would you explain the clouds to a child, or what story would you come up with, from watching the wind-sculpted clouds?

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Stan Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, and a published photographer and photojournalist. He retired on 1 July 2013 from the Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class; he previously served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Nevada Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007) with deployment to northern Kuwait and several convoy security missions into Iraq.

He has had two solo photographic exhibitions and curated a third. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others.

As of April 2014, after being in a 2-year Veterans Administration program for Homeless Veterans, Hampton is officially no longer a homeless Iraq War veteran.

In May 2014 he graduated from the College of Southern Nevada with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Photography – Commercial Photography Emphasis. A future goal is to study for a degree in archaeology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology (and also learning to paint). He is currently studying in a double major in Art and Creative Writing at University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

After over 14 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters.

Hampton can be found at:

Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sharing-rachel-ss-hampton-sr/1120349766?ean=2940046334791

Dark Opus Press https://www.createspace.com/3685965

Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing http://www.edgewebsite.com/books/dansemacabre/dansemacabre.html

Melange Books http://www.melange-books.com/authors/sshampton/index.html

MuseItUp Publishing https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/museitup/mainstream/better-than-a-rabbit-s-foot-detail

Ravenous Romance http://www.ravenousromance.com/anthologies/back-door-lover.php http://www.ravenousromance.com/anthologies/virgin-ass-first-times-tales-of-anal-sex.php

Amazon.com Author Page http://www.amazon.com/SS-Hampton-Sr/e/B00BJ9EVKQ

Amazon.com. UK Author Page http://www.amazon.co.uk/SS-Hampton-Sr/e/B00BJ9EVKQ

Goodreads Author Page http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6888342.S_S_Hampton_Sr_

“Better Than a Rabbit’s Foot.” Ed. Joelle Walker. MuseItUp Publishing.

ISBN: 978-1-77127-078-6

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BLURB: Sergeant Jerry Stanton is a young soldier serving in the War in Iraq. He is a gunner on a gun truck nicknamed “Lucky Bear,” one of those tireless workhorses that escort supply convoys from camps in Kuwait to destinations scattered throughout the war-torn country. In the early morning hours before a scheduled mission, a dust storm howls across his camp and threatens to bring convoy operations to a halt. Worse, the camp receives word that a gunner from his company was killed by an IED while on a convoy mission. Unlike most soldiers, Jerry doesn’t carry a lucky charm, but upon receiving news of the death of the gunner, he begins to mull over/ponder the merit/virtue of a good luck charm—for him? Perhaps mail call will provide the answer.

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