Glories

I’ve never had much luck with morning glories, but this year, decided to try again. Wow … it’s struck me how extremely fragile they are–yet many consider them a weed.

IMG_3856These didn’t bloom until the second week of September, but take a look…their periwinkle hue is So beautiful! In this photo of my husband’s, you can see how transparent the blossoms are…talk about delicate.

 

They burst open in the morning, but around noon, start to close up, and by mid-afternoon, you’d never know they’d shared their color with the world.

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Contemplating these gorgeous flowers’ short-lived blooming time set me to thinking of parallels. The most obvious, perhaps, is my faith. Though I’d rather it be constant, full-blossomed all the time, and reliable, reality says otherwise.

I waited all summer for these blossoms to show their glory, and truly appreciated them when they finally appeared. Not like steadfast marigolds that keep blooming the entire season, these frail lovelies can make their appearance and fade before you get a chance to observe.

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Still, they’re beautiful, if only in fits and starts. And all this reminds me of another fact: normal standards fall short when measuring worth.

Those who seem weakest may make a huge difference in small and seemingly insignificant ways. My World War II research overflows with people who tended their posts, no matter how mundane. No setting the world on fire, but still a certain glory in making a contribution.

My characters are like this, everyday folks intent on doing their best. One of them recently told me I’m not finished with her story, even if I thought I’d reach The End. No, she wants to contribute more, desires to make a greater sacrifice for the war effort.

Back to the drawing board … here’s hoping the result will enhance her story. And during the rainy, overcast day while I worked on that plot, guess what happened? More glories, multicolored!

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Scents and Sense

Here it is, September. Yesterday was the anniversary of the day my husband asked me to marry him. This will be our fortieth year of bliss/blessing/blundering on together. And something about the slip in the seasons–any Midwesterner can feel it in the air–makes me nostalgic.

Today I took some photos of the scents around me.

Rosemary, a heavenly aroma so akin to lavender.

Parsley, that clean drift in the wind.

Sage, bringing autumn flavors to mind. What would stuffing be without sage, and who wants to wait until Thanksgiving to enjoy it?

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Peppermint, adding a little more pizazz to an end-of-summer breeze and some gorgeous blossoms, besides. Ahh…our sense of smell has delights to offer during this season.As writers and readers, sometimes we can let one of our senses go wild. Wish I could bottle these up and send them your way!

 

 

 

This morning, a nifty anonymous quote appeared on my teabag- thank you, whoever came up with this:

                  The ones who say, “You can’t” and “you won’t”

                  are probably the ones scared that you will.

 

 

Will this little house wren move into our rather dilapidated offering?

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Will this American tree sparrow father a healthy brood of chicks this summer?

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Will my poor tulips make it through the cold spell we’ve been having?

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And this early butterfly, will it …” I’ll let you think of a question about this delicate creature.

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And what about us? Will we take the plunge to submit our writing for publication? Will we go through with our plan simplify our lifestyle?

Will we … what ever decisions we face, chances are some naysayers exist. Mine live mostly in my own heart, so I’ve had to learn to ignore them. I used to hope they’d magically disappear, but that hasn’t happened in the past six decades, so I doubt it will.

Today, we’re attending our nephew’s high school graduation party. He’s such a cool young man – I hope he moves ahead through life with confidence and positivity.

Ignoring those who say we can’t or won’t–a good resolution to make as spring bursts into summer!

 

Oh MY!

Tonight when my husband and I returned from a walk at the close of this rainy Iowa day, we were looking up at the roof for some reason, and I spotted something that looked like a bird…sort of. But bigger.

Lance is nothing if he’s not persevering. He hung out until he captured an image of the creature…I can’t believe it! We have cardinals, house wrens, hummingbirds, and of course, crows in our yard. But this…never thought I’d see the like. Not here in our yard.

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Isn’t this the cutest baby owl? I’ve never spied one before, and this one added excitement to a rather gloomy, although productive day here in the Midwest. I’m a lot like my fiction characters, I guess – it doesn’t take a whole lot to make my day.

And this experience also goes to show that you can enjoy someone else’s hobby almost as much as you enjoy your own. Barn owls have made appearances in my historical fiction, and this little one…oh yes, you can bet she (or he) will pop up somewhere in a future story.

In the Swing of Spring

My baby kale’s peeking through the soil, and volunteer squash plants have emerged around the compost pile. The trees have leafed out, a sure sign that Spring isn’t just flirting with us anymore.

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And inside, I’ve experienced the fruits of my labor: the first box of In Times Like These arrived yesterday, on our thirty-eighth anniversary. This young World War II farm wife’s story has been long in the writing, and holding the finished creation brings undeniable satisfaction.

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Beside me on the wall hangs Emily Dickinson’s HOPE, which fits in with this season. It’s great to witness new birth all around us with our backyard cardinals, a multitude of robins, and flowers budding. We’ve even had our first butterfly visit. IMG_4839

 

I’ve always liked the way Proverbs puts it: “…the desire accomplished is sweet to the soul.” Sigh….winter is gone for good. Welcome back, Spring, and welcome to the world, Addie!

I’ll keep you updated on our flowers, and for more information on In Times LIke These, see the previous post, MY BOOKS, or go here: http://amzn.to/1VFEoYh

Maybe We Aren’t in Charge…

Another wonderful photo from my husband’s collection – see this mama cardinal’s bright red beak through the peephole? This image speaks to recent events in our lives.  (See the previous blog’s great pictures.)

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She seems as patient and determined as can be, awaiting her hatchlings’ births.

 

The next shot shows  her from above, in our cold Northern Iowa rain. At first, he thought the white dots were actual specks on her back. IMG_3780But they’re raindrops a-sparkle.

Rain or shine, cold or bitter, nasty winter wind, she’s faithful, with no idea when these chicks will burst forth from their shells.

After a wild night last night, I can relate! My first women’s fiction historical novel in a series of three was scheduled to release on June 6, D-Day. I thought the date fitting, since the theme is one woman’s personal growth and victory over fear in the violent backdrop of World War II.

Well, what do I know? The book seems to have a life of its own, because last night it went live, regardless of our posted schedule. I’ve almost gotten over the shock, but still wonder why, since I had readers/reviewers lined up to post on release day–I was doing everything RIGHT to make this book release a success. (Just like my heroine, Addie does everything possible to please her controlling husband.)

Which takes us back to our title–maybe I’m not in charge. Maybe God pried my tight little fingers away from this story and has things in mind for it I’d never have dreamed of. Whatever the case, Addie is now out there in the world–sometimes cold and cruel.

Dear readers, I hope you love her! Here’s the book blurb:

Pearl Harbor attacked! The United States is at war.

But Addie fights her own battles on the Iowa home front. Her controlling husband Harold vents his rage on her when his father’s stoke prevents him from joining the military. He degrades Addie, ridicules her productive victory garden, and even labels her childlessness as God’s punishment.

When he manipulates his way into a military unit bound for Normandy, Addie learns that her best friend Kate’s pilot husband has died on a mission, leaving her stranded in London in desperate straits.

Will Addie be able to help Kate, and find courage to trust God with her future?

Here’s the Amazon.com purchase link: http://amzn.to/1VFEoYh

 

Spring in the Arizona mountains comes six to eight weeks ahead of spring in the midwest. It’s hard to argue with getting to experience this wonderful, bright season twice. The elk gathered in our yard this morning, waiting for our wonderful World War II veteran neighbor to come out. He offers them grain and a couple of them have essentially become his pets.

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Down the road, forsythia bushes burst into wild yellow blossoms.20160229_155123_resized

Apple blossoms blend with decorative cherry-like flowers. Against a crystal blue sky and towering pines, these trees warm the heart after winter’s cold. (Granted, not as cold as winters north of Missouri, but this year’s storms dumped heavy snows here.)We shared pictures of that incredible beauty a month ago.

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I clicked my camera over and over, hoping to get the perfect shot. (My husband would have!)

Underfoot, fuzzy spring-green mullien peeks through rocky soil. I just learned last week that mullien helps  ear and respiratory health. A new friend here offers a wealth of information on various herbs.

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All of this puts me in mind of time’s passage . . . spring, summer, winter, and fall. Infancy, childhood, youth, adulthood. Time keeps moving on until we begin counting decades rather than years.

This month, I’m working on a non-fiction manuscript I began writing back in 2010, my first extended time in Arizona’s beautiful high desert country. The main word in my “cartoon bubble” right now seems to be gratitude. I’m so grateful for sight, for health, for this quiet place. A lovely concept, gratitude. I liken a thankful attitude to gentleness enveloping my spirit and brightening my outlook on life.

Finding One’s Tribe

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Winter can be daunting. The cold, unproductive seasons of our lives can be, too. Perhaps these wild Iowa turkeys find comfort in facing the blizzardy February weather together.

My husband shot these photos near Osage, Iowa, during weeks of below-zero temperatures.  He focused in on one bird in the next picture, and this fellow looks awfully lonely. 

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Last weekend, my husband also held the annual confirmation retreat–the weather cooperated this time. Take a look at these kids out sledding–nothing like racing down a freezing hill…together.

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The beauty of it is, cold or no cold, life’s brighter with companionship. I see this in my writing world, too–we can get so involved with our characters, they seem  more real than the REAL FOLKS, and discovering new friends online or meeting them in person makes a world of difference.

During this Valentine’s week, I’d love to hear how making a new acquaintance or a deepening  friendship has brightened your day/week/year.

Faith – It’s EVERYWHERE, it’s EVERYWHERE!!

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These tracks go somewhere. Just because we can’t see their destination doesn’t mean they don’t have one.

Similarly, people may say they don’t believe, but often suspend rationality. This is true in the internet world. For example, I replied to a FaceBook message from a woman I’ve never personally met. Her page cited her as a writer, so I asked what she wrote.

She sent a message: Nothing. I know I ought to be writing, but something in me keeps me from taking action. I don’t know if it’s fear of failure, or what, but my so-called writing is nonexistent at this point.

My reply: I’m a born cheerleader for people who have even one iota of an inkling that they’d like to write. I mentioned that I’d put off my desire to write for many years, so could relate to her situation.

Later, she let me know that she rarely checks her FB messages, and received mine by some fluke in the system that had never occurred before. (Do you get the picture that I’m no pro at using these tools?) Anyway, I answered that I’m not so hot at FB, either, and gave her my e-mail address.

Within an hour, another message came from her, saying she’d received that message from me in a text. Go figure. I don’t even know her phone number. Maybe there’s a logical explanation, but my reply works for me:

Well, I’d say maybe we’re meant to continue our conversation, and that some other power besides Google must be in charge of the airwaves.

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The more I think about it, seems that Internet users exhibit raw faith. We trust this manmade technical tool will work. We trust these messages we send, unseen yet real, will reach their destination. And we trust that malevolent hackers won’t interfere and send our lives into a tailspin.

Our belief is a kind of “knowing,” like the assurance that leaves turn fiery orange in autumn. But there’s really more evidence for the latter–we’ve seen it happen year after year.

Faith manifests in many modern arenas, though naysayers deny the facts. But this internet one escaped my notice so far. When I complete this article, I’ll edit it a few times and eventually post it or send it to some other blogger who’s invited me to visit. Their blog—tangible in one sense, highly intangible in another.

It’s all about tuning into the right address, calling up the blog’s presence, and embracing its power to aid communication. Kind of like another unseen, but totally real presence.

Reminds me of the excitement I feel today as my debut novel wends its way from New York. I trusted that it would be published, and now, that it’s been mailed. Seeing it for real will confirm what I’ve believed, and also be pure FUN! Of course, then I need to trust that readers will come … if you write it, readers will come.

Yes, readers will come, just like winter will. And they’ll fall in love with my heroine, and …

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