To Everything A Season

The word Rambunctious first appeared in print at a time when the fast-growing United States was forging its identity with optimism and exuberance. That era, the early half of the Nineteenth Century, also birthed words like  rip-roaringscalawagscrumptioushornswoggle, and skedaddle. Did Americans alter the largely British rumbustious because it sounded too stilted? Rumbustious, which first appeared in Britain in the late 1700s just after early Americans signed the Declaration of Independence, was probably based on robustious, a much older adjective that meant both “robust” and “boisterous.”

This week Lance sent me some shots of a normally rambunctious animal, but right now, cold has settled over our area. This plump specimen seems ready to rest. Our courtyard, our best attempt at an English garden, provides ample place for that, especially this year when I cannot get out there to trim and haul away summer’s faded bounty.

In more rambunctious seasons of my life, I might’ve run out and clapped my hands, yelling “Shoo! Shoo!” to avoid having to deal with a passel of baby bunnies next spring. But now, I look out the window in search of beauty, and find incredible creatures like this hidden away.

Poppies for Remembrance

Yes, it’s July, not Memorial Day when we see poppies worn by the American Legion. But our neighbor’s beautiful poppy patch is abloom, and enjoying it led me to explore the significance we attach to this flower.

Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote the World War I poem In Flanders Fields about red poppies blooming in the WWI battlefields of Flanders, France. Inspired by McCrae’s poem, Ms. Moina Michael published We Shall Keep the Faith and vowed to always wear a red poppy in remembrance.

This one patriotic woman’s persistent efforts led the American Legion to adopt the red poppy as the national symbol of sacrifice honoring war casualties. The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand also adopted the poppy.

Read more about Ms. Michael here: https://www.alaforveterans.org/features/moina-michael/

It’s good to look into the origins of our traditions and consider their full meaning. Even when tearing down becomes popular, we can choose to employ history to build up.

In the World War II novels I write, this is always my goal.

Autumn Leaves

It’s been co-o-ol-d here, chilly enough to wear several layers, a scarf and gloves. The other day, while walking out of a brisk wind in the fellowship hall of a nearby church, this hand-crafted sign caught my attention: 

What a great play on words, eh? 

The sentiment also describes the mental state of the hero in the manuscript I’m working on right now. It’s the middle of World War II – November 1944, and things have been VERY bad. How could they get worse, with V-2 vengeance weapons killing thousands in London? 

Well…my hero is a thinker, and he can’t imagine worse any more. In fact, he’s become almost numb–so many mass-casualty events, he can scarcely keep up with them. In his policeman’s role, he lives way too close to them. 

Can you imagine how doubts must have crept into these people’s minds as the war slogged on? Always a hope of victory by Christmas, but one Christmas after another had passed, and still, soldiers were sacrificing their lives for the cause. When would this horror end? 

Maybe that’s why this little sign struck home with me. In all seasons of history, autumn leaves have fallen, and most likely, this will continue. Summer, autumn, winter, spring. And in every century new wars have sprung up, nation against nation. The human family never seems to learn. I don’t know how people survive without the constant of a worldview including an unchanging Creator. 

Outside our back door, a few tomatoes still cling to their vines, while most have been picked and frozen or made into sauces or soup. Our daughter’s kitchen smelled SO wonderful today, with two vats of applesauce and apple butter bubbling away…it’s that time of year. 

Whatever the weather in your area (and in your life,) I hope you find time to enjoy some beauty in each day. That’s what my hero is learning to do. 

August activities, and…comparing

My FB page report for the week says activity is up by 1,450 percent. That sounds great. The trouble is, I have no idea why.

I traveled to Ames this week to meet potential students for my September OLLIE memoir writing class, and had fun chatting with some writers. Ahh…my favorite folks–looking forward to getting to know them and their stories better in a few weeks!

Friday night we saw “Annie” performed by Cedar Summer Stock. All of their 2018 performances featured incredible voices, choreography, costumes, and scenery…what more could anyone ask? Watch for them next summer.

On Saturday, we went to a cousin’s house for a family picnic. Oh my, what a spread. My gluten-sugar-lactose free offering turned out fine, but compared to the other great fare, well…actually, another one of our granddaughter’s quotes says it best: Comparison is the THIEF of joy. 

So there you go–why compare? And that brings me to flowers: observe.

Specimen one, an amazing geranium.

Specimen two, Gerber daisies in full spread.

And last, but not least, this year’s spectacular yellow begonias. I can’t get over how from delicate pale yellow clamshells (lower right), such incredible blossoms emerge.

So what’s to compare, right? Three lovely floral beauties, each with so much to offer. Yet, we compare things…and people… constantly.

Merriam-Webster defines compare as to examine the character or qualities of especially in order to discover resemblances or differences or to view in relation to.

I’ve been comparing the manuscript I’m working on with its predecessors. Why would I do this? Maybe because this story  has given me lots of challenges from the get-go. The research  leads me deeper into comprehending the vast effects of World War II…but how can I possibly do this topic justice? Does comparing help? Not so much.

I’ve grown as a writer since the last one, so maybe I expected the process to be easier this time. Yes, maybe that’s it.

Yet this is a whole different flower. Yes, it’s that THIEF at it again! Just get back to this story unfolding right now. Forget about the others…seize the joys and frustrations of this one.

It’s healthy to have little self-chats like this from time to time, don’t you think?

Some World War II ladies we met at Bletchley Park

Talk about authentic…take a look at these women – oh, so stylish! The one with the white hat has a Veronica Lake “victory roll,” prevalent during World War II. This hair-do kept women’s hair out of the way in such a busy time, and helped them avoid accidents with machinery at their jobs, as well.

 

One of these ladies might work in a factory, like her American counterpart, Rosie the Riveter, or as a secretary to someone in Winston Churchill’s underground war rooms.

These are the types Addie and Kate would have encountered in Charles Tenney’s office, or on the streets of London.

 

Recalculating

For over a week I’ve been telling myself I must start blogging again, after quite a traumatic time of grief in our little church. This word recalculating keeps coming to mind – you know, the voice on the GPS that tells you to re-define your direction?

During times like this, support and encouragement arrive to cheer our hearts. Lance’s photography hobby stalled for a while, but this morning he captured this little wren singing her heart out in one of our lilac bushes.

Realizing how tragedies affect pastors, a friend sent us flowers. I’m drying the gorgeous yellow roses upside down to hoard something of this bouquet’s beauty, to remind me of his kindness.

It’s probably no coincidence that my sign Love deeply, be happy, and share the joy got included in this photo, albeit upside down. It’s a good reminder that loving deeply, though this kind of loss causes great pain, is worth the effort.

If you’re acquainted with Addie and Kate and Domingo from my books, you know how this concept applies. I’ll leave the analyzing to you this time, and share another cheerful birdie pic…

Such gloomy days here lately, but we had to smile when Iowa’s state bird paid us a visit.

There, I’ve written a blog again – thanks for waiting. I want to let you know, too, that Lance and I will be leaving this week for our fortieth anniversary journey to England. Lots of research ahead…soooo many WWII museums and airfields and STORIES – Oh MY!

I plan to send updates, so stay tuned. I imagine we’ll  be recalculating often during this trip! And thanks again for taking valuable time to read what I write and passing on the news.

 

Sunshine and Clouds

Last night’s storm produced a gorgeous landscape this morning.

I’ve been trying to capture the beauty – certainly wish Lance were here – he’d do a far better job. But still, I keep snapping shots.

These two look a lot alike, but the second highlights the sunshine a bit more. A little difference in perspective. Put together with the photos Lance sent of Iowa’s ice storm last week, it’s all about glistening and shimmering.

 

Not to mention frigid and frustrating to people with plans for the day.

But consider the shimmering. The storm immersed every single centimeter of each twig, blade of dried grass, and object in its path. No escape, for ice makes no exception.
As my husband says about situations we must accept, “it is what it is.” And from a purely aesthetic viewpoint, ice slashing down from the skies creates a beautiful scene.

Now, the storm that hit here last night is headed north, and I doubt many are looking forward to more cold and snow. Thankfully, winter cannot last forever.

Recently, a neighbor from my childhood contacted me. We’ve been sharing our perspectives and I’m learning so much. Our families weren’t close, so her perceptions of “the way we were” shine a fresh light on the past. Kind of like sunshine on snow.

Our correspondence takes me back…way back. And that, of course reminds me of Addie on her Iowa farm back in World War II, and her bff Kate writing her encouraging letters from London. An avid reader recently wrote me that she stayed up nights for two weeks reading this novel and its sequels.

In my youth, I’d NEVER have imagined I’d one day create such a series, though books were my best friends. The ups and downs back then, though, shaped me into a writer. It is what it is, and I’m determined to seek the sunshine

 

 

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!