Light a Candle for Love

A few days ago I saw a drawing encouraging donations for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.  It showed a girl lighting a candle.

At once, I thought of a website I’d visited frequently years ago. Somehow, over the years, I’d lost the link and had completely forgotten about the site and the beautiful feelings that came over me each time I went there.

A quick Google search pulled up the information I needed. Here is the link:

Gratefulness

Because November is all about gratitude and thanksgiving, I felt it would be a very apt time to share this link. What I’ve always enjoyed most at the site is lighting candles…for love, for peace in the world, for thanksgiving, in memory of those who have gone before, or as a prayer for those who are suffering. I visited the site on Monday, and have gone back each day since, lighting candles and spending a little quiet time reflecting on life and love.

I’ve created a special room of candles, and I hope others will join me in keeping at least one candle burning at all times for love.  When you light a candle, it will continue to burn for 48 hours.

To go directly to the room of the candles, you can visit the link below:

Light a Candle for Love

Love Candle

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Soldier

It is the Soldier, not the minister,

Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter,

Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet,

Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer

Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer,

Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician,

Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,

Who serves beneath the flag,

And whose coffin is draped by the flag,

Who allows the protester to burn the flag.”

— Charles M. Province

It is the Soldier...

Hey, I’ll Just Start a New Board!

Recently I heard someone remark that they always thought Facebook was the biggest waste of time in their life…and then they discovered Pinterest.

Yep. I know the feeling.

I love Pinterest. No matter how many times I tell myself I’ll stay away, or that I’ll only drop by long enough to post a pin or two, I soon find myself scrolling through screen after screen of the most marvelous, most mind-boggling, most awesome photographs, designs, treasures, quotes, and drawings.

For those who don’t know what Pinterest is all about — and I seriously doubt there are many of you — it’s today’s technology meets yesterday’s bulletin board. You create “boards”. You find pictures. You “pin” them to your board.

I began with one board. My thought was that I’d find pretty pictures and gather them into one convenient smile-inducing collection. I called it “Inspirations“.

But then I found a recipe with a picture, and somehow it didn’t quite seem to fit with my other selections. So, I started a “Food” board. Other authors soon were talking about creating boards to post inspirations for stories. I was playing around with the idea for a new story, so I created another board.

By now, I was finding lots of pictures that didn’t really seem to belong anywhere, so I came up with “Other” — a generic board where I could post anything and everything. It contains photos like this one.

“One of those lovely pictures I don’t know what to do with.”

When I began working on my romance novel, Summertime, of course, I had to create a “Summertime” board on Pinterest.

And so it went. Each time I visited, I added a new board. Maybe two. I have boards for cats and flowers and fairies. Actually, I have two boards for fairies. One is for the fairies themselves, another is for the gardens in which they live and sing and play.

I have mystical moods, things that make me laugh, and lots of clever quotes. I even have Paris! Why, I don’t know. I’ve never been to Paris and have no plans to ever go. But a few pictures of Paris caught my eye, and I didn’t really know where to put them other than to give them a board of their own.

During the day while I’m writing, I avoid Pinterest, even though the “Pin This!” button on my browser seems to be always winking at me, always saying “Pssst, look over there. You might see something you want.”

I’ve learned to ignore the voice, but only because I know that once I’ve finished my work for the day, then I can go play. I can scroll through all those incredible photographs. I can click here, pin there, and watch my little collection of treasures grow.

Oh,  yeah. I have another board just for that: Little Treasures. Well, yeah! Where else was I supposed to put white pumpkins and wedding dresses? I suppose I could start a couple new boards… ya think?

Please, when you’re not busy doing something important, come visit my Pinterest boards. You might like it. Who knows! You might even want to pin a few pictures to boards of your own.

 

 

 

 

 

Whoa, Nellie!

Yep. Whoa, Nellie! That’s about all I could utter earlier this morning while I was browsing around the web.

In case you’re not familiar with the expression, “Whoa, Nellie” is a way of saying “Oh, my gosh.” It’s akin to a jaw-dropping, mouth agape cry of “This is unbelievable.” It’s a simple way of expressing the unexpressable, of facing something truly incredible.

“Whoa, Nellie” brings the world to a halt for a moment, long enough for the speaker — in this case, me — to get back his/her/my bearings. It’s a bit of a “time out” while the bizarre sinks in and the unthinkable gets processed by the brain.

I had a definite “Whoa, Nellie” moment when I found this old picture postcard online.

Downtown Excelsior

OK, so it’s just another street in another small town, a picture obviously taken back in the 1950s. Well, to you, that’s what it is. To me, it’s a lot more. This is Broadway, one of two streets that formed the “main drag” in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, where I was born and raised.

I could go along this street and point out to you the various businesses you’d pass. On the right, about midway down in the picture, you could look over and see the “Hall of  Waters”. Go on down to the next building, and you’d be at “Logue and Shorts” drugstore. Down toward the end, still on the right, was the public library.

But you don’t care about that. To you, it’s just another street in another small town.

As I glanced at this picture, I jokingly wondered if I might see anyone I recognized. That’s when my eyes went immediately to the man in the straw hat.

Downtown Excelsior Circle 1Yes, it’s a straw hat. I know, because I recognized it. I recognized everything about this man. The hat. The hand in the pocket. The walk. The slight tilt of his head. I recognized the barber shop, too. The same barber shop where my grandfather got his hair cut. Being of the female persuasion, I wasn’t allowed to set foot in the barber shop. I had to (a) head to Logue and Short’s for an ice cream cone, then (b) wait in the car.

And speaking of car? Surely it must be there in the picture. My grandfather’s pride and joy, the car he cherished and kept to the end of his life. His black 1949 Chevrolet Fleetline.

Aha! Yep! Whoa, Nellie… can you imagine that!

Downtown Excelsior Cropped Circle 2

If I peer really, really close at the car, I think maybe I can even see a little girl sitting in the back seat, patiently waiting… no, that’s surely just my imagination.

What’s NOT on my Thanksgiving Menu

Live in thanksgiving daily… Book of Mormon, Alma 34:38

All right. Halloween is over, Christmas is on the way, and in-between the two comes Thanksgiving. I’m a bit fond of the day, actually. Gratitude is an important concept, and too often we overlook the important role it plays in our lives.

When we express our thanks for all we’ve received, we usually find ourselves receiving more in return. Funny how that works.

Conversely, if we fail to give thanks for our blessings, we often find good things coming into our lives much less often.

I have another reason for liking the Thanksgiving holiday. I was born on Thanksgiving.  Whenever people inquire as to my “sign”, I’ve quickly tell them that I was born under the sign of the Turkey. It’s always fun to see their confused expressions. No, folks, there really isn’t a “turkey” constellation.

Turkey

Because of my birth date, well-meaning relatives somehow assumed that I would have a special preference for anything associated with the holiday. Like pumpkin pie. Growing up, over and over, I heard aunts, great-aunts, and even my own grandfather remark on how much I loved pumpkin pie. It was clearly my favorite according to them.

Guess what? Pumpkin pie is all right, but it was never my favorite. My favorite pie is blueberry. Next comes peach. Then apple. Banana cream. Chocolate cream. Then we get to pumpkin. With real whipped cream.

It was also assumed that I loved stuffing, turkey, cranberries, and sweet potatoes. I do confess I like stuffing now and then, and I do make mine with cranberries, but given a choice, I’ll take good, old-fashioned mashed potatoes every time. And sweet potatoes? Yummy as fries with hot, spicy seasoning, but that marshmallow goop? Or those other syrupy, sweet concoctions? Thanks, but, no, thanks.  I do like turkey, and it’s a healthy alternative to other meats, so yes, we eat a lot of turkey here — usually in the form of turkey burgers. And a turkey sandwich with lettuce and a milk glass of milk to go with it…yeah, I like that. Unfortunately to get a good turkey sandwich, I have to roast an entire turkey, and that’s a lot of bother.

For many years, I went ahead and served a lot of the traditional Thanksgiving fare.  Roast turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing, corn, cranberries, and yes, pumpkin pie. For the record, I drew the line and refused to have anything to do with that popular green bean casserole recipe or any recipe combining marshmallows with root vegetables.

This year, I’m planning a different menu. I’m going to serve a nicely-glazed ham. We’ll have potatoes, of course, and probably green beans. But no stuffing. No cranberries. And no pumpkin pies. Dessert, I think, will be vanilla ice cream. Maybe a few chocolate sprinkles.

Someone will probably complain that it doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving. I’ll just remind them that Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude…and they ought to be glad they’re getting a meal.

Really, all joking aside, it’s not the food that matters on Thanksgiving. It’s the family, the friends, the fun, the festive atmosphere. It’s joining together, holding hands, saying a prayer. It’s looking around, seeing how much we’ve been given, and truly feeling a spirit of Thanksgiving.

Ghost Train

I love discovering new music, and even more, I love sharing my discoveries with others.

On Thursday night — All Hallow’s Eve — I listened to Kansas Public Radio expecting the usual fare of “spooky” classical pieces. You know the ones I’m talking about. Night on Bald MountainRide of the Valkyries, Danse Macabre.

Yes, there was some of that. But there was more. Much more. I enjoyed hearing William Bolcom’s rag, Graceful Ghost, and Waxman’s music for Bride of Frankenstein.

Most of all, I was immediately captivated by modern composer, Eric Whitacre, and his Ghost Train Triptych from 1994. I thoroughly enjoyed the three-piece set. As always, when I hear something new that I truly like, I headed at once for Amazon.

The Music of Eric Whitacre

The Ghost Train Triptych is available on this album, or the 3 pieces can be purchased as individual MP3 files.

I hope you enjoy this music.

 

Climbing Mount NaNoWriMo

It all began again yesterday. National Novel-Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo, is upon us once more. Ready or not, it’s time to grab your pens, pencils, word processors, or whatever else you use to write, and get busy on that novel that’s been bumping around inside your head.

30 Days and Nights

I love NaNo. For me, it’s a chance to write silly things, to have as much fun as I dare, to try new things, and to throw out all the “rules” about writing. For me, the only rule this month is “Have Fun.”

Some people are intimidated by NaNoWriMo, I think. They have this crazy idea in their heads that they’re supposed to write a novel during November. A perfect, ready-to-submit-to-a-publisher (or ready to self-publish) novel. In thirty days. It’s not going to happen.

Sure, there are authors who are more than capable of pulling it off.  There are probably a few NaNo participants who manage it each year. They’re the minority, of course.

The real purpose of NaNo isn’t to have a 50,000 word manuscript typed up and ready to go out the door on December 1. It’s to give ourselves a push, to help us break through barriers, and get words on the page. Funny, isn’t it, how the very thing that’s meant to set writers free ends up becoming a major source of that dreaded dis-ease known as “Writer’s block.”

Look, nobody says the words have to be good. During NaNo, I write garbage like this:

Frustrated, she threw her hands up in the air. Fortunately, she quickly realized what she’d done and caught them again before they hit the ground.

Or this:

He rolled his eyes. Again. He’d been rolling his eyes all day and all night. Mama had told him not to do it. But he couldn’t help himself. Sure enough, he’d probably go blind, just like Mama warned.

My characters sit around and talk a lot during NaNo. Like this:

“There’s nobody here, honey. Just take it easy. I’m not going to hurt you.”

“How do I know that?”

“Because, we wouldn’t have a story if I did, and I intend to be around for a long, long time.”

Or this:

“What are we supposed to do now?” Clearly agitated, Polly rubbed her temples. “Everything is such a mess! I have no idea what’s going on. I don’t even know who I am.”

“Calm down,” he said. “I think we’re supposed to begin bonding today. You know, getting better acquainted, learning to like each other, that sort of thing.” He waggled his eyebrows — not an easy thing to do.

“Oh, will you quit that!” Polly jumped from her chair. “You know I hate it when you do that.” Tears streamed down her cheeks. “I’m sorry, but I simply can’t bond with a man who waggles his eyebrows.”

Yes, I have fun. But, to borrow (well, steal) a phrase from the children’s magazine, Highlights, it is “Fun with a purpose.” The purpose is to get ideas onto the page. The purpose is to explore possibilities. The purpose is to play around with characters, try out new styles of writing, discover new twists and turns in plotting that I might not consider if I were taking myself and my writing too seriously.

So, go ahead. Have fun. Write your worst! It might prove to be the best thing you’ve ever done.

Oh, and don’t forget…you have to name something Nanowrimo. For me, one year it was a horse. Sometimes it’s a town, sometimes a character. I think this year it’s going to be the name of a mountain. Yeah, I like that.

Mount Nanowrimo.  I’m ready to go climbing.