Fernando, for the Win!

Nature has a quiet way of speaking to us. A lot of the time, the noise of people and modern life drowns out the sounds of Earth, but we can all seek what we need to hear, no matter where we are.

From top to bottom, the water oak outside my window is a home and refuge to living things. Though the oak is just beginning to bud—and pollenate its surrounding with yellow dust—the uppermost branches support parasitic mistletoe growth. Though wind storms tear the plants from their host, more are there as a patch of green through the winter in an otherwise bare tree.

All the leaves are mistletoe.

All the leaves are mistletoe.

Slightly above mid-level, about three stories off the ground, there’s a red-bellied woodpeckers’ home. Happily, the lovely—and talkative—couple rebuilt a new hole after their original dwelling broke off from the same branch over a year ago.

The hole is in the center of the picture.

The hole is in the center of the picture.


If you look close, you can see the head of the woodpecker looking out. I don't have a fancy long-range lens.

If you look close, you can see the head of the woodpecker looking out. I don’t have a fancy long-range lens.

And, of course, near the base of this impressive ecosystem there grows Fernando.

Fernando in all his glory.

Fernando in all his glory.

Still fresh from a winter’s slumber, the ever industrious fern not only regrows but sets out new runners. There it is: nature telling me to spread—move on to the next branch of creativity.

It’s time to set roots for the next story.

It lives--and grows!

It lives–and grows!

Dormant to Thriving

Last spring I started my fern watching journey. Fascinated by the way a little fern—and assorted mosses—clung to the rough bark of the water oaks in my backyard, I snapped a few pictures every now and then and compared the different stages of the fern to my creative life.

This time around, I think the fern is trying to tell me something.

Winter has been beautifully colder than average. A month ago, after ice/sleet and multiple days of freezing temperatures, my resident fern looked like this:
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The weather has been steadily warming, but inside I’ve still been stuck. Dormant. Outside, the fern has a message for me: Wake up!
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The storm has passed!

Literally, because a mean display of thunder and lightning blew through about two o’clock in the morning and now it’s blue skies and a refreshing breeze. I need to get back to work—I feel it in the air.

But first, I think we need to name my enduring fern. Please leave suggestions below.

Selfish

After my last post shared a few things I’ve found during cleaning, but continue to keep on my desk through the decades, I moved to the next level of organizational hoarding: surrounding myself—literally—with books. Homeschooling my kids gives me a great excuse to collect more books than the average person. Here’s about half of the collection.
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My desk is behind it, nice and tidy.
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Outside, a winter storm is leaving ice and beauty across the southern landscape.
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The atmosphere—inside and out—makes my creative energy soar. Even though there’s a never ending supply of query letters to send, tonight I’m going to write something for fun.

Nostalgic

While cleaning/organizing my desk today, I realized I’m sentimental in both a functional and not-so-functional way. Yes, my fondness for British literary movies should have been a clue, but let me give you two examples from my office to prove my point.

Exhibit One:

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Functional collection of Hello Kitty/Sanrio clips from the 1980s. I did break one of the smaller ones, it was blue with angels or something with wings… a few years back and had to toss it. The big one is scarred with bite marks—don’t ask—but I’ve kept them all these decades. They been put to use and clipped on desk organizers in between jobs.

Exhibit Two:

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My old disks: better than the floppy ones, but still completely outdated. Yes, my first four manuscripts, college assignments, and assorted poetry from the early 1990s are contained on them. But most of those documents can also be found in my filing cabinet, on paper.

Do I have a computer with the appropriate disk drive? No.

Will I ever use these disks again? No.

Can I throw them away? No.

What are you hanging on to from years, decades, or centuries past?

Read On

Christmas equaled reading time in these parts. A princess with pneumonia, not to mention other family members—including myself—with assorted head colds/congestion, set things up for a low-key Yuletide. Because of this, I was able to do something I haven’t done in a while: read a book in a day.

Actually, I finished one book and read two others within a sixteen hour period. Of course, I was up until two in the morning to complete the trilogy, but I had to find out how Jane’s story ended. 100_4593

Jennifer L. Holm crafted a well-rounded heroine in Jane Peck. Boston Jane: An Adventure is a novel I picked up in the bargain section of a bookstore several months ago. I started it on the twenty-third and finished it Christmas morning. A few hours later, after searching on-line for the other two books in my local library system—negative—I went ahead and purchased the second, Boston Jane: Wilderness Days, on my Nook. Then, at about ten o’clock Christmas night, I purchased Boston Jane: The Claim and stayed awake until I finished it. Extremely satisfying!

To start 2014off with something fresh, I joined Goodreads last night—look me up if you’re there, too. I’d been receiving invites to the site from my book-loving friends for years, but put off signing up because I knew I’d be sucked in. I’ve already rated five hundred books from recent years, as well as a few long-time favorites.

I’m thinking about setting a reading goal for the New Year and I’m leaning toward one hundred and fifty books. Have you ever set a reading goal or tracked your reading habits? What are your numbers?

As the Year Closes

If you’re a long-time reader, you might remember how I handle my goals. If not, check here. In light of recent events, I’ve been introspective today. This year has been full of high and low points, successes and failures, but I know I’m better off emotionally and spiritually. So, rather than pick apart everything I haven’t done, I’ll do what I (try to) do best—find the Brightside.

Here’s what I’m focusing on in route to meeting my goals by my next birthday:

Physical—I see the need for improvement.

Mental—I’ve learned lots even though I haven’t read all the non-fiction books I’ve wanted to, yet!

Spiritual—I’m better off than I was this time last year.

Emotional—I understand myself better than ever.

Social—I’m doing much better in social situations.

Family—One-on-one time with each child is happening more often.

Financial—I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

Professional—FORTITUDE is completely outlined.

There’s my situation, without dwelling on all the have-nots. I’m striving for hope amid the dark days of unrest. I’m wishing you the Merriest of Christmases, or Happiest of Hanukkahs, as possible at this time. More in the days ahead…

2012 Winter Carrie

A Very Literary Christmas

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And my favorite part of the wonder of Christmas is the magic of Christmas stories. Rather than stowing 100_1778a bunch of gifts under the tree for the month—tempting little fingers to pick and peek at them—I scatter our collection of Christmas books under the branches. This gives my kids something they can handle, old friends they can revisit from the previous years.

 

We spend a few days reading through a chapter book or read a picture book each night while enjoying the sparkle and messages of the season. So far this year, we’ve read CHRISTMAS MAGIC by Patricia Hermes and YOU ARE MY MIRACLE by Maryann Cusimano Love and Satomi Ichikawa.

 

Another thing I love is Christmas music. Here’s a sample of one of my favorite voices—Mitch Malloy—singing Silent Night.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFOdUJ8W9rs&feature=g-hist

What are your family’s traditions? Your favorite Christmas story? Song?