Adventure Ahead!

At the beginning of August, I took a trip with a comrade (both in homeschooling and writing) to North Carolina. Thanks to a visit from Santa in 2014, we had V.I.P. seats for The Piano Guys concert, and enjoyed two nights in downtown Raleigh.

100_7956

100_7985

 

As many concerts as I’ve attended over the years, this was my first V.I.P. experience. Great, third row seats, as well as a meet-and-greet afterwards. So much fun! Thanks, girlie!

 

20396446131_09eb629a45_z

 

Then, on the way back south (well, home to the DEEP south), we stopped in one of my bucket list locations—Biltmore Estate.

100_8113

 

100_8148Yes, for those keeping track, this is my second “Bucket List” check-off this year, and both involved traveling.

100_8141
As if that adventure wasn’t enough, I’m soon to be off on another. Information on that in the days ahead.

Where have your travels taken you lately?

Inspired by Setting

While visiting with family a few weeks ago, I was blessed to experience several days of spring in the Midwest. I’ve been to central Illinois in the summer and winter, but this was our first trip this time of year. Many of the trees that were in full-bloom in the deep-south over a month ago were in their glory up north.
100_7312
Farmers and gardeners down south have their crops in the ground, but the Amish farmers were beginning to plow their fields—with horse power, of course.
100_7300
Trees that are fully green at home are just coming into their foliage there.
100_7352

Beauty can be found wherever you look.
100_7383
And so can corrosion.
100_7360
When possible, take time to visit new places. If that’s not an option, try viewing your regular piece of the world through new eyes. What details have you never noticed before?

The Chill in the Air

Christmas is about stories. The stories you make into memories with friends and family, those you read in scriptures to highlight the reason for the season, and the sometimes funny or heartwarming tales of winter that can be found in books of all sizes.

Rather than focusing on presents, for the weeks leading up to the special day my kids look forward to reading and hearing their beloved holiday books that we keep displayed under our tree. Each year they rediscover their favorites and enjoy new books in the collection.

100_6710

What is one of your special Christmas traditions?

What Grows in Family Trees?

We are being watched and someone will want to model us—especially if there are children in our home.
Fortunately, the most recent habit of mine that has been chosen by one of my kids is harmless. At least, I like to think it is. Returning readers will recognize the following image:

100_6548

For those unfamiliar, that is Fernando, my literary muse of sorts. While growing wild on the water oak in my backyard, it still needs regular watering during dry spells to stay fresh. Living in the south, I see hundreds of live oaks with branches blanketed by ferns and moss, but this little guy I’ve watched from birth, so to speak. With each passing month, even during the ice storm this winter, he’s managed to thrive and grow.

Yes, the correlations between Fernando and my literary endeavors are endless, but I didn’t know my watering and regular picture taking have been noticed, but then my youngest drew this:

100_6551

She proudly pointed out the fern growing near the base of the tree, just like “Mommy’s fern.” I was touched, and humbled by the reminder that whatever I do, my kids will take it to heart. Here’s to the hope of inspiring nature and creativity!

What’s the oddest thing a child has copied from you?

Story Growth

Fernando is spreading. He even has new fiddleheads coming from the earth—not the tree—this time. Go, Fernando!

Fernando, up close and personal.

Fernando, up close and personal.

Just like the fern, my own stories are growing. I’m on the downhill for the first draft of my current project, and it has a shiny new working title: THE UNRAVELING THREADS OF KYNDRA FIELDS.

Fernando in all his glory.

Fernando in all his glory.

Fernando—just like my writing goal—doesn’t always look this good. Sometimes, like today, it’s more like this:

100_6178

But there is time this afternoon for water to improve his health, like my story will strengthen if I nurture my writing time.

P.S. Here’s Fernando’s cousin, living on another water oak across the yard. Do you have a Fernando at your house? Have you nourished it today?

Hey, cousin!

Hey, cousin!

Backyard Musings

Creatively, it’s been a rough month. Literary rejections and a house full of visiting kids are the two biggest factors. Both of these can provide inspiration, but dished out simultaneously over the course of the past few weeks, my soul was beginning to wilt.

What could I do to find peace and inspiration while keeping watch over seven kids? Trek around the backyard, while tuning out the noise of the kickball game for a few minutes.

My goal was twofold: find examples of FORTITUDE in nature as well as the beautiful patina of CORRODED metal.

Mission accomplished, spirits lifted!

With the help of my camera, I recorded these wonders in abundance and will share them over the next few posts. Today, I’m skipping Fernando (though there is good news from his neighborhood) and going straight to the back fence. When my family moved into this house nearly two decades ago, there was a tree growing through the fence, just one or two links worth. We left it alone, and now it looks like this.
100_6010
It’s sad, in a way, but a powerful example of growing despite trials and perceived road blocks.
100_6011
What could have halted progression became woven into its life, making the core stronger. (It’s survived several hurricanes.)
100_6013
Not only is this tree still growing, it’s providing a craggy surface for other living things. Love that moss!
100_6014
The textures are amazing.
100_6012
Where can you find inspiration today?

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!