The Tale of Three Trees

A thought provoking and beautiful story.

Reflections From the Heart

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Oh, the first snowfall of the winter!

 

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Looking Northeast from our patio.

 

Last Sunday, Dec. 4th, was my town’s first snowfall of this season.

I know, I know. Many of you dread that event, and with good reason. It’s cold. It’s slippery. It often needs shoveling.

Who needs snow?

Oddly enough, it does some good things.

It adds moisture to the earth – moisture that soaks in slowly instead of all just running off – and that’s good for crops in the spring.

There are some plants that need not just winter but a cold snowy type of winter to bloom, or bloom well, in the spring.

And I have a little guest spending the winter on the wall by our front door. When he first showed up he (or she) looked like this:

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Then like this:

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And now he (or she) looks like this:

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Only by going through an entire winter, that includes cold weather, will that caterpillar turn into this:

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(unidentified photo from the internet)

An adult Polyphemus Moth.

Yeah. Winter.

It can be useful. 😊

❄️   ❄️   ❄️   ❄️   ❄️

judyt54 mentioned to me in a conversation on my post “In The Rain”that she’d like to see some of the photos I’ve taken of snowflakes. ❄️ 😊

The snow we had on the 4th wasn’t good snowflake snow. It was mostly clumps of spiky crystals:

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But there were a few recognizable flakes to be found.

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The snowflake is about in the center of the photo, top-center of the clump.

In good snowflake snows, I can get shots like this:

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Which I can “clean up” to look like this:

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I rotated and combined this shot with another of my snowflake shots and used it for a Facebook banner one year.

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I hope you enjoyed the photos, and maybe you’ll be a bit more tolerant of the winter weather (or not 😉 ) and inspired to take a closer look at the snowflakes the next time they fall.

*If you want to see snowflake photos taken by the first person to take a photomicrograph of a single snowflake back in 1885 go to the official website for Wilson A. Bentley of Jericho, Vermont – http://snowflakebentley.com/ . He took photos of over 5,000 snowflakes in his lifetime. They are fantastic!

Hugs from Pearl! 😊  ❄️

In The Rain

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In The Rain

I stood out in the rain today.

Wind-slashed rain.

Big drops and hazy rain,

Because I wanted to.

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I stood out in the rain today.

On the pebble path,

Beside the birdbath.

Because I wanted to.

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And I laughed out loud.

At the fun of it.

With the joy of it.

Like a child

Who still counts

The halves and the quarters.

“I’m ten and a quarter!”

“I’m seven and a half!”

Like a fifty-eight and three quarters kid

Laughing aloud in the rain.

Because,

I wanted to.

☂   ☁︎   ☂

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I wrote this four years ago. I thought about it today and decided to post it.

I hope you enjoyed my poem and photos.

Hugs from Pearl 😊

Time As We Know It

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Sunrise Snail

I spent all day yesterday telling myself not to waste time.

I wasted time.

I got distracted, an all too easy a thing for me to do, and time slipped away like a furtive child who has snitched cookies off the cooling racks mother left unattended on the counter, and now hears mom returning to the kitchen.

Small. Quiet.

Seconds. Minutes. And yes, hours too, slipping away to wherever it is time goes when it’s gone.

I will be working on the same project today, and again I’ll be telling myself not to waste time and doing my best to act on that timely advice.

Time.

1) the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present and future regarded as a whole: the progress of time as affecting people and things: time or an amount of time as reckoned by a conventional standard …

We have always been ruled by time, even when it was only the rising of the sun and the going down of the same pacing our lives with light or its absence.

“Make hay while the sun shines.”

Snail days, that mosey along and seem to take forever to get from point A to point B.

Lightening days that flash and fade to what seems to be a night come too soon.

It seems weird to me sometimes that we are dominated by something so capricious …

yet so structured that we now can chart it to the nanosecond.

 

May you handle your time well today – as well as any of us can handle such a mercurial master.

And I’ll endeavor to do the same. 😉

Hugs from Pearl. 😊

Of The Making of Goals

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Goals as permanent as words written in the sand.

“Of making books goals there is no end, and much study wearies the body.”       Ecclesiastes 12:12, New International Version (paraphrased)

Our world is full of sayings about goal setting. 

“If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”

And many others.

Now we’re nearing the close of 2016 and so the topic of setting our goals for 2017 is starting to pop up everywhere. Since the Fiction Writers Blog Hop focuses on writing, we’re dealing specifically with our writing goals for 2017.

Goals? What goals?

I’m supposed to actually think this all through? Map it out on a corkboard or a spreadsheet or a “My 2017 Writing Goals Collage?” Make it visible, permanent, real?

Whereas I can understand the benefits of these processes, and I know they help gazillions of people around the world, I have always had trouble with . . .

GOAL SETTING

Yes. It stands there in huge capital letters, looming over me while I cower before it, because try as I might over the now long years of my life, I’ve rarely been very successful with setting or reaching goals that I set that way.

You know – in stone. Like the law of the Medes and the Persians.

Whether because of my ADHD, or something else, my life doesn’t seem to cooperate with that technique. Like the things I “put where I won’t forget them” end up vanishing, goals set so formally, so officially, so visually get strangled to death and fade from existence more often than not.

For me, life doesn’t cooperate with hard and fast goals.

And so I just sort of, kind of know what I intend to do . . .

the Good Lord willin’ and the creeks don’t rise.

I know I want another Emory Crawford Mystery written by midsummer – if I can. It would be better to have a deadline. Yes. A goal line to aim for, if you will. I do well with deadlines.

I know I’d also like to write a few short stories based in the ECM world – if I can.

But these will be the extent of my GOAL SETTING. Anything firmer I know will somehow get adjusted, altered, or even dumped as the year progresses  . . .

and life happens as unpredictably as it does for all of us. 

Hugs from Pearl 

Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s website, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-oct-2016

It’s That Time Again

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4th of July fireworks, 2016

 

There is a time that comes to every author who publishes a book.

Any kind of book, be it hardcover or ebook, fiction or non-fiction. Any genre and any age level.

It’s called launch day.

And like the two unexploded shells climbing in the photo above, everyone hopes for a big, beautiful, “Oooo!” producing product when the package reaches its mark.

It is exciting. 😃

It is exhausting. 😴

It is what we authors have done all our hard work for. 📖

Tuesday October 25th is my third launch day, and it’s no less a momentous occasion than my first launch day was.

I have successfully completed and have had published three books. 😮  It is a ceaseless source of wonder to me. For many years of my life I never would have thought I’d write and publish one book, let alone three. 📚

My husband keeps telling me, “You’re a success!” and I keep telling myself I really ought to believe him. After three books, it’s getting easier to believe.

Here’s my new baby’s photo: 👶

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It’s the story of a flood in 1844 near Twombly, Illinois – the town my stories are set in – when an entire house disappears without a trace. And it’s about the current day archeological team trying to find it during another flood year.

It’s about mummies who might have been murdered. It’s about a hurting teenaged girl and her father in modern day Twombly, and what the old house and the mysteries it holds might mean to them. It’s about booze and illegal parties, and a deadly drunken duel.

Treasures and a tunnel, books and newspapers, old legends and modern rumors all offer up clues.  Will amateur sleuths Emory Crawford and Madison Twombly manage to figure out the mysteries in the past as well as the mysteries in our own time before anyone else is killed?

Sometimes the past won’t stay in the past. 📘

I hope you’ll join me on Facebook at “A Flood of Clues Party” on Launch Day – Tuesday October 25th from Noon to 8pm (CDT). 😍  A celebration is always better with lots of friends around to share it with. 👩👵👧👨

There will be conversation, games, and some cool giveaways. 🎁  😎

And as always,

Hugs from Pearl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of the Small Bright Spot

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Foggy Evening Harbor, San Diego, CA

I’ve been having a rough couple of years in someways.

Good years in someways, but yeah, rough in others.

Which makes those small bright spots shine all the brighter – like the one light in the photo above, cutting though the fog to paint a sparkling trail on the surface of the bay.

That day was a good metaphor for the last couple of years.

The day had been beautifully sunny until mid-afternoon when the fog came in as a wall of grey.

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And yet, after it blurred and removed the colors from the once bright harbor area, there were bright spots to be seen still showing their color and cheering onlookers. Like the lights on the boats in the first photo.

On Thursday, I had a bright spot that brightened and lightened not only that day, but one of the larger hurts I’ve had lately.

Earlier this year I dropped the external drive I was using to store my photos (including my iPhoto Library) on my kitchen floor and lost everything from mid-April 2012 through to the day it fell.

Believe me, That. Was. A. Lot. Of. Photos.

Thousands of photos.

Many of which were no big loss. Many of which I couldn’t even remember.

But many that it hurt to loose. Especially ones that I knew I’d never get another shot like them.

I have found some of the lost photos over the ensuing months that had been saved to other places as well as to the external drive and have been happy for that . . . but there were those few that remained gone, and broke my heart.

As you may have guessed by now, yesterday I found one of them. One of them that I had really hated losing.

Here’s my bright spot:

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Pelicans and Double Crested Cormorants resting on a log in 5th St. Lake.

You may be thinking, “She was that down over losing that photo?”

Yep. That photo.

It was taken in the flood year that inspired my book The Devil’s Flood, and I have lost almost every shot I took of the flooded lake where the story is set. Of the hundred or so I took I have about four or five left.

The Pelicans are almost always hanging out at the far end of the lake where my long lens can barely catch a shot of them. (Wish I had a long range lens.)

The flood was the only time I’d seen logs floating about in the lake.

And there it all was . . .

Flooded lake. Log. Pelicans. Cormorants.

All about twenty feet (6.096m) from the road where I could easily take photos of them that would be in focus and show good detail.

Yeah.

Wouldn’t get this shot again. And this shot, and some of the others I took in that special moment, have always made me smile. The way the second Pelican from the left has his wing over the other guy’s back while he stretches, standing on one leg. The way they’re all positioned. The little band of Cormorants at one end. The esthetic of a mix of black and white birds – including the touches of black on the Pelican’s wings – on a grey day on a grey lake, and yet the touches of color from their bills and legs.

Finding this photo in an out of the way folder I never would have expected it to be in made my day, and is still cheering my heart.

 

Think about this. Under ideal circumstances – eyes adjusted, no nearby lights, standing on a high hill or mountain – a candle flame could be seen at up to 30 miles (48 km) away, according to a 1941 study by Columbia University.

Are you in a fog of the heart, mind and spirit?

Keep watch for the bright spots, however small they may be.

Even if they are Pelicans and Cormorants perched on a log.

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Before last Thursday, this was the only photo I had left of the Pelicans on the log.

As the Pelicans did on that special day in 2015, I bid you farewell. 🙂

Hugs from Pearl.

Take me away

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*Hi, I’m posting today so I can participate in the Fiction Writers Blog Hop, hosted by Julie Valerie.*

There was an ad on TV long ago, which I remember because I’m from long ago, for Calgon bath water softener. A lady, frazzled by crying babies, traffic jams, burning dinner, or a desk piled high with work would cry out, as though beseeching divine intervention – “Calgon! Take me away!” And the next scene would be the lady relaxed and smiling as she soaks in warm bubbly bath made softer and bubblier because of the Calgon she added to the water.

You can see an ad from 1988 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNgZFxAnKtA

But what can we do when there’s no bath tub? Or, at least there’s no Calgon around to add to our comfy hot water? We can cry out . . .

“Reading! Take me away!”

For that is the gift of “story.”

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My LOTR poster. For me, the legend came to life in 1966 when I read the trilogy for the first time.

We can leave our hectic life, or hurtful life, even a boring life and, for awhile, be taken away. And unlike a movie or TV show we can read at our own pace, savor a scene that takes our breath away or fills us with wonder instead of being hurried on.

Oh the blessing of being taken away! The release of laughing with someone else’s antics, soaring with their joy, or crying for their sorrow – which somehow touches and eases our own, even if it’s only for a moment.

And it isn’t only fiction that works this wonder!

A well told non-fiction book can have the exact same effect because true stories are still stories after all, and often blessed with the same magic as fictional tales. We get swept up into someone else’s life story, or some moment of our world’s history.

I proudly admit that I mostly read for escape. I have always read for escape. Lost in the marvel of being transported away any time I choose just by opening the cover and diving into the words. Or, nowadays, tapping the  screen of my Kindle works just as well – the magic carpet words are still there.

I read not too long ago someone’s opinion that when an author says they write to entertain it’s just an excuse. A cop-out.

I disagree.

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My first favorite escape guide – Agatha Christie.

As an author, I feel it is one of the greatest gifts I can give a reader if I’ve enabled those minutes or hours of being entertained. Maybe lightening their load. Easing their stress.

Maybe . . .

Taking my readers away.

Hugs from Pearl

Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s website, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-sept-2016

There’s a little person in your head.

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People waiting at O’Hare airport, Chicago.

There’s a little person living inside your head.

Yep.

That’s right.

But don’t panic – the little person is you. Or, more specifically, your mental image of you.

We all have one. In our dreams. In our daydreams. Little flashes of an image when we think about something that involves us. There he or she is.

Our mental self.

And that self is a prankster. A joker. A tease. A deceiver.

Go ahead, if you’re in your teens, twenties or even your thirties – go ahead and ask someone who is in their late 40’s or older. “When you think of yourself, have that mental image of yourself, how old is that you inside your head?”

I can almost guarantee they will say somewhere between 25 and 35.

I have had some folks in their 80’s and older say their inner self is between 55 and 65.

The little us in our heads seems to consistently deceive us by about 20 years or so.

Sometimes, this is a good thing. It can help keep us feeling and thinking young. Even people who aren’t at their proper weight according to the charts, even ones who aren’t out there exercising regularly are often still very young at heart. And that is a wonderful gift that comes, at least partly, from that younger inner self.

Sometimes, this is a bad thing. We’ll push our selves too hard. “Sure, (our little mental self goads us to say) I can climb on the roof and clean off the leaves!” (which, mind you, my neighbor across the street does and he’s in his 80’s) – but now you find you have a touch of vertigo you never had before because of your bifocals. “Sure, I can dance all night!” – but you’re not able to move beyond a shuffle the next day. “Sure, I can handle that long road trip in one day!” – but now you’re exhausted the next day instead of ready for action. (Plus, you had to stop a lot more often for restroom breaks.)

All this is not to scare you, as I say, it happens to everyone. Even the very fit begin to find their bodies just aren’t the same as when they were in their younger years. Every thing wears down. Animate and inanimate. Everything wears down.

It is they way it is.

So yes, do what you can to stay as healthy, fit and mentally active as you choose to, but don’t fear the way of all things. Live your life as best you can. Enjoy your life as best you can.

And remember, to quote Red Green: “We’re all in this together.”

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Pearl, 2005 – age 51, scoring a hit on Keegan, 20 something still in college. I wish I was still fencing.

Freedom

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I’m thinking I should just shift writing my blog to Saturday – it seems to be when I end up getting it written any way.

Yesterday, being Friday when I should have been posting a new blog post, I was   reexperiencing FREEDOM.

Yesterday was the first day in over two years that we once again had two cars – meaning my husband drove himself to work and I still had a vehicle for me to use. I could go somewhere during the day without having to plan ahead to take him to work early in the morning and without having to keep a close eye on the time so I could pick him up in the early afternoon.

Freedom. I once again have full time use of my Dear Little Car, pictured in the photo above.

This might all seem really strange to some of you. Typical American over indulgence. Why do two people need two cars. And in some ways you’d have a good point. But we live in a town that’s too big to comfortably walk everywhere and too small to have public transportation. Without a car, there are very few places I can get to. No grocery store I can walk to. Our bank is barely within my range. No cafés or restaurants. Not even any fast-food places. Also, there are no bike lanes and most drivers are still not very good at watching out for bicyclists.

And, well, I’m too out of shape to get much of anywhere on a bike.

So, for two years, I’ve not gone out much or done much away from my home – which has been quite confining.

I can now really relate to how those folks among us, old and sometimes not so old, feel when they lose their driver’s license for whatever reason. I’ve had a car pretty much my whole life since I first got my license and it is a horrible. Trying to remember to pick up my husband wasn’t easy, not being able to just go if I needed something.

And the worst – inconveniencing other people by always mooching a ride.

Yesterday I went to the store by myself …

While hubby was at work …

And stayed as long as I wanted.

Freedom.