Sunday, December 25, 2016

Happy Christmas


Let there be peace on earth
and let it begin with me.

xxoo

Happy Christmas

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Silent Night

Go outside tonight when it's dark. Really, go on. If it's cold, bundle up. Gather up some cocoa or open yourself completely to the elements.

Breathe deep the wonder of the stars overhead. Sing choirs of angels and behold the snow as it wanders across leaf and twig. Drink deep of the magic surrounding the landscape.

Tonight is Christmas Eve. Never underestimate the power of believing in magic. Never stop believing in the unseen. And never, ever stop singing your hallelujahs.

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery.


Happy Christmas xxoo



Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter came in sun and wind...


...and a chill that bit as I went from car to shop. I get pensive during the cold times. When the sun hides itself behind a shroud of cumulus I go deep within and dredge up imaginings, memories, and wonderings. Which led me to wonder: when the Earth turns back towards the light, do our thoughts turn lightward as well? And if so, could the turning towards the dark during the days leading up to the Longest Night be the reason I've battled so hard these past few weeks?

I think too much. I ruminate long and can skim the depths for fragments of things long since gone. Current washed is my mind but ghosts remain hidden under seaweed and coral and they tickle at my neurons every now and then. I'm learning to let the past go, even the ghost, drift away and make way for the new. But these thoughts - the hauntings, the wailings - aren't memories. They are distorted realities.

Through the moaning I've heard crashing as if a frozen forest were caving. Large branches weighted by the snow entrapped and I believed I was left to die. To freeze. To become one with the long, cold, dark for eternity. I've had a hard time hearing the rain, that washing that moves mountains and chisels stones. Perhaps, however, I'm listening for the wrong sound.

It is winter and rain is not of winter.

Winter is of Snow.

Not the freezing, driving doom that folds the trees and imprisons but the soft, whispers of cloud down that sing of wonder.

Yes. Wonder. Winter is a time of wonder and of wondering. It is a time for darkness and for contemplation. It is a time to let the old glaciers go and send them downriver with the ever moving, never freezing river of time.

What does this mean for me? It means I've concentrated on the crack and boom, the sturm und drang that is fiercest just before the lightening. Just before Epiphany. What my ears need is the strains of those notes that topple down from heaven with those feather light flakes. The flakes that light upon leaves and eyelashes, that laugh and tease hair. Flakes I cannot see with eyes but with heart and mind.

And what does that song say? Why, it tells of the new year and the chances yet taken. It sings of stories and imaginings, things yet created and wishing, through my fingers, to be born.

Instead of hearing the harsh thrashing listen for the soft beauty. As we pass through this Longest Night, remember the turning of the Earth back to light. Yes, it will get colder but winter is beautiful. It was made for rest, for contemplation and for Wonder.

Happy Solstice,

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Insecure Writer's Support Group - December Edition


Good morning and Happy Holidays! Welcome to the December (yes DECEMBER) edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. The brain-child of our fearless leader, Captain Alex, the IWSG meets on the first Wednesday of every month to air out our insecurities and to offer help and encouragement to those who are feeling insecurities of their own. Wander on over to the home page to find the list and read the posts of all the members. Also, a HUGE thank you to all of our marvelous co-hosts for this month <3

***

The past few months have been so crazy. We had hurricanes, car accidents, and unexpected (but not devastating) biopsy results. We also had family members come and stay with us and the joys of wandering about, entertaining, and dipping our toes into the icy Atlantic. Needless to say, I've not done much writing since October!

Still, I'm not feeling that insecure. I finished a draft of a project I've been working on for a few years now and come the first of the year I'll start the first rounds of keying it into the laptop (yes, kids, I write my rough drafts longhand! On paper. With a pen. Gasp!) As for fiction, I've got an idea that's little more than an outline/summary/first two pages. Ugh. And I have a secret to tell you: I'm not excited about it. Not at all. The story intrigues me, though. It's weird and I told myself I'd stick with it because it's a challenge. That said, my goal for January is to have 10-20 pages of this weird story that does not enthuse. Some might say to put it on the back-burner and go after a story that really draws me in. Truth: I don't have one. Not yet. And I'm OK.

***

Our question of the month is a fun one:

In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself 5 years from now and what's your plan to get there?

In five years I see myself writing stories that intrigue me, strange tales that tap at the backdoor of my imagination. The ones that go wassailing, that brush icy hands against cheekbones on moonlit nights. The stories I'm afraid of. Yes. Yes, that's it. In five years I will have at least five of these goblins written. That's one a year. Not too pushy. Lots of breathing room.

And speaking of goblins at the backdoor, it looks like that baffling story that I'm so unexcited about fits right in.

"Every book is different. Some of them are pure agony, like having your molars extracted with a pair of pliers and others flow from the typewriter like maple syrup from the tree." ~ Jessica Fletcher, Murder, She Wrote.

Come January, looks like I'll be extracting some literary molars!

***



HAPPY HOLIDAYS! MERRY CHRISTMAS, GOD JUL, HAPPY KWANZAA, HANUKKAH, BOXING DAY, SOLSTICE AND ANY OTHER FESTIVE OCCASION I MAY HAVE MISSED. 

I'll see you all in January!!

xxoo 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving...and Dragons!

OK, so maybe not dragons (sad face, sniffle), but we went and saw THIS yesterday:

(Totally snagged this image from the movie poster at the theater. 
Yes, kids, I took this on my phone. No credit necessary :))

This movie is beautiful. It was so well done and J.K. Rowling proves again why she's such a master storyteller. And I realized some things about storytelling that I hadn't paid attention to before. Things that I understand now makes great storytelling possible. What are they? Well, I'm going to wait on that. In fact, I'm going to let YOU go see Fantastic Beasts for yourself and let you see if anything speaks to you. There are many things Rowling does that confirms her gift and they are ALL present in this film. Yes, kids, she wrote the screenplay. The cast is superb and HOLY COW!! The BEASTS! I kind of need them. All. Well, OK, maybe not the giant dung beetles but everything else is a go!

Sorry for the lack of depth in todays post. Last week was a doozy and this week is a short work week. Thanksgiving is a'coming and we're hosting a couple of family members this year. I'm SO happy to be able to open up our little home to others. I'm also really glad we don't have to do any traveling :D. For all you HOSTS and HOSTESSES out there, HAVE FUN! Enjoy the day and remember: perfection does NOT a happy thanksgiving make. For all you GUESTS and TRAVELERS: be safe, enjoy yourself, don't overstay your welcome, and take a good bottle of wine.

(I did not take this picture on my phone: PICTURE CREDIT HERE)

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! Have a wonderful week and I'll see you here next Monday.

Cheers,


Monday, November 14, 2016

The sound that will lead you home

Music – STORY – resonates from a deep pain. Pain doesn't necessarily mean something negative. Yes, pain reflects tragedy; it reflects loss and hurt. But it also reflects this insistence to notice, to experience and to appreciate the beauty and brevity of life.

I've thought a lot about music this past week. I grew up listening to old country and bluegrass, songs that I didn't know at the time were rooted in folk music. Folk music rooted in the mountains and across the Atlantic to Ireland and Great Britain. I grew up singing hymns that were rooted in the folk tunes and pub songs of England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Germany. These songs sailed to America, got lost wandering the Blue Ridge Mountains and became the will-o-wisps of bluegrass, became the protests of the folk movement, became the twang of late '80's country.

These songs tell stories, stories of pain and beauty, of heartache and wonder. They sing of tragedy and happiness and call us to fear the darkness outside our front doors. I'm entranced by their siren, and I itch to return to those ancient pathways. They are overgrown; they are weed ridden. I have my basket and I have my gloves. The nettles sting fierce and yes, there are snakes.

I'm goin' huntin' and gatherin', Children. I've got my walkin' stick at hand. There's a song in those old forests, a story echoing along the edges of the pines. Oh that VOICE! How it whispers of magic and my ears, pricked to follow, beg feet to hurry, forget shoes, stub toes, break nails. Be afraid of what you may uncover but don't turn back because of the fear. Press onward into the twilight, dig up the monsters under the loam. Let them snarl and growl and threaten and write down every word they say. Ask them to repeat until you can hum their tune. Then you can turn them around and connect them to beauty; a circle of living that's forever being told.


Follow the music that catches you. Let it carry you over mountains and streams. It may lead you to a vast ocean or a hidden glade of foxglove and bees. It's the resonance that tells you “You're on the right path.” A deep resonance that fills your belly and vibrates your soul. That's what you need to be following. That's the sound that will finally lead you home.

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Voice of the Mountains

I am a beach girl. A water baby. I grew up with a swimming pool and parents who loved going to Florida or South Carolina. There are pictures of me in the water at less than a year old (with my shoes on but still, I'm in the water). If you gave me one choice of scenery for the rest of my days I'd choose the sea.

But there's something about the mountains.



After the stress of Hurricane Matthew, I repacked my suitcase and went to the Southeast Wise Woman's Herb Conference with some ladies from work. It was delicious. Time in the mountains is something I've not had for years. I'm not one for women's groups. I shy away from "girl's night out". I always have. I was terrified to go into the woods with a whole slew of women, most I didn't know. But it was illuminating.

I learned so much from the lectures, so much to take home and digest. I'm still processing the information, still recopying my notes so I can fully grasp their wisdom. An entire lecture was directed to those of us with auto-immune diseases and I think I was the teacher's poster child for her talk.

But it wasn't just the learning. It wasn't just discovering that large groups of women aren't (too) terrifying.

It was listening to the voice of the mountains and coming away with my heart full of story.



My current WIP is set deep in the heart of the North Georgia Mountains. The foothills of Appalachia so to speak. I grew up going to those mountains and I cut my teeth on the Foxfire Books, especially volume 2 and its entire section devoted to "Boogers, Witches and Haints". Legends of the mountains.

The mountains are mystery. They call to a deep, wildness in me. This time they whispered of herbal folklore, old magic, and the depth my story is calling me to. A depth I have been avoiding.

I'm thankful for those few days and for discovering that the mountains still speak to me. I may crave the hypnotic undulations of the Atlantic, but there's a deep place rooted in Appalachia. A deep place that I must now sink my roots deep into and allow to drink in great, mud filled gulps. Stories lie buried in those hills and I'm honored to be a part of that root-system.



Thoughts for the week:
What landscape speaks to you? Where do you prefer to be? What calls you home? Have you ever felt rooted to a land that wasn't, necessarily, your own? Do you believe there are stories in the land beneath our feet?

Speak up! I really do want to know :)


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Insecure Writer's Support Group - November Edition


Good morning! Welcome to the November edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Our mission is to offer support, advice, cheer-leading, and general inspiration to writers throughout the blog-sphere. Click HERE to learn more or to join in!

Our co-hosts for this month are: Joylene Nowell Butler, Mary Aalgaard, Lisa Buie-Collard, Tamara Narayan,Tyrean Martinson, Christine Rains, and *GASP* ME! Yes, folks, I bit the bullet, volunteered, and LO! Here I be a-co-hostin'. I'm a total newb at this so I hope I uphold my station as co-host with honor and do it justice. I'll admit, that's one HUGE insecurity I have this month!

***

October was crazy. Did anyone else feel like the universe was cosmically against them last month? Between an unexpected hurricane evacuation, an herb conference for work and a family reunion I was out of town half the month! I'm ready to curl up on my own sofa, read a good book and drink at 
least a half bottle of wine!

November has me feeling a little uncertain. I submitted a story to the Insecure Writer's Support Group Anthology Contest (*WHAT?!?*) and I'm working on an essay to submit to another publication in December. I have a baby novel just learning to walk and there's several short stories and one lifestyle publication on my desk begging to be edited and brought to life. On the other hand, I have my very first HORROR PUBLICATION BY-LINE!

*confetti!*

er...

BLOOD!

Our local record shop, Graveface Records and Curiosities, sent out a call for any and all things Halloween back in September. I didn't have time to concoct a story a mere 500 words or less (anyone who can do that has my utmost admiration and jealousy) so my very first horror by-line isn't a story. It isn't a novella. Heck, it isn't even a horror movie review. No, kids, it's a recipe for chocolate chip oatmeal cream pies!!!



In my defense, they are scary good ;)

I suppose the point in all this gibberish is this: life throws us craziness at times. We can have everything planned out, outlined, categorized and summarized and then *WHAM!* a hurricane threatens to tear our home to shreds and blow our beloved city off the map! But we have dreams, we have goals and we have to push ourselves to see those goals through to completion. It would have been so easy for me to not submit my story to the Anthology competition, so easy to say, "Well, things got weird in October and I didn't have time to trim those extra 150 words off the 6000 word limit I went over." And I almost did but I knew I'd never forgive myself for not at least trying.

No matter what life hands you, you must put your goals in front of you and hold true to them. They are important. YOU are important. Your dreams will never become realities until you decide to make them a priority. Do the very best you can and let those stories go out into the world. You have no control beyond your best. And who knows? You might get a cookie recipe published in a magazine called The Corpse Reviver.

Hey. stranger things have happened :D

photo credit

***
Question of the Month: What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?
Writing is one of those professions that chooses the person, not the other way around. People say they want to be writers and never write. I hate to tell them but they aren't writers. Being a writer is like breathing and you have to write or you're miserable. That said, my favorite aspect of being a writer is knowing that I have the power to tell stories. Any story I want. If there's a story I want to read, I can write it. I can inhabit any world, any profession, any place. I can invent words and worlds. It's a powerful, humbling, and marvelous thing to be a writer. And I'm thankful to whomever came up with this question for reminding me :)

What about you? What's YOUR favorite aspect of being a writer?

Have a marvelous day! OH! Best of luck to all of you WriMo's! May your 50,000 words come swiftly and smoothly. Get those stories out there! Go on. You've GOT this!!

I promise.
xo

Friday, October 14, 2016

Aftermath and Off Again!

Happy Friday!

This week has been just a bit crazy, what with that hurricane and all last weekend. Thankfully we returned home to nothing more than a bunch of limbs and debris in the courtyard and the top of a tree hanging out on our carport roof.



Trees are down everywhere; centuries old oaks uprooted and laying on their sides. It's crazy, really, what wind can do to a towering mammoth with roots the size of a Volvo.

People did lose houses and businesses were flooded. Sadly, two lives were lost as well. BUT in light of what I've seen of other locations where Matthew ravaged, we were extremely blessed. It was a miracle that things weren't worse than they were.

Savannah is a resilient city. We're strong and we'll come out of this on top.

As for me, I'm off to an herbal conference in North Carolina. It was planned months before and we did discuss at work Tuesday not going. However, the unanimous decision was to go ahead. My boss is happy because she'll have power. Her house on the islands is still in the dark.

At first I was going to stay home, hole up and breathe a sign of relief. As an INFJ that was the comfortable thing to do. Relax in my home that I had to leave behind in the path of a monster storm but also be here "just in case" I was needed. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I needed to let go and enjoy a chance to commune with nature. Learn about herbs. Get away from the stress that hovered over us like a dirty smog since last Thursday.

SO!

I'll be back home on Monday, Dears, but no post until Wednesday. Have a wonderful weekend and take care. If you were affected by Matthew, I pray that you and yours are safe.


Monday, October 10, 2016

Living on the Run

Life got crazy last week. We had a visit from a very unwelcome traveler named Matthew. I certainly hope everyone who was accosted by this bully is safe and well.

I've never had to pack in a hurry and adhere to a mandated evacuation announcement. Yes, we could have stayed. Many did. But we joined the 75% of Savannah residents that left. There were many reasons we left. A co-worker's daughter put it this way, "If there's even the slightest chance any of us could be hurt why would we stay?" My husband put it another: "Do you really want to live for an indeterminate number of days without electricity, water, functioning sewer system or means to cook the food that will go bad in the dead refrigerator?" Both of these were reasons enough to load the car and join the mass exodus on I-16.

My what big teeth you have! PS: the green dot is where I live.

When I was little, I heard about people not leaving during a hurricane. I thought it was rather foolish. OK, OK: stupid. Now that I live on the coast and have had the choice to leave or stay I understand. I didn't want to go. We didn't want to leave. We almost stayed despite the mandatory evacuation announcement. I mean, they couldn't come and force us to leave. But if something, anything, had happened to us (say, a giant oak tree had blown through our bunker of a house and crushed us) no one would have come to help. No. One. All First Responders were under orders NOT to go out in the Category 3 hurricane to save someone who decided to take a risk and fight Mother Nature's evil offspring. That, I must confess, was a bit disconcerting.

The reason people stay is primal. If I'm at home I'm safe. HOME is SAFE. Also, if I'm at home, I can protect it. Protect myself and my family. My castle = my defense. That's why people stay. Not because they're stubborn. Not because they're defiant. Because our homes are created to be buffers from the outside world. And no 115 mph wind is going to change our minds.

Still. We left. We got home around 2:30pm. We grabbed some clothes, several bags of food, a case of bottled water, and -

- and what?

What else do you take when the worst case scenario is that whatever you take is all you have left? That thought was shuddering. Frightening.

These are the things we carried:

- My husband's computer
- My laptop.
- A stack of my writing drafts and research that is not digitized and cannot be reproduced:

You know you're a writer when THIS is what is in your hurricane evacuation bag!

- A framed picture of our cat.
- A picture of my dad in uniform before he left for Vietnam.
- My copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

That's it. That last one surprised me. It's the only book I grabbed. I didn't dare look at the book shelves. How do you decide on one child over the others? It was too much. I was afraid if I looked at them I'd have a breakdown. We loaded up the car and left after I took a picture of the bookshelves and locked the door.

Honestly, I think the main reason I left them was to give me hope that all would be OK and we'd go back to an untouched home.

As I type, the sun is shining and all is peaceful in metro-Atlanta. We've seen pictures of ancient oaks uprooted and laying across the parks and streets. Bodies of our brave dead. Power is slowly being restored. Friends are OK. Tybee Island is still there and NONE of the homes were decimated. It is a miracle. 

And now, we wait. We wait to hear if they are letting residents back into the county. We wait to see if the streets leading to our house are re-opened. We wait. We wait. We wait. 

The waiting isn't really the hardest part, as the song says. It's the not knowing.

Yours Most Truly:

Hurricane Refugee

Friday, October 7, 2016

Oh Play Me Some Mountain Music


Oh how we complained when Mom and Dad popped in a cassette of "that mountain music". We'd been raised on classic rock, oldies and country. As we grew up our tastes changed but our favorites stayed the same: Clint Black, Garth Brooks, The Beatles, The Beach Boys. For a few hours, road trips rumbled along with my sister and me belting out choruses of "Friends in Low Places" and "Surfin' USA". Somewhere between Conyers and destination Higher-Elevation, one of our parents would ever so cunningly slip in a tape of hammered dulcimers and fiddles and my sister and I knew our music would not be heard the remainder of the trip. Two or three songs in we warmed up to it and soon played air banjo in the backseat.

Now days I'm far less antagonistic towards bluegrass and "mountain music". It makes me smile. It isn't often my husband and I are able to escape to the mountains for boiled peanuts, apples and cinnamon dipped candles.When we do, I find myself drawn to the shops with open doors and the drifting strains of an Appalachian front porch. Those haunting chords remind me of childhood and the vast stretches of undulating hills of trees through the Smokies or thick copses of pines lining unnamed red clay back roads. Just the smell of wood smoke is enough to send me back to those car rides and lazy afternoons spent leaf peeping, rock climbing or simply enjoying another, Southern Autumn weekend.

* * *

And just in case your unsure as to what "mountain music" sounds like, 
here's a bit for your listening pleasure:

Mountain Music by Alabama
(link provided just in case this video embedding thing doesn't work)


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Insecure Writer's Support Group October 2016 Entry


Hello and welcome to the October edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the brain child of our fearless leader Captain Alex! It's a monthly airing out of writerly insecurities and offering of support to those in need. Please check out the website and sign up if you aren't already involved! And don't forget to visit the sites of our co-hosts and thank them for helping out with this month's blog-hop: Susan Says, Beverly Stowe McClure, Megan Morgan, Viola Fury, Madeline Mora-Summonte, and Angela Wooldridge!!

This month I'm feeling a bit frazzled but not particularly insecure. I've submitted a small recipe (still heard nothing back) and I've got one magazine submission on my desktop awaiting edits. My WIP is plodding along, I'm chewing on a story for a blog-hop AND I've just now started work on my submission to the IWSG Anthology Contest. All this is stacked on top of two other articles that need projects completed before I can write them/photograph them. Whew! See. Frazzled.

The question this month is "When do you know your story is ready?" I've done a bit of thinking on this and I've two answers. When I'm working on a short piece (university term papers come to mind) I know it's ready when I read it out loud and it has a definitive end. I always read my work out loud, especially if it's something I need to submit. When I can read the end of the piece with an air of finality then I know that it's finished. Now for longer works, novels for instance, I don't really know! I've finished three in the past, none of which are publishable, and any time I pick them back up I cringe at them. They are most definitely NOT finished. How will I know when a novel is done? Perhaps it will be the same as with the short works. Perhaps I'll spend a week reading it out loud and when I reach that last page, when I breathe the final words, exhaling "The End" perhaps it will ring with a finality that will make me sigh with relief. That's what I'm looking for, anyway.

What about YOU? When do you know your story is finished? I'm especially curious to hear from you published novel writers. What told you your book was ready?

Happy writing!


Monday, October 3, 2016

Gem Stones in Buckets and Roller Coasters in the Sky Part II

After Franklin we'd head an hour north towards to an area near both Maggie Valley and Cherokee. As silly as it sounds, our favorite theme part was devoted entirely to Christmas. Tucked away in the Smokies, just outside the city limits, Santa's Land centered around everything Christmas. Everything you could possibly conjure up from a picture-perfect childhood Christmas was there. Nothing ever changed; you think we'd get bored with the same petting zoo, the same reindeer and Santa Claus and caroling elves. We never did. My family loved Christmas (still do!) and we just had to go. It was a tradition about as hokey as they come but we just had to go.

Not that our parents minded. They enjoyed it to. But why? Why did my sister and I feel the need to visit this tired old theme park year after year after year? Well, here's a bit of a confession: it was the roller coaster. Laughably named The Rudicoaster, this kid-friendly contraption whizzed up and down hills and zipped around hair pin turns with a certain, famous, red-nosed reindeer leading the way. The cars looked like sleds and we always jostled for the front. Round and round it went, two corkscrews and dipping and plunging hills. We laughed, we screamed, we rode it multiple times in a row. Once we arrived and there wasn't a crowd to be seen. The Rudicoaster was ours for the taking! We commandeered! I think we were finally evicted after the 42nd ride, but that may be a slight exaggeration (and an adult propensity toward Douglas Adams' references...).

Anyway, this was our yearly pilgrimage to North Carolina. I haven't been back there in years and I mean more-than-two-decades years. Whenever I Google "Santa's Land North Carolina" it seems a bit ambiguous as to if it's still there. The pictures look more like a ghost town, a memory of laughter. I'm sure people still pan for gem stones. I've seen billboards on the few journeys to North Georgia I've made in the past few years. Those did seem a bit faded as well. But my memories are vivid red and green and the sound of screams from corkscrewing reindeer and the splashes of freezing cold mountain water on old sneakers.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Gemstones in Buckets & Roller Coasters in the Sky Part I

Once a year - sometimes twice - a weekend came when Dad would carry us out to the van at five in the morning and we would head north. He loved leaving for trips before sunrise. We knew when the leaves started to turn, a weekend would be set aside for another trip to North Carolina. Neither Maggie Valley nor Franklin are far enough from metro Atlanta to warrant such an early rise but we didn't care! Gem panning and roller coasters waiting our arrival. The excitement far outweighed our early-rising grumps and we willingly allowed ourselves to be carried away in our pajamas knowing we'd have to dress on the way.

We'd change in the van, eat breakfast at Waffle House and count the miles until we pulled into a gem mine. No, we didn't climb down into caves with pick axes, humming dwarfish folk tunes or anything. The Appalachian Mountains are polka-dotted with family-friendly gem mines: no headlamps or hobbits required. It's called "panning" and we believed we were experts at it. A mine provided buckets of dirt, large framed screens for sifting through said dirt, troughs of running water and the promise you'd walk away with at least a sapphire, garnet or emerald. Salted mines were our choice. "Salted" means that the people who own the mine make sure there are rough gems in every bucket. Hey, call us soft but I've done the other kind, the kind that actually requires luck and trust me: paying for a bucket of dirt and walking away with nothing more than mud in your tennis shoes after three hours of sticking your hands in freezing cold water is NOT my idea of a challenge. It's more like Appalachian water torture. I may not have chiseled my finds from bare rock but the joy of discovery far out weighted any legitimate mining claims. Pioneering be damned!

Settled on the bench, we lifted the screen, propped it on the flume (the trough of running water) and Dad dumped in our dirt. It took a bit of time to get the cumbersome screen into the panning rhythm but soon the gems appeared and our shoes became soaked and covered in mud. We spent hours collecting stones, convinced this time one of us would take home a fortune. We never did. I still have many of those stones. They're in storage tucked into envelopes labeled "emeralds", "moonstones" and "rubies". Maybe one day I'll  have them cut and put into a necklace. I think I'll call it "Franklin Mud Finds".

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Turning of the Mighty Oak

The oak tree towered above the yard long before that little plot of land was a yard. For most of the year it was either swathed in deep green or skeletal and bare - a large arm with hundreds of bony fingers grasping at clouds. But when autumn came it was on fire.

The leaves blazed maroon, orange and yellow and they were set in front of an amazing backdrop of blue. Burn-your-eyes azure framed the oak, a halo to a holy site. A week perhaps, maybe two, was all we had to worship at the trunk. This shrine of nature beckoned for attention, demanded awe and inspired leaf gathering and daydreaming.

Many times I tried to photograph it but majesty refused confinement in film. My feeble attempts at art could not imitate life. The lens dulled the blue and extinguished the leaves.

Autumn is a fleeting season in middle Georgia. We gulp down the cooling days. Yards smell of fleeing summer and the nights of cider and bonfires. Pools are closed, bathing suits hung to dry one last time and out come sweaters, jeans and flannel.

Contrary to popular belief, we do know what snow is and occasionally we must bundle up against it. True, Georgia is spared bitterly cold winters but it does get cold to us. When most of your year's low temperatures are somewhere between 80 and 89 degrees, anything below 50 is freezing!

Fall is a gentle leaning away from torrid summers and into the chill to come. The glory of the oak is summer's fierce farewell and that brilliant, chilling blue reminds us that winter, however fleeting, is soon to come.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Back to School

I was the strange kid who actually liked school. I loved learning, the smell of new crayons and freshly sharpened pencils. Each new school year provided another chance to "get things right". I never consciously set any resolutions but I always wanted to be true to myself, get the best grades and prove to the world that I was SMART! Please bear in mind this was looooong before being a nerd was cool.

In the old days of the mid-80s we started school the first week of September. After Labor Day, not mid-July. Funny, but three months off for summer break never hindered my knowledge retention or continuing academic performance. The week before we started back was spent hunting for school supplies and new clothes. Oh how I loved picking out new skirts, jeans and shoes. My biggest joy was picking out supplies: a shiny new pencil box; fresh, smooth sheets of notebook paper; the smell of a brand new box of crayons.

I was fastidious about my school box. Everything had its own place and always fit perfectly so the lid would firmly close. There was always room for fun extras like fragrant erasers shaped like fruit and those pencils with the lead attached to little plastic nibs you could pull out when used up and slip into the bottom of the pencil, pushing up a sharp one. I still have a tendency to over-sharpen my pencils. I won't allow a dull pencil near my desk. I'm such a sucker for these sharp little writing instruments that I'd prefer a bouquet of them to roses.

Every new pack of paper was filled with unwritten stories just waiting to be found. I would write and rewrite assignments until I felt I got my penmanship just right. Yes, kids, we were taught to write in cursive. True story.

Now days I'm drawn to office supply stores and the Crayola aisle at Target like an ancient Greek sailor to an island of sirens. Thankfully giving into this temptation doesn't result in a ship wreck, just a much lighter wallet.

Monday, September 19, 2016

When the air turns to gold



Trees turn golden and drop their treasures onto lawns and back roads. For a few weeks we played in a technicolor wonderland. Slowly we'd put away the toys of summer; the pool got too cold and covered up, thick plastic stretched tight across the metal rim. Out came rakes and jackets, candles in jars that smelled of baked gingerbread. The leaves became piles became playgrounds and the challenge was to flip and fall until we were covered in moldering yard waste. Our energy was boundless, until the time came to heave the full wheelbarrows down the back hill to the burn pile.

School recommenced and we re-acclimated to having to go to bed before eleven. Long, warm nights gave way to crisp chill breezes and stars that shined like the chips of mica in the asphalt. We told ghost stories and roasted marshmallows in the fireplace. The bus I rode to school was the same color as the leaves, a muted combination of mustard and goldenrod. New shoes, new pencils, new packs of notebook paper – oh how I loved it, right down to the tiny bottles of Elmer's glue.

Mom and Dad found weekends to take us North to Franklin and Maggie Valley, North Carolina. There we panned for gem stones in freezing cold water that mazed out of springs beneath the Great Smoky Mountains. Buckets of dirt promised riches and glory and we chose them based upon some superstitious combination of weight and false predictions. Oh, we mountain Gypsies, scrying in mud, finding tiny emeralds, dreaming of amethysts and luminous moon stones. What a troop we made running wild and free along the mountain streams.

Halloween came quick with corn candy, whispering tales of who we might become. Thanksgiving appeared and school closed for the annual sacrament of turkey and dressing and Mawmaw's giblet gravy. Those four days of delicious chaos capped off four months of heaven.

Autumn still holds a golden sway, beckoning me to the office supply store. Bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils are more appealing in early September than those glorious bunches of rusty mums. I find myself baking zucchini bread and finding anything that tastes of pumpkin and clove. Muscadines and pears ripen and we gather them for a weekend of making jellies and preserves. I get crafty, wandering back to my childhood of chalkboards and school boxes. The temperature's right for comfort food and I've got a recipe box just itching to be opened and splattered with fresh stains.

The door's wide open. It's a nice change from 98 degrees and 100% humidity. The days are still warm, but the evenings are just beginning to turn, just beginning to beckon hoodies out of hiding. Windows are being opened and screen porches and courtyards are finally being put to use once more. The mosquitoes are fading and it's almost time to light the fire pit. Scoop up some cider and pull up a chair. Just make sure you mind the sparks!


Happy Fall, Ya'll! (sorry...I had too.)


Friday, September 16, 2016

Roots

Roots are important. Rarely seen, they provide nutrients and grounding; they play second fiddle to the foliage and flowers above. Without roots the plant would die, the flowers wilt. Even the mighty Live Oak cracks and fades. The human plant has roots too: memories and histories that keep us grounded and give us something to draw from, to hold onto. Where we come from shapes us – good or bad. It's up to us to mold that shape into who we want to become.

I was raised to love simple things: vegetable gardens, climbing trees, wood-burning fire places. Gorgeous afternoons found my family and me clambering into the van, off on wild, dirt road adventures. The four of us pit stopped at The Cupboard for Coke, peanuts, and those little chocolate cookies that taste a little like cardboard without the gloppy, white cream in the middle.

Dad poured his peanuts into his Coke. Mom lazily sipped Dr. Pepper from a glass bottle. My sister and I licked clean the cream from their chocolate hulls and sent the cookies flying out open windows, turning to watch them skip the asphalt behind us. We were on a mission: Mom needed more rocks to line her garden wall. What better way to get these additions than to adopt them from abandoned Georgia clay? We made up songs about boiled peanuts and groaned when the parents popped in cassettes of “that mountain music”.


Gardens and swimming pools were our daily backdrop, hammered dulcimers and wind chimes our soundtrack. School breaks alternated between mountain tops and seashores. Pigeon Forge provided us with stuffed black bears, toy drums and erasers that smelled like school boxes. Holidays came with a script: where, what time, food brought and brought by whom. Grilled cheese sandwiches at Cracker Barrel, off the beaten path herb gardens, old quilts, crab shacks, hurricane lamps, and dried flowers smuggled in from Canada under dirty clothes. These things and more – rocking chairs, inflatable pool toys, moon pies, afternoons crafting, the wooden biscuit bowl – pull me back to the past and root me back home.

Tell me: What ROOTS you? What GROUNDS you?


Monday, September 12, 2016

What is this "Southern" of which you speak?

The South brings to mind many things and a lot of them aren't good. We've got history here, from cobblestones and live oaks to the horrors of slavery and bloodshed. Once upon a time I was ashamed of being Southern. Everyone thinks we're backward, right? We're the ones they find to describe the tornado on the news, you know, the person who insists it sounded like hell opened up and “flung ol' Jimmy's prized cow through the back winder”. God, it embarrassed me. And then I read something that opened my eyes, a glimmer of a hint as to what it meant to be Southern. In “Writing Down the Bones”, author Natalie Goldberg tells of how in all her classes, her southern students shine. How some of them would hide their “Southerness” but it would ooze out as they stood to read their work. If you want to read Ms. Goldberg's thoughts on Southern writing, check out the sidebar. I've included a lovely, long excerpt.

That Southerness wasn't an accent. It wasn't a perceived ignorance or backward manner. No. To Ms. Goldberg, it was a poetry, a pain and joy that must, she insisted, bubble up from the dirt and the asphalt and, yes, the blood and the horror. That perspective made me rethink where I'm from and what I should do with that. What does “being Southern” mean? Does it mean I eat deep fried everything and drown my kidneys in sweet tea? Well, sure, but not all the time. Does it mean I cling to ethnocentric notions, refusing to grow, expand, and embrace? No. But it does mean I have to guard against falling into those prisons, those perceived bunkers of power.

We are a people strongly steeped in the past yet yearning for a future that is bright. Just like everyone else. We are every color, every race, and every nationality. The South isn't just the back roads and the cracked pavements of hit country songs. It's also thriving cities of immigrants and booming towns within towns that reflect the cultures of the people who have settled here. Those who have chosen the South as their home. It's red clay and Spanish moss. It's where the glimmering grace of the present is ever aware of the ghosts of the past. And trust me when I say we love our ghosts.

Understanding what it means to be Southern has been my focus this past summer. I didn't write much. I didn't do much. I simply re-calibrated my writing and my wondering brought me here. Life is a journey, so the cliché goes. But as we travel we aren't merely to assimilate property and trophies. Life is as much about looking behind as it is looking forward. Our identity isn't a destination. It's a pilgrimage of place, a constant awareness of who we are, where we came from, and where we're going. My hope is that my mining of memories and my venturing out of my comfort zone and expanding my experience will urge you to do the same. I want to learn, to grow, and, hopefully, to carry you along with me.


And if at some point you laugh or smile or nod in agreement; if you shake your head, scream “NO!”; if you try a new recipe, cook up a dinner, start a new tradition; if you can get a glimmer of your own history, and become inspired to find out what carries you along your own pilgrimage, then I guess I can say I've done my job.


Friday, September 9, 2016

On returning and celebrating

This afternoon, my husband and I will load up the car with a bag and a casserole and head up I-16 to the metro-Atlanta area where we're from. My grandmother turns 95 tomorrow and we're going to help celebrate.

This is my darling.


Ninety-five. That's almost a century of wandering this earth and gathering the dust and wonders it affords. I hope and pray that I can be healthy and happy for some 95 years. I'm aiming for 123 but the key words in this paragraph are HEALTHY and HAPPY.

My grandmother, Mawmaw, has dementia. It's a terrible, rotten thing to happen to a woman who has always been a pillar of wit, strength, grace, and beauty. Mawmaw is a writer, a poet, and I blame her for my needing to pick up pens and clack away on keyboards. Story oozed out of her. She would tell us tales of what it was like growing up in the backwoods of middle Georgia. I ate them with a spoon, sopped them up with a child's memory and, thank GOD, can still recall most of them.

Like the time her younger sister was born and her older siblings took her to play by the creek while the doctor came to "bring her a baby sister". Or when her and my Aunt Mary were asleep in their old, wood-framed house and something sifted through the window, materialized at the foot of the bed and caused my Aunt to cry out for their Mother. Mawmaw believes it was an angel. Who am I to disagree?

Mawmaw has faith like a mountain. No mustard seeds for her. She was coordinated and classy, always wearing heels until after her 4th back surgery. When she had to start wearing a back brace, Mawmaw cut blocks of fabric from her inexhaustible stash of quilting supplies to coordinate the front panel of the brace with her outfit. She's still just as beautiful to me now as she was then. Maybe even more. She's a testimony to life and family.



God, I hope I can be even half the woman she is.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Past merges with Present mingles with Future

When I was a kid, my sister and I played outside long after the street lights came on. We careened down the hill in the back yard on our bicycles – without helmets!! - just to slam on the brakes and see how far we could skid. Skinned knees and elbows were rinsed off with the water hose or dunked into the swimming pool. Chlorine and Neosporin healed everything and we wore our scabs like the war wounds of veteran heroes. Band-aids were meant to be seen and the more you brandished, the better.

I grew up in a Georgia suburb, thirty miles southeast of Atlanta. Our backyard was a haven and a stage which played host to all our imaginings. Supper was around 6pm and Braves baseball was on TV all summer long. I didn't know how lucky I was. I just assumed everyone had a swimming pool, an herb garden, and a pomegranate tree in their backyard.

Now I realize my childhood was magic. Not perfect. Magic. I stayed a kid much longer than most of my friends. Honestly, I may have never grown up. Memories of growing up Southern colors every season, every holiday, every meal. We still swim as often as we can and baseball is still the sport of summer. Even now I get excited when the first marshmallow chicks appear at Easter and I keep the candy jar filled with an ever changing gallery of colored confections, just because my mother does and grandmother did the same. And my husband, bless him, makes sure that every Christmas our tree has a strong colony of candy canes settled in its branches.

I needed a place not just for these memories but for the stories I gather now. Summer is a wonderful time to re-evaluate where you're headed in life. Even with work, I was able to take a good, long look at my writing and figure out what I wanted out of it. Fiction is my first love. I haven't given that up. But as I went through my old files, I rediscovered a lot of half told stories and half expressed memories. There were desires that cropped up and I knew I couldn't just file them away again for another 10 years without dusting them off and giving them a go.


Past merging with Present mingling into the Future. Yeah. That sounds just perfect to me. I needed an excuse to DO something with these ideas, not just peek at them every so often when I organize and say, “Oh yeah! That's where that went,” just to file it away for another indeterminate amount of time. I won't apologize for the nostalgia. I won't apologize for the frustrations. I definitely won't apologize for the content. Or the calories. This is who I am. A bit scary to put yourself out there. Scary to hang out your laundry, all wrinkles and stains and all. Oh, well. As they say: that's life. And this, well, this is mine.  


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The September Edition of the IWSG

Hi there! Welcome to the September gathering of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We gather the first Wednesday of every month to air our insecurities to our community of writers and readers and offer up support for those who need a bit of encouragement and cheering. If you'd like to learn more about the IWSG or our fearless leader Captain Alex, just click on the links. Oh, and if you STILL haven't joined us, what are you waiting for? And don't forget to visit out co-hosts. You can find that list on either of those sites linked above.

***

Summer heat is still camped over South Georgia and will stay here for at least another month. There are hints of fall in the evening, when the cicadas start to fade and the breeze carries a bit of a chill from the ocean. The nearby high school keeps us entertained by their loud football games which, thanks to them being a block away, we can hear the announcer's play by play, the cheerleaders, the band, and the ROAR of the crowd during every...single...play. Soon we'll be able to sit out in the courtyard with tea and enjoy the drum line without being carried away by mosquitoes. 

I hope summer treated you well. I hope you were able to be inspired, soak up some rest and relaxation and figure out those plot problems that may have been plaguing you at the end of May. I spent the summer on hiatus from writing and learned more about myself as a writer than I ever have while actually writing. As a tropical storm creeps up on the Georgia coast and the wind shakes the pines out my window, I have one piece of encouragement to offer on this IWSG day:

LISTEN TO YOUR VOICE AND WRITE FROM THERE. 

YOUR voice. Not that of your favorite author, not that of the most recent pop-fiction novel that will be displaced in three months or so after the film's fizzled. Listen to the deep places of your soul, that place where you walk barefoot and leave imprints in the mud. Get quite. Take the time to be silent with yourself and your writing and listen. Read it out loud. Does it sound like you? Does it sound familiar? If not, consider rewriting until it does. 

I'm not talking dialect. Dialect writing is hard to master and hard to make come across on the page as authentic. I'm talking about the way you speak to yourself, the way those around you express themselves. Who we are and what we do bleeds into our writing and, if we're lucky, comes out on the page. Maybe like me you've spent a lifetime avoiding your authentic voice but TRUST ME: you will not write one piece of truth if you don't first write from your own, unique voice. And I don't care if you don't like it. It's taken me 39 years to make peace with my Southern heritage, my Southern voice. Thirty-nine years of trying to write like the great classicists, the modern heroes and heroines of literature and genre. It took three months of not writing to have it come in, sit down, fix me a cup of tea and look me deep, deep in the eyes.

And you know what? I like what I see and I intend to let it out and share it. LET YOUR VOICE OUT, dear Friend. Come on. Let's see what you've got!

Cheers,


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Coffee sipping and courtyard cleaning

Yesterday I sipped coffee and flipped through a magazine until I just had to go outside. After our brush with Hurricane Hermine – OK, OK, Tropical Storm Hermine – the weather has been fall-like. Shh, don't tell the weather gods. It's not kosher to let Georgia get below 90* until October.

The breeze didn't come from the river. Trust me, you can tell when it does. A mix between factories and those close to the surface sewers. It wasn't coming from the Atlantic either. No salty mix of freedom and mystery. No, this was just one of those lovely breezes that stems from nowhere but blow the beards of the live oaks and make you put on a pair of shorts and running shoes and go strolling down a few blocks to the park.

Chronic pain made it a one-loop-around-the-park morning and that was just fine: I had to get back and re-pot my coffee plant. Yes. I have a coffee plant. His name is Walter and he is quite splendid. In fact, the card with growing instructions said that in 3-5 years he just may bloom and give me some beans. Probably no more than a feeble cup of espresso but still. Coffee!!

Walter, the splendid coffee plant

Anyway, before I could re-pot dear Walter, I had to clean up the mimosa strewn courtyard. Don't get excited. I'm talking about the trees. Although it would have been some kind of party to wake up to bottles of orange juice and champagne planted next to the wishbone flowers. Hermine blew around the already messy, beautiful foliage and those nasty seed pods that look like zombie Lima beans. Of course, thanks to the clouds of mosquitoes breeding in the moist courtyard undergrowth, I haven't been outside to do any cleaning since May. I guess I can't blame everything on Hermine but I'll try. I took a rake to the downed leaves, zombie beans and sticks. All the empty pots got stacked on the potting table and I even scared an adorable gecko who thought very little of my friendly advances. I swept off the small concrete slab and then had to dig around the bugs that had made homes in the last of my potting soil. Walter had better give me more than just a few, measly beans for that. There were *shudder* spiders.

It's times like these when I know I've turned into my mother. Mom is still up and out in the garden on nice mornings, coffee in hand. She starts out on the porch, sipping and bird watching. Inevitably, a weed or rose in need of a prune will lure her from the porch and there she goes, pulling and tugging, re-potting plants and re-graveling paths. In her pajamas and bare feet.


Jon laughs at my refusal to wear shoes, even to wander down the gravel and mud and broken shell lane to meet visitors who get confused by our lack of location on modern GPS. We live between two well marked, paved streets in Mid-town Savannah and yet lanes seem to be these alien lands, alternate dimensions filled with trash cans, recycle bins, and everyone's cast offs. The courtyard is usually damp and the moss is squishy. My toes like that much more than those nasty broken shells. I just smile at him and his ever present shoes, shift another pot and tell him it's in my DNA.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

August Gathering: Insecure Writer's Support Group

I'm a bit late to the party but WELCOME to the August edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. If you want to learn more click HERE! And, as always, click HERE to read the entry from, and thank, our fearless leader Captain Alex.

***

August is Summer's last hurrah. Students are heading back to school and the beach is still peppered with tourists looking for one last escape from their real world of work-a-day woes and responsibilities. I've been spending my down time reading and finishing -finally finishing! - cleaning out old files and papers. Have I done any writing? No. Still on sabbatical, but I'm getting a better handle on my writing. I've learned a lot about my writing, about my voice, style, and content. It's been an interesting process and I'm excited to get back into writing come September.

As for insecurities, the only one I can think of is in terms of presentation. Summer has allowed me some time to soul-search, to really ask myself WHY do I write and WHAT do I need to write. Not want  to write but NEED to write. That kind of question and soul-searching can send your head spinning and make your heart flutter a bit. While I'm excited to relax into authenticity, I'm a bit nervous as to the reception. I don't have a big following. Most of my friends and family don't even read my blog (even when I go the distance to post links on every social media outlet I'm a part of). Still, the minute I start this new journey, I feel they'll come out of that proverbial woodwork to see just what I might say. And, of course, when we write from memory, [Spoiler alert!] we may remember things that others don't. Or, worse, we may remember things in ways others can't.

Truthfully? I don't care. I mean, I care but...I can't care too much or I'll go back into the box I've been living in. Do I have any expectations for my return to writing? Only to hope to add more authenticity to my work, regardless of genre.

I hope you're all having a wonderful summer. I hope you slide into these next few weeks, be it returning to school or returning back to the "real" world from vacation. Enjoy your August and I'll see you all again, right here, in September!

Cheers,

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Insecure Writer's Support Group JULY Edition


Good afternoon! Today is another gathering of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. If you're interested in signing up or in reading more posts by some amazing and, yes, sometimes insecure writers, click HERE.

***

I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer so far. Here in Georgia, it's hot and humid! I haven't been doing any writing; decided to take the summer off. I'm still going through my mounds of files and papers, creating PDF files of them all. WOW! I had no idea I had so many ideas! My goal is to have them all organized on my computer by the end of August and to get back to writing come September. I write better in the fall anyway, when the wind starts to pick up and the ocean becomes grey and tempestuous. Perhaps it has something to do with what I write.

Have you ever thought about that? About weather and seasons and your writing? I have before but this year it seems to really hit home. I wrote like a fiend in April for the A-Z Challenge. May found me typing away at an old story and then the weather got hot, summer firmly rooted itself into the sandy soil, and I found myself wanting to read stories rather than create them. It's when the season starts it's subtle shift from summer to fall that my fingers start itching to type and the stories I've harbored during the summer have begun to bubble out of their holdings, wanting to be put down on the screen and page.

And why not? Summer is supposed to be a time of relaxing and enjoying oneself. No, I can't take three months off and do nothing but hang out on the beach and read Stephen King novels. I can, however, take my afternoons and my weekends and focus on enjoying stories for the sake of what they are. Stories. Words creating worlds. I've read some wonderful books so far and I'm working on my 6th of the summer. It's been a nice break from worrying about creating my own works. And I've been rethinking that for myself too. All in all, it's been a great summer so far and I'm excited to see what else I'll discover "cleaning" my mental and writing shelves.

Happy July!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

June Edition: IWSG


Wow! I was out of town over the weekend and completely forgot about the IWSG. Guess I wasn't quite ready for June to get here :) Thanks for stopping by and forgive my late posting. Thanks also to Captain Alex and all our FANTASTIC co-hosts for this month. As always, you guys ROCK!!!

***

This past month I've done more gathering than actual writing. I have a pile of folders and notebooks on my shelf that want to become books. They get shuffled and shifted each time I rearrange, each time we move. So I decided to go through them and do a bit of pruning. YIKES! I just have too many papers lying about and in a 700 square foot house, they take up precious real estate.

Each book is getting a 21st century makeover. Every paper in every folder, notebook, and binder is getting scanned, compiled into a PDF and whisked away through the ether to wind up - TA-DA! - on my new laptop AND my external hard drive.

This may not sound like a big deal to most of you but for me, it's HUGE! I LOVE paper. I've a consummate note taker. If I have the choice between taking a picture of something, typing it on my computer, or jotting it down on a scrap of napkin, I'm choosing the napkin. There's just something about the feel of ink gliding over fiber that makes my little writer heart sing. But let's face it: it's just not practical to continue hoarding file upon file especially when space is scarce. Also, I got to thinking that I need to better protect my work and, let's face it: paper is fragile.

This is definitely a HUGE task and one I'm enjoying. I'm rummaging through some old ideas and getting re-inspired. I uncovered a whole slew of outlines and summaries for the WIP I've been slowly outlining and a lot of character references I'd forgotten about. It's a good thing this rearranging. It's a good thing to be clearing out some cobwebs and getting a fresh perspective on things. And the new organization is really going to let my imagination breathe!

Maybe that's been my problem all along. My muse is suffocating under a great big pile of napkins!

TELL ME: Have you ever cleaned out your writing and rediscovered a former story, one you may have forgotten about or just needed some space from? Did the reorganization of ideas help or hinder your flow of writing??

Cheers!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Importance of Drainage Holes During an Apocalypse

Last Tuesday Savannah was visited by torrential downpours. Rumor has it people were kayaking instead of jogging and, having seen how deep the streets get when it rains, I believe it. I've also seen pictures. On the news. Seriously.

It will never be said that here in the South, we're ever at a loss as to how to have fun!

Kayaking, however, was not on my agenda. It was my off day and I intended to stay cozy and dry with a good book and a few murder mysteries on the tube. The rain kept coming down, splattering the windows and blurring my vision, narrowing my world to just a few feet past the walls. The lane was a creek and the main street a river.

The day before - which had been sunny and warm - I'd returned home from work eager to plant several new herbs we'd bought over the weekend. We have precious little space and sunshine but I just HAD to have basil, rosemary, and dill. I spent a wonderful afternoon pottering about in the dirt, primping and preening my tiny, baby plants.

This memory trickled in as the rain showers dwindled. I wondered: did I plant them securely enough in their new homes? Perhaps, I thought, as thunder rumbled in the distance, perhaps I should poke my head out and see how they're faring.

THIS is what I saw:


SOUP! Not happy little plants, dripping with nature's bountiful rain. Those plants in the pots were up to their top fronds in murky sludge. I rushed out just as it began to rain again. Every time I tried to upend the planter to drain off the water, the plants moved with it, threatening to spill over onto the ground. Thunder grumbled and heaven decide I needed a shower. A hard, pounding shower. I tried in vain to drain the water a couple more times when...

...I suddenly remembered...

...that I'd forgotten something...

...very important...

i'd forgotten to drill holes in the bottom of the planter.

(image found HERE)

In that moment of panic, my mind was clouded with getting drainage holes in the pot. I admit I wasn't very smart about it but all turned out well and I didn't lose any fingers. There may or may not have been box cutters involved....

Finally, as the rain poured and the water rose around my ankles, I calmed down and began to rationalize the situation. The smartest (and sanest) thing to do was to put the little plants in individual pots until the rain subsided and I could drill holes in the bottom where they belonged.

I went inside to take off my soggy sweater only to have the cat decide it would be a FANTASTIC time to bolt out the back door. I couldn't grab him with my muddy hands so I had to herd him back in with my foot. He didn't like it, but thankfully he backed up and let us both in out of the rain. Why cats want to rush out of doors in the most in-climate weather is beyond me. I thought they hated being wet?!?

Cat inside, dry, and slightly pissed, sweater shed and creating a puddle on the floor, I returned to what was quickly looking like a scene worthy of Genesis or Gilgamesh. The plants needed no cajoling to relocate. I scooped them out of the pool, squeezed as much water as I could from some soil, and tucked their water-logged roots into new pots. Pots with drainage holes.

* Aside: WHY, Home Depot, do you sell pots WITHOUT drainage holes????? *

I let the new, organic soil swimming pool gather more water and went inside. A warm shower, fuzzy socks, and cup of tea later I was rather proud of my bravery. I could have been struck by lightening (doubtful) or washed under the wall into the lane (highly doubtful)!

The next day, the sun came out and the world dripped awake. I spent the morning wringing out soil, spreading it on the potting table, and letting it drain. The pot was dumped of the murky soup and I hope all that organic goodness does the weeds under the potting table some good. I turned the pot over and LO! There were little circles that, if poked with a nail, popped right out and gave the pot the most lovely row of drainage holes.

Insert grumbling and feelings of stupidity and inadequacy here.

So far, so good. The plants like their new home and appear to be thriving:


The moral of this story, kids, is to always make sure your pots have drainage holes in them BEFORE you load them up with soil and plants. Unless you enjoy wading in natural ponds to squeeze water out of handfuls of dirt. I wonder if all that organic goods I soaked up through my feet will make me grow any taller? At any rate, I deserve an award for "Plant Mom of the Year"...

...or at least "Plant Mom Willing to Risk Her Life in Global Flood Apocalypse to Make Sure Baby Plants are Safe".

Yeah. There's got to be an award for that.