When Birds Depart

Photo by M.A.D.

I’ve been noticing that most of the birds around here are gone. We enjoy a variety of birds during spring and summer, and lately, I have been missing their songs and chirpings. For some reason, this departure seems earlier than usual to me, and I am wondering if this will translate into an early winter for us. Nature knows best, and it certainly has been quiet around here, except for the crows and night critters, which are very loud. The Katydids are gone for sure. I enjoy their songs every late summer, and surely miss it.

This year, we are preparing earlier than usual, getting things ready for the cold weather. Winter will certainly be more expensive this year, and we have to make some adjustments. The price of heat pellets has gone up about $2.00 more per bag. There are 50 bags to a ton, and we go through 3-4 tons a winter depending on how cold it is, and how long the cold temperatures last. One winter we went through 5 tons. It was an early winter that lasted longer. The energy companies are already letting customers know of their increase. Budgets will have to be adjusted and readjusted more than once to accommodate a cost increase on pretty much everything. Non-essentials will be eliminated, and essentials will be monitored well. Instead of value for the money, value per use will be more important. It will be an experience for the new generations, a memory trigger for older ones. Seasons come and go in nature and in life. Every season has its worries, but it also has its blessings. Let’s focus on the later. Focusing on the blessings certainly changes perspective and balance expectations.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:”

Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV

Spatial Disorientation

Photo by M.A.D.

We hope for fairness and constancy in life, but many times during our journey, we find ourselves on the opposite side of it, and most likely, not knowing up from down, and feeling that life has handed us the worst card, feeling sort of a spatial disorientation that numbs our senses and leaves us without a sense of direction, and many other feelings and emotions we rather not experience.

“It is not fair,” accompanies the anger and disillusion. During that time, how can we look up when we don’t even know where up is? Our compass, our radar, is not working properly. Everything might seem out of place in life, foggy, distant … It is hard to make sense of it all or make intelligent decisions. However, there is always a constant, one thing that remains the same when we don’t know our up from down, and that is the knowledge that help comes from above, wherever that might be. In an upside-down situation, help is a prayer away, and we don’t need to know our orientation because it is a matter of faith, and faith has no limits, no boundaries; spatial rules don’t apply here. When you feel that you have been handed your worst card in life, start by looking up, no matter if you don’t know your up from your down. All you need is a little bit of faith as your compass, and let God, the pilot, take you out of the storm and bring you to a safe place.

I will turn the darkness into light before them.

Isaiah 42:16

Autumn Vibes

At the time of this writing, it is nine days until the first day of Autumn. I am already welcoming the season and enjoying many of its sights. Soon I will enjoy its colors. We had our first temperature change in the upper 50s last night, and today there is a crisp in the air. The only thing I am not looking forward is the soon to arrive in waves, clouds of ladybug-look-alike Asian beetles that will cover the area. It is one thing that I truly dislike about living here. The process should take about 1-2 weeks depending on the weather. In the meantime, I will enjoy the weather transition and all the blessings that a new season brings – the ongoing song of excited crows, oranges, reds, yellows, all kinds of crimson … unexpected critters, autumn candy, hearty meals, darker nights, and the magic of another season.

Ghostly Lines

I guess this post is inspired by the change in weather and the crisp air …

Photo by M.A.D.

As a writer, I am attuned to inspiration, and it can come from anywhere, anytime, anyplace. An overheard conversation between strangers, a dream, headlines, a person, and sometimes, as lines that pop up in my mind out of nowhere. I call these ghostly lines because these have no context or previous reference, just appear. It may be a phrase, one word, a brief image that suddenly comes, or a banner of words. If there is pen and paper nearby, I immediately make a notation; if not, I make a point to remember as best as I can. Sometimes I do, sometimes I do not. I keep these words or images filed in a little green box for future use. I figure, this came to me for a reason.

For example, once a brief image of a well-dressed young woman from another era suddenly appeared in my mind, and she was saying to someone, “Even the poor have gardens.” I briefly wrote the scene and the line and filed it in my green box. This time, I was in my car, my husband was driving, so I was able to take out a notebook I keep inside my bag and wrote it down. It didn’t make sense at the moment.

Do not ignore your random thoughts and ideas. Those may come suddenly and without reason. Write those because you might be able to use them one day. These might inspire a story, a chapter, or even the ending of a story, you never know. Take these ideas for what they are – useful random bits and pieces of inspiration. Never underestimate the power of your pen.

Writer, Don’t Take your Words for Granted

Photo by M.A.D.

Most people I have talked with seem to misunderstand what a writer does. Either they think that words are cheap a dozen or that writing a story is easy. A common suggestion is, “Why don’t you write about this or that?” As writers, we tend to draw inspiration from many places, but inspiration is all it is. The original idea must mean something, entice the pen, allure us, arouse our curiosity in order to proceed into the crafting of a story. Sometimes, we agonize over a character, a chapter, or even a single word. Although these suggestions might be well intended, I compare it to asking a farmer how many acres he/she has; you just don’t go there. It is like me asking you how much money is in your bank account.

For some, writing a book is all about money, for others, about fame and recognition, but for a true story lover, it is about everything. That might be hard to explain. If you have ever had an encounter with writer’s block, you know how soul-sucking it is, and how debilitating it is to the mind of a writer. A torment that ink and paper cannot cure. Only the return of the missing word can alleviate the tormented heart and soul of the afflicted writer. There is no time or expectation, only hope and desire. It is a mystery of mysteries, a black hole that consumes words, pen, and writer, for time does not exist anymore, only days without words, empty pages, a crusty dried pen, and innumerable cups of coffee. Days come and go blending into one another, a timeless punishment by the muse who refuses to sprinkle the miraculous ink that will cure the ailment. Until one day … And until then, making peace with writer’s block is a sensible solution.

Looking Up to God

Photo by M.A.D.

Have you ever felt so discouraged, disenchanted, challenged to your maximum breaking point, and ready to quit it all? I believe that at one point, every one of us will confront “the big test” of life, and if you haven’t, then count your blessings because these are many. It doesn’t matter how responsible, good person, perfectionist, excellent planner … you are, one day your challenge will come. It is only designed to make you better, to teach you, if you are willing to learn, to show you, if you are receptive, to open your eyes, if you want to see. However, when human strength and courage doesn’t match your hope, look up to God, and accept the help that is already there, waiting for you to extend your hand and grab it. God will see you through; He will help you conquer your challenge.

I once heard a speaker say, “It is not over till’ you quit.” “It is as you will it.” I believe it is so, but when my human strength fails or doesn’t seem enough, there is peace in knowing that the one who made me stands beside me.

I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.

Jeremiah 1:5

Brick by Brick

The work around this farmhouse continues; there is something to add to the list always. Not too long ago, we removed bricks that were in the front garden. When we got rid of the kitchen chimney, we reused those bricks. When we were able to work on that garden area again, we took them out and set them aside to be used elsewhere. We used a few of them in the faerie garden and the new garden next to it. The bricks replaced old bent wood that was serving as a border. The old wood was used as border on the trails my husband is slowly developing in the back area. My husband decided to make a chimenea with the rest of the bricks. It will be great for the sitting area during chilly days. It also serves as a cooking option if power goes down for long. The important thing is that these lovely old bricks that date to 1910 at least, if not older, were not wasted.

Chimenea, and brick border in the background garden.

One of my easy projects was to have Morning Glory grow by the side entrance and wrap itself around the handrail. I love the look of Morning Glory in pictures and paintings of cottages, so I wanted to recreate the look somehow.

I planted the seeds in pots. Hopefully, the plant will keep blooming and extending. In the evening the flowers look like candy when closed.
It was a heavy-fog morning today, and these were all over the ground. It looks web-lace-tissue like. I don’t know what they are, certainly not spider webs. These disappear once the sun comes out and heats the surface.
A bunch of these tiny yellow birds were around a few weeks ago. I have seen all-yellow tiny ones before but not these with the black markings.

It looks like the garden is starting to prepare for a new season, and so am I; soon, everything will go to rest for a while.

The Crossroad

Photo by M.A.D.

One of the joys of living is not being able to tell the future. In that sense, today is the most important day of one’s life. People live and die, and whatever they live in between, that “life road” is different for everyone, even for the most dedicated and perfectionist planner. Life doesn’t give you guarantees but it may give you surprises, good and bad. How we interpret and respond to those surprises will determine the road we will take when in a crossroad. Some people go through more challenging times than other people, but no matter who you are, at least one time in your life you will be standing at a crossroad. Sometimes, the options are more generous and better than other times; however, there are times when none of the perceived options feel right.

When going left or right doesn’t seem to make sense, there is always a third road. It is the one you make when you don’t like the options. It is like leaving the paved highway and cutting through the tall grass to get to the other side. It might be rough, full of weeds and stones, and you might even encounter a few snakes here and there; however, it will be the right road taken, that is, for you, because you will pave that road with every step you take and with every lesson along the way. In the end, the solution was part of the journey. “You have arrived.”

Book Sales – Discouragement or Passion Builder?

Photo by M.A.D.

Writing and publishing a book does not result in immediate sales. If you are an independent writer, you know that. For most writers, the treasure chest doesn’t open wide enough, and if the only motive is to make a significant amount of money, a dose of reality can knock down your pen. Expectations and motive when writing and publishing a book will determine the level of discouragement when sales do not materialize soon enough. The definition of success will also correlate to those two. Do you consider a success writing and publishing the book (s) or will a lack of sales point towards failure? Again, motive and expectations will determine how a writer views his/her success or failure at the craft, and how this will influence future works.

For many writers, absence of sales is enough to discourage them, hence why many never publish again. Money or recognition was a strong motivator, maybe the only one. In the absence of it, writing does not make sense anymore because it is not profitable. Other writers view the craft as a venue to tell a story, to inspire others, and even as an outlet for their mental and emotional health and enjoyment. For this group, money becomes secondary and not a goal. These are the writers that have been writing for many years and keep at it, even when monetary rewards elude them. Their passion for writing supercedes any monetary value or desire for fame and recognition.

In a now very saturated market, those who remain have realized and understood a bigger why, and in the process defined their own success. In that sense, book sales become a sickle and a passion builder.

On Home and Country, One Day at a Time

Photo by M.A.D.

When I feel that my life is lacking balance in a certain area, I feel out of control; I think most people do. When a bad or out of the ordinary situation happens, people find themselves off-balance, in fear, and experiencing many other emotions. Most of us deal with the situation as best as we can, everyone in their own way. The repercussions throughout the many areas of life, sometimes leave you numb or in shock for a while, paralyzed, fearful … But there is a time after, when it feels as if a bit of sunshine is coming through the cracks. It is then when we can take control and keep living. The current state of affairs worldwide might leave people feeling afraid and hopeless. Unfortunately, no one is going to take care of our “house,” and no one is going to fix it for us. One has to find and create balance, whether one finds it through faith or not. It is up to me to keep on living and tend to my “house.”

Every person is dealt different cards, some people have to deal with very bad situations, many from infancy. For those people, balance might sound different, and they must fight for it, many times, throughout their whole lives. It can only be done one day at a time, but it can be done. Many times, we are sent an angel here on Earth, a person that makes a significant difference in our moment of need.

I hear about inflation every day, and how bad the economy is, and I see so many local businesses shutting down. I see the almost empty shopping carts at the supermarket, the stress in people’s faces. At the same time, I see the kind, and the giving, and the good existing alongside the bad. There is nothing I can do about many of these things except the things that are in my immediate control – adjust my budget, grow food, shop less or tweak a grocery list, clean up my pantry and freezer by using what I have instead of letting it go bad, donate to my local food pantry, pray, help someone I might be able to help … and so much more. We all can do something tangible (and spiritual) one day at a time, and that is how we take back control, how we tend to our house and country, how we find our balance points, and how we keep our spirits up. Do your own Declaration of Days. One day at a time.

Love and Light.