This book has been in my library for quite a while, so I thought that in October is the perfect time to finally read it. It is Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales. It contains about 200 stories, many of them those which one hears about during childhood years. I already spotted a significant difference in The Frog Prince. As a child, I was told that the king’s daughter kisses the frog, and it turns into a prince. Well, in this case, she was very obnoxious and full of herself, and threw the poor frog against the wall, and it turn into a prince, which she married. What a crock, or should I say croak. Well, I am interested in reading it to see how many differences I find.
October is finally here, and with it, a few cooler days. We will have our first frost by Sunday, according to the local meteorologist. Those little birds were right once more. Nature knows best. If we would listen to it, we would know best too. I will be collecting what’s left on the veggie garden before Sunday, green or not. The Halloween vibes are louder this year in the stores. There are a few monstrosities on the shelves as well as on the food isles, pricing continues to go up. This weekend we will be cleaning up tons of leaves and branches left by the remnants of Ian. Thank God that is the only thing we have to clean up, because my heart truly goes out after the victims of its devastation in Florida.
Once October arrives, one tends to think of frightful things and pumpkins; it has been engrained in our culture for long. One of my favorite movies, if not my favorite, is Silver Bullet (Stephen King). When we bought this farmhouse, I found an old wooden baseball bat amongst the tall weeds. I cleaned it up and kept it, but I immediately thought of “the peacemaker” in that movie and named it so.
We got another dose of October fright when we went to pick up the pellet fuel. The increase in pricing will translate to $100 more per month ($2 more per bag) on a ton (50 bags/2,000 lbs.). We use about a ton per month. Is this type of heating worth it anymore at that increase? The electric companies are saying that the average customer will see the electric bill go up by $40-$60 a month, depending on who you listen to in the news. Will pellet stove fans revert to electric heating as a primary source? I think a wood stove or fireplace is the best choice, that is, if you chop your own wood. A cord of wood used to be around $250 on the cheap side of things, not anymore.
There are lovely monstrosities as well. A week or so ago, I found the biggest mushroom I have ever seen. It was bigger than my hand, so I had to take a picture and send it to my sister.
All this accelerated increase on the cost of living, a monstrosity, has me thinking and evaluating the way we do things around here, and looking for better alternatives. It looks like the whole nation is about to wake up and reevaluate its path, its core values, and at the home level, the paths we have taken so far, and the need to ponder and redirect our lifestyle.
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.
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.
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.
I guess this post is inspired by the change in weather and the crisp air …
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”