Finding Perspective In These Difficult Times

I found this very interesting, and wish to share it as well. From one of my favorite blogs – My Good Time Stories.

My Good Time Stories

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The Corona Virus has brought the world to a virtual standstill. The things that people once enjoyed doing and the places they loved to travel has all come to an abrupt halt. The virus has affected the lifestyle of every individual and family. It’s a mess out there now. It can sometimes be hard to discern between what’s a real threat and what is just simple panic and hysteria.

Consider this; did any of us think, just a few short months ago, that we would all be required to wear masks, keep a six-foot distance between each other, be told not to touch, shake hands, or even hug each other for fear of spreading this dastardly virus? Did you ever fathom the thought that businesses, gyms, theaters, salons, eateries, and other establishments would be closed and millions upon millions would be out of work? And who ever heard of…

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Of Mind and Heart

During this time, like many of you, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect and do many other things at home, alongside my husband, who is at home as well. For some reason, my mind has been scattered a bit, and my attention far away, not conducive to writing my next novel. It is a mixture of being sad, foggy, and in a cloud, that is how I can describe it best. It is hard not to pay attention to the news, and what I hear does not help my mind and heart. I have read some posts, and many of you are dealing with similar feelings, and trying to cope with your situations.

Writing my novel has not been easy, and I have been writing sporadically, but mostly, have put it aside, only to visit it again when it crosses my mind, almost calling me. For now, I have joined my husband in many projects around the home, some of which have been put aside for lack of time before. We have been working on clearing out bushes, trees, chopping branches, burning brush, taking out stumps, making pathways, and tackling the hard chores around this place. We still have a lot of work to do outside, and this time has been good for that. It has help both of us, I think, to feel a bit more centered, and productive as well. We have painted, planted seeds, made new gardening beds, made new garden areas, and also enjoyed the good weather days. Outside chores have been therapeutic.

My husband is not used to being at home, so he has dived in a plethora of projects to keep himself busy. Although these are sad times, we are trying to make the best of it, in our own way, as many of you are doing as well. I took my camera and took pictures around, of some work done, of little discoveries, of trees and old bottles … . For those of you who miss the old farmhouse posts. Nancy, this one is for you.

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We started clearing out brush to make walking trails around. That is a big project in itself, but it got started. Eventually we will frame an entrance that will have this message – Keep on the path of the Lord.

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Started a circle garden and planted all kinds of colorful flowers seeds. Some of them are already showing up. We are going to have a couple of frost mornings so I will have to cover all seeds on Friday. Hope they make it. I have yet to make another circle garden next to this one, It will be planted with sunflowers.

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A fairy garden has been completed, although I am sure that I will add more faeries to it, and other critters. It is an area with moss and where all kinds of critters are welcomed. I placed water dishes for frogs, bunnies … When we bought the place, this part was covered in weeds and bushes, and there was a carcass of a dog or coyote in it. We uncovered a beautiful mossy area, and a circle of concrete that was probably the area where patio furniture was placed at some point. We made it into a grill/patio area, and the perfect spot for a fairy garden.

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The last box for the veggie garden was built and painted. All seeds have been planted for this year. This area was also covered in bushes and overgrown weeds/grass. Little by little we have been getting rid of the untangled mess, and clearing out the place. The large pine tree in the background was covered as well, and now it is free and happy. It is as old/older than this place, over 110 years.

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This used to be a tiny rose bush that was being choked to death by overgrown weeds. We uncovered it, and it has grown into a beautiful rosebush. We had to build a trellis for it.

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The old well got a coat of paint and top. It used to be covered by bushes and grass, you could not see it. The entire place was hiding under a morass of overgrown flora. We never got to paint it after fixing it. And so did the old shed door. It was rusty, with a door hanging to one side. Amazingly, the inside has been preserved; it is the old log and mortar construction that eventually was covered with aluminum siding. As old as the home is.

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We rescued this holly tree. We found it growing in the back, under a mess. We cleaned around it, and hopefully it will do a bit better now. We might have to cut those two trees next to it.

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Trees around here seem to grow in two’s and three’s.

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This area was the driveway, and it was also covered in bushes and weeds. The grass was so tall that it hit my knees. A couple of weeks ago, we managed to clear out the last two stumps. These were chopped and burned, along with many other branches.

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Slowly, many garden areas are emerging. I have found single plantings of what might have been a long lost garden, and I have replanted some of them. This hydrangea was the inspiration for the blue paint we used on the place. There was no garden. I have more plans for other areas, little by little. There is a perfect spot for a rain garden.

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I took this picture last year. The garden was starting to come alive. This year it has come back stronger. This area will have stone where the wood panel is for now.

Here are a few before pictures of the area. I had forgotten the nightmare. On another post, I will share some more. I don’t want this post to run too long.

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The old shed as it was before, at the point of being cleared of weeds. We had to make a pathway to get to it.

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Here is the driveway as it used to be. You could not even see the road.

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The old well in the process of being cleaned up. All around the place the grass was brown; now it is green and even feels like carpet under your feet.

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Little by little we uncovered the place, house and everything else. In this picture you can see a bit of white if you follow the path my husband carved to the right. That was the shed before it was cleaned up.

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The old farmhouse starts to emerge. There was even a concrete pathway. It has been tons of work but rewarding.

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This picture was taken two years ago around Christmas time.

I hope this hasn’t been too boring or too long. It has been quite a journey, a labor of love by two people. We still have tons more work to do. The old roof was coated and painted, but we need to install a new one. The interior was finished. I will continue with the before and after of the place on a couple more blog posts. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these pictures of the progress so far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflection

The stay at home order here in Virginia extends until June 10, so far. There is no doubt that this time has been sad and challenging for so many people in so many ways. I don’t think that there is anyone on this planet that has not been touched in one way or another, whether health, grief, loss, financial issues, isolation … so many ways. It has also been a time to pause and reflect on many things. Also, a time for enlightenment in so many levels. For me, I have seen so many blessings in my life, and also on the outside world. My eyes have been keened; it is the only way I can describe it.

I have always been grateful to God for so many things in my life; however, I have discovered many more during this time. I have also seen another side of humanity, a better side, one that I thought had been lost. My faith in it has been renewed. We have learned to appreciate everyday little details, things that we have been taking for granted – touch, company, face to face conversations, gatherings, health, outings, the free outdoors, the freedom to walk around without reserve, and normalcy, whatever that was for you. Just think of the “joy” and/or relief you feel when you see that roll of toilet paper at your grocery store. It may sound as a joke, but doesn’t that feel different now? Our routine, our life has been halted and flipped upside down. Thanks to that, most of us have been able to see better. We appreciate more the work and dedication of so many people, the ones that out of the sudden we call “essential workers.” If we ever looked down on many of those jobs, now we see how meaningful these occupations were. These people were always there, but now we see them better. Now, we call them heroes. Now, we can see better.

Yes, we also have the people who are still thinking about “me, myself, and I” – their modus operandi. The ones who protest about having to spend time at home for over a month. The ones who say, “I’d rather die from Covid-19 than live like this” (yes, someone actually said that when interviewed on the local news). The ones who say, “I already got it; I don’t have to worry.” The ones who cannot stay just a few more weeks home, social distancing, because they are not having “fun.” I think that most people are on the same page, but for those who are not, it has never been about you, or your life, or your body/health, or your fun. It is about the other, your parents, your siblings, your kids, your grandparents, your neighbors … even your pets. You are staying home for them, not for you.

Our first responders, doctor, nurses, aides, grocery store employees, gas attendants … are as human as we are. They get tired, they get hungry, they get sad, they cry, their bodies hurt from those long hours, their hearts feel; they too, have human limits. Don’t take them for granted. They have made their calling a priority at this time. They don’t have to be there for you or me, but they have chosen to do so.

It is easy to yell and protest about “my rights,” but not so easy to see the thin line that exists between our rights and those of our neighbor. It has never been about you, or me.

All Creation

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With everything that is going on these days, pandemic news, and all, sometimes one has to look elsewhere and see. This is one of my favorite psalms, and I find it beautiful, so I decided to share its beauty here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do because it is truly lovely and sweet.

 

Psalm 148 (All creation summoned to praise)

I

Praise the Lord from the heavens;

give praise in the heights.

Praise him, all you angels;

give praise all you hosts.

Praise him, sun and moon;

give praise all shining stars.

Praise him, highest heavens,

you waters above the heavens.

Let them all praise the Lord’s name;

for the Lord commanded and they were created,

Assigned them duties forever,

gave them tasks that will never change.

II

Praise the Lord from the earth,

you sea monsters and all deep waters;

You lightning and hail, snow and clouds,

storm winds that fulfill his command;

You mountains and all hills,

fruit trees and all cedars;

You animals wild and tame,

you creatures that crawl and fly;

You kings of the earth and all peoples,

princes and all who govern on earth;

Young men and women too,

old and young alike.

Let them all praise the Lord’s name,

for his name alone is exalted,

majestic above earth and heaven.

The Lord has lifted high the horn of his people;

to the glory of all the faithful,

of Israel, the people near to their God.

Hallelujah!

 

 

 

 

My Common Thread, Good vs. Evil

A common thread in my novels is the theme of good vs. evil/the divine/angels/devil. This topic has fascinated me since I can remember. I don’t know if it has to do with my Catholic upbringing by a very strict grandmother or not, but the curiosity about this topic has always been present. I have regretted not studying theology instead; I think it would have been more purposeful. Aside from my Christian faith, I’ve asked myself, why this interest? Other than it responds to human nature – the search for a being bigger than ourselves, and by default the archenemy, the yin and yang/positive and negative, or the dichotomy of the natural world, I don’t have a straight answer.

At this point, I can comfortably write in this way, and I assume future works will continue to reflect this interest. It permeates heavily through Moonlit Valley, The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy, and in a different way in The Five-dollar Miracle. I have been open to know myself a bit more as a writer, and I don’t see myself writing without this underlying theme. I enjoy reading a variety of genres, which is why this question arises. I’ve heard this advice over and over – Find your niche. I guess I’ve found mine.

Lady Moon

As I was ready to go to bed last night, I glanced outside and saw this beautiful sight. I have been mesmerized by the moon since I was a little girl. My mom says that as a toddler, I used to point at it and call her lulu (for luna – moon in Spanish). I have looked at the moon countless of times since then, and each time I find it more beautiful. I hope we never damage it, as our species does with everything else. Here are a few pictures of the moon as I saw it last night. These were taken from inside because I was already in my PJs and ready to sleep but I could not pass the opportunity of taking just a few pictures of this beauty.

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Isn’t she gorgeous?

A Crow’s Tale

If you have been following this blog for a while, you know that I love crows and ravens. I think they are underappreciated beautiful birds. These birds have been misrepresented for many years, centuries, and they have been given a negative label, used in horror movies, Halloween spooky props, and associated with evil and darkness. Poor little ones. They are nature’s creatures just as a white dove is, or a puppy, or even a regal peacock. Their song is mocked, called a screech; what is up with that? Have you ever heard a peacock sing or a fox calling?

I am happy to have many crows in my neck of the woods, and I love to see them hopping (yes, they hop like little bunnies) around. One thing that is particular about them is that I see them walking around in the light rain like there is nothing going on, while other birds tend to wait until the sun comes back out and the rain stops. I have been on a birdie binge, and I thought about including these pictures on the previous bird watching posts, but decided to give the crow its own spotlight. I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as I did. For the love of crows.

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My favorite. Walking around after the rain, all wet. Pardon the focus, and look at that stride.

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Hope you enjoyed these.

 

 

 

 

 

40 Tips from Best Selling Authors

Revisiting one of my very old posts on this blog. Maybe it could be of inspiration to someone struggling in their writing career. It happens different for everybody as you can tell. There is no magic formula other than “keep at it.”

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Revisited – I wrote this sometime ago and decided to revisit it as I think these tips from best selling authors are worth reading once more.

As a writer, I love to hear what other writers have to say about writing, especially, best-selling authors.  I sat down, coffee at hand, and listened to many interviews of best-selling authors.  Many hours later, a list of their recommendations was born.  The following list is full of tips, recommendations, and inspiration, from best-selling authors to aspiring writers, although these authors have been published the traditional way, and we all know that the eBook is shaking the publishing world; however, these tips are worth considering.

1.  Write, Write, Write.

2.  Accept rejection.

3.  Send hundreds of queries.

4.  Don’t take no for an answer; keep at it.  Eventually you will get a yes.

5.  It took Janet Evanovich 10 years of trying to get…

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Beauty Remains

Among all the chaos during these challenging times, beauty remains untouched, nature prevails in its own way as it has always been since the beginning of time. When we are feeling sad, scared, hopeless, and searching for a silver lining, God blesses us in many ways, even when we cannot see it right away or understand it.

I have been taking pictures of birds from time to time, and many times, I have shared a few on this blog. Birds are beautiful. I took a few pictures the other day, and these were taken from the inside of my home and through window glass, so they are not perfect. However, looking at them I saw something I had not seen before. I looked at those bird’s faces and expressions, and there I saw a miracle, I saw beauty, but more than that, I saw innocence, purity, hope; I saw the love of God. Here, I share a few with you.

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I hope you enjoy these as much as I have.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or stow away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. (Mathew 6:26)

I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are Mine. (Psalm 50:11)

 

 

Silent Witnesses

I have a true love for things of the past, antique or vintage items that reflect the pass of time. Rustic, old things that have been through many seasons and survived, that have been in many hands. I don’t know where this love affair comes from, but it has been there always, since I can remember.

On one occasion, someone who visited me for the first time noticed that most of my possessions are old/antique, and asked me about it. I joked replying, “If it is new, I don’t want it.” This amore extends to old books; I find them hard to resist. Everything is so beautiful and enticing about old books – the scent, the natural variation in color, the cover, the typography … I have an affinity for old journals, not only the writing type, but the record keeping as well. What I love about old journals is how well made these were – beautiful covers, quality pages, carefully selected fonts, and rich colorful patterned interior covers, among other attributes. Everything about these journals was done with such careful detail and quality that these are still around today. Here’s an example. The cover seems a corduroy type moss green fabric and oxblood leather trimmed in gold. You can’t find this workmanship quality these days. The interior is beautiful as well.

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Here are a few other examples; notice the small details, the lettering, the grain, the rich colors …

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These were everyday items used in households and businesses, and these were gorgeous, imagine that. Old writing paraphernalia calls my name as well, especially old pens and pencils, some of which I have shared on this blog. I cannot help but melt at the sight of an old desk and chairs. My love for old rulers is obvious throughout my home. Some people believe that one should not bring antiques to one’s home because they have been imprinted with the energy of previous owners, positive or negative, or even to have ghosts attached. If that was the case, I would have an army living with me.

I find beauty and joy while looking at these old things, and have no desire for “the new” unless it happens to be a well made reproduction of an antique piece. I enjoy technology and appreciate the value of some new things, mostly utilitarian, but when new is not needed/required, for me, old is better. Sometimes, I wish I could see the past of these objects of my affection, their previous “lives” in as many settings these have been throughout the decades, and even centuries. To see their stories, to have a glimpse of the many families these have belong to, and the circumstances in which these passed through time. These are like silent characters whose stories are not told – a scuff, a broken piece restored at one point, a distinctive mark … It all speaks of the people around these objects, their lives, even their dreams, in many circumstances. Imagine all the stories these would reveal to a writer. Through the miracle of time, new things become old and new stories are written around them. These things become silent witnesses of time.