Stories in tombstones

Cemetery markers

When I visit in the eastern part of the country, I love to visit old cemeteries. So many old stories are contained in the family plots!

This one interested me, in that all of the gravestones seemed to be tightly contained behind a walled barrier, as though saying, this is our plot, all ours, and don’t you intrude.

It reminded me of some Southern civil war cemeteries where the Southerners were buried in one section of the park, and the Northern “intruders” were buried in another.

It seems that even in death, it is difficult for some folks to acknowledge that we are more alike than different.

The only difference between a rut and a grave
are the dimensions.

~Ellen Glasgow~

 

 

Always present

Contrails in the sky

They crisscross the sky like a gigantic tic-tac-toe game, the contrails of the jets that are too high to see, but there just the same. Because the Verde Valley is right on the fly way, we get traffic from Phoenix’s Sky Harbor to points west such as Los Angeles and points east such as Chicago. That’s a lot of planes!

Although their absence was striking during the once-in-a-lifetime shutdown of all air traffic after the 9-11 tragedy, we don’t often look up and notice contrails. They are just there, visible proof of our busyness as individuals and our affluence as a nation.

Do we take the same approach with the loved ones in our life? Accepted in their continual presence, only noticed and missed when they are absent. Perhaps we need to appreciate more and take for granted less!

Mi taku oyasin
[translation: We are all related.]
~Lakota Sioux saying~

 

 

Alive and Well in the Desert

Alive in the desert

I have a fascination with lichen, perhaps because it is so tenacious and tough. It thrives where there are few nutrients, and in the desert, where there is little moisture as well.

For example, notice this desert lichen, a little crackly about the edges, but still hanging in there.

It is hard to predict where life will take root, and how it will thrive under the most unexpected circumstances.

It’s like that for us, too. There is a vast difference between what we want versus what we need in order to build a life for ourselves. It is often not what we choose, but what we are given that allows us to grow into what we were meant to be.

~For every problem there is a solution
which is simple, clean,
and wrong.

~Henry Louis Mencken~

 

In the Moon of Strawberries

Picture of double rainbow over Sedona, AZ

What is interesting about double rainbows, like this one I caught over Sedona, Arizona, is that the second rainbow is reversed. It starts with red and progresses to violet on the other side. The second is also softer in hue, and very rare. They just don’t occur frequently.

The second rainbow reminds me of quiet people, those shy individuals who don’t choose to speak up often. When they do reveal their inner selves–wow, so amazing. Worth the wait!

~When you are beside me my heart sings.
A branch it is, dancing before the Wind Spirit
in the moon of strawberries.~

~Objiway love song~

 

Accepting the inevitable

T-P the house

Can you just sense the sinuous curl in the paper as it drifts from the trees?

It was breezy the day I took this picture, (and no, I was neither participant nor recipient!) and I shared for a moment in the feeling of exuberance the streamers portrayed.

Then I thought about what I’d do if this were my house. Those trees are tall and there is no way I’d be climbing a tall ladder in the windy weather to retrieve the strands. I could pull on the rolls, but I am sure they would obligingly break at the nearest perforation–that’s how they are designed.

I could find the kids that did it, and persuade them not to ever, ever do it again. I could wait for my own teenagers to grow up so they wouldn’t encourage it.

OR, I could just laugh and wave as cars drove past.

We’ve all been there, in moments we’d rather forget and can’t undo, and wished we were a million miles away from, and aren’t. Sometimes the only thing to do is accept the situation–and pray for rain!

~Each day brings its own gifts.~
~Marcus Aurelius~

 

 

 

Book Review: Dawn McKenna – Forgotten Coast Florida Mystery Series

The forgotten coast series Dawn McKennaBecause I write mysteries that strongly identify with place, I am on the alert for other authors that do the same thing. The best I’ve found recently is the author of the Forgotten Coast Florida Suspense Series. I’d like to give a shout-out to Dawn McKenna!

For example, here is a selection from the beginning of LOW TIDE: “The seagulls bounced around him, lighting just long enough to snatch up the pieces of bread, then hovering in the air, wings whipping, to wait for more…To his mind, it was one of the few places left that actually felt like Florida, with its century-old brick and clapboard shops and houses, the marina filled with shrimp and oyster boats and people who couldn’t care less about Disney World.”

Ms. McKenna takes an interesting approach to her series, in that the first four books take the time you rarely have with a mystery series to introduce you to a unique set of characters who live on the Florida coast, a romance that delights with its unfolding, and enough suspense to survive a hurricane!

You can buy each of the first four books of the series, LOW TIDE, RIPTIDE, WHAT WASHES UP, and LANDFALL separately. But if you’re like me, you’ll be hooked after the first one. Save yourself some money and buy the set.

Writing teacher Donald Maass in THE EMOTIONAL CRAFT OF FICTION says the way to pull readers into your writing is to engage them emotionally. Ms. McKenna does just that.

Highly recommended!

Stairway to the stars

Stairway

Whenever I go touring historical houses, I always head for the kitchen. There I will find where the real work was done, and where the folks that did it hung out.

Although this Southern mansion had an elaborate, curving, walnut-carved balustrade in the front of the house, this simple staircase in back, divided for male and female servants, seemed more honest to me. More edgy, if you will.

Sweetie, if you’re not living on the edge,
then you’re just taking up space.
~Florynce Kennedy,
feminist, political activist~ 

Crafting the perfect family

The perfect family portrait

I visited a quilting show recently, with beautiful, painstakingly crafted bed covers hung on the walls. But among the more modest displays, I discovered these three individuals.

It’s hard to craft a perfect family, but this genius sewer came close. The mother is singing, the father is smiling, and the infant is tucked in safe and secure between them. I like that.

Think of what a better place it would be if we all
–the whole world—had cookies and milk
about three o’clock every afternoon
and then lay down on our blankets
for a nap.

~Robert Fulgham~

Still standing

I love old doors! When I found these two in an ancient house, I was hooked. They have weathered time and hardship and still are standing with a special beauty all their own. They remind me of family.

My sister and I have had our differences over the years, and our moments of joy together. But as we grow older, it is our shared history that becomes especially precious to me. Just like these old doors.

We know what it’s like to experience South Dakota thunderstorms, and steal apples from the neighbor’s orchard, and make snow angels in chest-high blizzard snow. No one else in my life, no one else in the world, can do that with me.

Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is silver and the other gold.
~Girl Scout singing round~

 

Doing the hard thing

Lake in New Hampshire

In the summer the sun rises early in New Hampshire. I knew there would be something to see if I set the alarm and rose to greet it. But I’d flown across country the day before and spent a good part of the evening catching up with family happenings.

I didn’t want to get up. Even so, I stumbled out and discovered this.

Beauty will sometimes allow us to share in its fullness if we do the hard thing, the one thing we really would rather not do. The reward becomes worth the effort.

We live in a moment of history
where change is so speeded up
that we begin to see the present
only when it is already disappearing.

~R. D. Laing~