Buh-Bye May, Hallo June!

So, May sort of came, beat up everybody, and left. It feels like it should still be April 17th.

But it’s not. It’s the first of June.

In 2019.

How’d that happen?

I didn’t get as much done this year as I’d hoped by now, certainly not bookwise – I know, I know, the books still aren’t up. Good gravy, that’s been a learning process. The two biggest things I learned are: stress interferes with our creative processes, and social media steals time.

So rather than wax eloquent about writing, I figured I’d write an update post to you, Dear Reader, and see where we go from here.

Our dog, Coyote, died on the Tuesday after Memorial Day. Man, that’s been hard. We had to take her to the vet to be put to sleep, because she was sick all weekend. I don’t really want to talk about it, but I figured it’s important news so I should share.

My coauthor and partner Rachel came in for a visit earlier in May, but Murphy’s Law prevailed and pretty much everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. That was the Vacation That Wasn’t, and again, I don’t really want to talk about it.

But as it turns out, stress has an effect on creativity. In preparing some pictures for today, I noticed that I never finished the A to Z Challenge in April, and I still have pictures that I took for it. I’m not sure if I have any wisdom to share about not posting them, other than to say, sometimes, life gets in the way of our creative plans and we need to honor that. The only way I’ve found to get back on the page is to, well, get back on the page. Hence today’s post.

Another thing I’ve observed and talked about in the past is using other creative outlets when one is blocked in a particular one. For me, that’s typically been knitting. Over the last few months of job upheaval, and particularly at the end of last year when I was in the thick of it, I wasn’t able to even knit. I just didn’t have the heart for it. In January and February, I was able to play with my pin loom and learn some pin loom weaving, but it wasn’t “real” creative work. It was solely creative play. I finally got back to the semi-circular shawl I’d started designing in January, and am now about half done.

I think that’s a critical distinction, this difference between creative work and creative play. I don’t know that I have any answers yet, but I’m learning there is definitely a difference for me. Creative work is goal oriented: “get Burning Bright up on Draft2Digital and upload it to retailers and my website,” which requires me to learn Draft2Digital, Amazon ebook and Amazon paper book uploads, Draft2Digital interface for the other retailers (non-Amazon), and learn MyBookTable, which is a WordPress widget that lets me build a bookstore on the website (I use WordPress to run this and my other sites). Creative play is also critical, to me being happy and contented as an artist. And in order to feel like working on any kind of play, I’ve found I need to feel grounded, which is why the work-related bullshit was so disruptive to my life.

On the other hand, my husband and I have had some true breakthroughs this last two or three months. We finally opened a local bank account (which is something on our task list since we moved here last year) at a local credit union, got our taxes sorted out (which is huge since we owe an arm and a leg to Uncle Sam from financing the move with premature retirement distributions). We’ve been culling our stuff, still, which is honestly a little surprising because I thought we’d done all that when we moved. Nope. We culled about 15 or 20 paper grocery bags of books, a portable heater, two bookcases, and a copper fire pit last weekend. We completely reconfigured our home office, which really opened up the space. It’s startling how much of a difference that makes.

My new employer allows me the privilege of working from home two days a week, and that’s been a real adjustment. It took a while for me to settle into that new routine, but I’m finding I really like it. I’m an extrovert, and I thought I’d hate it to pieces because it’s just me and the animals at home. But in fact, I’m really liking the peace and quiet, and it really lets me hear myself think in relation to my work and that’s allowed me to be more strategic and intentional. And that’s surprisingly fun.

So like I said, May was a pretty intense month. I’m looking forward to June. The weather is brightening up and we have some hiking planned and a weekend vacation to the Oregon coast later in the month. And yes, I promise, I’m working on uploading the books. And finishing the knitting. And doing the weaving.

In short, I’m practicing being in the moment and following my bliss. And that is surprisingly easy and hard, all at the same time.

I hope you have a lovely weekend, Dear Reader. And if you’d like, I’d love to hear about your Spring in the comments, and what excites you about Summer – or, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, your Autumn and Winter.

Big love,


J Is For Joie de Vivre, Which Is French for Birds Feeding

Okay, it’s not really French for birds feeding; please my French speaking readers, don’t converge on me. And if you don’t speak French, joie de vivre is translated to English as, keen enjoyment of life, as in, “they were filled with joie de vivre.”

Well, here: you watch.

I couldn’t get them to come back to the seed, because I was standing too close, but I didn’t want to step back or I would have been in the street. But I think they’re adorable. I have such mixed feelings about feeding wild birds; everything I’ve read from a conservation point of view advises against it because it interferes with their natural food-gathering and/or hunting habits. But I confess, I love watching them when there’s a feeder to hand.

And more on the “J” theme, even though it’s not AT the botanical gardens, here is a very lovely rhodi, “Just because:”

Isn’t she lovely? The centers are a deep, blushing pink, but the blooms are a warm, creamy white.

Here’s another one where you can see mostly the blooms; I’m astounded that such a deep reddish pink turns white when they open!

I Is For Ivy, That Covers and Hides; The Groundcover of All Things, It Moves Like the Tides…

I have a confession to make: I adore ivy. When I lived in Chicago, I moved into a brick “three-flat,” which is Chicagoan for a brownstone with four apartments. No, that doesn’t make sense; this is because the basement apartment was added in the 1960’s or so in an illegally-made addition done with, get this, plywood. But no matter; I called that little tiny place home for nearly 15 years. In front of our building lay a bedraggled mess that, I’m sure, the former owners intended to be a lawn, but due to the two enormous, stately Norway maples in front of it, ended up as a sun-choked home for weeds and the occasional beetle.

My landlady and I were friends, and I lived in that building for one year shy of two decades. In that time, one of my first projects and what ended up as my longest-lasting one was to install a garden. We called them “The Beehive Gardens,” named for the building (the Beehive) and the gardens (plural because there was more than one tiny weed patch). Besides. The Beehive Gardens sounds so much better than “that little tiny garden that you stuffed in between the concrete sidewalks.” And when you put your mind to it, you can get quite a bit of gardening done in a very small space.

So into that front yard that had been a sad attempt at a village green went three things: English ground ivy, vinca vine (variegated and plain), and Creeping Charlie. “But those are weeds!” you might exclaim and, Dear Reader, you’d be right: but what is a weed but simply a plant growing where you don’t want it to? And one thing all three of those so-called weeds do is spread.

Unlike the grass, you understand.

Now this challenge is for the Bellevue Botanical Garden’s A to Z, but as I mentioned in my “N” post, I’ve got a cold – so I’m actually writing this “I” post on the 16th of April and back-dating it, thanks to the wonders of modern technology. But this further means that these photos weren’t snapped at the Bellevue Gardens but along my walk today at lunch (“today” being Tuesday and not last Wednesday). There is plenty of ivy on my walk, and ivy gets everywhere – including under this juniper bush! – ooh, lookatthat. A “J” picture. Maybe I’ll post that tomorrow… which is to say, for last Thursday.

And now that I’ve totally lost you, and just at that point in my walk where I was wondering if I’d really need all these pictures of ivy, I came across this lovely spot:

I wonder who is living in that little shady abode, eh? Spiders and moles, voles and mice, maybe the odd raccoon or duck? Looks like a good place for a nap, but that might just be the cold medicine talking.

And just as I was thinking enough is enough, I saw this:

Now I don’t know about you, Dear Reader, but I watch quite a bit of British murder mystery fiction. And I’ve watched American and Swedish ones for good measure, and even the odd French and Norwegian one thrown into the mix.

Does this not, Dear Reader, look like the owner of this apartment complex might have buried an unhelpful tenant under a bed of ground ivy?

I shall run back to my nice, warm desk and hide for the rest of the day, because after all, one can never spot a serial killer because they could look like everyone else.

I don’t know that I like that ivy all that much now… ~shudder~

G Is For Gators, Gardeners’ Friends; and G Is For Glens, Full of Rhododendrons; and G Is For Goldfish, Swimming in Ponds – Yes, It’s An A to Z Challenge Post! Welcome, Good Friend!

As I wandered onto the Botanical Garden grounds today, I mulled over my choices for “G.” I mean, Garden seemed too easy. Right?

I came around a corner in the path and seriously, THIS was sitting there.

Waiting for me.

Dear Reader, it was hard.

But I didn’t get in and drive it around.

Though I was tempted, Dear Reader; sorely tempted.

Besides. Dude was around there somewhere, with a loud machine, blowing botanical materials around.

Now, I confess, I don’t really grok the meaning behind using a leaf blower in a botanical garden. I mean, what are you planning to do, blow the leaves all the way out of the gardens? And then what? Your neighbors will get tired of a dirty great pile of blown leaves in front of the gardens.

But oddly, there weren’t any piles of leaves.

Maybe he was just dusting?

Gosh, this garden, for the letter G or not, sure is gorgeous, isn’t it?

But that brings me to my favorite discovery since moving to the PNW, or to those of us who aren’t yet in on the native lingo, “The Pacific Northwest:” rhododendrons! The place is lousy with them! Locals are, get this, even tired of them! (???)

Not me. This, then, without further gilding the lily (another G word, lookatthat!), is the Rhododendron Glen:

These are just the early bloomers, too! They bloom from early, early Spring (one of the ones in my apartment complex bloomed mid-March!) clear through June.

I know it’s not the same thing, but you know how when a cat is showing you their foot pads and you say, “What cute toe beans!”? Well, I had that exact same instinct when I saw these flowers!

Not actually a hundred percent sure this is a rhodi, but it’s in the glen, so I snapped its picture.

Same here. I must have walked around this one four times before I satisfied myself I was actually IN the rhododendron glen. So I guess this is a rhodi too? It’s sure pretty – the leaf ends are colored, AND there are flowers. LOFF!

I call this one “Potential.”

(Does this mean I’m a ‘budding photographer’? ~hides~)

Sadly, the lighting was even worse this morning than the last time I went, and it makes photographing the fish next to impossible – which is a shame, as I adore koi. Or, as they’re known today, Goldfish.

They’re all congregating together. If they were mammals, I’d say it was to stay warm on an overcast, rainy day. But they’re fish. So I’m not sure. Maybe just gabbing together? Gathering? Garnering support? ~grin~

All right, Dear Reader, all right; enough of G. Next up is H – which will be less about the pictures and more about the philosophy and science of gardening.

If you’re participating in the challenge, please leave me a link to your blog in the comments so I can come visit you! And if you’ve already commented but I’ve been absent, please forgive me, I’m a bit behind in my visiting but I will catch up between now and the weekend. Real Life has a way of getting in the way.

But hey – we can always visit a garden to relax, yes?

Happy Thanksgiving! A Blog Festival and Giveaway


Now, more than ever, we need to remember all that we have for which to be grateful.  Our abundance will give us the strength to understand what we have the power to change, but also all that we already have.  True wealth is internal.  Freedom can be compromised, but liberty is internal.  Love is a verb.  And know this:  never be ashamed for reading what you enjoy, for relaxing and recharging your batteries, and for closing out the noise that has become much louder of late.  Reading, and writing, are radical acts.

And so, in the spirit of the holidays, I share with you my posts on The Romance Studio, and an opportunity to win our grand prize of a $100 USD Amazon gift card, as well as prizes from participating authors – not to mention, tons of great content.  Please enjoy, and remember: writers are people too, and we are emotional beings just like you.  A comment, even just to say thanks for posting, can warm hearts bruised by so much craziness.  It only takes a moment, but it’s a valuable gift that will bring a smile to the face of your favorite authors.  Trust me.  I’m one of them.  🙂



My posts for the party (will go live as they’re posted throughout the party):

Saturday, November 19, 2016

  1. Vital vs Urgent
  2. Quiet the Echo Chamber
  3. Six Weeks
  4. Simple Abundance
  5. The Artist’s Way

Sunday, November 20, 2016

  1. NaNo – Why You Should Care
  2. Consequences:  Where Story Is
  3. Writing and Mental Health
  4. Memoir, Family, Preserving the Past
  5. Recipes of a Bygone Era

Monday, November 21, 2016

  1. Cauliflower Potatoes
  2. White Bean Pasta
  3. Exercise & Holidaze
  4. Going Caffeineless
  5. The Pecan Pie Debate:  Chocolate or No Chocolate?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

  1. Introduction to Persis
  2. Why Keepers?
  3. Food in Other Places
  4. Resting in Plain Sight – Aroma Shower
  5. Take a Bath!  Salts & Oils

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

  1. Introduction to Chicagoland
  2. Travel in Place
  3. Gather Locally – Meetup
  4. Strength in Numbers
  5. Thank You