Autumn In New England . . .

A season of mixed messages . . .











A Rose Garden In July

C573E049-78EC-40E6-BDF6-E08A9C49DF8EAt the end of July, I had the unexpected opportunity to visit Beaverton, OR. I accompanied my mother to visit her ailing sister. What a surprise to find a beautiful rose garden just minutes from our hotel!

4910A5CF-0D9F-40F3-B172-DED5D60CC28BThe International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park, a multi-level spread of color, captivated me (and my camera) despite the 90+ degree heat.

58E16EFF-EAEE-476A-B73B-B3B332A3054DIt was a bit too hot for my mother, but she found a nice bench!

You’d think that roses would be nothing much to look at in the heat of mid-summer, their best days behind them. But what a treat we found! I’m sure you’ll agree. And can you imagine the splendor of this place in the spring? It might be worth another visit, if it weren’t for the 6-hour plane ride. 🙂


Acrophobia at Yellowstone . . .

Fear is a funny thing. Not so much a conscious choice, but more a thing that lives in the belly, fed by adrenaline bursts, fueling a stampede of electrical zaps to the heart. Hands tremble and knees grow weak: a daunting autonomic roller coaster ride.

Now, I knew we had planned to zip-line during our West Yellowstone vacation. I definitely did agree to do it. Any flinching at the prospect remained decidely imperceptible. But I know myself.

After all, I was there when Blarney Castle caught me by surprise and brought me to tears. Luckily, halfway up my Castle climb, a small doorway led to a momentary respite from the narrow staircase. I had to practice breathing in and out to let my heart slow down before I could continue to the top. Up on the roof, I passed on the opportunity to kiss the Blarney Stone, skirting the area cautiously to find the stairs leading back down.

A few years later, I managed to make it up the Eiffel Tower, once again accompanied by a genorous supply of unwelcomed adrenaline. I spent much of the time, when not in an elevator, plastered to the center wall.

Two years after that, I climbed to the top of St. Stephen’s tower in Vienna. Talk about steep, narrow staircases! It wound in a tight spiral, 343 stairs, about 446 feet, straight up. An adrenaline field day! My husband dutifully stayed behind me all the way up. My pitiful equilibrium could not be convinced that the world hadn’t tipped sideways. All I could do was stare straight ahead and keep one hand in constant contact with the outside wall. One turn of my head would certainly have sent me tumbling to an untimely death!

The view from atop the tower was nothing short of breath-taking. But the knowledge that I still had to climb back down colored my ability to completely enjoy it. My husband stayed in front of me on the way down. Staring straight ahead again, with my hand on the outside wall, I checked each descending step with the back of my heel before stepping down. The sound of other visitors coming up from below released a fresh bolt of panic. My weak legs turned to jelly. Unlike Blarney Castle, this was a 2-way staircase. And I made the poor ascending tourists pass me by toward the center of the spiral. The outside wall was mine! But I survived to tell the tale of another height conquered. 🙂

Although I climbed trees as a kid, somewhere along the way my body decided that heights were not my friend. All I can do is keep trying to teach it to chill a little! So, today I went zip-lining.

It’s easy to anticipate and fixate on how scary something will be. It gives the body a running start towards full-blown anxiety. But it’s also possible to remain calm, to refuse to even think about a pending encounter with a zip-line. Either way, the first climb straight up a ladder to a crowded platform hugging a man-made tree told my body it was showtime. My hands shook, my legs practically dissolved, and tears welled up out of nowhere. My sole job became breathing. Slowly. Trying to counter that nasty adrenaline monster.

Then, I was supposed to ask my feet to step off the edge of that relatively safe platform into nothing but air. Maybe even jump off. It’s safe, I assured them. But they didn’t believe me. I can’t say enough about the patience of our zip-lining guides (Kyle, Cole, and April) who encouraged each of us along the way. They suggested that I sit first and get a feel for the seat-like harness and to trust it. Which I did. Eventually.

After a couple of ladders and suspended rope bridges, the third zip-line, which brought us back to earth, gave my legs slightly less pause and my heart-rate barely blipped out of rhythm. My body decided to trust me. But would I do it again? Let’s not push it, shall we?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Weathered…

“Weathered” usually conjures up images of water-worn rocks or sun-bleached wood or time-worn skin. But the howling winds of a New England blizzard can carve the snow like desert sand…

In response to this week’s photo challenge: Weathered

First Lines…

Sometimes, hearing a well-known opening sentence can immediately conjure up the rest of a famous story for us. That’s all it takes. One sentence. For example: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,…” (Anyone NOT know what book that’s from?) Or how about “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” (Yes, I’m a Harry Potter fan!) I’m sure if we thought about it for a few minutes, we’d come up with plenty more examples.

Everything one reads on the art of story-telling stresses the importance of grabbing the reader right off the bat with that opening sentence. I’ve got both a novel and a children’s picture book manuscript in progress. One of them starts with the line, “R—- kicked hard at the cardboard box that blocked her bedroom doorway.” The other starts, “F—– the Frog had nothing to do.” Hopefully, they’ll lead the reader to ask questions like Why was there a box in her doorway? Why did she kick it? Or Is something going to happen to the frog since she’s got nothing to do? Either that or they’ll lead this writer to ask How could I make these introductions a whole lot more interesting?? 😉

Anyway, I’ve got two questions for you…and I’d love to hear your answers! First, can anyone tell me what children’s book starts with the line, “It was a dark and stormy night.”?  (A great book, by the way!) And second, can you share the first line of one of your favorite books? Let’s see if the rest of us can guess where it came from…


A New Year: Time To Dive In…

I’ve hemmed and hawed; I’ve bucked and snorted; I’ve backed away nervously. I’ve been silly. Today, I dove in and joined the already-in-progress Storystorm challenge. Thirty ideas in thirty-one days. Nothing to lose, but much fun to be had! I’ve got some catching up to do, but I’m EXCITED!!! Who knows what possibilities exist in 2018…

Tara Lazar is inspiring! Check out her blog here.


Rather Than Write…

Well, I haven’t posted anything here in over a year. Does that mean I’m not a blogger anymore? Or even a writer? On the contrary. I’ve joined local writing and poetry critique groups; I’m working on a novel; and I’m honing my skills.

But on a daily basis, it’s hard to make the time to write consistently. What do I make time for instead? Laundry, food shopping, singing, refinishing cabinetry, paying bills, taking walks, filling out rebate slips… So many things seem more important and more immediate. I tell myself just one more thing first. I know it comes down to a decision to put other activities aside and gift myself with uninterrupted writing time. I can see it in my future. 🙂

So, I’m curious, what do YOU, fellow bloggers and writers, do instead of just sitting down to write? I think it’d make quite an interesting list! Tell me…