Dances with Daffodils

BabyDaff

Temperatures in the 50s, sun shining brightly, air as crisp and clean as newly laundered sheets – who could resist working in the garden on such a day?  However four years of drought have stressed many of our plants, some to the point where they will not make it.  Others were sacrificed to make way for a new drip system, which will save water but turned parts of the backyard into Mudville, only without the baseball team.

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But the noble daffodil, the national flower of Wales and symbol of cancer charities, hid deep beneath the chaos and when all was done, forged through the mud.

Seeing these green stalks rising from devastation, made my heart dance with joy.

To quote William Wordsworth:

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
Strawberry

Another survivor – the humble ornamental strawberry.

 

 

And so, I’m happy to report there is joy in Mudville tonight! Mighty Casey has indeed hit a homer.

Now to keep those pesky weeds and “volunteers” from taking over!

 

 

Ghost

Linda G. Hill is an energetic blogger and the founder of Just Jot it January (JusJoJan).  This month she’s been providing a daily one word prompt and inviting folks to write on the subject if they feel inspired. It’s a lovely gesture as bloggers, like writers, ofttimes need inspiration.

I generally don’t get my act together in time (and today is no exception) but a few days ago her word jjj-2016was “ghost.”

My first thought was “ghost of a chance,” a phrase we writers hear all too often.

But what do mortals know about ghosts and their shenanigans in the afterlife?

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In one of my favorite movies (The Ghost and Mrs. Muir) the ghost has the chance to come back, write a successful book and win the heart of a beautiful widow!

My first impulse was to search online for the source of this peculiar phrase. Guess what?  No one seems to know.  According to Dictionary.com it could have originated in the1880s when Chinese laborers arrived in U.S. by the thousands willing to work for less than their counterparts.  American workers reacted by using the phrase “A Chinaman’s chance” to describe a futile endeavor, thereby reducing the Chinese to insubstantial shadows, or ghosts.  Today the phrase “Chinaman’s chance” is considered derogatory.

My search did unearth an impressive list of movies, books, songs and even video games inspired by the phrase. A small sampling follows:

  • A 1991 song by the group Rush  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgqkhArHBHM
  • A 1987 TV movie staring Dick Van Dyke and Red Foxx 

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    Ghost of a Chance – Red Foxx, a pianist killed accidentally by Dick Van Dyke (a wayward cop), has a chance to come down from heaven to help his son. Something tells me this movie was a stinker!

  • William Burroughs’ 1991 novel Ghost of Chance described as a “take off on the Book of Revelations” full of a “whimsical hodgepodge of corrosive wit and edgy desolation.” I have to point out other reviewers were far less impressed with Burroughs’ opium fueled visions.

As for me, today I don’t even have a ghost of a chance of convincing Pretty Kitty to get off my lap so that I can work. Any suggestions?

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The Serendipity of Blogging

Today I’m honored to be interviewed on Jeri Walker’s multi-faceted blog Word Bank, Make Every Word Count.  

Isn’t that a great title for a blog – “Make Every Word Count?”  Every word should count, as every word has the potential to provide hope or reinforce despair. Writers should take a stand with their words which is why we all need an editor – to save our sorry hides from the “really pretty,” the “kind of sad,” and all the weak-kneed phrases we hear day in and out that filter in and grind our work to pablum.JeriWB Square Logo Small

Jeri is one of this blog’s earliest and most supportive followers and thus is worth her weight in gold and silver and diamonds and/or chocolate. On her blog she features tips on writing, editing, publishing, marketing, and more. One of my favorite posts is Writers Workout Memoir prompts which I urge you to check out if you’re interested in writing a memoir.  IMG_0584

In the serendipitous world of bloggers, old souls attract each other. Jeri and I were both raised in dusty western towns whose prominent citizens were the owners of bordellos and saloons, where cowboys came in once a week for a bath and a lay and to spend a week’s paycheck and a night in jail.  I’m happy to say that in February she’s agreed to post one of her essays on my blog. Can’t wait!

Has the serendipity of blogging drawn you across space and time to a kindred spirit?  

This post was inspired by Linda G. Hill’s Just Jot January series!  Please check out other #JusJoJan Serendipity posts.  

#ThursdayDoors: Wismar Germany

This week I’m going back in time to 1995, the year we went to Wismar, Germany.

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The dotted red line between Schwerin and Wismar marks the autobahn Germany was building to connect the coastal towns to Berlin.

From the end of WWII until 1989, Wismar was behind the Iron Curtain, making travel there almost impossible. Even six years after the Berlin Wall had fallen, the rustic two lane road from Lubeck to Wismar catered more to donkey carts and tractors than cars and thus resulted in a frustrating three hour drive.  Before the war, the towns along the southern Baltic were popular vacation destinations and the thought is evidently to revive them. However, in 1995 Germany still had a long way to go.DoorWismar

Aside from the lack of easy access, many of the coastal towns were heavily bombed by the Allies in 1945. Instead of rebuilding them, the Soviets simply moved the residents to cheaply-built, concrete-block apartments outside the city walls leaving their centers to sit in ruins for decades. When we were there construction cranes hung over the town as buildings that could not be renovated were destroyed.

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Our bed and breakfast was one of the more modern buildings.

Another challenge for Germany, the locals seemed to think making money off tourism was a tawdry business indeed. Certainly anyone caught speaking English on the streets was given the evil eye.

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The town center – note the Hanseatic design of the building facades.

 

Sorry for the poor quality of the pictures.  We didn’t have the best camera and it rained the whole time we were there.Wismar1

I believe this is St. Nicholas Cathedral but, because it was under repair, we couldn’t get near.

In case you’re wondering why we made a difficult journey to an obscure town on the Baltic, well, here goes: In 1663 (or around that time) a Swedish general conquered this important trade route and until 1717 it remained under Swedish rule.  In return the general attained the noble title “Conqueror of Wismar.”  According to a bit of family lore spawned by a Mormon missionary’s trip to the Swedish History Museum, my husband is one of his descendants.  Didn’t know I was married to royalty, did you?

Check out other doors at Norm Frampton’s fun (and often challenging) #ThursdayDoors event.

Untitled Number Five

According to people who interpret dreams, if you dream of a th-6house, it represents your self or soul.   Following this logic, if you dream of a dirty house, then you’ve got some soul searching to do. If you dream of a house without doors, you’re paranoid about something.  And, if you dream of a house that’s beautiful from the outside but a shambles inside then you’re vain and your soul is trying to clue you in.  As far as dreams go, I think of them as a garbage dump of my day and don’t put too much store in them.   

However I do dream of houses often, two in particular.  One is a magnificent white manse, either ultra modern or very old, which sits atop a grassy hill. I slip through a keyhole like vapor and then fly down the endless hall, gliding in and out of pulsating rooms always stopping to gaze at the tranquil fishing village below. I’m looking for something, the pianist I hear in the distance. A soft mist starts to fill the house as finally I approach the pianist.  He plays in a beam of sunshine beneath an enormous bay window.  Outside billowing clouds roll across a Grecian sky.

Then, at this exact moment (in every single dream!) I decide I really have to pee.  A toilet appears in the middle of the room which I can’t use because suddenly people have materialized from the mist. After a few moments of anxiety my bladder gives the urgent symbol and I wake up.  If it’s early in the morning I try to get back into the dream but I can’t. 

th-5The other house is a claptrap assortment of rooms and ill-advised add-ons, decorated in hideous wallpaper with roughed up wood flooring and windows that refuse to open. This house excites me as I ponder an endless series of renovations. Some day, this will be my dream house, I think, as I discover secret rooms and staircases.  Generally I’ll run into a celebrity in one of the rooms, like Brad Pitt or Oprah. It’s not by accident, mind you. Cleverly I’ve pulled them into my dream because, to do all those renovations, I will need money!  Lots of money! 

Oprah’s always on the verge of giving me a million bucks when that old toilet appears in the middle of the room.   

What are reoccurring dreams trying to tell you?  I think mine are saying that I watch far too many home improvement shows.  Also, that I probably shouldn’t drink so much tea before heading to bed (okay – it’s wine).

Learning to Ride, again. . .

MomJuggling

From childlifemommy.com

For the past month I’ve been juggling priorities and only finding bits and pieces of time to catch up with blogging buddies. Writing came to an almost complete standstill and blogging – well, I’ve been  re-posting older pieces.  Marketing and promotion – forget it!

Now that I have a day unfettered by priorities, I feel like someone who’s fallen off a horse and now must regain the confidence to ride again.  What to do next?  Revamp the blog?  Work on my WIP?

My goodness, I can’t even remember where I left Fiona Butters. Tied to a railroad track outside Ely Nevada while on the trail of her missing beau, Civil War Professor Lopinski?  Or, in a small town in New England trying to convince a group of horny teenage girls that the th-1rock pile behind their boarding school is not a portal to the underground world of H.R. Lovecraft’s macabre imagination?

And, while I think I’ve worked out the skeleton of a plot, what will it look like to me now after thirty days?  Total and utter crap?  Probably.

The good news is I’m about 130 pages into the story and a Cheeto has not crossed Fi’s lips.  I can’t promise one won’t or that she’s suddenly going to start fasting, purging or yodeling but all things are possible.

How about you – are you finding it hard to get back on that old horse and ride bravely into the New Year?


In news from blogging and non-blogging buddies:

  • Many thanks to Mary Rowen, author of Leaving the Beach and Living by Ear for including me in her list of bloggers to check out. I’m honored!
  • For those of you who are fans of his work, there’s a new Duke Miller poem posted here.
  • Gentlemen bloggers, Hugh of Hugh’s News and Views has a new award especially for you!