Pretty Pair

Some things pair well — bread and butter, salt and pepper, or cat and dog — often come into our minds as a duo.

Glancing around my home recently, I discovered a few book and mug pairs that I wish to share.

When curiosity about one of my favorite insects strikes, the book comes in handy. Perhaps I saw one on a walk. Or I’m writing and my character would know the correct name. That’s the purpose of Field Guides.

Taking a little time and enjoying tea or coffee with my reading? The mug from the Butterfly House makes the ideal companion.

Do you have any special book and mug pairs?

Balancing Act

How’s your hectic? Are you striving to find a balance between work and home life? Do you have conflicting (or overwhelming) responsibilities to either the younger or older generation? Squeezed between both?

During the previous year and a half — or nearly that long — stresses have changed.

While you may no longer be pulled in six different directions at once outside of the home — demands and uncertainly within your family or close community continue.

Dare I go to _____? Fill in the blank with an out of home activity.

Does _________ require a mask? I’ll follow the rules, but would like to know before I open the door.

What if it rains the day of the scheduled outdoor party? Is it safe to move inside?

Yes, life can be a balancing act between social and safety.

Expert at one type of balancing act.

Extreme West

The United States is not a compact country. We sprawl across the middle of a continent and then for good measure add a few parts not connected to the rest.

One of the disconnected portions — accessible only by sea or air — is a tropical paradise. At least, that’s the way it was presented during long, cold upper Midwest winters.

This author is old — old enough to remember when this was one of two new states added to congress and the reason for new stars in the flag. (Wonder how my father felt about it — four new states were added in his lifetime.)

Sugar cane, coffee, pineapples, and tourists populate this collection of islands. Volcanic in origin, certain places remain active to this day. My visit, while short, was relaxing and memorable. Will I return? I’m keeping an open mind. Then again — many other places with fine, warm weather remain unchecked boxes on the list of places welcoming tourists.

Growing for the Future

Row upon row upon row the evergreens decorate the gentle hills.

What does the future hold?

Northern Christmas Trees – field of Fraizer Fir

The kind gentleman who escorted three women (old enough to be his mother) around the Christmas tree farm explained they are considered a ten-year crop. If holding to that schedule — these young trees, photographed in 2011, have already spent a season in living rooms throughout the United States. Today this same field is likely growing the next crop. Patience. Plan ahead. They sound like keys to a successful Christmas tree farmer.

Authors also need to plan ahead. Books are not an instant crop from pen (or computer) to book-in-hand. Can I build on the past? To what extent? Is it time to explore a new location? A new time frame? Where are the turning points in life?

Looking for a story set on a Christmas tree farm or the small village nearby? Check out: Starr Tree Farm

Apple books: https://apple.co/2pxRXhf

For Nook readers: http://bit.ly/2zpVt2X

For Kindle readers: https://amzn.to/2zqIQEw

Mid-South?

My Midwest mindset often groups these states together — sometimes only two, but often three.

Are they Southern? They are certainly different from the “Deep South.” Does the Ohio River make the boundary?

These states certainly share a history. The mountains of one and all of the others were explored by brave men (and women) in the later portions of the Eighteenth Century.

During multiple trips to and through two of these states — to arrive in the third — mugs and magnets found their way into my luggage.

Rich history. Fine music. Sipping whiskey. Beautiful scenery. Presidents were born and lived here. Battles were fought.

Exact time is not clear — but I sense more travel to Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina in my future.

Folding Fun

Fold a newspaper hat. Or is it a boat to race in the local creek?

Folding napkins into fancy shapes never worked well for me. I could admire the talent of others — but mine — best to stay with basics.

Fold towels into animals? I’d get fired from that cruise ship task.

A current art exhibit puts my fingers to shame. I suspect even the person expert shaping towels would be awed.

Did the artist fold paper? Cloth?

No!

Metal origami floats picture perfect at the Japanese garden.

These are the simple figures. Below is more complicated.

Enjoy a walk among the unusual.

Far West

Go West, young man!

Building on this well-worn phrase, this woman (when young) moved West — following the young men?

Actually, I was part of the third generation in my family to pack her (or his) suitcase and head toward the setting sun.

Those in my grandparent’s generation moved to work in the lumber industry. Nieces and nephews which followed also went for job opportunity — but these were as teachers and office workers. My generation? A little adventure mixed with using my education.

Drawn by employment, and weather, my relatives at various times have lived (or are living) from San Diego and Pasadena in California all the way up the coast to Bellingham in Washington and most of one decade in Alaska.

Pick your adventure. Do you want to try the high desert in Nevada? Perhaps you’re move inclined to agriculture or industry in California. Don’t forget Oregon — just because I didn’t buy a mug doesn’t erase the state — with ranches, mountains, and beautiful coast. The mountains in Washington include the trademark Rainer. As Mount St. Helens reminded us in 1980 — even a volcano can be snow-capped.

So come for adventure. Stay for work. The Far West beckons with opportunity my family could not ignore during the entire 1900’s.

Perfect Setting

This amateur photographer snaps a shot, she does not always pay attention to items (or people) near the edge. Yes, I line things up and sometimes wait a minute or move to one side or the other to avoid including certain things. Often other amateur photographers enjoying the same sight.

Once in a while — when reviewing photos later — I find a gem. The romance writer in me found this difficult to resist.

Put on your story telling hat and make up something about the couple captured when I focused on the sculpture.

I confess — I didn’t notice them until I was editing out a pair of the aforementioned amateur photographers.

A well-dressed couple in the rose garden.

Is he photographing her? Preparing to propose marriage? Will she accept?

New England Trio

Shall we take a journey to the Northeastern portion of the United States.

In school, we were taught New England consisted of six states. I’ve managed to set foot in all six, two of them twice, three visits for two others. Fond memories of the trips return the days I drink my coffee from any of these three mugs.

These three have much to offer the visitor. I’m not a snow skier, so my visits were at other times of the year. June — when children have been released from school was a popular time for vacation. When not required to consider the school year — September became a favorite travel time.

The rural portions of these states remind me of home — many of the same trees and bushes as the upper Midwest where I was raised. Ocean shoreline — power and beauty — weather the rugged portion of a National Park or the waterfront of a small city — became a place I could relax and recharge. My imagination filled with sailing ships and the stories (and goods) brought back from faraway lands.

Will I return? So many things to consider — but I’m sure I could find new sights and experiences in any of these three states or their New England companions.

Life Cycle

Every child learns about the life cycle undergone by most insects — the four stages of egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

You may have gone hunting for and found all four stages on a nature hike. Looking for butterflies at the various stages is especially popular.

Artists through the ages have used them as models and incorporated them into paintings and sculpture.

Have you ever…tried to compare this to humans? Think for a moment.

Egg — before birth yet very much alive.

Larva — children are always hungry and refuse to stay in one place

Pupa — teens (have you ever tried to wake one early in the morning?)

Adult — a magical moment, or short time span, where the previous stage gives way to rational thought and dependable actions (every parent’s wish)