Dressed in Layers

Winter in North America. The vernal equinox is still three weeks away. So it’s wise to stay with the advice for the current, cold, season. You heard it from your mother. They repeat it on the weather forecast before every storm or cold front.

Dress in layers!

The number and material in each layer varies. Are you a person that begins with a thin cotton layer and then add a thicker knit or perhaps a fleece and then before stepping outside a quilted down layer? Do you remember a hat? Gloves? Boots?

Some creatures don’t have the same choices as humans. This does not indicate their intelligence. Most of the animals we had on the farm appreciated a shelter from the wind and an enclosed space to trap and recycle body heat as much as the most lauded of rocket scientists.

Once in a while you come upon a creature that exhibits the best of both worlds. Usually with a little help from humans with thumbs.

Winter Layers With a little assist from friends.

Winter Layers
With a little assist from friends.

Traditional Art Form

Transient. Temporary. Some art doesn’t last.

A parent with forethought will snap a photo. A sibling will call attention before the destruction begins.

Decorated cakes and cookies are eaten.

Ice sculptures melt.

Another temporary medium is snow. From the hastily constructed snow fort for protection during an afternoon snowball fight to the planned and dyed snow sculptures for winter festivals they share a degree of temporary. (Yes, residents of Boston and other snowy portions of the USA – eventually you will see your yard, park, driveway again. I’m not going to give a date. I’m guessing prior to   July 4.)

The girl in the photo had assistance with her sculpture. Memory says it was dad. The arms are sticks of firewood (we used a wood burning furnace at the time) padded and shaped with snow. The photographer in the family was mother. If the date on the back of the photo is correct — we did this while the brothers were in school.

Note the fashionable snowpants.

Note the fashionable snowpants.

How to Tell a Tale

“You could write a book about that.”

A millionaire has a nickel for every time I’ve heard that phrase. Unfortunately, they didn’t give the nickel to me.

I’ve learned a lot from books. The home I grew up in had novels for adults, storybooks for children and an assortment of “How to” books and pamphlets. My current home continues the tradition. Books about how to sew, knit, make candles, garden, and perform home repairs sit next to fiction and non-fiction on a variety of topics.

And then I have a special shelf. It’s the writer in me. And evidently in a lot of other people. Books on how to write books. Yes, I own a dictionary and thesaurus. I even use them. Perhaps not as much as I should…but they don’t collect much dust. And then there are the others – characters, emotions, plots, beginnings and editing. It’s a wonder an author finds time to write with all the books on the writing craft whispering — Read me. Read me.

Writer's Reference Shelf

Writer’s Reference Shelf

 

Celebrating Pairs

Valentine’s Day. Hearts & Flowers. Man & Woman. Engagements & Weddings.

Sometimes good things come in pairs.

This past weekend I celebrated with Writers & Musicians. Participated in a concert with TWO groups playing Bells & Chimes. Then we adjourned to Chocolate & Punch.

A few pairs I look forward to:

Chips & Dip; Potatoes & Eggs; Sunshine & Flowers; Coffee & Conversation; Cardinals & Evergreens.

A Positive Pairing

A Positive Pairing

Do you have some favorites?

Transporting in Bulk

Chemistry is the usual place for an introduction. You’re apt to meet a pint, liter, or slightly larger glass container with caution labels plastered on both sides.

Like its chemical relatives, you’ll be taught to handle small amounts. A drop here. Several milliliters measured in a pipet — use the bulb! (Mouth pipetting went out of fashion for safety reasons decades ago. I survived the practice to tell this tale.)

Industry uses larger amounts. Producing fertilizer by the ton. Adding tang to a small river of cola or vats of toothpaste.

The literature describes the 85% solution as “colorless, odorless, and non-volatile.” Still — I was reassured by the clean, non-corroded condition of this bulk container.

Would you like a drop of Phosphoric with that?

Would you like a drop of Phosphoric with that?

Start Them Young

You’ve probably heard the following Bible verse in at least one translation.

Train a child in the way he should go,

and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Proverbs 22:6

This advice from across the centuries can be applied to many aspects of life. Religion. Respect for authority, elders, and law. Healthy habits. Appreciation of the arts. And one of my favorites: love of books and learning.

Slender books for young hands.

Slender books for young hands.

Did your parents read to you? Or an older sibling? Did you read to your children? Have you listened to them read — sounding out a word, matching word and picture, the look of pride when a page, or a book is complete. Have you let books take you to the past? The future? Walk among natural wonders or learn how a machine works? Have they made you laugh? Cry? Swoon? (Who swoons these days?)

For a sampling of recent reads enjoyed by this author click on the “Book Review” page.

 

Assignment: Beautiful

Beautiful. Pleasing to the senses. Being specific can be easy. Or difficult.

An object which I think is beautiful may impress another person as ugly, sad, even disturbing.

At a recent gathering of Christian women, we were asked to get up from our seats and find objects in and around the building which we considered beautiful. Photos were encouraged.

My mind sought order that day. Was this in response to some sort of disorder? The murmur of conversation as fifty women ate breakfast in small groups? Perhaps. Prompted by the herd or not — I headed toward a goal and found it.

100_3625_00

Orderly piano keys representing beautiful music.

It’s a Tree. It’s a Shrub. It’s Yew.

Sounds very Old English. Yes, it does grow there. As it has for decades, even centuries. If you want to build yourself an authentic English longbow begin by finding a yew which has gone without pruning for several years. Further directions from another source.

This evergreen gives a welcome splash of winter and early spring color when trimmed and pruned and planted in sheltered areas around your home. It serves well as a background to that flowerbed you want in front of the house. Male and female plants give you a choice if you want berry shaped cones with your yew.

Word of caution to suburbanites. Don’t brew the leaves or berries into tea. Well…unless you want a medical emergency and a quick consultation with poison control.

Wildlife shelter - yes. Human snack - no.

Wildlife shelter – yes.
Human snack – no.

 

My Office Wall

You’ve all seen the saying: A clean desk is the sign of a sick mind.

In that case — I’ve a clean bill of health. The filing, stacking – non-system is thriving on the spare bed in my office. The closet is stuffed — I really do need to get rid of a box or two to make space for the additional filing crate I purchased.

But the semi-organization appears to work for me. Give me a moment or two and I can find the correct folder or stack 90% of the time.

The same holds true for my wall decoration. Yes, two of the four walls have what could loosely be called “decor”. A window fills the east wall and the west is dominated by closet doors. So what do I look at other than the squirrels entertaining in the pine tree?

A laminated scenic place mat and motivational sayings slapped up with poster gum are the easiest to see from my computer perch. I should move some of them. They are positioned for the previous computer location — months ago.

A complimentary calendar and a paint-by-the-number done BC. (That’s Before Children – caution to any reader planning a family.) A pale map of a fictional town completes the wall hangings on the opposite wall.

Is it restful? Inspirational? Scary to any overnight guest I direct to here?

Lets go with the ever-popular — all of the above.

It won't win "home decorating" awards.

It won’t win “home decorating” awards.

A Tree to Love

Love. Affection. To take pleasure in.

Skip the hugs, caresses, and kisses. Unless you desire tangled hair, scratched arms, and pitched lips.

I’m talking about a spruce tree. Green year round. Conical shape. Close branches furnishing a hotel with breakfast bar for birds. Light brown cones contrast with deep to medium green (some species with a blue to silver cast) needles.

They grow large, up to 100 feet tall, if they land in the right spot. Dense branches break the wind to protect buildings and soil when planted with companions in long, offset rows.

Add colored lights in December and you have a living Christmas tree to use year after year until the children are grown and out of the house. With a little more yard I’d be glad to host a grouping.

Colorado spruce waiting for spring planting.

Colorado spruce waiting for spring planting.