Tag Archives: Charles Dickens

“Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.” ~Mary Ellen Chase


“Love came down at Christmas; love all lovely, love divine; love was born at Christmas, stars and angels gave the sign.” ~ Christina G. Rossetti

the-angel-from-on-high

“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.” ~Charles Dickens

“Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall.” ~Larry Wilde, The Merry Book of Christmas

“Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.” ~Peg Bracken

Christmas ball in tree “The earth has grown old with its burden of care But at Christmas it always is young, The heart of the jewel burns lustrous and fair And its soul full of music breaks the air, When the song of angels is sung.” ~ Phillips Brooks (1835-93), American Episcopal bishop, wrote ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem‘.

“Brew me a cup for a winter’s night.For the wind howls loud and the furies fight; Spice it with love and stir it with care, And I’ll toast our bright eyes, my sweetheart fair.” ~Minna Thomas Antrim

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”
~Charles Dickens

Chritstmas Tree

“Let’s dance and sing and make good cheer, For Christmas comes but once a year.”
~Sir George Alexander Macfarren

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day; their old familiar carols play, and wild and sweet the word repeat of peace on earth, good-will to men!” ~ Henry Longfellow

“Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves.” ~Eric Sevareid

Victorian Christmas Tree“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.”
~ Alexander Smith

“Christmas is the keeping-place for memories of our innocence.” ~Joan Mills

‘“Christmas is a time when you get homesick – even when you’re home.” ~ Carol Nelson

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” ~Norman Vincent Peale

Christmas Sleigh Ride“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”~Roy L. Smith

“Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.” ~Mary Ellen Chase

“Christmas is the gentlest, loveliest festival of the revolving year – and yet, for all that, when it speaks, its voice has strong authority.” ~W.J. Cameron

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” ~Burton Hillis

Singers Glen, Virginia  Brick Church in Snow

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.” ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

“There has been only one Christmas – the rest are anniversaries.” ~W.J. Cameron

“Marley was dead: to begin with.” Thoughts on A Christmas Carol


A christmas carolI’ve always loved Charles Dickens’ timeless classic, A Christmas Carol, the most widely popular piece of fiction he ever wrote. Given all his great novels, the popularity of this far shorter work would likely surprise him. It’s not the length of a story but its weight, and A Christmas Carol has deep significance. There are those individuals I can think of, and likely so can you, who would greatly benefit from the visit of three spirits on Christmas Eve. I have prayed this might occur, and still do. Transformation in a good way is of inestimable worth to the person involved and everyone whose lives they touch.

Another amazing thing about A Christmas Carol is that Dickens didn’t begin writing the story until October of 1843 and it was published that same year. Quick work.

From: http://www.charlesdickensinfo.com/christmas-carol/

A Christmas Carol was the most successful book of the 1843 holiday season.  By Christmas it sold six thousand copies and it continued to be popular into the new year. Eight stage adaptations were in production within two months of the book’s publication.

The book is as popular today as it was over 150 years ago. Charles Dickens, through the voice of Scrooge, continues to urge us to honor Christmas in our hearts and  try to keep it all the year.”

***If only more people did, I add.

Excerpts From An American Rose Christmas“Scrooge’s transformation is legendary.  At the beginning of the story he’s a greedy, selfish person .

“Every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.” to the man who “knew how to keep Christmas well.”

Initially Scrooge is a miser who shows a decided lack of concern for the rest of mankind.  However after a ghostly night, Scrooge sees life in a whole new way.

“He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.”~

“I wear the chain I forged in life….I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

“No space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Vintage American Christmas Card--excited boy peering through window“For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

So be good and caring and kind.

And God bless us everyone.

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” ― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

‘As long as we know in our hearts what Christmas ought to be, Christmas is.’ ~Eric Sevareid


Holly Tree“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”  ~Charles Dickens

“I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.”  ~Harlan Miller

“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.”  ~Alexander Smith

‘Twas Christmas broach’d the mightiest ale;
‘Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man’s heart through half the year. ~Walter Scott

Christmas ball in tree“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”  ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

“May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through!”  ~Author Unknown

“It came without ribbons!  It came without tags!  It came without packages, boxes or bags!”… Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!  “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.  Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!”  ~Dr. SeussHow the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Little house in the snowy woods, Christmas“At Christmas play and make good cheer,
For Christmas comes but once a year.”
~Thomas Tusser

“Sing hey!  Sing hey!
For Christmas Day;
Twine mistletoe and holly.
For a friendship glows
In winter snows,
And so let’s all be jolly!”
~Author Unknown

“To perceive Christmas through its wrapping becomes more difficult with every year.”  ~E.B. White, “The Distant Music of the Hounds,” The Second Tree from the Corner, 1954

“Oh, for the good old days when people would stop Christmas shopping when they ran out of money.”  ~Author Unknown

ChristmasTree in Snowy Woods“May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace,
The gladness of Christmas give you hope,
The warmth of Christmas grant you love.”
~Author Unknown

My March Garden in The Shenandoah Valley–Beth Trissel


daffodils in March snow“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” ~Charles Dickens,  To this famous quote I add, ‘and then it snowed.’

“It’s spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”  ~Mark Twain

I heartily agree, and so I worked in my gardens on Saturday, quite mild out really, and daughter Elise  helped, which was greatly appreciated by this weary gardener. We got the peas and early greens…lettuce, bright lights Swiss chard, spinach, pok choy…plus radishes and assorted kinds of beets planted. *All heirloom seed. I added three Crimson rhubarb roots to the patch of red rhubarb. Only the traditional ‘been here forever’ green variety is reliably robust, but we keep trying. And then Sunday, Palm Sunday, (the little children were so precious at church waving their palms) it began to snow about mid afternoon. Same thing happened last Sunday. By this morning we have at least ten inches of the white stuff covering everything.

Elise went out yesterday with her camera at the start of the snow and took some lovely shots. Our old red barn with pussy willow in foreground.

snowy pussywillow by the old red barn on march 25

“Awake, thou wintry earth –
Fling off thy sadness!
Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth
Your ancient gladness!
~Thomas Blackburn, “An Easter Hym

I hope the snow clears out by next weekend, which is Easter. Too early this year for me, but there it is. And I do love Easter whenever it comes.

“I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.” ~Ruth Stout

This is one of my most favorite spring quotes. I fully agree with Ruth Stout and have done so. I am also attempting to practice her no till gardening method. Image below of the seeds (packets are on the stakes) I planted on Saturday before Sunday’s snow with the pussy willow, wheelbarrow, and barn in the pic.

Seeds I planted the day before the snow on March 24th

“No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.” ~Proverb

“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.”  ~Doug Larson

Luca in the snow March 2013“Every spring is the only spring – a perpetual astonishment.”  ~Ellis Peters

“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.”  ~Mark Twain (And so say all of us!)

“I think that no matter how old or infirm I may become, I will always plant a large garden in the spring.  Who can resist the feelings of hope and joy that one gets from participating in nature’s rebirth?”  ~Edward Giobbi

To this I add, I hope I will have help with my gardens. Image of our rescue farm dog, Luca, at the start of the snow. We have two rescue farm dogs.

“The front door to springtime is a photographer’s best friend.” ~Terri Guillemets

Amen to that!

pussywillow against the barn in March 25 snow

We rooted pussy willow shoots in the garden last spring and were amazed that they all took off, and now we have a dozen blooming willows to move and give away to good homes. Some we will plant by the farm pond, but they cannot remain where they are because pussy willows grow far too large, even when pruned to keep in a garden.

Oh look, it’s snowing again.

“Yesterday the twig was brown and bare;
To-day the glint of green is there;
Tomorrow will be leaflets spare;
I know no thing so wondrous fair,
No miracle so strangely rare.
I wonder what will next be there!”
~L.H. Bailey

“First a howling blizzard woke us,
Then the rain came down to soak us,
And now before the eye can focus —
Crocus.”  ~Lilja Rogers

snpw crocus on march 25th

“Love was born at Christmas, Stars and Angels Gave the Sign.” ~ Christina G. Rossetti


WINTRYBrew me a cup for a winter’s night.For the wind howls loud and the furies fight; Spice it with love and stir it with care, And I’ll toast our bright eyes,my sweetheart fair. 

~Minna Thomas Antrim

“Love came down at Christmas; love all lovely, love divine; love was born at Christmas, stars and angels gave the sign.” ~ Christina G. Rossetti

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”
 
“Let’s dance and sing and make good cheer, For Christmas comes but once a year.”
“I heard the bells on Christmas Day; their old familiar carols play, and wild and sweet the word repeat of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
“Christmas is a necessity.  There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves.”
~Eric Sevareid
“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.”
Alexander Smith
“Christmas is the keeping-place for memories of our innocence.” ~Joan Mills

Robin‘“Christmas is a time when you get homesick – even when you’re home.” ~ Carol Nelso
Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” ~Norman Vincent Peale
He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”~Roy L. Smith
“Christmas, children, is not a date.  It is a state of mind.” ~Mary Ellen Chase
Christmas is the gentlest, loveliest festival of the revolving year – and yet, for all that, when it speaks, its voice has strong authority.”~W.J. Cameron
“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:  the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” ~Burton Hillis
 
“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”
“There has been only one Christmas – the rest are anniversaries.” ~W.J. Cameron
 
“The earth has grown old with its burden of care But at Christmas it always is young, The heart of the jewel burns lustrous and fair And its soul full of music breaks the air, When the song of angels is sung.” ~ Phillips Brooks (1835-93), American Episcopal bishop, wrote ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem‘.

For Seekers Of Wisdom–Beth Trissel


“The well bred contradict other people. The wise contradict themselves.” -Oscar Wilde

“There is a wisdom of the head, and a wisdom of the heart.”-Charles Dickens

“He who knows others is learned; he who knows himself is wise.”- Lao Tze

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”- Mohandas K. Gandhi

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it”-Albert Einstein

***Mount Mansfield, image by my brother, photographer and artist John Churchman. For more on his work visit: http://www.brickhousestudios.com/

“Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness.”-Sophocles

“It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense.”- Robert Green Ingersoll

“It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf.”-Walter Lippman

“Wisdom is a sacred communion.”-Victor Hugo

“Wisdom begins in wonder.”-Socrates

“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”- Lin Yutang

“Does wisdom perhaps appear on the earth as a raven which is inspired by the smell of carrion?”-Friedrich Nietzsche

“If I have been of service, if I have glimpsed more of the nature and essence of ultimate good, if I am inspired to reach wider horizons of thought and action, if I am at peace with myself, it has been a successful day.”- Alex Noble

“Without courage, wisdom bears no fruit.”- Baltasar Gracian

“Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom.”-Thomas Jefferson

“The truest greatness lies in being kind, the truest wisdom in a happy mind.”- Ella Wheeler Wilcox

“My experience has shown me that the people who are exceptionally good in business aren’t so because of what they know but because of their insatiable need to know more.”-Michael Gerber

“Too bad that all the people who really know how to run the country are busy driving taxi cabs and cutting hair.”- George Burns

“Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life.”-Sandara Carey

“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.”- George Bernard Shaw

“Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.”- Confucius

“Great beginnings are not as important as the way one finishes.” –Dr. James Dobson

“Happiness is a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”-Nathaniel Hawthorne

***Apart from the image by my brother, John Churchman, the remainder of the images are royalty free.

My Writing Journey and A Nugget of Wisdom–Beth Trissel


Why be a writer? Because you’re burning up with stories and ideas you just have to get down on paper (virtual paper these days) or you’ll go mad–probably are a bit crazy anyway. I have this theory about writers, those who are on medication and those who should be. I am, but wasn’t for years. Not until my breakdown right in the middle of Chapter Two of my upcoming release, Kira Daughter of the Moon. Took me years to finish that novel. *Note, it’s also essential to love chocolate and coffee, or in my case, Earl Grey tea. Writers function on caffeine. Avoid the whiskey.

In the beginning (about age twenty) I drew a picture of a clock with a dissatisfied face and angrily named it a ‘watch-gog’ because I felt that’s all I was doing, watching others live their dreams, and yearned to throw myself into a creative venture. But what?  All my family members were artistic and Lord knows I’d tried. Painting and drawing eluded me. I was no hawk-eyed photographer. I’d made some swell collages, but that didn’t seem enough. My arts and crafts weren’t as expertly done as others. Though, I must say, those tuna fish cans I decorated with Christmas scenes were charming.

Yes, I loved to write, since I could hold a crayon, and poured myself into poetry and short stories. Was there something more?  For the next twenty years I crafted pieces about rural life and gradually gained the seed of confidence to give myself permission to attempt those historical romance novels I so loved to read.  At long last, I’d begun. Could it be, was I actually a writer, and how would I know when I’d ‘arrived?’

Mountains loomed before me, and still do, with every new book. Publication, of course, was the ultimate pinnacle of success, but I discovered contests–some quite prestigious. If I excelled in those, not only might it pave the way toward my giddy goal but would lend me the credibility I hungered for. Certain I was ready for the initial launch, I entered my first RWA® Chapter Contest. While awaiting the results, I planned my acceptance speech for the awards banquet.  Whether they even had one or not, I don’t recall, but clearly remember sitting in utter bemusement holding those first score sheets. “You broke every rule,” wrote an equally bemused judge.

Rules???  Was Charles Dickens guided by rules, and what of Jane Austen? *Note to self, you are not Dickens or Austen, nor do you live in their time period. But that same judge tossed me a lifeline, “You have talent,” she said, “apparent in your beautiful descriptions.”

This at least was a place to begin. And so I did. With each step forward, there was always someone along the way to lend yet more constructive criticism which I balked at, but eventually accepted and grew from. Along with those beneficial guides were individuals who continually smacked me down. Most of them were called agents and editors. But I got back up, brushed myself off, and onward ho I went.  I cherished the good rejection letters, a personal note containing a high-five along with the inevitable ‘but.’ But, your work doesn’t—fill in the blank.

Yes, indeed, I’ve had hundreds of rejections over the years. To cheer myself up, I’d throw mini rejection parties (weekly) attended mostly by myself and the dogs. We jigged around the kitchen to lively Celtic music. Well, at least I did. They tolerated being leapt over in my spritely steps. Being on Riverdance was another dream, but I digress. (Often)

Back in the snail mail days, my dear hubby handed me my mail referring to these inevitable replies as my ‘Dear John’ letters. To gain the fortitude needed to open these dreaded missives, I inked the initials C. D. H. on the outside of my SASE which stood for Courage Dear Heart, a reference to my beloved Aslan from the Narnia Chronicles by CS Lewis. Later, I found it easier to be rejected by email, though not a lot. 

Eventually, after about ten years, I landed an excellent agent and thought this is it–I’ve arrived in the Promised Land! But no, not even she could sell my work to traditional NY publishing houses, no matter how much she extolled it or how many awards I’d garnered. They didn’t want stories set in early America.  Not sexy, not kewl.  Since when?

So my agent and I amicably parted ways and I spotted a new ship on the horizon, an untraditional publisher,  fast–gaining recognition, The Wild Rose Press. Right off, I was smitten by the name and their rose garden theme. Next to writing, my passion is gardening.  At the top of their homepage is a rose that looks very much like my favorite variety by English breeder David Austen called Abraham Darby. It was a sign unto me. I was forever seeking signs…must be my superstitious Scots-Irish forebears.  It’s also Biblical…

Many years and awards later, I have multiple books out with The Wild Rose, more releases coming this fall, and several self-pubbed titles. My best-selling novel, American historical romance, Red Bird’s Song, is the first book I ever wrote, oft rewrote, and the one mentioned above in that contest where I broke all the rules. 

I’ve learned so much in my journey, it’s difficult to know where to begin when offering advice to aspiring authors. One nugget I’ll share is to be specific in your word choices. Don’t ‘move’ across the room when you can stomp or tip-toe. Rather than a vague choice like ‘object,’ how about a dusty heap of bones? Anything that gives a clear visual will grab the reader far better than iffy imagery. Appeal to all five senses–make that six, and don’t neglect the deep sense a character possesses of what has been, is now, and may be.  Take care not to overuse words, expressions, descriptions, or words ending in ‘ly.’ No doubt you’ve heard this countless times, but ‘show don’t tell’ is vital. Keep any telling to relevant snippets interspersed with action and dialogue.

Most of all, write what you love and persevere. Learn from those helpful guides along the way. Keep on going like a sled dog in a blinding snow storm.  For years, that’s what I compared myself to. Remember,“You are not finished when you lose, you are finished when you quit.”

Did I ever threaten to quit?  Many times. And then I’d ask myself, what are you gonna do now.  Write, of course.  It’s what I do.

*Image above of me writing with some of the grandbabies beside me. Pic of my favorite rose taken by daughter Elise. The rest of the images are royalty free.

Sleep or the Lack of it–Quotes and Witty Commentary–Beth Trissel


No day is so bad it can’t be fixed with a nap.  ~Carrie Snow
*This is so true. The world would be a far better place if everyone took a nap.
“Without enough sleep, we all become tall two-year-olds.”  ~JoJo Jensen, Dirt Farmer Wisdom, 2002
*Amen to that.
“Early to rise and early to bed
Makes a man healthy and wealthy and dead.”
~James Thurber, Fables for Our Times, 1940
*Gotta love Thurber.
“And if tonight my soul may find her peace
in sleep, and sink in good oblivion,
and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower
then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created.”
~D.H. Lawrence
*Beautifully said, D.H.
“There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast.”  ~Author Unknown
*Or barking dogs.
However, cats are great nappers. Kitty Pavel snoozing in a sunbeam.
“Everything I know I learned from my cat: When you’re hungry, eat. When you’re tired, nap in a sunbeam. When you go to the vet’s, pee on your owner.” – Gary Smith
*But, of course! Most sensible creatures.
“Most people do not consider dawn to be an attractive experience – unless they are still up.”  ~Ellen Goodman
“The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.” ~E. Joseph Cossman
*Ah, the wisdom in this.
“Many things – such as loving, going to sleep, or behaving unaffectedly – are done worst when we try hardest to do them.”  ~C.S. Lewis
*I love CS Lewis!~
“Dawn:  When men of reason go to bed.” ~Ambrose Bierce
*That would not be me.
“There is more refreshment and stimulation in a nap, even of the briefest, than in all the alcohol ever distilled.”  ~Edward Lucas
*I’m sure of this, even though I rarely drink any.
“People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one.”  ~Leo J. Burke
*And to that I add, or a new puppy. My daughter’s soft-coated Wheaton Terrier, Grady, in a calmer mode as a pup. Normally these dogs act like they’ve been shot out of guns much of the time for the first two years. But very loving!
“Consciousness:  that annoying time between naps.”  ~Author Unknown
*Clearly a big napper. Cheers!
“The days are cold, the nights are long,
The North wind sings a doleful song;
Then hush again upon my breast;
All merry things are now at rest,
Save thee, my pretty love!”
~Dorothy Wordsworth, “The Cottager to Her Infant”
A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.  ~Irish Proverb
Ah, the wisdom of the Irish.
“A day without a nap is like a cupcake without frosting.”  ~Terri Guillemets
*Granddaughter Emma Rose as a baby snoozing alongside our pom poo Sadie Sue.
“There is a drowsy state, between sleeping and waking, when you dream more in five minutes with your eyes half open, and yourself half conscious of everything that is passing around you, than you would in five nights with your eyes fast closed and your senses wrapt in perfect unconsciousness.” ~Charles Dickens
*I totally agree with this, get some of my best writing done then.
“What hath night to do with sleep?”  ~John Milton
“Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.”  ~Anthony Burgess
*Or get prodded a lot if you’re my hubby.
Sleep is a symptom of caffeine deprivation.  ~Author Unknown
Coffee, anyone?
“A flock of sheep that leisurely pass by
One after one; the sound of rain, and bees
Murmuring; the fall of rivers, winds and seas,
Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky –
I’ve thought of all by turns, and still I lie
Sleepless…” ~William Wordsworth, “To Sleep”
***Because he’s not a cat. Pavel in pic again. Kitty Images by daughter Elise.
If a man had as many ideas during the day as he does when he has insomnia, he’d make a fortune.  ~Griff Niblack
“People who snore always fall asleep first.” ~Author Unknown
***Oh yes. Every time.
“When I want to go to sleep, I must first get a whole menagerie of voices to shut up. You wouldn’t believe what a racket they make in my room.”~Karl Kraus, translated from German by Harry Zohn
*Actually, I would. They’re in my head too.  Noisy bunch. And weird. Say the craziest stuff.
“Sometimes I sit up late with my thoughts, reluctant to fall asleep and leave my thoughts alone by themselves.”  ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com
*Me too. Niece Cailin and Pavel napping together.
“How do people go to sleep?  I’m afraid I’ve lost the knack.  I might try busting myself smartly over the temple with the night-light.  I might repeat to myself, slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound; if I can remember any of the damn things.”  ~Dorothy Parker
*I loved this one! Love her.
“O bed! O bed! delicious bed!
That heaven upon earth to the weary head.”
~Thomas HoodMiss Kilmansegg – Her Dream
“The feeling of sleepiness when you are not in bed, and can’t get there, is the meanest feeling in the world.”  ~Edgar Watson Howe
*Oh man, he’s got that right.
“The last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the sleeping world.”  ~Leonard Cohen
“If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying.  It’s the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep.”  ~Dale Carnegie
*True, true. He would know.
Don’t fight with the pillow, but lay down your head
And kick every worriment out of the bed.”
~Edmund Vance Cooke
*Excellent advice. For that, some of us need medication.
Sweet dreams all!

Lincoln was the first President to have ‘this’ in the White House


A Cat.  Which gets back to my ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get kittens’ adage.  The going was definitely tough for Lincoln.  And for General Robert E. Lee, who, interestingly enough, also loved cats.   If only love of cats could have united these two great leaders.

*Image of much-loved cats.  The two oriental short hair kitties, Gabby and Pookah, are no longer with us, but our rescue kitty, Minnie Mae, still is.

There are many notable cat lovers in history.  To name a few:  The Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Ann.  I expect many writers names to pop up on this list.  Here’s another Charles Dickens.  Perhaps the best known author/cat lover is Mark Twain.   It might save time to note those writers who didn’t or don’t favor cats.  Let me know if you think of any.  No one comes to mind.

An interesting article, A Few Famous Cat Lovers, gives a more complete list.

“No matter how much cats fight, there always seems to be plenty of kittens.” – Abraham Lincoln

“The naming of cats is a difficult matter. It isn’t just one of your holiday games. You may think at first I’m mad as a hatter. When I tell you a cat must have three different names…” – T.S. Eliot

And most of ours do–P. Cuthbert Wiggins, for one.  The P. stands for Percival and so we call him Percy, a dignified and highly affectionate Tabby.  Also the first name of the Scarlet Pimpernel, I might add.

“When I play with my cat, how do I know that she is not passing time with me rather than I with her?” – Montaigne

*Image of Percy and our funny SPCA rescue mix, Mia, in their younger days, taken by my mom, Pat Churchman. Percy is also a rescue kitty.

“After scolding one’s cat one looks into its face and is seized by the ugly suspicion that it understood every word. And has filed it for reference.”- Charlotte Gray

“You can keep a dog; but it is the cat who keeps people, because cats find humans useful domestic animals.”- George Mikes

Cats are kindly masters, just so long as you remember your place.”- Paul Gray

“One must love a cat on its own terms.”- Paul Gray

“Prowling his own quiet backyard or asleep by the fire, he is still only a whisker away from the wilds.” – Jean Burden

“Cats do not have to be shown how to have a good time, for they are unfailing ingenious in that respect.” – James Mason

Our Siamese tabby mix, Pavel, is a kitten/cat now, small for his age, insatiably curious, and ever on the prowl for playthings.  A gentle paw tags me for a round of ‘get the kitten’ which involves chasing him through the house.   In his blue eyes I see intelligence and affection, but given on his terms.  He’s quite busy, you see.  Apart from naps.

*Image of Pave, our latest rescue kitty, taken by daughter Elise.

“As anyone who has ever been around a cat for any length of time well knows cats have enormous patience with the limitations of the human kind.” – Cleveland Amory

“No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.” ~Proverb


March is a ‘right mixy’ month, to use a country expression.  Last week’s balmy warmth was followed by snow and today is cold, cold, cold, followed by a projected warm spell and then more snow to round out this month of extreme weather contrasts.  But that’s early spring in the Shenandoah Valley.

I grieve for the foolish apricot tree lured into bloom by the warmth, then zapped by the returning chill.  This happens nearly every spring, except last year when we had a lovely luscious crop. And the tulip leaves are looking sad, but I hope they’ll revive.  The best cure for a cold snap is a soothing wash of warm spring rain.

For some reason, the birds have nibbled the blooms on the pussy willow to bits. And I feed the birds.  The feeder hangs from the remains of the old cherry tree not far removed from the pussy willow.  My solution is to root pussy willow cuttings and plant them somewhere else.  Apparently the birds like some fresh greens along with their sunflower seeds and soft silvery little ‘pussies’ will serve. Who knew?  But I love catkins so will tuck some in an out-of-the-way corner.  Perhaps down near the pond.  I also love my birds, and kitties (big bird fans).   Sometimes our loves do not meld well.

“It’s spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!  ~Mark Twain

“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.”  ~Doug Larson

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”  ~Anne Bradstreet

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”  ~Hal Borland

“Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.”  ~Virgil A. Kraft

“Where man sees but withered leaves,

God sees sweet flowers growing.”
~Albert Laighton

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”  ~Margaret Atwood

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold:  when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”  ~Charles Dickens

“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.”  ~Mark Twain

*Pics of the Shenandoah Valley, my garden, and our gosling and kitten taken by my mom and daughter Elise.