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Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke


I’ve been so engrossed in my gardening, I nearly forgot it was Earth Day. Some images and quotes below to mark the day.

(My front garden in April. Virginia bluebells in the foreground. My dear grandmother gave me a start of these decades ago and they have thrived.)

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. ~Margaret Atwood, “Unearthing Suite,” 1983  (I’ve certainly been covered in dirt lately)

I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden. ~Ruth Stout (I love this quote and greatly admire the wonderful Ruth Stout and her gardening wisdom.)

(Most mornings I wake up to geese in my yard and garden. How about you?)

In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours. ~Mark Twain (Yep. And this spring has been extra wacky)

‘Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.’ ~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke

Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day. ~W. Earl Hall

(Another shot of the bluebells and tulips)

April is a promise that May is bound to keep. ~Hal Borlan

Every April, God rewrites the Book of Genesis. ~Author Unknown (I know what he means, new life and all that. Like the valley is recreated each spring)

Exciting spring smells waft through wide open windows… ~David J. Beard (1947–2016), tweet, 2009 March 7th

The window is open and a warm, delicious little breeze comes wandering in. It smells of magnolias and dogwood and it whispers in our ears enticing little stories of gurgling brooks and cool woods. Yes, we have got spring fever and got it bad. ~Country Life, June 1922 (Me, too)

(This deep purple lilac has been on the farm since long before my time. Does anyone not like lilacs? I love them.)

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
~Robert Frost (I do, indeed)
The sun has come out… and the air is vivid with spring light. ~Byron Caldwell Smith, letter to Kate Stephens

…the sweet wildflower breath of spring… ~Terri Guillemets (I have planted oodles of wildflower seeds. Pics to come.)

(Puffy flowering pussy willow)

April hath put a spirit of youth in everything. ~William Shakespeare

It’s spring! Farewell
To chills and colds!
The blushing, girlish
World unfolds
Each flower, leaf
And blade of sod—
Small letters sent
To her from God.
~John Updike, “April,” A Child’s Calendar, 1965

(My front garden in April. Note the much used wheelbarrow in back)

Spring: the music of open windows. ~Terri Guillemets

A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King.
~Emily Dickinson

The front door to springtime is a photographer’s best friend. ~Terri Guillemets, “Cephalophyllum,” 2007 (True)

(My back garden with cherry blossoms, herbs, flowers…preparing to bloom)

Spring in verses
Verses in spring.
~Terri Guillemets

Miracle Max: “You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.”


The Princess Bride

Buttercup: We’ll never survive.

Westley: Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.

****

Buttercup: You mock my pain.

Man in Black: Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

****

Vizzini: HE DIDN’T FALL? INCONCEIVABLE.

Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

****

princess-bride-2

Westley: I told you I would always come for you. Why didn’t you wait for me?

Buttercup: Well… you were dead.

Westley: Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.

Buttercup: I will never doubt again.

Westley: There will never be a need.

****

Westley: Why won’t my arms move?

Fezzik: You’ve been mostly-dead all day.

****

Man in Black: Look, are you just fiddling around with me or what?

Fezzik: I just want you to feel you’re doing well.

****

Prince Humperdinck: [draws sword] For the last time, surrender!

Westley: DEATH FIRST!

westley

****

Grandpa: Westley didn’t reach his destination. His ship was attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who never left captives alive. When Buttercup got the news that Westley was murdered…

The Grandson: Murdered by pirates is good…

****

Inigo Montoya: That Vizzini, he can *fuss*.

Fezzik: Fuss, fuss… I think he like to scream at *us*.

Inigo Montoya: Probably he means no *harm*.

Fezzik: He’s really very short on *charm*.

Inigo Montoya: You have a great gift for rhyme.

Fezzik: Yes, yes, some of the time.

Vizzini: Enough of that.

Inigo Montoya: Fezzik, are there rocks ahead?

Fezzik: If there are, we all be dead.

Vizzini: No more rhymes now, I mean it.

Fezzik: Anybody want a peanut?

Vizzini: DYEEAAHHHHHH!

the-princess-bride-2

Vintage Christmas Cards From Old Family Trunk


My mom took pics of the old cards she found in a family trunk. I love these nostalgic cards and the memories they evoke. Not that I lived back then, but the names are familiar and I’ve heard stories about these family members and friends who have gone before me. Some I even remember in their later years.

Vintage American Christmas Card with CarolersThe best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. ~Burton Hillis

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

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

Vintage American Christmas Card--excited boy peering through window

For the spirit of Christmas fulfils the greatest hunger of mankind. ~Loring A. Schuler

This is the message of Christmas: We are never alone. ~Taylor Caldwell

It is the Christmas time:
And up and down ‘twixt heaven and earth,
In glorious grief and solemn mirth,
The shining angels climb.
~Dinah Maria Mulock

Vintage American Christmas Card Kitty
The perfect Christmas tree? All Christmas trees are perfect! ~Charles N. B

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

Vintage Santa Christmas Card

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

Instead of being a time of unusual behavior, Christmas is perhaps the only time in the year when people can obey their natural impulses and express their true sentiments without feeling self-conscious and, perhaps, foolish. Christmas, in short, is about the only chance a man has to be himself. ~Francis C.Farley

early American Christmas Stamp

It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air. ~W.T. Ellis

For centuries men have kept an appointment with Christmas. Christmas means fellowship, feasting, giving and receiving, a time of good cheer, home. ~W.J. Ronald Tucker

Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen. ~Author unknown, attributed to a 7-year-old named Bobby

Old Christmas Card Family Scene

Cats and Writers Go Together like PB and J


Little shop cat with kittens resizedHappiness is a box full of kittens.

With rare exceptions (no one comes to mind) authors love cats. Dogs, too, many of us, but invariably cats. I’m besotted by them, always have been. I’m wondering when a reader will notice the orange tabby I’ve included in many of my stories (Somewhere My Love, Somewhere My Lass, Somewhere in the Highlands, Enemy of the King, my upcoming release, Traitor’s Legacy….I would have included ‘the cat’ in my Native American sagas but we were too much on the go.

Beth Trissel and friends resizedAll of our cats are rescues. And now, housed in my sun room, are a mama cat and her six newborn kittens. We came by this kitty, as we have so many felines, after we discovered her dropped off on our farm. That happens a lot to dairy farmers. Something about milk and cats. This lovely tortoiseshell is very sweet and at home in her new abode. She’s also an excellent mama. Thank heavens. I don’t want to raise all her offspring myself. That last go at caring for a newborn kitten didn’t end well. Tiny kittens really need a mama in these first vital first days. We’ve been calling her ‘The Little Shop Cat’ because she took up residence in the farm shop, with increasingly frequent trips to the garage and kitchen steps after she found I’m a softie and would feed her. I’m thinking of naming her Serenity, because she’s so serene. But then no one will know who I’m talking about. (Image of Sadie and Pavel as a kitten)

PercyIt’s gonna get pretty lively around here in a few weeks when these little guys wake up and start exploring. Our senior lap cat, Percy, will take offense at their frolicking. Pavel, our two-yr-old Siamese tabby mix, will be intrigued, and likely join in the fun. Shy Minnie Mae, will watch from the corners and hide. My, and I do mean MY, tiny pom-poo Sadie Sue is fascinated by kittens, as long as they don’t occupy her spot by me on the couch. And our recent rescue dog, Jilly, is learning that kitties are not for chasing, but may need a reminder. She and the mama are already pals. Yes, we shall be seeking homes for (most) of this adorable litter when they are old enough. (Image of Percy)

sleeping tabby kitten“A catless writer is almost inconceivable.  It’s a perverse taste, really, since it would be easier to write with a herd of buffalo in the room than even one cat; they make nests in the notes and bite the end of the pen and walk on the typewriter keys.”  ~Barbara Holland

kitten Cedric look alike.jpg1

“The cat could very well be man’s best friend but would never stoop to admitting it.”  ~Doug Larson

“There has never been a cat
Who couldn’t calm me down
By walking slowly
Past my chair.”
~Rod McKuen

Sleeping newborn kittens.jpg resized“I had been told that the training procedure with cats was difficult. It’s not.  Mine had me trained in two days.” ~Bill Dana

(Sleeping newborn kittens)

“If there is one spot of sun spilling onto the floor, a cat will find it and soak it up.”  ~J.A. McIntosh

“No amount of time can erase the memory of a good cat, and no amount of masking tape can ever totally remove his fur from your couch.”  ~Leo Dworken

“Kittens believe that all nature is occupied with their diversion.”  ~F.A. Paradis de Moncrif

Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want. ~Joseph Wood Krutch

Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons. ~Robertson Davies 

kitty pavelWhat greater gift than the love of a cat? ~Charles Dickens

People who love cats have some of the biggest hearts around. ~Susan Easterly

That would be authors.

(Kitty Pavel)

*Images by daughter Elise

“The facts of life are the impossibilities of fiction.” ~ Jerome K. Jerome


Girl and boy on footbridge over stream“Life is a spell so exquisite that everything conspires to break it.” ~ EMILY DICKINSON

“Life is like walking through Paradise with peas in your shoes.”~ CHARLES EDWARD JERNINGHAMThe Maxims of Marmaduke

“To live is to war with trolls.” ~HENRIK IBSEN

“Live on, survive, for the earth gives forth wonders. It may swallow your heart, but the wonders keep on coming. You stand before them bareheaded, shriven. What is expected of you is attention.” ~ SALMAN RUSHDIEThe Ground Beneath Her Fee

Light Rays through Autumn Woods

“Time
Like a petal in the wind
Flows softly by
As old lives are taken
New ones begin
A continual chain
Which lasts throughout eternity
Every life but a minute in time
But each of equal importance.”
~CINDY CHENEY, “Time”
“Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss.” ~BENJAMIN BUTTON, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
 
Light Rays Through the Forest
“Stop and consider! life is but a day; A fragile dew-drop on its perilous way From a tree’s summit.” ~JOHN KEATS, “Sleep and Poetry”

“If you haven’t fought for your life for something you want, you don’t know what’s life all about.” ~ROBERT STONEDog Soldiers

“Life is but a prelude.” ~EDWARD COUNSELMaxims

“Life is a garden forever in flower.” ~ELLA WHEELER WILCOX, “Entre-Acte Reveries”

“Life is hard. After all, it kills you!” ~KATHARINE HEPBURN

“My mistakes are my life.” ~SAMUEL BECKETT

For more Life Quotes Visit:  http://www.notable-quotes.com/l/life_quotes.html#8DZ3pXPMO9WEqRdm.99

***Royalty free images

‘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

Pondering the Possibility of Ducklings–Beth Trissel


Who Doesn’t Love Ducklings?

I’m excited about all the migrating ducks on our farm pond this spring. And, once again, am debating the possibility and advisability of mail ordering some garden friendly ducklings and raising them to be my garden pals. Some varieties eat grubs and other pesky insects while not destroying the plants. But ducks need a pool of some sort as they love water, so I must provide that while figuring out a way to keep them from heading down to the ‘big water’–our pond. I also envision the need for a pen for their protection, and am pondering where it might be located, who would build it, plus how to care for them in the winter….Meanwhile, here’s an excerpt from my nonfiction book about gardening and country life, Shenandoah Watercolors, available at Amazon in kindle and print with lovely images of the valley and mountains. (*A 2012 EPIC eBook Finalist)
~When the world was new and I was young, I ordered a dozen Rouen ducklings (resemble large mallards) from a game farm and began my love affair with ducks, blessed by its moments of joy and cursed with inevitable tragedy.  The box of downy babies was delivered directly to my door much earlier in the day than our mail normally comes as the mailman had wearied of their incessant peeping.  I took the new arrivals from the grateful carrier and transferred them to a corner of the family room under a warm light bulb.  My two oldest children, in grade school then, were delighted with their new playmates, but soon joined me in the discovery that these tiny creatures were incredibly messy.
The ducklings reveled in their food, spewing a mixture of feed and water on themselves, the box, and the walls.  This led to their speedy removal to an unoccupied rabbit hutch in an outbuilding.  Here they grew in sheltered bliss until we deemed them ready for life on the pond, unaware that our charges needed parental guidance. The unchaperoned youngsters soon slipped under the fence and lost themselves in the neighbor’s grassy meadow.  We tracked their frantic quacks and carried them home, only to have them forget and stray again and again.
(*Our pond, calm on this day but often filled with ducks and geese)
Sadly, unwary ducklings do not know to be on guard against snapping turtles, something their mama would have taught them.  By summer’s end, just two grown ducks remained and were fondly named Daphne and Darlene. They were inseparable and divided their day between the cows and geese in the barnyard and forays to the pond.
The next spring Daphne and Darlene built a mutual nest inside a clump of gold-button tansy at the edge of the garden and patiently sat on the eggs that would never hatch.  It was time to find them a suitable spouse.  One fall evening “Don” arrived in my hubby’s pickup truck.
(*Little creek that meanders through our meadow and under the fence to the neighbors)
The girls took an instant liking to the handsome drake, and he to them, though he showed a slight preference for Darlene.  As spring neared again, we noticed a wild mallard drake observing our little band.  He would dash forward for a bite of grain at feeding time, only to be driven away by Don.  We pitied Dwayne, as he soon became known, and tossed a handful far to the side for him.  Besides the free lunch, it seemed that Dwayne was attracted to our Daphne, much to Don’s strong disapproval.
The small male was undeterred and eventually won acceptance, amusing us by his attempts to mate with Daphne, twice his size.  Persistence won out though.  That year the girls had separate nests, Darlene at the base of a bittersweet vine, while Daphne went back to the tansy.  Don and Dwayne bonded, swapping stories as they awaited imminent fatherhood.
The ducklings hatched in late spring and grew quickly.  All survived with excellent care from their mothers.  By fall we could see Dwayne’s influence on the flock.  His offspring were considerably smaller. It was a golden, happy time. Late afternoons we quacked loudly, calling our ducks for feeding.  Heads popped up from the seeding grass and they answered back then waddled single file behind Don, their noble leader.  If we were late with dinner, they gathered to complain about the lack of service and were not averse to heading up to the house to fetch us if necessary.
Autumn in all its splendor passed into a winter that was our most severe in years.  We tromped faithfully through the deep snow every day to scatter feed on the frozen pond.  Then one morning after fresh snowfall we could not find a single duck.  Our anxious calls came back to us empty on the wind…searching revealed spatters of blood and dog tracks in the snow, the silent witness to their grim fate.   Still, we hoped that some birds had escaped the attack and combed the neighborhood, finally locating a pair of Dwayne’s offspring.  Only the smaller ducks could fly well.  We had unwittingly fed the others up to be “sitting ducks,” an expression I understand too well now.  A week later Dwayne returned on his own, but it was a bleak time.  How empty the pond seemed without the gang.
That May, Betty, our lone remaining female, hatched a fuzzy brood.  Familiar quacks again filled the air and gladdened our spirits.  It just isn’t spring without ducklings.  ~
All of this took place eons ago, but we still have ducks on our pond and an ample flock fussy barnyard geese who make daily visits down to the water. The small town of Dayton, Virginia, not far from us, has a lovely body of water called Silver Lake (the size of a large pond) and a stream that attracts so many ducks the town has installed a duck crossing sign.
*Pics of our farm and ducks, also my mom and dad’s ducks…it’s a family thing this love of ducks. *Images by my mom, Pat Churchman.  *The one of the creek by daughter Elise. It’s awash with moisture now, but was only a trickle that day.
*This story about ducklings is the one that really got me started in writing. It was ‘almost’ published in Southern Living Magazine and that editor gave me much encouragement about my writing, then she referred me to an editor at Progressive Farmer who accepted it and several more nonfiction pieces about rural life, but their free-lance column got axed before publication.
(Tame duck swimming in ‘duck weed’ in my parent’s water garden)