When is a Weed Not a Weed?

Back Garden

It has been hot and the older I get the less I enjoy a hot humid day so my gardens don’t get the attention they should.

The other day I finally grabbed a bucket, gloves and pruners and set out to clean up and weed my gardens. I have one garden that is in the far back corner of the yard and has been looking very nice from the house so I assumed it would be a weedy mess when I got up close.

To my surprise, I discovered that two kinds of weeds had grown in between the perennials I planted. That there were weeds didn’t surprise me but what I found amazing is that these two weeds have filled in and layered themselves into a beautiful garden!

Being the garden geek that I am I looked up what kinds of weeds they are. I have a terrific weed reference book called Weeds of the Northeast written by Richard H. Uva, Joseph C. Neal and Joseph M. DiTomaso. If you ever want to know what is growing in your yard, I highly recommend this book. 

From what I can tell the weeds are Virginia copperleaf and Pennsylvania smartweed. The copperleaf plants are taller and are growing further back towards the middle where the Disco Belle hibiscus is. And the Pennsylvania smartweed fills in down to the edge of the garden and is full of tiny pink spike-like clusters which accent the hibiscus. The dark green textured leaves of the copperleaf is setting apart the light gray-green foliage of the Russian sage.

I couldn’t have planned it to look any better. This garden has taken care of itself and has that nice natural look that I love. What a wonderful gift.

Mother Nature knows what she’s doing when we let her.

So when is a weed not a weed? When two weeds have grown in harmony with the garden.

Picture Book Meditation

I work in a library and patrons ask for recommendations all of the time. I try to read the new picture books as they come in. That made me think about how much I loved picture books as a child. Which led me to wonder why I didn’t seem to enjoy them as much as an adult.

The most obvious answer about why I loved them as a child is the memory of my mother reading to my sister and me. We belonged to a Dr. Seuss book club and I vividly remember whenever a new book arrived in the mail we stopped everything to sit on the couch while Mom read us the story. As she read, I devoured the illustrations. It was wonderful. When the story was over, I sat with that book practically memorizing every illustration. Then the next time the story was read to me I followed along more fully engaged.

Today, when I read a picture book I’m at work and busy. So I read it as quickly as I can and move on. It was making me a little sad that I didn’t seem to enjoy them as much and I wondered if it was one of those childhood things that we lose as adults. It eventually occurred to me that I wasn’t reading them the way they are meant to be read!

I checked out a few of the books that appealed to me and brought them home. Picking the books depended on the illustrations, the title and what the story seemed to be about. I’m a sucker for watercolor drawings but have since learned that when done right the style of the illustration should compliment the written words.  And now I’m more open to many different styles of illustration. There is greatness when the pictures enhance and deepen the story. It’s art.

Recently I sat on the couch and tried to put myself in the same frame of mind I had as a child. Reading silently didn’t work because I read too fast. I discovered that the words needed to be read out loud so I could savor each word and each page of illustrations. Slowing down to enjoy a book is something most adults forget how to do but doing this adds a depth and dimension to the story you don’t get with a quick read. The great thing about a picture book is that it’s short so it doesn’t involve a big time commitment.

Then a wonderful thing happened. I lost myself in the story. Despite the fact that picture books are only 32 pages on average, the combination of the right words with the right illustration becomes magical.

As adults we all need to slow down and be in the moment. Savoring picture books can be a form of meditation. Of losing yourself in the story. Who could have guessed that picture books are a wonderful way of doing that and we can still enjoy them as adults.

I can’t wait for the new books to arrive!

Here are just 3 of my favorite summertime picture books today:

The Raft by Jim La Marche

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Water is Water by Miranda Paul 

Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle

Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayer

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Kitten Confession

One reason I haven’t been posting is because I have been obsessed with kittens.

We have had two cats in our family and they were both males. We adopted the first one when he was about 6 to 8 months old. Magic was with us for 13 years. Shortly after he died, we adopted Jake when he was a few years old. We enjoyed him for about five years until he died last year. I thought I was done having cats because it was so painful when they left.

As time passed, I have missed having a cat in the house. A gal I met in my writing group started a cat rescue in her home. I followed the progress of the rescue.

I’m a believer that cats find their forever homes and choose their people. I knew that if I was meant to have one I would recognize the signs.

My husband and I decided to get a kitten. We’ve never had a kitten and thought it might be a good idea since we would like a cat that will be happy traveling with us in our motor home. We figured a kitten would adjust to how we live right from the beginning.

The obsession started in April when I saw a picture like this posted on Facebook on the Fosterlings page. Sierra I saw this face and couldn’t stop looking at her. Then when I heard that her name was Sierra, I knew that was my sign. There’s a lot of reasons for that which I won’t bore you with but suffice it to say that everything clicked.

I went to meet Sierra April 17th.

Sierra at almost 4 weeks old.

Sierra at almost 4 weeks old.

 While I was there I met the rest of her litter. A little gray tabby named Tango kept crawling into my lap. I pondered the idea of getting two but dismissed it as a crazy thought. Plus I didn’t want another male. But he sure was cute!

Tango & Sierra

Tango & Sierra

A week later I brought my husband to meet Sierra, who I was already smitten with! Well, didn’t Tango climb into both of our laps and steal our hearts! Long story short, we decided to adopt them both.

A couple of weeks later we found out that Tango, who we had renamed Rocky (we had a mountain theme going here, see?) was a girl! Since she was so changeable, we named her Mystique, or Misty for short. (Misty continues the mountain theme since there are the Misty Mountains in the Lord of the Rings books which are my favorites!) Now we had two sisters that we loved.

I spent the months of April and May obsessed with these two adorable fur balls. We couldn’t wait to bring them home! On May 25th we did.

Sierra & Mystique

Sierra & Mystique: first day home.

Sierra and Mystique were all I was thinking about and doing. They kept me busy and smiling.

This is what they look like now. They are growing like crazy!

Sierra & Misty 7/31/15

Sierra & Misty 7/31/15

Now that we have had these fun furry people living with us for a couple of months and we are all settled in I can think about other things like writing.

I’ll try not to overdo the kitten posts but I can’t make any promises.

By the way, check out Fosterlings website. They do wonderful work in finding homes for cats and kittens.

Hello Again!

rainbow

I’ve taken a break from blogging and I thought it had been much longer since I posted. I am pleasantly surprised to see that it has only been since March.

I put off posting because I wasn’t sure what to say after being gone for a while. I’m sure I could list the reasons why and what I have been doing instead but I think after a sentence or two, it would just look like blah, blah, blah. So I will skip that!

I will say that I needed a period of time to internalize, look within, regroup and recharge. Not only with blogging but with life. In fact the only writing I have done has been to journal about what has been happening in my life. We all go through stormy times and eventually we’ll see a rainbow. Sometimes it just takes time and patience.

I felt that I was done with writing. As those of you who are writers know, that doesn’t last. The words build up and have to get out. It’s reassuring to know that the desire to write never really goes away.

I want to thank the people who have encouraged me to write again. You know who you are and I appreciate your support and the kick in the pants I’ve needed.

In short, I will try to post more regularly again. Thanks for understanding. It’s good to be back!

30 Interesting Facts about Books

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sherriepalmer:

This is a great post for book lovers from Interesting Literature.

Originally posted on Interesting Literature:

30 fun facts about books, in honour of World Book Day 2015

SF writer Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) is the only author to have published a book in all ten Dewey library categories.

When asked what book he’d like to have with him on a desert island, G. K. Chesterton replied, ‘Thomas’s Guide to Practical Shipbuilding.’

Hugh Lofting, author of Dr Doolittle, thought books should have a ‘senile’ category to complement the ‘juvenile’ section.

Dickens’s house had a secret door in the form of a fake bookcase. The fake books included titles such as ‘The Life of a Cat’ in 9 volumes.

Playwright Joe Orton went to prison in 1962 for defacing library books. One of the cartoons he drew shows an elderly tattooed man in trunks.

Books BerlinThe first book bought on Amazon was called Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought.

Author…

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A Gift From Harry Potter

The Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling have been a part of my life from the beginning. I started reading them with my daughter when she was about the same age as Harry.

I remember reading that first book and being pulled in from the first page. The writing was fantastic and the world of Harry Potter was magical.

I started working at a book store and got to be a part of the Midnight Release Parties for the last three books. I became Professor Trivia and was in charge of the trivia games. I also started book discussion groups while there where we would meet and talk about all of the books in anticipation of the next one coming out.

These books are loved by people of all ages. There were kids from about the age of five all the way up to grandparents in these groups. The excitement about the new books, the bonds that people had made with the characters, the amazing memorizing of details and the fun of guessing or hoping what would happen next was so much fun. By the last book, everyone was curious to see how it would all end but felt sadness in it being over. I think everyone knew that we were a part of a historical event and nobody was taking it for granted.

Now I work in a tiny library and the love of the Harry Potter books and movies is going strong. Last year I decided to split the series in two and hold two discussion/trivia groups. I had a great turnout and the excitement is still there. It is wonderful to see that people are still discovering these books. I’m a little jealous of them getting to experience it all for the first time.

Did I mention the creative snacks we enjoy?

Did I mention the creative snacks we enjoy?

What I learned is that people still want to talk about the books in detail and those two groups weren’t nearly enough time. So after a few requests, I am now doing one book a month.

We just met to discuss Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the second in the series. Most of the same people were there but there were some new faces too.

What was surprising was how creative these kids are! Not only did they know their stuff about Harry and the gang, they brought their own surprises. One young man showed us his magic card trick which I thought was amazing! Another played the theme music on his tablet. A girl introduced me to Potter Puppet Pals by playing one of these videos on her smart phone for the group. I realized that not only were the kids having fun but I was too!

My favorite thing that happened was that two of the kids admitted that they aren’t big readers but are having so much fun and enjoying these books so much that they are going to continue reading them and attending these groups. I don’t think I can fully express how excited I was to hear this!

These groups started out to be fun but have turned into so much more. Seeing young people getting excited about reading is just the best. It makes me feel like I am doing the right thing and that is a feeling we all could use more of. If you follow this blog you know that reading and writing are my passions in life. It is so fulfilling to be able to share with others and see them get it too.

So how about you? Do you have a passion for something and share it with others?

Local Author Event

You never know how much talent there is in your own back yard. I discovered this last Saturday when Erin McCole Cupp and I invited local authors to come and spend the afternoon at the Atglen Public Library.

We ended up with a dozen authors coming. Many authors had more than one book available. Some of them are also performing storytellers, historians, educators, scientists, lawyers, journalists and more. Many are available for school visits and offer workshops.

I was both nervous and excited about the day. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t great and I was afraid that would keep people from coming. I was afraid it would be quiet and sad that the weather kept people away. Instead I was pleasantly surprised to see that the day was upbeat and fun!

The authors arrived mostly one at a time which was great because then Erin and I could meet them and show them where they could set up. We introduced each person as they arrived and they took it from there. Soon the room was full of the happy chatter of authors comparing their books, their craft and getting to know each other.

Despite the snowy weather some people did arrive to see what was going on and they were made to feel welcome.

We had a blind book date which was fun. Each person took a book to read for a few minutes and then shifted to the left and read the next book. It was a great way to see what the authors were offering.

Speed Book Dating

Speed Book Dating

We also let authors sign up for a 5-10 minute presentation. Luckily by this time we had a small audience and they sat listening to each author speak. The authors talked about their book(s) and how they came to write them. There was time after that to meet with the authors and buy some books.

Overall it ended up being a high energy and intimate meeting of authors and the public. It was amazing how varied the writing material was. We had local historical fiction, mystery, science fiction, horror, romance, young adult and children’s. There was nonfiction including animal welfare, spirituality, dealing with grief and local history.

Everyone is asking if we will do this again and I think we will. Take a look at your neighborhood and see who is there. I think you might be surprised!

Authors

Authors

Here are the authors who attended. Please visit their sites, take a look at their books and say hello.

Carolyn Astfalk: http://carolynastfalk.com/

Susannah Brody: http://home.comcast.net/~susannahbrody/books.html

Jennifer Gladen: http://jengladen.com/

K.B. Inglee:  http://kbinglee.weebly.com/

Susan Marie Kelley: http://susanmariekelley.weebly.com/

Jane Kelly: http://janekellymystery.homestead.com/jk.html

Erin McCole Cupp: http://erinmccolecupp.com/

Treva Hall Melvin: http://thepoisonedpencil.com/treva-hall-melvin/

Marcella Peyre-Ferry: PFFarms@earthlink.com

Nancy B. Schmitt & Kelly Schmitt:  Nancy’s books are available at the Malvern Borough website.  Contact Kelly at mactavish@rocketmail.com

Chris Shaughness: http://www.chrisshaughness.com/

Walt Trizna: https://walttriznastories.wordpress.com/