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A Love of Poetry

Robert Louise Stevenson illustrated by Jessie Wilcox Smith

* Illustration by Jessie Willcox Smith *

I have always loved classic poetry. I am sure it is because my mother read poems to us as children. When my own children were born, I read the same poems to them in hopes they would remember and in some way bridge the generations to a grandmother they were never blessed to meet.

Today I came across one of my simple favorites from Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses – a book every child should have – entitled ‘Auntie’s Skirts’.

My aunts did not wear skirts. They grew up during WWII when many women left the home and went to work to support the war efforts. I am sure the beautiful illustrations by Jessie Willcox Smith helped turn Stevenson’s words into a magical world for me.

I hope there is a new generation of writers who love poetry and celebrate the beauty and grace of the poets that made my childhood so magical. I close my eyes and imagine a the simple observations of every day life detailed with words spun of gold.

If you are a writer, I challenge you to write today. If you are a poet, I challenge you to pen beautiful prose that will inspire the imagination of readers and illustrators alike. We need you both for our future generation of dreamers and lovers of the written word.

Auntie’s Skirts

Whenever Auntie moves around,
Her dresses make a curious sound,
They trail behind her up the floor,
And trundle after through the door.

(Many thanks to Project Gutenberg for making literature readily accessible to millions.)

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2

Too Many Hurricanes

img_6784Today I am sitting in the calm watching the wrath of Hurricane Florence bear down on the coast of North Carolina. This is my state and it is gutting to watch another disaster unfurl before my eyes. Especially knowing I have someone I care so much for sitting in Wilmington weathering the storm alone.

I despise hurricanes. I never knew anything about them until my husband and I started dating in 1995.

I was living in Maine at the time and he came up to do some ‘leaf peeping’ in October – prime for autumnal color. We stopped for a late lunch at the Black Pearl in Rockland – a cozy seaside restaurant. The deck was closed in with heavy plastic and the waves were whipping over the seawall. Everyone was busy securing boats and anything capable of being blown around. After asking a few questions, we realized these waves were remnants of Hurricane Opal, an extremely devastating hurricane that had made its way all the way from the Gulf Coast to Canada.

Fast forward almost a year, we planned an amazing wedding in Charleston, SC with a honeymoon to follow in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. That was before Hurricane Fran was predicted to hit Charleston. I will not go into the details of the havoc that caused on our preparations – another post for another day – but anything non-essential like wedding plans came to a screeching halt. Suddenly, the storm made a turn and eventually made landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina. We dodged a bullet on that one but with hurricanes, not everyone is spared. North Carolina was hit hard.

Things were pretty calm for us personally until 1999 when Hurricane Floyd was threatening Florida. That was the first and last time we fell for the suggestion of duct taping your windows. It does nothing for you and it is a mess to clean up. The storm again turned, hit the Bahamas and up the east coast of the states before making landfall in Cape Fear, North Carolina. Eastern North Carolina had been hit just weeks earlier by Hurricane Dennis.

Fast forward to 2004. We purchased a house in the beautiful community of Winter Park, Florida. The house was very modern with a flat roof and windows everywhere. We knew the roof would need to be replaced soon but we were so much in love with this house! It was our dream home.

August rolled around and Hurricane Charley came into the picture. Unfortunately, the track changed rather quickly and we had less than half a day to prepare. There was barely time to get water, gas and food before the storm was on its way. The eye of the storm passed directly over us. It was surreal. We were without power for 7 days. Destruction was everywhere. All the roads to our neighborhood were completely blocked.

After going through Charley weeks earlier, we were concerned when Hurricane Frances came on the horizon. We were fortunate enough to find some blue board to put on the big windows in the house. It was dark and depressing and we paced the floor worrying about the roof that needed to be replaced. Thank the Lord, we made it through with no roof damage.

But Mother Nature wasn’t done yet. Hurricane Jeanne also came through that year. We left the house boarded up for two months. We had some minor damage with fencing and trees and of course loss of power during those three storms that year, but we had come out unscathed. It was a frightening time. A lot of people moved out of Florida that year.

We eventually retired to our beloved North Carolina and were finally away from hurricanes or so we thought. Last year Hurricane Irma was looming and our children and new granddaughter were in the path of the storm. So many people were being evacuated that roads were clogged and gas was hard to come by. People who tried to evacuate often turned around and returned to Florida. They made the very hard decision to stay. The fear of being stranded on the highway with a newborn and two cats will make you consider all options.

We stayed on the phone with them all night. These storms that come in the dark of night take a toll on your nerves. But God watched over them through the storm. They were blessed. We were blessed. They made it through the most frightening night of their lives with no damage and no loss of power. We all went to bed around 5:00 am when the worst of the storm had passed.

Now we watch and wait for the remnants of Hurricane Florence to arrive here. The waiting is so hard, but we are not in the worst of it. So many people are already experiencing the wrath of such a storm. We have good friends and family scattered throughout the Carolinas. It is hard to wait, knowing the power is out and will likely be out for weeks. We just pray and pray and pray that everyone makes it through okay.

I joke with my husband that had I not met him I am not sure I would have this on-again off-again relationships with hurricanes. They have become a big part of the story of our lives. We have been fortunate through it all and we always have a tale to tell. And truthfully, I don’t blame him totally! 🙂

I am constantly praying for everyone’s safety and that the storm will soon pass for all of us. Stay safe. Stay diligent.

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Every Day Struggle for Life

Watching a hurricane approach can be stressful, especially if you are in the path of the storm. We live inland, so Hurricane Florence will lose some strength before it gets to us. However, after living in Florida for so long, you learn you just never know what’s going to happen until it gets down to the wire. I have friends and family closer to the coast, so it is stressful no matter where the storm goes.

YIMG_6743esterday I just needed to take a short break and decided to walk down to get the mail. We live on a hill with a steep driveway and a steep road. The mailbox is at the bottom of the hill so it is a nice little walk. I stepped out of the front door and a bright yellow leaf caught my eye. It was in the driveway, but had not yet turned brown and brittle like the others. The trees were shedding preparing to go dormant for the coming winter months. As I walked along, I noticed how many plants were budding. Fall is just around the corner so this juxtaposition of dying leaves and new growth reminded me of the constant struggle for life.

When my grandchildren were here this summer, we took a twice daily walk down to a little creek beyond our mailbox. The first day we saw a snake sunning himself on the rocks. At the slightest vibration, he disappeared into the rocks. My granddaughter named him Jerry. I asked “Why Jerry?”. She explained it was after Tom and Jerry because Jerry always ran away. I love that child!

IMG_6750So, today I decided to walk down to the creek in search of Jerry. At the bottom of the hill, I noticed a bright white dead branch hanging from a tree at the end of our road. I think that tree may see some damage if we get the winds they are predicting with the hurricane. That might have been the last time I would see it suspended from the green portion of the living tree.

As I walked further down the road, I noticed the county had painted new lines on the road. They were bright in contrast to the pavement. I wondered how long the road had been there and just how many times it had been painted over the years. How many people and animals IMG_6752had crossed this road?

I tiptoed to the bridge to look for Jerry among the rocks. I was barely able to catch a glimpse of him before he slithered back into hiding. We are so afraid of snakes but I think he is just trying to survive like the rest of us.IMG_6753

The next few days are going to be precarious for a lot of living creatures. We are all in the same struggle for life. I recently read that half of the population of wild parrots were killed when Hurricane Hugo hit Puerto Rico.  Makes me sad for all the l creatures I share my world with. It is a constant reminder that we are all in this thing called life together. All struggling, fighting and praying for things to return to normal.

Stay safe everyone.

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Internet, Writing and Bunnies

This will be short. Our internet and cable have been down since last night. Living out in the country means the wait for repair is extended. It will be tomorrow before a technician is able to try and resolve the problem. We have tried all the possible remedies to no avail. So it is time to punt.

We are so technologically dependent. With Hurricane Florence approaching, the outage makes it harder to check the status of the storm. A lot of my tasks today were hampered.

I planned to work on a short story I had shelved a year or so ago. I finally found my last draft tucked quietly away in the cloud. I was able to download it to my phone and thought through the magic of Apple’s Airdrop I would be able to transfer it to my laptop so I can write. Writing a lengthy story on a five inch screen just does not work. Thankfully, Airdrop worked!

After a long morning, I was feeling frustrated. I glanced outside just in time to see our resident wild bunny. A few days ago I remarked to my husband that I had not seen the bunny for months. And today, when I needed a breathable moment, there he was. He always makes me smile.

So there you have it. Maybe this is preparing us for what lies ahead. Right now I will just think about the bunny.

Now off to write – keeping myself in the positive lane on my little mountain roadway.

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Transitions

img_2549I follow Kim Halsey‘s Leading With Heart Facebook page. She creates some thought-provoking videos and this morning was no different. It was short and concise but she said something that struck a chord with me. She mentioned women who are in some sort of transition. That word stuck with me all morning. I think perhaps this is what I am feeling. Maybe not in the way most people imagine transitioning to be, but I feel I am definitely in-between phases of my life.

Today I was overwhelmed with news of Hurricane Florence aiming sights on the Carolinas. After living in Florida for 18 years you come to understand the cycle of hurricane preparation. If you watch or read or listen too much, you will drive yourself crazy. We lived through one summer with three hurricanes: Charlie, Frances and Jeanne. We lived with our windows boarded up for the last two and I thought I would go stark raving mad. What you learn after 18 years of this annual trauma is to learn to exercise extreme self care. Once you know it is headed your way, you get your supplies together and resist the urge to check on the status every three hours as the National Hurricane Center makes its updates.

So, I shut off Facebook and decided to go outside. Nature has always been my solace and today is no different. I took my phone so I could snap some photos along the way. The first day of fall is September 22. I love fall. Color comes back for a brief while. I am thrilled with the mix of orange, yellow and red everywhere you look – especially here in my mountains. If Florence heads our way though, we might lose a lot of foliage before the leaves change. Nope, cannot think about that.

What I saw outside was my little world in transition. Summer is coming to an end and the green leaves are struggling to stay alive. New shoots are mixed with dried, brown leaves that have already given up to the change in seasons. I saw a few blooms – the last of the season I am sure – still bright in color as if to defy the transition that lies ahead. I saw a beautiful yellow butterfly – leaf shaped – that managed to disappear into the foliage. It was frantically darting in and out of the foliage looking for the last bit of available food. It was beautiful – so bright amongst all the dark green leaves. I tried to get close enough to take a photo, but, sometimes the only time you see God’s little miracles are to be there – in the moment – to witness them.

I am not sure what this transition is for me, but I am anxious to dig in and discover what I am leaving behind and what discovery lies ahead. It’s nice to know I am in sync with Mother Nature. She is a glorious companion to welcome along on my journey.

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Blogging Every Day For a Year

Yes, friends, this is what I signed up for. My daughter said, “Mom, that’s great but this is so much more than your 30 days of NaNoWriMo!!!!”  She is so right but I feel an unfamiliar dedication to this project.

NaNoWriMo is an annual event in which writers from all over the world set out to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It takes place every November and every year I join. I do not always finish. Honestly, I do not always get halfway. So what makes me think I will blog every day for 365 days?

img_6708First of all, my creative mind often gets sidetracked from everyday stresses and obligations. Writing a blog allows me to write about those events and clear them out of my way. Secondly, NaNoWriMo is very volume and deadline driven. Having that kind of pressure does not always work for me.

I also like to write about little miracles and little beautiful occurrences throughout the day. Like today, for example, I saw the most beautiful butterfly. It was blue and its wings glistened in the sunlight. I had just watered the plants and the butterfly swooped down to the little puddle of water I created on the sidewalk. It was just a tiny moment in my day but it has stayed with me all day.

Since I decided to do this project with my friend, Maitri, I seem to have a motivation I have been lacking. I know I need to be careful not to set too many expectations for myself, but I am anxious to work on things I have set aside for far too long. I think I have needed the push.

I have decided to create yet another WordPress blog for this 365 day adventure. I have a website I considered putting it on, but it is under construction and I did not want to bog down my blog with the design work I need to finish. I also decided not to blog here because this blog to me has a different purpose and so much family history. It just means something different to me.

So, if you care to follow along on this 365 day journey, I would welcome the company and the encouragement. I’ll be blogging on a new WordPress blog: From Cave Walls. I’ll be there for the next year starting September 24th!

Hope to see you there! Happy Blogging!

 

 

 

 

 

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Apple Support Advice

As promised, I’m back to tell you how my call with the support center went and give you some advice if you own an iPhone. (Read this long missive if you need to catch up.)

The support center called me back as promised. He was able to verify the IMEI number on the phone I was shown yesterday – it was indeed my phone. The rest of the call went as I expected. He answered my questions patiently and apologized for the lack of tactfulness shown by the Apple store staff. Outside of that, I have a phone that is working, my data has been erased off my old phone and my problem has been resolved. He was not dismissive – quite the contrary. He listened and responded to everything I had concerns about but the bottom line was simply that I was back in business. He even offered that I could call him at any time if I ever had any questions. Nice.

So, now to the advice.

  1. img_6702Back up your device – NOW. If you do not know how, learn. You can do backups on Apple’s iCloud or you can backup using iTunes. I use the latter and it works well. It is important to have a baseline backup you know is good.
  2. Make a habit of backing your iPhone (and your other devices) frequently. You never know when you will need it. If you ever need to get a replacement for your phone, the only way you will get your data back is to restore it from a backup.
  3. Use the Genius Bar before you have problems. If you do not know how your device works – learn. You need to know how to backup your phone and restore it.
  4. Screen time eats up your battery. Apps, games, Safari, Facebook – all those things you look at use battery. Learn how to check what apps are using your battery – realtime and in the background.
  5. If you take your iPhone in for service do the following:
    1. Make sure to ask what it will cost. If you are out of the warranty period, the service will cost you something.
    2. Make sure your software and carrier updates are current.
    3. Memorize your Apple ID and password.
    4. Do a backup the day you take it in for service. If you want to be safe, do a backup in each location.
    5. If you keep confidential or personal things on your phone, move them elsewhere before you drop your phone off. Always assume you will not get your phone back. Would you want this data in someone else’s hands?
    6. Decide what you will do if they need to keep your phone or send it in for repair. (A lot of people keep their old phones just for this reason)
    7. Do not be afraid to call the Support Center and ask for help.

I overheard the techs telling another customer that all iPhone 8 phones must be sent back for repairs. No in-house repairs. Good to know and who knows if there are similar restrictions on other phones.

One last thing – if you don’t wear a watch, start. I wandered around aimlessly unable to find a clock anywhere in the mall! Same goes for a list of phone numbers you may not have memorized!

Better to be safe than sorry!