The best-laid plans of mice and men…

Tornado Boy and Big Foot

…often go awry.

Well, I’m back to blogging after 19 days away, and a little Steinbeck seemed appropriate.

My best-laid plans for a memory-making family reunion fell apart as my parents canceled at the last minute due to health concerns.  That kicked off a bit of rushing around and a series of phone calls, new arrangements, and a beach rental we couldn’t back out of. Revised travel plans followed and, in August we’ll all head to my parents’ hometown in Colorado for another attempt. Airfare, hotels, rental cars, and long drives will end in a whirlwind visit since many of us used our vacation time for the reunion that didn’t happen.

But all was not lost…

When best-laid plans invariably
go awry
we cancel what we can
and with nothing pressing to do

we pack up and drive west
anyway
where too late to cancel
the beach house beckons

across the dunes of marram grass and wild roses
warm sand sifts like finely ground pepper
and the waves curl in hungry white ringlets
chase and soak us in our rush to shore
springtide cold despite the sun and kite-flying winds


we build drip castles with moats and bridges
a path for goblin scooters and pit for trapping zombies
guarded by trolls magicked into stone sentries
we collect crab claws and broken shells,
brittle sand dollars and mysterious arm bones


we build a Zen garden with scavenged rocks
balanced in crooked towers on striated sand
and the wind carves gullies while overnight strangers
add to our stones and our garden grows

tea with cranberry honey and birthday cake ice cream
carousels, waffle cones, and oysters on the boardwalk
bonfires, chocolate and marshmallow s’mores
board games and card games, stories
where mermaids sing of magic potions and wings
before the tide fills our holes
sand on the floor, in our beds, between our toes

and nothing pressing to do but
eat well, laugh well, and sleep well
all because
of best-laid plans
gone awry

 

 

A Blogging Break & The right way to write?

The Peach Clan Reunion is fast approaching, and a break from blogging is in order. My parents are coming for 2+ weeks. They’re in their upper 80’s, and their health has declined over the past couple years. My brother and I have planned a 4-generation gathering.

Needless to say, it’s going to be a busy time – beach, Iris Festival, bonfires, crab-bakes, and lots of loud talking since my mom is vision-impaired and my dad is hearing-impaired. I’ll be focusing on them and making sure that we all have a wonderful time making memories.

Since I won’t be around for almost 3 weeks (Wowza), I leave you with a beautiful post by blogger Sue Vincent. I hope you hop over to read.

I’ve closed comments here since I’m off to the airport to pick the folks up. I’ll see you soon. ❤

The right way to write?

by Sue Vincent

There was a bit of a conversation going on yesterday over at Serendipity about finding your voice as a writer. It is something with which many writers are preoccupied and with reason. Your voice is your signature. The tone, the flow, even the choice or repetition of words will, if you are lucky, make your work appeal to a reader.

For a writer, the best thing in the world is to know you have been read and that what you have written has been enjoyed or has struck a chord with a reader. Most of the time, we just don’t know… a book goes out into the world and we hear very little unless we are fortunate enough to get a review. Sales don’t matter in that respect… they only show that a book has been bought…you still don’t know whether they were even read. The odd review or a comment always feel like a gift. And sometimes, they make you glow.

When someone mentioned that his Mum likes my work, it felt as good as winning a major literary prize.  I have also been paid what must be one of the ultimate compliments as a writer… I have been quoted. Am I bragging? Not exactly… though the memory always makes me glow and I struggle to find words to express the odd mix of pride, gratitude and honour such moments make you feel. You never know, when you put pen to paper, how your words will fare out there in the world or whether they will reach the readers… perhaps that one particular and unknown reader… for whom they were written. So moments like these are priceless…

Continue Reading: The right way to write?

Blogging: How to Increase Comments

All images Pixabay

I struggled with the title of this post because getting comments isn’t about stats; it’s about building relationships.

Some visitors to this blog might have noticed the number of comments here. It wasn’t and isn’t a goal, honestly. And there really isn’t any magic to it either. Comments grow out of a desire to genuinely connect with other bloggers, and a commitment to put in the time to do so.

Here’s how it happens:

I leave lots of comments on other blogs. These are my invitations to engage, my knock on a blogger’s door. They say, “Want to come out and play?”

Because blogging-time is precious, if a blogger doesn’t bother to reply to my knock, even with a simple “thank you,” I’m less inclined to knock again. On some level, they’ve declined my offer to engage.

At the very least, say “thank you” to someone who took the time to read and leave a comment.

What’s better than a simple “thank you?” A comment on the visitor’s comment! Even a kind thought, or sharing something more about the post conveys that you are delighted with their visit and the time they dedicated to your blog.

Then reciprocate! Comments are a two-way streets.

I reciprocate 99.9% of the comments I receive. I head over to the blogger’s site, read and share my thoughts.

This is the relationship-building part of blogging. It says, “I valued your visit and wanted to see what’s up at your house.” If I can, I learn the blogger’s name and reflect on something specific from the content. “Great post,” is fine, but it doesn’t invite conversation the same way as mentioning what was great.

Are there comments that will sabotage your efforts? Yes! Please don’t leave comments on anyone’s blog that say, “Follow me” or “Check out my blog” (or something similar). They come across as pushy, and I, for one, am likely to delete them. 

Some of the genuinely promising starts will fizzle, some will mosey along, and others will blast off with an instant connection. That’s okay; it how life works. Remember, the goal isn’t to amass tons of comments; it’s to end up with a collection of blogging friends that make this journey enjoyable.

And we all know that sometimes life gets in way, or our comments end up in spam. Or we get busy and need a break or for some personal reason just can’t respond or reciprocate. And that’s fine too. We’re not super-human beings. The great thing about building blogging relationships is that once in place, our online friends understand.

Keep in mind that there is tons of good content in blogland, and though quality is important, YOU are a huge part of what makes your blog stand out. Share yourself and invite others to come out and play.

That’s all there is to it.

Happy Blogging!

 

 

Descent #Writephoto

image by Sue Vincent

Thank you to Sue Vincent for the lovely #writephoto prompt. I couldn’t resist cheating on this one and only slightly modified a scene from The Sorcerer’s Garden. I hope you enjoy!

***

Dustin waited at the base of the sweeping stairs, the heaviness of his mail hauberk welcome beneath his light leather armor. He carried his recurve bow and quiver, his sword sheathed, knives tucked in his belt and boot.

The palace lay in darkness, candles snuffed and lamps doused. Only a shimmer of powdery moonlight glided through the stair-hall’s tall windows and polished the curved marble treads. He’d ordered the King’s Guard to double patrols on the walls, leaving the palace eerily vacant.

Soft shuffling feet accompanied whispered voices above. A black hood drawn over his white hair, Tristan drifted down the stairs, no more visible than the shadow of a cloud across a night sky. Behind him, the short, square form of the queen descended, her face hidden by her cowl, a pale hand gripping the banister. She turned briefly to gaze upward at the solitary king who peered over the rail above, a ghostly specter if not for the forlorn eyes glinting in the moonlight. She raised a hand, reached briefly with her fingers in a final farewell.

The princess trailed behind the queen, her cloak open, cowl thrown back. The onyx beads encircling the hem of her black dress swept the steps with a soft hiss. Stately, defiant, she refused to acknowledge her rescuers, and Dustin wondered if she believed the dreamer’s prophesy, if her starched back signified valor or fear. He couldn’t help staring at the woman, the lines of her cheekbones, her dark eyes, and the wisps of raven hair framing her face.

Before she reached the bottom of the staircase, she too paused to look back at her father. Dustin glanced up as well, only to see the king touch his hand to his heart at the gallery rail. The woman’s gasp was little more than a whisper as her fingers returned the final gesture. The doomed king retreated, and her step faltered on the stair. Dustin reached for her arm to steady her, and for a heartbeat, their eyes crossed paths. Then hers, moist with tears, disappeared as she drew her cowl over her head, and whispered, “We must go.”

Bats in the Writer’s Belfry

pixabay

I have a three-season writing room. Four-season, if I light the wood stove and heat the place up. Finishing the roughed-in room over my husband’s workshop was one of the first projects I undertook when moving to the wilderness of Oregon.

Wilderness naturally entails a plentitude of wildlife, and my writing room has endured its share of feathered, winged, and furry visitors.

I love it when the hummingbirds fly in the window and hover over my head before zipping out again.

I didn’t even mind when the walls filled with wasps. The room vibrated with a soft hum while I sat peacefully among them and wrote. After two years of friendly buzzing around my head, they mysteriously moved out all on their own.

Then the bats moved in.

We are a bat-friendly household even though Nature Boy (aka the husband) has watched a few too many Dracula movies. He swears that “Batty” swoops at him as he runs the gauntlet from the door to the car every morning.

For two years, the bats and their buddies have been partying in my writing room, and it didn’t look like they intended to take a hint from the wasps and relocate any time soon. In fact, they were inviting their friends to take up residence. It was getting a little crowded, and though bat poop isn’t horrifyingly gross, it’s still gross.

So, a week ago, it was time for Batty and his buds to git.

The first task was to plug up their access to the room, which meant closing the gaps around the windows and doors, hauling the nail gun and compressor up there and securing the wooden slats on the ceiling. I knew where they were getting in because I could see the grubby mess left by their little hands and feet. Eeek.

Then I needed to find them. In US politics, you follow the money; when seeking bats, you follow the poop.

Photo by John Pearce via Flickr

I found two tiny fellows, no bigger than my thumb, hanging behind my picture frames.  I opened the door and windows, and fitted with gloves, nudged the little guys from their roosts. That probably wasn’t the best idea, because I found myself in a small room ducking and weaving as two bats flitted, swooped, and dove around my head.

The dummies had no idea where the windows and door were, and all three of us were in a bit of a panic. I considered running out of the room screaming, but I feared they’d simply find a new place to hide. And honestly, I’ve never been particularly scared of wild animals, so I stayed and encouraged them with a kind voice to scram!

Finally, Batty and his cousin flitted out the window and I slammed the thing shut quick!  After that, it was a matter of a deep clean, and my writing room is ready for the summer. It’s been a week and no new visitors… yet.

Bat Friendly Facts from the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife and me:

  • Oregon’s bats do not turn into vampires.
  • They eat only insects. An adult bat eats about 1,000 insects every hour!
  • Bats hang upside down because it gives them an ideal position for take-off.
  • Bats can fly 20 to 30 miles an hour and travel more than 100 miles a night.
  • A baby bat is called a pup because it’s so cute and furry.
  • Bats are not birds.
  • They’re the only flying mammal.