Twiggy

In the 1960s, a model from London named Lesley Lawson became a fashion icon. Oh, perhaps you don’t recognize the name. Maybe the name Twiggy will jar your memory. However, if the 1960s was a decade your parents or grandparents remember (rather than you), you probably still have no clue who this is. Back then Twiggy was known for her waiflike look. Even today, some vie for the Twiggy look.

Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images

During my Sunday drive, I couldn’t help thinking of Twiggy with every deciduous tree I passed. Bare, vulnerable branches reached toward the gray sky, which brightened to blue in the afternoon.

Winter strips all of the pomp out of a tree. The circumstance is survival as a tree sheds its leaves and tucks into itself to wait for spring. But in their winter starkness, you can readily see the lovely “bones” of a tree.

In grad school, I had an advisor who did to my sentences what winter does to a tree. I had a habit of trying to get all fancy with my writing, adding phrases I thought grand. My advisor would send me feedback like, “This is crap,” which stripped all of the pomp out of me. Lest you get indignant on my behalf (or you just feel like chortling at the baldness of that statement), she was right. (I almost typed write.) I wanted to sound good, to show the world, “Hey look at me. I can use figurative language to dress up my writing” (though it made no sense character-wise). There is nothing wrong with figurative language. But as my advisor pointed out, if I couldn’t write a basic sentence—one with good “bones” like a solid action verb and a clear subject; one that fits the narrative well, instead of drawing attention to itself simply because it exists to feed my ego—what’s the point? She wanted to feel something, but couldn’t, thanks to my pretentious language.

So that’s why the twiggy-ness of trees moves me. Trees are so well designed, so graceful in their form. Starkness becomes them—and good sentences.

  

Twiggy photo from thegloss.com. Tree photos by L. Marie.

The Play’s the Thing

By now, you’re probably thinking of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, since the title comes from that play, specifically Act 2, Scene 2:

More relative than this. The play’s the thing
Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.

But I was actually thinking of what you do when you have downtime (like I did in this post). And in my area, we had oodles of downtime, thanks to the latest snowfall, which brought several inches overnight. What do you do when you barely have electricity (it flickered on and off on the night the snow began to fall in earnest and into the next day), no hot water, bad roads, and no internet, thanks to the snowstorm? (Working at home, I need internet.)

You go outside to scrape the snow boulders off your car, grumbling as you do so, because you can’t get your driver’s side door open. A layer of ice keeps it stuck fast. Same with the passenger door. And you need the scraper on the front seat. You grumble again. Finally, you get the rear passenger door open and crawl to the front over the center console, knocking your rearview mirror askew, and wind up in a tangled heap of boots, coat, and scarf in the driver’s seat. After shoving and shoving, you get the door open.

You scrape. And grumble. And scrape. Rinse. Repeat.

But then, something magical happens. In the distance, you notice the trees as the snow continues to fall. With the snow lacing their branches, they look like Christmas trees. And as you trudge wearily back to your building, you take in the sheer delight of a small child experiencing snow for the first time. His excitement is contagious. You think, The snow is pretty. Winter dresses the earth in frosting with a skill the finest cake decorator can only dream of emulating. (Okay, one tree is a little heavy on the frosting.)

   

This is a scene where you wouldn’t be surprised if a unicorn showed up.

  

As you talk with the child and his grandfather, you realize that going out to play is the thing to do on a day like this.

    

As I headed inside to cocoa it up, a friend texted, It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

It sure is.

If you have snow in your area, what’s your favorite thing to do on a snowy day?

Do you want to build a snowman?

Donatina thinks this chunk of snow looks like a dog.

P.S. The power finally went out for a while, then came back on, only to go out again and on again. Finally got internet early Tuesday morning.

Photos by L. Mare. Donatina Shoppie by Moose Toys.

Snow, Snow, Slow Your Roll

I’m sitting here as I write this, gazing out of the window at a gray-blue sky. We’ve had day after day after day after day of snowfall. And more is on the way, according to my brother and sister-in-law, who within hours of each other, texted the happy news to me.

   

Yeah, I know. That’s what winter is all about, Charlie Brown. Snow falls. Temperatures drop.

   

Anyway, I was complaining to Barbie about this recently. She’s a good listener. Even put down her magazine and gave me her full attention. I was explaining how the snowfall has caused me to slow down while driving.

She gave me a look as if to say, “Like that’s a bad thing?” Snow-Fro the Shoppet also concurred. She would. She was made for winter.

I like to zip around town, catching every green light, making good time, getting to my destination quickly. But zipping down a road, heedless of what the conditions are like, is how accidents happen. Having had my share of winter accidents, I learned the value of taking it slow. When you live with snow and ice, you adjust to the pace of the season.

Revision is that way. I’m revising a young adult fantasy novel for probably the twelfth time. I want to zip through it, like I zip down the street when the roads are ice free. But that’s what I did before. And I’ve discovered several things I missed in the earlier revisions. Like the gaps in logic or faulty descriptions I constantly find as I read the chapters.

My revision cave, where, yes, crocheting and video watching also occur

One chapter took me two days to work through. Two. Days. So, no matter how hard it’s been and how long it’s taking, I need to give myself permission to keep at it. “Slow your roll, L.,” I remind myself.

Winter is here in all of its messy glory. Just like revision. I’m trying to be present in the moment and present on the page in this season of change.

The sun is out, like a kiss of heaven. Though the snow lingers and threatens, I can’t help believing that I can weather the snow and the revision.

   

Barbie is a registered trademark of Mattel. Snow-Fro and Kissy Boo Shoppets and Fluffy Snowball and Terri Tennis Ball Shopkins are registered trademarks of Moose Toys. Photos by L. Marie.

’Tis the Season, or So We’re Told, to Be Thankful

With Thanksgiving around the corner here in the U.S., I couldn’t help making a list of things for which I’m thankful. At first, I resisted the idea, thinking that list making at Thanksgiving seemed a little too been-there-done-that. After all, do I really need a holiday to tell me to be thankful? If I’m not thankful throughout the year, how fake is it that I’m suddenly thankful on Thursday? (Well, I’m thankful for turkey!)

But since I’ve got the time, and you’ve come here anyway, here it is. I’m thankful for . . .

* Frost-rimed leaves representing the full spectrum of the seasons . . .

  

* Family and friends far and near who are as dear as family (Actual friends and family are not depicted in this photo. No one I know has a worm coming out of his or her head.)

* Friends who make cards for me . . .

* Blogger friends like FictionFan, who offer to send me free Audible books . . .

* This hand cream. Cold weather is hard on the hands, so . . .

* And chocolate of course. Oh and ice cream.

“Wait a minute!” you interrupt. “Are you really taking this thankful thing seriously? I mean, come on. Hand cream? Dead leaves? Chocolate? Ice cream?”

Well, I am thankful for those. And if I really want to go beyond just surface-level stuff, I’m really thankful to God and to incredibly generous friends who helped me through a difficult season. I haven’t mentioned even half of the things that have happened to me this year—good or bad. Some things I keep to myself.

But I am grateful. And that’s why I’m sponsoring another giveaway on this blog. Just because. No, I’m not crazy. And yes, I know this isn’t Christmas—the gift-giving season. But one way I show thankfulness is to give. Really, I only included the above list to lead up to this point. Comment below to be entered in the drawing to receive a $30 Amazon gift card (or its equivalent in Amazon UK). What are you thankful for, even if Thanksgiving Day is not something you celebrate? If you celebrate Thanksgiving, what are you looking forward to eating on the day?

Once again, the random number generator will decide the winner. I’ll post the name on November 27! Just in time for more holiday shopping (or to buy yourself something you love)!

Now, that’s something to be thankful for.

Turkey from wallyball.homestead.com. Lalaloopsy dolls by Mattel. Photos by L. Marie.

Get Cozy!

img_4118When you live in an area where lately the temperature seems to hover between 9 degrees (Fahrenheit) and 2 below zero, you tend to crave anything that makes you feel warm and cozy.

Like my Sherpa blanket.

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Oh yeah! If I could wrap up with it while waiting for the train on frosty mornings, I would. When I throw it on, I instantly feel the weight and warmth of it. It’s like having a sheepdog wrapped around me.

I’ve mentioned the maple apple cider tea that makes me feel especially cozy. Nancy Hatch and Lyn Miller-Lachmann, expect to get some in the mail soon. (Yes, that is my way of announcing the winners of the giveaway announced in this post. I decided to go with two, since they both said they wanted the tea in the comments. Winners, please confirm below. If you would prefer to have a blend of flavors [click that link to preview] instead of only the maple apple cider, please mention that when you confirm.)

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Another way of getting cozy is to watch a cozy movie. I’ve mentioned in many posts that movies and miniseries adapted from Jane Austen’s books are my usual go-tos. However, Enchanted April is another favorite. This 1991 movie, directed by Mike Newell, concerns four women (Josie Lawrence, Miranda Richardson, Joan Plowright, and Polly Walker) who rent a villa in the Italian Rivera. It’s based on the 1922 novel by Elizabeth von Arnim. With a cast like that, I can’t help feeling cozy, especially with so many sun-splashed days and lovely walks in the Italian countryside.

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Still another way of getting cozy is to curl up with a cozy mystery. Agatha Christie, Ellis Peters, Ngaio Marsh, P. D. James, and Dorothy Sayers were my authors of choice for years on cold winter days. Agatha, Ngaio, and Dorothy wrote during the Golden Age of mysteries (the 1920s and 1930s). There are many cozy mystery series now. For a great review of a cozy mystery, check out FictionFan’s blog. She reviewed one of the Murder She Wrote novels starring the one and only Jessica Fletcher. (Click here for that review.) I used to read those ages ago. I think I’ll pick one up again.

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I feel warmer already!

What’s your favorite way to get cozy this winter?

Book cover from Goodreads. Photos by L. Marie.

Thanks, Winter!

Here in the Midwest, you get used to the temperature changing in the blink of an eye. One day you might have 50-degree (10 Celsius) weather; the next, a steady snowfall with a temperature of 24 (-4 Celsius). I can thank my friend Winter for that.

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Thanks, Winter, though you’re not officially due till next month. But it’s nice that you made your presence felt over the weekend. There was nothing gradual about you, was there? No, you kept snow falling late Friday night and practically all day Saturday. And you’re still here, clinging to the grass, trees, sidewalks, and streets with your icy sheen. I slipped on some ice Sunday and narrowly avoided a face plant, thanks to the quick thinking of a friend who grabbed my arm.

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But, Winter, I can thank you for the way you lace the trees with snow. On my drive to church Sunday, the trees on both sides of the road were so beautifully dressed. I couldn’t get a photo of them because (a) I was driving at the time and (b) my phone had died. But the scene was like a postcard. Perhaps memories like that were simply meant to be savored in the moment and not shut away in a computer the way my other photos are.

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But Winter, with the dichotomy of your hard edges and soft surfaces you remind me to be thankful for the way life is sometimes. Especially this year. I’ve endured the hardness of failure and a parent’s serious illness as well as the softness of caring people. But winter has taught me to find beauty in barrenness. Branches shorn of leaves wear the close-fitting garment of snow much better (IMHO) than evergreen trees. Winter’s barrenness makes spring’s renewal all the more vivid and celebratory. This makes me think that the barrenness of dashed hopes may someday give way to the celebration of a victory wrought by persistence. One can only hope.

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So with Thanksgiving rolling around and you as an early guest, Winter, thanks for the reminder that seasons change. And in the changes, good and bad, I can still give thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

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Thanksgiving sign from imageslist.com. Other photos by L. Marie.

Happy Spring—My 300th Post

You have to laugh at weather in the Midwest, otherwise you’d cry. A lot. I mean, look at this—a bouquet of snowflakes arriving just in time for spring.

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Ooo. Ahhh. That brisk spring breeze. Watch as I celebrate burgeoning spring by shoveling snow and brushing it off my car. Cheer as I tiptoe daintily along the snow-covered path to get the mail. Strap in as I navigate the slippery, snow-covered streets. (Uh, can you tell I’ve been watching too many Honest Trailers?)

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So spring is on a slight delay here. I don’t do well with delays. But even with the snow, I’m reminded of the new life inherent with spring. Trees bud. Birds mate. Easter beckons.

We make plans, don’t we, as we contemplate warmer weather and being seen without heavy winter clothes or visited by people who have been cooped up inside all winter. You know what that means. House painting. Spring cleaning. Shedding winter pounds. (Which I was informed I need to do, since my cholesterol and blood pressure are both high—facts I learned after waiting over an hour to have a five-minute conversation with a medical practitioner.)

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Spring also means tackling other projects that could lead to a changed life. You know what those are. Finishing novels, poems, graphic novels, or screenplays. Getting queries out. Waiting for someone to respond to those queries. Eating ice cream. (Wait. How did that one get there?)

What is it about spring that makes us long for change? Perhaps because it is the first full season of the year (winter doesn’t count, since it carried over from last year) and we’re ready to begin anew. We have a clean slate.

Spring is the time to make life glorious. How are you planning to change your life this spring? If you can’t think of a plan, here are some suggestions off the top of my head:

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When you can’t find a flower, make your own, then give it to someone who needs it more.

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Be a wildlife champion. Look what someone left by the dumpster for the birds, the coyote who occasionally visits, and the stray cats roaming about (who might have met the coyote).

Happy spring! Thanks for helping to make this blog one for which I wanted to write 300 posts. 😀

Bathroom scale from deals.plethoraa.com.