Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Gingerbread and Pillowcases

Not much was the same in 2020.

We became creative, inventive, technologically gifted, resourceful-all in the effort to live life and connect with fellow humans. Plans were ditched or tossed aside, trips canceled, 35th anniversary trips to magical locations did not occur. Birthday parties became drive-by’s. Travel screeched to a standstill as nature locations filled to overflowing with folks desperate to get outside. To get OUT. Childcare and transfer between shared-custody parents became fraught with contact points and who was sick and who was with whom when they got sick. Schooling reached new heights of teamwork between parents, teachers, and Nana’s. Vocabulary increased to include 2020-specific words like virtual learning, hybrid learning, Google Classroom, Zoom, Loom, Chrome Book, internet capabilities, mute yourself. DIY projects blossomed and not once was Lowe’s closed. I suspect they, and other home improvement stores, had a banner year of profits due to the frenzy of home projects. That, along with shortages of flour, yeast, sugar, and toilet paper gave insight to what most of us were doing. Staying home, fixing up, and baking.

The traditions were the hardest to “fix.” Outdoor gatherings, socially distant of course, and much fuss over wearing masks (cute, cotton, and washable) has become so normal, I fear for our social skills and facial expressions once the pandemic settles down.

And then Christmas. How to do gingerbread houses? Carefully. In a huge area. With only healthy grands.

And Christmas gifts? Christmas pillowcases became my idea of the year. Totally reusable gift bags, tied with jump ropes. Open your gifts, put your gift bag, er, pillowcase, on your pillow for a good, snowy night’s sleep. Why didn’t I think of this before? Sure, sewing them on Christmas Eve Day is not advisable, but it did allow me to work my way through several Hallmark Christmas Movies as I cut, pinned, sewed, and ironed. And I’ve already purchased my fabric for next year to avoid the same rush. (We might check back on that one, because having purchased fabric is not the same as having sewn the pillowcases. . ..)

Gingerbread cookies were baked yesterday. December 30. They taste just as good, no matter the date, especially plain, with coffee.

Are things looking up for 2021? I certainly hope so. But even if the recovery is slow, I know we can do it. We’ve had all of 2020 to figure out how to make things work. Like in the days of the Depression, our ancestors made do, made it work, or made do without it. We are ready.

May the Lord go before us, bless us, and keep us as we journey into the new year! See you next year!


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The Anti-Resolution Revolution: Successess of 2017

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Children’s author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year’s resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity – what DIDN’T get done or achieved in the previous year. Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. I decided to participate in this Anti-Resolution Revolution! Here is my list for 2017.

My 2017 writing successes:

  1. I worked hard editing a handful of stories. Several are nearly ready to submit.
  2. I completed StoryStorm last January and came away with a notebook full of project ideas. (Looking forward to StoryStorm in January. You can join us here.)
  3. I attended my first (in a long time) SCBWI conference. I volunteered to help, met other writers, learned good things, and found my critique partner! That is a big thing, since my location puts me in no-man’s-land for critique groups.
  4. My critique partner and I have been meeting monthly since the conference. We live half an hour distance from each other, but alternate driving to meet. Her critiques have been invaluable in sharpening my stories.
  5. I enjoyed my work-for-hire projects and completed contracted pieces.
  6. I read MANY picture books, logging them all on Goodreads. I also enjoyed reading chapter books, young adult, and adult novels. The only way to write is to read!
  7. I participated in ReFoReMo in March and learned much about picture book structure, characters, setting, plot lines, and more. This reading for research adventure is worth the huge piles of picture books tottering over in the RV. You can join here.
  8. My critique partner (thanks, Katie!) says several of my picture books are ready for submission.
  9. I’m still dreaming up great ideas for picture book projects.
  10. I work with several wonderful editors for my work-for-hire projects. This helps me view my writing from a professional standpoint and take myself seriously.
  11. I applied for several writing fellowships. Though I was not chosen, I was encouraged by one group to apply again. I’ll take that as good news!
  12. I’ve become more organized and structured in scheduling for completing my contracted pieces.
  13. I’ve met and networked more with other writers. What a wonderful group of people!
  14. In spite of a terribly stressful and emotional year, I still love writing! I cannot be without paper and pen, just in case.

You can learn more about the 12 Days of Christmas for Writers here.

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The Original New Year – Every Day – Fresh Start

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A childhood song came dancing through my mind this morning, singing to the new year and new beginnings. After several days of reading blog posts and emails about New Year resolutions and words for the year, my thoughts were certainly considering all things new.

Isn’t it wonderful to have a fresh start? Why can’t we do that every day, all year long? Every January, I find myself more energized and committed to my goals and dreams, yet from past experiences (years upon years), I’m pretty sure I will experience fatigue and begin to prune my high expectations. Or at least forget my word of the year (which I have yet to discover). Life will interfere, changes will happen, and by the end of the year, those beginning plans will have fallen by the wayside or will have been altered so much they barely resemble original thoughts.

That’s ok, though, really. We cannot foresee the twists and turns of life, so wisdom would dictate that we make adjustments and refine our goals, dreams, plans.

Fresh resolutions every morning would be much more manageable.

Write. Read. Learn. Love. Do.

A basic plan, a few words, doable. Perhaps too broad, but easy to adjust each day. And the perfect-for-me way to enjoy new mornings every day as the sun rises.

The original fresh start and new beginnings?

“The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lamentations 3:22-23 (NLT)

and

“Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’” Revelation 21:5 (NKJV)

 

Care to join me in a fresh new beginning each morning?

 

Karen Witemeyer penned similar well-crafted thoughts about new beginnings. You can find her at Inspired by Life and Fiction.


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The Sweater of a Thousand Photos

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The sweater of a thousand photos joins me as I corral and snuggle our 5 grands!

New beginnings.

January always brings fresh hope and promises of renewed dreams, goals, plans.

 

View the sweater of a thousand photos.

This wardrobe piece awaits my beck and call all hours of the day and night. Menopause requires layers. And this, my Goodwill find from years past, is perfect. Cold? Snuggle in this button-up baby. Hot? Fling it across the room without any answering complaints. Fold it. Wad it. Wash it. Toss it. Wear it. Love and hate it.

From my viewpoint, the sweater of a thousand photos matches every item of clothing I own. Because I wear it with any and every thing. Coordinating or not.

As evidenced by photos. At least 1,000 of them.

Life in the RV has finally taken its toll. Laundry facilities are stranded across compacted snow and ice trails inside the stick house of our son and his family. Sometimes one forgets to empty the dryer on time. Usually that is ok. But just this once, it was not.

For the sweater of a thousand photos has been damaged. Heated too long and too hot. The yarns melted into permanent wrinkles. Never before static cling haunts attempts at layering. What once was fuzz and softness is now thin and bare. The sweater of a thousand photos, MY sweater, the $2 deal, is nearing the end.

My heart is sad but realizing the futility of wearing holes and wrinkles held together with bits of yarn. It is time to move on. Let it go. Wave a fond farewell, not looking back.

Unless it is in photos.

New beginnings come in different forms. Out with the old, in with the new. Or maybe new-to-me.

The hunt has begun. This year, I resolve to capture the next sweater of a thousand photos. The search will be in reverse order, according to hunting aficionados, but this works well for clothing.

Hunt. Bag. Shoot.

What will you be hunting this year?