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Thought I’d share these beautiful blooms with you, because I can’t get enough of their bright happiness. I’ve been purchasing them from my friends at Better Together Farm throughout the summer, along with their exquisite organic vegetables and herbs.

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I like to buy two — one for my table and one to brighten Mom’s & Dad’s days.

Sometimes they last for almost two weeks. I’ll be sad to see the organic farm season close for my friends at the end of October. I’ll have to wait again until March for their superior products.

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I encourage you to take the opportunity to pass along the gift of a bouquet, whether you have the privilege to gather a wildflower bouquet or find such a great bargain as I have. It’s a wonderful way to bring smiles and cheer.

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I awoke this morning to find this happy vignette that my daughter had arranged on our rustic dining table that she and my dad built. (I’ll tell you that story some time, too.)

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For now, I’ll leave you with this beautiful poem:

Autumn Fires
by Robert Louis Stevenson
In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!

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And the first stanza of another:

To Autumn
by John Keats
SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more
And still more later flowers for the bees
Until they think warm days will never cease
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

***

Here’s a wonderful resource for you. You can even search poetry by topic, such as “flowers” or “autumn.”

Do you have a favorite poem about flowers or autumn?

And what’s on your music playlist today? Mine is “Porcelain,” an album by Helen Jane Long — a lovely, wistful, piano instrumental to play in the background while writing.

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imageMom’s and Dad’s hands.

Do you believe in miracles? I do. I’ve stood in the middle of one in the last few weeks. Of course, sometimes as human beings attempting to explain the unexplainable, we soften the words, which takes away some of the impact. I do not want to diminish what I’ve experienced by putting my feelings into words. But what I’ve seen with my own eyes and felt in my own heart needs to be expressed. I feel compelled to share. I know I’m treading upon hallowed ground here, and usually I am very careful with my word choices because I have a wide range of friends and acquaintances with many differences and beliefs. It is my desire to live a life that impacts each in a positive way as much as possible, and not divide. Because what good am I if I cause division, when a softer word might turn it away? Unity is ultimately my desire. Therefore, I normally keep my spiritual beliefs where they belong — in my heart. Except sometimes, they need to spill over. Because maybe you need to be encouraged.

Sometimes the raw truth is the only way to express a thing. And that is what I am dealing with here. If you would like to experience my miracle by reading about it, read on.

On January 19 my dear father died of a heart attack. He was unresponsive for about 45 minutes, the rescue workers say. They performed CPR and finally got his heart beating and breath in his lungs. No one in our family was with him at that point. Thankfully, a nurse found his phone in his truck and dialed the last number dialed, my brother. We were soon on our way to be with Dad. My youngest brother made it to him first, in less than an hour.

My dad is a man of great faith. His light shines everywhere he goes. He is not afraid to speak out about it, either. But he doesn’t often have to. He lives it. Love spills out of him in buckets to all. He has a special gift with people — all kinds, great and small — many of the lovely and  unlovely beings of the world. That’s called unconditional love. My dad is the epitome of that title.

Me? Not so much. I can hold a grudge for ages. I can say that I’ve let something go, and even convince myself I have, but I’ll find myself dealing with past wounds over and over. I want to be like my dad. I wonder how he got to the place he did? He has surely borne as much pain in his life as me. More, I know for sure. Yet he is supreme at that forgive-and-forget-thing. Like he says, “like water off a duck’s back.” Yep. Wish I could.

But there we all were, finally gathered around my dad’s hospital bed, praying for a miracle. We had one at that moment, the fact that he was with us, the circumstances of the day … All of it overwhelming. He pushed on through the first day and into the night. But somehow, on my shift to stay the night of the 20th, in spite of my prayers and those surrounding me by our loved ones holding us up with their faith, he started to slip away from us again. His heart stopped twice. And by myself until family could reach us again, I had to instruct the medical team to revive him. They wanted me to go to the waiting room. “I’m standing right here,” I said. Desperate to hold onto my faith, I felt small and alone at that moment. Scarcely able to breathe myself, tears spilling uncontrollably, I remember tipping my head back at one point and howling into the ceiling, “Daddy!” Like that could call him back ….

When family arrived, the hospital staff expected us to say our good-byes. About ten of us held hands around his bedside and talked to Dad, sang to him, prayed, told him everything we could fit of a lifetime into a few minutes.

Individually, we are a bunch of hard-headed, hard-working, strong-willed, powerhouses in our own rights — every bit of it passed through strong genes and pioneering souls. But at that moment, we were losing our patriarch. Our rock. The glue of our family.

Mom’s prayer went something like this: “God, he’s my best friend. Dale, you’re my best friend. (They are coming up on 61 years of marriage.) I love you. God, I don’t want to let him go, I want him to live. But, if it’s time for him to go and be with You, then we will say, Your will be done.”

That is when the tide turned. I saw it. Each one of us, in our individuality, our own reasons why we wanted to keep Dad with us, with our own powers and weaknesses, strengths and failings, we each stepped up a little closer and I know for sure that each one moved into loving Dad with everything he ever put into us, and then some, because we united for one cause. And that was to let our love for him spill into him more than it ever had. And we continued to pray the prayer of faith, with that love carrying us.

I don’t want to say that we had given up and were ready for death. But that is some powerful stuff, to deal with life and death. Each of us, my mom, brothers, my daughters, one of my sons-in-law, sister-in-law, niece and nephews, and everyone else in the room moved into loving Dad with all of our might. We prayed to the God that Dad loves and serves so beautifully — each of us — in our failing human state — far from perfect. But full of love, love for Dad that came to life in each one of us.

Each one did and said beautiful things. My oldest stood tirelessly, her baby due in days, patiently holding Dad’s hands and gently applying essential oils. My youngest stood rock solid and sang favorite songs to him. My other daughter, one of the last to arrive, walked into the room, bent down into her Papa’s face and said straight out, “It’s not time for him to go!” And Dad snapped his eyes open like a lightning bolt and looked right into her eyes.

I knew he was back with us from that exact moment.

It’s not what she did or said was any different from what any one of us gathered around him were thinking or saying. But it was rather like a catalyst. It mixed with the rest of the material of faith that each one of us held in our hearts and our eyes and our hands for the love of that man and what he meant to us.

And I believe with all my heart that God reached down and said, “In your weakness, I am strong.” He showed us that life is His will.

The words, “one accord” keep running  through my mind. We were in one accord, more than any time we’ve ever all been together. We were more full of love, perfect love, than any time I’ve ever experienced it. And God took that, and mixed what we offered up with His grace, and it was done. Dad lived.

The doctors thought he would be brain dead. But miracles continue to occur. Dad is astounding. His brain waves are normal, he’s overcome hurdle after hurdle, baffled doctors, and had a steady string of hospital staff stopping in to take a look at this miracle man. And Dad usually figures out a way to shine. He passes out smiles like lollipops and compliments and encourages tired workers. He’s amazing.

I hardly feel I’ve done the miracle the justice I wanted to express. I think I’ll have to write about this in pieces. There is so much that comes to the light when you call on the light in all power. It brings things out that were covered up, lurking in the shadows — not-so-pretty-stuff that wants to take away the joy of the moment.

Human beings are so flawed. I am one, far, far from perfect. I don’t know why sometimes miracles occur and then, sometimes, they do not. All I know is that we got one that day. A big one. And I am grateful.

There are other steps to take. More promises to keep. And quite a bit of living to pack into the time we’ve been given with our treasure — my dad. The weight of reality and everyday life after facing the miraculous can seem so dreary. We should have a spring in our steps and undying enthusiasm, right? Yes. That thankfulness has to inhabit human flesh. I am holding onto hope with all I have in me. I want to change — be more like my dad and love the way he loves. I want to live like I’m thankful for this gift. I am.

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My Teacup of the Month plan has been derailed for a while, but with thoughts turning to the beginning of school for many, I thought it might be fun to get back on track.

I won’t be returning to classes this fall, since graduating in December, but my thoughts are with those who are.  I have a niece who is working hard to graduate college within a year.  My oldest daughter, Sara, is also taking online courses while taking care of three children and waiting for the fourth to arrive.  Whew!

I need a cup of tea just thinking about it.  :^)

With the words, back-to-school, my thoughts turn to  reading and writing.  I’m still working on slogging through some G.R.R. Martin.  I’ve spoken before about how much I love to love his characters.  And love to hate his characters, too.  The man sure is a prolific writer.  I think that’s the main point that I would like to learn from reading his books — writing that much!  I hope to achieve that some day.

I am super excited to say that I have written my second novel.  I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo in July and knocked out over 50,000 words in twenty-two days!  It was a great experience and an amazing learning curve.  I’ll write more about that later.

Now, about this teacup.

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It’s a mix-match from my odd assortment of cups gathered from here and there.  I love the little saucer with the apples on it.  I couldn’t resist throwing a little nostalgia into the photo setting.  Jacks from my childhood, a marble collection in an old canning jar, a crocheted doily that I tea-dyed, vintage books (the one on the top is an autobiography of Ben Franklin, published in 1910.  I just love finds like that.)  (Thanks to my daughter, Lyndsey, who, by the way, is opening an antique, vintage-eclectic-stuff-shop on the plains.)  WooHoo!  Very exciting development.

And of course, in the photo I’ve included an apple for the teacher.  :^)  It’s my virtual thank-you to all of the wonderful teachers out there, helping to shape and mold the minds of students.  You deserve much honor and praise.

My youngest daughter is beginning her second year of teaching.  Her class is fourth-grade and they will be doing plenty of creative writing with Aubrey.  It’s exciting to watch this new journey unfold.

I would also like to say that since graduation, two of my writer friends and I have formed a writing group.  We’re staying accountable to each other and the writing world by setting goals, checking in, and . . . writing!  :^)

Thanks so much for stopping in and sharing this cup of tea with me.  Please pause to leave a few words to let me know that you’ve taken a moment to stop by.  It is important to me and I do appreciate the time you’ve taken,  because I know that time is often our most valuable gift.

What thoughts come to you when you think of back-to-school?

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I’ve mentioned the Mythology/Folklore course that I enjoyed last semester before graduation.  One of the requirements of the class was to build our own website and incorporate fairytales that we wrote into a theme.  I had such a great time with this assignment.  I shared with the instructor that I would like to find a way to do this full time, if only I could get paid.  ;^)  I researched original fairytales and folklore, then spun my own tales.  I used all of my own photography, as well.  My fellow students — bright, creative souls, had the generosity to vote my site as Best of Class.  I was over the moon excited — such a great honor.  I share it with you here:

Tea and Fairy Tales with Miss C

You’ll find four tales, including an Irish story for this Merry Month of March.  ;^)

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Where do you find your inspiration? As a writer, I’ll tell you, I look in many places. Nature, however, seems to be the place I gravitate to the most. If I can see a waterfall, or hear a stream, it immediately brings a sense of calm. Later, the creativity will follow, into an uncluttered, open mind. (Well, as uncluttered as it gets anyway. There’s always something that could use a little work.) ;^)

Also, I think the best writers are great readers. Devouring books is the perfect way to see how it’s done. Of course, most of us read to read. That is a term that I tossed around frequently while in writing courses these last few years. While dissecting fiction, I wondered if I would ever be able to read for fun again, rather than reading a fictional piece to analyze the techniques.

Last semester, I was in the middle of writing a paper on a book that I really wanted to enjoy and was having a difficult time muddling through the technicalities that hover in the mind of a writer once trained. I mentioned this to a professor. She said, “Oh no! I want you to just read it. Don’t analyze it. Read it. Then go back and see what stands out. See what makes an impact upon you.”

So that is what I’m also asking you — not only where do you gain inspiration for what you do, no matter what dream chasing it may be, but what books do you read that inspire you? Is there someone that you’ve read that made you want to write like them? Why?

My daughter bought A Game of Thrones by G.R.R. Martin for me for Christmas. Looking at the 765 pages and the five or six volumes that follow, I was daunted, to say the least. But I found myself with a few idle days, (due to illness,) (boo) and I was able to read it. The praises of Mr. Martin have been sung far and wide. With an HBO series and untold volumes, he doesn’t need my praise. But I’ll tell you, I was inspired. I want to know history like he does. I want to design fully round characters like he does. I want to create antagonists that you love to hate and protagonists that you love to love, like he does.

I don’t want to be quite so graphic. Do you think that’s a requirement of a writer in this century? I don’t. I still believe that you can be effective without the gore and the four-letter words.  Eyes, ears, and hearts are assaulted on many fronts with access to extensive media and it is increasing.  Yet, I believe that we need more of the healing balm than ripping and shredding.    It  has to do with my views upon violence and its perpetuation.  Where do we draw the line?  On many subjects, I say, loose the boundaries.  But there are other places that I must say that I prefer the lines to be distinctly drawn.  I think that we need this as a society; not to take a head-in-the-sand approach, but to encourage innocence to flourish and gentleness to prevail.  I still hope that it can.

My youngest daughter, also a writer and the one who bought me the book, gave me the journal in the photograph for my graduation.  The embossed cover contains a Jane Austen quote. (She’s also the daughter who might chide me for being too uppity about this violence thing in the Thrones series.) But that’s okay. It takes all kinds. I appreciated reading the book. I loved it. I loved the characters. I want to know what happens to them. But I think that I will try a kinder, gentler writing style.

“Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.” (Jane Austen)

That’s how I feel.

Mary Stewart pulled it off in her epic series of Arthur and Merlin stories, Legacy — The Crystal Cave. She is brilliant at portraying the history, hooking the reader into a marvelous, sweeping tale, and leaves you wanting more.  She can write about the victim, but it’s more about the victory.

I think that is what inspiration is all about. Take a bit of this and a scrap of that, and work it into your own magnificent quilt.

One more quote for today then:
“Writers read.”

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The opportunity to begin again presents itself every morning and I am grateful for it.  I am excited to run into the new year armed with my recently conferred writing degree and a million ideas.  I hope that you’ll join me and see what we can discover.

In 2013, I would like this blog to be a place where we treasure words of wisdom by writers new and old.  I would like to dream here, of my perfect writer’s space.  I would like to write a little fun and fiction, and of course, sip a cup of tea, laugh, and relax.

All the best to you and yours in 2013!

Here’s today’s wisdom, which may be attributed to someone famous, but I could not find it in a quick “google.”  I will say that I heard it from my professors at the University of Oklahoma over and over again and I’m sure I’ve said it here several times myself.

“Writers write.”

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Hi-Ho!  Seamus here.  It’s been a while.  Miss Cynthia asked me to apologize for her, but I told her there was no need.  As you can see, Finn has been getting into everything that he possibly can.  Circumstances have gone beyond quite lively.  Well, more on that later.

Miss Cynthia wanted you to know that our summer that was supposed to have been spent learning more on Celtic history and lore, was actually spent straightening out multiple shenanigans that inundated the household.  (Poor Miss Cynthia.  I do believe it was all Finn’s fault.  Oh well.  More on that later, too.)

For now, Miss Cynthia is immersed in her classes at the university.  Lo and behold!  One of her classes is Mythology and Folklore.  (I guess she gave up on me ever helping her.  Little does she know that I’ve been spinning all kinds of magic to inspire the muse.)

For the Mythology and Folklore class, her professor is requiring the construction of yet another blog.   It is, however, private to the students of the class.  Miss Cynthia asked permission to share her tales with you here.

Without further ado — may I present Miss Cynthia’s very first legend in Blogland:

STERLING AND THE VICIOUS BEAST

By Cynthia L. H.

In a mystical valley far beyond normal vision, a ferocious dragonfly tormented the miniscule faerie folk until they had lost hope.  The inhabitants of Glen Ywen found their faith drained away.  All became dark and bleak and the earth around them turned black.  The sky was black and the massive tree beneath which their village stood was black.  Its branches spread broad and high, but every leaf was black as midnight.  Shadows abounded.

The black dragonfly, Ferox, roamed the countryside by night and devoured whatever he fancied.  Wheat crops, grape vineyards, cottages, villagers – it made no difference.  If Ferox wanted it, Ferox destroyed it.  He would feast and then burn what remained before him.  The ashes and coals simmered in the blackness for as long as the villagers could remember.

Ferox was not just a dragonfly, but a vicious creature of death.  Spouting black flames, he pillaged and burned and burned and pillaged.

The faerie folk lived in quaking fear of the rancorous beast.  In former days they were a strong clan who possessed much magic, but Ferox had beaten them into subjection.

The outlook of the villagers had grown so grim that their judgment was as clouded as a storm-clad day.  They sought to appease Ferox, but there was no relief.

Each month, at the advent of the New Moon, when the sky was nothing but blackness, they would lay one of their first-born sons at the mouth of Ferox’s lair.

This day, there was but one who remained.  He was the child of the only noble in the land, who was no longer very noble.  If Ferox had left their possessions, he would have been king.  As it stood, his name was his only redeeming quality:  Sterling.

Now being the last of the boys to be sacrificed, Sterling had been protected and grew strong.  He spent most of his days sword-fighting with an uncle or riding round the countryside.

He was cunning and swift, as well as strong and courageous.  In spite of all that surrounded him, Sterling was rather a miracle, against all odds.

On the day that he was to be sacrificed, his family had kept it secret.  Sterling had no idea of his impending doom.

He thought that he was going on a country ride with his uncle and cousins.  He threw a leaf saddle over the back of his shiny black steed and galloped up into the night sky.  The wings of his horsefly beat against the black of the night and cooled the simmering air.  Sterling looked back and saw no one.  He was puzzled, as he thought they were right behind him.  He was wrong.  His family had sent him on his own to face the mighty Ferox.

Sterling rounded a corner and there he was – Ferox – roaring, belching smoke and spitting up sulfurous hairballs every which way.

Sterling pulled his sword from the scabbard and fearlessly charged the beast.

Ferox roared in indignation.

“Who dares to challenge the Great Ferox?”

Sterling pulled back the reins of his charge.  “It is I, Sterling of Glen Ywen, Bearer of the Standard of Truth.”

Ferox emitted a deep belly laugh that nearly knocked Sterling off his horsefly.  Thankfully, the steed was steady with his wings and remained aloft.

“I will devour your Truth with one breath if there is such a thing,” Ferox said.

“Of course there is,” Sterling said.  “I am the representative.  Truth lives in me.”

Ferox thought this was hilarious.  He had never been so amused.

“What makes you think so, Sir Piety?” Ferox teased.

“If I answer you, will you leave me be?”  Sterling asked.

“I will,” Ferox answered.  He crossed his tiny black dragonfly toes because he knew that he was lying.

Fortunately, Sterling knew that Ferox was lying, too.  As the bearer of all Truth, he could sense these things.

“You hold in your mind the thought that I will make you a fine dessert,” Sterling said.  “Is this so?”

“It is so,” Ferox said.

“Truth,” Sterling answered.

Ferox was puzzled.

“You will not chase me when I turn my steed, because you think that your flames can leap farther and faster than my horse and I can fly,” Sterling said.

“Dare!”  Ferox said.

Sterling whirled his horsefly about and spurred him until they hurtled out of Ferox’s reach.

Ferox was baffled.  No one had ever dared to dare him.  He wasn’t sure what to do next, but he took up pursuit anyway.

Sterling and his horsefly climbed steeply into the sky and were now diving straight above Ferox.

Ferox heard the drone, but did not see them.

Sterling’s Sword of Truth pierced through the heart of the black dragonfly.

With a bellow and hissing, Ferox crashed to the ground with a mighty thud.  He screamed and tried to rise again.

Sterling swiftly searched for the sulfurous spheres of charbroiled sheep that he had seen the soulless beast spit out previously.

He stabbed each orb with the tip of his sword and poked them into the jaws of Ferox.

One last hissing breath produced a tiny spark.  It was all that was necessary.

The sulfur ignited and Ferox sizzled and fizzled until not even ashes remained.  His own darkness had consumed him.

At that precise moment, the village became verdant and full of life again.

A beautiful faerie appeared out of the clouds, riding upon a lavender butterfly.

“I am Verity, Queen of Candor.  I am on a quest to find the Bearer of the Standard of Truth.  Are you he?”  She asked.

“I am.”  Sterling nearly burst his buttons at her beauty.

Verity reached across the span between them and grasped his hand.  She smiled.

Sterling smiled back.

They galloped off into the dawning of a new day where the sun was rising in brilliant hues of amethyst, peach, and amber.

***The End***

Photo — St. George and the Dragon — Stockholm — Web Source:  Wikipedia

Author’s Note:  In this class, we read legends and folklore.  We take a story that we’ve read and spin our own tale off of it.  I based my version upon the story of Daniel and the Dragon from the apocryphal Book of Daniel in the Septuagint.  I love this story and wish that it was in all adaptations of the Bible.  Of course I twisted the details again in my tale.  I created faeries, horseflies, and dragonflies.  I also wanted to question the integrity of family who would sacrifice their children to a dragon — not very honorable.  But somehow, the hero turns out unscathed.  I also wanted to unleash my creativity with my own odd humorous perspective.  I really had fun with this one.

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