Variety Is The Spice

As I sit here ready to write this month’s blog issue, I realize I’ve got nothing to say.  April Fools!  Oh, wait a minute … it’s June, not April.  No matter, I have a small collection of matters to write about, in fact.  This way you can pick and choose, since variety is always good.  With any luck, you might just enjoy all of it … fingers crossed!

Seriously now, as I was getting ready to start writing this morning, my daughter updated me with local news about a gas leak in our small town of roughly three thousand people.  At first it was thought a spill occurred when a tanker was delivering gasoline to the station in question.  The story going around was that the driver climbed back in his cab to do paperwork and did not notice the hose detaching from the truck…at that time it was reputed to be around 1,500 gallons.

Today that has taken on an entirely new spin, that to me says there has been something wrong for some time … in that the station’s storage tank/s have evidently been leaking.  Whatever the truth is or how it came to be, it seems the actual figure is almost FIVE thousand gallons … spilled/leaked or otherwise where it doesn’t belong.  In the storm drains, in one of our lakes, permeating the ground…. It is bad enough that City crews are putting warning flags at storm drains and sewer drains.  I hope a more serious approach for long term clean-up and recovery is taken with this problem than it seems has been adapted elsewhere in the country for water problems.

When did people start taking such an ambivalence toward the quality of our water and land?  I have never understood it.  I never will.

New thought……

It was about twenty years ago that I started taking a very serious interest in how to adapt my approach to the great outdoors to accommodate people with disabilities.  There are not many places around the country that are geared towards guests or clients who aren’t perfectly healthy.  If you are not perfectly able-bodied, there just isn’t much that exists to help you enjoy the great outdoors.

I may have written about this before, but sometimes a subject can stand repeating.  Twenty years ago, when I first started thinking about the topic, my body could still take any punishment I dished out for it.  So, the subject now gets hashed over in my brain from the added perspective of my own physical limitations, which are now considerable.

Creating a new model for my naturalist services that caters to those with physical challenges is very important to me.  If you know of someone yearning for a chance to spend time out in Nature, please share my blog with them.  Encourage them to contact me, so perhaps we can start a conversation about their time out in Mother Nature.

Last thought for this issue……

If you have an interest in gardening  — & a green thumb to boot, doesn’t hurt – consider growing little plants you can craft cute containers for, that you might turn around and sell for a modest fee in your local farmers market or some such place.  It does get you outside.  Conversations you can strike up with people at different venues can establish long terms friendships that values can’t be placed on.  It may not be the type of outdoors I normally discuss here, but if it gets you out of the house and provides some fun … how can you beat that?!  Put your own spin on the idea and see what you can come up with that may spark something for you.

Spice up any ideas with details that will really appeal to your individual tastes.  Variety can be wonderful!

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From Snowbathing To Fire Danger

It was only three short weeks ago I stood at my back door, delighting in watching a pair of Ravens snowbathing in the yard (back to that in a minute).  Now the snow has melted, we have open water on the rivers, ditches filled to near overflowing (the ground isn’t completely thawed) and yet things are already so dry, that we are under severe Fire Danger weather warnings.  All in the span of less than a month.  This is a mild example of how quickly Nature can enact drastic changes and is an issue that people should always be alert to.  Precise types of danger vary from place to place, but the point is Nature has an effect everywhere.  Observe always.  You never know when your life could depend on it.

     Switching gears back to my beloved Ravens … it is one of those types of things that you can’t quite appreciate without witnessing it for yourself.  It would have been apparent to anyone observing this pair of corvids, that they were enjoying themselves immensely.  They never got more than six feet away from each other as they wove their way back and forth across the yard. 

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     Stretching their bodies out as far as they could reach, they leaned forward – bodies parallel to the ground (rather than their typical upright nature).  Their beaks slightly down, so that as they walked the snow scooped up over them as they tunneled their way along.  At times they would tunnel their body length or longer.  Sometimes they would pause mid-way, sort of rolling their shoulders (if you will) around, rearranging the snow on their backs – almost like someone with an itch directing a good scratch to the right place.  Maybe that is exactly what was happening, I’m not quite sure.  I imagine the snow getting worked down under or between certain feathers could accomplish that.

     From time to time, one would walk over to the other and …I know this may seem anthropomorphic… they would kiss, by rubbing their beaks to each other.  It was not a case of bill-polishing where frustration is being expressed.  They were behaving like a doting couple, to put it in human terms, and the scene could not have been more endearing.

     This year’s newborn Ravens are already fletching out and will be leaving the nest soon, if they haven’t already.  They began learning some time ago and will continue doing so throughout their twenty-some year life span.  Ravens can identify and remember human faces … and even pass that on to their young.  Imagine if people were that talented.

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     The forecast has temps in the 80’s for next week…..I will do my best to remember the snowbathing while I am sweltering.

Feed The Soul

Feed the Soul

Anyone who has ever experienced the angst of the phenomenon called spring fever knows, Spring doesn’t always know how to follow a calendar and thus arrive at it’s appointed “time”.  Nor does the weather always strictly mandate it either.  It is my opinion that the most common form of Spring is a deep psychological, emotional need that is met by different criteria for everyone.  Sometimes, via spring fever, it hits in January with two to four feet of snow on the ground.  There are years up here in the Northwoods where Spring might last a couple of days in mid-June.  The only sure thing is there’s never any telling ahead of time. 

This year, for me, Spring arrived loud and bold – a pounding in my psyche – in early March, when I took the photo above.  Woodsmoke from the steel fire pit wafting across my sitting area is one of the most primal satisfying scents you can ask for.  It represents warmth, comfort, a hot meal and so many more things in our subconscious pathways.  Still plenty of snow was still around, but it already began Nature’s intended slow time-release method of watering the ground … a crucial consideration for plantlife submerged under the snow.  Spring can have temperature levels as cold as winter (just not sustained for the same length of time), snow insulates the earth and growing things, while a little water at a time is like your Mother telling you to sip a drink slowly.

Plenty of wildlife has already started the annual cycle of mating and rearing the new year’s brood.  There are a few trees beginning to show signs of protruding buds.  Pussy willows will be popping in no time at all – the budding moon.  If you shovel down through the snow, gently revealing the surface of the ground, you can see tiny half inch or smaller wild strawberry leaves, their runners reaching and extending to new places – they too are preparing for the quick race of producing new fruit in a very short growing season here.  Where you make a clean cut through a depth of snow, observe the face of the wall in the snow – you can see lines just like the strata layers in the earth of rocks and soil deposited, in this case each snowfall is revealed.  But you don’t see that under normal conditions until it goes through a sort of compression once the melting begins.

Spring is Mother Nature’s time of Renewal.  Your activities can be designed to get the maximum benefit from this time of year … it is your chance to feed the soul and reap all the benefits possible.  I hope you have had the chance to do that for yourself.  Please share what Spring is for you or what signs of spring you cherish.

The Hidden Beauty Within

This post is part of The Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VII (2018)!

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 To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page at: http://www.augustmclaughlin.com/beauty-woman-blogfest-vii/ – on August’s McLaughlin’s site between today and 11pm PST March 9th.

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The use of a flower in reference to -or- as a gift to a woman, is not to say we are fragile creatures, in need of careful coddling.  Most of the seemingly most fragile life-forms that exist are in-fact, the strongest, most tenacious spirits.  They must be to survive the conditions of their habitat.  That is a gift I would like to give all women. – MTC

 

When August asked me to participate in this year’s The Beauty of a Woman Blogfest, two things happened.  First, I was deeply honored, of course.  Then the big IT struck me … what in the world would I write about?!  I’m all nervous right now just thinking about it.

It isn’t like writing about women is something new for me.  I write about women every single day, but they are my characters in my novels or screenplays.  Writing about women … nonfiction … for the blogfest – that is a whole different thing.  Talk about a fish out of water – it feels so different.  It isn’t like I’m shy in writing about women either.  Hardly.  I love women … and then some.  I am a lesbian who adores the opportunity to include love scenes in my manuscripts.  Again, that different element deal.

I love and deeply admire so many women…and often on very complicated levels.  The actresses whom I “cast” as my various characters, from a certain British star with fabulous legs that last forever to an American whose eyes slay me every time her picture pops up in my notifications.  Actresses, musicians and other stars are not the only women who capture my attention. 

The very singular woman in my life I am deeply in love with is certainly no movie star; just the thought of it would be repulsive to her.  That does not alter her beauty to me in the slightest.  One of my favorite pictures of her, is a close-up of her bare feet stretched out on a mossy log.  Yes, she is an attractive woman, but the absolute most beautiful part of her is what lies inside her.  That is a truth that (to me) carries through with every woman on the planet.  You can have someone that defies world “standards” of beauty, but if all those lovely inside things that make up the true essence of a person don’t outshine the external, physical appearance…if she is empty or other negative possibilities, then there is nothing. 

As August and many of the previous blogfest participants have said, it doesn’t matter if a woman is tall or short.  Thin or extra curvy.  Athletic, a warrior -or- physically-challenged.  Think of a million differences that can be paired up … it doesn’t matter.

One of the most beautiful women I have ever had the privilege to see or meet was at a Native American powwow.  At this particular powwow I was not there as a vendor or a participant.  I was there to record a segment for my (then) radio show.  Much to my shame, I had dismissed her as being worth interviewing, when I first saw her arrive at the powwow.  Her legs were noticeably crippled as she moved past me in her electric wheelchair, intent on a mission.  It wasn’t until an hour later when I returned to the dance arena, that my jaw dropped.  Her inner beauty shined and dazzled brighter than the noon sun beating down on her and the other dancers.  Yes, you read that correctly.  She was one of the dancers, in her electric wheelchair, emanating a glorious soul!  It was an experience you had to see for yourself.

Recently I read an article about a young woman with Downs Syndrome who has thrown the modeling world on it’s ear, totally redefining (for what is arguably the most stinted profession in the world) the essence of beauty.  Now a world-famous model, she has also developed her own clothing line … she has totally redefined what society thinks someone with DS should be.  Who knows what else lies ahead for this bold entrepreneur. 

One more example I’d like to include of beauty where the average person would never expect to find it, is a woman whose job once was to kill people.  She was a federal police officer in South Africa, a sniper in an elite task force (the real-life basis of one of my characters).  She had to be without emotion and capable of calculating so many things in a moment’s notice, ready to take a kill shot the moment it was available, even if the dangerous criminal was a child.  Many people were afraid of her from that basis alone.  Few stopped to consider she was a single woman, hired as a police officer and doing the job she was trained to do…the way she made a living, while also serving her country.  Even fewer people know she agonized over every life she had to take in the line of duty -or- that this bad ass cop went home every day to a bed full of cuddly stuffed animals.

That inner quality that marks the true, hidden beauty within a woman is pointed out, in an amazing way by the singer P!nk, in her new song Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken. 

That to me is the best mark of The Beauty of a Woman … that inner essence which is as unique to the individual as fingerprints or a retina scan.  Never try to hide that.  Let your essence out to glow, shine and show your true beauty!

Precious Things Like Pirate Hats

This post is part of The Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VII!

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To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page at: http://www.augustmclaughlin.com/beauty-woman-blogfest-vii/ – on August’s McLaughlin’s site between today and 11pm PST March 9th.

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There is a problem that happens with some adults, which unfortunately, is not all that uncommon.  It occurs around the world, when we torture ourselves over things that happened when we were children and should be long over, yet it is a demon that persists in remaining glued to us.

Why is that?  Because most often we were conditioned into it by adults around us back then, often a parent.  Some of us know how silly it is to allow that thing to still bother us, yet that white elephant is always lurking in some corner, ready and waiting to pop out at the least favorable time. 

It happens in any number of ways, from mild to severe, depending on the individual circumstances.  The thing can be anything a parent (or whomever) sees as the problem upsetting them.  Most of the time it has very little to do with the child, but the psychosis of the adult/s around.  Sadly, there are those children who were forced to endure unbearable acts of violence from a loved one also.  If this is the case for you, please seek professional help.  There are counselors, therapists or psychiatrists out there who do care and help you get to a better place in your own skin.

These incidents can take place from a parent not liking the real you, be it sexual orientation, gender identification, drugs, teen pregnancy, suicidal tendencies and other bigger problems.  Dealing with these can be devastating.  But, crawling out from under that can be the absolute most rewarding thing to happen to you.  Freedom is exhilarating.  Let yourself shine – you are beautiful.

I don’t care what the guilt trip or brainwashing was you were inflicted with…I believe we are born inherently beautiful.  It is our environment that either nourishes that or tries to destroy us.  Sometimes a parent or other family member will beat you into believing you are worthless.  That you will never be successful in anything or come to know happiness.  That is so incredibly NOT so!  If you look around you, there is almost always someone who is waiting to extend a helping hand.  You are beautiful – take pride in who you are!

In discussing this piece with a friend, I happened to relay to her a string of incidents from my childhood regarding an item I treasured.  I was ten years old when I bought my first hat with my own money.  It was a pirate hat and my mother despised it from the very first instant.  To this day, I have no clue why I loved that hat so much, but it was a precious treasure to me.  A few years later while I was away from home for a couple of weeks, my mother took advantage of my absence to throw the hat in the garbage.  My friend expressed remorse about the disposal of the hat diminishing my “training to be a pirate”.  There were plenty of other things my mother and grandparents saddled me with, however dampening the spirit that hat somehow gave me was never one of them.  Trust me, I enacted proper retribution and in true pirate fashion.

That may seem like a silly, meaningless anecdote, but it is merely an example of how the human spirit can survive.  Not only can we appreciate those little things that have helped us through life, but as adults we can reflect on all those storms we faced as children.  We can let them still rip us apart.  Or… we can look at the depth and rich hues those things have given us and how they can build our own character even now.

People need to stop judging each other or trying to mold a child into the person they selfishly think they should be.  We are each our own individuals.  Let them worry about themselves.  You are your own shining treasure.  Show the world your sparkle.

I can only hope that I never inflicted a demon within my daughter, since I know I was a wreck for most of her childhood – which is no excuse at all.  If I am guilty … I can only pray there is a way for me to somehow make up for it during my time left on earth.  I love you Michelle.

The point of this piece is to tell all the grown women who may still experience the pangs of childhood guilt and worse, that you are BEAUTIFUL!  Shed that old dingy, oversized coat that is weighing you down and be free.  There are places you can get help if you need it.  Don’t be afraid – there are more of us out there than you might think.  You are not alone.  We understand.  Come join us, Beautiful!

A Shining Promise

It is time once again to shift the gist of this month’s issue to human nature.  In fact, March will be a triple issue, but a little more on that later.  For those of you who somehow may not have noticed, I like happy endings.  I mean, I REALLY like them; it is an obligation I feel owed to my readers in these days where finding something happy is getting increasingly more difficult.  There are times that isn’t possible, but I try to end all my work with at least an upscale, positive note … even if it cannot quite obtain a happy ending stature.

This month, I am going to start out with a picture from a friend that not only makes me smile, it reaches deep into my soul and feels good.  I hope this beautiful little pic strikes you the same way.

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There is nothing good about 17 school shootings just since the beginning of the year.  It goes without saying, there is nothing good about the number of lives cut short, others injured, or the growing traumatization of children around the country – wondering if their school will be next.  The fear growing within students, parents & others that accompanies that possibility is horrendous.

Having been born and raised in a Chicago cop family, I have been surrounded by guns my entire life.  It was instilled in me since before my earliest memories, that guns are dangerous tools.  Like any other dangerous tool, they must be treated with respect and great caution. 

Under the circumstances of being raised with guns around me all the time and the proper handling of them, I have never had the fear or loathing that some do.  My fondness for and use of guns is one thing, however I have never been a member of the NRA.  Nor have I ever seen anything worthwhile about the group.  Anyone who does not work toward solving a problem, is part of the problem…be it the NRA, Congress or POTUS.

When you stop to take an objective look at the situation, it is a mystery how some people from both sides of the fence can misinterpret part of the things that are said – misinterpret to a critical level. One thing that cannot be misinterpreted was the vile things said regarding the student survivors as they marched in their state capital, beseeching legislators to take action in improved gun control laws.  Adults were making crass comments and often life-threatening ones against these courageous young people.  Reading their venom against these beautiful students made me ill and ashamed of this country all over again.

I must admit the debate over gun control laws used to bother me, up until the tragedy in Parkland, Florida. My opinion is & always has been that criminals don’t pay attention to laws…that is why they are CRIMINALS.  Law abiding citizens are the only ones who pay attention to the law.  Now I am ready to concede my former stand.  People who are so violently inclined & without any kind of moral compass, as to walk into a school or any place to vent their monstrous desires, have created the need to do something.  They present a whole new classification of criminal.  Military assault weapons belong staying in the hands of the military, not angry or mentally ill civilians & especially not children.

Opinions over gun control laws have now become an insignificant matter.  Something must be done to protect our young people.  We cannot wait any longer.  Especially not to placate the NRA.  Any attempt to stop these senseless shootings is worth the effort.  If you disagree, then answer this, what if your child or grandchild’s school is the next mark for tragedy?

POTUS and Congress have stunned the world with their greed in supporting the NRA (or at least not taking a stand against the group).  They have been a total disgrace in protecting/defending our most precious gift in life … our young ones.  The student survivors at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been the exact opposite.  They have presented themselves with a high degree of dignity, intelligence and dedication.  They are showing a moral fiber that can only be applauded.

For the first time in over twenty years, they are a shining promise of worthwhile individuals to become the leaders of this country.  Leaders that will take the welfare of all our citizens into careful consideration.  I cannot wait to see the job they do.  I feel it deep in my bones, they will be spectacular!

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To my great honor, August McLaughlin has invited me to be one of her guests in this year’s The Beauty of a Woman – Blogfest VII.  So, in four more days there will be two additions to my March blog here, since my entry to the 2018 Blogfest will also be published here.  Please be sure to visit the fest page and check out all the writers … at http://www.augustmclaughlin.com/beauty-woman-blogfest-vii/ …  It runs on August McLaughlin’s site from March 5 thru 11pm PST March 9th.  Lots of great reading, plus you might win a fun prize!  Come join the fun!

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Wendigos Dancing

The spectacular Blood Moon is behind us, Ground Hog’s Day is tomorrow, and the year is progressing.  Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was not able to write this entry until today, however that afforded me things to cover I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

I have often said: I am a writer, anything that comes within the range of my purview is subject to be included in my work; be it my blog here or one of my manuscripts … even an article.  It was during the wee, predawn hours of dawn yesterday morning that a friend wanted to have a good view of the Blood Moon.  Like me, she had to go outside to accomplish it.  Then it happened, the neighbors called the police – concerned for her safety after spotting a suspicious figure creeping around outside her house. The figure was my friend, of course, attempting to safely navigate through a dark yard to where she could clearly see the moon.  As you may have guessed, she then had to deal with the indignity of the police wanting her to prove her identity … that she genuinely lived there.  ~~  By now I was rolling in laughter, not at her, but the Murphy’s aspect of the situation.  ~~  She was still in her night clothes with no ID on her.  After all, it was her own yard.  She had to go back in the house to her ID to prove she was who she said….HELLO?!!?  And by the way … just why were the neighbors peering outside in the first place!

I never did get that far in my own observation of the moon, thank goodness.  My friend lives in California and I’m in northern Minnesota.  Given it was -14 degrees & 5:30 in the morning, I gingerly stepped out onto my icy back porch, gazing around the corner of my roofline to see it.  My observation lasted for no more than thirty seconds tops, before I hustled my cold rear end back inside.  In my own defense, I was only wearing a thin sleeveless, cotton nightgown…. SNAP!

This morning while driving 75 miles to go shopping & do other errands the air felt extra cold, even though I’ve dealt with much lower temps, this just went right through you.  Maybe it was the winds, I’m not sure.  However, there were plenty of Wendigos out dancing in the sun & blowing snow, especially a particularly large one in the middle of a lake.  I got the sense that they were happy and truly enjoying themselves.  Whether that’s true or not, they made me smile.  Wopila tanka!

How is your year or winter going?  I would love to hear from you.  Stay warm & stay safe!