One-Shot & Me

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Becky & Jenny at the One-Shot Cabin

When I was six, my Great-aunt, Wylly Folk St John published her first book, The Secrets Of Hidden Creek.

She was 58.

After Wednesday’s post, you can probably understand why this knowledge is more than a bit comforting to me.

That said, Aunt Wylly wrote for years before publishing her first book. As a journalist for the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, she had to constantly meet deadlines and she was paid to write long before she graduated from the University of Georgia where 47 boxes of her writings are archived in the Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

She went on to publish eight books, two of which were nominated for the Edgar Allen Poe Mystery Writers of America award.

My cousin, McKenzie posted a comment on Facebook yesterday where she talked about how she and her young son were reading one of Aunt Wylly’s books at bedtime and how it gave him more insight into who his Grandmother Becky was as a girl, as well as his Great-great-grandmother Wylly.

Aunt Wylly loved using real children as characters in her books so McKenzie’s son is enjoying reading about his grandmother as the teenager she was in 1966 when The Secrets of Hidden Creek was published. Much of the story’s setting and characters are clearly modeled after the real thing. First books often pull in parts of the author’s life and my unfinished novel is no different.

If you’ve followed my blog for long it probably won’t surprise you to learn that there is a character in my book who is modeled in some ways after my aunt and you might also understand why seeing McKenzie’s message on Facebook felt like a little cosmic push especially since I’ve  been so unproductive lately.

Aunt Wylly would probably appreciate my thinking she was sending me a message given her interest in ghosts when she was alive.

The hammock in the first picture figures into the story that McKenzie is reading with her son. It was used on the book jacket in 1966 as you can see from the image below. In addition to Becky and Jenny, their brother, Chuck is in the illustration with them.

Wylly Folk St John

I have some lovely memories of time spent at the cabin with Aunt Wylly and later on with my cousins. And while my daughter doesn’t really remember it, she once had a chance to wrestle for the hammock like her cousins did as characters in Aunt Wylly’s book.

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Miranda & Elizabeth at the One-Shot Cabin 1993

This oft fought for spot had to be replaced more than a few times over the years as the humidity of hot Georgia summers and squirmy children did their damage. One of my favorite memories of Aunt Wylly’s lakeside hideaway, it was always snug like a little cocoon, making a perfect nest to read a book and drift off to sleep. Comforting and safe, it was a place I where could let my guard down during a dangerous time in my life and just be for a while with normal kid worries and daring daydreams.

The seed of storytelling for me may not have been planted at the One-Shot cabin, but it was most certainly nurtured there … in a hammock, on a porch, overlooking a lake, with a secret hidden deep under the water.

Big thanks to McKenzie for helping me aerate my roots a bit. 

Enter Spring – Write & Release

Blackbird Egg - Elizabeth Harper

If you were to peek behind the curtain at GOTJ, you would see more than a few potential posts that read, <no title> Draft.

Some have photos, some don’t, a few are complete and ready to publish needing only a last read-through first. But given what has been happening in the world over the last month or so, my posts seemed like an uninteresting waste of your time and mine. So I let them sit.

It is not the first time I’ve done this … taken an impromptu sabbatical where I have withdrawn into reading while neglecting my writing.

Unfinished potential some might call it.

A friend asked me yesterday how my book was coming along and I while I wanted to say which one, I just said simply, ‘ It’s not. ‘

‘ Oh,’  he said, as he shook his head slowly, ‘ I thought you would be one of the ones to do it. ‘

‘ Well I’m not dead yet! ‘ I said, with a sharper tone than intended.

I tried to explain, but it just sounded like excuses … the car accident, work, a bad case of the blues.

Inside I was thinking … other people get it done despite having full lives, what is wrong with me?

Perfectionism will be my undoing if I let it.

Write and release.

 

Unlikely Friendships

” Francis, Francis, why do you always wander away when I’m trying to talk to you?”

“I know she’s back, I can see her at the wall too, why don’t we waddle over and say hello, come on old boy, what can it hurt? “

” You must think I’m crazy, Giovanni … that is a dog and it does not want to play! It looks as if it wants lunch! “

 ” Francis, could you just try to get on with others a bit better, it’s a big world out there and I think we should explore more than this patch of water. What about a little trip to see what’s on the other side of this pond?”

” Alright fine, but just remember who’s leading this expedition!”

**************

There’s a place I like to walk where I always look for these two unlikely seeming friends when I pass by. In mild weather they sit in the river on one side of the house and in winter you can see them in the back garden at the edge of a small pond.

It seems funny to see a drake and gander always hanging out together like two good old boys who don’t seem to need anyone else. I like to create little vignettes when I see them and I find their constancy very comforting in a world where things often change faster than I would like.

I gave them names from history for today’s post and wondered if any of you might recognize who they represent?

Finding The Inspiration For “Dear Madame”

As promised, I’m back to reveal the winner of the randomly drawn comment contest. If you guessed Patricia, you’d be right. Patricia’s comment was the one selected by random.org, but I have to say that I found parts of some of the other comments popping up when there was an opportunity to be included.

When I sat down to write the mini short story on Thursday, I had a vague idea of direction based on Patricia’s comment about her mother and her research into their family history. With only a few hours to devote to the project as we were expecting John’s daughters for the weekend with one arriving that night, my Thursday had a few other things demanding my attention and distractions were everywhere.

I always wish to deliver interesting writing, but initially I felt bored by my idea and struggled with the opening paragraph as well as the direction. This changed when I allowed the words to just come and Patricia’s character to show me who she was instead of forcing her to be rigidly defined by what I thought she would say, think, or do. I tend to think first of all the things my characters would never do instead of letting them have more choices. I often did this with my characters when I was acting as well and lack of choice is no good for writing, acting, or real life.

Real life … just writing that makes me wonder if I’ve been braver and more risk taking in my life than I allow for my writing and my characters. I’ll have to give that some thought.

If you had trouble deciding which comment I used, it might be because of the bits of others I mentioned including as well. Windy’s comment had much of her history in a few short paragraphs with one containing the number 17 and it’s significance in her life. Heiko also included numbers in his comment and so the number 6 found its way into my story as well. The mysterious letter had roots in Windy’s correspondence with her English pen-pal, although I think you will find that despite the letter’s UK return address, the way it begins with the words, ” Dear Madame ”  is designed to show that the writer is not British, but French.

Thanks to your enthusiasm for this little story and based on your request for more, I’ll continue, ” Dear Madame ”  in a post during the coming week.

I’m including the comments from the initial post found here along with a few follow-up thoughts from me. I really enjoyed your comments and special thanks to all of you commenting for the first time especially those who mentioned they had been reading for a while. It’s lovely to “meet ” you and I hope you will continue to add your thoughts when you feel inclined.

  1. preobrazhenskii on March 28, 2011 at 12:40 pm said: The quote by W.B. Yeats is indeed quite apt, and your post does reflect upon what we are searching for when reading other peoples blogs.
    Preobrazhenskii ~ I would love to be able to get to what appears to be a blog, but your link doesn’t work :-(
  2. I don’t know that I have anything to share today, but I think this is a wonderful idea. I know for a long time I was afraid to comment on other people’s blogs. The evil inner critic inside me would whisper things in my head: “What if I said something stupid? I can’t say things better than they can . . . ” But, adding comments makes this blogging world a much richer place. We learn from each other. We challenge each other. We also feed each other’s ideas and spur each other onto even greater feats of posting. But ultimately, the thing I love the most is the sharing of stories–because there are infinite variations that show one thing, our common humanity.

    Lisa ~ Comments make blogging fun as well as educational (like your post the other day on rejection and publishing) and you just can’t beat the support that can be found in the blogging community. Thanks for coming back.

  3. Hi, Elizabeth, I’ve been reading your blog for several years – I don’t even remember how I came across it now. Hmmm, something about me. I live in the Pacific NW. My dream is to write more, to inspire others to reach for their dreams. I enjoy sharing your journey from afar.

    Rebecca ~ I would be willing to bet you might have found GOTJ from a comment left by me on Chookooloonks as I can see by your blog that you visit there as well. Judging by your photographs, you live in an inspiring part of the world.

  4. I am an 82 year “old lady” living in Indiana with my oldest daughter (I have 3) and her husband. I have one grandson 25, granddaughters 30, 24 and almost 18 (the recent lead in the high school musical Anything Goes). (pause to take the Dachshund out) My husband passed away when my oldest was 14. I consider 17 MY number in life. I was 17 when I graduated from, high school, was married to my husband for 17 years when he passed away, worked for 17 years as a legal secretary for a well known international company in Wisconsin, and was with my last companion for 17 years when he passed away in 2000, so I’m wondering what I have to look forward to in 2017??? I will be 88, so I’m pretty sure what it will be.

    I corresponded with an English girl through high school and until her early death. She named her first daughter Gail, which is part of my name. Unfortunately, I lost track of the family.

    I am an avid reader and was recently given a Kindle. My daughter filled it with books by authors I like and I said they will have to bury it with me, I’ll never get them all read, especially when I keep adding more.

    I enjoy your blog and the lovely pictures you post.

    Windy ~ I can’t tell you how pleased I am to see a woman with your life experience interested in my blog. I smile every time you leave a comment and especially enjoyed when you wrote that you ” pause to take the Dachshund out .”  I would love to know more about your correspondence with the English friend who died. If I knew more I might be able to help track her family and daughter for you. Thanks so much for your kind comments regarding my blog and photographs.

  5. My Grandmother had a glass case of dolls in National costumes from all the countries my Grandfather had visited with his work, and places they’d travelled to on holiday. It was kept in the dining room. I would sit by that case looking at them and imagine their stories. They were all the more special being out of reach – look, but don’t touch.

    Sarah ~ I love the story of the dolls. It reminded me of a quilt I had as a child with dolls in national costumes on it. I really enjoy being able to check in to see your lovely family and New Zealand photos. I’m so glad we had a chance to meet through Hay.

  6. I usually don’t comment on blogs. I have fallen in love with Cornwall through your vivid descriptions and beautiful pictures. I usually stop by every few days during my quiet evenings to see if you’ve posted anything. Today my sister is in the hospital, so I’m here during the day while she sleeps.

    Carol ~ Even though you don’t usually comment on blogs, I glad you decided to comment on mine. Cornwall is so beautiful and I’m pleased to be able to share it. I hope your sister is on the mend.

  7. what a clever idea. I visit you often, usually leaving a small comment but maybe not always – i am horrible with words. I bring up your blog and keep it to the side of my desktop and read on it in bits while at work. Your posts always leave me thinking and many times you leave a link that I follow and then get side tracked. I love your blog, i love the way you write with such intelligence – usually teaching me something new. I can’t really think of anything new to share at the moment maybe i’ll be back with something later.
    (what i wonder about most is, why, when i visit someone’s blog on a regular basis and leave comments trying to make friends – why they can not, at least once, visit me. it just seems rude to me.)

    Leslye ~ Thanks for your kind comments and support. I think we’ve been blogging buddies since the very early days of GOTJ and you were the first blogger I had the pleasure of meeting face to face. I get something from your lovely photos each time I visit your blog.

  8. I love the picture of the tree! And you already know everything about me!

    Suzanne ~ I know there’s loads of stuff I don’t know about you. Loads! I’m always glad to see you.

  9. I have so enjoyed reading your blog ever since I discovered it. I love the photographs, but you are also an excellent writer as well. I probably comment too much.

    I spent some time in England years ago and I thought, if I ever save the money to go to Europe again I will skip England and go to a country I’ve not seen, like Italy or Ireland. Now, however, I think I would love to see Cornwall. It’s so lovely. Thanks for giving us all a window on that part of the world!

    Dee ~ You’re in luck with regard to how close Cornwall is to Ireland so you could see both very easily. You can never comment too much for me and I always appreciate your thoughts. Thanks for your support of both my writing and photography. I always feel a bit closer to my Georgia roots when I read your blog and I’m glad I found it.

  10. Hi Elizabeth,
    I enjoy reading your blogs, and often I think about adding my little bit. Sometimes though, I head out the door and think, “I’ll answer to that one after …”. Great intentions!
    I live in the South Island, New Zealand, and this year sees me attending our local Polytechnic as an adult student. I decided last year to do something I had always wanted to do – cooking. So I am now in my second year of a Chef course. I have other passions and hobbies too, and some of these make their way onto my own blog.
    The picture of the tree and the quote is so good. So true.
    Keep up the good words of encouragement.
    Valerie

    Valerie ~ How nice that you decided to say hello. I like knowing who my New Zealand readers are. Such a beautiful country you have and I’m glad I had a chance to spend time there last year. I liked what you had to say about your Chef’s course, it reminded me of my dear friend Marty who was in Chef’s school when he died.

  11. One of the joys in life for me is talking to and meeting people, I sometimes do it to the annoyance of my wife as she always says `you don`t know them`, she has over the five years we have been married got used to me having conversations with total strangers and finds her self doing the same on odd occasions.
    Some of the ways I have met people are through commenting on pictures on their blog/website/flickr, I actually did the same with yourself, I must have read the whole of your blog sometimes commenting others just reading everything you have to say and the things you do.
    I was disappointed a few weeks ago, I sent you a fairly long email about myself and my travels and work but unfortunately I did not get a reply.
    I did mention in the email that I lived in Somerset and that only Devon separates me from my favourite county of Cornwall, I comment on peoples pictures as I am a photographer and retired from working my lifetime as a Television Cameraman, do I miss my work, heck yes! but being a photographer now in my quiet years keeps me happy and being able to talk to strangers I meet keeps me alert.
    I will pick my number as 26, that was my age when I moved from the North of England city of Manchester to Taunton in Somerset, why! to further my career in Television as there were more opportunities in the West Country than the City Of Manchester as there are less people in the West Country than the industrial North which led to more work opportunities we also had two children at that time and we thought it would be a better environment for them.
    Unfortunately my wife then decided she could not live with me being away from home for days/weeks with my work. Our children had grown up by then and had families of their own, we still got on even though we were divorced, another number which I could add (cheating I know) is 6, that was the day in February this year 2011 which she unfortunately died of a terrible cancer in her neck.
    May I say that the Gifts Of My Journey`s are made all the better reading your blog, reading about your`s and your husbands life, along with the many blogs I read and in some cases the people I have met through their blogs.

    Heiko

    Heiko~ I think I covered you in the comment below. I’ve been trying to get back to a proper email, but can’t seem to get there. I’ll hope you’ll let this be enough. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

  12. Heiko ~ Let me first say that I am sincerely sorry I did not get back to you. I do remember your email and thought at the time how lovely it was that you took the time to share so much. While I am not the best at email follow up sometimes, I don’t normally drop the ball so completely. I just went back through my email and found yours and promise to get back to you with a proper response. I do appreciate the connections and people I meet through blogging and I’m glad you came back and reminded me of my tardiness. I can assure that it was not an intentional omission, but rather a distracted oversight. Looking back, I feel sure that I meant to share your email with my husband before I replied, as his career was in television too and I just did not get back to it. I hope you will accept my apology. :-(

  13. I hope you will accept my apologies. :-(
    Elizabeth, Accepted Thank You

    Heiko

  14. Hi! I’m the Florida gal who won the CD from you a while back. I did enjoy the music and want to thank you again.
    What resonated with me recently? Actually, your series on your trip to New Zealand did. I had not talked about that part of your blog with my husband, and he suddenly informed me that he would like to move there some day. My husband is a Florida boy who has always said that he never wants to move, yet he is suddenly planning a future like that! Needless to say, I found myself going back and looking at your beautiful pictures again. Yes, even after the earthquake, we think that we would like the change. It would have to be after little boy goes to college, giving us some time to plan.

    Cindy ~ Good to see you again! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed Benjamin’s CD. How funny that your husband has decided New Zealand is the place for him earthquakes and all especially after seeming as if he’d never leave Florida. I need to post some more NZ pics because I have so many amazing shots of that beautiful county. Maybe you could plan a family trip when your son is a little older. We saw a fair amount of people traveling with children. Thanks for saying hello and sharing your comment.

  15. I just began reading your blog. I followed a link from another blog, then subscribed because I enjoy reading your posts and I love Cornwall (it’s so different from where I live in the southwestern US). My mother is a couple of generations removed from the tin mines near St Just, and we shared a wonderful trip to Cornwall almost 20 years ago. If it’s possible to be homesick for a place you’ve visited only once, then I am–and your photos are a wonderful ticket back to that lovely place. I look forward to reading your story as it unfolds.

    Barb ~ I believe it is certainly possible to be homesick for a place you’ve only seen once. I felt that way about the Isle of Skye after the first time I went in 2003 on a trip with my daughter. I went back again in 2004, 2005, and 2008 and John and I will go again later this year. Cornwall has a beauty and pull just as strong although it’s different from the western highlands. I’m glad my photographs make you feel like you’re able to see Cornwall again. Come back whenever you need a little holiday and please say hello.

  16. Sabrina on March 29, 2011 at 6:56 am said:

    I read your blogs all the time over tea before work, or late at night after a long day haha. I am a 22 year old writer who is currently in the USAF. I enjoy seeing the photos of England and your life that you share and the stories make me laugh, make me cry, make me think of situations that I have been in that are similar. I like having a place to go to read something that I enjoy.

    Sabrina ~ I love seeing a young service member who is female reading my blog and finding common ground. You may know about my own time in the military from some of my previous blog posts. I’d be interested in reading your writing, is there a place where your work is available to read? Thanks again for commenting.

  17. Patricia on March 29, 2011 at 7:31 am said:

    Hi Elizabeth -
    I happen to be a new reader having just found you on Sunday the 27th in the comments section of the Shutter Sisters website (Mar 26th entry about “No Trespassing” and the lengths we’ll go to get the perfect shot). I love reading comments and I tend to be a silent lurker but today you inspired me to answer your call to make some noise.
    The first entry I read on your blog was about the UK Census. Seeing those old census records pictured on your site took me back to my childhood. When I was a kid, my mother decided to research and record our family tree. My mom always loved working out puzzles so this was a challenge that appealed to her…find the pieces, put them together, new mysteries revealed or old mysteries solved… I remember summer vacations at my grandparents’ home in the Ottawa Valley area where day trips wouldn’t be complete without a stop to find a particular headstone at one graveyard or another located on dry, dusty country roads (they all seem to be located on dry, dusty country roads…). This also included the bonus of visits to the more mature members of the family from other “branches” of the “tree” who, although were well-known to my mother and grandparents, were really just strangers to me. At the age of 12, this did not spell F-U-N. I suppose that sentiment might be predictable for most 12 year-olds, but it is truly one of those experiences that I find unforgettable (in a good way!).
    Now in my mid-forties, of course, my appreciation for what my mother was working to achieve increased over the years, especially as the family tree grew and spots were being filled with names and historical details. Mom passed away 3 years ago. Amongst her belongings was a giant bin of “research” that I did not have the heart to go through or toss out…I strongly suspect there’s golden clues hidden in there. As the eldest child in my family and eldest grandchild of our clan, I’m feeling the urge to continue where my mother left off. She made it about 5 or 6 generations back on the tree and I think the next step will involve a trip across “the pond” to investigate our British roots. A daunting task but exciting to wonder where it will all lead…hopefully the discovery of relatives past and maybe even present!
    Looking forward to reading future posts and getting to know you better…

    Patricia ~ Well, you know by now that your comment was the WINNER!  I’m so glad you decided to share your story. My husband is very into his family history having picked up where his dad left off when he died. Instead of a “giant bin” of research like your mom had, he opened the garage to find it stacked full of documents his dad had accumulated from his years of research. Thanks again for taking time to comment and please come back.

  18. Mariellen on March 29, 2011 at 8:56 am said:

    Well I share from time to time, in a somewhat opinionated way I fear, but do not blog enough myself – fancy being on a writing course as I am right now ..and not writing much!?! Actually we are writing loads, but in in-class exercises.

    Looking forward to sharing more with you and your readers. Soon.

    Absolutely loved the tree pic, one of your many beautiful photos.

    Mariellen ~ You are never too opinionated for me! You should blog more often as you do it so well. I can’t wait to hear all about your classes.

  19. What a good idea, Elizabeth. I often wonder why more people don’t leave comments and wonder if I scare them with my opinionated ways. I definitely lack your charm, my friend, but it’s hard to be charming with all the crap going on in the U.S. Maybe that’s why I like to visit here, to be transported to a tranquil, lovely place far away from the reach of Fox News.

    Jayne ~ I’m always happy to see you. You get tons of comments on your blog … what are you talking about? If you’re interested in meeting a Cornish man, I’ve been checking one out for you in the village, plus there are loads of people with horses here.

  20. Gifts of the Journey became one of my blog favorites because I’m an Anglophile at heart, especially intrigued by Cornwall. I’ve not been to Great Britain yet but it’s in my bucket list. Your site beckoned also because of the photographs.

    There is no particular story attached to me, wife, mother, grandmother; still working but hoping to retire soon so that I might spend more time on my passion: photography. Right now there are not enough hours in the day to do all the ideas in my head!

    As I’ve followed your blog, I’ve become more drawn in by the personal narrative that you share so openly with us. Isn’t it funny how reading blogs can make you feel like the writer is your friend? It’s the same way with online photo groups. I have a group of online photography gal pals that I feel are friends, and am convinced that if ever we meet in person, we’ll sit and chat like we’ve known each other for years.

    One of the most exciting things about online followings and groups is the opportunity to view life as it is around the globe, see the things that are different than our home base, yet the things that are so much the same. It is indeed, “a small world after all.”

    Dotti ~ I’m glad to read your comment and have a chance to explore your lovely blog. It feels as if I’ve been there before and makes me wonder if you’ve commented in the past. I know what you mean about the writer feeling like a friend and think that’s one of the best parts of blogging. If UK travel is on your list, I hope you are making a plan to get here. I tell people not to wait until you are retired … travel while you are able do and see all that you’ve dreamed of over the years. Come to the UK while you are able to walk the coast paths with ease and climb the mountains in Scotland and Wales.

  21. I’ve been in love with Cornwall since I was a teenager. I first discovered it in the Victoria Holt novels and then was rekindled by it in Frenchman’s Creek.

    I had been to England before, but had never been to Cornwall so in 2004 my boyfriend at the time (now husband) and I took a trip down. I didn’t get to see Falmouth (which is what I really wanted to see because of Frenchman’s Creek) nor did I get to see Bodmin Moor (the other piece I wanted to see) but, I was able to spend a few days along the shore and experience how amazing it is.

    I’m moving to London in 10 weeks…so I’ll be looking for pretty much any excuse I can to go see what I saw in books in my childhood….

    Sarah B ~ I’ve been enjoying your blog for a while although I’m not sure how I found it. I know you’re pretty excited to move to London and if you want a look at Falmouth, I may have some photographs from visits there. John had a sailboat in Falmouth when I first met him and his brother sails out of the marina still so we’re no strangers to the area. You’ll have to plan a Cornwall trip once you settle in London. You’re moving at the best time of the year which is pretty jammy. (British expression for lucky) Thanks for reading and commenting.

    Heidi Partin on March 30, 2011 at 10:07 pm said:

  22. I have enjoyed reading your blog for about a year now. Your writing brings me peace. Your pictures bring me beauty. Peace and beauty always seem to go together, don’t they?

    I am 42 years old and am going through a mid-life crisis, I guess. My outside life is so “normal” but my inner self is in chaos. I am trying to get a grip of that. I have 3 children between 16 and 11. My youngest is high functioning autistic. I know I have been a good mother. There is much more mothering to do still but I can’t help feel unsatisfied. Is this it? I have stayed home all these years to nurture, to love, to clean, and to be there for them. I all of sudden feel quite empty.

    No one has really been there for me. My husband is a good husband; he provides and is there when needed; but we are task masters and no longer dream makers. I wonder when things changed for us. How sad not to know.

    And so you give me inspiration in your journey. Your journey has taken many turns from what I have read and yet you still have enough flame to make changes, to take leaps. Someday, I hope to dream again.

    Heidi ~ You sound as if you are certainly in the middle of what can be seen several ways. Judging by your age and that of your oldest child, you and I became mothers at about the same age. While I only have one daughter, I do understand some of what you are feeling. I think you have summed up the feelings of many your age who are at your stage of life when you said, ” we are task masters and no longer dream makers.” I imagine that you do for others all day long and feel as if you must steal time for yourself. To dream new dreams or find ways to revive old ones, you need to be rested and you need time to think. I’m sure that may seem impossible, but I encourage you to find a way to do that for yourself. I hope I don’t sound as if I have all the answers because I certainly don’t. Thanks for taking time to read and comment and I’ll hope you’ll keep coming back.

  23. I regularly read your blog to see what’s new and there are often surprises – like you were a professional actor. I also check in on 2 other blogs I like – a young mother in Israel – lizraelupdate.com and my niece’s blog – saratoday.wordpress.com
    The young mom is Israel is expecting her 2nd baby or has already had her. She is a trooper. My niece lived in Birmingham, England for a few months for her husband’s job and blogged about it a couple years ago.

    Three is enough for me for regular reading of blogs because it could take all day to have so many blogs to read, although there are many good ones out there.

    My projects for this coming season are planting more in my garden. I will have a booth at a farmer’s market the Fridays in August, and I want to make some more lye soap and crafts for that, besides flowers and hopefully veggies. I have plenty of herbs already growing each year plentifully. I also want to finish painting our basement and paint a bathroom and the living room and clean carpets with our Kirby, which I love.

    Our daughter has been teaching English in Azerbaijan the last few months and will return next week for another semester of teaching, so helping her to get ready to go.

    Jill ~ I am really honored that of the three blogs you read, mine is one of them. Thank you. It sounds as if your summer is going to keep you too busy to blog yourself although I’ll keep an eye for new posts at your place.

  24. Roisin on March 31, 2011 at 8:47 pm said:

    I am one of your silent readers, I never comment (not gutsy enough normally) but will take the opportunity now. Like others I enjoy your photos and comments and I’m lucky enough to also live in Cornwall but further west. I’ve only lived here for 5 years so enjoy reading about places I have not been to yet and places and things I find familar, (such as your ‘dancing ladies’ – I also look forward to seeing them as it means the home stretch is just ahead). Finally, I discovered last year that we share a birthday, although I’m a little younger and would have been toddling around when you were at your concert in 1976!

    Roisin ~ You can’t imagine how delighted I was to see your comment. I can’t believe we live so close to each other here in Cornwall and we share a birthday too. We’ll have to get together for a face to face meeting even if I’m a bit older. :-) Please send me an email so I can get in touch with you. (My email address can be found on my “Who am I” page)

  25. I’m Gina, an Irish girl living in Australia. I have commented before. I have no idea how I ended up finding your blog but I find it is one of the more mature ones I read. Some of my regular blogs I read are full of the funny stories of raising young kids and some I read because they are more inspiring, often in a photography sense. I love yours because you combine really beautiful photography with often thought provoking words.

    I often find myself in work thinking back to the topic you have written about. I find I begin composing my own comment in my head and yet not so often actually finding the time to re-open your blog entry to put those thoughts to actual words!

    I look at the statistics of people who visit my blog and I do wonder who they might be. I have found it fascinating reading the comments left here so far. To see the wide range of ages and types of people who enjoy your words as much as I do!

    Gina ~ I feel as we’re old friends the way we visit back and forth. I may not comment often on your blog, but I always stop by for a look when I see you in my google reader. Thanks so much for your kind comments and support.

    Thanks again everyone!

One Step At A Time

The elevator to success is out of order. You’ll have to use the stairs…

one step at a time.

~ Joe Girard

My sister Margaret gets the credit for the photo of me climbing the 280 steps to the top inside the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. I thought this photograph was a good one to use in a thank you to all of the readers and friends who took time to leave a supportive message with regard to my writing and ever so slight disappointment over receiving a polite  ” not interested ” response from the newspaper I queried recently.

I have found such fine support for the writing I do here and I am never sure I let you know how much it is appreciated. Mary from A Breath of Fresh Air left me a very kind comment yesterday about writing a book, in which she said she that she would not hesitate to gift a collection of stories taken from my blog to her friends. It was just the lift I needed yesterday to pick up my pace mentally and refocus on the steps before me.

Thanks again to all who visit here at Gifts Of The Journey and thanks for your support.

The Big Countdown Begins – Ten

It may seem a bit self-indulgent to announce to the world that I have a big birthday fast approaching but turning fifty seems as if it should have some special attention paid to it. I have no clear idea of what I will be saying over the next nine days leading up to my birthday, but I plan to post a bit of something that will be quite shamelessly, all about me. That’s right, I will be posting daily right up to my birthday on September 10. I have not planned a thing in terms of topic and will write whatever comes to mind which can be my favorite kind writing and might lead to some interesting insights.

Some people enjoy having big parties to celebrate special birthdays, but I actually tend to feel a bit shy and out of place when I’m the absolute center of attention so I am pleased to be making memories with a smaller gathering of people who care about me. Can two (John and my sister Margaret) be considered a gathering?

After a detailed examination of my accomplishments over the last year, I find that some of my goals for forty-nine have not been met. I must confess that not one thing I’ve written in my forty-ninth year has gone out the door electronically or otherwise in search of a publisher. I am not sure why I have dragged my feet so badly when this has been at the top of my list for so long.

I have watched as other bloggers and writers have found their footing while juggling huge responsibilities and managed to publish while I write and research and think too much about the best way to find an audience for my work. I don’t feel jealous about their success just a bit disappointed in myself for not getting more done by now.

Watching others seems to be a life long habit with me and I tend to take a bit longer to find my footing once I’ve figured out the steps. In the photograph above, my fourteen year-old self is on the far right looking uncertain about what the group is doing or how I might join in.

I still feel like that fourteen year-old sometimes … uncertain about doing things just right even though I know now after almost fifty years of living that movement in any direction is sometimes all you need.

Distractions – Bright & Beautiful

When bright flowers bloom

Parchment crumbles, my words fade

The pen has dropped …

~ Morpheus

I make deals with myself sometimes … with the life long experience of a master negotiator, I have whole, silent, in my head conversations that frequently begin with something like this, if you do this for the next three hours, then you can …

Today is one of those days.

Moving It Outside When You Feel Stuck

When I am trying to write a story and get stuck in a particular place I find the best and most helpful solution is to take it outside. Lately, I have been mulling over a missing transition piece in a novel that I am trying to transfer from my imagination to the hard drive of my Mac.

Most of it so far as been fairly easy, flowing like a river after a rainstorm, fast and furious leave me no choice but to hang on and see where the momentum wants to carry me. In the last week or so the river has slowed and forked off in several directions leaving me at the mouth of the tributary trying to look far enough ahead to see which branch to follow. My arms are getting tired of rowing in place so I am moving my  ‘office’ outside today to see if I can decide on a direction and get back to some forward motion.

In a few hours, I will be headed to Lanhydrock which never fails to inspire. I’ll be carrying my camera, a notepad, and a thermos full of hot coffee and will hopefully return with a more complete map of the river and sense of direction … story direction that is, because I know where I am going even if my characters don’t.

Here are a few pictures of what today’s office will offer as a workspace taken from a visit last year. If you wish to share tips as to what works for you when you feel stuck, I love to see your thoughts in a comment below.

Obsessions In Photography

Chris Sneddon is talking about her recent obsession over at Shutter Sisters today and she’s asking readers to share any obsessions they may have when it comes to photography. Her question made me think about why I photograph what I do. My photography tends to be closely linked to what I write about here on my blog. This would include images that provide a documentary look at topics such as the pasty competition posts from the last few days to photographs that are inspiration for personal essays and others that illustrate the mini short stories I’ve written for TMAST.

I take photographs to tell a story and there’s always a story. Whether it’s real or imagined, mine or yours, every picture has a story waiting to be told. My obsession is in the finding, first the photograph and then the words. I have included a few of the 32,000 photographs I’ve taken in the last two years.  32,000  photographs in two years … does that seem like an obsession to you?

I would love to hear what you like to photograph and if there’s any subject matter you think you get a bit obsessive with when you have a camera in hand.

Tell Me A Story Tuesdays – Guest Story Teller – Jersey Girl

If you follow my blog, you may know that I’ve been in Jersey doing a bit of child care with John helping to look after his granddaughter who I’ll refer to as JG (Jersey Girl) from now on. With her parents return from Spain last night, our main duties have ended and we are off to France on a day trip in a little while. This morning I was explaining to JG that I couldn’t sit with her as I had been each morning because I needed to write my story for TMAST and then I explained what Tell Me A Story Tuesdays were all about. She responded that they had Manners Monday at school where they learned how to do certain things such as wait until the teacher is through speaking before speaking herself. I poured her some juice and cereal and went up stairs to write. Her mom was moving around the kitchen so she wasn’t alone and when I left , she had her crayons, pencils, paper and tape spread all around her.

When I came back down for another cup of coffee and to say goodbye for the day, quite to my surprise she had created a story of her own for TMAST.  So I’d like to welcome JG to TMAST today as our first guest storyteller. She’s five and whipped this up complete with illustrations and assembly in thirty minutes.

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Thanks again to all who follow TMAST. I’ll be back later today as I said with my story for the week. For now you can check out stories from Gaelikaa and Judy Harper by clicking on their names… they’ve been joining me for TMAST each week and it’s always a pleasure to read their stories. Please check the TMAST site for next week’s photographs and topic sentences.