Saturday, March 9, 2019

March Forth!...in shades of yellow

"Mama's Daffodil" photo by KLWood
If the month of March were a color, it would surely be yellow. Fresh new flowers burst forth in buttery lemon shades to encourage the golden sun on its journey toward the vernal equinox and beyond. Mirroring the sun are daffodils, dandelions, forsythia, and my personal favorite—buttercups.

"Buttercup Cottage" photo by KLWood

When we first found our home here in Edenton, North Carolina, it was in the month of March, with yellow swaths of gently gleaming buttercups swaying in the soft breezes of the Albemarle Sound. We were both smitten by the charm of this little, two-story Victorian-era cottage,
"Buttercups" by Manfred Richter- Pixabay  
surrounded by those diminutive botanical dancers, and promptly named it “Buttercup Cottage.”

Emily Dickinson welcomed March in her poem “Dear March—Come in." Here is the 
first stanza for your Spring reading pleasure:
How glad I am -
"Forsythia" by  KIMDAEJEUNG- Pixabay
I hoped for you before -
Put down your Hat -
You must have walked -
How out of Breath you are -
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest -
Did you leave Nature well -
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me -
I have so much to tell -

So, my dear reader, slip on your 
yellow sweater, don your yellow 
cap, or if there's rain, pull on 
"Dandelion" by Holi Ho- Pixabay
your yellow slicker, and 
March Forth to welcome 
the Sun-King of Spring
and his court of dancing yellow
blossoms!
Thanks for stopping by...
y’all come back, now!
Kate
"At Our Buttercup Cottage" photo by author's mother, Oleta Wood






Friday, February 8, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day, My Little Chicken...international terms of endearment

"Kissy Flamingos" photo by KLWood
While researching an appropriate pet name used by a Scottish character—a male selkie— in my current WIP (Work In Progress,) I began to wonder about the names people around the globe give to their dear ones. After all, it's February, that "Kissy" time of year, when Valentine's Day spurs lovers to wax poetic.

If "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" has lost its old fashioned charm, I've gathered a list of terms of endearment from around the world. As you will see, they fall roughly into categories of flora, fauna, food, body parts, and heavenly bodies. From the deep ("My Soul,") to the cute ("Little Chip,") may these global expressions of love inspire you. After all, it's been said (and sung) that "Love Makes the World Go 'Round."

And if you want to know how to pronounce these marvelous monikers, check out:

https://translate.google.com/

So, "Let Me Call You..."


Mouse (Mäuse)- Germany
"Mouse"

Little Bear (Ursolina)- Portugal

Little Elephant (Chang Noi)- Thailand

Froggy (Żabko)- Poland

Possum- Australia

My Little Chicken (Falloutsi)- Maghreb

My Little Bug (Bogárkám)- Hungary

My Little Sun (мое маленькое солнце) “moye malen'koye kolntse"-Russia
"Sky"

Star (Stella/Stellina)- Italy

Sky (Cielo)- Spain

Potato Flower (Blodyn Tatws)- Wales

My Cabbage (Mon Chou)- France

Fruit of My Heart (Buah Hatiku)- Indonesia

Most Honored Poison of my Heart (Nyingdu-la)- Tibet

My Pulse (Mo Chuisle) “mo khwish leh”- Ireland

"My Cabbage"
My Soul (Canim)- Turkey

Egg With Eyes (Tamago Gata No Kao)- Japan

Cute Nose (Sötnos)- Sweden

Little Chip (Patatje)- Holland

Breadcrumb (Muru)- Finland

Sugar Pie, Honey Pie, Sweetie Pie, Baby Cakes,
(We love our sweets!)
and one my Granddaddy reserved for me: Pie Crust!- North Carolina, USA
"Fruit of My Heart"

What do you call your Sweetie? Leave a Comment and let us know!

BTW- My Scottish character calls the object of his ardor,
"My Wee Dautie" ("My Little Darling.")

"Kate's Honey Pie" photo (and Pie) by KLWood
Thanks for stopping by, Honey Pie.
Y’all come back, now!


Kate



Sunday, January 20, 2019

Lessons From a Jigsaw Puzzle...piecing it all together

"The Puzzling Begins" photo by KLWood
Back in 2011, my husband Christmas-gifted me a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle he had secretly purchased, months before, when we visited the Columbia Icefield glaciers in Alberta, Canada. That means he hid it from me across a seven-month, 33,000-mile journey as we hauled a 13-foot camper trailer from Virginia to Alaska and back again. The first leg of the trip took us along a northern route, and the return leg, down the California coast and across the southern regions of the United States. All the while, that box containing the jumbled pieces of a 12×36 inch puzzle remained stowed away, I know not where.

I had not pieced a jigsaw puzzle together for decades and, with life throwing all kinds of challenges at me, the box remained, unopened, for the next seven Christmases. But, recently, the puzzle came back to mind, and when I needed some distraction while I anxiously awaited my first grandson’s birth, I pulled out the box on January 10th, opened the sealed bag, spilled out the 500 pieces, and began. Wow. A bigger challenge than I
anticipated! But, piece by piece, it came together, and when our daughter’s beautiful baby, Colin, was born on January 14th, I dedicated the puzzle to him and vowed to complete it in his honor. And I did, snapping the final piece into place on January 19th. WooHoo!
"Making Progress" photo by KLWood

Working on the puzzle, I was surprised to find lessons related to writing and to life, itself, surfacing as I pondered and prodded and pieced it together. By the time I completed the puzzle, I had a fortune cookie factory’s worth of “wise” sayings. Move over Ben Franklin’s “Poor Richard,” and make room for my list of—


Lessons From a Jigsaw Puzzle

-Envision the big picture to know where to begin and to keep you going.

-Every contribution, no matter the size, builds toward success.

-Finding your place in the world takes patience and persistence.

-Sometimes you have to turn things upside down to find the answers.

-Something small, you overlooked, can make all the difference.

-Success can be addictive.

-If something doesn’t quite fit, no amount of pounding will make it right, just broken.

-To find a solution, come out of the shadows and into strong light.

-Begin with the familiar, then branch out.
"Coming Together" photo by KLWood


-A good framework holds everything together.

-One thing leads to another.

-Look for patterns.

-When you get stuck, step back and take a break.

-Protect your progress.

-A fresh pair of eyes, yours or another’s, can make new discoveries.

-Build on what you have, no matter how small.

-When you meet a challenge, successfully or not, use the lessons learned for the next one.

-Join others to create something bigger than yourself.

-A sense of accomplishment renews the spirit.

-Time spent exercising your brain is not wasted.
"Puzzle Complete!" photo by KLWood

And so—baby born, puzzle complete, a new year begun, my batteries are recharged and I’m ready to face 2019 with renewed fortitude and optimism. If it’s been a while since you pieced together a puzzle, I challenge you to give it a try and be open to the insights it offers.

Thanks for stopping by. Y'all come back, now!

Kate





























Tuesday, December 4, 2018

December...opalescent days and lapis lazuli nights


December offers us opalescent days and lapis lazuli nights. Two beautiful gemstones sum up the final month of the year, for me. Opal–glowing white, shot through with fireworks of flaming crimson, orange and yellow, electric blue and green. Lapis lazuli–deep night-sky blue, often sprinkled with starry sprays of golden pyrite.
"Winter Sun" via pixabay.com

December days, bright with new winter sunlight, all fire and ice and eye-watering clarity, glittering the frosted morning with tiny sparkling jewels. Our twelfth-month sun glows with anticipation and promise–Hanukkah’s most enduring candle flame, Christmas’s gleaming day star. The beauty of a December sun is all the more precious for its shortening span. Dusk arrives earlier each day, dawn sleeps in a bit longer.

December nights, deep velvet blue, swirling with distant stars that, for a time, look near enough to touch. So many wishes, so many prayers, floating up to that star-spangled sky. Gazing into those heavens, I can feel
"Starry Night" via pixabay.com
the human longing for peace and purpose, love and wisdom, comfort and joy. December ushers in the longest nights of the year, bidding us to ease into the darkness, resting our busy day-working bodies and minds, inviting us to light the home fires sooner, to gaze longer into the hearth and candle flame.

December is a month of magic, miracles, and mystery–threads connecting these two stones. The iridescent opal, flashing with its rainbow hues, looks as though it must have been brought into the world by pure
"Opal" via pixabay.com
magic. Such enchantment touches some deep chord within me, triggering visions of infinite possibilities and dreams of things unseen. The cosmic blue of the lapis lazuli draws me inward, to sink into its depths and float among its gilded stars, a color so divine, Renaissance artists reserved its ultramarine powdered pigment for the Virgin Mary’s gown.  
"Lapis Lazuli" via Pixabay.com

I invite you to pause in the midst of your busy holiday preparations and celebrations, to brighten your spirit with December’s opalescent days and dream deep into its lapis lazuli nights.


Thanks for stopping by! Y'all come back now.


Kate



Tuesday, November 20, 2018

God's Voicemail...divine humor


"Sharing a Laugh" photo by author's mother, Oleta Wood
The qualities of good-hearted laughter have been promoted throughout the ages of mankind. And, make no mistake, I refer to humor blossoming from a good heart, not derisive laughter spewing from mean-spiritedness. As with many of us who have spent some time on this earth, there have been periods in my life when I wondered if true laughter would ever be heard in my home and heart, again. If it would ever bubble up from my spirit, or from that of a loved one, and fill the air with joy and light. Those were dark times, indeed, but thankfully temporary. I have been so fortunate to have people in my life who can be counted on to bring much-needed levity to most any situation. I count my sister-in-law, Betty, at the top of that list. She has blessed our family with her gentle humor since her marriage to my brother, decades ago. I’ve often said, she’s one person I want around in times of stress and sorrow because she can always bring a smile to my face and hope to my heart. Everyone’s family needs a Betty.
"Kate Laughs" 

We’ve all heard the wisdom of Proverbs 17:22– “A cheerful heart, is good medicine.” And I’ve just discovered a wonderful new favorite from writer, Anne Lammott– “Laughter is carbonated holiness.” But the quote to which I so often return, is from an unknown source– “Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused.”

I learned the joy of laughing at oneself– our human foibles, eccentricities, and comical misfires– from my mother and her mother before her. Many a time, I joined my mother and grandmother in belly-clutching, tear-rolling, breath-catching laughter stemming from something comical they said or did. This was usually something they had not intended to be funny at all, and that made it all the more hilarious. One of the last wonderful laughing spells I shared with my mother, before her passing in 2016, occurred at Thanksgiving.
"Mama and Kate Share a Laugh" photo by author's husband, Bill Ahearn

As the family matriarch, we called upon Mama to say the Thanksgiving prayer blessing over our dinner. Surrounded by the loving presence of children and grandchildren, all waiting to dive into our bountiful feast, Mama began her prayer. It was a bit long, but filled with heart, as she recounted her blessings and spoke her prayers for those at the table and those present in spirit. Then, she fell silent for a moment and ended by saying, “Mmmm...buh bye.” We all opened our eyes and mouths and looked at her. Mama had just left a message on God’s heavenly answering machine! It took her a beat but, when she realized what she’d done, burst into laughter. Thank goodness! We could all join her, knowing she was delightfully aware of the humor of the moment.

I believe that spark of humor is, indeed, a divine gift to humanity, and I am thankful it’s been my lifelong companion.

Thanks for stopping by! Y'all come back now.


Kate



Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Keeping Secrets...I can...can you?

                                       FreeImages.com
I’ve got a secret! Or, at least, I did from August 30th to September 8th. And I could have kept it longer, honest! I will explain later. Throughout our lives, we have the opportunity and the challenge to be keepers of secrets. Of course, there are all kinds: big, small, wonderful, terrible, personal, family, even national. One important quality differentiating the good and bad ones, is that part of the happiness of a good secret, is the knowledge that it will, one day, be gratefully shared. The bad secret is sometimes taken to the grave, festering and flooding the soul with its poison. But, today, we discuss the power of the joyful secret.

Pixabay.com
Perhaps our first concept of happy secret keeping occurred when someone bent down to our toddler level, finger to lips, and whispered, “Shh. Don’t tell Mommy, it’s a surprise!” as the trusted adult showed us a lovely gift-wrapped package. The anticipation of seeing Mommy open the gift, formed a little bubble of happiness within, making us giggle and share winks with our loving co-conspirator. Beyond that, we may not have consciously conceptualized the notion, but we were also pleased and proud that someone had entrusted us with something of such importance. We were one of the chosen ones. We could keep a secret!

Pixabay.com
As a writer of a “Work-In-Progress,” I harbor many secrets! My head and computer are chock full of my characters, the worlds in which they inhabit, and the situations in which they find themselves. It is the special privilege (and sometimes torment) of the creator, whether writer, artist, composer, choreographer, etc, to carry a secret universe within them until such time as it is fully formed and ready to be sent out into the world. In a similar way, most pregnant women have that initial pause in their lives when they, and they alone, have knowledge that they cradle newly discovered life. A precious secret held close to their hearts, even if for just a few moments, before the baby is known to the rest of the world.

That leads me to the revelation of my most recently kept secret. (No, there is no Biblical Sarah and Abraham story here!) Our pregnant younger daughter and her husband invited me to be the keeper of the secret (even from them) of their baby’s gender, which would be
From: poofthereitis.com
discovered through the modern miracle of ultrasound on August 30, 2018. Now a’days, Gender Reveal parties are all the rage and, although the element of nine months of anticipation with a birthing room “reveal” has its merits, it is truly wonderful to be able to visualize a little boy or girl on the way. And so, I was honored to be the designated “Knower.” The Knower who would order the gender-specific, 24 inch long smoke canon for the pregnant parents to set off at the September 8th family gathering.
"Oh Boy! Charm" by KWAhearn

After I was handed the sealed envelope with the word “Gender” written on it, I snuck a peek and grinned like a Cheshire Cat...for nine whole days. On the first day of my dear secret, I purchased a little round charm in the traditional gender color. I tucked it into my pocket each day and whenever I wanted a pick-me-up, I slipped my hand inside and was gently reminded of my secret joy. After the explosive Reveal, I presented the other family members with their own baby reminder charms. So, now the secret’s out! The color of that charm and that celebratory puff of smoke? Blue! Secret’s out and I couldn’t be happier!

May all your secrets be joyful ones!

Thanks for stopping by! Y'all come back now.


Kate




Sunday, August 26, 2018

Room For One More...on National Dog Day


When you are loved unconditionally and you, in turn, give your heart completely, and
"Sweet Betsy" photo by KL Wood
then the source and recipient of that deep affection dies, what do you do? You mourn. You grieve. You shake your fist at the heavens. Even though you knew this would happen. Even though you knew, from the very beginning of your relationship, the loved one had a limited time on earth with you and would pass away long before you. You knew, one day, long before you were ready (you are never ready,) this dear one would be wrenched from your side although the sweet spirit would forever dwell in your heart.

In 2014, such a loved one died in my arms and never a day goes by that I’m not reminded of her. She was my companion, confidant, and fellow explorer of life’s ever changing seas. She couldn’t care less how I looked, whether rolling out of bed or dressed to the nines. She patiently listened as I ranted about politics or injustice or the cost of shoes. She always greeted me with genuine delight, no matter how long or short our separation. She was a young spirit within an old soul. She was my Betsy. She was my dog.

Betsy was black and white, curly-haired, half cocker spaniel, half poodle, all clown. Although the official term for her particular canine mixture is “Cockapoo,” I always referred to her as a “Cockerspoodle.” Somehow that moniker seemed more suited to her personality. Betsy walked by my side through many of my life changes: becoming a grandma, enduring a divorce, exploring new vocations, camping across America with a summer in Alaska, finding new love and marriage, then home-sweet-home in Edenton. In those twelve years, Betsy nestled deep within my heart and became part of me, forever. But then, she developed cancer and within four months, she was…gone. Even, now, tears well as I write these words.

The loss rent a tear in my heart, a piece torn away that would always be hers. I was devastated. How could I ever consider doing this to myself, again? Bring another love into my life that would leave me all too soon? But, two years later, as we watched our other dog, nine-year-old Minna, the sweet ShihTzu, become more and more of a fluffy couch potato, we decided it was time to look for a young companion to keep her company and get her moving again. I told myself it was for Minna, but I knew, it was really for me. You see, Betsy had expanded my heart and made room for more of the unique love that only pets can fulfill.

We knew there were so many wonderful dogs languishing in animal shelters who
"Betsy, Minna, Sophie- National Dog Day, 2018" by KL Wood
needed a home like ours in which they could enjoy being alive and part of a family. So, my husband, Bill, and I began an Internet search, looking for the qualities we thought would best fit into our home life. And, then one day, we saw the photo of a dear face, whose amber eyes looked out to us through cyberspace, imploring us to adopt her. And we did. Seven-month-old Sophie (who we thought was a terrier mix but who we realize, now, is a Portuguese Podengo Poqueno) came bounding into our home, instantly bonding with all of us and bringing playful joy and her own love into all our lives.

We have Betsy, and all the beloved pets before her, to thank for this new companion. Sophie hasn’t replaced them in our hearts. She’s just moved into the addition they created.

Thanks for stopping by! Y'all come back now.

Kate

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Well Wishes...from our Wishing Well

I wish you all the joy you can wish.”
"Our Wishing Well" photo by KL Wood
--William Shakespeare

When my husband, Bill, sets his mind, heart, and creativity to a project, you can rest assured it will be well done. The latest project to catch his imagination has been the designing and building of a Wishing Well for our front yard, complete with water spilling from a tilted brass teapot. The Wishing Well actually serves two purposes: wishing, of course, which I will expound upon in the next paragraph, and the more practical purpose of covering the sump pump necessary to keep our little old cottage from floating away when rainwater pours down Edenton’s West Church Street.

To wish was to hope, and to hope was to expect.”
--Jane Austen

But, let’s talk about Wishes. Some say wishing is an empty and fruitless activity. I say,
Photo, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
there’s something innately important in the act of wishing. How many of us have, at that moment before wishing upon a star, a fountain, a Wishing Well, or a birthday candle, stopped to seriously consider what we truly wish for? The very act of wishing crystallizes our most immediate desires and, even believing it to be a silly superstition or ritual, we usually put real thought into it. Having to wish for something makes us think about our priorities in life and, for that fleeting moment, we wonder what it is we really wish were different, or really wish would remain the same. Because...what if that Wish came true? We’ve all heard the old adage, ”Be careful what you wish for.” I can say from my own decades of wishing, I’ve had a couple Wishes come true whose repercussions proved quite challenging.


A dream is a Wish your heart makes.”
--Cinderella
Undine by John William Waterhouse, 1872

And what about the tradition of throwing coins, along with our Wishes, into the water? Although Bill likes to tease that we plan to fund our retirement from the Wishes of our fellow Edentonians, and could even offer a drive-by “Easy Pass” plan, I’ve stopped to ponder why coins and Wishes often go hand-in-hand. Back in ancient times, people believed that certain fountains, springs, or wells, were inhabited by gods with the power to grant Wishes (or at least ensure the continuance of the flow of clear, life-giving water.) Throwing valuables into the water was meant to appease the deities and keep life flowing along in a positive direction. In other societies, a Wish was solidified by the making of a sacrifice. If it was important enough to wish for, it was important enough to sacrifice for. In other words, “Put your money where your mouth is,” if you want to see real change. So, today, when we toss in a coin with our Wish, I think the tiny financial expenditure is symbolic of the importance of the Wish we are making. Our first official Well Wisher was neighbor, Deems Cole, who tossed in coins with his Wishes and allowed me to photograph the moment for posterity.
"Our First Well Wisher" photo by KL Wood


As “Keepers of the Well,” we invite you to wish big and wish small, toss a coin or send a prayer. You’re not limited to the traditional three Wishes! Our Wishing Well at 215 West Church Street is always open to you. So...

Stop on by and wish a spell,
You’re Well-come to our Wishing Well.
Wishes really can come true,
And that’s our Wish for each of you.
Touch the bricks and close your eyes,
Make your Wish and realize,
A Wish is hope for better things,
A starting place to give it wings.”
--Kate Ahearn

Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back, now! (And if you don't live near Edenton, North Carolina, our Well takes long-distance Wishes, too!)
Kate


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

It's May!...finally

"Raindrops On Our May Blossoms" photo by KL Wood
Although the calendar promises that Spring begins in March each year, most of us residing in the northern hemisphere realize Spring does not comfortably and reliably breathe among us until sometime in the month of May. And now at long last, May, in all its soft beauty, has arrived. Even my daughter living way up in New York state near the Canadian border has some flowers blooming, now. And so, in celebration of sweet May and in the sighting of a migrating rose-breasted grosbeak, who stopped at our kitchen window bird feeder on his way north to my daughter, I am happy to share some photographs from our spring garden (and bird feeder) as well as a lovely poem by John Burroughs. 
"Migrating Rose Breasted Grosbeak with Resident Dove"
photo by author's husband, William Ahearn


Burroughs was an American naturalist and writer who counted among his friends the likes of poet-Walt Whitman, inventor-Thomas Edison, automobile pioneer-Henry Ford, naturalist-John Muir, and American president-Theodore Roosevelt. Born in Spring, April 3, 1837, and dying in Spring, March 29, 1921, this poem, extolling the beauty of spring birds and flowers, is a fitting tribute to both him and to the month of May he so lovingly portrayed.

"John Burroughs" photo via Wikipedia (public domain)

"Rose Breasted Grosbeak Passing Through" photo by KL Wood

In May

by John Burroughs (1837-1921)

When grosbeaks show a damask rose
Amid the cherry blossoms white,
And early robins’ nests disclose
To loving eyes a joyous sight;


When columbines like living coals
Are gleaming ‘gainst the lichened rock,
And at the foot of mossy boles
Are young anemones in flocks;

When ginger-root beneath twin leaves
Conceals its dusky floral bell,
And showy orchid shyly weaves
In humid nook its fragrant spell;

When dandelion’s coin of gold
"Our Yellow Iris" photo by KL Wood
Anew is minted on the lawn,
And apple trees their buds unfold,
While warblers storm the groves at dawn;

When such delights greet eye and ear,
Then strike thy tasks and come away:
It is the joy-month of the year,
And onward sweeps the tide of May.

When farmhouse doors stand open wide
To welcome in the balmy air,
When truant boys plunge in the tide,
And school-girls knots of violets wear;

When Grapevines crimson in the shoot,
Like fin of trout in meadow stream,
And morning brings the thrush’s flute
Where dappled lilies nod and dream;

When varied tints outline the trees,
Like figures sketched upon a screen,
And all the forest shows degrees
Of tawny red and yellow-green;

When purple finches sing and soar,
Then drop to perch on open wing,
With vernal gladness running o’er
"Our Clematis in May" photo by KL Wood
The feathered lyrist of the spring:

When joys like these salute the sense,
And bloom and perfume fill the day,
Then waiting long hath recompense,
And all the world is glad with May.


Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back, now! (And Happy May!)

Kate