As we drove from Blarney to Killarney, I wondered how we would find our bed and breakfast because Ireland doesn’t use street numbers. When we got into Killarney, Lin stopped at a gas station and I went in and asked–no idea where Rock Road was.
We continued down the street and there were no street signs. We slowed down, rolled down the window and asked a man walking by about our destination. He pointed down the street and said you’re on Rock Road. Our bed and breakfast was right there.
Our host, Pat and Mary, at Rathmore House Bed and Breakfast, were exceptional. They welcomed us and made us feel right at home. Lin enjoyed talking gardening with Mary.
Pat gave us directions to Ross castle and Musross House. Lin asked him to book us a tour of the Ring of Kerry for the next day; Pat agreed with Lin that he didn’t want to drive it because he wouldn’t get to enjoy the scenery.
So away we went and toured the Ross Castle
and the Musross House.
Again, the next morning we had a traditional Irish breakfast starting with porridge (oatmeal).
The Ring of Kerry tour was fantastic. Our first stop was at a bog village, a replica of an Irish village. Here’s a traditional thatched roof.
Our next stop was watching a shepherd (Below) demonstrate how his well-trained dogs responded to a personal whistle signal to bring the herd of sheep down from the upper pasture. You can barely see the sheep in this picture–one dots.
The dogs worked like clockwork to bring the sheep down the hill.
You can see how eager the dog is to work–he’s ready to go. It was amazing to watch the dogs and their eagerness to perform.
After the demonstration, the shepherd took questions from the audience and my husband, Lin, asked the following question: “Does the training technique you use with the sheep dogs work on wives?” The men laughed; the women gasped. I just shook my head–that’s Lin!
Our lunch time stop had a breathtaking view of the ocean from the Scarriff Inn.
Here’s a picture of me enjoying this beautiful landscape.
As we traveled the ring of Kerry, the hillsides were dotted with heather and fuchsia, so the wide variety of green was highlighted with purple and red.
Our last stop on the loop was the small village of Sneem. I bought a colorful winter wool knitted cap, and Lin ate ice cream.
Here’s Sean Sullivan, our bus driver and us–what a memorable day it was!
After Sean dropped us off near downtown Killarney, we walked around, had a coffee and spent the evening relaxing. Killarney became one of our favorite spots in Ireland.
Does the size of a book matter, the thickness of its spine? the word count?
My first book, This Tumbleweed Landed, was less than 125 pages–over 10,000 words. It was collection of poetry and prose about growing up in my small ranching community of Branson, CO during the fifties and sixties. My second book, When Will Papa Get Home?, was about 150 pages and over 20,000 words. Does that mean that those books were less than, inferior? I’ve had people comment on these books and how the content touched them in a variety of ways.
My newly released book, A Time to Grow Up–A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, is 412 pages long–over 46,000 words. Does the size of this book make it better than my previous ones? This mindset baffles me.
Shakespearean scholars would have a hay day with this idea and say there’s a phallic symbol hidden in there somewhere.
I had a conversation with someone the other day about creative writing. She has not published a book yet. She said she was only going to write thick books, so that’s what encouraged this blog post.
If you judge a book by its size, you may miss out. Many small books have big messages. Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull comes to mind immediately. How about Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet? It’s a short 107 pages yet those 26 prose poetry fables are world known and celebrated.
I never judge a book by its size. I have some huge tomes that bore me to tears and small ones that have touched my life deeper than any long winded volume.
As a writer, I don’t focus on the size of the project I’m working on–my books dictate their size and message.
Yes, I know that size matters in some things, but when it comes to books, I make my decisions to buy a book on its topic, the author, the cover and much more than its size, so size does not matter.
In eight days, I turn sixty-four with the big sixty-five looming next year. Ordinarily, my birthdays go by without much thought.
When I turned fifty, I was at the National Square Dance Convention in Oklahoma City, OK and we turned a promotional After Party into a birthday party for me. It was the biggest party I’ve ever had. Jerry Junck and Mike Hogan, two caller friends, sang me “Happy Birthday” and serenaded me with a George Strait tune.
Mom wanted to do my 60th birthday up royal, but she died three months before, so it was a quiet observance in Branson, CO with family and friends.
As I face sixty-four and beyond, I wonder what my stacked up years mean–six decades. The world has changed drastically since 1953. From black and white TV to color–I remember the first time I saw a color TV with the brilliant peacock spreading her tail and a pan of the valley introducing “Big Valley.” Now I can hold an iPad in my hands and watch any TV show I want.
My first airplane flight at twenty was a champagne flight to San Diego. I felt like a queen and dressed up. A couple weeks ago, I flew to Virginia and wore capris and a t-shirt and was not served champagne.
Yet today, I feel so young. I dance 3-4 times a week and keep a busy schedule. I’m still active in retirement–actually busier than ever. I look in the mirror and scan my face. I don’t see any signs of aging–my colored red hair hides the scattered white and gray hairs that abound.
When my parents were in their sixties, they seemed so old, but that’s not me–not yet anyway!
“Work, love and play are the great balance wheels of man’s being.”
–Orison Swett Marden
Life is a balancing act for sure! In the busyness of 2017, I struggle the most with balance. I want to do it all, but wisdom of the ages says I can’t. If I focus on these things parts of my life–work, love and play–I will balance me more than anything.
Being retired, I thought it would be easy to deal with the work part, but I have so many interests and passions, I find myself working harder than when I was employed. I have learned to slow down some–my husband and I start most days off with Cribbage games during breakfast. This precious time starts my day the right way–not running to fulfill an obligation but to laugh and enjoy a sacred time of communion with my partner.
To love deeply requires that we are active. A dear friend of mine just lost her husband of 15 years to a motorcycle accident, and I found out this morning that she had to do the courageous act of pulling life support for him this last week–my whole body trembled as she shared this. My love for her and her family overflowed , and I felt almost nauseous with this sad, horrific turn of events. This afternoon I will go by and give her a hug and let her talk–actively loving her.
I love to play–my nature is to play, and I bring an enthusiastic heart to anything I do–whether it is editing my books, square dancing or just goofing off at home. Play feeds my soul in a way nothing else can.
Balancing all three of these areas makes my life rich and full–mastering the balancing act takes everything I have, but the rewards are immeasureable.
Often when I think of harmony, I first think of music–Barbershop Quartets, Sweet Adeline’s, and the OakRidge Boys. That sweet, harmonious sound thrills my soul. How do they do it? It seems so simple, but is it?
There’s so much more to that simple word. Look at four definitions of harmony:
These definitions all have something in common: something in agreement or accord.
Harmony in the world is a lofty goal. I want harmony in my life–the inner landscape of my life where I really live. To realize this, I have to train my voice (my spirit and soul) to listen to those around me and blend in with their tones and nuances. That’s where I get stuck sometimes, but I dedicate myself to be aware of that possibility and give it a try.
More so, I have to listen to my differing inner voices and be in harmony with them in my mind, so I can be more harmonious with those who around me that grace my world. If, I am in discord with my inner landscape, I will be the same in my outer landscape.
I want harmony in every aspect of that inner life–a mesh of all the different parts that fill my busy life. Let’s see what you think about harmony: do you think about being in harmony with family and friends? are you in harmony with yourself? do you harmonize or are your relationships off key?
Share your thoughts with me–I’m interested in your thoughts and remember–words matter!
Do you ever let household chores slip by for months before you remember to do them?
At Christmas time, I looked up at the light fixture in the bathroom of our house in Branson, CO and chuckled. One of the bulbs burned out about six months ago, and I just now remembered it. I am 5’3″ and the ceilings in our old rock house are 10 foot or better. Changing out light bulbs is a major event for this short person!
What helped at this moment was my 6’5″ nephew was visiting after Christmas, so I asked for his help. Caden always is willing to help. Quickly, he climbed one or two steps on the ladder–I would have been on the top step and still stretching to reach the target. The job was done in a matter of minutes with no fear of falling and little effort.
This simple project has been whirling in my mind for the last few weeks. Immediately when the light burned out, I noticed how dim the lighting was in the bathroom, but as time passed, it gradually became the norm. I didn’t notice any longer.
How often in life I have done that with major issues I face! Looking at the solution for this problem gives me some guidelines to apply the next time I let something go for a long period of time and then realize it:
Awareness is key, so I need to be present in my life, not walking through my life numb and preoccupied with thoughts racing through my mind. I need to be here. I need to face my reality and be willing to fix whatever I face.
Have the right tools. A hammer is not the tool for every job, so I need to analyze the situation and then find the appropriate tool for the task.
Have welling volunteers to help. More times than not, if I ask someone to help, they happily comply. I don’t want to bother someone else with my petty needs, so I don’t ask.
I must ask for help. People can’t read my mind. To ask someone for help is to offer him or her the opportunity to help, to be of service. Most people love to help a friend or relative when needed.
“Silent Night,” “Joy to the World!” I love to sing Christmas carols. As a child, we sang those precious songs at church and school. I never grew tired of them.
One year when I was in high school, Margie Miller, one of our multi-talented teachers, taught us “O Come All Ye Faithful” in Latin. It sounded so similar to the Spanish many of my friends spoke. In our small community, I heard Spanish often. We had Spanish in fourth grade so I had an early introduction to learning this language.
The sound of this familiar Christmas hymn mesmerized me. Fifty-plus years later today, I can still sing those Latin words to that wonderful old song.
I grew up at a time when church and state were not as separate as they are today. As a high school, we drove around Branson on the back of a hay truck singing Christmas carols for the community. This became my favorite caroling experience.
We knew everyone in town, so it was delightful to see the response from our friends and neighbors when we drove up to their houses. Most of the audience was elderly and their eyes shone with joy as they heard traditional songs they loved. At key points, someone served hot chocolate and cookies to us chilly carolers.
Yes, it was cold on the back of that flat bed truck. We dressed warm with layers of sweaters and heavy winter coats. A bright scarf and hand-knitted hat kept my head and neck warm. Warm mittens kept my fingers toasty and snow boots donned my feet. I have the worst time keeping my feet warm, so I remember cold feet no matter what I had on my feet.
After about an hour of singing, we would go back to the school for our annual high school Christmas party. The main focus of the party was dancing — country and western dancing.
I have so many precious Christmas memories in that small town and school, but this one rings strong and bright.
It’s 12:55 am, and I’m usually asleep by now. For the first time in my life, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, a worldwide commitment by individuals to write 50,000 words of a novel in the month of November. I have writer friends who have done. I have teacher friends who have had their high school students do it. So this was the year for me. I haven’t met my daily goal every day, and it’s November 17, but I’ve written over 18,000 words. I feel really accomplished by doing that. If I double up for the last 13 days, I should get close!
This commitment to produce a certain amount of words each day has forced me to write daily. It has become a habit, a great by-product of NaNoWriMo. Before, I wrote when I felt like it, but often it got pushed aside for more important tasks. Now it is the priority–another paradigm shift.
Is creativity stimulating? Tonight I was in the zone, writing and crafting my women’s novel, and I had one of those experiences we writers crave–the inspiration of my muse carried me away with a twist in the story that made me cried it was so beautiful. I could have kept writing all night, but my husband needed some attention, so I stopped.
Now I can’t sleep. I want to write. Ideas flash across my mind about this character and that one. How will I end the story i forgot to add this piece. Oh, my!!! My mind won’t stop. It’s on a roll and wants to continue, so I’m sitting in the dark in my bathrobe, crafting this blog post.
This has been the week of the super moon with ultra bright evenings. Is that why I can’t sleep? Or is creativity so stimulating, so much like a caffeine buzz that I am wired for the night?
Bibliophobic? I am at a spring craft show at the most affluent school in our city, selling six my self-published books, and people veer completely away from my booth like they are deathly afraid of books. It’s almost comical.
I am the opposite. Books draw me to them. I am compelled to buy another book, even though I have stacks and stacks of unread tomes at home.
So do people read as much today? A statistic I need to research.
Many do. I see them in airplanes, in the park and on buses. So what about these people who won’t even make eye contact with me? I wonder.
Books have always been friends. What’s your thoughts about books?