Tag Archive | winter

The First Thought of the Day

I subscribe to a blog called The Daily Post because it’s a wonderful resource for writers. Everyday the creators of this blog propose a writing topic. Something to get the juices flowing. I don’t do every exercise they propose, but yesterday’s directive resonated with me. The suggestion was to keep a notebook on your bed table and write down the first thing you thought of before you crawled out of the blankets.

As I’ve been keeping a notebook beside my bed since I was in college, I thought — hmmm — half done already. All I have to do is pick up a pen and write down what I had on my mind when I woke. So, I went to sleep, woke refreshed, ready to write down my first thought of the day–only to find out I didn’t have a pen! Damn! Why didn’t they say, “put a notebook and PEN” on your night table?

So, I rushed through my morning routine, letting the dog out, feeding the cat, helping Ken with his breakfast, and all the while keeping that one thought in my mind, so I could do the writing exercise. After everybody’s morning stuff was completed, I poured my coffee and sat down in front of my laptop. And here I am to tell you about my first thought of the day.

It was about LEMONS. That’s right. Lemons.

lemon tree

Actually, it was about the first time I picked LEMONS–and GREEN LEMONS on top of it! And to have a friend growing them in her backyard was crazy fun.  I went nuts, picking about two or three dozen of the unusual large, green lemons, and then I smuggled them home in my suitcase. (That was before 9/11 when you didn’t have to have a strip search before you stepped on an American plane.)

As soon as I got home, I unpacked my prize lemons,  squeezed them, and froze the juice in ice cube trays. Now every time I wanted fresh lemon juice, all I had to do was thaw a cube and enjoy.

Most of my joy came from remembering me giggling as I picked the  fruit and my friend Marie standing by laughing at me being so joyous over a bunch of dumb lemons.

Maybe I thought about lemons this morning because I miss Marie. It’s been several years since we’ve seen each other, and this is the time of year I always looked forward to traveling south to get out of the snow and ice. (Did I tell you we had 15 inches of snow over the last 24 hours.) February or March was this time of year Ken and I would enjoy our condo timeshare in Orlando, and plan fun things to do as we enjoyed our Floridian once-a-year residence . One of our regular excursions was to take a couple of days to drive down to visit my dear friend in Flagler Beach.

So, when you read this Marie — and I know that you will — I hope you’re not put off that I thought of lemons and you in the same thought. You’ve never had a sour day in your life.

Monday, Monday, What a Great Day!

Yesterday I had a surge of energy. It came out of nowhere. And on top of it–It was MONDAY!


The Super Bowl was celebrated with a party with good friends. The team I picked, won. The mess was minimal and I had it cleaned up by 9 a.m. A very pretty, fluffy snow was falling outside my window, and I didn’t have to go anywhere. My post went easily. It seemed like all the stars were aligned.

Best of all. my energy was high and I was ready to tackle household chores. Up until last week, Ken has always done the laundry as part of his domestic chores, but his weak legs now prevent him from going down the stairs to the basement. So, now I have inherited this new chore. I haven’t done the wash for over 17 years, so I had to get reacquainted with the washing machine, dryer, sorting, etc. But it was okay.

While I was down in the basement, I got out the broom and started cleaning. When I saw what my cat Vinnie had done, I wanted to pack him up and take him to kitty jail. For some reason, this good cat decided that the WHOLE basement was a new little litter box for his “poopies.” What a mess! But it was okay.

Then, I found a couple of blank canvases that I didn’t know I had. I haven’t painted anything for well over a year and I knew it could be a disaster if I picked up a brush. And then all of a sudden, I had an idea. So I picked out three colors, put the canvas on my easel and went to work. Here’s what happened. Maybe not Monet, but I like it. My father-in-law made the frame and it seems to go together.

A Golden Witner

A Golden Witner

Dreaming of a Writing Room

dream room 2Last week, the Daily Post blog posted the question: What does your ideal writing room look like?

I’ve always had this vision that someday I would write my best sellers from a place that looks out to the ocean very similar to the picture at the left. But I would rearrange this room and put a large old desk in the room. It faces the patio doors, looking out  to the ocean. And of course, next to the desk there is a comfy overstuffed chair for my faithful pal Ernie to sleep in while I work. I love to open the doors so I can hear the ocean, which calms me into the perfect open-mind writing state.

My paintings surround me on walls that are painted in the palest shade of yellow. Instead of linoleum, my flooring is honey oak and one of my grandmother’s hand-braided rugs sits in front of a cornflower blue sofa with geometric print accent pillows. A ceiling fan like the one in the picture keeps things cool, but a floor lamp provies good light for reading. On the opposite wall there is a fireplace for cold, damp nights. The fire place opening is surrounded by beautiful, handmade Mexican tiles. There are book cases that go to the ceiling on both sides of the fireplace that not only display my favorite tales, but also give me ample room to place pictures of my friends and family.

Unfortunately, until the royalties come rolling in, I’ll be satisfied to sit in my old, beat-up chair and a half, with Ernie by my side and do my creating here. At least I have part of the dream–a large picture window that looks out nature, but right now I gaze across the street to a quiet cemetery, which provides me with a pretty view in all seasons.

So, there’s my writing room dream. What’s yours look like?

Prime Time for Primroses

primroseA couple of weeks ago I was in the grocery store, heading down the home stretch to the check-out, when a beautiful little plant called to me. It was a pink and yellow Primrose.

I have always had a soft spot for these dainty little flowers because they signal that Spring is just around the corner. Right. It’s January in Wisconsin. Who am I kidding? This far north, winter has been known to stretch well into the month of May!

The plant was marked 99 cents, so I picked her up and brought her home. I planted her in a pretty little fluted vase and gave her the position of honor on my kitchen table. For some reason, I smile every time I look at her lush green leaves and sweet little pink flowers. I talk to her and tell her how beautiful she is. Hopefully, my encouragement will help her live.

You see, there’s a problem. My house has a tendency to kill plants I bring home. I have no good place to give plants what they usually need–sunlight–direct or otherwise. The best I can do is pray everyday that this sweet little beauty will be brave enough to live long enough so I can safely plant her outside. I’m hoping this time will be different because she’s already brought me many smiles on a cold day. . . like today, when the windchill temperature is 25 degrees BELOW zero.

I think having flowering spring plants in the house during the dead of winter is a kind of therapy for me. Cabin fever is something all northerners suffer several times during our long winters and having bulbs like daffodils and tulips and flowers like this sweet little primrose coming to life in the house is as exciting as seeing them erupt in our gardens in the spring.

Are we impatient for the warmer temperatures of spring? You betcha! Winters are just too stinking long up here. I think November to March is long enough, but sometimes winter invades spring. In fact, sometimes we just jump from winter to summer and skip spring altogether!

So, I’m saying an extra fervent prayer to the plant gods to let my little primrose live. I’ll be doubly delighted when I plant her outside in my yard and watch come back to me after suffering a long, hard winter next year.


A Touch of Beauty Through the Dead of Winter

January 2012 008It snowed last night. Probably just an inch or two. I’m looking out my window and enjoying the scene before I have to deal with slippery roads and temperatures that chill me down to my liver. This morning the few flakes that fell last night gave a confectionery dusting over the sleepy tree limbs and bushes. It’s truly a pretty sight.

As I enjoy the winter scene as I write these lines, something in the distance draws my attention through the winter scene. I’m watching an American flag waving in the distance in a cold and lonely cemetery.  The red, white and blue gently floating in a light breeze has unknowingly drawn my attention through the snow-covered limbs and otherwise dead winter scene. (If you look REAL hard, you’ll see it in the middle of the frame.)

As I watch the flag, I’m thinking that some people are like that flag. In their quiet way, they can’t help draw attention to themselves just because they are so beautiful. I’m not talking about physical beauty. Yeah let’s face it, some of the most beautiful faces are true beasts under the make-up!  What I’m talking about is a quiet beauty in caring eyes and gentle voices. Maybe its a sense of humor that makes you smile on really bad days. Their mere  presence makes a difference, probably because you sense their strength that lies beneath.  They are everyday heroes going on about their lives, unknowingly touching others in profound ways.

Whatever quality they possess,  you know immediately it’s special. You want to put that person in your life. And once they are there, you never want to let them go. Like that flag, they bring a touch of beauty into an otherwise dreary existence.  We are all lucky they walk the earth.

Gray Days are Good for Something

gray winter dayI hate Winter. It’s full of highs and lows; worst of all, it’s full of  slippery roads and sidewalks, not to mention its extremely long, dark days.

On top of that, January means it’s time to take down the Christmas decorations. I told myself I had to leave them up until Ken’s parents came up from Chicago . . . but that was just an excuse. They came during the day, so there was no good reason for me to leave the lights up that long.

Today, I’m mourning having to put away the inside Christmas decorations. This is when I cry. I know that after the colored lights, ornaments and garland is packed away until next December, it will look plain and dull in my living room. I feel like something beautiful has died.

From now until April, I”ll endure the doldrums of winter. The cold makes it necessary to bundle in layers every time I leave the house. The snow makes a mess of the roads and travel treacherous. Oh sure, the white blanket on the ground and the ice that makes the trees looks like Waterford crystal is pretty–but wait. Mother Nature’s a cagey one. She  lulls us into a state of wonder . . . and then Wham! Reality strikes. Lift that shovel! Try to balance on that ice! And in a few days, put up with a dirty residue that makes everything sooty and disgusting.

In my opinion, Winter is just for children. I remember days when I’d play with the neighborhood kids, having snowball fights, building snowmen and sliding down hills on sleds. And then of course, Winter is also for those grown-up children who enjoy scooting from bar to bar on their snowmobiles. There are still others who look forward to taking their lives in their hands as they tear down the slopes on two skinny skis.  But for the rest of us, the gray days of the winter months we must endure.

Because I’m a born optimist, I always try to find a glimmer of light in every situation, so I know I will use these dull, quiet, gray days to write.  In fact, today, I’m trying out Dianne Gray’s technique for fleshing out a character by having a friend interview “Stephania”  to see what I don’t know about her. It’s a positive step to fill in the blanks to make her character more interesting.

If I don’t uncover any deep secrets Stephania has been hiding from me, spending time with a friend is always a great way to spend a gray Winter day.