Saturday, November 1, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014, One Day at a Time

The Road to Vetheuil - Monet
I'll be using this post to share the links to my daily writing for NaNoWriMo 2014. I don't want to
clutter up your Inboxes (those of you who subscribe), so make sure to check in here periodically if you want to see how the novel is coming.

You can view the details of the novel here, on the NaNoWriMo site. But basically, it's a Young Adult novel currently entitled Young Artists (this will likely change...Any suggestions?)

Here is what I managed to pound out on Day 1.

I think I may have gotten a bit ahead of myself today. Some of this might end up later in the story, but at this point, here is Day 2 of  my novel.

Close your eyes and picture it. I'm pleased with some of the imagery in today's work: Day 3.

A little short for Day 4, but not to worry. still in it to win it!

Started out just playing catch-up today and ended up getting lost in the story. I'm liking what I did today, Day 5. This may be my second favourite day's work so far (the first being Day 3).

So...this is all she (being me) wrote...for today anyway: Day 6.

Only 7 words short of 10,000 words on Day 8! I will try to remedy this tonight. I think it would keep me up all night...

After some technical difficulties (and a disappointing loss of words) yesterday, I've rewritten what was lost and more: Day 9. Got some real catching up to do now, but still going for it! Thank you to all my encouragers out there. It helps!

A pensive/descriptive day for my young Artists: Day 10.

Today (Day 11), my characters followed some good advice from Judy Dench (as Armande in Chocolat): "Don't worry so much about 'supposed to'." P.S Happy Veteran's/Remembrance Day. Thank you for your service!

Get your tissue box ready. I know I almost needed mine for Day 13.

Barely managed to sneak a word in on Day 14. Working on Day 16 now!

Another rough day for my characters. Hang in there guys! Day 16 has come and gone.

Day 17 ended at an unintentional cliffhanger. Ah well.

The story continues to unfold on Day 18. So many surprises (even to me)!

Day 19 is still a work in progress, but I'm posting the link now anyway.

Again, will hopefully add more to this later tonight, but posting it now, just in case.
Please note: the name of one of the characters changes from Flinna to Faenn in the middle of Day 20.

Picking up speed on Day 21!

Down to single digits in the number of days left to win this thing! I'll be cutting it close, but still trying! Here's what I wrote on Day 22.

Day 23, hot off the presses! I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!

It's the final countdown. Day 24! After a good brainstorming session with my consultant, who shall remain unnamed, I'm feeling confident about wrapping this book up like a baby in swaddling clothes.

I love days like this, when the words flow and the ideas are full of bright sights and clear sounds. Now, if I can just stop saying that anything happens "after a moment" I'll be all set. Ah well, Day 25 has been very productive nonetheless.

Posting this now in case I fall asleep at the keys tonight. What Day 26 really needs is more coffee.

Happy Thanksgiving! And Day 27.

Day 28 is still in progress, but I'm posting this now in case I don't get to do it later. Need to make it to about 3000 each day, so settle in for a little longer reading (assuming I get there sometime tonight).

The end (Day 29). After this point, I'll be writing scenes I need to fill in earlier in the story until I get  to 50 000! So if you're ready, click above to find out how it all turns out! So crazy. So close.

And on Day 30, I won! Now the real work begins...but not for a while. This Scribe needs a break from all the mad scribbling she's being doing for the past 30 days. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014 is Almost Here!

Things have been strangely silent in the Scribe's Commonplace lately. "Real life" has been crowding into my writing time. But no more! Starting Nov. 1, I will be joining the WriMo ranks, writing to win!

"Win what?" you ask. 50,000 words in 30 days...and the satisfaction of a job well done. To find out more about National Novel Writing Month (that's November), or to join in yourself, visit the NaNoWriMo site.

I won't be blogging during November, because I'll be busy writing approximately 1667 words per day, but I will be sharing what I write for the challenge. That's right, the (almost) un-edited content of my very first novel! (I don't know whether I'm terrified or ecstatic to be embarking on this journey.)

Click here to see the progress of my novel on NaNoWriMo. Or check out the word-counter widget on the side bar to the left here on my blog.

And I'll be using Evernote to write each day so I can access my work online no matter what computer I happen to be in front of. I'll also be using it to share the links to each day's work right here on my blog, so stay tuned for updates.

Now, off to do some last minute pre-writing. See you Saturday!

- the Scribe  

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo2014? Let me know about your hopes and dreams for November in a comment below!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Living Far and Wide

Travelling is strange.  Obviously I grew up in the modern world, but it still amazes me that we can travel so far and so fast today.  A day's journey takes us hundreds and hundreds of miles from home.  Spending the summer far from home made me stop to think about how amazing that is.  Because of our ability to travel far and fast, I had the opportunity to become familiar with a patch of earth I had never set foot on before and likely will not set foot on again.  Even more bewildering than my presence hundreds of miles from home was the presence of many international friends who were thousands of miles from their homes!

From Stony Man Mountain, Shenandoah NP
I love to travel and I love meeting people from all over the world.  It allows me to create a culture all my own by piecing together my learning from the diverse places and people I have access to.  But progress always means loss.  What does this incredible ability to travel, to diversify my experience in general, cost me?  What do I lose by gaining the world, so to speak?

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Summer in Review

The summer is coming to an end and so is my Shenandoah Adventure.  It will be bitter sweet to leave the park and return home.  Leaving the many interesting and wonderful people I have become friends with this summer will be strange.  We have become accustomed to each other living in this small community.  It has been a huge blessing to have several Christian friends to fellowship with up on the mountain.  It has been an encouragement to see them at our Sunday services when they are able to attend and to talk about faith and life throughout the week.  It has also been fun connecting with people from lifestyles and beliefs different my own.  I can honestly say their worldviews have impacted and broadened mine in valuable ways.  Whether we stay in touch or not, I am glad to have met each and every one of them.  And of course we will miss our beautiful mountain home!
Look up.  Look waaaaaay up!

View of Old Rag from Hot-Short Mountain trail

One of the most substantial ruins from pre-park days I've seen so far
 -  a chimney, saw and tub in the area known as "Hazel Country"

But the closer our departure date comes, the more I am looking forward to heading home and reuniting with friends and family.  For me, absence has made my heart fonder of the people and places I left behind at the summer's beginning.  I am looking forward to visiting my favourite haunts - libraries, coffee shops, thrift stores, churches - with my favourite people again.

Until then, I am off to make the most of my remaining adventure time!  Keep your eyes open for one more concluding post before my regular posting resumes.  Thanks for following along with me this summer!

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Latest

A few weeks have passed since my last update.  They have been full ones!

L to R: me, Anastasia (Ukraine), Anastasia (Russia)
 in front of a giant stalagmite
Employees of Delaware North Companies Shenandoah, the concessioner of the park, get free entry into Luray Caverns, a popular local attraction, when we show our ID badge.  On one day off last week, I visited the caverns with two friends, Anastasia (from Russia) and Anastasia (from Ukraine)!  Our trip also included other fun adventures such as trying to find antique shops in the rain and eating ice cream at a favourite stand down in the valley.  It was interesting to learn about the different minerals and water flow that create the colours and shapes of the caves.  I remember that iron oxide is responsible for the red/orange, and calcite for the white I believe.  There was also some mention of cave algae...

The underground Dream Lake in the caverns.  The water is only about a foot
deep though it looks much bigger because of the reflection.

I'm pretty sure this is upside down, but I couldn't get it to turn over.
Here are some of the very interesting formations and colours in the cave.

Ty and I have also had the chance to do a little more hiking on our days off.  We did the Rose River Loop together, which I had done before and really enjoyed, but we also made a side trip on a connecting trail to Dark Hollow Falls.  This is probably one of the most impressive falls I've seen in the park so far (second only to Lewis Falls in my book).

From the foot of Dark Hollow Falls

Powerful water!

Along Rose River

Finally, one of the most entertaining hikes Ty and I have gone on this summer was to Nicholson Hollow and Corbin Cabin.  It is the site with the highest concentration of ruins (old cabins, fences, chimneys, etc.) in the park.  We saw a cabin that had been lived in by a man named Corbin in the pre-park days (the 30s) as well as the remains of one other cabin and several stone fences.  After returning home, I did some more reading on the history of this region of the park and made some interesting discoveries, including that many mountain dwellers were not so isolated as one might think they would have been!  Click here to make some discoveries of your own about a few settlements of the Blue Ridge Mountains including Nicholson Hollow.

Pray & Praise with us!
Praise that our services continue to be well attended by fellow employees, with at least one new-comer promising to attend this week!
Pray that even more people will notice our posters and hear about the services by word of mouth.

Praise that we are continuing to develop good friendships with many co-workers.
Pray that we will be a blessing to them, as well as to our employers, and be able to share more about the love of God with them.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Who Makes the Plans?

From Miller's Head Overlook
Happy Independence Day!  But it's ironic.  We (in the West) tend to celebrate independence as an inherent Good.  The speaker at a conference at my college this past year said just the opposite, calling the ideas of  independence and autonomy "vicious lies."  He claimed people were designed to rely on someone other than themselves - other people and/or God.  While I am happy to celebrate the country I live and many of the high ideals it aims to stand for, I also value dependence on and submission to Someone great than myself - God.

I'm going to be talking about submission in my message this Sunday in Shenandoah.  I'm going to share that I've been frustrated with my work schedule lately.  I've been getting just one day off for the past two weeks and my body has been feeling it.  Housekeeping is hard work!  But most of all, I realized, my frustration has been that having just one day off (Sundays, so I can lead services) has not allowed me to get much hiking in.  In fact, I haven't done much hiking, and no camping, this summer at all.

As I thought about my frustration, I realized it's source was the disappointment of this summer not meeting my expectations.  Being outdoors a lot was one of the things I was looking forward to most about this summer, even more than ministry, if I'm being honest.  But I realized that maybe God has another plan for my summer and that I would be less frustrated with how I spend my time if I surrendered it to Him, whether that's working or playing.  This change in perspective has changed my attitude, and though I am still hoping to get two days off next week, I won't be so frustrated if I don't.

I do believe God gives us free choice, the ability to make plans, but I don't think that is the same as giving us control over the outcomes of our plans.  Our choices may end up having different consequences than we think they should.  In Jeremiah 29:11, God says, "I know that plans I have for you."  Trusting Him that those plans are good allows me to be content with any outcome of the choices He allows me to make.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Irony is not Lost (Though the Wifi Is)

The most detrimental downfall to having a blog about living in the mountains (like this one is temporarily) is that the Internet does not always reach all the way up those solitudinous peaks.  For instance, this is the first day I have been able to connect to the Internet here in Shenandoah for almost three weeks.  However inconvenient this has been, no real harm has been done.  In fact, our community is probably better for it since we've been forced to find other things to do with our time like play games, hike, and just plain talk to each other.  Hopefully this deepened community can continue to grow even with the renewed distraction of the Internet.  

I have not been idle on my time away from the online world.  Here are a few snapshots of what I've been up to besides working (which is not generally exciting enough to take pictures of), hanging out with new friends (I don't really take "memories" pictures.), and continuing to lead Sunday services (It would be pretty awkward to snap a photo before starting my sermon.).  

At the Rose River Loop trailhead

Cave Cemetery, also along the Rose River Loop,
where the families of a few Civil War soldiers are buried.  Learn more here.

At the Cave Cemetery

Snake on the trail! Have yet to identify which kind,
but there are several species that call Shenandoah home.

Rose River Falls.  This loop is my favourite
trail I have hiked so far.

I spotted 13 hawks while at the summit of Stony Man!
One took off right over my head as I came off the trail to the overlook.
There is always more to share than I can convey in words and pictures here.  Despite the challenges of living and working here in Shenandoah, I am enjoying the overall experience and especially the community of people I am growing into.  Some of you may know I worked in Sequoia National Park (CA) for the summer a few years ago.  That summer I made a few close friends, but hiking and camping were the two main events for me.  This year, I am doing much less hiking, which I was disappointed about at first, but I am coming to suspect that God has me here to be a lot more involved in the community aspect of life in the mountains than just being in His beautiful Creation.  Anyway, here I am!

Prayer & Praise

Praise God for consistent attendance of our Sunday services by several Christian co-workers.
Pray for more opportunities to share the love of God with non-Christian co-workers whether through Sunday services or other encounters.

Praise God that we are able to save much of our earnings to pay for Ty's last semester of school as well as loans and living expenses when we return to Rochester.
Pray for patience and energy for both of us at work.  Park jobs are often stressful and it is easy to become discouraged, exhausted, and caught up in the general atmosphere of discontent and gossip.  

Thank you for partnering with us through your prayers!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Friends in High Places

View from Little Stony Man
It helps to have a friend in high places.  We made a new one the other day!  This post kind of continues on with the idea of community I was talking about before.

Several days ago one of the guys who works in the bar, Matt, returned from a 10 day hike on the Appalachian Trail.  Matt had been around maybe the first day we arrived, but had been gone since then.  I was hanging up posters advertising our Sunday services in the employee lounge (called Dottie's Place) and he asked me about them.  He got very excited when he heard there were Christians leading worship here at Skyland, Big Meadows, and Loft Mountain.  Later on he pulled me aside and said he and people from his home town had been praying for God to send more Christians to Shenandoah!

We had a long chat about faith and the Shenandoah area, and how, for him, they are intertwined.  It is both exciting and encouraging to live in community with another member of God's family up here on the mountain.  Actually, there are a few other Christians here as well, which was already a blessing, but talking to Matt I could really feel the passion and desire he has to see Shenandoah National Park transformed into the image of the kingdom of God - "on earth as it is in heaven" were his exact words.
View from Miller's Head Overlook

Pray & Praise with Us
We are praising God for this new friendship and can't wait to see what will come of it.  Our first worship service will be this Sunday here at Skyland.  I will be giving the message and Ty will be leading worship.  Your thoughts and prayers would be much appreciated!  Prayers that the small community of Christians here would continue to support one another and influence the atmosphere of this mountain positively by showing Christ's love and living according to His example in every situation.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Surviving in Community

Even butterflies gather in community!
Ok, that's cheesy, but I snapped this photo
on a recent hike to Cedar Run Falls
and thought it was cool enough to share!
I have experienced "living in community" in several different contexts:  There was, of course, growing up in a house with my family, then several rounds of summer camp, then a program called Katimavik where I was thrust into a house with eight other students from all over Canada, then college, living with other friends, and now, finally married life.  All of these contexts have taught me valuable lessons through fun times and times of conflict.  There is no doubt that living in community is hard.  This summer, my husband are both continuing to create our own community and living in community with other employees at Shenandoah National Park.  It's going well, and we are settling in to our new home away from home, but I have realized that we are only doing so well because of the help of others around us.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Lewis Falls with Friends

Some wonderful friends from home just happened to be visiting Virginia the week after we arrived here in Shenandoah and took time out of their family vacation to wind their way up Skyline Drive and see us...

Read more and check out new photos on my Shenandoah Adventures page!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Stay Tuned for Shenandoah Adventures

You may have noticed my new page above.  I hope you've already checked it out and are excited to read about what I learn and do in Shenandoah National Park this summer.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, look up and click on the Shenandoah Adventures tab.  There you will find photos and journal entries I'll be posting throughout my summer living, working, playing and ministering here in Shenandoah.  I may post on my regular home page as well, but expect those posts to be few and far between if they happen at all.

"The mountains are calling and I must go." - John Muir

Have you ever been to a National Park?  How about Shenandoah?  Share your favourite stories or best advice in the comments below! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Scars That Heal, Scars That Don't

After Jesus was resurrected, He appeared to friends and disciples as a new man.  Not one that had gone through emotional and spiritual changes only, but also physical ones.  A few of them did not recognize Him even while interacting with and looking at Him suggesting that Jesus' physical body appeared differently.  Whether it was divinely reconstructed or showed all the signs of a body healing from the strikes of a staff, the piercing of nails, swords and thorns, and lashes of a whip, I don't know.  What I do know is that some of Jesus' scars did not heal.

Despite the fact that the power of the Almighty God resurrected Jesus, the one who laid down His life willingly, He (God) did not remove all the scars from His anointed one's body.  This seems strange at first.  When I imagine God restoring life to Jesus, or to any of us when all of Creation is restored, I imagine being totally new and also free from any deformities or flaws.  I imagine crippled friends being able to walk, I imagine friends who suffer from chronic pain being able to move freely, I imagine depressed friends being able to laugh.  So why wouldn't God remove all of Jesus' deformities, the burdens of His mortal life?

"Doubting Thomas"
Carl Heinrich Bloch, 1881
I am guessing, but it is only a guess, that Jesus was not completely deformed in His resurrected body.  Before his crucifixion, Jesus was beaten beyond the point of looking human, but since his disciples and Mary Magdalene didn't cry out in dismay or disgust at His disfigurement, I am guessing He looked like a human again.  But I know (not a guess) that the scars or holes where the nails and sword pierced His body did not disappear.  Thomas put his hands in them to prove to himself (and all of us) that it was truly the resurrected Jesus standing before him.

So why did these scars remain?  This is what I think (another guess).  The scars that remained, whether just those mentioned in Scripture or more, were not "healed" because they were part of Jesus' "new man."  Though on earth scars are often ugly and painful, in God's restored order they can be like a crown of jewels.  Jesus' scars displayed the glory of God working through His life.

I believe earthly burdens will be finally laid down.  But I also believe that the growth and sacrifice we experience on earth, however painful it might be here and now, will not be discarded but will be celebrated for what it truly is - the glory of God.  We all have scars, and I rest assured that we will be fully healed from every last one whether it is today or in the days to come, but God is the one who knows which scars are to be healed and which are to be worn as a crown.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me - WD Poetry Challenge

Sadly, today is the final day of National Poetry Month.   However, it's not all bad news today - it's also my birthday!  In celebration of both, I wrote one last poem for this year's Writer's Digest Poetry Challenge.
Frederick Daniel Hardy
The First Birthday Party, public domain

Day 30: Calling-it-a-day poem

"Happy Birthday to Me"

The clock strikes 5:something a.m.
And with that,
it is finished -
the twenty-fourth year of my life.

I am asleep,
dreaming about the early days
when my Mom set up
treasure hunts around the house
and taped streamers
and paper cut-outs of my new age
all over my bedroom
before without waking me up
so I would see them first thing
when I opened my eyes.

No streamers or paper numbers this morning
but a good breakfast - oatmeal -
and sweet birthday kisses
from a clean-shaven husband.

No treasure hunts,
but an (un)surprising party tonight -
a room full of friends,
food and fun.

And later,
when the clock strikes 5:something a.m.
I'll call it a day -
the first day
of my twenty-fifth year.

* * *

Read my poem for Day 26 here.
Read my poem for Day 28 here.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Tell it to the Clouds, WD Poetry Challenge

One of my more whimsical constributions to the Writer's Digest PAD Challenge.

Day 24: Tell-it-to-the-Blank poem

"Tell it to the Clouds"

Tell it to the clouds
under the bright sun,
as you lay
on a hill,
away from life's hum.

Cloud study
John Constable
Tell them they look like giants and dragons,
like castles and a princess trapped in the highest tower.

Tell them they are your magic carpet
as you drift away on a westward wind.

Cloud Study, Sunset
John Constable

Tell them as you lay with them late into the night,
and bright stars beginning to poke through with sharp fingers.

Tell them as they drift over the moon,
bundling up just below her chin like a warm woolen afghan.

Tell it to the clouds
as you drift on the ninth one
in the night sky
and fall

* * *
Check out my poem from Day 23 too!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Child of the Wind - WD Poetry Challenge

Admittedly, I haven't posted a poem every day of the Writer's Digest PAD Challenge.  But I have been appreciating the push to write more poetry.  I don't take the time to write out my thoughts this way often because it is much more demanding than just writing them all out as they come.  Writing my thoughts as poetry forces me to rethink, reframe, and revise the sundry ideas and experiences running through my mind.  I have not only to catch them, but to sit down and examine them, to look into their eyes and find out who or what they are.  All that to say, I am thoroughly enjoying the challenge!

Here is my latest favourite poem from the challenge:

Day 21: Back-to-the-basics poem

The Gale (public domain)
Antônio Parreiras (via Wikimedia Commons)
"A Child of the Wind"

I am a child of the wind,
made of mud, sweat and tears.

I exhale for the first time,
sending ripples
into earth's swirling orb,
and find myself
laying next to you -
a child of the light,
the bright and morning star -
on a hill far away.

As I wake,
you slip into sleep
your last breath my first,
perpetuating the pulse in
the womb of existence,
your hand
holding mine.

My first breath rises
and I lean across your chest
to exhale,
my last breath
perpetuating your pulse,
the rhythm of existence.

For who am I
but a child of the wind?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ode to Kenneth Burke - WD Poetry Challenge

Here is my favourite of the poems written in the last few days of the Poem-a-Day Challenge with Writer's Digest. 

Kenneth Burke
Day 11 - Statement poem

"Ode to Kenneth Burke"

"It's more complicated than that."
He says,
squinting those intelligent eyes,
causing little wrinkles to spread
across his mild face
and broad brow.

"It's not either/or; it's both/and."
Weighing the options
in outstretched hands.
One up, then the other,
then stretching both out toward me.

I say, "Yes."
and "How can it be?"
And yet, I know it is so.

Humanity is mysterious,
paradoxical -
wonderfully dangerous,
tragically beautiful.

Lungs breath in and out, in and out.
Hearts beat and rest, beat and rest.
Minds wake and sleep, wake and sleep.
Souls give and take, give and take.
And we are more than the sum of our parts.

I have also posted poems on Day 12 and today, Day 15, since my last post. Enjoy and get poeming!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Happy National Poetry Month!

Spring is (finally) in the air!  Plants are blooming, birds are singing, and poets are poem-ing! 

In honour of National Poetry Month 2014 (and because I am bombarded with homework and have little time to blog in my last end of semester crunch least for a while), I am going to post poems that I write in response to prompts from the Writer's Digest's Poem-a-Day (PAD) Challenge

Here's today's poem.

Day 10: Future poem

"Like a Train, Hallelujah"
Here we go
careening on
like a train
toward a turnoff
unsure if the lever
will be pulled
or if we will go
careening on
off the tracks,
over the edge,
into the unknown.
The lever is pulled
and we go
careening on
down the tracks
into the unknown.
* * *

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spoilers: a Storyteller's Nightmare

Credit: Brian0918
Recently, I was shocked to discover that one of my most beloved Lit. professors reads the last page of a book first!  I know for some of you, this may be a matter of course, but I have never been able to bring myself to practice this reading habit, and think I never will.  But my opinion on whether or not this is "ethical" (literarily speaking, of course) is not the point of this post.

After recovering from the shock of the moment, I had somewhat of a writing revelation!

Over the past year or so, my writing tastes have changed.  As a younger student, I was happy to write anything.  I enjoyed piecing together words for almost any kind of assignment: argumentative papers, reports, reviews, stories, poems, speeches, etc.  But more recently, I have enjoyed writing research-based prose less and less.  My professor's comment today made me realize why.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Misunderstanding: the Plight of Suffering

"He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.  He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.  Like one from whom people hide their faces He was despised, and we held Him low in esteem.  Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted.  But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed."  (Isaiah 53:2b-5)
People have an eye for the beautiful, a taste for the delicious, a feel for the comfortable.  These abilities are gifts from the personal storehouse of a good Creator.

We tend to frown on pain and suffering.  We label and file them under "bad."  We don't like them in our own lives, and we tend to think less favourably of people who experience them.  We think these people
are "stricken by God."  This seems logical.

Artist: Meister des Rabula-Evangeliums
But  then what of Jesus?  He suffered not only one of the most painful methods of execution, but also the countless cuts, scrapes, and heartbreaks of human existence.  How can we reconcile our dislike of suffering with the fact of Jesus' first-born-and-beloved-of-God status?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Writing is...

Artist: Henriette Brown
...not the way my thoughts are
absorbed into my blood stream,
travel the length of my inner
down to my finger tips,
where they utterly possess
whatever helpless writing
implement my fingers grasp,
forcing their way in and emerging,
to my surprise,
not as blood,
but as ink.

At least, writing is so much more than only that.

It is meditating - embrace the perfect storm inside.  
Don't take cover.
Stand on the hilltop, arms spread wide, 
laughing with the thunder and lightning 
while the wind and rain dance all around.

It is searching - get lost in a book.  
Get so far lost, 
it is difficult to find a way out 
from between the musty, yellowed sheets.

It is dreaming - fall asleep mid sentence.  
Be not where the body is.  
Be flying in the sky above or walking in the earth below.  
Even be someone else.

Mere scribbling.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Queen of Grasshoppers

Artist: Vincent Van Gogh
A hot sun looks down
on grass baking in his gaze.
He sees me, queen of grasshoppers,
enter my court.

The crowd parts,
beating their wings, a fanfare,
making way before my feet -
thin, bare, and golden brown.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

John Ruskin on the Novel

"The best romance becomes dangerous, if, by its excitement, it renders the ordinary course of life uninteresting, and increases the morbid thirst for useless acquaintance with scenes in which we shall never be called upon to act." 

- John Rushkin, Sesame and Lilies 

If you are a writer or reader, what do you think about Rushkin's claim?  Do you agree/disagree? 
How then should we write (/read)?

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Credit: ngader
It starts with a thought.  But for some reason, instead of getting swept out of our minds when we close up shop at the end of the day, shutting our eyes to go to sleep, it catches on some rough edge of a floorboard. It gets snagged there, unnoticed at the back of our minds.  It stays all night, and the next morning, it begins to skulk around.

After a few days, the thought becomes a little more comfortable and begins to wander more freely, mingling with the other thoughts in our minds, even venturing to make an appearance in the front of our minds now and then.  The longer the thought is allowed to stay, the more comfortable and confident it becomes.

Before long, it is a "regular," eventually gets itself hired as the manager of all our thoughts, makes changes on how things are being run, redecorates - the whole nine yards.

Before long, we are obsessed.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

I am a kerosene lamp: Part 2

In my last post, I shared a vision I had of being a kerosene lamp.  If you need a refresher, read it here.  

I don't  like to explain the things I write about; I want to provoke thought through what I write.  But as I began to understand more of what this image of the lamp means to me, I felt like I should share both the image and the interpretation, so here goes.  

It makes sense to me that Jesus is the one who lights me like a lamp.  He is the one I have to soak in like the wick soaks in the fuel so it can burn brightly.  And it makes sense that Jesus is the one that lights the lamp.  He is the one that makes my soul come alive.  He gives me purpose and passion.  I understand these parts of the image.

The thing that caught my attention most about the scenario that played out in the vision doesn't make sense to me though.  Jesus' hands were reflecting the light and heat coming off of me, the lamp.  Shouldn't it be the other way around?  Aren't I supposed to be reflecting Him to everyone around me?

Friday, February 21, 2014

I am a kerosene lamp.

Credit: Pete
I am a kerosene lamp sitting on the worn wooden bedside table in the log cabin where I spent so much time as a child.

There is a white quilt with faded pink flowers spread over the bed.  There is a small wood stove in the corner.  There is a yellowed doily on the table under the lamp.

He comes and removes the glass chimney from the base which is already filled with fuel.  The wick has been soaking in the kerosene-filled base for days and is saturated now.  He turns the knob, causing the wick to uncoil like a snake does to the tune of a charmer's flute.

He lights the wick.  The flame rushes, crackles.

He does not replace the chimney to disperse the light and heat.  Instead, He cups His hands to surround the flame.  His hands do not block the light and heat in; they spread the light and heat to the whole room, the whole house.

I am warm, and bright, and burning.  I am alive, and He has done it.

So, what does all this mean?  Read about it here.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Memory: Peter Fields' Cows

We are driving, more like drifting, down what is affectionately know as "the Mountain," but which is really just the BIG hill in the middle of the Island where we live.  Headed toward town, perhaps to school, or to get to my summer job at the ice cream window, we let gravity pull us down past trees, and plots of farm land.  Mailboxes, and only a very few stop signs, are scattered along the roadside.  I roll down the window and stick out my hand, weaving it in and out of the strong air current like so many other girls in so many other cars on so many other sunny days have done. 
Disclaimer: Although the resemblance is striking, this photo was not taken on the actual road I'm talking about, but on another Northern Ontario road of the same name, the 10th Side Road.
Credit: Michael Gill

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Memory: Home Church

(Further thoughts about having Eternity in Our Hearts.

Isn't it funny how we can go places in our minds, even places that don't exist anymore?
Even without closing my eyes, I can go to the church building I grew up in...

Credit: Sarah Joy

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sincere Apology of a Writer

Credit: Droakir
Dear family, friends, and the one I passed on the street today,

I am sorry.

I hope you will perceive my apology is sincere, despite the fact that your life now appears on the page, flowing from the pen held in place by the familiar grooves in the fingers of my right hand.

I write myself too, of course.  But of course I do; I am my own (aren't I?).  But are you?  What right do I have to tug at your life, begging it to submit, to lie down on the page before me, to lie still between the thin blue lines, not to flinch though I stretch it here and trim it there?

I am amazed that all of you do not fly at me in rage, shouting, "Give me back my days!  My hours, my minutes, my moments."  If you had known what would become of the smile you gave in exchange for mine last week, would you have bestowed it so freely?  I question myself this way, too.  I am enraged at what appears on the page when it does not come at my bidding, but of its own free will.

And so I hope that you will understand the sincerity of my apology, and see that though it is my hand holding my pen marking my page, it is not I who writes, completely.  Or, what is written by my hand is also written by yours here on this page.  And that I cannot even write this apology without asking your forgiveness.

Yours (if you like, just as you are mine),
a Writer

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Life, experience, cannot truly be expressed in words.
This is the stuff of poetry.

Photo: Parnassus Poetry in Review

I've added a new page!  Perhaps you've already noticed.  If not, check it out by clicking here: Poetry, or by clicking the tab of the same name above.  I've selected what I think are the best poems I've written (so far) to share with you.  I hope you enjoy them!  As always, feel free to let me know what you think - what you like, dislike, find challenging, silly, etc.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

One Life, One Notebook

One of the things I have never been able to do as a writer is keep a separate "writing journal" - a notebook reserved just for writing ideas, inspirational quotes or notes, observations about life I think might come in handy as writing material someday, etc.  I do have a journal, and I do carry it around with me everywhere in case I want to record some fleeting thought or moment, but I also use this notebook to record prayers, lists, driving directions, and more.  Everything is all jumbled up and unorganized between its pages.

I have tried multiple times to set aside a special writing journal, or ones for certain genres of writing, or for other particular projects I've worked on, but it has never worked.  When I opened a reserved notebook, I would felt stifled by the expectation of writing a particular thing or style.  Another problem was that I didn't want to carry multiple notebooks around everywhere.  I never know when I might want to jot down an idea about one project or another, so I would have to carry all of the notebooks all the time, or carry one where I could jot down all the ideas and later transfer them to their respective notebooks later on - too complicated!  I felt conflicted between wanting to follow the advice of successful writers and wanting to find a way of organizing my thoughts and fostering my creative process that really worked for me.

Notebook collection
A collection of notebooks for keeping track of different kinds of ideas works for some but not for me!
Photo: Dvortygirl 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Why Write (Again)?

Artist: Cornelis Norbertus Gysbrechts
As much as I enjoy writing, I sometimes wonder whether there hasn't been enough ink spilled on enough pages (concrete or virtual).

An admittedly short and inadequate history of the written word:
When writing first emerged, it was a simple method of keeping track of how many  of this or that you had.  Then it was a technique reserved for the most valuable or sacred texts, and something only a few, those with time and/or money, could master.  But later on, as cheaper tools for writing developed and written language  became more standardized, many great authors emerged: Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Montaigne, Shakespeare, Austen, Dickens - the list goes on.  And that, I sometimes think, is the problem.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Eternity in Our Hearts

I spend a lot of time thinking about what makes people human.  What separates us from animals, even ones that make tools and perform complex tasks?

"Wow," you're thinking.  "She must be really cool if she spends her time thinking about deep questions like that."

Your assumption is understandable, but debatable.  To be fair, though, I have to admit that I think about this question so much because it is one of the foundational issues I've been led to explore in my program of study: Communication.  The Comm. program at my school is based on rhetorical theory and argues that people's ability to communicate (use and create language) the way we do is the thing (or at least one of them) that sets our species apart.