Sorbet for the Soul, Memorable Moments

I always wear headphones when I run or walk, but often decide not to listen to anything. Same goes for music in the car. As, I’m sure, many of us do, my mind has to process, think, count blessings, and pray.

Outside, I listen to the wind whisper to the treetops until its message reaches the leaves at eye level and they turn to answer.

I’m trying to find out if I’m on the right path in my Kidlit writing journey. And when quiet and concentrating, I whisper my wishes to the leaves at eye-level and send them through the treetops so that the wind will gather them up and then let them go into the ocean-like skies and out into the universe.

I hear blue jays squawk, robins chirp, and woodpeckers drill. Rustling reveals chipmunks and squirrels scurrying and watching, and gobbling spotlights the harem of wild turkeys that lives on our road or the single tom turkey who digs by himself. In the quiet, field mice, groundhogs, raccoons, opposums, deer, foxes, coyotes, a black bear, bighorn sheep, and elk have crossed my path.

One of most memorable moments of quiet was the time Lucy and I were walking in the South Mountain Reservation and we sat down to watch a young male deer. Lucy didn’t bark, I didn’t speak, and the deer sized us up and kept on grazing. After awhile, Lucy and I continued on our walk, and when we came to the field where I let Lucy off-leash to run, guess who joined us? The young, male deer wanted to play! He ran and so did Lucy and I, playing a game of catch-me-if-you-can. Pure joy.

Hon, keep listening. I am.

Sorbet for the Soul, Giant Wishes!

There we were, hiking down a trail in Meyer Ranch, Colorado this summer, when we came upon a meadow with the largest dandelions I’d ever seen. It’s like the universe was saying, “Hon, writing and publishing Kidlit is such a herculean ask, you need wishes big enough, loud enough, and strong enough to be carried all the way from the Rocky Mountains to the East Coast. Take a deep breath and blow!”

Turns out the palm-sized puffballs aren’t dandelions, but Western Salsify whose flowers looks like a yellow daisies. Soon after, we met the infamous llamas, Stardust and OnFire, and that chance meeting was even more spectacular than hiking in the Rockies, discovering golfball-sized dandelion lookalikes, listening to the click-click-click of a flying grasshopper, passing an elderly man hiking uphill with a cannula and portable oxygen, and saying hi to many happy dogs with their people.

Then, a week ago I was on a run and stopped mid-stride to take a pic. I asked the homeowner if he’d put “Don’t Give Up” out just for me and he said, “If that’s what you need…”

It is. It’s what I need.

So, in an effort to take a deep breath and blow my wishes and energy and thoughts and words and characters and layers and stories all the way from my imagination to the page to childrens’ imaginations, I’m posting a series called Sorbet for the Soul–photos and sentiments along with literal and figurative signs which beg for my attention.

Maybe if I take a moment to blow giant wishes and absorb messages and do the thing that informs my life–finding the extraordinary in the ordinary–my herculean ask will one day soon come to fruition.

Western Salsify flower, image source: Wildflowers of the United States.

Llamas Hum–Who knew?!

On our recent hike in Meyer Ranch Park, Colorado, my aunt, daughter and I snapped pics of the pretty wildflowers, breathed in the piney fresh mountain air, listened to a grasshopper click-click-click as it flew around us, pet many dogs, and witnessed an elderly man with a cannula and portable oxygen hike uphill (to which my daughter said, “Good for him! We have nothing to complain about!”).

Heading to the parking lot, we spotted…

…two llamas in the meadow! A man and a woman each led a llama and a chihuahua.

The tiny dogs’ names? Ruth and Charlie. Guess the llamas’ names?! Just guess.

Stardust and OnFire!

Aren’t those the best names?!

Stardust likes people so much that if she doesn’t encounter any, she hums. I didn’t know llamas hum! When I stopped scratching Stardust’s neck she said Hmmmm. Hmmmm.

When I commented that OnFire needs a haircut, her “dad” told me she won’t let him trim her bangs. Too funny!

OnFire needs a haircut.

Kayaking on Lake Dillon, Colorado

Me and Rosanne kayaking on Lake Dillon.

Looks Photoshopped But It Isn’t!

The highlight of this summer? A short trip to Denver, Colorado! (shout out to my aunt, Rosanne and cousin, Alex!) One of my daughters traveled with me, and we took advantage of the beautiful summer weather and gorgeous scenery. We kayaked on Lake Dillon, paddling in ripply, cool water and in a picture-perfect postcard setting. I could not get over how fluffy the clouds were and how blue the sky. Afterwards, we visited the Farmer’s Market and picked up yummy, small-batch chocolates. No wonder we all loved the day!

Hannah and Alex.
Tandem kayaking.

Horseback Riding in Montserrat, Spain

Trail ride at Three Rivers Ranch, Spain

On our excursion to Montserrat, my family hiked half a day and rode horses the other half. We descended the mountain and arrived at Three Rivers Ranch where we met Juan, a Spanish cowboy. His primary focus is his cattle which explains the variety of cows lazing in the sun adjacent to the stables. We learned that he leads trail rides as a way to exercise the horses. We enjoyed getting to know our horses’ personalities and learning best riding practices.

The beautiful countryside that is part of Montserrat National Park reminded me of Tuscany– rolling hills, vineyards, and gorgeous landscapes in every direction. Hon, I felt grateful that the day worked out so well, and that Hubby and I had an opportunity to share a full, active day with three of our four kids. We all love adventure, exploring, and being outdoors.

Writing this post reminds me of other trail rides, one of which was local and a great activity with tweens and teens. (info on that coming soon…)

Hon, do you like to horseback ride?

Hiking Montserrat, Spain

Montserrat, Spain.

Montserrat’s trails are rocky, sunny, and steep. Hon, I needed to catch my breath! We were lucky to be accompanied by a guide who knows the mountain well enough to re-route us when paths were blocked. You know what we saw? Mountain goats resting in the shade. The multi-peaked mountain range overlooks Catalonia and reaches 1,236m (4,055 feet) at its highest summit, Sant Jeroni. The other two main peaks are Montgrós at 1,120m and Miranda de les Agulles at 903m. 

The geology and nature of Montserrat Mountain Range are unusual and to preserve it, a nature park was established in 1987. In Mesozoic era, over 100 million years ago, the mountain top was under water, part of a delta area, and the sediments in the present day rock pillars were in the bottom of a river and lake. After the lake and river dried, the area was exposed to erosion, and over a long period of time, the mountain with several peaks formed.

Not just the geology is uncommon, but also the climate up in the mountain is unique, with different micro-climates. Wildlife of the park includes mammal like squirrels, boars and goats, a wide range of different birds, bats and geckos. Vegetation varies from oak forests to small flowery meadows, and altogether there are over 1250 species of plants.

Finnsaway
Climbing a vertical, rocky path.

Rhyme and Reason, The History and Symbolism of a Wedding Day Tradition, Elegant Lifestyles Magazine, April-May 2022

Where does “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” come from?

Right before the pandemic caused everything to shut down in March 2020, I’d written two articles for Elegant Lifestyles Magazine: one was an in-depth, 6-7 page feature about a fundraiser/showhouse called Mansion in May which included interviews and photos of custom-designed rooms; the other was a shorter bridal article about the history of the saying, “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”

Though Mansion in May transformed into Splendor in September, ELS was temporarily shuttered and my articles never ran. So, I was pleasantly surprised when the editor of ELS (shout out to Kara Sibilia) included my bridal piece in the Spring 2022 issue. The topic is the saying, “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” which, it turns out, is based on superstitions surrounding evil spirits and fertility. The most interesting thing I learned?

‘Something blue’ is directly related to the Evil Eye jewelry we wear today. Though Evil Eye amulets dates back about 5,000 years, the earliest iterations of blue as the eye color were discovered in the Mediterranean in 1500 BC. Since blue eyes were a genetic rarity in that region, people possessing them were believed to be ‘uncannily proficient at bestowing the curse.’ Blue glass beads circulated around the world, and people wore their own Evil Eyes to deflect wicked stares. Brides traditionally wore blue garters to ward off, once again, the threat of infertility.

Naomi Gruer, Elegant Lifestyles Magazine.

Safe Rose Spray Recipe

My mother loved to garden. Her roses were lush, hearty, and fragrant, and their maroon and pink petals were as soft as velvet. Before I walked to elementary school, she’d cut stems, crinkle tin foil around the bottoms, and tell me to give the flowers to my teachers. I’d walk the whole way smelling sweetness.

Irises and strawberries were also abundant in my mother’s garden, while my father cultivated tomatoes and cucumbers. I’d pick wild raspberries and blackberries which grew on the hill behind my childhood home. Needless to say, roses are my favorite flowers.

Though I share my mom’s love of writing, I did not inherit her green thumb. If the garden in front of my house were my mother’s, the roses would bloom large and healthy. My roses are not. I prune them regularly, cutting off spent blossoms at an angle, and though they smell sweet, their petals are thin and their leaves are being eaten by garden pests. What to do?

I came across this organic pesticide in the article Safe Rose Spray Recipe That Really Works by Meghan Shinn in Horticulture.

Hon, do you have any tips for keeping roses healthy?

More than 5,000 rose bushes grow at Hershey Gardens in Hershey, Pa., where the gardening staff works hard to keep them free of pests and diseases. They use a chemical spray in the main garden, but they did not want to use this spray in the dedicated Children’s Garden. Instead, they came up with the following safe rose spray recipe, which they’ve found to be very effective.

Horticulture

RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon dish soap
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil (or any other cooking oil)

Directions:

Mix vinegar and water, then add baking soda, dish soap and vegetable oil. Stir mixture into one gallon water. Pour into spray bottle and spray on roses’ foliage. Reapply every seven to ten days or after a rainstorm.

How to Build a Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden, Elegant Lifestyles Magazine, April-May 2022

Article and photos by me!

Researching color trends put me in the mood to paint, and learning how to create a butterfly and hummingbird garden has–ummm-planted the idea in my head! “How to Build a Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden” was published in the April-May 2022 issue of Elegant Lifestyles Magazine, and since it came out, I’ve been thinking about starting one. A couple of years back, when I covered a design mansion and then toured it, there was a lovely, four-season garden. Maybe I can combine the two…

As an added bonus, the butterfly pics accompanying the article are mine! When I showed my wonderful editor, Kara, the photographs I’d taken, she said she’d use them instead of stock photography–yay!

Hon, have you ever planted a butterfly or hummingbird garden? Did you get lots of visitors?