If Trees Could Talk

2011 – The last time I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and the only year out of  5 that I  crossed the finish line.

Yes, I wrote over 50,000 words in 30 days and did so as a single mom working full-time while raising two kids AND blogged regularly! I even wrote guest posts for other blogs, including the Pep-Talk variety for other WriMos! WHEW.

No sooner had I accomplished my goal, though, when something really weird happened:  I lost all motivation to write and stopped almost completely.  No more novel writing, no more blogging.  In fact, I stopped writing anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary, specifically, journaling and whatever was needed to fulfill my professional obligations.

REALLY weird.  And the burn-out or whatever it was lasted for years.

I learned a lot about myself from 5 years of NaNoWriMo-ing, though.  I learned the early morning hours are my most creative, and that it’s HUGELY frustrating to need to stop in the middle of The Flow because Duty Calls.  I experienced how elusive, magical and fickle The Muse can be.  And, perhaps most importantly, I discovered  writing fiction isn’t really my thing.  My natural inclination leans towards storytelling based upon my own experiences.   Real Life Stuff.

But I think that is about to change.

A couple months ago, while on a lunch and shopping date with a girlfriend, I had the most amazing encounter .  WE had the most amazing encounter, I should say.  And Thank The Writing Gods I had a witness to all that happened.  It all started with a unplanned stop at an antique store in the Old Towne district of Tustin.  We weren’t sure if the shop was still opened since the sign in the window said “Open”, the sign on the door said “Closed”,  but a bunch of framed art was still outside on the sidewalk.  So Girlfriend went to see if we could get in, and after she waved an “OK”, I got out of the car and went immediately to the art on the sidewalk.  One piece in particular caught my eye: Framed in old Walnut, it’s a large  3 x 4 oil painting…of trees.

Here’s a close up of it….

 

Those who know me know I am a Tree Person.  Our home is surrounded by them and we love camping in the middle of them.  A Tree Hugger for decades, I’ve hiked miles to embrace the oldest living ones on Earth (in the Ancient Bristle Cone Pine Forest).  I’ve blogged about them (Like HERE and HERE), painted them, planted them and every room in our home has some sort of homage to The Tree.

So this old painting really spoke to me on several levels.  After a day of fruitless shopping, I thought I had finally found something worthy of taking home – until I saw the price tag.

Anyway, we went inside to look around.  It was your typical antique shop in that it was  so PACKED with all manner of collectible, vintage, and antique goodies, we could barely squeeze through the displays.  But we did, making our way eventually to the back of the shop  and THAT is where it all happened.

I’m not going to tell the story here (sorry), but I am going to tell the story and I’m going to use NaNoWriMo2017 as my kick-in-the-literary-ass to write it.  Yes, I’ll still work on the cookbook.  Or not.  But I have to do this.  I mean, I have to.  The first thing my friend and I did when we got into the car to leave that day was to turn to each other, wide eyed with amazement, and simultaneously say, “WHAT JUST HAPPENED?”  In fact, it was Deb who first told me, “You HAVE to write that down!”  And her encouragement hasn’t stopped.  So, I’m going to.  I feel like if I don’t, I will regret it for the rest of my life.

And the old painting?  Well, it’s hanging right here over my desk while I’m typing this.  How THAT came to be is part of the story as well, and another reason I know I have to do this.  Why?

Because Trees Talk, don’t ‘cha know?

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November 1st is fast approaching.  If YOU are participating in NaNoWriMo this year, please let me know!  I would love to be part of your posse and lend you my support!  You’ll find me over there under the pen name JaneBond.

Serendipity Sunday

Life is full of magical moments and little synchronicities.

Several happened to me last week and many of them related to my cookbook project.  This might have been the coolest.

It’s been a long standing habit of mine to check two pages of any devotional book before buying it.  Well, I bought one this week based solely on serendipity.

This first photo is from a chapter I wrote back in the Spring entitled, “The Well Stocked Kitchen”.

A Well Stocked Pantry

Now this one:  A page from a little devotional book I picked up last week at the Good Will entitled, “A Grand New Day”.   It’s the page from my birthday, March 30th.

I’m still grinning ear to ear.

Happy Serendipity Sunday to you.

When The Wild Things Speak

Continued from the previous post…

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Sitting in the shade of the old olive tree in her back yard, her eyes red and swollen from crying and the weed she had smoked, The Woman stared off into inner space and pondered her next move.

After a year of soul wrenching self-examination, spiritual inquiry, and marital counseling, it still wasn’t enough to save her marriage and she knew she needed out. No longer a matter of “IF”, her brain whirled with all the other questions of “When”, “How” and “OMG Can I Do This?”

Middle-aged with two teenagers to support, the prospect of starting over again was damn scary. Was it right to jump off the cliff into the unknown because SHE was miserable? Because SHE needed a new life? While The Woman understood that life couldn’t go on the way that it had been, she longed for some sign that she was making the right decision. That she could have – and deserved – a different sort of life.

And that’s when she saw it.

It appeared from behind the house, a small blood-colored streak that came to a sudden stop in perfect parallel to the ground – a gymnast using all six hands to firmly grasp the Agapanthus growing in the planter not more than 10 feet away from where she sat.

It stayed motionless for several minutes while she looked on, afraid to move lest her little visitor startle and fly off. Eyes wide in excitement, smiling from ear to ear,  The Woman boggled at the biggest, reddest dragonfly that she had ever seen. What a beauty!

As she watched, the insect shifted slightly to get a better hold on the plant, it’s translucent wings sparkling under the summer sun like they were webs of gold dust.

“Hiya, little buddy!” She greeted her winsome guest internally, not wanting to scare it away by speaking out loud. “Oh, aren’t you a beauty!”

“Hello!”

A tinkling bell of a word that was at once human and Other floated across the space between them, landing in her mind. Or was it her heart? The Woman’s eyes widened at the sound, and her insides instantly snapped to attention.

The dragonfly remained still on its perch. Alien eyes, round and dark, appeared to be looking directly at her, penetrating and knowing.

“HELLO!” A little louder, a little more emphatic this time.

And just like that, all thoughts of trouble and despair were replaced with a joy so profound, so…unusual…it caught her breath at the intensity. The dragonfly was speaking to her!

“Yes, I am speaking. I’ve been sent to tell you that All Is Well. Even though you can’t see it now, even though you don’t know how everything will work or what you will do, life will not always be this hard…this painful. Better days are coming and healing is here. You and your children are safe and will be cared for. A deep transformation is happening in you – So deep that one day you will look back at this time and it will be as if it had happened to another person. Do not be afraid. Trust.  Do the next right thing. Forgive and bless your journey. You are not alone, and you are so dearly and forever loved.”

Whether a minute passed, or an hour, she didn’t know and didn’t care. The Woman smiled while tears streamed down her face, unabated. Tears of wonder…of release….

Of hope.

While her mind tried to analyze away the magic and miracle of what was happening, her heart told her that it was TRUE.  God had sent a messenger to her, and with renewed faith in a future she couldn’t see, she felt peace envelop her like a warm embrace.

The dragonfly rearranged it’s wings, turned it’s head, and lifted two front legs in a gesture that resembled hands in Prayer. After several more minutes in companionable silence, the woman in her chair and the dragonfly on her stem, the crimson messenger lifted up and flew away.

Thank you! The Woman’s heart whispered after her new friend. Thank you!!! 

Getting up slowly, not wanting to break the mood, she went inside to lay down and slept like she hadn’t slept in months. She knew now what she had to do.

And she knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they would be alright.

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This is a true story. It happened to me.  Before you Poo Poo the thought of an animal speaking or dismiss it as the hallucinations of a stoner, I would encourage you to keep an open mind.  We don’t know what we miss through unbelief. (smiling) Life is far more magical and mysterious than we know. 

That wasn’t the last time that an animal spoke to me.  I have more stories.  Just remember: All living things have a voice – we only need to listen!

This is a photo of a red dragonfly that I took in 2007 while visiting the Huntington Library with my then ex-husband. We had divorced 2 years earlier, and remained friends through the process. 3 more years, and all of the kids grown and on their own, we reconciled completely and remarried Easter weekend, 2012.  The Dragonfly’s message was absolutely spot on.  Better days did come.

dragonfly

Photographs: The Southern California Fires

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The smoke is getting worse here in Irvine.  We’re so happy that the Santa Ana’s have stopped, but without wind (or, getting the wind coming off the ocean now), the smoke is staying thick in the valleys and across the city.  It was like driving in a light fog this moring.  I hear that in many places, the fire was so hot that the houses literally caught on fire from the inside out.  Spontaneously combusting from within.

And no one is talking (yet) about what will happen in these areas when the rains eventually come.  Fires and landslides go hand-in-hand around here.

I received these pictures in an email this morning….I’m sorry but the photographer (s) weren’t mentioned – they were sent in an chain-style email, asking for Prayer for the Firefighters, and all of the communities that are affected.

Here’s a link where you can see a video of the Valley Oaks MHP in Fallbrook.  Our company owns a home there and we will probably be the ones that will be going in to clean up the park – and hopefully – get these people into new homes.  Fallbrook is our ‘avocado’ region and according to the last figures I heard, +40% of the crops have been destroyed.  Here’s the link to the video: http://www.nctimes.com/movie/valleyoak1007/viewer.html

We just got an email that our park in Warner Springs (San Diego County) is on Mandatory evacuation.  Our employees who live there (the onsite managers) were just text messaged to GET OUT!

I’ll let the pictures say the rest.

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