What happened to my fairy godmother? Remember all those stories about girls with several fairy godmothers and each one blesses her at her birth with wonderful gifts? Some of those gifts were kind of nice, and would have made life pleasant. A little more charm, a lot more grace, one of those voices that makes everyone stop to listen. Those sorts of things would have come in handy – especially during job interviews.
You’d think that if a princess rates seven or eight fairy godmothers the rest of us should get at least one or two of those useful ladies – depending on how stressful our lives were going to be or something. I mean, Cinderella wasn’t a princess and she had a fairy godmother. Cinderella’s fairy godmother even came back when she got older to continue being helpful. But I’m pretty sure that if I have a fairy godmother that there is only the one, and it is very probable that she got lost on the way to the blessing ceremony. I guess fairy godmothers don’t come with GPS.
My fairy godmother didn’t give me softly flowing blonde hair or a voice like a bell or the grace of a dancer. But, I”ve managed OK so far and as I age I see less and less the need for those gifts anyway. Now the gifts I want have nothing to do with how I look. Instead, I want the gift my mother-in-law had of being able to find the things that were in her kitchen cupboards. I want the gift of never losing the lid for a storage container or casserole dish; the knack for stacking bowls, plates, and cups as compactly as the manufacturer had them when I brought them home from the store. That gift should also be good for loading dishwashers, keeping order in the silverware drawer, fitting towels into the bathroom cupboard, and rotating the contents of the refrigerator so they don’t fall out when we open the door – oh, yeah, and so we get them used before they go bad.
It might have been nice if my fairy godmother had spared me from ADHD, since one of the symptoms is the inability to walk a truly straight path through a room. Having an over-active brain and trouble with impulse control is something I’ve gotten used to. I don’t mind the adaptations needed for being left-handed, and I kind of figure I deserve the arthritis in my knees. I also don’t feel the need for a fairy godmother to handle the over-abundance of stuff in my home; I’ll take the blame for that. Where I would really like my fairy godmother to excel is to keep me from being the target for so much gravity and equal-and-opposite-reaction stuff. Why do I have to try three times to get my cane to stay leaning politely where I put it? Why do stacks of things fall over when I walk through a room – even when I don’t bump into them? Why does one stack of books and papers falling have to cause three other stacks to tumble?
Then there is the distraction factor – I really needed my fairy godmother to be on the ball with that. I already mentioned the ADHD, and distraction is my middle name. Even good things can be distracting – laundry, dishes, mail, cooking – those chores are easy to ignore on an average day, but they call out to me when I need to be writing. Shouldn’t my fairy godmother have helped me organize my time better?
Where is my fairy godmother? What gift did she give me? Have you ever found yourself asking a similar question – and if so, do you have any answers?
Late in the second week of December my husband and I went Christmas shopping and while we were out we picked up one of those boxed Christmas plants. Now, most years I buy one of those, a red amaryllis like the one shown above, for my mother. Mom has a green thumb and her amaryllis always grows fast and tall and blooms beautifully – lately they have been growing too fast and too tall and toppling over just about the time they start blooming, but they still look lovely and Mom still likes them. This year, however, I got a tiny poinsettia for Mom. Then I decided to get a different plant and to get it for me – I got the box with paperwhite bulbs.
We don’t have experience with paperwhite flowers. I’d seen some of the paperwhites blooming away on the pages of gardening catalogs and the covers of the boxes in stores. They looked like tiny white daffodils with abbreviated trumpets – quite charming, just what I wanted. For once I actually followed through and planted the bulbs within 24 hours of bringing the box home. I kept the bulbs moist and they started to grow.
The paperwhites grew fast. Everyone in the house was enjoying watching these plants grow. They started growing an inch a day! Now and then someone would say – “Have you been watching those plants on the windowsill? They’re growing like crazy!” We all felt a little more cheerful watching those bulbs grow. Then this week they were growing more like an inch and a half a day! Buds started forming and we knew they would bloom soon.
On Monday, the first bloom opened! Hurray! It was so pretty. The plant is up on the kitchen windowsill, almost a foot and a half tall, and the blossoms are about to get lost in the valance, they are up there so high. But they are pretty and make us all feel more cheerful because it is good to see something growing so willingly when it is cold and dark outdoors.
Now, I am not a good housekeeper so when I noticed an odd smell in the kitchen I got busy and washed out some dishes that need hand-washed – the things that tend to pile up when lazy people have a dishwasher. Later in the day I noticed that the odd smell still hadn’t left, so I put some baking soda down the sink and ran the garbage disposal. Then my husband started cleaning, too. We discussed the odd smell. He suspected there might be a dead mouse under the kitchen sink. I greeted this idea with appropriate disgust and cleaned a bit more. Still, when we examined things more closely the smell definitely wasn’t coming from under the sink either.
Then… the resident son-in-law said, “Have you smelled those flowers? Have kind of an odd scent to them.” I smelled the flowers. Odd is putting it mildly. I had my husband smell them – he really didn’t appreciate me for not warning him. Honestly folks, paperwhites are beautiful flowers and will cheer you up on dark winter days, but if you decide to grow them put them in a room with a lot of ventilation – a LOT. If you don’t mind the smell, it is an inexpensive way to cheer up your winter. However, the scent is enough to make me miss geraniums – and I used to hate the scent of geraniums.
I kept the box for the instructions. The picture on the box shows each paperwhite stalk with a lot of blossoms on it. I’m not sure we will survive if this one blooms that much! I’m thinking I need to look for a growing kit for freesias because I know I like the scent of those flowers.
Great info on getting an amaryllis to bloom, the first time, and for years to come. It is the source of the photo of the amaryllis.
This site teaches you how to force paperwhite bulbs to bloom and is the source of the paperwhite photo I have posted.
Site telling about an effort to commemorate the War of 1812, the establishment of Canada as a country, and making the red geranium the official symbol of that war. It is the source of the photo of the red geraniums.
I have to tell you that from the time I decided to make this a blog post and include some photos I have learned a whole lot about the plants I mentioned. Even something as simple as sharing my experience with growing a plant in my window has made me research and expand my knowledge. I found it to be fun and informative, and only frustrating because I closed sites too quickly and had to search them out again so I could share the links with you. Now I’m going to have to get busy and learn to use my Paperwhite Kindle… which I already know is going to take me some time and several helpers.
What do you do to keep from getting depressed during the winter months? Do those things ever backfire on you? Please post a comment and share your experiences with me. I’d like to know more about you.
I have to admit that I really didn’t give much thought to the world ending on December 21st. Yeah, I do think that the world is getting close to the end, but I could be right or I could easily be wrong. Just because I am finally getting old enough to see more of the evils in the world than when I was young doesn’t mean that the world hasn’t always been pretty evil – it just means that my focus has been elsewhere.
When you are raising small children your focus has to be on the one who just dashed out the door heedless of the road and traffic just seconds away. When the military is moving your husband from a base in North Dakota to a base in England your focus is on making sure all of your stuff arrives, your children adapt, you get a vehicle you can drive – if you can figure out how to drive on the opposite side of the road from the side you were trained to drive on. When your teenage daughters start dating, and breaking up with their boyfriends, it can seem as though the end of the world is happening every other week or so – but it isn’t, and you adapt.
When I was a teen I talked to my grandpa about the end of the world prophesies. He advised me that every generation has thought that the world was going to end with them – and kindly didn’t point out how conceited that makes us sound – but that it somehow keeps right on going, yet, the end of our own personal worlds occurs with our last breath. We all have an end to our world coming, and Grandpa encouraged me to live my life so that I was prepared for that, should it sneak up on me unexpectedly. My grandpa was the most important man in the world to me until I met and fell in love with my husband, so I took his words seriously and tried to teach my children to live the same way.
Recent political and world events have shaken me and made me draw even closer in my faith in God and study of the Bible. When I read the Bible I discover that evil governments and evil people aren’t the invention of the 20th Century. Remember that the Christmas story ends with the baby Jesus being taken to Egypt because King Herod wants to kill Jesus and has all the boy children in the kingdom age two and younger put to death. Remember that Daniel was in the lion’s den because of political intrigue. The Bible isn’t a bunch of white-washed goody-goody stories; it tells us that the world has been evil for a long time and God has been working hard to rein it in while still allowing us to have our free will.
For many years now I have believed that if we just made our voices heard that things would be different. I believed in public discourse and political discussions. But it seems that the more access we feel like we have, the more our elected leaders manage to place roadblocks in the way to stop our message from getting to them. I don’t really trust the political process any more, because no matter what we do it seems that our leaders just go their own way and ignore the laws and the rules. When I write to my congressmen I get form letters in return that seem to say, “Thanks for writing but I’m going to do things my own way.” Now, it just doesn’t seem to me that God is leading me in that direction any more.
As I look around me I feel less and less like I have a calling to make a difference in the world at large and more and more a calling to make a difference in the world right around me. I think this is a blessing. I don’t want to feel responsible for the garbage going on in our world today; but I am responsible to make sure that I reach out in love to the people around me.
By nature I am an encourager and my gifts are needed by the people who are hurting and can’t see all the good that God placed in them and in their lives. God leads me to look past my own feelings and speak His encouragement to others – without regard for whether I think they deserve it or not, whether they did something which offended me, or if they are glaring at me, or if they smell bad. Yeah, I really do need that many reminders of what it means to “look past my own feelings.” As the spoiled-brat baby of my family I can be so good at justifying my doing what I want to do rather than what God is nudging me to do that I need to re-word it until it gets into my brain and my heart and I can respond to God’s call and begin to feel the love that He has waiting for me to share.
If my world did end today I think I would be ready. But my kids would be praying that it came by a huge meteor crashing in and destroying my house (when I was the only one in it) so they didn’t have to sort through all my stuff. As a mother my concerns are for my kids, will they be ready when their times come? And, will they forgive me if a meteor doesn’t burn up the house and they actually do have to go through all my stuff?
See, this isn’t an altar call, so I don’t have to keep it all reverent, I can toss in the real me at every turn. I hope you are ready to meet the end of your world, too, and if you aren’t you can contact me or contact someone whose beliefs you trust. But, mostly I am posting a blog that reflects me at this point in time and at this point in time these are my concerns. I am a terrible housekeeper, and have ADHD to boot, and the more I work at it the worse my house seems to get. All of which is no encouragement at all to me to keep working at it! I pray and I ask God for help and I may get one load of laundry done before I switch to work on one of the many things God has taught me that I am good at. That leaves the housework – just here waiting for the days when it is suddenly not so difficult or daunting, and there are some of those days.
So, I fully expect that when God calls me home I will leave a lot of loose ends that He will get to deal with. But He is God! He can and has handled a lot worse things than my messy house. And Praise the Lord I can go to my eternal home knowing that He knew the perfect time to take me away.
And you? How did you face the end of the Mayan calendar? Did you have a big party? Did you watch the skies? I hope you take a moment and tell me about it.
Yes, I wrote a novel in November during NaNoWriMo. I called it “Drawing Out Anna” and it is a Regency Romance novel with a strong Christian theme. I exceeded the 50,000 word requirement for NaNoWriMo within the first 20 days. Though I am starting to feel more like I’m bragging, I feel I should mention that I wrote more than 75,000 words and finished the novel in the 30 days of November, just like I planned. So far so good.
But, it was always understood that I would have to do my editing in December. This is where I am meeting with a hang-up. NaNoWriMo is over. There is no computerized counter telling me how many pages I have (or have not) edited today and how many I need to edit by the end of the month. There is no applause, no feedback, no friendly competition. There is just me and a huge stack of paper. There wasn’t even the huge stack of paper until today. Yes, it took me until the 18th of December to get off my duff and print out my novel. I was pretending that I could edit it from the computer files, and I probably could have – if I had opened the files and gotten started!
Today, for no reason in particular, I finally opened the computer files and decided to print a copy of my book. First I printed the stupid alignment page that my printer was whining about since my husband changed the color ink cartridge last weekend and hadn’t done the alignment. Then, I let it align itself. Next I printed approximately 40 pages and the printer decided it was out of black ink. Not realizing that this printer doesn’t lie to me like the old one did, I told it to bear with me for another few pages. It quickly became clear that the printer wasn’t going to play that game and not even one page came out in good shape. I got to re-print those few pages, after I changed the black ink cartridge, of course. But, I showed it! I didn’t print the stupid alignment page again.
I printed through page 212 and then my brain forgot what it was typing and entered 100-and-something instead of 200-and-something. The printer obediently spit out approximately 15 pages from the middle of the book – pages that I had already printed. Tempting as it was, I did not have a temper tantrum. I just got more paper out and went back to printing. Finally, even with my brain getting muddled and the paper jamming a time or two and the printer sneaking in an alignment page printing when I thought I was telling it to print chapter 10, I got my book printed.
In case you don’t know, 243 pages of a book that YOU need to edit is a daunting heap of paper. I think I would rather write another book than dive into editing this one. But I could not, and would not, inflict an unedited book onto the public – and I really do want to get this book published – so, edit it I will. It won’t sound like much to you, but I have edited the first 8 pages now. Whew. It isn’t quite as scary now that I have made a start.
My biggest challenge is making long sentences shorter and more concise – mostly by chopping them into two sentences. Then there are continuity issues – is it early spring or late spring? Does the hero continue to have light brown hair all the way through the book? Besides that, I have to make note of any place where I have made an assumption regarding the era – those places will require a bit of research to make sure that Jane Austen really had written Sense and Sensibility by then, and that the regiment I say my soldier was in actually survived the war… things like that. Research is rather fun, though, so I don’t mind that. What I really mind is trying to figure out how to take a sentence that came straight from my feminine brain and helping it make sense to masculine brains and other female brains that work more efficiently than does my own.
It feels good to get past my tendency to procrastinate and get some work done on my book. I hope that you are able to get busy doing your work, too. There is a certain energy that comes with making progress, and I am enjoying it.
I have a question for you – what is your favorite way to do research? Do you find people who lived through something and speak to them in person? Do you do a Google search? Do you head to the library and spend hours in the reference section? What have you researched recently – and for what purpose? Thanks for reading along and for answering my questions.
More than thirty years ago now my husband and I had a December wedding. I’ve finally begun to notice that a lot of my friends also had December weddings. So, maybe this is a good time to talk about giving gifts that aren’t for Christmas this time of year.
What are good wedding gifts for a couple who gets married just before Christmas? One of our gifts that we are still thankful for on an almost daily basis is a simple crock for holding kitchen utensils. It isn’t imaginative, but it is extremely handy and got us started right away on a habit of having things that we use frequently right out where we can find them easily! My maid of honor got us this gift, though she signed the card as coming from her parents and the rest of the family, but I know her parents were traveling home from Alaska just before my wedding and wouldn’t have had time to shop, so I know this great gift idea came from Cyndi.
Another unimaginative extremely useful gift was towels. We were college students, we had one, maybe two towels each – we needed those boring things! In my experience newlyweds take a lot of showers. We also got sheets. I can tell you exactly who got us those sheets – Muriel Martin – and I remember it because I hadn’t given bed-sheets a single thought while I was making my wedding preparations. I didn’t even know what size mattress we had on our bed! That was a great gift, as was the gift certificate from my sister-in-law at Christmas which we used to buy more sheets – newlyweds change the sheets a lot, too.
I also really appreciated candle holders and candles because I was a romantic bride who wanted to make candlelight dinners for my husband. That can be a dangerous pastime without the correct equipment. I tried making some of my own, which was not my most brilliant idea, so I was grateful for the proper candle-holders we were given.
One thing we were NOT given that we really wanted and felt like we needed was a clock. When you have one you think of it as just an average wall clock. When you don’t have a clock your eyes get frustrated searching the walls for the time and you quickly begin to believe that a basic, everyday wall clock is essential to getting to college classes on time. When my aunt asked us a couple of months after the wedding what we hadn’t gotten that we needed “a clock” was my first and only response.
What newlyweds don’t need is casserole dishes. That was especially true in my case because between my mother-in-law and my grandmother I wasn’t allowed to take food to any potluck until the military moved my husband and I to a base a thousand miles from home! We got about six casserole dishes as wedding gifts. I still have too many casserole dishes – even after raising four daughters and moving around a lot with the military. Those casserole dishes don’t break as easily as you might think.
Newlyweds also don’t need electric can-openers. No one does. That is my one “green” pet-peeve, and it’s mostly because I don’t like listening to the electric motor whine. It always seemed to me that it was actually faster to use a wall-mounted hand can-opener than to use my electric opener – all I really liked was the magnet on my electric can-opener, and the newer wall-mounted hand cranked openers come from the store with magnets already attached.
My last gift idea for December newlyweds is gift cards for boringly useful things – like a tank of gas when they get back from their honeymoon and have no money to make it to the end of the month, or maybe for a dry-cleaning service to have the tuxes or wedding gown professionally cleaned and stored, or for books at their college bookstore, or extra minutes on their cell-phone plan.
There is no shame in giving a boring gift as long as it is useful. We certainly got our share of lovely and/or imaginative gifts, but most of those I can’t remember who gave them to us, or I can’t remember using them for more than one or two times. For example, we got the cutest, tiniest cut-glass salt and pepper shakers I have ever seen – still, we have only used them once. We also got silver napkin rings in the shape of roses – I think we’ve used those twice.
For wedding gifts this December I ask you to be memorably boring and get gifts that your bride and groom will use and use and will happily never have to admit to their mothers-in-law that they lacked the foresight to have on hand.
I wanted to title this “You Found Me!!!” but then I realized that very few of you will have “found me” on the very first day when this blog gets started… so that would be a waste of words. After all, it isn’t as if I am actually lost. I want you to find my blog, but I can be patient and stay busy building enough content so that when you do find your way here you will have things to read and look at and will hopefully decide that this content is something you want to find again and again.
It is now December, but I spent the entire month of November doing NaNoWriMo – which means I was writing a novel in a month. I got well started and realized that my novel wouldn’t be finished within the 50,000 words that NaNoWriMo required to call me a “Winner!” so I gave myself the challenge of writing a 73,000 word novel in November. I passed the 50,000 word goal by November 20th. To my personal shock, and that of my daughters, I finished my book in 30 days. In fact, my un-edited novel contains over 75,000 words. While that is amazing and fabulous – and it was a LOT of FUN – that means that my December includes wrapping gifts, signing cards, making Christmas candy, attending holiday parties, and … editing my novel.
Besides finding interesting bits of information to share I will also share with you the reality of being a writer here in my blog posts. I will go off on tangents sharing whatever is filling my brain on that particular day. I will also let you know what research I had to do to make sure that my historical novel is as accurate as possible. I may even tell you how cute my grandson was today – though that won’t happen very often because if you talk about one kid then you have to mention another and … well, really this is about ME, not the babies. Let them write their own blogs if they need more attention!
So, I humbly thank you for reading this and for finding me. Thank you for either bearing with me as I start blogging – or for going to the trouble of reading back through the archives. I already know that you are special to me. You read this far – maybe you even laughed a time or two – so we are allowing our minds and parts of our hearts to meet. What a rare and wonderful experience! Thanks for being here with me.