Tag Archives: spring

Favorite “Treevia”

Dear readers, I had hoped I would have a progress report by now on last month’s rock wall project, but alas, my schedule hasn’t allowed me any time spent with paints since then. Maybe next month.

However, spring is in full force here in this area of Florida. We’ve already experienced the lovely and pungent orange blossoms and delicate blooming ligustrums, but right now, the spectacularly vivid, purple, trumpet-shaped blossoms of the Jacaranda tree are enough to take one’s breath away! The intensity of the color is right out of a fairytale! This tree tends to grow tall (66’ to 98’) with a huge canopy that can span the width of a whole yard. I grew up in New Jersey and hadn’t even heard of a Jacaranda until I moved here and saw it bloom. Absolutely stunning!

                                Jacaranda Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jacarandas, (Jacaranda mimosa folia), truly hot weather plants thriving in zones 9 through 11, like sandy soil with good drainage and show off their blooms best when planted in full sun. That’s great for Florida lawns that need some shade for nice green grass.  The only downside might be that they tend to litter lawns, sidewalks and streets with the spent blossoms, and could clog pool filters, so placement is important. It took me a while to find the tree below because many times these trees are in a fenced-in yard and getting a good photo is a problem.

The next two trees are in my front yard and they are a part of the reason I bought my house. I love these trees. The first is a Canary Island date palm, (Phoenix canariensis), commonly called the pineapple palm because the fat trunk resembles a pineapple. My tree was only as high as my roof when I moved here in 2002. I used to string icicle lights along the lower fronds and cover the trunk with web lights at Christmas. It looked so pretty. I’d need a crane to do that now. I understand they can get to be 60’ tall. So far my tree man uses ladders to trim it and take the seed bundles away.

                          Pineapple Palm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a family of squirrels who have a nest way up in the fronds and they travel across my roof to get to the back yard where my bird feeder is. I recently took the bird feeder away when I got new sod and I’m afraid I’ve confused the squirrels.

The next tree is my Camphor tree, (Cinnamomum camphora). It is a member of the Laurel family, an evergreen that can grow to a height of 75’ and live to be greater than 1,000 years old. I love the rough greyish-brown bark and the gnarled limbs. The leaves that make up the large canopy are small, about three inches long that come to a point, and are dark glossy-green on top and a lighter matte color on the underside. The old leaves don’t fall off until new light-green leaves appear, to replace them. If the twigs and leaves are crushed in one’s hand, a camphor aroma can detected. It’s a refreshing medicinal scent I really like.

                          “Homer” the Camphor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see from the photo, I have named this tree. He’s my buddy, Homer, and I light up his canopy at Halloween and Christmas. The kids in the neighborhood like him, too and show him off to their friends. Do you have favorite trees or do you name any? I’d love to hear!

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month.

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Is It Spring Yet? by L.V. Gaudet

Spring isn’t officially here until March 20th, but it feels like spring already.  Even the Canada Geese have started coming back.  For their sake, let’s hope we don’t return to our normal January through March temperatures of -25 to -35 Celsius, which really converts to -30 to -43 with the winds.

 

Snow is melting, and I haven’t been freezing huddled under blankets for the drive to and from work, while my feet are frozen blocks inside my boots, and my fingers burn with the cold inside gloves that are so thick I have to take them off to pick up my coffee cup or work a key.  (Montana vans apparently don’t do “H”’s well:  heat and headlights).

 

This has been a winter of some firsts, most of them packed into February.  I went to Vegas for the first time in January.  It was also the first vacation since the start of “family” vacations that was not a “kid” vacation.  The only kids belonged to other people.

 

2003-nov-11-sidney-5mos-3

This month, we signed up this kid for high school (it starts early with grade 9).  Another first, we made her first resume to apply for a volunteer position.

 

She is also already a pretty good writer.

 

 

I got my Indigo Sea Press books listed in a very local newspaper, the first time I managed to get some public publicity for them.

 

blood-cover

 

I had my first public reading event too.  I submitted my short story Blood for the My Bloody Valentine short story contest at the second annual St. Valentines Horror Con on Valentine’s weekend, fully expecting to not make the cut.  To my shock it was accepted and I had to read it on stage at the Horror Con.  I spent the entire time with my head almost buried under the table, eyes glued to the pages, reading in a terrified monotone.  Unfortunately, I did not win.  Maybe next time.

 

I had my first school guest reading event for I Love to Read Month (Feb).  I read for the grade 7 and 8 classes at a local school, the grades that no one comes to read for.  I found an age-appropriate book and drew names to give one away in each class.  Maybe I’ll make that an annual thing.

 

This is a trend I’m hoping to continue.  With the newfound freedom of kids hitting their teens, maybe I can get more involved in the local writing community and local events.

 

sears-deskAnd with the help of my new toy that’s on its way, (the desk) and finally having an actual tiny spot that is mine, with luck I’ll also find more time for writing and blogging in between being these people:

  •  Cubicle dweller
  • Parent
  • Chauffer
  • Dog parent
  • Laundry service
  • Taekwondo student
  • Cleaning service
  • Cook
  • Life coach
  • Counselor
  • Life partner
  • Friend

Although, I have no idea where I’m actually going to put the desk, and it will still be central to all the commotion of a full house.


where the bodies areL.V.Gaudet is the author of Where the Bodies Are and The McAllister Farm

What kind of dark secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions?

 

Where the Bodies Are:  book 1 in the McAllister series.  What secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions?

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

 

The McAllister Farm:  book 2 in the McAllister series.  The secret behind the bodies is revealed.

 

 

Links to purchase these L.V. Gaudet’s books

 

Link to reviews of Where the Bodies Are on Angie’s Diary

https://angiesdiary.com/bookoftheweek-web/081-botwoct262014.html

 

Follow L. V. Gaudet:

Facebook author page

Google+

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Pinterest

Twitter

WordPress:  LV Gaudet, author

 

 

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Happy Six Year Bloggiversary!

Yesterday was the sixth anniversary of this, the Second Wind Publishing Blog. In those six years, 1,871 posts have been published, 9,146 comments have been made, 192,520 people have stopped by to visit. Congratulations and many thanks to the Second Wind bloggers!

balloons1Here are some classic posts celebrating the seasons of our lives:

Changing seasons by Nichole R. Bennett There are places where the seasons don’t change much. The Black Hills of South Dakota is not one of those places.

A Time to be Thankful by John E. Stack As a foster parent, most of John Stack’s blessings come to him pint-size (new-born).

Christmas With My Sister For The Second Time by Coco Ihle Two sisters reunited after 50 years!

The Newness of a New Day by Pat Bertram New Years and the wonder of a new day

Spring by S.M. Senden Spring is an exciting time, for nothing seems to hold still.

A Donkey And A King by Paul J. Stamm “Hosanna” is the shout . . .

The Day of the Trickster by J J Dare The origin of April Fool’s Day

Mother’s Day: Coming to Terms with the Cruelty of Parkinson’s by J. Conrad Guest Mother’s Day is now every day,

In Honor of a Great Woman by Calvin Davis Commemorative for a very special woman

Fathers’ Day, by Sheila Deeth A memorial to a memorable father.

Class Reunions… a warm, fuzzy feeling of deja vu or the stuff nightmares are made of? (By Sherrie Hansen) Do you relish an occasional flash from the past?

My Problem With Vacations by Harry Margulies Planes, trains, automobiles and assassination luggage.

Our Independence Day by Ginger King A goose bump moment as we hear the beloved Star Spangled Banner and reflect

Summer vacation…Finally! by Donna Small Vacation is for mothers, too!

The Laundromat, Not the Louvre by Carole Howard Living in Paris . . .

Clever Twist or Unfair Trick? by Norm Brown In the spirit of Halloween . . .

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Happy Five Year Bloggiversary!

Today is the fifth anniversary of this, the Second Wind Publishing Blog, and in those five years, 1,614 posts have been published. Congratulations and many thanks to the Second Wind bloggers!

balloons1Here are some classic posts celebrating the seasons of our lives:

Changing seasons by Nichole R. Bennett There are places where the seasons don’t change much. The Black Hills of South Dakota is not one of those places.

A Time to be Thankful by John E. Stack As a foster parent, most of John Stack’s blessings come to him pint-size (new-born).

Christmas With My Sister For The Second Time by Coco Ihle Two sisters reunited after 50 years!

The Newness of a New Day by Pat Bertram New Years and the wonder of a new day

Spring by S.M. Senden Spring is an exciting time, for nothing seems to hold still.

A Donkey And A King by Paul J. Stamm “Hosanna” is the shout . . .

The Day of the Trickster by J J Dare The origin of April Fool’s Day

Mother’s Day: Coming to Terms with the Cruelty of Parkinson’s by J. Conrad Guest Mother’s Day is now every day,

In Honor of a Great Woman by Calvin Davis Commemorative for a very special woman

Class Reunions… a warm, fuzzy feeling of deja vu or the stuff nightmares are made of? (By Sherrie Hansen) Do you relish an occasional flash from the past?

Our Independence Day by Ginger King A goose bump moment as we hear the beloved Star Spangled Banner and reflect

Summer vacation…Finally! by Donna Small Vacation is for mothers, too!

The Laundromat, Not the Louvre by Carole Howard Living in Paris . . .

The Beauty of Black Sheep by Sheila Englehart Who broke from convention in your family tree?

Clever Twist or Unfair Trick? by Norm Brown In the spirit of Halloween . . .

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Spring by S.M. Senden

By April most of us are impatiently waiting the coming of spring, the warmer weather and the beauty of the earth awakening from winter’s sleep as Mother Nature shakes off the snowy mantle and bursts forth in color and fragrance.  I too look for the signs of Spring; the return of robins, the chatter of birds building nests, the first signs of plants pushing up through the soil, buds on the trees that will soon burst into flower and that fine green mist that halos branches of trees just before the leaves break forth and show themselves.

Spring is an exciting time, for nothing seems to hold still, almost overnight the world is transformed from the tattered remnants of winters last bedraggled efforts to hold the earth tight in her cold embrace, into the bounty of blossoms, glorious color and soft, perfumed scented breezes that invite us to come out of our burrows and dance in the sunlight of lengthening days.

The other thing that spring heralds is change.  Change can sometimes drive us all crazy, or it can be welcome.  Change can be thrust upon us unwelcome, or we can create some of the change we desire.  No matter how it happens change is the only real constant in the world, so we best accept the changes that are happening all about us, and look with excitement and anticipation to what is next.

Some wise person said that we should clear out the old stuff to make room for the new to come into our lives.  Spring is the time that this activity is expected. Spring Cleaning is something I have heard all my life, so I endeavor to take it on. I am in the process of cleaning out the old, clearing out closets as well as old notions that no longer work.  Somehow it is easier to clear out the old notions and outworn ideas than clear out the accumulated stuff that I have in closets and drawers.  This may really sound silly, but I have a goal to have an empty closet.  Nothing stashed away in that little haven of things I will some day use.

As I clear out the years of accumulated treasures, I make piles for the library, books I have read and will not be keeping.  I already have well over 1,000 volumes, with the many books I am reading, have read and intend to read.  Most of my collection consists of books for research!  IRS Tax Note!  For those Book-a-holics out there, having a thousand books or more really is a tax write-off because it is considered a library!  I will gift the overflow to the public library, they may acquisition them into their collection or sell them in the used book shop and raise some funds to buy new books.  Maybe they will even buy mine!

Another pile is for Good Will that consists of clothing, household items and other goodies they can sell in their shop.  I even put up a few things on e-bay to see if anyone wants them.  I am always surprised at what sells, and what does not!

Then there is the pile of ‘What on earth did I keep this for?’  That pile is destined for the rubbish bin.  Though it is the smallest pile, it is the hardest to make headway through as I try to recall why I kept this little memento.  If I really do not recall, why keep it?  It did not make it into the scrapbook, so it now gets to migrate to the rubbish bin.

It feels good to clear out the old; to give away what may become a treasure for someone else, or a book they may never forget.  I continue to work to that goal of an empty closet.  I try to do a little clearing out every day.  As I go through things, I stir up dusty memories of events past, some forgotten, some never too far out of mind.  I have a chance to dust them off, remember, and embrace the good memories.  Some things I will keep, but others are all right to let go of now.

In that letting go, I create a space for something else to come into my life.  I do not know what will come in the place of those things I have let go of, and distributed out to the various places in the universe, but from past experience, what is new that arrives is usually better than what I gave up.

I am off to clear out another corner of incredible treasures, anticipating, with joy and expectation the new and improved future that awaits!

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A Time for Every Season… by Sherrie Hansen Decker

One of the parts I like best about starting a new book is choosing the location where my story will be set. Local traditions, distinctive scenery, and quirky bits of historical lore can all be used to enhance the plot and bring life to your characters. Layering and interweaving them together or using symbolism to enhance the plot is pure fun for me.  Choosing the right season for your story is another fun exercise. My latest book, Love Notes, starts just about this time of year, when late summer / autumn is turning to winter.  The conclusion of Hope Anderson and Tommy Love’s story falls on Christmas Eve with a tender carol about hope, joy, peace and love. Maybe that’s why I’ve been thinking about autumn and the images it brings to mind.

But first, I’m going to backtrack a bit. I have to admit that autumn is my second favorite season. My bed and breakfast, The Blue Belle Inn,  is named after a spring flower, and painted in springtime colors, so you can probably guess what my favorite season is.

To me, spring is a season of hope, and new beginnings. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t start Love Notes in the spring. Because for Hope and Tommy, certain things had to come to an end  – die – before any new growth could occur. Dreams, self, old business.

I love spring, when the first blossoms start to poke out of the brown, colorless, still-half-frozen ground.

Spring has humble beginnings, and finishes with a truly glorious display.

Fall, on the other hand, is slow and mellow. It sneaks up on you. Why is it that we think summer will never end? I mean, we know colder weather is coming. Fall is about denial.

Fall is the season of being finished, pleased with yourself, satisfied and content. Fall is the time of year when the fruits of your labors are seen to completion.

Now I sound like a farmer’s daughter, which I am.

Fall is nature’s last hurrah.

Fall is frisky squirrels scurrying frantically about, getting ready for winter.

Are your characters driven – under a tight deadline? If so, maybe fall is their time.

Fall is yellow, orange and red… exactly what we expect, most of the time. But fall is also every color of the rainbow.

Fall is full of surprises.

Fall is hazy nights, full of dust and chaff, and beautiful sunsets.

If fall is hazy, summer is lazy. The time when we go on vacation, take siestas, and stop to smell the roses.

Summer can bring stormy weather.

Summer is unsettling, volatile. Things can blow up in a hurry.

Summer can be crazy.

Summer can be relaxed. Sweet. Wet. Wild.

Summer is a blaze of glory. Hot and humid. A time when things grow and burst into color. Everything is at it’s best in the summertime.

Summer is the perfect time to lean back and enjoy a day of basking in the sun or relaxing on a porch swing.

Summer is sentimental.

Summer is a time when I take nothing for granted, because I know it won’t be long before…

Fall. And fall is fleeting. The inevitable frost kills things, makes things colorless and grey.

And fall, after all, leads to winter. Winter…  it’s icy cold. If you’re not careful, it will freeze your little tush off. The tip of my nose is always chilly in the winter.

Winter is a time of desolation. Isolation. Winter is beautiful, even majestic, in it’s own way, but so frigid and unyielding.

Crisp, clear. Blustery, blue.

Merry, dear. Winter has its own set of wishes, its own brittle warmth.

Which season is your favorite? What time of year were you born in? Have one or more seasons impacted your life? After all, we’re all characters living out a story line. Wild Rose of Scotland, the book I’m working on now, starts in the spring when the rhododendrons are in bloom. But there’s a long, hot, oppressive summer in store for Rose before she finally feels the graceful acceptance of fall.

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Blossoms Where Once There Was Ice by Sherrie Hansen Decker

Some people call it “going through a rough patch”.  Others, ” a bout of the blues”.

Last year, my life was a frozen tundra of bitter winds, harsh realities, and frosty receptions. My soul got nipped by the frost. The edges of my green things shriveled.

You’ve seen it just like I have – the weather is warm and springlike, so you poke your head out and let yourself grow.

You start to blossom, and then, when you’re basking in the crisp, clear sunlight of spring wonderfulness, you hear the forecast – or not. A freeze warning. You try to cover yourself, but when it suddenly gets cold – unexpectedly so – there is going to be some damage to your fragile blossoms no matter what you do.

When we go through extended periods of ungodly, cold temperatures, our soft, warm, trusting hearts can turn to ice. We stop feeling, stop caring, stop hoping. The concept of spring is inconceivable when you’re an ice sculpture.

And then, something or someone brings about a thaw. It always seems to happen – eventually, usually when you have given up hope of ever feeling warm, ever again.

Don’t get me wrong… a spring thaw can be a wonderful thing, but please beware of muddy puddles and and thin crusts of ice that look deceivingly strong, but won’t support your weight. There is a danger, if a spring thaw comes too fast – before you are ready – that you will fall through the ice and drown.

My new novel, Love Notes, will be blossoming sometime soon. Hope Anderson is trying to bring Rainbow Lake Lodge back to life again. It’s the only way she feels she can honor her late husband’s legacy.

She’s starting to thaw, painting cabins, sewing quilts and planting tulips, dreaming of spring, when an unexpected frost catches her off guard… a banker with evil intentions, a supposed friend with a secret… ice everywhere. Slippery, cold, ice.

Tommy Love of Tommy Love and the Love Notes fame has everything money can buy, and nothing that really matters. His heart has been an ice cube for  so long that it may never thaw. Then, he meets Hope, and gets reacquainted with God. Will his new-found faith cause a heat wave? Will Tommy give up everything he thinks he wants to find the only thing he has ever really wanted?

So bloom where you are planted. Let your blossoms shine in the sunlight. It’s always the right thing to do.

But never trust the weather.

It can change in an instant.

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Short Story Contest!!

Second Wind Publishing invites you to submit an entry to their short story contest.

Stories are to be about spring or renewal.

Contest entries must be your own original work. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Self-published stories are acceptable, but the story must not exist in print form or in any other anthology. The story must be no longer than 5,000 words.

The contest is open to anyone in the world, 18 or older, though the entry must be written in English. All entries will be posted on the Second Wind Contest Blog for everyone to read and comment. The authors and management of Second Wind Publishing will choose the three finalists, but reader comments will be taken into consideration. Entries will be judged on originality, readability, writing skills, characterization, and plot. Spelling and grammar count. The decision of the judges is final.

Everyone is welcome to vote for the winner, which is to be chosen from the three finalists.

The winning entry will be published in the upcoming Second Wind anthology, Change is in the Wind. (Title subject to change.) The winner will also receive a coupon from Smashwords.com for an unlimited number of free downloads of the anthology for one month. The coupon can be sent to as many people as you wish during that month. The winner will also be able to purchase an unlimited number of print copies of the anthology at half price plus shipping costs.

All entries will be deleted once the contest is over.

The contest begins today, October 3, 2011 and ends December 31, 2011.

Schedule:
December 31, 2011 at 11:59 pm: Contest ends.
January 1 — January 15, 2012: Judging of entries by 2W (and 2W authors) to pick top three entries
January 15 — January 31, 2012: Judging of the three finalists by blog readers to pick the winner
February 1, 2012: Winner announced
April 1, 2012 Book on Amazon for sale (In an ideal world …)

Please send your entries as a Word .doc or .docx to secondwindpublishing@gmail.com

Best of luck to all of you!!

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Tornado in Cullman

The title of this article would make for a good TV movie, but this is real life in a small Alabama town. I’ve been somewhat trapped here for going on five days now. Founded by John G. Cullman in 1873, an EF4 tornado slammed the area April 27th. Two souls were lost.

As of this morning, 655 homes and 87 businesses are completely destroyed. According to the May 5th edition of The Cullman Times, 30 additional buildings have been red tagged to be razed. Work crews have removed more than 1,272 loads of foliage and debris form the city due to this early summer storm.

I’m accustomed to making up my own dialogue—occasionally “stealing” an overheard line from time to time, but the words that have been uttered to me in my short time here is not conjured from my imagination. Words such as:

Amusing: “The cable is out! No TV ’till don’t know when.”

Overheard sadness at Cracker Barrel: “It got our house,” an older man said, wounds dotting his entire face, eyeglasses askew on his nose. The cashier asked if he and his wife were okay. The man replied, “She’s out now.” (of the hospital I can only assume.) When the woman told him to take care, he said, “You should have seen me yesterday.” He gave her a little smile, took up his to-go order bag and limped away.

Heartbreaking: “My house is gone. Everything. Gone.”

A little scary: “I’m sorry, y’all but we’re closed, ’cause of the curfew and all.” I thought, Curfew! Huh? Is this a war zone? Nearly. As we made a slow crawl into downtown two Chinook helicopters flew overhead. Platoons of National Guard were stationed at every intersection in town, Humvies blocking the edge of ground zero where the tornado hit the Historical District featuring buildings over 100 years old.

Above and below is what’s left of the Little Bit of Everything building, 100 years old this year, initially the Fuller Brothers Ford Motor dealership. You can see the original wood where the brick façade literally dropped from the outside walls, steel I-beams bent from the force of destruction.

Here’s a link to more photographs of the tornado’s destruction.

I don’t believe there’s ever been a tornado where I live in the Phoenix, Arizonaarea and I didn’t know what to expect. When we arrived in Cullman we were fortunate to find a hotel room, but could only book lodging on a night by night basis as they needed to free up space for workers making the town safe and getting services back up and running.

Personnel have temporarily relocated in order to get the town up and running again. I spoke with a Verizon worker in town from Atlanta, Georgia, and an AT&T electrician from Miami who said his company sent workers from all over Florida to raise new poles and string fresh power lines.

Two ladies showed me last Sunday’s paper which featured aerial, wide angle photographs. “See that big old pile of bricks. That’s our church.” Then she pointed a shaking finger at another picture, nothing discernable but the street and sidewalks lining an intersection—nothing but bricks, wood and twisted metal, as if the business had imploded where they once stood. “And that picture there . . . right there on the corner is where I had lunch not more than fifteen minutes before the tornado came through.”

Although worries now include looting and price gouging, the residents and business owners of Cullman are focusing on lending neighbors a hand. They will rebuild their homes, cafés and places of worship, fill their shops with new goods to trade.

I won’t forget the devastation witnessed first hand; the unidentifiable smells hanging in the downtown air; the stunned people walking aimlessly, heads shaking to and fro, pointing at what was once there.

Residents of Cullman won’t soon forget the April 2011 tornado, the unfortunate reason that brought folks from all over southeastern states to lend a hand.

As with every small southern town I’ve ever had the privilege to visit, these strong willed people are filled with kindness, merely grateful to have survived—all ready to move forward, their relationships and faith stronger, resilience intact.

Deborah J Ledford’s latest novel SNARE, The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist, is book two of her Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. STACCATO, book one of the serial, is also available. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing.

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