Wednesday Vignette: Connected

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“Just as the wave cannot exist for itself,

but is ever a part of the heaving surface of the ocean,

so must I never live my life for itself,

but always in the experience which is going on around me.”

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Albert Schweitzer

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“There is a deep interconnectedness of all life on earth,

from the tiniest organisms,

to the largest ecosystems,

and absolutely between each person.”

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Bryant McGill

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“When we know ourselves to be connected to all others,

acting compassionately is simply the natural thing to do. ”

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Rachel Naomi Remen

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

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“…the Ultimate Truth: nothing exists in the universe

that is separate from anything else.

Everything is intrinsically connected,

irrevocably interdependent,

interactive, interwoven into the fabric of all of life.”

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Neale Donald Walsch

 

 

 

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Sunday Dinner: Connection

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“Pull a thread here

and you’ll find it’s attached

to the rest of the world.”

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Nadeem Aslam

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“We are one knot in a great web of being,

building out of the vast past and (with luck)

continuing billions of years into the future,

until the sun dies, the last of its energy reaches Earth,

and our local light goes out.

The most appropriate response to the world

is to realize, with awe, the ferocious mystery

of being alive in it. And act accordingly.

The worst thing anyone should be able to say

about their life is also the greatest thing anyone can say:

“I tried my best.”

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Carl Safina

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

Blossom XV

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“Generosity has little to do with giving gifts,

and everything to do with giving space to others

to be who they are.”

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Patti Digh

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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Blossom I
Blossom II
Blossom III
Blossom IV
Blossom V
Blossom VI
Blossom VII
Blossom VIII
Blossom IX
Blossom X
Blossom XI
Blossom XII
Blossom XIII
Blossom XIV
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Blossom XVII
Blossom VXIII

 

 

Sunday Dinner: Magic

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“And above all, watch with glittering eyes

the whole world around you

because the greatest secrets

are always hidden in

the most unlikely places.

Those who don’t believe in magic

will never find it.”

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Roald Dahl

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“The world is full of magic things,

patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

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W.B. Yeats

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“I want to be magic.

I want to touch the heart of the world

and make it smile.

I want to be a friend of elves and live in a tree.

Or under a hill. I want to marry a moonbeam

and hear the stars sing.

I don’t want to pretend at magic anymore.

I want to be magic.”

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Charles de Lint

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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“But you must not change one thing,
one pebble, one grain of sand,
until you know what good and evil will follow on that act.
The world is in balance, in Equilibrium.
A wizard’s power of Changing and Summoning
can shake the balance of the world.
It is dangerous, that power…
It must follow knowledge,
and serve need.”
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Ursula K. Le Guin
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For the Daily Post’s
Weekly Photo Challenge:  Frame

WPC: Frame

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This beautiful yellow garden spider, Agiope aurantia, made her web framed by Black Eyed Susans.

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She found a perfect protected spot where lots of insects fly by.  And her delicate ‘zig-zag’  web makes this spot even more beautiful.

For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Frame

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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Wordless Wednesday

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“It is good to love many things,
for therein lies the true strength,
and whosoever loves much performs much,
and can accomplish much,
and what is done in love is well done.”
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Vincent van Gogh

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

WPC: Close-up

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“This week, discover the hidden details that can only be seen up close.”

The Daily Post

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How many intriguing sights do we pass each day, blind and unaware of their beauty? 

It takes concentration and time to take in the details.  How often are we rushing and distracted in our daily lives?  Often, we feel rushed and perhaps a little ‘absent minded’ as we juggle the many responsibilities of a normal day.

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This challenge asks us to spare a few moments for mindfullness; to take the time to focus on the details already around us.  While the camera brings the world into focus, we have the opportunity to simply breathe. 

Our attention grows more focused as the field of view contracts.

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When there is no time to take a break ‘away,’ we can take a break ‘within.’  Without traveling, we find a new landscape, and perhaps discover a new horizon within our own mind.

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Each time we look ‘close up,’ our vision widens to the worlds within worlds of our everyday life; just as it already is.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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“He who knows others is wise;

he who knows himself is enlightened.”

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Lao Tzu

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Samhain

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The end of October also means the end of our Indian Summer.

Another sunny and warmish day here, a friend and I drove out to our favorite Homestead Garden Center this afternoon for pansies, panolas and soil.

With clearance in progress, ahead of the coming Christmas trees and wreathes, we also picked up some end of season ferns and perennials.

 

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We drove home contented, with the back of my auto filled to the brim with trays of plants and bags of good rich compost.

 

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Our conversation was interspersed with,”Look at that!” and ” Oh, how pretty!” our whole way out into the country, and back, as we enjoyed the beautiful trees along the way.

My partner has had an eye to the weather all day. 

 

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It seems we have a n’oreaster in store this weekend.

We don’t expect to see snow, but we’ll have wind and our first truly cool days and nights.  So often these windstorms strip the trees of their leaves just as the color hits its peak.

 

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So gentle October will blow away as two storms converge tomorrow over the East Coast, bringing  the first blast of winter to the eastern United States.

It snowed this morning in Chicago.  Snow on Halloween?  Really?

 

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This is the season of changes; endings and beginnings.

This is a good time to remember that the seeds of the new are always contained in the husk of the old.  Don’t you find that to be true in your own life?

 

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Samhain  is a transition time;  a time of remembrance.

I spent much of the day catching up with friends and meeting new neighbors.

A good way to mark this special day, I think.

 

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And this afternoon I finally dug up the last Begonia “Gryphon” from its spot on the deck, and brought it into the garage for winter.

I’ve been procrastinating, as you have probably guessed; but  finally have almost all of our Begonias indoors.

Those that remain outside are sheltered, and one especially huge pot just isn’t going to come in this year.  (Unless I can figure out a way to wrestle it from the deck into the garage before that first true freeze, that is.)

 

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Finally, I made chocolate spiders for the neighborhood Halloween party this evening.

It is a little late to be giving you the recipe now, I know;  but I’ll write it out so you have the idea for next year.

 

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We have been corralling real spiders in the house for the last few weeks.  It amazes me how they find their way inside.

But we keep a glass jar and an old greeting card handy to catch them and carry them back outside.

The chocolate variety (of spiders)  are big and delicious looking.  They might look especially frighteningly delicious  perched on a huge scoop of pumpkin ice cream.

Whether you celebrate Samhain, Halloween, The Day of the Dead, or even good old Guy Fawkes Day, I hope you have enjoyed it with those you love!

 

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

 

Chocolate Spiders

1.  Pour a bag of milk or semi-sweet chocolate bits into a glass bowl, and microwave on high for thirty seconds.  Stir.  Microwave and stir in fifteen second intervals until the chocolate is melted and smooth.  Stir the chocolate briskly with a rubber spatula for about two minutes to temper the chocolate.

2.  Line a baking pan with waxed or parchment paper.

3.  Stir about two cups of Asian Chow Mein noodles into the chocolate and stir to coat.  Add more noodles, as needed, until all of the chocolate is used.

4.  Lift small lumps of coated noodles using two forks, and place them on the parchment.  Each “spider” should be about a tablespoon of noodles and chocolate.  Flatten the pile slightly, and arrange the noodles so it looks like a spider with many legs.

5.  Use two M&Ms or other small round candies to make the eyes. 

6.  Place the tray of chocolate spiders in the freezer for ten minutes, or the refrigerator for thirty while the chocolate hardens. 

7.  Serve on a platter, bag the spiders individually in candy bags, or serve as a garnish on ice cream.

All that is left... the end of the batch.  These don't have quite as much chocolate as the ones we took to the neighborhood gathering.

All that is left… the end of the batch. These don’t have quite as much chocolate as the ones we took to the neighborhood gathering.  But you get the idea….

One Word Photo Challenge: Cream

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Sunlight through Caladium leaves

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Bumblebee, heavy with pollen, working  the Garlic chives

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Moonflower, fading in the mid-day sun.

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The caligraphy of a garden spider;

All aglow with the pearlescent beauty of cream.

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Cream glows in sun and shadow;

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Moonlight and midnight.

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Soft, serene and clean,

We love the lustre of cream.

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Words and photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

With appreciation to Jennifer Nichole Wells for her

One Word Photo Challenge:  Cream

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Blog Tour

Eliza Waters, author, gardener, and naturalist, invited me to participate in a blog tour of writers reflecting on their own writing process. You will find Eliza’s blog wonderfully illustrated with photos of her Massachusetts garden and peppered with her wit and wisdom. Eliza has become a treasured friend and correspondent over the last several months, and I hope you will take a moment to read her reflections on writing and life.

 

A spider makes its beautiful web in my garden,; a reminder of the beauty and complexity of life.

A spider works its intricate web in our garden; a reminder of the beauty and complexity of life, and the necessity of dinner.

 

I would suggest that writers are obsessed, not trained. For some of us, an idea or turn of phrase lodges itself into our mind and repeats itself, like a squeaky hinge, until we begin to write it.

Once we write down those initial words, more begin to flow in a trickling stream of consciousness. One image elicits the next, and ideas fit together into some sort of structure.

I’m often surprised at how these thoughts develop and transform; linking to something I’ve recently read or seen or heard; and a message takes shape which was unseen at the beginning.

On a good day….

 

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This need to write started when I was very young.  I was often writing in the margins of a composition book while an oblivious teacher conducted class on some very different topic. They must have assumed I was taking copious notes. But I was writing verse, and the whole process of composition and editing carried over in spare moments through the course of a day or two until I knew it was completed.

The pile of finished work accumulated and by junior high a sympathetic teacher made a friend and me editors of a school literary magazine. Writing, and writing friends, carried me through grade school and into college.   I continued to edit various publications over the years.  Finally I had the opportunity to work  with young writers during my own teaching career.

A summer spent with the Tidewater Writing Project at ODU offered the opportunity to share my writing with other  teachers; and to hear, and comment on,  theirs.   Writers actively working on their own material make more sympathetic and helpful teachers. We learned how to write with our students and how to work with them as mentors and partners in the process.

A volunteer Viola sprouted from a stray seed.

A volunteer Viola sprouted from a stray seed.

 

And writing is a process. Its roots lie in reflection. Its roots lie in soaking in ideas expressed by others in their music, poetry, fiction, prose, art, and photography. From this rich brew of ideas and close observation of one’s own life, ideas bubble up which need expression.

 

Autumn has appeared down by College Creek.

Autumn has appeared down by College Creek.

It is good to encourage ideas to flow freely in the beginning.

I still keep a legal pad and colored pens on my desk, between me and the computer screen, to capture ideas as they first form. Phrases are pieces of a jigsaw puzzle which must be tried and turned and finally fitted together into a smooth whole.

But once those ideas have been caught into words and captured on paper, one must get down to the business of developing the ideas into something another might want to read.

This is where the art and craft of writing takes over from visionary rambling.

Virginia Creeper on the pine tree has already begun going scarlet in this cool August weather.

Virginia Creeper on the pine tree has already begun going scarlet in this cool August weather.

Frequent visitors to Forest Garden find many different sorts of writing here.

There are essays and poems, how-to posts and quotations.  And there are many photographs of life in our garden and community.

While I sometimes go looking for photos to illustrate an idea, more frequently an idea is sparked by the day’s cache of photos.

I began writing this blog to help other gardeners struggling in similiar  deer-ridden vole-infested, squirrel- bitten shady bits of forest.

I had lists to post and resources to share.  That information remains in the archives.

But the discipline of daily writing brought me back to my own roots as a poet.  And some days now poetry seeps out, other days hard prose.  On a very good day there might be a hint of poetry buried within some useful prose.

 

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Whether one is writing poetry or prose, good composition is based on research, structure, and refinement.

Questions arise as I’m writing. There is always more to learn about whatever topic, whether the name of a particular plant or the various opinions on how best to prepare a planting bed.

Most of my composition occurs at the computer  with a search engine window open. I look for what others have to say, fact check, spell check, and look up words. I search for quotations on particular topics, examine photographs, check maps, and always research the cultural requirements for plants I might mention. Since much of the writing I publish now is fact based, I try to confirm information from multiple sources as I write.

I found this beautiful wild Hibiscus down by the Creek today, but have not yet identified its species.

I found this beautiful wild Hibiscus down by the Creek today, but have not yet identified its species.

 

“Revising” nearly always begins before the first draft is complete.   I walk away from the work and come back to it later with ‘fresh eyes,” re-reading from the beginning. I want to know that I’m on track to express my thoughts  logically and clearly. I look for “jumps” where more information or a reasonable transition is needed.   I look for tangential wanderings which need deleting.

Deleting is almost as important as writing. I usually  put down too many words, whether it is prose or poetry.   One searches for a simpler, clearer way to put an idea into words  through revision.

This process of revision takes time. The words need to get “cold” sometimes before we can hear our own awkward passages to fix them.   And this is just for the sense and structure of what is written.

The whole process of “editing” is another matter entirely.

 

This exuberant arrangement grows wild on the bank of the James River at Jamestown Island.

A wild garden on the bank of the James River at Jamestown Island.

 

I shiver to think how many students’ papers I’ve read and “edited” over the years.  That critical part of my brain which looks for commas and common misspellings is definitely overactive; and yet I often miss my own errors.

Sometimes I find them on a sixth or seventh reading. Sometimes my partner reads behind me, and finds things I’ve missed.

Yet it remains important to me to make a piece of writing as clean as possible before sharing it. I want my writing “clean” of any distraction which might snag a reader’s attention away from my message, whether that is a factual error, an awkward phrase, or a “typo.”

 

Hibiscus syriacus

Hibiscus syriacus

 

The point of writing is communication: mind to mind, heart to heart, and soul to soul.    It is a way to connect with others across unlimited space and time.

In reading a sutra, I hear the wisdom of a Bodhisattva who lived centuries ago as though we were sitting together over a cup of tea.

 

Replicas of the original Seventeenth Century ships moored at Jamestown.

Replicas of the original Seventeenth Century ships moored at Jamestown.

 

I love the community on WordPress because it allows me to converse in real time with acquaintances in Massachusettes, Malaysia, Australia, Georgia, Brussels and Great Britain, all while sitting here at my desk.

And through these conversations I’ve met talented, fascinating people. I’ve found companions along the way who share my passions and concerns. And I’ve discovered artists and poets, activists and environmentalists, mystics and mothers.

Everyone I’ve encountered is reflecting on their own journey through the words and images they publish.

 

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One friend and fellow traveler, artist, mystic, and writer is Sue Vincent.  Sue, like Tolkien, Lewis, and Rowling; writes about a special world which transcends time. Her journeys through the countryside of England, as recorded in her novels, are an epic quest for lost wisdom and deeper understanding.

Her delightful characters share their experiences and reflections in the sort of archetypes which takes the reader along on a journey of self- discovery.

 

Sue Vincent

Sue shares her own journeys on her blog, and gives us a glimpse of her writer’s world of research, deadlines, and the satisfaction of publication.  She also shares the joys and sorrows of children, friends, and a small dog.

Her exquisite photographs become a meditation beyond words. I hope you will visit Sue’s The Daily Echo, which is the next stop on this blog tour.

 

Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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The Butterfly Net: World Blog Hop by Sue Vincent

Tried and True Approaches For the Time-strapped Writer by Ellen Shriner

Blog Touring by Cynthia Kraak

World Blog Tour by Carolyn K. Boehlke

Subsequent stops on the Blog Tour:

Inner Dreaming- World Blog Hop  by G. Michael Vasey

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