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Hello to my LJ friends, :-)

I know this may come off as kinda tacky, seeing as I post here so often . . . *embarrassed blushing* (as a good friend of mine who is in a bluegrass band always says when she posts about their gigs *shameless self promotion*) - but I want to share some news I'm excited about.

Many of you, when I was writing fanfiction consistently, urged me to try writing stories that would be eligible for publication.

So I have.

I took a general writing course and a novel writing course, had a couple of short stories published, and started working on a cozy mystery novel. Cozy mysteries are like Agatha Christie's stories. Not gorey, not overly violent and not R or X rated.

I am pleased to be able to tell you that my first mystery, The Devil's Music, has been accepted for publication by International Hybrid Publishing Group out of Victoria, British Columbia. The release will be in November of this year.

I'll post here to keep you all up to date.

I will be thanking the writers and readers in the Tolkien fanfiction communities that I was active in on the book's acknowledgement page. If several of you hadn't encouraged me to try writing for publication, it never would have crossed my mind.

Thank you so much! :-)

Hugs,

Pearl Took - Tolkien Fanfiction Author,
Pearl R. Meaker - Author of "The Devil's Music"

http://pearlrmeaker.com to read the first chapter ;-)

Nov. 28th, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving to all my LJ friends!

Hugs!
Pearl


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Bits from my weekend

It's one of those "I don't really know what to write about." days. That's a problem with a free form, unfocused blog - which is why all the "How to have a successful blog! :-)" articles start with knowing what your focus is.
This leads to a discussion I had yesterday with my hubby. He's been reading about Peter Roget, the creator of Roget's Thesaurus.  When he was eight years old, he was already compiling lists of words.
Okay.
J.R.R.Tolkien was already making up complex languages around the same age.
My husband was preaching to his stuffed animals and making a conserted point to remember events in his life so he could recall them and use them later. His sister would walk up and down a few blocks of their street, write down the house numbers, then go home to figure out the pattern to them.
I remember disconnected things. Glimpses, like short YouTube videos, of an event here or there. Even into my upper elementary years. To be honest, even into my junior high years. I told Bruce I look back and see myself like a butterfly floating about on a gentle breeze.
"Oh! Look at that flower. No, that tree over there. I wonder if I can see my reflection in that puddle? I bet the sun is nice and warm on that cool looking rock over there."
It seems I've always drifted. I did decide to be an artist/art teacher the summer between 5th and 6th grades, and I held to that through highschool and into my first year of college. But it never seemed as all consuming as some things others have dreamed of and acted upon.
There are just too many interesting things in the world.
Today, I'm drifting about on the breeze and the wind.
*****
I was outside in the garden this morning. Repotting some plants, dead-heading some flowers, and enjoying the cool, fresh air when a hummingbird came to visit me.
I've discovered that if I'm dead-heading the butterfly bushes, or the flowers in the hanging planters over there, I'm often joined by a hummingbird. It is a wondrous thing! There can be no quick movements. No raising my camera to take a photo, even only raising it part way and using the view screen instead of the viewfinder. I do any of that and they zip off as only hummers can zip. But, if I stay still and speak quietly, the hummer will stay several moments - chirpping at me and checking me out.
I feel so blessed every time it happens.
*****
A gardening lesson.
Do not put out door plants in a container with no drainage holes unless they are plants that like swamps or the edges of ponds.
*****
I had another visitor in the backyard this morning.
A juvenile Cooper's Hawk
I haven't seen a Cooper's Hawk all summer. It swooped across the backyard and perched in a tree in the ravine. Good thing I had my camera in my hand because I barely got this shot off before it flew.
*****
Wise words.
Nobody ever said life was fair - or if they did, they're a fool.
*****
I love it when it rains.
Not just because it has been a long, very dry summer.
I love the smell of it on the wind.
I love the sound of it on the metal vents on the roof.
I love standing on my little front porch and feeling the power of the wind going by.
And isn't it amazing how quickly everything has become green again.
*****
Other photos from Friday are here: http://www.picturetrail.com/sfx/album/view/24184727
*****
This was supposed to be posted on Friday, but as usually seems to happen, the formatting went weird. I got frustrated and needed to quit.
Saturday - today - has also had it's frustrations, though so far not with the blog formatting.
However it has been a beautiful, fantastic, lovely, gorgeous day! :-) :-)
I prayed at my church, Lincoln Nazarene, as part of a 24 hour prayer day.
At the Walmart pond I saw two water birds I've never seen before - a pair of Pied-billed Grebes.
Then I took a wander over by the Best Western. I'd spotted a Red Tailed Hawk, but he also spotted me, so I didn't get any photos. But I saw lots of other things.
When I got home I eventually made it out onto the small patio and watched the Hummingbirds come and go at the butterfly bushes and the feeders.
So, here are some more photos for your enjoyment (I hope): http://www.picturetrail.com/sfx/album/view/24184804
And I also hope you had a chance to get outside and enjoy the refreshing day.

On Bird Baths and Fountains

They line up for it.

They fight over it.

Sometimes, they even share it.

The bird bath in the new garden.

I've discovered that the reigning kings & queens, princes & princesses of the backyard bird bath are the robins. I have at times had as many as five robins actually on or around the two baths while as many more are perched in the trees not so patiently awaiting their turn.
They must be the avian world's clean-freaks.

Mind you, they don't all take baths - at least not all at once. But they are there either drinking, bathing or hanging around much of the day. There have been other birds at the baths (one of which is a plastic basin sitting on the ground the other is a fancy bird bath). I've had mature and juvenile starlings, bluejays, cardinals and sparrows. But the robins rule.


The place to be if you're a robin.

And, I've had little visitors to my fountain as well. The "leaves" that catch the flowing water are a nice size for a chickadee bird bath.


Splish, splash . . .

The new backyard is proving to be lots of fun for everyone!

For more bathtime fun, go here!  http://www.picturetrail.com/sfx/album/view/24178555

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I Don't Want To Go In.

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By Sandra Richardson

Nope.

I don't want to go in the house.

It isn't just that there is unfinished housework in there. Not just that (as is usual) there are pockets of clutter that need tidying. Not even that I have shirts to iron.

It is just too beautiful a day.

Actually, too beautiful two days. I started this in the evening of the 10th and am finishing it up mid-afternoon on the 11th.

No.

I didn't stay out on the deck all night. Although if I'd had one of those patio canopy thingys with the fabric screen sides, I would have been tempted to. It was that fantastic outside.

In other news, the backyard makeover is almost finished. I'm about 3/4s finished with sanding the seams on the small patio. The door from the house to the new, small, patio needs to be purchased and installed - do you install doors? Should it be put in? Set in? Placed? I know you install appliances and pastors, software and light fixtures, but not sure if you install doors. But that's what's left to do, that and some rigging for a shade thing that I've got planned for the small (and very sunny) patio.

The door will also blend into another project that was actually planned before people gave me outdoor plants that morphed into the huge backyard makeover. I will be cleaning out and redoing my workroom since it has to be cleared out anyway to install the door. It will be be totally cleared out, old carpeting ripped up and thrown out. New paint on the walls, something done with the cheap texturing that's working it's way off the ceiling, and after all that and the door is done, new carpeting put in.

Then - I'm taking a break for a bit on the remodeling. Not too long, but I need a break.

Earlier this week, Ray and I planted butterfly bushes along the south and east sides of the small patio. They have already had visitors:

A Buckeye Butterfly

A hungry juvenile male Hummingbird

The rest of the photos are here:

http://www.picturetrail.com/sfx/album/view/24171003

I was also wondering if anyone else has noticed what I've noticed. It seems the robins are starting to flock already, and I can tell that the hummingbirds are eating more to get ready to migrate (they look like they're pregnant). It's about a month early for both of these things to be happening. Have you noticed? Let me know and . . .

Go out and enjoy the nice weather if it's made it to your area!


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A Morning on the Patio

Good morning! :-)
Today for the first time in many days I actually felt able to have breakfast and get some work on my computer done while being out on my lovely patio. The Northwest breeze is making it perfect even as the temp rises.
And, I had a perky visitor.
A male robin perched on a pillar
Posting that photo is reminding me to tell you all something -
I'm finding it very frustrating and difficult to post all the photos I want to post to these blogs. It often takes me most of a day to do one blog because of trying to get the layout of text and photos to be correct. It shows up fine when I'm writing it all up on the write it all up page of the blogging site. But when I publish it then go look at the page you all end up at to read . . .
YUCK!!!!!
Everything is all wonky.
I'm tired of all the fuss, fuss, fuss it has been taking to get it all to settle into place. On Wednesday I mucked about with a post that ended up not being posted for 5 hours. It never did work out right and I finally gave up.
I also tried seeing if setting it up on another blog site then copy/pasting it over would work, but it didn't.
What I'm going to have to do is put a photo or two in the actual blog then post a link to a photo hosting site where you can go to see more photos if you wish to.
I'm sorry to have to do it this way but it's the only way I see to stop having this blog be so frustrating to do.
I hope you all have a pleasant day and that you can get out and enjoy our nicer weather. :-)

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Hi my friends,

I was going to post my next installment, but it won't post properly and it's getting me frustrated. So, I'm posting the link to my Blogger blog where it is legible. :-)

http://sandrasrichardsonwrites.blogspot.com/

Feel free to comment at either the Blogger blog or here. :-)

Hugs to you all!

Death in my Dryer

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Old Union Cemetery, Lincoln, IL.

I was doing my laundry. A common, ordinary, everyday thing usually associated with life, not death. But a T-shirt and a book I just finished reading combined to make my thoughts meander down the cemetery path.

"A T-shirt? What's a T-shirt have to do with death? Is it Goth?"

No, it's better than Goth.

It's a shirt for a very special school. I'm sure there are only two of these T-shirts in Lincoln - along with three hoodie sweatshirts.

They read: WORSHAM - COLLEGE OF MORTURARY SCIENCE

Worsham is a privately owned and operated, fully accredited two year school that has been in Wheeling, Illinois for 100 years, training morticians/funeral directors. It is one of the most respect schools of mortuary science in the US.

And how did my family come to have Worsham shirts & jackets?

Because Bruce teaches insurance seminars. Prepaid funeral packages are tied into life insurance policies so the future funeral directors at Worsham need to get licenses to sell life insurance. Bruce goes to Worsham once or twice a year to give them their pre-licensing life insurance seminar.

I proudly wear my Worsham "T" and hoodie. If you get delivery from Guzzardo's in the winter, you may have seen my son-in-law wearing his Worsham hoodie.

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A contemplative statue in Union Cemetery

The book I just finished is about the assassination of President James Garfield: "Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President." by Candice Millard.

I love well-written books about historical events more than biographies. With the event books you get a broader view, I think, of the time period as well as learning a good deal about the primary people involved. In this case, you also learn about the state of medicine at a time when Joseph Lister had been promoting the practice of "antisepsis" in all medical procedures but it had not yet gained total acceptance amongst practicing physicians - especially here in the US.

Quite literally, President Garfield was as much killed by his doctor's care as by his assassin's bullet. None of his doctors washed their hands before dealing with the wound. The instruments that were used on him were not sterilized, or if they were they were being handled by unwashed hands so it didn't really matter. Plus, the handles on the instruments were usually wood or ivory - porous materials that don't sterilize well anyway. He quickly developed infections, which the man who assumed the position of chief physician dealt with poorly (even for that time) or did nothing at all. The wound was deep and could have killed him anyway, but many felt then, and now, that with the best care of that day - meaning the use of antiseptic procedures - the President may have lived as there were many Civil War veterans who survived serious bullet wounds, lived and still had the bullet inside them.

The author acknowledges that many of her readers were probably wondering why the president wasn't taken to the hospital? Why was he taken back to the White House?

Back then, in 1881, hospitals were places for the indigent. They were where you went if you couldn't afford a physician who would come and treat you in the comfort of your own home. Hospitals were, because antiseptic procedures had not been well accepted yet, filthy, smelly, vile places. Even more so than today - No One wanted to go to a hospital back then.

You were sick at home.

You were cared for at home.

You died at home.

You're funeral was in your home.

As hospitals improved, all the events of serious illness and surgery began to happen there, more people died there instead of at home, and funerals began to change as well. Instead of the funeral being in your home it was in the mortician’s or funeral director's home. You would be laid out in his parlor and people went to his house to mourn and pay their final respects. Hence the now familiar terms: funeral parlor and funeral home.

And so I've come full circle back to Worsham College of Mortuary Science, trainer of morticians and funeral directors . . .

and one of their school T-shirts in my clothes dryer.


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The T-shirt that started it all.

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The Conception & Birth of a New Backyard

When you last heard from me I told you about my becoming a gardener - sort of.

I suppose, technically speaking, if you have plants and you've put them in the ground or some suitable container with soil you're a gardener. Not a good one, perhaps, not an experienced one or a Master Gardener. Just a generic gardener. And that's where I'm at.
My herb garden in a box is doing well and I actually used some of my herbs in a spaghetti sauce. Wow! "Look Ma, I used fresh herbs!" A definite first for me.
"But - - - what about your yard?" you're thinking. "Have you fetched home your plantlings from 'day care'? Have you put in flower/herb beds?"
Well, that's turned into a whole other story.
Once upon a time, Hubby & I bought a little house. The house had a back yard with drop-offs on two sides which are full of trees and bushes giving the yard a nice "country" feel. It also had a wood deck tucked into the "L" shape formed by the back of the garage and one side of the house. A nice deck which the home-maintainance challenged Richardsons didn't take good care of. In the sixteen years since we bought the house, the part of the deck that is always in the sun has suffered greatly. The yard isn't exactly pampered either.
The time has come.
I found I was seriously stressing over the whole "where to put the flower beds" and "what to do with the backyard" issue. Added to the situation is the fact we're on architectual land fill (all the bricks, cement, floor tiles, various fixtures, etc. from the old St. Clara's Hospital).
It is not fun digging in our yard.
Raised beds? Where? Edged with what? How deep should they be? Etc. Etc. Etc.
Finally, I brought Bruce in on this. He lives here too and should have imput into changes.
"Well," he said once we were outside looking at the current yard arrangement, "the deck has to go. I'd like to replace it with a patio using those patio blocks."
All Right! That was exactly what I was thinking we should do. How cool is that, we had the same idea.
But wait - there's more!
Bruce proceeded to walk around and with grand gestures described his dream yard to me - and I loved it.
Behold the plans for the new backyard (drawn by me).

 I'm sorry it won't get bigger than this. The area that reads "15'X15' Patio" is located where the wooden deck was. Off of that will be a gravel path with landscaping rock and container garden areas (I'll be putting a modest sized fountain in there somewhere as well :-) ) which will lead into either the open part of the yard or to a second patio.
Way more involved than anything I imagined! Bruce is way cool!
Work has begun. Of course the only photo I could find that really showed the old deck well is a winter shot, but you can get an idea of what it looked like. (The circle in the snow is a ring for holding a firebowl.)

Here is Bruce with the bench and the fence gone and a few of the "floor" boards gone.

By the end of the day Saturday June 9th, it looked like this - about half the floor gone.
Bruce got the bench and fence out all by himself, I didn't work on the deck until he already had three of the "floor" boards out. (I had been burning brush from trimming the trees and stuff along the ravine.)
We have a long way to go and I'll be posting the story and photos whenever progress is made.
Till then, hope things are progressing for you on whatever project you are working on. :-) Let us know about it so we can all be cheering you on as well. :-) 

Gardener Unawares

I seem to have become a novice gardener in a short space of time.


It started about a month ago when my cousins in Missouri sent plants to me for starting a butterfly & hummingbird garden as a memorial to my mother who passed away last November. It is a lovely thought and gesture. It is something I've long thought would be fun to have, seeing as I love both species.

I just . . . never got around to doing it.

Now I will, though it is being an interesting process as I don't have anywhere already established to put such a garden - or any garden really - other than the beds in front of my house which 1) have horrible soil and 2) are both part to mostly shade type areas not part to full sun as a couple of the plants require.


But that's not all! By getting plants now, you'll double this new hobby! That's right, you'll win a herb garden in a box! Lovely, fresh herbs all planted and ready for your yard in an old ammunitions box with easy to use rope handles!


And, I did.

A friend of mine is apprenticing with her grandmother to take over the business her grandparents have run for around 30+ years - Green Acres Herb Farm in Lowpoint, IL. They have built a new shop building on their farm, they now have a website, http://www.greenacresherbfarm.com/ and they are ramping up their visibility. To celebrate these changes, especially the new shop, they had a grand opening open house.

And I won the door prize!
The large box sitting in front of the Green Acres Herb Farm shop is my door prize.

Until I figure out where to put some gardens, my butterfly & humming bird garden plants are being well cared for by Ray Saul who has a garden with room for some short term plant-visitors. My box garden is here:
Herb garden in a box at the southern edge of our backyard.

I'm enlisting the help of several friends, including Rebecca Van Nydeggen, writer of the Courier "ReClaim, ReCycle, ReConstruct" blog. http://www.lincolncourier.com/community/blogs/reclaim_recycle_reconstruct_blog  to help create my new garden beds in the best locations for both the plants and my yard.

I'll keep you all posted on my progress in becoming a gardener. :-)

Do you garden? Flower? Veggies? Herbs? All of that?