“This Land is Our Land…”

Second-growth redwoods

“. . . from the redwood forest . . .”

Is there anyone among us doesn’t remember singing along and feeling proud of our countryside? It was an era of protesting the educational system, the government, the war, the “establishment” in general, and anything else we could protest, but we loved our land – the unique geography that makes up these United States.

If they ever want to change our National Anthem to something more sing-able, I cast my vote for “This Land Is Your Land.”

It was explained to me about the second-growth redwoods. As you can see here, there is a cluster of trees around a bare piece of ground. The original old redwood was either logged out over 150 years ago or could have been hit by lightning. These new “baby trees” sprouted up around where the mother tree had been.

The first photo at the top of this post gives another perspective on a grove of second-growth trees. These magnificent trees may be relatively young, but they still take my breath away – and make me proud that they are a part of my country.

The tops of the trees just seem to reach toward the sky for an eternity!

There is a lot about California I miss. What I do not miss is the traffic, which has gotten worse since I left. I’ve become too accustomed to a more casual lifestyle. Still, I intend to keep visiting whenever I get the chance.

Today, we could write more verses to add to this song that would include our island state of Hawai`i (where I now live) or our northernmost state of Alaska (where I have lived in the past). All fifty states are worth going to see! If you have never been to California, it’s worth braving the crowds and traffic to see a special part of our incredible country.

If you love the redwoods as much as I do, please visit https://www.savetheredwoods.org

“This land was made for you and me.”

Happy Fourth of July!

A hui hou!

The Purple Chrysanthemum

Today’s post is one of the fables in Feral Fables. In the book, you’ll find suggestions for reflection at the end of the fable.
Photo taken at Kalopa State Park, Hawai`i Island.

The Purple Chrysanthemum

Chores never cease, never subside. Menacing dark corners tower above and below her, dusty and dank. Driven here, thrust there, the woman frantically toils in vain. In every quarter of the luxurious home she unearths wads of shabby rags, inside bureau and closets, beneath tables and beds, over shelves and bookcases.

There is no seclusion here. It is no longer her home. Aliens invade, then abandon her in chaos. Serenity is shattered in the assault.

In a frenzy, she searches for one spot, one haven of beauty where she may hide from the muck and gloom, sludge and shadow. She is imprisoned and enslaved by the moment, shaken and disenchanted by infinity.

Others chart her headway as she labors, then regresses. Despondently she presses onward, now advancing, now reversing in an endless non-dance. Joy pales as the obstacles flourish in neglect. Song is stilled, light fractured, until she spots an overlooked box, unobtrusively tucked away behind the bureau.

In dismay, she lifts the lid, supposing it to be filth-filled, or barren at best. A small packet sheathed in foil rests inside, dormant yet dazzling in its obscurity. From the crumpled edge of the opening there protrudes a long green stem, crowned with a large purple chrysanthemum, blossom of her soul. An abundance of petals, long and delicate, unite around a pollen-filled golden center.

Tears fall as she recalls the moment she clipped the bloom from its parent. Tenderly she had placed it into nourishing water where it could take root and grow. Now long forgotten, the chrysanthemum has flourished, alone and in the inky obscurity of the ragged box. Surely it was withered and dead by now, for many moons have passed. Other celebrations have come and gone, but the blossom remains.

She pauses, then meticulously peels back the foil covering. That which was dormant for so long has burgeoned with fragile and lacy roots. What once was a flower, cut off from its source, has sprouted in the dark, unattended and ignored.

Weeping, she holds the hardy segment of beauty in the palm of her hand. The tiny bit of life, buried in the pit of her soul, is resurrected and retrieved. The purple chrysanthemum will never perish. She will survive.

Inspired by Shakespeare

I have always been an Anglophile, with an interest in traditional English culture and the monarchy. My senior paper in high school focused on the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II, so I imagine that’s when my love affair of England actually began. It’s hard to believe that we are now celebrating her Platinum Jubilee. In college, I focused on English literature, and more specifically on the language of Shakespeare’s time. Even though it was basically “English,” it was like learning a completely new language. Knowing the meaning of the words changed my whole perspective and understanding when I watched his plays.When I did my geneology for membership in DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) I discovered that my “patriot” had come over on an early ship from England and settled in South Carolina. He fought under Francis Marion, known as the “Swampfox.” So I had a reason for being so interested in anything British.

I had a chance to visit Stratford-Upon-Avon in 2005 and loved it. I also visited the Globe Theatre in Bankside, London. I will intersperse a few pictures from beautiful Stratford, as I tell you about the Hawai`i Shakespeare Festival of 2022.

The season in Honolulu will perform three live, in-person shows for the first time since 2019. Check it out at hawaiishakes.org and sign up for their news. The shows are performed at The ARTS at Marks Garage, 1159 Nu`uanu Ave. on the corner of Nu`uanu and Pauahi, one block south of Beretania near the historic Hawaii Theatre.

I plan to fly over to Oahu from the Big Island (my island of Hawai`i) in August for their gender-reversal showing of The Taming of the Shrew, one of my favorites. It will be fun to see how they manage to portray a male Kate and a female Petruchio.

I went to many plays at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego when I lived there. Even if you don’t understand all of the language, you’ll love the drama. I suggest finding a synopsis of the story line so you’ll know what is happening.

I stayed at the White Swan Hotel, named for (I suppose) all the swans on the Avon.

A hui hou!

Metaphors

One of the courses I always loved to teach was “Psychology and the Expressive Arts.” Not only do students learn how to use the expressive arts (writing, painting, clay, dance, music and more) in counseling clients, but also how to use the arts to re-discover the creativity within. An assignment I always gave was for them to write about one of the metaphors in their lives.

Metaphors are all around us, and I offered suggestions for my students to show them how to find metaphors in unexpected places.

One of my personal favorites is the metaphor of sailing. I’ve used it so many times in the past that it’s almost become a cliché, and yet it is a strong metaphor for me. Those of you who have been reading my posts fairly regularly will remember that I lived on my 37’ sloop for five years.

I moved off my sailboat to the Phoenix area when I was assigned to be a pastor there. About six months into that appointment, one of the men in the church came to me and said, “This is the first Sunday you haven’t mentioned sailing.” He went ahead to say that he wasn’t tired of it, but that it emphasized the fact of how many ways sailing was a rich metaphor for our lives.

We have all seen many sailing metaphors illustrated on posters or key chains and the like. I am reminded of the sailing metaphor in particular and that is the way we have to maneuver the boat in order to get to our destination.

You know that a sailboat cannot go directly into the wind without stalling. The sailor must tack back and forth, sailing just off the wind, yet never losing sight of the goal.

The same thing is true of life. When we are not able to sail directly toward our goal without getting stalled, we don’t need to let that stop us. We can veer off course a little as long as we keep in mind where we ultimately want to go.

This has been true for me so many times – with education, career, home, relationships. How easy it would have been to give up, rather than to let the wind carry me in a different direction! I may have tacked back and forth many times in life, but I’ve ended up where I was ultimately headed.

Do you have a specific metaphor for your life?

A hui hou!

Tell Me About the Characters

One of the activities I love most about writing fiction is working on characterization. By the time I finish, I know everything there is to know about the people in my stories.

I know their sun signs, where they were born, and when. I know how they look and how they move. If they have quirks, I know about those, too. Eventually, I might have several single-spaced pages of information about each one of them and how they are all related.

By knowing as much about them as I can create, I know how they would react in the event of a crisis, what makes them laugh or cry, even to the type of food they eat.

In Shadowy Tales, I know that Pastor Fran relies on preparing a quick grilled cheese with some heated up soup because she would never think about cooking a full-on dinner. She is too busy and has been single too long to think much about preparing food. But she does love Chinese take-out, and she drinks lots of tea or coffee.

I also know that she drives a red Miata and that she does yoga, but you never see that in her story. Just knowing that about her gives her a certain personality. Who knows? It might come in handy in another story sometime.

If you are thinking about writing but you aren’t sure where to begin, try inventing a character and write out everything you can think about that person. Suddenly you begin to get ideas of the kind of story you want to write.

After you have written characterizations for a bunch of people, throw them all together and see what happens! Trust me – they’ll begin to act in ways you never dreamed of. And your story begins to take place. I’d rather play with characterization than watch TV or go to a movie!

If you have read Shadowy Tales, what else do you know about Pastor Fran – or any of the other characters?

A hui hou!

Lucy

Shadowy Tales

“Shadowy Tales” is a heart pounding thriller that emphasizes the danger of cultural division and social intolerance through a truly compelling mystery. This is the story of a protestant minister, Frances Anna Keeton, newly appointed by her bishop to a church in the conservative south. Arriving from a liberal environment in California, she faces immense turmoil. Frances realized she was entering into a difficult situation. But she never would imagine the danger, harm, and secrets that lie ahead.

A new casino is being considered on land currently owned by members of the local Choctaw tribe who are active members of Fran’s church. The clout behind this proposal is exerting pressure on Fran to support the local gaming establishment rather than actively oppose it.

Fran is terrorized repeatedly, but she doesn’t know if it’s because she is a woman pastor or if it is to intimidate her into supporting the new casino. When Kevin, her organist and friend, is kidnaped, a search begins. A carved arrowhead is left at her door for no apparent reason. A phone message instructs Fran to present the arrowhead as a signal that she is ready to submit herself as ransom for Kevin or forfeit Kevin’s life. Telling no one, she hunts for an unidentified person who would know the sinister meaning of the arrowhead.

The phrase “heart pounding” was not my phrase but what the publisher used. I doubt if the book is seriously heart pounding, but a simple mystery story that I had fun writing.

You can buy either the paperback or the e-book from various sources. I suggest you look at this source first for the paperback. Both the e-book and the paperback can be purchased at Barnes & Noble.

There is a sequel coming, hopefully before Christmas, with the title of Washboard Tales, stories that Pastor Fran heard from women in the community, the same way women had always told stories over the washboard. Not all of the “tales” have a happy ending.

Because most of the people are the same in both books and twisted together , I hope you look for it and consider adding it to your library. I think it will be better than Shadowy Tales, but only you will know.

A hui hou!

Feral Fables

“For centuries, women and men have sought guidance and counsel to help them in processes of change, healing, and transformation.”

That is the first sentence in the introduction to my book, Feral Fables. How many of us have checked the I Ching, or Animal Medicine cards, or the Tarot or even the daily horoscope to see what they have to say to us? Not only is it fun, but it also can be enlightening in some strange, unexplainable way.

We are spoken to through many avenues. Insights may come like lightning bolts or in a still, small voice. A friend says something that strikes us as relevant to a question we’ve pondered. We hear a conversation that brings sudden understanding to a problem. A dream reveals an answer to a situation. We read a story that becomes more significant each time we read it.

Such is the nature of these fables. This is the sort of book you can tuck in your purse or briefcase and always have handy. At odd moments, you can pick a fable at random to see what meaning it can bring to your life. Whether you are male or female, youth or elder, there will be something of value in each brief fable. I have added a few questions at the end of each fable to start your thinking process.

What is a fable anyway? The dictionary describes it as “a fictitious story meant to teach a moral lesson.” I believe it is more than just a moral lesson. I prefer to say that it shows us “Truth” greater than “truth.” I wrote these to use as I worked with psychology clients who were looking for that Truth in their lives. You can do the same for yourself.

If you like to read online, you can buy an e-book on Amazon. If you prefer to have a hard copy, a place where you can write notes in the margins, then a hard copy is available in several places. I recommend you check this online bookstore first.

You can read these fables with the intention of finding clarity on some issue in your life, or maybe the serendipity will surprise you when you read them just for fun. In either case, please let me know your reaction to these wild tales.

A hui hou!

Biblioholism?

Hi, I’m Lucy and I’m a biblioholic.

As a former substance abuse counselor, I know that a behavior is considered an addiction if it interferes with your life and creates a problem. This leads me to wonder if I have a true “addiction,” like some people have an addiction with substances (legal or illegal) and behaviors (legal or illegal). If not an addiction, it is certainly a “dependency.” Anyone interested in a 12-step program for bookaholics?

Does being a biblioholic disrupt or interfere with my life, or cause a problem? Only when I need to move all these books from one home to another!

I started checking the internet to see if there was such a word as biblioholism or if a group existed for bookaholics. Try looking up either of those words and you’ll see how many sites address this very thing. I found a site that gives reader comments that complete the statement “You know you’re a bookaholic when…” All of the comments there are true of me, and my favorite is “…when you select your handbags based on whether they are big enough to fit a book.”

No matter where I go, I have a book in my purse. You just never know when you’ll have a couple of minutes to read a paragraph or two while you wait for someone to show up, or for your car to be serviced, for instance. And sometimes I carry a book with the sole intent of going somewhere only to read. I have a different book (sometimes a stack of books) sitting next to each of my reading places, and I go back to read some of my favorites many times.

I found one site that seems to have disappeared, which gave an excellent definition of “biblioholism” that describes me exactly (and probably you, too). “Biblio” means “book,” so this site states that biblioholism is “the habitual longing to purchase, read, store, admire and consume books in excess.”

The only feature of biblioholism that definition doesn’t mention is writing. I do an obsessive amount of that, as well, but I seldom bother to market what I write. (And that’s another whole problem I need to address at some point.) I write in several genres, usually with several in various stages of completion at a time.

Yes, I also read (and write) e-books, but nothing will ever replace the feel of paper as I turn each page. When I am forced to part with books, it’s as if I’m killing my children! Rather than give away the thousands of books I have, I simply have more bookshelves built.

“You know you’re a bookaholic when _______.” You might fill in the blank on this statement and find out something about yourself. Put your answer in the comments. I’d love to see it.

If you are interested in reading one of my latest books, check out this bookstore.

A hui hou!

My New Career

Friends often ask how I get so much writing accomplished. The answer is simple – I finally retired from my last career.

I was in the field of psychology for several years, then I spent several decades as a full-time pastor and counselor in a mainline denomination. As I finished up my last few years in a local church here in Hawai`i, I began teaching part-time for our community college.

By the time I retired from ministry, I was teaching fulltime at the college and didn’t stop until September 2021. I was an Associate Professor of psychology when I retired eight months ago.

The first six months of retirement were difficult for me. I had never been without a job or career of some sort since the age of sixteen. Perhaps many of you can relate.

I was lost. Who am I? Now what? Is death the next step? What is life about?

Recently, I was looking through old journals to find something I thought I needed. I don’t even remember what that was now, but a phrase in my journals kept coming up over and over: “I just wish I could stay home and write.”

I had been writing bits and pieces here and there, and then I would put it all aside to grade a stack of papers or prepare a sermon, see a client or prepare a class lecture. By the time I retired, my computer held several novels and bits of books and articles, plus notes on other work, and I had published a self-help e-book online. In my mind, none of that counted for anything.

Retirement gave me the opportunity to put it all together and get published. The e-book is now in paperback form, and I have serious notes on the next two books of my mystery series.

I tell this story to remind you (and myself) that little bits of writing here and there do add up. Take those few minutes you have on the way to work, or early in the morning before the household wakes up, or instead of watching TV, or while you are nursing a baby, or whatever else you do. Those things are important, but so is your writing habit.

It doesn’t need to be quality time or quality writing at this point, but it needs to be something. If you are a writer, then write. You can edit and put it all together later, but all famous authors remind us to write something every day.

A hui hou!

Don’t Fear the Dragon

Dragons seem to be synonymous with fantasy. The most famous of fantasy authors rely on at least one wonderful (or dreadful) dragon in the stories.

What do dragons signify? You can look online to get a good description of each sign in the Chinese Zodiac, then check to see if you were born under the sign of the Dragon.

I prefer to think about what the dragon represents in fantastical tales. What are the words you think of when dragons come to mind? Fire? Passion? Mystery? Something primeval? A mythical creature? A dragon is all of that and more, but the dragon will always have meaning for each of us individually.

The dragon above was a piece of glass art created by my friend Carmen, otherwise known as “Firewoman.” I may do a post on more of her glass art some day.

I am so intrigued by dragons that I may need to start writing about them (or not). Can dragons exist in books that are not fantasy? What dragons are in our everyday lives? How do we cope?

  • TIP: In your idea notebook (you do have one, don’t you?) jot down all the ideas and meanings that come to you about dragons. How can you fit these ideas into a story?

A hui hou!

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