Invincible Summer

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger — something better, pushing right back.” – Albert Camu

This is one of my best-loved quotes.
Small wonder the author won the Nobel prize in Literature in 1957.

Do you have a favourite quote to share?

Scrabble by Candlelight

Last Sunday, I shared photos from our beautiful but cold sunny walk on January 1st.
The very next day, everything changed when a blizzard moved in and left our little town without power.

The lights – and heat! – went out at suppertime while our macaroni and cheese casserole was still baking. That was okay, because it was almost done and there was enough heat  in the oven to finish it up. So we ate by candlelight in the living room.

With no other heat source and before the room cooled off completely, hubs and I covered ourselves in bathrobes, throws and blankets and decided to read to each other from my Kindle. We chose Treasure Island, which I’d forgotten I had, and read alternating chapters until we got too cold to continue.

We found out online that the power wouldn’t be back until morning at the earliest because of the ongoing blizzard. So we got the idea to go to the small spare room upstairs, light as many candles as we could find, and hopefully stay warm that way until bedtime.

It worked! We set up a game of Scrabble and the candles on my writing desk, poured some wine, and played while listening to digital music. You wouldn’t believe how much heat comes from candles in a small area!  We were toasty warm until it was time to blow them out and turn in – cats and all, of course.

Scrabble by candleight

Who won the game, you may be wondering? Hubs was in the lead the entire time, but my last play of all seven remaining letters clinched a win for me!
Neither one of us can remember what the word was – probably because of the wine. 😉

A couple of nights ago we took up Treasure Island again and read some more to each other. No, the power wasn’t gone, but we thought it was fun enough to continue reading it that way.

Have you ever come up with fun ways to enjoy a winter power outage?
Do tell!

To All the Cats

To all the cats we’ve loved before
you beautify our wall decor
both with us and long gone
our love goes on and on
to all the cats we’ve loved before.

Our cat wall includes several images of Maisie and Vivian, our grandkitties Moochie, Ginger and Joey, as well as Padmé, Smoki, Sandy, Mitzi, and Timmy.

Missing from collection: Puff, Jinx and Tiger. Sorry, my kitties, I couldn’t find any photos of you!

Happy Sunday, everyone,
and Happy Thanksgiving
to my Canadian friends and followers! 

Morning Coffee

morning coffeeNow that summer is drawing to a close and I’m back to work on my manuscript, coffee has once again become more vital to my daily routine. Yes, writers and their coffee is a cliché but with good reason. Many of us can’t live without it!

Straight up black is the way I drink it, preferably served in my favourite mug. I love the wide lip and pretty colours on this hand-painted beauty.

My writing brain works best in the early morning, so while I wait sleepy-eyed for the coffee to brew, I picture a caffeine-craving miniature version of myself swimming across the surface of a full cuppa java, gulping as I go.  Mmmmm…

What goes best with a cup of coffee? Another cup.
– Henry Rollins

Do you love coffee as much as I do?
Black or with sugar and cream?
Or is tea your go-to hot beverage?
Please share with me below!

Friday Fiction: The Test

I wish I could say I wrote this lovely piece, but I found it shared on Karen Lang’s blog, Healing Your Life.

Stepping into the unknown, takes courage and strength to move out of our comfort zone. But sometimes we can be left believing it was not worth it;  Be patient. In time, you will discover, you receive exactly what you need.

The Test

John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform, and studied the crowd of people making their way through Grand Central Station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn’t, the girl with the rose. His interest in her had begun thirteen months before in a Florida library. Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind.

In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner’s name, Miss Holly Maynell. With time and effort he located her address. She lived in New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to correspond.

The two grew to know each other through the mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart. A romance was budding. Blanchard requested a photograph, but she refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn’t matter what she looked like. When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting – 7.00 p.m. at the Grand Central Station in New York.

“You’ll recognize me,” she wrote, “by the red rose I’ll be wearing on my lapel.” So at 7.00 p.m. he was in the station looking for a girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he’d never seen.

Mr Blanchard describes the scene: “A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim in a green suit. Her blonde hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were blue as flowers. I started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As I moved, a small provocative smile curved her lips. “Going my way, sailor?” she murmured.

Almost uncontrollably, I made one step closer to her, and then I saw Holly Maynell. She was standing almost directly behind the girl. A woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away. I felt as though I was split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her, and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly inspired me.

And there she stood. Her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. My fingers gripped the small worn blue leather copy of the book that was to identify me to her.

This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must ever by grateful. I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment. “I’m Lieutenant John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me; may I take you to dinner?” The woman’s face broadened into a tolerant smile. “I don’t know what this is about, son,” she answered, “but the young lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!”

~ Paulo Coelho

Jennifer’s Friday Fiction

Throwback Thursday: She Writes

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Here’s a throwback to July 2013, when I was in the thick of creating the first draft for Calmer Girls. At the time I was also blogging twice a week, but hey, when your muse is whispering in your ear to pen a poem and she won’t shut up, you pen a poem. There’s no getting out of it.

She Writes

She wakes tangled in themes
through a cobweb of dreams
with gossamer remnants
that linger and tease,
pushes back dusty curtains
and on a page blank and white
she writes.

 She deletes the clichéd
yesterday she okayed
and contemplates words
like ephemeral and moonglade
they taste like confections
with her tangerine sections
and jolts of black coffee
she writes.

She’s reminded of chores
she keeps trying to ignore
with the scatter of crumbs
that litter the floor,
shrugs her shoulders and thinks
it will be there tomorrow
she writes.

The bills wait, unpaid
And the bed’s still not made
There’s this blog post to write
and it can’t be delayed
her novel must wait
it’s a musing or rhyme that
she writes.

She reaches again
for the manuscript when
her mind can’t break free
from the plot line within
and it makes him uptight
there’s no dinner tonight
but he digests her flaws.
After all, it’s because
she writes.

***

photo by pexels

First published here.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Friday Fiction: Reunion*

pexels-photo-1097387

– Reunion –

He sees her
at the edge

of the crowded soiree
and knows her instantly.

It is a blow.

The first time
in thirteen years
Fate has brought them
together
years for her
he’d heard
were far from kind.

He thinks
how dramatic
change can be from
Life’s random cruelties
and how no one
can prepare.

A nervous voyeur
he peeks into her eyes
smudged windows
at the brink
of unimaginable pain.

It frightens him
makes him wish
he hadn’t heard the rumors
the images evoked
and now the proof.

Her face
the same yet injured
from the inside of her trauma
haunted eyes far too mature
for her years
aspect stamped with the hurt
she tries to hide.

And he wonders
when she finds his broken smile
how it was ever possible
that once
she swarmed his secret dreams.

She turns away.

It occurs to him
she read it in his heart
and knows
the Muse has passed.

***

*First published here.

Jennifer’s Friday Fiction

Thanks for reading!

Friday Fiction appears on random Fridays as a place to share my writing in the form of short stories, flash fiction, poetry and vignettes.

Happy Maisie

Our Maisie

One of the best things about a vacation?
Coming home to a face like this.

Both kitties were overjoyed at our return,
as if we were gone for a month!

One small cat changes coming home to an empty house to coming home.”
– Pam Brown, Australian poet

Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge: Happy

Sunday Snap: Welcome

Maisie and Vivian,
our welcoming committee.

“Time spent with cats is never wasted.” ~ Sigmund Freud

I love cats because I enjoy my home;
and little by little, they become its visible soul.
~ Jean Cocteau

“Books. Cats. Life is good.” ~ T.S. Eliot

Do you have any furry friends who greet you at the door?

How to Use Nature to Connect with Your Grandkids

Today’s post is brought to you by my guest, author Susan Day.

Photo by Fay on Unsplash

Spending time with your grandchildren is one of the best things you can do for them, and for you too, for that matter.

Sure, kids love gifts and candy, and they get really excited about going to a theme park or spending time with their friends. However, there is a secret world which exists right outside the window and one which has a powerful allure. I’m referring to nature.

Nature offers an endless array of beauty and wonder, and for the most part it’s free and easy to access. Taking your grandchildren outdoors is a great way to build a strong connection with them. Just spending time and ‘being’ with children is important for their wellbeing.

Some children don’t get outdoors enough, and the simple act of wandering along the street, running at the park or tramping through the beach sand is an experience they are sadly missing out on.

Ignite a Sense of Curiosity

Research tells us that curious kids are intelligent kids. The more questions they ask, the more their minds grow and develop.

Nature has a bounty of things to be curious about. You could literally spend hours outside with your grandchildren exploring, and you don’t have to live near a forest or a beach to enjoy nature either. It’s in your yard, in your neighbor’s yard, at your local park, or any place a tree is growing and the birds are singing.

Do your grandkids know where bees go, and what they are doing buzzing around those flowers? Do they know why some birds migrate, and others live in the same area all their lives?

Point Out the Beauty in Small Objects

Each time your grandchildren come to visit, make a point of taking them outside and showing them something nature is doing. It might be new buds on the tree or the color autumn leaves are turning.

How many people rush through their busy days, not noticing subtle changes happening around them? Isn’t there something magnificent about the way birds take off or the way clouds move across the sky?

“Isn’t that interesting…” you might begin to say, and then point out an aspect of nature that is happening right under their very noses.

Look at a Leaf

What shape is it? Does it have any spots or spines? Compare it to another leaf from a plant that is growing close by. What things are similar? What are different? You could also begin a leaf scrap-book and share details of trees and shrubs that live in your area.

Analyse an Ant

Who doesn’t love bugs? Well, most adults don’t find them interesting, but kids love ’em! Bugs, beetles, aphids, and ants are like miniature dinosaurs or creatures from outer space living in our backyards. Without interfering with their busy lives, make a point of sharing these remarkable creatures with your grandchild.

Marvel at Moths

Moths, butterflies and dragonflies all go about their daily lives in nearly every place on earth, living in the most amazing ways.

Your grandchildren will love to learn about them. They will enjoy the wonder nature has to offer through your eyes, and come to a deeper understanding of how remarkable the world really is.

“I’d Rather Watch TV, Grandma!”

Nature has a way of going about its business whether we are watching or not, and all the while our televisions and devices are nagging us to watch and engage.

You may find your grandchildren are not used to examining nature in so much detail. They may not understand what you are getting at, but one thing is for sure: they won’t forget the time you have spent with them and how important nature was to you. It is a privilege to be able to see what nature is doing, and stand in awe of what it will do next.

What child doesn’t deserve to be introduced to all of this wondrous world?

No doubt your grandkids will grow and mature, and will find themselves stopping to admire a flower or cloud patterns. They will turn to a friend, their partner or even their own children, and share memories they have of you and how you introduced them to one of the most magnificent things on this planet – nature.

About Susan Day

Susan Day is a passionate author, educator and, of course, a grandmother. She wants to empower all grandparents to build meaningful relationships with their grandchildren. Discover here the Top 10 Things Happy Grandparents Never Regret Doing.

Susan lives in Australia with four dogs, three bossy cats, two rescue guinea pigs, and an errant kangaroo.

***

Interested in sharing one of your original articles as a guest? Feel free to submit your ideas to jennifer@jenniferkellandperry.com. Preference is given to topics relevant to my blog, such as books, writing, nature, photography, travel, children and pets. – Jennifer