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Cindy L. Freeman – My Inspiration Garden 06/19/19

When I visited my grandmother’s house as a child, I saw a small framed print hanging on the wall in her bedroom. The painting may or may not have been famous. I never noticed the artist’s name. It was inconsequential then. But, after all these years, my mind’s eye can still gaze upon the scene as clearly as my child’s eyes once did.

This captivating artwork depicted an old English cottage* surrounded by a low stone wall. It beckoned me to swing open the wooden gate and enter its Victorian garden where summer roses, cheerful daisies, and pink hollyhocks competed for space, spilling over the front walk. Unlike a formal English garden with its tidy boxwood hedges, manicured lawns and neatly trimmed walkways, this parcel was messy, crowded, and exquisitely beautiful. It looked as if the gardener had tripped while carrying his load of seeds, accidently spreading them in wild chaotic non-patterns.

At either end of the cottage’s thatched roof, swirls of smoke stretched upward from solid stone chimneys to mingle with billowy clouds. A trellis of climbing ivy surrounded the home’s sturdy wooden door, and deep-set windows with black shutters and mullions invited me to press my nose against the wavy panes.

Because the rear garden was not visible from my favorite viewing spot where I nestled among Grandma’s pillows, I appointed myself the official landscape architect of all that lay hidden behind the cottage. Following the stone footpath around the corner and through a vine-covered pergola, I entered the backyard where my purposefully arranged flowerbeds bordered a curvy patch of verdant lawn. Here the trail meandered between generous clusters of blooms, separating them according to genus and species. Flitting butterflies, hummingbirds, and honeybees devised their own paths, feigning ignorance of local air traffic regulations.  

Willow trees reached their weeping arms over the stone fortress just far enough to offer their gift of privacy, but not so much as to shade the flowers from life-giving sunlight. Selected to bloom all summer and into autumn, these beauties emitted sweet, intoxicating scents. Roses, gardenias, jasmine, and peonies competed for first place in the contest of my olfactory sense, but kindly kept their pollen on the canvas. Behind them at the wall’s edge, neatly pruned shrubs of holly, laurel, and euonymus stood as sentries, guarding the vibrant annuals and perennials.

Beside a small pond where lily pads floated and frogs performed their nightly choruses, I positioned an ornate wrought iron table painted white. Two matching chairs, their seats softened by thick floral cushions, completed the grouping shaded by low-hanging branches from the only tree permitted within the garden wall.   

As a child, I made no effort to lock the painting in my mind’s eye. I was barely conscious of its effect on me then. Yet it sparked my imagination and still does. Even now, whenever writer’s block threatens, the cottages’ back garden is where I set up my laptop and invite my muse to join me for a cup of Earl Grey tea.

*I’ve attempted to find the original watercolor from which the remembered print was taken. A Google search of “old English cottages” took me to numerous websites and hundreds of images, but failed to produce the exact painting. The site https://www.zazzle.com offered the closest image, entitled “Cottage in the English Gardens Poster” produced by Koobear’s Photography & Design. It depicts a “lovely little cottage nestled among the flowers in Assiniboine Park.” This English garden is not in England, but rather in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and, for a reasonable price, one can have it reproduced on a t-shirt, notecards, calendar, necktie or just about any surface.

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of award-winning short stories and three published novels: Unrevealed, The Dark Room, and I Want to Go Home. Website: www.cindylfreeman.com; Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cindy.l.freeman.9. Her books are available through amazon.com or hightidepublications.com.

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Susan Williamson – Ancestry

My grandfather had a new story of our family origin every time he came to visit. The last and most famous was his claim that we were descended from blue-eyed Sioux Indians, a result of intermarriage with Vikings. My mother thought this was great fun and told everyone she was a Norwegian Indian. That was usually a conversation stopper.

My father, a Sullivan, identified as Irish although he admitted his mother was of German descent.  She was born in America but would speak German to her sisters so that the children (eight of them) couldn’t understand what she was saying.

My husband and I both did our Ancestry.com searches this spring. So my results say I am only 7 % Irish so that means the Sullivan part of my heritage wasn’t pure Irish. My DNA is 52% from England, Wales and Northwestern Europe, 12% from Sweden, 4% from Norway,  5% from France with 20%  from Germany. The Northwestern Europe oval does also include Germany.

So the Native American connection is nonexistent, but I didn’t really believe that anyway. So with a German grandmother (her mother was born in Bavaria and her father in Prussia), I should be at least 25% German. According to my brother, my mother’s maternal grandparents were Amish, which I would assume would also be German. But no. So who were the Northwestern Europeans? Dutch, Flemish, Danish, Swiss? I could be all of the above.

My aunt on my mother’s side liked to fool around with genealogy and showed me we were descended from Ethelred the Unready. That seems likely.

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Sharon Canfield Dorsey – A Day At A Time… The Journey Continues… June 1 – June 10, 2019

JUNE 1, 2019:  Heart are broken again after another mass shooting, close to home in Virginia Beach. WHY????????????

JUNE 2, 2019:  It’s Pride Month for my LGBTQ friends. I long for a day when they are not persecuted or worse, killed, for just living their lives.

JUNE 3, 2019:  Pets and their owners have such a strong connection. One friend told me her dog winks at her. She always winks back, in case it some kind of code.

JUNE 4, 2019:  Two deer wandered into my yard at dusk. They ate my Hydrangeas for supper and rose petals for dessert. Not even a thank you.

JUNE 5, 2019:  Our Humane Society reminds us, saving one cat will not save the world, but for that one cat, the world will change forever.

JUNE 6, 2019:  Did you know ants work as teams? Watched some form a chain and lower a wounded ant from a window sill to the ground, then carry him away.

JUNE 7, 2019:  Feels like it’s been raining forever. I keep reminding myself – in July and August, when it’s 95 and desert-dry, we’ll be wishing for those showers.

JUNE 8, 2019:  I have a great lawn guy who keeps my two acres mowed and trimmed and warns me where the resident black snake is hanging out.

JUNE 9, 2019:  My poetry group is preparing a program for local retirement communities. Will give us a sneak preview of where we’re all headed.

JUNE 10, 2019:  How did it get to be June already? Seems like I just put away the Christmas decorations.

SHARON CANFIELD DORSEY is an award-winning author and poet. She has published four children’s books, Herman the Hermit Crab and the Mystery of the Big, Black, Shiny Thing; Revolt of the Teacups; Buddy and Ballerina Save the Library, illustrated by her granddaughters;Buddy the Bookworm Rescues the Doomed Books: a memoir, Daughter of the Mountains; and two books of poetry, Tapestry; and Captured Moments.

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Susan Williamson – In Memoriam

Last night I sat down for my nightly Jeopardy fix, only to find out the game show had been pre-empted by the memorial service for last week’s Virginia Beach Massacre victims. Out of respect for them and their loved ones, I stayed to watch.

An overflow crowd gathered in and around The Rock Church in the Kempsville area of Virginia Beach. I don’t know who organized the service, but it was poignant and moving. There was music of all kinds: symphony music, soloists, duets and choirs. All of it was beautifully done and well-chosen to bring comfort and remembrance.

A wide representation of clergy members spoke and I wondered if they represented the faiths of the slain. There were rabbis, an iman who quoted the Bible, a minister representing the interfaith council, a priest and a representative of the host church.

Several government officials attended with Governor Northrup, the mayor and vice mayor of Virginia Beach and Congresswoman Elaine Luria all making brief remarks.

Everyone who spoke talked about love: the need to love one another, especially now when so many are hurting, the need to bear one another’s burdens, the need to be kind, to embrace others, to tell them they can lean on us.

The crowd gave standing ovations when the mayor and vice-mayor mentioned the professional and volunteer first responders who rushed into harm’s way and the medical personnel who responded so quickly to a scene of mass trauma.

City officials commended their workers, the survivors who are going back to work, despite the trauma and loss of friends and co-workers. The gunman was one of their own. A sense of betrayal, and perhaps guilt for not noticing his inclinations or mental state would have to affect those who worked with him.

None of us knows what the future holds, but we can all show love to all of those around us. The families and friends of the slain and injured are hurting, as are many we come across on a daily basis.

I recently read Richard Rohr’s Yes, And …. In his meditations he mentions that “God” is as much a verb as a noun—and so we, regardless of our own beliefs, can be love (god) to others, and to all of creation.

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Sharon Canfield Dorsey – A Father’s Day Tribute To My Son

As my son grew into an adult, I wondered how being a
child of divorce would affect his own relationships. 
I watched with admiration as he completed his Bachelor’s
Degree and then his Masters, all the while, holding down
full time jobs. Over the years, I’ve watched him evolve
from a loving son into a loving husband and father. My
grandchildren are the luckiest kids EVER to have him
as their Dad. Here’s to you, Steven!

GOOD SONS = GOOD FATHERS

Today fathers come in all sizes and types…
fat ones and slim ones and dads who smoke pipes.
Dads who are single and dads who are wed,
march off to work to help keep families fed.
Stay-at-home dads cook, sweep and clean.
Work-at-home dads stare at Mac screens.

The best dad of all is the kind you’ve become…
a renaissance dad who works hard but has fun.
A dad who can sit in the floor and play dolls,
or run down the soccer field, chasing white balls.
A husband, a partner who carries his share
of cooking, or ironing, whatever is there.

A dad who wipes noses, rocks kids to sleep,
loves with abandon, makes vows you will keep.
You never complain, your gratitude shines
for all of life’s blessings, all of the time.
Grandkids like mine deserve only the best.
You’ve always scored an A+ on this test.

SHARON CANFIELD DORSEY is an award-winning author and poet. She has published four children’s books, Herman the Hermit Crab and the Mystery of the Big, Black, Shining Thing; Revolt of the Teacups; Buddy and Ballerina Save the Library, illustrated by her granddaughters; and Buddy the Bookworm Rescues the Doomed Books; a memoir, Daughter of the Mountains; and two books of poetry, Tapestry; and Captured Moments.