Oh, Spring… wherefore art thou?

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Sleet pelts the windows, driven sideways by 50 km per hour gusts of wind. The storm was predicted and will be over by morning, although rain showers will continue. I’m not complaining. We had an unusually dry January and we need this moisture. But… well, yes I suppose I am complaining. Just a wee bit.

Snowdrops and Hellebores are blooming, and some years by this point we’ve already had to mow the lawns. Not this year. This year the grass is sodden, and early shoots are struggling up through uncleared winter debris — orangey brown bits of cedar, hemlock needles and mud-spattered moss. I hesitate to mutter too much, given there are places where folks are still under multiple feet of snow, or a deluge of flood waters, but still….

When springtime hovers just out of reach and the weather is miserable day after day, it can be hard to keep depression from settling in.

Tulips

I know of two friends who received red roses for Valentine’s Day. They’re beautiful, of course, but I don’t think anything is as romantic as having someone know me well enough to bring me a bouquet of cheery tulips. I adore tulips, and they were the perfect spirit brighteners for a blustery February 14th. (And yes, he received a kiss for his thoughtfulness!)

During this in-between-the-seasons time, another way to lift spirits is to put some energy into a project. Many years my hubby would choose the early New Year to paint a room or two. (This month he’s bucking up a tree recently felled, slowly building the pile of next winter’s firewood.) I’m more likely to rearrange furniture or start a new writing project.

This month I’ve already moved the furniture. In ten days I’ll begin the writing.

Every March a group of writers and readers band together under the banner of #MarchMadness. We encourage each other to set and fulfill significant goals, and then cheer each other on. We commit to checking in… every. single. day. all. month. long… and reporting our progress. It’s surprising how much we achieve when guilt stares us in the face. Mind you, it helps that there are prizes offered, too.

Author Denise Jaden coordinates us, but we have seven different hosts this year, one for each day of the week. (I’ll be providing Saturday #MarchMadness postings here.) Earlier this month Denise posted a heads up that “there are some great prizes trickling in – like audiobooks, and high-demand books and even at least one agent critique. Start thinking about what writing/reading/blogging goals you will set for this March, and I’ll be back soon with more details.”

Our goals aren’t necessarily lofty ones. They’re meant to be individualized to meet specific needs. Maybe you’d like to join us this time. As Denise said, start thinking about what goals you’d like to set. There will be more information coming, and on March 1st we’ll all leap into action.

Just think… before we’ve completed #MarchMadness SPRING WILL HAVE ARRIVED! Oh, joy!!! I’ll be happy-dancing! 🙂

As a writer, reader or blogger, might you be tempted to join us for #MarchMadness 2014?

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♥ Happy Valentine’s Day! ♥

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Cherry Chip Cupcakes

I’ve nothing profound from a writing perspective to share, but with all the focus on love today, I thought I’d give you a peek at the Valentine goodies I made for my hubby.

I’m not a creative cook — nothing like Ruth Logan Herne at her Yankee-Belle Cafe (go check out the guest post on brining a romantic turkey… I kid you not!) — so he doesn’t get anything fancy. But since I seldom bake at all any more, his sweet tooth should be happy with these.

Super-sized Chocolate Brownies

Of course a little chocolate (or a lot) is imperative today, don’t you agree? I cut generous hearts out of a pan of brownies, and afterwards made the still-warm leftover bits into balls and rolled them in sugar, too. Extra yummy bite-sized goodies. (What? You didn’t expect I wouldn’t sample them, did you? Be reasonable. We’re talking chocolate here!)

Wishing you an abundance of love in your life today … from friends, from family, and best of all, from God.

♥   Happy Valentine’s Day!   ♥

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“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your strength.”

[Deuteronomy 6:5 – NIV]
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 “… and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” 
[Ephesians 5:2 – NIV]

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“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.” 
[1 John 4:7a – NIV]

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“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
[Romans 12:10 – NIV]

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My Contribution to the Romance Blogfest

 

Love at First Sight… or Not So Much

That’s the theme chosen by Jordan McCollum for the Valentine’s Day Romance Blogfest she’s hosting. My contribution is more in keeping with the “not so much” part of the theme. I hope you enjoy it and then will move on to check out the other posts by linking to them from the bottom of Jordan’s blog. It’s a great way to add a romantic touch to your day and meet some new blogging friends along the way. Be sure to read her own contribution, too. It’s here. Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

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The frigid waves angled along the shoreline, unfolding froth as watery lace on the sand. Marella had walked the beach earlier and now sat on a log, the pile of scrounged driftwood at her feet. Her scarlet ski jacket didn’t prevent the occasional shiver, but she wasn’t quite ready to return to the cabin.

So much for the happy winter holiday that had been planned for months. Everyone else talked about escaping to warm southern sunshine, but she and Larry had discovered this west coast Long Beach resort last winter, and loved its seclusion and privacy. The reservation for a Valentine’s Day getaway weekend seemed like the perfect Christmas present for him. And it would have been except for the fight on Christmas Eve, after which he packed up pajamas, toothbrush and computer, and moved out. Well, good riddance to him.

Marella had decided against discarding the non-refundable reservation. It was a perfect opportunity for a writing retreat – four uninterrupted days to work on her novella. As soon as she finished gathering enough wood to lay a fire in the cabin’s rock fireplace and burn the pages she had ripped out of her diary, she planned to pour a glass of wine to celebrate her single status, and settle into the down cushions of the couch to write.

Long Beach Waves - painting in oils by C. Garvin

She tugged the collar closer to her ears and squinted into the wind. Where the wave-slick sand met a rocky outcropping, something moved.

The lodge owner had said seals occasionally showed up on the beach, but this neither slid nor lumbered like a seal. In fact, it leapt and cavorted. Curious, she rose and picked her way among the logs to take a closer look.

“Oh, my goodness!”

It was a mop of sodden gold, a dog whose coat dripped salt water, sand and bits of seaweed as he alternately pounced on a starfish and tossed it aloft. At her outburst he stopped and stared.

“What on earth are you doing out here? You’re filthy… and I doubt that poor starfish is enjoying your game!” She scanned the deserted beach beyond the rocks. “You must belong up at the lodge. Go home.” She tried to shoo him towards the lodge but he continued to stand there, so with a shrug she left him to his game.

Back at the cabin she deposited the armload of wood outside the door. Leaning one arm against the doorframe for balance, she untied and kicked off her boots. As she opened the door, the dog suddenly appeared on the porch with the starfish clamped in his mouth, and pushed past her into the room.

“Hey, get out of here and take that with you! Go on; get out! You’re dripping all over the floor, and that…  thing… is gross.” Rather than obey, the dog ambled across to the braided rug in front of the couch. He spit out the glutinous pink mass and proceeded to shake a gritty spray over couch, coffee table and carpet.

“Aghh!” Marella ran to the bathroom and grabbed a bath towel. Her first instinct was to flap it at the dog and chase him from the cabin, but it occurred to her such an aggressive approach might cause a negative reaction. “What am I suppose to do with you?” she said, and perched on the arm at the opposite end of the couch.

In answer, he nosed the blob along the rug in her direction.

“Oh, wonderful. I have a cat at home that brings me dead birds and mice. I hardly need any more love tokens of that caliber.”

Leaving the starfish, the dog came to her and rested his chin on her knee, soaking the fabric of her jeans. Marella slid the towel towards his head and began dabbing at his dripping ears, until soon she was toweling his whole body. It took a second towel but she didn’t stop until he was reasonably dry.

Her second-to-last task was to scoop the starfish up in the towel and deposit it outside. Her final task was to bring in enough of the driftwood to start a fire. The dog watched the process, and when she was done he lay down on the mat in the warmth of the fire and closed his eyes.

She watched him for a moment, and when it didn’t appear he planned to move, she took the soiled towels to the bathroom and dropped them in the tub. Back in the corner of the cabin designated as the kitchen, she poured her glass of wine.

“Happy Valentine’s Day to us,” she said, raising the glass briefly before taking a sip.  She found her notebook and pen, and curled up on the couch with her feet tucked under her.

“At least you’re more agreeable company than Larry.”

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Valentine’s Day Romance Blogfest

It’s official. Jordan McCollum is hosting a Romance Blogfest to help celebrate St. Valentine’s Day next Monday. It’s easy to participate, and a fun way to exercise your romantic creativity as well as meet other bloggers.

Go add your URL to the ‘Mr. Linky’ on Jordan’s page now, then write something on the theme, “Love at first sight . . . or not so much” to post on your blog Monday. After posting yours and linking to Jordan’s page, you can visit the various other links to read and enjoy all the romance while you nibble chocolate Valentines… or whatever else you may do to celebrate the day.

The guidelines and ‘Mr. Linky’ are on Jordan’s blog. So what’s stopping you? Are you going to show us your romance writing ability or not?