Free Write on Spring Resurrected


Extraordinary best describes today in Portland.  Not the usual day at the end of March.  Rain and gray skies linger longer those who love the sun would like.  But today we have sun, blooming trees, flowers and warmth — 75 degrees!

The drive from our son’s home, where we enjoyed lunch outside and an egg hunt with the great-grandkids, brought to mind the contrast with last spring.  About that time, I was reading a post on Joe Bunting’s The Write Practice.  The prompt that day was the word “spring.”  A longing for spring caused me to sit down and use that prompt to free write my thoughts of spring in the NW.  Today I resurrected it from my files and share it with you here.

* * *

Spring slowly glides in on a slippery mix of winter weather. Gray skies, falling rain, intermittent snow and hail, and damp, foggy days refuse Spring’s entrance. Attempting to display her palette of colors, Spring swipes patches of color into the fields and gardens anxious to come to life. She applies reds, blues, pinks, and yellows for the bulbs that have pushed through cold winter soil. Her gifts appear in pale green buds on trees that will bear fruit in season and in gardens where the arms of seeds push their way through dirt.

High In the sky Spring makes an effort to paint earth’s ceiling a brilliant blue interrupted here and there with clouds puffed up like bed pillows. Some days, if we’re lucky, Spring takes her yellow paint brush and dots the skies with sunlight. It falls on the growing trees and flowers, making them reach higher and higher.

Then Spring, like the joker she can be, pours buckets of rain down on the earth. The hyacinths that have bloomed out hang their heads low and touch the dirt. The Helleborus bow down as if in prayer, and instead of the earth producing yield, the moss grows heavy on the patio and drive. What is Spring up to?

Rains continue to pour from her resources, and now the creeks and rivers are at flood stage. They threaten people and homes along their banks. Although they’ve been through floods before, the fears come anyway. Should we be afraid of something as beautiful as Spring?

But then a clear day comes along after the storm, and we rejoice at the new things we see sprouting. Something different from before. New life. Abundant all around. Yet it lasts only a day and heavy rains come again threatening and flattening out plants and grass.

Spring has a difficult temperament to predict. At once, she can be filled with joys and delights, and the vicious fingers of storm reaching into our lives. We understand the rain is necessary to grow the goodness from the earth, but so much?

Even though the first day of Spring has passed us by two weeks ago, the gray days of winter filled with rain, fog and even snow at times still linger. Looking for bright spots amid the light snow, we find purple petals seeking a way out. Crocus didn’t have a chance this season – they didn’t bloom. Spring was not kind to them for winter pushed her aside. The elements too harsh. Other eager shoots somehow survived, and the native trillium stand tall and starkly white against their deep green leaves.

Another day with sun arrives, and Spring has a show in store. Driving west to east, I spy her in the distance. Regal and royal in her bearing. Wearing a cloak of ermine flowing down her sides to touch the snow-covered ground. Majestically she rises toward the sky, reaching ever higher for that crowning blue ceiling and bright sun. A reminder that the season is divided between here and there.

Here in the valley – where things grow green and lush – we hope for Spring to succeed. Yet there atop Mt. Hood rising above the valley winter rules. The mountain reminds us that indeed it is still winter on her slopes. Snowfall each day with perhaps a record for this season. The mountain looks down on us as we struggle to push spring into being – planting too early creating a replanting around the end of June. Both Spring and the mountain laugh at us about our lack of memory when it comes to planting time here in the valley.

Soon the mountain runoff will add to Spring’s rains in the rivers and streams. Together they will likely wreak havoc on some areas. But together, they will soon step aside and allow Spring’s best efforts to prevail.

A to Z Challenge 2013

A few weeks ago I committed to participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge during April.  What this means is that I will be writing 26 posts during the month of April, in addition to my regular posts here.  You’re probably asking WHY.
WHY?  I want and need the exercise of discipline that the challenge brings to my writing life.  These 26 posts will push me to write more, to be more creative, to be prompt.  All of those things, I believe, will be good for my writing routine.

As a theme for my 26 posts, I have chosen to explore the emotions and feelings our characters possess and/or express, whether our genre is memoir, fiction, nonfiction or any of the myriad of genre available.

Each post will move from “A” through the alphabet to “Z.”  In the event I am at a loss for a feeling or emotion matching the appropriate letter, we’ll just have to see what I write about that day!

The first post will appear on April 1st, or April Fool’s Day which may indicate the level of my sanity to take part.  I hope you’ll come along with me in April to see if I can meet the challenge.


Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession by Anne Rice (A Review)

Our library has the most charming annex, The Pond House, where used books and an assortment of other used library materials are sold at ridiculously low prices.  After visiting the annual book sale, I suggested we drop in to see what was on hand at The Pond House.
That day there was a plethora of memoirs for $1-$2, and I picked up several.  Among them was Anne Rice’s memoir, Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession.  

Called Out of Darkness
Called Out of Darkness

Rice’s story chronicles her life in and out of the Catholic church from her childhood in New Orleans to the writing of her memoir in 2008.

The beauty of the church building where her family attended Mass and the words she heard in the liturgy fascinated Rice as a young girl.

So fascinated she, Anne Rice at age 12, announced to her parish priest her wish to be a priest.  Not only did Fr. Steffen attempt to make short work of his explanation to her by stating only boys could become priests, he told Anne that there had been a time when theologians were not sure if women had souls.  Anne never forgot his words, even though she thought later he may have mumbled to himself.

Fleeting thoughts toyed with becoming a nun, but this too quickly dissipated as something Rice felt unsuited to explore.

Fast forward to the 1960s and college and yes, the Vietnam War and the hippie generation.  Anne finds herself confronted by many mindsets: some opposed to religion, some starting up new belief systems in or out of the church, drug use, diametrically opposed political views on everything, and the war in Vietnam rages.  All in all, a confusing time.

During this time, Anne meets, falls in love with and marries her husband, Stan.  And together, they begin a home and later a family.

As a result of the antithesis of her childhood faith and life as a young adult, Anne moves away from the church and God.  She declares herself an atheist.  Her descriptions of her feelings during this time are highly emotional, fraught with darkness, a strong belief in the rightness of it, and yet an unidentified longing that persists.

Through several years of writing her graphic Gothic novels, she is highly successful but not completely happy.  It is during one of her darkest times that she comes to the realization that she might not have agreed with the church, but she never stopped loving God and wanting Him in her life.

Here begins her call out of the darkness and on a new and reviving journey.  Rice has told the story that many of us living through the 1960s and 1970s could probably share.  However, hers is rich in Catholic tradition and steeped in the history of New Orleans, a city strongly populated with Catholics.  A tale of growing disenchanted seems not so unexpected.

The turning and transformation in her life is unexpected as she commits to giving up the genre of writing that has made her so successful.

I will leave my review here for if you have not read Anne Rice’s memoir, I do not want to spoil its richness by giving away too much.  It is a book I shall read again and perhaps again with as much interest and joy as my first read brought.


One of America’s most read and celebrated authors, Anne Rice is known for weaving the visible and supernatural worlds together in epic stories that both entertain and challenge readers. Her books are rich tapestries of history, belief, philosophy, religion, and compelling characters that examine and extend our physical world beyond the limits we perceive.

Anne lives and works in California. Anne’s life experiences and intellectual inquisitiveness provide her with constant inspiration for her work.  Links to Anne RiceOn FacebookOn YouTubeOn Knopf Publishers.

Lesson Learned . . . Again!

Another day of computer drama that actually started last night with Word not wanting to open.
It isn’t that I didn’t know to do this.  It’s just that this new laptop has worked so beautifully and faithfully . . . I forgot.

Yes, it has an automatic backup feature, as does my Norton software.  And my Scrivener backs up there too. But have you ever looked at some of the file names they use?  They don’t look anything like the file name you assigned!

So, bumping right along trusting my new Lenovo, I forgot (yes, I said it — I forgot!) to back up my files to a flash drive I keep handy for said purpose.  Then, when in need and stumped by technology’s prowess, I can open documents on the second computer in our home, dubbed Old Faithful.

But . . . I forgot!  And therefore spent a couple of hours trying to open Word to get at my A to Z Blog Challenge calendar that I’ve laid out so beautifully for my posts in April.  No success!

So this morning I trekked off to spend my coffee hour with my friendly geeks at the Geek Squad.  And wouldn’t you know, this Lenovo behaved just like a car does when you take it to the mechanic.  A few upgrades ran just as soon as my geek turned it on, then it configured itself, and voila, Word opened every time he tried it!!!  I wanted to curse at that laptop but restrained myself because I need it on a day-to-day basis.

lessons learned
lessons learned
  • Always, always, always backup your files and documents!!!
  • Never expect any piece of equipment or technology to be infallible.
  • Treat yourself to a Geek Squad geek when needed, rather than stay up and lose sleep trying to figure out computer problems on your own.
  • Take a tip from your friend, Kathy Pooler, who said in a recent guest post, “Even though we live in a digital world, I still feel the need to make hard copies of my work,” and instead of giggling at the thought, perhaps hard copies have not become archaic yet!!!