Saturday, August 16, 2014

It's Peach Season!


Yes! It is time to celebrate the season of abundant produce, and particularly peaches! We are so fortunate that a local hardware store trucks in lugs each year from Western Colorado. This year's load (or lode, as I think of it) comes from Black Bear Orchards in Palisade. Yes, we got a whole lug. No, that is not too much for two people--at least not the two people at our house. 

This year's poem for peach season is a haiku: 

slices of sunshine
slide gentle juice down my throat,
cozy taste of home.

See last year's peach season poem here.

What flavors do you savor this season? Here, everything's peachy!
(photos by Jane Heitman Healy, c 2014)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Summer Romance

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8b/1805-Gillray-Harmony-before-Matrimony.jpg
James Gillray [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons) See * for more information about this artwork.


As spring turns into summer, the weather warms up and so do hearts, making June a traditional month for weddings. Happy Anniversary to everyone who got married in June! Happy Wedding Day to those getting married this month!

With that in mind, I thought you would like to meet my friend Rose Zediker, romance novelist, from southeastern South Dakota.  I was pleased to meet her at a local writers conference several years ago and saw her recently at a book signing with other area authors, Sara Whitley (below left) and Mary Connealy (below center).

Q: Hi, Rose! You are getting a good track record for your romance novels! Congratulations! What led you to write that genre?
Rose: I always enjoyed reading romance novels, especially inspirational romance. The more romance novels I read, my imagination started sparking story ideas until I finally sat down and wrote one of my own.

 Q: You write both contemporary and historical. Which do you prefer, and how does the research differ?
Rose: I had a lot of fun writing the historical romance novels, but I prefer contemporary. There are less character restrictions, especially for heroines in contemporary novels since women have a more active role in society than they did one hundred years ago.  I research everything on historical novels, settings, names, clothing, household furnishings/architecture, laws. Research for my contemporaries consists of occupations and setting if I place the story in an unfamiliar town/state.



 Q: Some of your novels are set in South Dakota, our home state. Was the setting hard to sell to big city editors?
Rose: Absolutely not! The line of books I write for, Heartsong Presents, prefers smaller towns to larger cities. Because they publish four books a month, they need a variety of settings.

Q: I love hearing that, Rose, because sometimes we think novels should be set in some exotic locale, not right here at home.  Speaking of home, does the romance in your writing spill over into your personal life or does the romance in your personal life spill over into your writing? 
Rose: The romance in my stories doesn't mirror my real life at all! My husband and I have been married for thirty two years and our romantic gestures tend to be 'small' scale, like carrying the full laundry basket upstairs for me, than the big grand gestures found in most romance stories. To be honest, our romantic gestures have always been on the smaller, daily living scale.



 Q: That’s probably true of most couples, and it’s what sustains relationships—the daily caring. Besides daily caring, you are a daily writer, and I think you are one of the most disciplined people I know. You set goals and often exceed them. Would you tell us a bit about your regimen?
Rose: Since I work a full time job, I have to treat my writing like a part time job so I devote at least ten hours a week to my writing. That’s less than two hours a day! So it’s very doable. Sometimes, I use thirty minutes of my lunch hour to work on a project otherwise I work on my manuscripts from seven to eight in the evenings.

Basically, I set monthly goals then break those goals down to daily goals. Goals should be obtainable. If they’re not, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated which usually results in giving up. I know my limitations. I can’t write an 80,000 word book in a month so I’d never set that as a monthly goal.

I also place a huge importance on my writing career so I don’t allow my social calendar to fill up and crowd out my writing time. I’ve learned to say no volunteer projects unless they are near and dear to my heart.

 Q: Your discipline sets a good example for the rest of us! What romance authors, living or dead, inspire you?
Rose: Melody Carlson inspires me because she writes all types of inspirational romance and also books for children and teens.

 Q: I haven’t read anything by her. Thanks for the tip. What should we be watching for from you?
Rose: I have another historical coming out on August 1, Sweet on the Cowgirl. It’s available for preorder now. I signed a contract for a rodeo themed four book series. The first one will release in 2015.

Q: That’s exciting! Congratulations! Where can we follow you online?
Rose: I’m part of a group blog. www.inkspirationalmessages.com. My blog is: www.roserosszediker.blogspot.com. My author page on Facebook is under Author Rose Ross Zediker.
Thanks for having me on your blog today, Jane!

Thank you, Rose! Best wishes as you keep those love stories going!


* "Harmony before Matrimony", an October 25th 1805 caricature by James Gillray depicting a musical courtship. The woman plays a harp, and the man and woman sing together from "Duets de l'Amour". On the table, a book is open to Ovid (who would not have been considered suitable as reading-matter for girls or unmarried women in 1805). The hanging floral wall decorations include torches of Hymen (the ancient Roman god of weddings) on the left, and the bow and quiver of arrows of Cupid on the right. An oval-wall painting shows Cupid having dropped his bow and arrows, and shooting at a pair of cooing doves with a blunderbuss! At the left are two goldfish in a bowl, above a heart-shaped imitation-antique vase with a female sphinx decoration. Two cats do not appear to be influenced by the musical harmony, and are quarreling on top of music scores left on the floor.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day: Names

(Vietnam Veterans Memorial far left, photo by Jane Heitman Healy 2012)

On a trip to Washington, DC, colleagues and I toured the Mall one evening. School groups' boisterous enthusiasm overflowed in noise at the Lincoln Memorial in spite of signs requesting reverence. At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, though, they walked by quietly. 

What made the difference? I don't know for sure, but many of them may have had relatives who served in that war. The somber black stone, so grave-like, may have dampened their spirits. But it could be the names, row upon row, making sacrifice real and personal.

(photo by Jane Heitman Healy 2012)

I first saw those names on the Vietnam Traveling Wall, and I was struck then, as I was again seeing the real Wall, that the names represent many ethnic groups, from indigenous North Americans to people whose ancestors emigrated to the U.S. We cannot tell a person's race, religion, socioeconomic status, or IQ. We can only read names of women and men who served our country to preserve liberty and justice for all. Whether in military service or not, we should all strive to make "liberty and justice for all" a reality.

Thank you to all of those who have served or are now serving in the US Armed Forces. I especially remember my dad and father-in-law who served in World War II. I dedicate this post to Charles Rael, who served for over 22 years, primarily in the Middle East.

Friday, April 18, 2014

William Blake Talking to the Angels: Easter & National Poetry Month

Fourviere crypte agneau pascal
(By Lucien Bégule (Photo Thierry Wagner) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a3/Fourviere_crypte_agneau_pascal.jpg)

William Blake, British artist and poet from 1757-1827, said he talked to the angels from the time he was a youth.  Once he told others that he could "see a tree filled with angels, bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars" (Alexander Gilchrist, Life of William Blake: Pictor Ignotus, 2 volumes, London: Macmillan, 1863; enlarged, 1880).

He poured his visions into poetry and art, combining the two into what he called "illuminated writing." The Poetry Foundation describes the process:  "Blake's technique was to produce his text and design on a copper plate with an impervious liquid. The plate was then dipped in acid so that the text and design remained in relief. That plate could be used to print on paper, and the final copy would be then hand colored." 

His poems from Songs of Innocence are often anthologized for school students. They may be easy enough to read, but contain layers of meaning.

For this Easter weekend, I'll feature one of those, which happens to be one of my favorites.

(Public Domain, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Songs_of_Innocence_copy_B_1789_Library_of_Congress_object_29_The_Lamb.jpg)

The Lamb

LITTLE lamb, Who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee,
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed
By the stream and o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,        
Softest clothing woolly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
  Little lamb, Who made thee?
  Dost thou know who made thee?       
Little lamb, I’ll tell thee:
Little lamb, I’ll tell thee:
He is callèd by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb.
He is meek and he is mild,       
He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb,
We are callèd by his name.
  Little lamb, God bless thee!
  Little lamb, God bless thee!

British composer, Sir John Tavener, set Blake's words to this haunting music:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
    be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!” 
(Revelation 5:13)


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Fiddle a Happy Tune: National Poetry Month

Apple Blossoms (4532239974)
By John Fowler from Placitas, NM, USA (Apple Blossoms  Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AApple_Blossoms_(4532239974).jpg

I regularly play in children's poet, David L. Harrison's Word of the Month poem challenge. Each month, Harrison posts a word, and anyone is welcome to write and post a poem using that word. This month's word is BLOSSOM, fitting for many places in April, but not here yet!

Here's my attempt:

At the Old-Time Fiddler Competition:
Junior-Junior Division, Round 2

Waiting in the wings
For her turn in Round Two,
She tried not to tap her booted toes
To “Old Joe Clark,”
A classic her main competitor mastered
Technically.
But she knew she’d turned hearts
In Round One
With “Ashokan Farewell”
When a judge dabbed his eyes
With his blue bandana.

Name called, she stepped forward
And announced, “Apple Blossoms,”
Lifted her fiddle and made melody
That could coax a fruit tree to bloom
With sweetness
In time.

Fiddle contests take place across the country with categories for all ages. Here are the Dillion Junior Fiddlers playing "Old Joe Clark:"

and a young champion fiddler playing "Apple Blossoms:"

What kind of tune says "spring" to you?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hai-KOOL! National Poetry Month

Spring has been slow to arrive where I live, so instead of whining I decided to try writing a couple of haikus about the situation. I am calling them "hai-kools" for the weather they represent. Check out another playful form of haiku on Laura Purdie Salas' blog, where she is writing a riddle-ku a day for National Poetry Month.

Our dog, Watson, is always an inspiration.


wrestling with snowflakes
snapping them out of the air
Watson wins a round.


impending snowstorm
laughs at April calendar.
"Take that, Spring!" it says.



Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Wind! Happy National Poetry Month

Wind Swept Trees at Carskiey. - geograph.org.uk - 255753
Steve Partridge [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

When you live on the prairie, wind is constant and inevitable. Some days are windier than others, but it's seldom completely still. And when it is, just like caring for toddlers, you'd better watch out.

In early elementary school, I memorized the poem "Who Has Seen the Wind" by Christina Rossetti, and I have recited it many times since. It's one of those poems that is easy to learn and easy for me to relate to.

Since we have just endured a late blizzard with exceedingly strong winds, and April 1 begins the celebration of National Poetry Month, I thought this poem is fitting for today. Read the text here. And take a moment to enjoy the spring breeze here:



What are your favorite weather poems?

Happy National Poetry Month! Happy Spring!