All posts by tchistorygal

Hi, my name is Marsha Ingrao. I'm a friendly introvert. I love my family and meeting you. Writing, photography and learning keeps me young. Responsibilities keep me honest and productive. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Hope to see you again soon.

Organizing – a Fresh Start or the Kiss of Death?

It’s spring, time for a fresh startTC Iris Festival

Spring gives me clutterphobia.  In the spring, after a winter of projects, clutter creeps up on me like the consequences of a young female kitty with outdoor privileges. Oops, where did this come from? Unfortunately, having clutterphobia means I must make life and death decisions about MY valuable STUFF.

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I remember my grandmother hanging dresses on top of dresses on her bedroom and closet doors and every other door that would open because her closet, chests of drawers, three car garage – that housed Grandpa’s business and Grandma’s clutter – and full basement weren’t large enough to hold her favorite things.

I don’t want to be like Grandma, but I admit that I don’t notice clutter when I’m slaving madly in some pet project. If I have enough drawers, boxes, shelves, table tops or containers I can shove it into or stack it neatly when company comes, I’m happy. But sometimes I have to stop, and make a fresh start. Like when Vincie says, “We’re starting a new project. You’ve got to move everything out of here!”

We're also remodeling our bathroom. Yikes!
We’re also remodeling our bathroom. Yikes!

 

During intense periods of work, my house fills from the inside out. I go to a conference and bring home freebies and purchased books that I couldn’t resist, and I’m too busy to deal with it. If Vince or I can’t find gloves, make-up, pair of glasses, jewelry, bowls, hammers, flashlights, we buy cheap replacements. The longer I let it go, the less space I have to walk around in my house, and suddenly the clutter hits me like an infestation of cockroaches. I need a fresh start. But how?

My enormous collection of handmade or inexpensive jewelry.

My enormous collection of handmade or inexpensive jewelry.

Organize it and put it somewhere safe

Eventually I complete or tire of my messy project or collection, but I still can’t bear to part with the stuff.

Organize it and put it somewhere safe.  :)
 I’m sure I’ll be wearing that stuff sometime soon! :)

I start a new job April 1. I’ll tell you about it after it’s publicly announced, but I’m cleaning and organizing my house to get ready for a fresh new project!

My 5th trip to Goodwill in the last three weeks. (Since I haven't been blogging!  :)
I’m ready for my 5th trip to Goodwill in the last three weeks, since I haven’t been blogging! :)

This past week I’ve also been organizing my computer into external drives and getting things off about ten different cloud drives that slowed my poor little Apple down to a crawl to give it a fresh start. (It still has an arthritic drive, and takes longer to get going than my grandpa used to take getting out of his recliner.)

I’ve spent two days freshening up my CCSS and SJVCSS files, and moving them to a Google Drive so a new volunteer will be able to find things they might need. Without files, there is no institutional memory. An organization for social studies – history, geography, economics and government teachers – better have some institutional memory. We don’t even have a historian in either group.  Yikes. But I have ORGANIZED files.

The SJVCSS website needed a fresh start, too.  I destroyed the home page accidentally. That’s one of the hazards of cleaning I forgot to mention – destruction. My mother was a clutterbug. When I was 10, she had to spend a week in the hospital. My dad decided that he would organize and clean everything. He even took the dresser pulls off the dresser and soaked them in solution that ate off the finish instead of the fingerprints.  Now I’ve turned into my dad.

We’re hiring an expert to start afresh with a new website that it won’t wilt when a little Miss Sunshine decides to organize and freshen it up a bit.  In my defense, it needed organizing. the Latest News and Twitter Posts showing on the homepage were dated May, 2012, and newer posts existed.

My lost manuscript

One positive note to cleaning the clutter before I must leave you. Over twenty years ago I wrote a book during summer break. I stored it on big floppy disks, (LOL if you remember those!)  but I also had a printed copy of it that I couldn’t find anywhere. I found it last night. It’s like finding an old friend. I have it sitting next to my computer where I can look down and smile at it and put my coffee cup on it for a few days until I have to find a new place for it. It’s about 250 pages clipped neatly onto an old brown clipboard. I doubt that I will retype it any time soon. BUT IT’S NOT CLUTTER … is it?

For more ideas about Freshness, check out the WP Daily Post.

Graceful Is As Graceful Does

KLUTZ AWARD

You all know that I am the Klutz Queen of the Universe, but there are other kinds of gracefulness. Last week I looked around my yard where grace and beauty abound thanks to my hubby, Vince.

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To me there is nothing more graceful than clouds, and if these seem to be a bit upside down it’s because they are dancing on the water. I dare anyone to be more graceful than that!  :)

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The cloud queen even impressed Puppy Girl, princess of our home.  This is as close as PG comes to getting in the water unless held tightly by her mom or dad. She is anything but graceful in the water.

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The trees  bow their limbs in honor of her majesty. These cloud rulers of the earth are graceful, yet they get puffed up at their own beauty. Beware, “pride cometh before a fall,” my lovely sky beauties.

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And lo, up springs a little competition for the rulers of the sky from these little buds that spread their fingers and toes and dance gracefully in the wind.

For more on the theme of graceful from Alisa’s Travel Theme, Where’s My Backpack, click here.

 

Want A Beautiful 1.25 Acres in the Country?

A few years ago Vince and I purchased five acres of beautiful property, and subdivided it into four parcels. Three have sold. Two have beautiful homes, and my favorite remains.  We thought it had sold to one of my former fourth grade students, but financing fell through. I was so sad – instant grandchildren came with that sale. But maybe there is someone else just as lovely that wants to build a home there.

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Two days ago the weather was so perfect, I had to do a photo shoot there. It’s on a cul-de-sac and has a pad already cleared for building. This is the house across the private road.

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It was about 4:00 pm. The full moon peeped out of the clouds in broad daylight. I see a rabbit. What do you see?

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The lot has five or six oak trees that are probably between 50 and 100 years old. They are indigenous to this area, but are not protected like the Visalia Oak. The cute little house across the street is ours.  It is small, but very I think very adorable. He’s getting ready to redo our master bathroom. His son is coming to help him today, and I’m going out of town. (Whew!)

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The trees have many birds, mostly owls, woodpeckers and vultures. They are camera-shy. I waste so much time trying to capture them with my camera.

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I almost missed this one, and it’s not clear. I’m probably spinning as I follow it. I shot using my telephoto lens, which gets really close, but it sticks out so far, I can’t hold it steady. You are looking at the underbelly of a woodpecker. They love telephone poles. Every pole stores thousands of acorns. They like to put them in our gutters as well, up under the edge of the roof.

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This is probably a vulture in the top center of the maze of limbs.

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He doesn’t want to even land.

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To the east beyond the foothills, you see the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range on a clear day.

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There is a vacant lot right across the street next to our house. Vince has always wanted to plant a vineyard, but there are many regulations, and neither of us knows what we are doing, so it sits fallow.

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You can see that the trees will bloom any day now.

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The young couple that planned to buy the property asked about snakes. Mama Kitty ate one the other day. I think it was a garter snake. She made the funniest screaming noise while she was playing with it. After munching it down, she later gave it back, but  was no worse for the wear.

2015 BV March115We have seen about 2 tiny rattle snakes in the 15 years we have lived there, so they are there. We had Kalev rattle snake trained, so she is alert. The cats just eat them. They also catch gophers. The squirrels are too much for them, so we have help catching them and the raccoons. Scardy Kitty got stuck in the trap one morning. He was quite irritated as he waited patiently for me to figure out how to open it.

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Country life doesn’t appeal to everyone, but city slickers, Vince and Marsha wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

 

 

Cows Suffer Sex Discrimination

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is always great. This one is right up my alley, so to speak.

Bert and friends
Bert and friends

A factoid: Do you see how they have paved a road across the lawn?  Cows and Native American foot traffic created Highway 99 North and South .

Whatcha mean I have a spotted pig on my nose? You wanna make sompin' of it?
Whatcha mean I have a spotted pig on my nose? You wanna make sompin’ of it?

Everyone should have a friendly bull or two in their front yard. One of the little guys got out one day, and wandered over to our yard. We had just finished sodding the yard, and it was still mushy. Hubby complained about his footprints in which we could have buried our cats without leaving a mound. By the way, these ARE the happy cows – no bulls – you read about from California .

happy cows?
Move over Bessie. I had that bin first.

 

The cows live here.  I say there’s some sex discrimination going on in this business. Cows do all the work, and have less luxurious living quarters. All the bulls have to do is play rodeo games, eat and chew the cud all day.

:(

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Visit Cee Here.

 

Reward: What Does It Mean To Me?

I think accomplishments reward me.

2015 ride home126Frankly there is no reward great enough to recompense a person for the amount of effort they put into a project.  For example, why blog? Is it because someone rewards you? Of course not. Most of us blog to communicate with the world, to share what’s happening that’s important to us. My last blog told the story of  Bob’s old barn, I fell in love with it just in time – it’s coming down. It was rewarding to take pictures and tell the story.

2015 Hengst Barn106I took the picture below of this same path Saturday on my way home from Visalia. It has changed. History is all about change. Today it looks like this.

2015 ride home128This crane cleared out olive trees, and the barn will come down soon to make way for a new field of fruit trees.

Today I met with a friend, Laile Di Silvestro, today who is helping me heal a sick and injured website for San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies. My reward for the three and a half hours that we labored is a website that works a little better, a closer relationship with a talented and generous person, and –  totally unrelated, but I’m counting it as a reward – beautiful weather giving me scenery to photograph.

2015 ride home110Seriously, you’d think it was mid-summer in Montana to look at that sky. It’s a bit chilly, but not enough to deter anyone. We’ve all been praying for rain. That would be a reward.

2015 ride home105A few of these clouds rewarded us with a light drizzle, but not much rain. Most of our water comes from wells pumped from underground aquifers or nearby irrigations ditches.

 

2015 ride home104These pumps may not look beautiful, but water is a huge reward.

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And we are rewarded by food, not only for us but for the cows that provide one of my favorite foods – cheese. Tulare County is one of the largest dairy producing counties in the world. We probably have more cows here than we have people. Most of them live near Visalia and Hanford in large dairies of up to 5,000 cows. Talk about a lot of work. If you don’t like cheese, it might not seem like such a great reward, but I love it.

2015 ride home119This is the dairy I used to pass everyday on my way to and from work.

2015 ride home117Those cows probably aren’t praying for rain, but I’m guessing that the people who live in this house on that dairy farm are.  I hope they get their reward. :)

 

For more entries about rewards click here.

 

 

Iconic America: Bob’s Old Barn

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Who doesn’t love old barns? It’s un-American to hate barns, the image of rural life that once predominated in this country. Today the golden hour arrived with dark gray ominous clouds in the east and brilliant sunlight in the west blasting the spotlight on all the wildflowers in bloom on the foothills. I told Vince I wanted him to take me to the barn we had both decided would make a great photo shoot. I hope you agree with me.

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He decided to drop me off, and let me walk home, so I took my time.

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The weeds turned out to be nearly as interesting as the barn. They don’t look that high from the road, but in places they could do some intimidating. That black thing  holding out gigantic arms is me to give you some perspective on the height of this particularly lovely weed. I am five feet five inches tall.

I tried to take a selfie of me and the weed to show you how tall it was.
I took a selfie with this weed to show you how tall it was.

Along the way I found some items of interest. From the highway this field looks uninhabited, but wait till you see what I found. My favorite might be the road hugger.

 

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The road has gotten a bit overgrown, but the road hugger hugs on. But I also love the old trough.

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I don’t know what that bulb is, but it added to the excitement of finding the trough buried in the greenery. However, this find can’t compare to the underground house I found just lying around next door to the barn looking like a well-read book lying on a nightstand.

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I’m not sure what this blue container held, but I didn’t look for a spigot. I think it might have landed here from outer space. Bob used to launch rockets not too far from here. Maybe one returned with a present.

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The weeds amazed me. If they’d been in the mountains I could call them wildflowers, but here on the valley floor, I know better.

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They made a great  frame for my Bob’s barn.

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I finally quit dallying and did what I came for. It actually still smelled like a barn inside.

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Someone must have slept here a while back, and left their bed unmade.

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I’m sure this bed belonged to a boy. It seriously looked like the kinds of things my brother hid under his bed, when he was a kid, except the old Halloween candy was missing here. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough.  What do you mean you can’t tell it’s a bed?

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It would spring up and strike you if it were a snake coiled up like this. Klutzy me, I had to bounce on it a bit. (holding my camera securely against me, of course)

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The guy must have gotten mad one night and threw the head off to the other side of the room. Maybe he just had a bad dream and lost his head. Either way this sissy road hugger that came in out of the weather ended up with a bed head on it, so it’s stuck there now.

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Enough with the stuff. You came here to see a barn.

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This barn has an open door policy.

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The view out the back is wild. (flowers that is)

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It’s got good bones, and lots of them.

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The open floor plan is ever popular.

 

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Good views from every door window  opening.

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It’s built with long-lasting, high-quality parts.

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Upon close inspection, I didn’t find any evidence of termite damage.

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But if someone from Central California ever advertises foothill acreage, filled with wildflowers, with a top-notch barn, you might want to take a look first before you buy.

2015 Hengst Barn205Thank you Bob for letting me take pictures of your barn. I loved it. :) I hope my blogger friends did, too.

 

Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds

Rule of thirds challenges me unless I have a 9 grid overlaying the photo or viewfinder.  Since I’ve never seen a viewfinder like that, I confess that these shots became rule of thirds after the camera lens had long since left the scene.

A bird in the bush is worth two in the hand.
A bird in the bush is worth two in the hand. You wouldn’t want this bird in your hand at any price.

These shots look a little cloudy because dense fog covered the Woodlake Valley floor the day I took them.  I should have had my portrait done out-of-doors that day. This woodpecker may have had trouble finding his worm.  I prefer that he pecks at the ground instead of burying his acorns in my roof or pecking my siding.

Cross-Eyed Kitty hasn't lost the instince of hunting.
Cross-Eyed Kitty hasn’t lost the instinct of hunting.

Out to help me keep my yard bird-free, Cross-Eyed Kitty looks like a fierce hunter.  In reality, this beautiful old feral cat heard me, and came running so I could take him over to my house to eat from Mama and Scardy’s bowl.

Cross-Eyed Kitty poses.
Cross-Eyed Kitty poses.

We know he’s at least fourteen years old, but he may be a lot older. He looks great, but pick him up, and he’s all hair and bones.  He has the most beautiful blue eyes.

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Cross-Eyed Kitty never acted feral.  As soon as he comes near, he rolls over for a rub.  I did not edit this photo as CEK took up exactly two-thirds of the picture if you don’t count his tail, which blends into the ground anyway.

peach blossom
peach blossom

Back home again after rescuing CEK from a hard hunting trip, I walked around the yard admiring the new blooms on the peach trees.  Woodlake Valley boasts hundreds, no thousands, of peach trees which grow in large orchards with military-perfect straight lines. Pink and white blossoms make this valley fit for a  spring festival. My husband’s sinuses do not agree.

Everything's peachy keen with TC History Gal.
Everything’s peachy keen with TC History Gal.

For more Rule of Thirds pictures click the WP icon.

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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: My Favorite Things, Chorus

When Tule Fog hits the Woodlake Valley, the best thing to do is stay home until visibility is better. By ten o’clock this morning the fog had dissipated some, and I wanted to do something fun.  I grabbed my camera and walked around the yard with no intentions, but to have fun in the fog.

Black BirdsI found this black bird on the spoon handle waiting for the four-and nineteen others to join him to bake in the pie. Little does he know what awaits him. We learned this song in nursery school, and sang it to the next generation.  Do you remember it? I found two tunes. Which did you learn?

Sing a song of sixpence,

A pocket full of rye.

Four and twenty blackbirds,

Baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened,
The birds began to sing;
Wasn’t that a dainty dish,
To set before the king?
The king was in his counting house,
Counting out his money;
The queen was in the parlour,
Eating bread and honey.
The maid was in the garden,
Hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird
And pecked off her nose.
They sent for the king’s doctor,
who sewed it on again;
He sewed it on so neatly,
the seam was never seen.
Bird Encounter
This doggie scarecrow that guards our garden didn’t fare so well with his nose.The birds chewed his ear, too. Invisible seams didn’t happen. Maybe the doctor couldn’t see in the fog, or maybe he, like the brave pup, was a little rusty. Hard to tell. 
For a more adult chorus to illustrate these pictures try Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire.”
Click the icon for more of Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge Entries. 
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Is Social Media the New Reader, Or Is It Just Laziness?

Don’t get me wrong, I love blogging and love my blogging friends. But I’m frustrated. When I’m busy, I spend my time on quickie social media and not my blog. I take a quick picture when I’m walking or driving, post it on Instagram, and maybe write a caption – BAM gone to all my social media accounts including WP. I don’t bother with my brand, floating like a misshapen cloud above the mountains, or edit, edit and re-edit only to find another error after I’ve posted!

Lazy blogging?
Lazy blogging?

Done.  It takes two hours for me – at a minimum –  to create a blog post – this small – that’s hard! (Granted I’m slow!)

I wish WP had a better way to share blogs, and here’s why.

Cat LoveIn Facebook I browse through the comments, pictures and memes sharing likes or a quick comment.  My wall is as cluttered as my work table, but I love it. If I want to find what you posted yesterday so I can copy it to my blog, I type your name in the search box, and bingo – your wall appears. I scroll through your stuff, take what I want, get to know you a little better, and I’m out.  I’ve joined some groups, become friends with some, and those comments show on my home page. I don’t have to click to find them. For those of us with slow internet, every click means wait, wait, wait.

Max Brooks will speak at the CCSS Conference on March 6th.
Max Brooks will speak at the CCSS Conference on March 6th.

Twitter is Facebook on speed. I meet colleagues, new contacts, and post news. It’s not impolite to follow others first. Many people follow me that I don’t know. I check them out briefly, and speed read through news. I don’t engage much more than a star unless its Rosy, Al or Ann, my blogging friends, or I’m working my California Council for the Social Studies accounts.

Author of Historical Thinking who changed the way we think about teaching history.
Author of Historical Thinking who changed the way we think about teaching history. He’s speaking at the CCSS Conference on March 6th, too.

On LinkedIn people have common professional interests. I like to endorse people I know, just to let them know I still think about them even when I don’t see them. I also post news. Like FB, it doesn’t take much time to browse. If I see something I want to read, I stop and read it.

I share what's in my inner storage shed.
I share what’s in my inner storage shed, but Photoshop out some details.

Blogging, however, is where I get to know people well. We are friends even when we’ve never met. But commenting on blogs is more difficult because I have to click on each blog, and sometimes they don’t load or take my comment. If it takes too long I don’t get it done.

Everyone looks better at the beach!  :)
More time to lay around.

So it is laziness, or do we need all types of social media? So please join me on FB if you consider me a friend @ TC History Gal Productions, or one of the other social media.

Do you need to lose weight? I do.

IMG_4042Eating out has always been the primary entertainment in my family. I like to eat, and I have a healthy appetite. When I was young my eyes were too big for my stomach, but that has changed. Martha, sitting across from me, is doing the cleanse with me. Amanda doesn’t need to lose weight. She’s the President of CCSS this year, and all the weight of its world is on her shoulders. Elane has lost weight because she just doesn’t eat very much.

TransformationToday I started on a 10-day cleanse using Purium products that I ordered from my friend, Martha Infante. Unlike the woman pictured in the transformation guide, I am 63, 5’5”and this morning weighed 154. Vince took ugly before pictures of me, which I won’t scare you with unless I get appreciably better looking in the next ten days.

Amino Acid pills

So far I’ve had 5 pills that taste a little minty, and are full of protein, and 18 ounces of water. Right now I’m enjoying my morning green shake that tastes a little like grass, the kind that grows in your front yard. I have a headache because my face still hurts a little from my fall, and I’m cold from drinking so much water.

This tastes better than it looks.
This tastes better than it looks.

My philosophy about weight stems from watching my mother struggle through her last 20 years of life, and go through a divorce because my dad didn’t like her weight (among other things.) Keeping my weight at a manageable level has always been important to me because my mother weighed between 200 and 230 most of my life. The slimmest I ever saw her when she was active was 175, and she looked great. She was 5’4”. She had high blood pressure, and at 60 lost a kidney to cancer, and went on dialysis at 72 and lived to enjoy her 80th birthday. For 20 years she had several heart attacks that would have killed most people, but Mom functioned on about 5% of her heart, her arteries clogged, and valves damaged beyond repair. I credit her long life to a great attitude about life, good doctors, and no drinking or smoking.

Mom weighed about 150 when she was 80, and sharank to about 5'2".
Mom weighed about 150 when she was 80, and shrank to about 5’2″.

This summer my weight started creeping up. I lost my will to eat right and exercise. When Martha told me about a cleanse, I and decided to give it a try. If this is successful I’ll let you know.

 

Winter in Woodlake Valley

The scenes as I walked along Millwood Drive took my breath away. Maybe if I stayed in shape… Eventually my husband  picked me up and we enjoyed the warm photoshoot together.

Mountains
original picture

While our eastern friends bury under mountains of snow, in Woodlake Valley we welcome a few inches of water on the valley floor and many feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains. It rained this weekend, and in December, so while we get the most wonderful winter weather in the world, we wish for more precipitation so our wells won’t run dry. I took these pictures December 27th a day after it rained.  One rain yields instant green fields.

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cropped picture in perfect obedience to the Rule of Thirds

 

The mountains glowed with the snow. Don’t you love snow from a distance? I experimented with composition, and used the trees to frame the picture, but couldn’t get a Rule of Thirds picture that I liked. I cropped it in Photoshop, and I’m still not sure which way I prefer so I’ll let you decide.

Old barn1

I love this old barn. However, beautiful winter weather doesn’t insure eternal life even for barns. I wish I knew an interesting story about it. Maybe someone who reads this post will have some insight that I don’t. Or maybe someone will make up a good story. As we came back from taking the shots of the netted trees which was my goal for the day,  my husband said, “I know the perfect place to take a picture.” We got to the barn, and he said “This is it.” What I had missed being so focused on using my zoom lens was that there was a path with no fence, and I could have walked up to the barn. How did I miss it? I’m so zoned in that I miss the obvious.

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As the road curves following the sandy bed of Cottonwood Creek, rows and rows of netted trees appear on the east. Slowly the daylight ghouls creep up on a lone kid-tree trapped in the center of the row as he tried to run away. They raise their arms and close in for the big take-down. He should have stayed in line.

in line

Netting provides protection for stone fruit trees from birds. The nets also prevent frost and insect damage. I don’t know how any fruit tree lives without its net. However, trees in most fields don’t have nets.

fruit tree in a bag

I shot this little tree with its see through gown, and thought it looked sexy. Vince disagreed and he thought eerie described it better.

cement buildingFrom a distance smoke seemed to pour out of the top of this building. On closer inspection with a zoom lens, the building grew a tree. Probably if I had climbed over the barbed wire and snuck up behind the structure, the tree would have pretended that it was no where close to that building all along. I staged this picture with these photogenic pieces of dead wood that had nothing more to do than lie there and look pretty.

I wonder if this is the building Bob Hengst built with friends to launch their rockets.

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I’ll let you know.

 

 

 

Photo Challenge: Scale

desk messiness scale

On a scale of 1 to 10 with ten being the most organized and 1 being piled to the ceiling with recipes and newspaper clippings,  I would give my writing area a 4. It took over 500 words to list all the things on the desk.

On a scale of 1 to 10 of how interesting this information is with 10 being information  you want to go share with 947 of your closest Facebook friends, and 1 being you would kill yourself before you ever mentioned this to anyone, I would give this subject matter a 2. Trust me, nothing is worth killing yourself, not that I’ve ever tried it. If I was going to try to commit suicide, a messy desk would not rate even a 0 on a 1 to 10 scale and a post about it would rate even lower than that.

writing, blogging, book reviews, New_Office04

Nonetheless, I rate my desk/table very high on the likeability scale for several reasons. First and last, as you can see, I like to spread out when I write or study. A normal to large desk does not allow for me to pile up enough stuff that I can’t read all at the same time. I get a lot of comfort distraction from having papers all over the place when I write. Generally, when I’m writing, there is something I don’t know. So if I have my research right beside me, I can thumb through it and find the facts I need fairly quickly. If I have a tiny desk, notes and copies of articles end up on the floor. Soon I crawl around on the floor reading one article after another on my hands and knees.

desk chair

On a scale of 1 to 10  grading for reading comfort level, the hands and knees position is a 0 and my desk is an 8. The only reason my desk is an 8 and not a 10 is because it is too high, and I can’t figure out how the lever works on my chair to raise it.

Raising the chair should be easy, but on a scale of 1 to 10 my chair is a 1.  It is much easier to go into the bedroom and get a pillow and put it on the seat. My dog likes that better because if she had a choice of places to lie down, she always chooses the place with a pillow.

Kalev’s Scale

no pillow                                                                             pillow

______________________________________________________

1                                                                                                        10

You are welcome to rate my desk yourself on whatever scale you dream up. Better yet, rate your own desk. Or write about scale in a different way. In the Central Valley of California scale is a dirty word because a critter that lives on oranges is called scale.

my favorite skylight/plant shot
my favorite skylight/plant shot

I apologise that this post has nothing to do with showing scale in a photograph, or at least I didn’t pick that out.  Maybe you will find something scaly about this post, and if so, please feel free to comment.  If you read this to be inspired about what to post, then you might want to keep looking.

Here are some other ideas to inspire you.

 

Klutz of the Year Award: The Art of Falling Without Breaking Anything

I have awarded myself the Klutz of the Year Award. Any of you may claim this award for yourself, if you like. But tell us why you deserve it!

KLUTZ AWARD

 

My mother said my small feet caused me to fall all the time. I’m glad I fell a lot as a child because now, as an older woman, I can’t blame it on my age or lessening agility. It hasn’t been more than two months since I fell out of my Prius. Actually I fell when I was trying to get into it while it was rolling backwards, and landed on my back with it coming at me, door first. My friend Robert somehow got into the driver’s seat and stopped the car before it hit me or anything else, then jumped out of the car and brushed me off. I couldn’t stop laughing. I laughed all night long.

falling 4

This time I tripped over a jut up in the sidewalk no larger than a half an inch or so. I managed to gash my forehead, scrape the entire top and side of my nose, and under my nose. I have a flexible nose! I only scratched up old scars on my face, ruined a pair of pants, and barely scraped the shape of California into my knee under a bright red nasty owie that alternates between hurting and nothing.

A man ran over from the restaurant that watched me fall, and tried to help, but frankly I wanted to sit/lie there for a minute. He left when I was so unaccepting of his help.  I was just hoping that my too-tight pants had not slid down. I felt drafty, and I knew I would have to bend over, and get on all fours to get up. Finally, with my friend Mary’s help I made it to my car, but every question she asked me, I heard this childish little voice coming out of me.

“Does it hurt?”

“Yes.”

“Where, what hurts the most?”

“I don’t know.”

I went to the driver’s side and could hardly open the door. To credit me a little, I was driving Vince’s car and the remote key didn’t work, so I had to press this little spot on the key about 1/16″ or less in size with my shaky finger, to release the manual key, then turn the key correctly to fit in the lock, and finally to figure out which way to turn it.

I did all the steps wrong the first time, which led Mary to ask,”Can you drive OK?”

“I don’t know. I feel sick.”

“I’ll drive. You’ll just have to remind me how to drive your car.”

She got into the driver’s side, and I sat for a minute. She was late to work, but I thought, I’m not sure I can tell her how to drive.

The more she talked to me, the more nervous she got, I think. I cleaned the blood off my forehead to keep from looking so much like a zombie. It took a while to unzip my first aid pouch, but I managed to get a band-aid opened and on face without covering my eye. After a few minutes of rest, my stomach stopped churning. My head still hurt, but not so much that I could  think a little straighter. I got out, traded places with Mary, and drove her to work. I still had to drive nearly an hour to get home.

Vince just shook his head when he saw my face. I can’t say he smiled, but I can’t say he wasn’t trying really hard not to.

I didn’t want to go anywhere today, but I had promised to take pictures of two businesses and write articles for our Kiwanis magazine, “What’s Happening in the Foothills.” We always save these things until the last-minute, so I couldn’t back out. The deadline was Feb. 1st.

When I got to the Runway Cafe ten minutes late, Sally said, “Well you don’t look as bad as I thought you would. Do you have a headache?”

I had only been up about 40 minutes or so, and the Tylenol hadn’t taken effect yet. I told her I still had a little headache. So she told me about a woman, younger than I am, who had a headache from falling and died two days later. That cured my headache, but not my hypochondria. I’m feeling downright frisky right now in the middle of the night when I don’t dare fall asleep because I might not wake up. So that’s my story.

When I shared on Facebook about my most recent face first run-in with a cement sidewalk, I received condolences and some wonderful stories.

slippingice1

My friend “Tani” shared the funniest one.

The story of the amazing falling woman, aka me. It had rained earlier that day so was glad it stopped so we could go to the RV show at the fairgrounds. Hundreds of RV’s and people in the parking lot looking at row after row of RV’s, they had the prices in the windows and that is my reason for not seeing the pot hole, I was walking and looking up!! Leave it to me to step on the edge, twist my ankle and sprawl out face first. It took me a minute to realize nothing was broken only a small knee gash and palms scrapped up with asphalt. 3 people picked me up, I hobbled to the restroom and cleaned up. I’m outa there….at the end of the day we decided to have a nice dinner at one of the popular restaurants in Eugene, was happy we didn’t have too long of a wait for a Saturday night. Had a great dinner and as we were leaving by the restaurant’s main front area I noticed a really nice wine cellar and was curious to take a look inside. I was excited as I had never been in anything like that. So as I entered the cellar I did not see the step down at the doorway…yep…down again. I tumble into the wine cellar landing on my back. So there I am lying there in my big bulky coat, staring in disbelief, at the ceiling. All of a sudden I burst out laughing over that fact that I have actually fallen twice in one day in public. The hostess follows my hubby into the room only to find an old lady laughing hysterically on the floor of the wine cellar. They help me up and I continue to laugh as Paul escorts me quickly to the car. The next day….I’m really sore. The end

falling2

So would you like to claim the award for yourself? Have you been klutzy this year yet, or were you klutzy some other year? I’d love to pass this award on. If you tell a long story that you don’t want to waste in my comment section, and want to post it on your blog, feel free to post a link.

KLUTZ AWARD

How to Write a Synopsis for Your Next Big Project: A Synopsis

A fallen ego maniac, I had the idea that because I am so old and have written for so long that I must know how to do what I do every day – WRITE — and be pretty good at it.  hahaha Teachers think that, you know. In our defense, we have to or the kids would eat us alive. Frankly, we spend our whole careers learning to teach writing, so we should know something. But the truth is…

BOV 2013 Purple 5

After tackling one new writing project after another….

  1. First a blog, (I’m still learning new things every day.)
  2. I braved a NaNoWriMo novel.
  3. Carol convinced me to take a children’s story class, and I wrote several (almost ready) children’s picture book stories.
  4. Then a local history book for Arcadia Publishing Co.
  5. Now back to my novel.

SFW misc Benches 2

…I admit there are a few many things that  I don’t know. (duh!) Now I’m checking first with other experts to see what they say.  Writing a Synopsis is a link to a Writer’s Digest page – links to several articles about how to write a synopsis. Here is a synopsis of my favorite by Beth Anderson.

Does your writing meander?
Does your writing meander? Writing a synopsis ill help.

Seven  Sentence Synopsis

  1. Write a sentence that tells what your book or article is about, and names the major characters.
  2. Explain the beginning in one sentence.
  3. The third sentence tells the end of the book. Don’t pull any punches here. Spit it out. The boy gets the girl. The gorilla dies. The tooth fairy drops all the children’s teeth into magic water, and they change into dentures.
  4. Write a sentence about each major point of action in the story, and put those between step two and three.

That’s it. Step one, done.

Step Two – Write a One Page Synopsis

  1. Use your same opening sentence, then describe the beginning in a paragraph.
  2. Write two or three paragraphs describing the major points of action.
  3. Finish with a short paragraph about the end of the book.  Again, you don’t try to trick any readers here. A synopsis is to sell your book to a busy agent.

Step Three – Write a Three Page Synopsis

Add more action points and obstacles. Add secondary characters. Tell, don’t show!

Step Four – Write a Six Page Synopsis

Add more action points and obstacles. Add secondary characters. Make sure the road-blocks get more obstacally as the plot thickens. Characters never come out unscathed until the end of the book where they emerge scratched and smiling, prize in hand, and not a hair out-of-place.

Step Five – Write a Twelve Page Synopsis

By the time you add more obstacles and action points, your book is finished. All that remains is to add the dialogue and describe the setting. The best part is you know how it’s going to end.  Those pesky characters can’t sneak up on you and write their own script. Oops. They can?  Yep, these experts say they can, so watch out.  However, you have it pretty much in control.

No David's nose

How to Write Essays to a Prompt for Tests, Work, or School

Sample Prompt: Explain a complicated process that you can do well to someone who doesn’t know how to do it.

If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. Ernest Hemingway

Writing Is a Complicated Process                                         Do you struggle when you have to take a writing test, or write a report? As a teacher/consultant writing essays was my forté, yet writing to a prompt is a complicated task.  When I think about my professional life, I probably spent more time writing than almost any other single activity, either writing or grading essays for over 20 years.  Writing professionals have boiled essay writing down to a few steps which can be easily explained to someone who doesn’t write.  While most people THINK they know how to write if they can put words down on paper, they struggle to write even a simple five paragraph essay to answer a prompt.

Notice the blingy water.
Notice the blingy water.

Definition of an Essay

Commonly essays fall into four categories : expository, descriptive, narrative, and argumentative. Essays  convey information rather than tell a story, although they may use facts or short stories to persuade or convince readers to take action. An essay consists of three parts:  an opening paragraph, the body, and the conclusion.  Many teachers in our county use Step Up to Writing to teach this process to students and teachers alike.
  1. An opening paragraph restates the prompt stating three or more examples or facts.
  2. Body paragraphs expand on the three or four facts, one paragraph per main idea.
  3. The concluding paragraph points back to the opening paragraph and summarizes how the paragraph addressed the stated prompt.
PG and Pie
Ideas Matter: Brainstorm and Analyze  Before Writing 
Step Up to Writing  steps sound simple enough.  However, even though the process is simple, fuzzy ideas swim in the writer’s head and often come out jumbled.  Maybe the writer knows nothing about the prompt. Before I write anything I take a few minutes to ask myself questions about the prompt.  I usually jot down some notes in an informal list or outline.  If I can use the computer during the test or when writing for publication I search for a quotation and a definition or explanation of my topic. Most important: Make sure to answer the prompt.
  1. Analyze the prompt or break it into pieces.  Ask, “What DO I know about the prompt?  OR How can I relate it to something I know better and still answer the prompt?”
  2. Ask, “What can I write in a few paragraphs without repeating myself?”
  3. Consider, “Who is my audience?”
students-at-computers1
Research , Research, Research
Writing to a prompt is difficult for many reasons.  An author who does not know much about the topic may cut corners and merely copy the prompt word and repeat it multiple times throughout the essay. Unprofessional essays often start and end with the words, “Today I am going to write about (prompt words)”  This might be acceptable in first grade, but beyond that writers need to display more sophistication in their writing.
  1. Wikipedia is fine for quick bits of information partly because each entry has a bibliography which the writer can also check. It is good to have more sources than just Wikipedia. I use Google, but there are other ways of getting information quickly off the internet.
  2. Books and articles provide detailed information. Digitized books allow the writer to mark what he or she wants to remember and to sort out unnecessary information.
  3. If time is not an issue, articles and scanned documents can be processed into searchable PDF documents using inexpensive or free downloadable programs.
  4. When writers don’t have these options, note cards work well. I always note the title, author and page number, so I can go back and check my sketchy notes. I don’t take time to write detailed notes.
  5. Highlighting works well on printed material that the writer can keep.
  6. Post-it notes allow the writer to comment on materials and books he or she needs to return. Writers can color code these by book or article, topic, time period or any category they choose.
writing, blogging, book reviews, New_Office04
Weed Out All But the Most Important Information
Essayists can’t use it all.  According to the brain laboratory at UCLA, people have more than 70,000 thoughts per day. One short essay can’t utilize all these thoughts, so the first step is deciding which thoughts are keepers. When I write under pressure on a topic, use these techniques.
  1. Brainstorm on paper. Lists, webs, and tables all work well.
  2. Move to an outline. Find connections between the list of words. Sort them into categories. Writers may do this mentally, but it is more effective if they write it down. I use the old fashioned outline because it puts my thoughts into a hierarchy, most important first.Manny's Trip to Spain
Match Writing Style and Vocabulary to the Task
Prompt writing is a formal process.  Vocabulary, spelling, and style become issues.  My blogging style is informal, uses simple vocabulary and sentence structure, and I attempt humor. Formal writing style differs in several ways. 
  1. It uses a more academic lexicon or vocabulary.
  2. Sentence structure varies.
  3. The tone is generally, but not always, more serious.
  4. Each sentence starts with different words.  For example, after I have written this essay, I will go back over it and circle all the initial words.  If I have more than two or three of the same beginning word, I will change one of them.  I will look at how many of the same words I use within the sentence as well.  Word processing programs and the internet have dictionaries and a thesaurus at the writer’s fingertips, so there is no excuse for repeating the same word constantly. If the internet is not allowed during an essay, use the scratch paper to free-associate synonyms.
  5. Spelling is most difficult for me if the internet is not an option. When I can’t remember how to spell a word, I substitute a word I can spell.
  6. Punctuation errors show up, and even though there are differences about how to punctuate. Study Strunk and White before you take a test, or take it with you.
Ralph's remodel003
Keep the Conclusion Uncluttered
Students, test takers, or essayists who utilize these tips will have a passable essay for any project, exam, job application, or work-related report, and become an expert in writing to a prompt.
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Practicing Descriptive Writing Here – Brain Fog? – No, Real Fog!

It is not the clear-sighted who rule the world. Great achievements are accomplished in a blessed, warm fog.

fog7

If you can get away from it, fog is beautiful. This week Debbie Simorte, my Girls on Fire editor, asked me how the weather in Visalia could be sunny and foggy at the same time, like that was a Kansas City impossibility. When I drove to Los Angeles this weekend for a meeting, I had to drive almost to Tejon Pass before I found an example of what sunny fog looked like. Visalia had no sun that day, only fog. The freeway, I5 South, split the fog in half as it curled up for a nap against the mountains north of the Grapevine.

fog5

As I drove south, the light haze on east side of the freeway foretold of the clear skies awaiting me in Los Angeles. The beauty of the graduated fading fog enticed me off the freeway long enough to snap these pictures before I continued on my trip. I didn’t move much from one spot as I rotated from east to west to capture the entire scene for you.

My favorite feathering of fog

My favorite feathering of fog

Tinkerbell should be in this picture somewhere sprinkling magical fairy dust in the mountain canyons. It seemed unreal to me.

fog3 The arc of fog needed a rainbow marking its border, but none appeared. It remained stark white. Fog tried to bar the sun from entering the valley.  At about two in the afternoon the sun tried to burn a hole in the clouds as it had already done on the east side of the freeway. I couldn’t stay to see if it succeeded.
I

 

 

Not a dense fog
Not a dense fog

I stood behind the tree and tried to shoot up at the sun, but the effect didn’t please me.

foggy night
foggy night

I left the meeting at 4:29 PM the next day in a rush to get over the Grapevine while it was still light. Dropping into the Central Valley, the fog greeted me. It probably had never left. At at night fog no longer felt benign. I took this picture through my dirty windshield as I ripped through the fog approaching Bakersfield, I must have plowed the clouds away. On a closer inspection microdrops of dust on my windshield remained as a calling card of the fleeing mist. I look straight ahead. I could see clearly now. When I looked to my left, there it was. It hovered just off the freeway at a gas station ready to pounce on me again. Once Bakersfield’s lights no longer protected my car and me from the fog, the sky dropped puffs of translucent cotton air onto the road. My car became a vacuum cleaner sucking in white dust bunnies. The stronger the suction, the thicker the fog became. By the time I turned off the freeway onto a country road, I could see only three lines ahead of me. A car passed me going the other direction. I counted to six as I watched him in my rearview mirror, and poof, he was gone. Fog turned the roads I know so well into a strangers.

For those of you who have never experienced Valley fog, this is a taste of what the natives call “Tule fog.” How do you describe the fog in your area?

Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

 

Social Mediadizing Social Media: Three Tricks That Didn’t Work – Exactly As Planned

I consider blogging social media. Yet we need to use social media for people to notice our social media. Today I experimented with social mediadizing my social media. I don’t know how it will go, but here’s what I did.

blogging

1. I edited my WP page about blogging and added a page, “Marketing Your Blog.”

2. I googled hashtags for Twitter because people told me to include # hashtags after the messages so that they go to more people. Google found several blogs that had already done the work of finding hashtags for authors, bloggers, photographers, editors… I cut and pasted some hashtags onto my new WP page and credited the blogs. Easy peasy.

hashtag tweeting3. Then I told my twitter world all about my new page on WordPress that will help me to market my blog using hashtags. At the end of the link to my tweet, I copied several of the recommended hashtags.  Hold on. I’m going to check my page views. Be right back… I’m back. (… means pause)

twiddle my thumbs

So far no one has noticed my new page, not one click, hashtag or no hashtag.  But my Twitter account buzzed all day. I got 2 new followers, 1 person retweeted a post, two people wrote their own description and referred their followers to my post, and 6 people liked it. That was pretty amazing to me.  Thank you Twitter friends. :)

While I’ve Twittered, I ignored my FB fan page, and I’ve lost one poor soul from my likes. Fell off my wall, like Humpty Dumpty and is probably lying in a broken gooey heap at the bottom of the internet somewhere dark and ignored.

Humpty Dumpty

 

Social media is like juggling. I get one media up in the air, and the others crash down on my head. It amazes me how many followers some of my Twitter-happy experts have. Into the K’s.

followers
Really? Remember the 1960s ads that promised that you could make $5,000 from home without a high school education just by licking envelopes? I think I sent in a few envelopes when I was 10.

 

 

One tweeter published 200 more tweets than I did over the couple of years we’d both been tweeting, but listen to this – He had about 43K followers and I have 415. So I asked myself, am I tweeting too much? The less you tweet the better you feel, so don’t tweet yourself at every meal?

One self-proclaimed twitter expert said, “Tweet your posts two times a day because people might miss them otherwise.”

follow me

 

But If I do that I’ll end up with twice as many tweets as that 43K guy and have 418 followers, and he will tweet maybe two times and have 86K followers. (Not that I care, really, I think it is an interesting phenomenon.)

cat, pet, writing, blogging

This is pretty boring to most of you, but elementary teachers birdwalk.

writing description.
writing description.

Yesterday, when I wrote the description of the house that I thought I asked you to describe, I obsessed about the angle of the downward slope of the roof.  I drew it on a piece of paper, then I asked Vince to estimate it. Then I measured it with a protractor. He was right, 3 degrees.

Now does anyone honestly care that my fictitious character, Sarah Clay’s house in Girls on Fire has a roof that slopes from east to west by 3 degrees? I doubt it, but I probably spent 10 minutes trying to figure it out.

fingers crossed

By the way. it turned out that the way I posted my pictures yesterday some of you Ralph thought I needed a description of this girl with her fingers crossed. He came up with some creative descriptions.

retirement
Brandi Jo Newman, another person who stole Another Day’s picture and photoshopped her out of it. :(

 

Tell me what you did this weekend.  I hope you did something more useful yesterday than I did.

And how do you mediaize your social media?

Thanks for the pictures, Google.

Writing Description: What Are Your Tips?

Write posts on Word. Save posts often. Will I never learn? I deleted a picture from my blog post, and the entire post disappeared.

writing, fiction, Visalia, Sarah's house, Beverly Glen1

Vince sells real estate. Yesterday I rode to Visalia with him to take pictures of places in my book I couldn’t remember well enough to describe. I am not good at writing riveting descriptions. I get lost on the cracks or shadows in the road, and miss the important details. Or my mind focuses on an imaginary conversation between me and a real person, two imaginary people, or me and someone imaginary, who might be real, but would never talk like we do. This takes so much of my attention that I probably should never drive. Vince asks me if I remember going places. Sometimes I wasn’t with him, so I have a good excuse for not remembering, but just as likely, I sat right next to him having an internal conversation.

blogging, books, Visalia, Tulare County
blogging, books, Visalia, Tulare County

Since I struggle with descriptions I rely on others to help me. George Pilling wrote a great book, A Walk Around Visalia. He’s told me what trees grow where, which neighborhoods my characters would choose, and what’s around them. He had a gorgeous picture of the house I pictured for Sarah. Yesterday Vince and I found it in person.

writing description.
writing description.

I spent about 20 minutes writing a detailed description of this picture. I ignored the cracks in the road.  How would you describe the house picture?

fingers crossed

I promise I won’t copy… OK, not without your permission.