Sunday, March 29, 2015

One of a Kind Names for One of a Kind Flowers - Name the Flower 3


Spring is still dragging her feet around here and letting Jack Frost hang around days too long. But next week, warmer air is supposed to show up and maybe that will mean flowers start showing up too. Are you ready for flowers?

I hope you're ready for a new flower to guess. Or to name if you don't know the name already. Or even if you do, you can say the name you think might fit the flower better. So, give it a try and enter my Name the Flower contest. You might win a couple of books, one of mine and one of a different Christian author. 

BUT FIRST, LAST WEEK'S FLOWER NAME

Several of you named last week's beautiful flower. A few guesses were Adder's Tongue, Dog-tooth Violet, Dutchman's Britches, but nobody came up with the flower's actual name or at least not the name for the flower in my Wildflowers & Ferns of Kentucky book. However, some of you came up with great new names for the flower. Dewdrop, Teardrops, Grandmother's Dancing Bells, Green Whisper, Job's Arrow or Flying Geese. Now those are some good names. The Flying Geese and Grandmother's Dancing Bells really caught my fancy. Karen's name of Job's Arrow showed some great thinking too. 

But the flower's actual name is Shooting Star. Here's what the wildflower book says about this flower. "The rocket-like flowers of this strikingly beautiful plant appear designed for space flight. It is frequent from Central Kentucky westward but rare in eastern Kentucky." 

It's not rare in my wildflower woods area, but it's a flower that always makes me want to take one more photo.   

NOW CAN YOU NAME THE NEW FLOWER

The flower up top is the new flower to name. It's one of my favorites to find. Let's see if you know its name. You can post that or you can still use your imagination and give it another name if you wish. You can even simply say you haven't a clue about a name. Any of those will get you a new entry into my Name the Flower Contest. Remember, each time you name a new flower posted here, you get a new entry into the giveaway. 

I'll pick three winners from the entries by random drawing on April 19, 2015. So April 18, 2015 at midnight EST is the deadline for entering. You must be 18 to enter and if the winner chosen lives across the ocean, the prizes will be in e-book form. If you haven't guessed on one of the other flowers and left your contact information, be sure to leave it with your comment. If you've already left it on a different guess for this contest, then I'll have it.

Thanks for playing my Name the Flower game.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What would You Name Flower 2 in the Name the Flower Contest?

You all are always such fun whenever I have a contest here on One Writer's Journal. You jump right in and give whatever I suggest a try. Some of you knew your wildflowers and guessed right on my flower picture. It was a poppy. A celandine poppy or wood poppy, to be exact. But for those of you who called it a buttercup, I was right there with you on that for years. That was what we always called them and it's a name that fits well. 

Making Up Names

I'm glad some of you who didn't know the name had fun with my suggestion to pretend you were the first person to discover the flower and thus were able to name it whatever you wanted. A couple of you came up with interesting names. Yellow or butter ruffles. Fluffypants. Not sure about that last one, but the petals do look fluffy.

Coming up with the absolute perfect name for a character in a book or story is one of the fun parts of writing for me. I get to name my main characters (the good ones and the bad ones) and dozens of minor characters in each book. I get to name where they live and the pets they have. I sometimes even name their vehicles. So why not name some wildflowers?

But the Real Name is...

A Guide to the Wildflowers and Ferns of Kentucky  by Mary E. Whatron & Roger W. Barbour says. "The celandine poppy has yellow juice as well as yellow flowers. There are 4 petals...buds are covered with 2 hairy sepals and the fruit is bristly hairy. ...The species, which grows 10-18 inches high, is widely distributed in the state and is frequent in rich mesophytic woods, especially on slopes where leaf mold is deep." 

From this new picture of the wood poppy this week, looks like it will grow in the middle of rocks too. But I do find my wildflowers on those kind of leaf covered slopes the book mentioned.

Okay, flower number two is up top. Remember, a new guess on this flower gets you another entry into my giveaway. But if you do guess, please leave a way to contact you or if you don't want to leave your e-mail here or have trouble leaving a comment (I know some of you do but I can't seem to fix that) then e-mail me your entry at annhgabhart at yahoo dot com.

Basic Giveaway Scoop

Here's the basic scoop on the contest in case you didn't see it on Sunday's post. The winners will get their choice of one of my books and a grab bag book by a different Christian author. The contest is open to USA and Canada for print books and e-books for international entries. You must be 18 to enter. Deadline for entries is April 18, 2015 at 12 midnight EST. I'll announce the winners here on April 19.  

And remember, if you don't know the actual flower name, just think about what you might name it and tell me that.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Time for a Spring Contest - Name the Flower

Spring is Here

Hey, did you notice? It's SPRING! The calendar says so. Now if some of us can get Mother Nature to go along with the calendar, we'll be happy. Here things are beginning to look and sound like spring. The spring peepers are in full voice at night and in the morning, the birds are singing their spring songs. I haven't heard a mockingbird yet, but he'll show up soon. Maybe the mockingbirds are scouting out a new nest location and building their new home. 

A First Wildflower

I did actually see my first wildflower today. The flower up above wasn't it, but I did post its picture on my Facebook page. Usually that first flower is a dandelion, but so far I haven't spotted one of those. If you've read my book, The Blessed, you might remember how my character Lacey did a spring dance every year when she saw her first dandelion. Some springs it was harder for her to do that happy dance than other springs. 

Name the Flower Contest

But seeing the first little wildflower of spring gave me an idea for a new giveaway contest. This one won't be very hard, but I hope you'll have fun with it. Name the flower. As always, you don't have to be right. You just have to give it a try (and leave your e-mail so I can contact you should you be a winner.) That said, I know all of you will get all the flower names. Still, even if it isn't a hard to guess contest like some of my mystery puzzles, (well, some of them were hard to guess) maybe it will still be fun. 

Prizes

The prizes are guess what? Aww, you did guess. Books!! I'll draw three winners. And every time you name a new flower, you'll get a new entry. So be sure to come back and check on the next flower every new blog post. That's usually Wednesdays and Sundays if I don't forget what day it is. That has happened. :) The winners will get their choice of one of my books and a grab bag book by a different Christian author. I have several autographed books that I need to give away and some others that aren't signed but the story is still good. I'll figure out which ones are up for grabs and let you know in one of my posts. That's besides my books. You can check out which of mine you might like to read by checking the titles out on my website. There are sample chapters and more there on all my inspirational fiction books. 

The contest is open to USA and Canada for print books and e-books for international entries. That international postage is prohibitive. You must be 18 to enter. Deadline for entries is April 18, 2015 at 12 midnight EST. I'll announce the winners here on April 19. 

Get Ready, Set, Go

So I'm ready to hear what you know about this flower. For years I called it the wrong thing. Oh, and if you don't know the real name or even if you do, another fun thing to do is pretend you were the first person to ever see this flower and that you got to name it. So what would you have called it? 

Remember to leave a way to contact you if you want to be in the running to win a book. I can't respond directly to your comments. 


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Time for Romance and History



Sometimes you go somewhere and just step smack dab into the middle of history. That’s what happened to us last week when my husband and I went to a Southern Gospel event at the Greenbrier Resort Hotel in West Virginia. A beautiful place that simply reeked with history. Made this writer wonder if I could someday write a story in such a gorgeous setting incorporating some of the history of the place. They tell you to write what you know, so that might make it hard for me to write about rich socialites dancing their way through the hot days of summer. I grew up on a farm working my way through the hot days of summer or reading in the coolest place I could find!

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the more affluent people of the country often escaped the heat and humidity of their towns or plantations by going to grand hotels that sprang up around sulfur springs. It was thought that “taking the water” at these resorts was a cure for a wide variety of ailments including arthritis and weak joints. After the sulfur water springs in this remote valley in the Allegheny Mountains were discovered in 1778, it began to draw people.

The Grand Central Hotel, the resort that preceded the present Greenbrier was built in 1858 and was known as “The White.” 

These hotels didn’t only have cures for physical ailments, but they were a great place to seek some romantic times. The clock here became the focal point of many romances in the olden days when suitors left notes in the bottom area of the clock for their sweethearts. Perhaps with directions for a rendezvous in the gardens or maybe even a sweetly worded proposal. Now there's a box on the mantel for those still wanting to post a romantic note so that the old clock won’t be damaged by too many romantic fingers touching it.

During the Civil War, the hotel changed hands between the Union and Confederate Army. Somehow it survived the tribulations of war and once the war ended, people continued to flock to the springs in hopes of curing rheumatism and more.

The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway bought the property in 1913 and added a new building to “the Old White.” They renamed the resort The Greenbrier Hotel. The railroad company's expansion also included a "mineral bath department" and an 18-hole golf course. It soon became the vacation spot of choice of the rich and famous including President and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson.

Then Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States was at war. The government leased the hotel and used it to house German and Japanese diplomats until a military trade could be arranged. After that, the hotel became a hospital for wounded soldiers.

When the war was over, the hotel was turned back over the Chesapeake railroad and a complete makeover began. Dorothy Draper was hired to redecorate the hotel and she brought her love of colors and flowers to the task. It was said that when she had finished with a room it was “draperized.” She intended for the resort to be a place where a person should have fun and be cheered by color.

With the cold war going on after World War II and many citizens building fall-out shelters, the government undertook a secret project of building a bunker disguised by a new West Virginia wing of the Greenbrier. This was to house the President and the Congress in case of a nuclear attack. It was thought that fallout from any bombs dropped on Washington D.C. or Fort Knox would be somewhat blocked by the mountains and the radioactive air would slide around the beautiful valley. The builders and public were told the hotel was building exhibition halls. 

Only three government officials knew the location of the fallout bunker, but in the case of nuclear attack, the President and his cabinet along with Congress members would be evacuated to the bunker and locked away behind thick steel walls in hopes of keeping the government up and running. It was kept stocked with enough food and water for 1,000 people for forty-five days. We took a tour of the bunker area and I could imagine a war breaking out between the occupants in those close quarters! 

The secret location was leaked to the press in 1992 which ended any possibility of its future use by the government as a bunker. Some felt its usefulness was outdated and that it was a waste of government money to keep it maintained and ready to be occupied. Once missiles could be launched instead of carried in by airplane, there wouldn’t be enough time after notice of an impending attack for the government people to make it from Washington D.C. to the Greenbrier location before the bombs were dropped. So now it’s a bit of history that people like me pay money to see.

Currently, the hotel has in excess of 700 rooms and covers 6,500 acres. It has a 40,000 square foot spa and hires a staff of well over 1,000. And it is a cheerful, flowery and restful place. That is except for the long walk to your room and back to the lobbies. We got our exercise. 


For more information and to see more photos check out these links.


It was a fancy place for this old country girl, but I did enjoy Dorothy Draper's colors throughout the hotel or the part of the hotel I saw. But I didn't go take the "waters." Instead we took in the spiritual waters of the Southern Gospel songs. 

Do you like imagining the romances that may have started at this place? The business deals made? Murders plotted? I mean just by writers like me. LOL.






Sunday, March 15, 2015

Missing Mom on her Birthday

Celebrating Mom's birthday!
Mom (on the right) and her sisters, Evelyn and Margaret


Mom and me and my dogs

Mom and her grandkids


Monday the 16th of March is Mom's birthday. The first birthday I haven't been able to celebrate with her. She's gone on to heaven where she doesn't have to worry about getting older and where every day can be blessing filled. Mom would have been 95 if she had made it to this day. She did not. She passed on last July. Mom always said she wanted to live to be 100. She almost made it. 
Mom with my sister and her granddaughters

She had a hard way to go those last few years after dementia stole her ability to remember. That's not something I'd wish on anybody. And certainly nothing I wanted my mother or us, her family, to go through. My mother was a very determined woman and so when dementia made her think she was still a young woman who needed to be taking care of her children or cooking for her husband or sometimes being so young that she needed to be home with her parents, then she could not accept that she couldn't go out the door and do what she thought she needed to be doing.
Mom and a great granddaughtr

But now if I can push those last unhappy years aside, I know how much Mom loved life and how much she loved her family. She was a beautiful woman inside and out. And I was very fortunate to be her daughter. What a blessing to have a mother like her! She made sure we learned right from wrong. She encouraged us in whatever we wanted to do with our lives. She loved us even when we were not exactly lovable. 

Mom and another great granddaughter
In her more aware moments in those last years she would say she was tired and ready to give up living except she didn't want to leave us. Family meant so much to her. She meant so much to me. I miss her! 

Mom loved our family reunions
I know many of you have had to say goodbye to your own mothers or fathers. You've told me how much you miss them. How you wish you could have a few more days to walk beside them and hear some of the old family stories again. You've told me how you carry them with you in your hearts. Our mother's voice is the first voice we heard and her words will forever whisper in our thoughts. 

So happy birthday to my mom. I won't get to give you a hug on your birthday or buy you flowers. But I will remember all the beautiful things you've given me. Life and joy and the wonderful knowledge of your love. 

Do you have or did you have a wonderful mother like that?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

What Songs Make You Tap Your Toes?

Most of you know that my husband sang bass in gospel quartets for almost forty years. He retired from his most recent quartet group over a year ago to do some solo singing and not have to travel as much. But he didn't lose his love for the Southern Gospel quartet music. 

This week we've been at a gospel music convention and hearing a lot of the old favorite Southern gospel songs. Songs like "Have a Little Talk with Jesus," "It is No Secret What God Can Do," "I'll Fly Away," and so many more. I'm not as big a fan as my husband. I tend to listen more to the words than the blend of the singers or the music. But my toe taps on many of the songs. I liked hearing "It is No Secret." I hadn't heard that song for years and those words say a lot.

So, on my Facebook page, I asked my friends what their favorite gospel songs were. I got a great variety of answers with several people mentioning old hymns like "Amazing Grace" and "The Old Rugged Cross." Many of them were like me and said it was impossible to narrow it down to one song. That's sort of how it was at the gospel gathering. Each old song I heard was a new favorite. There was one that my husband used to sing in a group he was in a long time ago called "Boundless Love." Those lyrics and music used to get audiences to their feet every time the guys sang it. I think it was a Cathedral Quartet song. But it tells about how great is the love of the Lord. Boundless. Without limits. What a great thought.

Then, a favorite song of many, and one that Darrell sang in most of the groups he was in was "The Lighthouse." I wrote a blog post telling the amazing story of how Ronnie Hinson was gifted with the song when he was a very young man. He wrote it in seven minutes without ever having actually seen a lighthouse. You can read that story here. It's truly an amazing song writing story. I guess as a writer I do enjoy hearing the stories behind how the songs were written even though I have no song writing abilities or have ever thought about writing songs. I like having plenty of pages to tell my stories. LOL. 

I asked Darrell just now what song he heard this week was his favorite, and he couldn't pick one. But I'll guarantee if he had picked some favorites, they would have had good bass parts. 

I think the favorite song I heard this week was "It is Well" sung a cappella by the Blackwood Brothers. Beautiful and moving. We had that song played at Mom's funeral and it has seemed to follow me around after that. At first, hearing it brought the sadness to memory, but now it's more an affirmation of Mom's life.

So what is your favorite gospel song?


Monday, March 9, 2015

March Snow? 12 Things that might be Good


March is usually a headed toward Spring month here in Kentucky. Flowers begin to appear. There are days with a generous dose of warm sunshine to soak into your skin after the winter cold. The normal temperature for a Kentucky day in early March is in the 50s. Sometimes we're treated to much warmer. And sometimes we're slammed with much colder as we were last week. Record breaking cold all across the state with the temperature dipping into the minus regions. 

We had snow to match the low temperatures, or perhaps the low temperatures to match the snow. Wednesday every bit of the snow we had on the ground melted and it rained. Until it started sleeting and then snowing. And snowing and snowing. 

We sometimes have snow in March in Kentucky. But not 16 or 20 inches. That's January snow. March snow is generally a few flakes blowing in the wind. Flurries one minute, sunshine the next. Or if the snow does fall down and coat the ground, the sun warms it up and melts it away pronto. But not this snow with the minus temperatures. It didn't care that it's March and Spring is only two short weeks away. Winter isn't ready to quit. 

But there is good in most everything if you look. And so I'm looking. What good things can we think of for this snow? 

1. It was a beautiful snow. Really. Friday morning when I went out at sunrise the trees were sparkling and the cedars were coated in snow just like a Christmas card. The snow on the ground sparkled too. Made me think of those detergents I used to buy to wash baby clothes. Ivory Flakes or Dreft, I think. And sometimes if a little breeze shook some off a tree, the flakes sparkled like diamonds in the air. Beautiful. Really.

2. I got lots of extra exercise walking in the snow over my boot tops. Had to be good for my leg muscles. Had to be.

3. That much snow is filling up the ponds and underground springs. Nourishing the plants and flowers that are waiting under the snow. 

4. They say it has to be at least minus five to kill deer ticks. If that's true, then this winter should thin them and other insects out around here. 

5. Kids and wanna be kids got to build snowmen and go sledding and had the fun of a snow day out of school. 

6. There was plenty of fresh snow to scoop up for Snow Cream. 

7. The trees might not bud out and bloom too early and get killed by the frost. Maybe.


8. Oscar was ready to come inside. If new experiences help our brains, then maybe the same help dogs learn too. He had to figure out all the different ways to walk in the snow from pushing through the powdery stuff to walking on top of a frozen crust, to breaking through the crust with some of his steps back to deep powder again. 


9. It gave many people reason to help their neighbors with shoveling and plowing out their roads or donating to homeless shelters.


10. It will make us appreciate the spring sunshine and flowers all that much more for having to wait for it. The flowers are coming. Well watered by the snow.




11. A snowy, cold day is a great time to settle down with a good book and a cup of something warm.

12. It's a perfect reason to make a cup of hot chocolate.

What good things can you add about the snow?