Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Some Seeds are Trouble

Have you had fun guessing the seeds? This is the last one. I'll be drawing for the winners this weekend. Two winners or who knows? Maybe three. And remember you don't have to have the right guess to enter. Just say you don't know the way Gail and Annette did on Sunday's post. But some of you did guess my Sunday picture or at least came very close. The picture is of a Chinese chestnut from a tree in our yard. 

Somebody gave my husband the seed years ago and he decided to see if it would grow. It did. But I have to tell you it is NOT my favorite tree. It was okay for several years, but then it bloomed. Not good. Very not good! At the time we didn't have air conditioning and depended on an attic fan to cool out the house at night. Chinese chestnut blooms smell very bad, or at least ours does. That first year I thought some poor animal had crawled up under our bedroom window and died -- days ago!! I had to hold my breath walking through the yard. I went from the wonderful fragrance of lilacs to these. Not a good progression. 

For some reason, this year the blooms didn't smell as awful. Of course the last few years we've had the air conditioning and haven't had to have our windows open to the stinking fragrance. And it may have not bloomed as heavily as it did those earlier years. 

But that's not the only problem with this tree. The outer shells of the chestnut is neat, don't you think? Well, it is also very, very sticky, and it is almost impossible to pick one of them up without getting small needles in your fingers. When I first discovered this, my grandson was about two and running around barefoot in the yard. He got a foot full of these stickers. Impossible to see, but painful. So I picked up every one of the chestnuts and even the bits of the shells I could find and removed it from the yard. 

Still, every tree has its own special charms. I'm sure someday I'll figure out a charm for this one. In fact, I went online to look the tree up and in the pictures I found the trees did look charming. Maybe I need to give ours some fertilizer or something. 

I do have to note a couple of the great guesses. Loretta guessed hollyhocks and took me back to my childhood when I loved playing with hollyhock seeds. Not that they looked much like chestnuts, but it was still a fun memory. Ann guessed a burr thingy. That could cover a lot of burr seeds. :) And Amy had the fun guess of a caterpillar. If you squint your eyes and use your imagination, you can see that caterpillar and then you can think about how in some weird way the caterpillar might be considered a butterfly seed. LOL. 

Thank you all for guessing and making this mystery seed contest fun. This post's seeds might be easier for you. So what do you think? Do you know what the picture of seeds is this time? I can't wait to read your guesses. 

But while I'm waiting for you to read this, I'm going to go out on the deck and look at the ocean a while here in Monterey Bay where I've been at a writers' retreat. I need to hurry because the sun is going down and the day is fleeing. Tomorrow, I have to get on the airplane and fly home. Looking forward to being home again too and seeing my husband and taking Oscar for a walk. 

As always, thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

And the Seeds March On

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease. (Genesis 8:22)

It's seedtime here again with a new one for you to guess. I'm making you work hard to maybe win a couple of books, but I hope you're having fun too. This might be another not so easy one. Then again, you might guess it right off the bat. I look forward to reading your guesses.

I was right about the last picture not being easy. It might have been easy for me if I'd been on the other end of the mystery picture because I grew up with these little bushes all over our farm. My father did not like them at all. He thought they were pests and had been brought into the area, but when I looked them up online it sounded as if they were supposed to be right here in Kentucky and all over the eastern United States. We always called them buck berry bushes. Here's a buck berry link to information about them. I was completely surprised to see that you can actually buy seeds to grow these bushes and the seeds were expensive. We were always trying to find ways to get rid of the bushes, not grow them. 

Of course, my sister and I "harvested" the little berries to use
in our mud pie kitchen. Made for great "cherry" pies. And they were easy to pick. No thorns and low to the ground. The article said birds and animals eat them. I guess they do, but if so, they must not taste very good because buck berries seem to be the last to be eaten. Must not be exactly like chocolate to the wildlife. Or my dad would say there are just so many of the bushes and thus berries that I'm not noticing that the animals are eating a few of them.

Thanks, as always, for reading. If you want to know about my blog giveaway just go back a few posts to read about it or check out the details here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mystery Seeds

"With every deed you are sowing a seed, though the harvest you may not see." ~Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Are you tired of seed mysteries yet? When I walked this afternoon, I kept seeing more and more seeds. I could keep this up for another month of two, but I won't. The giveaway contest ends on October 31. Then I'll draw a couple of winners who will get one of my books and a grab bag book as well. All you have to do to enter is take a guess on these seed pictures. Or just leave a comment saying you don't know if you're stumped and can't think up a guess. Either one will get you an entry and you get a new entry on each guess of a new seed picture. Deadline is October 31, so only a couple more seed pictures after this one. Remember to leave a way to contact you. If you've left your e-mail on a previous guess, you're okay.

Feel free to check back the last few entries to guess on the previous seed pictures if you didn't get a chance to see those posts until now. While I've fessed up to what seed was in the photo and there won't be much suspense, it's still fun. 

Last week, most of you were spot on with the photo. They were grapes, but not the tame type that grow in your yard or gardens. They were wild grapes. Those that climb up on and around trees out in the woods and make vines for country kids to play on. Like me when I was a girl. I felt like Tarzan back then. 

And now my grandkids go out in the woods here on the farm and play on grapevines too. Some ways to have fun never change. 

When I was a kid, I didn't pay much attention to the wild grape fruit. I was all about the vines. People used to tell me the grapevines wouldn't break. They are flexible and pretty strong, but if you try to do some of those Tarzan tricks and swing through the "jungle" or woods, you might just get a close up view of the "jungle floor." Even so, you got to give it a try and swing. Right?

One of you guessing called them "possum grapes." A good name since little animals do feast on them. I never ate them, but my mother made wild grape jelly once just to see if she could. The wild grapes are very small, nothing like those grapes you buy at the store, so she had to gather a lot of them. But that was Mom. She liked trying things like that. I have no doubt that when she was a girl she played on grapevines too. Did you?

Now you've got a new picture to guess. I think this one might be harder than the wild grapes, but you all surprise me sometimes. So what is it? 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Another Seed to Guess

Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth"; and it was so. (Genesis 1:11 NKJ)

Just as I thought, most all of you guessed last week's "seed." They were black walnuts. A few of you had interesting other guesses such as pears, pawpaws, hedge apples, fig, guava, and quince. But no, they were black walnuts. Here's another picture of them after they've fallen off the tree and are on the ground for the picking. The green hull comes off and inside the nut shell is black and very hard. It takes a real knock with a hammer or rock to break them. 

When I was a kid, we picked them up and put them in a low place on our rocky driveway. After the car had run over them a few times to mash off the green outer shell, we picked up the black nuts and let them dry for a while. Then Mom would break them with a hammer. She had a special nut cracking rock that I still have around here somewhere. It took patience to get the nut meat out of the shells with a nut picker, but those black walnuts were delicious in chocolate candy or divinity. Just thinking about how good that was makes me consider saving a few of the walnuts from the squirrels so I can make some Christmas candy like Mom did.

Another walnut memory was from when my kids were young. We'd go out in the fields and pick up the walnuts to sell. We'd have gunny sacks full and the kids would be counting their money before we finally got their dad to take the walnuts to the local feed store where the buyers set up machines to hull the walnuts. The kids never got as much as they dreamed they might get because the nuts weren't weighed until after the green hull was off. So even though we had picked up sacks and sacks of them, the pounds they were paid for was probably less than half that. Still, it wasn't a bad way to spend a beautiful fall day - out in the woods picking up walnuts with the kids. A little hard on the back sometimes. This year we are having a bountiful crop. My mother-in-law used to say that meant we were in for a hard winter, but industrious squirrels won't have to worry about going hungry. I watched one of them bury one of the walnuts in the yard last week to store it for later.

This week's picture is posted up top. Got a guess on them? Another one that might be extra easy for us country girl types. Remember you get an entry in the giveaway for the choice of one of my books and a grab bag book by another author every time you make a guess on one of the seed pictures. Just please let me know a way to contact you in case you are one of the two winners I'll pick on October 31. You don't have to get the guess right. Just make a guess or be like one of my Facebook friends and admit you are not a nature person and haven't the foggiest. :) That will get you entered in the drawing too. As always, thanks for reading.

"Anybody can count the number of seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed." (Robert H. Schuller)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Seedtime Guesses and More

Happiness held is the seed; Happiness shared is the flower. ~John Harrigan

Loved all your great guesses last week on my seed picture. Some of the guesses were of seeds I recognized - blueberries, huckleberries, gooseberries. But others of you mentioned berries that had me wondering. I'll be looking some of them up on the net. Saskatoon berries, farkleberries, Nantucket berries, Arrow wood berries and more. I definitely have to look up those farkleberries. That name is made to go in a story. But the one thing in common on all the guesses is that they were wrong. :) 

Funny thing is, I was wrong too. Here's a repost of the photo. I decided to make sure I was telling you the right tree, so I did an internet search and came up with a different tree. Well, it's really more of a bush. You know what? Now I know why the berries on that bush are blue while the bush next to it never has blue berries. They might be cousin plants but not sister ones. I thought it was a red twig dogwood, but instead it's a silky dogwood. 

But that's okay. The berries are still very pretty and the guesses didn't have to be right for you to get an entry in my book giveaway. Even better, this week I'm giving you an easy picture. I think most all of you will be able to identify these "seeds" without thinking twice. Remember you can guess on each new picture this month and get another entry in a drawing to receive one of my books (winner's choice) and a grab bag book by a different writer. I'll be posting more "seed" photos for you to guess until I draw for a couple of winners on Halloween. So you might up your chances of winning by leaving a guess on each post before then. Doesn't have to be right. Just a guess. 


You have to get up and plant the seed and see if it grows, but you can't just wait around, you have to water it and take care of it.                                                                             ~Bootsy Collins

That's true with most everything in life from planting a garden in the spring to beginning down a new story road the way I am right now. I'm at the "grow the idea in my head a little bit more" stage. In writing, the same as in planting seeds in dirt, you do have to actually plant the seeds. In writing, that means I have to put my fingers on the keyboard and type words that will grow into a story. At least, that will be my hope. 

The initial story idea is sometimes like an odd little tree sprout I might come across. I see the sprout there. The idea. But I need more. I need limbs and branches, leaves and twigs. And everything needs to connect and interact to make a story something like I envisioned when I allowed my idea seed to germinate and begin growing. 

The seed of everything is in everything else. ~Anaxagoras

As always, thanks for reading. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Seeding Time - A New Contest to Win Some Books

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." (George Eliot)

Do you love the season of autumn? What a great time to get outside and enjoy some sunshine. Maybe sit in a glider on your deck or porch and read a book. Now that sounds like a vacation and why not? A few mini-vacations now and again can keep us going. So if you think that sounds like something you might put on your agenda, how about a chance to win a book that you can read, if not out on the deck, in your favorite easy chair. 

A New Contest

Some of you have enjoyed the mystery photo contests I've had here in the past. And we will have more of them in the future, but this contest is not exactly that. Here the photo is right there. You can see it and what it is. No mystery about it. Blue berries on a bush. No, I'm not trying to come up with a tongue twister. Just some fun. For this contest, you have to try to guess what kind of bush berries those might be. Autumn is a season for seeds. The Lord made a way for each plant to continue coming up every year. So guess the seed. 

And how to enter --

As always with my contests, and this one is for blog only, you don't have to have a correct answer to enter the contest. Just make a guess, right or wrong, or simply say that you have no idea what kind of seed or bush it is. Also be sure to leave a way for me to contact you should you be a winner. And for those who say they have difficulty leaving comments here - I'd try to fix that if I knew what the problem was - you can send me a message at annhgabhart(at)hughesnet(dot)com. 

That will give you an entry and the chance to be a winner who will get his or her choice of one of my books plus a grab bag book, my choice, but a book by another inspirational genre writers. It might even be autographed. I'll get some books together and show the choices soon. 

We'll have more "seed" photos on my posts the rest of the month and you can let me know how much "country" runs through your veins by making some guesses. 

Each guess on a new photo this month gets you another entry in my drawing. As I said, if you know what the photo is, great. If not, make up something about the photo and get an entry. But make sure to leave a way to contact you. I'll be drawing for the winner on Halloween night. How spooky is that??? Now let's have some seed time fun. I took this week's photo back in August if that helps.  

Thanks for stopping by and wasn't Sandi's story hilarious last week?  I have four more days to be put on the "rack" and "radiated." Even better I won't have to fight that morning rush hour traffic and can go back to be being a work at home kind of person. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Saga of the Breast MRI

After I wrote a few weeks ago about being diagnosed with breast cancer, I've heard from many of you who have fought the same fight. We do have the one in eight statistic staring us in the face. Many of you have shared with me about your diagnoses and how now you are cancer free. You've also given me advice and counsel about the tests and surgery and treatments. 
There are always more tests to undergo after that first test shows up something that shouldn't be there. In my case, a mammogram initially indicated a problem and led to more testing. First an ultrasound. Not so bad. Not as good as when a new mama is seeing that sweet baby she's carrying and gets to find out if it's a girl or boy. This one just showed up something I didn't want to show up. A tumor that next brought out a very long needle to dig a little of it out for testing. Then when the tests come back positive - that's not such a good word when you're talking cancer - then more tests are ordered. 

One of them involved an MRI machine like this one. I didn't really have any problem doing the MRI test. It was noisy. My neck got stiff from having to lie still on my stomach for 25 minutes, but I can't begin to have a story to compare with the one Sandi shared with me about her MRI experience. I think she's ready for her own comedy show. She has kindly allowed me to share her story with you so that maybe you can get some giggles too the way I did. I'm sure some of you who have had questionable mammograms or have been diagnosed with breast cancer will be able to identify. For those of you yet to do an MRI, don't worry if the doctor says you need one. Sandi's experience is not the usual one. Mine, the noisy but uneventful one is more the norm. But here's Sandi's story.

I've had three types of biopsies and yesterday, a breast MRI. All I can say is “ouch.” Getting an IV started for the dye part of it was bad enough–I asked them to call 911 because I feared they were trying to kill me. However, the task was finally done...after seven pokes... and then I was led innocently into a room like a lamb led to slaughter–I mean to the MRI machine “place.”

There was that thing again that looked like what I’d seen when they changed the oil in my car. Twas a bed with holes in it for my “ladies” to hang through–the difference was that no one was going to be under it gathering pieces of me. That should have made me feel didn’t. The table/bed/contraption was rather high in the air and I think I climbed up two ladders to get onto it...see I’ve begun blocking it already...perhaps it was a step stool. I have bad knees in the sense that one has been replaced and the other one needs to be, so kneeling is next to impossible. I also have a plate in my neck with screws and I was hoping to keep them in the same place as when I entered. 

She told me to lie on my stomach–something I haven’t done since I’ve gained...oh maybe 30 pounds...and trying to decide where to tuck the fat so it didn’t interfere with anything was not only arduous, it was painful. Fortunately, many years ago I learned some hypnosis and decided to use it to transport myself to a much happier and safer elevation or something. However, I had to stay unhypnotized until I got onto the the least.

Finally, the tech said we were ready to start and she left the room...or not...who can see when their face is buried in a frame that doesn’t allow for vision...and certainly not comfort. The machine began...thumping...wheezing...coughing–sounding like an asthmatic mule that was stuck in a metal tunnel and needed put out of its misery. Wow–I don’t think general anesthesia could have blocked out all of that noise. I would mentally put myself in my safe place and wham...the noise would start again. The tech kept telling me I was doing very well and I kept telling myself that this was NOT something I wanted to have to repeat. So I even tried not to breathe. (They tell you to lie very still.)

So, after about three days of this–well, maybe 25 minutes according to “her,” which was more like four hours to me, she injected the dye and we were “off” again. Finally finished. I crawled, literally, off the table and kind of fell onto the tech who had no idea how close she had come to being crushed. My hand began itching something fierce. About five minutes later, everything was itching. I said, “I think there’s something wrong” as a hive appeared on my lip and my body began shaking and my head began thumping and and... .

The tech called the nurse who immediately gave me Benedryl and ordered up several gallons of water...for me to drink. (A slight exaggeration). More hives and chest pain–so the nurse called a doctor (and maybe a lawyer and an Indian chief). Benedryl does strange things to me. The threat of sending me to the emergency room led me to stop complaining. However, it was several hours later until I was allowed to leave.

The upside...and I really truly looked for one...was that my breasts are fine. Silly little buggers...why don’t they have an indicator light? Cars do.

Thanks for helping me to see that I had a very easy time with that MRI procedure, Sandi. And it would be nice if we had a few indicator lights. But then if I had them now, they might be glowing after my radiation treatments. Ten down. Six to go. 

Thanks for reading. And if you haven't read my 1st Rosey Corner book, Angel Sister, you can download it right now onto your e-readers or your computer or phone for less than two bucks. That price won't last long. Only a couple of days so hope you'll grab it and go back to 1936 and read about the Merritt sisters when they were only girls. And if you've already read it and enjoyed the story, it would be great if you told your e-reading friends about the deal. Thanks.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Sister Walk Back in Time

"For there is no friend like a sister in calm or stormy weather; to cheer one on the tedious way, to fetch one if one goes astray, to life one if one totters down, to strengthen whilst one stands." ~Christina Rosetti

Took a walk with my sisters this afternoon and we attempted a selfie. Needed an extension on my arm. It wasn't quite long enough, but looks like our smiles are still showing. Sisters are good for smiles. 

In some ways, we took a walk back in time as we went to the farm where we grew up. When I was a young teen, I used to walk back into this wooded area every chance I got, especially in the fall when the trees started changing colors. There were several landmarks that I noted each time and so today I looked for those places. 

This old tree is one of them. It was along the main path and at its base was a rock with a hole in it. I always stopped there to give that rock another look. Now the tree is old, surely in its last days since only a few branches showed leaves. The rock was still at the base of the tree. Well, of course it was. Rocks don't get up and walk away, but the rock was covered with a thick layer of dirt and moss. I could have dug around and uncovered that hole in the rock, but I didn't. I left it undisturbed. It wouldn't have had the same wonder it had when I discovered it as a kid. No where near.

It was interesting to hear the landmarks my sisters had noted and remembered from their young days. A burr oak here. A persimmon tree there. And a creek or two. And what about that pond up on top of the hill? Or where was the hickory nut tree where we used to gather nuts in the fall? 

We walked and walked. We talked and talked. We laughed and wondered why we weren't seeing more deer. Guess we forgot about the talking and laughing. We looked up at the tree tops and down at the late season flowers. We began to wonder if we'd ever see civilization again, but we did see trees. Beautiful hardwood trees that are taking over the property. And we were glad we had shared memories.

My sisters and I are sharing a lot right now as we go through all Mom's things in her house. Mom was the last one standing and in her house, she stored the memories of two extended families. Those memories are being passed down to us and to our children now. So many things with little or no market value but that are invaluable to us because in those things reside memories. 

That's what our walk did too. Rekindled memories of when we were teens and wandered through those trees. The trees weren't the same. They were better since the hardwood trees are beginning to smother out the cedars. A beautiful place to walk and share with my sisters and to remember. 

Do you have special places you can share with your siblings? 

"God said you'll need somebody to drive you crazy, to get you in trouble, to know you as no one else does, to love you when no one else will ...And so He made a sister!"

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Birthday Stories and the Birthday Giveaway Winners!

This picture is a few years old. My grandson is taller than me now and I can't pick up both the little ones anymore, but this is the last birthday photo I have of me. Grandkids make a birthday fun, but now my birthday month has come to an end. It's October. That means it's time to pick winners in my Birthday Giveaway Contest. And in fine storytelling form - you know, where the writer makes you wait for the part of the story you most want to find out about - how about a couple more birthday stories before we close out the fun?

Here's Betty's birthday story. 

I am from a large family, 5 girls and 4 boys. I had a great childhood and learned about family and sharing through the examples of my parents. We never had a lot, but birthdays were always special. Mom let us choose what we wanted to eat for our birthday dinner and of course, there was always ice cream and cake for dessert. Two of my sisters' birthdays were problematic though as they were December 23rd and December 25th. There was always so much going on for the Christmas holiday that their birthdays seemed to be trivialized and not very special. One year my mother decided to bake two birthday cakes and celebrate each sister separately. Hopefully, they would feel special. One cake was round with bright red frosting and looked like a Christmas tree decoration. The other was green and shaped like a Christmas tree. The love and thought that went into the preparations were great...however, no one wanted red or green cake! All these years later, (over 50!) we all still refer to those "special" Christmas birthday cakes. So I think Mom actually did achieve her objective of making the birthdays special!

Do any of you have "Christmas" birthdays? I've always thought it might be a good idea to celebrate those a year and a half - in June or July. My daughter-in-law has a birthday close to Christmas and she says she was never happy to get a birthday gift combined with her Christmas gift or to get the birthday gift wrapped in Christmas paper. I try to remember that. :)

Tish shares a sweet story about her little boy's gift to his mom that has lasted through the years and still warms her heart.

When my son was a little boy, he bought me my first Peony bush. He went into Lowe's and saw the bush and asked his Daddy if he could buy it for my birthday. ...He was so happy to give me my gift. Every year it blooms and brings back memories of him as a little tot so proud of himself and the bush. 

Last Cheri tells how she gets back at her kids for deciding to be born in the middle of the night. 

My birthday story involves me calling all 4 of my adult children at the time of day that they were born on their birthday. And the best part is that they were all born in the middle of the night!! They actually seem to love it!

And now I've made you wait long enough. Drumroll please! The 1st prize winner is Imogene from KY. She gets the $50 gift card and picked Christmas at Harmony Hill. 2nd place winners are Carolyn J from FL and Tammy R from OR. They get the $25 gift cards and Carolyn picked Love Comes Home and Tammy picked Summer of Joy. 

Many thanks to the rest of you who took part in my birthday fun and shared wonderful stories with me. I'm always the biggest winner in these contests because I get to hear from you. Thank you so much and thank you for reading my books and for praying for me while I cared for my mother and then when I had surgery. The radiation treatments aren't bad and I will be through with them by the middle of the month. I am blessed by your prayers and your friendship. 

Oh, and stay tuned for a new contest here on One Writer's Journal very soon. Only book prizes this time but you guys like books, don't you? I'm working up something we maybe can have fun with for the giveaway. Not exactly mystery photos but something similar. And now you'll have to wait and see what. There I go again. Making you wait.