In Time of Trial, I Wish You Grace

If I could say one word to you in time of fear, trial and waiting…

that word would be

GRACE:

Patience to endure the unknowable.

Strength to handle whatever is to come.

Wisdom to accept that all things have their time and purpose.

Friends that will be with you in silence–to listen, to exude love

Time to reflect and be grateful for all that is good

Elegance in acceptance of what is– “It is what it is.”

Mercy and pardon both from on high and in your deepest heart so you will be free from  guilt and self-flagellation

Acceptance  of any perceived weakness and all emotions

Forgiveness where it is needed-of self and others. No one needs carry the burden of a grudge.

Peace to still the quivering heart

I wish you GRACE

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mt Hood and Columbia River Gorge

June in Portland Oregon region is warm and tender apple green as life bursts forth toward the summer. Azaleas, roses and rhododendrons show off their finery.

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Image by C London

Image by C London

Image by C London

Wildflowers dot roadsides; statuesque foxglove spears the swaying grass.

Image by C London

 

Image by C London

Foliage drifts on the breeze like a bird soaring on an updraft.

Image by C London

 

The forest floor is shaded and bespeckled with sun. Ferns and tiny flowers share the space with a large variety of green.

 

The power of the Columbia River is highlighted at Booneville Dam-

–it’s spillway and fish ladder demonstrating the winter’s abundant rainfall.

Image by C. London

Mount Hood stand watch over the verdant lowlands, still deep in snow above the timberline.

Image by C London

Travelers who drive up toward the summit are reward with a leisurely sit on the bare wood Adirondack chairs of the back patio of the WPA era constructed lodge, a cool breeze off the snow and the opportunity to see those intrepid souls who hike it’s summit and ski year round.

Image by C London

 

Resinous pine branches bob under the weight of their new needles. Yellow and white heads dot the underbrush of taller graceful grass rippling gaily in the breeze and rows of tall pines stand guard over the highway–soldiers dedicated to the future on the mountain.

Waterfalls cool the air along the Columbia River Gorge.

   

Image by C London

 

Even the city weary and overworked can relax.

 

 

 

Image by C London

More on Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/christinelondon/pacific-northwest/

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Yikes–I Think I Have Turned Into a ‘Grandma’

 

My kids have not had children—yet, but recently I have noticed the definite signs of Grandmother-dom.

Image courtesy freedigitalphotos.net

Kids have flown the coup and dang it, I am not yet blessed with human grandchildren. The silence would be deafening—if not for the dogs.

I have had dogs all my life. As most anyone will tell you, training and consistency are the hallmarks of a well behaved, pleasant to be around canine. So too, I have always been consistent in training my dogs. High expectations of compliance have been what I’ve lived by…

…until now.

My name is Christine London and I am a doggie grandma. There. I said it. Is there a twelve step group I can join to confess this truth?

I spoil. Dang it—I even go so far as to encourage the breaking of doggie table manners—101.

Bassett hounds and golden retrievers – past who have shared the surname of ‘London’ have always remained either beneath the table, snoozing, or at a distant from the dining area whilst humans were partaking in food consumption.

Image courtesy freedigitalphotos.net

I confess. I have turned into a grandma.

Grandmas are allowed to, even expected to, buy their grandchildren toys and sweet treats far outweighing reason. Gluttony in the name of Grandma’s right to spoil is one of the nicer things about having reached the esteemed age and high office of the elder. We are supposed to be allowed–at least tolerated, as we feed our grand kids three scoop ice cream cones topped with gummy worms, sending them home spinning like the Tasmanian devil to their chagrined parents. Right?

As my Golden Retriever nudges my arm from beneath the table, providing her muzzle as a sort of ‘arm-pit mouth’; I spear a small piece of broccoli and chicken, knowing full well any dog mother would be mortified at what is to come next.

Yes. Golden Kiki opens her mouth in a dainty ‘O’ and turns on the canine vacuum, cajoling the morsels from my tines. No one really noticed, did they?

Image courtesy freedigitalphotos.net

Truth be told, I wouldn’t care if they did, because I have officially reached the age and status to do such things and attribute them to having joined the esteemed ranks of grandmother-dom.

So as I offer my tea cup Yorkie, sitting on my opposite side, a bite-sized piece of baked chicken as he stares, on high alert, from his pillow on the chair next to me, you will indulge me right?

I am, after all,  a grandma now.

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“Z” for Zenith

The highest point or culmination – Zenith

As we come to the end of this year’s A to Z Challenge, I want to thank those who conceived of this blogger’s event as well as all the minions who manage the minutia involved in every large undertaking.

Exercising flabby blogging muscles in the spring reminds we who write that it is, indeed possible to create something of entertainment or educational value everyday.

If you have enjoyed this April’s entries, I invite you to click on the “Sign Up’ button to your right–leave your name and email addie–and you will receive a notice every time there is a new posting here.

I hope we get to know each other better in 2014 and beyond through the vehicle of this blog, my books and short stories. Please feel free to comment on any of my past blog entries and together, we shall grow.

Welcome the lusty month of May as we cascade toward summer.

Be well

and smile :)

Other places to connect:

Christine London

Author 100 Romances Best Of the Year, When We Were Amazing
Tweet sweet with Christine at https://twitter.com/ChristineLondon
Impossibly Pretty Pinteresting: http://pinterest.com/christinelondon/

 

 

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“Y” is for Yellow

“They call me mellow yellow.” -Donovon

Have you noticed that many town’s fire departments have traded in the classic red fire engine for a neon yellow model?

image courtesy freedgitalphotos.net

Even in low light or at a distance, yellow can be seen better than any other colour.

Yellow is also associated with optimism and cheerfulness. A yellow tone painted on walls suggests sunlight in a dim room or hallway. The highest quality pencils were originally made in China–yellow in homage to their Emperor Huang Ti. Yes–we copied this quality right down to the sunny jacket. Cabs are yellow for the same reason fire engines have gone that route–seen well at a distance.

image courtesy freedgitalphotos.net

Mankind’s roots have us hardwired to associate yellow with the sun and daytime when we could go forth, gather food and keep ourselves safer from what lurks in the shadows and night.

The limonoids in lemons help fend off cancer. Bananas? – a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Potassium and Manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin B6.

Post it notes? Uh, sorry—not originally yellow because it makes them easier to see. There was a surplus of yellow scrap paper at the 3M plant.

image courtesy freedgitalphotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

Nevertheless…

Add yellow into your life to lift your spirits and colour your world optimistic.

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Xerophilous – Are You Capable of surviving in a hot dry climate?

Not only am I capable, I absolutely whither in the cold and rain. Actually it is not so much the wet stuff. Rather it is the low light levels day in and out that bring about what has been dubbed “S.A.D.”, or Seasonal Affected Disorder.

There are a fair percentage of people so effected. ( prevalence in the U.S. ranging from 1.4% in Florida to 9.7% in New Hampshire. ) Most often this severe case of the blues is a winter event. Shorter days and gray skies are the culprits.

However, if you are someone who live on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, and you are not a vampire, you just may find yourself pulling the covers back over your head more often than is healthy – year round.

It has been argued that SAD is an evolutionary adaption in humans that is a variant or remnant of a hibernation response in some remote ancestor.

As a resident of Los Angeles, I happily, no longer suffer. My year in the great Northwest was not so merry.

Image Courtesy freedigitalphotos.net

Here in the land of sunshine, residents are at little risk of falling low on their Vitamin D stores. Even those of us who have indoor jobs can gaze out brightened windows and doge outside for tea or a coffee break. Weekends are meant for outdoors and the pleasure of a daily walk, bike ride or other form of workout is available year round.

I remember as a teenager feeling as though I were plugged into some great recharger when I sat poolside during summer vacation. Like a warm blooded reptile, I basked. The more sunshine, the great energy. So true to this day as I take my morning coffee beneath a sun umbrella at the table on my patio.

Do you need a daily dose of sun?

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“W” is for Wanderlust and the Photographer’s Eye – Setting

Dickens and Elliot wrote pages describing setting in their novels. In today’s popular fiction market, readers expect a faster paced, more dialogue-rich read.

 

Stratosphere – Las Vegas Image by C London

HOWEVER…

 

This does not eliminate the need for rich, visceral experiences that immerse your reader in place and time.

Setting is an opportunity–not an obligation. Words, chosen carefully, can evoke place as well as show aspects of your character in ways that flow naturally as they divulge information.

 

Setting well done, can be a character in and of itself. It can provide emotional tone and tension whether mountains, desert or lost in space. As characters interact in a place, so your reader can be brought  along as they accesses their own past experiences, merging them with your book and characters.

Weather as part of setting paints a feel. Sun versus rain not only effects mood, but can be used as metaphor for story as it unfolds, either literal or to provide contrast.

 

Unusual powdering of snow- North Carolina relative’s house

It is the author’s job to take a reader into a virtual reality; the stage where characters play out the story.

 

To infuse a tone, set atmosphere and mood the author needs to maintain setting credibility.

 

RESEARCH : It is perhaps the best time in history to make setting come alive.

 

The devil, however,  is in the details.

Books, travel brochures & documentaries, Google Earth, You Tube and photo hosting sites such as Photobucket, Flickr and Picasso are but a few sources.

 

The Thames, London, by Night – Image by C London

Many public places have websites. Some include 360 degree views. Most have still photo gallery.

 

Setting does not have to be foreign or fancy. Your hometown and drive-able surrounds are within a reasonable budget, both monetarily and time-wise.

Online information can only give you so much insight. Experiencing a story’s setting first hand provides invaluable sensory data — sights, smells, tastes and sounds that cannot be appreciated through a computer screen.

Onsite research - Take your digital camera. Digital and downloadable photos will allow you to snap many more than needed AND act as a record of details you may not notice in the moment.

Visit local ethnic areas and festivals. People, crafts and foods there will have strong ties to the mother country.

Don’t forget geography, religious views, technological architecture (or lack thereof), art, flora and fauna.

Foreign language CDs from the library can set the mood as can songs of the setting.

Blog about your experiences:

Not only will this provide an invaluable memory journal, details that are lost to time are best saved shortly after the experience.

Gerard Butler – Hollywood – as seen during red carpet event outside theater. Image by C London

Blogs about travel, even around your own stomping grounds, provide welcome entertainment to readers. They enjoy a vicarious experience in which you have included photo illustrations, as well as rich visceral descriptions (those sights, sounds, flavors and tastes) Here is where you can get away with more description than in your fiction. It is a travel journal and expected!

 

Don’t wait to NEED a setting experience. Save all places you go and all you do for future reference. Holidays, business travel, visits to relatives –all enrich your personal stash of setting potpourri.

 

Just as you would draw up a character sketch complete with back story, gather details of information about your setting. Find out as much as you can. It will probably be more than you need, but will allow you to create an aura of authenticity not possible with sketchy details.

 

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“V” for Vindictive

Vindictive is to be- ‘Disposed to or inclined to revenge’

A very human reaction to betrayal. But is it constructive?

“Revenge may sometime lead us to harm others in the mistaken conviction that it will benefit us and bring us some sort of happiness. Actually, it creates suffering not only for the victim of our deeds, but also for us.” – Dalai Lama

When actions are motivated by revenge, what most likely transpire is equally unjust. If we as the wounded can see past our own anger and fear and respond out of compassion for the woundedness that led the person who hurt us to do so, we are recognizing the importance of expanding the circle of healing not only to we who suffer, but to those who caused the suffering.

In this way, forgiveness can allow us to recognize the humanity we have in common with those who have injured us.

“Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were.” – Cherie Carter-Scott

Forgiveness is not a gift to the wrong does. It is a gift to ourselves. It is our ultimate freedom from the emotional burden of anger and hate.

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“U” is for Urban – Ugly or Utopia?

The urban lifestyle, like others, has much to recommend it and, things that are less than ideal. My personal preference is the subset–that zone between the roar of the city and the calm of rural setting–suburbia.

For a too short year, I lived in London. The theatre scene, shopping, museums, historical sites, churches and restaurant/pub-life were unparalleled. Having visited many urban centres, London has the perfect balance of the above mentioned with the added benefit of a public transit system that is clean, efficient, safe and affordable.

Image courtesy freedigitalphotos.net

Little else can compare to evening under the tree lined streets basking in the glow of theatre marquis when the crowds get out. It is an electric bustling filled with joy. The chestnut man’s cart roasting his wares, perfumes the air as theatre goers rush to their after entertainment cafes, pubs and restaurants. White linen-covered tables, adorned with stemware set behind restaurant picture-windows as wait staff scurrying to seat their new patrons. Live music drifts out from wood paneled pubs. Black cabs dart down the narrow streets, tyres zhinging along the blacktop. Even the occasional bobby, eyeing the crowd, seems to be caught up in the moment.

L.A. is a far different urban experience. Its charm lies in swaying palm trees, glorious sunsets, endless beaches and proximity to the Hollywood glamour. everyone drives in L.A. so everyone needs a car.

Image courtesy freedigitalphotos.net

The freeways are too crowded, but they do take you from sea to snow capped mountain to desert within a few hours time. To live in L.A., unless you are one of the few who have snapped up the urban revitalized lofts of downtown, means to live in suburbia. Each area has its own personality. You can find cafe lined streets or glitzy and exclusive club life. Quiet streets lined with homes or tall skyscrapers. College campuses with trendy boutiques, jewelry and clothing districts or moonlit beaches with surf as aural caress.

Paris? Amazing architecture, historical sites and oh my goodness…the cafes! Hidden parks tucked between blocks of flats make even this city family friendly.

Rome, Florence and the rest of Italy comes alive after nine.

Image courtesy freedigitalphotos.net

The wonderful afternoon rest from work—siesta, so common in Southern Europe, allows its citizens to enjoy the night. Most other smaller urban centres have their own brand of nightlife, with homes so close by everyone walks.

In L.A. suburbs usually mean bedroom communities with grocers, restaurants and other services nearby. Few have real downtowns. Rather they are a collection of neighbourhoods. Unless you were aware of a street sign or are a native, most are indeterminate as to where they end and the next begins. Most folks do not know their neighbors and there is a lot of turnover as people come and go. Yet there is a core of caring people in each suburb that loves their home fiercely. This ‘care’ washes over onto each person that lives there–no matter how long their tenancy. Parks are well kept and welcome green reservoirs from all the pavement. Fleets of private gardeners keep the small lawns and landscaping neat.

What is your favorite urban settings?

Do you love urban, suburban or rural as you home?

 

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Years to Build, Moments to Destroy (“T” is for…)

The Pyramids? A bridge? Maybe a castle?

All of these things can take men many years to complete. An earthquake, tornado or act of terrorism can destroy, but what I am talking about today is more personal.

Trust.

Image courtesy freedigitalphotos.net

How does one rebuild trust once it has been dashed?

Is it the job of the victim to somehow twist their mind around what was done to them to find some excuse, some ‘hole’ in the perpetrators logic not at first seen when the trust was broken?

No.

That is the stuff of forgiveness. That is a gift the victim gives to himself, whether or not the perpetrator earns or deserves it. Forgiveness, however, does not rebuild trust.

If nothing is said, nothing done to repair the broken trust by the perpetrator, there is no way to rebuild that lost trust. The victim might come to see that the broken trust was in fact the problem or shortcoming of the perpetrator, but that does nothing to move along the path toward reestablished trust.

Image courtesy freedigitalphotos.net

To regain trust, the victim must be shone that the perpetrator sees the error of his ways. The victim may be shown regret, remorse and sorrow for being wronged, but these attempts at apology can be unsubstantial words unless accompanied by change.

Change on the part of the perpetrator may or may not be possible. The perpetrator may be so broken that he is incapable of the change needed to prove his trustworthiness. Or he may not care deeply enough to put in the internal and external work required to prove that he has changed. He must become self aware enough to understand the consequences of the actions or in-actions that broke the sacred trust. He must care enough about the victim and his own reputation in the victims eyes to change.

The perpetrator must then have the metal to  put into action a well thought out plan of how he can prove to the victim that he has truly changed. It is in this way that day by day, step by step, the victim can see that the perpetrator has truly changed. Any apology is hollow without following this path of integrity toward permanent change.

Image courtesy freedigitalphotos.net

Has anyone in your life been able to rebuilt trust with you?

How long did it take?

Are you always more cautious with that perpetrator?

Is there someone with whom you need to rebuild trust?

*****************************************

Fool me once, shame on you.

Fool me twice, shame on me.

 

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