Archive for June, 2012


I was searching through my bookshelves today for a particular book on writing.  I know it is there somewhere but I simply cannot find it.  I have 3 very tall, very wide, pine bookshelves that I love.  Now, some people have bookshelves that display books, artwork, family photos  and mementos all artfully arranged with plenty of white space around them.  They could be in a showroom.  Not mine.  They are jam-packed with books.  Some stand neatly side by side, their brightly colored dust covers intact.  Some stacked in piles, one on top of the other, some jammed in on top of others.  There are stacks of books in front of other stacks of books.  Every available space is taken up with books.  Even the tops of the bookshelves have books on them.  There’s not one photo, or piece of artwork, or memento from any of my travels anywhere on those shelves.

As I looked at the haphazard way I have arranged my books, several thoughts come to mind.  First I think I should organize them.  Take them all off the shelves, arrange them by author, or by genre, or by genre and then by author.  No, that’s too systematic for me.  I’m more of a random kind of person. Then I think I should probably go through them and edit my holdings.  Give away paperbacks I’ve read. Maybe take them to the lake for reading on rainy days.  Will I ever really re-read that Catherine Coulter book?  How about that book on flower arranging? Weeell, I might.  We have rainy days here too and I might need a diversion.  I could have a party, and need to arrange flowers in an artful way on the table.  I think I might be a book hoarder.  You see, books have always been my friends.  When I was a shy, plump girl, un-athletic and awkward, books were my shelter.  Whenever I opened the covers of a book, I was in another place, another time.  I was someone else.  As I got older and my yen for travel was sometimes overwhelming I could read about where I wanted to be, and for a bit I would be riding the Orient Express or sitting at a cafe in Paris.  I could have dinner with Eleanor Roosevelt and breakfast with the King of Siam.  I can fight the Battle of Gettysburg or dance in the halls of Versailles. When I need solace, I can pull Mornings with Thomas Merton, or even Chicken Soup for the Soul.  Whatever I need, my friends are there.

Giving away a book would be like giving away one of my friends.  And I keep making new friends. So in order to be able to find my friends easier, I guess I need to get more bookshelves.

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I saw that today was Happy World Sauntering Day.  Seems like we have a “day” for everything, but I like the sound of this one.  “Sauntering”  has such a nice, lazy feel to it.   According to Websters, saunter is defined as “to walk with a leisurely gait, stroll as in “sauntering through the woods“.   World Sauntering Day originated at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan in the 1970’s .  Of course, that’s a perfect place to saunter.  And of course, the day to celebrate it would have been established in the oh so laid back 70’s!

With the summer sun kissing the grass, and white cotton clouds floating through the sky, it seems a shame to do anything but saunter.  We spend most of our days doing the exact opposite of sauntering.  We hurry and scurry to get somewhere, and then we scurry and hurry to get someplace else.  We run and rush, barely stopping to notice a stoplight, much less really seeing the flowers gaily waving their bright heads from in front of the houses we drive by.  How much more could we see if we sauntered our way through the day?

Sometimes sauntering isn’t appropriate.  My teenager ALWAYS seems to saunter, taking his time doing everything from walking to doing chores which usually drives me crazy.  There are times when I wish he would speed it up.  It’s really not the right time to saunter if you have  somewhere to be and have a short amount of time to get there.  But it wouldn’t hurt any of us to saunter a  bit more everyday, not just today.

It’s hot here today, 90 degrees with no sight of rain.   If I could, today I would saunter down to the pier, and stick my feet in the crystal clear waters of the lake and watch the minnows flit by.  Where would you saunter to?

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Busy day today with not much time for writing.  You see, like a lot of writers, I also have another job.  My bills get paid now because I also sell insurance.  It’s funny, because I don’t really like to sell but I will modestly admit that I’m pretty good at it.  I care about the people I sell policies to, it makes me feel good to know that if they get hurt, or sick, they have a financial backup because of the company I work for.  But as I talked to each new employee I kept looking at my watch.  I couldn’t wait until the day was done, and I could get back to my computer.  Words burned through my brain, just itching to get put down on paper.  And of course, when I did get home, and opened the draft of my novel to write what I thought of all day, nothing came.  I couldn’t get what was in my brain to come out in the words I wanted.

Instead, my thoughts wandered to a day a couple of weeks ago when my husband and I were at the lake.  It was the beginning of May, but it felt like June.  Even though it was only 9 in the morning and felt very pleasant, you could tell that it was going to reach into the 80’s.  We decided that we were going to walk to the back lake, which if you take the road back is about a mile and a half hike. Sometimes we will take the “buggy” which is what Dad calls the 6 person vehicle known as a Gator.  But when you do that, you miss too much.  Animals get scared off by the sound, you move too fast to really see the small details of the forest.  Besides, we really needed the exercise.  Now, a simple hike shouldn’t take too much preparation, but in this case, we knew we should have a few things with us.  Water, a blanket to sit on, my old 35mm Canon camera, ammunition for the guns we carried.  Yes, we carried guns.  There are several bears on the property, and rumors of a wolf.  It being spring, there could be bear cubs, which means protective mama bears.  We forgot one import thing, but I’ll get to that later.

We left the dogs in the cabin.  Lucky is too old to take that long of a walk so we left Zeus to keep him company. Unlocking the lower gate, we headed up the hill through the ferns.  They were already over my knees, tall for this time of year.  Green and lush they swished as we walked through them. The forest floor was dotted with the white of trillium.  What a treat!  Trillium only bloom for a very short period every spring and each sighting feels like a gift.  I rarely get to see them because I am almost never there in the spring.  As we got to the main trail, the trees greeted us.  “Scrreeooo.  Scrreeooo.” Branches rubbed together above our heads.  “Hello my friends”, I said looking up.  “It’s good to see you too!” (Yes, I talk to trees.  Quite often they talk back. Or at least it seems like they do!)  We had a wonderful time on our walk.  For three hours we followed almost all the logging trails, down and around, to the bay and the lake that is best for fishing crappie.  At the curve on the trail to the point, a deer stood and posed for me, soft brown ears twitching, white tail flicking.  She stood there for several minutes, long enough for me to get several shots with my trusty Canon before she bounded away across the trail.  We saw signs of many deer, and some bear.  Coming back down to the main trail from one of the side trails, there was a pile of “scat” that hadn’t been there when we went up the side trail.  Bear.  Um…maybe time to head back?  But because we were close to our goal of the back lake, we kept on going.

We reached the back lake, and right on the shore line was a bear print in the mud.  It was almost as big as MY foot!  No cub this, it was surely Grandfather bear.  The only man-made thing on the back lake is the dock, and we sat down to rest for a minute.  And discovered the one important thing we had forgotten in our preparations –  bug spray.  Not just bug spray, but tick spray.  My husband picked one off his pants leg and then another and another.  I jumped up off the dock and lifted up my shirt.  Crap, there were five of those nasty little creatures on my stomach!  Now, I hate ticks.  They give me the creeps.  I picked them off, and did a quick check of my arms, pulled up my pants legs to check my legs.  I pulled off several more.  That was it, time to head back.

We stayed on the main trail this time, and made it to the cabin in record time.  We stood outside the cabin door on the deck, and stripped.   Good thing we were up there by ourselves.  By the time we finished pulling off ticks, we had counted at least 30 of the things.  We looked like monkeys grooming each other, picking bugs off each other’s backs and out of our hair.  Into the showers we went, with one last tick check afterwards and we were ready for another adventure.  This one we took by car!

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Daydreams of the Soul.  I was going to call this blog “Musings from the north woods…”, but I think “Musings” gets overused by writers, and I’m not physically in the north woods…yet.  I will be someday, but for now, I live in a Midwest suburban town that at times is Rockwellian.  It has a brick Main Street with shops lining its wide sidewalks, restored Victorian homes and a Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning.  Sure, it has problems as every suburban town has.  We have one of the best school systems in the state, but the schools need more money to maintain the high standards we have come to expect.  Local politics can get as ugly as national politics.  There are kids in the high school who do drugs and drink, but not as many as in an inner city school.  Most people seem to care about their neighbors still.  All in all, it’s a good place to live and raise kids.  Nevertheless, to me, it’s not home.  It’s not where my soul feels settled.

When I am quiet and still, when I let my mind clear of all the daily clutter, my thoughts will always float to a little piece of heaven in Northern Wisconsin.  Surrounded by forest, on the shores of a lake untouched, I rest my head on arms propped up on knees and breathe.  When I am completely stressed, if I close my eyes and concentrate hard enough, my soul can go there, if even for just a little while and when I come back I can go on with what I need to do.    Some days I am there in the spring, with the trillium in bloom.  Sometimes it is fall and I can smell the mustiness of the fallen leaves.  It doesn’t matter what season it truly is, it can be summer but my thoughts will have me standing in knee-deep snow on the path to the back lake.

It will be a couple of years before I spend more than a week or two there at a time.  In the meantime, I will travel there in my thoughts and daydreams, occasionally taking trips to other places that catch my fancy.  In this blog, you can go with me on my wanderings.  Some days it will be about the woods, some days it may just be what I am thinking.  Some days it will be  about my latest book research or the struggles to find the right words.

Welcome to  Daydreams of the Soul.  I hope you enjoy the journey.

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