December 21 – Giving you the Gift of Poet Chris Heeter

b786819b1723b7043c388187663aaf7eSeeing Solstice
There is a pause now
this quiet Solstice time
before light slowly lengthens.
The temptation?
To count the days.
To hold our breath
until daylight stretches into evening
and early morning forces back the darkness.
What a relief it will be
these light-starved eyes
to see again
no longer fumbling in darkness.
somewhere deep inside
past resistance and reason
you know this darkness, too, is your home.
A place you were taught to hurry through
lest you be swallowed by the whale of darkness
never to be seen again.
Your soul knows better.
Your soul knows night is the place of dreams.
Far beyond what seeing eyes call horizon
night eyes know no such boundary.
Solstice is a powerful teacher:
the trickster who invites you to go out sledding on a moon-less night.
Daring you to take a risk, to lean in,
to stay with what is uncertain and unseen.
She whispers in your ear as the sled starts to move,
Your vision limits you here.
Your desperation to see keeps you from seeing.
In this place, we see not with our eyes, but with our whole being.
It is a place that asks for your full participation,
accessing all of your senses and trusting different ways of knowing.
A place that reveals hard-earned truth and wisdom that lasts.
Light would never be so generous with its depths.
She has other things to give.
So, on these long nights of winter solstice
may you find your wildest dreams
walking companionably alongside you.
Having waited for you all this time
to turn toward darkness
and find not fear, but peace and courage
and wild desire for a life
you are ready, now, to live.

Chris Heeter
Visit : The Wild Institute

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A Writers Writer- Pat Conroy’s new book- A Lowcountry Heart


December 11, 2011 -Last night I finished a splendid memoir written by the irascible and charming Christopher Hitchens. It is called Hitch-22, and the title reminded me of the time I found myself talking to a fascinating man at the deep end of a swimming pool in New Orleans. He turned out to be Joseph Heller. – Pat Conroy

It doesn’t matter the season, I am never without a book. Usually, I read propped up in bed and have been known to look up and find that it is 2:00 in the morning. When I finish one book, often at bedtime, the next night I begin anew. Some in hand, some from my Kindle. You know Pat Conroy died this year and his readers continue to grieve. Late this fall a new book of his nonfiction was published. It brings together short pieces that appeared on his blog or found in other places. It’s wonderful! What else would you expect? I dare you to try and read just one short entry; Conroy is always hard to put down. Anyone who reads and loves books or even writes as I do will want this book. I’ve always loved Conroy’s work and now I understand the heart of this man all the more. I highly recommend this collection of stories that never fail to please. Conroy himself was a reader extraordinaire and proves the fact that in order to write well you must read well.

Here is a line I must share: “The word blog is the ugliest word in the English language to me…But I use it as a way to sneak back into my own writing without being noticed.  A new novel awaits my arrival, prepares for my careful inspection.”

You might want to read earlier posts I have written about Conroy. Here are some of the links. There are more under the category of  A Writers Writer

Discovering Himself in the Movements of Beaufort-Dolphin

Paying Tribute to Conroy on his 7oth Birthday

A Writers Writer-Pat Conroy-Prince of Tides


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My Favorite Wild Poet – Chris Heeter – Saying Goodbye to Fall



This fall season arrived with bountiful sun and rain.
A blend that promises the extended version
of high definition fall foliage.
And so it is that I step outside to a day that is yellow.
Yes, yellow.
The color permeates everything:
the scent, the feel,
even the taste of the air is gloriously yellow,
with hints of red and gold
and a finish of russet oak leaves.

This is the season where the land
dresses in her finest earth tones.
A season where change is on display
reminding us of its beauty
even as we bid a fond farewell to shades of green.

Yes, change is a good thing.
We know this, even as we occasionally
offer a tug of resistance.

So today, if you are lucky enough
to be near trees releasing their autumn leaves,
let their swirling descent
and rich hues entice you
to likewise find grace in letting go,
reminding you that holding on
isn’t always what is called for
in the pulse of our wild imaginings.

Chris Heeter

CONTACT DETAILS – Be sure to check out Chris’s website The Wild Institue where this poem is found and information about her wilderness trips and lecture topics.

1835 Meadowview Road
Bloomington Minnesota,


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A Writer’s Writer – Chris Rose – Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?


I was doing research for a new book when Hurricane Mathew visited Eastern North Carolina last month. Mathew provided a timely background for my writing. The color had been sucked from the world, everything looked gray, while winds threatened. We lost internet for awhile, terribly inconvenient, until you consider those who were flooded out, and lost a lot more. Part of the new story takes a woman, who lives in New York, back home to New Orleans a few days before Katrina hit August 26, 2005. Katrina research led to a man named Chris Rose, and his book, 1 Dead in Attic.  I fell in love again. This happens to me a lot depending on who and what I’m reading, male or female, I’m bi-sexual when it comes to reading books and love.

The lines of a song kept running through my mind throughout this fabulous book, which is a collection of columns Rose wrote for the Times-Picayune between 2005-06,  I know time is short, but PLEASE, click on and listen to this Harry Connick’s version of Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans from a Youtube video. You’ll have a better day for it, I promise.

Now, we can continue….I was in New Orlean in January 1886 when the Chicago Bears played The Patriots in Super Bowl XX. The Bears won 46-10. It was a sublime ending to a cooperate perk that often came our way because my husband worked in advertising in Chicago for Leo Burnett Co.  We stayed in a small boutique hotel, wandered the French Quarter, looked in the windows of little antique shops that offered vintage perfume bottles and miniature tea sets. We took a street car ride, let powdered sugar dust the fronts of our clothes, and enjoyed several famous restaurants. New Orleans delivered the tourist’s dream as promised.

for New Orleans Will

Thanks to Chris Rose and his writing, I have a better understanding of how New Orleans survived this unbelievable tragedy, forever changed, yet retaining what makes the area what it is. If you love New Orleans, or love reading non-fiction in the Studs Terkel tradition, don’t miss this book. Katrina happened a long time ago, you know the story, or think you do, and how it came out, but this is writing at its best about a myriad of topics as viewed through the eyes of a reliable witness. I wish I could read whole columns to you out loud as I do to poor husband Bob, who sits through my exuberance when I find something too good not to share. I say, “You have to listen to this!” To you, I say, “You have to read this!”

I’ll leave you with this Rose bit of magic: New Orleans is the Purple Upside Down Car. A bright color with no sense of direction. A stalled engine. A thing of once-beauty waiting to be righted and repaired. Something piled up on the side of the road.


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A Writers Writer – Christopher Fowler Again!


I just finished another in the Bryant & May Series….The Invisible Code. I have written about Fowler and his series before. (Click here for more details) They are irresistible and must be saved for the perfect moment. For at least thirty years, every Friday, my father brought home a box of  Chicago’s famous Fannie May chocolates. One of the pieces in the box was always white chocolate, still my favorite. You must remember taking the lid off a candy box and trying to decide which piece to select. That’s the experience you will have when in the midst of all the books you read, you decide it is time for a piece of ‘Bryant and May delight.’ I prefer to read a series in order, but once you have the Peculiar Crimes Unit characters in hand, it probably doesn’t matter. I take them any way I can get them now.  I will leave you with a sample of the writing, but wouldn’t dare tell you about the story. If you love a great mystery, a London setting, two aging Golden Age detectives, some peculiar methods of solving crimes, and WONDERFUL writing….open the box of candy and help yourself.

Hampstead had always prided itself on being a cut above other London areas. The homes of Bryon, Dickens, Keats and Florence Nightingale had now been usurped by financiers who had turned the village into one of the most expensive places in the world.Its street names were printed in elegant reverse text, white lettering out of black tiles, its avenues were sumptuously leafy, its houses gabled and slightly suburban, set back from the sight of vulgar vehicles. It had lakes and the largest open heathland in London, and looked down on everyone else from a windswept peak where the city temperatures cooled, and on a summer day like this you would almost believe your were deep in countryside until you saw the high-street prices.


Today Bryant had arranged to meet her at Liverpool Street Station. The white witch and self-proclaimed leader of the Coven of St. James the Elder turned up in a purple woolen tea-cosy hat, a green velvet overcoat and orange leggings. Her glasses, winged and yellow-tinted, hung on a plastic daisy chain around her throat. She looked like a small seaside town celebrating a centenary.


I highly recommend you read Christopher Fowler, that you FOLLOW this blog, and that you share it with friends who love to read, garden, go on blog trips to places like Chicago, Charleston and Italy and much more. Cheers!


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The Art of Inge Löök Will Gladden a Gardener’s Heart


I might not have discovered the art of Inge Löök if a friend hadn’t introduced me to Pinterest a few years back.  I’m sorry if you are missing out on this wonderful world of images that certainly covers the gamut of everything I could possibly be interested in from English Cottage Gardening to paper dolls and art….depending on your fancy, as the English say.


Inge Löök’s real name is Ingeborg Lievonen, a Finnish artist born in Helsinki in 1951. She was once a professional gardener, but today she is most famous for her Granny postcards. When she was a child, Inge lived with her family in a 7-story building in Helsinki. In the same building lived two older women, Alli and Fifi, who later became the inspiration for the characters in her postcards. If you love books and tea and dear friends, then you know why this image on the left is a favorite. Ah, but if you are a gardener, then I hope you will consider this my gift to you by way of Pinterest and the charming art work of Inge Löök.   See my Pinterest Board For More of her work.


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A Writers Writer – Christina Baker Kline – Orphan Train


How could I resist an opening like this…..

I believe in ghosts. They’re the ones who haunt us, the ones who have left us behind. Many times in my life I have felt them around me, observing, witnessing, when no one in the living world knew or cared what happened.

Sometimes these spirits have been more real to me than people, more real than God. They fill silence with their weight, dense, and warm, like bread dough rising under the cloth. My gram, with her kind eyes and talcum-dusted skin. My da, sober, laughing. My man, sing a tune. The bitterness and alcohol and depression are stripped away from these phantom incarnation, and they console and protect me in death as they never did in life.

I’ve come to think that’s what heaven is — a place in the memory of others where our best selves live on. 

Until I read the fine novel, The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty, I knew nothing about the orphan trains that ran regularly from the East Coast to the midwest with thousands of abandoned children. (1854-1929) One of the main characters in The Chaperone was a train rider. It is hard to imagine the rationale that left children in the hands of strangers, with no idea how they would be treated, what they would endure. Orphan Train, one of my book club selections, is an amazing piece of fiction about this subject. The opening lines above, quoted  from the prologue, are the best case I can make for this stunning work. We meet Vivian, 91 years old, who in 1929 came to Minnesota on an orphan train.  Then there is the story of teenager, Molly, that intersects with this old woman; together they teach us a great deal. Don’t miss this wonderfully written story of courage, forbearance, and love.

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Gardening – A Balm In Gilead

Autumn Labyrinth - Jacek Yerka

Autumn Labyrinth – Jacek Yerka  .

Meditation CircleGardeners have long known that a great way to still their minds and restore their equilibrium is to go out into the garden and get their hands dirty. As our election cycle draws to an end, we’re all looking for ways to restore our sanity. Like Lucy in the Peanuts series, I charge a nickel for the following suggestion. Think about building or having  a labyrinth built into your garden design.

Those of you who are Harry Potter fans, and read Goblet of Fire, remember the Triwizard maze, a design that offers a choice of pathways. A labyrinth has one pathway winding to the center and back out again. the-pointWalking a labyrinth with a prayerful attitude is a quieting experience. Since not all of us can travel to holy sites and lands, Labyrinths are symbolic of pilgrimage and can be a meaningful substitute. Gardeners are in the business of creating spaces of serenity and calm. There are interesting books on the subject, and here are two links to sites you will enjoy. This is hardly an exhaustive study of Labyrinths, but having walked them many times in places in the United States and on a garden tour in England, I can vouch for their beauty and spiritual significance. Google Images of Labyrinths and sense their peace.

The Garden Labyrinth Becomes A Pathway to Healing

The Labyrinth Society

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A Receipt from a Bookstore Brings Happiness -Author Beatriz Williams – Part 3


I have been writing about the books I bought when one of my two book clubs had an outing to Quail Ridge Book Store in North Hills Mall, Raleigh, N.C.. At some point you have to stop shopping or be asked to move out when you get home. I knew nothing about author Beatriz Williams, but spotted her new book on the shelf.  I loved the jacket and the blurb intrigued me. I resisted! When I got home, high as a Georgia pine, over my purchases, I  began to feel deep regret over the books I left behind. I slipped away to Amazon World and downloaded Along the Infinite Sea on my Kindle. Saving some money, I congratulated myself. The question was where to start with this plethora of new books? That night I decided to fire up my Kindle and begin William’s new book.

Only when I finished this enjoyable novel did I google information about the author. It turns out she writes a series of books that feature female members of the Schuyler family. In each book, a different member of this family has a prominent role, and other members pop in and out of the background. A whole world awaits me. We are used to reading series whose same characters become our friends. I love Donna Leon’s series set in Vience. Louise Penny’s characters in the Inspector Gamache books. Christopher Fowler’s Bryant and May Peculiar Crimes Unit. These are all mysteries, but I like the idea that  different  members of the same family each have their own story. If they are all as good as the Along the Infinite Sea, I am hooked. One of the things I love about my Kindle is the ability to highlight passages and write a note to myself. Here are three examples of lines I enjoyed.

Gratitude isn’t her natural attitude, but then you didn’t  spend your life dangling elegantly from the pages of the Social Register without learning how to keep your legs crossed and your hostess well bettered.

I inhaled the warm scent of the dying summer, the weeks that would not return.

Because motherhood doesn’t always end so well for the Schuylers. Motherhood usually goes splash headfirst into a vodka tonic with lime.


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A Receipt From A Bookstore Buys Happiness – Part 2

img_4277-1“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”
― Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

51xjwt4rcklWithout the collective reading life of wonderful friends and readers in my two book clubs, I might never have discovered many of the authors I have come to love; several whose books I bought at Quail Ridge Bookstore the other day. They are on my ‘can’t do without’ list. Louise Penny, a Canadian writer, is a perfect example. Here is a link I hope you will reference for further information about this #1 author and her Inspector Gamache series. I am waiting for the perfect time to read this latest release because I know from experience, you can’t put them down. I’m thinking of a perfect fall weekend, sitting outside at a restaurant to begin the pleasure. The series is best read in order to maximize the changes and growth of these well drawn characters that will become friends. This is #12 in the series. I envy you the journey you have ahead….When an intricate old map is found stuffed into the walls of the bistro in Three Pines, it at first seems no more than a curiosity….

514awsjeel-_sx337_bo1204203200_I’d never heard of Rick Bragg. That is until my book club recommend we read It’s All Over But The Shouting’  (Click on this link for further information) You think you read a lot, but, no, never enough, and to miss Bragg would be a great loss. Those of you who read Southern Living Magazine may have read one of his essay’s  printed there from time to time. I decided on his book published in 2015, My Southern Journey-True Stories From The Heart of the South. It is a collection of his old, along with new portraits of the South. I already know Bragg can make me laugh, shed a tear, and marvel over the power of a good writer.

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY: THE WASHINGTON POST, NPR, TIME, THE SEATTLE TIMES. I couldn’t resist buying this unknown author’s book after the Bookseller gave a summery that made it irresistible. I’m looking forward to seeing for myself what writing the 2015 Amazon Best Book of the Year is about; a story of a marriage told from two different perspectives. I can’t wait to read this new author and her acclaimed book.




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A Receipt From A Bookstore Buys Happiness – Part 1


Imagine my pleasure when I found a paperback copy of Edward Marston’s, The Stationmaster’s Farewell. 9th in Railway Detective Series, with a 50% off sticker. Fifty or more women, wandering around in the new location of Quail Ridge Books at North Hills in Raleigh, NC, walked right past this gem, which was mine to claim. I discovered this series when doing research for my other blog, (The railroad is an important part of the Rocky Mount story.) Edward Marston, born and brought up in South Wales is a highly successful writer, who has written this series that features Inspector Robert Colbeck and Sergeant Victor Lemming. Here is a link to a previous post that will give you more information about the series. You will love the setting in the 1850’s, the good writing and always a good mystery.

51xlrajhsxlAnn Patchett wrote a book called Run, which is on my ‘all time favorite’ book list. The morning of the event at Quail Ridge, the staff was setting out stacks of her new book, Commonwealth. I have 49 pages  left and stayed up until after 2:30AM last night. Need I say more. One of the two book clubs I belong to has an unwritten rule that, if possible, we wait to read things in paperback to save money. Of course, we all use the public library and often download a book on our e-readers. Another rule is that someone in the club must have read the book before we consider it. As an only child, I often advocate breaking the rules so I am delighted my second book club picked for our October selection a hardback that no one has read, Commonwealth. I’m giving nothing away except this line from the jacket. …a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. Spanning five decades, the novel explores how a chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Here is a link I hope you will reference. A Writers Writer – Ann Patchett



Did you read Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand? With a fabulous book jacket, how could I resist Helen Simonsson’s new book, The Summer Before the War.  East Sussex, 1914. It is the end of England’s brief Edwardian summer…..



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Selecting Books for Your Book Club


“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

I belong to two bookclubs. One of them meets once a month and the other every six weeks. The women in each of the groups are great readers, not only the book club selection but everything in between. I don’t know about you, but when I finish a book, I pick up the next one the same day. My St. Andrews Book Club had their first meeting, this time an outing. We drove to Raleigh, NC to the beautiful new Quail Ridge Book Store in North Hills. The store was hosting an event in which the staff takes turns giving brief summaries of books they recommend. It was SO much fun!

Tomorrow I will publish the first of a 2 part post about the books I brought home

I imagine your Book Club is meeting soon. You will be selecting your books for the upcoming months. I hope you will consider either Greening of a Heart (available only as an E-Book) or the newest novel, Facing East (available only in paperback) from Amazon Books. Click on Title for Amazon information. Tell them you know the author personally because you read her blog and have gotten to know her. Do let me know if your club selects either of the novels and if I can help by answering a few questions ahead of your gathering. Happy reading this fall.


I have been asked to speak to another book club in early October that meets in Ahoskie, NC. They will be discussing Facing East. Such occasions put a bounce in my step and a smile on my face. Nothing more fun than spending time with fellow readers. I often think to myself, I can’t imagine my life with out books. I bet you feel the same way too.


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