WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge : Early Bird

Sunrise pictures are my very favorites, so here are just a few of the “early bird” shots I’ve managed to capture — and every one of them from my own front porch. I even included some honest to goodness early birds at the tail end.  To participate in the challenge, visit the Daily Post.









Let Me Introduce You To . . .

MAT AT MICMy world grew much, much larger, and exponentially richer the day I started blogging. A few years later, I have so many wonderful friends and acquaintances online that I find it hard to try to list all of them. However, periodically, I like to introduce some of those people — and their own blogs — to my readers. A few of you already know these people, but many of you probably do not. 

Of course, I cannot begin to tell you in one post about all of the wonderful blogs I follow, but I can suggest a few of them at a time and give you a short synopsis of what you can expect to find when you visit them. I’ll do another list later on. But for now, here are nine great blogs that you might enjoy as much as I do. 

Making It Write

Jane Basil writes mainly about the challenges that are in her life and about her heroic and mostly successful efforts to overcome them. Her writing will intrigue you one day, humble you the next, cause you to delve deeply into your own conscience on another day, and the day after that inspire you to reach farther for your own dreams. She is one of the most honest writers I know, and she truly appreciates readers’ feedback.

 Lucid Gypsy

Gilly Goldsworthy was the second real friend I met after entering into this delightful hobby called ‘blogging.’ And she is one of the most ‘comfortable’ bloggers I’ve become acquainted with. I use that word to describe her site because that’s just what I feel every time I visit. I know I will enjoy a sense of welcome and refreshing and, very often, learn something new. Gilly loves to travel, and she often writes about the places she visits. She enjoys her family, her nation, her British and Nigerian heritage, and her friends — both in person and on the Internet — and her blog makes that enjoyment abundantly clear. Her site is filled with lovely photography and some of the most charming haiku and tanka I have ever read — as well as articles about a large variety of subjects.


Gerry Ainger will have to go down in history as the very first blogging friend I made after I became part of the WordPress network. He is super friendly, gracious, and big-hearted. You will find an enormous variety of subject matter on Gerry’s blogs. This link is to only one of his sites, but once there, you will find links to the others. If you enjoy music, stories of fantasy, or trips down memory lane, Gerry has a little bit of all of it for you.

Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures Plus

Lee Dusing is just a super lady — or perhaps I should say a super birdlady — or maybe that should be ladybird.  Anyway, no matter how we say it, Lee has one of the most incredible sites I’ve connected with on the Internet. She works harder than almost anyone I know to fill her site with a storehouse of information, and does it all with excellent photography and interesting visits from other bloggers as well. Her focus is on birds and how they are gifts from our Creator to teach us many things and to make our lives fuller and richer. I sometimes go over there just to listen to the audio of birds singing.

Northwest Photographer

Bob MIelke is one of the most incredibly talented photographers I have ever known. His sites are so enjoyable. (Besides his WordPress blog, which is the link you’ll find here, Bob also has a Tumbler site with full-screen size photos, and a National Geographic site where he posts photos he’s submitted for possible use by that periodical. You’ll find links to those 2 sites on his main blog.) Bob has been a portrait photographer, although he does a lot of landscape photos these days. He’s also an artist and a photography instructor, but I think his favorite thing to do is visit the Portland, Oregan Zoo and take super pictures of all the animals. You can’t visit his blog without experiencing any number of “oooohs” and “aaaaahs” before you go away. And if you’re interested in learning how to take better pictures, he’s got some great tips that he’s always willing to share.

The Day After

Dawn is a very down-to-earth lady who is a professional photographer as well as a talented writer. Her site is rich with photographs of a huge variety of subjects. My favorites are her landscapes and buildings.  She creates calendars with her original photography gracing every month. Every Wednesday she posts her articles and stories, and generally she takes part in several writing challenges each week. I’m also jealous of where she lives, and if you visit her site, you’ll soon learn why.

Pure Glory

Christian ministers Hazel Straub and Gabriel Cross are the two hosts of the ministry site Pure Glory. Every day, without fail, they post a message — based on God’s Word — that goes right to the heart of where we live. Their encouraging posts have helped me many times — often as if they had written the words just for me personally. However, I know many, many people feel that same way when they read those messages. I believe that’s because the Lord tells them exactly what to post every day. If you want a word that will lift you, strengthen your faith, and make you know you are loved, visit them often.

Writer On The Edge

Writer Tish Farrell’s site is classy, warm, and full of energy. She covers a wide variety of subject matter — and always with great photos to accompany her words. Tish has written some wonderful articles on writing, full of thought-provoking and encouraging ideas. But whatever she posts, from pictures of red elephants to articles declaring shopping to be the one characteristic that most denotes our humanity, she makes the reader feel that she’s completely invested in what she presents.

Writing With Some Ink and a Hammer

Scott Thomas Summers is a prolific writer and a teacher of literature and writing as well. He seems to be one of those people who has a dual personality — at least where his writing is concerned. He has written two powerful books about the American Civil War, telling the stories in each book from the perspective of a young soldier. The books are written in free verse, and Thomas’ ability to make the experiences blatantly real is something that I envy. More recently he has written about the life of Jesse James with equal realism. However, his alter-ego is that of a fantasy writer, and just as thoroughly as he creates reality, he also creates totally make-believe worlds filled with trolls, goblins, dragons, and the valiant warriors who fight them.  The truth is you just never know when you stop by Thomas’ blog whether you will be galloping with a posse chasing Jesse James, slaying a dragon to rescue a fair damsel, or fighting for your life at Gettysburg. Better just hop over and find out.


It’s worth repeating one statement from my introduction here. There are many other blogs that are worth visiting and following. But in order to do them justice, I must present only a few at a time. So watch for the next installment, and I’ll add a few more for you to check out and enjoy.


A Morning’s Adventure for Blackie Bird & His Family

Today NaPoWriMo asked us to write a poem that is a conversation. It sounded like a fun thing to do, but I didn’t have any time to sit down to my computer and create one.  However, thinking about the challenge brought back to my memory a story I did a couple years ago that focuses on conversation in a bird family. So I pulled it out of the archives, dusted it off, and re-posted it. True, it is not a poem, but it’s so doggone cute maybe no one will notice.


Mama … we’re hungry!”
Yeah, we’re hungry.”
“Just hold on, kids. I’ll check on Dad’s progress.”

Honey, I thought I’d better come and see if you’d found anything yet.”
Not yet. Those dang Cardinals grab everything in sight!”
(Sigh) “I know. They think just because they’re so splendid to look at they should get the best of everything.”
Hey, look — two worms! I’ll grab ’em.”

Oh, Honey, look out!  Kitty-Kitty’s comin’ at you at 2:00!”
“I see him, but if I fly off, I’ll lose the worms to the Bluejays.”
“What can we do?  Oh, wait. I see Barn-a-Bee on the roses. Call him to come help.”

Hey, Barn-a-Bee, Kitty-Kitty’s crouched to attack. Help me, quick!”CAT # 1 - cropped
On my way.  Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ….”

Great hit, Barn-a-Bee!  Right on the nose. Kitty-Kitty won’t be back in this direction for a while. Thanks, old pal. I owe you one.”


‘Innocent Until Proven Guilty’ — Where Did It Go?

GUN FIRINGJust in case a few readers are still trying to read “Innocent Until Proven Guilty” in individual segments, I’ll let you know that those segments have been deleted from the blog, and the story is now all on one page, which can be found in the navigation bar above. That story will be available for free reading for about a month, and then it will be deleted completely because it is going into an anthology of my stories that will be released this summer. So if you haven’t read it yet, and would like to read it for free, there’s still a little time.  Enjoy.


Just Call Me ‘Senorita’

I’ve always insisted that words have great power. They can move people to action; they can stop people dead in their tracks; they can hurt and destroy; they can give life and health. Words have power.

That truth came home to me anew when I had lunch in a Mexican restaurant today. Another friend and I were giving a treat to a lady whom we love dearly — and who has been dealing with dementia problems for the past couple of years. It was our small way of letting her know how much we love her and of giving her one more opportunity to feel normal again.  My focus was on her, of course, and seeing her delight and enjoyment of the experience was all the return I needed.

However, something else happened that gave me an added lift, and it came from a direction that I would never have expected. Our waiter — a young man who was very intense about getting our orders exactly right — especially since our friend had to have specific kinds of food — came back to our table several times to check on us. Every time he did so, he addressed us a “Senoritas.” Now, on the surface, that may not seem so very unusual. But when you consider that I have eaten in lots of Mexican restaurants during my lifetime — in a number of different states — many of which were staffed by Mexican people who could barely speak English — yet not one time in all those experiences have I ever been addressed as a “Senorita” — then the event is unusual.  But the most unusual thing about it was that every time this young waiter called me “Senorita,” it made me light up inside because it made me feel young and pretty.

Why?  I’m not sure.  But you know something? I don’t care why!  All I care about is that he used that title for me very naturally — and repeatedly — and it resulted in giving my personal outlook on myself a happy lift that lasted all day and is still with me as I write these words late tonight.

So — tomorrow — I’m going to make an extra effort to say some happy, positive, lifting words to the people I come in contact with. I usually try to speak to people in a positive manner anyway, but now I’m going to work even harder at it. This Senorita is going to pass on the happiness.



Senorita clip art: courtesy hyspanicclipart.blogspot.com

Happy Resurrection Day!!!


We don’t have to do anything to earn acceptance and love from the Creator of the universe.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemned the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believes on Him is not condemned.”  (John 3:16-18).

“Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ.  … God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.  … For He has made Him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us … that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”  (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

Jesus Christ already paid for the whole package with His perfect life, his sacrificial death, and His victorious resurrection.

All we need to do is acknowledge that He has done it all for us and make Him our Lord.

Will we change?    Yes.

Will we need to struggle to do so?    No.

Will life become an instant bed of roses with no thorns?    No.

Will we be filled with a peace and joy like we’ve never known before?     Yes.

Will the Lord then hear us when we pray and rush to help us?   Yes.

Will we have the security of knowing our eternity in His glorious presence is guaranteed?  Yes, absolutely.

Overall, it’s the best deal  we’ll ever be offered.  If you haven’t taken Him up on it yet, my advice is  DO IT!


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‘It’s All About Feet’ – for NaPoWriMo, 2015 – Day 4

Nothing’s impossible, right?  The folks over at NaPoWriMo believe that because today they have asked us to write a Love poem without using the word “love” or any of the hearts, flowers, or cliches that generally go along with that word.  (Deep breath)  Okey-dokey.  I’ll give it a try. To join in the fun, follow the link to the home site for easy instructions.


I know is this old world, it’s sad, but true:
Emotional relationships so often fail.
And marriages, though formerly until death,
Now change as fast as color on the nails.

But I’m convinced our troth will still endure.
I’m sure of you as you are sure of me.
I know because we’re comfortable together
When on the same footstool we prop our feet.

What better test of faithfulness and trust,
Than doffing shoes and bravely baring toes.
Our feet look comfy, happy, and complete,
And for commitment’s sake we hold our nose.

photo: clker.com

Doing Business in a “Free” Nation

CONSTITUTION & FLAG - CALIF STATE UNIV. - b&wThe people in my country are fighting again over who has rights and who does not. I keep asking myself why it is that when most people push for what they call “equal rights,” they usually mean that they want to get things all their own way, even though it means stomping all over someone else’s rights. Freedom is a two-way street, and any man or woman who wants to have the “right” to live his life in the lifestyle he chooses SHOULD also want every other man and woman to have that same freedom.

Not so these days. As many of my national and international readers know, we are in a battle over whether our government can force a private business owner to do business with every single person who comes to him, even if he has reasons of good conscience for refusing to do business with some people.

It seems very simple to me. Anyone who owns a business should be able to decide who he does — and does not — do business with. And why should I, as a potential customer,  want to do business with some guy who doesn’t want my business anyway?  Why should I want to make him money?

But I digress into whimsy. Let me get back onto what I really have to say. This post is simply my way of speaking my own mind and trying to look at the issue sanely. My readers are welcome to read and comment — as long as comments are mature and kindly-spoken.  Or if you are the kind of reader who would rather not get into the heavier stuff, just breeze on by and look around the site for some of the lighter offerings.


So … What Is This Thing Called Freedom?

I have my own personal tutoring/editing business.  And when I, as a tutor/editor, do not have the right to choose to work with one person and not another — for any reason I deem important to me — then MY freedom has been taken away. And quite frankly, if I  am put in that position, I will most likely move to another country where I can still have that freedom. There are still some places in the world where they know the meaning of the words ‘freedom’ and ‘personal rights’ even if the United States seems to have forgotten the definitions.

I do not require other people to live the way I live. They can choose to live any lifestyle they want. But I should also be free to live any lifestyle I choose, and if I choose a lifestyle that includes quietly not interacting with some people — for whatever reason — then I have as much right to live my choice of lifestyle as anybody else.

And unless my business is connected to the U. S. government, I am the one — the only one — who has invested my money, my time, my blood, sweat, and tears into building that business and making it prosper. None of these other people have done one thing to assist my business. Therefore, morally, I am the only one who should have the right to decide who I do business with.

True freedom is a TWO-WAY street. but I’ve noticed over the past decade that our government seems to think that only gays, lesbians, and Muslims have rights worth fighting for. Certainly, they do have rights, but so do the rest of us. Where are the government interventions and legal battles on behalf of numerous Christians who have been robbed of their rights? It’s past time we started seeing a little fairness in our society. In fact, I’d just like to see a return to a little sanity period.

Let’s look at this situation more concretely. I once had an author request my editing services for his book. As I read the manuscript, I realized that his story was promoting, in depth, a demonic religion. The man actually had talent as a writer, and he was not offensive to me. However, as a committed Christian who tries to live every part of my life so that it agrees with and pleases Jesus Christ, I could not, in good conscience, devote my God-given talent, time, and energy to helping him polish and publish a piece of literature that I believe is a slap in the face of Jesus Christ  — and that will lead other people into deception and possibly a life of demonic practices that will take them into an eternity without God.

As kindly as I knew how, I explained to him what was in my heart and told him I just could not agree to do the work for him. I did not try to pressure him into believing what I believe, and I did not demean him in any way. He also acted in a manner befitting someone who wants equal rights for everyone. He did not take offense. He has his own beliefs, to which he is equally committed, and he willingly allowed me to have mine without trying to beat me into submitting to his beliefs. He simply found a different editor who did not have a problem with doing his book.

I also have a friend who is a lesbian and a very creative writer. I have done editing for her a number of times, but she knows that I cannot work on material that promotes lesbianism because of what is in my own conscience. Does she take offense at that or run off to find a lawyer to take me to court to try to force me to edit her pieces that include lesbian subject matter? Absolutely not. And why not? Because this person cares as much about me and MY individual rights as she does about her own. So I work with her gladly whenever I can, and she understands that her works that cover subject matter I’m uncomfortable with will need to be dealt with by someone else.

Now those two transactions are from my real life. So let’s take a look at a transaction that has not happened in my own life, but which represents some transactions that have come to light during this political battle. Let’s take a Muslim baker. Suppose I go into his bakery and order a cake for a special event, and I order these words for the top of the cake. “Jesus Christ is Lord! Mohammed is a Fake!”  Should that Muslim baker be forced by the U. S. government to bake that cake and write those words on the top of it? They go against everything he believes and lives for, and must, undoubtedly, grief his own soul. Of course he should NOT be forced by anyone to bake that cake and write those words.  He should NOT be forced to do business with me.

But here’s the real issue. I, as a person who genuinely cares about EVERYONE’S individual rights, would NEVER  even think of asking that Muslim baker to do such a thing. I have more respect for him than that.

And my point is that he — and all gays and lesbians — and all illegal immigrants — and all other groups who keep shouting for “equal rights”  — should also have the same respect for me — and all other private business owners as well.

These two real-life transactions — and the imaginary one with the baker — are perfect examples of enactments of TRUE FREEDOM — not the hyped-up liberal, bulldozer kind of legislation that we’re seeing coming out of Washington, D.C. today.

Okay, I guess I’ve had my say for the time being.


‘Solitary Sentry’ – for NaPoWriMo, 2015 – Day 3

Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge: Write a Fourteener — a poem on any subject but having seven iambic feet.  Join the fun. There’s still plenty of time to get into the rhythm of writing a poem a day in honor of National Poetry Month. Click the link above to visit the main site and get the easy rules.

Since iambic heptameter lends itself particularly well to narrative poems, I thought I’d go that route.


The giant Oak had reigned supreme o’er farmer Webster’s woods.
But there’d been talk of late that ‘neath those woods lay soil quite good.

And then one day bulldozers came and men with churning saws,
The wood did spew; trees fell – not few – into bulldozers jaws.

The giant oak shook to his roots; his life he held quite dear.
And closer as the enemy came, he trembled hard with fear.

To be cut down and sawed into – the thoughts he could not bear.
And oh the shame – to be transformed into some wimpy chair.

But when the dozer charged his way and scoured to left and right,
It passed him by and left him there, his roots still clinging tight.

Soon all around had been laid bare: a sorry sight to see,
But then one morn, before the sun, came planters bearing seed.

And week to week, with gentle rain and warmest, friendly sun,
The seeds did sprout and then did bear their harvest one by one.

Now mighty Oak stands solitary sentry o’er the field,
And, season after season, hungry folks receive its yield.

And farmer Webster often stops to rest beneath Oak’s shade,
And blesses God for giving land and food for which he’d prayed.



‘Wise Men Still Follow’ – for NaPoWriMo, 2015 – Day 2

Day 2 of the ‘National Poetry Writing Month’ Challenge prompts us to write a poem about the stars. We can use any form and take the poem in any direction we choose. If you’d like to join in the effort to write 30 poems in 30 days (or any number of poems at all) click on the logo and learn how easy it is.



ccf-nativity-star-only1.jpgWISE MEN STILL FOLLOW

Wise astrologers did travel from the East.
“We saw His star and followed to His place of peace.
We bowed ourselves before Him there on bended knees
And offered homage to the Babe, Creation’s King.”

Throughout the heavens multitudes of brilliant stars
Have burned for centuries and led men near and far.
But only one celestial light can guide the heart,
And men who would be wise still follow Jesus’ star.



‘My Love is Not a Knight in Shining Armor’ – For NaPoWriMo, 2015 – Day 1

Here we are again to National Poetry Month — and good ol’ NaPoWriMo.  To be honest, April just slipped up on me this time, and I’m pressing to get my poem in. I’m sure I’ll not find the time to write a new poem for all 30 days, but I’m going to go for all the days I can. If you’d like to take part, just follow the link by clicking on the graphic below and go, go, go.


Day # 1’s prompt is to write a poem of negation — describing something in terms of what it is not — or is not like.

Exif JPEGMy Love Is Not a Knight in Shining Armor

He doesn’t ride a charger sleek and white;
He wears no armor, and he bears no sword.
He never slayed a dragon breathing fire;
Never received a gallant knights reward.

He never rescued maidens fair and sweet;
He never fought a foe with rapier blade.
No maidens swoon to look on his physique.
His hero medals tarnish, and they fade.

No, he’s no knight in shining armor, true.
But he loves me, and that’s all he needs to do.