Snow

February’s Bracing Ride

For a short month, this February was packed. Two Star Review, a favorite piece of flash written during the summer of Tara and Pete was published in Emerge Literary Journal. The Rains went live in Fictive Dream as part of Flash Fiction February. If you haven’t yet, check out both of these places; they print some seriously decent stories and poems. I am grateful to have my work included in them.

Also, randomly out of Taipei, I received an invitation to talk about characterization. Todd Sullivan contacted me because he came across My Song for Majabin. During an interview, which you can catch here, I read part of the story and answer some questions.

Barrelhouse held a virtual conference and I was there for it. Great experience all around and I produced new drafts I’m letting sit for a bit. Editing is never done, but until some of it gets caught up on, I’m not working on new things…which can be problematic. Attempting to write this post yesterday, I ended up with a micro, two flashes, and the outline of an essay.

I absolutely adore the problems I have, including the creepy hand icicle…it may not be my favorite thing, but it didn’t grab me, so I’m good.

There was a lot of snow. Too much time was spent dealing with doctors, insurance companies and that ilk. Okay, I did have a few pleasant exchanges with one doctor, but that was a friendly with XO Man. Another bit of happiness was a long overdue chat with Mary Akers and Gina Detwiler. (Happy early birthday Gina!) Other awesomeness was the sanity and comradeship I so delighted in during weekly Zooms with the talented Nina Fosati. Thank you SO much for your friendship, loveliness, and being a bright light!  

So, March is howling at the door with both a reading and a check in/write in scheduled. I’m off to hone pitches for Thursday’s PitMad and then edit some more. Thank you for stopping by and for the read! I appreciate it!

February went out like a lamb, so…

The weather has been such fun! Yesterday, I was able to take a lovely walk out back. The snow was mostly gone; I traversed the labyrinth and collected a few polished pottery shards from the beach. Of course, it was muddy, but it was warm and smelled nice – very spring like. I started out with a light fleece jacket, but had it tied around my waist near the end. This morning was a bit cooler and I went into town. By the time I returned and was unloading groceries, the wet snow had begun.

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A few hours later, branches are falling and I’m nervous. Tree limbs are heavy with the snow.

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Oh, and the defunct telephone line was ripped right off the house. That was a delightful noise to figure out. Welcome to western New York’s winter, though some people consider this the first day of spring. Oi!

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Tuesday was a great day to drive and the novel critique group meeting was in Lockport. I don’t recall having carrot soup before, but it is wonderful – at least the way Mary made it. Gina’s section had me asking so many questions – when her book comes out, I’m sure you’ll be wondering the same things and you’ll have it easy because you can read the next pages whereas I have to wait until she writes them and then another month for the day we exchange files – THEN I’ll know what happens. Next month, I’ll be sending the final section of my book to them. It’s hard to believe that one will be over and I have to create (refine) new characters. These last ones were a joy to spend time with – well, most of the time. I still remember Mary’s comment on the first section, though the beginning is now revamped, she echoed the original beginning by saying she fell in love with Tara. That sentiment is still heady and it boosted my confidence in this manuscript.

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I’ve been reducing clutter and getting rid of things. My notebooks are sorted and I’ve made a major dent in the filing. I still want to gather the bits of “Near Eden, New York” and of the Letty stories and box them up. I’m done with both for the time being and I’m hoping that if they are out of my way, I can figure out what “new book” is about. So far, it’s not going the way I thought it would, but that’s fine.

In case you missed it, I did an interview. There’s a photo and everything. I have a request to do another one, which I haven’t finished yet. It’s odd to be on the other side of the questions. I’m still figuring out the managing editorship, but that, too, is okay. I attended a networking event that the Springville Chamber of Commerce hosted at Papa Jake’s. One of the stories told was about one of their guest speakers who encouraged people to say yes to an opportunity – even if you didn’t know how to do it because you’d figure it out. I did and now I am, though I’m not looking forward to sending rejections. If you get one from me, please know I found no pleasure in it at all.

I’m checking the mailbox because my copies of Ellipsis: Two should arrive any day now. I’ve seen posts on Twitter and can’t wait to dive in. I have plenty of other reading to keep me busy until then, but One was fantastic so I want to see what is in there. And I will continue to read and sort because I’ve sent out queries and checking Query Tracker every five seconds doesn’t speed things along any more than refreshing the Submittable page when I send out flash.

Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

 

 

*These mere creekside reflections are mine alone and in no way should alter your unique view of the shore.

 

4 Degrees on the 4th of January

Hello and welcome to the first post of the new year! Most places in the US are cold right now because of some weather phenomenon I’ve never heard of before, so I won’t add to the griping since it hasn’t snowed yet today, but we do have snow.

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The holidays were fun and each started out right with pancakes and mimosas. I meant to take pictures, but when you’re drinking champagne first thing in the morning, it somehow makes one forgetful. Who knew?

What I do remember is unwrapping this on Christmas morning:

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This gorgeous piece of pottery was made by the multi-talented Mary Akers. Thank you Mary!

Husband and I took Ben down to PA for an amazingly wonderful visit with his Twin, Niece from Boston, and Nephew from near Portland. Bridge was played so everyone was allowed to remain unharmed. And look what Niece got for me!

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Isn’t it perfect? I’ve been thinking about “new book” and someone does have to die in it, so…

So, yeah, I have been thinking about it. I’ve also been thinking about how I didn’t submit as much as usual last year. And dreading the rewrite of the last book, but not as much as the idea of querying agents. Yes, I do have the best first world problems and I love every single one of them – including the abundance of new books to read.

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Congratulations to Alex Pruteanu on this – I’ve waited a long time to read it and I am savoring it.

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And mega-thank you to Susan Tepper! I’m looking forward to this delight!

Lousy weather does have its joy – curling up in front of the fire and reading.

Thanks for stopping by! Stay warm!

*These are my creek side reflections. Your experiences should vary.

It’s snowing and my snow tires are on

Who knew the first “real” snow of the year would be in December? It’s been falling steadily, but so far, the accumulation isn’t much. It’s covering things, making the outside world cold, but pretty. I love the first snowfall of the season most of all, but I’d send it to California if it would help the fires.

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It took forever to get tires on the car. First the wheels were too big, then I had an alignment problem, which led to replacing ball joints. . . All this car ownership fun I’ve missed for 15 years? I didn’t miss that at all, but I truly enjoy being able to go and attend events. One of the first was driving to Buff State for a reading by Joan Wilking. Afterwards, I went out to dinner at Cole’s with Joan, Kim Chinquee, Tamara Grisanti and a few others. There, I learned a piece I sent to Elm Leaves Journal was accepted for the Blues issue. It was a great time and Mycology, the 2016 Wild Onion Novella Prize is a great read. I literally gasped at one part. I can’t remember the last time that happened.

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Last Saturday was the Kirst Christmas party held at the bowling alley in Hamburg. It was fun, but so strange to see people I only once a year. Scott “the bee guy” recognized me, but he grew a mustache and I didn’t realize that was him. Husband and I bowled with Don and “not Eric.” I don’t think I’d met “not Eric” before, but that’s what I misheard and now I don’t remember his real name. Husband was given a plaque for working there 10 years. Somehow, it feels both longer and shorter than that.

We went to the community meeting about the possible round about on Route 240 and 12 people – out of possibly 100 – were loud and opposed to the idea. No one else was willing to say they wanted it. When the one man left and returned, I honestly feared he’d gone and got a gun. That’s how pissed off and irate he was and how scary and uncivil this town has become. Well, probably the nation. Talking about possible solutions no longer seems possible, it’s the loud mouths with guns who hold all the power. Some America this has turned out to be. . .

Otherwise, I’ve been rewriting a few flashes and I’ve submitted 10 pieces this week. I’m nearly ready to go back into the new novel that I started in November. I know, I should finish it first, but I’ve done that before and I recognize that every book of mine gets written differently, so this is the way this one is going – with fits and false starts. And so it goes . . .

Oh! I nearly forgot! This is how the tub area turned out. I am loving the light, the tiles, and even the grab bars. I now have a place to hang my washcloth. It is the small things in life, after all, that make life better and easier to get through, especially when the world’s gone mad.

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Thanks for stopping by for a read and as always, these are my creek side reflections. Your experiences may vary.

 

I spent Valentine’s Day with my Tax Guy and other confessions…

Yes, it’s true. On Saturday, we went in to Mark Adamchick’s office and he estimated our refund (NY State and Federal) would be equal to the County Tax bill which we received on Monday. Gotta love the timing.

The cold and snow have been unrelenting. I’m pet-sitting for a neighbor. Had I known what the weather was going to be like, I would have rethought my answer. I still would have done it, but I would have thought longer before agreeing to do it.

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The day before Valentine’s Day, wonderful things happened. I received the postcard XO Man sent from Tierra del Fuego (props if you get the Letterman reference), there was a letter from a dear friend, and to top it off, Husband stopped to buy me a rose. He didn’t have to–I’d gotten mini-carnations two weeks before and we’d gone out to lunch last week since we didn’t want to deal with the hassle of dining out on VD.

My husband is awesome.

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The writing lately, not so much. Oh sure, I had another piece accepted (Thank you Tim Sevenhuysen) and it went live today at 50 Word Stories. Otherwise, I’ve been spending a lot of time on rewriting some short stories and rewriting old stories feels like I’m not moving forward. I did squeak out a new flash for a contest. I started several one night, let them alone for a few days then picked the strongest and polished it to fit a contest’s requirements. Last weekend when I was at the library, I did make a leap forward with “The Little Woman,” a story I conceived of in November 2012, but again, it’s an old story.

I suppose the answer is to plunge back into “the new piece.” I still don’t know what it’s going to be–size wise–but I’m still smitten with it. Unless I decide to submit a bunch of stories…or maybe poems. I could polish a few essays I’m close to liking enough to send out, but maybe I should scour agent listings and send out more queries…

*Sigh*

What I really want to do is buy seeds and plant them.

Thanks for stopping by!

Priorities and/or delusions

Often, I have a list of topics to cover before I start my blog. Not so with this one. What I have is increasingly annoying notices that I am close to using up all of my monthly “usage,” so no pictures this time. I blame Snovember and having to send Husband’s pictures to his friends and family. If you need pictures, you can look on my Facebook page at a building that crumbled under the weight of the snow. We didn’t get a lot of snow here and I’m grateful for that.

It’s #PitMad on Twitter today. That will drive me over my usage amount, but if I get a tweet favorited by an agent, I’m willing to believe it will be worth it. I did get a favorite from an acquisitions editor last time, but even as I sent the requested material, I knew in my heart it wasn’t going to work out. Sometimes, I hate my sixth sense.

Thanksgiving was dignified and respectful. I’m glad of that. My niece and nephew will be flying into Buffalo in a few weeks for a Christmas visit, so after neglecting the housework while I worked on my latest novel, I’m cleaning the house, kicking out the spiders, and debating if I need to hold onto everything I touch. I’ve put several sweaters and shirts in the donation pile and three cookbooks are on their way, too.

So that is the fun going on around here recently. I’m enjoying this “break” from the novel. When I go back to rewrite it, I know I now have a much better sense of the character’s motivations that I didn’t in the first draft. One thing I will always love about writing is how characters come alive, reveal themselves, and alter what you thought their plotline was going to be. It’s the best kind of magic.

 

(These are my creek side reflections. Your experiences should vary.)

Being a writer is full of surprises.

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There has been a barrage of information about the weather. That’s all I’ve seen or heard about lately. The newspaper hasn’t arrived in days. When I’ve gone to watch a show or listen to a radio program, I hear about travel bans and record breaking snowfall totals. I’m a bit surprised since I’m from the area and my motto is “It’s Buffalo. It snows. Get over it,” and let’s face it, when my area gets hit, no one cuts me slack since I’m in “ski country,” and apparently that means I must like the snow, which I do, but that is beside the point. There is more to my world than the weather. What happened with the XL Pipeline? Are the Kardashians still exposing themselves inappropriately? Has ISIS taken over the world? I’m asking because I don’t know. I only know about the snow. There’s been no mail either.

I’m in a funky weird state after learning (via email) great news about one story I wrote only to have that information followed by a heart breaking email about a completely different aspect of my so-called writing career.

Are you ready?

My short story,”Between a Vacuum and Empty Space,” was not only selected for inclusion in a Sci-Fi anthology by Divertir Publishing, but it is going to be the first story and serve as the TITLE for the collection!

How does that happen? I don’t know, but it did. I sent a note to Jim Tuttle (Half of JT and the Law–go follow them) to let him know first because he helped me with the details–I am so grateful to him! His response made me smile. After that, I told Husband, members of Write To Be, and then Chyo. So weird and flattering. I still have a happy about it.

Then, of course, there was the ego-deflating bit. An agent who had requested the first 30 pages of L&C decided she didn’t want to see anymore. Eh. What are you going to do?

These new sagas are a nice breather from the truck needing repairs and the “Help! I don’t know what I’m doing in my NaNo story” angst. It’s fine. It’s life. It’s not French wine, but I could hum a few bars.

And that’s another thing! On the journey to Indiana, we bought wine to take as gifts. One being a strawberry wine from a local vineyard, which Susie got. She opened it and shared a glass with me. It was delightful. I mention this because we hit the liquor store before the storm and we bought another bottle, which happened to be on sale, and there is the odd chance it will be around for the upcoming Christmas Relative Party Shuffle.

Anyway, the excursion netted a bunch of canning jars. I was told of this in advance and thought “a few boxes” meant 20 jars–30 max. Yeah, I haven’t been able to fathom the idea of counting individual jars, but they take up four and a quarter shelves in the basement. Ah, but back to the wine aspect. In clearing the shelves, Husband brought up a black bottle with cobwebs all over it. I was talking to Chyo at the time, described the bottle and the label. Turns out, it is her favorite sparkling wine, Freixenet, from Spain. Neither of us can remember if it was a gift from her to me or a gift I bought to give to her and it was just forgotten. Regardless, it was on its side for years so the cork is probably still good and if you want to know, I had taken it as a sign that the agent I’d sent pages to was going to ask for more, but that didn’t happen. C’est la vie.

Back on the shelf it goes. Maybe tomorrow I’ll hear from “the” agent for me. Until then, I’ll be inside, staying warm because snow is best enjoyed inside a house with wood heat.

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(*These are my creekside reflections. Your experiences may vary.)

The Muse is to Blame for the Lateness of this Post

Last night, there was a meeting of the novel critique group at Mary Aker’s house. I am loving this process. The people, the camaraderie, and the feedback are all impeccable. I also love seeing how their storylines and characters develop. Their plot twists and turns are fun to read and discuss. Plus, having people to commiserate with about the process isn’t too shabby, either. I feel so honored and privileged to be included, so yeah, I’m in a good mood. Mostly….

I’d come across a short story collection competition two hours before I left, and while my first attempt is intact, I’ve done revisions on several of the stories, so I reassembled the 24 pieces. I had ¾ of it compiled by the time I left the house. I got home around 10:20, finished adding the other stories and got it submitted well before the midnight deadline. With the steep entry fee, I let circumstance dictate if I entered at all.

Checking Facebook, I found Jeff Rose wanted to talk again, but I wasn’t there. The night before, I was quite animated and juggling several conversations. It was weirdly nice, to find I was wanted/missed on Facebook, even though it was in front of God and everybody.

I tried reading over the notes from Gina and Mary, but I was so whipped! Then, the second I put head to pillow, my story came to life. I heard so many conversations, saw so many scenes. My poor MC! I thought I just put her through hell. That’s NOTHING compared to what she’ll soon be going through. Poor thing. And while it was fantastic, to find out so many details about my story, at that time of night? Thank you muse. While jotting down a few key words, I saw it was 3:05 a.m. Hence the relative lateness of this post. You can thank the muse for that. I already thanked her.

Why yes, I do love the problems I have. Problems such as these:

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I want this.

3.6.2014This is what I’ve got.

I’m grateful the snow is melting off the roof of the garden shed, but I still can’t get inside.

Oh, I did want to apologize for last time–using mostly pictures–but it was my first official reading! I wish I’d saved them for this week’s blog entry, but choices and consequences, eh? Right, so Gina said her husband tapped his maples over the weekend and that has got to mean spring. It just DOES at this point because it’s been so freaking cold and snowy for so long. I need me some robins and crocuses, and another acceptance or two wouldn’t hurt my feelings, either. Did I forget to mention this? I had TWO poems accepted for the inaugural issue of Wicked Banshee. I am so freaking thrilled to be included in what looks to be a fantastic venue. Thank you SaraEve!

And thank you for checking in!

(Remember, these are just my Creekside Reflections. Your experiences may vary.)

It’s Not Cabin Fever Exactly… It’s More Like Cabin Anxiety

This past Monday, I attended the novel critique group meeting at Gina’s. I’ve never worked this way, handing over twenty–now up to 25 pages–at a time. As I’m revising “The Life and…” I’m realizing I really have to slow down the pace. The recent installment included an added scene I thought I’d get slammed on, but they seemed to enjoy it–Mary said it felt like I’d nailed the voice. I’m glad of this, as I felt I had lost it and that’s why I had to take it back a few pages so events I’d glided through in the rough draft could be strengthened. I think the end result will be tighter, but I’m only a quarter of the way there. I know, I said I’d send out agent queries for Ellie’s Elephants, and I did get two out after the ambiguous “this doesn’t sound like a form rejection, but I don’t know how to respond either” response from Sobel. Meeting new people is hard enough. Needing to introduce myself and say, “Please, like what I write, too”…that makes me anxious.

So, I had enough “when I” and put brush to canvas. It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever made, and I’m nowhere close to finishing it, put it’s a start. It felt good to mix colors and paint. The longer I was painting, the more that came back to me–including the fact that you can’t finish a painting in one sitting. Well, the one guy could, but I’m not him nor do I have my own show on PBS.

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Speaking of that realm…WBFO, my local NPR station is doing an extra pledge week. OMG, enough. Here’s the thing, I love their work, the coverage, etc. However, they are on there telling me if I don’t pledge, my favorite shows will disappear. How many years and how much money have proved that to be a lie? Everything was great until Mark Scott retired. The resulting crapola version of a program lineup disgusts me. Why this station pays for programs that are great but plays them when no one listens and plays boring shows when people are tuned in is just stupid. There was a time when pledge week ended early. The reason for that was simple. They had there shit together; now it’s not worth it. If you also tell me how I have to pay to keep the programs I want to stay on the air, I will recite the ones they dropped when I sent them a few bucks and when I say I, I mean Husband. Whoever is in charge of programming is clueless, or trying his best to kill off this station and the rapid decline in listenablity has me thinking it’s the latter. WBFO, please, hear this and fix it. The person in charge of programming needs to go.

Otherwise, I’m excitedly looking forward to the 15th when I get to do my first official reading. It will be at the West Falls-Colden Library where I volunteer, so I’ll have the home field advantage. I find it a bit strange that they have a signup sheet for it. I mean, that makes sense if it’s a card making class, but a reading? Gary Earl Ross will be there as well as Susan Solomon, George Morse, and Lou Rera. We will be reading from Queen City Flash at 1:00-3:00 on Saturday 15th if you’re up for it. Jeff Schober did a reading there on the 1st while I was working. It was good to see him again. Boneshaker is a follow up to Broken and Profane and he’s working on two more in the series. 

Anyway, I’ve had a few “close calls” on acceptances. I was told one piece made it to the final round of cuts. They only take four stories per issue, so I guess I made their top five or top eight, which is nice, but I then sent that piece to another venue where it didn’t make it past the first cut. *Sigh.* I also got INK!!!! from The Sun. They held it for 8 months, so I’m considering that something. I sent that story to two places yesterday. I don’t know what it is. It’s gotten so many “almosts” but that just makes it more frustrating that it hasn’t found a home yet. I know, I’ve heard the stories yet those don’t make the personal rejections any less disappointing.

So, enough of this ranting about the problems I have because I love them all, including the fact that there’s more snow and I can’t wait to go for a walk in the woods, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Ah well…

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(These are my Creekside Reflections. Your experiences may vary.)

The Holidays. *Sigh*

Since last I wrote, things started out quite lovely. I got an acceptance from Matter Press for my piece, “I’m Calling Him Skippy,” about a woman who rescues a dog from bad owners. At about the same time, Husband called from Adoring Pets with sad news. While I assumed that the dog would cost us a million dollars, I didn’t think she’d die. What the one vet thought was a minor issue, was in fact cancer. It’s not in her lungs yet, but even with surgery (keeping her cast dry in this weather? Really?) and drug treatment there’s only a 48% chance she’d be alive in a year.

If you met Tye, you know how sweet she is and we can’t do that to her. On Monday, she’ll be going into work with Husband. Mondays suck anyway, and before Christmas is somehow better then afterwards…

Nancy, my friend from the Playwright Workshop, and I had plans to go see Gary Earl Ross read that night. Mr. Ross selected my piece, “Wildflower Wishes,” to include in the Queen City Flash anthology, and I hoped to pick up my copy that night, but with that news, and the snow, we didn’t go.

The snow…it’s been unbelievable. I didn’t go shopping last week, nor did I go to the library because the driveway was filled with snow. I’d shovel and later it wouldn’t look like I’d been outside. Husband got the driveway under control on Saturday, and then Sunday, we drove to Grandma’s house. I had no idea how hard the dog’s illness was going to be. Grandma doesn’t hear very well. I couldn’t tell her this was Tye’s last visit. It broke my heart to see Tye look up at her and hear my Grandma say, “It’ll be all right,” because no, it isn’t. 

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I had a short story accepted at Page and Spine. The bonus for that is I’d just had it rejected by Carve. If you have a piece rejected by Carve and it’s published elsewhere, they link it from their site. Maybe it will get them to look closer at the piece I have under consideration there now.

I was working on my novel yesterday waiting for Husband to get home when I heard something in the driveway. He was stuck. Our most awesome neighbor came with his tractor, cleared the driveway and got Husband’s truck out of the mushy part of the lawn. Thank you Bill!!! The thing was, I looked out the window, saw him stuck and thought, “Are you kidding me? Another crappy thing to deal with?” I have forgotten to mention that I got a call from my credit card company. My card had been stolen. So yeah, that was even more fun added to the mix. Today, on the news I found out it was most likely from the Target theft. Fun.

The holiday letter and cards are being sent out today, one of the latest send offs, but I just finished them last night after Husband’s company Christmas Party at J. P. Fitzgerald’s. It was a nice party. I sat by Trish and she and I talked about her work, her trips to Haiti, and her daughter’s writing. Paul and Kim were at our table, as was Tessa, and the old assless chaps joke came up once again. How can a party be bad when the conversation includes discussions of juice boxes and assless chaps?

So, I have more cookies to make and I need to finish up my twenty pages to send to my awesome novel critique group today. I hate being this late with things, but then again, I had no idea we’d have this much snow, which led to fewer shopping days. No, what it is is that I had no idea how much I love this dog and it pisses me off that she isn’t going to be around anymore. Screw it. I have cookies to make. I hope your holiday–if you celebrate one–is fantastic and blessed and bright. Here’s looking to a better New Year.

 

(These are just my creekside reflections. Your experiences may vary.)