May 2 – And Just Like That, A Miracle is Taking Place

The first of the three bluebird hatchlings; one did not hatch.

I’ve spent the months of March and April writing among friends, celebrating the Slice of LIfe Story Challenge and #VerseLove – – and spiffing up my bird and butterfly garden. Each year, we discard any cracked feeders and add a couple of new ones so that we maintain the work that began in spring 2009, shortly after we moved to the Johnson Funny Farm on New Year’s Eve 2008.

I caught butterfly garden fever from my mother. Throughout her years, she planted fennel as host plants for butterflies to lay their eggs. Every summer, her fennel plants would sag with the weight of the caterpillars, each happily munching away to becoming a chrysalis before emerging as a black swallowtail. She also threw out rotting fruit for them to feed on, and taught me to do the same. She had attended a butterfly gardening workshop with one of the leading butterfly garden experts in Georgia and learned that butterflies like to feast on urea. So if you ever see an upside-down garbage can lid with rotting oranges and a wet sponge in a garden, you can bet that someone knew to invite their little grandson to go tee-tee on the sponge to make the butterflies happy. Mom grew nectar plants nearby, such as butterfly bush, azaleas, lantana and coreopsis. Every once in a while I can keep a flower alive, but it takes a modern-day miracle to make it happen.

A miracle. That’s why a week ago Thursday for the Open Mic, I changed up my whole reading plan less than an hour before the long-awaited event started. I’d stepped outside to toss a lemon rind out and to fill the bird feeders and birdbaths and check the bluebird house (again) to see if the eggs had hatched. I could see a tiny notch in one egg, and I knew the hatchling’s head would emerge within the hour if all went well. I waited awhile, watching from the front porch, and when I could see that no parents were coming and going, I returned in time to capture the moment of wonder! Watch the video at the top, if you haven’t already.

I headed out to the poetry reading, leaving my own poems at home, selecting one by by Mary Oliver instead. I stepped onto the stage and read This Morning .

Reading poetry at the Open Mic, 1828 Coffee Company, April 2023

#VerseLove April 10 – Whimsical Science with Brittany Saulnier

Today’s host for Day 10 of #VerseLove at is Brittany Saulnier, who inspires us to write whimsical science poems. I chose to focus on outdoor science – nature and all its discovery and wonder about the world! I have just gotten my flower presses out of the old barn over the weekend and can’t wait to gather flowers and greenery to press on a long walk one afternoon this week. So much of science is soothing, just pure medicine for the soul. Brittany’s gift of a prompt that invites peace is particularly appreciated on this Monday back to work after spring break. Today, my poem is a first-word-Golden Shovel Tanka (5-7-5-7-7) string. I took my striking line as a quote from a birding journal by Vanessa Sorensen: “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


adopt a mindset~
the practice of noticing
pace your amazement

of observing more fully
nature: less is so much more

her covert moments
secret discoveries ~ what
is our big hurry?

its blessings beckoning us
patience blooms on every stem

#VerseLove April 2 – Weekend Coffee Share Poems

I’m hosting #VerseLove today at, where we write in verse everyday throughout the month of April to celebrate National Poetry Month. You can read the prompt and the poems shared by others here, or simply see the prompt below:


One of the most uplifting parts of a writing community is getting to know other writers, feeling a connection, and developing a sense of belonging as others welcome you to the group and encourage you in your writing journey. This is my fifth year writing with #VerseLove after meeting Dr. Sarah Donovan at NCTE.  Today, let’s introduce ourselves through a Weekend Coffee Share poem, which can take the form of a list poem or a prose poem – or any other structure that you choose. Pour a cup of coffee and come sit down.  You may have seen other bloggers writing as part of the Weekend Coffee Share, a powerful weekend writing topic developed by a blogger whose idea inspired this prompt.  Raising a mug to Natalie


Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, and imagine being in a small coffee shop among friends.  We’ve all strolled in from the cold, damp drizzle and are eager to meet you for the first time – or to catch up with you since last time.  Pour us a cup, too, and share something about yourself with us.  Invite us into your world, friend!  Let your first line be If we were having coffee (or tea, or wine…)….

Oh – and share a picture of yourself with your cup in the comments if you wish!  

Kim’s Poem

If We Were Having Coffee 

If we were having coffee, 

  I’d tell you that #VerseLove changed my life

     because of you.  

Here, come closer and lean in.  

    Do you like light roast or bold?  

        Let me pour you a cup.  Cream? Sugar?

If we were having coffee,

  I’d ask you about your favorite poets 

    and tell you that as a child, 

      I spent hours, days, weeks, years reading

             Childcraft Volume 1 Poems and Rhymes

and was twice gifted A Child’s Garden of Verses

   for Christmas from relatives ~ in 1971 and 1972 

      and have been hooked on poetry since then.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I’m a bit of an introvert,

  so I prefer writing over talking,

     and that over the years, I have come to know

        you through our writing ~ so I call you my friend.

I’ll be talking to someone somewhere and you’ll come up.

   You always do.  

When someone tells me they like Thai food, I say,

  No way!  One of my writing friends is in Thailand right now!

And when someone hums a tune from CATS, I say,

  Girl!  One of my writing friends sent me 

       Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats last year.

And when someone says they’re going to the west coast, I say,

    Have fun! I was just there with my writing friends in November.  

If we were having coffee, 

  I’d raise my mug to you and say,

     Cheers to you, friend!  Welcome to #VerseLove 2023!

And I’d snap a picture, like this…

   and invite you to do the same! 

Slice of Life Challenge – March 3 – The Art of Charcuterie

I started savoring Saturdays in January, making sure that weekends offer something relaxing and fun – coffee, books, short day trips, reading, writing, and creating. So when my husband and I were having coffee in Senoia, Georgia (filming location of The Walking Dead) and I walked by a charcuterie board artist hard at work on a catered board, a post came rushing back to mind. Earlier in the week, I’d seen this:

This is a story idea, I thought. I ambled over and asked the food artist a few questions – namely if she could give me some pointers about creating a charcuterie board and whether I could make some photos of her work.

The first charcuterie board I’d ever actually eaten had been a disposable one from an outdoor camping and survival store in downtown Blue Ridge, Georgia when my husband and I were staying at the top of a mountain that took a 4-wheel drive to navigate. It was too much effort to go back out for dinner, so we took home a simple board, pre-made, with some cheeses, meats, and crackers on it. Nothing fancy like chocolate, nothing colorful or fresh and sweet like fruit, nothing exciting like nuts and pickles. We were not impressed. But it had been good for binge-watching Virgin River and not starving at cloud-level elevation.

Charcuterie board artist at work in Senoia, Georgia

This particular food designer, though, showed me the art of charcuterie creation with her XO and heart cookie cutters that she was using for the cheeses, and offered me a rule of thumb or two:

“Use three meats and three cheeses – play with combinations of food, and be creative with savory and sweet foods ranging from pickles and olives to chocolates. Your board should offer a hard cheese and a soft cheese. Use cutouts on the soft cheese and pipe in some preserves. Be festive with the cookie cutters and food colors to customize your board for the occasion.”

I decided to create a board for the Super Bowl, so I found a tray and shopped for the foods. What I discovered is that you can make these boards in under an hour, and they can be as healthy or as unhealthy as you want to make them. I shopped at a Dollar General that has a fresh food section, and the cost was about $40-45 – the price of what it costs for the two of us to go out for a nice meal.

I rolled ham and cheese and secured the bites with toothpicks.

I put on an apron to try to look the part and began chopping meats and dicing cheese and arranging the foods on the tray in designated areas. I started feeling a little bit like a food artist myself!

I arranged fruits next to meats and cheeses and kept the pickles, olives, and chocolates in their own containers on the tray. Soon, my board had a look of completeness to it, and while I’m no good at making little roses out of hard salami slices like the expert, I’m confident enough to create a charcuterie board for the next social gathering where I have to sign up to bring food.

My finished charcuterie board

So I realized that the daily 1,000 story walk is true! I’d walked past a story idea, stopped to ask questions, and learned something new!


Humbleswede inspired my post today when he shared First,  if I know I’m in need of an idea, I spend the day with my antennae up.  Thanks, my fellow writers, for all the sparks of ideas!

Special thanks to Two Writing Teachers

Slice of Life Challenge – March 2 – Pop-Up Fairy Gardens

I was listening to Jennifer Serravallo speak at a conference in Savannah, Georgia over the weekend when she asked us to turn and talk to our neighbor about something we’ve recently taken interest in or want to learn more about. My colleague didn’t have to think long.

“Building fairy gardens,” she said.

She and her five year old daughter recently started building one and are finding joy in spending time together designing and curating their garden while talking about fairies and other important matters of life.

“What a coincidence!” I shared. “My father was my guest blogger last month for a post on brownies. His writing inspired me to create pop-up fairy gardens in some areas of our county and invite people to add to the gardens. Do you think people would enjoy contributing to a fairy garden expansion, especially now that it’s practically spring?”

She did.

Jennifer Serravallo redirected us into the next segment of her presentation (which was ah-mayz-ing, by the way), but my colleague and I picked up our fairy garden conversation at the next break. Talking over the restroom stall doors, while washing our hands at the sink, and in the snack line to get one of those fudgy, nut-laced brownies and a cup of coffee, we chatted up the possibilities…..

I couldn’t stop imagining….what if we really did plant the seeds of fairy garden starter kits with a note inviting families to add to the fairy wonderland worlds?

On Wednesday morning, back home from our conference, I texted her: Want to go on a fairy garden dash at lunch?

Yes, she texted back.

We grabbed our protein bars and skipped the sandwiches, heading out instead to search for fairy houses, miniature chairs and benches, the tiniest wishing wells and birdbaths, and even itty-bitty garden paths leading to the fairy houses. We wrote invitations on laminated notecards and affixed them to metal proclamation frogs introducing the fairy gardens and welcoming the addition of more fairies and creative enchantments – and not missing the opportunity to suggest that families read more about fairies!

Fairy garden finds from our mad dash at lunchtime

And then……we waited for businesses to close and went on the fairy garden pop-up mission after obtaining permission from the managers of a few of our chosen establishments! We arranged the first three fairy gardens under the cover of semi-darkness outside two libraries and one local coffee shop.

Pop-up fairy garden outside the window of the children’s section of our county library

We can’t wait to see if the fairy gardens grow…..and if so, how they grow and change through the springtime. It is our hope that families wonder, create, admire, design, plan, talk, and spend time working together with others in our community having fun….that perhaps we, too, will bloom and grow.

Welcome, fairies!

Pop-up fairy garden in the outdoor seating area of our local coffee shop on the town square
Pop-up fairy garden outside the window of the children’s section of a library in one of our towns

A blog post by Leigh Ann Eck yesterday about looking for the unexpected inspired me to change the idea I had for today’s post – since the gardens are kind of….well, unexpected. Thanks, Leigh Ann!

Special thanks to Two Writing Teachers for giving writers space and voice!

My February Goal Update

Special thanks to Two Writing Teachers!

On the last day of each month, I update my goal progress in the areas I chose for the year. Monthly goal updates that began a decade ago in 2013 in the Notes app on my phone are now kept in table form on my blog, giving me a way to remain focused on my goals and holding myself accountable in actionable strides. Today, I’m sharing my second goal update of 2023.

CategoryGoalsMy Progress
LiteratureRead Around the USA
Give Away Books
Send out Postcards
Blog Daily (For March plan to participate in Slice of Life Writing Challenge)
I gave away another 5 foot shelf of books.
I mailed recipe postcards to my grandchildren.
I blogged daily throughout February, marking two full years of daily blogging today.
I wrote with Open Write this month.
I read my February selection from Colorado: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan
I plan to participate in the Slice of Life Writing Challenge each day during the month of March
CreativityImprove blog photos
Indulge in photo excursions
I continued working with my Middle School Writers, and one submitted a piece to the Young Georgia Authors contest
I designed a prototype of a story walk planter for our town square
I am planning Bloom! for National Poetry Month with our L4GA community partners
SpiritualityTune in to church
Keep OLW priority
We’ve tuned in to YouTube channels for Dad’s sermons this month in the two churches where he is preaching as a rotating interim.
I’ve prayed daily and kept my One Little Word at the helm
ReflectionWrite family stories
Spend time tracking goals each month
I’ve written some family memories, and Dad has written as a guest blogger, sharing some of his experiences
Self-ImprovementMaintain goal weight
Maintain Weight
Give away too-big clothes
I cleaned out my pantry and my medicine chest this month, following my closet in January.
I still take clothes to donate when they give me any room to take the temptation and eat the cake.
I am in weight maintenance range.
GratitudeDevote blog days to counting blessingsI continue reading in Simple Abundance and counting blessings, especially on family birthdays.
I remain grateful for my health, family, and the simple pleasures of life – like savoring Saturdays with coffee and having farm fresh eggs for supper.
ExperienceEmbrace Slow Travel
Focus on the Outdoors
I participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count
I traveled to Kentucky to visit family over my winter break (slowly – I broke up the trip into manageable driving segments, put the window down, and admired the Kentucky rolling hills and greening spring grass)
I traveled to Savannah, Georgia and spent time with my grandchildren strolling along River Street and eating ice cream at Leopold’s.

T-Shirt Poetry ~ Your Story Matters

Britt Decker, our host at today for the Open Write, shares a prompt that proves that we walk by thousands of writing opportunities everyday. We walk in them, past them, heck – we wear them! She shows us how to take a t-shirt from our closet with words, a picture, or a memory that will inspire poetry.  It's as simple as going to the closet and considering all the possibilities.  I love how her t-shirts inspire a poem about her own need of distance between work and play. Read the prompt here, and consider writing with us.  I bought a t-shirt at the NCTE conference in Anaheim, California last November with a message I enjoy sharing – your story matters.  My poem is a 3x5 today - short and simple like an index card - three lines, five syllables.  

Your Story Matters

you’re a child in God’s
great universe so
your story matters

Botanical Candlelight Nonet

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world.” -William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

botanical candlelights dancing
flickering in moonlit darkness
memories of summer walks
with my daughters, picking
flowers, pressing them 
between pages 
of stories: 

Nonet Poetry

Story Tablecloth

In 2012, we celebrated the high school graduation of one of our daughters and the college graduation of one of our sons. I rented the old opera house in downtown Griffin, Georgia for the event, and we sent out invitations for family and friends. The guest list was eclectic, even with the family members present. Since we’re a blended family, there were grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins from both sides.

I gave a great deal of thought to the ways to help avoid awkward silences and encourage lively conversations and landed on using a tablecloth. I bought a white vinyl cloth, a roll of clear cellophane tape, and a small book-style photo album from the dollar store and set about brainstorming my memories as I built a question bank for a “Which Graduate…?” conversation table.

First, I cut apart the photo album to separate the pages. On the front side of the flap, I posed a question: Which graduate once got suspended from school for starting a fight when someone stole his/her sandwich as a joke?

Then, on the flip side, I wrote the correct answer (my son’s name). I looked for the crossover opportunities where both graduates’ names were correct. Which graduate once broke a car windshield when they were angry? (both son and daughter)

Next, I laid out the pages in a small inner circle and a large outer circle, then taped the pages down on one side to the vinyl tablecloth, forming a page (flap) that turned back and forth to read the questions on one side and the answers on the other.

The memories I shared were stories that at first had been sore spots but which, over time, had become humorous ways of ribbing each other to the point of laughter. All of them had a story smoothing out the shock value once the full story was told, but it got guests wondering, talking, and chuckling.

For 11 years now, the tablecloth has been folded and kept in our antique oak buffet, but as I’m cleaning out and paring down, I’m sorting through memories and writing about them to preserve them in words rather than continuing to hold on to items in drawers and boxes. It makes parting with possessions easier when I am able to share the joy they brought.

Here are some of the questions from the tablecloth:


My January Goals Update

Acknowledging, recognizing, and reordering our priorities so that they can give purpose to our days is a deeply personal task that we all need to do if we are to learn to live by our own lights. 
             - Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy

On the last day of each month, I update my goal progress in the areas I chose for the year. Monthly goal updates that began a decade ago in 2013 in the Notes app on my phone are now kept in table form on my blog, giving me a way of remaining focused on my goals and holding myself accountable in actionable strides. Today, I’m sharing my first goal update of 2023. January is just the beginning of the year-long marathon, so I’ve been energetic and about all the new goals. Looking back at these early tables later in the year will give me the momentum to achieve most of my goals, if not all of them, at the notorious “mile 25” when the runner is beyond weary. I invite you to try this system if you’ve never tracked goals over the course of a year and you’re looking for a way to celebrate your successes along the journey.

CategoryGoalsMy Progress
Literature*Read Around the USA
*Give Away Books
*Send out Postcards
*Blog Daily
I read Stephen King’s On Writing for my Read Around the USA New England states with the Book Girls, and I decided on my February book: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan. I have ordered this book for our next group of states and can’t wait to start reading. I’ve blogged daily, given away 2 four-foot shelves of books, and sent postcards to my grandchildren and others during this month.
Creativity*Improve blog photos
*Indulge in photo excursions
*Create photo montage
I ordered favorite moment photos on canvas, and they arrived mid-January! They turned out beautifully, and each morning I begin the day seeing the joy of adventuring and living. I’ve been on several photography excursions this month. I still need to work on improving my blog photos.
Spirituality and One Little Word (Pray) *Tune in to church
*Pray! Keep OLW priority
Dad sent me a copy of Harry Emerson Fosdick’s The Meaning of Prayer, and I’m delving into this selection slowly. Although we are still between churches, we attend weekly on YouTube Live wherever Dad is guest preaching. My One Little Word is a daily priority – I pray in the shower and on my way to work (keeping my word in visible places helps tremendously).
Reflection*Write family stories
*Spend time tracking goals each month
I’m tracking my goal progress. I’ve copied and pasted this goal template into the last day of each month’s blog post already and scheduled it to post. I can update sections throughout the month as I reach goals or work toward them. I haven’t written any family stories this month, but instead I have asked Dad to guest blog twice on Sundays with reflection pieces on prayer.
Self-Improvement*Reach top of weight range
*Maintain Weight
*Give away clothes when they get baggy
My husband and I both cleaned out our closets and donated what we discarded that was still in good shape. The county north of us sustained severe tornado damage a couple weeks ago, so we know that the clothes and shoes will be used by those who lost their belongings and were displaced from their homes. We also cleaned out our pantry and refrigerator and donated food to families with immediate needs. “Starting over” feels great! Giving to those in need makes the process more meaningful. On the weight loss goal, I’m a pound and a half from my target, and I hope to reach my goal in the next couple of weeks.
Gratitude*Devote blog days to counting blessingsI celebrated my husband on his birthday and my firstborn daughter on hers. Those were the only birthdays this month. I’m reading Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance, which keeps me focused on feeling grateful each day. Birthdays seem like natural occasions to be intentional with written gratitude for others.
Experience*Embrace Slow Travel
*Focus on the Outdoors
We’re making conscious efforts to slow down our travel pace. For the past two Saturdays, we have savored the mornings, so I’m starting a new mindset practice: Savoring Saturdays. Each begins with coffee and includes books. I need to get outdoors more. I look forward to the lengthening days and the coming warmth ~I’m hoping the groundhog predicts an early spring.
Goal Table Update for January
Special thanks to Two Writing Teachers for giving writers space and voice.