Monthly Archives: July 2017

Quote of the Week #83

Have you ever been somewhere and seen someone with a FREE HUG sign? Did you take them up on their offer? Did the hug feel nice, or awkward? Did you enjoy it? If you didn’t hug the person, did you think about it afterward and wonder why you didn’t?

One day in late December my husband and I were both feeling depressed and in a state of despair even though it was that time of year when people are supposed to feel festive and happy. We decided to cheer ourselves up we would take our dog, Schroeder, and go into town with the sole purpose of making people smile and giving out free hugs. We made three signs, put them on and set out on the streets of Asheville.

Our first time giving out free hugs

Our first time giving out free hugs

Some people looked at us strangely. Some people moved away from us. Some people laughed when they saw Schroeder, moving closer–happily– to accept some puppy love. Oh, they laughed when Schroeder wagged his tail wildly and tried to lick their faces. We quickly learned several things:

1 That Schroeder does not give hugs–he gives kisses and licks

2. That if we did not take initiative, many people just walked on by

3. At the end of the day, after hugging many, many strangers and sharing many smiles and laughs, WE felt better. In giving out hugs we had managed to cheer ourselves up!

Since then we made giving out hugs a monthly event. We are better at it now–better at warmly inviting strangers to hug us, better at not taking it personally when they walk past, better at letting the hugs go on as long as people need. And Schroeder’s sign now says “Free kisses and licks.”


And so that brings me to the quote of the week, two of them actually, because, as you know, I can never decide:

The first, by Maya Angelou, “I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”

and the second, a fact that was apparent to us almost immediately– it is very easy to make someone smile.


YOU can be reason someone smiles. YOU can make a difference in someone’s day. All it takes is the desire and a tiny bit of effort.


Weekly Puzzler Answer #155

Last week’s puzzler was a shrub seen in the eastern United States called, appropriately, eastern sweetshrub; other common names include Carolina sllspice, strawberry shrub,, sweet-scented shrub, bubby blossom, sweet bubby, sweet bettie, and spicebush. (A note here, as one of my subscribers, Barb, wrote this in her comment and I thought she might be talking about another eastern shrub called spicebush. When I searched for common names for the eastern sweetbush, spicebush was listed on one of the sites I visited.  So your answer was indeed correct! Thanks for the lesson!)


The Latin name of this plant is Calycanthus floridus. If you’ve ever stood close to one, you may have noticed the sweet fragrance–said to smell like strawberry, melon and pineapple– the shrub gives off. Its leaves, twigs and flowers are very fragrant, especially as the plant matures.

Endemic to North America, this pretty shrub grows 6-9 feet tall. The flowers may last over a month! In the fall the shrub will be full of seed pods that hang down and will eventually release seeds, which need to go through stratification (a period of cold and moisture in order to germinate)before they can grow a new plant.


Here is some more information if you are interested, from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture)

And, just as a reminder in case you missed my last post, I will be traveling for a while, putting some of my regular columns, including the puzzler, on hold. See you again in a few weeks!

Photo Challenge

Hello and Happy Thursday. Yes, I normally publish this post on Wednesday, but because of the 4th of July holiday, my whole week has been thrown off. I hope you enjoyed your holiday!

Last week’s photo theme was from this poem below–I chose a line from the poem –The Peace of Wild Things.


Then when I went to find images for this post, it occurred to me that just about every image I have ever made fits this theme, as when I am out doing photography–something I love more than just about anything else–I am almost always at peace.

I love the peace of wild things, whatever those wild things are. The theme is so WIDE open! So completely open to interpretation. Who is to say what brings one person peace? Wild things can mean so much, from plants, flowers, trees, rocks, beaches,waterfalls, to all kind of animals from the tiniest snail to a giant caribou. Are you like me, finding peace easily when you are outside in nature?

Here is the collection of images then for the week:

Feather in the Sky, by ArdenFawn with Mother in WNY, by Chris MWater Lily, WNY, by Chris MGrand Canyon, by ArdenDuck with many ducklings at Reinstein Woods, NY, by Chris MSwan, by ArdenPeacock, by ArdenMama and baby in WNY, by Chris MDove on her nest, by ArdenBy ArdenAlligator sunning, by ArdenLibrary in the woods! by Chris MCoot nest, by ArdenRoseate Spoonbill Spotlight on a deer In Florida, by ArdenPerfection of flying My Zen Spot, by ArdenDupont State Forest, by ArdenBy ArdenOsprey nest in Florida, by ArdenDragonfly Not a Crack in the Sidewalk! by ArdenGreat Blue Heron, by ArdenFlorida by ArdenCaribou in Denali Bear in the backyard! By ArdenSiesta Key, Florida, by ArdenNC waterfallsSeagull on the coast in MaineLiquid MirrorAlaska and the very special Denali Roan Mountain Wild things Egret feeding Wild things! Preening SnailIn the Adirondacks Along the John Muir Trail Perfect great blue heronWood duckStillness Preening egret Morning reflectionThe perfect camping spot! Vermont mountains A Perfect sunset White pelicans make art in the skyIn Alaska Beauty in NYOn the John Muir Trail Reddish egret landingWood storks White Ibis feedingFlying southSparkles on the waterWatching the wild things

This is the last post from me you will see for a while (except to answer the puzzler on Saturday) as I am on the brink of an exciting road trip adventure that will take me away from my desk for a few weeks. You may see a few random posts during that time, but some of the regular features, including the photo challenge and puzzler, will be on hold.

Have a good month! Thanks, as always, for reading!

I will leave you with this poem, one I first published last Wednesday, but one I love so much I wanted to read it again–and let you read it again too. Do you like it?

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.


Weekly Puzzler #155: Red Flower and Fruity Scent

I came across this scrub recently on a rainy day walk at the North Carolina Arboretum. It was full of these lovely red flowers in the center of each bunch of lovely green leaves. Have you seen it? Do you know what it is? Do you know why I say it has a fruity scent? Have you smelled it–do you know what it smells like?




If you want to guess, use the comment box below. You could win the next prize–to be given away on the first day of fall. All correct responses will be entered in the drawing. This quarter our winner, Arden, won a sampler pack of greeting cards from my Beauty is Everywhere collection.

…Have a wonderful weekend!! See you again soon.

Weekly Puzzler Answer #154

Hello and Happy Saturday! Happy July! Also happy 4th of July weekend! I hope you are having a great weekend filled with lots of memorable events. Were you one of the ones who recognized the fern in last week’s puzzler as MAIDENHAIR fern? Have you seen this in a forest near you?

Maidenhair ferns can be found in forests along the east coast. With their distinctive black stems and delicate, fan-shaped fronds, they are hard to miss. These ferns spread by rhizomes and spores, which they produce in spring and summer. Worldwide there are more than 20,000 species of ferns!

Also something I learned when doing research for this post is that there is a southern and a northern maidenhair fern. Here are some photos of each. Can you see the differences?

Southern maidenhair fern

Southern maidenhair fern



Northern maidenhair fern

Northern maidenhair fern

Interestingly, just because you find a maidenhair fern in the south doesn’t mean it’s a southern maidenhair fern! Southern maidenhair ferns can grow in the northern states and northern maidenhair ferns can be found in the south! Go figure. Talk about confusing!

So here is our next puzzler–another one about an interesting plant.