Thursday, April 25, 2013


I've taken on a new challenge which is turning out to be so rewarding.

I have begun tutoring an ESL (English as a Second Language) student. We've been working on reading, writing, speaking, and reading comprehension.

She is so bright and willing to learn, that it feels like a privilege and an honor to help her.

We have several things in common - we are both mothers, we both have wonderful husbands and families, but today I found out that she also loves horses!

My student used to ride horses when she was a girl, in Mexico, the country where she grew up.

Of course, horse people always get excited when they find out that someone else is also a horse lover, because you know that you'll have plenty to talk about and it is a bond that you share. In this case however, the connection goes deeper.

One of my very first books, published by an educational publisher - Mondo Publishing - is called THE HORSE JAR. It's about a girl named Annie, who saves every nickel, dime, and dollar that she earns in a special jar, in order to buy a horse of her own.

This book has also been translated into Spanish, with the title LA ALCANCIA DE LOS SUENOS (which loosely means The Piggybank of Dreams.)

I am so excited about this shared love of horses that I've found with my student, and next time we meet, I'll be taking her a copy of THE HORSE JAR to read. Maybe she can even help me learn to read the Spanish version of it!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Nature - the Pause that Refreshes

What have I been up to lately? Enjoying Nature. I've been outside, taking a short hiatus from writing and refreshing the soul by immersing myself in nature.

I've found the nest of a pair of red-shouldered hawks, across the creek and 2/3 of the way up a Ponderosa Pine tree. I believe Mama Hawk is setting, so I'll be watching for babies soon.

Enjoying the ever-changing landscape of wildflowers blooming on our property, and delighting in their beauty.

Shooting Stars, Ponderosa Pine, and Incense Cedar

Found a new friend and a great wildflower hiking trail.

Spent days tackling a thicket of over-grown blackberries with a pair of pruning shears, and uncovered three kinds of native ferns, wild iris, wild rose, and native spiraea growing along a water-filled swale.

Wild Ginger and Deer Fern

Visited several nurseries in town and bought native shrubs to fill in my large collection of wild plants already growing here.

Have visions of creating a native botanical garden here on our property, but for now, will be content with planting a little at a time.

Wild Lilac (ceonothus) and Kinnikkinnick
Here are all the native plants found growing on our property so far (and many are just leafing out, popping up, or beginning to bloom, so I'm sure this list will grow):
Douglas Fir                         Pseudotsuga menziesii
Incense Cedar                   Calocedrus decurrens
Pacific Madrone               Arbutus menziesii
Ponderosa Pine                 Pinus ponderosa
California Black Oak        Quercus kelloggii
Oregon White Oak           Quercus garryana
Black Cottonwood           Populus trichocarpa
Coast Redwood                Sequoia sempervirens     
Red Alder                            Alnus Rubra
Hairy Manzanita               Arctostaphylos columbiana
Buckbrush                          Ceanothus cuneatus
Wild Lilac, Deerbrush       Cenothus integerrimus   
Snowberry                          Symphoricarpos albus
Ocean Spray                      Holodiscus discolor          
Pacific Ninebark                Physocarpus capitatus   
Clustered Wild Rose         Rosa Pisocarpa
Evergreen Huckleberry    Vaccinium ovatum           
Douglas Spiraea                Spiraea douglasii              
Camas Lily           Camassia quamash
Pink Fawn Lily, Henderson’s Fawn Lily       Erythronium hendersonii
Shooting Star, Henderson’s Shooting Star               Dodecatheon hendersonii
Woodland Star   Lithophragum parviflora or affine
Oregon Saxifrage             Saxifraga oregano
Buttercups          Ranunculus
Western Spring Beauty    Claytonia lanceolata
Pacific Bleeding Heart     Dicentra Formosa
Yellow Violet
Wild Ginger         Asarum caudatum
Lady Fern             Athyrium filix-femina
Sword Fern          Polystichum munitum
Wood Fern          Dryopteris expansa
Deer Fern            Blechnum spicant             
Will I get back to writing again? Yes, probably soon. But right now, I'm enjoying a refreshing break. Besides - Benson Botanical Gardens has kind of a nice ring to it, don't you think?
What refreshes your soul? Is it being out in the open, or something else?