My new normal …

The week after

My elder daughter, her husband, and the two granddarlings arrived last week and stayed until this past Tuesday.
Swingset

Larry and our son-in-law put together this swing set for the girls, much to their delight. Since our SIL is stationed about seven hours away now, we hope to see them often, and we want them to be eager to visit us. Every day, we planned another fun adventure. We went to Carowinds, fed ducks and geese at a local lake, ate out a good bit, made homemade ice cream, watched “Peppa Pig” and “Paw Patrol” along with Cinderella and Aladdin, and went to church.
Family 2017

My younger daughter and her hubby arrived on Friday, but he received an important call and had to leave after a few hours.
Disappointing but understandable. I did get a family photo before he left. Obviously, we are a dog-loving family.

It’s quiet here now, but Larry and I are going to see Wonder Woman at the local cinema tonight. I’m looking forward to it. I also hope to visit my younger daughter often to keep her company while her husband is gone, and I plan to visit my elder daughter after her furniture arrives at the end of June. Gayle says that we must do another sister weekend at the beach this summer, and I’m certainly game.

Plants6
I have now retired from teaching school, though I’ll continue to work at my church and teach private lessons.

Meanwhile, my plants are still fascinating to me.
It’s hard to believe this plant looked completely dead just a few weeks ago.

I nearly gave up on the second one last week, but look now! I kept watering and pruning it, and it has survived. Plants 7

Here’s a promise: I have two writing projects in the works which I will complete this year (I hope). I’m going to contribute to an Austen Christmas anthology, and I’m going to write the first volume of a YA fantasy series.

Stay tuned. There’s life in me yet.

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A Cinderella kind of day

My favorite fairy tale as a grownup is Beauty and the Beast.  But my favorite as a girl? Without question it is Cinderella. It’s a story that delivers on every level.

From Kenneth Branagh’s 2015 adaptation of Cinderella

As you know, I live with a bunch of men. Even though they pick up after themselves, I end up doing many “Cinderella” chores!

This morning,  in the middle of my work I abandoned a shirt on the ironing board, plunked down at the laptop, and … cruised Facebook, ha.

You know what happened next. Yeah, I was sucked in by one of those quizzes.

Why do we take those things? It’s not like they’re even accurate. Anyway, today’s was especially tempting: What Grimm Fairy Tale Character Are You? 

Am I a beautiful princess or a sneaky villain? Inquiring minds want to know the answer to that one!

According to the quiz, I am the most like … Cinderella.

You believe in two things: hard work and true love. You don’t complain, even when you know that you are taking on more than your fair share of the work. You don’t ask for anything, and yet, every once in a while, someone comes along and takes care of you. You know it is okay to stand up for yourself sometimes. You can say no when asked to do too much work. People will still respect you, and they might even be impressed to see you stand up for yourself!

This description makes me smile. Sure, I can *say* no to too much work — but that just means it will wait for me to do later!

Kind of like that shirt I left on the ironing board. What else was I to do? It was time to get my hair cut. This “Cinderella mom” went rogue!

My stylist does not have a magic wand, but my hair now looks cute instead of scruffy. And after my appointment, this movie found its way into my shopping cart. Something beautiful and good, a Mother’s Day gift to myself. It’s an adaptation I’ve long wanted to see.

You know, for the busy mom Mother’s Day is a Cinderella kind of day. We’re given gifts and appreciation from those we love and serve. Glass slippers and a ball, who needs those? Heck, it’s enough that for one day someone else does the cooking!

Fellow moms, I hope tomorrow is a lovely day for you. What Cinderella’s mother taught applies to each of us, I think. “Have courage and be kind.”

After dinner, our family is set to play games (we all like 7 Wonders). But you know what? I might make my men watch Cinderella with me instead.

Laura Hile (1)

Don’t Give Up

Never count me out . . .

I am famously stubborn. My family and friends (and a few frenemies) will attest to that fact. However, the past year was so difficult that I couldn’t think well enough to write. It took all my concentration just to do the things which were required by my jobs.

During the past couple of weeks, I have received encouragement from an unexpected source: my neglected plants.

Last November, I put most of my plants in the garage, but I watered them hardly at all until a week ago. This poor arrowhead philodendron seemed completely lifeless, but look at it now. I cut away all that had died, put it on the back porch, watered it often, and voilà!

The same is true of this poor pothos plant.

20170511_100330_resized
The spider plants are recovering as well.

The fact that I returned the plants to the back and front porches shows that I had not completely given up on them. I hoped there was a spark of life there, so I nurtured it. I gave it what it needed: sunlight and water.

God does that with us. My life verse is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.”

When I am ready to quit, God gives me what I need. He gives me strength. He nurtures me.

II Corinthians 5:7 says, “We live by faith, not by sight.” What a breath-taking statement! Had I gone by the appearance of the plants, I would have thrown them out, thinking they were dead. They weren’t. When I treated them as if they were alive, they revived.

I was like those plants. I was depressed, and I had to fight to plaster a smile on my face, but God is always good. He did not give up on me. He did not let me quit. He’s still working on me.

Another applicable principle is that pruning often helps a plant that looks dead. I cut the dead growth away so that it would not take energy from the plant. John 15:2 says, “”Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”

God pruned me during the past year. I still have things He wants me to do. I have fruit to bear, books to write, music to play, and children to teach.

He isn’t finished with me yet, and He isn’t finished with you either.

May the Fourth Be With You

And other bad or questionable, but entirely quotable, Star Wars dialog …

Today is National Star Wars day, and the pundits are out in full force (no joke intended). The movie series is one of the all-time greats – clean, funny, and eminently quotable. Some of the lines have taken a permanent place in the nation’s collective vocabulary, and they’re oddly applicable to most situations. Here are some of the best (and worst). Read and learn. (Hover at the bottom of each picture for my comments.)

Even Master Yoda recognized the superiority of Mr. Darcy. The Force was definitely with Colin Firth in the role.

Ad Shadows

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me.

Shadows.  Photo: pwjamro (Creative Commons Flickr)

A polished hematite stone (Photo: Morguefile)

So wrote Robert Louis Stevenson (My Shadow), long before the information age.  He was referring to the noun: a dark shape caused by the sun or by candlelight.

To be shadowed is something different.

These days we find ourselves shadowed by on-line advertising.

For example, the other day I was telling my Ben about the magnetic stones we bought years ago at a national park gift shop.  I rescued them from his give-away box, and they have lived on my desk at school ever since–much to the delight of my students.

What is it about magnets? Students never tire of playing with them. But I could not think of the name.

Google to the rescue! Within seconds, I had my answer: hematite.

And if I want more, forget driving all the way to Crater Lake. Amazon will drop-ship a set right away.

Amazon’s “Remarketing” e-mail for Hypnotic Hematite

Of course you know what happened next. I acquired a shadow–or rather, my computer at school did. Advertising for hematite stones began to follow me.

This practice is called “remarketing.” My computer showed interest, so my computer will be shown more.  On Facebook and all around the web.

This morning, Amazon e-mails me. Just in case I wanted another look at Hypnotic Hematite.

As a consumer, I am dismayed. Can’t I just look at something without being followed?

Ah, but as an indie author? Perhaps this remarketing thing is not all bad. For what if potential readers are looking at my books?  “Want more Mr. Darcy? Click here.”

Aw, Mom, really? It’s a Bonnet Book!

Which brings me back to Ben. Poor fellow, he was so excited when Darcy By Any Other Name was released, and he was checking the listing on Amazon multiple times a day. Ah, but then remarketing caught up with him.

“Mom,” he complained, “what the heck? Ads for girly romance books are everywhere I go! Ew!”

I think his manly pride was offended.

Well then. Perhaps I should be thankful that I’m being shadowed by something harmless as hematite?

What kinds of ads have shadowed you?

Laura Hile (1)

#Goals

I always have a goal in mind when I write. Since I have never been wealthy, there are things that I want (and even need), and writing is an enjoyable means to acquiring those extras.

Writing The Guardian Trilogy was a steep learning curve. My main goal was to publish. At that time, it didn’t occur to me that I could make a profit.

The Yours by Design series paid for new floors in my house, as well as expenses associated with my younger daughter’s wedding and a trip to Japan to see my older daughter and her family.

By that time, I had caught on that having a set goal in mind helped to push me to write. When I started working on Understanding Elizabeth, I knew exactly what I wanted (and badly needed), and Saturday, my husband and I went and bought it. (Happy dance!)

I traded in my 2005 Honda Accord for a 2015 Nissan Sentra (with only 4,000 miles on it)! Coincidentally, my sixty-third birthday is this Sunday, so the car is a two-fer.

Happy birthday!

Thank you, readers and writing friends. Looking at the tangible evidence of my work and knowing you helped me realize my dreams gives me great joy.

Every time I drive my car, I smile and think of you.