catnipoflife

Observe life at its best, listen to life’s songs, embrace life’s bounties, breathe the breath of life and savor life to its fullest!

Pen Pals

Motorcycle Postman, 1912 (Library of Congress)

Do you remember waiting in anticipation for the postman to arrive? Let me clarify that which you are anxiously awaiting. . .it is a letter from someone much different from yourself and living in a far away land. That’s right. . .a hand-written letter, not typed nor texted, but actually penned in the best cursive one could produce. It could have even been debated whether the letter itself was the most important or that wonderful foreign stamp.

Needless to say, should I mention this to one of my daughters, now an adult, or perhaps I should say granddaughters, she would more than likely react in complete astonishment. “Mother, you have got to be kidding! Write a letter? That would take way too much time! I can contact anyone in the world with a click of a button.”

So true today, but not in the days long, long ago and not anywhere near as personal.

The memory that someone, somewhere once took the time and trouble, I might add, to pen their thoughts ever so carefully, fold the paper and crease it gently with his/her own hands, then, post it with a well-chosen stamp lay embedded in the knowledge that days or weeks had to pass with hopes of receiving an equally personal response. Those days or weeks of anticipation were filled hour upon hour with thoughts of excitement and imagination!

Did you have a pen pal? What do you remember?

“Dear Pen Pal, you are a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. Please write back.” ~catnipoflife

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Inspiration: Solitude

the nightingale glides across a twilight sky

a symbol of love and longing in flight

it exhales in a melodious love song

shattering the solitude of the night

~catnipoflife

Since ancient times birds have been considered a connection between heaven and earth. They are known to reach deep into the heart and the soul through symbolism and spirituality. For some cultures, their symbolism is one of immortality, while some myths declare every bird in the world representative of a departed soul. Birds have been immortalized in art throughout the world and in Christian art, birds often appear as saved souls. They also provide inspiration for remarkable stories written in both prose and poetic meter offering time for solitude within deep repose.

How many different birds can you match with their key word significance? Here are just a few. . .

The most renown bird in America is, of course, the  Bald Eagle. As our national bird, it bestows freedom and courage to look ahead being forever watchful. It signifies strength while conveying powers and messages of the spirit. Special significance is placed upon the Eagle and its feathers by Native American Indians often becoming an iconic symbol and tribal logo.

The eagle or one of these below just might be your inspiration for tomorrow. . .

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Funny Cats

Since I have titled this blog catnipoflife what could be more appropriate than beginning the day with Funny Cats. We can quip all day about their antics, find hundreds (perhaps thousands) of quotes and last, but not least, know the cat provides the best ‘antidote‘ for a bad day. [Yes, I know I said antidote, instead of anecdote. It fits! THE cat can counteract or neutralize any unpleasant feeling or situation.]

                       If you love cats, smile! (You are their protector, defender and friend.)

If you don’t, smile for those who do! (They are the ones who protect, defend and befriend.)

The point is. . .Think about all the quips, quotes, antidotes (anecdotes, if your prefer) and

                                 Smile the whole day through.

 

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Inspiration: The Butterfly Effect

Yesterday I ‘happened upon’ a Tweet [literally stumbled upon it among hundreds of Tweets] from writer Claire Cappetta that led me to her posting of the day Love and Coffee. Before going any further, be sure you click the link and read Claire’s ‘top of the morning’ greeting! Then, think about what your reaction would be if this happened to you:>) Of course, I smiled to myself as all kinds of thoughts passed through my mind! Um-m-m? Now, where DID I put that old coffee pot I decided to keep for emergency?

murphys-law2As I pondered the situation, Murphy’s Law entered my mind: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. The coffee pot scenario seemed to fit since anything manmade will at some point in time ‘decide’ to just quit. It can and it will! Unfortunately, more often than not it doesn’t end there: one thing goes wrong that leads to another that leads to another to another to another. . . and the beat goes on. If it can, it will go wrong and there is nothing that can stop it!

Claire’s posting at least let me start the day with a smile and a laugh along with, of course, hubby’s risque nature:>) However, the day did not proceed so light-heartedly, not even a giggle was able to creep its way in ’til the latter part of the day. In fact, it was hectic from that point on and very mind-taxing with my writing geared toward a totally different direction than that of catnip.

In order for you to understand the discovery and the inspiration that actually led to this posting, you need a little background information. Being an educational consultant, better still an ‘online learning specialist’ (just a fancy title for this ol’ retired school teacher), a lot of writing is necessary in response to the daily evaluations required of teachers’ online submissions. Well, this one video arrived that totally took me by surprise. I watched, I listened, I took notes; I rewatched, I relistened, I retook notes; I watched again, I listened attentively, I took more notes. The phone rang and rang and rang. I picked it up along with every other phone I passed on my way out to the porch, I laid all the phones down on the table and said, ” You answer it!” Then, I slowly turned around and walked back to the computer. A few short minutes later, I heard footsteps and only a head hesitantly appeared in the doorway. “I love you, Babe. Are you all right?” I think the hesitation came about of fear I might snap his head off but he knew the “I love you” gets me every time! He smiled, I trembled, we kissed!

OOPS! Careful animated_computer_studenthere, I am getting off track. Anyway, with attention back to the computer and trying to decide how to formulate the feedback, I decided to set it aside for awhile and collect my thoughts. Sometimes writing too quickly in the wrong state of mind can lead to misconceptions and unsupportive comments. That’s when I thought once again about Claire’s morning and I began to smile and giggle to myself. Still at the computer but now with thoughts of coffee and coffee pots I began a Google search. I cannot tell you what keywords I used nor how many searches I made but the words ‘butterfly effect’ caught my eye. Now, what on earth could butterflies have to do with coffee? When I began reading, it was not long before I was laughing but this time outloud, for right in the second paragraph I read . . .”Imagine you wake up in a good mood but then the coffee maker is broken. . . !

The next morning I found myself chuckling at yesterday’s musings. After many chuckles, the mood was set, I was inspired, and ready to write (hence this posting). Since catnipoflife focuses on life outsite the confines of four walls and a door (maybe a window), I ventured onto the porch with steaming coffee in hand, sat down in the rocking chair and watched as the wonders of nature begin to awaken my senses. Then, I saw the butterflies. I had bookmarked the site I found yesterday so I immediately opened it and read it again.

Have you heard of the Butterfly Effect? There IS inspiration here, my friends. Just click the words and you will be directed to Inspiring Yourself at Work. Claire, hope the rest of your day yesterday did not follow the path of the ‘butterfly effect’.

Where will you get your inspiration today?

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catnipoflife receives the Sunshine Blog Award

ImageIt is indeed an honor to receive this award from Claire Cappetta, who is in the process of completing her first novel, Ride to LibertyA truly compelling story is about to be shared! In her own words, “Claire is a creative writer and has recently retired from the financial world to concentrate on the dream of publishing a first novel, which follows a woman’s journey through relationships, domestic abuse and empowerment. Although a difficult topic to cover the story is heartwarming.” Be sure to visit Claire’s blog for her 10 nominations for this award. All are inspiring and who knows which one might tug at your heartstrings:>)

Now, it is I who get to GIVE the award by paying it forward again to bloggers who inspire me and bring Sunshine into my  blogging life:

Peggy

Carole 

Miss Kate

Wendell

Dena

Laura

Robin

Stuart

Sandra

Jen

May your week be blessed and filled with inspiration!

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Inspiration: Meeting the Challenge 2

Butterflies_DaisiesRoadsides are dotted with clusters of brightly colored daisies engulfed in rain-aided green grasses. The smiling face of each flower brightens the view of fields and ditches along nature’s highway. Butterflies flit and flutter from flower to flower beckoning “come dance with me.”  ~catnipoflife

Where do you seek/find inspiration? Perhaps you need only to simply stop, look and listen within your ordinary surroundings for its discovery may take little or no effort at all. Within our daily midst, sights, sounds and smells are waiting to be awakened, explored, enjoyed and shared.

Butterflies&Daisies1That which is seen with the naked eye is often interpreted differently from individual to individual. With each vision comes thoughts and emotions that may strike an emotional chord of harmony or cast shadows of discord. Through these visions comes the ability to put what is seen only once into words that can last for a lifetime. Of course, thoughts might instead shift to that of a camera with the old adage ‘a picture is better than a thousand words’ immediately coming to mind. But, oh-h-h, how many times has that miraculous once-in-a-lifetime Kodak moment been missed? How many times has it been said or heard, “If I only had my camera. . .” More times that can be counted for sure! Yet, the vision is still there, stored in the scrapbook of the mind. Each time a page is turned in the mind’s diary that vision reappears. The recourse: write about it!

Nature is overflowing in its natural awe-inspiring, breath-taking wonders, none of which more mystical, nor mysterious, than the butterfly. What is it about this delicate insect that unites the heart with the soul? Some might say it is its symetrical beauty, others feel it has sensory powers of healing, while many purely delight in its wispy nature. Its beauty is consuming, none of which more captivating than when feeding on sugary nectar. (View Beautiful Butterflies from around the world.)

One of the butterfly’s favorite sources of nectar is the flower, especially the daisy. Butterflies and daisies go hand-in-hand within the natural wonders of nature. Watching the butterfly feed is a wonder in itself as it perches atop the flower dipping deep with a strawlike tongue into the rich nectar, opening its wings wide, bringing them in again, all the while savoring each drop. Ah-h-h, but this sweet fluid is not the only treat these little insects enjoy. Did you know they also love fruit? Of course, that is totally understandable since the fruits of nature are filled with sweet, natural juices.

Book Connection – EchoesEchoes

Inside Echoes, Chapter Three reflects poetry surrounding the beauty of nature. The verses in this chapter reflect Echoes of Life. The poem Butterflies ‘n’ Daisies projects imagery in answer to the question Do you see what I see? Through its reading, you should be inspired as its words guide you toward meeting the challenge of your daily inspiraton!

Butterflies n’ Daisies

Come dance with me!

Mystical, magical butterfly
Holder of dreams, keeper of secrets
Touches so many lives
Bringing comfort without regrets

A simple message received
Or a challenge to be met
Inspires acceptance of life’s struggles
How to let go and accept

Fields of daisies, made of sunshine
Colors of splendor, a butterfly’s lair
Offer a place to linger and find solitude
Resting as though in thoughtful prayer

Butterflies and daisies, of rare beauty
Breath-taking in full summer sun
Reflect the colors of the soul
Instilling love and compassion as one

Kneel down in quiet repose
As though if part of someone’s plan
Let the daisies hug your knees
And the butterfly kiss your hand

Echoes©2004
Sharla Lee Shults

“The butterfly counts not months, but moments, and has time enough.”
~Rabindranath Tagore

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Inspiration: Meeting the Challenge

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
~Leo Buscaglia (1924 – 1998)

LittleThingsAuthors are challenged in their writing to reflect senses that can be captured by readers in the manner in which they intended. A paraphrase of a quote by Plato (born c. 428 BC), “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder,” can be rephrased for the writer into “perception is in the eyes of the reader.” In order for our readers to perceive through their eyes what is proposed by our writings is often a delicate task. Word choice initiates feelings and visions, which if not chosen wisely could totally shift meaning in the wrong direction or portray a completely different image from its intentions.

For most of us, ideas come from our own experiences or stories related to us by family or friends. Thus, it all begins with our perception. It is much easier to feel an emotion by listening to a story being told or read aloud because of the tone and intonation of a person’s voice. For example, if an event depicted a scream in a scene, the actual sound of that person screaming could send chills to the bone, whereas if you read “she screamed as the door opened” might not provoke the same chilling reaction. Our voice, therefore, must become just as powerful but through the medium of the written word.

EchoesPeriodically I will post verses from Echoes. Within this volume of poetry are five chapters intended to tap into your senses as you focus on the following:

Family and Friends Do you sense the emotion?
I’m a BelieverDo you believe?
The Beauty of NatureDo you see what I see?
Good VibrationsDo you feel the spirit?
Whispers of YesterdayDo you hear what I hear?

It is hoped you will be touched by words that will evoke personal thoughts and ideas. As these thoughts surface, write them down. Such thoughts could trigger a poem, a story, a personal reflection. Who knows when someone somewhere in time might read them and how a life might be touched in the process.

One Final Thought

“Everything that we presently feel and see moving and taking place in our hearts, our minds, and our lives is His gift to us. We know not what it is or where it is going but He does and He gifts it to you. . .drink in His goodness, savor, and cherish every drop. He gifts it to me. . .I drink it in, savoring and cherishing every drop. May the verses to follow be His instrument of joy to you.”

Below is a sampling. For this poem and more heartfelt echoes, visit/scroll through the page link Echoes from the Heart. Periodically a new poem will be added for your reading pleasure that will hopefully echo emotion of your heart.

Family and Friends – Do you sense the emotion?

***************************************

Mornin’ Bustle

Sister’s in the kitchen
Flour from head to toe
Helping make biscuits
Kneadin’ the dough

Window’s open
Curtains flappin’ in the breeze
Mama wipes her brow
”Pass the milk, please”

Potatoes peeled and washed
Are set aside to drain
Thunder in the background
Quickly turns thoughts to rain

A poor man’s gravy becomes
A true Southern surprise
Country ham sizzlin’
Forming perfect red-eyes

Fresh eggs swiftly broken
Crackling in the skillet
Aroma quickly commands
“Come and get it!”

The table’s all set
Coffee steaming in the pot
Biscuits from the oven
Sat down while pipin’ hot

Thank you, Lord, for daily bread
Country ham and bacon
Grandma’s jam and all the rest
Ready for the takin’!

AMEN!

Echoes ©2004
Sharla Lee Shults

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Versatile Blogger Award Thank You

VersatileBloggerWith personal issues taking precedence over the last few weeks, I have found myself a bit behind in email correspondence and blogging. What a surprise to receive a Versatile Blogger Award nomination from The London Flower Lover! Sorry I have not responded sooner but circumstances placed such attentions on the back burner. Many heartfelt thanks are extended for the nomination:) Just knowing the hearts and minds of fellow bloggers have been touched by catnip’s offerings is reward enough.

Now, on to the task at hand! It is my responsibility to enlighten the blogging world with

1) Seven (7) things about me that you did not know.

2.) Nominate 15 other bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award and tell them so they can pass the love on and on and on and on.

Seven things you did not know about me. . .

1. I am a many years past Weight Watchers makeover: an event that greatly changed my life. Having always been overweight I carried a lot of painful childhood memories well into adulthood. A shift in dress size 18 to size 4 truly made a difference both mentally and physically.

2. My husband (Jim) and I reared four children – one boy and three girls. We had each experienced a trumatic earlier marriage that eventually led us to taking on the responsibility of all four children. He had custody of his two daughters and I had a son and a daughter. None of the children had experienced a good family relationship until we were all brought together through God’s blessing.

3. Jim and I both worked for the railroad industry. He was trainmaster (Southern Railway and ASAB Railway) and I was Freight Agent (ASAB Railway). Our first ‘real’ kiss was in a railroad yard!

4. Prior to meeting Jim, I did my tour of duty in snow country, Oldstead Falls, Ohio. I enjoyed teaching in a middle school but found my students more mesmerized with my Southern accent than in learning. Glad for the experience but was happy to return to my southern roots!

5. At the age of 40, I was in the Top Ten for Mrs. Florida. Average age was 23! Having only been married two years at the time, I failed to answer the question what aggravated me the most about my husband. Oh! To be asked that question now! Just kidding:) Of course, what they wanted was something humorous and I took the question literally.

6. I love to cook. My husband loves to cook. We love to cook together:) Food fight!!!

7. Growing up I was very quiet and shy, truly introverted. Then, I met Jim. . .life was never the same and I would not trade it for the world!

My nominations for the Versatile Blogger Award. . .

Being a relatively new blogger (since November 2011), fifteen may be a difficult task, but here goes. These are the ones that have been my inspiration in one way or another. BTW Who on earth came up with the magic number of 15?!.

Specializing in the Impossible. . . Laura Johnson
Laura enlightens her readers with her love of tackling the impossible! She definitely will show you faith is a good thing!!

Goals, Dreams, and Aspirations. . . Claire Cappetta
Claire exposes her heart and soul in a manner than not only reflects her own real-life experiences but ways to help others through truly traumatic times.

A Taste of Bliss. . . Wendell A. Brown
Wendell, aka The Brown Poet, writes poetry from the heart with God’s blessing: True inspiration not only from the heart but the soul!

Fairycart. . . Jenny Park
Jenny presents an unusual blog about fashion and food from different parts of the globe.

Fighting the Devil. . . Jeannie Walker
Jeannie Walker is an award winning true crime author. Fighting the Devil is the true story of one woman’s determination to see justice done.

Magic in the Backyard. . . Kellie Elmore.
Kellie presents a different kind of poetic writing that takes you back to days when magic truly existed in the backyard. Perhaps, it still does.

Daily Spiritual Tools. . . Sherry Woodcock
Where would we be without daily uplifting to guide us through the events of a seemingly world gone mad? Sherry’s latest posting Sacred Longing focuses on that deep, persistent need to know the presence of God within us and in all things.

A Hairdresser’s Diaries. . .Christine Hannon
Christine’s, aka sassiecercie, story is one of survival yet interlaced with moments, as she puts it, that will tickle your funny bone while she shares stories, jokes, embarrassing moments, poems and friendship.PhotoBotos. . . Charlie and Tom
Travel the earth through the camera lens of featured photographers. Enjoy an amazing photo every day.

Christina Li Books. . . Christina Li
Christina introduces herself as an author in the trenches. Her posts offer writing tips, encouragement, and humor. May you NEVER have a jellyfish bad day – posted under Humor: A REALLY bad day at work!

GREATPOETRYMHF’S Weblog. . . MaryHelen Ferris
Ah-h-h! The beauty of music, poetry and photography all in one blog! As MaryHelen so graciously puts it, Opening of Soul in poetry.

Darby’s Story and More. . . Martha Steward
Are you a lover of animals? Then, this is the blog for you: Inspiring stories of an adopted dog and a tailless cat. Darby’s Story and Bangle Bear are A Mom’s Choice Awards Silver Recipient.

Potato Chip Cats. . . Megan Cronin
“Cats are like potato chips. You can’t have just one.” Megan’s blog is not just about cats. Her motto is changing the world one giveaway at a time!

Terry’s Thoughts and Threads. . . Terry Palardy
Terry offers a avenue for discussion of books you’ve read, books you’ve written and want to share.

KidsCanDoIt!. . . Sandra McLeod Humphrey
Dare to Dream Big! This multi-award-winning author’s books are not just for kids.

Aspire. Motivate. Succeed!. . . AMS Daily Contributors
Great place for your daily dose of inspiration! Stop by for a visit and feed your soul.

WHEW! That’s it! I invite and encourage you to visit these amazing blogs. Within each is a reward of its own, perhaps your inspiration for tomorrow:)

3 Comments »

Life IS a Bed of Roses

Roses and Thorns @amritham99@wordpress.com Click the rose. . .

We have all heard the expression “a rose is a rose…” Knowledge of this sentiment may be attributed to its reference in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (1564-1616), the poem Sacred Emily by Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) or The Rose Family by Robert Frost (1874-1963). Each of these famous poetic encounters focuses on the softness and loveliness of what we have come to know as the rose. Would a rose by any other name still be a rose? Of course, it would be the same flower only its name would be different. Now, that brings a strange thought to mind: If the rose had been named ‘dandelion’ from its inception, then a dozen dandelions would be the perfect affirmation of love!

Let’s get back to the rose as we know it: Showy clusters of big, cherry, ruffled petals emanating a slight spicy fragrance. Oh, but don’t stop there for with the rose’s flowery essence is its accompanying thorny stem. Um-m-m? With that, another thought enters the mind in the form of a question: Have you ever heard anyone exclaim, “Wow! Those are great thorns on that rose. I’ll take a dozen.”? Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Of course it does. Yet, the statement “life is NOT a bed of roses” falls into a similar category and has been around a long, long time. Its meaning is based solely upon the perception of the rose’s soft, velvety petals and sweet succulent aroma that can calm the most brutal of stormy encounters.Perhaps we should give this ‘rosy’ situation a little deeper thought. If we lie upon a bed of roses, will only its velvety touch prevail? Probably not unless we lie only upon the petals of the rose. Maybe we should say, “Life is NOT a bed of rose petals.” Seems more appropriate. Um-m-m-m? Let’s see. Remember, we have those prickly thorns to consider.

Let’s continue with thoughts as questions. Is life, in and out of love, always protected? Do we continuously experience love and compassion with only a mere thought or desire within a magic touch? Are all thoughts of hurt and sadness abandoned with blissful events filling the cracks and crevices of our mind? Does rain bring forth showers of refreshment without any possibility of a stormy outcome? If wishes were automatically granted, would life, love and happiness include extravagance without times of despair? Such thoughts shed a different light on whether life might indeed be a bed of roses! For me, life IS a bed of roses and I thank my mom and dad for preparing me for life’s many thorns and instilling in me the importance of perseverance.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree on this profound theory of life among the roses? After reading bed of roses, share your thoughts on this thorny matter. . .

Photo Credit: 123Greetings.com

“With the beauty of the rose comes its thorny stem.
Life captures the essence of the rose for it too is beautiful
but filled with many thorns.”

bed of roses

dewdrops glisten in the morning light
gently resting on the petals of a rose
a sunbeam reveals a dark shade of green
while a mild fragrance permeates the nose

swift movements,smooth clips with the blade
the perfect long stems are carefully sought
elated with the feeling of surprising a true love
a thorny prick awakens a dreamy thought

throbbing sensations snap the mind back to reality
for love is rare that does not inflict pain
enduring heartaches,harnessing desires
genuine and caring,until all is well again

red roses symbolize passionate love
those that are yellow keep hearts bright as day
talismans hold dreams of tomorrow
while the white embellish true love all the way

so, my love, keep these roses close to your heart
protected and secure with love’s seal
for life is a bed of roses,full of many thorns
sharp,cutting,but not without the power to heal

©2004 Echoes
Sharla Lee Shults

“But he who dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose.”
~ Anne Brontë

8 Comments »

Free Write Friday #1: Inspiration continues. . .Magic!

A couple of weeks ago I published a post titled Inspiration. . . Of course, inspiration is not a one-time event but is ongoing on a daily, perhaps even hourly or minute-by-minute, basis. As a writer, I am constantly seeking avenues that say, “Hey, write about me! I can lift someone spirits today!” Often times deep concentration does not befall a smile. Then, a whisper may fall softly on my ear suddenly turning a frown upside down!

What or who touches your inner self? For me, of late it has been the writings of Kellie Elmore. Kellie is a very unique writer and draws her readers toward her Magic in the Backyard. When I first ‘met’ Kellie, her words were my thoughts! The more I read the more I could ‘see’ her, ‘hear’ her and ‘feel’ her emotion as she penned her thoughts to paper. When I read about her contest (Free Write Friday), needless to say, I knew I had to participate. Not so much for the winning (which I would be lying if I did not say I would love to win) but more for the opportunity to share with her what she has unbeknowingly shared with me: Inspiration. Therefore, I posted to her blogsite Summer Rain with memories of backyard experiences as a child. Then, I started thinking – Um-m-m-m? I did not completely follow her prompt.

Even though this is Sunday, not Friday, I am sure she won’t mind my sharing additional thoughts on her new book, Magic in the Backyard. Going back to the contest, its theme was to use her book cover to create a “Look Inside This Book” as part of her celebration toward its release. [I tried to upload a picture of the cover but finally gave up after multiple attempts:( However, I was able to provide a link to the words book cover :) that turned a frown upside down!]

Even though it is a couple of days later, this is to you, Kellie, My Magic in the Backyard. . .

KellieElmore’sMagic

The backyard is quiet
Now that we are alone
The kids are all grown up
Moved out, on their own

Days are lingering
Night much too long it seems
Laughter in the backyard
Only in our dreams

Memories are lasting
Childhood I reminisce
Barren trees silhouette
Times ne’er gone amiss

Twilight’s silver lining
Backdrop of the ol’ elm
Renders time motionless
Poised in a magical realm

Wispy, melancholy thoughts
Shift back and forth in my mind
Visions of that old spare tire
Swinging to the rhythm of time

©catnipoflife 2012
Sharla Lee Shults

9 Comments »

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