Good morning! Welcome to "Morning Musings".

Musings: to meditate, think, contemplate, deliberate, ponder, reflect, ruminate, reverie, daydream, introspection, dream, preoccupation, brood, cogitate.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Gabriel's Tale - Chapter 11

This month you will finally meet Poetry!  Poetry materialized in my life in 1997 as I was getting my oldest ready to go off to college.  I still had two at home, but it felt like my family was being dismantled, and I needed something to refocus my thoughts on.  The adventures of Poetry the Calico Cat and Gabriel the Snowman sprung from someplace within me that I did not know existed.  I wrote 13 little stories about their adventures that year.  Then in 2011 I made a website about them, posting a new story each month.  This past year I've been "illustrating" the new story I wrote in 2009.  I have redrawn Poetry a little differently from the original Poetry.  In 1997 I'd never drawn anything in my adult life, so she was quite a surprise when she showed up.  These past three years of practice have shown me that with more practice I can improve and may even develop a style of my own that I like.  One thing I've come to realize is that I love colorful scenes.  I discovered this when I painted the first two illustrations this month in vivid colors then realized the room, as I'd written it, was supposed to be dark!  So I used a photo editing website to darken the edges to give the illusion of a darkened room.  I also took most of the color out of the second illustration using the editing tools.  What I've learned this year is that illustrating is NOT EASY.  But I am glad to have Gabriel's Tale and all my other stories to pass on to my grandchildren.  Who knows....maybe one of them will illustrate my stories and launch a career in Children's Book illustration.  In fact, I would be greatly pleased if my postings this past year have encouraged one of you to pick up pen and brush and discovered for yourself a story just waiting to be told.

Last month the story left off with Gabriel arriving in Edinburgh and striking out on his own to try to find Poetry.  Meanwhile we find out that a calico cat has gone missing and the family has posted flyers all over town.  Here are excerpts from Chapter 11. . . .

Chapter 11 – How Can This Be?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Gabriel's Tale - Chapter 10

As you may have noticed, if you've been a faithful follower of Gabriel's Tale, I changed my mind again and waited to post Chapter 10 in November.  That's because I've decided NOT to post the last chapter of the story here.  Chapter 11 will appear in December, but Chapter 12 will have to be read on  The Adventures of Poetry & Gabriel Blog.  I'm moving everything about Poetry and Gabriel to their own blog because I want to share the whole story there, as well as story #2, and the stories I hope to continue to write.  I also hope to have Poetry's website (which I created in 2011) fixed and up and running so you can read the prequel to Gabriel's Tale when Gabriel was still a Snowman.

Last month I left you with Gabriel drifting off to sleep after Theodore befriended him (after attacking him) promising him he'd show Gabriel how to find a ride to Edinburgh the next morning.  Here are excerpts from Chapter 10. . . .

Chapter 10 – Edinburgh?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Autumn Leaves

Since we still do not have much Autumn color in our part of Maryland I've compiled my favorite photos of past years's foliage from our yard and Autumn vacations.   Be sure to enlarge to full screen (by clicking the square in the lower right corner).  Sit back and enjoy the music I've chosen for you and together we'll make our own Autumn Leaves. . . .


❤️Take Joy❤️

Friday, October 20, 2017

An Autumn Vacation Without Fall Foliage

My Autumn Vacation Without Fall Foliage was also without my good camera (the lens had been sent away for repair AGAIN) so I did not look forward to this 3-day get-away with my usual anticipation.  I was able to resign myself to not having my camera because there were no colorful leaves to take photos of anyway.  SO I'm asking you to imagine colorful leaves on the mountainside, better picture exposure, and more depth of field as you peruse my photos of Jim Thorpe, PA and Bushkill Falls.

After driving 50 minutes to drop Gabriel off at our son's house we drove another 3½ hours to Jim Thorpe, PA, where we were staying at the Times House B&B.  This red brick house was actually two houses when it was built circa 1870.  From 1927 to 1967 it housed the Times-News.  You can read about the present owner's story of how they came to turn it into a B&B in 2009 HERE.  The B&B sits high above the rest of the town on Race Street nestled into the side of Flagstaff Mountain along with St. Mark & John Episcopal Church on the left and a row of shops on the right. . . .

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Gabriel's Tale - Chapter 9

Once again this month I have borrowed one of my Beatrix Potter illustrations from last year.  This one is of Jeremy Fisher.  Plus, rather than draw a pond-drenched Gabriel, I've used a photograph of the real pond-drenched Gabriel.  His chase after a frog that leapt into my neighbor's lily pad-covered pond, that looked like grass to him, gave him quite a shock!  I saw it coming as the whole scene evolved before me, but was not quick enough to stop him.

Last month we left off where Duchess waves a wild flower in the direction of Hawkshead to show Gabriel where he should go.  Here are excepts from Chapter 9:

Chapter 9 – On to Hawkshead

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


I found this lovely video and the music of Peder B. Helland this morning. . . .

Friday, September 1, 2017

Gabriel's Tale - Chapter 8

This month Gabriel finds himself in Beatrix Potter country!  Last year I practiced drawing and painting her characters and have reused the three kittens on Hill Top's rock wall.  The church is drawn from photos I found on the Internet.  It stands just outside Near Sawrey.  Be sure to see my exciting news at the end of this post.  

Last month Gabriel had just come out of the woods to see a barn off in the distance.  He bedded down inside for the night. . . .

Chapter 8 – A New Day

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Gabriel's Tale - Chapter 7

Welcome back!  This month I felt like watercolor painting.  I experimented with cutting and pasting mainly because I was concerned I'd mess up my painting, so I painted some things separately and then pasted them onto the background.  By the last painting I had a little more confidence and painted every thing directly onto the watercolor paper.  Lack of confidence is a big obstacle in learning to paint.....and it doesn't help if you also don't like to waste expensive watercolor paper!  If I could overcome these two things I think I'd learn much faster.  I also have a few more obstacles like:  being a perfectionist; not liking to have to redo something from scratch (which you almost have to do with watercolor if you make a big mistake--little ones can be corrected with a special "white out"); and the biggest one is not catching on quick enough!  I can be very impatient with myself.

Last month Gabriel's Tale ended with Gabriel falling asleep inside a log during a thunderstorm. . . .

Chapter 7 – Into the Woods

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Gabriel's Tale - Chapter 6

As you will see I was a little more adventurous this month and did several watercolor paintings.  I got stuck right away trying to draw a British stationwagon, but once I found a good photo on-line I was off and running.  If you get a chance to check out Levens Hall you will see it has some truly weird unique topiaries.

I was listening to a TED Talk by a brain researcher who explained how we learn and why at the end of an hour of practicing a new motor skill (like drawing) we may achieve a new level of competence but the next day we have to start all over again.  It's because when we practice a new skill our brains produce a chemical that aids the short-term memory.  But to permanently acquire the skill you have to change the structure of the brain and you can only do that with repetition over a period of time.  So the bad news is you have to practice, practice, practice.  But the good news is it will eventually pay off!

Last month Gabriel had just arrived in Liverpool and left the freighter in a sack.  Here is this chapter's highlights. . . .

Chapter 6 – Liverpool

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Music in the Garden

Last evening we attended Surreybrooke's Music in the Garden event.  Throughout their extensive gardens were musicians playing hammered dulcimers, fiddles, flutes, banjos, guitars, recorders, harps, and mandolins.  Most of the attendees brought picnic suppers and bottles of wine, setting up their own cloth-covered tables with chairs amongst the bushes and under the trees.  I did not record any music but I've put links where I could find them to several musicians on YouTube for you to listen to after you've finished listening to the music I've selected to accompany this post (at the top of the page).  What follows are a few of the photos (to enlarge click on them) of the garden and musicians. . . .
An elfin child resting in the Children's Garden

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Gabriel's Tale - Chapter 5

Thank you for your kinds words and encouragement last month.  I also received encouragement in the form of a video posted on Facebook about the four stages of learning that I wanted to share HERE starting at 1:48 on the video.  The first stage: unconscious incompetence; second stage: conscious incompetence; third stage: conscious competence; fourth stage: unconscious competence.  This helped me a great deal because I realized I've been moving back and forth between stages 2 and 3 and that the reason I'd fallen back into stage 2 is because I'd quit practicing every day.  Last year I was making great progress so I thought I didn't need to practice every day.  But as he explains in stage 4 the ability has to be so ingrained that it becomes unconscious competence because that is when you can draw from the right side of your brain--when you are not having to think about what you're doing.  When you have to think about it you are in the left side of your brain.  There is a great book called "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" that showed me that I DID have the ability to draw.  I did a post about it several years ago HERE.  So I hope by next month's post I've improved greatly.  In the meantime, I will share Chapter 5 of Gabriel's Tale.

Last month Gabriel had made his way to Baltimore and met a dog who told him where he could find the docks.  We begin Chapter 5 with Gabriel trudging along the side of the road, exhausted. . . . .

Chapter 5 – The Voyage

Monday, May 22, 2017

Beyond the Garden Gates 2017

I've chosen a few of the scenes that captured my imagination this year on the Beyond the Garden Gates garden tour held yearly in Frederick, Maryland.  Click the lower-right corner to enlarge the slideshow to full screen and enjoy Secret Garden's "Sleep Song" as you come with me beyond the garden gate to get a peek at several gardens. . . . .


❤️Take Joy❤️

Monday, May 1, 2017

Gabriel's Tale - Chapter 4

Welcome back!  It has REALLY been a struggle for me this month to continue with this project because my garden has captured my attention.  But I finally got the gardening bug-bite scratched and  illustrated the key scenes in this month's chapter.  Please remember these are just snippets of what is going on.  Since I've already decided not to pursue publishing the book, you will never get the chance to read the story in its entirety, so I certainly understand if you want to bail out at this point.  I'm only putting these snippets out into the internet world with the hope that serendipitously a publisher will come by and ask to read my manuscript.

As you may recall last month Gabriel found out from Conner Chipmunk that Poetry and her family had moved to Scotland.  Then the two cats, George and Molly, told him he should try to hitch a ride to Baltimore in the furniture truck that was coming later that morning. . . .

Chapter 4 – The Journey Begins

After the truck was emptied of the furniture George and Molly distracted the driver and his helper.  Gabriel scampered into the truck while the ramp was still down and hid in the back of the truck under a packing blanket.  

George and Molly stood in the driveway, waving goodbye to Gabriel with their tails. 

It didn’t take that long to get to Baltimore.  When the driver opened the back door to the truck he got a big surprise!

“Hey!” the driver shouted as Gabriel scooted from under the blanket and darted past him.  Gabriel leapt out of the back of the truck and did not look back.  He just kept running until he was sure the man wouldn’t catch up with him.  When Gabriel saw an alley he turned into it and found a large garbage container to hide behind.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Wildflower Walk

Easter weekend was our weekend for wild things.  The day before the raccoon made its appearance in my Secret Garden we went on a wildflower walk along the C&O Canal with our guide Mary from the Potomac Audubon Society. . . .

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Wild Things

Can you tell what this is high up in our Ash tree. . . . .

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Gabriel's Tale - Chapter 3

This month Gabriel the little white dog canvasses the neighborhood to try to find one of Poetry's friends who might be able to tell him where she has gone.  I'd written my original stories about the Adventures of Poetry the Calico Cat and Gabriel the Snowman about 20 years ago.  The characters in Chapter 3--Gertrude Rabbit, Benjamin Bee, and Sandy the Do--were featured in those stories.  The cats, Molly and George, were real cats who lived in the real cabin that you can get to through our woods.  My neighbor, Edie, lives there.  I've featured her cabin in a couple of Take Joy Society posts when we've held our get-to-gethers there.  Connor the Chipmunk was another original character, named after Edie's first grandchild who was living in the cabin at the time.

The following are excerpts from the story that go with the illustrations.

Chapter 3 – The Adventure Begins

Gabriel didn’t go far his first day.  He wanted to visit all of Poetry’s friends in the neighborhood first to see if they knew where she might be.  His first stop was Gertrude Rabbit’s hole.  He found it under the bush next door.  He’d never met Gertrude when he was a Snowman, but Poetry had told him about her.  Just as he expected, she was not happy to be disturbed. “Who are you and what do you want!?” she scowled.  Gabriel, forgetting he was now a little white dog, introduced himself as Gabriel the Snowman.  “Harrumph!” Gertrude snorted.  “You expect me to believe that?!”  Gabriel blushed when he realized what he’d said.  After explaining everything to her, Gertrude said rather rudely, “I can’t help you,” then turned and high-tailed it back into her hole.  

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Gabriel's Tale - Chapter 2

Well, after a discouraging month of coming to grips with the fact that self-publishing involves many more upfront expenses than I'd realized, I've decided to no longer entertain the idea of pursuing this route! However, I've not given up on illustrating the story for my grandchildren and by posting excerpts here I'm hoping an agent or publisher might stumble onto them and offer to publish it for me!  You can see excerpts from Chapter 1 HERE if you missed it last month.

In Chapter 2 Gabriel spends his time trying to figure out how to escape the house so he can start looking for Poetry and meets an unlikely accomplice.  Here are excerpts that go with the sketches in the next chapter. . . . .

Chapter 2 – What’s Going On?

Then, out of the corner of his eye [Gabriel] saw it—a tiny little creature—furry and grayish brown.  It had a pink tail and beady little eyes.  Gabriel rose slowly and pointed his nose at it, his tail as straight as a stick pointed in the opposite direction. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What I've Been Up To

Hello everyone!  If you haven't been visiting my other web journal, Another Perfect Day 365, you may have been wondering what I've been up to!  I thought I'd show you my illustrations for the first Chapter of "Gabriel's Tale."  I have spent much of the month of January drawing, redrawing, painting, repainting these illustrations.  Plus, I've done research on layout, learned how to use my computer's software better, and watched drawing tutorials on perspective and snow, to name a view.  I've checked into printing and the needed specs.  Read up on the pros and cons of self-publishing and the various ways to do it.   I came to the conclusion that this project may end up being just for my grandchildren,  printed on my computer, and hand-bound by me.  But who knows....maybe by the end of chapter 14 I'll have had so much practice that my illustrations have improved dramatically and I'll have learned all the tricks of the trade to produce a professional-looking book!  You could say I'm sharing a "before" picture so that when I get to the end I'll have something to compare it with.

I'm only including the text that goes with the illustration so the story will not make any sense to you.  Hopefully, though, it will peak your interest and you'll want to read the whole story by the time I'm done. . . .

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Welcoming in the New Year - 2017

Dear Friends and Readers,

I've had a full day writing New Year's posts for my various web journals.  I hope you will look in the side bar to check them out and join me there.  I have a new series started for Another Perfect Day 365 called Thanks-Living.  It is an adjunct web journal to Another Perfect Day where I introduced what I will be doing on APD365.  I will continue to post once a month on Another Perfect Day, and as the spirit moves me on I Come In The Little Things.  Freedom in Christ is a daily devotional I posted in 2011.  You can't sign up for it since it is not "active" but you can go to the site and read the devotionals each day.  Take Joy Society features the group's get-togethers as well as a monthly piece on Susan Branch this year on the first of each month.  I also add links to the tabs at the top of the page that I hope will inspire and uplift the reader.  That leaves this web journal, Morning Musings.

I started this web journal so that I could connect with people out in the world.  I've grown quite fond of you all and appreciate the feedback you give me in the comments.  I say all this because I hope you do not jump ship if I do not post as often as I have in the past.  I have no plans to continue with the monthly artist feature.  As for the other monthly features, they may also go by the wayside, as well, if I find I do not have any ideas left after I've spent them on the other web journals.  I'd rather not post, than post something not up to my standards.

The Annie Dillard quote above expresses what I hope this year will be for me--a time of discovering how to get in touch with who I really am and live that life.  Writing helps me do that--writing about what matters most to me.

Part of that will be to finally illustrate my Gabriel's Tale story and self-publish it.  Along with that will be an updating of my Poetry & Gabriel website--the ever-changing technology has rendered it's features inoperable.  It contains the prequel to Gabriel's Tale.  I've already written a second adventure and have ideas for a third.  In addition, I have a dozen other children's stories I could illustrate eventually.  This has been a dream of mine for a long time and I feel the time is right to put all my energy there.

Until later,

❤️Take Joy❤️