Hoppy-Toads in the Summer ~ a poem

 

Black and Brown Frog Sitting on White Concrete Floor

I don’t know about you but when I was a child the summers were magnificent. Long hot days spent out in the yard, playing in our sand box and on the swing set my daddy built. He also built our sandbox which had a second floor with a tire ladder to climb up. There was also a circular arrangement of logs he stood up on end and held together with a chain that made a spiral staircase. He painted the tops of them different colors. We’d play “Cops n Robbers,” chasing each other through the tall grass, June bugs slapping against our shirts. We drove our Hotwheels in the sandbox, wetting the sand with the garden hose so we could build things out of the wet sand. We chased butterflies, followed ants, captured caterpillars and begged mom for a Styrofoam cup or a jar to put them in. We rode our Big Wheels, our bikes, and our scooters.  The sun set late. If we were playing down the street, we’d come home when the street lights came on. This later time of the day was the perfect time to find what we called hoppy-toads. If you’ve never gone hoppy-toad huntin’ in the waning of a summer day, then I implore you to take up your bucket and give it a try. Enjoy this ode to the hoppy-toads that lived in our yard and brought me great joy as a child.

Hoppy-Toads in the Summer

 

Hoppy-toads grow fat
tucked behind cool gray
stones and fragments of brick.
A yellow bucket nestles
there, waiting. 

Determined,
I take up my bucket
The white plastic handle
Digging into my arm.
I set out.


I lift each rock carefully
Disturbing the grass
Unveiling worm and cricket.
I search for them
In the cool, dark places.


The edge of the driveway
No stone unturned
But to no avail.
I set my eyes on the
Row of bricks beside our house.


Finally, a fat one leaps
But I am fast.
I scoop him up and
Plop! He squats into
The corner of my bucket.

Hoppy-toads like friends,
I think, and search for him
A mate. A companion.
The third brick hides her.
Plop! Into the bucket she goes.

Writing Exercise to help your writing – So Simple and Fun!

Word Search

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Ever feel as a writer that your vocabulary has become a bit….well, stagnant?

This is an exercise that I do ever so often to hit the refresh button on my vocabulary bank.

It is so stupidly easy, that you may not have thought to do it before!

It is simply called : Word Search.

So, get out that pen with the fuzzy unicorn or the jingle bells on it or open a sticky on your screen and get ready to type…we are going on a word hunt.

This time I want you to go down a wormhole on the internet. Or in an old book of poetry. Or, *gasp* the newspaper.

Look through poems and prose of other writers

but do not READ them…

* * * search them * * *

Look through anything that interests you (STOP LOOKING AT THE PICTURES AND HEY…HEY…CLOSE YOUTUBE!) Ok, look. Look for words that reach out to you. Focus now, you are on a word hunt!

 

When is the last time you saw a word…

and that word excited you?

Just leapt off the page at you and

grabbed your eyeballs and shook them?

 

Make a list of interesting and new words, any words that may have a new sound, new meaning, new richness.

Look for words that inspire you. Collect these words into a list and shovel them around into twos or threes.

Look for words that don’t seem to belong together or that present juxtaposition or friction. Also look for words that seem to be working together to go in a direction you can follow.

Perhaps divide them into nouns, verbs and descriptive words that you can go to when you are struggling for a word. (And never, ever write without a Thesaurus…but that’s another day, another blogpost.)

Keep this list for times when you struggle to find something new to write. 

 

Now, one more thing before I leave you to it….forget about meaning for a moment and say some of these words OUT LOUD, just to see how the words taste and sound to you:

 

loop                                                          zygote
slant

                                                                                                     circuit
worms

lusty

dawn                                                                          requiem    

                                                                                                            lupine  

                      

accordian

peacock

                                     breastless                                                                                                                                                                teacups                                        sunken

arid

                                                        delicate

lamplight                             molten

                                 mothless

                      stamped

blade                         hairless

filter

Golgotha                                   mantle

sea urchin

ritual                                                                                                     illicit

                                                       archaic

sewn

strewn

            drivel

If you’ve noted that these aren’t super-fancy words, be reminded that while schistosomiasis may be one of my favorite words, I rarely get to use it in my writing. It’s the smaller words we tend to build with and they must not bore us. I also keep lists of words that I have never seen before. See a word for the first time? Snatch it up!! Look it up!! Taste it. Use  it.

Feeling inspired to find your own words? Your own breadcrumbs to the next sentence to be written? 

Words feed us. And then…we write.

Happy word hunting!!

~Christina

 

Help Your Writer’s Block with Free Download – Writing Prompts

 

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Coffee/tea? CHECK. Motivation? CHECK, well, mostly check.
Blinking cursor? CHECK

Now what. That blinking cursor is doing its thing, so why aren’t my fingers moving? Come on brain! Fingers! Type something…anything?

WHERE ARE MY WORDS???

 

It has happened to the best of us. We follow our routine, settle in for a good few hours of writing
and…nothing. I won’t say those awful words. The term used to describe this condition, but you know them.

 

Disgruntled. Dismayed. BAFFLED. This has never happened before. What do I do?  Am I a good writer or not? I am a FAKE. Or maybe you are more seasoned in dealing with these episodes and you know that all you need is a little inspiration. You turn to Google. Old friend, old pal. And go right down a wormhole of inspiration until it is 4 hours later, your left butt cheek has developed a cramp, and the cat is drinking your coffee.

 

Remember those college assignments? You know, the weird writing ones…write about a giraffe, a unicycle, and a teddy bear…um, ok? Well, your writing didn’t necessarily go in the direction you thought it would, but your limits were pushed, your pen challenged. Your mind a purple explosion, but alas, words.

 

Writing prompts can be the key to getting you off the giraffe unicycle, out of the laughing baby and viral videos, and into the right frame of mind to START TYPING. Writing, at least for me, is a bit of a physics lesson. Take Newton’s first law, the law of inertia, for example…bear with me, I have a point here….which states basically that an object in motion tends to stay in motion and subsequently that an object at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.

If your writing is at rest, let writing prompts be your outside force. There is no shame in this. We all need mental stimulation sometimes to get the creative juices flowing.

 

Now, I promised you a freebie…see the link below as my personal thank you to YOU, my reader (is a writer without a reader still a writer? Hm. Prompt #1.) and enjoy the writing prompts that I have compiled for you.

 

Writing Exercises and Prompts free pdf

 

Shameless plug: the FOLLOW button is GREEN.

 

Happy writing y’all!
Christina

 

 

Desperately Seeking Oblivion

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Desperately Seeking Oblivion

He wants to taste it,
quick on the tip of his tongue
sliding with ease
down into his gut…

Someone should tell him to stop
swallowing it whole.

A strange enigma,
[oblivion]
tasting like nothing,
encompassing, delivering, numbness…
a capsuled oasis in vast desert
to which all will dig and crawl
our tongues in our hands.

Sometimes the depth to which he thinks
is too deep for him to take…

So he swallows down, an
emptiness that won’t settle.
Again and again it rises
hissing in the back of his throat,
an esophageal argument
without victor.

He swallows it down again.

Thank you for reading my poetry. Be sure to follow, and check out my other poetry posts. 

Christina

The George Washington Project – One Year Anniversary

To live a fulfilled life, we need to keep creating
the “what is next”, of our lives. Without dreams and goals
there is no living, only merely existing,
and that is not why we are here.
– Mark Twain

We all want to be a part of something BIG, to do something special and unique with our lives. It is just human nature to want to leave a legacy. Cross stitchers are no different, stitching and crafting carefully, patiently, and producing finished pieces for themselves or loved ones. These works of art take hours, weeks, months, YEARS of time to complete. Let me introduce you to one of those projects that takes years… a venture that is a collaboration of 112 stitchers from all over the United States.

THE George Washington project.

George painting

Washington Crossing the Delaware, 1851, oil on canvas, 378.5 x 647.7 cm, by Emanuel Leutze, now featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The George Washington Project is a coming-together of 112 US stitchers, The United Stitchers of America, who will join their talents together to stitch the famous Washington Crossing the Delaware painting. This grand undertaking is the brain-child of Heather Russell of McAlester, Oklahoma. Heather has spent countless hours organizing, planning, creating the charts and kitting up the supplies for each stitcher. Her vision for this project is immeasurable. We thank you deeply Heather for your commitment to making this project happen!

Facebook pages were created for the project and several admin were added: Heather Russell, Lisa Kirk, DeNitaAnn DeValcourt, and Margie Herreres. They worked very hard to organize our group, to answer questions for us as we work along, to provide guidance or files that we need, etc. and for their assistance we issue them a hearty THANK YOU!

OUR MISSION

Our WHY, if you will, is varied amongst our stitchers but the primary reasons I understand after interviewing some of them and by following along with our Facebook groups is that we want to beat the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest cross stitch. We want to be involved with a PATRIOTIC  project that, when completed, could be featured here in the US (we hope to be in a museum, when completed.) And, it’s just COOL. Most of our stitchers just have the general feeling that we are doing some thing AWESOME.

PROJECT DETAILS

The George Washington Project, being done by the group called United Stitchers of America, is a 5 year project. This project will be an estimated finished size of 333 inches by 213 inches, that is an estimated 28 by 18 feet. Our work is being stitched on 18 ct  Aida fabric which was donated by our sponsor Wichelt.  Sullivans is sponsoring us by providing the floss for all our stitchers. There are 233 colors used and 9446 PAGES of cross stitch pattern, divided into grid squares (see pic. Below) between the 112 stitchers. The grid squares are counted horizontally, left to right, and each stitcher has a grid square. Most grid squares involve a 100 page cross stitch pattern, although there are some smaller panels, as you can see in the picture. For example, if you count over to panel 77, which is my panel, there are 100 pages of pattern and 37 colors for this panel. When it is completed, it will be sent back to Heather who will collect all panels and stitch them together into one grand final piece

*OUR SPONSORS –  I have to thank our sponsors who helped to make this project possible.  Wichelt who provided the fabric for all of our stitchers to use. And Sullivans who provided all of the embroidery floss. Thank you for your gracious donations and support for this project—you will forever have my business!!!

** The current Guinness Book of World Records for the Largest Cross Stitch is held by  The Battle of Grunwald, by a group of Polish stitchers, and measuring 32.38 x 13.97 feet.

George gridding
The pattern of grid squares represents the different panels assigned to the stitchers.

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT

We have a blog and a Facebook group and would LOVE to have your support for our efforts. What YOU can do to show your support…

    • SHARE this article on all of your social media platforms (links at the bottom of the page)
    • Our United Stitchers of America blog is currently under maintenance..but I will add this information as soon as it is back up and running

Rebecca Hill

Rebecca Hill
Fredericksburg,VA
Project Manager, Army Veteran
Panel #110

“I stumbled on the project for Stitching George a little by accident. I was looking through a group and saw it and went… YES! As a Army veteran, and American history instructor, this project just called to me! I was excited to be accepted into the project, and feel history being stitched under my fingers. It has been fun to give little tidbits of information to my kids as I work on the project and watch their interest in history grow as well.”

Rebecca is a hard-working woman who wears many “hats,” such as blogging book reviews, project manager, college history adjunct, social media manager, blogger, and mom extraordinaire 🙂 You may find her at:

A Tale of Two Pages Blog
Twitter
Instagram

Timothy 3

Timothy Johnson
Coconut Creek, Florida
Flight Attendent
Panel #40

“I heard about this from one of the angels working with Rainbows. Thought wow I can be the only boy. Woot woot. Means the world to me to be a part of history and making a legacy with the other angels working on this. Being part of a team of super talented stitchers is a blessing with stitching historical art.”

Timothy is a flight attendant who travels the world. “George,” along with his other cross stitch projects have traveled the world with him. He has entertained all of us so much with his humor, wit, and hysterical pictures. He runs an inspiring charitable Facebook group that you can find here:

Rainbows For Peace and Comfort

Christina

Christina Ward Jarrell
Claremont, North Carolina
Freelance writer, Poet, Blogger
Panel #77

“It is a great honor to be a part of this project. I am excited to be a part of history and to honor my love for my country through my craft. It is wonderful to see so many different people coming together and working together to make this project happen. So far I have made some wonderful friends through this experience. I look forward to seeing this project to completion.”

Christina lives in rural North Carolina with her family. She is a writer and poetry blogger who has a great love for nature. She is the author of this Fiddleheads & FLoss blog. You may find her other pages here:

Fiddleheads & Floss on Twitter
Instagram

 

Lisa Kirk

Lisa Kirk
Cottondale, Florida
Tupperware Manager, Avon rep.
Panel #6

“When I was a young girl I spent parts of my summer with my grandmother. One summer day 35 years ago I remember her teaching me to cross stitch. My first project was a small motif. However, the memory was something much more and will remain so. I got involved in this project through a friend and then came on board as admin for the Facebook group and our blog. I have a few reasons but the main reason is because Heather’s mom had the vision of this project. Heather started it and then her mom passed away. It’s a great tribute to not only History but her mom.”

Lisa is a manager with Tupperware and an Avon representative. You can find her here:

Tupperware
Avon

gail2.png

Gail Bindewald
Bettendorf, Iowa
retired
panel # 13

“I love this project because it is a grand adventure and it depicts a great moment in our history. Being a retired federal government employee just heightens my patriotism.”

Gail is happily retired. She enjoys keeping her family and friends updated on her progress via her personal Facebook page.

773C2DB1-48AA-4BED-A533-524A6183D33CSharon Kay Drake
Riverdale, California
Disabled
panel #23

I love history and cross stitching, it was a great way to combine the two. I also visited Pennsylvania and went to Valley Forge. Got to go inside Washington’s headquarters and walked all around the place. It was a wonderful experience for me.

Sharon is disabled with terminal cancer, Multiple Myeloma, the 2nd leading blood cancer after leukemia. Thanks to stem cell treatment, she is thankfully in remission. Her positive attitude and can-do spirit are inspirational to us all. (I have tears in my eyes while writing this.) Sharon we are so happy to have you with us on our journey and our prayers and well-wishes are with you to REMAIN in remission!

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

So today, on George Washington’s Birthday,
we celebrate the one year anniversary
of this endeavor. We are all at varying levels of completion on our panels. Here are a couple of pictures of my current progress to give you a visual.

progress 2.jpg
The hanging threads are embroidery floss that is “parked” into the next square in which they will be used. This technique is called the “parking method.”

progress

Thank you so much for reading about this exciting cross stitching adventure. we hope you will follow along with our progress!!

 Never be afraid to chase after
big dreams or big opportunities.
No matter WHAT your talent is…
use it for something great.

Christina Ward

(Please share.)

Tomorrows ~ a poem about HOPE, by Christina Ward

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This poem is about hope. About reaching into tomorrow and becoming whatever you want to be. It is about connecting with the world around you and truly feeling inspired and blessed by it. What will your tomorrows bring? Will you embrace it? Here is my newest poem:

Tomorrows

 

Here it is.
A new year rising,
a great orange ball
of fire in the sky,
wearing my name
like a smile.

The door behind me
closes so easily,
the dust slipping away,
falling away like ash.
Grays can be
so deceiving.

This year I will dig
through colors and words
and paint them out
with a new fury.
Unbound and imperfect
I form and take flight.

Possibilities hang,
towels in the wind, clean,
smelling like summer,
tomorrow peeking through them
smiling at me.
Hope is fresh in the trees.

I am a fiddlehead
rising,
unfurling.
Can you see me?
The winds that drive me
are ever-changing.

I am feathers and fury,
green and growing,
Cirrus and stratus
stretching my arms in the sky.
I release and release
and unfold.

 

 

 

 

Comments and likes always appreciated. Have a great day everyone! (Note here, if you enjoy my poetry please do share it with others that may enjoy it. My group of readers is slowly growing and I would love to have more readers who can appreciate my work. Thank you so much.)

 

Christina ~

Flosstube Video 1 – Two-Handed Cross Stitching and Parking Method

Hi fellow stitchers and the curious stoppers-by, it’s a dreary North Carolina day and perfect for stitching. Some of you are aware that I am participating in the United Stitchers of America : Stitching George Washington project and I have been meaning to post a few updates. It is nearing the end of year one of this project and my panel#77 is coming along. I am currently stitching pages 9 and 10.

A fellow stitcher and I were discussing stitching methods. She stitches the “classic” cross stitch way (one hand holding the hoop or q-snap, and one hand stitching) which is how I learned but had to abandon due to some health complications. I created a video for her and my group, but wanted to share it here for my cross stitching followers.

You can find it on my NEW Flosstube channel:

 

 

Trust me, it’s pretty raw and my cat is howling hysterically in the middle of it, but still a good demo of two-handed cross stitching and parking method. Please remember  to like and comment to let me know your thoughts. Thanks you! Happy Stitching!

Christina

The Poet Cleaning ~ (a poem about being a poet/writer)

2 Boats on Seashore Beside Brown Tree

Ripped from the belly of the sea
pregnant with vowels
our tails slap hard
pendulous swings,
our eyes are benign, panicked moons,
fibroadenomas
sitting inside our heads.

They must be plucked out.

We climb outside ourselves,
hold the knife steady,
scrape against the grain,
shedding our silvers
until we are clean,
carve a canoe-slice across our necks
another, neck to belly,
our insides slide free.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It is a great honor to be a writer. Pouring yourself out like we do is both burdensome and liberating. This poem is about the process of self-examination, opening up our authenticity, and putting our inner-most thoughts on display, even if that process can be uncomfortable or revealing.

Scroll down for a “categories” box to help you explore blog posts that may be of particular interest to you. If you enjoy my writing, I invite you to follow this blog. Click out the green “Follow” button, on the right for computers, at the bottom for mobile devices.

Please leave your thoughts, interpretations, and responses to The Poet Cleaning in the comment box below.

Thank you,

Christina

A Poem Entitled “Coming Home” – An Honest Look at Life

 

 

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Let’s face it, living in cheap rental homes is no fun.

But while you are stuck in the financial setbacks and the upward struggles, this “limbo” IS your home. May as well slap a $3.25  Dollar General wreath on that door and make the best of it!

…see my poem below, about making the best of a situation.

Would love to hear your response to the poem.

 

Coming Home

 

There’s just something wonderful
about coming home again.

The back-porch steps know the weight
of your tired ass in the evenings,
the feel of your toes scraping
back and forth
on the cool concrete steps.

The grass knows the shapes
you carve into it.
The blades bend in submission,
then grow tall again
and wait for you.

The music knows just how
to crawl out of windows,
bend itself around corners,
disappear without capture.

Mockingbirds sit and wait,
sing you awake in the morning,
always too early
for sleepy ears.

Coming home,
to a place you don’t belong
is better than having
no place to be.

At least the door knows your key
and turns to let you in.