Save Room for Dessert

Hello Everyone,

Today is the last day of September, and though I planned to end the Haiku Challenge today, I decided to continue this process. However, instead of posting one haiku per day, I am going to post one per week.

What’s Up October?

My upcoming schedule looks about as hectic as September.

October 4th – Blacklight Bubble Party 5K. I cajoled some of my fitness friends to join me. It’s at 7 pm in Rochester and starts at Silver Lake Park. It ends at Legends Bar.

October 9th – I need to complete a piece of artwork to donate to the MMPA silent auction. Not sure what I am going to paint.

October 12th – Reiki article due. I am almost finished. I am hoping to turn it in early.

October 17th – Wine & Canvas. We are featuring “Make a Wish.”

Upcoming paintings

I’ll also be working on three more paintings. I have the “Make a Wish” painting to finish and the other two are for children’s painting events that are both on November 1st. I am keeping these on the October to-do list so Denise can post them on the Illuminate Yoga website. I am also planning another November Wine & Canvas. We already have one scheduled for December 12th. Yikes! Lots of painting coming up!

And, the Haiku Challenge lives strong this month. I hope you have enjoyed them as much as I have.

Wine Tasting-due to privacy reasons, images have been omitted. I will repost when the article is released.

Last night, some friends and I indulged in dessert wine, decadent chocolates and spectacular cheeses for an article I am writing. A few ladies from Rochester Women magazine gathered at Jorrie’s house for an evening of food and fun.

Jorrie is the editor and publisher of the magazine and she asked me to take over the wine column after the current writer moved out of the area. Since many of the wines we feature are made from local wineries, it would have been impossible for the writer to continue writing the column.

I’ll give you a taste of our evening, but only a sliver. I want it to entice you to read the article when it’s published November 1st.

 

Last night, we tasted four different dessert wines from four different local wineries. We had Chocolate Truffle Pig from Elmaro Winery (does the name sound familiar? Adlai and I were there a couple of weeks ago), Bootlegger’s Red from Cannon River Winery, Dark Skies from Salem Glen Winery and Riverport White from Garvin Heights Winery.

 

Jorrie put together a delicious spread of blue cheese, gorgonzola cheese and brie cheese (not shown) from People’s Co-op in Rochester, Minnesota. She also shared a plate of dried fruit and mixed nuts with us, along with the white and dark chocolate from the Chocolaterie located at University Square in Rochester, Minnesota.

 

Day 30: Haiku Challenge

Grapes, berries, and spice.
Cordial glasses filled for an
evening delight.

Do you prefer dessert wine or wine that is appropriate for dinner?

~Nicole

Family of Asters

Hey, Hey, It’s Monday!

Tonight I am attending a wine tasting at my friend’s house, who is also the editor/publisher of Rochester Women magazine. The wine tasting is research for my next article. We are tasting dessert wines from local wineries. And dessert wines are my favorite!

I hope to have a post tomorrow about this experience, but that might be pushing it. The deadline for this article was due on the 22nd of September. Yep, a week ago.

Unfortunately, our schedules were so hectic this was the day the five of us could get together. I’ll be pecking away at the keyboard trying to finish the dessert wine article as soon as possible. But, my last haiku is scheduled for tomorrow and I don’t want to miss the last day! I am thinking a haiku based on dessert wine.

Anyway, I managed to take about 100 photos this weekend on my hiking adventures. So, here is another image from Saturday. It’s my inspiration for the Haiku Challenge.

Flowers in Whitewater State Park

Day 29: Haiku Challenge

Pale purple asters
blooming. Gathered together
like a family.

What is your favorite fall flower?

~Nicole

 

 

At One with Nature

Hello,

I hope you have had a great weekend!

I enjoyed my hike so much on Friday, I decided to go back to Whitewater and hike a different trail on Saturday afternoon. It has been a nice alternative to running around my neighborhood or hitting the gym.

I hiked the Dakota trail and took a different route at the top. At the first fork in the trail I meandered down the hillside to the Valley Trail. The trail was shrouded by trees still full of leaves, and many of the downed trees and rocks were covered with moss.

Valley Trail in Whitewater State Park

Whitewater State Park

The trail followed the river for a bit and that’s were I found the inspiration for my next haiku.

Whitewater River in Whitewater State Park

Day 28: Haiku Challenge

Mossy river bank—
little nooks and crannies are
filled with the unknown.

Are any of you avid hikers or nature lovers?

~Nicole

The Beauty in Whitewater State Park

Friday was a productive day. And though I haven’t had time to post any haiku poems in the last couple of days, I am ready to make up for lost time.

I left work at 1:30 on Friday and went to Cabin Coffee. I had a bowl of soup for lunch and wrote an article from the event I covered Thursday evening at the local elementary school. The event was Bingo for books. There were about 40 elementary school students with their families playing Bingo. The winners of Bingo were able to select a book of their choice. It was refreshing to see little bookworms so excited about reading.

I finished the article and cut lines for the photos and sent them to my editor. After a working lunch (which is how I spend most lunches) I went home and started a painting. I have another Wine & Canvas event coming up in October. Actually, I have two in October, one the first weekend in November and another one on December 12th. I finished the background of one of the paintings and decided a hike would be the perfect way to round out the day.

Since Whitewater State Park is close in proximity (and it’s gorgeous this time of year), I decided to hike the Dakota Trail. It was a beautiful fall afternoon. I wore a long sleeve shirt, but soon realized it was unnecessary.

The Beauty in Whitewater State ParkTHe Dakota Trail

The Beauty in Whitewater State Park

Although, the treetops were fiery shades of orange, red and yellow, there were already many leaves that were asleep on the trail. The curled leaves crackled and crunched beneath my feet and every so often there was one sad green leaf that didn’t have the opportunity to turn a warm golden or fiery red color.

The Beauty in Whitewater State Park

Overlook on the Dakota Trail

I wound my way up the rocky cliffs and followed many stairways, some as steep as ladders. The chipmunks put me to shame. Those critters scurried up the steep staircase like their tail was on fire. When I arrived at the top, I couldn’t resist taking more photos of fall foliage.

I took the shortest loop because it was after 5 p.m. I didn’t know how long the hike would take, plus I wanted to go to the Marnach house. The hike to the Marnach House was about 45 minutes round trip.

The Marnach House was my final destination. This building has been restored as a monument and tribute to all Luxembourg pioneer immigrants by the Luxembourg Heritage Society of America.

It was first built in 1857 by John and Nicholas Marnach. They were immigrants from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. It’s masonry and architecture are typical of small Luxembourg farms of the nineteenth century.

Dakota trail at Whitewater State Park

And now, for the Haiku Challenge

The Beauty in Whitewater State Park Day 25: Haiku Challenge

Writhing snake-like roots
intertwined with earth and rock—
creeping and crawling.

Fall trees starting to turn colors

Day 26: Haiku Challenge

Minnesota hills
and the warm treetops embrace.
Good night setting sun.

The Dakota trail overlooking whitewater creek.

Day 27: Haiku Challenge

Like a bird soaring
high above the river, I
look, listen and breathe.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

How did you spend your Saturday?

~Nicole

 

 

Hop on the Train

The week is half over! I hope everyone is doing well.

I have been in search of a travel writer’s workshop for the past several weeks. Last week I found one that sounded perfect. It’s in February of 2015. The workshop is three days and it’s in Puerto Escondido. Puerto Escondido is located north of Huatulco in Oaxaca on Mexico’s southern Pacific coast.

I remember, back in the day, when I was working for an athletic apparel company, my boss told me about Oaxaca. He said it was a must-see. I have kept that tidbit in the back of my mind for several years. And, since 40 is right around the corner, I hoped to go to Oaxaca and attend the travel writer’s workshop for my birthday.

What made this deal even sweeter, the lady who is teaching the workshop wrote a piece for the book Sand in my Bra. It’s a compilation of travel essays by women who have traveled the globe. I have a copy of this book. I read it 10 years ago in hopes that I would some day be a travel writer.

Sand in my Bra

Up until now, I thought maybe that dream was just that, a dream. But  now, I am convinced that at some point I could actually become a travel writer. I need to take the necessary steps to become a travel writer. I need to a) TRAVEL and b)WRITE ABOUT THE JOURNEY.

I have a couple travel essays, but I know I need a few more so that I can submit them to the proper publication(s). And, for a little guidance, I thought the travel writer’s workshop would be perfect.

My husband and I talked about the workshop and decided that we should go together (he would not attend the workshop though) and stay a couple of extra days to explore on our own. So, I emailed the women hosting the workshop, and to my chagrin, it already filled up. Sob….Sigh…Sob again.

Now what. Well, today, while I was at work, I was looking for a good place for a photo-op. One of my duties at ColorWare is to take pictures of our custom tech products in a variety of situations for our social media platforms. Today I was snapping a photo of the Apple wireless keyboard. The keyboard had X Dubai engraved on it and that engraving only made me want to go to Dubai. Sigh…

Then I thought about the train that the product was sitting on, and I remembered the Amtrak in Residency program for writers. I looked up the program to see if I could apply for this, and, of course, they have already chosen the writers for this program.

So, I leave you with this haiku…

Sand in My Bra

Day 24: Haiku Challenge

Take me to Dubai—
take me away from my home
and show me the world.

Do you have any suggestions for travel writing workshops?

~Nicole

Learning About Reiki

Hello! I hope you had a great Tuesday!

I am working on a piece for a publication called The Radish. It is a healthy living magazine that encourages people to lead healthy lives. The piece focuses on a holistic treatment called Reiki.

On Monday evening, I had the pleasure of meeting two women who are Reiki practioners. Diane Anderson and Amy Sapola met me at a place called Hermitage Farm in Rochester, Minnesota. Anderson is a Reiki master and wellness coach who assists people who have chronic stress or illnesses like cancer. And, Sapola is currently attending Reiki classes to become a certified Reiki master.

The publication is coming out in November and I will be sure to share it right here on The Whispering Pen. On to the haiku challenge…

Day 23: Haiku Challenge

Our bodies are tense—
trust in those who can channel
energy that heals.

Has anyone heard of Reiki?

Have a lovely Wednesday!

~Nicole

The Tree of Life at Wine & Canvas

Happy Monday! (Is there such a thing?)

Friday, September 19th marked the second Wine & Canvas Event. Once again we had a great turn out. There were 12 spots that sold out within a week of the class being advertised. We even allowed two more to join because of the popularity.

Denise and I had everything set up by about 6:15 and had a little time to catch our breath. The painting we completed was the Tree of Life.

We painted the Tree of Life for Wine and Canvas

 

Everything is set up and we are ready for Wine & Canvas

Everyone arrived around 6:30 p.m. They poured their wine and hand-picked some of the delectable cheese and crackers Denise had purchased for the event. There was cranberry cheese and honey cheese and more…

For the painting, the background was a mixture of warm and cool color swirls, and once again, all the paintings were unique.

We started by painting cool colored circles mixing greens, blues and purples.

We started creating cool colored circles.

 

Wine & Canvas paints a tree...creating cool colored circles Wine & Canvas paints a tree...creating cool colored circles Wine & Canvas paints a tree...creating cool colored circles

Then, we moved on and painted the upper half of the canvas with warm colors—reds, yellows and oranges. After the upper half was completed, we painted our landscape and trees.

Wine & Canvas paints a tree and landscape

Wine & Canvas paints a tree Wine & Canvas paints a tree

And the finished product…

Wine & Canvas paints a tree Wine & Canvas paints a tree Wine & Canvas paints a tree Wine & Canvas paints a tree

Wine & Canvas paints a tree

The next painting coming up in October is Make a Wish! Stay tuned for details.

And now for the haiku challenge.

Day 22: Haiku Challenge

Blended colors pose
in the background while The Tree
of Life grows roots.

Have you been to a Wine & Canvas event?

~Nicole

 

 

The Mist

Last weekend, my husband and I happened across a little bookstore in Red Wing, Minnesota. I purchased a Stephen King book called Skeleton Crew. The book is a collection of short stories and novellas from King’s earlier years.

The first novella that I read was called The Mist. Now, I have watched Stephen King movies, The Shining (among my favorites), Carrie, Misery, Firestarter and many more, but I had never taken the time to read King’s work. The words pulled me along line by line, my body tense as I turned each page.

For example, “An elevator shot my stomach down about twenty floors.” Pg. 78 I loved this metaphor. In the midst of this scene, I could feel what the character was feeling.

“The [flash] lights bobbed here and there in the aisles like uneasy phantoms.” Pg. 96

“It looked like one of the minor creatures in a Bosch painting.” Pg. 105 Since I studied art, I love referencing artist’s work. I have done this in my own work before.

Mist by Stephen King

The best part, the ending left me hanging. I know that annoys some people, but there are times when I DO NOT want the ending to be wrapped up in a cute little package with a polka-dotted bow on top. I love the thought of finishing the story in my mind. I am not a fan of happy endings either. I used to love watching Alfred Hitchcock movies when I was a kid. And Hitchcock was the master of leading you right up to the edge and then ending the movie or TV show with a question mark.

One of my all time favorite movies is No Country for Old Men. Talk about taking you to the precipice and then just walking away without being pushed over the edge…

Now, for the haiku challenge. What could be more appropriate than an image from the Black Hills that is taken right at the edge of the hillside?

South Dakota 2014

Day 19: Haiku Challenge

Forced to the edge of
life, challenged at every step—
Is it over yet?

House in Shambles

Day 20: Haiku Challenge

A house in shambles
on the edge of crumbling.
Its time is coming.

Mums from the Amish AuctionAnd finally, there is one day away from the fall equinox—I think that constitutes being on the edge.

Day 21: Haiku Challenge

Many, many colors—
rust, golden and purple blooms.
Chrysanthemums thrive.

Do you enjoy a movie or book that doesn’t have a happy ending?

~Nicole

 

 

I’m Falling for Autumn

We are days away from the fall equinox, but, in my mind, when the leaves start changing colors, fall has arrived. I walked around my neighborhood Monday evening with my camera in tow. I snapped a few pictures of the maple leaves that had already started taking on a new color.

I liked this one…its time had come. The leaf had matured into a beautiful and orange-hued maple leaf and left the comfort of the big maple tree. It was resting gently on the ground.

Autumn colorful maple leaf

Day 16: Haiku Challenge

Veins long and leggy.
Maple leaf changing color—
now, autumn is here.

As I continue my haiku challenge, I wanted to highlight the importance of ‘Morning Pages.’ About 10 years ago, I was introduced to Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. She teaches her students to be “unblocked artists” by writing “Morning Pages,” or essentially, keeping a journal.

Since I have always kept a journal, it was a natural transition for me to write every morning. She prescribed three pages using ink and paper. I completed these pages for years, until one day I just stopped. I put the pages away for several years, and then began writing them again.

At this stage in my life, I write them for a few months and take a month or two off and repeat that cycle over and over. Recently, I found myself in need of the pages again. I always need them, but I don’t always write them. So Tuesday morning, I found myself scribing words, thoughts, dreams and prayers inside my journal.

A notebook and pen to jot down thoughts.

Day 17: Haiku Challenge

Words flooding from my
pen. Dreams scattered on paper
line, by line, by line.

The “Morning Pages” are honest and truthful. They always uncover what I am thinking, but sometimes ignoring on the surface. My husband and I love the Southwest. Arizona and New Mexico always come up in conversation when it comes to living in a new location. I found myself writing about the Southwest today.

So tonight, I found a decorative ceramic plate my mom gave to me on one of her trips to the Southwest. It resides in my china cabinet for now. Maybe some day it will have a mate and I will use them for more than decor.

Ceramic Decorative Spanish Plate

Day 18: Haiku Challenge

Flower petals are
bursting with warm yellow hues—
art of the Southwest.

I hope you have had a great week and accomplished all the writing goals you set.

Has anyone read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron? What is your take on the book?

~Nicole

A Hauntingly Good Book

I just finished reading Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. This was the first time I had read one of her books. Would I read another one? Yes! If you like books that will haunt you and thrill you, you’ll love this book.

The protagonist, Camille Preaker, is a wounded soul with an upbringing that could only breed the addictions that Camille possesses. Her character made me disgusted and frightened at times, but I was always rooting for Camille to overcome her demons.

sharp-objects-book-cover

Here are a few tidbits from Sharp Objects:

“I was ten and writing every other word my teacher said on my jeans in blue ballpoint. I washed them, guiltily, secretly, in my bathroom sink with baby shampoo. The words smudged and blurred, left indigo hieroglyphics up and down the pant legs, as if a tiny ink-stained bird had hopped across them.” Pg. 61

“This was the place my sister died…A town so suffocating and small, you tripped over people you hated every day.” Pg. 74

“I was hoping Betsy Nash would disappear. Literally, she was so insubstantial, I could imagine her slowly evaporating, leaving only a sticky spot on the edge of the sofa.” Pg. 89

“When we got home, she’d trail off to her room like an unfinished sentence, and I would sit outside with my face pressed against her door and replay the day in my head, searching for clues to what I’d done to displease her.” Pg. 97

“A dried-out tree rustled its branches against my window screen as if it wanted to climb in next to me for comfort.” Pg. 116

There were a few more, but I don’t want to spoil it…

Now, for the haiku challenge…These little guys posed for the camera back in July when my husband and I went to South Dakota.

Prarie Dogs in Custer State Park on the Wildlife Loop (640x480)

Day 15: Haiku Challenge

Prairie Dogs basking
in the blazing July sun.
Perfect summer day.

~Nicole

Has anyone read Gone Girl? It’s another Gillian Flynn book…