Aug 30, 2010

Yosemite 2010~Our Vacation Pictures




It is good to be home; it is good to come to a place where we can call home. Do you not love the fresh air that fills your lungs as you step into your room again, and can relax your cramping muscles from the long trip? Is it not nice to come back to a dwelling that your heart shall forever remain?
Thank you all for the heart-warming farewells and good-wishes, and the hearty welcomes. I really appreciated arriving home and seeing all your encouraging comments. I am truly blessed to have so many wonderful fellow bloggers, and hope the Lord blesses you all immensley.


We had a lovely and relaxing time in Yosemite. This is a very long post, for I had a lot of pictures, but surprisingly, this year I did not capture a lot of pictures of the well-known landmarks there in the Park. Though, I hope you enjoy this "tour" that I put together for you:

I took this picture on the way out of the valley. Friday had bleak weather, and we had to stay inside most of the time and we bundled up. I think I had at least four warming cups of hot chocolate, and begged my mom to make the hot water at least twice as many times!:) Weather forecasters predicted a bit of snow in the highlands!

However, most of the week was filled with delightful, summery sunshine, and the highest the weather became was over ninety degrees; perfect for a cool dip in the stream (or the unheated pools:).


To reach my special hideaway, one must cross the old bridge. Such a lovely picture, I think!

....Daisies swayed gaily in the light breeze along the banks....

I was so fearful of crossing the stream and losing my camera, but I made it safely, although there were times where I did not want to move for fear of being swept away. The water was much higher this year than last...

The water felt good, but oh, so cold!!!

The mighty river... ...it's froth looked like lace...
Here is a short video, I took, that can give you the idea of how strong the current was! (You will have to turn off my music player:)

video

After you have dried of from your swim, why not take a leisure walk to the meadows.
Here is one of my favourite meadows, a clump of aspens or poplars are like an island floating admist a calm sea of golden light...
Or, walk across the street from Camp Curry (where we were staying) and enjoy an evening stroll among the flowers..
And watch the sunset's reflection against Half Dome's stone face:
Or, see the majestic rock face of the Royal Arches:
Walk through a little glen with a path less taken...
Looking up and seeing the sunshine through the leaves and the trees of the dogwood...
(all time favourite picture!:)
The sunshine flowing with such bliss...
And walk back through the forest...
Where a cozy cabin awaits...
...with warm beds (perhaps not the most comfortable, but warm:) and a steaming cup of hot chocolate:)
Here is a video I took on the way into the valley. The music fits for it is titled "A Walk in the Forest."
video

Hope you enjoyed! May the Lord pour a shower of His abundant blessings upon each and every one of you and all you hold dear to your heart.
Sweet Dreams!
Love from Your Sister in Christ,

Aug 29, 2010

I Am Back!

Hello, dear readers!!! Thank you so much for all the sweet comments of encouragement and good wishes. We had a lovely and relaxing time in our beloved Yosemite.
We arrived home safely at about 4:30 this early evening, and are very tired from the packing up the car, to the unpacking, and the tiresome car trip in between. I have some pictures that I hope to share with you very soon. I am even writing a story that included a lot of the history of the place we were staying. It is in journal form, and hopefully I will be posting about it on my writing blog (From the Desk Drawer of a Young Writer)
I even read a few books on the trip including:
Troublesome Creek by Jan Watson
Masquerade by Nancy Moser
Emily Windsnap: The Monster of the Deep
You can find more books I am reading, plan to read, or have read at http://www.shelfari.com/o1514309838
Hope all is well with you, and are enjoying the summer!
Love always,
Grace
P.S. I can feel autumn in the air. I do not know if it is from just seeing Thanksgiving decorations, and autumn decorations in stores, or it's the air caring autumn's scent and season on summer's wings.

Aug 20, 2010

Farewell...

Farewell, dearest readers...

I shall miss you all! My family and I are taking our annual, week-long vacation to Yosemite National Park, and leaving to-morrow morning. I am so very excited, and looking forward to smelling the fresh air mingled with the soothing scent of pine. This will be our seventh year in a row going to our beloved mountain retreat. Hopefully, when I return I will have many pictures to share with you!

(This laptop does not have wireless connection to the Internet, therefore I will not be taking it, and besides, I do not want to spend my time on the computer when there is swimming, bike-riding, painting, and so much more to do!:)

Again, I will miss all of you, and hope the Lord blesses you immensly over the next couple weeks!


With Sincere Love from Your Sister in Christ,

Aug 17, 2010

Art Supplies

Over the past few years, I have taken a slight interest for watercolours and sketching even though I do not have a huge talent in the art area:). The true and pure beauty of nature in Yosemite inspires me to sketch, draw, and paint. Watercolours is such a relaxing and enjoyable pastime, and is very convenient when travelling.

To sit with a paint brush in hand, amongst the tall, meadow grass which slightly rustles in the light breeze, and look and paint that which is before you. To sit and look at tall pines reaching for the early evening sky, to watch the aspens quiver in the breeze, to capture the scene with a few strokes from your paintbrush. To sit and hear the birds chirp in harmony as the brook or stream gurgles merrily, and giggles, and sighs... to sit and to paint, this is pure happiness! (or to capture the scene with words as well:)

Unfortunately, when I come home, the very slightest inspiration for sketching and watercolours fade:) Here's one of the sketches I did of a water fall near Happy Isles, Yosemite: I was going to paint it, but then I thought it looked nicer just as a light sketch with a bit of charcoal. Here is a watercolour I did. I like the aspens in the corner!:) It was not my best work, for the paper was not suited for such water-based substances.

One cannot go into the meadow without hearing the bells ring~Truth Project

(Meaning, one cannot go into a meadow without thinking there is not a God who made it)

To-day, Mother purchased these lovely watercolours for the trip. Thank you so much, Mama!!!

So pretty...I bought this thick book and am so excited to use it!
And I bought this as well for my sketches: Every pet always have one strange quirk or another. Here's a video of what my bunny rabbit does with our gorilla hair ground cover:

video

Pretty cute, right? My family and I call it Oakley's stick toy! Sometimes he tries to annoy Lily (my cat) just so she will play with him!:)


Hope all is having a lovely evening!

Love From Your Sister in Christ,

Aug 16, 2010

And the Winners of My 100th Post Short-Story Contest Are...

Dear Readers,

I had a very hard time deciding which story I liked the best! You all did a wonderful job! Again I want to thank all of you who participated for your effort, time, and hard work! It was so encouraging see your entries glorify the Lord.
Now for the best part, the prizes!!!!:)



The Second Place Winner will receive:

A hand stitched, home-grown lavender stuffed sachet,
A hand stiched flower that you can pin to your jacket, in your hair, or on a dress,
and a lovely blue bracelet! So the Second Place Winner who will receive all that is above is....(am I rising your anticipation yet?:)

Leah from The Narrow Path!!!!

Congratulations, Leah!!! Please leave me your email address (will not be published) and I will contact you about your prize!

Leah gets this button I made for her blog to announce to the whole blogging world she won second place!:)

Here was Leah's Entry: (Painting Title: Walking in Paris; Artist: Jean Beuraud)




Tough Farewells




It was the year 1908, and I, Jane Marywell, was getting ready to go to a new young lady's school. I was sixteen and had just moved from East bay, Louisiana to now Rochester, New York City. After he had lost his job several months before, My father had found a new job and we were just settling into our new home. I kept asking God, why we had needed to move. What was His purpose sending us here?
My mother kept telling me that we would soon get used to the idea of living in the cramped, loud, bustle of this big city. I was not familiar with this place and everything seemed strange and different from my beloved East bay, Louisiana. My seaside house, which I missed so much was now in my dreams and my new surroundings did not seem real to me. My seagulls, my sand, my shells, my ocean was now not mine. My aunt, uncle and three cousins, who I had not seen in a few years, were the only people I knew. They would be very dear to me through this transition. My cousin Libby, sixteen like me, was my dearest companion out of them all and had blond hair and bright blue eyes, like my ocean. I loved looking into them for they gave me comfort and gave me a little piece of home. I envied her rosy cheeks and crisp red lips which always wore a beautiful smile. My complexion and features were much less stunning and lovely. My dark brunette hair had almost a gray coloring and my eyes were a dark musty brown.

On this particularly cold rainy day, Libby and I were on our way to the young lady's school. It was my first day and I was beginning to feel unsure of the fact that I was not the most bright student and would have trouble making friends. But Libby rattled on telling me all about it and the wonderful teachers and other young ladies that I would meet. Her words somewhat comforted me as they distracted me from my fears.
When we finally arrived, my brow was furrowed with new worries and my heart beat fast.
The building was narrow, tall and drab. Black doors, walls, window frames were the scenery.
The sign on the building read. 'Lady's Christian Fine Arts school'
"We'll stop by my favorite teacher first." Libby whispered in my ear excitedly. We entered the building and climbed a set of echoing stairs.
As we got to the first teacher's room, a tall slender woman met my eye. Her face was plain, but she had a sincere smile that brightened her simple features. " Hello Mrs. Smith! This is my cousin Jane Marywell, who I've been talking about." Libby said with enthusiasm. "Welcome Miss Jane! I hope you find our school as fine a one as in Louisiana." Mrs. Smith said. " I teach writing here at our school. What is your favorite subject?" I smiled at the question. I loved music, and acting, but writing was my passion. "I love to write." I answered.

As the day continued my mood become more hopeful. This school was different but a good kind of different.
I reminisced about my day as Libby and I walked briskly home from the icy gusts of wind.
As I ate dinner with my family and cousins, my thoughts wandered to my ocean once more. The sunrises and sunsets that I had looked forward to each day. I decided to make the most of my new home and try and keep my spirits up. I thought I might write a poem about the the joys of New york to keep my thoughts from wandering.

As I finished getting ready for bed that night, my mother and father came in and said prayers with me. My father's deep voice gave me peace as he talked to God, asking for His guidance and protection over us in our new surroundings. I kissed my mother good night and gave my father a big hug. " I know you miss your home Jane, but I feel that God has a plan for us here." My father said to me before he closed my bedroom door. I looked at him and answered with trust. "I know." We smiled. As he closed that door, I felt that God was holding my hand and giving me peace. This new place which I knew little about, was still God's world. And I knew no matter where Christ took me, He was there, holding my hand. As the days and months moved on, I started to enjoy the cold wind that rushed past me each day. Libby and I became the best of friends. I also met new girls at the school and we now had a bible devotion each week at my house. God had given me joy and contentment. The beautiful scenery here in New York had become as beautiful as the seaside. My family and I visited Louisiana several times each year and I would sit on the rocks, breathing in the ocean, watching the sunset and write.




Third Place Winner will receive a handmade sachet and bracelet as well.
And the Third Place Winner that receives the prize above is:



Abby from His Sparrows!!!!







Congratulations, Abby!!!! Here is a button for you to paste onto your blog! Please leave me your email address (will not be published), and I will contact you about your prize!

Here was Abby's Entry: (Painting Title: The Necklace; Artist: John Waterhouse)

Treasures from the Heart

It was the day of my 16th birthday, 1992, and I woke up to the smell of cinnamon buns. I breathed in the smell as I got dressed. I ran downstairs right as my mother was taking the buns out of the oven. "Happy birthday, sweetie," she greeted me. "Thank you, Mother," I smiled and sat down at the big kitchen table. Then Father and Grandpa came stumbling sleepily down the stairs. As they seated themselves at the table, Mother put a bun on one of her best china plates and served it to me with a grin. "Wait 'til you see what your dad and grandpa have for you," she looked at Father. He went into the other room and brought back a small wooden box. "Oh..." I breathed, as he opened it to reveal a beautiful necklace. "It was your gramma's," said my grandpa tearfully as he fastened it around my neck. I smiled as I thanked him. My grandma died two years ago, and she had been one of my best friends. “I made the box,” said Father proudly, “Look, it even has a space in the bottom for your Bible!” I leaped from my seat and ran into my room to get my Bible. As I passed my vanity mirror, the necklace sparkled and I smiled once again. It was so hard not to smile on your birthday.

It was a week after my birthday, and I wore the necklace every day, keeping it in the box with my Bible when I was sleeping. That box held my two most treasured possessions. One morning, I woke up and got out of bed to read my Bible at my vanity. I opened the box, but my beautiful necklace wasn’t there! I raced from my room and found my mother in the kitchen. “Mother, Mother,” I cried, near tears, “my necklace is gone!” We searched my whole room, and when Father and Grandpa got up, the whole house. “It’s no use!” I sobbed, “It’s gone!” I took my box and ran from the house to my favorite spot in the woods, a small pond where I often read my Bible and prayed. I decided to read my Bible, for comfort. When I opened my box, and took my Bible out, there was the necklace, shining as brightly as ever! I held it up to the sun and laughed.

After reading my Bible that morning, I showed my family the necklace. “I should have known,” my mother said, “the only place we didn’t look!” I smiled once again, now knowing that even though I loved my necklace, my Bible was my real treasure.

The End


And now, drum roll please, announcing the FIRST PLACE WINNER that will receive:
Hand embroidered, hand crocheted flower sewn onto it, sack and hand sewn lavender sachet

A hand sewn flower,

And a hand made bracelet

The First Place Winner who will be receiving the prizes above is...

~Sarah from Country Musings~

Congratulations, Sarah!!! I will send you your prizes with your next letter!:)

And here is a button I created for you:

Here was Sarah's entry:

Changes in the Wind

“Mary! Mary where are you?”

“Here! Over by the flower bed.”
A tall, thin, and sprightly young woman came bounding around a bush to where her sister, Mary, was standing with a basket of flowers in one hand, and a handful of her skirts in the other.
“Clara, would you stop running around like a heathen? You should try to act decent every once in a while.” Though the tone was stern, a light danced in Mary’s eyes as she watched the restlessness of her younger sister.
“I am sorry, Mary. I will try not to run, only I just received a letter from father! I wanted to show it to you.” Clara came closer to her sister with a spring in her step and shortness of breath from her excitement. “Look! Hand written by him, not one of his attendants.”
Mary seized the letter and stared at it longingly. She turned it over and fingered the seal, still unbroken. “You didn’t open it yet?” She inquired of the slight figure beside her.
“Of course not,” was the incredulous reply. “I wanted to share it with you first.”
Mary eyed it a bit longer, then handed it to Clara.
“Here, you read.” Mary gathered her skirts about her and sat down on the low wall that separated the little country garden from the river beyond.
“Dearest daughters,” Clara began, after clearing her throat. “Your letters have been a great comfort to me in this time. I would have written sooner, but business has kept me from my fatherly duties. Pray, forgive me.
“I am doing well, and hope you are the same. Mary said you were both keeping busy in the garden this year. I am glad of it, for your mother dearly loved the little garden, in which you are no doubt sitting at this moment.” Clara paused and smiled at her sister.
“He knows us too well,” Mary commented.
Clara nodded and continued.
“Be sure to take care of the lilacs, for your mother loved them the best. I remember how many a time I would walk out in search of her, only to find her sitting on the wet grass underneath that lovely lilac, smelling the blooms. It was then that I had the little bench built for her to sit upon when the weather was good.
“If my business goes smoothly, I should be home in a fortnight. Though business may call me back, I will at least spend a holiday with two of the loveliest girls in England.
“May God protect you, yours etcetera.”
Clara folded the letter and pressed it to her heart. “A fortnight, Mary! Why, that is so soon. Oh, what shall we do?” Her blue eyes lit with joy as she pranced in a little circle.
“Calm down, Clara. It is a fortnight, and though we will have much to do, there is still plenty of time.” She smiled, though, as Clara stood still, though obviously wanting to run all around the garden with her joy.
“Oh, alright. Go and tell Hannah to get some soup for supper. Be quick!”
Clara lost no time and had disappeared around the bush before Mary had time to finish her sentence.
Smiling, Mary looked out over the river. It was so peaceful, so lovely. The twilight hours made it more magical, in a sense. The river babbled calmly along the banks, making little gurgling noises as it went. Blue birds were chirping from their perches, and the bees buzzed contentedly as they went from blossom to blossom, exchanging old pollen for new.
Father was coming home! Mary smiled again to herself. He hadn’t been home in 7, no 8, oh she had lost count of how many months he had been gone. Ever since mother died, he had been going on trips more frequently.
Standing and scooping up her basket, Mary made her way to the little cottage that they called their home. Her thoughts still on father, Mary hardly noticed the beauty of the evening like she usually did.
She was glad he would be coming home, but being away from him for so long would put an awkward strain on their relationship. It had happened before, and it could happen again. She dearly hoped that all would be the same, but she knew in her heart that it would not. Things had to change, and though she hated change, it was exciting in it’s own way. It brought new things to life, new people to meet, new things to explore. Yet, even with it’s glories, it brought sorrow, death, strife, and hardships.
Was it truly worth looking forward too? Mary paused with her hand on the handle of the cottage door. She smiled to herself as she heard Clara’s excited conversation with Hannah float through the windows.
Opening the door, she entered and turned to look out into the twilight covered world. Tonight she would forget about the hard part of change. Tonight, she would enjoy Clara’s incessant chatter and cherish the moments around the fire, for each moment was more precious than the last, and each one passed as quickly as the blink of an eye.

A week had passed, Mary and Clara were still making sure that everything was in preparation for their father, and still no word came from him saying that he was coming.
Clara, disappointed as she was at the thought that he might not come home, tried her best to hide it from Mary, for Mary had enough worries on her shoulders, what with all the cleaning and baking to do.
Mary was, in her own way, slightly disappointed. She hoped that their father would come for he had been away an awfully long time, and yet she almost hoped that he wouldn’t come. She had never quite forgiven him for leaving them on frequent trips after their mother had died. Didn’t he need to stay home where she and Clara could comfort him, and he comfort them? She had tried to forgive him, she truly did, but down in the depths of her heart she knew she hadn’t forgiven him entirely. She supposed it would have been easier if.. oh she didn’t know. What did she know? Wasn’t she a simple ignorant farm girl, striving to keep up with the collectors pay? Wasn’t she only the first born, destined to do all the duties of the house while scraping together little bits of money so that Clara could go to school?
Mary took a piece of laundry off of the clothes line, snapped it to get the wrinkles out, folded it neatly, and set it in the basket. As she reached for another piece of laundry, her thoughts ran ahead of her.
What would life had been like if mother were still alive? She wondered as she folded a pair of drawers and set it in the basket. Would father still be home? Would work be easier? Would life have more joy in it?
Why was father so far away from home, any way? Would he really have stayed home, even if mother were still alive?
Mary had often heard her mother say that father was a restless sort of person, and liked to move about, though in all the years that their mother was living, Mary knew that he was never away longer than a fortnight, at the most.
Perhaps this was his way of grieving.
Angry thoughts flooded by her as she lugged the basket of laundry to the kitchen.
“Why?” She spoke aloud. “Why?”
“Why what?” Clara said as she came out of the door to greet Mary.
“Oh nothing… did you get the next wash finished?”
“Yes, everything is ready for the line, I was just headed out.” Clara gave Mary a smile as she passed by and headed to the clothes line to hang all of the wet laundry to dry in the warm sunshine and air.
“Mary seems rather out of sorts today,” she thought aloud to herself. Clara liked to talk, and if there was no one around to talk to, she simply talked to herself.
“I do so hope father comes! If he doesn’t Mary will be so upset. She has gone through so much to get ready, that it truly would be terrible if he didn’t come.”
She was silent for a moment while she pondered over what she just said.
“Clara, me love? Where ya be?”
“Over here, Hannah!” Clara called gaily. She paused in her work and tucked a stray hand of golden hair behind her ear.
An older woman, maybe in her forties, came huffing over to the young girl. She had a cap on her head, though this was slightly disarrayed from the work of the day, and an apron over an old work dress.
“Well saints alive, I never did so much work in my life!”
Clara smiled, “What is it Hannah?”
“Only a letter. It does na say who it is from, though the hand looks slightly familiar.” Hannah turned it over in her hands, before giving it to Clara, who took it eagerly.
“I think it is from father! Perhaps word confirming his coming.” She eyed it longingly, but put it into her own apron pocket to save to read with Mary.
“Well, I hope so! I never did see so much runnin’ around and doin’ one’s work like a chicken with it’s head cut off…” Her voice trailed away as she returned to the house and left Clara smiling to herself. Good old Hannah! What would they do without her?
Clara’s fingers were simple itching to open the letter, but she set her mind to her task instead, though even that was rather difficult.
When she had finished, she picked up her basket and raced to the house. Bursting through the door way, which had been left open in the fresh morning light, Clara raced to the end of the house where there stood a little ladder. Up the ladder she scrambled, and, just like she thought, she found Mary up in the little loft putting fresh ticking into the mattresses.
Mary didn’t look up as she said, “Clara! I do say, if you don’t stop running..”
Clara cut her short. “Mary, another letter from Father!”
Mary sighed and stood up from her previous kneeling position. Putting her hands on her hips she looked at Clara for a moment.
“All right. Aren’t you going to read it?”
Clara, who had already taken the letter out of her pocket, tore the seal and quickly unfolded the letter.
“Dear daughters, I hope to arrive next Thursday in the afternoon. My coach should arrive at three o’clock.
“With love, yours etcetera.”
Clara paused for a moment and looked at it with a mixture of dismay and excitement on her face.
“Whatever is the matter, child?” Mary asked as she noticed the crest fallen expression.
“Oh, it is just that I don’t think he wrote this himself. It looks more like one of his attendant’s hands.” She let her hands fall arms length while still clasping the letter.
“Perhaps he is just so busy packing his things, that he needed someone else to write,” Mary comforted.
Clara smiled, “I suppose so. What must we still do? I have put the laundry out to dry, but I never know what to do afterwards.”
Mary sighed and looked around the loft. “Well, let me think. I have got the ticking almost done, the laundry is drying, Hannah is cooking lunch….” Her voice trailed off for a moment as her brow furrowed in thought.
“I suppose the parlor could use a good sweeping.” She looked up at Clara.
“Done!” With green eyes dancing, her pink lips parted in a smile, Clara scrambled down the loft ladder and was gone.
Mary could soon hear her below, humming a little tune in beat with the ‘swish, swish’ of the broom against the wooden floor.
Kneeling down again, Mary continued with the ticking. By the time Hannah had lunch on the table, both girls were finished with their present tasks.
“Well,” Mary said as she sat down and sighed wearily. “We will have a busy week ahead of us, for now we know for sure that Father is coming.”
Clara nodded and put on a rather serious face. “Yes, I suppose you will… I, however, will be busy with other things.”
Mary jerked her head up in time to see the twinkle in Clara’s eyes.
“Oh?” She asked nonchalantly.
“Yes, though I suppose that perhaps I will be able to help you for a little bit.”
“Clara Madison! What are you up to?”
“Oh, nothing,” Clara tried to give the most innocent look to Mary. “I suppose you will have to wait and see.” Clara gave Mary an angelic look and continued eating her soup.

Next Thursday arrived and everyone was in a flutter. Last minute baking had to be done, fires stoked, and any other little cleaning things that needed doing.
Three o’clock came, and passed. Four o’clock, five o’clock, and still no Father.
Clara was beside herself with worry. Mary tried to stay calm, but she had a funny feeling in the bottom of her stomach. A feeling she got only when something dreadful was about to happen.
“Mary, do you suppose he got hurt?”
“I don’t know, Clara. Perhaps he only got stuck in some weather.”
“But the day is as fine as any!”
Mary was about to reply when they heard the chopping of horses hooves on the gravel outside. Both raced to the window and looked out.
A man in a dark cloak swung down from his steed and made his way to the door.
Mary and Clara went to the door, Clara slightly sooner than Mary, and opened it with expectant faces.
It was not their father. Mary’s feeling came back again in the pit of her stomach.
“Miss Madison?” He swept off his hat.
“Yes?” Mary answered with a slight tremor in her voice.
“I have come to inform you..” He paused, looked at the ground and twirled his hat in his hands. He swallowed hard and continued. “Have come to inform you that your father is.. is dead.”

Mary sat at the rough, wooden kitchen table and looked out the window to the dark world beyond.
Dead? No! He couldn’t be. It wasn’t possible, it just wasn’t.
Clara had gone to bed with a headache after sobbing the rest of the afternoon away. Mary was still in shock and hadn’t really had time to even thinking about grieving. It just couldn’t be true! Surely they had the wrong man.
No, it had to be him.. Mary had kept the messenger for half an hour to get particulars and to make sure for absolute that it was Mr. Madison, not someone else.
He had been in an accident, the details of which the messenger spared her. He had even given her a description of the man. That was all that needed to be told. He had told Mary that a lawyer would take care of any business that was unfinished and that she needn’t worry about anything.
Now, here she was sitting. Fatherless, perhaps penniless, and who knew what else.
“I suppose it will take a while for me to get used to him being really gone,” she said aloud as Hannah entered the small and cozy room.
Hannah huffed over to the little stove, put on a kettle of water, and sat down across from Mary.
“It must be real hard, Miss Mary. I don’t doubt it twill be strange! Still seems unreal ta me, and I knew him since he was first married ta your dear mother.”
Hannah reached across the table and squeezed the hands that were clasped on the table. Mary let a tear roll down her cheek and tried to smile at Hannah, but only more tears flowed. All of the things she thought about her father came flooding back to her memory, making her sob even harder.
Hannah was up and hugging her in an instant. She let Mary sob for a few minutes and just held her. It felt like the old times when Mary, as a young child, would come running to her if she got hurt. Hannah always knew how to make a smile reappear on a child’s face.
When Mary had finished wiping her eyes, Hannah went and fixed her a cup of tea. Mary calmed herself down while she waited for the tea to steep and let her thoughts turn to what they would do, now that their father was dead.
Mary never was sure where their money came from. All she knew was that Father had a stash in his desk. Mary was always frugal with it and never spent more than they absolutely needed. Clara would sometimes go into the nearby village, which was about two miles away, and sell some of their fresh flowers. With that, and the savings their father had set aside, they were comfortable.
Now they wouldn’t have money coming from their father. They would simply have to make it on their own.

Perhaps she could hire for mending. She was always very good with the needle, and if folks were willing to pay a few shillings for a good mending on their clothes, that would at least keep them fed. Then, if Clara could continue selling the flowers in the spring, they could set enough aside to start saving. Perhaps Hannah would even be willing to start hiring out somewhere else part of the week and bring back part of her money.
May shook her head. No, that wouldn’t do. Hannah would probably go off and find better wages.
She looked up at Hannah where the older woman was getting another cup of tea for herself.
When she sat down, Mary looked at her for a moment before asking, “So, where will you go to now, Hannah?”
Hannah looked up, absolutely confused. “What do ya mean, Miss?”
“Well, I mean, now that Father is dead, and we don’t have much money to pay wages, I just thought you would want to go elsewhere.”
Hannah looked at her incredulously. “Me? Leave here? I’d sooner have me head cut off. What in the world put that idea into that pretty head of yours? I never had one thought of leavin’ me sweethearts, and I certainly won’t consider it now.”
Mary grinned, “You are a star, Hannah! I don’t know what we would do without you. You do realize I can’t pay you as much as you had been getting.”
Hannah waved a hand at her. “I won’t be needin’ more money. Tisn’t like I’ve got me own place to keep up. Nah, I have me own bed here, a roof over me head, and good food in me stomach. I don’t need more than that.”
Mary walked over and kissed the older woman on the cheek. Hannah, a bit flustered at this unusual show of love, fluttered her hands about her. “Now, you had best get into bed, Miss. I don’t want you sleepy-eyed tomorrow morning.” Mary smiled, gave a last squeeze to Hannah’s stout shoulder, and climbed into the loft.
Clara was already sleeping soundly, her soft breathing being heard clearly across the small space.
Mary climbed into her cot, after putting on a night gown, and slid under the covers. Weariness seemed to pull her from every limb but her brain was still at work.
After lying there for at least another hour, and hearing Hannah’s soft noises as she herself got into her bed, Mary forced herself to relax and go to sleep. Her eyelids were heavy and slowly drooped closed. Mary fell asleep.

Months had passed, winter was at it’s deepest, Mary and Clara had resumed their normal life activities. Hannah, as good as ever, was their backbone. She helped to cheer up the dreary nights with her delightful concoctions and humorous stories of her childhood.
Clara was slowly regaining her usual chatterbox conversation and cheerful attitude. When they had received word that their father had died, Clara had gone into a sort of slump. Nothing seemed funny to her, nothing could make her smile. She walked around the house with a dole face and sorrowful eyes.
Mary and Hannah did their best to get her to cheer up, but it wasn’t until months later that she finally started coming out of her shell.
Now she would join in on the lively conversations around the fireplace, jokes, and other things throughout the day. Though these weren’t as frequent like before, it was still an improvement.
Mary, Clara, and Hannah were sitting around the small fireplace one cold and windy evening, enjoying a cup of tea after a supper of soup.
“I still think it might work.” Mary was saying.
“Yes, but will it work for a living?” Clara responded, her green eyes questioning.
“To be sure! Why, twill be the golden apple of the day.”
Mary smiled at Hannah’s description. “I am not sure it will be the ‘golden apple’, but if folks around here are willing to buy it, well… I think it will work.”
“Will we look for new plants, or just use our good old ones?” Clara now asked.
“I think,” Mary said thoughtfully. “That we should keep the old ones. Everyone knows what they are, and that would make it easier for us. No advertising for new ones.”
Hannah and Clara nodded.
“As soon as Spring comes, we must get right to work. I still have some lavender left over from last spring. It is hanging in the loft. Perhaps we could sell some of that.”
“Be sure to keep a bit of it for medicinal purposes,” Hannah reminded.
“Well,” Clara said as she stretched out her feet towards the warm blaze. “I suppose we will be fine for the rest of this winter with the money Father had leftover.”
“Mm, yes. If we are careful with it. You will need a new dress before long, Clara. Yours is worn thin.” Mary eyed the overly patched dress skirt with a solemn face.
Clara waved her hand. “Posh, you need one more than I do. This one is only a year old, whereas yours is two! I can live with this old thing for a bit longer. Besides,” She pinched the worn fabric between her fingers. “I have grown attached to it. I don’t think I part with it, even if I wanted to.” She let the fabric fall about her ankles again and smiled at Mary.
“Well, I be thinkin’ lately, Miss Mary,” Hannah said after a pause in the conversation. “That I could find a bit of work elsewhere. Oh, don’t worry, I won’t leave you,” she said quickly at Clara’s shocked face. “I only mean to work a few days. I can spend the rest here, but I can get some money to add to our box.”
Clara jumped off of her chair, threw her arms around the older woman’s neck, and kissed her on the cheek. “You are wonderful, Hannah!”
Mary smiled. “I had hoped you would, Hannah, but I hated to ask. Are you sure?”
“Quite, and there won’t be no changin’ of me mind.” Hannah nodded.
“Yes, but hate to have you go and work two places!”
Hannah shook her finger at Mary. “I won’t hear none of this nonsense. Twill be what it twill be.”
“You are too good for us, Hannah.” Mary stood and kissed the older woman on the cheek.
“We are family, aren’t we Mary? You, Hannah, and me.” Clara smiled at them and laid her head contentedly on Hannah’s shoulder.

“Clara?” Mary said a few weeks later as they sat in the kitchen preparing supper. Hannah had found some work in the nearby village and was gone for three days. She spent the rest of the week with Mary and Clara.
“Yes, Mary?”
“I was wondering…” She paused for a moment as she thought of how to form her words. “You went to school and got some good learning. Well, I never set foot in a school in all my life. I don’t know how to read.” She waited to see what Clara would say.
Clara, sensitive to what Mary was saying, said nothing in reply and simply waited.
Mary took a deep breath. “Would you mind teaching me to read?” She turned and faced Clara.
Clara took a moment to think about it. “I suppose I could. I don’t know how good of a teacher I would be. But, Mary, I don’t have any books!” Clara finished, wide eyed at the sudden thought.
“Yes, I know. However, I saved a few of Father’s. I don’t know if they are good for teaching with, but I suppose something is better than nothing.”
Clara smiled and was silent for a moment.
“Mary, why did you never go to school?” She asked softly.
Mary looked down at her hands, which were busy peeling potatoes, and swallowed hard. She looked up at Clara. Clara stood, waiting patiently.
“When I was old enough to go to school, Father didn’t have very much money. Mother often had sick spells and I had to help take care of her. Hannah had many other household duties to take care of. When you were born, I was once again busy helping Mother. When she died, Father was heartbroken and never even thought about sending me to school, or if he did, he never said anything. I never brought it up. When you were old enough to go, I took my savings from odd jobs I had done for neighbors over the years, and made sure you could attend that year. No one should go without some education.”
“And yet you did.” Clara commented softly.
Mary looked up and gave Clara a shaky smile. “No, but I have lived without it. Now I have a fine scholar for a sister who can do the teaching.” Mary continued to peel potatoes.
“I suppose that the evenings would be best?” Clara said as she reached for a potato. Mary nodded. Instead of taking a potato, Clara squeezed Mary’s hand.
“Thank you,” She said simply.

Clara and Mary had just finished up a reading lesson and were now working on some sewing by the fire.
Hannah, who was gone to her other employer’s house, was sorely missed at this time. She could always bring a little cheer to the boring evenings with just about anything.
“I think it is my turn to make supper tonight,” Clara commented after about a half hour of sewing.
“Oh, don’t worry, Clara. I can get it tonight.” Mary started to stand.
“No, no. You have done most of the work lately. I can cook supper tonight. You keep your feet up and don’t worry about it.” Clara placed a kiss on Mary’s forehead, then skipped out of the room.
Mary smiled and shook her head.
An hour later, Mary suddenly woke. She shook her head to clear her thoughts. “I must have fallen asleep.” She rubbed the crick out of her neck and shoulders and looked at the clock. A whole hour had passed! Where was Clara?
Mary stood and went to the kitchen. When she entered she found quite the chaotic mess. Clara was a sight to see, indeed. Her hair was dismantled and she was covered in flour up to her elbows and tiny spot on her cheek. She looked up when Mary entered and gave her a woebegone look. Mary started to smile, then she started to laugh; a soft laugh at first that bubbled out of her, and then it turned into a out right laugh.
Clara, who didn’t exactly see what was so funny, simply stared at her, then at herself.
“Oh, this really is dreadful, Mary! I have been in here all evening trying to make these dumplings.” Clara held up a bowlful of some kind of mush. This made Mary laugh even harder.
Clara set the bowl down with a hard thump and looked at Mary.
“Oh,” Mary gasped as she reached for a chair and held onto her stomach. “I am sorry, Clara. I don’t mean to laugh so. It is just too.. funny!” She sat down and started laughing again until the tears rolled down her face.
Clara, who had been examining her flour covered arms and apron, started laughing too.
After the two had calmed themselves, Clara said, in a once again doleful tone, “Oh, what am I to do? I am such a mess.”
Mary walked around the table and gave her hug, then pulled back and chuckled when she realized that she, too, was now covered in flour.
The two set to work and had the kitchen cleaned up and a slightly more edible dinner simmering in a pot.
“Mary, since I am giving you reading lessons, I think it would be a good idea if you taught me to cook.” She looked at Mary, who stared back, then they started laughing again.

“Clara, I just don’t think you should go out.”
“Mary,” Clara said, exasperated. “I have bundled up warmly. I can’t stay here tonight knowing that the poor Hump children are cold and starving. They only live on the outskirts of the town.”
“Yes, I know. However, that is three miles away!”
When Clara showed no sign of removing her coat, scarf, and mittens, Mary huffed.
“Fine, I will at least go with you.” Mary reached for her coat.
“No, you promised Hannah would get the washing and ironing done.”
Now faced with another problem, Mary bit her bottom lip.
“Look, I can be there and back before nightfall. Besides, if I go I won’t have to help you with the work.” Clara’s beautiful green eyes twinkled with merriment.
“Alright, you may go. Only be sure to be quick and stay warm!”
Clara was out the door in a flash, with her basket in hand and scarf flying behind her.

Mary set to work on the washing and ironing. In the winter, all the clothes had to dry in the warm kitchen. It was like a maze, trying to get around all the hanging laundry.
When all of that was done, she sat down to work on some needlework. She had been trying to knit up some new socks for Clara, but was having problems with the pattern. She was soon engrossed in her work, and, forgetting the time, let the whole of the afternoon slip away.
It was when she stretched from the uncomfortable position she had been in that she realized what time is was.
“Clara,” She murmured as she moved towards a window and looked out. It was dark, and worse yet, snowing.
She waited a bit longer, moving to different positions, trying to find something to do, and yet still watching all the windows for any sign of Clara.
When another half hour had passed, she decided to go look for her.
Putting on her warm coat, scarf, and mittens, she stepped out into the black night. The snow hit her face furiously and stung. She pulled the scarf around her head so that only her eyes were peeping out.
As she walked, she kept looking back towards the cottage to keep it in view. Just a few yards in front of her, she could make out something on the ground. She got closer and realized it was a body.
“Oh, no. Not Clara!” She ran as fast as her legs could carry her and reached the form.
It was indeed Clara, freezing cold past the point of shivering.
“No!” Mary screamed. “Clara, wake up! Oh, please wake up, Clara!” She shook Clara’s shoulder but got no response.
Panic started overtaking Mary. I must think, think Mary! She screamed to herself. The Cottage, where is it? She looked around and saw the faint flicker of light from one of the windows.
Oh thank you, dear Lord. Please, please keep her alive. Please don’t let her die! Up until now, Mary had not much prayed, or even cared really about God. Her Mother had talked much of God and His goodness, but Mary always felt like God had turned His back on them when Mother died. Now, she surprised herself by calling to Him.
She struggled to lift Clara off of the cold ground. After several tries, she finally fell exhausted next to her sister.
Please, dear God. Don’t let us die. Help me…help me.
She breathed heavily for a moment, and then felt her strength renewed. Standing again, and lifting Clara with some difficulty, she tried once again to make it towards the cottage.
The minutes that passed felt like hours to Mary. She didn’t know how or when, but she suddenly found herself at the cottage door. She opened it and stumbled in. Then, half dragging, half carrying, she moved Clara into the little living parlor and laid her next to the fire.
Mary fell to her knees and got to work getting Clara’s frozen clothes off of her. Then she stoked the fire into a better blaze and set to work rubbing the cold and lifeless hands.
Clara’s face was tinged with blue already, and her hands felt like ice. Mary kept rubbing them and planting kisses on the slim fingers.
“Please don’t die, Clara, please. I can’t live without you. Oh please Clara, wake up! Don’t leave me like this!” She kept talking to Clara, trying to get a response.
Oh, if only Hannah were here! She would still be gone for another day.
An hour passed, then two, then three and still no sign of life in Clara’s form. Her face had slowly lost the blue tinge, and her hands had started to warm.
Mary had put some water over the fire and let it heat slightly. Then, she took rags and kept putting the warm water on Clara’s face and any other exposed skin.
When the sun started to rise, revealing a beautiful white wonderland, Mary had fallen asleep, exhaustion having overtaken her.

When she woke, someone was shaking her shoulder. She jumped. “Where is Clara?” She frantically looked around the room. Two strong arms grabbed her shoulders and helped to stand.

Hannah made Mary face her. “Shush, child. She is in her bed.” Hannah had tears in her eyes.
“Oh, Hannah, you’ve come!” Mary fell into the comforting arms and let her tears flow. Hannah held her as if she would never let her go.
When Mary had calmed down a bit, Hannah held her out at arms length. “The doctor is here with Clara.” Her grey eyes met Mary’s brown ones.
Mary swallowed hard. “Oh, Hannah. Please tell me she will be alright.” She looked searchingly into Hannah’s face. She held her head in her hands when Hannah gave no indication that everything would be alright.
“May I see her?” She asked after a few minutes. Hannah nodded.
Creeping silently up to the loft, Mary peeped in. The doctor was bent over Clara’s thin form and was examining her.
Mary tip toed over and knelt down beside her sister.
“Will she be alright, doctor?” She asked hopefully.
The doctor looked kindly into Mary’s eyes. “There is no use hiding the truth, young woman. Your sister is very ill. She has suffered quiet a freezing. As to whether or not she makes it, well, I can’t promise anything. I would suggest that you prepare yourself.” He patted her on the shoulder and climbed down the loft, leaving the sisters together.
Mary gently took Clara’s hand and pressed it to her cheek. She stared lovingly down at the pale and worn face. Oh the poor girl! She was so thin.
“Oh, why did I ever let her go?”
“Don’t go blamin’ yourself, child.” Hannah chided as she came up beside her. “She would have been fine if it hadn’t gotten stormy, and you couldn’t control that.” Mary rested her head on Hannah’s shoulder while still holding Clara’s hand.
“I won’t let her die, Hannah. I won’t. God can’t take her from me so soon. Look at her. She is so beautiful. She could have married and had children of her own. She is so young, she doesn’t deserve to die.”
“All of us deserve to die, me love. You know that. You also know that Jesus came and died for us so that when we did die, we could live in Heaven with Him if we accepted Him as our savior. We are but sinners and need Him.”
“Hannah, I don’t think God even thinks of us. Ever since Mother has died, everything has gone wrong. First father dying, and now maybe Clara. Oh, I can’t stand it!” She started to cry again. Hannah held onto her as her own tears mingled with Mary’s.

Days had passed and Clara seemed to be getting no better. She lay as if in a coma and never stirred. Her breathing was slow and shallow. How Mary’s nights haunted her. If only she hadn’t let Clara go. If only she had gone with her. If only.. but it was no good wondering what might have happened ‘if only’. Right now was what was happening and she had to face it.
As Mary rolled over in her bed for the fifteenth time, she thought she heard Clara groan. She quickly threw back her covers and crawled over to Clara’s cot and listened. Clara seemed to be gasping and wheezing.
In the cold, pale moonlight that shone through a little window above Clara, Mary could see the perspiring face of her beloved sister. Mary felt Clara’s forehead. She was burning up!
Mary threw off Clara’s quilt and listened to her breathing again. Yes, she was definitely gasping. Gasping for air? Mary bent close to her sister’s ear.
“Clara? Clara, wake up.” She said softly. No response.
The gasping seemed to be getting worse. Tears rolled down Mary’s cheeks. Was this the end? Was Clara making one last struggle?
Mary bent over and placed her arm under Clara’s thin shoulders. Lifting her, Mary was amazed at how light she was. Mary held Clara close to her as Clara’s breathing got worse.
“Oh, God!” Mary sobbed. “Please! Please don’t let Clara die. I can’t live without her! I can’t!” She paused and sobbed for a minute or two before pulling herself together.
“God, I know that I have refused you again and again. I am sorry, please forgive me. Please, don’t take Clara’s life for my sins! Forgive me, Lord. Please, forgive me.”
Clara suddenly flailed her arms, gasped one more time, and thin was totally still.
Mary lifted her enough to move her into the moonlight. She looked at the pale face. It was still. No sign of anything.
“Oh, Clara,” Mary let her head fall on Clara’s chest as she sobbed.

Five months later, on a sunny day, much like one many months before, Mary was sitting on the same low, stone wall where Clara had found her to read her their father’s letter.
The flowers were blooming, and birds were singing, and Mary felt like god was smiling down upon them. She drank in the scenery and let the warm sun kiss her face.
“Mary?” A sweet voice called.
“Over here!” Mary answered. She turned and smiled as Clara came slowly around a rose bush. A shawl was about her thin shoulders, but her face was as beautiful and radiant as ever.
Mary scooted over a bit and let Clara sit beside her.
“Mm, isn’t today beautiful, Mary?”
“Yes, it certainly is, but it is so much better because I have you.” She hugged Clara close.
They held onto each other for a moment more, then Clara pulled back. “I told Hannah I wanted to help do the laundry today.” She smiled at Mary as she rose from her sunny seat.
“Don’t work too hard!” Mary called after her. Clara waved.
Mary sighed contentedly as she looked around and saw everything with new eyes. The beautiful stream that babbled along it’s course, the rose bush with it’s many butterflies that fluttered about it, the little cottage that held so many memories. She looked over and watched Hannah and Clara as they laughed and hung the laundry.
Perhaps change wasn’t so bad after all. It brought new life to things. It taught love and patience. It held new things to discover. Yes, perhaps change wasn’t so bad after all, and was, in it’s own way, rather good.

The End!!!

~Honourable Mentions~

Will We Always Be Alone? by Miriam from Maidens of Virtue

Finding Him by Kendra from Ishmikendra

Lizzy from Liz Darcy

Again, I want to thank all of you girls for participating! I hope all of you had a great time, and hopefully in the near future, I will host a giveaway! *wink*

Love from Your Sister in Christ,
Grace

Story Contest Officially Closed!

All right all right, people!!! Story contest is now offcially closed! I want to thank all who entered, and for taking the time to enter! You all did a great job, and each deserve a prize, but unfortunately, I have only three.
I think I will have to take some time, looking over the entries and deciding who the winner should be! Hopefully, I can announce it by later this evening, if not the latest should be to-morrow, or to-morrow evening, or the next day...hehe, just kidding!
For right now, you can visit the entries on the sidebar of my blog.
Again, thank you all for entering! I know some of you could not because you were too busy, therefore, I hope to have a giveway in the near future if money is not too tight. Would you like that?

Story Contest Update

Dear Readers,
I know ya'll are really excited to read the contest entries, and more importantly the winners!:)
Anywho, I wanted to let you know that the story contest is officially ending to-night at 8:00 P.M. Pacific timing. So if you are still going to enter, hurry up!!!
Please include in your entries the TITLE OF YOUR STORY, YOUR PAINTINGS NAME, AND THE ARTIST WHO PAINTED IT.
I really want to know your paintings name and the artist, for that was the whole twist. Hopefully the winners will be announced either to-night, or the next. I need to step on this, because we are going on a trip next week (more info. coming in my farwell post;), and I do not want the winners kept waiting!:)
Hope you are all having a lovely day, and enjoying the last days of summer!
Your Sister in Christ,
Grace

Aug 15, 2010

Hurrah! Thank you, Lord!

Hurrah! Praise the Lord!!! What a miracle. The Good Lord brought Oakley back safe and sound. I am so glad to have him safely hopping about our garden again. It happened like this:
We had put posters up, and searched the streets high and low many a time, contacted neighbors, our close neighbors said they would keep an eye out for him, and the church was praying. (A lot of commotion for a rabbit, I must say:)
Only but a few minutes ago, I had awoken from a light nap I took for I was pretty tired. Then Mother motioned for me to look in the yard...and there he was! I think it was the music that my neighbor's band was practicing, for my neighbor had told be before that he liked it. Anyhow, it was a wonderful blessing and miracle from God.
Thank you all for your prayers! I really really REALLY appreciate all of you, and hope the Lord blesses the rest of your day!

Aug 14, 2010

Some Favourites of Mine...

Dear Readers,

I thought you might enjoy some of my favourite videos from Youtube! I think it is about time that I share these with you! Enjoy! (You will have to turn off my music player at the bottom of the page). With the larger videos, I would suggest watching them on Youtube (Especially Simon the Cat:)

Oh, my goodness! Have you seen this one? This is an absolute FAVOURITE!!!

I really like the Cactus Cuties

This one will definitely make you cry:)

The look on her face is so sweet, so priceless!

I laugh at these videos everytime!:)

Tell me which one is your favourite! Weren't the last ones funny?!:) LOL!

Love from Your Sister in Christ,
Grace

Aug 13, 2010

The Keeper of the Garden

I wrote this story, and thought that you might like to read this shortstory set in Italy!:) There are probably a few rough spots, but I hope you enjoy! (And some parts I just added for the pictures:)
Written by me
The familiar sound of the old wooden gate squeaking reached my ears as I stepped off of the regular road and onto a pebble-strewn path and into my serene little garden. I breathed in the familiar scent of herbs and flowers misted by the early dew, and the crisp morning air filled my lungs. The buzz of the bees, the beds of soft greenery, the bird’s sweet melody all welcomed me as I ventured farther into the garden that my Italian grandfather so long ago carefully planted and tended to its lush vegetation. The garden seemed to have a sort of magic about it, and never changed it’s balmy summer weather even if the outside did. Il mio giardino segreto, or my secret garden, was the only place where I could settle the most baffling questions that swirled within my head, the only place where I felt peace from my strange life, the only place where my burdens of the day’s events would lighten; the only place where I could spend time with the Lord. I came every morn, before most of the household was awake and every evening after the eventide meals. If that particular day was busy, I made time to visit my garden.
Papa and Mama did not spend much time at our palazzo, or Italian home, and travelled abroad, leaving me in charge of its household and, my sister was wed but a month ago, and my dear brother was sent off to boarding school a year ago. The only other residents who lived at the palazzo where my elderly aunt and my dear cousin.
My parents were disappointed in me, and said they could never make a good match with me. “She is too timid and reserved with not the slightest bit of talent to tempt a gentleman, and even though she has high connections with relatives, in her disposition, they could not be used to her advantage,” I once overheard Mother discussing with Father on one of their rare visits. “And to think that she dresses like a common peasant!”
It was true, that my sister had wed a very wealthy man and was nearly titled a “duchess,” but such connections could not be used to my advantage for I was the shyest of creatures. At balls, instead of flirting or dancing with the handsomest of men like all the other young girls, I would sit in a quiet corner and be content watching. For you see, I am a writer, always observing everything around me and trying the best I can in my ability to store the vivid scene and write it on paper. I do most of my writing in my garden, where everyone in my acquaintance with the exception of my dear brother has never known about, therefore I can write in peace.
One day I received a letter from my dear friend and hurriedly went to my garden to read it, taking with me the supplies to write a reply. My friend was the only person who knew of my garden, and we had spent such wonderful memories in it.

Dearest Emma,
Your sweet letter brightened my day and made me wish to be back home again with you. How I wish we could go back to our precious childhood and sit amongst the greenery in our garden on a balmy summer day and look upon the blue, blue sky, and hear the birds chirp once more! Such fond memories we made there. How has our little garden been doing of late? Have you planted the new orange trees that you have ordered?
How is your latest manuscript progressing? I cannot wait for you to read it to me. In the future, you shall have one of your works published, I am sure of it.
Your’s truly,
Edmund

Edmund was a childhood friend, and one of the keepers of the garden. As we grew older, he became one of my very few suitors, but when he became serious of asking my hand, my parents objected to the courtship, for he was "not eligible." Soon after, he traveled away, but I still kept lettering him, and when my parents left the palazzo, I was able to do so freely.
I quickly wrote a reply:

Dearest Edmund,
I am sitting here, in our garden as usual, as I write this letter. Our garden is fairing quite well, and I am sitting under the huge citrus trees that were planted earlier this year. We are so blessed to have good climate to grow such lovely trees.
I must admit that I have not been completely content with my latest manuscript, and am having a difficult time thinking of a clever plot-
I was startled to hear voices and the rustling of the tree branch that hung over a high wall. Suddenly, there appeared two village girls climbing over the wall.
One was older, and helped a younger girl climb down.
“I am scared, Elsa,” the little girl whined. “I will catch you, dear,” she replied with outstretched arms.
“I shall never let anything happen to you,” she added and hugged the little girl. “That’s why we left that horrid convent, little Mary.”
Buon pomeriggio-(or Good day),” I greeted which startled both girls.
The older girl scooped up the younger one, and was about to run, and I cried after them to wait. “Please do not go,” I said. “I will not hurt you.”
The girl stopped, and I gestured for them to follow me. They were hesitant to obey, but they did, and I lead them back to the tree under the shade.
“Here, have a bit of water from the fountain. It is freshest, purest, sweetest spring water you ever did taste. And please pick some fruit from the trees, if you are hungry. ”
“Thank you,” the girl whose name was Elsa said timidly and sipped the cold water in her cupped hands. “Why are you being so kind to us, for we are poor peasants?”
“I want to help,” I replied and smiled. “My name is Emma, I am the owner of this garden which my grandfather planted many years ago. My good friend and I promised him that we would take care of it when he passed away. Now my friend is traveling abroad, and I am the only keeper of this garden. It is a secret one too, for no one knows of it, except for you now.”
It was the older girl’s turn to smile. “I am Elsa and this is my younger sister Mary. We are both orphan girls who were living in a convent, until now. We ran away for we were being mistreated, and Mary could have been taken away. I could not bear that,” we both glanced at the sweet little girl picking the flowers. “I promised my parents I would take care of her,” she added.
“How do you plan to support you and little Mary?”
Elsa shrugged. “I suppose I will go find work in the city. If I do not find work, I will go into the fields and try to earn my keep.”
“But what if the convent sends people to find you. Wouldn’t their first thought be to go to the city? No, you need a safe place to hide, until the people give up their search,” I sat their deep in thought. “Perhaps, you can stay here.”
Elsa looked around. “In the garden?”
I nodded. “There is plentiful fruits and vegetables here, you have water, and I can bring you bread and blankets and anything else you may need. No need to worry about the cold, for the garden remains warm, day or night and winter as well.”
“Oh, thank you so much! You are a true friend,” Elsa exclaimed gratefully and hugged me. And so it was settled. Weeks passed, and I enjoyed every moment spending time with Elsa and little Mary. I enjoyed it so much, I thought, why not invite more poor and orphaned needy girls to my garden? I smiled at the thought, and was eager to go to the village the next day in search for more little girls. I had always wanted children, but it was probably not to be that I marry as I am all ready in my twenty and eighth year.
Each month I went to the village, finding more and more young girls in need of a home, and soon the garden was full of sweet laughter and song.
One day, two young maidens were on my door step of the palazzo begging for a bit of day-old bread. I smiled at the shy creatures and invited them in.

“Follow me,” I gestured, and led them to the familiar squeaky gate by the road and into my garden. “This can be your home if you like.” The two gasped in delight, set down their bundles, and started dancing in the garden. I smiled. So many delighted faces, so many sweet smiles and giggles. Perhaps, that was to be my new novel: the story of a children’s secret garden and keeper who started it.
I passed the girls sewing and greeted them. “Buon pomeriggio, (good day) Emma!” they chimed in unison.

I passed some girls harvesting the plump oranges from the citrus trees, and smiled.

They waved to me, and I returned their gesture. I sighed contently. Soon I will be under the shade of a tree and write all of what I have seen. Soon I will write the ending of what is probably my first complete novel. I sat down, and hugged my dear friend Elsa who, after all this time, stayed by my side and helped with the garden. “Writing the ending?” she asked when I set up my writing table.
I nodded. “Finally, it has been about two years writing, editing, and then rewriting all of it.” I pulled the string that tied my manuscript.
“Two happy ones,” she adds. She looks at two little girls who remind her of Mary and sighed.
I took her hand. “You miss her, no?”
“Yes, it has been a year since dear, little Mary left for school.”
“She will be home soon. And she is such a bright little girl that I know she will come home with a good future in front of her.”
I returned to my brown paper wrapped package and write on the last page:
And the garden was full of happiness and song. All the little girls grew up and bloomed with such radiance that when they finally left the garden they spread it throughout the world, and touched the lives of everyone they knew. However, they always remembered and were grateful to the Keeper of the Garden.
The End

I sighed contently. During this time, Elsa was reading over my shoulder. “What are you to call it?”
I shrugged. “Do you have any ideas?”
“Perhaps, “The Keeper of the Garden,” for you are the keeper, and the main character is the gardener.”
“Wonderful idea,” and I scribbled down the words:
The Keeper of the Garden
Just then, I heard the gate squeak open and looked up. There stood my dear friend Edmund. He looked astonished to see so many children in the garden and teased, “Did someone find out our secret?” I hurried over to him, and embraced him.
“Oh, dearest Edmund! How I have missed you so!”
“That is what lettering is for,” he chuckled with a twinkle in his eyes. “When I did not receive word from you, I began to worry. And so, I decided I had to pay a visit back home, and more importantly to you.”
I blushed. “I am so happy that you are here. Come, I have so much to tell you.”
“But first,” he knelt down. “I know we have been good friends ever since we were young, and I want to ask you something as I have before. Your parents objected to this once, but since now you are free from them will you, my dearest Emma, become my wife?”
I smiled and hugged him and whispered in his ear, “Of course, my dearest Edmund. Of course.”
The birds sang, the bees buzzed as they always had, the air was filled with laughter and song.
And Edmund and Emma were wed, and happily lived with their many adopted children, and were very content being the Keepers of the Garden.

La Fine-The End
I do so hope you enjoyed it! I liked the Italian twist on it!:)
Love always,