I’ve had a good week so far, with cheerful conversations in the workplace and plenty of positive energy. One of my coworkers sent this word-art in an email recently; and this week, it felt like the time was just right to pass along the good wishes.

Word-art that says "May your week be filled with good thoughts, kind people and happy moments."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

This is the second story in a series. Click here to read the first.

At first glance, the tiny speck circling high above the white stone walls of the Romanian castle might easily have been taken for a hawk or an eagle. I had come here in search of something else, though; and I wasn’t at all surprised when the long, scaly wings of a dragon became visible.

Dragon next to a white stone castle, with water pouring down.

(Image by Philip A. Benyola, Jr.)

The castle, built on high ground above what once was a medieval town in the Transylvanian hills, had been converted during the communist era into the municipal utility building. It now served as both the waterworks and the control facility for a hydroelectric power station. Or, to be more precise, those had been its functions until the sudden appearance of dragons had sent its workers scurrying away in a panic.

“Well, Chris, at least it’s not a nuclear power plant,” my companion Shay observed, as we stood beside the flooded main road into town. The wide-open sluice gates must have been letting massive amounts of water flow past the castle for days. A truck engine started up and then roared away—again, not much to my surprise—as the town official who had given us a ride from the Bucharest airport evidently had second thoughts about sticking around.

“Small mercies,” I agreed, glancing down at our dusty suitcases, which held our fire suits and other dragon-wrangling gear. Shay and I had gone into business three years ago in Tennessee as Dragon Control, Inc., after the skies above Knoxville mysteriously filled with dragons one evening. Nobody had ever discovered why. Until now, we’d thought Knoxville was the only area affected—and then we learned otherwise last week when we got frantic phone calls from Romanian officials pleading for our services.

They had wired us a generous amount for expenses, with the promise of much more if we succeeded in ridding their country of dragons. Shay and I hadn’t needed much convincing to take off for an international adventure. We had been training a few assistants in Knoxville who could handle things well enough—we hoped—in our absence.

The road curved steeply upward through a thick forest, which didn’t seem too creepy on this bright, sunny afternoon until I heard rustling leaves very close behind me. I spun around, alert for danger; but there was only a tiny old woman climbing slowly onto the road from a path.

She wore a long multicolored dress that looked like something out of a medieval fairytale, with thick stockings and heavy shoes. Curly gray hair, which seemed to have a mind of its own, tumbled over a colorful shawl. Her face was deeply lined, and the hands leaning on her walking stick were gnarled and spotted.

“Be welcome here, dragon slayers,” she said in accented but understandable English. “Your arrival was foretold in the ancient prophecies and has long been awaited.”

I figured this was a roundabout way of complaining that we’d taken forever to get here. If so, it seemed unfair, considering how far we had traveled. Deciding to ignore it, I answered what she’d said first.

“Ma’am, we appreciate the welcome, but we are not dragon slayers. We are modern animal-control specialists, licensed by the State of Tennessee, and we capture and relocate dragons humanely.”

She just kept on nodding, as if she’d been so certain of her description that nothing would change her mind. Then again, maybe what I’d said just didn’t translate well into her language, or she didn’t know enough English to make sense of it.

“You are the one chosen to travel through the sorcerers’ portal,” she declared, staring fixedly at me with wide hazel eyes as if she’d totally forgotten Shay was here. “You are the Hermaphrodite, the one who is neither female nor male, drawing upon all the powers of the earth and sky.”

My first thought was that she must have been reading too many fantasy novels. Even in a forest in Transylvania, who really believed that stuff? And hadn’t she ever seen a genderqueer person before?

Shay, bustling around by our suitcases, saved me the trouble of having to reply when he spoke. “Uh, Chris, you might want to put on your fire suit now. That dragon is heading straight for us.”

I grabbed my gear from Shay, who was already suited up. Sure enough, the dragon was very near the treetops and coming this way fast. It was much bigger than we had expected. Most of the dragons we’d captured in Knoxville had been about the size of the steers that Shay wrestled in the rodeos, but this one easily could have swooped down on an elephant and carried it off.

Tugging my visor into place, I looked through it, finding the view not at all improved. Daddy Dragon was bearing down on us like a tornado, and he didn’t look any smaller. He probably could’ve carried off two elephants, one in each front claw.

I stood there without moving, as did Shay. Out local visitor didn’t run away either, which did surprise me. Wearing our fire suits didn’t actually make it much safer for us to stand facing down this behemoth, given the fact that he could squash us flat no matter what we were wearing. But at least we looked like well-equipped professionals. Not soon-to-be-dead ones, I hoped.

Just as the dragon’s shadow fell over the road, he disappeared.

Literally. Disappeared. Meaning that I had been looking directly at him, and an instant later he wasn’t there.

I turned my head from side to side. Nothing. The Romanian woman was still standing right next to me, placidly nodding, like vanishing dragons weren’t anything new around here.

When I took off my headgear for a better view without the visor, that was when I saw the sorcerers’ portal. Or at least, that was what I assumed the woman had meant when she used that term. Just above the road, extending for a short distance above the trees on either side, a square of blue sky flickered like a poorly streamed video.

Shay, who was also bare-headed by now, stared at the portal for several seconds before he said what we both were thinking.

“No way either of us is going through that.”

When I came across this word-art image, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to repost it for Nurturing Thursday. I really liked the message, but someone had cut off part of the letters while cropping it.

Word-art that says "It's okay to make mistakes, to have bad days, to be less than perfect, to do what's best for you, to be yourself."

Then I decided, well, it’s okay that the letters are a bit messed up. After all, that totally fits the theme of being okay with small mistakes and things that are less than perfect. No worries!

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

Because this season is so full of busy indoor activities, while often neglecting the need to spend time in the natural world, I try to balance things a little by putting autumn landscapes on my digital art display. I found this one to be very refreshing today:

Photo of bare trees and fallen red leaves with a frozen river in the background.

I could easily imagine walking through those crackling, brightly colored fallen leaves and breathing the cool, crisp air of a peaceful day in late autumn. Although a virtual walk may not be as healthy as a real one, it is calming nonetheless; and when I looked at my heart rate on the Fitbit app, it was in fact lower. Wishing my readers a peaceful evening, as well.

Addendum: My husband got home just as I was finishing this post, and he asked me to come out and walk around the neighborhood with him. So I spent some time in the fresh air taking a real walk too!

After running the Turkey Trot road race with my family this morning, I thought about how many choices we have in today’s world and how many reasons we have to be thankful. Family and community activities came to mind first, and then blogs and other modern media that keep us connected and informed, as well as the wide variety of new technologies and career options that people have nowadays.

Even shopping can get pretty interesting. My husband was looking at microwave ovens online because our old microwave is wearing out. He told me that the new ones are connected to the Internet and have an app that lets a person scan a box of packaged food, so that the microwave can cook the food according to the manufacturer’s directions without any need to use a keypad to set the cooking time. I hadn’t been aware of that, and I thought it was a clever idea.

Wishing my readers a happy Thanksgiving with family fun and interesting discoveries, too!

Word-art that says "Happy Thanksgiving!" with owls dressed as Pilgrims.

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

My daughter volunteered to cook Thanksgiving dinner for our family, including my husband’s parents and siblings. She enjoys cooking, which is fortunate because she also offered to help her mother-in-law, which she’ll do after running the early-morning Turkey Trot with us.

That’s a lot to do, and she creatively resolved the conflict by asking us if we’d be okay with having Thanksgiving dinner on Friday this year, so that she can cook and eat with both her husband’s family and ours. Usually we’re pretty flexible, and we told her that would be fine. Still, it’s an ambitious plan; but as a general rule, what is done out of love can be expected to turn out well.

Word-art with the "Love is patient..." verses from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

November 21, 2019 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

The rowing club ended the season with its annual Jingle Bell Row on Sunday afternoon. The sweep team decorated a boat like Santa’s sleigh, with eight rowers wearing reindeer antlers while the coxswain had on a Santa suit. To announce that they were ready, the rowers sounded off by reindeer name instead of doing it the usual way by seat number.

We had a total of eleven people who wanted to go out on the water, and I rowed a double with another woman. It was a lovely mild autumn day, sunny and calm.

Two crews on the river. A double is in the foreground and an 8+ is in the background.

The water was cold, but another club member volunteered to drive a safety launch while taking photos; and nobody got wet, so it was a good day all around. We had hot chocolate afterward, and a few people brought homemade baked items to share, which included a yummy pumpkin bread made with a pumpkin from a backyard garden. Everyone was left with good memories for the winter months ahead.

I recently decided to see an orthodontist about my lower front teeth, which used to be fairly straight, but have gotten a bit crooked over the years. Although they are not that bad, I feel as if I ought to get them taken care of, anyway—if only to persuade my anxious younger selves that I do, in fact, make a regular practice of taking good care of myself.

More generally, this year I’ve been feeling, intuitively, that I need tangible reminders that most things in life are fixable. When old worries pop up, as they do from time to time, I tell myself that there is no need for concern; but I haven’t always been able to make myself feel the truth of it. So, when I came across this useful bit of advice, it seemed like a good fit for a Nurturing Thursday post.

Word-art with a long Dalai Lama quote explaining why there is no benefit in worrying.

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

I haven’t spent much time visiting and commenting on blogs recently, although I plan to do more over the winter. I’ve been traveling to regattas on the weekends with my husband and the rowing club, which is fun but hasn’t left me with as much time or energy for online activities as usual.

Not surprisingly, I haven’t gotten as many comments as usual, either. That’s just the natural way of things—when we spend more time interacting with others, they’re more likely to think about doing the same with us. And more generally, whenever we put energy into the world, it’s likely to find its way back.

Word-art that says "Be a reflection of what you'd like to see in others. If you want love, give love. If you want honesty, give honesty. If you want respect, give respect. You get in return what you give."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

November 6, 2019 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

I’m not sure it really counts as redecorating to decide, after many years, what to do with an area of the house that never was properly decorated in the first place. Whatever it might be called, however, I feel pretty good about finally taking care of it; so I’m writing an entry here to celebrate this small accomplishment.

My kitchen has a bay window, with wooden shelves on both sides. When I moved in, I wasn’t sure how to decorate the shelves, so I just put some pretty ceramic mugs on them. I expected that something else would come to mind after a while.

Of course, we all know what happens when we put things somewhere for “a while.” We get used to seeing them in that place, and subconsciously we feel it’s where they belong. So, after I put the mugs on the shelves, there they stayed. They weren’t being used and just sat there for years and years, gathering dust. Sometimes I noticed that the window area looked boring, but I never could think of what else to put there.

Then last week it occurred to me—this is a kitchen, for goodness’ sake. Kitchen shelves are for food, not for dusty old junk. So I took down the mugs, put them in a bag for the thrift store, dusted the shelves, and filled them with jars and boxes of tasty-looking food. On the top shelves, which I needed a ladder to reach, I put mini pumpkins as a symbol of the harvest season.

Kitchen window with shelves holding food in jars and boxes.

Even though this doesn’t really qualify as interior decorating, but is just ordinary food that will eventually get eaten and replaced with something else on the shelf, my kitchen looks so much brighter and happier now. I can feel the cheerful energy moving through it, replacing the feelings of stagnation that used to be there.

It’s a totally free improvement, too, assuming the food does all get eaten and none of it goes to waste. Now, when I step into the kitchen and see how much better it looks, I’m left wondering what else in my life could be improved just as easily!