From My Front Porch to the Great Plains

Most mornings you can find me on my front porch. Even when I leave for work at 6:20, I steal a few minutes on my porch with a cup of coffee, watching the day dawn and listening to the birds greet the new morning.

Every day I become more and more amazed, enthralled, and captivated by the variety of birds and creatures God gave us. For instance, just from our porch I have seen the following this Spring/Summer.

Early one morning, two raccoons marched down the road and climbed the maple tree, as if they own it. Maybe they do.

Two groundhogs burst out from under my porch in the middle of some kind of altercation. When I yelped—yes, yelped—they turned tail and ran back under opposite ends of the porch. I guess they decided it was better to get along under-ground than to deal with that crazy human on the front porch.

Squirrels. Lots of squirrels, which my husband calls tree rats. There is one who likes to pretend he is a high-wire performer and jump from the tree in our front yard to the tree across the road. He’s made it every time, so far. We have rabbits that hop around the yard and into the gardens, if given a chance, and the occasional deer or three.

Then there are the cats. A neighbor has some cats that made some more cats and you get the idea. They are semi-feral, but deign to approach our porch for the little bit of kitty food we put out to entice them to visit our property often, and at length. You see, there are also mice, and it sure helps to have cats prowling around the exterior of your home.

The most recent cat visitor to our porch is a kitten. We’ve named it Tippy—short for Tippy-toes—because it has perfect white toes on his front feet which contrast with his brown black coat. I admit it. We’ve named them all. It’s easier to say, “Patch was out on the porch this morning,” than, “that white cat with yellow patches was out on the porch.” So we have Bob—his tail somehow got cut off—and Tom. They are both big male cats and they rarely eat from our porch but do roam our yard. There is Patch and Spice, Clove and Cinnamon, Cinder and Stretch, and now Tippy. And Sandy, the feisty runt of his litter. Bruce calls them skitty kitties, and the little one is “the itty bitty skitty kitty.” We like rhyme.

The other day Clove tried to come up on the porch with a big old mouse in her mouth. I guess she was showing me that she was earning her keep. I shooed her away. I saw her a couple of days later with another one. I cheered her on, while assuring her I didn’t need to see the results of her exploits.

And finally my favorite, the birds. Our neighborhood sounds like an aviary, especially in the morning. At first light they start warming up. Cardinals, wrens, blue jays, tufted titmice, chickadees, crows, doves, towhees, hummingbirds, and wood peckers.

One recent morning I sat on my porch and thought about the joy the birds bring to me, and how they glorify God with their beautiful song. I couldn’t help but remember the little chorus I used to teach the children:

           

The birds upon the treetops sing their song,

            The angels chant the chorus all day long,

            The flowers in the garden blend their hue,

            So, why shouldn’t I, Why shouldn’t you.

            Praise Him too?

 

In two weeks, Bruce and I will take off in our motor home for an 11 week tour of the Great Plains. The purpose is two-fold. First, we will be visiting all of my paternal aunts and uncles, as well as Mom’s sister and brother. But, secondly, we will follow in the steps of the Double Cousins from the Double Cousins Mysteries. We plan to visit every town in which a Double Cousins mystery was set.

So far I have eleven events scheduled and I’m expecting a few more before it is all said and done. You are welcome to follow along virtually through my Double Cousins Mysteries (Ages 7-13) Facebook page.

If you are interested in the itinerary, go to my website’s home page and you will find it there. In addition, like and follow the Double Cousins Facebook page so you don’t miss any of the fun!

I have a feeling I might miss my front porch a bit while I’m gone. However, I am thrilled at the thought of all of the unique Great Plains creatures and creation I will see instead!

A Few of my Favorite Books – Summer Read Along

My sister called the other day to tell me that the used bookstore in Rapid City, SD, has several of the Meg Mysteries by Holly Beth Walker. This caused an instant rush of adrenaline and spawned an hour-long phone call in which we discussed, researched, and discovered how many Meg Mysteries there were, how many I have, and how many we have read.

  
 This led to a discussion of other books from our childhood that we loved and would like to find again, which led to a search for one in particular. Cheryl not only persevered, but discovered the book originally had a different title, which—while artsy—was not particularly a good drawing card for the book, so it was changed.

Books from our childhood. They are so powerful.

I was asked on social media which book from my childhood I read and re-read. Instantly I thought of Trixie Belden. It wasn’t just one book though; it was a series. (You might see a pattern here.)

Yes, I was drawn to, and devoured, series that I could relate to, especially mysteries. However, as my sister and I bemoaned, I couldn’t completely relate to them. Why? Because, while the characters in these books seemed to find a mystery everywhere they went, we—tragically—never had One. Single. Mystery.

So, it is no surprise that I write children’s mystery series. Ones in which mysteries appear around every corner!

Cheryl and I used to make a weekly pilgrimage to our local library to get more books. Summer was crammed full with playing outside and reading inside. I don’t know which I liked better.

To celebrate the beginning of summer, starting June 21st  I am hosting a three week read-along on my Double Cousins Mysteries (Ages 7-13) Facebook Page. I have a private group there, Double Cousins Read-Along, where we will be reading the second Double Cousins book—The Mystery of the Torn Map. I will post educational videos exploring different elements of the story’s location and plot, vocabulary words and games, fun puzzles, prize drawings, and more!

Do you have a child in your life that might enjoy this unique opportunity? If so, please share this post with them and encourage them to click this link to be added to the Double Cousins Read Along Group.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/596660531061891/

 

 

What was your “I can read this over and over” book when you were young? Share in the comments below!

So Much Green

So Much Green

I have poison ivy. Again.

I had it not three weeks ago, possibly caused by mowing the grass with culottes on. This time I was wearing a dress.

The first time, I initially thought it was mosquito bites behind my knee. But when the “bites” began spreading in a long ridgy line a voice in my head started talking, no, shouting. POISON IVY.  

When I told my husband he made a matter-of-fact statement.

You know the kind. Logical. Obvious. Really annoying if you aren’t the one making the statement.

“You’ll have to learn how to identify poison ivy.”

“But I tried,” I insisted.

And indeed I had.  One day I googled poison ivy and spent quite a bit of time reading about, and studying pictures of, poison ivy. When I finished I was confident I would be able to spot it. But, realistically, once in the great outdoors here in North Carolina there was a major obstacle and I was quick to let him know just what it was.

“There’s just so much green.” Everywhere you look. Green trees. Green grass. Green weeds. Green shrubs. Ditches full of green masses of unnamed green plants. And then there are the named ones. Like poison ivy.

He had to admit that the green seems to have exploded this year. The weeds on our property act like God has been showering them with steroid laced weed fertilizer, and we haven’t been able to keep up. We are doing good to keep the yard mowed.

So, I avoided mowing near areas where we have known growths of the bane of my existence, and Bruce sprayed as much of IT as he could find with week killer. But, yet, here I am with poison ivy again.

I guess I’ll have to go with the other obvious, logical, and possibly a wee bit annoying thing he said.

“You shouldn’t be mowing without long pants and sleeves.

 

 

 

“There’s just so much green.” Everywhere you look. Green trees. Green grass. Green weeds. Green shrubs. Ditches full of green masses of unnamed green plants. And then there are the named ones. Like poison ivy.

 

 

 

Back up and running. . . Sort of!

Hi there! My website is  changing! Same address, new site. So, watch here for blog posts and information about your favorite Double Cousins Mysteries! I am building this website myself, apparently you can teach an old gal new tricks! Anyway, be patient. I am not finished with this site yet!

You can contact me at MiriamJonesBradley@gmail.com or on facebook at Miriam Jones Bradley Author or Double Cousins Mysteries (Ages 7-13). Thanks for your patience.