SciPhi Journal Story Available!

Happy news, dear pond readers! My new short science fiction story has just been published and is available to read over at SciPhi Journal. You can download the whole Special Summer Issue here as a PDF, if you prefer to read on your phone or print out a paper copy. You can also read it here: Silica Field Study SOP by E.A. Lawrence It even has pictures! I’ve never seen pictures with my published stories before so this is exciting. Here is a frog to celebrate.

Lithobates sylvaticus in color by E.A. Schneider

This story represents the best synthesis of my passions for science and creative writing. As a biologist with an English minor, I have often felt divided in my disparate contexts. The older I’ve gotten the more I have realized that this is an artificial construct, that there is no meaningful contradiction in these loves. Nonetheless, emotional habits are real and hard to change. A couple different people told me over the years that my Silica story, my sci-fi exploration of a new world and a unique people, was un-marketable and would never sell. Though I set it aside, I never stopped thinking about it. Finding SciPhi Journal, realizing that imaginative science writing had an audience, and seeing my work in print there has been a balm. I can hardly wait to read the other stories in the issue. I also feel energized to keep writing. I loaded up my fountain pens last night and I have high hopes to empty them all out in my journals to get all of you more E.A. Lawrence stories as soon as possible. Here is another frog and my favorite photograph that I’ve taken with my Canon SLR.

Lithobates sylvaticus in B&W by E.A. Schneider

What are you writing/sewing/growing/cooking/creating in your life? Any thoughts or questions on my Silica Field Study SOP?

Please, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay well, stay kind, and leave a comment or question below. Thanks for stopping by the pond today.

Blooms

Greetings, dear pond readers! I know it has been a couple months since my last post and this post is going to be an I.O.U., but an I.O.U. with pretty pictures. This spring and summer have been busy for your resident pond dweller. I have spent a lot of time that I would otherwise spend writing or reading digging in the garden instead. I’m part terrier.

Iris in my garden by E.A. Schneider

I’m excited to say that despite all my fears, plants are not only growing in my Good News Garden but starting to bloom. I was able to snap a couple pictures over the last two days.

I have been checking the coneflowers and daisies like a little kid, eagerly hoping to see blooms. This morning I finally saw this purple coneflower bloom. I did some hopping up and down for joy. Last year, none of my purple coneflowers bloomed and I was sorely disappointed. This year they appear to be alive and more have buds but it is not the riot of color I was hoping for, at least not yet. One balm in 2020 was the cheerful sight of my black eyed Susans but so far none of them seem to have come back yet. Still, time will tell and this garden has proven to be full of surprises in the past. I’m very excited to watch the growth of the various sunflowers that the Wee Bairn and I planted. I’ve had fun watching them trace the sun’s daily path from dawn to dusk like a slow motion tennis match. I hope to write more about my gardening adventures, writing milestones, crafting projects, and summer reading ambitions in the coming weeks. In the meantime, here is an action shot of some growing sunflowers.

Sunflowers Reaching Up by E.A. Schneider

How is your summer starting out, dear pond readers? What adventures are you undertaking, in the garden or the library or elsewhere on planet Earth?

Please, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay well, stay kind, and leave a comment or question below. Thanks for stopping by the pond today.

Kiddo Sewing Fun

Kiddo Sewing Fun

Hello, dear pond readers! Recently, I finished some sewing projects for my kiddo and thought that I would share them with you. First, up are some finger puppets.

The puppets were hand sewn using a cut and sew pattern entitled “animal kingdom finger puppets” from Spoonflower.com. My beloved mostly recycled flannel quilt is the backdrop for the puppets in the picture gallery above. It was an easy project to do by hand and a great way to avoid snacking compulsively during stressful D&D games over the past several months. I lined the puppets with scraps of fleece so they would be a little softer to the touch. My Wee Bairn thought they were cute but they haven’t been the favorite toy I had secretly hoped they would become. This seems to be a recurring source of anxiety with things I make the kiddo. That said, the Wee Bairn does find it very gratifying to put the puppets in and out of wherever they are currently living and that is fun. I had a blast making the puppets and doing goofy voices with them during D&D games. Hopefully, the kiddo will get more into the puppets over time. The other day, I caught the kiddo flipping through the Paddington Bear cloth book and the Chew-bot that I made years ago which warmed my crafty heart to see.

Speaking of D&D, my kiddo is a big fan of the 1, 2, 3s of D&D by Ivan Van Norman, illustrated by Caleb Cleveland. Our family copy of this book bears many battle scars from the loving teeth of an over-enthusiastic Wee Bairn and has been a frequent visitor to Book Hospital. A couple weeks ago the Wee Bairn started pointing at a d20 pillow depicted in the illustrations and expressing a great desire for one of their very own to cuddle. Being a crafty nerd, I actually have three d20 pillows cut out but have not attempted to sew any of them yet. The pieces just sit in strategic places quietly shaming me like so many of my UFOs. While I have plans for a larger d20 pillow made out of green fleece, I decided to try to make a smaller red d20 first using another cut and sew pattern from Spoonflower.com entitled “DIY XL D20 dice Plushy/bag Red” printed on fleece. Because the Wee Bairn has been laid out sick with a nasty non-COVID virus, I was with the kiddo over the weekend watching a lot of streaming and making sure we both stayed hydrated. I started hand sewing the d20 and my kiddo immediately wanted to help me. Sewing isn’t exactly the most child-safe activity but if the kiddo wants to help, I try to make it work somehow. Thankfully, I was inspired by my mom. Growing up my crafty mom would let me help stuff projects she’d sewn and I have a lot of happy memories making plushies & home decor with her. I offered my kiddo the same deal: I sew and you can stuff. Sewing this d20 wasn’t as relaxing as hand sewing usually is for me because I had my kiddo checking in every couple minutes with, “Can I help stuff it yet? Can I help stuff it yet? Can I help stuff it yet?” It took about three hours of Shawn the Sheep (a big family favorite) but I finally was able to answer “Yes!” There was much rejoicing. The Wee Bairn was both solemn and meticulous in stuffing the d20 and clung to me like a baby koala as I stitched the final seam. We had a jolly round of catch and the d20 has been firmly installed in the Wee Bairn’s nest ever since. I think I might have finally made something the kiddo really likes and I have a better idea how to make the other two d20 pillows I have cut out. Here is the d20 plush pillow:

Plushie d20 ready for critical cuddling success!

Have you gotten to do any sewing or crafting lately, dear pond reader? What kinds of creating are you working on?

Please, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay well, stay kind, and leave a comment or question below. Thanks for stopping by the pond today.

Sprouting Hope

Sprouting Hope

Greetings, dear pond readers! This year’s garden adventure is getting off to a promising start and I want to share it with all of you. This is especially important because at the moment I’m facing some special MS related nonsense in addition to a nasty set of non-COVID-19 spring colds in my family this weekend. My Good News Garden is proving to be a welcome diversion and therapeutic exercise for both my lousy MS arms and my spirit. Above are some lovely dwarf iris flowers that bloomed on Easter morning. I had planted them in determined fall 2020 optimism but low expectations because of my furry neighbors. The rabbits and squirrels are voracious. I’ve also had little success at growing things in this particular funny planter on my property. Seeing the growing shoots during Lent gave me hope but seeing these lovely purple blooms on Easter morning felt like an extra special touch of Grace. Here are still some more flowers that I have been pleasantly surprised to find growing this spring.

I planted a lot of bulbs in fall 2020 but I immediately feared that the local bunny and squirrel populations feasted on them when I saw some suspiciously disturbed dirt shortly after I planted them. Yet here we are, months later with blooms galore. Maybe my bunnies and squirrels don’t care for these bulbs? I can certainly hope. It is a blessing being able to go pick my own spring bouquet from my garden and enjoy its color as I write this post today knowing that there are more in my yard to feed the bees. A short walk in my garden picking flowers was a particularly welcome respite today after a weekend spent caring for two family members felled by an unknown virus. As I write this, I don’t feel especially good myself but the flowers are helping me smile and that’s salubrious to the tired spirit. Here’s hoping my one-two combo of peppermint tea and orange juice takes care of the swollen lymph nodes.

In keeping with the principles of plant, pray, and proclaim espoused by the Good News Gardens ministry, I’m endeavoring to plant more vegetables & flowers with the help of my Wee Bairn. My other ongoing life goal is to help form my child with a strong connection to both this world as well as Jesus. We’re off to a good start. Together we’ve planted seeds for tomatoes, sunflowers, broccoli, carrots, sweet peas, bush beans, watermelons, onions, pumpkins, spaghetti squash, strawberry, and cucumbers. Every day we check the baby plants first thing in the morning and say goodnight to them before bed. Watching their growth, sometimes doubling from morning to night, has been wondrous. Hearing my Wee Bairn exclaim in joy every day about the plants, particularly the progress of the cucumbers that are a particular favorite, never fails to make me smile no matter how lousy my day otherwise was or how icky I feel. That said, if those cucumbers don’t bear a crop, there will be many tears of vexation which will probably suck. We’ll manage though. Honestly, we have planted way too many seeds and many of the sprouts won’t make it but I’m hopeful nonetheless that some of each of them will thrive. R-selected life histories work! Here are some action shots.

At first when we head-started these seeds in the tray, I felt a pang of mourning that this year’s garden would be less chaotic and more organized than last year’s. I needn’t have worried. I have my very own agent of entropy helping in the garden. When given the opportunity to freely plant some seeds in little pots, the Wee Bairn started with neatly separated pots but then quickly blended all the seeds together in some bigger pots. I honestly don’t know what wound up in the pots and we’ll see if anything grows but it will add to the adventure if something does. Getting the dirt spread out in the bin was so much fun to do together. The peas were neatly planted in a trench but the carrot seeds were spread all over the bin. I honestly have no idea where they are or if they will grow. Dirt got in every part of both of our outfits, inside our shoes, and in between each toe inside socks. Washing up in the kitchen afterward took a while. Thankfully, my husband is very patient.

After planting the broccoli sprouts and some of the sunflower seedlings, the Wee Bairn hugged the broccoli right before the above photo was taken because they are such cute sprouts. As soon as we’re all healthy and the weather cooperates, we’ll be planting bush bean plants as well as any other sprouts with multiple sets of leaves and cross our fingers. I don’t know how everything will grow but that is part of the fun. The journey thus far has been an incredible blessing and I have faith that it will turn out well. Even if it is a chaotic mess of weeds and fat bunnies, it is all still an adventure.

Bouquet close-up by E.A. Schneider

Please, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay well, stay kind, and leave a comment or question below. Thanks for stopping by the pond today.

Paints, Stickers, and Kid Fun Times

Paints, Stickers, and Kid Fun Times

Greetings, dear pond readers! As promised in my last crafty post, I am going to share some of the painting crafts I did in 2020 with my kiddo. Like many people, I have had to juggle a lot of time with my Wee Bairn without any of us going too far into the situational depression quagmire that the COVID-19 pandemic has created. One of the key tools I’ve relied on is the healing creativity of paint. Early in 2020 I bought a giant pile of stretched canvases on sale, a bunch of non-toxic paint, and my folks got us a multi-pack of brushes. Those canvases were probably one of the best investments I’ve made during this entire ordeal. Now I’m not a trained visual artist but I’ve always found unstructured time mixing colors and laying down textures with brushes to be relaxing. Even though managing my preschooler and the performance artist tendencies of a child experimenting with how something feels on their belly versus their face or hands could be a lot at times and I did call Poison Control twice (they are so nice!), all that time painting made some of my favorite memories of the year. Painting time often proved an excellent way to settle down and talk for a few minutes away from a screen doing something collaborative. The Wee Bairn and I painted a lot of different canvases together out on the deck or in our kitchen. We discovered the difference between forehead prints and elbow prints, the way blue and green look with different brushes, and that when you drum the paint brushes on the canvas both the sound and the colors are extra fun. The canvases are now in the hands of different relatives as well as adorning our walls. A rotating set adorn the Wee Bairn’s room and it has been a joy to see. Here are some highlights.

Now as you might expect from the above gallery, painting time does require a certain amount of set up and take down that can be very time consuming. We also began to run low on canvases eventually. How to continue the fun? Stickers! I prepped some canvases of different sizes and wooden shapes with paint, gave my Wee Bairn a bunch of different stickers, and watched what the Wee Bairn put together from there. This approach proved particularly helpful during a couple specific times when I needed to finish a project while working from home with my favorite Wee Bairn coworker. The black canvas became an out of this world space vignette. The mini-heart canvases were painted and adorned with stickers by the Wee Bairn with lettering help by yours truly to make ornaments. The giant pine tree became a magical Christmas wall decoration. The gentle pine forest became a North Pole Gingerbread village. And the piece-de-resistance were a set of Christmas tree tabletop decorations. The space scene was entirely the Wee Bairn’s creation. For the Christmas decorations, I handed the Wee Bairn specific stickers and it was up to the Bairn’s artistic sense to put them on the piece. The Christmas tabletop decorations were especially fun because we decorated them as a whole family. Looking across the table to see my better half and my Wee Bairn carefully placing pom poms together was enchanting. The below gallery shows some of our masterpieces.

Seeing all those pictures in one spot, it is easier to focus on the fun rather than the frustrating parts. There were often tears at having to clean up as well as frustration that the kiddo tasted the colors or chewed the stickers. Some art tools were a bigger hit than others and every paintbrush inevitably became a pirate sword at some point in the proceedings. Nevertheless, I found painting with and for the Wee Bairn relaxing good fun on the whole and I look forward to continuing this year. Taking a deep breath, consciously choosing to have fun, and enjoying the process with the company rather than the product proved to be a helpful exercise in mindfulness. I may not always have been 100% effective at that but I think my average was pretty good. We have made a start on this year’s painting adventures with some mini-canvases and spring butterfly decorations for the window. We painted the butterflies together using the canvas as a backdrop and it made a really neato effect. Here is a gallery complete with final action shots.

Have you been using creativity to make it through some tough times? Are you experimenting with different techniques or media? Are you painting and parenting, too?

Please, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay well, stay kind, and leave a comment or question below. Thanks for stopping by the pond today.