Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Writing, Teaching, Language, Landscape, Life


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Write and Retreat: Bone Piles in Silver City, NM

Silver City Sunset

Silver City Sunset

Stories nature our connection to place and to each other. They show us where we’ve been and where we can go. they remind us of how to be human, how to live alongside the other lives that animate this planet…No one story can give us the whole picture. We need every voice to speak its version of truth from silence. We need every story to guide our lives.

~ Susan J. Tweit, Walking Nature Home: A Life’s Journey

This is the sunset that greeted me as my car eased down into the valley after a four-hour drive from Santa Fe to Silver City, New Mexico for a weekend Write & Retreat. Now, what is one supposed to with that—other than to sink deeply into writing and connecting with each other and ideas yet to be discovered.

That’s just what we did.

Write & Retreat Tribe

Write & Retreat Tribe: Melanie Budd, Pam Keyes, Cherry Jamison, Judy Grout, Susan Tweit, Bonnie Hobbs, Linda Jacobs, Dawn Wink, Cindy DuBois, Will Barnes

Write & Retreat creator, Susan J. Tweit, our group of fearless writers, and I spent a lot of time in the “bone piles” of each of our individual stories in Silver City. “Ranchers walk up to most bones,” writes Teresa Jordan in Riding the White Horse Home. “They look physical danger right in the eye and don’t blink. But there are other bones that scare them.”

Silver City charm

Silver City Charm

That’s where we went in our writing—through physical mapping and writing, creating word rings, passages of other writers read aloud to inspire, and ever deepening writing.

We also wandered the streets of the incredibly charming Silver City, walked the creek, and talked about how the land can inspire and tell its own story, explored the incredible art shops, drank coffee and talked about writing and life, drank wine and talked about writing and life, and enjoyed meals together around conversation and friendship. 

We each returned from our weekend together transformed on some way. Our community share their experiences:

Along the Creek

Along the creek. ©Daniel Grout

“First, trust. We talk so often as writers about the ways in which writing can transform our lives, and I know I totally depend on my writing practice each day, just to stay sane. But it isn’t just the daily practice of crafting and making. It’s like the answers are actually in there! There is something really magic about this. In that strange vortex of inspiration and creation, if we can follow it, and trust our imagination and instinct, the pathway will become clear, the words tell us what to do. I think my poems are telling me where to go, and how. So the real work is about listening and about trust. I am not sure how this came to me, but something about all of you did it! And it makes me very happy.” ~ Will Barnes

Together Eating Silver

Community and Conversation ©Daniel Grout

“I was the only person in the retreat who has not had something published but I was treated as a colleague and honored as a writer. This experience solidified my determination to quite wishing I was a writer to identifying loud and proud, I AM A WRITER! I know that by this time next year, I’ll be able to look back and say my life changed for the better that weekend.” ~Cindy DuBois

“Thank you for providing such a safe, supportive, and thought-provoking atmosphere at the retreat. The group energy and sense of kinship was very encouraging. The experience inspired me and broadened my vision of what writing can be.” ~Melanie Budd

Cherry Bone pile

Word Ring © Cherry Jamison

“Among the things that I particularly value about the word and concept of a “bone pile” is that it is so much more elegant than saying that we must each face and go through our own (and our family) “shit” to get to truth, essence or even grace at times. I also appreciate that there is always a choice about whether or not we share what we find in the bone bile. Sometimes facing it is enough, and sometimes it isn’t. I think that we all probably are looking for freedom in our writing and in our lives.” ~Cherry Jamison

~ “Yes, this group was phenomenal. We seemed to meld into such a solid, self-confident, intelligent, supportive, creative bunch. I suspect it had something to do with the leaders teaching us and the lovely environment and perhaps the writing gods zinging us with positive energy. I am honored to be considered a part of this enclave and rejoice that we seem to express a mutual desire for the support to continue.” ~Judy Grout

“Thank you for the wonderful and stimulating retreat. You have a way of bringing out depths of thought which one didn’t know were there!” ~Linda Jacobs

photo

Hatch, NM

For myself, ideas swirled through my mind on the return drive home through the wonderful town of Hatch, ristras of strung chile lining every shop and street, and the long stretches of desert of New Mexico. I returned with a chapter for LOVE STONES that it would not have been complete without and a focus on “re-imagining” areas of life.

Something about our weekend shifted something deep within me and this past weekend found me home—not traveling or teaching or attending any sporting events for kids for the first time in weeks and weeks. I sank into the rhythms of the home, “the sacredness of puttering” or something like that is how Anne Lamott describes this. I checked out of anything online and added another laying of tending to our new home. Inspired by my own clustering and our conversations, I sank into Being Home. I lined linen closet shelves, cleaned bathroom cabinets, and went on long morning runs. I brought order to some of those dark, clogged corners that tend to take us so much emotional energy. I’ve learned to trust that ebb-and-flow of energy and writing and went with it. Oh, and I read and took naps on both days! Heaven.

Beauty of stained glass, stained sky

I returned transformed. That transformation has strengthened my writing and life rhythms these past few weeks in infinitely healthier ways.  

One of those rhythms includes a return to running, something that I have not made time for in my life for the past several months due to life and work commitments. Every morning, with a mutual text from a member of our Write & Retreat tribe, she heads out the door in Tucson for her walk and I head out the door in Santa Fe for my run. The “re-imagining” of other areas of life continues. My journal fills with clusters and maps.

The weekend inspired Susan and I to reserve the weekend of February 17-20, 2017 at The Murray Hotel for the Second Annual Silver City Write & Retreat. 

Sometimes one needs to get away to find what deserves discovery.

Early morning run with swirling sunrise and moon.

Early morning run with swirling sunrise and moon.

* * *
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A Conversation Among Friends: The Writing Life

Anne Hillerman, Jann Arrington-Wolcott, Dawn Wink, Lesley Poling-Kempes, Lucy Moore

Anne Hillerman, Jann Arrington-Wolcott, Dawn Wink, Lesley Poling-Kempes, Lucy Moore

Rising Moon Gallery and Art Center

Rising Moon Gallery and Art Center

So much of a writer’s life is spent in solitude, a condition we crave. Solitude is our oxygen, our life’s breath, the lifeline upon which our work (and rare sense of sanity) depends. So, what happens when you bring a group of writers who crave solitude together? Yesterday this meant friendship, community, thoughts on writing and life—and large doses of irreverence and laughter. 

Preparing for the our conversation

Preparing for the our conversation

Okay, so we’re not a random group of writers. Anne Hillerman, Jann Arrington-Walcott, Lesley Poling-Kempes, Lucy Moore, and me—along with our literary agent Elizabeth Trupin-Pulli and literary conference organizer extraordinaire Jean Schaumburg, are dear friends with deep roots and frequent gatherings of the self-named Literary Ladies of Santa Fe. We meet throughout the year to celebrate birthdays, friendship, conferences, and any other event which gives us an excuse to get together. Yesterday, we gathered together for “A Conversation Among Friends: The Writing Life” at the Rising Moon Gallery in Abiquiu, New Mexico. Our hosts, Jaye Buros and Peggy Thompson, have created a treasure in the high desert, a space filled with textures, art, blown glass, books, color, music, and lovers of literature. This space is a feast for any writer’s or artist’s senses and spirit. 

Ghost Ranch ©Katie Hawkes

Ghost Ranch ©Katie Hawkes

Abiquiu, New Mexico was home to artist Georgia O’Keeffe, whose spirit lives on in an extraordinary community of writers, artists, readers, and lovers of all creative. As we prepared for the introductions, Lesley reviewed our bios with each of us for our introductions. “Whatever you don’t know, just make it up,” I said.

“Yes, we could say that you spent a year living in Malaysia…” she said, “with a sheik!” This is now forever a line in my official biography. 

We dove into a couple of hours of talking, laughing, and wrestling with the beauty, challenges, and reality of the writing life. Because of our combined experiences and the different chapters in which we find ourselves in our writing lives, our conversation highlighted the the variety of paths—and how those paths weave together to create a reflection of a whole. Here is some of the essence of our conversation.

Lucy Moore, Dawn Wink, Anne Hillerman, Jann Arrington-Wolcott

Lucy Moore, Dawn Wink, Anne Hillerman, Jann Arrington-Wolcott

386167.rockwithwings-hc-cAnne Hillerman: Much to Anne’s surprise, she decided to carry forward her dad’s literary legacy in fiction. “I loved my career as a non-fiction writer and really didn’t think I’d move into fiction. Then, after Dad died and people asked if he had any last novel or work and I told them that he did not, I just saw the sadness in their eyes. I decided to continue the story, but to bring Bernie Manuelito, who had always been a side-kick bringing the guys coffee, into the foreground and give her the attention and voice she deserved. As far as making time to write, no matter what the circumstances, life is full of juicy distractions for writers…kids, jobs, partners, friends, concerts, beaches to explore, mountains to hike, books to read, research to pursue and more. If you want to write you have to make it a priority in your life. Otherwise it just doesn’t get done. I try to walk a lot in the mornings. When I walk, those tangled knots in the plot or things I’m wondering about the story seem to fall into place.”

Ladies of the CanyonsLesley Poling-Kempes: “I would just say DO IT with writing. Find support group, set a schedule that is doable, follow your dream/passion with intention, and understand the process is personal YET everyone, even experienced writers, have moments of doubt. Do it your own way. And find support. I enjoy writing both fiction and non-fiction. The research for fiction is fascinating and I enjoy the structure of a non-fiction book. I love the imaginative journey of writing fiction, when really there are really no limits and you create the story. I crave time alone. Even within my hermitage, I am a hermit. Along with that, belonging to a writing community is truly remarkable, affirming. My writing life involves both. I spend most days alone, writing for hours. I also hold a writing workshop here at the Rising Moon Gallery. Each of these parts of my writing life enriches the other.” 

common-ground-book-200x300Lucy Moore: “It’s all about the story — whether the story is from your life experience, or made up out of your head. If it’s a compelling story, one with drama, personalities, maybe lessons, and touches my heart in some way, I want to write it. I find plenty of these stories in my work as a mediator, where people are at their best and/or worst in conflict. I make time to write when it bubbles up in me, often after mulling and musing for awhile as I go about my life. There comes a point, and the pressure cooker pops its lid, and I am writing! maybe for hours at a time, often late into the night. If it’s not fun, I don’t write. I don’t have a schedule. I don’t sit and wonder what I’m going to write. The only question is can I get it down fast enough before it evaporates!? What I usually write are vignettes from my life or work, stories I have heard from someone else about an incredible happening of some kind, turning point, etc. I chose memoir over fiction because I wanted the story to be mine. I wanted to own it and grapple with it, and I wanted the reader to see me doing that. I also wanted to offer an example of opening up your heart and soul and spilling it on the page, hopefully not too messily, to encourage others to do the same, or to think about themselves and their own life-adventures.I don’t like to revise. I love what comes out, straight from the heart. I value that first burst as something authentic, and sometimes I feel that revising takes the “life” out of it…..or maybe I”m just lazy!”

Deathmark_coverJann Arrington-Wolcott: “I didn’t start writing until after 40-years-old. I was busy writing for magazines and raising five kids! I’m glad I didn’t start writing any younger. I needed to live and with the years and experiences, I had so much more to write about. For my latest book, I discovered how fun research can be. I knew I needed someone wildly inappropriate as a love interest for the main character. I was in San Francisco at the time, reading the paper, and found myself reading these advertisements for escorts. That’s my love interest! I called the company and explained that I was a writer, a wife, a mother, and grandmother, I was doing research for a book and wanted to make an appointment with an escort. ‘I just want to talk and do research for a character,’ I told him. ‘Lady,’ the man on the other end of the phone said, ‘I don’t care what you do, but you’re paying by the hour!’ The characters of my books tell me what they’re doing and what is going to happen next. I have a somewhat obsessive personality, which works well for a writer! If I could offer advice to my younger self, I would say: “Stop being such a people pleaser. Believe in yourself. Guard and follow your enthusiasm.”

untitledDawn Wink: “I decided to be a writer when I had three kids, ages three and under. It seemed like a good idea at the time! My writing fits into the nooks and crannies of a busy family and professional life. Most of my writing happens between 4:00-6:00 am. After that, my day belongs to family and work. I’ve learned to trust my body’s natural biorhythms when it comes to writing. I am an early morning person. I light candles and oil lanterns and write during that time. I used to feel guilty about not writing late into the night when the kids slept, I felt I was losing precious time. I now know that it’s far more productive for me to just go to bed, let my mind and body rest, so that I’m ready to awake early in the morning and return to the work of writing. The initial writing process for me is initially highly intuitive. I cluster ideas, for essays, chapters, books. I trust whatever path the clustering takes me during that stage, no matter how wild it seems at the time. I love clustering, because writing is always somewhat of an adventure at this stage, I’m never quite sure what might unfold. Clustering has resulted in some amazing surprises that I never would have stumbled upon otherwise. Really? That’s what’s going to happen? Who knew? Eventually within the clustering, a linear organization of what’s meant to be written takes shape. I write whatever comes for the first draft. Only after that initial intuitive process, do I start to revise, which then feels like a sculpting of the work, a paring away of the excess to highlight the essence of story.”

Conversation 2

Dawn and LesleyOur literary agent, Liz, wrote this of our time together, which offers other insights into the writing life:

“Because each of you is a strong individual, you all had different things to say and you were generous in sharing personal insights/bugaboos/difficulties – it was truly an open-hearted forum. The writers and artists in the audience responded to your answers as they did because they could tell you were being totally upfront and honest. There was never a false moment or a sense that you were performing. You were intent on sharing your own experiences – from the trials and tribulations of trying to write in the midst of child-rearing, home-tending and feeding of family mouths and souls, going to work at jobs to provide sustenance for your families, all the way to being over all of that and still trying to find the right rhythm of writing and all the rest of what makes up your lives.

I like that each of you had a different approach to that so that the audience got the message: there is no one RIGHT WAY to approach the difficult task of writing; you simply must do it according to what works best for you.”

We all agree whole-heartedly—there is no one RIGHT WAY in the writing life. Life IS full of juicy distractions for writers. Create your own path.

Whatever the path, just write. 

Moon over Abiqiui

Moon over Abiqiui

 

 


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Write and Retreat: Silver City, NM

Silver City, NM

Silver City, NM

Write, Workshop, Relax, Repeat...

Gila Wilderness

Gila Wilderness

Are you… Craving creative inspiration? Looking for new insight to fuel your words? Searching for the heart of your work?

Join award-winning author and plant biologist Susan J. Tweit and me an immersion in writing, crafting narrative, and landscape as character in the heart of historic Silver City, New Mexico. Stay at the beautifully restored Murray Hotel, an Art Deco classic right downtown, and close to the Gila Wilderness, Gila Cliff Dwellings, the Catwalk slot canyon hike and more.

February 19 – 22nd, 2016
The Murray Hotel, Silver City, New Mexico

The Details

WRITING WORKSHOP

We’ll write, workshop our pieces, learn from great writing, and explore how landscape and place inspire our stories. You’ll take away new tools & a new understanding of your words and your work!

Note: This is a small-group workshop, limited to 15 participants, with lots of time for interaction and individual work. Participants will have the opportunity for individual consultations.

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

RELAX & RECHARGE

Join us for daily chair yoga and walks. Or get a massage, explore nearby galleries and the Silver City Museum, or curl up and read a book….

Or visit the Gila Cliff Dwellings, hike the Catwalk trail, ramble Silver City for a look at history and art, or soak at Faywood Hot Springs.

WORKSHOP LEADERS 

Susan J. Tweit & Dawn Wink © Nancy Fine

Susan J. Tweit & Dawn Wink © Nancy Fine

Susan J. Tweit is an award-winning writer and plant biologist with a passion for words, stories and life itself. She is the author of twelve books, including the memoir Walking Nature Home, and hundreds of magazine articles, columns and essays for markets as diverse as Audubon Magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, and public radio. She teaches workshops across the country.

Dawn Wink is a writer and educator whose work explores the tensions and beauty of language, culture, and place. Wink’s non- fiction includes “Raven’s Time,” “Wild Waters: Landscapes of Languages,” and Teaching Passionately (with Joan Wink). Her novel Meadowlark was a finalist for the WILLA Award, High Plains Book Award, and NM/ AZ Book Awards. She lives with her family in Santa Fe.

DATE: February 19-22, 2016, a beautiful time in Southern NM! Location: The Murray Hotel, 200 West Broadway St., Silver City

COST

Workshop includes workshops, readings and individual sessions, plus field trip: $600 ($50 discount for previous W&R attendees!)

Murray Hotel

Murray Hotel

Lodging: The Murray Hotel is offering a special workshop rate of $84 per night for their double-queen rooms, including continental breakfast. Make reservations directly with the hotel by calling 575-956-9400. You must mention Write & Retreat for special rate.

Food: Lunches and dinners will be catered by the Murray, except for one night at a local restaurant. The cost is still being worked out, but should run no more than $50 apiece per day.

Companions are welcome to join us for meals and field trips on a space-available basis for a reduced fee.

Click here for workshop brochure

Take a peek at the Murray Hotel

Questions & to Reserve Space: Email tweitdesk@gmail.com

 


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Tony Hillerman Writers Conference 2015

Dawn Wink, Jann Arrington-Wolcott, Anne Hillerman, Jean Schaumberg

I am over the moon to be included again in this year’s Tony Hillerman Writers Conference. Wordharvest  just sent out this update about the conference. I’m so glad to share with you. We hope you will join us at the conference!

Tony Hillerman Writers Conference MCs

We are delighted to introduce the two fabulous women who will share MC duties with Anne Hillerman this year. 

Dawn Wink and Jann Arrington-Wolcott have a long association with the
Tony Hillerman Writers Conference and we are delighted that they will join us in November.

Dawn Wink is a writer and educator whose work explores the beauty and tensions of place, culture, and language. She is Director and Associate Professor of the Department of Education at Santa Fe Community College. Her books include Teaching Passionately; Raven’s Time; Wild Waters; and Meadowlark: A Novel, inspired by the stories that her mother told about her great-grandmother who lived on a ranch in South Dakota. Dawn was MC for last year’s New Book/New Author Breakfast. Her next book, Love Stones, will be published in early 2016.

Jann Arrington-Wolcott is a third-generation New Mexican. Her colorful family tree includes a frontier sheriff grandfather, a Harvey Girl grandmother, a native American great-grandmother, a Methodist minister great-grandfather, and “an assortment of horse-thieves and train-robbers—a great mix of sinners and saints.” Jann is the author of the thriller Brujo, and an award-winning coffee table book, Christmas Celebration: Santa Fe Traditions, Crafts, and Foods. Her long-awaited thriller, Deathmark, made its debut in 2014. Eye of the Raven, the revision of, Brujo, is scheduled for a November 2015 release.

Visit www.wordharvest.com and register for the
2015 Tony Hillerman Writers Conference.

We hope to see you there.

Anne and Jean

Conference Tips

DRESS SUGGESTIONS: Dress casually and be comfortable. Wear your jeans if you want to. We will. You might want to have a light jacket or sweater while sitting in the sessions. Conference room temperatures vary. Bring something business dressy for the Saturday banquet.

WEATHER IN NOVEMBER: Winter weather will be settling in but days are normally sunny and clear. Nights can be cold. Dress in layers when you go out. Santa Fe is at an altitude of 7,000 feet. If you are not used to the high altitude give yourself time to acclimate. Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated and be mindful of alcohol consumption. It will get to you much quicker than at lower altitudes.

We look forward to seeing you at the 2015 Tony Hillerman Writers Conference
November 5 – 7 – Hilton Santa Fe Historic Plaza, 100 Sandoval Street


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Dreams and Deadlines in 2015 – Some Ideas on Organization

Dreams and Deadlines 2015

Dreams and Deadlines 2015

Cooking for New Year's Eve 2014

Cooking for New Year’s Eve 2014

This is the process I use at the beginning of each New Year. While the numbers in the center of the cluster change, the process does not. I wrote of this process two years ago and will sit down this evening to cluster 2015. I learned of clustering from “Writing the Natural Way” by Gabrielle Rico. It is now foundational in both my writing, journaling/dreaming/planning, and, as you experience, feeling centered. I now know to turn to clustering with any writing project, many journal entries, books, any especially situations where I feel overwhelmed and lost. Somehow the path appears.

Early morning writing with hourglass.

Early morning writing with hourglass.

For many of you this will be the first time you’ve received this piece. For those who received this two years ago, I hope you will have the same experience that I did when I read—a reminder of the deep rhythms and rituals that ground our lives.

As the time of one year draws to a close, and another begins, I hope that some of these ideas will open the paths to your own dreams and deadlines of 2015.

* * *

Wink Ranch

Wink Ranch

As my family and I drove back from the ranch after Christmas this year, I thought of the New Year and pulled out my journal and scribbled initial ideas along the spectrum of absolute Must-Dos to Want-to-Creates. As the sun almost sets on this year, and we anticipate the sunrise of the new, many of us are in the midst of thinking, scribbling, planning, and dreaming. I toss these ideas I’ve stumbled upon along the way into our communal notebook. As you enter the near year, perhaps you’ll find something here for the sunrise.

Clustering, journals, and lists are the only way I get through life. (Well, those and running. And, coffee.) They are absolutely essential for my writing, planning, and dreaming. I am a paper and pen, textures person, so all of mine are in this form. If you’re an online person, all of these can be adapted, as I learned this semester from one of my students. I’ve explored, wrestled, and played with almost any format that I came across through the years. I’d say the most important thing that I learned is to just trust your instincts about what works for you. After severals years of exploring and wrestling, I’ve discovered this system—if something so intuitive, circular, and often messy—can be called that, works well for me. I hope you’ll find some things that work for you, too.

Journal

Journal

Notebooks and my Journals – whether they’re hardback, spiral-bound, lined, or blank pages, what I have found is to be very important is that they be inexpensive! – otherwise I feel the silencing weight that whatever I write must be worthy of such a beautiful journal. It never is and the journals sit unopened on the shelf.

I now stick with inexpensive bound books, lined or unlined. The first thing I do is decorate them with pages from magazines or cards and wide clear tape. Inexpensive and easy – otherwise it’ll never happen in my life. Quotes are often an aspect of the journey. This one reads, “No great thing is created suddenly. There must be time. Give your best and always be kind.” – Epictetus.

For more visions and ideas in journals, author Amy Hale Auker shares images of her years of highly textured journals here. I look at these and am inspired. Enjoy!

Clustering ideas for Language and Story presentation.

Clustering ideas for Language and Story presentation.

Clustering – I first learned about clustering in the book, “Writing the Natural Way” by Gabriele Rico. Ever since I read this book, all of my planning, dreaming, and writing begins with clustering. Start by writing whatever you want to cluster ideas around in the center of the page and draw a circle around it. Then, and the key here is to just go with whatever intuitively comes to you, write whatever comes around those ideas and circle, then whatever is associated around those ideas, and circle. Trust. Be messy. Be wild. Every essay, class or lesson, book, new project, dream, hope begins with this process.

In my experience, the unlinear aspect of this process that works so beautifully at this stage. This is where I seem to tap into ideas that never would’ve come to me had I begun with lists or narrative form.

Journal with lists.

Journal with lists.

Lists- Then, come the lists. My journals are full of them. In the morning when I wake up, the first thing I do is push the button to make coffee and sit with my journal by the light of a hurricane lantern. Absolutely and positively no electric lights. I write about whatever comes to mind, and then, inevitably, come the lists. I skim back through previous pages and there are many more lists there. Whatever hasn’t been crossed out, I’ll move forward to the list I’m working on. This is highly interactive. Over the years I’ve realized that if I hadn’t written these things down, they would’ve been lost to the busyness of life. So, half the journal page is writing and the other half is a list.

Ideas for Dewdrops.

Ideas for Dewdrops.

When I began writing Dewdrops, I started to keep a separate little journal in my purse with me always. Ideas for these pieces seem to come to me at the most inopportune times. I am always in the middle of something else. I’ve learned to grab my journal out of my purse and write a few key words that would be incoherent to anyone else, but instantly plop me back into that thought or idea when I read. I also happen to really, really believe in the quote on the front, “Some people dream of success, while others wake up and work hard at it.” Sometimes I need this little extra reminder at 4:00 am.

Raven's Time notebooks.

Raven’s Time notebooks.

A collection of notebooks devoted to a future book “Raven’s Time: Wildness and Beauty,” help me save ideas that would be gone with the wind were they not written down somewhere.

Within these books are ideas, quotes, conversations, emails printed and glued in, images torn from magazines, titles of books, lyrics of songs, and lots of lists to follow-up on.

Clips and quotes for Raven's Time.

Clips and quotes for Raven’s Time.

 

 

Raven's Time—narrative arc of whole.

Raven’s Time—narrative arc of whole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sketching ideas and clustering in a 14″ X 17″ sketchbook often expand ideas, where the smaller notebooks sometimes feel as if they confine my thinking. Using the large sketchbook feels like the ideas grow. Often, using different media opens up ideas. In addition to the clusters in the sketchbook are some pieces with pastels and paper.

14"X17" artist's sketchbook.

14″X17″ artist’s sketchbook.

Ravens in sketchbook.

Ravens in sketchbook.

Pastels—motherhood.

Pastels—motherhood.

When I started the cluster around 2013, I had hazy (and often overwhelming) ideas about all of the deadlines and dreams going into 2013 – the proposal for the online Raven’s Time class, Women Writing the West Catalog responsibilities, application for the Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Fund, new fiction writing class course details, Writing Workshops on the ranch, outlines for Dewdrops, et. al. Through the clustering and resulting lists, the ground feels firmer under my feet. A much better feeling to start the new year – and each new day and project.

Clustering dreams and deadlines.

Clustering dreams and deadlines.

Creation Box

Creation Box

Kenna Rojdnan, puts together a Creation Box at the beginning of each new year. She writes, “This is my creation box. I’ve had it for many years. It holds all of my wishes for me. I simply lift the lid to the swirling, whirling Universe that’s inside and place a picture or a written description of my wish into the vortex of the Creative Force, then I forget about it. (I’ve got a pretty good imagination, so the inside of the box really does whirl and swirl for me.) Each year, I open the lid and pull out each piece of paper or picture to see what I have manifested that year. I am always amazed at how many things I’ve actually been able to create. I take the ones I’ve created out of the box, placing the all the others back in, and I do a gratitude ceremony for the ones I’ve received. Some are small wishes, some big, but each one is honored equally. This is a great idea to begin your new year with. It works beautifully for me!”

About organization – Never mistake me for one of those fastidiously organized people. Surely, nobody who lives with me or knows me will. When I walk into acutely neat houses, I always wonder if there is some eccentric aunt locked in the attic. My journals and books are piled all over the house, where ever I was last sitting or reading. And, I do love organization. My friend, Loran, introduced me to this wonderful organizational website recently: abowlfulloflemons.net. I will never, ever pull this off and bow to those who do. I do love the ideas for organizing the home office and planners. I’m going to incorporate some of these ideas into my own desk and planner. The colors and textures alone are worth it!

If you’re thinking about what you’d like to create in 2014, some possible ideas:

• Play with notebooks and journals in whatever form.

• Cluster around 2015 or around specific dreams/projects.

• Create the lists that compose what it will take to bring these aspects to life.

• Play with lists in notebooks the morning. Sit with a notebook and scribble ideas as they come. Often, they take a little while to emerge. sit and enjoy the candlelight and coffee/tea. Listen.

• Compose a Creation Box

I sit with a cup of Christmas Tea, my notebooks and journals spread out everywhere. There is something deeply, deeply comforting about this. Grounding.

Here’s wishing you a 2015 full of dreams, love, and wonder! Let’s create beauty and kindness in the world.

Love,
Dawn

Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

IMG_1318 Dreams and Deadlines in 2013

New Year's Eve 2014 Cooking away on New Year’s Eve 2014

This is the process I use at the beginning of each New Year. While the numbers in the center of the cluster change, the process does not. I wrote of this process last year and will sit down this evening to cluster 2014.  I learned of clustering from “Writing the Natural Way” by Gabrielle Rico. It is now foundational in both my writing, journaling/dreaming/planning, and, as you experience, feeling centered. I now know to turn to clustering with any writing project, many journal entries, books, any especially situations where I feel overwhelmed and lost. Somehow the path appears.

Hourglass Hourglass

For many of you this will be the first time you’ve received this piece. For those who received this last year, I hope you will have the same experience that I did when I read—a reminder of the deep…

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Early Morning Light and Stillness

Chile lights

Chile lights around kitchen window.

“The Solstice is a time of quietude, of firelight, and dreaming, when seeds germinate in the cold earth. . . All around us the season seems to reach a standstill — a point of repose.”

—John Matthews

Holiday party.

Holiday party.

The holiday season swirls around us. Days fill with shopping, baking, cooking, parties, photos, letters, expectations, missed loved ones, travel, plans, and changing plans.

Our own home fills with the sounds of all the above and the added presence of Wyatt now home from college. It brings a sense of deep peace to have all kids sleeping under the same roof.

With Noé—a time to dance.

With Noé—a time to dance.

Parties unfold with the season, a time to at last connect in ways that the busyness of life has conspired against in the previous months.

A time to dance.

Amidst all of the festivities, the potential for stillness awaits. I crave this stillness. Stillness if oxygen for my spirit. The Winter Solstice dawns with stillness, the shortest day of the year. With each new day, a bit more light.

Early morning writing.

Early morning writing.

Light is a constant early morning companion in my life. I wake early for time to write, time to be, time to sit alone with the candlelight in the pre-dawn dark. Only candles or strings of soft light are on in our home before the sun rises. I love this time of the day.

The pre-dawn dark holds promise, magic, stillness. Ideas, dreams, and paths to follow unfold onto the pages of my journals in the pre-dawn darkness. I sit and write now by candlelight. This is the time to listen to life and beyond. Like the Solstice, this time offers a point of repose.

In honor of the solstice, of the pre-dawn dark, of the companionship that comes among those who rise hours before the sun for creative time, some candles and light to share.

Early light angel.

Early light angel.

Early morning writing in journal.

Early morning writing in journal.

“When you possess light within, you see it externally.” —Anaïs Nin

Early light with glass heart..

Early light with glass heart.

Early light glass.

Early light glass.

“There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” —Edith Wharton

Early morning writing with stones.

Early morning writing with stones.

Early morning light on glass.

Early morning light on glass.

Early morning writing with coffee in treasured cup from Mallorca.

Early morning writing with coffee in treasured cup from Mallorca.

 

Pre-dawn hours with Mom and Dad.

Pre-dawn hours with Mom and Dad.

To the pre-dawn dark and all of the potential she holds and to candlelight. To the creativity that comes in these hours. To the companionship that lovers of the pre-dawn dark feel across the miles.

Early morning writing by lantern light.

Early morning writing by lantern light.

Golden early morning light.

Golden early morning light.

To stillness.

Early morning writing with fairy.

Early morning writing with fairy.

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Why I Write in my Journal

Willa Cather quote

Cover of journal.

I write in my journal to remember my voice, to discover my thoughts, to unearth what lies beneath the noise and layers of daily life. I write in my journal to feel my way along the passages of life, until somewhere along the way, a faint light at the end of the tunnel appears. I write in a journal to follow my dreams, to whisper the unvoiced, to shout the unheard.

three journals books tove

Journals

I write in my journals to hear myself think, to open the gates to go beyond thinking to feeling, to go beyond feeling to knowing, to go beyond knowing to peace. Even when pain surrounds that peace. I write in my journals, because without them I live an outward life, lose focus on the inner, the real.

Inside journal- quotes and thoughts.

Inside journal- quotes and thoughts.

I write in my journals to feel the soft breath of a sleeping baby upon my skin. I write in my journals to create treasure and trash from the daily. 

Journals

Journals

Journals in closet.

Journals in closet.

The journey of my journals winnows the real from the artiface, the deep from the shallow. I rip pages from magazines and tape them from the front, symbols that reflect that moment in time. I number and date the journals, a chronicle of a life.

I write in my journal to remember—and to forget. I write quotes, memories, conversations, dreams, scenes, scents, visions otherwise forgotten.

Years of journals.

Years of journals.

Love, anger, boredom, fear, and happiness splay across the pages. As, does hope. 

Fiercely Honest

Fiercely Honest

Journal 1981

Journal 1981, age 13

I write in my journal of the tenderest moments of life that split open my heart. I write in my journal to scream and rant and exhaust myself upon the pages, instead of upon those in my life. Tenderness pours onto the pages, living there. Babies crawl among the pages, rise to walk, then run. The pages of my journals birth books.

I write in my journals, because it is often the only way I figure things out. 

Barbara Kingsolver quote

Barbara Kingsolver

Tears smudge the ink and laughter floats among the words. Love and anger intermingle. I write in my journal to get beyond my own smallness, my own limited thoughts, and dip my pen into something greater, wiser. 

Madeline L'Engle

Madeline L’Engle

Journals through the years.

Journals through the years.

I write the legendary lists of life, what needs to be done for work, for writing, for family, because without written lists, these float away, untethered and unattended.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Writing in my journal.

Writing in my journal.

I write in my journal to breathe. I write to remember that I am something more than daily circumstances and lists. That life always holds promise.

I write to discover and remember what I have to give, the legacy I want to leave on this Earth. I write in my journals to live.

I write in my journals, because when I don’t there is something missing, something I search for and only find when I bring pen to paper. 

Beautiful environments

Beautiful environments

I write in my journals in hopes of writing myself a happy ending.

Write yourself a happy ending.

Write yourself a happy ending.

Write yourself a happy ending.


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Writing Space of One’s Own

My writing room.

My writing room.

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”  ~Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

I haven’t always loved the above quote by Virginia Woolf. I especially did not love it when I was writing at the kitchen table, on the couch surrounded by kids and dogs, and at my desk in the living room amidst the deep living of life with three teenagers, husband, and big German Shepherd.

I have always loved and been fascinated by writing spaces. I’ve been so fascinated that I devoted a piece to Writing Spaces Around the World. There is just something so insightful, intimate, and fascinating about the spaces where people put their worlds into words.

Kitchen table writing space.

Kitchen table writing space.

Most of my writing life has taken place at the kitchen table with life happening all around. Oh, the marvelous discovery of ear plugs! Suddenly, one sits in a somewhat gauzy space and can focus.

Our home for the past years has burst at the seams with children, animals, and life. So much so that we converted (a term I use loosely—it has insulation) our garage into a bedroom for our oldest son, Wyatt. One evening at dinner, the kids were complaining about the small size of our house. “Compared to most places people live around the world, our home is huge!” I said.

“Mom,” Wyatt said, “I sleep in the garage.” I admitted that he had a point. 

In the unfolding of life, Wyatt left this fall for college. He wasn’t gone 24 hours and his younger brother, Luke, had claimed his room and Wynn had claimed Luke’s. With the shifting and movement, suddenly, a room of my own, a room with a door, opened before me. Every inch of my new writing room creaks with meaning, roots, relationship, and love.

One never really has enough book shelves.

One never really has enough book shelves.

Long ago, in a galaxy far away, I sewed. Nobody in my family believes me. Since Baby #3 arrived 15 years ago, I made her baby quilt, started writing, and have not sewn since. Now, I have a space to sew, where I don’t have to put everything away at the end of the day!

Shelves and sewing space.

Shelves and sewing space. Wooden toys for young visitors.

The below warning is true. Dad gave me this t-shirt. I envision as a highly embroidered pillow.

True.

True.

 Dolls across the generations and countries.

Dolls across generations and countries.

Dolls across generations and countries.

La gran Frida Kahlo brings spirit and strength to any space. I simply love the image of the skull composed of two women below her. I know la Friducha would love, too.

Frida Kahlo and women composing skull.

Frida Kahlo and women composing skull.

Candles are essential for early morning writing.

Candles for early morning writing.

Candles for early morning writing.

Fetishes bring their power and magic.

Fetishes and treasures.

Fetishes and treasures.

Socks hand-knit for each child never leave one’s side.

Socks for kids hand-knit by Tove Skutnabb-Kangas.

Socks for kids hand-knit by Tove Skutnabb-Kangas.

Babies sleep on shelves among the books.

Babies sleep among the books.

Babies sleep among the books.

Each piece of art here laden with story, roots, and love. Vintage doll set from the 1930s. Books below, research for the next novel. Treasures all.

Art of the heart and books of research for the next novel.

Art of the heart and books of research for the next novel.

My writing view.

Writing view.

Writing view.

Now, to write. The manuscript for “Love Stones” awaits. The publisher has seen the first draft and I have editing notes. The story wants to be written as memoir and deeper than planned. I light candles and hold the intention that this writing room—and I—am up for the journey. 

Manuscript for Love Stones.

Manuscript for Love Stones.

Sunrise out my writing room window. Here’s to the journey ahead.

Sunday sunrise.

Sunday sunrise.

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Dewdrops Birthday

First summer bouquet

First summer bouquet

Happy Birthday to Us!

We celebrate our 2nd birthday in August. Two years ago I wrote, “So here is my hope – that this blog will be doses of writing, dewdrops, that might knit us together in this wild, heartbreaking, and exquisite experience of life. Inevitably along the way, there will be thoughts and questions about language, culture, writing, teaching, the land, kids, and anything else that composes the chapters of life. I look forward to our journey together.” 

So much has happened since that time—and along the way, we’ve laughed, cried, questioned, and been Still. Here is the last year of writing. As I composed this piece, looking back over the past year, an image of dewdrops beaded together on a leaf came to mind—each unique and beautiful, and yet in their cluster create a whole. Just like our community.

First touch

First touch

So deeply grateful to share the journey,

Dawn

One Year of Dewdrops

A Blessed Busy

It’s About Illuminating Life on Earth

Beauty, Skulls, and Culture

Today’s the Day! MEADOWLARK Book Launch

Cove, Dominican Republic

Cove, Dominican Republic

Birthing Rain: Meadowlark’s Book Launch

Deadwood to the Dominican Republic

The Blizzard that Never Was—and its Aftermath on Cattle and Ranchers

It Takes a Ranch—South Dakota Ranchers Affected by the Blizzard 

Storm Atlas

Storm Atlas

Kindnesses and Bones

Rhythms and Day of the Dead

Touchstones

Gratitude Amidst the Messy Parts

Threaded Beads

Writing the Land Class 

Cut tissue paper - Papel picado

Cut tissue paper – Papel picado

O’Keeffe—Spirit of the Winter Solstice

Christmas in Santa Fe—Photos and Recipes

Books to Curl Up and Savor

Magic and Dreams in 2014

Friday Night, Family Night—Love of Place, Belonging… 

Horses on prairie.

Horses on prairie.

Snow-laden Nest Waiting for Spring

When I am an Old Horsewoman

Women of Atlas: Song through the Storm 

Tucson Festival of Books and “the Benson kids”—Roots and Love

Starfish, San Juans.

Starfish, San Juans.

Language and Story: TESOL, Puebla, and the Story Catcher Writing Workshop

What Creates Heroes

Rainbow Between Storms

Story Catchers: The Story Catcher Writing Workshop

The Problem and the Fix on the Ranch: Broken Powerlines

The World Cup—A Surprising Love Story

Gift from the Sea—The San Juan Islands

Dawn

Dawn

I have birthday presents! In honor of our birthday, I have three copies of Meadowlark to gift. If you would like a copy, just mention this in the comments below. I’ll sign, bundle, and send to the first three people.

Gratitude.

 


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Deadwood to the Dominican Republic

Harvest moon hung over the prairie.

Harvest moon hung over the prairie.

Prairie to sea. Mountains to strings of palm trees. The West to the Caribbean.

You know those rare, rare moments in life when things actually unfold in ways that you hope, work hard for, and plan? Those moments when in the midst of all of this working and planning, you allow yourself a few glimmers to hope for, but the thought of allowing yourself to truly believe feels like you’re setting yourself up for failure, so you just get back to work.

Meadowlark shirt!

Meadowlark shirt!

This past week one of those rarest of rare confluences of life actually came together in ways the years of working, planning, hoping, dreaming, and working actually unfolded in ways I’d allowed myself to think about only in rare, private moments—before getting back to work.

First, I have to share this shirt with you. My dear friend and author, Pamela Keyes, sent this to me. I may never take it off. Decades from now, friends and family may be begging me to wear something other than this shirt. And, I’ll just nod, rub my hand along the fabric of my worn, tattered, an faded garment, and smile. 

As I write this flying at 30,000 over the Atlantic on my way back to the US, what lifts again and again to my mind is sheer wonder.

This week started at the Prairie Edge in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Prairie Edge, SD

Prairie Edge, SD

From the first time I stepped foot in Prairie Edge, nearly 20 years ago, this place has been a portal that took me into other worlds—worlds of art, beauty, textures—past and present. This is a space of presence. We visit Prairie Edge nearly every time we’re off the ranch and in town. As my daughter, Wynn, said to me this year, “Mom, we always come here and you always take pictures of the same things!” I realized that is true. Somehow everything feels newly beautiful each and every time. Their bead library inspired the descriptions of Daisy Standing Horse’s beading by candlelight in the novel. 

I have spent hours in their bookstore, searching the shelves for books about the turn of the century, the time period of Meadowlark, or any book about the prairie or West that caught my fancy.

Reading at Prairie Edge

Reading at Prairie Edge

Every once in a great while I’d allow myself to think for a moment about the worn manuscript of Meadowlark as a published novel,  and holding an event for in this place that was full of meaning. I’d allow myself an Imagine if

That Imagine if happened with a reading at Prairie Edge last week.  Along with dear friends and family, Grace’s descendants, we read. Mom brought Grace’s wedding dress and riding jacket in from the ranch.

Signing books, Noé, Prairie Edge, SD. Photo © Jodene Shaw

Signing books with Noé, Prairie Edge, SD. Photo © Jodene Shaw

Skull at Prairie Edge

Skull at Prairie Edge

Photo Jodene Shaw

Lunch after with Susanne Bendigo, Mary Kay Sandal, Mom, Wyatt, Noé, me, Missy Urbaniak, Denise Weyer, and Jodi Shaw Photo © Jodene Shaw

With author Kent Meyers

With author Kent Meyers

On to the South Dakota Festival of Books with Mom, Noé, and Wyatt. In attendance at the conference was one of my writing heroes who with such generosity of spirit wrote a blurb for Meadowlark. I was able to meet and thank Kent Meyers, author of one of my all-time favorite books The Work of Wolves (South Dakota One Book 2005), in person. What a gift! Meyers wrote about Meadowlark, “Dawn Wink writes in the tradition of O.E. Rolvaag, Willa Cather, Mari Sandoz, and Mary Clearman Blew, with a clear-eyed understanding of the connections between isolation and oppression, especially for women, on the Great Plains. Wink is not afraid to look at difficult and uncomfortable issues such as domestic violence, Indian boarding schools, or the law’s corruption. She also surprises us by writing about intimate and hidden issues like early 20th-century contraception. She has a fine sense for characters and a deep understanding of land. The scene where Grace Robertson, her protagonist, makes a punching bag out of a feed sack in order to work out her anger, and then returns to work and love, is worth the price of the novel by itself. This is a gritty novel but also a hopeful one, exploring the ugliness of power and the ways despair can drive good people to do awful things but also exploring compassion’s ability to bind, rejuvenate, and redeem.”

El Dominicano-Americano

El Dominicano-Americano

Then, from Deadwood to the Dominican Republic for the Annual Conference for Teachers of English 2013. 600 teachers from across the country gathered in Santo Domingo for a day of community, ideas, and inspiration. My first impression as I walked out of the airport and into the country was overwhelmingly about the air. The air, the air is so soft and warm. I felt as if I could palm this air in my hand and run the softness over my skin.

My hosts, Grisel Del Rosario and Rosa Rodríguez, treated me to a tour through the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo, including the first cathedral of the United States, and such an array of beautiful windows and doors that me throwing my arm out to the side of our tour train to take photos at every opportunity. Join us: 

A path to wander in Santo Domingo...

A path to wander in Santo Domingo…

“You’ll here us say ‘First’ all the time.” And I learned this is with good reason. Columbus landed first in Santo Domingo. “We are the belly button of Europeans coming to the Americas,” the school director, Don Rafael.

The oldest cathedral in the Americas.

The oldest cathedral in the Americas.

Park in front of the cathedral.

Park in front of the cathedral.

This is a country drenched in history, the past pulses barely under the surface of the people, the buildings, the cadence of the language. It is a land of deep contrasts, the beauty of the land and people, the wrenching history of slavery, the era of the dictatorship, extreme wealth alongside desperate poverty. The people reflect every epoch of the past and present. -Aquí nos mezclamos todo – Los Españoles, los Africanos, y hasta los indígenas. “Here we mix all – the Spaniards, the Africanos, and even the Taino, the indigenous people who the Spaniards wiped out. They say they’re all gone, but my father had their straight hair, dark skin, full lips, and green, green eyes.”

Streets of Santo Domingo

Streets of Santo Domingo

Streets of Santo Domingo

Streets of Santo Domingo

We ate dinner in a candlelit subterranean cave. Beyond lovely.

Dinner in a subterranean cave.

Dinner in a subterranean cave.

And the teachers , the teachers with a generosity of spirit, warmth, and smiles that elevated the day into something extraordinary.  I spoke on “Teaching Passionately” and “Freedom Within Structure: Composing an Engaged class (PowerPoints included below). I am forever enriched by these experiences.

Teachers at the conference.

Teachers at the conference.

Teaching Passionately plenary

Teaching Passionately keynote

With speakers and distinguished members of El Domínco-Americano

With speakers and distinguished members of El Domínico-Americano. New friends all.

I fell in love with the artwork of Jorge Severino, whose pieces hang in the hotel and I’d noticed when I arrived—bold, evocative pieces of the women of the Dominican Republic.

Jorge Severino

Jorge Severino

Imagine my delight when El Domínico-Americano gifted me a piece of his – a Dominican woman with the wings of a butterfly. How beautifully poignant and meaningful from the land of las mariposas Mirabal. 

Jorge Severino

Jorge Severino

On the ride to the airport, I hadn’t yet touched the sea. I said to the driver, Nicolás, Por favor, no me dejes ir de éste país sin tocar el agua de la mar Caribe. (“Please don’t let me leave this place without touching the waters of the Caribbean.”) Yo sé exactamente en dónde. La playa por mi barrio. (“I know just the place,” he said, “near my neighborhood.”) We stopped near a cove on the beach, so I could touch the Caribbean Sea. Look at this cove… Places like this actually exist in this world. Dressed in jeans and long sleeves for what are always cold plane rides, I waded in jeans and all. Yes, the water really is as warm and delicious as it looks in this photo. Around us, fishermen brought in their catch for the day, boys jumped off rocks into the water, and a couple floated, swam, and flirted. I stood and stared around me, hardly able to believe I was there. This was out of a dream.

The cove.

The cove.

The connecting threads of life that had brought me here began with the School for International Training (SIT) TESOL Certification course. The idea had been to create opportunities to supplement my income, in ways that fit with the college and in ways I loved, to support my family. The road to certification turned out to be intensely bumpy, with unexpected events that had me wondering if this was a path I wanted to take. I came close to stepping away from this path a number of times over the three years of the certification, not at all sure that the investment of time, emotions, and expense was going to lead in a positive direction. Thanks to the angel-like appearances of Mary Scholl, Beth Neher, and Noemí Villarreal along the way, I held on to complete what I’d started. 

Couple swims in the sea.

Couple swims in the sea.

Fishermen's boats.

Fishermen’s boats.

Jeans and all, I wade in. I am not missing this.

Jeans and all, I wade in. I am not missing this.

There were so many times, years, during the writing of Meadowlark and going for my SIT TESOL certification that the most logical thing in the world was to give up, the universe seemed to be sending clear messages that these were not meant to be. Life does this, in its ebbs and flows.

I watched the ebb and flow of the tide swirl around my feet, the sand flowing in its tow, and the bubbles brought back up again. Somewhere beneath it all sparkle shards of hope that maybe, just maybe, if we hangs in there and keep working, maybe, just maybe things might turn out as we dream. And at sometimes, for brief, treasured moments in life, maybe, just maybe….definitely, most definitely, they do.

The cove.

The cove.

PowerPoints from presentations:

Teaching Passionately

Freedom In Structure, An Engaged Clasroom

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To subscribe and receive Dewdrops in your email, please enter your email address in the box under “Follow this blog via email” or click on the ‘Follow’ icon in lower right-hand corner of the blog’s screen and ‘Confirm Follow’ in the email you receive. To return to website: www.dawnwink.com