IT WAS MEANT TO BE

P.C. Zick

We recently traveled to southern California to attend the wedding of my husband’s nephew. While at my mother-in-law’s funeral, we learned of the wedding in San Diego and decided we would make the trip.

The decision to go turned out to be one of the best decisions we’ve made in recent years. There are times when the stars align, the heavens open, and serendipity ensues. Our visit proved to be one such time.

Since we were traveling so far it only made sense to see as many people as we could. Sixty years ago this month, when I was only four, my oldest brother married his college sweetheart, Joyce. My brother died ten years ago, but I have kept in touch with Joyce, who moved to Palm Springs several years after his death. I had been yearning to see her, so our trip would mean a chance to visit Joyce…

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Happy 2019

It’s been too long since I’ve posted here. Make sure you read this post if you’re interested in a little bit of free reading to start the new year.

P.C. Zick

Paddling My Way to a New Year

dsc04099We spent New Year’s Day kayaking on the Econofina River in north Florida. The day was foggy, and we got lost in the reeds, but we returned home refreshed and ready to begin
2019. Nature restores me and gives me hope.

While I’m enjoying kayaking, yoga, golf, and volunteering, my writing life appears to be on hiatus. It didn’t ask me permission because the writing muse can be fickle and sporadic. Instead of crying, I’m reading–I’m making a dent in the TBR pile on my nightstand and on my Kindle–I still read from both as the spirit moves me or as my circumstances permit.

I hope 2019 has begun in a positive way for you, and I hope you’re reading as well. When I do get back in the writing saddle, it will be to finish Love on Track (Rivals in Love…

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#BringItHome and Elect Andrew Gillum

AndrewGillumIn usual circumstances, I wouldn’t endorse a candidate via my blog. However, we are not in usual circumstances these days, and are in need of fresh voices speaking for the best in all of us. Besides, in this case, I have a personal connection to Florida’s Democratic candidate for governor. And I believe the state where I’ve mostly lived since 1980 is in serious trouble with its dangerous gun laws, under-performing schools, low-paying jobs, horrible health insurance options, and nonexistence environmental protections on a very fragile state. We need a governor who can take charge and bring Florida into this century and reality.

I had the privilege of teaching Andrew Gillum during his sophomore year of high school at Gainesville High School. I saw in him all the qualities I see today whether on the debate stage, on CNN, ABC, or Noah Trevor’s show. I recently wrote about my memories of him for his campaign. Today, I share it here as the deadline for getting out the vote is less than a week away.

Whether you agree with me or not, please get out and vote on November 6, 2018. Our future depends on who we elect next.

Memories of Andrew Gillum

When Andrew Gillum walked into my honors English class at Gainesville High School as a sophomore more than twenty years ago, I sensed something different about this male teenager. His focus on his education and his drive to be a leader within the school became evident in everything he did. I am not surprised by his meteoric rise within the Democratic party, but I am in awe of his forward movement as a compassionate leader, and his dedication to his family and community.

I watched him grow from a fifteen-year-old student government officer to become the student body president of a school with a population of 2,000. I watched him show compassion for and offer friendship to a fellow student who was challenged by a physical handicap and who was often ostracized by her other classmates. Rather than worrying about what others might say about him, he stood up for what was right and fought hard for all students. Without any doubt, I can attest to Andrew’s maturity beyond his years when still in the impressionable and difficult teenage years. He never gave into peer pressure because he had his eye on becoming a successful man who made a difference. After teaching thousands of teenagers over the years, I can’t think of another student in his category.

As I watched him give his acceptance speech after he won the primary, my eyes filled with tears of joy and pride, and I remembered a younger Andrew coming to me one day after school. He hadn’t always been encouraged by his teachers to go into honors and Advanced Placement classes, but he knew that’s what he wanted for himself. Even in the 1990s—and probably somewhat today—students were often put in tracks at a young age based on cultural and racial considerations. But Andrew didn’t believe in letting others define him by anything other than his determination to work hard and get the job done. In his sophomore year of high school, he registered for honors’ classes, but within a short time, he realized all on his own that his past years in his English classes had not given him the skill set to master more analytical essay writing required in the honors and Advanced Placement courses. He knew he had the motivation and talent to succeed but he also acknowledged he needed help.

So, one day this gangly fifteen-year-old male student stood before my desk after the final bell had rung to end the school day. I don’t remember his exact words, but I do remember what he wanted. He wondered if I would help him work through his essays if he stayed after school a day or two each week. I don’t know if I showed my shock or if I fell off my chair, but I do remember that I took notice because in all my years of teaching never had a student asked if he or she could stay after school to learn how to be a better student. Yes, I’d had coaches ask me to tutor star athletes and parents request extra help for their children, but never had a young man asked me all on his own for help. Teenage males don’t often admit weaknesses, especially to female teachers. But that’s what Andrew did.

And unlike the other students, Andrew showed up. He came, and he listened, and he learned. And he applied what he had learned to his writing. Not only was he the first in his family to graduate from high school, he graduated with a superior record of achievement. That’s the Andrew I know, and more than two decades later, I still see in him that young man willing to learn, listen, and work hard to make the world better for all Floridians. I believe he has the energy, common sense, intelligence, and perseverance to be the best governor in the history of Florida.

In fact, I believe so strongly in Andrew Gillum that one day I predict I will be telling this story about the President of the United States.

How To Attract Hummingbirds To Your Garden | Garden Variety

Hello – I’ve been remiss in posting. Life has a way of interrupting things sometimes. But I came across this blog post today and thought it was cheerful and hopeful as winter continues to blast many regions in North America. I love my hummingbirds and believe this is the best way to get these little sweeties to our yard rather than using the sugar water in feeders, which need to be changed often and attract those pesky red fire ants in the South. Enjoy!

Greetings everyone…Spring has finally arrived and I couldn’t be happier. I still have a long wait before I can actually harden off my plants, and I am eagerly awaiting that day!

Source: How To Attract Hummingbirds To Your Garden | Garden Variety

Florida’s vanishing springs | Tampa Bay Times

North of Gainesville, a church camp once attracted thousands of visitors because it was built around the gushing waters of Hornsby Springs. Then the spring stopped flowing and the camp had to spend m

Source: Florida’s vanishing springs | Tampa Bay Times

#KINDNESS LIVES IN THE MOUNTAINS

DSC03894I called it the “dam trip,” and dragged my husband along. Labor Day didn’t mean we had to work–me at my computer writing and Robert in his garden gardening–and besides, the day held the promise of perfect weather. Temperature in the seventies, cloudless sky, and a slight breeze all indicated to me it was time to do something in nature. Kayaking was out because of some back pain for Robert. The next best thing? A dam drive in the Smokies.

Three major dams in western North Carolina provide power for the TVA all within forty miles of one another. The drive took us through towering mountains as the road hugged the shores streams, rivers, and lakes. But one stop at Yellow Creeks Falls did more to restore my faith and hope in mankind than viewing breathtaking vistas.

We hadn’t brought our walking sticks for hiking, something we always do here in the mountains. We started out on the short hike to the small falls, and the path was rocky and narrow. A young couple came toward us, and I pulled up next to a tree to let them pass. He carried a walking stick, and I said. “I wish I’d brought my walking stick,” and nodded to his.

“Here–take this one,” the young man said.

“No, no. That’s fine.” I was sorry I’d made my thought public.

“No,” he insisted, “I don’t need it anymore. It’s yours. I just made it.”

He handed it to me. The stick had been stripped of its bark with one end sharpened into a point. Then he walked on leaving me with his work of art and a much appreciated implement for me to use on the rest of the hike.

Nothing on our dam trip came close to inspiring me more than one young man’s kindness on the waterfall trail. I brought the stick home. It will be my reminder to  pay it forward at every opportunity.

The dam trip renewed me. The young man whose path crossed mine gave more than just a piece of wood he found near the Yellow Creek Falls.

DSC03892

Yellow Creek Falls, Cheoah Recreation Area, North Carolina