Three Things Thursday: Flowers, Flowers, Flowers.

Oh, the lovely month of May! Even when the day is cloudy, the landscape is positively aglow with new green, bright yellow, and the froth of flowering trees. In May, it is not too hard to find three things to be grateful for in my Three Things Thursday Post.

At the risk of being redundant, this week all my gratitude will be lavished on flowers. Full disclosure: I am a fool for flowers, and this might happen again in another Three Things Thursday post.

First, the Solomon’s seal I bought at Fernwood Nursery in Montville. How dainty yet mysterious the flowers are. Long may this plant  thrive!

Second, the brilliant purple of this iris. Jason, of Garden in a City, has his tulips. I have my irises. They are my favorite flower, bar none.

Third, begonias.  While I can’t honestly say they are one of my favorites, begonias are one of the few annuals that thrive at the little house in the big woods. From May through October, begonias bring a welcome splash of color to all the lovely green we have here. And for that I am very grateful.

And, for an added bonus, there is a fourth flower. A weed actually. But how bright and yellow it is. And a closer look reveals the various shapes and twists of the flower..

So there! Four things for Thursday.

Readers, may you find many things to be grateful for.

To Manchester and England, My Heart Goes Out to You

Today’s post is dedicated to Manchester, England. The bombing of the arena was a horrible thing to do.  As someone who lives in the United States, I know all too well how such an attack can rattle the whole country. (On September 11, 2001, I had a daughter in New York City and in Washington, DC. It is a day I will never forget.)

As is the case with all such attacks, the Manchester bombing was just plain evil, bringing tragedy, pain, and death to what should have been a joyful event. I suppose that was the whole point. But what a vile, cowardly act to target children.

The one consoling note to this catastrophe was hearing on the radio about the kindness and generosity of the people who live in Manchester.  A cab company gave free rides to shaken survivors. People took strangers into their home. There is indeed a coming together when such a tragic event occurs.

What follows will be a time of grieving and sorrow.

Manchester, my heart goes out to you.


Maya and the Book of Everything at the Chapel Hill Library in North Carolina

Yesterday, I received a wonderful email from my daughter Shannon, who lives in North Carolina. She had put in a request for the Chapel Hill Library to carry my YA fantasy novel, Maya and the Book of Everything. And, by gum, they have! So now Maya and the Book of Everything is in a library in North Carolina.

Requesting that a library carry a book is a wonderful way to promote writers and to help spread the word about their books. (Some of you have also done this for Maya, and I thank you very much.)

Readers, if your library has Maya and the Book of Everything, be sure to let me know. After all, even though there is plenty of adventure and fantasy in my book, there are also some serious issues: the importance of libraries for spreading knowledge and the notion that facts do matter.

Perhaps in today’s world, that last notion seems a little quaint, but it is my belief that facts have always mattered and always will.

To the Red Barn, Fernwood Nursery, and John’s Ice Cream

Yesterday was a finest kind of day, even though it was hotter than heck—in the 90s. For Mother’s Day, Shannon gave me a gift certificate to the fabulous Red Barn–thank you, Shannon!—and our first stop was lunch. I had one of my favorite things—a delectable lobster roll—and Clif had fish and chips and a side order of onion rings.

After that, it was on to Fernwood Nursery in Montville, where I met my blogging friend Denise Sawyer and her husband Rick. A note about blogging friends in general and Denise in specific: Blogging has enhanced my life  in unexpected and utterly delightful ways. In this country and in many others, through blogging, I have met a wonderful, creative group of people who inspire me. You might even call this a far-flung community of kindred spirits.

I met Denise in a roundabout way, through an Irish blog called The Aran Artisan.  As it turned out, Melissa, of the Aran Artisan, is originally from Maine, and Denise, one of her followers, lives in Maine now. Hence the connection. Denise found out I was Franco-American and very kindly sent me a book about Franco-Americans. I discovered Denise and her husband own a nursery that specializes in shady plants.

I have a shady yard and gardens with, ahem,  a few holes. As Fernwood Nursery is within driving distance of where we live, Clif and I decided to make the trek to Montville after our Red Barn lunch.

What a treat to visit Denise, Rick,  and their delightful nursery tucked in the woods. Truly, it felt like Clif and I were connecting with old friends, even though we had never met. Despite this being a very busy time for Fernwood, Denise graciously took time to talk with us and to give us advice about planting in dry shade. I came home with a Solomon’s seal, just perfect for that aforementioned hole in the garden.

Denise also told us a little about herself, about how she came from an old Connecticut family that dates back to the 1600s. Rick is from the Lewiston/Auburn area, and they own about twenty acres of land in Montville, which not only supports the nursery but also provides about 85 percent of what they eat.

Most of the land remains wooded, and Denise is quite rightly proud that they get so much out of a small footprint, their livelihood as well as a lot of their food.

As we sat outside in wicker chairs, I heard the clucking of chickens in a nearby pen, big with plenty of room to peck and scratch. In the background came the melodious song of large wood chimes, and it almost seemed as though the woods were singing.

Denise and Rick have what can only be called a flair for making their nursery a lovely place. Green, green, and green, so bright yet soothing. Lots of little containers tucked with different varieties of hens and chicks. Double-blossom white trilliums. Arresting sculpture.

Here are some pictures of Fernwood Nursery.

As Denise noted, “It’s a good place to be.”

It most certainly is, and we look forward to visiting again.

Now, you might be wondering how in the world we ended the day that would be in keeping with seafood and a delightful nursery.

Following Denise’s suggestion, we went to John’s ice cream.

As the sign indicates, the ice cream is handmade and oh so delicious.

What a good life we have!

Three Things Thursday: Bagels, Croissant, Master Bakers

Once again it is Thursday—funny how they roll around every week—where I list three things I am oh so grateful for. Hence the title, Three Things Thursday.

For this week’s post, my gratitude can be summed up in two words: Forage Market. Add Lewiston, Maine, to this and the gratitude slips into astonishment. A little while ago, I wrote about Forage Market and how their bagels were so good it was almost beyond comprehension, especially for a gritty little city like Lewiston.

However, upon my first visit, I had ordered a bagel sandwich, and I had decided that to really taste the bagel, I would need to order one with just a smear of butter and no other ingredients. This meant a return trip—all in the interest of research, you understand—and last Friday Clif, Mary Jane, and I went back to Forage Market, where I had a sesame bagel with butter and nothing else.

And how was it? Good enough to go on my Three Things Thursday post.

So here is the first thing: A buttered bagel from Forage Market—loaded with sesame seeds, crunchy on the outside, soft and tender on the inside. And as if that weren’t enough, the tea is really good, too. (Not a given in Maine restaurants, which fuss over coffee but think nothing of providing a Lipton tea bag to tea drinkers.)

Second, a croissant: As I was ordering my bagel at Forage Market, I glanced at the glass case beside me and saw some croissants. Should I get one to split between Clif, Mary Jane, and me? I am sorry to report that in central Maine, I have been unable to find anything that remotely resembles a good croissant, which should be crunchy on the outside and flaky with butter on the inside. Oh, what the heck, I thought. Just get the darned thing.

Readers, I almost wept with joy when I tasted this croissant, which was everything a croissant should be. Clif and Mary Jane concurred, and Mary Jane said that next time she goes to Forage, she will get a croissant sandwich.

Third, but most important: The master bakers at Forage Market. None of these amazing baked delicacies would be possible without the skill and dedication of the bakers, who truly are masters of their craft.  Clif took a picture of one of the bakers, but unfortunately he did not get the baker’s name. Clif did learn that there is another baker who specializes in making croissants. Oh, happy, happy day! Also note the fireplace to the right of the baker and the black doors above. This is the wood-fired oven where all the delectable items are baked.

Clif and I have decided that we would be fools not to go to a bakery of this caliber on a regular basis. Forage truly is a first-rate bakery, not only for Maine but also for anywhere else.

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