Liam Is Twelve

Today is Liam’s twelfth birthday. Happy birthday to our dog buddy! With Liam going blind, it’s been a hard year not only for him but also for his people. However, he has adapted really well, and so have we. Other than being blind, Liam is in excellent health and still a very handsome dog, if I do say so myself.

And maybe, just maybe, there will be a birthday treat for one of the sweetest dogs in Winthrop.

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The Wolf Moon and March in January

On Wednesday, we visited our friends Paul and Judy. We had tea and apple crisp and plenty of conversation about politics. As Clif and I were getting ready to leave, Paul called, “Come look at the rising moon! It’s nearly full.” We followed him to the other side of the house and looked out the window. There was the moon, in its serene beauty as it crested the tops of trees.

“Oh, lovely!” I said. “And January’s full moon is the Wolf Moon.”

Clif took a picture, but our wee camera really didn’t capture the magic of the nearly full moon.

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On the way home, I admired the dark fringe of bare trees outlined against a deep blue sky. A January dusk.

Unfortunately, the weather turned on Thursday, the night of the Wolf Moon. The day was gray and rainy. Because of the rain and the warm weather—it was nearly 50 degrees—the landscape now looks like March. The snow is gritty and packed down hard. The driveway and pathways are thick with ice.

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Clif plans to sprinkle wood ash on the pathways. This is a dirty solution, but with our wood furnace, we have plenty of ash, and messy footprints on the kitchen floor are better than falling on ice.

The gardens are buried beneath snow, but a few of the taller plants can be seen, and the bee balm has been transformed into a many legged creature that looks as though it is ready to skittle away.

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In the afternoon, we went to the movies to see La La Land, and much to my surprise, it turned out to be my favorite movie of the year.  I am not a fan of musicals, but the musical numbers are kept to a minimum, and they really do help the story flow. La La Land is about two artists—an actress and a jazz musician—who desperately yearn to succeed in their careers and who fall in love. The movie is at times whimsical and even fantastical, but it is also grounded in the two main characters, played with quirky charm by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. In essence, La La Land is about the artist’s journey, and the movie really spoke to me.

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The ride home was so foggy—all that melting snow—that it was a relief to turn into our driveway.

But today the sun is out, the temperature has fallen, and we are back to January. Yay! Now, all we need is a little fresh snow to cover the gritty mess brought by the rain.

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Deep Winter: A Restful Time

This morning, when I got up, the temperature was barely above zero.

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Little Miss Watson was staring out the window. Perhaps she was wondering when the snow would go away.

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Not any time soon.  The snow bankings at the end of the driveway are taller than the car.

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The wheelbarrow is stuck in snow.

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And the pig won’t be flying until spring.

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Even though I am partial to warm weather, longer days, and nights on the patio, I always look forward to January, a beautiful, restful month. Yes, it is cold in January in Maine, but I feel as though I have permission to slow down, to not worry about anything other than basic housekeeping.

After the holidays, always fun but hectic, this time for slowing down seems like a gift, and this year, it is especially true. After launching Maya and the Book of Everything and then galloping into the holidays, I feel—to borrow from Bilbo Baggins—like butter scraped over too much bread.

Deep winter. Time to watch movies and read. To make apple crisp and get together with friends. And when I’m more rested, to host a brunch or two. Clif’s waffles are pretty darned good, and my homefries aren’t too bad either.

 

Storm Update

I just heard from my daughter Shannon, and it seems that where she lives in North Carolina there wasn’t much snow at all—about four inches or so. However, they did get freezing rain, which Mainers hate with a passion.

Many Mainers have very bad memories of the ice storm of ’98, when it seemed as though half the state was without power, and the ice was so thick that the breaking branches in the woods sounded like gunshots. We were without power for nearly two weeks. What a storm!

Anyway, I sure do hope that North Carolina, and indeed all the South, doesn’t have to deal with a storm of that magnitude and destruction.

And may the sun be with them soon.

From a recent ice storm, where, fortunately, we didn't lose our power.
From a recent ice storm, where, fortunately, we didn’t lose our power.

 

Let It Snow

I’ve been getting updates from my daughter Shannon in North Carolina. A snowstorm is heading her way—six to seven inches are predicted—and it’s already throwing people in a tizzy. Yesterday, my son-in-law, Mike, took this picture of the milk case in a grocery store in North Carolina.

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This morning, here is what Shannon wrote in an email about the approaching snowstorm:

“It’s not suppose to start until later this afternoon/early evening and is most likely going to be rain at first and then mixed precipitation (yay!) so hopefully our commute home won’t be too bad. The main event is going to be later 11pm-midnight and at that point it’s going to be all snow – and then it’s suppose to continue through mid-day Saturday. We’re smack dab in the 5-7 inches range right now. Our new governor has declared a State of Emergency for all counties in NC and after school activities were already being canceled yesterday for most and the rest did so this morning.

“It was just crazy at the supermarket yesterday – I didn’t time it exactly but it was three hours after getting out of work that we walked through our front door. Some of that (maybe 20-30 minutes) was travel time and then we stopped and picked up some food on our way home (another 10-15 minutes) and the rest of it was spent in the grocery store – it was a madhouse!”

Now, I realize the South is unprepared for any kind of snowstorm at all. They simply don’t have the equipment to deal with snow, a rare event in North Carolina.

However, as a Mainer, it’s a little hard to understand getting upset about only six or seven inches of snow, and it almost seems as though Shannon and Mike have moved to a foreign country. As my daughter pointed out in another email, we got a foot of snow the night before she and her husband were supposed to leave Maine and head back to North Carolina. In the morning, within an hour, the driveway was cleared enough for them to leave, and the roads were well plowed.  Shannon and Mike left when they had planned and had no trouble driving.

This has made me reflect that when you live in Maine, you have to be adaptable. The seasons rock between extreme cold with snow and ice to extreme heat and humidity. We have to be prepared for it all, and I must admit that I take pride in being able to do so. This adaptability leads to a certain flexibility as well as a can-do attitude.  While we Mainers certainly take the weather seriously—nowadays, all people should take the weather seriously—we feel as though we can cope with the extremes.

In my pantry are cans of soup and baked beans. There are also buckets of water in the basement in case the power goes out. We have propane for our little camp stove, and lamp oil for our lanterns. We even have extra batteries for our flashlights.

So let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

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Shannon and Mike’s car hours before heading South

 

And to Shannon and Mike and all in the South who are the storm’s path, stay snug and warm and safe.

Update on Maya and the Book of Everything

Over the holidays, I had modest goals for my YA fantasy novel, Maya and the Book of Everything, and by gum I exceeded them. I had a table at two venues—the Winthrop Christmas Craft Fair and at D.R. Struck’s Landscape Nursery. The books sold well at both venues—I think the beautiful cover draws people in—and I found that I really enjoy the process of chatting about Maya and signing books.

Reviews have started coming in, and I’d like to share one that my friend Beth Clark wrote. She made points that I hadn’t thought of,  and it is always fun to discover different aspects of one’s own work.

Here is her review:

“As I began to read this book, I was surprised at how quickly and well I came to know a variety of characters. Laurie Graves has the ability to create interesting and distinct personalities among her characters. Her descriptions provide vivid, visual images of person and place. I was pleased with the sense of gender equality among the characters; boys and girls, and men and women share prominent places in the action as well as their successes and mistakes. The differences between generations become blurred as the characters work together and learn from each other. Graves also has a knack for writing dialog that is interesting, authentic, and flows well from person to person. The plot of Maya focuses on the struggle between good and evil, with room for examining the gray areas in between. There is plenty of action in the book as the characters move between different dimensions of time and place. Graves maintains a nice pace and flow, drawing the reader in without the action becoming frantic or disjointed. The power of a book, in either written and verbal form, to influence people and their actions provides an interesting framework for the plot. Graves brings the story to a satisfying conclusion while leaving some suspense as a segue into book 2. I can’t wait to read more about the adventures of Maya and The Book of Everything in combating the forces of evil.”

Friends and acquaintances have begun recommending  Maya to librarians and store owners, and I am ever so grateful for this support. As an Indie author, I don’t have the backing of an established publisher, which means word of mouth is crucial for the book’s success. So many, many thanks to those who have read Maya and have taken the time to write reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

You can bet that I will pay this forward by writing reviews of some of the books I’m reading, especially those that are written by Indie authors or those that are produced by small publishers.

Onward and upward!

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