Ta-Dah! A Map of Elferterre

I’m coming down the homestretch with the proofing for my new YA fantasy, Out of Time. By mid-November, I should be done. Fanfare, please! I certainly won’t be sorry when that arduous job is done.

I’m not sure how much I’ll be blogging until the proofing is finished. More than likely, posts will be sporadic.

However, I did want to share our first-ever map that will be in Out of Time. The map was created by my husband, Clif, and it features the country of Norlander, which is in the magical realm of Elferterre, where Maya and her new team—Will, Jay, and Lexie—must travel.

In Elferterre—green and mysterious with a touch of steampunk—Maya, Will, Jay, and Lexie encounter allies and foes, including a talking cat, a witch, sprites, ogres, imps, and a mechanical horse. All the while, Magic swirls around Elferterre, enhancing the good and bad in every creature that Maya and her team meet.

Stay tuned!

Taking a Short Break but Still Time for a Couple of Friday Favorites

The time has come to take a short break from blogging, maybe a week, maybe two, as I finish proofing my new YA fantasy novel Out of Time, Book Three in The Great Library Series.  Proofing is fussy, time-consuming work but absolutely necessary. Out of Time will be published in November, which is just around the corner. Hence the need to focus all my creative attention on the book.

Still, it is Friday, and before I go on my break, I do have time to slide in a couple of things that are making me happy.

Even in mid-October, when the leaves are falling and the air is decidedly crisp, the patio is still one of my favorite places. Nowadays, Clif and I must bundle up for drinks and snacks on the patio, but we still enjoy being out there. Notice how the patio has now been set-up for socially-distanced visits. The patio is twenty years old, and never have the chairs and tables been arranged the way they are now. A sign of life during the pandemic, that’s for sure.

Now on to an inside pleausre—music. What in the world would I do without NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert? Not only have I been able to listen to old favorites such as the Avett Brothers, but I have also been introduced to groups I’ve never heard of. One of those groups is alt-J, an English indie rock band. Why had I never heard of them? Indie rock is one of my favorite genres, and alt-J’s debut album, An Awesome Wave, came out in 2012. I have no excuse. But thanks to NPR and Tiny Desk, I now have another group to add to my list of favorites.

And because I’m going to gone for a while, here’s a bonus Tiny Desk Concert with musicians Lily & Madeleine. Such lovely harmonies.

As we Franco-Americans would say, à bientôt.

Walktober: Back to the Narrows

“Walkers have walked to gain a sense of place, to improve well-being, to harness attention, to cultivate awareness, to gain new experiences, to explore new territories, to march for freedom, and to express care and devotion for others.”  –Bonnie Smith Whitehouse

Robin, at Breezes at Dawn, is hosting Walktober, where you take a  walk or a bike ride or a paddle and then share your journey. I borrowed the beginning quotation from Robin because I thought it beautifully expressed the many roles that one simple activity—walking—can provide. Symbolic, practical, protest, curiosity, devotion, exercise— all from walking. No fancy equipment necessary. Just a pair of sneakers and willing feet.

As I have mentioned in a previous post, not long ago walking was painful because of my weight and my arthritic knees. After having lost thirty pounds, walking is no longer as painful, which means I can go short distances and actually enjoy it. (Looking forward to losing more weight and going for longer winter hikes.)

One of my favorite walks is to the Narrows Ponds, about one-quarter of a mile from my house. There is lots of water in Winthrop, but surely the Narrows are among the prettiest.

Yesterday, was one of those October days that makes a person glad to be alive. All the humidity was gone, the air was crisp, and the sky was a piercing blue.

Leaving our driveway, Clif and I turned left, down the long hill to the Narrows. See? I am not exaggerating one bit when I refer to our home “in the woods.”

On the way we saw a yellow fern glowing in the sun,

a chipmunk on a rock,

and walls made long ago when the trees were chopped down and fields stretched all the way to the Narrows. Hard to imagine our road looking like this and comforting to think about how forests can make a comeback.

At the bottom of the hill, we saw a glimmer of deep blue—sky and water—through the bright lace of leaves.

Then a sign reminding us how important this water is to Winthrop.

A short ways later,  the Lower Narrows glittered to our right,

and the Upper Narrows to our left.

There’s not much color this year with the changing leaves. Perhaps it’s because of the drought. Or maybe it’s the many storms we’ve recently had, bringing relief to the drought but blowing the bright leaves off the trees. No matter. It’s a place of beauty, with or without colorful foliage.

After gazing at the water and taking pictures, we headed back up the hill, where we saw mushrooms by the side of the road,

as well as our neighbor’s chickens pecking and looking for tidbits.

Finally, our own snug home tucked in the trees.

Once inside, I made cup of cranberry-orange tea, given to me by a friend, and wrote this post, a record of a short but oh so lovely walk in October 2020,

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Favorites: Scrummy’s Chocolates, A New Mug, Wood

On a national level, just when you think things can’t get any crazier, they do. And by crazy I mean over-the-top-eye-rollingly bad. The mad king at the White House gets ever madder.  The historian Heather Cox Richardson writes, “[Yesterday] he… called for the imprisonment of his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, as well as his own predecessor, President Barack Obama, and called Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris a ‘monster’ and a ‘communist.'”

The imperturbable vice president “who was supposed to go to Indiana to vote tomorrow, after campaigning in Arizona…cancelled his scheduled events and…headed back to Washington, D. C.”  Can you blame him?

And as if this weren’t enough, a right-wing group planned to storm the capital to kidnap and perhaps murder the Michigan governor. Fortunately they were foiled by an informant and the FBI. In The Guardian, there is a concise, chilling account. What, exactly, was the right-wing group’s beef? The governor’s Covid-19 lock-down measures.

Meanwhile, Covid-19 rages on here, there, and everywhere.

So bring on the small pleasures! We need them, and we need them right now.

This week, there were chocolates from Scrummy After’s Candy Shoppe.

Even though Scrummy’s lovely little shop in Hallowell is closed, local folks who are in desperate need of incredibly good chocolate can order online and pick up the delicacies at Scrummy’s commercial kitchen in Augusta on 26 Eastern Avenue. Scrummy’s also ships.

Just in time for tea to go with the chocolates came this sweet mug, designed by The Tiny Potager, one of my blogging friends. She has a  wonderful online shop filled with treasures she has designed. This mug makes me smile every time I look at it.

My last small pleasure is not quite as sweet or as charming as the two listed above. However prosaic this last one might seem, it sure fills me with joy. This is enough wood to heat our home for at least a half month, maybe more, and there is nothing as cozy as wood heat.

To add to the pleasure, the wood came from our very own backyard. Readers might recall how lucky we were that not much damage was done by the falling tree.

Need to read about more small pleasures to bolster your spirit? Check out Thistles and Kiwis. Also Purple Pumpernickel.

Here’s wishing you many small pleasures in the upcoming week.

 

 

In which Instructions Are Provided for Using Dear Old Classic Editor so that the Terror of Block Editor May Be Avoided

It is unusual for me to post two pieces in the same day, but I came upon such brilliant advice from the blog The Belmont Rooster, that I decided to break with precedent. As the title of this post suggests, the advice involves instructions for continuing with Classic Editor, which is clean and easy to use.

From reading other blogs, I know there has been much consternation with the new Block Editor. I understand. I, too, hate the new system, which I find ugly and clunky. (Some bloggers do like it. After all, it takes all kinds to make the world go round.)

For those, like me, who would rather use Classic Editor, click on the link I provided above with The Belmont Rooster, and you will receive  step-by-step instructions.

Here they are in short:

“Scroll down to “Posts” and click or click on “All Posts”… DO NOT CLICK ON “ADD NEW” OR IT WILL TAKE YOU THE NEW EDITOR.

“After clicking you will see “Add New” with an arrow next to it.

“When you click on the arrow you are given the choice to click on “Block Editor” or “Classic Editor”.

“There it is… The Classic Editor. Without having to upgrade to the business plan.”

And, dear blogging friends, by following those instructions, I was able to do this post in Classic Editor.

Easy peasy.

Hot dog!

 

 

 

A Satisfying Sunday

Sunday was one of those happy days where everything just chugged along in a quiet but satisfying way. In the morning, we Zoomed with “the kids.” It’s always wonderful to see their faces, especially since we won’t be seeing them in person until next summer at the earliest.

After Zoom and lunch, I made a lentil soup for our supper. My blogging friend Mr. Tootlepedal frequently makes lentil soup, and I vowed that as soon as the weather was cool enough, I would make some, too. Well, it’s October in Maine, and the weather is certainly cool enough now for lentil soup.

I follow a recipe from a Moosewood cookbook. I make modifications—that’s the kind of cook I am—but the results are always good. This soup that will be on a regular rotation for our supper until it gets too hot in the summer. Best yet, a serving size has a reasonable amount of carbs. It’s a hearty and filling soup with lots of spices. Perfect for a cool, fall evening.

Back before I lost weight—about 30 pounds ago—making soup would have pretty much done my knees in, and I would have had to rest before doing anything else. But losing that weight has put a new spring in my step, and after cleaning the kitchen, I was ready to head outside for a fall chore.

What to do? How about rake the driveway? Because we live in the woods, this must be done regularly when fall comes.

Before:

And afterward:

When I was done, I went out back to sit on the patio—something I won’t be able to do much longer. Naturally, I took my camera with me, and I was able to snap a picture of this fine fellow.

I think it is a purple finch, but I know house finches look similar. Any thoughts, blogging friends?

For the past week, this finch and his mate have been coming with a gaggle of fledglings, and how I love to watch those youngsters flutter and beg for food from the adults. I always have tender feelings for fledglings who look full size but are still immature and uncertain.

Right now, their parents feed them, but the day will soon come when the parents decided that it is time for the fledglings to feed themselves and make their own way in this wild, beautiful, dangerous world.

It is the way of things. But nonetheless it makes me teary eyed to think about it.

 

Friday Favorites: A Blessing of Leaves

On Wednesday we had a wild rain, much-needed in our drought- stricken state. With the rain came a wild wind that knocked power out to 114,000 homes in Maine, including our home.

But glory be, our power was only out for a few  hours. Clif and I practically had to pinch ourselves to be sure we weren’t dreaming. When our power gets knocked out, it can be out for days and days. Sometimes even a week.

The wind blew leaves and pine needles everywhere.

On our front steps,

In the backyard,

in the birdbath,

on top of the glass table,

on the bulkhead door to our cellar,

and, on the ground where the sun could shine through the leaf.

Now, you might be wondering exactly why this post qualifies as a Friday Favorites.

Maybe it’s because the sun came out and the yard was aglow and everywhere was the nutty smell of autumn. The leaves seemed like frisky sprites that had come for a visit.

Yes, the leaves will need to be cleaned from the yard, but for now I am just going to revel in a Maine autumn day, after the storm, when the rain came and went and the air cleared and everything seems as fresh as clean laundry hung on the line.

Despite all that’s going on in this country, it felt like a day to rejoice.

Here is Thistles and Kiwis take on the week’s small pleasures.

And All Things Bright and Beautiful’s small pleasures as well.

Let’s hear it for small pleasures!

Addendum: What. A. Week. Just learned that the president and the first lady have tested positive for Covid-19.  Hardly a surprise as they, along with their team, have been so irresponsible about mask wearing and social distancing. However, over the years, I have worked hard to cultivate the Buddhist notion of compassion toward all, even to those who don’t seem to deserve it. Perhaps they need it most of all.  I wish the president and his wife a speedy recovery. I also hope that from now on his supporters will realize what a serious disease this is and for God’s sake start taking Covid-19 seriously by wearing masks, social distancing, and doing what they can to stop its spread.

A blog about nature, home, community, books, writing, the environment, food, and rural life.