A Jolly Good Storm

Not long ago, on BBC News, I heard a reporter state that President Trump had had “a jolly good rant.” That certainly was one way of putting it.

“Jolly good” has stuck with me, and Clif and I now use it to describe various things, such as my kitchen after I am done cooking—a jolly good mess—to yesterday’s first big storm of the season. Hence the title of this piece.

This particular storm—named Harper, I believe—swept across the country from the West to the Midwest. Harper then headed to the Northeast, leaving lots of snow and ice, delaying flights, and bringing the usual mayhem that such a storm delivers.

The predictions for central Maine were dire: up to eighteen inches of snow, followed by wind and freezing rain. As I’ve noted before,  Mainers dread hearing the words “freezing rain,” which can cause power outages, sometimes for a week or more.  We can take the snow, but oh do we hate to lose our power, especially when it’s very cold, as it was yesterday and continues to be so today.

Back in the day, in the 1960s and 1970s, when I was young, ice storms were very uncommon in Maine. I can remember one, when I was eleven or twelve, and I was so enchanted by the sparkling branches that I rode on my snowmobile and took pictures of what looked like a fairyland to me. (I’ve always had a fanciful mind.) If we lost our power, it didn’t make an impression on me, so it couldn’t have been for very long, if indeed we lost it at all.

How different from today, where every storm in the winter brings the potential of freezing rain. Fortunately, most times there’s just a thin glaze of ice, but still, we hate and fear freezing rain.

I am happy to report that while Storm Harper brought sleet, which ticked against our windows, he did not bring freezing rain. Also, we only got eight inches of snow, well below the predicted amount of eighteen inches. I know this is bragging, but for most Mainers, eight inches of snow is nothing to worry about, especially if there isn’t freezing rain.

So all in all, it was indeed a jolly good storm.

Still, there was clean-up to be done. Even with only eight inches of snow, getting out the front door was not easy.

Our shovel, which we keep handy,  was tucked in the snow, as were our blue buckets of sand and salt..

Once outside on the deck, I could survey our winter wonderland.

Finally, here is Clif with Little Green.

Today, we have a bit more cleaning to do. A couple of inches of snow fell last night, and as it always does, the town’s snowplow has left a ridge of snow at the end of the driveway.

Winter is definitely here.

Another Treat in the Mail: Myrtle’s Game by Cynthia Reyes and Lauren Reyes-Grange

This has been quite a week for receiving packages from afar. On Monday, a box of oranges and lemons came from my blogging friend Betsy. Today, it was a book—Myrtle’s Game by the mother and daughter team Cynthia Reyes and Lauren Reyes-Grange. Myrtle’s Game was sent all the way from Canada by the author herself. Oh, the wonderful world of blogging!

Myrtle’s Game, the sequel to Myrtle the Purple Turtle, is a bold, vibrant picture book featuring the irrepressible Myrtle and her friends. The story opens with them playing water soccer. They are, after all, turtles.  But then the turtles notice other woodland animals playing soccer on land.  When they ask to be included, Myrtle and her friends are snubbed. They are told that because they are turtles, they are too slow for playing the game on land.

While their feelings might be hurt, Myrtle and her friends are not discouraged, and they come up with a way to be included in the game. Most young readers will have had experiences similar to Myrtle and her friends. Because of this, children will be able to identify with the turtles and admire their persistence. By the end of the story, a lesson is learned, and it is a good one.

Jo Robinson’s vivid illustrations are both energetic and friendly, exactly right for young readers.

Along with the book, Cynthia sent me a magnet, which is now on my refrigerator.

What better words for these times, when some “shells” are considered better than others?

Vive la différence!


A Dog for All Seasons

Today is the anniversary of the birthday of our beloved dog, Liam. He would have been fourteen years old. As regular readers know, we had to have Liam put down last May, and there is still a lump in my throat whenever I think of him.

How Clif and I loved that dog buddy, and that love stayed constant right to the end, when caring for him was a lot of work. But we never begrudged him any of our time. Love really does make all the difference, whether for an animal or a person.

Here are some pictures of Liam through the seasons. He loved being outdoors, especially in the winter, and truly was a dog of the north. He was also always ready for a lark, and if I had to use one word to describe Liam that word would be “joy.”

A Sunny Gift on a Cold Day

Normally, I don’t post two pieces on my blog in the same day, but I just received a box of these beauties from my blogging friend, Betsy, all the way from sunny California. So today I am making an exception.

Holy cats, this gift of oranges and lemons made my day! Many, many thanks, Betsy, for  your wonderful generosity. Oh, how beautiful they are.

And to think they grew in Betsy’s own backyard. While I love living in Maine, I have to admit that I would be thrilled beyond description to actually be able to pick oranges in my backyard.

Again, Betsy, thanks so much!

A Warm Bear of a Place

Yesterday, we took our books and illustrations to Bear Bones Beer in Lewiston, Maine. It was part of a pop-up event sponsored by the Sunday Indie Market.

While we didn’t sell many books—it was a fairly quiet January Sunday at Bear Bones—we had one heck of a good time. First of all, Bear Bones is such a warm, inviting place to gather, whether you’re a beer drinker or not. There are wooden tables with chairs scattered here and there as well as comfortable chairs in front of a gas fireplace. (Alas, we did not take more pictures of the charming interior. What were we thinking?) In short, Bear Bones has a great vibe, a place to come on a cold day, to meet people and talk.

And talk we did, mostly with the other delightful vendors. We were lucky enough to be next Nate and Megan Chasse of Sweet & Savory Bakehouse. My oh my, what good bakers they are! Nate generously gave us a bag of mixed bagels, which we had with soup when we got home. Their bagels taste tangier than most bagels, and Clif and I had to be firm with ourselves and stop with just one each. We learned that Nate went to culinary school and that he and Megan are able to support themselves with the proceeds from their bakery.  Go team, Chasse!

I also had some time to sit in a comfy chair by the fireplace. I chatted with Sheri Withers Hollenbeck, one of the organizers of the Sunday Indie Market in Lewiston, and her mother, Bonita. So lovely to get to know them.

Food is not served at Bear Bones, but customers are allowed to bring in their own from other places. In a table not from where we were set up, a man brought in a whole cheese cake, which he shared with Nate and Megan and Clif and me. He even provided plates and spoons for us. It’s that kind of place.

When our stint was over, Clif got a baby beer—a $3 hobbit-sized glass of the Bear Bones IPA.  A nice way to end the day.

Readers, if you live in the Lewiston area and want a warm place to go on a cold winter’s day, head to Bear Bones Beer. They also host events such as trivia nights and open mics, so check out their events page before you go.



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