Kit, Dogs, and Kids Leave

This morning, Shannon and Mike packed the dogs and the cat into the car to begin the long trip back to North Carolina. While there has been flooding in their area, the waters have receded, and their town house, on a hill, remained dry. Other people in North Carolina have not been so lucky, and I expect it will be a long time before some areas recover. How terrible it must be to have your home severely damaged or destroyed, and I always feel so sorry for those who have endured such a loss.

On a happier note…we had a wonderful week with Mike and Shannon. The best part was just sitting on the patio and talking. We are lucky indeed to have a daughter and son-in-law who love books, movies, and art as much as we do. So much to discuss! Also, when it comes to politics, we are like minded, and that is another plus.

Yesterday, as a farewell breakfast, we went to Forage Market in Lewiston, and Shannon and Mike were very impressed with the food. Holy cats, those bagels are good. I bought extra for us to have this morning, and the day-old bagels were still pretty tasty.

The house is quiet now, and as always after our children leave, we feel let down and blue. Fortunately, we have a little something to keep us busy.

The cover for my upcoming fantasy novel, Library Lost, is nearly ready, and how exciting it was to see the proof.  I am thrilled with the cover, which will be a perfect complement to Maya and the Book of Everything.

As soon as Library Lost’s cover is ready, I’ll be posting it on this blog for everyone to see.

And next week, I will return to reading blogs and commenting. This week, with all the talking, eating, and having fun, I just didn’t have the time to keep up with everyone.


More Birthday Brouhaha

As I have written in the past, our philosophy is to celebrate early and celebrate often. Along with escaping Hurricane Florence, Shannon and Mike had timed their trip north to coincide with my birthday, which was yesterday. Since Clif’s birthday is a week from now, we figured a double celebration was in order.

Yesterday was a sunny day—not too hot, not too humid—so off we went to the Red Barn for seafood and chicken. I, of course, had a lobster roll. Utterly delicious, with just a touch of mayonnaise to hold the lobster together.

Then, for dessert, a whoopie pie.

After lunch, it was onward to Waterville to see the new waterfront park by the Kennebec River. Since the late 1960s, when in a fit of urban renewal all the buildings were torn down, a piece of land off Front Street had been empty and pretty much neglected. Not anymore. How spiffy and lovely it looks.

We walked across the Two Cent Bridge, a suspension bridge that connects Waterville to Winslow. Time was when walkers had to pay a two-cent toll to cross the bridge, but that time has passed.

For no fee at all, we went across the bridge, where I took a picture of Shannon and Mike.

Here’s a shot down the blue, blue Kennebec River, toward the Hathaway Mill, which no longer produces shirts and is instead used for businesses and apartments. (You can’t really see the Hathaway in this picture, but it is on the right past the bridge.)

And here’s a shot up the river. On the right is the old Scott Paper Company, which looks deserted. So many factories closed, and while they polluted the Kennebec River, they also provided good-paying jobs. So far, nothing has come to take their place and lift the area’s economy.

But it was too fine a day to brood on a stalled economy. (I’ll save that for another day.) After walking across the bridge and along the river, we went to Cancun, a Mexican restaurant in Waterville, and had drinks at a table on the sidewalk.

Happy birthday to us!

Kit, Dogs, Sacks, and Kids Have Arrived

Yesterday, ahead of the storm, ahead of the floods, under bright blue skies, the kids—Mike and Shannon—arrived in Maine with the kit—Penny—and the dogs—Holly and Somara. The dogs haven’t been here for two years, but they remembered everything, from the backyard to the the bulkhead down cellar, the main way they go in and out. The dogs have settled in nicely and have also remembered who is the soft touch when it comes to treats. (That would be me.)

Penny, on the other hand, was fairly traumatized when she got here and bolted directly under the bed in the room where Mike and Shannon are staying. However Penny ate and did other things she needed to do. She also came out when Mike and Shannon went to bed.

So everyone is here, and we are loving it.

The doors at the end of the hall are working beautifully. So far, no cat fights. In fact, I don’t think our cats even know there is another cat in the house.

Behind our house, there are trails in the cool, green woods, and this morning Shannon and Mike took Holly and Somara there for a walk, where they could both run off-leash. Here they are coming back from their romp.

And here are Holly and Somara resting  in my room as I write. Shannon and Mike have gone to visit a friend, and we are dog sitting.

I must admit I am in seventh heaven to have two dogs in the house.


Hurricane and Instant Pot Update

The bad news is that Hurricane Florence has strengthened into a category 4 hurricane and might even reach category 5 before it hits landfall.  And the damage won’t be done as Florence loses steam. Weakened, Florence is still dangerous. The forecast predicts that Florence will stall over land in North Carolina and could bring up to two feet of rain to an already saturated state. This, in turn, will bring floods, toppled trees, and massive power outages.

But for our little family, the good news is that kids, dogs, and kit have left Dodge, as it were, well ahead of Hurricane Florence. They will be with us sometime late tomorrow night, and how good it will be to see them.

Now for the Instant Pot. It worked exactly the way it should. Within an hour, we had a very tasty vegetable soup for our dinner, and most of that time involved cutting up the vegetables. We couldn’t believe that the five minute cooking time of the recipe was correct—that was after everything had come up to temperature—and so we cooked the soup for fourteen minutes. While the vegetables were good, they were too soft, and we were thinking that perhaps five minutes wasn’t so far off after all.


Fourteen minutes later:

This particular soup recipe called for a sprinkle of nutritional yeast in the bowls once the soup was done.  We substituted soy sauce, and the soup was tasty. But I am now intrigued about nutritional yeast, which I have never used. (I know, I know. I am behind on this one.) I plan on picking some up soon to use on vegetable soups and perhaps other dishes.

So all in all, a good day, but my thoughts are with those who must evacuate and don’t have family up north to stay with.

And I certainly hope that the aid to the Carolinas is better than what Puerto Rico got last year after Hurricane Maria. Three thousand dead. Some people without power and adequate housing for nearly a year.

A national disgrace.

And So It Begins: Editing, Hurricane Florence, and a Full House

As fall makes a tentative appearance with weather so cool that it actually feels brisk—going from 95° to 60° in less than a week—the tempo at our house has gone from busy to out straight.

Dee has finished editing my YA fantasy novel, Library Lost. For new blog readers, this is the second book in my Great Library Series, the sequel to Maya and the Book of Everything. Now comes the hard work of copy editing. Only basic housework will be done. Meals will be very, very simple. The book must be edited! I am so glad I now follow my blogging friend Jason’s lead and no longer cut back perennials in the fall. Instead, I wait until spring. (Jason’s wonderful blog is Garden in a City.)

To add to the merry chaos, our daughter Shannon, her husband Mike, their dogs Holly and Somara, and their cat Penny will be coming for a visit the end of this week. That’s right, even the cat. Hurricane Florence, a most unwelcome guest, will be pounding North Carolina, where Mike and Shannon live, just after they leave for Maine. Mike and Shannon are afraid that flooding will make it impossible for their pet sitter to tend Penny.

So when Shannon asked about bringing Penny, I immediately said, “Yes.”

The complicating factor, of course, is that we have two cats who just barely tolerate the two dogs, whom they know. As for a cat they’ve never met…well, I’m sure you can picture the results. A lot of hissing and fighting.

But never fear! We have come up with a solution. We had folding doors in our basement, and Clif has brought them upstairs to put at the end of the hall so that Penny will have her own little suite of a bedroom, a reading room, and a half bath. Sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it? I hope she likes our selection of books.

I probably won’t be blogging much in the next few weeks, and if I do, most likely it will be a picture along with a few lines.

So onward, ho, to editing and dogs and cats and sacks and wives.



The Waning of Summer

Summer has pretty much come to an end. While the days might still be warm and sunny, the gardens around the house tell a different story—autumn is coming.

The back garden is definitely ragged, no two ways about it.

The bee balm is no longer in vibrant bloom, just a few red petals here and there.

Except for the border of annuals, the rest of the garden doesn’t look much better. But the impatiens are positively thriving—I have never seen them so big and full. Clearly, they liked the heat and humidity, even if I didn’t.

And the begonias, troopers that they are, continue to provide welcome color.

The front yard actually looks a little better, and it’s all because of the hostas that I divided and planted in the many holes in my garden. Hostas might not be showy, but they maintain a cool, even presence. Surely there must be a lesson in this.

One plant that is coming into bloom is the sedum—autumn joy. Here’s a close up with a little friend on the top.

Farewell, summer. You might have been too hot and humid, but I treasure those evenings on the patio, the nights with the windows open, the gatherings with grilled bread.



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