Too Darned Hot

For the past four or five days, the temperatures have been 90°F and very humid. With the heat index, it has felt closer to 100°F. Too darned hot. Is this really Maine in August?

It seems that it is.

This heat has knocked the stuffing out of me. (A Facebook friend described it as feeling depleted. Yes.) Our little air conditioner, whom we’ve named Eva, is simply not up to the task of keeping our home cool. The best we get with her is 80°. Better than 90°, I know, but not much of a relief. Strange to think that until a few years ago, we didn’t even need an air conditioner in our home in the woods. An attic fan did the trick.

But there have been a couple of bright spots.

Unlike me, the container plants seem to thrive in this heat and humidity.  I have never had such a burst of impatiens on my front steps.

The begonias look pretty darned good, too.

Then there are the tomatoes, “the jungle” as we call it. Lots of green tomatoes and enough ripe ones for a sandwich or a wrap at lunch.

Also, on Saturday, we had a visit from Shannon and Mike.

Along with their dogs, who were thrilled to see us, Shannon and Mike brought donuts—fresh, thick, and perfectly fried. I’m a fiend for donuts—I once wrote an essay called “Desperate for Donuts”— and these were oh so good. The half-donut in the picture  is the result of me not being able to wait and grabbing half before we had our lunch.

For readers in or near Tewksbury, Massachusetts, those delectable donuts came from Donna’s Donuts.

This week, the heat is supposed to break, and we’ve even been promised night temps in the lower 60s. Oh, yes, please! This Mainer really doesn’t like the temperature to go much above 80°, and my happy place is between 65° and 70°.

Well, I’ll have to adapt to this warming world. Soon Clif and I will be checking into heat pumps, which cool as well as provide heat.

Until then…

The Cover of “Of Time and Magic”!

Woo-hoo! Double woo-hoo! Here is the cover of Of Time and Magic, the fourth book in my Great Library Series. James T. Egan, of Bookfly Designs, created this beautiful cover. I really do think it’s my favorite.

 Of Time and Magic spans two universes, many planets, and the high seas. It concludes the story begun in Maya and the Book of Everything, when Maya began her fateful journey on that train from New York to Boston and gained possession of the enigmatic Book of Everything. Publication will be in the fall, probably in October.

Sniff. My little baby’s all grown up.

Lunches with a View

Last week, Dee and Clif were on vacation, and except for keeping up with all my lovely blogging friends, so was I.  We played games—Gloomhaven is our current obsession—watched movies, and spent plenty of time on our patio on the edge of the woods.

But because we were on vacation, we splurged with a couple of day trips.

First we went to the ocean, to East Boothbay, to have a picnic lunch on the rocks. This is becoming a summer tradition for us. The views are gorgeous, and because East Boothbay is off the beaten trail, there are no crowds of tourists the way there are in Boothbay Harbor.

For the past few summers, great white sharks have been spotted off the coast of Maine. This is something new.  The sharks are apparently drawn by the warming ocean water and the abundance of seals, their prey.

Dee and Clif scoffed at me as I scanned the water for a dorsal fin. But there was nothing. Just the gulls and the rippling water. However, the next day, there was a great white sighting at Popham Beach, not that far away from  East Boothbay. In our younger years, we have swum at Popham Beach many times. The beach had to be closed until the danger was past.

“See?” I said to Dee and Clif.

They made no reply.

Here’s a little mood music from the great John Williams.

While I felt perfectly safe on the rocks in East Boothbay, I would not go swimming in the ocean now that the great whites have moved north. The sharks have become part of our ecosystem, and we have to learn to live with these big predators. For me, that involves staying out of the ocean and instead swimming in pools, lakes, and streams. Shark attacks are rare, so this might be an abundance of caution. Still…

Our next outing was a little more placid and a lot closer. We went to Hallowell, a nearby town, for lunch and drinks at Burano’s Wood-fired Pizzeria. They have a deck overlooking the Kennebec River, and it was a perfect place to have our lunch. (Because of Covid, we are still not eating inside in restaurants.)

The food was delicious.

We had pizza, of course,

as well as spicy fries,

and drinks.

This was a huge treat for me as we seldom go out to eat or order takeaway.

Now, it’s back to work, and that feels fine, too.

It’s good to rest and have special treats, but it’s also good to return to the regular routine.

And, in a week or so, I should have some exciting news about the cover for Of Time and Magic, Book Four in my Great Library Series.

 

Lilies, lilies, lilies

Last week, our old-fashioned Maine summer was chased away by new-fashioned weather, courtesy of climate change. The temperatures were in the 90s with high humidity, which just added to the misery. Back in the day, the end of July was often hot, by Maine standards, but with temperatures no higher than the mid-80s, and only for a few days. The kind of heat we had last week would have been inconceivable to my parents.

Mother Nature is trying to get our attention. The question is, will we listen?

But as the saying goes, it’s an ill wind that blows no good, and my daylilies are thriving in the heat and humidity, providing punches of bright color amidst the cool green of my shady-yard gardens.

As if in response, the hostas do what they can to provide some punch. Well, at least they make an effort.

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This morning, the blessed rain came. Not only is the rain much-needed, but it also brought some relief to the high heat. The temperature is now in the low 80s, which seems positively chilly compared with last week’s weather. The forecast for the next two days promises perfect sunny weather—dry and warm but not too hot.

And just in time. My husband Clif and our daughter Dee are on vacation this week, which means I am, too. We’ve planned two day trips, rare for us as most of the time, we stick pretty close to home. Ever mindful about the climate crisis, we use our car as little as possible. (Someday we hope, hope, hope to get an electric car.) But during vacations, we relax a bit and allow ourselves to go on a couple of outings: Tomorrow, we’ll pack a picnic lunch and go to the ocean. The next day, we’ll get take-out from a local Chinese restaurant and eat by the Kennebec River. Modest pleasures, to be sure, but nonetheless enjoyable, perhaps even more so because of their rarity.

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Lately I’ve been having problems with my comments on other blogs. Sometimes “Like” clicks go through; sometimes they don’t. Sometimes my little outdated picture appears by my comment; other times it doesn’t. I have no idea why this is the case, and there doesn’t seem to be much I can do about it. My computer guy husband is baffled, too. Anyway…just wanted to let you all know that whether my picture is there or not, I’m still reading and commenting.

 

The Dog Days of Summer

For the past few days, we have hosted two canine visitors:

Holly…

and Somara.

They are staying with us while our daughter Shannon and our son-in-law Mike vacation in Ireland. Our backyard—about a half acre—is fenced in, which gives the dogs plenty of space to romp and sniff while we relax on the patio.

Even though both Holly and Somara are ten years old and fairly sedate, they certainly have put a merry spin on things. Dogs do that, and it’s one of the things I love about them. Cats, on the other hand, have a more zen-like cool, and I love that, too.

Our own little Miss Watson is not impressed with the canine visitors, and she has made herself scarce while the dogs are here. I tell her that in a few days, Holly and Somara will be back with Shannon and Mike. Miss Watson just looks at me, indicating that she will believe it when she sees it.

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The gardens are lush and green, despite the lack of rain. While much of the country swelters, we have had what my friend Claire calls an old-fashioned summer in Maine. Warm, but not too hot, and for the most part not too humid. I feel so sorry for the folks in this country and around the world who must deal with extreme heat. I hope cooler weather comes to them soon.

Here are some pictures of what’s blooming in my yard.

Daylilies, aglow.

A closer look.

Hostas, whose leaves are being munched on by slugs and snails.

Finally, a procession of blooms going up our front steps.

Summer, beautiful summer.

Back after a Much-Needed Rest

My two-week staycation zipped right by. It was a quiet but pleasing blend of books, resting, and puttering around the house. What a treat to read in the morning and not have work tapping on my shoulder.

And what was I reading?

About a month ago, I fell in love with the Slow Horses series on Apple TV+.  The series, based on the book by Mick Herron, is about a group of misfit and disgraced spies—dubbed “slow horses”—led by the acerbic Jackson Lamb, played by the great and good Gary Oldman. Their headquarters are the decrepit and depressing Slough House, a far cry from MI5’s Regent’s Park.  Naturally, trouble finds the band of misfits, and it doesn’t take the viewer long to wonder who the real misfits are. Only six episodes long, Slow Horses ended all too soon, and I decided to check out the book, the first in the Slough House series.

It was love at first read. Slow Horses is quirky but so well written with a cracking plot and a gripping cast of characters. There are eight books in the Slough House series, and courtesy of my library, I whipped through them with the speed I usually reserve for a box of See’s chocolates. I read like a woman possessed, with the contradictory feelings of both wanting and not wanting to finish the series. Hats off to Mick Herron, who writes impeccable prose at a clip that any hack writer would envy.

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I also spent a lot of time on the patio, where the garden is at its best.

Here is a longer view.

And a little abstraction of evening primroses and lilies, taken through the back of one of the lawn chairs.

The front yard is abloom, too. July is definitely the month for the gardens at our home at the edge of the woods.

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The cover for my book Of Time and Magic is underway at the fabulous Bookfly Design. Soon I will have a cover to share with you. I’m very excited about this. It’s also a little bittersweet as Of Time and Magic concludes Maya’s journey and the battle for the Great Library.

 

 

 

Another Break

I am coming down the homestretch with Of Time and Magic, Book Four in my Great Library Series. Everything is ready for the cover, which I should be able to share with you in mid-July. So exciting!

But I’m just plain worn out, both from book work and from all that’s going on in this country. I need some time off, a staycation of a couple of weeks, where I read, nibble on chocolate, and putter around the house and garden. And that’s just what I’m going to do.

Speaking of the garden…here are a few photos from our yard at the edge of the woods.

See you in mid-July.

Summer, Beautiful Summer

Summer, beautiful summer is here. At night June bugs, as large as small stones, whirr and rattle against the screens. No doubt they are attracted by the light. Some people don’t like the noise, but to me June bugs sound like summer, and I always look forward to their return. Also on the screens, fireflies blink on and off, on and off, little sprites in the dark night.

“Look!” I cry whenever I see a spot of light, and Clif and Dee duly look.

In a month’s time, the leaves on the trees have gone from a bright fringe to a deep mature green, and I love the sighing sound they make when the wind moves through them.

On the brink of blooming, my gardens are still mostly shades of green, which is a color, too, as my blogging friend Quercus once reminded me. But there are bits of color here and there.

Tomorrow—June 21—is the longest day of the year, the first day of summer, and one of the sweetest days. It is also the anniversary of my mother’s birthday, and if she were alive, she would be eighty-six.  Happy birthday, Mom! Wish you were still here so we could celebrate it with you.

The weather this June has been absolutely delightful—a little cool, which this Mainer loves—with exactly the right amounts of sun and rain. Because of this, I’ve hardly had to water the gardens, and it’s no surprise that everything is lush and green. Unlike last June, we’ve not had to use Eva, our air conditioner, at all. Indeed, yesterday was so rainy and chilly—the temp didn’t get above 60—that Clif started a small fire in the wood furnace to take away the chill and damp. My kind of June.

The editing on my book Of Time and Magic continues. The deadline for the cover is next Tuesday. Even afterwards, I’ll continue to tweak and polish. I can’t seem to help myself. As long as I don’t add any pages, I’ll be fine.

The  forecast for this week promises more delightful summer weather, with rain and sun and temps in the 70s. I know some of my blogging friends are enduring very hot weather, and I wish I could send a little of our perfect Maine weather your way.

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And now for something completely different, courtesy—surprise, surprise—of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts.

This is not the kind of music I usually listen to, but somehow I find Monsieur Periné’s peppy music irresistible. The lead singer is so quick and cute that it makes me smile just to watch her.

Little Visitor to Ladder Village

Editing, gardening, house cleaning around the edges. Rinse and repeat. In my own slow way, I’m making progress, but there is still much to do. Therefore, I’ve only got time for a short post this week.

Fortunately, my daughter Dee agreed to let me share her picture of an adorable little visitor to Ladder Village. She took it from inside, but even so, the photo came out pretty darned well.

Until next week!

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I keep listening to this beautiful hymn of a song. Even though I featured Alisa Amador last week, “Together” is so lovely that I decided to feature it alone rather than as part of a set. A much-needed reprieve from all that’s going on right now.

The Beauty of Early June

Editing, editing, editing. The work is intense, but somehow I find it satisfying to tighten my writing.

The gardens are flourishing. The weather has been a nearly perfect combination of rain and sun. How often does that happen?

The other morning, I went out with my camera to record some of the beauty of early June.

My favorite iris.

Rain drops on hostas.

Minerva, guardian of the front yard.

Elegant Solomon’s Seal.

Finally, a whirring visitor to the feeder. A little blurry, but I know that many readers love seeing pictures of hummingbirds.

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Because I’m still in the weeds of gardening and editing—couldn’t resist that description—I don’t have time for my usual slate of recommendations. And I probably won’t until late June, when (I hope) the bulk of the work is finished. However, I do have time to  include a link to Alisa Amador’s Tiny Desk Concert. What a musician! Easy to understand why she won the 2022 Tiny Desk Contest.

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