All posts by Laurie Graves

I write about nature, food, the environment, home, family, community, and people.

Friday Favorites: Fruit & Veg, Great Pottery Throw Down, Bruce Hornsby and The Range

Today is a typical Maine March day—gray, drizzly, depressing. In Maine, Covid-19 cases have not dropped, and according to the New York Times, Maine’s Covid risk is deemed very high. In addition, there are forces throughout the country that are on the rampage, trying to make voting as hard as possible for people who don’t look like they do, as Bruce Hornsby would put it.

Plus, WordPress has cast its wicked magic, and I am trapped in the kingdom of Block Editor. I know some bloggers actually like it, and that’s great. But for a poor old hack like me, who has more projects to fill my time than there are hours in the day, the last thing I need is a new blogging format to figure out. (Whine, whine, whine just might lead to wine, wine, wine late this afternoon. 😉 ) Eventually I’ll get used to Block Editor. I just hate spending this much time on it when I have other writing to work on.

Therefore, this Friday I really, really needed simple pleasures to cheer me up, and just in the nick of time, all the way from my blogging friend Betsy in California, came this assortment of deliciousness. An added bonus is that I had never had kumquats before, and what a treat to sample these tart, citrusy gems, which come from Betsy’s backyard. (The lemons come from her backyard, too, and the artichokes from a farmers market.) Many, many thanks, Betsy!

Onward to media! For a soothing, fun show—much like The Great British Baking Show—you can’t beat The Great Pottery Throw Down, recommended to me by my blogging friend Quercus. Several things make Throw Down a bingeable series: quirky judges, plenty of time spent getting to know the various contestants, and the sheer audacity of some of the items that are made. For example, toilets. Have you ever thought of constructing a toilet out of clay? And then actually have it flush? No? Neither have I, and to tell you the truth, I wouldn’t have the faintest idea how to go about it. While I could probably manage a badly constructed plate or mug, a toilet is an engineering feat far, far beyond my capabilities.

We watch the show on HBO Max, which requires a subscription. You might be able to get the show on other channels.

Because I mentioned Bruce Hornsby in my opening paragraph, this week’s featured music is “The Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsby and the Range. Some of you might remember this terrific song from 1986. Unfortunately, Hornsby’s message is still relevant today.

But on a happier note—dang, that man can play the piano.

Here are favorites and simple pleasures from other blogging friends.

Ju-Lyn, from Touring My Backyard, is enjoying a new extension of the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

From Thistles and Kiwis, so many delightful simple pleasures, including food, dance, books, going to the hairdresser, and blogging friends. Hear, hear for blogging friends, who not only expand horizons but remind us that there are so many good people around the globe.

Snow-Gauge Clif: Week 4

The fourth week of March has brought some big changes to our yard in the woods. The past few days have been warm—60°, very mild for this time of year—and sunny. The snow has shrunk to the point where it seems we are in April rather than March.

Our shady front yard still has a fair amount of snow, but it is slowly melting.

In the backyard, however, real progress has been made, and much of the snow is gone. The expression on Clif’s face indicates he can hardly believe there is so little snow in our backyard in March.

Last week, going against Tootlepedal’s wise advice to the contrary, I decided to tempt the weather gods. Grabbing the metal shovel from our dilapidated shed, I chipped ice and shoveled snow from our patio. Normally, I just let the snow and ice melt on its on, but this year I was keen to have the chairs back out so that I could sit in the sun on nice days. And, because Clif and I have not yet been vaccinated, safely have friends over from time to time.

Voilà! Snow-Gauge Clif taking a much-needed break after he was done with the exhausting work of measuring snow.

Today, the temperature rose to 60°F, which really is a heatwave for this time of year. My friend Judy came over for a visit, the first since around the holidays.

How nice it was to sit in the sun and chat with her. We were actually both a little hot.

Will the snow gods send us an early spring blizzard? Perhaps, but I sure hope not.

Stay tuned!

 

A Review of Out of Time by Piranha T.

While it’s wonderful to get good reviews from adults who have enjoyed my books, I especially like to hear from younger readers such as Piranha T. of Rapunzel Reads, a blog that features “Book Reviews By & For Kids.” (Piranha T.’s sister, Super Kitty, also writes for the blog.)

Recently, Piranha T. wrote a review of Out of Time, and her description of my book is so concise, thoughtful, and precise that I’m tempted to use snippets of what she wrote whenever I want to promote it. (Piranha T. has graciously given me permission to do so. )

Here is the beginning of Piranha T.’s review, complete with a spoiler alert:

Out of Time is the third book in Laurie Graves’s ongoing Great Library Series, preceded by Maya and the Book of Everything and Library Lost. If you haven’t read the other books, skip the description here—there will be spoilers about events in them!

The Great Library Series begins with Maya Hammond, a fifteen-year-old girl thrust into an ancient conflict between Time and Chaos. The mysterious Great Library is part of it, as are the wise Books of Everything, sent to many different worlds to help Time triumph. In the first two books in this series, Maya travels across the universe to aid the Books of Everything and Time in their quest to defeat Chaos once and for all.

If, like me, you read books written for children and teens or have young people in your life, Rapunzel Reads is definitely worth checking out. To my TBR list, I have added several books that the sisters have reviewed. Their posts are well written and to the point and have a clarity that is sometimes missing from the pieces of older writers. Also, sprinkled within their blog are interviews with authors of some of the books that have been reviewed.

Only time will tell what these two sisters will do when they are adults, but I can certainly see them going on to become authors and professional reviewers.

Write on, Piranha T.  and Super Kitty!

 

Friday Favorites: A Forty-Fourth Anniversary, See’s Chocolates, and Jon Batiste

Today is our forty-fourth wedding anniversary.  Hoo-boy! As I like to note, those who get married in Maine in March are apt to be hardy couples who can weather most anything. And so it is with Clif and me.

Because of the pandemic, there will be no going anywhere special. No matter. We bought plenty of tasty treats, including shrimp—the highest on the food chain that we’ll eat—good bread, real butter—oh, wowsah!—and a small chocolate cake. Holy cats! I can’t remember the last time I had chocolate cake.

We also bought some Sees chocolates and nuts, which will last us for a long while.

As we got married in March in Maine, you might think that we went somewhere warm for our honeymoon, but you would be wrong. Instead, we went to Montréal, where the snowbanks were as high as they were in Maine, and the snowplows traveled at a clip that was terrifying.

But what a wonderful trip it was, and yesterday Clif and I had a lovely time reminiscing about that gray European-like city. We ate tourtière pie, went to small cafés and pastry shops, visited a museum with a fabulous King Tut exhibit, stayed in a delightful hotel that could have been in the middle of Paris, and laughed at a smartly dressed woman who swore in French when a car splashed her at an intersection.

In those days, we traveled with the help of AAA, with little bound paper strips of maps called TripTiks. Readers, they were awesome and really made traveling easier. We found our delightful hotel through AAA. I think we just stumbled on the cafés, but that was forty-four years ago, and we might have used AAA for guidance with that, too.

Anyway, despite the passage of time, it made us both smile to talk and think about going to Montréal.

This week, for music in honor of our anniversary, I am turning to the buoyant Jon Batiste and his “I Need You.”

 

Here are some simple pleasures and favorites from blogging friends.

From Piglet in Portugal, a jar of smiles.

Ju-Lyn, of Touring my Backyard, got warmth from a snowy scene. (Someone from Maine just might have sent her a card.)

Thistles and Kiwis shared the many wonderful things popping up in Wellington.

Dawn, from Change is Hard, featured a picture of one of the loveliest harbingers of spring in the northern United States, the red-winged blackbird.

 

Episode 2 of My Podcast, Tales from the Other Green Door

It’s Wednesday, and that means “Hiding Luck,” Episode 2 of The Wings of Luck, is available from our podcast, Tales from the Other Green Door. In “Hiding Luck,” Jace and Thirret must decide how to protect Ginni the grenog and Tove the onnea  from the sinister elf, Donad Ashglade.

Thanks to all who listened to “A Grenog Comes to the Café,” Episode 1 of the podcast. I so appreciate all the kind words and encouragement.

Getting the knack of doing a good recording for the podcast has taken—ahem—a bit of work, but I have enjoyed the challenge, and I feel as though both Clif and I are more sure of how to make a good recording. It seems that old dogs really can learn new tricks.

Anyway, hope to see you at The Other Green Door, where they have the best croissants and magical relics in town.

Snow-Gauge Clif: Week 3, 2021

Last week, Clif and I took a walk on a March day that was so warm I took off my jacket. Hats and gloves were optional. But this is Maine, and today, with the windchill, the temperature has dipped to 0°F.  No walks are planned for today.

Fortunately, Snow-Gauge Clif did his measuring yesterday, when the weather was less brisk. And despite the cold temp, progress has been made. The snow has gone down, and the driveway, for the first time this winter, is mostly clear of snow.

In the backyard, which gets more sun, there has been even more progress.

There are actually a few teeny tiny bare spots on the patio. (I’m thinking of cheating this year and shoveling the patio so that we can have friends over when the temp hits 50°.)

The garden emerges, and there is bare ground. Joy, joy, happy, happy!

Best of all, a closer look reveals the first green shoots of the season.

Despite the whipsaw nature of March, we are cheered by these small glimpses of Spring.

Friday Favorites: A Spring Walk and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

In Maine in March, Spring is a fitful affair that comes and goes. Sometimes it seems like winter; other times, there is a hint of something soft and warm in the air.

Yesterday definitely felt like spring. The temperature reached the mid-50s, a heatwave as far as Clif and I are concerned, and in the afternoon, after our work for the day was finished, out we went for a walk.

I know from reading other blogs that some people get snowdrops and daffodils this time of year.

In Maine we get footprints in the mud,

water rushing down the side of the road,

and a bucket to collect sap for making maple syrup.

But because Clif and I are Mainers, this is what we are used to, and all these modest signs of Spring are thrilling to us. There might be more cold weather, there might even be snow, but Winter is relaxing his icy grip.

Also on yesterday’s walk, we thrilled to the sight of the snowbanks pulling away from the side of the road.

We stopped to chat with our friends Cheryl and Deny, who were out in their fenced-in backyard with their dogs. Our friend Judy, with her own dog, was visiting. How good it was to see them all, lovely dogs included.

We waved to other neighbors who were sitting on their front porch.

“Heatwave” I called.

“Yes, yes,” they called back.

And to follow a tradition that I’ve begun this year, here are Clif and I waving to you.

It might look as though I have some kind of third appendage hanging from me on the far left. Instead, it is the sleeve of my jacket. I grew so warm that I had to take off my jacket and tie it around my waist.

What can I say? I’m a “Mainah,” and after the cold of winter, 55°F with no wind feels pretty darned warm.

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This week for music, I’m going to branch out from my beloved Tiny Desk Concerts to feature a YouTube video of “The Impression that I Get” by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. It seems to me that during this difficult year, most of us have been knocking on wood, and I bet these musicians are, too.

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Here are favorites and simple pleasures from other blogging friends:

Dawn, from Change is Hard, featured her smiling Sheltie.  And what could be better than a smiling Sheltie? Not much.

On the other hand, the birthday of a beloved child is pretty darned special, too. Ju-Lyn, from Touring My Backyard, and her family recently celebrated her lovely daughter’s 21 birthday. Happy birthday, Jo!

Thistles and Kiwis wrote about all the cool things popping up in Wellington—art, parks, food. What a great place!

Announcing Episode 1 of Our Podcast, Tales from the Other Green Door

Today, on this warm, sunny Wednesday in March, we are releasing Episode 1 of our new podcast, Tales from The Other Green Door. The podcast is an offshoot of my novel Out of Time, and it involves two elves—Jace Willowdale and her cousin Thirret Greenwood—and their adventures in Portland, Maine. They run a café called—ta-da!—The Other Green Door, where they not only bake tasty treats but also collect magical relics.

Each Wednesday, for the next eleven weeks, we will be dropping a new episode of “The Wings of Luck,” the first tale from The Other Green Door podcast.

In episode 1, “A Grenog Comes to the Café,” an unexpected visitor turns up at The Other Green Door, setting in motion a dangerous chain of events.

Hope to see you at The Other Green Door, which has the best croissants and magical relics in town.

Snow-Gauge Clif: March 8, 2021

From last week to this week, the snow has barely melted. It is, after all, early March in Maine, which is much like February—still in winter’s grip with the possibility of one or two major snowstorms. The temps go well below freezing at night, and when we get up in the morning, the house is a tad below 60°. A little brisk, as we Mainers might say.

Here is Snow-Gauge Clif in the front yard.

And here he is in the backyard.

Outside our living room window, icicles hang from our shrubs.

But as we make our slow way through March, I can feel a softening. For one thing, the days are longer. It is light well before 7:00 a.m., and it doesn’t get dark until 6:00 p.m. Sheer bliss from the days of December, when the dark closed in at 4:00 p.m.

Also, perhaps most cheering of all, the birds have begun their spring songs—chickadees, tufted titmice, cardinals. How I love to hear them. The bird feeders need to be refilled frequently as the birds are coming more often than they did during the winter. Perhaps they are fortifying themselves for the hard work of starting and raising a family.

This week, the forecast is for temperatures to be in the 40s and even the 50s. A regular heatwave after the cold of February.

Am I ready? You bet I am.

As soon as the patio has a clear spot for the chairs, and the weather is consistently mild—above 40—we’ll begin having socially distanced visits again.