Category Archives: Celebrate

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.

 

Friday Favorites: Scenes from an Inauguration

Wednesday was a huge day for Clif and me, for this country, and, I think, for the world. Despite the assault on the Capitol two weeks ago, we had a lawful transfer of power. Joseph Biden is now the president of the United States.

Finally, finally, Trump, his family, and their entourage left Washington, DC. I could write all kinds of snarky things about his departure, but I won’t.

Instead, I will focus on President Biden’s inauguration ceremony. Despite the restrictions that were put into place because of the raging pandemic and enough security after 1/6 to make the Capitol look like the Green Zone in Baghdad, the inauguration was a joyous, beautiful event filled with firm resolve and hope.

Here are some scenes, clipped from YouTube, that I was particularly struck by.

First, Lady Gaga, who sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” our national anthem. As the comedian Stephen Colbert noted, Lady Gaga looked as though she were wearing a red carpet instead of walking on one. Yes, she did. Lady Gaga is someone who certainly likes to make an entrance. But holy cats can she ever sing. “The Star-Spangled Banner” is not a song for the fainthearted, and Lady Gaga didn’t stumble even once. Indeed, she knocked it out of the park, as the saying goes.

Wednesday was also a day of firsts as Kamala Harris—the first woman, Black, and South Asian—was sworn in as vice president. Even though it has taken too long to have a woman as vice president, this was a proud moment for this country. I hope I live long enough to see a woman sworn in as president.

Then, of course, the main event—Joe Bidden and his uplifting yet honest, plain-spoken words as his speech outlined the many challenges this country faces. And his confidence that this country was up to overcoming those challenges.

The most beautiful, luminous part of the inauguration was when a young poet, Amanda Gorman, delivered her radiant poem, “The Hill We Climb.” When she was done, I wanted to stand up and cheer.

For comic relief, there was Vermont’s Senator Bernie Sanders, one of my favorites, complete with mittens and a practical jacket. Bernie is never anything less than who he is, and for this I am grateful.

Finally Demi Lovato’s soaring song “Lovely Day” from the Celebrating America broadcast, an evening program which followed President Biden’s inauguration.

In the background, as Lovato sings, are faces that are black, brown, white. There are women, men, and children of various ethnicities. This is what America looks like, and we should rejoice.

The Holiday Week in Six Pictures

The 2020 holiday week was one of the strangest (and loneliest) we have ever had. Here is what our living room looked like the day before Christmas, when we Zoomed with our kids and opened presents.

A wind storm and power outages—which have unfortunately become the norm in Maine—were predicted for Christmas Day, and we decided to play it safe by celebrating the day before.

We made the occasion as festive as possible with drinks and special snacks. But, as I’m sure you all know, there is no substitution for having those you love actually with you. Zoom was certainly better than nothing, but we sure did miss our family.

On the bright side, along with many other lovely presents from family and friends, I received a stack of books as well as chocolates and snappy bookmarks. Woo-hoo! Few things fill my heart with more pleasure than having new books to read and chocolate to nibble on. Readers of my Great Library Series will perhaps get the “man who doesn’t smile” reference on one of the bookmarks. Beware, indeed!

On Christmas Day, the rain bucketed down. Fortunately, the wind wasn’t as bad as forecasted, and we didn’t lose our power.

We watched Pixar’s new movie Soul, available on Disney+. Such a deep, beautiful film about a middle-aged musician who has had a disappointing life and must come to terms with this. Not for young children, but it will certainly ring true for many adults, and it moved me to tears more than once. My favorite movie of the year, and I highly recommend it.

All that rain melted the snow, and out came the patio chairs for hardy friends who don’t mind visiting when the weather is a little on the brisk side. Actually, more than a little brisk, and I certainly understand why this kind of visit isn’t for everyone.

On the second day of the New Year, snow came. The chairs, along with the and blankets and little tables, were tucked down cellar.

Will we bring them out again? I expect we will. Several of our friends have indicated they would be up for a driveway visit if there is too much snow on the patio. With my creaky knees, standing in one place is not a good thing, and even though the weather might be chilly, sitting is a better way for me to visit.

The pandemic has been terrible, but it has taught us how to be creative and patient. Nevertheless, I certainly hope that the vaccine is widespread enough so that the 2021 holiday season isn’t as lonely.

 

 

Onward, Ho, to 2021!

Phew, what a year it has been! I remember thinking last January 1 that 2020 might be a year for clarity. It certainly was but not in a way that I expected. Not in a way that any of us expected, I think.

Yesterday, on the last day of 2020, Clif and I took a walk to the Narrows. The day was gray, but the Narrows were soothing and peaceful in the way that inland water usually is. It does my spirit good to look upon water, and one of my 2021 goals is to walk regularly to the Narrows, only about a quarter of a mile away from our home.

I am feeling refreshed from my break, and on Monday I will be back to to my regular blogging schedule of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I also will be back to reading all the wonderful posts from my blogging friends from around the world. Finally, I’ll begin working on Book Four of the Great Library series as well as a podcast that features a spin-off story.

Busy times ahead, but it feels good to be back in the saddle again, so to speak. I am someone who needs creative projects to work on, and without them my life just doesn’t have any fizz.

A very happy New Year to you all! Onward, ho, to 2021. Let us hope that it is a better year than 2020.

Just Clif and Me

For the first time ever, Clif and I will be spending Thanksgiving alone. No children, no friends, just Clif and me. It hardly needs to be said that there will be no going to the cinema to see the beginning of the season’s blockbuster movies, a family tradition that stretches way back.

For the most part, Clif and I have accepted our situation with what might be called equanimity.  Or acceptance. Or whatever. We’re not angry, and we’re not depressed. However, I would be lying if I stated that we aren’t a little wistful as we remember past Thanksgivings. That’s allowed, I think.

More than anything else, this holiday feels flat. There hasn’t been a flurry of cooking and cleaning, the way there usually is before Thanksgiving. No planning. No anticipation. In some ways, this week seems like any other week during the time of Covid-19 and not like Thanksgiving at all.

However, I will be preparing a meal that’s a little special for the two of us: a green bean casserole made with with cheese and a sour-cream sauce, stuffing, potatoes, and carrots. For dessert we have a chocolate satin pie, commercially made but good nonetheless. No turkey, as Clif and I are vegetarians, but we will enjoy our veggie feast.

We have also put out our holiday lights, to brighten the long nights of November and December.

The wee camera has made the lights more purple and glaring than they actually are, but this gives an idea of how the lights look, a glowing spot on a dark country road.

We will be Zooming with the kids, which perks up any day, Thanksgiving or not. Thank goodness for technology!

We also plan to watch Babette’s Feast tomorrow, an oldie but goodie. The story, set in the 1800s, revolves around a French refuge—Babette—who is taken in by two Danish women, the daughters of a strict (and selfish) father who was a pastor. I don’t want to say too much about the plot in case you haven’t seen this delightful movie that deals with coming to terms with a difficult and disappointing past. And food. Lots of food. Hence its appropriateness for Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American blogging friends. I hope you find a way to make the day special even if there isn’t the usual gang of loved ones and friends around your table.

The day might be lonely and quiet, but truly there are things to be grateful for. A very effective vaccine is on the horizon, and in January, we will have a new president.

Onward to the longest night of the year. Onward to 2021.

 

2020 Reprise: I Need a Little Christmas, Now!

For the first time ever, I have begun my Christmas decorating before rather than after Thanksgiving, the time when most folks in the United States think we should be decking the halls. (I do, however, have a cousin who bucks the trend, and she sets up her Christmas village well before Thanksgiving. Go, Cousin, go!)

Here are some of the many Santas that are decorating the bookcase in our living room  Most of the Santas are gifts, and how wonderful it is to see them again after nearly a year.

This picture features two gifts: The lovely panel is from my blogging friend Judy of New Hampshire Garden and Thread, and my mother gave me the Santa Clause.

Let’s face it—2020 has been one heck of year, and I suspect many of us need a little Christmas now. Here’s a rousing version of the song the title of this post borrows from, with Angela Lansbury belting it out as Auntie Mame. Wasn’t she cute as a button in her younger years?  Confession Time: I have never seen Auntie Mame as a play or a movie, and this just might be the year I rectify that mistake.

Haul out the holly, and slice up that fruitcake, now!

An Announcement and Some Giveaways

Glory be and Hallelujah! Clif and I have finished proofing Out of Time, Book Three in the Great Library Series.

Do I feel like butter spread thin on too much bread? I certainly do. But I also feel a keen sense of accomplishment. Out of Time took two years from beginning to end, and finally it is ready to go out into the world.

Right now, Out of Time can be ordered through Amazon. Next week, our book can also be purchased through bookstores and other online vendors. By November 28, we will have books on hand so that we can sell signed copies to readers in the United States. I will keep you all posted as I know many of you like to order directly from us.

For readers new to my blog, here is a brief overview of the Great Library series: In our universe, two forces—Time and Chaos—battle for control of the Great Library, a mysterious place where all information flows. From the Great Library come the sentient Books of Everything, which contain the vast knowledge of the library. The Books are sent to planets across the universe to help the various inhabitants.

In the middle of this battle between Time and Chaos is one kid from Earth—Maya Hammond, a girl who has the ability to see to the heart of things. She comes into possession of Earth’s Book of Everything, and adventures ensue as she tries to protect the Book and the Great Library from Chaos. In Maya and the Book of Everything and Library Lost, Maya goes back in time and across the universe, all the while being pursued by Chaos’s minions.

In Out of Time, Maya travels to Elferterre, which is in a dimension ruled by Magic. On Elferterre, Maya hopes to find a magical artifact that will help tip things in Time’s favor.

The overall message of the series is that facts do matter, which somehow never stops being a relevant topic in our real world.

So there you have it. Nearly 900 pages in a nutshell.

Now here’s the fun part—to celebrate the publication of Out of Time, we are giving away one signed copy of Out of Time and three calendars that feature Clif’s snappy map of Elferterre.

Click here to enter the contest.

Prizes will be mailed anywhere on the planet.

Entries will be accepted between 11/14/2020 through 11/28/20.

The drawing will be held on December 1, 2020.

So don’t be shy! Sign up for the giveaways.

Walking on Sunshine

Yesterday, I felt as though a great weight had been lifted from me.  Pennsylvania was called for Joe Biden, and he therefore had more than enough votes to win the electoral college, the arcane way our country selects a president. Each state is assigned a number of  electors, who in turn have one vote. The number of electors in each state are based on population. In turn, those electors are pledged to vote how the majority in each state has voted. The winner must get at least 270 votes. With Pennsylvania, Biden reached 279. (President Trump has vowed to challenge in court the results of the election. The general feeling is that too many votes have gone to Biden for any of the challenges to change the outcome of the presidential race.)

Do I think this is a strange way to elect a president? Yes, I do. But it is the system this country has, and for now we must go with it.

At any rate, despite the fact that Trump has not conceded—customary but not required—Joe Biden is now our president-elect. There was literally dancing in the streets as people across the country celebrated the news.

On Saturday night, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and President-elect Joe Biden gave speeches that were full of empathy, hope, grace, and resolve. On the stage I saw joy and love as their families joined them after the speeches were over.

As they face formidable challenges in this country and around the world, Biden and Harris will need every bit of grace and resolve they can muster.

Best of luck to them!

And the song below, sung by the buoyant Katrina & The Waves, exactly captures the way I felt yesterday.

 

Correction: My daughter, Shannon, very nicely let me know that when Pennsylvania was called the numbers were 273, before Nevada was added. ;))

October Birthday

Today is the birthday of our eldest daughter, Dee. I have always loved the month of October, and her birth made it even more beautiful to me.

In honor of Dee, I post these pictures of this golden month that glows even when the days are gray and dreary, when even a walk to the mailbox across the street glimmers with a yellow- and russet-difused light, and the brisk air is filled with the nutty scent of autumn leaves.

Happy birthday, eldest daughter!