Category Archives: Home

Walktober: Walking Toward Our House on the Edge of the Woods

With this post, I am joining Robin of Breezes at Dawn for her annual Walkotober event, where blogging friends are invited to go on a walk in October and then share it with her. This year, because home is so important to me, I decided to feature a short walk down the road toward our house.

As the title indicates, our home is on the edge of the woods, and the trees hide the house until suddenly you come upon it.

Here I am, just up the road, no house in sight.

I walk a little farther, and a school bus goes by. Before the bus disappears down the road, I manage to snap a picture of it.

Finally, a glimpse of our red house.

A clearer, view, but still through the trunks of trees.

Finally, here it is, our home: modest, cozy, in need of repairs (we’re working on it.) One of the places I love best.

Before and After

Last Monday, the horrible heat broke with the temp dropping from in the 90s to in the 70s. Much, much better but still humid. On Thursday we had a light rain—wish we’d had more—that cleared the air, and now here we are with August weather very much like the August of my memories: clear, not humid, cool at night, and hot, but not too hot during the day. I could take many more months just like this with the grasshoppers buzzing, and the hermit thrush singing in the morning and the crickets’ chorus at night. Even though I have creaky knees, this weather puts a spring in my step.

Here are a few views of my front yard gardens, in the dappled light of  morning.

Clearly, the black-eyed Susans are the stars—along with the toad and the mermaid—of my August garden.


Through the hot and the humid, the cool and the delightful, Clif has been hard at work replacing a living-room window, well past the point of needing to be replaced.


And after.

Once Clif has finished with the window, he will tear off the old cardboard siding—I’m only exaggerating by a little—and replace it with wood siding. We’ll even be getting a new porch light. The old one has been there for at least forty years, and I don’t think we can be accused of getting rid of it too soon.

Still, we do like to keep things as long as they are useful, and we are careful not to get rid of anything willy-nilly.

With all these improvements, how spiffy our entryway will look!

Next summer, onward to another part of the house with more windows and siding to be replace. Never a dull moment at our home by the edge of the woods.


With my upcoming book Of Time and Magic, I am at the very picky, eye-straining stage of editing, of going over every line to catch as many errors as I can.

On this blog, cutting back to one post a week was a good plan, and I will be doing this for the foreseeable future. Eventually, I hope to be back to featuring other bloggers’ posts. This takes more time than you might think, and right now most of my energy is going to Of Time and Magic.

Also, I would like to get back to book, movie, television series, and music recommendations. I really, really enjoy getting recommendations from other folks and adding them to my various lists. These recommendations expand the horizons of this Maine writer who can go for weeks without leaving the house and yard. With your mind, you can travel anywhere, no matter your circumstances.

So, many thanks, blogging friends.

Until next week…




The Frost has Come

In Maine, we have had a beautiful fall this year. Lots of sunny days with just enough rain mixed in. As it has been for the past several falls, the weather was warmer than average, which allowed us more days on the patio, right through to the middle of October. I know. The warmer weather is not a good sign, but as a Mainer, I can’t help but appreciate the extension of summer into September and September’s weather into October.

Back in the day, the first frost in Maine came sometime the middle of October, but this year it came the first week of November. The frost nipped the basil and the begonias.

It was hard enough to freeze the water in the bird bath.

And it definitely put an end to the tomato plants.

Time for some clean-up. Following  the advice of Jason from the blog Garden in a City, I no longer cut back perennials in the fall. Instead, I do everything in the spring. According to Jason, over the winter uncut perennials  provide a home for many beneficial insects.

As it turns out, waiting until spring is a much better fit for my schedule. In the fall, I am either finishing a book or publishing a book, and I can barely focus on anything else.

I know some gardeners are concerned that waiting until spring will make the clean-up harder. I have not found this to be the case. Because I live by the woods, there is always a lot of clearing to do in the spring, and the remains of the previous season’s perennials are easy to scoop up with the bed of leaves that inevitable fall and blow into my gardens.

But I do remove the wilted annuals—herbs, flowers, and vegetables. I also rake the last of the fallen leaves from the patio and bring in most of the garden ornaments, including that bird bath, which is now tucked safely down cellar.

The big patio table has also been brought down cellar, but we have left the chairs and firepit set up in hopes of having a few more fires before there is too much snow.

And, we are still sliding in weekend treats of grilled bread, which we now eat at the dining room table. But those days will soon be coming to an end.

This is a bittersweet time of year as we say farewell to the delights of early fall and move into the colder, shorter but still beautiful days of November.



Above, I mentioned how busy I am in the fall, and this year is no different. I am working hard to finish Book Four in my Great Library Series, and I hope to be done by Christmas. At 50,000 words with 40,000 or so to go, I’m not sure if I’m going to finish by then, but that is my goal.

To make things a little easier, I will temporarily be discontinuing the “Nifty Posts from Lovely Blogs” section that I have often been featuring on Mondays.  Also, I won’t be able to participate in any challenges. I plan to continue with both after the book is done, sometime in the new year.

But never fear, I will still be reading your lovely blogs until I take my Christmas break.

Onward, ho!



Shadows in the Backyard

Yesterday was a glorious winter day—sunny, bright, and warm with a hint that spring might be on the way. Before making soup for our supper and doing a bit of decluttering down cellar, I headed outside to see what was going on in the backyard. The weather was so warm—at least to this Mainer—that no gloves were needed. Or wanted.

Immediately, I was struck by the shadows on the snow.

The broad sweep of blue grey, in the shade, at the far end of the yard,

the wisp of a tiny evergreen tip that had fallen into the snow,

the solid square of the bird feeder favored by the cardinals,

the hook for our hummingbird feeders, tucked down cellar until late spring,

the bulky outline of trees punctuated by the slim slats of the fence at the edge of the woods,

and finally me, with a wave of my hand, to blogging friends near and far.


I’ll Keep Trying

Spring is most definitely here.

The lawns are abloom with tiny spring flowers that are not always easy for the wee camera to photograph. But by gum, yesterday the light must have been just right for the camera to capture this dandelion,

some violets,

and even this tiny flower on a plant I was given and have no idea what it is.

No blooms yet in the back garden, but I did come across this feather.

Even though there are no flowers, everything is growing splendidly, and I love the green of spring.

Yesterday, we put out the hummingbird feeders.

Already, the little will-o’-the-wisps have begun coming to the feeder.

It is not easy for me to get a picture of them, but I’ll keep trying.

These Are the Days

This morning Clif said, “My underwear is in the mailbox.”

My first thought: What a place for underwear!

But this is life during the time of the coronavirus: Underwear in the mailbox because we don’t want to go to Target. Instead, we have been ordering online the necessities of life.

In the days before the coronavirus, we ordered online maybe five or six times a year. Now, it’s about five times a fortnight. I wonder how it will be when this is all over. Will we go back to shopping the way we did before?

Or, will this new habit of online ordering become a trend? It’s hard for me to predict. However, after a year or a year and a half of doing something, it could become permanent. We shall see.

In other groundbreaking news…Because Clif is still recovering from his sprained ankle, I hefted the round table up the bulkhead stairs from the cellar and onto the patio. Although my knees did not thank me when I was done, what a sight for sore eyes to see the table on the patio.

Soon it will be warm enough to have a glass of something nice as we sit on the patio.

After cleaning the table and taking pictures to celebrate the arrival of the table on the patio, I poked around a bit and discovered the that the ferns have begun to unfurl.

By the basement, where it’s warm.

But even a little farther away, in the leaves.

Despite having underwear in the mailbox, despite covid-19, despite the isolation and confinement, spring has arrived. The trees are in blossom, the ferns are coming up. As Natalie Merchant so beautifully sings, these are the days.


Winter Again

Last night, we got around five inches of snow, and as we Mainers would say, it looks like wintah again. Somehow this didn’t bother Clif and me in the least when we got up and gazed at the white beauty of the newly fallen snow. This is March, after all, and in northern New England, we frequently get snow in March.

Outside, everything looked soft and calm, soothing, even, in the face of what’s going on all around us.

I particularly like the tangle of snowy branches.

The temperature is supposed to be in the 50s today, which means the snow won’t last long. But while it does, we will treasure our winter wonderland. As my blogging friend Eliza observed, we northern New Englanders are half crazy, but in a good way.

Coronavirus News from Maine

From Maine CDC

Maine’s number of cases of the coronavirus: 118

From the Bangor Daily News

Only a week earlier, Maine had fewer than 20 confirmed cases, and health officials expect it to continue to spread.

The News from All Over

From CNN

Nearly 1 in 1,000 people in the greater metropolitan area [of New York City]  have now contracted the virus, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus coordinator, said yesterday. That makes the “attack rate” — the percentage of the population with the disease — five times higher than the rest of the US…

From the New York Times

“Look at us today,” Governor Cuomo warned the rest of the country. “Where we are today, you will be in four weeks or five weeks or six weeks. We are your future.”

The latest numbers from CNN:

Global Cases: 387,382

Global Deaths: 16,767

From Mother Nature Nature: More Unsung Heroes

There’s no shortage of people facing extraordinary adversity to help us maintain some semblance of civilization in these pandemic times.

There are the usual suspects — doctors, nurses, firefighters — who make courage under fire seem so routine.

And then there are truckers.

Rain, shine or pandemic, the U.S. relies on about 3.5 million truck drivers to keep goods — the lifeblood of an economy — in circulation.

That includes canned foods and non-perishables like tuna and rice and beans, bound for small stores and shops in every nook of the country. And yes, there’s always a need for more toilet paper on Aisle 12.

My own take: When this horrible time is over, I hope we can respect all the workers who actually keep things running: The truckers, the cashiers, the clerks, the workers who stock shelves, the receptionists, and many others. And pay them a true living wage with benefits such as health care, sick days, and vacation time.  Those at the top never fail to remind us how valuable they are and how much society needs them. Uh-huh. We know the truth now. And let’s not forget it.



Snow-Gauge Clif and Some Amazing Numbers

Another wee break from the coronavirus. Yesterday’s post was pretty heavy, and I thought I’d leaven the blog with something a little lighter. (I’ll be back on Monday with news of the coronavirus from a Maine perspective.)

Here is the second installment of Snow-Gauge Clif, who yearly measures how fast the snow melts from our home in the woods.

This is Snow-Gauge Clif in the front yard. The snow is almost gone! Very unusual for our yard in mid-March. Amazing, actually.

And here he is in the backyard. Note the mud in the foreground. See those footprints? I nearly took a flip once or twice as I went back and forth with a wheelbarrow full of leaves.

Here are a couple of photos of the front garden. For those of you in warmer places, this might not look like much. But this Mainer is very impressed with how little snow is left.

And here is a little acorn that fell on our front porch. It looks as though it has split and is ready to sprout. I am going to throw into the woods where it will have a chance to grow.

To continue on with the theme of amazing…here are some pretty amazing numbers—1,261, the number of e-books that was downloaded during our giveaway last week. To try to cheer up people and give them something do while they were hunkering in place, we offered my two YA fantasy novels, Maya and the Book of Everything and Library Lost, as e-books for free of charge for five days. (Amazon’s limit, not ours.)

Initially, I thought  we’d give twenty, maybe thirty, of them away. But, no. There are now 1,261 of my ebooks zinging around the world. Holy cats! I know free is a good price, but I never expected so many people to take us up on our offer.

I hope readers can take comfort from Maya, the main character in both books. She faces formidable adversaries, and although Maya is at times afraid, she faces and acknowledges her fears. Then Maya goes forth and carries on.

May all of you carry on.



Some Small Comforts

Today I am going to take a break from writing about the coronavirus pandemic and focus on a few good things. How? Let me count the ways.

First things first: I started the morning with cinnamon toast made from homemade bread. Also, a mug of tea featuring one of my favorite dogs.

This year, March 19 is the first day of spring, the earliest in my memory. While in Maine rough winds might not exactly be shaking the darling buds of March, the snow is pretty much gone from our yard. Yesterday, Clif took down the Christmas lights, and he didn’t even have to clamber over a snowbank to do so. I swept the patio, removing piles of dead leaves and dirt. It might not be time to bring out the chairs and tables, but it sure is good to see a clean patio with just a little itty-bit of snow left. More like mid-April than mid-March.

Our library is closed because of a certain virus I promised not to write about. Has that deterred our intrepid adult-services librarian, Nick Perry, who leads the library’s book group and trivia night at Van der Brew? It has not. Nick has started a virtual book club and movie club.

Our first book will be Somerset Maugham’s The Moon and Sixpence. I Haven’t even started the book, but just from reading the description, my feminist alarm is already shrieking. Should be a good discussion.

The movie is going to be The Hours, which is based on the book by Michael Cunningham. Clif and I have already seen this movie and liked it very much. However, we saw it ten years ago when the movie first came out, and we will have to watch it again to refresh our memories.

Not content with these two nuggets of awesomeness, Nick has made a video of several movies that he likes and that are available on Kanopy, a library streaming service. Holy cats, Nick is good! His observations are right on the mark, and his delivery and pacing are pitch perfect. Nick is so good that he could be on NPR. Watch out Bob Mondello! But don’t take my word for it. You can see for yourself on this video.


If you are unable to get Kanopy through your library, many of the movies Nick recommended are available through other streaming sources.

Finally, today is Clif’s and my forty-third wedding anniversary. We will obviously be spending a very quiet one at home. Because I am a committed homebody, this is just fine with me. We have cake in the freezer, pizza, and rum for cocktails.

Tonight, we’ll settle down with one of Nick’s suggestions, Ernest & Celestine.

Small comforts in troubled times.