Category Archives: News

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. ;))

Ta-Dah! A Map of Elferterre

I’m coming down the homestretch with the proofing for my new YA fantasy, Out of Time. By mid-November, I should be done. Fanfare, please! I certainly won’t be sorry when that arduous job is done.

I’m not sure how much I’ll be blogging until the proofing is finished. More than likely, posts will be sporadic.

However, I did want to share our first-ever map that will be in Out of Time. The map was created by my husband, Clif, and it features the country of Norlander, which is in the magical realm of Elferterre, where Maya and her new team—Will, Jay, and Lexie—must travel.

In Elferterre—green and mysterious with a touch of steampunk—Maya, Will, Jay, and Lexie encounter allies and foes, including a talking cat, a witch, sprites, ogres, imps, and a mechanical horse. All the while, Magic swirls around Elferterre, enhancing the good and bad in every creature that Maya and her team meet.

Stay tuned!

Taking a Short Break but Still Time for a Couple of Friday Favorites

The time has come to take a short break from blogging, maybe a week, maybe two, as I finish proofing my new YA fantasy novel Out of Time, Book Three in The Great Library Series.  Proofing is fussy, time-consuming work but absolutely necessary. Out of Time will be published in November, which is just around the corner. Hence the need to focus all my creative attention on the book.

Still, it is Friday, and before I go on my break, I do have time to slide in a couple of things that are making me happy.

Even in mid-October, when the leaves are falling and the air is decidedly crisp, the patio is still one of my favorite places. Nowadays, Clif and I must bundle up for drinks and snacks on the patio, but we still enjoy being out there. Notice how the patio has now been set-up for socially-distanced visits. The patio is twenty years old, and never have the chairs and tables been arranged the way they are now. A sign of life during the pandemic, that’s for sure.

Now on to an inside pleausre—music. What in the world would I do without NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert? Not only have I been able to listen to old favorites such as the Avett Brothers, but I have also been introduced to groups I’ve never heard of. One of those groups is alt-J, an English indie rock band. Why had I never heard of them? Indie rock is one of my favorite genres, and alt-J’s debut album, An Awesome Wave, came out in 2012. I have no excuse. But thanks to NPR and Tiny Desk, I now have another group to add to my list of favorites.

And because I’m going to gone for a while, here’s a bonus Tiny Desk Concert with musicians Lily & Madeleine. Such lovely harmonies.

As we Franco-Americans would say, à bientôt.

In which Instructions Are Provided for Using Dear Old Classic Editor so that the Terror of Block Editor May Be Avoided

It is unusual for me to post two pieces in the same day, but I came upon such brilliant advice from the blog The Belmont Rooster, that I decided to break with precedent. As the title of this post suggests, the advice involves instructions for continuing with Classic Editor, which is clean and easy to use.

From reading other blogs, I know there has been much consternation with the new Block Editor. I understand. I, too, hate the new system, which I find ugly and clunky. (Some bloggers do like it. After all, it takes all kinds to make the world go round.)

For those, like me, who would rather use Classic Editor, click on the link I provided above with The Belmont Rooster, and you will receive  step-by-step instructions.

Here they are in short:

“Scroll down to “Posts” and click or click on “All Posts”… DO NOT CLICK ON “ADD NEW” OR IT WILL TAKE YOU THE NEW EDITOR.

“After clicking you will see “Add New” with an arrow next to it.

“When you click on the arrow you are given the choice to click on “Block Editor” or “Classic Editor”.

“There it is… The Classic Editor. Without having to upgrade to the business plan.”

And, dear blogging friends, by following those instructions, I was able to do this post in Classic Editor.

Easy peasy.

Hot dog!

 

 

 

A Time for Mourning

By now I’m sure all of you have heard about the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a woman who looked like a dove but had the heart of a lioness. She fought tirelessly for women’s rights, which, in the end are human rights.

Heather Cox Richardson, in her Letter from an American, writes, “Justice Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 15, 1933, in an era when laws, as well as the customs they protected, treated women differently than men. Ginsburg would grow up to challenge the laws that barred women from jobs and denied them rights, eventually setting the country on a path to extend equal justice under law to women and LGBTQ Americans.”

Richardson goes on to quote Ginsburg, who in turn quoted from the abolitionist Sarah Grimke: “I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.”

I’ll stop here. Much will be written and said about Ginsburg over the next week, and I don’t have anything new to add. But I wanted to take time to honor this remarkable woman.

Rest in power, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and many, many thanks for all that you did.  You rose to the top and made the world a better place. Alas, the same cannot be said of all who achieve great power, and your shining example will not be forgotten.

 

If a Tree Falls in Your Backyard…

You most certainly hear a crashing sound when a tree falls in your backyard. Clif and I had just finished breakfast when we heard a loud bang. It didn’t take us long to discover what had happened—the dead tree at the edge of our yard finally came down.

Why this morning, when there was hardly even a breeze? Why not in the past two weeks when we had extremely windy weather? Who knows? But once again, we got lucky. The tree fell on the gardens, but no real damage was done. The tree missed the bird feeder and my beautiful blue fountain. It missed our glass table and the solar panel.

Here are views from the back.

 

Sherlock, of course, had to inspect the damage.

Clif and I were oh so glad Sherlock wasn’t out there to get hurt when the tree fell. Ditto for his sister Miss Watson.

Now there is much clean-up to do, and because of this, my day has taken a different turn. I was going to write about our Family Virtual Film Festival, but I will save that for Friday as the Film Festival made me very happy indeed, a bright spot during these isolated times of the pandemic.

So out back I go, to help clean up the wood, which we’ll be able to burn in our wood furnace.

 

Turtle Time, Rest Time

We are in the middle of August, buzzing August. The hot weather has slacked off, at least for now, and the landscape has a slightly frazzled late summer look that perfectly captures the way I feel.

In May, Clif suggested we create a podcast called Tales from the Other Green Door. This involved writing a new story, and I came up with The Wings of Luck, a twelve-episode spin-off from my Great Library series. Running at about ninety pages, The Wings of Luck could be considered a novella, and last week I finished tightening and tweaking it. In between, I gardened furiously in May; put together an information packet for the cover to Out of Time, my fantasy novel that will be coming out in November; and dealt with the ongoing stress of life during a pandemic.

And now, to borrow from Bilbo Baggins, I feel like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. I need a break, a week off where I bob through the days and rest from time to time, like this turtle on the rock.

Clif and I have decided to make a proper staycation of it, with various treats—mostly low carb and low cal—and drinks on the patio when the weather allows.

Then, it will be on to recording the podcast. I will also be getting Out of Time, Book Three of my Great Library Series, ready for printing this November.

Have a good week, everyone.

I’ll catch you on the flipside.

Oh, My! A New Book & A Podcast in the Works

Last night the rain finally came, and what a wonderful thing to hear it dripping from the eaves. It was a perfect rain—not too driving—and I think we might have gotten at least an inch.  Rain is in the forecast for the next few days, and while I like a sunny day as much as the next person, I am grateful for the rain as we surely need it. June has been such a dry month.

Here are a couple of pictures of our rainy yard. (Or garden as my friends across the pond would say.)

Lots of green, as you can see, but as my blogging friend Quercus wisely noted, green is a color, too. Yes, it is.

I am happy to report that Clif and I rose to the strawberry challenge, which I mentioned in my previous post. That is, two quarts of very ripe strawberries that wouldn’t keep long. In two-and-a-half days, those strawberries were gone. Utterly delicious! A good example of what you can do when you put your mind to it.

July is going to be a busy month for me. In the fall, Out of Time, the third book in The Great Library Series, will be published. In the next week, I have to get details about the book to James at Bookfly Design for the cover.  As with any book, there is also lots of picky copy editing to do before Out of Time can be published.

In addition, Clif and I have been working on an exciting new project—Tales from The Other Green Door, a podcast that will air sometime in July or August. The Other Green Door is a spin-off from Out of Time, and it involves two elves, Jace Willowdale and her cousin Thirret Greenwood. They have come from New York City to Portland, Maine, to open a café called The Other Green Door. Jace and Thirret are hoping for a quiet life in this small city by the bay. But because Jace accumulates magical relics from Elferterre, a mysterious dimension, the quiet life eludes them.

Because of the book and the podcast and all the work I must do to get them ready, blog posts for the next month or two are likely to be brief, with maybe a few pictures and a few lines.

Onward, ho!

And stay tuned for the podcast cover.

 

 

 

Juneteenth and Hot Weather

In the United states, today is Juneteenth.  As someone who lives in one of the whitest states in the country, I hadn’t heard of Juneteenth until a few years ago. Here is a description from the New York Times:

On June 19, 1865, about two months after the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Va., Union Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African-Americans of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended. General Granger’s announcement put into effect the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued more than two and a half years earlier on Jan. 1, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln.

The holiday received its name by combining June and 19. The day is also sometimes called “Juneteenth Independence Day,” “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day.”

In the days before electronic media, news traveled slowly. Hard to believe that it took two months for African-Americans in Galveston to learn that the Civil War had ended. But such was life in the mid-1800s, thus proving yet again that not everything about the good old days was good.

So happy Juneteenth! I hope all who celebrate will find a safe way to do so. In some states, it is a big day for cookouts and family reunions. (That ratty covid-19 just keeps taking.)

A little closer to home…Clif and I finally broke down and bought an air conditioner. We have lived in the woods for nearly forty years, and for most of that time, a fan in the attic pretty much did the trick. At night, when things cooled down, we would turn on the fan and all the hot air would be directed up and eventually out of the house.

But for the past ten years, summers in central Maine have become hotter and hotter. Once upon a time, our biggest worry for the Fourth of July was whether it would rain. Nowadays, it’s whether it will be such a blister of a day that we won’t be able to enjoy the yearly gathering we usually have. (Alas, not this year because of the aforementioned ratty covid-19.)

Last July we had thirteen days where the temperature was above 90° Fahrenheit. And here we are again, on June 18 with 90° weather. (We were there in May, too.) In what universe is it 90° in May and June in Maine? In this new universe of climate change, I guess.

Last August, when I went to get my hair cut, I told my hairdresser that we didn’t have air conditioning. I mentioned how hot and uncomfortable we had been in July.

My hairdresser said, “Laurie, it’s only going to get hotter as the years go by. You really should  consider buying an air conditioner.”

I agreed, and her words stuck with me.

So this year we did it. Here it is, and as Clif has noted, it looks like a maintenance droid out of Star Wars.

We decided to get a free-standing unit rather than one that goes in the window because we figured it would be easier to wheel this into a backroom and store it for the winter rather than heft a unit in and out of the window each spring and fall. It is also a heat pump and energy efficient, which means we might be using it for heat come spring and fall.

Yesterday, just in time to make us glad that we followed my hairdresser’s suggestion, I read in the Times that “Scientists Predict Scorching Temperatures to Last Through Summer.”

We will be ready with our air-conditioning droid.

 

Luck x 2=No Power Outage

As the title indicates, we were lucky yet again. The wind blew, but it did not  knock out our power.  In Central Maine, there were no widespread power outages. This storm was primarily a coastal storm, and that’s where most of the outages were. Sure hope they get their power back soon.

One thing the rain did is take away the snow. As a reminder, here is what the backyard looked like last Friday.

From a slightly different perspective, here is what the backyard looked like this morning.

In deference to the wind, I moved the chairs and set them against the house. The little glass table went downstairs. Out they will soon come.

Now, fingers crossed that Winter is really and truly gone and will allow Spring to show her pretty face. In Maine, Winter’s cold grip is long and is only released grudgingly.

But in the end, Spring always has her way.