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.

And Back Again

As it turned out, my wee break lasted much longer than I had expected. Note to self: Do not ever plan to finish writing a book during peak gardening season, which in Maine is the lovely month of May.

Not surprisingly, for the entire month, I pinged back and forth between my book—Of Time and Magic—and the gardens. Because there is a deadline for the cover, the book took precedence. In three weeks, I wrote 10,000 words and brought Maya’s story to what feels to me like a satisfying conclusion. (I certainly hope readers feel the same way.) Now it’s time to edit, edit, edit.

As for the gardens…I am behind; there are no two ways about it. Two-thirds of the beds have had compost spread on them. One half have been fertilized. But I keep plugging on. Yesterday morning I got up early and tucked compost here and there under plants that are approaching full grown. In a normal year, composting and fertilizing would have been done the third week in May. Fortunately, I did a lot of dividing and moving last year, and there wasn’t much to do this year.

Then there’s the house. The less said about that the better.

However, despite my slow ways, the gardens seem to be doing just fine.

About two weeks ago, we were treated to deep purple irises in the backyard.

The irises have gone by, and now there is lush green. More flowers will bloom in June and July.

Until then, this cheery sign—with places from my books—provides a splash of color. (Thanks yet again, Beth Clark, for this wonderful present.)

The beds out front are abloom with white, cool and soothing.

With a bit of blue from Jacob’s Ladder.

I have missed reading all your lovely blogs and am happy to be back in the swing of blogging. Such a wonderful community! From now on, I will be posting once a week on Mondays. Unless, of course, I get such exciting news that another post is needed.

See you next Monday.

 

 

 

A Wee Break

The time has come to take a wee break from blogging. Between finishing Of Time and Magic and spring gardening, I don’t have much energy for anything else.

Two days ago, I crested 100,000 words, and today I’ll begin the chapter I’ve been heading toward since Book One, Maya and the Book of Everything.

Thanks to Mick Herron and his excellent Slow Horses, I’ve figured out how to structure the end of Of Time and Magic. I love the Slow Horses television series, which features the great and good Kristen Scott Thomas and Gary Oldman. I love the book even more—good writing, vivid characters, cracking plot. I highly recommend both the TV series and the book.

So goodbye for a week or two. I’ll miss reading your posts, but, as the saying goes, needs must.

Here’s a parting shot of a hyacinth that my mother-in-law planted thirty-seven years ago. My mother-in-law has been gone for seventeen years, but I’m still enjoying the flower’s spring beauty.

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