Monday, May 30, 2016

WHAT IS SO RARE AS A DAY IN JUNE?

And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days. . . 
     --From: The Vision of Sir Launfal by James Russell Lowell

Like a swindler playing shell games, May’s unstable weather finally allowed summer to emerge from beneath its ever changing days and nights of warm to chilly and rainy to clear. The sun climbed higher, chasing the cold from the winds. For those who wait all year to enjoy summers in Pennsylvania, June’s arrival heralds a kaleidoscope of exquisite scents, sounds and scenes.

There is nothing more uplifting than the first smell of clover-scented grass, the delicate fragrance of wild roses, or the aroma of rain-soaked earth mingled with new green foliage. Old, gray weathered barns, tucked among the distant hills, have overflowing mows of sun-kissed, sweet-smelling hay.



If you listen closely, you can hear the rustling of the pines, the singing of a meadowlark or catbird, and the humming of busy bees. In the evening, when summer breezes drift though open windows, they carry the lowing of cattle in distant fields, or the cicadas and crickets conversing on the lawns and in the bushes. Tree frogs and bullfrogs chatter and croak, and far off, a loon or coyote calls in a lonesome voice.

Along the roadways, blackberry bushes bow down with frilly white blossoms that will bear black, sweet, ripe fruit in July. High above, billowy white clouds skip across a sky of robin’s egg blue. In the tall grass, wild strawberries elbow for room with buttercups, daisies, and blue chicory. Mornings bring hummingbirds to perform midair pirouettes among the flowers, and when the sun has gone to rest, bats soar over the treetops and fireflies twinkle as they play a game of light tag.

June is a month when nature’s at its best and the scents, sounds, and sights of summer make us glad we are alive. Oh, “what is so rare as a day in June?”




Saturday, May 21, 2016

Springtime in Reverse

“Children hold spring so tightly in their brown fists—
just as grownups, who are less sure of it, 
hold it in their hearts.”
—E. B. White

It’s finicky May when everyone is thinking of sunshine, spring, sowing seeds, and watching things grow. Despite the persnickety weather which plays hide and seek, revealing itself with a rainy, cold, or warm countenance, May is one of my favorite times of the year as the earth bursts forth with its many colors of green.

Traveling north from Texas to Pennsylvania over the last few days, I was able to see spring in reverse through the car’s windows as we flew by the rural countryside of seven states.

When we departed from Texas, the landscape was dressed in lush dark green colors. Mature leaves on the trees fluttered in the breeze. Roses bloomed, emitting sweet, fragrant scents, and verdant lawns gave off the old familiar smell of newly mown grass. The state is approaching early summer with temperatures soaring as the days fly by.

Oklahoma, “where the wind comes sweeping down the plains,” boasted meadows with Herefords and Angus grazing knee-high in the
spring grass. While In Missouri and Illinois—where miles of fields line the highways—crops are just starting to push their tiny heads through the rich soil.

In Indiana and Ohio, farmers on disc harrows kicked up dust as they tilled the earth in readiness for planting, still leery, still on the lookout for ol’ Jack Frost.

As we finally crossed Pennsylvania, we saw a whole palette of green shades—from the early lime green of new growth on the bushes, birch, and willow trees along Route 80 to the rich, dark emerald of fully emerged leaves on maples and fruit trees.

And somewhere deep inside of me, as I watched springtime arrive backwards, the farmer in me begged to be set free. I’m itching to check out the lawn and garden centers, nab a few favorite annual flowers, maybe a few tomato plants, and play in the sunshine and soil for a few hours.

Yes, it's finicky May!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

KEY TO LOVE - $0.99 Sale Ends Friday the Thirteenth



Excerpt:
    
 
 “You still haven’t told me about your nephew,
Todd.”
      The luster in Lucas’s face faded. “There’s not
much to tell. He lost his mother and father and has been
tossed into foster care with the Johnsons. I’m trying to
get temporary custody, but I’m not hopeful anything
can be done until the investigation of Mike’s death is
completed. I guess it’s standard procedure when a cop
gets killed. I’ve been lucky enough the Johnsons let me
have him on weekends.”
     “Is that allowed?” Elise opened the bread drawer
and withdrew a half loaf of bread.
      Lucas rose and walked to where she was working.
“Well, it’s bending rules a little, but they trust your
father, and the Johnsons need a break. In case you
haven’t noticed, they’re elderly, not in shape for
chasing a child Todd’s age.”
      He slapped a palm against the refrigerator. “Damn
it, Liz, it’s not fair. The kid is the one being punished,
taking the brunt of things he had no part of. He’s so
lonely he cries himself to sleep at night. He doesn’t
understand what’s happening. He doesn’t even know
where he belongs.”
     “So we spring him.”
     “It’s not that easy!”
      “Of course, it’s not going to be easy.” Elise forced
herself not to shout back, “but that doesn’t mean it’s
impossible, Lucas. Sit down, will you? I’m cooking this
morning.” She waved the half loaf of bread at him, then
withdrew four slices and dropped them into the toaster
slots.
      He blinked. “Toast? You call that cooking?”

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Mother's Day: Your Mother Is Always With You


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                       Your Mother Is Always With You...

Your mother is always with you...
She's the whisper of the leaves
as you walk down the street.
She's the smell of bleach
in your freshly laundered socks.
She's the cool hand on your brow
when you're not well.
Your mother lives inside your laughter.
She's crystallized in every tear drop.
She's the place you came from,
your first home...
She's the map you follow
with every step that you take.
She's your first love
and your first heart break...
and nothing on earth can separate you.
Not time, Not space...
Not even death...
will ever separate you
from your mother...
You carry her inside of you...

                           --Author Unknown

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Now $0.99 ~ KEY TO LOVE

                                                             KEY TO LOVE

A romantic suspense with lots of comedy!

                                   
When architect Elise Springer's father is injured, she immediately leaves San Francisco to care for him. The last person she expects to encounter in her Pennsylvania hometown is her childhood friend Lucas Fisher. Lucas is investigating his brother's mysterious death, and Elise can't resist lending a hand.

Lucas longs for the close family ties he never had. He's back in Scranton to set up a classic car restoration business and build a future. The torch he carries for Elise burns brighter than ever, but before he can declare his love, he must obtain the legal rights to adopt his nephew--and prove his brother's death was no accident.

As they unearth clues to find the murderer and a missing stash of money, Elise faces a dilemma. Is her career on the West Coast the key to her happiness, or is it an animal-cracker-eating four-year-old and his handsome uncle?

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Spring is a Benchmark

Spring is a benchmark. It's a new beginning when the earth is fresh and clean and new. Outside, windflowers are in bloom and the grass is a blinding green for a warm Pennsylvania April. The trees are bursting with red buds. Tulips, daffodils, crocus, and grape hyacinths are profusely blooming in a palette of colors in the flowerbeds which have shed the last of their mushy snow.
Onion sets have been tucked into the soil in the garden.

Each morning, fussy wrens sit in the front maple chattering as they fight for the two birdhouses we hung in the front of our house while robins bob, bob, bob on the lawn below digging for insects and worms. Even the doves have returned and coo up on the rooftop.

Under our carport, a couple of chickadee squatters work diligently to build a nest in a birdhouse placed there. They scold anyone who tries to get close to their home, then arrogantly sit in a nearby buckthorn and reprimand us again when the nearby bird feeder is depleted of sunflower seeds.  

Inside, seed catalogs are piled high on the table. All the windows in the house have been thrown open, allowing the scent of loamy soil and new mowed grass to perfume the air. After weeks of winter chill, it’s not hard to welcome spring.



Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Productivity Is Not a Synonym for Happiness

Everyone has stress. Stress is a response to challenges in life. And let's face it, a life without challenges would be dreary and boring.

If you’re a writer, stress manifests itself when you write and when you don’t. If the writing flows, we say we’re in the zone. When it stops, we agonize over how to kick-start ourselves. When we end a piece, we fuss over the editing process. And when we’re finally finished with it, we ponder whether our creation is worthy enough, then lapse into the insecurity of “what will we write next”?

I’ve decided, after a half-dozen books, there is no happy medium to getting the right balance in life that will relieve a writer’s stress level. But there are small things to ease our anxieties.

We all know we have to eat healthy and exercise, but there are other things to consider. One is to stay as organized as possible, and simplify routines, commitments, and clutter. A messy desk doesn’t cause us stress. Not finding the papers we need which are buried in a chaotic heap on our desks causes us to stress.

We also need to let go of multi-tasking and slow down. We’re in a society that says we can do it all. We want to write, but not upset our family’s routine or our commitments to others, so we rush, rush, rush. Maybe it’s time to go back to the single task philosophy our parents used. Maybe it’s time to streamline our time and eliminate unnecessary commitments. Instead of the mental “to do” list which stretches for miles in our mind, it’s time to write down a realistic “to do” list and only put down five essential tasks we want to complete in a given time.

And lastly, here is my favorite de-stressor idea. I’m giving myself permission to have free time for myself—whether it’s to do a hobby, read, travel, or just take time off from writing without guilt. Life doesn’t have to be about always accomplishing things—always placing the next word on the page. After all, productivity has never been a synonym for happiness.