Sunday, October 17, 2021


October is here with its frosty mornings, the scent of wood smoke, and its rainbow-colored leaves. The land is preparing for a long rest after seasons of birth, growth, and harvest.

Mahatma Gandhi once said there is more to life than increasing its speed. We live in a world where communication, travel, and manufacturing has helped us to do things faster, whether it’s a K-cup coffee machine, a new direct flight from one state to another, or the ability to self-checkout at a store to avoid long lines.

October lets us reflect upon our lives and realize life isn’t a race. We can slow down and stop living in the fast lane. We can enjoy the moment, take the longer scenic route, and enjoy the view.

As we prepare for winter, we’re able to readjust our end-of-the-year goals. We have the opportunity to enjoy the seasonal perks of hot chocolate, cider, and pumpkin pie. We get to relish the delicious smell of apples--with cinnamon and sugar--cooking on the stove. We can recall the familiar seasonal sounds of dried leaves crunching underfoot or the honking of geese overhead, heading south.

And, last but not least, we welcome Jack Frost. 

 Now on pre-order for Christmas, my novella:

A Maple Cookie Homecoming

Thursday, September 23, 2021


Hello, Autumn! And here she comes with the wonderful fall harvest of foods and desserts. My favorites are pies. Although pumpkin is my favorite, my husband is a fan of apple. He is also the biggest fan of applesauce, and a jar sits in our refrigerator year ‘round.

Here in the Northeast, Johnny Appleseed Day is celebrated twice a year. On both March 11th and September 26th.  September 26, 1774, was actually the day when John Chapman or Johnny Appleseed was born. It coincides with the season of apple harvest. His date of death was not formally recorded, but it is believed he died on March 11, 1845, from the “winter plague.” History tells us that John Chapman was deeply religious person, often preaching during his many travels.

A nurseryman by trade, John Chapman initially started planting trees in New York and here in Pennsylvania. He was also know for going “West” to plant, but we must remember that “West” was Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. It is estimated that he traveled 10,000 square miles of frontier country. As he traveled, he sold apple trees and seeds to settlers and planted many trees and seeds himself along the way during a forty-year span. He also started a string of nurseries spreading from western Pennsylvania across Ohio and into Indiana. When he died in 1845, he owned 1,200 acres of land.

No matter what the legends tell us about John Chapman, one thing is certain. He brought about the recognition of the apple and its versatility whether eaten fresh, stewed, baked or fermented. The food list that includes the mighty apple is exhausting—applesauce, pie, cider, crisp, cake, pancakes, apple butter, juice, and even vinegar, to name a few. Early settlers dried apples to use on their trip to West as we know it today.

When I was growing up, we had apple trees around our farmhouse and MacIntosh was my favorite for taking in my school lunch bag. We also had apple trees in what we called “the old orchard” in a pasture on the edge of our farm. It was an orchard planted by early settlers of the 1800s (or before) and had heirloom varieties like Northern Spy, Strawberry, Baldwin, and Winesap. Our dairy cattle loved to scout the old orchard and look for any fallen ones for a delicious treat.

Are you a fan of apples? After an extremely rainy summer here in Central Pennsylvania, I’m excited about the arrival of a drier autumn and the rich scent of apples, sugar, and cinnamon baking in the oven or cooking on my stove top. 

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Monday, August 30, 2021


 In 2020, according to Statista data, adults in the United States spent more time reading on weekdays than in the past seven years. The average time spent reading in the U.S. amounted to 0.34 hours (approximately 20 minutes) on weekdays, while daily time spent reading on weekends and holidays reached 21 minutes or 0.35 hours.

And before we get too excited, in 2019, the time spent reading for personal interest varied greatly by age. Individuals 75 and older averaged 48 minutes of reading per day, whereas individuals 15-54 read on average 10 minute or less per day.                                                                   

Recently, Better Homes and Gardens (BH&G) magazine verified the above statistic, stating in their August 2021 edition that “the average 15-44 year old spends only 10 minutes or LESS reading daily.”

Disheartened, I dug into articles about reading. What did I find? The only logical conclusion I can make is that electronic devices, radio, and television have replaced reading—even though reading strengthens a person’s mind, and boosts memory and thinking skills. Again, according to BH&G, research shows that reading also reduces stress levels by 68 percent. Avid readers know that even a few minutes before bed time with a good book helps a person to wind down and find sleep easier and faster.

I personally believe children who learn to enjoy reading at an early age do much better in school. Reading is like a mental airplane that takes you on vacation and transports you from the world you’re currently experiencing to a different time and place. I was right there with Nancy Drew as she solved mystery after mystery. I was there with Laura Ingalls on the prairie and in the big woods. And oh my goodness, it was fun.

Do you have a favorite book or series you enjoyed as a child? Drop it in the comments box below. 

Again, I'm featuring UNDER STARRY SKIES and it's new cover. You can purchase it here on Amazon.


Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Taking a Twenty Minute Break

It’s August. Summer is winding down. Nights are cooler and golden rod is starting to bloom along the roadsides. Autumn is creeping up on us.

In this very hectic world, man needs time for peace, quiet, and reflection.  He needs time for observing the world around him, utilizing his senses of sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing. There is something calming in being able to zone out with a favorite activity such as listening to the birds, smelling the petunias and phlox in bloom, or staring at the cloud formations in a cobalt blue sky—perhaps even petting a fuzzy little kitten. Or how about just listening to children laughing and giggling as they play?

According to psychologists, we need at least twenty minutes every day to devote to ourselves. And we should use that time for whatever we deem important at the moment: meditation, daydreaming, reading, knitting, woodworking, fishing, sketching, tinkering, doing puzzles and mind games—whatever brings happiness. And, by the way, this does not include using an electronic device to access social media. Put your selfies and digital pictures away. Let’s not bore our friends any more than we currently do.

When my children were little and bedtime rolled around, I always took time to sit down, grab a cup of coffee, and read. I enjoyed being transported away from the humdrum of the here and now. I could step off into another world. I could leave my problems behind and get a smile, laugh, or some good vibes, especially from a story with a happily-ever-after ending.

Lately, I’ve been at a standstill with my writing. I can’t decide whether it’s the reality that summer is slowly slipping away, or I need a break. Maybe the news of the latest Covid outbreaks are playing a role. Whatever it is, I need to get back to the keyboard.

But until then, I’m taking my twenty minutes sitting on my patio on my wicker swing. It always does wonders for my attitude.

Come on over. Rest awhile. Together, we’ll renew our energy and mindset. Or if you prefer, grab those twenty minutes in your favorite spot and leave your troubles at bay.

NEW COVER for Under Starry Skies!

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Thursday, July 1, 2021


July has arrived this year after a blistering June which ended with temperatures in the 90s. Growing up on a farm, the muggy nights and heat waves during the day were part of farm life.

The scorching summer weather meant it was haying season. It meant that farm kids had the hot, sticky job of handling and storing those prickly rectangles of bound hay, tied with twine and full of itchy hayseeds, called bales. There is a particular smell to a haying operation. It’s the inviting sweet scent of dried clover and other grasses, tinged with the scent of gasoline from farm equipment. The work is hard and tiresome. We handled hundreds of bales kicked out from a baler, pulled by our Farmall C tractor.

If we were lucky, the baler was hitched to the tractor and the hay wagon hooked behind it. We only had to pull the bales up onto the wagon bed as they popped out and stack them four layers high before hauling the load to the barn for storage. Two-string bales can weigh anywhere from 40 to 75 pounds, depending upon the type of hay, how seasoned or dry it is, and how the baler is set to compact them.

Before we owned a hay baler that fed the bales onto the wagon, they were dropped onto the ground. Then, we’d have to toss them up onto the hay wagon first before stacking and carting them away.

In the barnyard, an elevator with a chain mechanism and paddles took the bales up to the very stifling mow where they were…(wait for it)…restacked once again. If I was lucky, I had the job of feeding the elevator below in the hot sun and would get a break from working the even hotter mow. Needless to say, we all vied for that open-air spot.

My father was particular about how he wanted his hay stored. The bales had to be stacked cut-side down in the mow. I always felt we were giving more attention to this hot sticky—and somewhat finicky—stacking routine than I cared to give.

Why cut-side down? Because the strings/twine will always be on the side of the bale when you look at the stack. It is said to also deter mice from gnawing on the twine, but it also allows moisture to run down through the stack to the bottom layer. Much
later, baler twine was treated with a chemical that discouraged barn mice. I do admit, come winter, when you have to throw bales down the shoot to feed the herd below, it was easier to walk on a layer of hay uniformly stacked.

Someone once asked me if I miss summer and haying season on the farm. A friend, who’s a farm kid as well, put it more eloquently than I ever could: “Be careful of the past, it always looks better than it was.”

Here's hoping July and your summer is a good one!




Tuesday, June 8, 2021

HERE COMES SUMMER..with its sights, scents, and sounds!

In June, I patiently search for the first signs of summer.

Listen closely, and you can hear the birdsong at sunrise. It’s the doves at our house who start the calliope of song if we leave our bedroom windows open. The nosy robins are back, nesting under our deck and in the rhododendron. Their first fledglings have already been booted out of the nest and intermittently (and annoyingly) squawk, calling for a parent. The brazen sparrows have also returned and have kicked the bluebirds out of their nesting box. Only one lone hummingbird visits our feeder.

Rain in June is a silver spoon as the old adage goes. It’s the month when vegetation emerges and gardens in the North are planted which will yield bountiful crops throughout the next four months and into fall. This year, my bucket garden has been watered quite often by the gray clouds hovering in the sky. I decided to change it up a bit. I’m growing some herbs: lemon thyme, rosemary, oregano, and parsley. Every year I grow a plant of basil on the patio.

The flower of June is the rose which is my favorite because of its soft, layered petals and delicate scent.

I was lucky to be born on a scorching, 90+ degree, June day—the last one of the month—right in the middle of haying season, as my Dad used to point out with a slight grumble in his voice.

When June arrives, farmers push hard during the sweltering sunny days to get a hay field cut, dried, and baled. The sweet and intoxicating scent of newly mowed grass fills the air and forces everyone near to pause and enjoy it, even if the work of cutting, baling, and storing it is hot, intense, and tiresome.

Do you have favorite sights, scents, and sounds of summer?

As poet James Russell Lowell so aptly writes about the month:

And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries the earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays: 
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten…

                                    ~ James Russell Lowell – 1819-1891

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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Riding a Stone Boat

If you’ve ever planted a garden or dug in a flower bed or walked on a plowed farm field, you know how those pesky stones poke up unexpectedly from the earth. 

May is the month when farmers plow, harrow, and sow their crops here in the Northeast. Winter, and the snows it brings, has finally disappeared. Now that rainy April has shut off the water spigot in the sky, the drier fields await attention, and their only gift to the farmer is stones. 

When the last glacier came down from the Arctic region, it kneaded stones into the soil at varying depths. And when the mile-high ice sheet eventually melted away, it deposited rocks which had been embedded in the ice. When the fields are plowed for planting, the frost action often lifts these rocks to the surface. 

For many farmers, this meant the back-breaking work of picking these stones before planting could begin. How did they do it? With stone boats, also called a drag or skid boat. 

A stone boat is a long, low, flat sled-like contraption, often homemade and consisting of wooden planks mounted across a pair of wide runners similar to a sleigh. Some are built with a turned up nose to make dragging it across the field easier. It’s surmised that this upturned prow reminded early farmers of a boat gliding through water. The stone boat in theory glides over the soil.  

In the early days, stone boats were pulled by horses. Later, they were dragged over the fields by tractors. Our stone boat was hooked to our Farmall tractor with chains, probably the same hitch that was used when my father farmed as a boy. 

I remember picking stone with Dad on a field where we usually planted corn. The back-breaking technique of the job has not changed over the years. You pick up the larger stones and place them around the outside of the boat and throw the smaller ones inside. 

Once the stone boat is filled, it’s taken to the back or low end of the field where the hard work of touching each stone is once again needed to unload the boat. I should mention that some thought does go into this simple tiresome process. You must decide where you’ll deposit the stones before you begin. Stone boats can’t be backed up. 

If you take a drive into the country, you’ll often see these “stone piles” alongside farmer’s fields where a piece of land has been cleared. However, stone piles have now dwindled as construction companies request the crude stone to use in building houses and replicating stone walls.

Is there any joy in picking rocks? Only one. Once the boat is loaded, you get to hop on and ride the boat to the stone pile where you unload it. 

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