Foreword Reviews “Reviewer’s Choice” Award!

FINAL COVER MOOSE TRACKSJust in time for Christmas…

I’m delighted to share that Moose Tracks on the Road to Heaven has received a “Reviewer’s Choice” Award from Foreword Reviews, the preeminent Indie Book Review Quarterly.

Considering that the quarterly publishes more than 600 book reviews annually, this nod for Moose Tracks on the Road to Heaven – one of only 15 chosen for the year – is a real honor, and I am thrilled.

Just click on FOREWORD REVIEWS right here and it will take you to the blog posting and the list of books named. Mine is the sixth one down, with the original review by Maya Fleischmann, along with some lovely commentary just before it, explaining why she chose my book as her favorite of 2015. 🙂

 

 

It’s Almost Time…

tgpc2Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, probably because it’s about being together and sharing food, time, and memories, without any need to focus on material gifts and the like.

turkey tom 1I’ve always loved it. I can remember being a little girl and sitting in the living room watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, eating a bowl of grapes (a special treat, along with tangerines, for the holiday).

The big picture window would be all steamed up from Ma’s cooking in the adjoining kitchen, and the delicious smells of the turkey roasting, onions and celery sautéed in butter for use in the stuffing, and sage filling the whole room with a homey, delicious scent.

So…what are some of your favorite Thanksgiving foods, if you celebrate the holiday? I’m always looking to add something to our table, so please share in the comments! 🙂

Halloween Memories

Halloween in the 1984

This was done my first year at college, when I came home on break…

Reminiscing Halloweens past, and the decorating we used to do at the Homestead with all homemade materials.  All the pictures in this post are from the 80’s (as the clothing and hairstyles will attest, LOL)!

Ma with pumpkinCutting jack-o-lanterns with Pa and Ma. Ma is having a bit of fun with her pumpkin. 🙂

Pa and Mary with pumpkin

Admiring the finished products with Pa

pumpkin and mary

And finally, sitting atop the little shelter Pa built for us to stand in while we waited for the school bus at the end of our long driveway…sharing the space with a giant pumpkin Pa grew, and a little orange cat he and Ma took in.

Happy Halloween!

Cozy Imaginings

I suppose the fact that I have a vivid and active imagination isn’t a big surprise. Most fictions writers do.

One of the ways my imagination works often results in a kind of fun game. It’s something I’ve done since I was a little kid, and I’d have to amuse myself as we drove back and forth from shopping or one of the many activities I or my six sisters participated in.

0_6730f_ddb9f7d9_origIt can be triggered by something as simple as seeing a charming house like this one on the left, with its windows lit warmly from within…

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Or driving by an historic and lovely library…

pg304-6543Hill-304Or spotting a cozy home when I’m driving in the around town or in the country…

Without much effort, I can create an entire story in my mind about the people who live or work there.

Sometimes even a bend in the road makes a scene blossom, shifting my thoughts to a more personal connection. At those times, I often feel a sense of longing or nostalgia and a vision of what my own life might be like in the imagined setting.

Almost like an alternative reality daydream.

This happened to me a couple weeks ago, on my drive to work. I saw a road curving off to the left , the leaves of the trees on either side brilliant and lit with the morning sun, and the farmer’s fields all around warm in the glow.

It’s a road I’ve seen many times before, but the angle when I looked at it, or perhaps the way the sun dappled the leaves, set off the imaginative machine inside me.  I didn’t stop to snap a photo that day, because (as is usual) I had no extra time to spare in getting to work.

imageBut I stopped to take this picture on the left a day later.

The atmosphere had changed…it was misty that morning, and far less golden as the sun slowly rose, but it inspired me nonetheless.

I could suddenly picture a cozy home499b724fb9ca8231ab5f5765ef4366e1 (like this one on the right, perhaps)  just out of sight down the road and imagine living in it – only not the real me, but a fictional me, from the alternate reality, where I live out in the country, like when I was young. In this world, I am a homebody, gardening, baking, and wandering around outdoors, rather than going to work every day and busy with a multitude of tasks, chores, and responsibilities I have to accomplish.

It’s a pleasant fiction, and it makes my heart pang for a second.

Okay…so I’m ready to hear from you – am I odd to have imaginings like this, or can any of you relate (whether or not you’re a writer)? Please let me know in the comments. I promise I can handle it if you think I’m just odd, LOL. 🙂

Happy Friday – and Happy Night Before Halloween!

Remembering 1970’s Halloween

candybags

A selection of little treat bags, circa 1970s

I’ve been traveling down Memory Lane lately. My Trick-or-Treating heyday was in the 1970’s…from ages four – 11. By the time I got to junior high, it wasn’t cool to trick-or-treat anymore, and we shifted to house Halloween parties or dances.

Not that we didn’t have house parties in those days, too. As I wrote about in a Halloween post last year, my mother made tons of homemade pizza and offered bowls of chips, candy, and cups of soda for some of our famed parties and haunted house in the camp each year.

AlcProfHalloween1Here are a couple recipes posted in an pamphlet, circa 1975. I might have to try making that cake!

brachs_12Candies like these were common, as were unwrapped sorts, like mallow pumpkins and candy corn, tossed in our trick-or-treat plastic pumpkins by the handful.

Ad from 1975I saw ads like this all the time. It’s amazing how prices have changed in just a few decades!

d0b361383f73f911b1b2002699b548b529795b7b54425e850af721b4394892e5cadb4969df31abfdb959395fc54d48c49080e724f2cf044bf66d75d25448221eThere was an abundance of Witch and other Halloween decorations that had a definite 70’s flair, though it was a favorite activity each autumn to pull out the colored construction paper and fashion jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, black cats in front of yellow moons, witches flying, and spooky trees – all of which were hung on the windows or walls in the house…

IMG_2596I had this exact decoration hanging in my home and probably another one just like it hanging in our classroom, on one of the windows.

witchBecause my mother hand-sewed all of our dance costumes, bedspreads, and curtains, as well as some of our clothes (which is a feat in and of itself, considering the time constraints in a household of nine, with three meals a days and loads of laundry that had to be spaced out because of the well water issues), some years we got to select a box-packaged, store-bought costume come Halloween.

830ee5b332a2f04d42b638374b695067On those special occasions, choosing our costumes at the local 5 and Dime was a trip much anticipated!

We’d get to wear our purchase, once for the school party and once for trick-or-treating. Then they were packed carefully away, since often, we’d have to go back to the old costumes and choose from them in future years; as an adult, I know that it must have been because money was especially tight on those Halloweens, but when I was a kid, it was just something that needed to happen periodically. We never complained.

BWx20x7ex202505_3LI had this “gypsy” one, one year.

ae3d182e66ce5a13357e59e893526f34My sister, who was always more “princess-like” than I was – beautiful, fine-boned, and blond – wore one very much like this.

I can still smell the plastic scent of the mask and feel the slight condensation from breathing through the always-too-narrow nose holes as we participated in the classroom party or  ran door to door Trick-or-Treating on a crisp Halloween night.

It was an innocent time, especially in my earlier years. The whole scare about razor blades in apples and medication or drugs tainting candy didn’t get started until nearer to the time I was getting too old to participate in candy-gathering…and of course home-baked goods were still always allowed to be brought into school for classroom parties and treats.

beistle-halloween-decoration-black-cat-moonAs the day approaches this year, I’m hanging some decorations and getting into the spirit, hoping to give some children the same happiness when they trick-or-treat at my door that I felt on those Halloween nights long ago. 🙂

Do you have any treasured Halloween memories to share? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Autumn Sunrise

imageIt was a gorgeous morning coming into work today.

I took a slightly different route than usual, and so I was on a stretch of road that allowed me to see the sun peeping over the edge of the horizon like a panoramic postcard.

imageThe rest of the ride was filled with similarly gorgeous sights, as the golden rays lit up the orange, russet, and yellow leaves of the trees across the field…

imageOr next to the road…

imageI love the dark line, showing that the sun hasn’t quite gotten high enough to clear the edge of the hill and beam its light on the entire vista.

imageAnd then as I pulled into the school’s parking lot, I was greeted with even more beauty. These trees and the playing field are also visible from my classroom windows, up on the third floor of the building.

Today was one of those days reminding me how blessed I am to live where I do.

Have a great Friday, everyone!

Weekend Enjoyments

imageIt was a great weekend, weather-wise, in Upstate New York (at least for me, since I enjoy chilly, sunny weather…add the colors of the foliage, and I’m a happy gal).

Some of the enjoyments included…

imageSpending some outdoor time with our English shepherd, Cassie. Because we live in “city” limits (and there is no dog park), she has to be on a leash, but when I can I try to bring her to places where she can run without it and play with some other dog “friends”.

imageWhen we’re inside, she’s partial to lounging on her dog bed, in a nice, cozy corner of the kitchen. She keeps me company and is often my “shadow” around the house when I’m there.

imageShe’s a loveable girl, five years old, and if there is a stick in the vicinity, she’ll find it and try to run with it (even if it’s larger than she is!) 🙂

imageAnother enjoyment this weekend was the rare opportunity (because of time constraints) to go to our local market co-op for an hour with my younger daughter. It has all sorts of organic goods, fresh produce – even an art gallery and handmade wares. And there is a coffee shop, featuring their own roasted coffee beans, teas, and a selection of baked goods. My daughter got a hot chocolate, but I opted for the house specialty – an “Adirondack” latte, with the shop-roasted coffee and a splash of real maple syrup. It was delicious! Our snacks were a scone and a croissant (which was still warm).

We did some autumn decorating around the house…but I’ll do a separate post about that. ❤

How was your weekend?

Apple Picking at the Homestead

imageI went home to visit my mother at the old Homestead the first weekend in October, picking her up to come to a concert with us near where we live, and then bringing her home two nights later. I bought her some mums on an earlier visit, and this time we added a pumpkin to the old well cover for a little more autumn flair. 🙂image

Before I had to leave to go home myself this time, we decided to pick some apples from the two trees my father and she had planted more than two decades ago. We both love to bake/make pies, and several of my sisters still live in the area and might use some of the apples too.

imageWhen we drove up the driveway, several deer had made their way out of the woods in the back to sample the fruits as well. It was a beautiful sight, watching them. imageAll the wildlife that makes its way through the yard – deer, turkey, rabbits, the crows…even skunks (the babies are adorable) and a few times a fox – is one of the reasons my father loved this home he made for us all.

imageThe tree he planted in the back yard, where the deer were sampling, is a Macintosh , but the one in the front is a mystery. Based on the color, crispness, and flavor of the apples, we’re thinking Cortland or something similar. They’re never sprayed, which is great as far as I’m concerned. I’d rather deal with a few spots than to have pesticides all over the apples.

imageThe trees were loaded with apples this year, so 30 minutes of picking (some with the trusty apple picker on a pole) yielded multiple bags of apples.

It was a beautiful day, crisp and sunny, made all the more wonderful for sharing it with my beloved Ma and having the fun of apple-picking with her too!

imageThe end result was a pan of salted caramel apple bars…and a nice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown-sugar laced apple pie! 🙂

In An Autumn Mood…

imageThis post is a mish-mash of several different images and topics, all related to autumn.

First (and not surprisingly, considering my last two posts, I suppose!) is the food. As the weather cools down a bit, the “hibernating” instinct kicks in, and all ideas for all sorts of hearty foods and meals start to nag at me (in a very pleasant way).

imageHere is last night’s homemade creation: Boneless pork loin chops seasoned with garlic and thyme and smothered in apples and onion, scalloped potatoes (no cheese in mine…I prefer the classic onion, butter, and cream, with plenty of salt and pepper and a little garlic), and sweet peas.

imageDessert was homemade apple pie, from the apples yielded by the two apple trees in my parent’s yard at the old Homestead (another post on that soon).

imageSecond, is the scenery. It’s getting to peak color here in Upstate New York. Every day is a new treat for the senses.

I love driving to and from work, because it’s the equivalent of taking a “country drive” every day!

imageEven on cloudy days, the gray sky  highlights the brilliant leaves, making them almost glow.

imageAs we creep ever closer to Halloween, certain images lend a pensive or even spooky tone to the vistas. While I always love crows, since I associate my father with them, I also think that their appearance in October is perfect for this season in particular. These two handsome fellows were just hanging out in the upper branches when I pulled over on my way to work to take their picture. 🙂

Is it autumn where you live, or another season altogether (like in Australia)? Regardless of where you are, what does it look like around you? Please share in the comments!

Controversy About “Fun”

I saw this today and it really hit home.

Although I’m not promoting the corporate sponsor, I think the content and message is thought-provoking enough that I felt compelled to share it.

It’s short – only a few minutes, regarding what the older generation (60-somethings +), my generation (30-somethings – 50-somethings) and then the teen and younger crowd define as what they do (or did) for fun as children.

Please let me know your thoughts if you decide to watch. In some ways, it made me want to cry, because I often hear and see the same thing from my kids and the students (high school aged) I teach in school.