Winter Wonderland

Winter 2019 WRitingeditedI know many people who live in “snowy” zones are often either fantasizing about a tropical vacation or waiting to retire and move to a warmer climate.

Not me, though.  Although I’m getting a teensy bit tired of the constant white and gray and brown landscape, mornings like this one, with a brilliant blue sky, make my heart sing.

I’m a winter baby, so maybe I’m just predisposed to enjoy this season. I enjoy the cold, snow, howling winds, crystal clear skies, frosted tree branches, and the fresh silence of the air after a snowfall.

This photo is of a street near my house this morning, as I drove off on the 40 minute journey to my teaching job. We had another six inches of fresh snow last night, and the plows are having a tougher time piling it up on the sides of the street. But isn’t it beautiful?  All fresh and cleanly white. 🙂

Sailors Take Warning….

imageIt’s been awhile since I blogged. Much is happening with some family members and other elements of life outside of teaching and writing that has been taking up more of my time that usual. Punctuating this is a fall I took on the ice that caused me to crack my head hard enough to require a trip to the ER. Ultimately, I’ll be fine, but I’m not as young as I used to be, and the goose egg on my head and lower spine, combined with lots of achy stiffness, is slowing me down.

But this is a pic I snapped this morning on my way out the back door to drive to my teaching job 30 minutes away. The “rising sun” sky here looks a lot more gold than it looked to the naked eye: it was much more crimson and ruby, and the old saying sprang into my head. “Pink at night, sailors delight. Pink in the morning, sailors take warning.”

Of course this means we’re supposed to watch out for bad weather. I don’t think there is any in the forecast until Saturday, but I guess I’d better go check.

What do you think of old sayings? Do you have any favorites or any that seem to be more “true” than others? Please share in the comments – and thanks for stopping by! 🙂

Moose Tracks Makes a List!

Although my re-published historical romance novels Secret Vows and The Templar’s Seduction have made sales lists recently at amazon.com US (in the “Medieval” or “Scottish” categories), my newest release, the Women’s Fiction novel Moose Tracks on the Road to Heaven, has not done so in the US as of yet. But as of this morning, the same can’t be said of amazon.com Australia, LOL!

Moose Tracks listing in Australia

Moose Tracks listing in Australia!

 

 

 

Take a look at this screen shot from this morning.

 

Pretty cool.

imageWho would have thought?  I’ve been international with many of my historical romances for quite a few years (they’ve been published – with really neat and very different covers – in Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, German, French, Slovakian, Dutch, etc.), as you can see here.

But making an international sales list is a first for Moose Tracks.  Many thanks to readers in Australia for this happy little perk to my day! 🙂

Hot Tea and a Good Book

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Snow coming down outside my classroom window

It’s a snowy winter morning here, and I’m at work rather than home, but I have a lovely blending of the two worlds today in that my teaching job will also allow me to do some reading…because the students have one of their very important “Free Reading Fridays”.

Such activity is based in scientific and educational evidence…the practice of sustained silent reading, of material students choose, increases student skill and promotes the possibility not only of creating life-long readers, but also life-long learners. Here’s a .pdf document about the practice, if anyone is interested in learning more about the pedagogy behind it.

I’ve been teaching for 26 years. In that time, I’ve seen stress, anxiety, and demands for students go up (in part thanks to high stakes testing) and the ability to focus not only on content but also on the joys of learning (and reading!) go down. This is one way of providing students with a bit of time away from academic demands that carries with it some good educational benefits simultaneously. And part of the process is that they see their teacher reading along with them – so I benefit as well (and heaven knows I have precious little “free reading” time of my own in my life outside of school). 🙂 Many students have thanked me over the years for these opportunities, as they find books they never knew about (I maintain two large book shelves of free-reading novels, non-fiction, and poetry for multiple reading levels in my classroom), a love of reading they didn’t know they had, and/or a little break from the constant pressure to perform in the classroom eight periods a day.

So it’s the best of both worlds for a few class periods today.

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Advanced proof of A PLEDGE OF BETTER TIMES by Margaret Porter

My tea this morning is Twinning’s “Winter Spice”, and my book is an advanced reader copy of an historical novel by friend and fellow author Margaret Porter – her upcoming title A Pledge of Better Times (the link is to the Goodreads page for the author and book). It’s set at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th centuries, and follows the political and emotional worlds of Lady Diana de Vere and Charles Beauclerk, Duke of St. Albans. It’s fascinating and enjoyable reading. The novel will be publishing in April, and I’m sure I’ll post another reminder then.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Actual Temperature -19 F

That is not a typo.

imageHere’s the read on my vehicle’s outdoor temperature gauge to prove it. 19 degrees BELOW zero at 7:30am.

And that doesn’t include wind chill. It’s bitingly cold. My daughter walked outside, laughed, and said, “Wow, this makes my lungs hurt.”

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It requires wearing one of the these: a long (to the knee) parka filled with down. Believe it or not, by the time I got to work I was too warm.

Of course my husband calls me a human furnace anyway. It’s much easier for me to get warm in the cold than it is for me to cool off in really hot weather. Must be the Germanic, British, and Celtic blood in me, LOL.

imageI find this weather lovely and beautiful. Outdoors it’s glorious, everything suspended in a kind of frozen tableau, with the snow creaking from cold and the view overhead especially vibrant. This morning’s sky took my breath away with its pretty colors, textures, and trailing white jet plumes.

The stars last night were brilliant, too, when I took our dog Cassie out for her last outdoor visit of the night, around 11:00pm. I wish my camera could have captured the utter sparkling clarity of Orion’s belt, but night sky doesn’t show well with my current photo set up.

imageI do feel badly for those who have to be outdoors in the cold without adequate protection, like these Amish folk in their carriage this morning. I know they often have little heaters or coal boxes in the foot area, but on frigid mornings like this, it just doesn’t make much difference without a fan to blow the heat around.

But it’s all part and parcel of living in the great north country of New York State, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything (Shhhh…don’t tell my husband, who fancies the idea of being a “snowbird” and flying to warmer climes in the winter, come retirement-time!) 🙂

Secret Ministry of Frost

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image courtesy of The Teacup Chronicles

On this lovely, sunny frigid day in the north country of New York State, I thought it fitting to share this poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It’s one of my very favorites from the Romantic Age, for its gorgeous imagery, moods, and textures…beginning quietly peaceful and reflective before shifting to bittersweet contemplation of memories and hopes for the future, and finally, ending with a heartfelt and lush appreciation of Nature’s majesty in all her moods and seasons.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Frost At Midnight, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind. The owlet’s cry
Came loud–and hark, again! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings: save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.
’Tis calm indeed! so calm, that it disturbs
And vexes meditation with its strange
And extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood,
This populous village! Sea, and hill, and wood,
With all the numberless goings-on of life,
Inaudible as dreams! the thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not;
Only that film, which fluttered on the grate,
Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
Methinks, its motion in this hush of nature
Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,
Making it a companionable form,
Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling Spirit
By its own moods interprets, every where
Echo or mirror seeking of itself,
And makes a toy of Thought.

But O! how oft,
How oft, at school, with most believing mind,
Presageful, have I gazed upon the bars,
To watch that fluttering stranger! and as oft
With unclosed lids, already had I dreamt
Of my sweet birth-place, and the old church-tower,
Whose bells, the poor man’s only music, rang
From morn to evening, all the hot Fair-day,
So sweetly, that they stirred and haunted me
With a wild pleasure, falling on mine ear
Most like articulate sounds of things to come!
So gazed I, till the soothing things, I dreamt,
Lulled me to sleep, and sleep prolonged my dreams!
And so I brooded all the following morn,
Awed by the stern preceptor’s face, mine eye
Fixed with mock study on my swimming book:
Save if the door half opened, and I snatched
A hasty glance, and still my heart leaped up,
For still I hoped to see the stranger’s face,
Townsman, or aunt, or sister more beloved,
My play-mate when we both were clothed alike!

Dear Babe, that sleepest cradled by my side,
Whose gentle breathings, heard in this deep calm,
Fill up the intersperséd vacancies
And momentary pauses of the thought!
My babe so beautiful! it thrills my heart
With tender gladness, thus to look at thee,
And think that thou shalt learn far other lore,
And in far other scenes! For I was reared
In the great city, pent ’mid cloisters dim,
And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars.
But thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze
By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags
Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds,
Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores
And mountain crags: so shalt thou see and hear
The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible
Of that eternal language, which thy God
Utters, who from eternity doth teach
Himself in all, and all things in himself.
Great universal Teacher! he shall mould
Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.

Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

bird in snow

Cold But Beautiful

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Look at that gorgeous gentle pink and blue morning sky with the moon resting atop it!

The weather in Upstate New York has been pretty typical for January (though by the reactions of many people online and in person around here, one would think we’d never experienced a cold snap before, LOL).

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Lots of sand helps my studded snow tires to get me up this curvy, snowy road on my way into work

It’s below zero degrees Fahrenheit on the thermometer and -25 or so with wind chills factored in. The snow groans and creaks when my tires roll over it on the road, and sucking in a breath upon stepping outside can make your lungs seize up.

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Sunrise over the snowy fields

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Another pretty shot of the morning moon in the frigid, pastel sky

But I love it – mostly since I don’t have to work outside in it, have a nice warm home and workplace to retreat to – and because it’s pretty. The pictures sprinkled throughout this post are from my ride to work yesterday morning. Just gorgeous, tender, lovely hues to everything.

I’m a winter baby. My husband is a hot-weather lover. He’s always looking to get away to somewhere warm, and I’m always reveling in my warm cups of tea, coffee or cocoa, listening to the wind howl, the cold snap, and watching the snow swirl around.  I guess opposites do attract! 🙂