Sep 292014
 

I was in a deep coma of a sleep. I’d worked a long day. The equinox has tipped its hat and that black velvet of nighttime was wrapped tight around me. In other words, perfect sleep.  Why would I wake up?

I’d felt the eyes on me. Waffles, my mostly Lhasa Apso, was sitting on the floor next to the bed. Staring at me.

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I learned about this phenomenon when my children were young. When they were old enough to climb out of their beds, and young enough to want to climb into mine, they were stand in the doorway of my bedroom. That’s all it took. The stare. It woke me every time. Sometimes I’d manage a mumbled conversation about bad dreams and going back to sleep. Mostly, I’d lift the blanket and they’d crawl in for the rest of the night.

Waffles doesn’t want to crawl in bed at 5. He has the luxury of sleeping with my husband and me. Waffles wanted me to get up and take care of him. If I ignore him, he goes from silent stare to a quiet clearing of his throat, a soft purr of a growl. It has a pleading sound that, combined with those soulful eyes, is impossible to ignore. Usually, the eyes have it.

I’m not a late sleeper. Most days, I wake by six. That extra hour is the time where I dream the heaviest. The time when I sort out life’s thorny problems through dreams. It is the sleep I hate to give up.  

Cutting off the extra hour means than I stumble from bed, treading carefully over dog toys and my husband’s socks that never make it all the way to the laundry.

 In my sleep dazed state, I’m only conscious that I don’t want to cause harm to myself by doing going for the pup. I make it to the kitchen, with Chickie, our newly rescued Cockapoo, trailing. She goes instantly awake and does a happy dance, Snoopy style. FOOD! FUN! EARLY! Woohoo.

By the time they are fed and take a short scamper around the yard, I have coffee made. My husband asks why I don’t just go back to bed. I’m awake…and as much as I hate losing the sleep, the annoyance quickly turns to gratitude.

The sun is up. I’ve gained an hour today. In a life where, it mostly feels like I’m running hours behind, the gift of time is rare. So this morning, I’ve time for a blog. Waffles and Chickie are sleeping at my feet. Yes, they do go back to sleep. Just like my daughters, rescued from their nightmares.

Of course, the next time I feel the eyes on me, I’ll try to talk him out of it. With most likely the same result.

Betsy

Aug 042014
 

I’m having a love affair with #summer. It’s always a slow dance through June and July, but come August, I’m smitten by the sun. The miracle of food appearing on vines, stalks, and branches makes me giddy. 

When I had my first ear of corn this past week, I paused between nibbles to smile.

I love a great market as much as the next foodie. But I grew up with a huge backyard garden and orchard. We would feast on the best of the crop, sometimes extravagantly so. When the green beans were at their peak, my mother would serve a platter of beans, sometimes with a bit of bacon, sometimes just naked. That was it. Beans. When the corn came in, dinner would be a platter of corn. Strawberries…we would feast on buttery shortcake, whipped sweet cream and ladles of strawberries. By the end of summer it all balanced out. But overall, I think I ate a lot more vegetables, all of them fresh from garden to table.

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The garden fed our large family; the cost of seeds was minimal, labor was free. The kids were required to weed rows every day. If I wanted to duplicate that life style, I’d need to give up my day job, so instead I stop regularly at the local farm stands. My husband has planted a row of fruit trees–peach, apple, pear. We also have an old cherry tree but it’s so tall that we can’t reach the berries. The birds eat well in the summer at our house. My mother kept an over-sized chest freezer in the garage that she filled with beans, peas, corn. In the basement, a root cellar held potatoes, onions, squash. Some fruit was frozen, but most turned into jam and jelly.   DSC_5327

I inherited jam and jelly making from my mother. I don’t eat enough toast to use it all, so many of the jars become holiday gifts. So far,  currant jelly is done, garnet red, tasting like jewels, really that’s the only way I can think of describing it. A huge colander of currants boiled down to two very precious jars. I made, Rhuberry–a joyful jumble of rhubarb, strawberries and blueberries. Peaches are ripening; Concord grapes blushing purple. My favorite farm stands just announced that tomatoes are in.

wishing you the best of the season

Betsy

Jul 032014
 

Lightning strikes again and again and again. In my life, anyway.  In the midst of a three-day run of thunderstorms, I can’t help think of the close calls. The house where I grew up was set  on a pocket of cornfield next to my grandparents’  small farm.  Connecticut River Valley rich soil, gentle rolling landscape, it was beautiful. It was apparently also some ind of geo-hot spot. I’ve got no scientific back-up, just the facts. In my relatively short time living there, I left when I was 18, here’s a rundown of strikes that I remember:

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Dog – typically my father kept a dog outside, with a dog house, on a long chain. Dogs running loose were potential chicken-chasers or worse, chicken-killers. In one thunder-storm, lightning struck the metal pole securing the chain, traveled the links and killed the dog.

Grandparents –  lighting struck their house next door to us, followed the antenna wires (pre-cable) and exploded the TV set in a burst of flames

House – lightning strike to the roof blew shingles and burned a patch.

Brother – lighting hit a wrench he was holding as he stood in the open door of the garage. He survived with a minor burn

As a kid, I saw these as interesting occurrences but they didn’t change the fact that I loved to run barefoot through thunder storms, cooling off as the cooling downpour soaked my cotton shirt and shorts. Then you grow up. You learn about lightning. You see trees cleaved in two and worry that you might be driving on a road when one explodes in front of you.

Then you, if you is me, read Alice Hoffman’s brilliant story of life  ripped about by forces of nature. In the surreal The Ice Queen, Hoffman paints word pictures of fireballs of electricity spinning through a house, bodies forever tattooed by burns. Yes, it’s fiction, but she dances that fine line that makes you a believer.

And then just a couple of years ago, feeling smug because I now live nestled in a small wooded hollow, not an open cornfield, I was enjoying a summer storm as I sat on our screened porch. I’ve decided that any lightning worth it’s salt — or electrons — would hit one of the tall trees first, not our house.  Thunder rumbled, rain fell. It was the perfect summer storm until the strike.

A spear of white light shot to the ground, slicing between trees. I saw it before I reacted. Saw the white, saw the tip touch the ground ten feet from where I sat.  Saw my own fear as every hair on my arms stood and a soft buzz of electricity ran through me. By the time I bolted from my chair towards the French doors and safety of the house, it was too late. I’d been found.

A friend who is a lifelong Boy Scout, had a poster on his office door with lightning information … if there is 30 seconds between the rumble and the flash, take cover in a building. I am forever prepared now

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and .. a nod to THE Rolling Thunder Review, Bob Dylan … which I was blessed to see in New Haven in 1975.

all best wishes,

Betsy

 

 

 

 

 

Jun 212014
 
Sun of the Solstice

The Summer Solstice arrived at 6:51 this morning. Unlike Christmas when children wake before dark to rush out to their stocking treats or Easter when those same children scamper to find their chocolate bunnies, many of us were still asleep. What a shame. Mother Nature threw us a big party and we lazed. Maybe we need a place to properly mark the day, as the Brits have their stone circles. A while back I visited Avebury in Wiltshire, England. On that same day I also visited Stonehenge. Stonehenge, if you’ve not visited lately, requires tickets and reservations. Those who arrive without planning are left to gaze [...]

Jun 172014
 
Getting Comfortable With Creative

You wrote the book. That may seem like the easy part as you begin to face scores of decisions. Front matter and back matter. Author photo. Editors, overall and copy. Proofreader. Promo team. Perhaps the biggest…book cover design. My decision for NEELIE’S TRUTH cover design was made early.  A graphic designer I’ve known for many years said he’d like to work on the cover. For me it was a non-decision. I trusted him. I knew I could work with him. I also knew I wanted a cover that honored the story with a clean, strong design. For many indie authors, [...]

Jun 142014
 
Chipmunk Walks Into a Room

Country life means that sometimes the country comes inside. We’ve been visited by field mice (no big surprise), voles, birds, frogs, chipmunks, neighbors’ dogs who discover the dog door, likewise cats, and of course creepy crawlies. Chipmunk #1 – discovered when I stumbled out of the bedroom at 5:30, with our dogs, Waffles and Chickie. Eyes barely open, I caught a tiny brown blur racing ahead of us. In a nanosecond, the dogs pursued.  Through the family room, kitchen and into what we call the music room (really our library with overstuffed chairs, books, and the complex-beyond-words music system my husband has [...]

Jun 092014
 
The Truth is Out

The best writing comes from that place deep inside, unknown until it is set free. So it is with my new novel, NEELIE’S TRUTH. I did not plan to write a book that was controversial. I met Neelie James sitting on the back step of her family home. I stood behind her and followed her gaze. Her father, who trapped to earn extra money, was skinning muskrats. He’d sell the dried pelts. There was nothing new for Neelie–she lived in rural Connecticut at the cusp of change, the late 1950s.  And so the story began. I wrote around 270 pages. [...]

May 302014
 
Hallelujah, Praise Cohen

The wonder of Twitter is that I find myself spending moments in splendid reflection. Truth is, I also find myself wondering why I have a follower that promises non-surgical face lifts; and why does one click go through to porn?  But, back to splendid. A new follower from Ontario. On his profile, a link to Leonard Cohen. And here I sit on a far too chilly May day, listening to Hallelujah. Leonard Cohen, with his bottomless voice that reads between a purr and a growl, is giving me the best moments of my day. I can’t remember ever seeing him [...]

May 282014
 
Chickie and Waffles Make Perfect Combo

I met her at the MSPCA Nevins Farm in a quiet one-on-one before the doors officially opened for the day. She would be our fourth rescue pet–one dog and two cats had made their home with us in prior years. I’d officially graduated from the “must have a AKC registered dog” to “must do the right thing.” In some cases, that means a registered dog that has been abandoned. But it’s the animal, not the papers, I care about. She was named Penelope, a small snip of a dog of cocker-spaniel mix.  Her fur had been shaved and clipped to [...]

May 112014
 
Who's Mom Now?

Once again, I found myself walking through my local CVS’s card section with that old tug. I should buy a Mother’s Day card. But I lost my mother many years ago and I’m the one who gets the cards. And then in the bakery section of Market Basket, I felt the pull toward the cakes decorated with pink flowers — maybe a special cake? No. And no flowerpot of geraniums and petunias, always a favorite with my mother. Or at least I thought they were favorites. It was hard to know. Harriet Elizabeth Fitzgerald Percoski, my mother, said little about [...]