Fall is Back Full Force!

Holden Arboretum (1)After a two year absence, fall has made an appearance in Northeast Ohio again. It had become so depressing, I named the season Flinter last year. Get it? Fall and Winter mashed together. We had snow in October, cold, rain then more snow. The end of October was something to fear, not look forward to. The weather continued right into real winter and straight through April. Endless gray days were the norm.

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Then a miracle happened this year. Fall came back! I can’t stop taking pictures of the beautiful colors, the fall trees and scenery. I had to share. My husband and I have gone to parks to enjoy the sun and autumn-like weather. The tree above (with the title) is from a beautiful park – Holden Arboretum. Below I share a few more from that park.

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Now on to Garfield Park – a little closer to home.

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And finally my own backyard.

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Hope you enjoyed the show! Happy Fall!

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The Simple Things in Life

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When we’re young, most of us want to be rich and famous. We stand in the middle of our bedrooms belting out songs, whether we have the voice for it or not. We dream we are on that movie screen playing the part of the femme fatale or the hero.

As time goes on, we learn that only a small percent of the population achieves those goals. We have to join the real world. Now a new race begins. A new home. The best technology. An awesome car. Things that all seem to cost money.

Life has taken on a new meaning for me, a new way of thinking. Yes, I am thankful for friends and family, good health and my home. But I’m also grateful for the simple things in life. I can look up at the morning sky, feel the warmth of the sun on my face, see the bright blue sky and be thankful. I try to gaze up every day, no matter the weather, and find something beautiful.  Dark gray snow clouds create a wondrous background to the bare trees of winter. The sun peeking through the morning mist hints of the day to come. My favorite is those white puffy clouds that look like cotton candy.

I won’t bore you with too many more of the simple things I’m thankful for. Maybe you can add to the list.

Sun sparkling off a new fallen snow

The golden leaves of autumn

A baby’s smile

The first buds of spring

Birds chirping

Yellow forsythias

The sound of water lapping on the shore

Sharing a bottle of wine with friends and family

Snuggling with a good book by the fireplace

Holding hands with my husband

Watching my son grow into an awesome young man

The simple things. Give it a try.

Squirrel Mania

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What’s up with squirrels in the fall? What’s going on in their little minds? I swear they have a death wish. They dart out in front of a car at a moment’s notice.

I could write a story about them. It couldn’t be a  cute little children’s book because there might be a lot of blood and gore like a horror story. Spy novel? Mystery story? Possession? There are endless possibilities. These squirrels aren’t for the fainthearted.  They are little daredevils.

My husband thinks the squirrels are doing performance moves, like in the Olympics. They get scored on how well they did. He’s positive there’s a row of judging squirrels set up along the side of the road holding up scorecards.

The strange thing is that squirrels only do this in the fall. They also sit in the middle of the road and when they see a car coming, they don’t budge. They’re like deer in the headlights. Then, suddenly they dart to the edge of the street as if they figured it out. But wait, they turn on a dime and are right back in front of you. Some enjoy the “go, left, no go right, oh, I mean left again” routine. I feel they’re taunting you to hit them. Sometimes they sprint out from the side of the road at the last minute. That move I call the death wish.

In reality, there is an explanation. I just read an article in the paper about this phenomenon. Squirrels travel farther from home in autumn, looking for acorns and water supplies. They are not familiar with their surroundings. When they reach pavement or asphalt they become disoriented. So there’s the truth.

Still, I’d like to think there’s something more going on. When fall arrives, a brain cell ignites, giving the squirrel the ability to harass the humans of the world. They play with your mind, teasing you to hit them and feel guilty for the rest of your life. Maybe they’re hoping for a squirrel sanctuary to be built in their honor. Who knows what goes on in their little minds?

Whatever you think of the squirrel phenomenon, please keep your eye out for the little critters. And maybe next time you see a squirrel in the road,  you’ll want to create your own story, your own explanation of Why the Squirrel Crossed the Road.

Frozen

Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t seen the movie Frozen and don’t want any clues to the movie…don’t read beyond this! Although you probably know how it ends, even if you haven’t seen it.

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I think Elsa has taken over the world. Yeah, that Elsa…Princess of Arendelle. She possesses the magical ability to create ice and snow. Her powers grew out of control and she turned her land into constant winter.

Princess Elsa unleashed everlasting winter on her kingdom. Maybe she didn’t mean to, but she did. She had her reasons, it’s an uncontrollable power.

Somehow she left her own country and descended upon us. There are no signs of spring. The forsythias show no signs of yellow, no daffodils are peeking their heads out of the ground, no crocuses dot the landscape. We had one more snowstorm this weekend, turning everything white…again.

I don’t know if her sister, Anna, is available but I may make the trek myself to find the princess. Enough of winter weather, Elsa! Please. I know you can’t help yourself but I can’t take it anymore. I’ve had enough of winter.

P. S. Thanks in advance and send my regards to Olaf.

 

If you’ve read this far I’d like to extend an invitation join me for a day of fun and prizes in celebration of my book release. Just follow this link on Thursday, April 3 any time from 4-9 pm EST.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1416549545269775/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

Snow Break

There’s Christmas break, Winter break, Spring break but I really needed Snow break. That planned vacation finally happened and I’ll share a few highlights from the trip in a picture montage. Hope you enjoy! Orlando, Florida was our destination. So much to see and do there. Disneyworld is always a favorite spot. Magic Kingdom was debuting a new parade and new Fantasyland is almost complete. That’s the Beast’s castle in the picture. An escape from reality helps start a vacation off right.

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 Then there is nighttime Disney…fireworks over the castle and the Electric Light Parade.

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But that’s not all there is to Orlando. Every time we go we find great restaurants, shopping and things to do. This time we even found a winery.

1901905_694268146021_283020984_nThen there’s the “real” Florida. A trip to Blue Spring State Park.

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Guess what these are?

IMG_3499Manatees! They come to the springs during winter.

So if you’re in the mood for a little of this:

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Or a little of that:

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You’ll find so much more in the state of Florida. It’s one of my favorite places.

Dead of Winter

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In my “Closing of the Pool” post, I said I’d look for one thing to love during the dreaded winter season. Well, I found it. The days start getting longer after the winter solstice. It happens slowly but by the end of January we get almost an extra hour of daylight. So that’s it.

After rereading that, I decided I could do better. So I’m going to make a list. Things you can to do to help you while-away the cold winter days. Please feel free to add to it. The only rule is your suggestions have to cost little to nothing.

If you’re a homebody-

1. Light candles throughout the house as soon as evening comes.

2. Read a good book in front of the fireplace or any other cozy spot in the house.

3. Play with your pet/pets. If you don’t have one, go on-line and look at cute puppy/kitten pictures. I highly recommend lovebird sites. They’re the cutest things! Also am a little prejudice…Love you, PJ!

4. When you feel down, make a steaming hot cup of tea, cocoa, flavored coffee.

5. Bake! Fill your home with wonderful smells.

6. Eat those baked goods. Freeze some for the next time you need a winter lift.

7. Background music – Make a playlist that can be played quietly and fill the house with music.

8. Organize one thing. Pick a closet, drawer or cluttered spot. Focus only on that. When you finish, relish in your accomplishment.

9. Look for new recipes. Magazines were always my go-to, but with Pinterest and recipe sites on-line you can have a field day. If you don’t have a Pinterest account, create one. Save all your recipes there.

10. Make grilled cheese and tomato soup. An old favorite!

11. Make sure you have a great pair of slippers. Snuggle in some flannel pajamas.

12. Write or journal or start a blog.

If you’re adventurous and willing to head out in the cold and snow

1. Visit your library. Stay awhile and skim through a pile of books. Pick some out to take home so you can do #2 in the group above.

2. This might also involve a trip to the library but it’s a great idea. Reread a favorite book from childhood.

3. Walk a mile or two at your local mall. No shopping allowed.

4. Visit the closest park. Take in winter nature, even if you do it from the window of your car.

5.  Anything to do with snow. Build a snowman, make a snow angel or just tromp through it.

6. Go outside on a clear night and count the stars.

7. Drink hot chocolate outside.

8. Take a walk under the full moon.

9. Visit the closest lake, river, or pond and take in the winter scene.

10. Go outside and blow bubbles. I read they turn into ice bubbles!

And remember! Feed the birds.

Fall and Winter Rolled into One…Flinter?

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The trees are throwing up their branches in confusion. They’re saying, “What the?”  We’ve had early snows in Northeast Ohio but rarely a late fall. When the two collide, is it Flinter?

The autumn leaves stuck around late this year. In fact, the trees didn’t show signs of changing colors until mid October. By then, we’re usually raking up the bulk of them. Even as I look out the window today there are remnants on some branches.

Imagine the surprise of waking last week to Flinter! The sun was shining and it was a glorious morning. Snow glistened on the lawns and stuck to the branches of the trees. The odd thing about this picture was most trees still had their leaves. It was November twelfth!

Our part of the state was not the only place to get snow that day. The front dropped snow on Chicago and headed east to the Atlantic coast. We all were included in this wintry blast.

Using the seasons in a novel takes a little research, especially if you don’t live in that part of the country. Accuracy, I feel, is important. I always take into consideration that temperatures can be inconsistent year after year, but still want to be true to the climate. Authors have the right to change things up. Cold climates can have a balmy Christmas. It happened here one year. We still talk about the Christmas it was seventy degrees. Other times, Spring may not appear until the first of May. Sometimes we feel it may never stop snowing. Weather is a fickle friend. You can’t always count on it. But this year, was the strangest I’ve witnessed.

Maybe a few more seasons need to be invented. Then we won’t feel so disappointed when the snow falls on beautiful autumn trees. We can just say, “Hey, it’s finally Flinter!” We could enjoy that April snow shower just a little better if it had a name. “Oh, that happens a lot. It’s Snapril.” See? Don’t you feel better already?

Now that I’ve invented Flinter, feel free to use it whenever you like. I hope one day I pick up a book, start to read and the very first line say, “It was a dark and stormy Flinter.” That would make my day.