A Beautiful Rainy Day

front porchWhy is a rainy day beautiful?

Last weekend was beautiful, and it was sunny. It seems most of the time we have a holiday weekend, the weather stinks and we can’t enjoy it. But this time it was perfect all weekend. Warm, sunny, low humidity. Who could ask for more?

We visited Shelley & the kids (Scott was out of town) on Friday and Saturday, and had a great time. Sunday afternoon and Monday, Craig and I played outside. That is, we put in the garden.

“What?” you gasp. “I thought your gardening days were over.” Well, I’d feared as much, but happily, that’s not the case. Craig tilled up a little garden plot (which, since we have a small city lot, takes up a large portion of the back yard), and the soil is rich and lovely, with no more rocks scattered through it than we had in Ohio. Woo hoo!backyard

Craig’s been building a shed at the back of the yard. As you can see from the picture, he got it framed and under roof before putting in the garden. He started putting the sides on it yesterday, but had to quit because of the rain.

Once the new shed is finished, we’ll tear down the rusted metal one in the corner. See it there between the two big pines?

fenced sectionBut back to the garden adventures. We were pleased to see how nice the soil is, but even though big rocks aren’t going to be a problem, we know critters will be. How do we know? Because everybody’s warning us. Also, we’ve seen rabbits, chipmunks, raccoon, and deer in the neighborhood, all notorious garden-wasters, so we know the warnings aren’t unwarranted.

So, hoping to minimize the damage, we put in a temporary fence around the section that has our pepper plants in it. (You can’t see the little baby plants very well in the pic, but they’re there. There’s one eggplant, too.) We didn’t have enough chicken wire to do the whole thing, nor even to include the tomatoes within its protection. See those funny looking things off to the side? Those are tomato cages wrapped with fabric to keep the critters from nibbling the plants inside.2014-05-29 16.30.03

We also planted a few flowers, as you can see from the first pic in this post. And I have a few herbs in pots perched on a tree stump. The yard was neglected for years, and everywhere I look, I see things that need to be done. But, one step at a time.

Funny how, once we got that veggie garden in, everything was right in the world.

One thing we didn’t do on the Memorial Day weekend was go to a parade, though that was what Memorial Day was all about when I was a kid in Bedford, Ohio. (To me, at least; I don’t know how other people felt about it.) My grandfather was the retired chief of the volunteer fire department, and he always rode in a firetruck in the parade. Dad, a WWII veteran, put on his uniform and marched; my sister played in the band, and my brother was a Boy Scout, at first; later he was in the marching band. My earliest memories of Memorial Day involve Mom getting everyone ready and out the door, then taking me later to watch the parade. I loved the parade and always wanted to march in it.

Stan in parade 1969
Stan in parade, 1969. (He’s the one with the Ohio flag.)

Eventually I did, of course, first as a Girl Scout and then in the band. The parade started at the old Moody Junior High (they’ve since torn it down and built a library in its place), went down Columbus Road to Broadway, turned left, and proceeded to the square. It stopped for a memorial service there, and then it went a little further down Broadway to the cemetery, where there was another service. (Why two? I don’t know; that’s just the way they did it.)

One thing I don’t remember about Memorial Day when I was a kid was nice weather; in my memory, it was either cold and rainy, or miserably hot. Usually the former. But it looks like it was a beautiful day when this picture was taken in 1969.

If I recall correctly, Memorial Day was always be May 31. [Correction: I’ve been advised by someone with a better memory of these things than I that the original date was May 30, not the 31st; and that it was called Decoration Day until 1967, when the official name was changed.] That was before someone decided to make all the national holidays on Monday, so people could have a long weekend. Mom used to call May 31st “Decoration Day,” [Note per correction above: So I guess it was the 30th she called that, and for good reason!] and before the day of the parade, we’d go to iristhe cemetery and tend to family graves. The plots had flowerbeds over them then, with pachysandra. Or was it creeping myrtle? Some sort of ground cover like that, and my parents weeded it every spring. Nowadays the flowerbeds are gone, and if you want to decorate with flowers, they have to be in containers.

Speaking of flowers and Memorial Day, my mom called irises “flags.” That confused me, because she spoke of flags in the same conversation as Decoration Day, both in relation to the cemetery, and I never knew if she meant flowers or the cloth-banner-type flags.

2014-05-29 16.28.08I took these pictures (except the one from 1969) this afternoon in the rain. The yard’s not as nice as it was over the weekend when the sun was shining. But the rain is beautiful. Want to know why? It’s good for the garden, for one thing. But the main reason is, Craig couldn’t work on the shed in the rain. (Power tools and water don’t mix.) So he went fishing instead–leaving me alone and uninterrupted for a couple of delightful, productive hours!

Not long enough to get this post finished, though. Since I started it, he came home, I made supper, and now it’s settling happily in my belly. It’s still raining. And it’s still beautiful.



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Seems to Me, It Fits the Bill

Ransom in the RockMy target date for releasing the print version of Ransom in the Rock, the third book in the Gateway to Gannah series, is May 15. And I think it’s doable.

I went through the most recent print proof with a fine-toothed comb, marking about a gazillion things I wanted to change (a few were actual errors, but in most cases the changes were merely things I wanted to reword), and then making the corrections on my manuscript. One of the changes: I added a final page, “Notes From the Author,” similar to the page by the same name at the end of The Story in the Stars. It gives a brief overview of the history and philosophy of the series as well as a snippet of explanation about the Gannahan language.

I uploaded the new-and-improved version to CreateSpace last night and also updated the Kindle version, which is already for sale. Today, I got on Amazon and checked the “Look Inside” feature to see if the update had been made. It has. So that means if you buy it on Kindle now, you’ll get the corrected version — and presumably, if you already purchased it, you’ll have the opportunity to update it on your Kindle.

But guess what? I’m an imperfect human being. Upon further review this morning, I discovered not one, but TWO errors in that “Notes from the Author” page I added last night. One was a missing comma (which many people won’t notice) and the other was a missing letter in this site’s URL. I gave my web address as www.YsWord.com instead of YsWords. Good grief.

I never expected my first foray into self-publishing to yield perfect results, but I’d hoped to come a little closer than this!

Meanwhile, I read an interesting post on the Speculative Faith blog the other day in which blogger Rebecca Miller asks readers what they like in a book, what drives them nuts, etc. Those who responded (obviously representing only a miniscule sample of the reading world and nowhere close to an accurate cross-section) were mostly in agreement on all file1491268659468counts. And you know what? Ransom in the Rock meets all their stated requirements to a delightful, well-fitting T. (In my biased opinion.) So how can I let them know that without blowing my own horn?

And where did the expression “suits to a T” come from, anyway?

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Down the Road From KW

Put on your glasses, dear. He's not real.
Put on your glasses, dear. He’s not real.

I believe it was in September of 2002 — or  somewhere thereabouts — when I typed The End as the last line of a massive, 200,000-word novel I called Mom’s Mirror. “Okay,” I said to myself, “Now what?” I needed help with the rough, unwieldy manuscript, and I knew it. But where could I get it?

I was new to computers and had almost no experience with the Internet. But I knew what Google was, and I’d heard about something called on-line critique groups, though I had no idea how they worked. So I did a search to see what I might come up with.

What I came up with was KingdomWriters, a Yahoo group for writers of anything Christian, whether novels, nonfiction, poetry, or what-have-you. I learned scads of valuable things from the folks there and met some wonderful people who are still my dear friends today.

One of my first and most fabulous friends from KW was Ane Mulligan. No, I didn’t leave an “n” out of her name; that’s the way she spells it. Why? Because she’s a nut. Which is why I used to fondly call her Aney Bananey. “Used to,” because after awhile the nickname seemed too long, so I quit using it. Nowadays I just call her Hey You.

Ane’s debut novel is scheduled for release in September, and you’d better believe I plan to make a bit of a whoop-de-do about it here. But in the meantime, she invited me to sit on her blog’s front porch where we sat and sipped sweet tea and were slobbered on by her two mastiffs. Oh, wait — there was no tea, nor was there slobbering. No dog hair, either. But there was a guest post.

So I invite you join our conversation by leaving a comment. You won’t get anything out of it (no free book to win or anything like that), but if you want to say something silly, she’ll get a kick out of it. You’ll find us here.Screen shot 2014-05-03 at 8.09.44 PM

Wait a sec — well, would you look at that! She still has me living in rural Ohio. I guess I’m so used to being an Ohioan I didn’t notice the error. So when you stop in, you might want to ask her to change that to Western Maryland just for the sake of accuracy. I don’t want to ask her myself, or she’ll think me a pest.

Well, I guess I am a pest. But that’s one of the great things about Ane; she loves me anyway. Good friends are like that.

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