Gone Fishin’ (One of Us, Anyway)

2015-01-20 17.40.20The winter’s been mild, but there’s finally enough ice on the lakes for Craig to do a little ice fishing. Well, a lot of ice fishing – he goes twice a day, sometimes. The fish bite best morning and evening, and the lake is only 12 miles away, so he goes out early, then comes home for a few hours and goes out again about 3:00.

Yesterday, I went along. I don’t like to fish, but I do like to walk. Lake Habeeb is part of Rocky Gap State Park, and there are some nice little trails there, including one that goes around the entire 9.5 mile perimeter of the lake. I took my camera so you could come with me on my ramble.

Did you know there are no natural lakes in the state of Maryland? True story. Despite the fact that my adopted state boasts 6,945 miles of shoreline (look at a map and you’ll see what I mean!), the only inland lakes are man made. The dam that created Lake Habeeb, named for a local businessman who was instrumental in developing the area, was built in 1970, and Rock Gap State park officially opened in 1974.  If you look very closely, you can see the dam at the far end of the lake below, just right of center.2015-01-20 17.32.10

The trails are narrow, but they get a lot of use and are well maintained. Every time we’ve been there, we see people walking, often with canine companions. Depending on the weather, the lakeside trail is also used by bicyclists and joggers.

2015-01-20 17.32.34There are other trails as well. Yesterday I ventured onto the Canyon Overlook Trail. “Overlook,” I understood. But canyon? I think of a canyon as more barren than this, but yeah, I guess you could call it that.

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I’m not sure, but you might be able to see my house from here. It’s roughly that direction, anyway.

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(Below) The lake is frozen several inches thick, though the surface is beginning to soften in the warm (40-ish) weather. The cloudy surface combined with a bit of leftover snow along the edge resembles lapping waves and foam.

2015-01-20 17.17.40(Above) As you can see, the water level is down considerably. I’m not sure why they lowered it, but the level was higher last winter. I was standing in front of the casino resort when I took this shot.  If you peer closely, you can see one of the park’s three beaches in the picture above. Do you see the bright-white lifeguard stand in the middle of that distant strip of light colored sand?

(Below) When we first arrived, Craig drilled some holes with his ice auger. One of those buckets, turned upside-down, will serve as his seat once he gets started. (You can see this in the first picture in this post.) This shot shows the casino in the background.

2015-01-20 16.59.12He usually fishes at the other end of the lake and does pretty well there, catching mostly bluegill along with the occasional perch, crappie, bass, or, rarely, a trout. I love trout, and some of the other guys have told him that the place to catch them is on this end, where Craig is in the picture. He wanted to see if he could catch me some. Wasn’t that sweet of him?

2015-01-20 17.16.57(Above) For a person accustomed to frozen lakes, this is a pretty ordinary shot. I’ve included it for people who aren’t familiar with this sort of thing. You can see a variety of subsurface textures here, as well as pressure cracks. Or at least, that’s what we call them.

You know how water expands when it freezes? Well, it does that in lakes just as it does with the soda can you put in the freezer to chill quickly but then forgot about it. When it’s good and cold, as the ice gets thicker, it cracks from the pressure of all that growth, making a sharp report like a gunshot. People who aren’t used to that find it unnerving if they’re out on the ice, to hear the noise and see a crack opening up nearby.

2015-01-20 18.40.39(Above) Now it’s dusk. Craig will fish until dark. Can you see the lights at the casino across the lake?

2015-01-20 18.40.52After rambling for a bit, I went back to the truck and read on my Kindle–which is great in that I could read even when the light failed.

Thanks for coming along with me! We’ll have to do it again sometime.














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Wild and Free

file000758102380On Monday morning, I followed a car displaying a bumper sticker that read, All good things are wild and free. H. D. Thoreau.

Forty-five years ago or more, I tried reading Thoreau’s On Walden Pond. I say “tried” because I couldn’t get into it and gave up the effort after fifteen or twenty pages. And that pretty well describes all I know about Thoreau: I just can’t get into him.

But the quote on the bumper sticker interested me, so I contemplated it as I drove. “All things.” I assume that means all living things, because it would be hard to describe an inanimate object as either wild or free.

Imagine, for instance, your response if I said something like this: I love having central heat in this kind of weather. Our furnace is new, energy efficient, and the whole system, everything that makes my house warm, is wild. It’s free, too! file0001926667793

Ummm… okay. So it’s only living things we’re talking about. Does this mean there are no good house dogs? A gentle and productive family milk cow can’t be good because she’s confined? My backyard grapevines aren’t good because I prune them?

The quote seems to suggest—though I’ll admit it doesn’t state—that all things wild and free are good. That’s only the case if you define “good” differently than most people do. The Ebola virus isn’t good, for instance, unless you consider it a step in the right direction where human overpopulation is concerned. But it is certainly wild and free.

Not sentient, though. Maybe “good” can only apply to something with a brain.

A person might argue that anything natural is good, even venomous creatures and man-killing tigers. It’s not wrong for a wild animal to behave in ways we humans don’t happen to like, if it’s simply the animal’s nature. We shouldn’t judge it by saying it’s not good.

I understand that point of view, but for it to work, we should carry it out to its logical conclusion. That is, if my natural inclination is to be a free spirit, it’s not a bad thing if I can’t keep a job because of poor attendance, don’t pay my rent on time, party all night, and abandon my family. It’s all good, because I’m wild and free.

file000774209023This is getting silly, so I’ll back up a bit.

Let’s not take it to extremes–that is, we’ll say there can be  such a thing as a good dog, domesticated though it may be. And we won’t twist the quote around to mean the opposite of what it says–that is, all good things are wild and free, but not all things wild and free are necessarily good.

Okay, then. What does it mean?

As you may have figured out by now, when I have a moral question, I go to the Bible for the answer. And doing that is when it really got interesting.

According to the Bible, only God is good – God himself, and the good gifts he gives us (see Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19, James 1:17, etc.).

So is God wild and free? Hmm….

If “wild” is defined as not domesticated or cultivated; and if “free” means not under the control or power of another… well, then, yes.

So I guess, scripturally speaking, Thoreau was right.

And that’s what I thought about as I wove through the frozen streets of Frostburg, Maryland on Monday morning. Isn’t that a lot more fun than thinking about the weather?


Lost and FoundPostscript

I didn’t think about it until I prepared to post this, but this topic somewhat relates to my latest release, The Last Toqeph. That is, the shorter man on the front cover is wild and free. But is he good?

I’ll let you decide. Comments welcome.

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Goodreads Giveaway

Lost and FoundHey, y’all – I thought it might be a good idea to let you know about the promotion going on at Goodreads. Between now and the end of the month, you can enter a drawing to win a free copy of The Last Toqeph, the fourth book in the Gateway to Gannah series.

Looking at the cover, do you wonder who those two guys are? Especially the one in the animal-skin skirt. Wouldn’t you love to see his face? Guess what color his eyes are… just guess.

I’m not going to tell you. You’ll have to read the book to find out.

And what’s that in the distance, barely visible above the “S” in “Last”? It’s small in the picture, but significant in the story (which is why I asked the artist to make sure he included it).

Do you know why the guy in the hat looks so much taller than the shorter one? Because he is taller — by about a foot and a half. Do you wonder why they both have an aggressive stance? Well, you would too, if you were in either of their situations. What does the taller one have that the shorter one wants? Why is the tall one jealous of the little guy? Do the two remain at odds, or do they become friends by the end of the story?

Read the book to find out. To do this for free, you can, of course, enter the Goodreads giveaway (see the link in the first paragraph of this post, or click “Enter to Win” in the widget to the right). But only five people will win a book that way, and you might not be one of the lucky ones.

So go to your local library and ask them to order it. They might do it for you. If they don’t, I’ll be upset with them. (That prospect will not faze them in the slightest, but that’s beside the point.)

If you want to read it “on the cheap,” the Kindle price is only $1.99. Don’t have a Kindle? You can download a free Kindle app for your computer — Amazon has them for both PC and Mac.You could just bite the bullet and buy a print copy.Or, you could just forget the whole thing. But seriously, don’t you want to find the answers to these questions, one way or another?


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We Have a Winner!

Brentwood's Ward Cover PeekThe winner of my BFF Michelle Griep’s latest book, Brentwood’s Ward, is…

First let me thank everyone who entered and who helped Michelle get the word out about this new release.

Also, let me say that the drawing was completely honest and random.

And now let me say that the winner is HOLLY SCHWARTZ. Congratulations, Holly! I’m happy to introduce you to my pal Michelle, and I hope you enjoy the read!

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How About a Free Book?

Brentwood's Ward Cover PeekIf you like the sound of Michelle Griep’s Brentwood’s Ward (see my previous post), here’s a chance to win a free copy. Or rather, a few chances. Simply do one or more of the following:

  1. Leave your name and email address here as a comment;
  2. Tweet the following: Meet #author @MichelleGriep. She brews a good cup–and a good #book! http://yswords.com/?p=2584. @yanderson101
  3. Post the following to Facebook: Meet @MichelleGriep. She brews a good cup–and a good book! http://yswords.com/?p=2584. @yvonne.anderson.549Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 5.50.58 PM


You’ll get one entry for doing each of the above. On Sunday, I’ll put all the entries in a bucket, pull out one name, and that lucky ducky will win Michelle’s latest.

If you like a historical romantic adventure told with delightful skill, you’ll love it!

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Coffeehouses: Nothing New Under the Sun

Michelle Griep HeadshotHappy New Year!

Let’s start 2015 with a guest post from my BFF, author Michelle Griep. She’s agreed to stop by today and talk about two of my favorite subjects: coffee, and a good book.


“You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy coffee.
And that’s pretty close.”

Hipsters may think they’re trendy by hanging out at the local coffee house, but nursing a cup of java while discussing the politics of the day has been around a long, long time. In England, this dates back to the seventeenth century. Surprise! Who’d have thought those proper tea-drinking Brits even knew what coffee was?

Here are a few fun facts:

  • First coffee house opened in Oxford, 1650.
  • In the 17th and 18th century, there were more coffee houses in London than today.
  • A mug o’ joe cost a penny, which was a great price because you also gained an education. It was said that a man could “pick up more useful knowledge than by applying himself to his books for a whole month.” Hence the nickname: Penny Universities.
  • English coffee houses started the custom of tipping servers. Patrons who wanted good service and better seating would put some money into a tin labeled “To Insure Prompt Service (TIPS).

In my Regency era historical, BRENTWOOD’S WARD, I highlight the coffee house Brentwood's Ward Cover Peekphenomenon by setting a scene at The Chapter Coffee House. Women of the times didn’t usually frequent such establishments, but this historical venue is a little different. It was a known haunt of booksellers, writers, and literature hounds. Even Charlotte Brontë visited on occasion.

And just in case you’re wondering if historical coffee would taste the same as today’s brews, here’s a recipe so you can try it yourself:

Coffee ~ A Regency Recipe

Put 2 oz. of fresh-ground quality coffee into a coffeepot. If you must take your coffee extremely strong, use 3 oz. Then pour 8 coffee-cups worth of boiling water atop. Let it rest for 6 minutes. Then add in 2 or 3 isinglass-chips and pour one large spoonful of boiling water on top. Set the pot by the fire to keep it hot for 10 more minutes, and you will have coffee of a supreme transparency.

Serve with fine cream and either fine sugar as well, or pounded sugar-candy.

Whether you love coffee, or love to hate coffee, there’s no denying its deeply imbedded in societies all around the world, present and past. And if you’re looking for a great read to go along with your mug o’ joe, here’s a blurb for BRENTWOOD’S WARD . . .

Place an unpolished lawman named Nicholas Brentwood as guardian over a spoiled, pompous beauty named Emily Payne and what do you get? More trouble than Brentwood bargains for. She is determined to find a husband this season. He just wants the large fee her father will pay him to help his ailing sister. After a series of dire mishaps, both their desires are thwarted, but each discovers that no matter what, God is in charge.

Available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine booksellers.

About the Author

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She seeks to glorify God in all that she writes—except for that graffiti phase she went through as a teenager.

She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. An Anglophile at heart, she runs away to England every chance she gets, under the guise of research. Really, though, she’s eating excessive amounts of scones.

Follow her adventures at her blog WRITER OFF THE LEASH or visit michellegriep.com, and don’t forget the usual haunts of Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter.

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