Friday, September 28, 2012

Happy Birthday, Xavier!!!

A year ago our daughter was very pregnant.

Huge. (shh... don't tell her I said that, I'll be in HUGE trouble. Really).

Adorable, but huge....

No stranger to "overdue" babies, we didn't worry.

(I'm not a worrier... you get that, right? And even when I DO Worry, I'll pretend I'm not a bit worried because worry is not of God... So I'm always staunch... strong... hale and hearty...)

On September 30, 2011, Beth looked terrible. She'd been having contractions on and off for three days, but nothing settled into real labor.

But she seriously wanted to KICK SOMEONE.

I understood.

I stood far back.

I did not want to get kicked.

Anyway, she looked bad. (I mean that in the nicest possible way!)

I said, "That's good! That means this baby's coming! Go to the hospital..."

I kept big brother here, one of the crowd...

And then the phone call came that there was trouble. 

I went to the hospital... Kinda fast.

Jon called me on the way.... And he said that...

 Beth wasn't in labor, she was sick.  And that they needed to do an emergency "C" section to deliver this baby...

I was scared... (Yes, I'm admitting that, I never fear for me but I'm a scaredy pants for my kids!)

Jon and I prayed....

We waited.

My niece and Goddaughter Barb works in the crisis pregnancy unit. She accompanied Beth into surgery...

And then she brought us a baby.

A boy.

A perfect, wonderful, healthy little boy (with a hint of snark) who does not look like his Minnesota father and big brother.

He looked like a "Bruiser" version of his mother.

We were happy.

Beth was fine.

Baby was fine.

We brought him home a few days later.

End of story, except:

Now it's his birthday. He's walking, climbing, saying, BWEEE!!!  for "please".... (in a very demanding tone of voice, I might add)

He says, "WWWIIIIIIIIIIIJUUUUUH!" for his big brother "Elijah"...

He says "Bwoo"... for just about everything else.

I believe this is a new language.

But it's cute, right?

So here we are, with a birthday cake, just for you, Xavier.

Happy Birthday, Little One.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Apple Cider Time!!!


Cool nights.

Snuggy jammies.

Sleeping frogs.

Quiet hens.

Brilliant leaves.

Sweet cider.



Fresh corn on the cob... The late season corn is always best, right?


Chilly toes.

Warm socks.


I love shopping local produce stands, local businesses, local farms. My husband once declared the truism that every dollar spent locally generates seven more...

I consider shopping locally just me, doing my part, right????  :)

Zarpentine Farms, 163 Burritt Road, Hilton, NY  14468...

Zarpentine Farms Website

I love these guys. Seriously love them. Family farm, family business, family bake shop... Go here, visit Kim and the gang, eat apple fritters that melt in your mouth, gobble my faves, apple-cider-glazed fry cakes, buy apples... apple cider... honey... maple syrup... jams, jellies, mixes, Yancey's Fancy cheese... veggies in season.... Oh, they have apples too, LOL!

So spending money on good, home-grown produce for the kidlets is my civic duty, right???

Of course right!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Day in the Life of Least-un's!!!

I am ever in wonder of the miracle of each child. God's awesome mercy and power amaze me. The gift of a child, so precious. So funny. So mind-boggling awesome!!!

When they're not being mouthy little brats, of course!!!  But I just love 'em to pieces, totally.

First, there's this:  MacKenzie, aka:  "Pealie May"... Now I think the nickname is self-explanatory because if ever was born a Pearlie May to this great planet, this kid is it.

"Oh. You want to wear my hat, Meggie??? Sure. Here you go!" We can model it together!"
Now, that's my kind of girlfriend talk, right????  So here's Meggie with her runway model clever way of gathering her shirt hem just enough to be adorable!!!

Now we must change hats. Of course.

 "What do you think of this look?  Does it cover too much of my hair? Do my eyes still glisten?" wonders Pearlie May.

"I don't care what you look like," smiles Meggie. "I'm getting my picture taken and I'm smiling at the camera and the crazy lady behind it because she's got Popsicles for us if we're good... I know when to follow directions!"

"Oh, and by the way, please make note of my breast cancer awareness t-shirt. We gals have to stick together, right!!!  Pink Parties Rule!!!  Fight Like a Girl!!!!"

"Hey, you want me to build you a house for your Pink Party??? In my most manly way?" Logan offers. "Because I'll be glad to do that right after I wrassle us some beef and maybe fish the stream empty.... hang on, lil' lady, I'll be back with some grub later on!"

Who ever supposed a box of hats could be so much fun, right????  Please note that I am not showing pictures of the tug-of-war arguments that may or may not have ensued, LOL!!!   And we followed up hats with Popsicles for one and all!

Each one special, a gift, a miracle. Yeah. That's how my day rolls.  How 'bout yours?

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Oh my stars, I cannot believe I'm doing this, but I must because I know not everyone's on Facebook...

And that's okay!!!  And clearly I don't want to annoy people, (anymore than I do by my mere existence on the planet...)  but I want a way to let them know what's going on so they don't have to surf the web all the time...

And yet, I want everyone to come visit me here. Have coffee. Grab a bite of cake!!!


But it's important to keep up with things/folks/times and so I'm ready to start a three-season newsletter...




Nothing major. Sweet. Simple. I've got a link on my webpage to sign up, but you can sign up right here by commenting... Leave me your e-mail, okay?  I've got a list started and I'll add you to it. And if I get annoying, dump me, really, because my goal in life is to be the LEAST ANNOYING PERSON IN UPSTATE... Note I did not claim the whole planet, just a small corner. Start small and build, right???

OR...if you don't want your e-mail public, just e-mail me at and tell me you want to be on my mailing list and no one else sees your e-mail if you'd like it kept private. I will keep all e-mails private unless I totally mess this up which is a distinct possibility.

Think of my ineptitude as a chance to make new friends!!!  :)

The first issue will come out for WINTER.... and you'll discover I'm sincere about loving winter... Although I do get tired of it by mid-February.

And then if you're a winter-hater you can print the sunny-disposition thing off and throw darts at it. Really, my feelings are NOT hurt. I consider it my way of saving you from jail time. Whatever it takes.

And we're still taking names for our wayward wanderers... And if you comment your name goes in the clean cat dish for a chance to win His Mistletoe Family when my copies come next month...



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Spot Gardens, Revisited!

Yes, we're still taking name suggestions for our two little wanderers in the Southern Tier of WNY!!! (see the name list to the right???? How cool is THAT????)

Feel free to keep offering your name suggestions... Leaving any kind of comment gets you tucked into the drawing for a free copy of His Mistletoe Family, due to arrive here next month! And yes... sigh... it's a sweet,  embracing story of a new chance at love. And a first chance at love.  Have I mentioned I have a soft spot for military heroes????

But I wanted to update you on those earlier "spot gardens", the bursts of color that make me feel like I still have time to garden but don't take much time... because time is a scarcity lately for so many of us. In the North, that doesn't quell our longing for flowers.... color... blossoms.... not in the short time we have up here!

Go here to see what they looked like in late June:

And here's what we have now!!!
The "Pig Pot" garden, surrounded by English Ivy...

The lamppost garden... White begonias, a few mums, a Yucca or two...

A little square of the lamppost garden, pink begonias... Dutch Bearded Iris in the background (now cut back to blossom next May!)



This is the planter I bought at Sandy's Place in Allegany County... Notice that my little bushes have spaces between??? and mulch???  If weeds sneak in, I shoot them with Round-up... No weeding.

Color me happy! And the planter adds a burst of color along the porch rails.
Our mild winter left me with a gazillion yellow jackets, tons of weird early May butterflies, and the Katydids woke up early and stopped "chatting" at night way before normal...
But look at this Dahlia, that got left in and didn't die over-winter:


I love gardens, but I have to be realistic. I can't work full-time and write several books a year and spend time in the yard...

So then it's a matter of choice, right?  I love writing. I've waited all my life for this chance...

So spot gardens have taken over.  And I'm delighted with the results. Daytime, I watch sweet babies...

Early  morning finds me writing away....

And the gardens?

Sweet and simple is how I'm going now, LOL!  :)

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Oh, there is joy in Mudville tonight!!!

I can happily announce that I have just received a new 4-book contract for a delightful series of books set in the southwest corner of New York State, the corner that houses 
Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqa Counties!!!!




The "Kirkwood Lake" series will feature sweet, compelling stories of law enforcement...
Holy Hot Heroes, Batman!!!  

To celebrate, I want your help... We chatted about this on Facebook, but if you didn't see it there, here it is...

Two small children walked out of the forest. Bedraggled. Tired. Bruised, scraped, forlorn. The little girl is a mess, but her eyes show a wisdom beyond her years... The little boy, still in a diaper that's seen better days, is trusting his maybe five-year-old sister to keep him safe.
Two babes... Alone... Wandering...

We don't know anything about their parents yet... Good, bad, indifferent...

We only know they appeared, little wanderers, in need of loving arms... a warm bath... clean jammies.

My husband had this lithograph on his childhood wall. I've always loved it, the simple image of God watching over us in times of peril... Guiding us... If only we'd listen better, right???

So help me name these children!  I'm making a list of possible names, so either be BRAVE and comment here!!!!  

(laughing just a little at lurkers!!!)


e-mail me at and give me your suggestions!

Everyone who offers a name either here, through e-mail or on Facebook will be placed into a drawing for a preview copy of "His Mistletoe Family"!!!

Here's the cover:

His Mistletoe Family (Love Inspired)

"When two orphaned boys and their aunt arrive for Thanksgiving dinner at the church, retired army Colonel Brett Stanton feels his heart tugged. Despite having her hands full, young businesswoman Haley Jennings handles her nephews with a smile. Still, Brett can't get too close to the needy trio.He lost his son and brother to the uniform, and isn't about to set himself up for loss again.
Soon, sweet Haley and the boys remind him of old dreams...and teach him
that new dreams provide the greatest hope for a perfect family Christmas."

I will be giving away FIVE COPIES in October....  And I have large print copies and regular!

And I can't wait to hear what names you suggest!

FYI:  Hansel and Gretel... SIGH!!!!  :)  Have been suggested and rejected, LOL!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Something's happening!!!!!

Oh, oh, oh!!!!

There just might be reason to jump and yell and scream and race around in circles like a happily crazed mutt just over-the-top delighted to see his master come home!!!!


Tomorrow.... Gotta work the details today, but tomorrow....

Oh, happy day!!!!

Oh glorious day!!!!!!

Happy dancing in upstate New York for such a fun, good reason!

Have I mentioned how much I love writing?????  Until you probably want to bop me over the head????

Okay, must go... must keep my mind on work today.

But then tomorrow, it's "WORK" of another nature!!!!  And a contest starting!!!!  I love contests!!!!!

Oh, Joy!!!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11 Remembered

I was a kid when John Kennedy died. And when his brother Robert was shot... And when we lost a gentle giant in the death of Martin Luther King...

Like all momentous events, though, I can tell you exactly where I was, where I was standing, when I heard each of these things, even though I was a child...

How much more chilling to watch the events of September 11, 2001 unfold before us on live television... As adults...

I held a newborn baby in my arms, rocking her, tears streaming down my face in my living room. In my arms, a miracle. In my vision, disaster. We had family friends working there. My daughter had worked there a few years before, interning in the World Trade Center. She called me one day, wondering what it must be like for the thousands of people who worked above her... who came to work every day, knowing they were the number one terrorist target in the world, as if working in the financial district was inherently evil. She was only there one summer... And still felt the chill of evil.

Three years ago Dave and I stayed at the Millenium Hilton overlooking Ground Zero... Here is what it looked like in September of 2001:

Here is the hotel now...

This was our view in 2009...

And here is what Ground Zero looks like today:

Beautiful buildings, rising from the ashes of assault. The reflecting pools... the new trees. The memorial that we'll visit the next time we go to New York. You can get free tickets to visit the memorial HERE

I love going to New York City. Lawyer boy (one of my very cute four boys) lives there. He's not far from Ground Zero and each time I visit him, I must visit there... I believe in the power of prayer and I'm not afraid to pray at Ground Zero, for those gone and those to come. For the past several years it's been a sad sight/site. The housing crash of 2008 left many dull, dingy storefronts, businesses closed by financial upheaval.

This year?

Visiting Ground Zero and the beautiful financial district held hope. So much more so than in years past. And the small shops that closed along the streets of lower Manhattan?

Opening again!!!  I have pics on my smart phone, but it is smarter than I am and I can't get them to upload... and it takes a bajillion days to e-mail them to myself. So much for SMART. Oy.

Again, you say? It's been eleven years!!!  Well, population decreased abruptly as a result of 9/11 and the 2008 crash. Businesses bellied up... What looked like recovery, sank into oblivion. People talk about Wall Street as if it's simply a legion of rich people taking advantage.

But it's so much more. It's people living, working, walking babies, feeding Zelda the wild turkey that lives in Battery Park...

I've personally seen Zelda twice.... She's as real as you and me!

Walking the riverfront and waving to the Statue of Liberty.... Buying nuts from Nuts for Nuts... Grabbing a street dog... (not the kind on a leash)... visiting City Hall, Harlequin Enterprises, The Woolworth Building... Checking out the little diners, well-hidden. And the sandwich shops, so many of which closed not once, but twice.

Regular folks, like you and me. Just trying to live, pay the bills. This is the first time I've visited where you truly felt hope. I visited a colonial cemetery where the graves were mostly pre-Revolutionary War. Babies. Children. Young women, mostly. And lots of Marys, Sarahs and Elizabeths. I imagined them watching the shore from the grounds of their church, seeing the English ships sail in and out of New York's harbor... Wondering what they thought when the English navy sailed into the area...

9/11 wasn't the first attack on America. It won't be the last. Seeing this  image, a beacon of hope for the world's poor, the entrenched, the huddled masses yearning to be free... with the evidence of jealousy and assault in the background...

How sad to envy when learning is such a better choice.

I pray for peace. I pray for people to join me in prayer, to make God's ears ring with the prayer of earnest, faithful Americans, because we didn't gain this wonderful grace, power and strength on our own. Regardless of religion, God hears the cry of the faithful, the hurting, the joyous, the grateful. I would love to join with you in prayer for our country... Any time, anywhere.

Friday, September 7, 2012

School's In!

Ah, Friday.

The first week of school comes to an end.

The kids are all draggin'-feet tired.

Too many months of up late, sleep in!  But now reality has come charging back in the form of a big yellow school bus, rumbling down the road. Lights flashing. Engine droning.

And they're off!

Photo: Friends <3

Cool nights.

Promise of warm fires.

Stacked wood.

Jam in the cupboard.

Food in the freezer.

Generator's working, gas can's filled.

Summer's waning...

Anybody need a sweater?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Jungle Taming Continues!

Okay, you all know how BAD this huge yard looked because I don't know enough to pretend I'm normal.

What is NORMAL, anyway???? Clearly it's some standard of being I have yet to acquire, LOL!!!

But we've made some progress.

Here's a pic of the JUNGLE area as it used to be:

And here's a pic of the ongoing project:  (muscle provided by our son Seth):

And here's a pic of the initial water garden Seth installed:

In the effort of full disclosure, let this author reveal that this water garden kit was a Mother's Day gift from her children five years ago and has been banging around the yard being used as a children's pool, sauna, boat, detective's office and meeting place until this time. I actually had to fill it with water to make sure we hadn't sprung a leak.

Yes, that's our normal, LOL!

But now it's got a place of honor in the front yard. Not quite done, still have to plant the mums and spread wood chip mulch, but check this out:

We nabbed some sunnies from our back farm pond, so it's got fish swimming around. Frogs. So sweet!  And I robbed from my hosta and perennial stashes planted hither, thither (what is a thither??? Does anyone know? And don't you just love Olde English???) and yon so the only money I spent was on a $37 yard of gravel to use for leveling the pond (and providing good drainage underneath so it doesn't heave mid-winter)...

And for this "cost me nothing" stone path leading to the front porch:

(path dug by my friend Kyle, 14 years old, and desperate for money, so having him help me that day got him a ticket to the amusement park...)

(Stones placed by Seth... We need to bring it up a little and he keeps giving me DARK LOOKS because setting fieldstone firmly in place is a stone by stone process. Oops. Shoulda made the hole a little shallower! Eeek!)

And we managed (by we I mean Kyle) to break the Invisible Fence wire while digging the sidewalk...

but then Kyle and I spliced it and re-buried it. Every girl should know how to set stone and splice wires. I'm just sayin'... Note the tiny white flags marking where we re-routed the invisible fencing wire in case I have the brilliant idea of digging there again.

Oy on me!

So we're getting there! Step by step. This is our strict budget way of bartering for work, using supplies on hand (even if they're five years old!) and tackling things one by one.

Stay tuned for updates on the "Swingy Jungle".


We are the proud owners of not one but TWO jungles. After all, God created jungles, right?  I'm just trying to tame them...  somewhat.


In truth, I wouldn't have it any other way!

Saturday, September 1, 2012


You can't get much cuter than this, right?

She started with a goal.

And a very cool palette of color! Please note the Bieber Fever t-shirt
big sister used in her dance recital in June...

And of course, snuggy blankie is nearby, hanging on the back of the chair.
Every artiste needs their security blanket, right???

And this shows the sheer delight of the disheveled but creative genius at work!

May your day be filled with simple warmth, not unrelenting heat.
May God bless you in trial and abundance.
May the joy of a small child always surround you.

Whenever things get to be crazy hard, too dark, too stormy, I remember the face of a child.
Knowing it's all right to seek comfort!

We grownups have so much to learn from the faith of a child.

Hey, Keurig's on... Lots of choices. And great creamers!  

Come on by.