Local Author Event

You never know how much talent there is in your own back yard. I discovered this last Saturday when Erin McCole Cupp and I invited local authors to come and spend the afternoon at the Atglen Public Library.

We ended up with a dozen authors coming. Many authors had more than one book available. Some of them are also performing storytellers, historians, educators, scientists, lawyers, journalists and more. Many are available for school visits and offer workshops.

I was both nervous and excited about the day. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t great and I was afraid that would keep people from coming. I was afraid it would be quiet and sad that the weather kept people away. Instead I was pleasantly surprised to see that the day was upbeat and fun!

The authors arrived mostly one at a time which was great because then Erin and I could meet them and show them where they could set up. We introduced each person as they arrived and they took it from there. Soon the room was full of the happy chatter of authors comparing their books, their craft and getting to know each other.

Despite the snowy weather some people did arrive to see what was going on and they were made to feel welcome.

We had a blind book date which was fun. Each person took a book to read for a few minutes and then shifted to the left and read the next book. It was a great way to see what the authors were offering.

Speed Book Dating

Speed Book Dating

We also let authors sign up for a 5-10 minute presentation. Luckily by this time we had a small audience and they sat listening to each author speak. The authors talked about their book(s) and how they came to write them. There was time after that to meet with the authors and buy some books.

Overall it ended up being a high energy and intimate meeting of authors and the public. It was amazing how varied the writing material was. We had local historical fiction, mystery, science fiction, horror, romance, young adult and children’s. There was nonfiction including animal welfare, spirituality, dealing with grief and local history.

Everyone is asking if we will do this again and I think we will. Take a look at your neighborhood and see who is there. I think you might be surprised!



Here are the authors who attended. Please visit their sites, take a look at their books and say hello.

Carolyn Astfalk: http://carolynastfalk.com/

Susannah Brody: http://home.comcast.net/~susannahbrody/books.html

Jennifer Gladen: http://jengladen.com/

K.B. Inglee:  http://kbinglee.weebly.com/

Susan Marie Kelley: http://susanmariekelley.weebly.com/

Jane Kelly: http://janekellymystery.homestead.com/jk.html

Erin McCole Cupp: http://erinmccolecupp.com/

Treva Hall Melvin: http://thepoisonedpencil.com/treva-hall-melvin/

Marcella Peyre-Ferry: PFFarms@earthlink.com

Nancy B. Schmitt & Kelly Schmitt:  Nancy’s books are available at the Malvern Borough website.  Contact Kelly at mactavish@rocketmail.com

Chris Shaughness: http://www.chrisshaughness.com/

Walt Trizna: https://walttriznastories.wordpress.com/

The Gift of Snow Geese

Copyright info  Myer Bornstein - www.photobee1.com

First let me thank Myer Bornstein for giving me permission to use his wonderful photos. Please visit him at http://www.photobee1.com/#!/index to see more of his amazing work.

I’ve never been keen about winter. I just don’t want to deal with the extra stress that winter makes me feel. I keep trying to find good things about winter. Just last week I went on a nice long walk and really enjoyed the crisp air and the peaceful quiet. Of course that day it was almost 40 out, sunny and no wind or harsh weather to deal with. And I did find beauty and was thrilled to share some time with a hawk sitting on a branch next to the path.

The other day was one of those winter days that fills me with stress. I went to bed the night before knowing that I would either wake to snow, a mix of snow/sleet/ice/rain, or rain. I was really hoping for a snow day. Of course, adult snow days aren’t as magical because you know you still have bills to pay and shoveling to do. But I still hope for it.

It wasn’t to be. I woke to a couple of inches of slush. And it was raining on top of it all. There was none of the beauty of a pristine snowy morning. It a morning of grays and cold and damp. The worst. I resigned myself to the reality of slogging my way to work.

I shoveled and moved the slush to keep the rain water from seeping into the garage. And as I made drain paths down the driveway in the pouring, ice cold rain I kept thoughts at bay since there were no positive ones.

I can drive in snow and even find it kind of a fun challenge. I can drive in rain and usually my only annoyance is when people don’t slow down enough and I have to deal with their bad driving. But I have grown to be terrified of ice. I don’t care how many wheeled-drive you have, nothing is going to help you on a sheet of ice. Luckily I didn’t have to deal with that. Yet.

The drive to work was a mess. Lots of rivers of water on the roads and I watched the potholes growing before my eyes. After having to slow and/or stop for flooding and showers of slush as cars flew by the opposite way I finally made it to work.

My new waterproof boots have paid for themselves this winter as I tried to avoid the deepest of the puddles and slush. I got into the building, grabbed the shovel and ice melt and cleared the walks and ramp there. At least it wasn’t pouring anymore. Just a bone-chilling drizzle.

Finally, I got inside, soaking in the warmth of the heat, ready to have a nice day, only to hear that we were now under a Flash Freeze advisory. I don’t remember hearing that one before. Now people were rushing to get errands done before everything freezes. The kids were sent home early from school. The roads were still mini rivers. And my stress level was growing.

My wonderful boss lives a block away and said I could leave early. She would stay for the rest of the day. I secretly felt embarrassed at my cowardly fear but I wasn’t being proud that day. I left.

When I got in my car the thermometer said 35. Good. By the time I had driven only a few feet, the wind was gusting and the temperature dropped another degree. Now I just wanted to get home as quickly as I could. All I could focus on was beating the ice.

There was a lot of traffic in the usually sleepy rural area I drive through. Apparently word had gotten out and I wasn’t the only one hoofing it for home! The roads were marginally better than the morning but I was still busy keeping out of the deepest water and dodging the ever-growing potholes.

I reached the worst part of my commute which is a large, long, exposed hill that always drifts with snow, fills with rain water or freezes instantly. I felt like a reverse downhill skier dodging the obstacles all the way up. I made it to the top and the temperature was now 33.

Then something wonderful happened.

Copyright Myer Bornstein http://www.photobee1.com/#!/index

Snow Geese: Copyright Myer Bornstein http://www.photobee1.com/#!/index

There was a slight break in the clouds, the sun came out and my eyes were drawn above to a huge flock of Snow Geese. The sun was reflecting off of their bright white feathers, which were glowing and sparkling. They were flying against the gusts of wind, together as a beautiful community. The sudden bright light of them was breathtaking with the sky behind them almost black. I felt as if I had been given a wonderful gift. I kept sneaking quick glances at them while also keeping an eye on the road.

Copyright Myer Bornstein http://www.photobee1.com/#!/index

Copyright Myer Bornstein http://www.photobee1.com/#!/index

I felt my tension ease and I made it home safe and sound. Just ahead of the ice.

I am one of those people who believes in signs and always tries to find the meaning of things. I think things happen for a reason if we only choose to look and see.

Because I love the meanings of things I had to see what Snow Geese meant. The first sentence in a book I have about such things says, “This is a time of good fortune, so be receptive to and appreciative of all the good things that come to you.” And the last line says, “Even though it may not always appear to be so, you’re very well protected.”

I was. And I am.

I also try to find the good things in a day and yesterday was a dark one. Not only the weather but just trying to find my happy place inside.

I feel I was given a gift of beauty and life and hope. How perfect was that message?

I went through a typical evening and got into bed to read. By now I was very tired and trying not to think about the next day. I just needed to relax and sleep.

I decided to read Mary Oliver’s book “Why I Wake Early”. I find comfort in someone else who notices and enjoys the gifts of Nature and Life. I read two poems, turned the page and what was the next poem? Snow Geese! And her amazing words perfectly matched my experience earlier in the day.

What an amazing gift for me. I read the poem over and over again. And I just reread it now.

It doesn’t matter where or how gifts like this arrive. What matters is that I am open to receiving and appreciating them when they do.

And I am grateful.

The Luxury of Doing One Thing at a Time

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I am always multitasking. Always. Even when I’m not doing anything I have multiple thoughts going all of the time.

When I finally make the time to do and focus on one thing, it feels like sheer luxury. I think that is why I enjoy writing so much. Focusing on one train of thought and finding just the right words is fun.

There is a joy in being able to do anything creative at my own pace for a length of time. Of losing myself in getting something done and then being able to step back and enjoy what I have accomplished. Whether it is writing or gardening or just getting a closet organized in a creative way, there is a wonderful sense of calm and accomplishment that is incredibly satisfying.

I think we are always doing so many things all of the time that we forget how to relax and enjoy life.

I think this is why so many jobs are unsatisfying. There isn’t enough personal creativity and satisfaction. Jobs that make us rush through our day often without feeling we created anything. What is the product at the end of the day that we can take pride in? Did we make someone’s day better? Did we create something of beauty? Many jobs are about the bottom line; mass producing meaningless products in a world that seems too materialistic.

Why am I rambling about all of this? Because I recently had one of those rare days when I could do as I wanted to do for as long as I wanted to do it. I took a lot of deep breaths and found myself smiling. I was lost in my own sense of time and doing my own thing.

It made me think of why we enjoy watching children play. They lose themselves in the pure pleasure of the moment. They only get upset when we adults push our sense of time on them and tell them it’s time to go.

I think we need to get back to that feeling of play from time to time. Let your inner child have fun. Do just one thing that you enjoy today. What will you do?


Traditions. The holidays in particular bring traditions to the forefront.

There are traditions that we grow up with and those that we create for ourselves.

This is the time of year when I hear comments that use the word ‘always’ when people talk about their holidays.

“We always go to my mother’s, grandmother’s, (or fill in your own friend or relative), for Thanksgiving, Christmas or Chanukah.”

“We always have a particular meal.”

“We always open our gifts in the morning or the evening.”

“We always go to the movies.”

“We always donate our time, money or items to our favorite charity.”

For me Christmas is the holiday when I have traditions that mean the most to me. I think it’s because Christmas is the holiday that has the most meaning for me. I love the religious meaning even though I don’t practice a traditional religion anymore. I love the whole idea of giving to others to make this a better world.

One tradition I have continued practicing since childhood is baking certain cookies only at Christmas.

When I was growing up my mother baked wonderful cookies that we only had at this time of the year. One of the recipes was given to her from my paternal grandmother and is still a family favorite. These are called Butterhorns. Jelly-filled cookies are also baked every year. I’ve kept up with the tradition of baking these every year and it just wouldn’t be Christmas without them.

A tradition that I started myself is to eat those cookies when I get up Christmas morning while opening gifts. The rest of the day is always (there is that word!) spent with family and friends relaxing, eating, enjoying our new gifts and each others’ company. The day is sprinkled with many phone calls and texts wishing happy holiday to our distant friends and relations.

This year my daughter who now has a house of her own, baked the cookies. My son baked them last year at his place. Knowing that this tradition will continue makes me very happy.


Butterhorns and Jelly-filled cookies

Traditions hold everything together. There is a continuity in doing them and thus a sense of contentment. Is this why we need them? Is this why they are so comforting? Is it because the world is always changing and we find comfort in something familiar? Something we can count on?

I know this post has focused mainly on Christmas, but I’m curious to hear about other holidays and the traditions you celebrate and why.

What holiday traditions do you keep every year? Why are they important to you? Have you started your own?

No matter what you celebrate, I wish you the best and may your favorite traditions continue.

Put Another Log on the Fire


This beautiful post says exactly what I feel this holiday season. Please enjoy.

Originally posted on On the Homefront:

My newspaper column for this week:

Ten days before Christmas. By the time you read this, the timeline will have shifted. Sounds ominous doesn’t it? Remember when we were kids and ten days was a lifetime, and Christmas seemed to take its jolly time to get here? I read an explanation the other day about why as we get older things seem to move faster—something about events no longer being new to us so we experience them at a faster pace. I am sure that explanation makes sense to someone somewhere, but it did not really resonate with me.

I do find that different things have become more important to me over the years. Things I would have glossed over or not paid any particular attention to when I was younger. As I get older, I may not get wiser, but I do find myself being more reflective and more…

View original 617 more words

Gaudiness and Beauty

Longwood Tree
Photo Credit: Robb Enright

‘Tis the season to be wild with color and decorating whether it is our homes, yards, cars or ourselves. I know there are religious reasons for Christmas and Chanukah but this is also the season to have fun.

I love how at this time of the year everyone loves all the sparkle, color and tackiness of the season. Maybe this is a sign that society in general has rules that are too binding? In society, things have to match or blend or be just right. This time of the year is a celebration of cutting loose.

We use as many lights in as many colors and combinations imaginable. How about the inflatable and plastic decorations that sometimes fill every space indoors and out. Think about the ugly sweaters that are so popular now. The gaudier the better.  

Fun Lights

Fun Lights

Is this just our inner children trying to get out and have a great time? I think so. Anything goes and that’s fun!

Some people like to stay with simple whites and golds. Others use every color there is. And it’s all great. No judgement. Only preference.

Doesn’t it make you happy to see the effort people go to just to add some beauty and fun to the world? Don’t you love to see the beautiful and the gaudy?

It is a crazy busy time of the year but I hope you take a little time to walk or drive around your neighborhood and enjoy it all.

(A special thanks to Robb Enright for letting me use his stunning photo of the grand tree at Longwood Gardens.)

Real Life is Overrated

It has been a while since I’ve posted. I have been mired in real life. Real life by itself is overrated.

Have you ever made huge changes in your life going into the new phase at full speed to the detriment of everything else? When all of your energy and focus swings into the new endeavor? Well that’s where I have been.

I am swinging back into a better balance of things again and hope to stay here a while.

I had to push all of my writing aside for a while and was too busy to notice how much I have missed it. I have done this a few times in the past. Sometimes thinking I was quitting this whole writing thing. But every time this happens I realize that I need to write. I can’t not write! At least this time I wasn’t foolish enough to think I was really quitting. This time I knew I would be back; I just didn’t know when. I think this is growth!

Writing helps me put things in perspective. It helps me work through problems and emotions before they become toxic. Creative writing is a wonderful way for me to escape reality and feel as if there is some control in life. And often, the creative writing ends up being helpful without my intending it to be.

I have been reading the wonderful blogs that I follow. Your blogs have been very inspiring and I am very grateful to have found your words.

For the most part the only writing I have been doing is in my journal or emails.

Lately my imagination has been prodding me to get back to it. I’m a little rusty but I think I have the energy and will to shine it up and see what I find.