I Love my Yard!

I live in one of those neighborhoods where the houses are close together and the yards are small.  I was worried I wouldn’t have room for a garden, but I found a yard that’s on a curve (so the backyard is a bit bigger) with an empty field behind it.  Also, I have a row of stones, boulders really, between my backyard and the adjacent field.  It is cozy and just right for my garden.

Basically, I don’t have too much grass to mow, and I have my own little wooded garden area to play in.

Garden

The vegetable garden is looking a bit scraggy, but I guess that’s what happens when you hang out in your hammock too much. I’m still getting peppers at least.

Hammock

Hammock Anyone?

And of course, I get lots of visitors.

Hawk 2

Hawks (Couldn’t get too close)

Frog

Frogs (hiding from the hawks)

Lizard

Lizards (Guarding my door)

Coleus

Stowaway in my Coleus (Hiding from the Lizard)

And the best visitors this time of year are the juicy oranges just ready to pick.

Oranges 2018

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Filed under Citrus Trees, Gardening, Pictures

Coming Soon: Death-Bringer

My next book, Death-Bringer,  is just a hop, skip, and a jump away.  Be looking for a cover reveal soon.  Here’s an idea of what to expect:

War is coming to the Norwood!

Arlyss Quarrel is oblivious to the threat. He dreams of marrying the girl-next-door and starting a family of his own far away from his demanding father. But when he injures his best friend in a shearing accident, he is sent away to the local lord to become a warrior.

So begins a maelstrom of political intrigue, vengeful invaders, and jealous gods.  At its center stands a single warrior with a dark blade who leads the defense of the Norwood against the invaders. Can Arlyss avoid the dangerous path set before him by the mysterious warrior, and find the happy ending he always dreamed of?  Or will he fall under Death-Bringer’s spell?

Check out this excerpt:      

“What am I going to do with you, Companion Arlyss?” He clasped his hands behind his back. “You killed a man in battle and most likely started a blood feud with a prominent Vilk clan.” He rocked on the balls of his feet as he made each point. “You are a Quarrel, a member of one of Norwood’s prominent families, and your loss would be an inconvenience to my lord. You are young and inexperienced, too inexperienced to be made a full warrior, and yet my lord wishes to make an example of your accomplishment.”

“I am not a warrior,” Arlyss interrupted. “I got lucky.” Things were happening too fast, and he tried to think of anything that would stop it. “I gave away the coat,” he blurted.

The Primus cut him off with a slash of his hand. “A warrior,” he said, “cares more for his spear-mates than he does for himself.” His face actually softened for an instant. “This is not an argument against you.”

Arlyss felt his shoulders tense up once more and fought to hold back sudden tears. He wasn’t ready to be a warrior. He didn’t know if he ever would be. He wondered if this was how Durwyn had felt the night before the battle.

The Primus stepped in close so that they stood face-to-face. “Arlyss Quarrel, I told you the day we met that you may earn the title of warrior. Ready or not, young companion, that day has come.” As he stared into Arlyss’s eyes, his own eyes glowed with a sudden intensity that made Arlyss want to curl up into a ball. “You will be the greatest warrior the Norwood has ever seen . . . I swear it.” He let go of Arlyss and pulled back with a shudder. 

Arlyss’s hair stood on end. It felt like the words had not come from the Primus alone. He mouthed a prayer to the Spirit of the Norwood to protect him from the wyrd the Primus had lain upon him.       

The Primus looked similarly affected. He took a deep breath and let it out. His left hand slid around to his back to stroke the sheath of his black sword. “You will seek out the lord’s armorer tonight so he can make a warrior’s coat.” Now the Primus pulled his hand away from the sword and was all business with his ever-present severity and critical eyes. “On the last day of the funeral feast, you shall present yourself to the Lord of Luton and swear your loyalty to his cause.” He looked past Arlyss as he concluded, “A warrior does his duty.”

The Primus turned and marched out of the stall.

I will be sending out advance reader copies soon.  More to come on that, but don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re interested in posting a review.

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Filed under Books, Fantasy, Reading, Writing

I’m Actually Not A Great Traveler

It seems like this has become more a travel blog than anything.  Just so you all know . . . it isn’t.  I’ve just been on the road a bit more than normal lately.  I’m actually more a homebody than a traveler.  That being said, here’s a couple of pictures from Octoberfest in Newberry, SC.  See, you just need to have beer (or chocolate) to get me there.

Newberry Octoberfest

The celebration took up several blocks of downtown Newberry with plenty of food to choose from, a gaggle of shopping stalls, and two beer gardens.  My favorite part of the visit (besides the beer) was a tour of the Newberry Opara House.

Newberry Courthouse

I was lying on the grass when I took this (Resting, I only had 2 beers at the time)

Newberry was founded by Germans and they built the Opera House in 1881.  It had many purposes since that time, serving as the city center for much of the period.  It is now an Opera House and still has a busy show schedule.  It is cozy — only seats around 400 people.  I’m thinking of going back for a show sometime.

For anyone who remembers this is actually a writing blog, I’ve been pretty busy on the writing front too, and I promise to post an update soon.

 

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Lake Washington

Lake Washington

I was at a conference in Seattle last week.  It was held on Lake Washington.  The weather was nice and the lake beautiful.  The hotel was right on the water and there was a walking trail that followed the shoreline for quite a ways.

Lake Washington 2

A park stood next to the hotel, which I wandered through a few times, and to top it all off, they had an Ivar’s right on the water.  So, of course, I had to get some clam chowder while I was there.  Delicious!

Ivar's

I’m not sure it was worth the 5-hour flight, but it was good.

 

 

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Octoberfest in Georgia

Helen

No, this isn’t Disney, it is a little town called Helen.  Helen sits in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northeastern Georgia.  The town is designed to resemble a Bavarian village, with shops and a beer garden on every corner (Yes, I had a few beers while I was there).

the Chattahoochee River runs through town.  It actually cradles Helen by flowing down one side and up the other. Helen also sits on the edge of the Chattahoochee National forest for all you outdoor fans, with a waterfall hike not too far from town.

Now’s the time to go visit while the town celebrates Octoberfest.  We were there during the week when it wasn’t too rowdy, but I understand the weekends get busy.  This was fine with me because I was looking a few days of mellow in the mountains.  The river ran right behind our hotel with a fire pit and benches.  Here’s a picture from my balcony:

Helen river

It was a nice place to visit, and we’re looking at going back in November when they perform the Lighting of the Village.  Of course, one of my favorite places in town was the Hansel & Gretel Candy Kitchen.  Imagine rooms full of homemade candy – more chocolate than you can eat in a lifetime (Although, I’d give it a shot).

Helen’s a cool little town, definitely worth a visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rain, Rain, Go Away

We’re just now getting rain from Florence here in Charlotte.  It’s supposed to keep falling until Monday or Tuesday as this storm meanders through South Carolina.  Luckily, it is now a tropical storm, so we don’t have to deal with the high winds.

I saw a news show on the local television station yesterday that was talking about hurricane myths.  One myth, according to the show, was that the hurricane category is not a good indicator of the severity of the storm.  I beg to differ.

The hurricane category is a measure of the wind speed.  From my experience, wind speed is the most immediate danger of a hurricane.  High wind speed can blow over trees, rip the roofs off of houses, and send debris flying through the air.  For me, this is the unpredictable part of the storm that can get you killed.

Of course, we’re hearing a lot about rainfall and flooding with this storm, which can be just as deadly.  I don’t want to downplay the danger of flooding, but I don’t think it is as immediate a threat as the wind.  Basically, I prefer one danger to two.

I guess my point is that there will be flooding with every hurricane, but you can have flooding with a bad rainstorm too.  The thing that makes a hurricane scary and dangerous is the wind.  Otherwise, why would they be categorized that way?

And why would the Weather Channel people by playing it up so much?

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It’s All Greek to Me

I went to the Yiasou Greek Festival yesterday in Charlotte.  Even though it rained a bit and was hot and humid, it was a good time.  I’ll admit that I showed up for the food more than anything.  I had the gyro pita and souvlaki on a stick and a beer to wash it down.  The food was good, and I got to watch the kids come out and dance while I enjoyed my meal.

Greek Festival

Seeing those kids come out on stage in their Greek costumes reminded me of Catholic school and the uniforms we wore.  I always felt awkward in the school uniform and would have died of embarrassment if they had made me dance.  The only time I danced in Catholic school was trying to avoid the nun’s rulers.

Ever been smacked on the back of the hand with a ruler?  You’ll never forget it—I guess that was the point.   

Back on the stage, some kids were enjoying themselves while others were going through the motions.  Watching the latter group, the kids that seemed to have two left feet, reminded me of 9th grade PE class.  This was my first year in regular (public) school.  Whenever it rained, we had to go to the gym and square dance.  Yes, I was one of the awkward ones trying to shrink into the wall.

Greek Dancers

I think part of my issue with square dancing was because it was an infrequent occurrence.  Maybe if we danced more often and it was part of everyone’s curriculum, it would have been easier to deal with.  Maybe if we started dancing earlier than the 9th grade, before puberty made us awkward and embarrassed, it would have been better.  Maybe I wouldn’t have stumbled into half the girls and wished I was back in Catholic school being chastised by the nuns(Okay, that was probably one too many maybes).

As you can probably tell, I don’t like square dancing, but I can see the wisdom of the Greek dancing.  These kids may or may not appreciate learning these traditional dances, but I’m guessing they won’t feel awkward when they go to a Greek wedding or another dancing event.

Okay, even though watching the Greek dancers churned up some old semi-painful memories, I still enjoyed the festival.  Memories help us to learn from past experiences after all.  I did learn that rulers and nuns don’t mix well with incomplete homework assignments.

By the way, I have yet to see anyone square dance at their wedding either, so I stand by my aversion to that particular dance style.

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