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Friday, October 18

My Favorite Season? by Jana Richards

I live in Canada with all four seasons. Winters are cold and summers are hot, and the shoulder seasons of spring and fall have everything in-between.

But picking a favorite is difficult. There are things I like about all four seasons, as well as things I dislike. Let me count the ways.

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash
Let’s start with spring. Spring always comes as a relief after a long, cold winter. In my corner of the world, spring can begin anytime between March and May. And when it finally comes, it comes fast. One of my favorite lines from “Spring on the Prairies” by Saskatchewan singer-songwriter Connie Calder is “Spring on the prairies comes as a surprise. One minute there’s snow on the ground – the next the sun’s in your eyes.”

Spring holds a lot of promise, but it has downsides. Immediately after the snow disappears, trees are bare and grass is brown and dead. Even garbage that’s been hidden by the snow all winter is revealed. There’s that awkward moment of ugliness until the earth warms and begins to flourish once more. And spring can bring flooding, which is a real threat where I live.

When I was a kid, summer was my favorite season. It meant no school, no timetable, no schedule. I could sleep in! And that was great, for a while. I lived on a farm, fourteen miles from the small town where I went to school. Summer meant I didn’t get to see my friends so often, and absence doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder. Sometimes, over the space of a summer not seeing a friend, things changed and they found new people to hang around with.

Actually, this was taken in Mexico, but you get the idea: poolside and tanning.
These days, summer makes life easier. I don’t have to dress in three layers of clothes before I go outside. I don’t have to worry about shoveling snow or getting stuck. The days are long and warm and full of light. I could do without the blistering heat and the mosquitoes, but as we’re fond of saying around here, “Quit complaining. It’ll be winter soon enough.”

In the fall, the temperatures moderate, making life bearable again. The leaves turn, displaying their best colors. The show they put on is truly amazing. Fall marks a beginning: the start of school, the start of getting back to business after a lazy summer, the start of setting goals. But it also marks the end: the end of the warm weather. If fall is here, can winter be far behind? The thought makes me melancholy.

Can Stock Photo Inc. Seamartini
And then it arrives. Winter, reaching out with cold, icy fingers. There’s nothing more beautiful than newly fallen snow. It leaves the world looking clean and bright as it sparkles in the sun. It’s real pretty, until you have to shovel it. Or drive in it.

Some people embrace winter. They can hardly wait for snow so they can ski or snowmobile. The coming of hockey season makes them giddy with excitement. The thought of throwing a granite rock down a sheet of curling ice fills them with delight.

I wish I was one of those people.

This was us trying to dig out our car the day after Christmas, 2016. Oh, how I love the snow! Not.
I can appreciate the beauty of winter – from the safe confines of my warm house. But life is harder in the winter. It takes longer to get anywhere. And the cold. Oh, the cold. The older I get, the more it seeps into my bones.

For me, each season has its charms and its not so charming aspects. But I wouldn’t trade the experience of having all four seasons for anything.

Do you have a love/hate relationship with the seasons? Or do you have a clear favorite?

Post Script:
After I wrote this post, snow-magedden struck over the Thanksgiving weekend (which in Canada was last weekend Oct. 12-14). It's not totally unusual to get snow in October around here, but not this much.

This is often as much snow as we get all winter!
It started raining last Wednesday. It rained all night, but by Thursday morning when I went to work, the roads were packed with wet, slushy snow. It snowed heavily all day and all night. Friday it snowed even harder. The snow was wet and heavy. It was so wet our snowblower kept getting plugged up and we had to shovel by hand. I'm telling you, it was heavy! My shoulders are still sore!

Our poor car was buried under the snow in the driveway. I used a broom to push off the snow.
The worst of it was that all over the city and in a large area of my province, the heavy snow brought down trees and branches. The branches were especially heavy because all the leaves were still on them. Some of those trees brought power lines down with them. Some areas of the province are still without power because power poles and transmission lines are down. Luckily for us, we didn't lose power, but I'll never take electricity for granted again!
Broken branches in my neighborhood.
This tree nearly landed on our neighbor's car.
Fortunately, a lot of that wet, heavy snow has already melted. You can just never tell when a season will change on a dime!

Tuesday, October 15

My Chessboard World

     I love autumn, and it’s not just because of the changing colors or the first chill in the air. It’s all about the joy of settling down, becoming quiet, becoming still. It heralds in that special time, that time between October and March, when I give myself permission to not have to be out and about, doing a million things or having to be at a dozen different places in a day.  The only exception to that self-imposed rule is the month of December, which, I’m sure, I need not explain why.  Otherwise, come October, my participation in things can begin to fade and drop down, just like autumn leaves.

During the summer, I get very involved—too involved—with a variety of events and people coming and going.  Living in the mountains, we know that the “doing” season doesn’t last all that long, and so we cram as much in as is humanly possible before the blessed “down” time arrives.  Fundraisers and festivals happen nearly every weekend, and our front door becomes a revolving door to friends and family who need a break from the intense heat elsewhere.  In the summer, my writing seems to take a backseat to my being a tour guide and temporary innkeeper.  

My husband stays equally busy, too.  Not only is he involved in some of the same extracurricular activities that I am, but he also loves to garden.  So, once fall arrives, although beautiful to him (not to mention we’re both glad that football season has started), it marks the end of his growing season, his fun-in-the-sun season. That is the only fly in the ointment to me; the fact that my husband won’t be outside and out from under my feet as much. When the cold winds blow, he comes inside, just like the ladybugs.

I’ve tried to get my husband involved in a hobby, namely pottery making, and though he had great potential, he just couldn’t stop staring out the window and thinking about next year’s garden.  His mind wasn’t on making pots but growing things in them instead. Ah, well, you can lead a horse to water… The saving grace is the tractor I bought for him, complete with snow-blade.  Now, when the white stuff accumulates, he gets out and clears the roads, which gives us both a chance to clear our heads.  I always volunteer him to clear our neighbors' driveways and roads, too.  They think we're kind.  I'm just trying to keep my sanity.  

This morning, I spotted the first smoke from somebody’s chimney rising above the treetops.  Grabbing Mama’s old olive-green sweater, I hurried out to my deck to watch the early morning fog mingle and swirl with the smoke in a beautiful autumn dance.  Quietly standing there, I listened as the squirrels squabbled over buckeyes and walnuts in my thick woods beyond, and marveled at the color-drenched maple and oak trees that have seemingly changed overnight.  Before long, their leaves will intertwine with the smoke and fog, and they’ll fall gently to the ground, creating a magnificent carpet of color.  

Suddenly, as though right on cue, the first chilly gust of the season sent light things aloft, including some of those leaves, and whipped my hair around like angry snakes.  Pulling Mama's old sweater closed, I smiled, wondering how that old North Wind knew it was time to usher me inside.

All things considered, it was a good “doing” time. I got a lot accomplished, but now it’s the start of that other time; that time I secretly start counting down the days to in the early summer.  Bidding the squirrels and turkeys farewell, I walked back inside, closing out the world, and entered another one that’s my all my own; a world in which I control the board like a chess match.  Quietly, I sat down at my desk and took a deep breath as though to initiate a new beginning.  Then I began to write.


Sunday, October 13

Chocolate & Book Boyfriends Halloween Romance Giveaway!

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Friday, October 11

 by Margie Senechal

This is going to be a quick post because it's almost time to leave for work and because I have nothing prepared. I know, what's new?

I've been distracted for the past month because I applied for a new job with a new company in a new realm of working for me. 

I didn't get the original job I applied for, but was recommended for another spot in the company. I had my interview for that position last Monday-11 days ago. 

I hate this waiting period. I'm like Harry--now that I know what I want to do with my life, I want my life to start right now.

I'd be leaving retail (woo!) and going to work for a local credit union in the call center, but in the E division, meaning I'd get to use my writing skills in my job. Which would be amazing. Plus, it's an office job (my knees are rejoicing just thinking about it.) and I'd get a cubicle.

On the downside, it's in downtown Portland, which will mean a 30-60 minute bus ride twice a day, because I  refuse to fight traffic on my own. I like the group effort. 

On the plus side, I can read on the bus, listen to music, write, chill on the trip home...

Further on the plus side, I'll be in the heart of Portland, working and people-watching.

So, hold a good thought for me that I'll hear soon--either way, so I can stop being distracted and  get back to my book.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, October 4

Dancing flames and good books by Liz Flaherty #WordWranglers

October is crisp days and cool nights, a time to curl up around the dancing flames and sink into a good book. - John Sinor

Hello, October, and hello Wrangler Readers. Hasn't this just been the fastest year ever?

This is my favorite month of the year, and it's often the busiest, too. I'm not sure how that happens, but I think it has to do with not wanting to miss anything.

Like pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin spice tea.

Turkey. We usually have a few practice ones before Thanksgiving.




Sounds. Rustling leaves, birds bidding farewell on their flights south, marching bands and high school football game announcers.

My friend Sherry West's first children's book.

My severaleth book, The Healing Summer--coming October 30, but you can order it now. Please.

I've spent so much time messing around with pictures, it might already be November! I hope you're having a splendid autumn. Which parts of it bring you the greatest joy?

Wednesday, October 2

Cover reveal for The Healing Summer @Liz Flaherty

Just sneaking this in here before time runs out for the giveaway. Thanks for entering!

Title: The Healing Summer
Author: Liz Flaherty
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 30, 2019
When Steven Elliott accidentally rides his bike into Carol Whitney's car at the cemetery, their out-of-control lives take on new and exciting possibilities. Long friendship wends its way into something deeper and feelings neither of them expected to experience again enrich their days and nights. But what will happen when the long summer ends and Steven leaves their hometown to once again take up his prestigious career as a cardio-thoracic surgeon and Carol loses the dream of the family, commitment, and future that she's allowed herself to want?
Life gets in the way before either Steven or Carol are ready, and they wonder if their romance will fade and fall with the leaves when hot days turn to the briskness of autumn.
“Were you hunting me?” She should have waited to get her breath back—she sounded like a vamp from one of 1940s movies that were on really late at night when you couldn’t sleep. “When we met on the road, I mean.”
“Huh?” He sounded nonplused, and she felt like cheering. She wasn’t the only one who’d been kissed stupid—he wasn’t doing so well, either. “Oh, yeah.”
“Yeah?” She turned away, starting to put away the abandoned groceries. If she couldn’t see him, she would neither hyperventilate nor jump his bones. Maybe.
“Want to?”
Want to what? That? Did she want to? Hell, yes, she wanted to. But they were just barely aware of each other, and he was going back to his big city life and big city friends in a matter of weeks. Although he’d probably spend some weekends at Miss Abigail’s and possibly even open an office in Peacock the way he’d mentioned, he wasn’t good relationship material.
Even more, in Carol’s mind and she thought probably in his, he was still Promise’s. The thought sobered her and stilled her hands. Oh, Promise.
“What did you…why did you want me?” she asked, trying to insert some sense into the conversation, some mental cold water on her still-shrieking girl parts.
“Dinner.” He pulled his hair back into a band he took from his pocket—he never seemed to run out of ponytail holders. “Would you like to go to dinner? And shop for cars? I know you’re not going to the beach this summer, but I’ll buy you a girly drink with an umbrella in it and you can pretend.” He ran a finger lightly down the strap of her dress. “You can wear one of these dresses, although probably not this one, since I seem to have decorated it with sawdust and sweat. Oh, wait.” He held up both hands to stave off an answer. “Grace told me it was rude to suggest someone wear something in particular, so I take that back. Wear whatever you like.”
“When and why did Grace tell you that?” She refilled their tea glasses and handed him his. She took a long drink, hoping the cold brew would serve to cool down her insides.
Well, that wasn’t working—she was pretty sure she felt them sizzle.
“Thursday. She was going to afternoon tea over at the Old Farts Home, something they’ve apparently decided to have every Thursday. You stay for it, too, don’t you, after you get their hair and nails all prettied up? Anyway, she had on her overalls, complete with grass-stained knees, and I said, very politely, ‘Holy shit, Grace, are you wearing those?’ She didn’t respond well.”
“I’m amazed.” She shook her head.
“I was, too,” he said righteously. “I was only trying to help.”
Even if she could have resisted the hormonal storm that had overtaken her kitchen, Carol had no defense against his laughing dark eyes. “Okay, thanks. I’d like to go to dinner. And you’re sure it’s all right if I wear whatever I please?”
His gusting sigh should have made the kitchen curtains stir. “Yes. Fine. Can I use your phone to call Dillon and ask him to bring my truck up the hill?”
“Sure, or we can walk down if you’d rather.” Carol was surprised at how much she was enjoying the walking these days, especially when it was downhill.
“You wouldn’t mind?”
“No.” She grinned at him. “But you have to take a shower. I do have some standards on dates.” She gasped as soon as the words left her mouth. “I’m sorry. I know this isn’t a date. We’re friends who kissed…accidentally. This is dinner, not a date. Right?”
He smiled, a slow and lazy expression that turned her stomach over. And over again. “Wrong.” He came over and kissed her once more. Thoroughly. “It’s a date.”
Retired from the post office and married to Duane for…a really long time, USA Today bestselling author Liz Flaherty has had a heart-shaped adult life, populated with kids and grands and wonderful friends. She admits she can be boring, but hopes her curiosity about everyone and everything around her keeps her from it. She likes traveling and quilting and reading. And she loves writing.