Book Review: Arcadia’s Children 2: Fyfield Plantation

Several weeks ago, Andrew Williams asked me to review his new scifi/fantasy Arcadia’s Children 2: The Fyfield Plantation. The book is a sequel to Arcadia’s Children: Samantha’s Revenge. If you read book 1 you’ll find many familiar faces in book 2, including Tarmy and Samantha.

I like way the Sci Fi elements are handled in the book. I don’t like a lot of technical jargon and too much complicated explanations of technology, and you don’t get that here. It’s straightforward and easy to read. Don’t worry, though. You’ll be in no doubt whatsoever that you’re in another world.

I also like the author’s writing style. It flows easily and logically and keeps the scenes moving along. That’s another thing I like about the author’s writing. The book is fast paced and all the action keeps you reading because you can’t wait to find out what happens next.  The plot is skillfully crafted and I didn’t always see what was coming.  Williams is a good storyteller who makes you care about the outcome of the book.

If you’re a Sci-Fi lover I’d recommend Fyfield Plantation. The book should be available sometime in January or February so I don’t have a cover to share. I decided to share the cover for book 1. I think for maximum enjoyment the books should be read in order. The book is being published by Wings ePress.

samanthas revenge

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Posted in book review, Elaine Cantrell, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Guest Author: Joselyn Vaughn and For the Love of Bigfoots and Butterflies

img_2572For my first guest author post of 2019, I invited one of our former foxes, Joselyn Vaughn, to come and introduce her soon-to-be-released novel For the Love of Bigfoots and Butterflies. This book has been in the works for quite some time, and when she announced it was finished and ready for publication I immediately pre-ordered it. And then I asked her to come and explain to us her fascination with Bigfoot. She sent me a reviewer’s copy to read, and I’m about two-thirds finished with it. I’ll share my thoughts in a few weeks when I share my reviews for all the books I read this month. In the meantime, here’s Joselyn:

****

Thank you for inviting me to post, Patricia! It’s fun to be here with you all again.

The unexplained has always intrigued me. Bermuda Triangle? Sure, I read a chapter about that. Spontaneous human combustion? What can you tell me? Bigfoot? Show me every blurry video you’ve got!

That’s how I stumbled across the show Finding Bigfoot on Netflix. People searching for evidence of Bigfoot and listening to first-hand encounters? Hand me the popcorn, I’m going to binge-watch.

I had just started playing with the idea of a new story. We were driving through the upper peninsula of Michigan (a spectacularly squatchy area!) and my main character was running on a trail. My husband suggested we watch for Sasquatches along the side of the road. And suddenly I knew my character would see a Bigfoot.

The rest of For the Love of Bigfoots and Butterflies evolved from there. It’s amazing how a whole story can sprout from just one comment.

Of course, “research” for this book involved watching hundreds of blurry videos on YouTube. Some of them have potential. Some videographers have much better eyesight than I do.

Naturally, I looked for information in my area. There weren’t any encounters documented on the research sites which I found highly suspect. It’s as squatchy as the  upper peninsula. Eventually, I found an article about a woman who feeds a family of joselyn1Squatches blueberry bagels. This made much more sense. I even heard a rumor about people seeing a monkey in the trees north of town. Obviously, it’s a baby Bigfoot.

My own encounters are slim… as in none. There was the scat that I saw on the North Country trail. Further investigation led to the discovery of horse tracks. Watching the woods while running is impossible. I’m more likely to fall (hopefully not into a pile of scat) if I don’t watch the trail in front of me rather than the trees around me. I also saw scat on a trail in Florida which I later learned was from a bear. It was much too fresh for my comfort level.

sasquatchWhen we visited Tahquemenon, I told my kids that Sasquatches built these rock towers to warn the others that people were around.

In reality, this is the Squatch I’d prefer to see.

 

 

 

 

B&BAbout For the Love of Bigfoots and Butterflies:

Fighting for an endangered butterfly is what makes Jane Meeth tick and Tall Oaks Development is her biggest adversary. Little does she know that the CEO of the company, Marshall Linden, is none other than the handsome hiker she meets while running on the trail.

After Marshall discovers evidence of Bigfoot, he wants to establish a sanctuary to protect the creature, but he must keep it secret from the protesters of his Tall Oaks projects. He didn’t count on falling in love with Jane making his plans nearly impossible.

When an environmental disaster threatens both of their dreams, they must throw away their prejudices to make the world safe for Bigfoots and butterflies.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KNLDD9T

Posted in author's life, authors, experiences, Guest, Guest author, Guest author post, Joselyn Vaughn, New Release | Tagged , | 12 Comments

Bound to be Snow

We are talking about being snowed-in this week. It only happened a few times to me, mostly because I grew up in suburbia.

I am always ready for any reason that would prevent me from getting out to buy supplies. I think everyone should anticipate problems and have extra everything; it doesn’t have to be a blizzard to keep you housebound. I did a series on my other blog about family emergency prep a few years ago: [https://tonettejoycefoodfriendsfamily.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/emergency-preparedness/ ]

People in snowy part of the country will not understand that Washington, DC shuts down at three inches of snow. Seriously; schools close, daycares aren’t open and ‘non-essential government employees’ need not go into work.

But that doesn’t mean that anyone is actually ‘snowed in’.

Not to say that we didn’t actually have heavy snows or even blizzards, but the roads were generally cleared in a short time.
The Blizzard of Early 1966 was incredible. We were out of school for about a week and had a ball!

We had a blizzard there in also ’79, but we all did well. It seemed horrible, but we were only unable to get around for a couple of days. The streets were clear, but the snow was piled-up on the cars and in the driveways. There are pictures somewhere of my sister and me trying to dig the cars out. They are funny!

We had a blizzard the year I was in rural Idaho, but we were always well-stocked. The neighbor from across the highway, (who had a sheep farm), unexpectedly came over and plowed our circular driveway for us. The highway had been cleared. We didn’t go out, but them we didn’t go out much in Idaho, anyway.

It’s ice storms here in North Central Kentucky that occasionally make us house-bound, and I have discussed them when we talked about power-outages:
[ https://fourfoxesonehound.wordpress.com/2016/03/18/power-to-the-people/]

There was a blizzard just before I got here. I was in Denver with my sons, packing for the move. I could not reach my husband, who was already here. When he called me, I asked what was going on. He asked if I had not had not watched the news and heard of the major blizzard that had socked the region in? I had been watching the news all day and had not heard of it because it was also the day of the big earthquake in California. CA and CO have big ties and that was all the news we were getting. While we were still talking, , Ted Kopple came on and explained that he was not in his regular Washington studio because of the major blizzard that had hit the area. The national news came on and showed snowplows in Louisville. I had not heard a thing about it all day!

I went looking back through the posts to see if I had told the story of the big blizzard that happened right after I moved to Denver, and was surprised that I had not.
I won’t go into the story of the hows and whys, but I had been in Denver for less than a month, married for only three weeks. The weather, as happens in Colorado, was fair. We had planned on going out on Christmas Eve afternoon to do a little shopping. Joe-the-Husband did grading or something, while I did whatever I was doing around our place. He had rented the downstairs apartment in a house in “Little Italy”, and our senior citizen landlords lived upstairs.

Although we had windows, they were up high and we were, as I said, busy. We knew there was snow falling, but we had no idea how fast it accumulating. The weather forecast had not called for any snow at all.

When we decided we’d start to go out, we could not. Feet of snow blocked our way and more was coming down, quickly. There went plans for Midnight Mass, although the church in which we were married was just a few blocks away. We could not even walk it, as I often would.

Because no one saw the snow coming, the then-mayor sent the city workers home early for Christmas Eve. By the time anyone realized how bad things were, the workers could not get back to the snowplows. People were stranded all over. Hospital workers, (medical and otherwise), and first responders were stranded and worked for days. People with high-profile four-wheel drive vehicles were implored to drive police, fire and medical people to their jobs and take the fatigued ones home.

Any other time, Colorado is ready for snow. They rely on tourism and if the tourists can’t get from the airport to the ski resorts, no one will go. In fact, this debacle lost the mayor his long-time position. He was just trying to give the city workers a few bonus hours off for Christmas, but no one cared because of all the bad press and inconvenience; he was out at the next election for this reason alone.

Joe and I knew family members in (other states) of the woman who lived two-doors down; in fact, she had found the apartment for him. Her husband taught with mine, ( and there was even another male fellow faculty member who live just around the corner).

The woman was just a few weeks short of the due-date for her fourth child. She feared that she would go into labor and not be able to get to the hospital and asked if I could assist her husband if need be. I could have, but I thanked God that I did not have to!

The landlords had not bothered to go grocery shopping. Gifts of food customarily came in before at Christmas and they always had a lavish meal at their son’s house. Their daughter-in-law had always sent them home with plenty of leftovers as well, but they could not get out, nor could their son come to get them.

Fortunately for them, I had never left home before I got married, therefore, I had never cooked for fewer than six people, and usually for more.
(When we were first married we ate a LOT of leftovers. I learned how to freeze foods well. The only time I made just enough was when we each had a steak or a chicken breast, and of course, those would be the times that Joe would spontaneously invite someone to stay for dinner!)
Joe had also spent many years helping his mother with his younger siblings and still bought in large quantities. (He had 25 pounds of onions at the apartment when I moved in, and a fifteen-pound lump of hamburger in the freezer.)

We had bought a turkey and trimmings. I had everything for a full-sized meal with sides and desserts, so we took the dinner upstairs to our landlord and landlady, who provided the linens, china and wine. I left food with them.

Their son and daughter-in-law came with groceries two days later.

We had another unexpected blizzard about nine years later on a Halloween. Halloweens in Colorado are either warm, so that kids can show off their cute costumes when trick-or-treating, or it is cold and wet and they need to bundle up …and all parental effort is basically wasted. I’m sure this has come up in previous posts, but I took my sons out to trick or treat that year and we didn’t get far in our townhouse complex. We turned around and before we could get back to our house, the snow was above our ankles.

The usual 20-minute drive back from Joe’s part-time job took over two hours, due to his taking someone home and going back roads because the hill he had to go up on the main artery to our place was impassible. I was worried sick. We were closed in the next day and he switched to a closer store in the same chain.

There is a very funny story that ties in with this switch involving the company picnic, but I will reserve that for now.

This season we have already been socked-in with an ice storm, months earlier than they usually hit. I am holding my breath for the Winter of Early 2019.

Posted in America, big plans, Christmas, connections, decisions, Family, helping others, Holiday, memories, natural disasters, Tonette Joyce, Uncategorized, using talents, winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Have I Ever Been Snowed-In?

Well, I Guess I Have

By Jeff Salter

Before I begin, let me establish that I’d had no prior experience with a septic system. Now, you’ll need to read to rest of my blog to learn what that has to do with our weekly topic, “Have we ever been snowed-in?

Background:

Prior to my recent Kentucky years, my primary experience with snow was two years in Chicago as a toddler, one year in Mt. Pleasant IA as a high school sophomore, and about a year stationed inside the Arctic Circle at Thule Air Base, in N.W. Greenland. In Greenland, as you can well imagine, we had a winter full of snow and “Phase” storms… but that base was extremely well equipped to deal with those frigid conditions and I only recall a few times that conditions were so awful that I couldn’t get where I had to go (by some means).

Kentucky:

I can’t swear which of the numerous major snowfalls – since we’ve lived these 13 winters in KY – but it was one of those several in which we had 9-12 inches of snow in a short period… that clogged the streets for days and stayed on the ground for a week or more.

truck2015.jpg

This is from a different year, but gives you a sense of how difficult it can be to traverse the Cemetery Road (at left). In this instance, once we finally got my truck out to the “main” road (McKee), we had to park it there and trudge the 350 feet through calf-high snow to get home.

At such times, since we are on a street that’s cleared AFTER the primary and secondary roads are scraped, we’re often stuck for multiple days at a stretch. Even after our street (McKee) is cleared, sometimes the county road (Cemetery) is still covered in snow and/or ice. And even after the county road and hill is cleared, we still have 150 feet of snow-bound gravel driveway that must be traversed. I guess you see what I’m saying here: we’re rather isolated and until each of these lanes is satisfactorily cleared, we can’t go anywhere in a vehicle. I still have to walk over to my Mom’s house each day, regardless… and that’s 400 feet of misery with my arthritic hips. [And a story for another time.]

IMG_1384

Not the year in question, but this gives a good idea of what our driveway looks like when covered in snow.

All I’ve said so far is merely to establish my bona fides… vis-à-vis that I’ve been shut-in because of winter weather. But the second part of our topic was: how did I cope?

Funny you should ask.

And here’s where the septic tank comes in.

On the very first day of this particular snow-bound event, my wife noticed there was water – really UGLY water – backing up in the shower drain in the lower level of our house. I figured it was just a clog somewhere, so I got out a 50-foot snake and went after it. No dice. Whatever the problem was, it involved a lot more than a simple clog.

With some help – by phone or text (I can’t recall which) – from a cousin-in-law plumber, I reached the menacing conclusion that our septic tank was FULL… and therefore no longer “accepting” what we’d been sending down the line.

Remember me saying that I had no experience with septic tanks? Well, who would’ve known – if you’ve never had a septic system – that you have to pump out the tank every few years? I thought I’d understood our contractor to say that the leech lines took care of “distributing” the waste.

Oh well.

So, now I realize we have to get somebody with a pump and tank truck to clean out this clogged mess… but the roads are still axle deep in snow. Maybe, if we’d lived inside the city or on one of the major thoroughfares, we could’ve had that tank serviced on the first day. Maybe. But with all the road issues I outlined above, you can understand that not only could we not get OUT… but nobody could get IN to help us.

So, for the next 4-5 days, we couldn’t shower, couldn’t wash clothes or dishes, and had to very sparingly flush the toilet. In the interest of T.M.I., I won’t go into detail on that toiulet determination, but suffice it to say — anything we flushed was coming back up the downstairs shower drain.

Finally, the roads cleared enough for the septic cleaner guys to come out. They made short work of the dirty mess… and clucked at my excuse that I had no idea the tank had to be emptied. Afterwards, we scoured the downstairs shower, of course… and proceeded to catch up on both the dishes and clothes. And resumed the wonderful feeling of being CLEAN… after a long hot shower.

Summary:

Had the septic system been properly functioning, being “snow-bound” would not have been any particular problem – since we’re both retired – provided we continued to have power and internet!

[JLS # 416]

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Snowed In

I imagine that the term ‘snowed in’ means different things to different people, depending on where you live. I live in South Carolina, which means that we don’t often get snow. But when we do everyone loses their mind. We all rush out for bread and milk, schools cancel classes, and everyone rushes out to buy either a generator or a kerosene heater in case the power goes out.

That being said, I do remember one year when a tremendous snow hit upstate South Carolina, and we were snowed in. No traffic moved outside. We were all hunkered down inside keeping warm. And we had two children to entertain.

The first thing we did was send them out to play for awhile, hoping they’d use up some of their energy. Then we collected clean snow to make snow ice cream. This all didn’t last as long as we hoped it would, but after they warmed up, the kids wanted to sled down the steep little hill in our side yard. We didn’t have a sled but we had a big tub that served the purpose.

Finally Mom and Dad had had enough, and we made the kids come inside. They took a little nap, which was great, and when they got up we let them paint. We had a couple of those paint by number kits so we broke them out. The kids loved it. They had about as much luck as I used to when I painted them, which is to say not much, but they had a good time anyway. (Do they still sell those kits? I haven’t used them in years.)

After we cleaned up we baked some sugar cookies. A few eggs hit the floor as well as some sugar and colored sprinkles, but everyone had a good time, and that was the important thing.

After dinner we all went to bed early. I think mom and dad needed an early night more than the kids did! What about you? What do you do when you’re snowed in?

The house in the picture is my house in the snow.

house

Posted in Elaine Cantrell, experiences, Family, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Snowed in? No problem.

Happy New Year! This week we’re talking about getting snowed in.

Having grown up in Iowa I have learned to prepare for snow days. By the time Halloween is here my chest freezer is stocked, my cupboards are full of canned goods, the bathrooms both are stocked with toiletries, fresh batteries are in the flashlights, the extra blankets on hand, and plenty of books and games fill the shelves. When the first snow flies, we’re prepared, there’s no need for me to run to the store to get anything and that’s the way I like it. So, when we do get snowed in, I don’t have to worry about anything.

When Jessica and Quinlan were itty bitty, we moved in with my sister. Our first winter at her house was mild but the second one was filled with lots of snow and ice storms. Now my sister lives on a hill and getting up and down it during the winter could be treacherous so there were a few times that winter when we were stuck in the house. One day that winter my older brother (who lived down the hill) walked up to the house. He spent the morning in the back yard. When he finally came in, he told my kids to bundle up and come on out. In the corner of the yard he had made them a mini igloo. They were absolutely delighted. They no longer minded being stuck in the house, I didn’t mind that there was no school since I could send them out to play, I could watch them from the kitchen window.

The year after Wyatt was born, we got snowed in at my parents’ house. We were there for two days before the roads were cleared but we didn’t mind at all. Having a big yard for the kids to play in helped. Outside we made snow angels and had snowball fights. We read a lot, watched movies, and simply enjoyed each other’s company.

This past November we had a day where we were snowed in. During the blizzard both of my teenagers were scheduled to work. My daughter called her boss and he told her she needed to come in. Bundled up we drove through it at about ten miles an hour to get her across town. Since we were in that neighborhood we stayed at my parents’ house until it was time to take Quinlan to work. Taking him to work should have only been an eight-minute drive, however that night it took us a little over thirty minutes. The roads had not been plowed at all, the wind was blowing at about 35 miles an hour (which is faster than I was driving), and the snow was coming down fast. We could barely see, yet we almost got sideswiped by the only other vehicle we saw on the road because he was impatient and decided to pass us. When I pulled up to his work, the manager ran out and told me to go ahead and take him home with me. He had forgotten that Quinlan was on the schedule otherwise he would have called to tell him not to come in at all. It took a bit to get the car out of the snowed in parking lot. Before we made it home, we had to get my daughter. Her manager decided to close early and since she was the only one who doesn’t live within walking distance, he sent her home first. From the time we left my parents’ house to the time we finally walked in to our house it was at least an hour.  The next day was spent playing board games, reading, baking, stitching, and watching movies. When its extra cold I find myself baking something as it helps to warm the house, the kids all love this as they’re in the kitchen sampling whatever it is that is coming out of the oven. Yahtzee was the game of choice that day, as Wyatt was just learning how to play and the teens didn’t want to play a longer game like Monopoly. Wyatt and I worked on Christmas gifts that we were making with plastic canvas. We had little Santa and reindeer kissy faces. Its so much fun to stitch with Wyatt. We put on a Christmas movie and stitched while we watched it.

December was pretty mild, but should we get snowed in this winter we’ll have plenty to keep us busy. What do you do to keep busy when you can’t get out?

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Tales From Up North

Woman reads book near fireplace

This week’s topic is one I suggested: “Have you ever been snowed in? If so, what did you do to pass the time?” Here in West Michigan we often see LOTS of snow. The past few winters have been relatively mild (although I suppose visitors from the south would disagree), so those of us who have lived through events like The Winter of ’78 are bracing ourselves for a repeat. To give you an idea of what it was like that winter, here’s a news article from our local paper.

To answer the question, yes, I’ve been snowed in.

My very first teaching job was in a rural area, and I lived alone in an apartment on the outskirts of town. This apartment was not part of a large complex where I would have had lots of neighbors to socialize with – it was one half of a duplex in a family neighborhood, and my neighbors were not particularly sociable.

Between January 25 and 27 in 1978, a massive storm swept over Michigan, leaving over 18 inches of snow. But even before that storm, we’d had several smaller ones. In fact, my district had only ten days of school that entire month! At the time, the town had very little in the way of entertainment – the one restaurant served only breakfast and lunch, and the grocery store closed at 6 pm each day. Fortunately, I had enough food in my cupboards to sustain me for the two days it took for the plows to come through so that I could slowly make my way to my parents’ home. What would have been a forty minute drive took more than an hour and a half.

So what did I do for those two days? Well, I had my instruments with me, so I practiced a bit. I hadn’t yet started sewing, but I had some yarn and did some knitting. I wasn’t much of a cook (okay, I’m still not much of a cook!), but I did some experimenting to make myself suitable meals with what I had. I knew how to make rice, and I could open cans, and I had Betty Crocker’s cookbook to instruct me. I honestly don’t remember what I ate, but I do recall being very relieved when I finally arrived at my parents’ home, because then I ate real meals.

Of course, I did some reading, too! Ebooks and the internet weren’t around yet, but I did have some books and magazines in my apartment. I received journals from a few music organizations, and I usually had one or two women’s magazines lying around – the kind that make me wonder why I couldn’t look like the women in the pictures, even when I dressed in the same clothes. I hadn’t yet started writing fiction, but if I had, I probably would have relished the quiet.

But then again, maybe not. This all happened before I had a husband and children. I was twenty-two, living alone for the first time in my life. Back then, I’d stay at school until well past dinner time because I hated coming home to my quiet apartment. Now, I long for time alone, with no television to distract me, no phone calls from children or parents, and no social media to post promo stuff. If I were to be snowed in now, I imagine I’d have plenty to keep myself busy, as long as I have electricity. If not, I’ve got a shelf full of books waiting to be read.

How would you occupy yourself if you were snowed in?

Posted in What if, winter | Tagged , | 7 Comments