New website...

Hello readers, I have been trying to figure out how to create a link between this blog site and my new website but unfortunately, have not been able to import one into the other. So, my new blog is found at
Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April 26, 2011-- The highs and lows of it all...

Sorry I have not posted for a bit--this past week has been filled with highs and lows and right now, the lows are gaining--I spent a good part of Easter Sunday not making Easter eggs or cookies but in the ER with the right side of my face paralyzed. According to the PA's quick diagnosis, I have a classic textbook case of Bell's Palsy which started on Thursday with the most godawful pain right below my ear that I have ever experienced. Two days of pain led to a continuously weeping eye on Saturday to facial paralysis on Sunday.
Now I am reduced to seeing out of my left eye only, as the right is covered with a patch to help it from drying out. I am only able to create half a smile, can't raise my eyebrow or keep toothpaste from dribbling from the side of my mouth. Life has definitely slowed to a crawl especially any work on the computer as it is hard to type with only one eye watching fingers and keyboard. And to add to this, it may not be Bell's Palsy but another symptom of Lyme disease, so I need to get tested for that when I go to the doctor on Thursday.
Work on the book has stopped, work for money has slowed to a crawl--yesterday I watched my very first Oprah show as it required less eye strain than trying to read.
I knew I should have stayed in Mexico for another week...
I'll keep you posted on how things progress.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April 19, 2011-- Random thoughts tonight...

Spring returned today when the sun popped out and the robins came back to peck at the drying mud in search of worms.
Margarita, Diosa de la Cumbia and Nirvana are both good groups to listen to while cooking and doing the dishes.
Not listening to the news can be a good thing once in awhile.
Most of the people I care about are too far away tonight to go visit so I wish Calvin would hurry up and build that teleport machine.
We need to weed out some books in the house but it feels too much like turning my back on a good friend when I toss them in a box.
My cat caught her first mouse of the spring and thankfully played with it outside instead of bringing it in to me.
The full moon was amazing last night but resulted in only about 4 hours sleep as it was soooo bright! I did come up with several new article ideas, though while lying in bed, so that was a good thing.
Now that winter is over, almost, it's time to start filling the woodshed for winter--gotta love the endless cycles of living close to nature!

Monday, April 18, 2011

April 18, 2011- Where is spring?

Today is the 18th of April. Almost a month has passed since the official calendar turning of the seasons to spring and yet, today felt as raw, blustery and apt to snow as any day in February. I bundled up in multiple layers to take a much needed walk in the fresh air and on my return, promptly started up the wood stove. We still have piles of snow in the front, side and back yards while the driveway is a continuous series of ruts in the semi-frozen mud.
Tulips and daffodils are bravely poking up about six inches of greenery but this is only because we planted them over the septic tank, which is the warmest spot in the yard at this time of year.
Weather predictions do not look favorable for the rest of the week with snow flurries being mentioned on one report I heard today.
I think it will be a good week to stay at my desk, working on various projects and dreaming of a vacation in Hawaii sometime in June.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

April 16, 2011-- A blustery afternoon approaches...

The wind is picking up outside and if I lived on a lake or small pond, I imagine the water would be kicking up into small whitecaps at this point. But, since I live in the woods, the strings of Mexican and Tibetan prayer flags flapping steadily outside my office window and the noise of the wind leaking in around said old  office window are the only indications at this point that we are due for a storm.
The reading Thursday night was a true delight. Rosemary Mahoney, who strongly reminded me in dress, mannerisms, and speech of Dana Scully from The X Files, did a nice job of reading from her book, Down the Nile. Which, we learned, is not the title she would have chosen for the book, but the one the publisher picked. As Ms. Mahoney said, they know their business, as the book has sold far more copies with this title than would have with her original. Which she can't even remember at this point.
I liked the fact that she spent more time just talking to the audience and answering questions than actually reading as we can all go read her books on our own time but can't ask her questions whenever we want. Except, I did, as I found her email address on-line and wrote her with the question I wanted to ask that evening but didn't have time to do which is what is her latest project? Last night I received a very nice reply stating Ms. Mahoney is working on a book about teaching the blind in India. Sounds like another best-seller to me.
That reading was the last of the Visiting Writers Series at UMF for this semester. I will keep watch for the new line of writers who will be appearing in the fall and keep you posted.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April 14, 2011-- A short posting...

Today will be a very short posting as I am heading to the Rosemary Mahoney reading at the University of Maine Farmington tonight. Mahoney is a travel/non-fiction writer and I have been enjoying her book, Whoredom in Kimmage: Irish Women Coming of Age. I have two of Mahoney's other books as well, Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman's Skiff and The Early Arrival of Dreams: A Year in China, but have yet to read these two. I am curious to hear this woman speak and to maybe find out where she is headed next in her travels, as well as any pointers she might give out on writing travel memoirs as mine still sits half-finished on my computer.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April 13, 2011-- April snowshowers bring...

Ah, the joys of living in Maine are once again being demonstrated by dear Mother Nature as I sit and look out my window at the thick wet snow flakes and rain pouring from the darkening skies. Yesterday was warm, sunny, a clear robin egg blue sky--I am so grateful I took the time to go for a long, long walk, as today will be spent cooped up in the house with two restless cats and a semi-restless husband.
None have the wanderlust that I have in my heart as I continue to pore through text on the ancient Maya, their customs, their rituals, and the food, plants, and animals of their world.
One of the new books I received the other day is proving to be more academic than I had hoped--Ancient Maya Women edited by Traci Ardren is full of essays, but the long-winded academic kind found in a PhD program rather than an easier, sit down and read me easily type. But, I am determined to slog my way through the book as it is bound to have useful information that I can plug into my heroine's personal history.
This would be a good day to try and work my way through some of them, if I didn't need to go make some money instead. Ah well, there is always later today, while riding my bike, as I am most certainly not going for a walk in the slop falling from the sky.
I do hope these April snowshowers will bring me lilacs in May.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April 12, 2011--The snow recedes...

Poco a poco, little by little, the snow continues to recede in the yard. The patches around the trees grow larger as their heat continues to melt the snow and the shoveled areas continue to widen in girth as well. Unfortunately, I wandered into the garden area and sank up to the tops of my rubber boots in crunchy snow crystals, so it will be a bit before I can clean the raised beds, turn the soil and prepare for the coming gardening season. But while standing there, getting cold feet, we heard two owls hooting to each other, which was a treat and reminded me of an old friend.
Now that the protective blanket of white is disappearing, all the last minute projects that were left undone due to the first snows of last fall are reappearing, like the deck/screenhouse that needs finishing, the wood piles to cut, the last stalks of broccoli that the deer ate before the stems froze too hard even for the deer to chew.
Plus, where Jeff cut down trees over the winter, the brush piles are appearing. Which is why yesterday I went out and bought myself a new set of pruning loppers- great big ones that will cut through a branch 1 5/8 in thickness. I tried them out on a pile of poplar branches this afternoon and it was like cutting through soft butter. What a treat and a joy to use instead of the small pruning shears I have always used in the past. Maybe this year I won't give myself rib pain from trying to cut branches far too thick with pruners far too small to handle the job.
There is a joy and a rush of energy to see the ground appearing, but I must admit, a bit of sadness, too as now there will be a constant flux of work to do and no days off because of the cold, snowy weather. Even summer rainy days are needed for the water table and the indoor chores that get neglected because there is so much to do outside on the good days.
Winter anyone?

Monday, April 11, 2011

April 11, 2011-- Two odd bits of info...

The other day I splurged on Amazon and bought five new books, all relevant to the Maya people and their history. The packages arrived Friday and Saturday, with four books all in one box. I had a huge grin on my face when I saw that box, despite walking three-quarters of a mile through the mud back to the house.
I spent the weekend reading, writing and boiling sap, not all in that order. The sap season is finished, with my husband canning the last batch last night while I curled up on the couch with two books. It was hard to decide which one to look at first, so I opted for the book with the most pictures: Maya Nature by Thor Janson. Beautiful photographs of the flora and fauna of the Mayan world from Mexico to Guatemala and Belize. I must admit I skimmed over all the photos of vipers and coral snakes, but then realized I may want to use one at some point in my novel, so went back and studied them again.
I found a useful tip on how to distinguish between the  coral snake and the king snake, which is non-dangerous. They both have bands of red, black and yellow on them, so knowing the order of the bands will tell you whether the snake is a coral or a king. This is how people in Belize remember "red and yellow, kill a fellow; red and black, friend of Jack."
Another interesting thing I read was about manatees, which live off the Caribbean coast of Central America. Mayan fishermen used to hunt the manatee and dry the meat for something they called "butan." When the Spanish and other European invaders, like the pirates arrived, they relied on this meat to survive and were thus called "buccaneers."

Thursday, April 7, 2011

April 7, 2011-- I shouldn't read the news...

Because I work on-line, at home, I am often scanning the news headlines during the day, during my breaks. After all, the computer is up and running and it is easy enough to open a new tab and check the headlines. There are times, though, when I wish I didn't have this curiosity to know what is going on in the rest of the world.
Like tonight-- the opening headlines are on the crazy man who killed 11 children, mostly girls, in a school in Rio de Janeiro. Just reading the headlines made my skin crawl and then I had to keep reading to find out what happened to the man. He wound up shooting himself in the head, which is little consolation, especially to the parents of the slain children.
This morning, I saw the first news flashes of the 7.4 earthquake in Japan and the 6.5 quake in Mexico and immediately started looking for tsunami warnings for Hawaii while I felt my heart begin to race and my blood pressure to rise. Twenty minutes later the news flashes were of the 4-6 foot tsunami headed to Japan and my heart fluttered again.
It's important to keep abreast of these things but there are days when I wish the news was more user-friendly. It would certainly make for a less panic filled day for everyone, not just me.
On the plus side, it makes me realize why I like living in central Maine-- it is relatively safe albeit a bit boring at times. However, I will take boring over gunmen and earthquakes any day.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April 6, 2011-- Over and done...

March Madness/ The Final Four are over and done. Tonight, blessed sleep will come early to this house!
It was disappointing that the UConn Women's team did not make it to the final game, but we were happy to see the UConn Men  win the championship. And, because the women lost to Notre Dame, I rooted for Texas A and M and was quite happy to see them beat Notre Dame last night by 6 points.
Now, the television will be given a bit of a break as there really is not much to watch on most of the channels. With 120 channels or however many we have in our dish package, it still strikes me as odd that there is so little out there really worth the time to watch.
Maybe it is the writer in me, but I would much rather read a good book than watch a sitcom or drama for an hour. I try to remind myself that all shows on television have been written by someone, so watching them is similar to reading, but I have yet to really convince myself of this. And yet, when I watch a movie, I often feel like I can feel the connection to the writer behind the scenes. I wonder why there is a difference between the two? And if the movie is particularly good, like The King's Speech for instance, I wind up wishing I could write something as good and feel energized to get back to my computer and bang away on the keys.
So, with that note, off to read and maybe do some writing...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

April 3, 2011-- In the midst of the Final Four...

We are deeply mired in mud, overflowing in maple sap and up to all hours of the night with the Final Four, both of them. Last night, the UConn men managed to hold on at the last second and win their game by one point, which was way too close for comfort. Tonight, the UConn women have their turn, but not until late, so that means cups of black tea to stay awake until 11:30 or so.
By Tuesday, it will all be over and life will slow down a bit. It is always with mixed feelings when March Madness and April's Final Four are finally done. It is a sure sign of spring when there aren't any more games, but it also means nothing is really on television to watch, too. Which could be seen as a good thing as more magazines will get read and books as well.
I just ordered some new books on the Mayans, more research for my own book. Those should be arriving next week, just in time to fill the emptiness. I am eager to read a newish book on the roles of women in ancient Mayan times; I suspect this author's take on the subject will be quite different than some of the books I have been reading lately which seem very male oriented.
Work on the book is progressing nicely; I finished another chapter this weekend and am at about page 70 or so, the most I have ever written on one subject.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April 2, 2011--Lost in the Mayan jungles...

I've been lost in the Mayan jungles all day--well, at least in my head. It felt strange yesterday to work on my book and look up once in awhile from the computer to see all the snow coming down. And again this afternoon, when the house grew quiet with the boys off visiting friends and Jeff outside, boiling sap. I got disoriented at going out into the sixteen inches of new snow instead of heading down the path to the river that exists in the book.
But, it's been a good writing day, with the ability to add little details here and there now that I've been back to the Yucatan area and know more what it looks like.
I think this trip helped solidify the location of the ending of the book, which was beginning to bother me just a little, as I hadn't quite been able to place it. Now, I think Mayapan will become the setting. It fits with the time frame of the book and since I wandered all over the place and have about 50 pictures of all the ruins, including the three pyramids, two observatories and the cenote or limestone sink hole where the Mayans collected their drinking water, I have a good sense of place.
I also had fun this am ordering some more books on ancient Mayan herbal remedies, plants and animals off of Amazon as more research material to use. I love being able to justify these purchases as needed research materials. Plus, it's far cheaper than going back to school to study Mayan culture in a more scholarly setting.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April 1, 2011-- I am the fool...

There I was, just four days ago, down in warm (80-90's), sunny, clear blue sky Mérida... and today, stuck indoors with over a foot of snow mounting up outside. What a fool I am to have returned after only a week!
But, that is Maine for you--all too often we get teased by spring temps, sunny days, daffodils popping up over the septic tank (the first place that thaws) and then, wham, we are slammed with a real doozy of a snow.
Mexico, as always, was a treat. I ate tons of delicious Yucatecan food like cochinita pibil--baby pork in a slightly spicy annato sauce slow baked in banana leaves--served with refried beans, pickled red onions and handmade corn tortillas-- or panuchos--semi-crispy fried corn tortillas topped with black refried beans, lettuce, shredded cooked chicken, slices of plum tomatoes, pickled red onion slivers and avocado wedges-- or sopa de lima-- a rich chicken stock soup with red peppers, onions, shredded chicken, and fried tortilla pieces with loads of lime juice in it. A true Yucatecan-Jewish mother-in-law cure-all soup.
I walked many miles every day, all over the city of Mérida, out on the beach at Progreso, around the town of Izamal and the ancient Mayan ruins of Mayapan. There is something very humbling about climbing pyramids that were built around 500 ad. Or seeing a stone set in the wall of the huge church in Izamal with the date 1648 etched into the limestone. Although it did bother me that this church, built by the Spanish, was on top of the Mayan pyramid that had been there for 800 to 1000 years before the arrival of the Spanish.
It will take me awhile to process all the new sights, feelings, history of the Yucatan area but I do know that I will be going back at some point. There are just too many places to see down there and the people are just too darn nice to not return. As I go through my notes, I will continue to post things here about the trip and the various adventures I had.
Rabbit rabbit to you all.