Saturday, July 30, 2011

Did you know this about Rudolph?

Through the wonder of the internet my path crossed that of Michelle @ The True Book Addict who is-a true book addict and a lover of Christmas! It is from Michelle that I learned the 25th of every month is-for true lovers of Christmas-"Rudolph Day."

I had the pleasure of doing a Guest Blog 7/28 on her site-The Christmas Spirit. It's a magical site capturing the spirit of the holidays all year long. Besides poems and stories and snippets of old movie scenes and favorite TV specials and a collage of Christmas books and marvelous art including Victorian, the well-designed, well-thought out layout of the site right down to the colors and typestyles used taps into that heartfelt feeling of Home and Christmas. (My blog can be found down the left-hand column-"Guest Post with Author Barbara...").

I'm happy to say Michelle will be reviewing "The Reindeer Keeper" at a later date.

To check out Michelle's sites:
. Historical Fiction Connection (

Happy Holidays!!

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Sitting amongst the cupboard and tables and chairs in my grandparent's farmhouse kitchen was a small, white free-standing cabinet. On one side of that cabinet there was a door that when opened, you'd find boxes of hot and cold cereal. On the other side there were 3 drawers. One drawer in particular was the most exciting. Not because there were surprises inside. It was just the opposite. There were no surprises at all-just Cookies! We all knew that's where those special cookies were always kept!

Later when the farmhouse was sold and my grandparents and aunt moved into a smaller home nearby-that cabinet went with them and sat in their new kitchen. Nothing had changed but the location for inside that one particular drawer with its top with holes for fresh air that you'd have to pull back with your finger in the right spot were those cookies. They were always the same cookies-Lorna Doones and Fig Newtons.

Unlike today there weren't a zillion varities of those two brands or any brands available. They were simply Lorna Doones and Fig Newtons, shared when sitting around the kitchen table together. My grandmother baked cookies all the time. We especially loved her big, molasses cookies but the cookies she baked never lasted very long. On the other hand, we could always count on that pullout drawer. If the packs had been opened, they'd be neatly secured, waiting for the next little hand to reach in for a familiar treat.

Going down the grocery store cookie aisle these days is confusing. There are too many concoctions to basic cookies from which to choose. Some have added fruits; some have frosting or sprinkles or are stuffed with creme or peanut butter or jelly or raisins or mint or colored frosting or whatever else you might imagine. Most are available in low fat, no fat, diabetic, salt free, sugar free, etc. Just as confusing are the size of packages available made even more confusing by the clever pricing.

Getting a cookie was so much easier when going to that drawer in that cabinet that sat in my grandmother's kitchen.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Little Downtown Bookstore

When Borders closed their bookstores my thoughts took me back to when I was a little girl, going downtown to a small bookstore with my mother. She was a nurse; on duty midnights. Back home in the mornings, she'd read before going to bed. She was an avid reader even when exhausted.

There was something about those stacks of books piled on top of old tables and filling shelves in that bookstore of long ago. That place was

part of the community. It was a place to gather located in a family department store on the main floor tucked off by itself. I remember small window panes protruding out a bit onto the sidewalk; making for great displays especially when it was Christmastime and I was shopping with my mother. I don't think I could even read back then but it didn't matter. Whatever book I picked up I'd pretend to be able to put sentences together-and read.

Bookstores, real bookstores with front doors and people browzing and sitting and sipping coffee-all involved with a book or two, are about so much more than books. They are an oasis in this oversaturated life of ours; this faster than a speeding light society. Bookstores open minds and imaginations; expand horizons-narrow prejudices and induce conversations-hopes and dreams. Bookstores touch all five senses. They can turn a stop at the mall into a memory.

After my mother died I was blessed with most of those books bought years back when we'd go downtown to that little bookstore. When bookstores close, we lose so much more than the obvious.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Summer Vacation

It seemed summer was forever when growing up in the country. Saying good-bye to friends at the end of the school year was like a sad farewell. But once the school routine was tossed to the wayside not much thought was given to those friends until that routine returned.

We never did day trips or long trips; trips to Disney or parks full of animals or historic sites or beaches. Instead our trips were on the back of an old wagon going over the plank bridge to the hay fields. Our trips were walking down to the pine grove-lying under the pines and talking and listening to the wind sift through the trees. Our trips were waiting for our aunt to get home from work to walk down through the woods to the river for a swim and after the swim, enjoying graham crackers on the walk back home.

Our summers were totally set in the country-on our rafts made out of telephone poles going up and down Sucker Creek on great adventures; up in the haymows or around the stanchions and paddocks that once housed my grandfather's livestock or in the small granary next to the barn. We'd have sleep-outs in the backyard; picnics under my aunt's pine trees; drink freshly squeezed lemons turned to lemonade and stuff ourselves with hotdogs and hamburgers and watermelon and roasted marshmallows.

The majority of our time was spent in and around our Chicken Coop Clubhouse revamped to include the desks, books, and chalkboards of an abandoned one-room schoolhouse. Imaginations were in flight there-every single day-all summer long surrounded by arts/crafts, books, and cousins and siblings.

We were never bored. We never asked to go anywhere because we had everything we needed to turn a summer vacation into one enjoyable, seemingly never-ending adventure-even with chores to do and brothers and sisters to watch. When it was time to return to that routine; time to catch the yellow bus which would take us to see those long, lost friends, our summer matched any other student's summer despite their trips and bells and whistles.

We didn't measure summer fun by miles traveled but if we had, our summer most certainly would have placed first because when you use your imagination-you can go anywhere you'd like to go-over and over again-all summer long.