Friday, June 30, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things

Are you ready to celebrate? It's Friday! Big shout out to our hostess with the mostess, Lexa Cain, and her wonderful cohosts: L.G. Keltner and Tonja Drecker!

This was our first week of summer vacation, so you might imagine the biggest problem: MO-OM, I'm bored! Already!? I thought we could avoid hearing that until mid-July, at least. So one of the things we did this week was visit a place in Rochester called Warner Castle and Sunken Gardens.

Warner Castle was designed by Horatio Gates Warner and built as his private residence in 1854. In 1912, Frank and Merry Ackerman Dennis, owners of the Dennis Candy Factory and candy stores purchased it. They commissioned DeForest to design gardens for the site beginning around 1920. His plan for the grounds included the Sunken Garden completed in 1930, a courtyard, rose and woodland gardens. (Source

The house is currently owned by the Rochester Civic Garden Center. They have a library of gardening books upstairs and hold flower arranging and other classes in the basement. The main floors have larger meeting rooms for wedding receptions. 

Fireplace on main floor. The girls wanted a picture because we also own this very same bird clock. 

The best parts of the house besides the fireplaces were the oak staircase up to the second floor, the mural wallpaper, and the cat, Dudley! We found him snoozing on a desk chair in a back office of the main floor. After a snack in the kitchen, he followed us up into the library for more attention. Regretfully, we were having so much fun loving on him we didn't get a good picture, but here is his tail:

Dudley is a beautiful cat, believe me.

Out in the back are some gorgeous gardens, including a sunken garden that is still in the process of being restored. All the work here is done by volunteers. Enjoy!

Back of house

Garden leading to the sunken part

Overview of sunken garden


That's Sedona at the top, to give you an idea of the scale

This shot is the interior of the gated room from two images up. I wonder what these areas were used for: storage? prison? 

Have you gone to visit someplace new recently? Have a favorite garden?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things

Is time speeding up? It seems like I was writing a post for this blog hop just yesterday. Big thanks to our host, Lexa Cain, and her co-hosts, L.G. Keltner and Tonja Drecker!

Last week, I dedicated my post to my older daughter, who won several end-of-the-school-year awards. Last Friday, I went to see my younger daughter (at the exact same auditorium) graduate from 5th grade. She won the award for orchestra and two others for high academic achievement. Awesome-sauce!

Gosh, all I need to do is get my darlings to cook their Mac and Cheese, pick up all their stoof, and stop screaming at each other like hyenas and life will be perfect.

As if.

Anyway, I got all choked up again watching my kid walk across the stage. What is with all this emotional boo-ha-ha? It used to kill me to show any kind of extreme emotion at all, but these days, I get teary at all sorts of things. When my younger daughter wrote me a heartfelt letter for Mother's Day about appreciating all the things I do for her, I turned into a puddle. I'm blaming the hormones, or um, the absence thereof. 



Speaking of tears, today's the big day. The last (half) day of school. Goodbye hours of quiet writing time--sniff, sniff.

My kids:


Oh well. At least I get to sleep in until summer camp starts!

What makes you cry? What excites you (or bums you out) about summer? Love or hate gifs?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things

Good Friday (Sunday--stupid Blogger why didn't you post?!) morning, lads and lassies! How are things going in your corner of the world? Got something to celebrate? Then you've come to the right blog hop. Each week we celebrate everything and anything with our wonderful host, by Lexa Cain and her cohosts, L.G. Keltner and Tonya Drecker

And the wiener is ...


We're about five schools days from summer break here and the excitement is growing. Last week, the family attended the annual Award Night at our older daughter's middle school. Last year as a sixth grader, she got to walk across the stage for having a high GPA along with some subject certificates for Social Studies and Band. These awards can be comprised of groups of students ranging in size from 5 to 45. It was cool to see her called up more than once, but she wasn't quite satisfied. 

At the end of the program is a short series of named awards that go to one and only one recipient. My daughter looked over the ones for 7th graders, noticing one for extraordinary achievement in ELA (English Language Arts to you oldies out there who knew this as plain old English--me included). "Maybe I can win this one next year," she whispered to me. "Sounds like a plan," I said.

The Narayan Family Motto

Last week, I got to see her walk across the stage for the high GPA awards again, and we snickered at how the principle mangled the pronunciation of her name: Sedona (like the city in Arizona) Narayan (Nuh-RY-un) came out Sedonia Nariarian or something. When they started the subject certificates, I thought she might nab one in ELA or Spanish or Band, but no soap. Her name wasn't called. I felt a little bad, since she was hoping to top last year's haul, but oh well. Them's the breaks.

Then it was time for the special award she picked a year ago, and my heart started pounding madly as the principal read the description and said the words: "And the Rosalie Angie Award goes to....

Sedonia Naraiarian!"

OH MY! We looked at each other and I nudged her, mouthing, "You did it!" Seeing her walk the stage alone and hearing the applause almost made me cry. What a cool moment for her! She worked like a maniac this year not only in academics, but band and the school play. GO KID! 

So, Sedona, this celebratory post is for you. 

Have you or anyone in your family won anything or accomplished a long term goal recently?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

IWSG and Celebrate the Small Things

Good day, writers! Are you feeling insecure? Well, today's your day to release your inner, wailing child or trumpet your triumphs in the writing world. Rocking the blog-hop is our host, Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh along with this month's busy-bee cohosts: JH Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Heather Gardner!

This month's question: Did you ever say “I quit?” If so, what happened to make you come back to writing? 

I never officially quit, but it feels like years have passed since I've done any "serious" writing. Editing projects stretch out over the months like taffy. Novels that I meant to start years ago are still waiting for that first paragraph to be written. A collection of short stories sits patiently on the side lines, just waiting to be posted on Amazon. 

What's the problem?

Me. I'd love to blame someone else (like my darling children). They do require lots of time, but they're also school-aged critters. Things keep popping up to steal away those precious quiet hours. Errands, doctor's appointments, house-cleaning, gardening, blogging, naps--there is always something pulling me away and I let it. Yesterday, I spent hours fiddling around with fancy card stock, glue, and chicken wire, trying to make a centerpiece for my in-laws upcoming 50th anniversary and it's not quite good enough. Grrr. 

I need to change my habits. What's is it going to take? At least I did start learning Twitter so I can participate in the IWSG Twitter pitch this July. That lovely deadline will hopefully get the massive job of editing this particular novel behind me so I can move forward with another project.


In order to free up a little bit more time this week, I'm going to go ahead and post for this week's Celebrate the Small Things. This fun blog hop is hosted by Lexa Cain, author of Bloodwalkers (now available as an audiobook) with her cohosts, L.G. Keltner and Tonya Drecker

Ever go into a carnival fun house with lots of mirrors that distort your appearance? They're hard to find these days, but with today's technology, you can stretch, squish, or swirl your image in the comfort of your home, pets included!

Here's some shots my daughter took of our darling cat, Dove:

If Klingons had cats...

Dove impersonates the cat from The Simpson's

What does the fox say?

Picasso Dove


Have a great week! 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things

Happy Friday, Gals and Guys! Are you ready to celebrate something going on in your world? Let's give a shout-out to our extraordinary host, Lexa Cain, along with super cohosts, L.G. Keltner and Tonya Drecker. It's time to rock!

Living in the suburbs of a larger city has its advantages, like enjoying our world-class Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. We've been to four shows so far: The Nutcracker Ballet, a Disney Songs show (with scenes shown on a big screen), a Looney Tunes extravaganza (with the classic cartoons on the big screen), and the music of David Bowie.

Image: Penn State, This is the Penn State Philharmonic Orchestra instead of the RPO, but it gives you an idea of what one looks like.

The first three were held at Kodak Hall, a gorgeous theatre downtown (link to copyrighted image). So the night of the David Bowie concert (April 7), we drove there only to discover the show was somewhere else: the Kodak Center for Performing Arts. (Rochester is Kodak's home base, so the name is everywhere). Luckily, we'd arrived early enough to hop back into our car, rush across town, dash through traffic (literally), and get inside the correct theater before the show started.

Image: Carla216

I was expecting to hear better-than-Muzak-but-still-orchestral versions of Bowie's songs. Nope. They brought in the world's greatest Bowie impersonator, David Brighton, to sing the hits backed up with a rock band. 

Inside the theatre, we presented our tickets to various ushers and they kept pointing us down, down, down, until the last usher showed us to our seats: front row, center. What?! When my husband bought the tickets, he clicked on "best available". I guess we were the first to purchase. 

So there we were, twenty feet from Mr. Brighton, decked out in his Bowie outfit and singing Major Tom, China Girl, and Heroes. The sound of the orchestra and the band and the vocals all together was pure magic.

I loved it, but at the same time, being so unexpectedly close to the performer was a bit unnerving as he made eye contact with us lucky front row folks. In my jeans and fleece jacket, I felt woefully underdressed, but I must say, nobody around us  was wearing anything fancy. In Rochester, jeans without holes count as formal attire in the cold months.


Today, I'm also celebrating a gorgeous cover reveal for Sharon M. Himsel:

The Shells of Mersing by Sharon Marie Himsl

Title: The Shells of Mersing
Author: Sharon Marie Himsl
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Release Date: July 2017

Book blurb:

When notorious Uncle Azman disobeys orders, and sends Callie and Lucas to meet their mother's long lost family in Malaysia, fourteen-year-old Callie believes their troubles are over. After all they've endured, what more could go wrong?

Their American dad is dead, Mom is missing, and their foster dad in Seattle was murdered, with Callie falsely accused. If that wasn't enough, Callie and eight-year-old Lucas stowed aboard a sailboat to escape, only to be targeted by their uncle’s boss in Hawaii upon arrival for immediate sale in Thailand’s human trafficking market.

Disguised in case Azman’s boss sends someone after them, Callie believes it’s simply a matter of time. They need to find safety with family in Mersing and begin the search for Mom, but a shell box, a ruby, and a boy from Chicago named Sam are about to change everything.  


Sharon loves adventure. Whether traveling through Malaysia on a jungle train, sailing in the San Juan Islands, or flying in an experimental airplane she helped her husband build, her life has been on a road less traveled. She has experienced hurricanes tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes, and more. She has seen sunsets that take your breath away.

Her first publishing credit was as a travel writer in Malaysia, traveling by rail from Kluang to Kota Bharu on the now defunct "jungle train." Some of the Malaysian and Thai settings and characters she later wrote about in her novel, The Shells of Mersing, came from her experience living in Malaysia and the diary she kept.

She later edited, researched, and wrote young adult nonfiction for two educational publishers, Greenhaven Press and Lucent Books. Her interest in history stems from a degree in American Studies. Her day job at Washington State University also included editing science papers, articles, and books.

As a storyteller, Sharon knows that facts and life experiences are the foundation of good storytelling. If she were to credit one life experience behind wanting to be a writer, it would be the term paper she wrote in the ninth grade on the bubonic plague. "I don't know why, but I have always remembered the pride I felt writing that paper," Sharon said. And if she were to credit a character in a book who inspired her, it would be “Jo March” in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Jo wanted to be a writer.

Today Sharon is working on a second novel at home in Central Washington, where she lives with her husband on the edge of a desert runway . . . but that's another story!


Have you heard a philharmonic orchestra? Fan of David Bowie? Are you a traveler, like Sharon? If so, what's the most exotic place you've been?