Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hiding in Front of You

So finally, my newest story, Hiding in Front of You is published and available on Amazon. It took me too long to finish it, but I think it is a fun read.

Here is a short excerpt: 

I sat motionless in the back of the closet, curled up and hugging my knees as tightly as I could. My ears were filled with the blood rushing from my frantically beating heart; I strained to hear anything while I forced myself to breathe more slowly.
My breathing almost stopped. His voice crackled with irritation.
“Maria!” This time he yelled a little louder but I knew he was standing at the bottom of the stairs and not coming towards me. “Where is that Chinese food from Tuesday? I wanted to take it to work for lunch.”
“I don’t know. Did you look in the refrigerator?” she called back.
“It’s not here, dammit! Why can’t you just leave my stuff alone?”
“Paul, please! I didn’t touch your Chinese food.”
I heard the front door slam shut and then the sound of his sports car starting up. I’m not sure which I hated more, their fighting or my hiding in the closet. My leg was cramping up so I straightened it out, confident that Maria would not hear my simple movement. Her bedroom was at the other end of the hallway and her bathroom was still farther through a small hallway beyond that. 
My cell phone showed that it was seven-thirty in the morning and that meant that Maria only had a couple more minutes before her departure at seven-forty if she followed yesterday’s schedule. I looked around the mostly dark closet and was grateful for my little hideaway. Since Eric’s death last year, my world had slowly disintegrated. My job as a newspaper writer was not nearly enough to cover the mortgage and with the recession, no one was interested in buying our house. I let it go and didn’t care that maybe I could have done something to save our investment. Nothing mattered. My life as I knew it was over and I did not want anyone to bother me in my sorrow. I played the game well, convincing my mother that I was fine and living with a friend, but I wasn’t. My boss had cut my assignments down to one or two a week as the newspaper found its readership dwindling to a fraction of what they needed to survive.
The clank of a pot and the slam of the cupboard door signaled that Maria was in the kitchen. As she left, the force of her pulling the front door shut shook the walls throughout the house. 

I will be offering free downloads this weekend, so stay tuned.

Off Main Street, North East, MD

At the close of my last post, I left you at Paradise Grille at the end of Main Street. However, that does not mean that I covered all the places in North East. Not in the least. I am going to try to mention another dozen places almost all within three miles of the center of town. Even after covering these attractions, there are still plenty more places that I have never visited and cannot review honestly, so don’t feel slighted if you are one of the unmentioned. 

Nauti Goose
Today’s narrative is for a car or bike ride, not for walking, so if you parked in in the northern part of town, you might have to retrieve your vehicle of choice before continuing here. Head south on 272 (the only direction you can go when you leave Paradise Grille) you will see signs on the right for NautiGoose pointing towards Cherry Street. It is a quiet road with a couple of speed bumps (that the signs call humps) to deter those with a lead foot from bothering the neighborhood. Almost at the end, which is only about a quarter of a mile, you will see some short pilings wrapped with ropes marking the parking lot of the Nauti Goose. This is the undisputed best waterfront view from a restaurant in North East. Check the website for their hours and menu as it is subject to change.

Upper Bay Museum
Before you get back in your car, look to the right of the restaurant and notice a walkway that meanders along the waterfront. This is the North East Town Park, partially funded by Program Open Space of the State of Maryland. Fishing here along the rocks and on the docks is free and no one needs a license. An elliptical walking trail winds through the park in front of the water, down around picnic pavilions, the Upper Bay Museum and the Boat Builders School, along a parking lot and then aside the road that leads into the park. Plenty of events are held here each year including the annual Cecil County WineFest, Salute to Veterans, car shows, charity fundraisers, marathons, and so on. It is a great place to bring the family for a picnic in front of the water of the top of the Chesapeake. If you have a kayak or canoe, you can launch it from the park and explore the waterways along the Northeast Creek.

Captain Chris' Crab Shack
Once back in your car, head south again down 272 (Now called Turkey Point Road) and watch for a small place on the right about two miles down called Captain Chris’ Crab Shack. If you like Maryland crab, a visit to this stop is well worth your time. Sit out under umbrellas on picnic tables with your feet in the sand and enjoy all you can eat crabs with corn on the cob and buckets of beer. I would recommend checking on their Facebook page as he does sell out when business is hopping or when the crab harvest is slow. An interesting note is that folks have been telling me that they love the clam strips here – but I have never tried them yet. Maybe next time I go…

Our last stop on Turkey Point Road lies just another two miles down on the right and is a well-known place in religious circles, Sandy Cove. Here people come by the busloads for weekend retreats, church banquets, family reunions, etc. The property is impressive with its position overlooking the water of the top of the Chesapeake Bay. Their website has plenty to offer all year around and from what I hear, the visitors love the chance to enjoy the place and get away from it all.
Sandy Cove Aerial Shot

From the intersection of Sandy Cove Road and Turkey Point Road, you might as well head south and check out the rest of the peninsula. After a couple of miles the road narrows and makes a sharp turn to the right. Slow down and watch on the right for a unique church called Harts United Methodist Church with outdoor seating overlooking the rolling fields and eventually the waters of the Upper Chesapeake Bay. I know they have festivals and special events but for their schedule you would have to watch the North East Sign Board at the entrance to town.

As you continue towards Turkey Point – the end of 272, you will pass signs for Boy Scouts, Sandy Hill Retreat, and North Bay Adventure Camp. These are private organizations with beautiful properties that serve the public in various forms. Elk Neck State Park starts on the left with a boat ramp and then has various entrances with plenty of signs pointing you in the direction for each of the entrances. 

 Elk Neck State Park
Elk Neck State Park 

Finally, you will meander through a small community called Chesapeake Isles and into the last park entrance to the Turkey Point Light Station. The road runs along the top of the cliffs on the Northeast River side. Park your car and walk the trail out to the lighthouse. It is only about a mile and an easy walk or bike ride. Watch for eagles and osprey that soar on the updrafts from the cliffs. The lighthouse is very striking as you near the end of the trail and if you timed it right, you can climb up into the tower now that it is totally revamped. Continue past the lighthouse and walk to the edge of the cliffs. Here is a good spot to drop a blanket and watch the water down below. Ocean going ships make their way up the Chesapeake Bay into the Elk River and pass into the C and D Canal. Sailboats dance over the waves on windy days and fishing boats are always to be found. We come here several times a year to enjoy the park in the various seasons. There are pleasant trails that wind through the park and one takes you down along the water’s edge but there is a bit of a hike to get back up to the parking lot. I am not sure how long the trails along the top of the cliffs will stay open to the public as they are eroding fast from all the foot traffic and normal weather. I do enjoy this park and highly recommend it to anyone in the area who wants to get outside and enjoy a magnificent view of the top of the Chesapeake Bay.

Chesapeake Bay Golf Club
Now that you have a little exercise under your feet, you can enjoy the drive back towards North East. At just about 11 miles, you will notice a sign on the right for Chesapeake Bay Golf Club. Turn in and follow the signs up through the development of pretty homes to the parking lot. Although I don’t play golf, this is a beautifully maintained property with rolling hills and just a beautiful backdrop. The restaurant on the property, the Blue Heron Grill overlooks the greens and is a great place to eat. I have gone a couple of times and enjoyed their salads and sandwiches, but they have plenty more on the menu.

Tome School
Drive again towards town, slowing down to the posted 25 mph as you head into the corporate limits and make a right onto Thomas Ave, a block before the fire station. You will drive past the Tome School on the right. This is a private school started in 1869. Here is a direct quote from their website, “The Tome School’s roots lie in the vision of Jacob Tome (1810-1898), a merchant, banker, and philanthropist who lived most of his life in Cecil County, Maryland, and desired a means to give back to the community. He set out to create a school that would offer the finest of education to students willing to undergo its regimen, regardless of their families’ ability to pay the cost. His commitment to this vision was so passionate that he donated much of his considerable wealth to the creation of Tome.” I can personally vouch for this school and highly recommend it to anyone who wants to be sure their child gets a good education and is prepared for success in college.

Weaver's Liquors
So now you can continue on after that bit of history and follow the road out to Route 7. Make a quick left and then a right onto Mechanics Valley Road. Follow it up to Route 40 and make a right but get over into the left turning lane as soon as you can. Watch on the left for a bright yellow sign saying, Weaver’s Discount Liquors. Here you will find what their sign says is the largest Discount Liquor Store in Maryland. Check out their “boat” of wines for extra special prices while you are there. They stock just about everything you could want and if they don’t, just ask one of the friendly guys in their purple shirts and they will order it for you. I love coming here for the friendly conversation as well as the good deals.

Milburn Stone Theater
If we step away from food for a minute, there is an interesting venue in the northern stretch of North East at the Cecil College that deserves a mention in this post. The Milburn Stone Theater brings cultural entertainment to our community with nine to ten interesting plays each year performed in their plush auditorium. Parking is free and simple, unlike the popular theaters in Baltimore and Philadelphia where you end up spending unholy amounts of time looking for a way to park your car and then have to pay almost as much as your theater ticket. Milburn has a busy schedule so be sure to check their calendar. It’s fun to plan a fun evening of theater and then eating out in North East; you will not be disappointed.

UnWined Restaurant Bar and Wine Shop
Heading back south towards downtown North East, you will pass through the big box retail area, over route 40. Watch on the left for a small strip of stores just opposite the entrance to Lowes and West Marine. UnWined is a family run restaurant that serves a surprising variety of wines, fun cocktails and a hefty beer selection. Their chef prepares local ingredients daily, including fresh bread. My favorite part of UnWined is their menu of mouthwatering small plates like Bacon and Leek Tart or Crab Napoleon or Bacon wrapped Scallops… Who needs to order an entrĂ©e when you can enjoy these delicacies? The Methvane family has worked tirelessly to bring their restaurant to the forefront of eating in North East by also offering full wine tasting events every few weeks. Do yourself a favor and stop in on any afternoon or evening except Monday.

Bella Pizza Ristorante
So, I bring this narrative to a close by bringing you back into North East where you will inevitably have to stop at the light in front of the Black Pearl. Turn your head away from the almost naked mermaid and look to your right down Route 7 west and notice Bella Pizza. This is for all you Italian food lovers who want hand tossed pizza, cheesy lasagna or eggplant parmesan, hand-cut French fries or calzones among other classic offerings. This is the North East classic pizzeria Italiana and they are open seven days a week. If you want a break from the chain stores, come in here and first smell and then taste their freshly made old-style pizzas. Their calzone is big enough for two and comes with a tomato sauce that contrasts perfectly with the cheesy goodness.

I hope I leave you satisfied at least temporarily as I will be back to describe more places nearby that I enjoy here in North East Maryland.  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

North East, Maryland

I love reading articles written by local residents about their hometowns. They have a perspective that is so different from some of the touristy articles about the same areas. Since I love writing and live in a beautiful little town that folks love to visit, I thought I would pen my thoughts about the town. First of all, although I have lived here for almost ten years, the real locals still consider folks like myself as the newcomers. No, I did not go to high school here and I do not have any family in the vicinity so therefore I am new.

North East, Maryland is right smack dab between Philadelphia and Baltimore just about a mile from Exit 100 on Route 95. As you come down Route 272 which runs straight south through the town, you will come past the commercialized area where you can get your fast food or stop in at a 'big box' store and then the road narrows as it comes over the train bridge and you get your first glimpse of the quaint homes that have lined the street since the early 1900's. As the economy improves, the state of disrepair of some of the buildings continues to decrease as the whole town seems to slowly lift from the grip of poverty and its charm comes back to life. 

The bridge that carries you over the picturesque North East Creek is a fine place to get stuck in the traffic that builds up in the summer months before the light. Fun fact: when you leave town, you might notice that the sign for the creek says, Northeast Creek as one word. It seems that there has been a long standing disagreement as to the name of the creek - North East or Northeast. One day we might get it sorted out.

Port House Grill Crabcake
So now you are passing a little shop on the right that used to be a gun shop. After a complete tear-down, there is a new modern sandwich shop, the Port House Grill that serves delicious, made-from scratch salads, sandwiches and entrees. They make a filet sandwich with swiss cheese that is my favorite, but their crab cake is also wonderful.

The Black Pearl
Speaking of new, just kitty-corner from them, what used to be the town gas station is now the Black Pearl Surf and Turf Grill where seafood reigns supreme. Think of homemade lobster ravioli or coconut scallops. There's a laid back atmosphere with a pirate theme where you can enjoy a good meal without feeling rushed all while watching through the large picture windows the cars rolling into town. This is a great place to bring people for special occasions as they also have a larger room just for groups and the owner is more than willing to accommodate.

North East Chocolates Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt
As you meander farther down Main Street (Sorry, I forgot to mention that Route 272 turns into Main St. at the light in front of the Black Pearl Surf and Turf Grill.) there are some inspiring shops: The Fine Thyme where you can find fine furniture and accessories - both old and new, Saffron Creek which offers unique gifts - including Vera Bradley items, and also a tiny little clock shop that is now a chocolate shop, North East Chocolates that also sells Jelly Belly candies.

Now you have arrived at one of the most well-known restaurants in town - Woody's Crab House and Ice Cream Shop where brown paper covers the tables and fresh Maryland crab is the highlight of the menu.
Woody's Crab House
This place has been the draw for tourists since the 1970's when Pete Wood saw North East as a place to start his restaurant. People from all over the world have visited the iconic place and most locals leave it for the tourists to enjoy or as a place to bring their out-of-town guests. My personal favorite is the Dungeness Crab and their bag of perfectly steamed broccoli, but their menu is large and you have to visit there at least once in your life.

Pickled Herring Pub
If you step across the street from Woody's, there is a large building called the West Street Village. In the daytime, this is a fun place to stroll through in the air conditioned hallway and look at the clothing shops. But in the back, there is a jazz club - the Pickled Herring Pub where you can listen to some really good groups perform on most nights. They do have a fun pub menu and a full bar as well. Visit their website for a schedule of upcoming events.

So obviously, you would be hard pressed to stop in at every shop in one visit. However, there are still some amazing shops that are a must stop. Let's get on with it.

Steak and Main, Steak House, Oyster Bar, Sushi Bar
As you pass the crosswalk (yes, it is a law to stop and allow pedestrians the right of way), you will notice some cast iron chairs in front of a window seat. The small door sign says Steak House, but at closer look, you will see that the door is not in use. No worries, the entrance is next door under the awning of the Oyster Bar sign. Two old buildings make up this restaurant we all know as Steak and Main/aka Tony's Place. Yes, you get oysters and steaks here, but plenty more. You can count on excellent food cooked right and consistently.The oyster side is the bar side while the steak side is the fine dining side. The locals like hanging out on the bar side for great food and a casual atmosphere but plenty of regulars from up and down the East Coast make this their stop off of 95. Tony Covatta, the owner, is often seen here talking to the guests and overseeing the place. Sushi is one of the new highlights of the menu with specials rolls offered on Mondays and Thursdays. Happy Hour is just that with discounted drinks and half price seafood, depending on the night of the week. This is my go-to place for when I am too tired to cook and just want good food and great atmosphere.

You might notice that I have not said a word about dessert at any of the restaurants and that is simply because I almost never get it. I am a fan of appetizers, occasionally an entree and I always fill up before I can think of eating sweet things. That being said, each of the restaurants in town offers a nice assortment of sweets that you can sample and review yourself.

Okay, onward! After leaving Steak and Main, you will see across the street a porch filled with fun signage for your yard - Kathy's Corner Shop. Inside is a wonderful array of artworks from locals, hand made jewelry, t-shirts and sweatshirts, and books about the Chesapeake, (including my own, The Meanderings of a Pen, A Collection of Short Stories). It is well worth your time to check out the treasures she stocks.

Turkey Point Wines
Next is the newest shop in town (as of 6/25/2014) The Turkey Point Vineyard Tasting Room and Gift Shop. I was able to attend their opening celebration and they do have some delicious wines. My favorite was their Chardonnay, even though I usually am a red wine drinker. This is a fun family business that is sure to succeed.

5 and 10 Antique Market
As you pass the Town Hall, formerly an old automotive shop, you will see a large three story building across the street called the 5 and 10 Antique Market. This is a great stop for antiquers as the building is filled to the brim with collections from various consignees - the largest antique market in the county. As you walk through the store, you will wonder if you are going to fall through the old floors with their wide pine boards that squeak with every step. Take your time or you might miss that special treasure tucked back in a corner. And if you don't notice or smell the wonderfulness, there is a large glass case of chocolates and candies just waiting for your attention as you walk in the door.

Beans, Leaves, Etc...
Speaking of chocolates, I almost forgot the most wonderful smelling shop in town, Beans, Leaves, Etc. situated right next to Woody's. This is a gourmet coffee shop with shelves lined with teas, coffees, herbs and spices. I recommend you stop in here for a cup of your favorite java and sip it as you walk through town. Right next door in the same building is an old book shop/antique shop where they have a box of books out front for a dollar. Perfect for a vacation read. You will often find a few locals in here just killing time that will fill your ear with the local news if you listen carefully.

By now, you probably want to come back another day, but there are still some interesting shops as you continue south on Main Street. Within this section, stores change owners more often than other parts of town but a couple have been there for a while - The Silver Buckle - a stop for women's jewelry and handbags, Bay Billy Boards - filled with outdoor enthusiasts' toys and the School House Gift Shop which is logically in an old school house.

The North East Grocer
Now you have reached the Deli or more formally, The North East Grocer, the spot in the middle of town where you can get whatever you forgot for making dinner, sandwiches, soups, ice cream, fresh meat and seafood as well as household and camping items. You can sit inside in their newly renovated dining area decorated with artwork from locals or sit out front on their picnic tables. I love their generously sized ice cream cones but have been told by others that their crab bisque is the best around. They have a great website for ordering online as well.

Herb's Tackle Shop
A couple of doors down is a nondescript building with an old barbershop light outside and a vending machine for bait. This is the establishment that every fisherman knows for hundreds of miles. You can get your hair cut (guys) on certain days or pick up some fishing tackle or bait from Herb's Tackle Shop.
This is a family-run shop where everyone who works there knows the current regulations on fishing, who is catching what or where to go on the water to find the fish. You can charter a fishing expedition with Mike, Herb's son and let him show you where the fishing is good. Eleanor, Herb's wife is almost always there and don't be fooled thinking that fishing is just for guys - she is more knowledgeable in the subject than most folks you will ever meet, especially when it comes to local fishing.

The next couple of blocks are just for walking as it is primarily residential with churches and the town post office. Englands on the Bay is a great shop for nautical gifts, but alas she is in the process of closing so it may not be there for long.

Finally, the last restaurant on the strip of Main Street is the Paradise Grille.
This is a hamburger joint famous for its weeknight specials and cold beer. It is easy to get in and out of and they serve breakfast during the summer weekends. Again, this is a family run business by long time locals who know everyone and everything that is going on in the town of North East. They are appreciated for their Thanksgiving Feast that they provide free of charge during Thanksgiving for anyone who needs it.

By now, you are exhausted and you have only walked about half a mile down Main Street. There is much more to be known, but for this article, I will end it with a link to the town's website,  North East Maryland, where you can check the calendar for local happenings.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The June Travel Bug

Travel bugs! I get bit every year about this time when the weather inches up into the 90 degree range. The heat becomes too much for me to spend too much time outside and I don't like being confined to air conditioned rooms. However, travel costs money and more often than not, I spend more time dreaming about travel than actually leaving our address.
On a side note, when I say travel bug, I simply mean the urge to travel. Apparently the word is now a registered trademark of Groundspeak and refers to an actual 'registered dogtag' used in geochaching. It is a pretty cool idea. If you have never tried geochaching, you should check it out as it is quite fun.
I love reading folks reviews on Tripadvisor when I look at places like Seattle,Washington or Montreal, Quebec where the temperatures are a little cooler during the summer months. Then I usually realize that trips to these destinations are not in my immediate budget and look for weekend trips to the mountains. Google Maps is a great place to get an overview of my general area and I pan out from home to see what looks like an interesting place to go. In the last few weeks, we have done weekend trips to Lewes, Delaware, and Smith Island, Maryland, but my travel lust is not quenched yet. I want to check out Berlin, Maryland for its 55 restaurants and the hotsprings in Allegheny County in Virginia and I could go on but I am tired of writing about places and want to actually make reservations somewhere...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Getting Inspired

One of our train stops on the way to Canada
I was traveling over the weekend and was not able to watch the Academy Awards until the following night on HuluPlus. What an amazing collection of talented and creative people from all over the world! To see the imaginative work produced and the honor and respect that the industry gives to the winner is such an inspiration. It is no mistake that movies like the 12 Years a Slave or Captain Phillips  won such high honors. The whole process of creating the story line, choosing the actors, designing the scenes, the actors learning their characters and so on is a very complex process requiring excellence on every level to produce the caliber of movie that they are. I cannot help but be so inspired and with that inspiration comes a flood of creative ideas for stories to write.

You would think that with the thousands of years of stories between humans that there wouldn't be anything left to tell, yet the field is limitless. Love, hate, jealousy, greed, chivalry, passion, generosity, anger - all qualities we experience individually yet somehow we really enjoy watching the reactions of others to these intangible auras.

Not only are there innumerable real stories to tell, the category of fictional stories based on true stories is simply exponentially larger. As a writer, I can change outcomes, manipulate the motives and create a story that I like or that I think you might like.

There are so many movies I need to see, but for now, I have a story I would like to finish...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

New Year Thoughts

I have been silent for a while but it was not because I had nothing to say. The holidays were quite busy with a houseful of kids and friends and relatives. Once we got over the celebrations and the house quieted down again, I left with Eric for our annual vacation down south. Sunday was my first day back and it was quite an adjustment to come back to the reality of daily life, working and cleaning and cold temperatures.

Now I have the time to think about just what I want to do this year. And....well, I don't know! The regular stuff like getting our debt load reduced, making plans for renovating our house, upgrading some of my plantings outside - that all comes easily. The fact that I am a writer seems to slip away from my resolutions - the obvious should be all kinds of new ideas for writing, but not yet. I guess I need to do more imagining and get my fingers dancing on the keyboard.

Maybe I could combine all my plans and focus them towards writing - like renovating our home a little to make a writing room with plants and without spending much money....

So, maybe I don't have my act together yet, but it will come to me when I am ready. Time to get inspired!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Writing Reviews

New York City from the car window...
One way that you can practice your writing is by penning reviews for restaurants or other businesses that you visit. Some will actually pay you for being a mystery shopper, like A Closer Look, while others, like TripAdvisor simply want you to volunteer information for the good of other citizens looking for a good time or bargain. Recently I took a trip to New York City for dinner out with relatives and a Broadway show (Newsies). Of course, we took taxis and walked a lot so each spot we stopped was an opportunity for writing. On the one hand, there was no money to be made, but I am still spreading my name on the web while I learn how to describe and express my experiences.

When you are going out for dinner or even to a unique shop, keep your eyes open and pay attention to details about the place, things like cleanliness, uniqueness, service, prices, etc. Use these observations to write up a review that will hopefully benefit the establishment. Only once in a while do I write a negative review and then I try to be very careful in choosing my words to
not voice my opinion but rather to state the facts as I saw them, and only if I think the review might benefit another traveler like myself in the decision making process.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Who knows, maybe a major outlet will ask me to write reviews for them on a regular basis...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How to Make Beeswax Candles

Today I am going to try something a little different by writing about something I do at home. My project over the last week or so has been to try my hand at making beeswax candles. So many times people ask me for instructions on how to do things, so since it falls within the category of writing, I will explain it here.

First of all, why beeswax instead of paraffin or soy wax? Well, once I found out that beeswax was considered the premium substance for burning in a candle, I thought, why not? There are lots of claims about problems with the smoke from paraffin and soy but I have not made the time to research them out to see if they were true.

Second, get your supplies. I searched online and found a candle supply company I liked, Candle Science. They seemed to have the best price for the wax in a granular form and plenty of information for learning. Check out their list of fragrances for inspiration, too. While you are waiting for the order to be shipped, come up with the logo for your candles (if you want to). 

Clean a work area in your kitchen and set up your supplies. You will need to have a large pot about a third full of water heated to a simmer. Place a smaller pot on top for melting the wax (creating a double boiler). Use a candy thermometer to watch the temperature of the melting wax as you don't want it to go over 160 degrees (F) or it tends to darken the color of the candle.

Cut your wicks to the right length for your container. Use a hot glue gun to glue the wick to the bottom center. Wrap the wick around a pencil or through a clothespin to hold it in place.

Warm the jars in the oven at 140 degrees. When the wax is melted, add your fragrance (if any) and stir gently.

Pour the wax into the containers, trying to stay as neat as possible since the wax is sticky and hard to clean later. Don't fill it all the way as you will do a second layer after the first is cooled. Leave a 1/4 to 1/2 inch space for the second layer.

Pour the second layer over the candles after waiting about 5 or 6 hours for the wax to harden. If any cracks have formed, this is when you can fill them in.

Leave the candles overnight so they can fully harden.

That's it! You now have a nice beeswax candle that will burn longer than most other types of candles.

(Of course, use caution when working over a stove with hot wax and never leave a burning candle unattended, near children or where it might catch something on fire.)

For those of you who would rather someone else make them for you, you can get them here, on Amazon, Maskyelen Candles.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Daylight Savings Time

Although I live in a very lush area for growing vegetables, fruit trees and flowers during the spring and summer, there is something unique about fall and the rich colors everywhere.

Tonight we change our clocks back for Daylight Savings time so tomorrow will really feel like we are heading into winter. As far as today goes, it was still warm enough to get out in our kayaks and go fishing and hang out on a secluded beach accessible only by boat.

The clouds have since rolled in and the temperatures are supposed to drop down into the low 30's by tomorrow night. So tonight we will celebrate life with friends and sit around around our fire pit roasting some kielbasa over the flames.

As you can see, I am trying to live by my own motto, "Don't forget to live!" Happy Daylight Savings Time...

Friday, October 11, 2013

Get Around Someone Bigger Than Yourself

grasses, chesapeake bay, inspiration, water, wind
Bay Grasses by Heide Braley
I was just sitting in my living room looking out at a huge maple tree in my front yard and found myself inspired by its simple grandeur. The massive size of the branches stretching out and up hundreds of feet, yet still swaying in the wind. How can something so amazingly massive still be so graceful? I was inspired and realized that I need to spend more time around things and people that are larger than me. They tend to see life from a different perspective and can be less stressed about problems and challenges that always come along.

One example of a person that I want to learn more about is the recent Nobel prize in literature winner, Alice Munroe. Like myself, she wrote short stories when she could, thinking that it was a way to practice her talent until she was ready to write a novel - after all, that's what all good writers do, right? She wrote about life, its ups and down and the feelings that came with them. Now she is in her eighties and thinks she is finished writing, but what a wealth of feelings must be in her by that age.

I can remember sitting down to write a love story when I was twelve and I put my pencil to the paper for a few words, only to realize that I was not mature enough to write nearly enough material about the subject. Today, after twenty-seven years of marriage to an amazingly loving guy, I find myself so much more experienced in the art of love than when we first started and yet somehow know I still have so much to learn. I remind you, writer or not, as I remind myself - find people who are bigger in heart and emotion than yourself and glean from them some of the special facets of life that make them beautiful.

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