Monthly Archives: December 2018

A Holiday Ghost Story

Ah, the holidays. Family time, favorite foods, haunted hotels.

Wait. What?

This was my favorite story of the 2017 holiday season, originally posted here on Twitter.  It begins with an arduous journey…

I have a fun holiday story for you! Drove the family 6+ hours to the Catskills Mountains today — through snow.

We were trekking to my parents’ cabin/summer home. They invited my brothers’ and my family for a holiday celebration. A rare event! All 6 cousins under 1 roof.

One problem. Everyone can’t fit under that roof. 3 families of four + 2 grandparents. (The grandpa emoji totally looks like my dad.)

We got booted, ’cause my kids are much older than my brothers’ kids. (I promise you there’s an unexpected twist coming up.)

Hotel? Fine. Whatever. My dad starts making phone calls … and there’s no room at the inn. ( Holiday weekend, ski season.)

He decides to call in a favor and reserve 2 rooms for us at his golf club’s historic inn — WHICH IS CLOSED FOR THE SEASON.

“It’ll be fine!” he says. “You’ll have the whole place to yourselves.

Literally, the whole place. The staff will be off for Christmas. The rooms will be set for us, but no  maid service. Ooh-kay, Dad.

We drive up in the dark tonight. Hubs is *not thrilled*. My kids opted to sleep on the couches at the cabin tonight. Smart kids!

I’d make a Shining joke, but by the time we get to the place (10 minute drive in Dad speak = 20+ minutes), hubs is ticked off!

The heat is on, but no one’s here. Empty as advertised…

 

 

 

 

 

It’s kind of quaint, but … I have to tell my brain, “Do not say ‘Redrum.’ That joke is not funny.” And hubs is beyond seeing the humor in this.

 

 

 

 

But, COME ON!!!

 

 

 

 

 

And then I see it…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closer…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello, Jack.

This is when I bust out laughing. Hubs does not see the humor in this situation. From now on, we’ll take care of our own hotel reservations. Thanks a lot, Dad.

Enjoy your holidays, believers. I hope you are safe, warm, and surrounded by people you love. I’ll be here. All night.

 

Post script:

First, a correction. The drive from my parents’ place to the hotel was (sorry, Dad) ten minutes as advertised. I blame the dark, frigid night for making it feel longer.

Second, a few days after our visit, my father called. It turns out, there have been reports of voices and other ghostly happenings at the hotel. But our stay was blessedly uneventful.

 

A Book and a Beagle — Special Offer

I am a dog mom.

Sam the Schnauzer is my best furry friend. But three years ago, our family decided (with much convincing) that 8-year-old Sam needed a brother. Not a puppy. An older dog. A calm dog to show our very barky, anxious guy the joys of being chilled out.

I went to the animal shelter. Crashed out on the office floor was an overweight older beagle, snoring away like he owned the place That afternoon, we brought Rudy home.

If you’d like to hear more of Rudy’s story — and meet Rudy himself, the Oscar to Sam’s Felix — check out this video.

When I was working on my middle grade novel, Takedown, I couldn’t help myself. Rudy is such a funny, weird, lovable dog, I had to put him in the book. That’s how one of my main characters, eleven-year-old wrestler Lev Sofer, ended up with a lazy, chubby old beagle named Grover.

We first meet Grover in Chapter 4. Lev describes him like this: Grover waddles into the hall, snuffling my backpack. He sounds more like a pig than a dog. I pat his soft ears.

Beagle plushies and the actual champion of doggie chill, Rudy.

When I found these adorable beagle baby plushies, I had to pick up a basket full. And now I have a special offer!

I am selling “A Book and a Beagle” for just $20 plus shipping. You’ll get a signed copy of Takedown (read a review) and a Grover beagle plushie to love. Leave a comment if you’re interested.

Since it’s Poetry Friday, I went hunting for a beagle poem to go with the book and toy. Kenn Nesbitt didn’t let me down.

I love the closing stanza of “Gabby’s Baby Beagle” because it’s so true. Beagles are totally pig-like. They are obsessed with food. And the snuffly sounds they make when they’re sniffing around, hoping to find a dropped morsel — not to mention their big tummies — earn the title of pig-dog.

Gabby’s Baby Beagle

A Tongue Twister
From the book The Tighty-Whitey Spider

Gabby bought a baby beagle
at the beagle baby store.
Gabby gave her beagle kibble,
but he begged for bagels more.

Gabby loved her baby beagle;
gladly Gabby gave him one,
but her beagle grabbed the bag and
gulped them down till there were none.

So she took her baby beagle
to the bagel baker’s store,
where the beagle gobbled bagels,
bags of bagels by the score.

Gabby’s beagle gorged on bagels,
bigger bagels than before,
till he’d gobbled every bagel
in the baker’s bagel store.

Gulping bagels bulges baby
beagles’ bellies really big.
Say goodbye to baby beagle;
Gabby’s beagle’s now a pig.

–Kenn Nesbitt

Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

You’ll find the poem here at Kenn’s website. It’s worth visiting. There’s an audio file where you can listen to the poem being read!

Thanks to Donna Smith at Mainely Write for hosting Poetry Friday this week. You’ll find the link up at her blog.

Donna Smith is hosting Poetry Friday at Mainely Write this week.

A Long Winter’s Nap

Buffy Silverman is hosting Poetry Friday at Buffy’s Blog today.

Around this time every year, my acupuncturist reminds me that winter is a time for hibernation. It’s okay to huddle by the fire with the family, to be more “in” and less “out” (whether that’s your physical or your energetic being).

When snow blankets Maryland, everyone stays in and hunkers down. At my house, we curl up on the couch and watch movies or play board games. The first time we had a blizzard while my eldest was away at college, it felt strange to sit out the quiet storm without him.

Follow Soul Roots on Instagram @SoulRootsPlanner.

Click on the image to read the Rosemary Chocolate Truffles recipe from Soul Roots Planner.

Curling up, staying warm, clinging to family — all crossed my mind when I received my Winter Poetry Swap package from the swap-mistress herself, Tabatha Yeatts of the blog The Opposite of Indifference.  There were treats to warm my spirit: homemade lip balm (one of Tabatha’s many talents), a box of delicious raspberry tea, and a planner filled with herbalist wisdom and recipes, including this one for Rosemary Chocolate Truffles.

Before I get too cozy, picturing myself staying in bed with my naturally delicious chocolate bon-bons, let’s read the ekphrastic poem Tabatha included with these gifts.

UPDATE: Typos that were entirely my fault have been corrected. Apologies to Tabatha!

Das Bett by Sofie Korner

The Bed
by Tabatha Yeatts

for Laura

She feels as though the bed is poised to roll her
out of it while she is sleeping, that no matter
how much she craves rest, the bed will
cast her away. perhaps the hands that
sawed and hammered the frame, tilted
the bed just so, sought to make it
inevitable that she would seek a
husband to keep her aboard.
she covers the bed with a
blanket of her own
making, colors
that cheer
her heart,
tucks the sheets in tight.

***

I’m intrigued by the tension that Tabatha creates in this poem. As a knitter, the finale speaks to me — that the woman solves her unease by making something beautiful. I get a sense that this grounds her and counterbalances the tilted bed.

Time to make some truffles! Enjoy your holiday treats and have a great weekend, poets.

Poetry Friday is here!

Look no further. Poetry Friday is here this week. Mr. Linky will gladly take your coat … I mean link.

Welcome, winter wordsmiths!

Early birds, thanks for letting me know that Mr. Linky was misbehaving. He’s all fixed and ready for your links.

I was at the National Press Club Author Night and Book Fair in Washington, DC last month and had the great good luck to bump into an old friend, Jona Colson.

Jona and I met several years ago at the (now defunct) Gettysburg Review Conference for Writers. We were in a week-long workshop, studying with Sydney Wade. Magical.

Jona’s first collection of poetry is out. Said Through Glass won the 2018 Jean Feldman Poetry Prize and is available through Washington Writers Publishing House.

I selected one of the poems, “The Orange Speaks,” for Little Patuxent Review back in my editor days. But I’m sharing a seasonal poem today, filled with winter imagery to savor.

Snow
By Jona Colson

There is a promise in its lattice light,

its sway and spiral in white fury, falling

granular glint and glimmer, the way I’m brought

to the window following flakes in mid-flight.

There is a need to draw my name in its wet slate,

the terrible urge to disappear

into its folds, the slide and sunder of ice

and sphere, the hasty crush under heavy foot

as I raise it to my mouth—savor of sky,

of wood-fire, edged with anise and brume.

***

Published with permission of the author.

Jona says of this poem, “It’s not surprising that this poem started during a snowstorm. I remember walking to my window in DC and following the huge flakes down to the street.  Writing the poem took me back to my childhood days in Maryland when snow was mystical and anticipated. The poem sat for years in my computer before I started to send it out; it took a long time for it to find its form.”

What are your favorite winter poems, or poems about snow? Let us know in the comments. Please use Mr. Linky and let us know where to find your Poetry Friday post.


Poetry Friday: Chocolate Haibun

Thanks to Liz Steinglass for hosting the Poetry Friday round up this week!

I’m posting my Poetry Friday offering early this week. I’ll be traveling on Friday, visiting the niece and nephews mentioned in the poem below.

This is my first attempt at a haibun. It has also been forever since I shared a “random conversations” post. I wanted to capture the way an everyday moment (shopping) transformed into a moment of unexpected connection with a stranger. Haibun — because of its leap from prose to haiku — seemed a good fit. Has anyone else tried the form? What do you think about its hybrid style?

Cheer Down
By Laura Shovan

A quick stop at the local chocolatier. It’s Hanukkah, and I’ve had my eye on their white chocolate unicorn lollipops for my niece and nephews. What would be a brief transaction – customer, clerk – shifts when a George Harrison song begins to play. He is our favorite Beatle. Under the banter, recognition that each of us is settled down, grounded and calmed, by the same music.

Dusk on Main Street
Gray light, brown bag
Saffron truffles

A herd of white chocolate unicorns.

If you are ever in Maryland, the chocolate shop is Sweet Cascades in Old Ellicott City. Their truffles are divine.

And if you’d like to listen to George perform the song referenced in my poems title, you’ll find him here.

See you next week when it’s my turn to host Poetry Friday. I’m attempting Mr. Linky for the first time. Fingers crossed!