And now, my new dream home

I wish! But I’ve been thinking about a tiny house, and this one is not so tiny and is certainly mobile. The before and after pictures are particularly impressive.

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Thinking about painting the house…

And I came across this article. Now I’m inspired! I need some sprucing up to cheer me up, and once I have the time, those grays are looking pretty good…

Fenwick, Food and Family

Sunset on Fenwick Island, DE
Sunset at Fenwick Island the evening before I arrived–my brother Ron took this splendid photo

Stepping out onto the screened porch very early this morning, I gasped as my lungs sucked in the cloying atmosphere. Nevertheless, I closed the door to the air-conditioned house behind me and continued toward a chair. The moist carpet stuck to my bare feet when I crossed it and the freshly-applied lotion on my hands transformed to the tackiness of barely dried glue in the humid, sea air. I was a little surprised by the latter and kept pressing my fingers together and pulling them apart to make sure the sensation wasn’t a product of imagination.

 

View Outside the Beach house

For a full half hour, I sat listening to the gulls cackle like gentle lunatics while they swept across the sky above the rooftops in search of breakfast. A constant, soft breeze blew through the screens and into my hair in a way that made the heat seem non-existent, compelling me to linger. I watched white egrets take flight over the steel-gray water and the shifting sunlight turn shadowed marsh grass to gold. A fisherman’s small motor boat left a trail of white froth through the ripples in the water, but I heard no noise of his motor. Even traffic on the main road did nothing to disturb the peace, a kind of underscore to the hush, the muted sound resembling a distant river’s flow.

This was my morning as the sun rose over Fenwick Island in Delaware.

Fenwick Island Lighthouse
Fenwick Island Lighthouse which is only open from 9-noon, so if you want to see it, get up early (hint-hint)

I had already packed in preparation of returning home after a visit with both my brothers and sisters-in-law. In fact, we were all going home this day and the knowledge of that was bittersweet. The visit had been a short one, but family is family and when you’re together it often seems as if no time has passed since last you were in each other’s company. That means no barriers, no little courtesies, but an immediate dive right into the dynamics of the relationships that have always existed, representing at this time twenty-four boisterous, chest-beating, loving, tender, comical, occasionally frustrating but ever joyful hours. Oh, and there was a bit of sleep in there, too.

And food. We mustn’t forget that part of the gathering. Our half-baked plan of dinner out turned out to be an amazing experience. After discovering no place in the entirety of Fenwick Island existed at dinner time that was not packed to the gills, we ventured down the highway to Ocean City, Maryland, to a place that graciously accepted reservations. When we pulled up, the building resembled perhaps a family-style bar. The parking lot held some empty spaces. I thought: I’m starving, they probably serve passable dinners of some sort, and it’s already 8:00 p.m. I think we all had that idea.

Boy, were we wrong.Shark on the Harbor info from menu

The Shark on the Harbor’s menu changes daily, we were told. They print it up each day because their food is procured fresh from local suppliers. The farms from which they get their vegetables and fruit, their fish, their beef and pork, are named in the menu. That’s only the start. They had three chefs on duty and every dish is prepared with an eclectic mix of ingredients and sauces that, in a sane world, one might never think would go well together. But once you enter Shark on the Harbor, you are not in a sane world—you’ve moved beyond the world to epicurean heaven.

Vegan Entree.Shark on the Harbor
Vegan Entrée – Portobello mushrooms, summer squash, arugula, tomatoes, butternut squash puree and blueberry sauce – superb!

We lingered over our meals and our equally delicious desserts with each one of us having a completely different item and all of them fabulous. Glutted and happy we made our way back to the house afterward and to our beds, forgetting in our sweet food-torpor that tomorrow we would rise and go home. But every day you wake is one to be grateful for, every day spent with family is a blessing (sometimes in disguise, but not this time), and a good meal with people you love is without equal.

Ah, that Dickens…

 

 

Charles DickensAh, that Dickens…

 

Charles Dickens has always been one of my favorite authors and certainly a man ahead of his time. In Victorian England, Dickens funded a periodical in which literature of the day appeared in serial installments, including Dickens’ own with the debut serial release of A Tale of Two Cities. Self-publishing at its earliest and finest!

All the Year Round

 

This realization that a man as talented as Dickens decided to break from his publisher and circulate his own works gives me some hope in a changing publishing world. I’m not comparing myself to Dickens by any means, but in the entrepreneurial sense I would like to think I am in good company.

 

I consider myself a hybrid author. I have heretofore and still am being published by one of the Big Six (or is it Five now?) and the former Warner Books, with the rights to one of my historical novels purchased by the foreign market and translated into five languages. But I also self-publish, which earns me the “hybrid” designation.

 

In the present publishing environment, the fact one has the freedom to publish one’s own works greatly expands a writer’s opportunity for creativity, penning (or should I say keyboarding) stories that might not interest editors at the moment due to the company’s money constraints, editorial wish lists, or a variety of other factors. As an author, you are still able to offers those stories to your tried and true readers as well to a whole new batch. It can be the best of both worlds, although it is, quite honestly, a heck of a lot of work, a true labor of love with profits—and losses—your own to claim.

Charles Dickens Museum
Charles Dickens Museum

As I progress in my endeavors, I plan to write more about the process. In the meantime, I am shamelessly announcing the release of my own serial: Emerald Twilight, a fantasy/soft sci-fi romance which I hope will become the start of the Warrior Women Serials, stories of strong, independent women in assorted genres.

 

Years ago, Emerald Twilight was released in just such a serial fashion, but the small and wonderful publisher did not outlast the downturn in the market. I have now rewritten and released once more this story of hope and survival, redemption and, well, yes, love in a distant world inhabited by a variety of characters and frightening creatures.

EmeraldTwilightSerialSeasonOneEmeraldTwilightSerialSeasonTwo_2-153x250EmeraldTwilightSerialSeasonThree_2-153x250.jpgEmeraldTwilightSerialSeasonFour-153x250EmeraldTwilightSerialSeasonFive-153x250

 

We watch episodic television, so why not read in the same manner? And for those of us EmeraldTwilightSerialCompleteEdition-153x250who binge-watch their favorites on streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu, you can buy the bundled episodes through Amazon in one digital book and read the entire story at once. For the next few days, the first episode is free, so you can get a feel for whether you want to go forward with the tale before purchasing either each episode or the bundled version.

At any rate, if you choose to take the chance on this new-old form of entertainment, kindly drop me a line, comment on this blog, or write a review to let me know what you think of it.

 

Happy reading everyone!

Robin Maderich (aka Celia Ashley)

Saturday’s Adventure or Apparently, All Roads Lead to Hell

Well, not hell, exactly. Unless hell is lush and green and sparsely populated…

Hell, in this instance, was not a location, but the Twilight Zone experience of my ride this morning to the Lehighton area. My fault, it was pointed out, for trusting the GPS. But the purpose of a GPS is navigation and so I permitted the instrument to dictate my travels. I paid good money for it. I ought to have a little trust in the system.

Yes. My fault.

I freely admit that now, although in the course of my travails—er, I mean my travels—I cursed that GPS with every name imaginable. But I should start at the beginning and proceed in proper order, the ways the roads would in a perfect world.

My writer’s group met at the home of one of its members today. I had a basic idea how to get there. The route was, in fact, rather direct, but I drove in the opposite direction to the grocery store to obtain a fruit platter and opted to use my GPS to find the way from that point. I took the “no toll” option. Made sense. The road I needed to travel didn’t have tolls. I figured this choice would put me on the right path.

Mistake. I recognized straight away that my car and I were not on the right path. However, I also knew generally where I was and with roads bordered by lovely scenery and in excellent shape, I saw no reason not to follow the whim of the female voice coming from the box on my dashboard.

Though meandering, I trusted (there’s that word again) I would get to my destination and enjoyed the ride. The little clock at the corner of the screen showed a thirty-nine minute ride. Right on schedule.

I passed through Alburtis, a perfectly picturesque little town not far from where I live, but which I’ve never had the opportunity to visit. I want to go back. I suppose this means trusting my GPS again. We’ll see. I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow, but suffice it to say I eventually reached Route 309. Hoorah! All I needed to do was take a left and head north until I came to the next turn and then, seven or eight miles later, to my friend and fellow writer’s driveway.

My GPS had other ideas. Okay, I thought. A little exploration could be fun. Right?

Yeah. Loads.

It started out that way. I turned left and right on tree-lined lanes with charming names like Blue Mountain and Bake Oven. Then there was sudden misdirection which should have been an indication. I was told to bear left on a certain road which turned out to be a left hand turn so sharp it almost went backward. The second indication there could be a problem was the big yellow sign that read: Road Under Construction – Travel at Your Own Risk. Being addled by the lovely scenery, I assumed that to mean the road was being repaired and carried on. I drove slowly over a fifty-foot stretch of rough paving back onto smooth surface. Huh? Was that it? What a silly sign.

Suddenly, the condescending witch in my GPS told me to make another left. There wasn’t another left. There was a right and a straight. I chose the straight, and soon realized when the sign said the road was under construction that was exactly what it meant.

I backed up and promptly dropped the rear tire off the side of the road into a rain-washed gully. With a bit of earnest prayer I managed to get back on the road, turn around and head back out to the main highway. There had to be another road over the mountain, right? Not so fast, toots. Next was a dead end. I turned around and went back to the highway once more, foregoing the road under construction, as well as the next one which I knew (being smarter, I told myself, than a GPS) led to the same road under construction. I drove another mile to the prettily named Ashfield Road. Aha! Success. Clear sailing. Smooth pavement. I’d be over the mountain in no time.

No. It came out on the ravaged road as well. This time, though, the GPS was calling it Ashfield rather than Reservoir Road. Oddly, though, the sign said Frank. I knew I was in the same place, however, because I had come upon an antique car parked catty-cornered to the meeting place of these two roads. The vehicle looked to be from the 1920’s, pristine condition, with a few yellow helium balloons affixed to it bobbing gently in the drops of rain. Did I not mention seeing that before? I certainly should have, because as soon as I saw it again—a beautiful piece of antique machinery a couple of miles from the nearest habitation—I began cursing so profusely and imaginatively at the #$%*&#* GPS that I forget the photo op altogether and decided, in my fury, to travel the Unconstructed Road. How bad could it be?

As I’ve said above, Apparently All Roads Lead to Hell. At least in this section of Lehighton.

It wasn’t, though. Not hell. Not really. Just an unpaved, sparsely graveled, pitted, gullied, collapsing stretch of trail awaiting blacktop at some distant future date. My GPS was telling me I had to stick with this mess for another four miles. Four miles that took me thirty minutes to traverse. Oops. Behind schedule now. Two huge SUV’s passed me coming the other direction. I had to stand my ground or drop off the side. They were better outfitted to ease around my own, smaller, ill-equipped-for-such-stupidity motor vehicle.  I took their presence as a good sign. That was, until I saw the hiker with his walking stick and backpack. This was followed by a particularly huge rock in the road. I crawled past it with one thought: How did that get there? I looked up, then, and saw two spindly trees hold back a huge fall of boulders—and did I tell you torrential rain was coming? I began to swear again, but quickly took to laughing. (Can you say hysteria?) And all this time, I was driving up, up, up at a ridiculously steep angle.

Finally, the road leveled off. See picture at right—one of the only ones I took, daring to Road to Lehightonremove my hands from the steering wheel long enough to pull out my phone while stopped for a much needed respite from white knuckles and hyperventilation. Beautiful, yes? Green and lush and, well, you get it—anywhere else I would have broken out a picnic lunch.

The road was more evenly graveled here, almost wide enough for two cars. Piece of cake. Until I saw the fog ahead, and remembered I now had to descend. I won’t give you all the details of the gullies, the positioning of my wheelbase in such a fashion that I could pass over the ruts, the hint of sunlight through the fog and trees to my right indicating a steep drop off… When I reached the bottom I breathed a sigh of relief. The dog chasing my car from a junkyard I could view as comical, the post office a sign of civilization—except for the lack of a town’s name across its brick front. Still, the road had become potholed blacktop. I had made it!

In short order, I reached another main road and took the left hand turn directed by my female non-companion and found myself a quarter mile from my destination. The GPS hadn’t misdirected me after all. She’d only displayed a really nasty sense of humor.

 

Visiting old friends

I grew up in Dover, Delaware, a town that has expanded to the point of confusion for someone like me, who no longer lives there and upon her return is easily confused by the spread of a once small community. Thank goodness I had Kim directing me.

Today, Kim and I had lunch at Grotto’s Pizza in Dover. Many years ago my first job beyond babysitting was at the Grotto’s in Rehoboth. The pizza is still the best and brings back its own memories. Once we had eaten, a drive around Dover was in order, visiting the site of our old high school, since torn down for the construction of the new (which we also stopped to see). Next was a pause at Dairy Queen for cones, followed by a trip to the middle school we both attended, and thence a ride along State Street to the Green, where people in period costumes had just finished some presentation we had missed. We watched from the car, though, as a group of dancers performed to an amazing drumbeat, whirling and chanting, and applauded them from the open windows when they had finished. The next stop was Old Christ Church.

Old Christ Church Dover DE
Old Christ Church, Dover DE

 

Old Christ Church in Dover is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The church was originally built in 1734 and remodeled in the mid and late 1800’s. The center of Dover retains the constant of its 18th century heart. It’s like Williamsburg (another place I love) Church yardin miniature, but the buildings stand where they were originally erected, and have not been placed in historic illustration of the past, as a place of learning for tourists and students. But, like the design of Williamsburg, there is much to be discovered in and around Dover of our country’s beginnings. On the Green, I can sense history going back through the centuries and my connection is as strong as it ever was, first appreciated as long ago as the day Kim and I met, when I was in the second grade and she in the third.

Today it seemed I was not just visiting with my oldest friend, but that we were spending time with another. I have been experiencing a certain absence of roots in my life, but when I am in Dover I realize they still exist, quietly, stretching back through the years of my existence and beyond.

 

 

Strange, wonderful Spring

Weather-wise, this has been a strange and wonderful spring. Warm when it should have been cold, cold when it should have been warm. A threat of frost on May 15th. Some of my plants appear to love the topsy-turvy weather. closed peonies2My peonies have been delayed in opening, which is just as well. I would have hated seeing all their lovely blooms battered to the earth by the rain. Instead, they are still tightly embedded in green spheres in preparation of a bountiful unfurling (or am I just being hopeful?).

Right now, though, my garden seems to be full of blues and purples and greens.Img_9585

Full, I suppose, is an ambitious term. Let Img_9591me say only that the few flowers blooming right now fall into that category of color in some form or another. I have inserted a handful of photos in this blog which would certainly give the impression of the lovely blossoming of a well-kept Img_9581garden.

Img_9583What I’m keeping to myself is the abundance of weeds I still need to yank from the soil, the stones piled by the shop for extending the garden wall, the terrible state of the ongoing waterfall project. Img_9594

 

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by everything needing to be accomplished and by the idea that next year it will likely need to be accomplished again.

Yet when I walked outside in the moment prior to another onslaught of wind, rain and plummeting temperatures, I found delight in my delusion that all is progressing as it should be.

Sometimes my gardening follows very closely the course of my life…