Friday, November 17, 2023

No Thanksgiving plans

 Our plans are no plans. For years I helped my mother with Thanksgiving.  

Then i became THAT mom and was up at 6:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving day to prepare everything - having already baked 4 pies the day before. 

Then I retired from work, moved to California to be near my children. (Could they have moved any further away from Maryland? geezzzz.) Then I retired from doing Thanksgiving and turned it over to my oldest daughter. 

This year I retired from Thanksgiving completely. Oldest daughter is going skiing. (broke both her legs skiing last year but hey, she loves skiing. She says she'll be careful) Second child is married to a Native American and therefore does NOT celebrate Thanksgiving. (Whatever happened to the historical fact of pilgrims and native Americans having a harvest celebration together?) My third child doesn't want to have Thanksgiving with her friends this year, so she has promised to bake pumpkin pies for me. 


Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Talking to Middle Schoolers about the writing profession

 I always ask for two tables whenever I'm asked to participate in the local Middle School display of different professions in the Springtime. (It has a different name, but I forget) It exposes those kids to a variety of jobs they could think about.  We always try to make it fun for them.

I have a video running that answers all the questions their teachers have printed out and they have to answer about my profession. (I ask for the list ahead of time) 

I have a three foot model of the Wright Brother's Flyer alongside my books about them plus some of the awards those books have been given. I have copies of my books. I have examples of editor's notes on manuscripts. Plus I have a galley sheet from a picture book that shows how they are printed. Plus some folded and gathered samples. (F&Gs)

It's a madhouse of classes flowing in and out , talking to them, and answering questions.


Friday, November 10, 2023

Telling time these days

 When I used to wear a watch (when we all wore watches), I insisted on a water resistant one because having babies and toddlers in the house, I was constantly dunking them in water to wash body parts off as they explored the world or needed bathroom stuff.  

It wasn't until my watch stopped working on a trip that my granddaughter convinced me that - actually grandma - we carried cell phones all the time and cell phones told us the time, so why wear a watch? I haven't worn a watch since. 

I do have a clock in my bedroom from way back when we used those to set alarms to wake us up. (replaced by cell phone alarm) plus the stove and microwaves also tell the time. By now, I've actually stopped looking at my wrist when I want to know the time.

Monday, November 6, 2023

President Kennedy shot November 22, 1963

There are certain events in your life that you never forget.  A friend on FaceBook brought this up and we chimed in with our own memories.

I was in college, practicing my bassoon in the music building in college when someone ran down the hall, knocking at everyone's practice room door yelling that President Kennedy had been killed. We didn't believe him. Then another person announced it and another and we slowly came to the realization that it might be true.

This was a few days before Thanksgiving, November 22, 1963. I lived in a house full of girls, not the dorm, so we had to rent a TV set so we could watch the news. For hours we watched. Nobody went to classes. Finally the University simply declared classes closed and said we could all go home early for Thanksgiving.  

At that time I had been knitting a scarf for my current boyfriend and continued to knit it as we watched TV for hours for several days. Yes, we saw Oswald being shot, live, on TV. My knitting became quite tight and after I finished the scarf later, I noticed that the foot length of scarf that I knitted during that time period was tighter making the scarf about an inch narrower at that point.

So many other drastic events happened in the 1960s, so it's no wonder those of us who lived thru them have stark memories of them:

The Cuban missile crisis in October of '62. 
The Birmingham Church bombing in Sept. of '63.
 JFK - November 22 of '63.
 Lee Harvey Oswald killed two days later. 
Martin Luther King in April of '68. Robert Kennedy in June of '68.
 Sharon Tate in August of '69. 
Students at Kent State College in May of '70.
 Underneath all of this rumbled the background news from Viet Nam. 
Many felt that the 60s ended what had been a kind of national euphoria of emerging from WWII. Adults in their 40s in 1960 grew up during the Great Depression. The contrast between how they lived before WWII and the economic boom after the war must have been a constant surprise. 

Friday, November 3, 2023

Asking for the wrong person

 I was awoken from my morning nap with a call from Social Security asking for Francis. Big red flag.  

1) my husband, Francis, has been dead for quite a few years and the real social security knows this. 

2) My husband never used my cell phone or ever put my cell phone number down as his phone number. 

3) I could hear lots of other people on telephones in the background. (a boiler room of scammers or a call center of scammers) 

4) I wish I had been awake enough to give a clever answer. All I said was, "Francis has been dead and the REAL social security knows this," and I hung up.  

But couldn't get back to sleep, darn it.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Do not feed wild animals

 Too many people don't know the difference between wild animals and Build-a-bear stuffed animals. 

No, a bear is not a nice doggie.  

Let's break it to you quickly - bears would like to kill you if you get in their way or think you're threatening her children.  

Secondly. if you feed wild animals, they will stop avoiding people (to stay safe) and will begin approaching people - Demanding food and not caring if they injure a hiker just to get into their backpack to get the FOOD.  

And if they decide that YOU taste good, that ruins the whole area for any other people. (not to mention the damage to you.)

Guess what?  EIGHT MILES of the most beautiful and colorful part of the Blue Ridge Parkway has been closed due to tourists feeding bears. !!!

Friday, October 27, 2023

If you see this, you know she's going to get in trouble.

 You just know that the protagonist  of the story you're reading is going to get in trouble, the minute you read the first words of the chapter:

"My only excuse is that I was left unsupervised."

(Protagonist had been ill and her family thought they had left her sleeping.  But no.)

So - she decides to make dinner for everyone and - partially destroys the kitchen in the process.

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Suffragette sash

My grandmother was a suffragette; I still have her sash. People talked me into wearing it when I voted for Hillary Clinton. 

The Wright brothers' father walked in suffragette marches alongside their sister. He always supported the causes of his children. (He was a Bishop in his religion)

Monday, October 2, 2023

Authors and Illustrators make a picture book

 When we write the words for a picture book, we have no idea what the illustrator will do with them; they often expand the story into different directions that the writer didn't expect. (which is a GOOD thing and makes the story better, IMO)

The best examples of 'words meshing with illustrations" is when an author/ illustrator (the same person) does the book. People who write picture books are at the mercy of the illustrator and the editor because of that wall that forbids the author from ever talking to the illustrator. Note - Every recent Caldecott winner in recent years was either an author/ illustrator or at least best friends with the illustrator so they worked together to make the best book they could.

Perennial favorite -Where the Wild Things Are by author/ illustrator Maurice Sendak - is a wonderful example of how the illustrations expand the story. (I've sometimes done a page by page talk about this book with students doing a report on Sendak. ) 

Look at the white space and how he uses it.

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Happy October


Happy October.

Spider month.  

Pumpkin month. 

Fun for kids 

and horror movies for older people. (ick) 

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Finding a writer's critique group - or not

 I have failed at finding a writer's critique group that suits my needs.  

My first one was a collection of beginners , so it was the blind leading the blind.  

After I had several published books I outgrew that one and tried some others. Sometimes I was the only one who knew anything about the publishing world, so the group wasn't helping me grow and they were ignoring me anyway, so I quietly dropped out.  

In others, it was all fiction novel writers and I was writing nonfiction -- mostly biographies. I definitely didn't fit.  

Now I'm writing mostly picture books and yes, also biographies. So - should I join a picture book group or a nonfiction group? (there are few to no nonfiction groups.) 

The two of us nonfiction writers in the large Baltimore writer's association would often cling together, especially because we were published and most everyone else there weren't.  

The very best writer's group I ever belonged to wasn't a critique group at all. It was a group of published Maryland writers who met an hour away from where I lived, but the conversation was great! (It was an hour and a half if I was coming from my workplace, but I still attended when I could.)

Saturday, September 9, 2023

It's spider time again

 Opened my front patio gate to get to my car one day and hmmm - something was hanging at eye level. When I re-focused, it was a spider web with small spider in the middle. So I picked up some pine cones and threw them at it until I destroyed the web so that I could pass through. Spider gone.

 Next day = no spider at my gateway. She had moved into my patio. She wasn't blocking my pathway to my car, so we ignored each other. 

Then the hurricane came through and spider and web washed away. Good. 

However -- today I noticed she's back, right in the very same spot, blocking my idea of sitting in my front patio or sweeping the pine needles off the patio. errrgggg. 

Yes, it's a huge web - with a half inch spider in the middle of it.  

Monday, September 4, 2023

Adventures with names

So you want something to eat?

Walk into (or call) your favorite restaurant.  Order food for Take Out. (Or Carry Out?  Or whatever that  particular restaurant has decided to call it)  Now they want your name.

I used to simply give my last name - Old.


They can't spell it. And If they spell it 'Auld,' there's no way they'll find your order when you try to pick it up. Or they wait and wait for the rest of your name. Surely it's - Olds or Olden or Oldenham or something more than OLD.  (when computers were young, the computers wouldn't even accept a name that short)

So I changed to giving my first name -- Wendie.

oops - nobody can spell Wendie.   This is what I've gotten over the years.

Wendel (hey that's a boy's name; surely you can look at me and see that I'm female)

I go weekly to a local place and order a lovely salad and you'd think they'd know my name by now, but no.  It's been Leslie and a few days ago it was Randy.  I never make a fuss when they spell it Wendy because that's close enough, but RANDY?  Really???

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Where's the delete key?

 When we traveled to visit my parents, we didn't have a laptop so my husband went into computer withdrawal. So I handed him a pad of paper and a pencil so he could write the memo he was thinking about writing (and sending to his staff - when he got home) 

Just to pull my leg, he looked at the pencil , looked at me and said, "But where's the Delete key?"

 I gave him the beady eye and pointed to the eraser. 

Monday, August 21, 2023

praying mantis in the library

 True story -- I found a mantis egg sack and knew it was a mantis egg sack, so I brought it into my library and put it in a jar on the information desk, hoping that it would hatch while I was there. 

UNFORTUNATELY -- it seems that it hatched in the morning before anyone was there and when the first people arrived, there were tiny mantises crawling all over the information desk. (I forgot that they would be smaller than the air holes I had punched into the lid) oops. By the time I got to work, they had been swept up and were gone and yes, the rest of the staff screamed at me. 

(most of my science experiments that I put out for the enjoyment of the customers backfired on me like that one.)

Monday, July 31, 2023

Memories of Moneroeton, PA in late 1940s

 I remember how free it was for us children in the late 1940s/ early 1950s.

Parents would send us out of the house and say not to come back in until the streetlights went on after dinner.  Running everywhere with my friends and climbing trees.

And trying to climb a nearby mountain. (we lived in the Poconos) 

Early elementary school age.  Mom had a new baby. She'd pack me a lunch and off I'd go.  Up the hill, through sheep pastures, always  up up up.  When the sun was overhead, that's when my mom had told me I had to turn around and come back home, So I sat on a rock in the sheep pasture and eat my lunch. Pick buttercups. Then head back home -- getting home about 4 o'clock or a little later. In time to feed the chickens and get ready for supper.  

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Collecting Seashells

I grew up in a family that always collected Sea Shells. 

When we lived in Pennsylvania, we'd drive to the Jersey Shore every few weeks in the summer. On the weekend. Along with thousands of others.  Getting there was a clear shot, but coming home was a traffic jam as all the day trippers (us) and the people who had rented for a week were all driving back home. So, the two hour drive to get there was a three or four hour drive home - two parents and four children. (We lived in Pottstown, just outside of Philadelphia. at that time.)

Side note- When my brother Don was a preschooler, he would wander the shore. Mom could always find him because he wore the tiniest bathing suit there.  Also he kept asking girls and ladies to marry him.  One year we stayed a week across the street from Grace Kelly's family's house in Stone Harbor, NJ. (you know - the one who married the prince of Monaco.) Yes, he asked her to marry him, too. The year she married the prince, my father teased my brother that he should sue for breach of promise. :) 

At that time, the Jersey shore at Ocean City, New Jersey always had large (5 inch or more) clam shells on the beach.  (The other interesting shore thing was the sand crabs we could dig up and let crawl on our hands. Or go beach walking at night and see thousands of them up on the beach crawling around.) Yes, there were also Sand Pipers that we kids would chase and make fly away.

My dad would use these large clam shells as ash trays at home - he smoked Chesterfield cigarettes and no he didn't die of lung cancer - he died after having a heart attack.

Those were the only shells we found in those days at the Jersey shore.  But later, when my parents moved to Florida and I brought my own children there to swim in the bathtub warm water, we found lots of different shells which we collected.  

And now that I live near southern California beaches, I've collected more.  Yes, I still do have one of dad's ashtray clam shells, plus the Florida shells, and here in California I collect beautiful scallop shells plus sand dollars and some other odd ones.  I have them on display on my (gas) fireplace mantle.

Why did my father insist we swim in the ocean instead of the local city pool?  Because in that time Polio was rampant and one of the places people thought you could catch it was in the crowded public pools - so he'd rather protect us by taking that long drive to the shore.  No, I do not remember how our family fit in the car, especially considering the bassinet for baby Marion took up so much space.


Monday, July 10, 2023

life as a writer while working at a day job

 Yes. I was a full time children's librarian and did research and wrote during my generous vacation time. plus raised three children, got one into college and grad school, another into community college, and the third managed one year of college. Oh, and also cared for my mother-in-law who lived with us. And multiple cats and always at least one dog in the house.

 Oh yes, and doing school visits as an author, plus one week of giving 3 programs a day about my books for the Summer Reading Program of the Chicago public library. 

Plus attending grad school during my last years of working as a children's librarian and spending the evenings at grad school 2-week residency (in Vermont) on the computer keeping in touch with my own library branch's summer reading program. 

(my family couldn't figure out why I was tired all the time.)

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Life in the 1950s

Usually our evening meal was meat and potatoes and a vegetable. Sometimes a salad. Dessert was canned fruit and two cookies. Also - we were skinny/ thin. Very few children were fat. We went outside to play and told we could stay out until the streetlights came on. (or we got too cold in the wintertime and wanted to come in to warm up.)  We were thin, but strong because of all this activity. 

We did have ONE TV, but we watched what the parents wanted to watch or what they allowed us to watch. (cartoons on Saturday mornings, of course) 

We all took a bag lunch to school in elementary school. No cafeteria for us - we ate in our classroom. No school cafeteria, no school library, no auditorium. We listened to adventure stories on the radio. And variety shows. The car didn't have a radio. When we went on a car trip, we packed lunch and/or snacks and ate while we were riding in it. (sometimes we read comic books on long trips, ignoring our parent's warnings that reading in the car would ruin our eyes. Because of the bumpiness of the ride.)

As soon as any vaccine was available, my mother made sure we got it.  I still have my smallpox vaccine scar.  We got the first polio vaccines. (for many years everyone collected dimes to donate toward that research.  Dimes because our president in the 1940s, Franklin D. Roosevelt had had polio and the scientific community was determined to eliminate it. 

Friday, July 7, 2023

Adventures with laundry equipment

 I noticed that my dryer couldn't dry my clothes.  After much too long, I opened the dryer door and found the clothing still damp.  Since the air inside the dryer was about 99 percent humid, I stood there for a while fanning inside the dryer to move it out and normal house air in.  Closed the door and 20 minutes later everything was dry.  Hmmmm.

Noticed that the "clogged dryer vent" was lit. (little red light, usually hidden behind my Tide bottle)

So I called the Sears repair department to get them to clean out my vent in my dryer.  The first guy (In Seattle - I also had a choice of calling Chicago - no choice to call my own town) seemed to know who I was and what I wanted, but his computer was wonky so he transferred me to -- INDIA.  Those of you who have tried to work with India call services can guess how well that went.  That man kept saying they'd fix my washer and I kept saying the washer was fine, I only needed the dryer vent cleaned out, so he set  up an appointment for Today (that was fast; that was nice) to have my dryer fixed,  Ho-Kay.

Repair man arrived.  Nope, he doesn't clean out dryer vents, I'd have to call bla, bla, bla.  What?  Who?

He very kindly did the calling himself and got an appointment set up.  I thanked him with a bag of M&Ms.

So, I get a text from the Carpet and Heating Vent cleaners that they'll arrive on Monday.  What? Who?

Evidently that's the right people to do it, because they have a record of doing it for me in 2014. (yes, it looks as if I should have called them before this time to get it cleaned out.)   

So, Monday I will be able to finish my wash with a dryer that can dry things quickly.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Birthday dinner

My 80th birthday was on June 20th.

After a month and a half of cloudy days (May Gray/ June Gloom), the sun came out and I got to take my walk in sunshine.

Then my daughters and son-in-law and a potential son-in-law, plus grandkids, took me out to dinner to a Japanese place where they cook the food right in front of us.  Wonderful!  What a show!

To top it off they had gathered lots of pictures of our family life, including some pictures of my husband Chip that I had never seen before and put them in an album.

What a treasure!

Monday, June 5, 2023

Aren't all writers rich?


No they aren't.

Too many people think all writers are rich. Once, I decided to show kids how much I got per book bought and it was one dollar. And that's actually high; several of my books earn me pennies. And don't ask writers about their income from paperbacks. 

I was talking to a lawyer about writing my will and he also assumed I was rich. Blew my mind that he didn't know that it's only a few writers who finally, often after many book out, earn a decent living. 

Me? I kept my day job. Which gave me a pension in my retirement years.  

Friday, June 2, 2023

Airport mixup

 I had quite a mix-up at the Seattle (Sea-Tac) airport returning home from the writer's retreat.

Evidently, the TSA entrance to security did not lead to the TSA checking machines.  So I was handed a pink card and told to go that away.  I kept going, finally reached one of the last machines and put my carryon suitcase on the moving strip, went on through, and discovered - no suitcase.  It finally showed up on a different moving strip, was examined and they scolded me for having the laptop inside. (I've left the laptop inside for years now.  very strange.)

So the helpful guy put the suitcase and the laptop back to be re-examined and down came the suitcase again to be searched.  This time the guy found my wrist support was the cause.

So I was standing there, repacking my suitcase and was almost ready to leave when the guy said, "Stop! Stop!"  And showed me that my laptop was coming down the main moving strip, having been passed through by itself.  I HAD HAD NO IDEA  that they had separated it from the suitcase.  

If I hadn't been so slow putting my carryon suitcase back together, I would have walked off without it.


Well, now I know how to navigate that airport. 

 If I go to that writer's retreat again, I won't be so confused.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Librarian clothing rules

We were talking on Facebook about others handing down rules about what library workers should wear and this memory popped up. 

The library board of the library where I worked in Maryland handed down uniform requirements for working in the library and it included these: 

shirts and dresses must have sleeves. Can NOT be sleeveless. Nobody wants to look at floppy underarms. (I looked at our muscular arms and then remembered the board consisted of older men and women who probably had floppy arms.) 

The other thing I remember is that librarians must wear heels of at least 2 inches high. I immediately told my branch manager that I couldn't wait to see the male librarians wearing their two or three inch heels. HA! 

They then revised it to say that tie shoes were okay - for men. But if any women wanted to NOT wear heels, they had to get a doctor's note proving they had foot problems. My friends with bunions and other problems had been wearing sandals, nice sturdy ones. My own sneaker/ tennis/ walking shoes were because of my own foot problems. No shoes like that were allowed, so I had to jump from $60 expensive walking shoes to $200 sturdy/ supportive tie shoes. I did mention that I wanted the board to PAY for the extra expense they forced us to wear, but that was a no-go.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Adventures leaving a Writing Retreat

 In the =It's always something category. I didn't worry about Kindling Words staff not giving us lunches to take with us, because I thought I'd get some food at the airport or on the plane. But when I got to the airport, all the food places were using computer screen ordering instead of people, so - not wanting to touch something that thousands of others had touched, I decided to wait to eat on the plane. A few minutes before the plane was to let us get on, we all got messages that there would be no food or snacks or anything on the plane because that service was on strike. (and the closest food place to the plane was about a half mile back into the airport, so we didn't have time to go buy food) Luckily, they offered us water bottles on the plane, so I survived on bottled water until I got home. 

Despite not having eaten for hours, when I weighed myself at home, it turns out that I may have gained about 5 pounds at Kindling Words. Wonderful time, great food, and got a draft of my book done.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Banned books experiences

 Speaking of banned books:

I was refused access to books several times.
1- in second grade I was reading my way through the Wizard of Oz series (I loved the illustrations, too) and when I tried to check out the fourth or fifth of the series, the volunteer running our tiny public library in our tiny town took it away from me. This is a fourth grade book. If YOU take it, you'll be denying someone who has the right to read it.  
2. Elementary schools didn't have school libraries or librarians in the 1940s, so no access there.
3. In fifth grade, my father had a meeting of his astronomy club (only adult men attending) in the public library, so he took be along so that I could browse the children's department and find books for me to read while I waited for him. But the children's librarian didn't work that evening so THE CHILDREN'S DEPARTMENT WAS CLOSED. The librarian (or circulation person) that was there grudgingly let me read a magazine, but only one that she picked out, not the more interesting one that I wanted to read.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Adventures with washing machines

 I had my old Maytag washer for over 40 years.  Of course it helped that my husband had been a washing machine repairman in college.  But when I moved across the country, I decided to get a new one when I bought a new home.  So I bought a Whirlpool.

It wasn't as good as my old machine, but no washers are these days what with using so many plastic parts instead of the old, sturdy metal ones.  And over the years it got louder and louder.  Plus, since I live in a one level, small house, the washer is right there in the middle of the house.

I had it fixed once, but recently the noise of the spin cycle was so loud that I wanted to leave the house while it ran.  So I called the repairman.  Repairman said the cost of a temporary fix would be over $700 and buying a new one would also be about that much so he recommended buying new.

So, I went down to Lowe's and examined the new machines.  Too many were digital. The Whirlpool in my price range had a removable agitator (???? why?) and was semi-digital and the activating buttons weren't buttons at all.  So I wandered around.  (mainly because it took a half hour before I could flag down a sales person.)

It's probably a good thing that I had to wait so long for service, because in my wandering I found a Maytag that worked on analog with clicking controls, easy to use.  Since Maytag is made by Whirlpool these days, that's the one I bought.

It was delivered today (one day delivery!) and I discovered that my previous washer/ dryer set was the extra large set, but this new Maytag was the smaller version.  But, I'm okay with it, because I had been doing mostly small washes anyway. (We'll see just how well it handles a towel load, though.)

What I have to mainly watch out for now, is the fact that there now is a wide gap between the washer/ dryer and things might drop there.  But being a wide gap, it should be easy to get anything that falls with my grabber.

So, now I can't wait to try out my new washer!

Saturday, April 8, 2023

How long does it take to write a picture book?

 I love telling how long it took to write my first published picture book. It took 20 minutes. 

(and my husband tried to tell me something and I kept saying, wait. just wait. I've got to get it down. When I finished it, he said, "Did you know that eggs will explode in the microwave?" yes, then I had to go clean up the microwave.)  

But wait -- it then took several years of REVISiON. So , did it take 20 minutes, or 3-4 years?

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

How long does it take to write a picture book?

 I love telling how long it took to write my first published picture book.

 It took 20 minutes. (and my husband tried to tell me something and I kept saying, wait. just wait. I've got to get it down. When I finished it, he said, "Did you know that eggs will explode in the microwave?" yes, then I had to go clean up the microwave.) 

But wait -- it then took several years of REVISiON. So , did it take 20 minutes, or 3-4 years? 

Monday, March 27, 2023

Boys and books - memories

We were talking on FaceBook about boys and books and it kicked off a memory:

When I spent a week doing author presentations about writing books (featuring my books) to various Chicago Libraries as part of their Summer Reading program in the early 2000s, at one library the audience was full of boys from a summer camp. Boy Scout or some other camp.

  As usual, after discussing my other books, when I got to discussing picture books I began by reading Busy Toes which was created by three of us - Mary Bowman-Kruhm, Claudine Wirths, and me under the pen name of C.W. Bowie.  (Yes, I'm the W part.)  Then I talked about how we discussed what to write next and began thinking of things we could do with our fingers. At this point in my presentation I always ask the children in the audience to think of things we could do with our fingers.

Well!  Those boys kept coming up with outrageous suggestions.  I kept my face serious and receptive (while giggling inside) and kept saying, "Ya know, we just didn't think of that one."  Meanwhile the librarian at that branch in the back of the room had turned around to face the back wall -- she was either so embarrassed, or was also giggling.  She worried I'd be offended by their suggestions.   :)

Not to worry.  I'd been a Children's Librarian too long not to be aware of the things boys can think up.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Memories of snow

 With all the snow (and rain) hitting the west coast, I was remembering when we were hit with lots of snow in Maryland:  

We got over 5 feet of snow once just outside of Baltimore, Maryland. It was not fun shoveling out. My husband would wake up every few hours to start up the snow blower to make a path to get the latest layer off the sidewalk from the driveway to our house. But when daylight came, we had to use hand shovels to clear off the driveway all the way up a small hill to the road. Then the snowplow would come by and block our driveway entrance with ice and snow and we had to break through that - several times during the day. 

Not to mention that my boss kept calling, trying to convince me to get to work, but it went to the recording because we were outside shoveling. When we took a break, we listened to her messages, most of which were her YELLING -- Wendie! Pick up! Pick up the phone! Stupid lady had some strange idea that we could hear her telephone recording (which we couldn't - it was being recorded) and were purposefully ignoring her. She had made it to work because she lived near the bay and the branch library where I worked was near the bay and had gotten much less snow. 

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Random thoughts about getting old

Sent to me from a friend:

Just once, I want a username and password prompt to say, "Close enough."

Retirement to-do list:  Wake up.        -- Nailed it!

People who wonder if the glass is half empty or half full miss the point -- the glass is refillable.

I don't have grey hair.  I have wisdom highlights.

Sometimes it takes me all day to get nothing done.

I'd grow my own food if only I could find bacon seeds.

Common sense is not a gift.  It's a punishment because you have to deal with everyone who doesn't have it.

I came, I saw. I forgot what I was doing. Retraced my steps. Got lost on the way back. Now I have no idea what's going on.

If you can't think of a word, say, "I forgot the English word for it." That way people will think you're bilingual. instead of an idiot.

I don't always go the extra mile, but when I do it's because I missed my exit.

Having plans sounds like a good idea until you have to put on clothes and leave the house.

It's weird being the same age as old people.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be older...  This is not what I expected.

Life is like a helicopter.  I don't know how to operate a helicopter, either.

It's probably my age that tricks people into thinking I'm and adult.

Never sing in the shower!  Singing leads to dancing/ dancing leads to slipping/ and slipping leads to paramedics seeing you naked.  So, remember ... don't sing in the shower!

We all get heavier as we get older, because there's a lot more information in our heads. 

That's my story anyway.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

 Remember the old library book checkout cards? A post on FB reminded me that I lived through the library conversion from those cards to computers. The Library System Director came to every branch to talk about the new computerized Circulation System. I don't know about in the other branches, but as soon as I learned about it I could see how helpful it would be to us librarians and I told him so. 

Soon thereafter, we all were being trained in how librarians could use it to find books quickly and be able to see what's checked out or was available, here or in other branches. 

Then My husband became head of the new department called IT and he was writing instruction manuals. How did he know that the librarians and circulation people could understand the manual? He gave it to me to read and I would point out things I didn't understand. Once it had been "Wendie Proofed," he sent it out to everyone and then groups of people from all departments formed to help instruct the patrons how to use this new catalogue.

I was embarrassed to learn that he actually told his staff that what he wrote had been "Wendie Proofed."

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Adult books read during 2022

 And here are the Adult books I read during 2022 - with comments.  :) 



Brooks, Terry. Magic Kingdom For Sale-SOLD. NY: Del Rey/ Ballantine books, 1986.

Clinton, Hillary Rodham and Louise Penny. State of Terror. NY: Simon & Schuster/ St. Martin’s 

            Press, 2020.  (Drawing upon Clinton’s experience as Secretary of State, this is

            Seat-of-the pants suspense she the searches for nuclear bombs hidden in the USA)

            (This inspired me to read the books by Louise Penny. See below)

Davidson, Diane Mott. The whole enchilada. NY: Avon/ HarperCollins, 2013.

            (so much better written than those by Fluke, plus this also includes recipes)

Deveraux, Jude. Wishes. NY: Simon & Schuster, 1989. (Every so often she writes a tale with a 

            little bit of magic included – this time magic goes awry.) 

    ….   The Summerhouse. NY: Pocket Books, 2001. (I love her time travel books)

    ….   The girl from Summer Hill. NY: Ballantine Books, 2016.

    ….   As you wishBook 2 of the Summer Hill stories. NY: Mira/ Harlequin, 2018. 

                        (and here comes the time travel lady again, as used in the Summerhouse.)

    ….   Met her matchBook 3 of the Summer Hill stories. NY: Mira/ Harlequin, 2019. 

    ….   A Relative Murder, a Medlar mystery. NY: Mira/ Harlequin, 2022.

Deveraux, Jude and Tara Sheets. An impossible promise, a Providence Falls novel. Book 2. 

Toronto, CA: Mira, 2021.  (Angels time-travel a man to change fate)

   ….    Thief of Fate, a Providence Falls novel. Book 3. Toronto, CA: Mira, 2022. 

            (Angels time-travel a man to change fate)

Fluke, Joanne. Coconut Layer Cake Murder, a Hannah Swensen mystery with recipes

            NY: Kensington books, 2020. (more of a cook book with a slight story.)

    ….   Christmas cupcake murder, a Hannah Swensen mystery with recipes

            NY: Kensington books, 2020. (more of a cook book with a slight story.)

    ….   Triple Chocolate cheesecake murder, a Hannah Swensen mystery with recipes!

            NY: Kensington books, 2021. (more of a cook book with a slight story.)

Gallico, Paul. Mrs. ‘Arris goes to Paris. NY: Doubleday & Company, 1958.

            (I remember reading this when it first came out, so when people talked it up because of 

the movie, I reserved it to read, again. Still good.  Side note:  My daughter, Jennifer, 

played with Gallico’s children at the Science Fiction convention – Balticon in 1970s when he was on a panel. I sat beside his wife. He was one of my favorite SF writers, too.) 

Hall, N. John. Bibliophilia, a novel. Boston, MA:  David R. Godine, 2016.

Hoffman, Alice. Practical Magic. NY:  G.P.Putnam Sons, 1995.

Jordan, Robert. The Eye of the World, Book one of the Wheel of Time. NY: Tor, 1990.

            (Boring. Too long and drawn out. Not my cup of tea. Won’t read the rest of the series.)

Knight, Eliza. The Mayfair Bookshop, a novel of Nancy Mitford and the pursuit of happiness

NY: William Morrow/ HarperCollins, 2022. 

(Recommended for those who love books, love history, and love a good story.) 

Lackey, Mercedes. Winds of Fate, Book one of The Mage Winds. Illus. Larry Dixon.

            NY: DAW books, 1991.

    ….   Winds of chanceBook two of The Mage Winds. Illus. Larry Dixon. 

            NY: DAW books, 1992.

    ….   Winds of FuryBook three of The Mage Winds.  Illus. Larry Dixon. 

            NY: DAW books, 1993.

    ….   Robin & the Kestrel: Bardic voices, Book II. NY: Baen, 1993. 

(Things grew so anti-women in this tale, similar to how they are getting here in the USA,

 that I feared for Robin’s life)

    ….   The Eagle & the Nightingales: Bardic voices, Book III. NY: Baen, 1995.

    ….   Four & twenty blackbirdsBardic voices, Book IV. NY: Baen, 1997.

    ….   Storm Warning, Book one of the Mage Storms.  Illus. Larry Dixon. 

            NY: DAW books, 1994.

    ….   Storm Rising, Book two of the Mage Storms.  Illus. Larry Dixon. 

            NY: DAW books, 1995.

    ….   Storm Breaking, Book three of the Mage Storms.  Illus. Larry Dixon. 

            NY: DAW books, 1996.

    ….   Firebird. NY: Tom Doherty Asso., Tor, 1996. 

    ….   Brightly Burning the legendary story of Herald Lavan Firestorm. NY: DAW books, 


    ….   Exile’s Honor, a Novel of Valdemar. NY: DAW books, 2002.

    ….   Exile’s Valora Novel of Valdemar. NY: DAW books, 2003.

    ….   The Sleeping Beauty, a tale of the Five Hundred Kingdoms. NY: Luna, 2010.

            (one of my favorite five hundred kingdoms books)

    ….   Trio of Sorcery, Diana Tregarde returns! NY: Tor, 2010. 

    ….   Dragon’s Teeth. NY: Baen, 2013. (short stories)  (Includes some  Diana Tregarde stories

             that I hadn’t read before. Also the first part of the Alberich Exile story.) 

    ….   The silver bullets of Annie Oakley. NY: DAW books, 2022.

Lackey, Mercedes and Ellen Guon. Bedlam’s Bard. NY:  Baen, 1990 and 1992.

            (Contains two books: Knight of Ghosts and Shadows & Summoned to Tourney)

Lackey, Mercedes and Larry Dixon. 

    ….   The White Gryphon. Book two of the Mage Wars.  NY: DAW books, 1995.

    ….   The Silver Gryphon. Book two of the Mage Wars.  NY: DAW books, 1996.

                        (Haven’t been able to find a copy of Book one, The Black Gryphon)

    ….   Owlflight. NY: DAW books, 1997.

    ….   Owlsight. NY: DAW books, 1998. 

    ….   Owlknight. NY: DAW books, 1999.

             I read this series twice this year. The first time, it was a good story. The second time,

 after I had read the books about history that came before this story happens, everything 

 made much more sense. The books of the Madge storms take place before these do.

Maxwell, Edith. ‘Til dirt do us part, a local foods mystery. NY: Kensington Books, 2014.

    ….   Farmed and Dangerousa local foods mystery. NY: Kensington Books, 2015.

    ….   Murder most Fowla local foods mystery. NY: Kensington Books, 2016.

            (my father also raised chickens, so I caught myself nodding as the main character

 interacted with hers.  She also calls them ‘little dinosaurs.’)

    ….   Mulch ado about murder, a local foods mystery. NY: Kensington Books, 2017.

    ….   Delivering the truth, a Quaker midwife mystery. Woodbury, MN: Midnight Ink/

Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd., 2016.

    ….   Called to Justice, a Quaker midwife mystery. Woodbury, MN: Midnight Ink/ 

Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd., 2017.

    ….   Charity’s Burden, a Quaker midwife mystery. Woodbury, MN: Midnight Ink/ 

Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd., 2019.

McCaffrey, Anne & Mercedes Lackey & Margaret Ball. Brain ships. NY: Baen, 2003.

            (contains two brain ship stories: The Ship who Searched and PartnerShip)

Moon, Elizabeth. Remnant Population. NY:  Baen, 1996.

            (Elderly lady left on a planet becomes a nest-guardian to the inhabitants there – a 

            powerful position in their society)

Penny, Louise. Still Life, a novel. NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2005. (first published in Great Britain)

    ….   Fatal Grace, a Three Pines Mystery. NY:  St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2006.

    ….   The Cruelest Month, a novel. NY:  St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2007.

    ….   A rule against murder. NY:  St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2008.

    ….   The Brutal Telling, a Chief Inspector Gamache novel. NY:  St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2009.

    ….   Bury your deada Chief Inspector Gamache novel. NY:  St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2010.

    ….   A Trick of the lighta Chief Inspector Gamache novel. NY:  St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2011.

    ….   The Hangman. Canada: Grass Roots Press, 2010.  (a short story in book form)

    ….   The beautiful mystery, a Chief Inspector Gamache novel. NY:  St. Martin’s Minotaur, 

2012.  (takes place in a monastery)

    ….   How the light gets in. a Chief Inspector Gamache novel. NY: St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2013

    ….   The Long way Home, a Chief Inspector Gamache novel. NY: St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2014

    ….   The nature of the beasta Chief Inspector Gamache novel. NY:  St. Martin’s Minotaur, 


    ….   Glass Houses, a novel. NY:  St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2015.

    ….   A great reckoning, a novel. NY:  Three Pines creations/ St. Martin’s Minotaur. 2016.

    ….   Kingdom of the blind, a novel. NY:  St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2017.

    ….   A Better Man, a novel. NY:  St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2019.

    ….   All the devils are here, a novel. NY:  St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2020.

    ….   The Madness of Crowds, a novel. NY:  St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2021.

            (written during the pandemic, but refers to it as being done and gone.)

    ….   A world of curiosities, a novel. NY:  St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2022.

Quinn, Julia. The Viscount who loved me. Book 2 Bridgerton series. NY: Avon/ HarperCollins, 

2000.  (My granddaughter has my copy of the first of this series. I hope she enjoys it.)

    ….   An offer from a gentleman. Book 3 of the Bridgerton series. NY: Avon/ HarperCollins, 


    ….   Romancing Mister Bridgerton.  Book 4 of the Bridgerton series. NY: Avon/ 

HarperCollins, 2002. (I’m not sure why this book is in hardback. All my other Julia 

Quinn books are in paperback. I must have gotten it from a Little Lending Library.)

    ….   To Sir Phillip, with love. Book 5 of the Bridgerton series. NY: Avon/ 

HarperCollins, 2003.

    ….   When he was wickedBook 6 of the Bridgerton series. NY: Avon/ HarperCollins, 2004.

    ….   It’s in his kissBook 7 of the Bridgerton series. NY: Avon/ HarperCollins, 2005.

    ….   On the way to the wedding Book 8 of the Bridgerton series. NY: Avon/

HarperCollins, 2006.

    ….   Just like heaven. (a Smythe-Smith novel) NY: Avon/ HarperCollins, 2011.

    ….   A night like this. (a Smythe-Smith novel) NY: Avon/ HarperCollins, 2012.

    ….   The sum of all kisses. (a Smythe-Smith novel) NY: Avon/ HarperCollins, 2013.

    ….   The secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy. (a Smythe-Smith novel) NY: Avon/ 

HarperCollins, 2015.

    ….   The girl with the make-believe husband, a Bridgerton Prequel. Book 2. NY: Avon/ 

HarperCollins, 2017.

    ….   The other Miss Bridgertona Bridgerton Prequel. Book 3.NY: Avon/ HarperCollins,


    ….   First comes scandal, a Bridgerton Prequel. Book 4.NY: Avon/ HarperCollins, 2020.

Sayer, Dorothy. Whose Body?  A Lord Peter Wimsey Novel. NY: Harper & Row, 1923.

Scalzi, John. Redshirts, they were expendable … until they started comparing notes

            NY: Tor/ a Tom Doherty Asso. Book, 2012. 

            (written by a script writer for Stargate: Universe, but is such a take-off of Star Trek. And 

then it goes even wilder.) 

Sonneborn, Julia. By the book, a novel. NY: Gallery Books/ Simon & Schuster, 2018. 

Springer, Nancy.  The Oddling Prince. San Francisco, CA: Tachyon, 2018.

            (Publishers weekly top-ten spring science fiction and fantasy Pick.)

Straub, Emma.  This time tomorrow. NY: Riverhead books, 2022. (time travel)

Sutanto, Jesse. Four aunties and a wedding.  NY:  Berkley, 2022. (sequel to Dial A for Aunties -

which was clever, but this one just seemed to be a repeat of the actions in the first one.)

Weir, Andy.  Project Hail Mary. NY: Ballantine books/ Random House, 2021.

            (by the author of The Martian.  With the same attention to day-by-day detail on a foreign

 planet – except this takes place on a space ship in a different solar system – with an 

alien. With flashbacks to the lead up to his trip in space. The ending made me cry – can’t

 decide happy tears or sad tears.) 

Weisberger, Lauren.  The devil wears Prada, a novel. NY: Doubleday/ Random, 2003.

    ….   Revenge wears Prada, the devil returns. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2013.

            (hmmm. I wonder why Doubleday/Random didn’t publish the second one?)

    ….   When life gives you Lululemons. NY:  Simon&Schuster, 2018.

Weiss, Kirsten. The perfectly proper paranormal museum mystery. Woodbury  

MN:  Midnight Ink, 2016.

    ….   Pressed to death, a perfectly proper paranormal museum mystery. Woodbury MN: 

Midnight Ink, 2017.

    ….   Deja’ MOO, for whom the cowbells toll, a perfectly proper paranormal museum mystery

Woodbury MN:  Midnight Ink, 2018.  

    ….   Chocolate a la murder a perfectly proper paranormal museum mystery.

Woodbury MN:  Midnight Ink, 2019.  

    ….   Bleeding Tarts, a Pie Town Mystery. NY: Kensington Books, 2018.

Westerson, Jeri.  Veil of Lies, a Medieval noir. NY:  Minotaur books/ St. Martin’s Press, 2009.

            (as a history major in college who loved her Medieval history classes, and who loved the

             Brother Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters - the pen name of Edith Pargeter - you can bet 

            that I love this series, too.)

    ….   Serpent in the Thornsa Medieval noir. NY:  Minotaur books/ St. Martin’s Press, 2009

    ….   The Demon’s parchmenta Medieval noir. NY:  Minotaur books/ St. Martin’s Press, 


    ….   Troubled bones, a Medieval noir. NY:  Minotaur books/ St. Martin’s Press, 2011.

    ….   Blood Lance, a Medieval noir. NY:  Minotaur books/ St. Martin’s Press, 2012.

    ….   Shadow of the Alchemista Medieval noir. NY:  Minotaur books/ St. Martin’s Press, 


    ….   Cup of Blooda Chrispin Guest Medieval noir. Menifee, CA: Old London Press, 2014.

            (evidently she self-published the prequel to her Chrispin Guest series.)

    ….   The Silence of Stonesa Chrispin Guest Medieval Mystery.   Surrey, England: Severn

             House publishers, Ltd, 2015.   

    …..  A Maiden Weeping, a Chrispin Guest Medieval Mystery.   Surrey, England: Severn

             House publishers, Ltd, 2016.   

    ….   Season of blood, a Chrispin Guest Medieval Mystery.   Surrey, England: Severn

             House publishers, Ltd, 2016.  

    ….   The Deepest Gravea Chrispin Guest Medieval noir Mystery. Surrey, England: Severn

             House publishers, Ltd, 2018.   

    ….   Traitor’s Codex, a Chrispin Guest Medieval noir Mystery. Surrey, England: Severn

             House publishers, Ltd, 2019.   

    ….   Sword of Shadows, a Chrispin Guest Medieval noir Mystery. Surrey, England: Severn

             House publishers, Ltd, 2020. 

     ….  Spiteful Bones, a Chrispin Guest Medieval noir Mystery. Surrey, England: Severn

             House publishers, Ltd, 2020.

    ….   The Deadliest Sina Chrispin Guest Medieval noir Mystery. Surrey, England: Severn

             House publishers, Ltd, 2021.  (The last book of the series)

Whelan, Julia. My Oxford Year. A novel. NY: William Morrow/ HarperCollins, 2018.

    ….   Thank you for listening a novel. NY:  Avon/ HarperCollins, 2022.

            (Includes fascinating information about the making of audiobooks)


Multiple author series:  The Witches of Karres series

Schmitz, James H. The Witches of Karres. NY: Ace Books, 1966.

Lackey, Mercedes and Eric Flint and Dave Freer. The Wizard of Karres. NY:  Baen, 2004.

            (Continuation of Witches of Karres tales, originally by James H. Schmitz and Eric Flint)

Eric Flint and Dave Freer. The Shaman of Karres. NY:  Baen, 2020. 

(more continuation, but this time not written Mercedes Lackey or James H. Schmitz.)






Andrews, Julie, with Emma Walton Hamilton. (her daughter)  Home Work, a memoir of my 

Hollywood years. NY: Hachette books, 2019.

(Her books are always an excellent read.)

Couric, Katie  Going There. NY: Little, Brown and company, 2021. 

            (autobiography of one of my favorite TV personalities)

Howard, Ron and Clint Howard. The Boys, a memoir of Hollywood and family. NY: William

             Morrow/ HarperCollins, 2021.  (autobiography)

Rodgers     Rodgers, Mary and Jesse Green. Shy, the alarmingly outspoken memoirs of Mary

 Rodgers. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2022.

(The life of the composer for Once Upon a Mattress and other Broadway hits who is the

 daughter of Richard Rodgers, composer of many, many Broadway hits.)

Roosevelt, Eleanor.     Michaelis, David. Eleanor. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2020.

Ross    Thurber, James, The years with Ross. Boston, MA: Little Brown & Co, 1957-59.

(This meshes nicely with the children’s book I’m also reading – Some Writer by Melissa Sweet where she talks about E.B White and his wife, Katharine, working on The New Yorker magazine with Thurber and Ross.)

Smith, Will (with Mark Manson). WILL.  NY: Penguin Press, 2021.

            (Nice of him to recognize his ghost writer on the Title page of the book. Not many do.)





027.479           Orlean, Susan. The Library Book. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2018.

            (The huge fire at the Lost Angeles main library inspired her to write a history of it)

320.973           Martin, Johathan and Alexander Burns. This will not pass – Trump, Biden, and 

the battle for America’s future. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2022.

339.22             Hill, Fiona. There is nothing for you here, finding opportunity in the 21st century.

            NY:  Mariner Books/ HarperColins, 2021.  (An excellent read. Includes her experience as

             a public servant during the Trump years. She’s back at the Brookings Institute now and

             I’d love to hear her thoughts about what Russia is doing these days.)

363.283           Goodavage, Maria. Secret service dogs. NY: Dutton/ Penguin Random House,


363.3498         Mooallem, Jon. This is Chance! The shaking of an all-American city, a voice that 

held it together. NY: Random House, 2020.  

(The 1964 earthquake that hit Anchorage, Alaska.)

791.43             Liu, Simu. We were dreamers., an immigrant superhero origin story

            NY: William Morrow/ HarperCollins, 2022.

792.7               Rainbow, Randy.  Playing with myself. NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2022.

973.7               Horwitz, Tony.  Confederates in the Attic, Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil 

War.  NY: Pantheon Books, 1998.  (NY journalist follows reenactors from first shot to

 last battle, with side trips talking to modern (1990s) people in the South.)

973.933           Schiff, Adam. Midnight in Washington, how we almost lost our democracy and

             still could.  NY: Random House, 2021. (Behind the scenes of two impeachments.)