Cranberries and Community

Monday morning I went to the St. Michaels Community Center where I was picking up a projector to use in a presentation Laura Ambler and I are giving to the St. Michaels Woman’s Club. We’ve been asked to speak about how our Christmas memory Book, The Santa Diaries: Memories of a Small-town Christmas became a play.

Santa Diaries Cover JPEG

Director Trish Payne was kind enough to spend time showing me how to work the projector and get it synced with my laptop. I wrote everything down and will practice at home before we take it on the road.

The Community Center was a busy place that morning. Trish and her helpers were getting ready for the annual Thanksgiving dinner they organize. It’s held at one of the local churches. Trish mentioned that she had to get to the store to buy cranberry sauce. My hand shot up. “I have ten bags of cranberries in my fridge,” I said. “I’ll make a big pot of cranberry sauce for the dinner.” I was going to make cranberry sauce and can it, but I can always get more cranberries.


Tuesday morning I delivered the cranberry sauce to the Community Center. The large, covered pot had cooled overnight on my deck, the lid weighted with a brick. I didn’t want any curious neighborhood cat getting into it. On Wednesday it won’t be enough to serve the 125 -150 people who will come to the dinner, but it will be a contribution. I was glad I’d been in the right place at the right time.

During this season of gratitude, I’m thankful that St. Michaels has a Community Center with programs for our youth and seniors. The center is one of the important threads that, woven together, makes up the fabric of our little town.And  I’m grateful that indefatigable Trish Payne keeps it all running.






The Colors of Fall

I love the changing colors of this season. Just walking through my neighborhood is joyful.


These are crepe myrtle leaves from below again a bright blue sky. I love this photo taken with my iPhone 6 in my own yard.


Ginko leaves a few houses down.


A carpet of sweet gum leaves across the street.


A brilliant ornamental maple.


A small crepe myrtle behind my house with some Knockout roses which won’t stop blooming  until we have a really hard freeze.


The berries on the hollies will stay bright long after the colorful leaves are mulched and tucked around my perennials. They remind me that Christmas will be here before I can blink.






I’m Glad I Went

Last Night

Last night it was cool and my husband had built a cozy fire. But I’d raised my hand to substitute for someone on the Eastern Shore Writers Association Education Fund board at the Talbot Arts Council presentation of grants. Why had I done that? I’m old enough to know I need to sit on my hands when they want to rise of their own volition.

I’d been told the event started at five, but when I got there that meant wine and cheese with things actually starting at 5:30. For introverts like me standing around a milling group of strangers is on par with a root canal, but I saw some people I knew.


Marianne Stallsmith (in green) was there with her husband, Stan. They were there because their art gallery in St. Michaels, Local Port of Art, had gotten a grant. It’s next to their store, The Candleberry Shoppe. I also ran into a woman I went to graduate school with. Jo Merrill was there to get a grant for the St. Michaels Art League. She didn’t have anyone else to talk to either, so we sat together.

Promptly at 6:30 the program began. The auditorium at the Academy Art Museum in Easton was full. The program listed all the grant recipients – all fifty-six of them. I was in for a long night and thought longingly of the cozy fire and the glass of red wine I’d passed on.

The first to be honored were three teenage girls who’d gotten grants to attend arts or music programs last summer. To my surprise, there was Hannah Zerai. I’ve sponsored Hannah at the Bay to Ocean Writers Conference the last two years and will again next March. I met Hannah when she auditioned for the play Laura Ambler and I wrote, The Santa Diaries. When we heard her sing we knew she needed to be featured with a solo. She has an amazing voice and last summer a grant enabled her to study musical theatre at the Broadway Artists Alliance in New York City. The next young woman was Summer Snead, a junior at Easton High School. Summer was also in the cast of The Santa Diaries, and I’ve watched her musical career bloom on FaceBook. Last summer Summer went to New York and studied at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. She said that’s where she’ll attend college. Suddenly I was really glad I’d come to this event.

Talbot Arts Council did an amazing job of awarding the checks. Groups of people were called to the front, envelopes handed to us as we approached, a photographer from the Star Democrat, our local paper, took group pictures and we went back to our seats where I put my envelope in my purse. The whole thing was over in 45 minutes and I was back at home by 8pm, really glad I’d been asked to sub. I knew about the Talbot Arts Council, but I had no idea of all the things they’ve helped happen in Talbot County. Much of their support goes to schools so kids are exposed to art and music at a time when many of those programs aren’t as robust as they were in the past.

This morning I pulled out the envelope out of my purse and opened it. The letter inside was addressed to The Chesapeake Film Festival. I pulled the envelope out of the trash and it also said Chesapeake Film Festival.  I called the Talbot Arts Council office this morning to get it straightened out. I expect the Film Festival people got the letter and check for the Eastern Shore Writers Association. It will get mailed to the proper ESWA person.


Today I’m working on the Eastern Shore Writing Association Member Directory. In the past it’s been a printed document. This year it’s going to be in a digital format to save printing costs. It will also allow us to reissue it quarterly with new member updates. I was working in the new Microsoft Word that’s part of Office 350. A bit of a learning curve, but I’m figuring it out. My friend, and fellow ESWA board member, Jo Ebling came on Tuesday night to show me how to do it. That was enormously helpful.

I’ve been tasked by the ESWA board with buying a copy of Microsoft Office 350 for ESWA. They have a great deal for nonprofits. But getting it isn’t so easy. It’s sold through “partners” who have to call you. Twice now I’ve asked to be called and nothing has happened. When you call the number on the Office 350 sales page you can get a helpful person. Then…nothing happens. So that’s on the docket for this afternoon. The next board meeting is the first week in December and I’d like to report that I’d accomplished my assignment. I bought a copy for my personal use so I’d be familiar working with it, but need the “official” copy for ESWA.

How is my writing a novel in a month going? Don’t ask. Eastern Shore Writers Association is taking all of my time right now.

Tonight I’m having dinner with Laura and another friend. It’s our monthly book club meeting. We go to dinner, have a glass of wine, and share the new books we’ve read. This is going to be fun.


Was It Just A Dream?

Update on Romance in the Meadow…

Last Friday I came by the tiny house. Pumpkin sconces had replaced the lights next to the front door and there was a very large, scary spider web on the house. Saturday was Halloween so Sunday morning I got in the car and drove up to take a picture that I could share. The pumpkin sconces were gone and so was the spider web. Damn. That was fast. Does anyone have that photo?

Then yesterday when I went past the tiny house was gone. WHAT?

Later that day a friend sent me this photo. Thanks, Sandi.

romance in meadow - all a dream

The guy is once again sitting on the fence reading. Maybe it was just a dream.

Why You Should Get an Education

I was in West Palm Beach, Florida when I came across this ad in the local paper. It’s why kids need to stay in school.


This is screwy on so many levels.

  1. Let’s face it, this would be a shitty job. Pun totally intended.
  2. If you have a dog and you see where it poos, how hard is it to pick it up right then?
  3. You have more money than you know what to do with (or dozens of dogs) if you hire poo removal at $75 a week.
  4. Somebody is making enough money from this that they can afford a pretty big ad.

When I went on line I found a second poo removal company — also in Florida.

The reason my husband and I were in West Palm Beach was to help Laura set up a condo where her pilots can stay. She had ordered all the furniture to be delivered to the new condo and the garage at the furnished rental house was crammed with the stuff you need when you have to have a move-in ready unit complete with a fully equipped kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms ready to sleep in. She’d rented a Ford Suburban to haul those items, including the big screen TV her pilot husband considered a necessity.

The furniture was coming from three different companies, all of whom had been advised of the condo’s rules about the documentation needed for their delivery guys to come on site. Laura’s office had contacted them again the Friday before the scheduled Tuesday delivery and all said everything was in place.

They lied.

Only one company submitted the proper documentation. The other two had hired guys without workman’s comp which was a requirement. One company unloaded their boxes in a parking lot outside the condo gates. Laura wore out her cell phone. She was able to “hire” another company’s truck and put their guys on her company’s insurance. That was about three in the afternoon. She’d been on the phone since 10 that morning.

The new condo is on the 25th floor and she only had the elevator until 4pm. By 4:15 the boxes were in the condo and two guys walked away with very happy smiles on their faces. I didn’t ask how much cash she had to give them. But if I am ever kidnapped in the middle east, she’s the one I want to come and get me.

On Wednesday and Thursday we opened boxes and put furniture together. I wondered why I had thought it necessary to wet Swiffer the empty condo before the furniture was delivered. Cardboard had to be flattened and taken to a special recycle place in the condo parking garage. Lots of boxes had Styrofoam sheets or packing pieces to protect the furniture. It all had to be broken up and bagged. In the process tiny pieces of foam attached themselves to everything, including walls and my black leggings. Thank goodness a Dustbuster was in one of those boxes from the garage.

By the end of Thursday the condo was set up except for one bed which would be put together on Saturday when Laura’s husband and the other pilot wouldn’t be flying. The kitchen was in place with post-it notes on the cabinets to let people know where things had been put. I learned that trick from my daughter when we moved into our current house. After a few days you know where things are, but at the beginning the notes mean you don’t have to open every cabinet door to find where you put the glasses.

Laura and the pilots had to be out of the rental house on Saturday but the condo had two bedrooms ready for occupancy when we left the unit on Thursday afternoon. We were going to go out to dinner but were just too tired. Leftovers from a previous night’ s carryout tasted delicious. Wine helped, too.

My husband and I flew home on Friday. I was so glad the timing worked out for us to be able to help. We needed every one of us to get the job done. It’s what friends do. When I needed to bring my husband home from Paris after his leg got smashed in the subway door, Laura was the first call I made. Best friends are there when you need them.

I saw Laura last night at our Working Writers Forum. She said everything was in place before she left on Sunday and the pilots had moved in. No poo removal needed at the condo. No dog. I asked about plants and she just shook her head. The pilots wouldn’t remember to water them.