Lakeside Living 5: Launching Adolescents by Ruth Ross Saucier


Great Blue Herons are modern pterodactyls with wingspans of six and a half feet and a call that is harsh and prehistoric. Supreme predators of the waters’ edge, the ancient Celts believed them to be reincarnations of children who died young.

My small mountain lake hosted a heron rookery, and their presence could be seen on almost any day, stalking the shallows for sushi. But one morning, just before I needed to leave for work, I saw something that left me shaken and confounded in equal parts.

Herons are normally solitary hunters.  It’s rare to see more than one at a time, but this morning I was witness to a spectacle.  My lake front faced a cattail-covered peninsula that jutted out into the water a good fifty feet.  At the tip of the peninsula was a partly sunken log, and as I watched, a juvenile heron awkwardly flapped his way out to the end of the log and balanced precariously there. On his heels came five more herons, each settling a little farther back on the dry land of the peninsula, and each perching in the same direction, facing junior’s tail feathers, the wind, and the lake.  

And for all I could tell, they proceeded to settle in and watch the juvenile heron, patiently, as he seemed to gather his wits and his courage. I needed to leave for work, but this was such an event, I could not tear myself away. They waited, the bunch of them, all monitoring Junior as I held still and watched in awe.

The watch went on and on and eventually I dubbed members of the audience Mom, Dad, Uncle Harold, Aunt Josephine, and Cousin Mabel. Junior remained on his perch, tentatively raising his wings, bobbling a bit, re-positioning his feet  and ducking his head, but each time he would settle back to parade rest. 

Finally, Uncle Harold had had it. He launched himself into the wind and straight over Junior’s head, flapping those ponderous wings to gain altitude slowly, a process that lasted more than a hundred yards down the lake.  Once he was high enough, he turned tail to the wind and came back toward the peninsula and my house, and high in the air he passed right over his family below.  A few heartbeats later, Aunt Josephine followed his example, launching herself into the wind, following the same flight path while Junior watched and wobbled on his log.  Sure enough, one at a time, each of the rest of the three copied the example laid before them, and soon all that was left was Junior, still wobbly and now completely alone.

Frustrated and a little frightened, he waited a bit longer, flexing and teetering, but clearly agitated now that everyone had left. Finally he hurled himself clumsily into the air, but instead of following all those good examples and flying into the wind for altitude, he turned abruptly away from the lake.  Careening wildly, he tried for a 180 to follow his family’s last known direction.

But his skills with low altitude cornering were no more developed than he was. His flight path now took him straight at me and my two-story house.

The fifty feet he had to gain altitude was in no way enough to clear my roof. He was coming straight at me, flapping madly. Oh my God, he was clearly going to smash himself headlong into my house! 

My hand flew to my face  as I watched him hurtling straight toward a head on collision. At the last moment, I covered my eyes as I struggled to think: who was it again who served as an animal hospital for wild birds? Where were they? How could I find their number?  I listened for the crash and thump, envisioning broken wings and a huge wild bird that would not appreciate my help…but I couldn’t hear anything, so I threw myself out the door and around the house.

But there was nothing, no sign of a collision. Somehow his clumsy flight had cleared all obstacles and he was on his way. 





Beach Houses ~ by Kim Hornsby

Beach Houses. I love 'em. I love the thought of 'em. I love the light blues, the wood, the palm trees, the salty breezes, driftwood, sand, hammocks, and inside the walls and under beach house roofs I love those signs that read "Everything is Better at The Beach."

If I had a beach house, I'd write books looking at the ocean, drink gin and tonics, wear stripes, play guitar on the front steps, sing scat, wear coral-colored lipstick, eat papaya salads, twirl in long skirts on the porch.


What would you do?
Here's some photos to inspire you...


I call this one Frond Cottage



I call this one Blue Bungalow




This one is The Hangin' House




I call this Seagull Hideaway




This one is Sandy Shack




This one is Seashell Cottage




Begonia Cottage




This one is called New Beginnings.

Do you have a favorite?


Home Grown ~ Lexa Fisher


The kiwi arbor
Several years ago we bought a house with a neglected yard and I joined the Seattle trend to "eat your yard". Old, long neglected plants were replaced with edibles. Though it took several years to get started, especially in the backyard which gets little sunlight, rosemary now thrives along with red currants, an elderberry shrub, raspberries, kiwi grapes, and gooseberries.

Despite the small size of our lot, in the sunnier front yard I've managed to squeeze in two plum trees, a four-way grafted apple tree, two columnar apple trees, two figs (our favorite), a dwarf peach, seven raspberry bushes, and nine different herbs.

Friends thought I was silly using strawberries for ground cover, but we get at least twenty quarts a year from the small strip where the plants have filled in nicely. Plenty enough to share with co-workers and friends! This year the raspberries that were planted last September have also given us an abundant and delicious crop.
June 2nd--strawberry season begins!














Planter buckets hold tomatoes, potatoes (so much fun to dig!), and rhubarb. Lettuce will be planted between the raspberries in late summer, and hot peppers find space in one of the herb beds. One day maybe I'll have grapes for wine-making from this little vine along the side fence.




Pollinators are important for fruit plants, so we do our part to keep them healthy. Did you know that bees get thirsty? In order to drink, they need to keep their feet dry while they sip water. Here's a bee waterer that my husband designed and made for our yard with his 3-D printer.




This thirsty bee gets a drink of nectar from a sage flower. When the herbs are in flower we have a lively yard!






I considered a hive with honey bees because 
we love honey, but a lot of new beekeepers lose their bees over the winter and my neighbor is allergic to bee stings. After donning a bee-keeper's suit and tending an active hive with an established beekeeper, I was convinced honey bees weren't for me! Instead, we have blue and green orchard bees and bee houses for their nesting. They don't produce honey, but they are prolific pollinators.



Birds are such fun to watch and provide great entertainment for our indoor-only cat who watches from her window perch. My favorite bird, the black-capped chickadee, has been nesting in this little house outside my home office. In the evening I can occasionally hear the babies chirping.





It takes a few hours of yard work on several weekends, but we now enjoy a lot of home grown goodness.


Meet Our Members ~ Dennis Green

Dennis Green

A popular radio personality in his native Iowa, Dennis's adventures as a DJ have been covered by newspapers from Anchorage to Los Angeles. He has also worked on the stage, TV, and independent film.

By day, he is the general manager of Iowa's only jazz radio station, KCCK-FM. And if it's 5:30 am, you can probably find him in the pool, working out with the Milky Way Masters swim club.

To read Dennis' blog posts and find out more about his books, please visit his MEMBER PAGE

Finding my Way Through Fear ~ Kathy Coatney


photo: Pexels.com free photos
I recently listened to a podcast on IQ testing, and I’ve never believed in them because I think we are capable of so much more than the results of a simple test. I’ve also come to believe the biggest stumbling block to learning something new is fear. There are three main instances I can point to where fear has held me back.

The first fear I tackled came in my early thirties when I decided to become a writer. I hadn't considered a career as an author before that point, but after taking a class on freelance writing I was hooked. From there I started writing romance novels and freelance articles. I soon discovered that was the easy part—submitting my work, however, left me in a cold sweat.

But I found this fear to be more insidious than just preventing me from sending it out to editors. It also stopped me from starting a project. To this day, every time I start a new book I’m terrified I can’t do it, that the last one was a fluke, that it’s not good enough, and will never be good enough. This fear still strikes me even after publishing five romances, seven children’s books, and over a thousand articles in the last twenty-five years.

Speaking with other authors, I’ve discovered this is a universal fear, so when I find myself not writing and looking for any excuse not to write (cleaning toilets is my go to avoidance) I discuss it with a fellow author, and just acknowledging the fear, gets me on the road to production.

My second fear was exercising. I’ve always viewed myself as
awkward and klutzy, but I didn’t like that image, so I signed up for an aerobics class. From there, I began mountain biking, cross country skiing, hiking, and three years ago I started running.

I’ve always been a slow, flat-footed runner, but I decided to give it
photo: Pexels.com RUN4FFWPU
a try. Nine months later, I did a five run, plus a half mile sprint. That year I also did the Pat Tillman 4.2 mile run. I completed both runs without stopping, much to my satisfaction.

Was I fast? Absolutely not. I’d like to improve my speed, but it would take more time and effort than I want to invest. Not because I’m afraid, but because there are other things I want to do like Zumba. This was very intimidating for me as I have a hard time coordinating my arms and legs. I still struggle with it, but I’m not giving up.

The third, and the most terrifying fear I ever faced was singing. All my life I’ve wanted to learn to sing, but I was terrified of singing in front of anyone. Twenty years ago I heard an interview with a music teacher who said anyone could learn to sing and that stuck with me. On a whim, I did an online search and came across a local music school, and I inquired about lessons.

A few days later the secretary of the school called me, and after I explained what I wanted, she made it her mission in life to find the perfect teacher for me. Days later, I was set to start my first lesson.

I remember that day like it was yesterday. The room had a piano, chair, chalkboard and dozens of chairs stacked against the wall. What I remember most is the door that faced the main desk had a
photo: Pexels.com Wendy Wei
small window in it where I could see students, parents, and teachers walking past, and they could all hear me as I struggled to screech out the scale on the piano. By the end of that 30 minute class, I was drenched in sweat and certain I would never put myself through anything so awful again.

Fortunately, I have a wonderful, caring instructor who has patiently worked with and encouraged me for the last two years. I’ve seen progress that at times was so painfully slow I wanted to scream, and other times, came in huge leaps and bounds that encouraged and pushed me forward. I am still very self-conscious about singing in front of others, but with each improvement my confidence builds, and fear has less control over me.

Will I ever be a professional singer? Not likely, again because it would take a tremendous commitment that I’m not willing to make.

One of my greatest challenges is that I’m a perfectionist, and I don’t want to do anything unless I can do it perfectly. That has held me back more frequently than my fear, but I’m slowly overcoming that, too. 

What’s next? I’m not sure, but I’m a firm believer in this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Do the thing we fear, and death of fear is certain.”

Facing my fears has made them less terrifying, and each one I’ve tackled has enriched my life beyond measure. What’s holding you back from your dreams?

Before I sign off, just a little bit about my books. I write deeply
emotional, small town, romances. I have a 
three book series, Falling For YouAgain, Falling in Love With You, Falling in Love for the First Time. She’s Out of His League is currently a stand alone, but there are two more books in the series that will be released shortly. Leave Me Breathless is a romantic mystery, and I will have more to follow in that series, too. The Crooked Halo Chronicles is a short story series I will be developing into full length novels. These books have love, romance, and guardian angels. You can get Angels R Us for free just by subscribing to my newsletter.

Thank you for inviting me to blog on Originality by Design. It was lovely spending time here. I look forward to meeting up with you on social media.  

Kathy Coatney has spent long hours behind the lens of a camera,

Kathy Coatney
wading through cow manure, rice paddies and orchards over her twenty-year career as a photojournalist specializing in agriculture. 
     She loves, and writes, deeply emotional, small-town contemporary romance. Ironically, her books carry an agriculture thread in them, some more than others. She also has a series of nonfiction children’s books, From the Farm to the Table and Dad’s Girls.
NOTE: Kathy wrote under the pen name of Kate Curran, but all books are now published with Kathy Coatney.



You can connect with Kathy by clicking on the links below...

Comfort Items ~ by Jacquolyn McMurray

Photo by Eva Darron on Unsplash
Because I live across the ocean from most of my family and many of my friends, plane tickets are a big part of our family budget. 





In the past twelve months, I've boarded flights from Kailua-Kona to the continental U.S. five times. Most of my flights are to Seattle, Washington. Inflight time is about five and a half hours and the return flight is longer due to headwinds--not extremely long, but long enough to warrant some thoughtful selections for my carry-on. One of my friends refers to these as comfort items. 


At the top of my list is my Kindle.  It's always loaded with several unread books, a few games, and a couple of downloaded movies. As long as I have my charger, I'm good to go. One of my favorite things is the number of writing craft books I have at my fingertips at all times.













I've tried a variety of pillows and have settled on these two: a self inflating lumbar pillow and a neck pillow that typically ends up cushioning my elbow.








I always take a hoodie with a zipper. I like that I can pull up the hood if cold air is creeping down my neck.  





A variety of products to keep hands clean and eyes and lips moist are nestled in a ziplock.  



 



And I always have some gluten-free snacks. 

What do you consider comfort items when you travel?


What do your summer plans hold? by Joanne Jaytanie



Are you traveling to an exotic destination you've never visited before? Maybe you're taking a road-trip down the coast or visiting friends and family you haven't seen in ages. It could be your idea of a vacation is to hang out at home with your family and pets. Are you someone who enjoys sitting out on your porch, enjoying your morning coffee and soaking in the world around you?





Early this year I had the opportunity to spend nearly a week at Disney World and a week in Hawaii. 

Two places I’d never visited before. I shared tons of pictures and wrote a couple blogs about my explorations. You can find them here on my personal page. So, my vacation days are all used up for this year, except maybe a weekend away, here and there. Instead, I'm spending the summer at home and trying to stay focused on my writing. So far, I'm on target.


This past week I finished my final edits on Twice as Bad, Miss Demeanor, P.I., Book 2, and I can’t wait for it to be released. This is a fun series to write. It takes place in Seattle, where my P.I., River Nightingale owns a private investigation agency in Pioneer Square and her boyfriend, Gage Hamlin is a lead homicide detective. Here’s the book blurb:

For private investigator River Nightingale, the stakes are high, and her losses are twice as bad.

River has already lost a partner to a better job, and now a truck has mowed down another partner and a key informant. Her surviving crew is reeling and dead set on finding the killer. Working with them is a Seattle PD homicide detective, Gage Hamlin. Gage and River have been a volatile combination since day one, but now it’s twice as tense, as they both seek the killer and Gage struggles to keep River alive.

On the waterfront, Seattle is known for slinging fish, but River’s stakeout of a seafood plant reveals that fish aren’t the only thing being sold on the docks. And if River isn’t careful, fish aren’t the only thing that will end up dead on the docks.


I’m currently working on a story that will be part of the S.O.F. Soldiers of Fortune series. We are the authors of Romance Books 4 Us, and we're trying something different with this series. We’re writing in installments or as I like to refer to them as—episodes. Each of us is writing our own stories about one of the members of S.O.F. The Soldiers of Fortune, Volume 1, was released in June. Zane's story will begin with volume 2, which will be releasing on August 15. I hope you’ll read along. Here’s the setting: 

 They are the Soldiers of Fortune... and these are their stories.

Rhett Fortune settled on the small parcel of land he purchased in 1858 with his wife Clara and founded the beautiful landscape that surrounded his newly built home and what is now known as Fortune, TX. A veteran of the United States Army and as a Colonel who served with honor in the Mexican-American War, Rhett and Clara raised a large family. Sons and daughters, and grandchildren to follow, their clan grew throughout the decades. 

Now in the 21st Century, two of their descendants remain at the helm. Chance Fortune, a former member of the Army's Delta Force and co-founder of Soldiers of Fortune, has an innate duty to serve and protect. Working with his brother, R.J. Fortune, a former Navy SEAL and wounded warrior, they take the cases that their government won't. And vow to protect the civilians that no one else can. 

They have quietly put out the word, and now, after three years, other former brothers-in-arms have contacted them bringing situations that span not only the country but the globe. On Fortune family land they have built a facility out of the public eye for their office, a helicopter, a gun range, and whatever else they might need.



Next on my summer schedule is The Winters Sisters, Book 5. I can't wait to get back to their world. Life is never dull on the Winters campus, and it's about to get even crazier. Back to the world of genetic engineering, corporate corruption, psychics, and Dobermans. You never know what each new day will hold.



I hope you have a fantastic summer full of love, excitement, adventure, and memories that will last a lifetime. And if you feel like relaxing in your lounge chair and soaking in the day, why don't you pick up a book. You never know what adventure you’ll discover between the pages.


Until next time~

Joanne

The Heart of the Working People Part 3 ~ by Shlomo Klein

Try Listening!


Yesterday, I had the opportunity to facilitate a meeting between an inventor, his partner, and venture capitalists.

The meeting came about when I was at lunch at a neighbor’s house during a previous weekend and reacquainted myself with an old friend. Although we both grew up in Brooklyn, and he now lives near me in Long Island, our paths have not had the opportunity to cross.

We caught up as to what each other was up to recently. I told him that I was in the middle of editing my Young Adult novel for a December/January publication, and still had my day job of running a company in the beauty industry.

At this, he mentioned that he was the Director of Finance for a private equity firm and that his company was currently looking at another beauty company to invest in, wondering if I was familiar with them.

Responding that I was not, I proposed that his firm might be more interested in looking at my friend’s company that recently patented something for the beauty industry.

Fast forward two weeks later, and we had a meeting yesterday with my friend, his partner, and my neighbor’s company.

Picture this, an inventor with 30 years experience as a hairdresser, his partner, worth $200 million dollars, and the two private equity investors representing a 100 partner investor group that make minimum investments of $50-$100 million in companies. The money in the room was astounding, even more so was the complete disconnect of the three primary individuals that were running the meeting! 

Don’t misunderstand me, each one wants the deal done, but what was so surprising was that people don’t actually listen when the other asks a question. It seemed that everyone had a spiel that they wanted to say, and that was their main focus.


For example:

1) The inventor had a video showing the benefit of his product over the competition. He showed the video, everyone got it, and yet he said, “Let’s watch it again!” His partner and I both secretly motioned to him, not to do so. I get it, he’s proud of his invention, it’s his baby! He wants to share that with the world, but don’t waste time in a meeting of this nature.
2) The equity people asked, “how come no one else in the world has come up with this?”
        The investor answered (I kid you not), “if you took all the brains of my competition, and crushed them into a little ball, it wouldn’t come near the size of my brain!”
        Really? Bro! No one is denying that you have an incredible product. These investors wouldn’t have taken time for the meeting otherwise! But Business 101 says, don’t put down the competition.          It’s tacky.
3) The equity guys asked, “for the amount of money that you’re asking for, what are you giving us in return?”
        The inventor answered that he was putting up the patents as collateral.
        They then responded that it wasn’t enough, because there weren’t sales to justify the investment they were being asked to make.
        The investor responded with a long-winded soliloquy about I’m not sure exactly what.
       Now I was sitting there, knowing full well that the company already had sales and confirmed purchase orders, in six months, of over two million dollars!
       No one said it?! Why the heck not? I didn’t feel that I had the right to speak up, because I hadn’t seen the actual financials, and I didn’t represent the inventor, I was only the matchmaker.
4) The equity people didn’t think they could make the type of investment being asked, in return for only the patent rights. I was told by the inventor, the day before , that he would be offering an equity stake for the investment. During the meeting, neither the inventor, nor his partner said that they were offering equity. 

WHAT?!

Eventually, they did say that they would offer equity, but why did it take so long to answer their direct question? This wasn’t a negotiation to get an investment in return for an equity stake, the basic deal had already been laid out.

In the end, the product was so revolutionary, and the market so proven, that the deal will most probably go through, in spite of everyone’s not listening to what the others were saying.

This is an incredible life lesson that I learned. No matter if it’s a conversation between two people, or a multi-million dollar deal, people innately are more interested in hearing the sounds of their own voice, than listening to the other person. I can only hope that I spend more time in the future listening, than talking.

Shlomo Klein is a screenwriter, movie and TV/streaming series
Shlomo Klein
reviewer, and businessman who lives in Long Island, New York. His movie scripts include: John Ericsson’s Monitor – A historical re-telling of the events leading up to, and including, the battle of the Civil War Ironclad’s and Men of Midway - The story behind the Battle of Midway, the greatest naval battle in US history. The fight against the Japanese that turned the tide of war in the Pacific, and the men responsible for it. He is a lover of naval war ships and was originally inspired as a child by many visits to the USS Enterprise.

To connect with Shlomo, click the link below.





The summer of hummers ~ by Kristine Raymond

I had never seen a hummingbird in real life before moving to Kentucky 25 years ago.  Or, maybe I simply hadn't noticed them.  In my younger years, my life seemed as frenzied as those tiny birds.  I was always going off in one direction or another - sometimes, two directions at once (not really, but you get my point) - barely slowing down to catch my breath, much less appreciate the beauty that surrounded me every moment of every day.

I'm older now...eh em...more mature, and definitely wiser, and I understand the mental, emotional, and physical benefits of pressing pause once in a while; and by doing so, I'm afforded the opportunity to witness Nature's miracles. 

Copyright 2013- Kristine Raymond
Take this little guy, for instance.   Several years ago, I noticed some hummingbirds visiting a flowering vine growing up the side of our shed.  Captivated by these delicate creatures, I invested in some feeders and commercial syrup (more on that later) and made it my mission to entice as many as I could into our yard.  Each year, approximately a dozen would show up; enough that my husband and I could sit outdoors and enjoy them hovering around, stopping to take a sip of nectar before zipping off again.

We did this for several years and, let me tell you, I spent a small fortune in store-bought nectar.  So I began researching to see if there was a healthier (for the birds) and more affordable (for my budget) option and came across a simple recipe for making hummingbird syrup.

It's 4 parts water to 1 part sugar. That's it.  No dyes; no additives.  Just plain white sugar and water.  Boil the water, pour it over the sugar, stir until dissolved, let it cool, fill the feeders, then sit back and enjoy the feeding frenzy.

Copyright 2019 - Kristine Raymond

This is my second (or is it third?) year of making my own nectar.  During peak season - June, July, and August - I'm mixing up a batch and filling ten feeders daily.  That's over a gallon a day!  I guess the hummers like my cooking because they told all of their friends this year that our place is THE place to hang out.  It's challenging to get an accurate count because they move around so quickly, but my best guesstimate is between 40 and 50 birds.  For reference, there are seventeen hummers in the above picture on two out of ten feeders.

Some of them are repeat customers.  There's one bird we've affectionately named "The Screamer" because of the high-pitched noise he makes as he flies around.  Each spring, I anxiously await that first sign of their arrival - a single bird hovering around where the feeders will hang.  I start off making half a cup of syrup - just enough to feed those first few visitors tired from their journey north; adding more as one tiny body becomes two, then four, then ten, until each day I see more and more hummingbirds spiraling through the air in a breathtaking show of acrobatics.

As the summer winds down, the hummers will begin their migration south to warmer climes.  By mid-September, I'll be hanging less feeders, and by October, I'll be down to one - for those stranglers who wait until the last minute to pack up and leave.  Then they'll be sterilized (the feeders; not the birds) and stored away over winter until that first hummer appears again in the spring.

Copyright 2013 - Kristine Raymond


 

Snowdrops, Chaos, Cake and Emotional Timescales ~ by Minnie Birch

The Prison Book Group is running late. The prison book group
photo courtesy of  91.7 Coast FM
quite often runs late. It is my first day back here after a few days, and chaos has hit minutes after opening the library door. The strangest of things happen here which you take in your stride, but are a stark reminder that you are in a prison, that this is an unusual place to be. Then as the chaos starts to settle, you boil the kettle, gather biscuits and a pile of books, and sit down in the comfy corner of the library, which looks just like any public library, and book group begins.

“How was your week?”

“What’s new?”

“Are you watching the football?”

“Who has read the book?”

And there, all of a sudden, in the most unusual of places you are with a group of like-minded people about to discuss a book.

This month’s book was Snowdrops by A.D Miller. We have been
Cover photo courtesy of Amazon
sent copies of this book from the National Literacy Trust, who run a scheme called Books Unlocked, which is about getting high quality books into prison book groups – they send us shortlisted Booker Prize novels to discuss. 


There are a lot of fantastic organisations that are all too aware that low literacy levels are rife in prison, that many people do not read or struggle with reading, that many never have read for pleasure at all. Encouraging people to develop their literacy skills is a key part of what the library service does, but this scheme is not about that.

This scheme plugs another gap, this scheme is for the readers, people who have spent their lives immersed in a good book, for whom reading has always been an escape, for those who can be “snobby” readers, want to dissect their books apart and have a shared reading experience. That’s who these books are for. 

As a bit of a slow reader myself, I can admit to struggling sometimes to get on-board with the narratives of this sort of fiction. Snowdrops, however, is a quick and easy read. I galloped through it and enjoyed the language and the story line. 

The overall feeling from the group is that it isn’t developed enough, we are left wanting to know a bit more about the place in which the book is set and the characters we are meeting.There’s a feeling the book is autobiographical and we have a lot of discussion around this. 

Then, as is inevitable (and important I feel) in any book group, we digress and we talk about other things. I find there is always something that makes me stop and think. This month my “stop and think” came from someone who was talking about how time has different faces. 

photo courtesy of Pexels.com/John Tong
He says he has been in prison 21 months and it has actually gone quite fast, it doesn’t feel that long, it all feels quite new still and the time is, thankfully for him at this point in his life, passing quickly. But he also mentioned how emotional time is different. He has been in prison 21 months and that has passed quickly, but due to his sentence, he's been away from his wife for 21 months and he says it feels like an eternity. You can see why I need to stop and think on this.

Cover photo courtesy of Amazon




Next month, we will be reading The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga--feel free to read along with us and send us any thoughts I can bring to our discussion. 

A Killer Vacay You Won't Want to Miss ~ by Andi Lawrencovna

Photo: Google images
My family own camps in the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York. Now, when I say “camps,” I really mean homes that are made out of wood and that we call “camps” but that are pretty high-end pieces of real estate – absent air conditioning. These cabins reside on the banks of a small lake. Not directly on the lake, but each house has a golf cart, and the lake is less than a half mile away from the front doors, so we say “on the lake” and no one really argues it.

I always loved/love going up to the cabins. It’s a yearly ritual that I feel incomplete without completing.

Of course, now days, I go with a bit more trepidation than when I was younger, but…it is what it is.

I should probably explain.

As a child, I was oblivious to anything else around me but Disney movies and my Barbie doll. When asked: “Where you going?” I would respond and walk away without waiting for the resulting questions or, as I now have come to expect, shock when I spoke my answer.

You see: “Where you going?” was answered with: “The camps in the Adirondacks.” “Oh, where at?”

“On Crystal Lake.”

Let me repeat…I’m oblivious, and I watch ONLY Disney movies…mostly.

But I definitely do NOT watch horror movies, and yet would routinely get a “horrified” expression in response to “Crystal Lake.”

As it turns out, Crystal Lake happens to be the setting for a horror
Photo: Google images
movie.

Jason, whichever one he is…I don’t really know, never watched it, you see?...is a serial killer who worked or lived or whatever-ed at Crystal Lake in Upstate New York…

Yes…MY Crystal Lake. The one where I spent an idyllic childhood completely unaware of the horror that had ensued there sometime during the 80s.

Because, despite the “Friday the 13th” movies being fictional, apparently most people believe that Jason really did commit those dastardly deeds up at Crystal Lake.

It doesn’t help that there really was a boy’s camp up there at one point…just like in the movies…

Oh, and that one of my relatives actually bought one of the dorm houses that the boys used to camp in and converted it into their cabin…

Okay, you caught me, all three of my relative’s cabins were originally boy’s dorms! FINE!

I have never once found a remnant of blood or gore or chainsaws or knives or the like anywhere near or around the camps…but it’s still the first question people ask when they put one and one together: “Crystal Lake? Like from the movie?”

Why oh why can’t it be a movie about a romantic heroine who gets caught up in a love affair and she and her lover escape to the camps where they defend themselves by growing giant mega-crocodiles that eat-- wait, that’s Lake Placid, never mind.

I’m getting them confused.

I should probably point out, though, that for the thirty plus years I have been going to the Adirondacks, I have never once met a serial killer nor been threatened by anyone except the gas station attendant who was not going to let me get a lotto ticket without seeing my ID.

Finding a place to get away from the everyday, to relax in nature, enjoy time with your family, that honestly is the moral here.

No matter that Crystal Lake has this invented history of horror, it
Photo: Google images
has been a place that will forever be for me linked with good times and great memories. It’s where my Babushka (not the scarf, this is the Grandmother) went down to the rec hall and because she had to use a walker, sat down in a chair and danced the night away all while sitting. This is where my uncles taught me how to fish, and I had more fun rowing the boat across the lake than learning how to bait a hook. It’s where we sat around one night before the bonfire and passed around a Kindle and read “Meg” to each other, because why the heck not? The voices were epic, and the story was fun. It’s the place that someday I hope I can take my kids, blocking their ears from whispered tales of men with axes, so that they can go to the lake and run in the sand. So my uncles can tell them “the water’s so clear you can drink it,” even as I know WAYYY better. It’s the place where on the 4th of July, we’ll pack up the cars into a caravan, making seats where there most definitely are not seats so we can take as many people as we can with us over to the Dude Ranch where they set fireworks off after the rodeo and the little kids can have hotdogs on the house because it’s a celebration and it’s family but way more than family too.

It’s a retreat, and it’s a home, and it’s a vacation, and it’s work.

It’s crazy, and the people there are crazy, just not serial-killer crazy.

And I wouldn’t change it for the world.

My family own cabins in the Adirondacks. We try to go up once or twice a year, usually at the beginning and end of summer. The waters of the lake are so clean you can see all the way to the bottom twenty feet below, and that’s why it’s called Crystal Lake. The people are friendly, though some are a bit standoffish, but they’re family, and it wouldn’t be the Fourth of July without traveling to that place where the internet doesn’t work, but the TV does, and someone’s always got some sort of game going and you go home more tired than when you got there because there’s something going on somewhere every minute.

I hope you get a chance to visit someday, just remember that if you hear noises in the woods coming after you in the night…

…it’s probably just a bear.

Lakeside Living 5: Launching Adolescents by Ruth Ross Saucier

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