Wednesday, May 16, 2012


My daughter loves foxes and so do I. Here in Maine, we have red foxes, like the one in the photo above, and gray foxes. Growing up out in the country, I would occasionally see a fox crossing the fields, bushy tail floating along behind it. In the winter, it was fun to see a fox hunting for mice underneath the crust of the snow, cocking their ears to listen for the rodents running along and then pouncing when a mouse showed themselves on top of the snow.

This fox lives at the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, Maine. It has been there my whole life and I love to visit. Wild animals are brought there because they have been hurt or people have picked them up when they are young and brought them home as pets. Oftentimes, people think that the babies are abandoned when the parents are out finding food or are hiding when people intrude into their area.

It is ironic - I was taught to leave wild animals alone when I was a child, but we also had a raccoon for a while and a great horned owl. The raccoon was a baby when it's mother was killed and my father brought it home to raise. It was fun for a while, but then it grew up. One day, it climbed on top of the oven and started feasting on a cheesecake that was cooling there. My father went to get it away from the food and the raccoon (naturally) bit him. After it finished eating, my father put it in a burlap bag and took it to a remote wooded area and let it go. I sometimes wonder how long that raccoon survived after it was let go.

My father also brought home a great horned owl because he was driving home from work and saw an owl that a local doctor had captured and staked out in a field. Its natural enemy, crows, were coming down to plague the owl and the doctor and his friends were shooting them. My father ran out in the field, pulled up the stake, got the owl, and brought it home. It stayed with us for a little while until its wing healed. It was very expensive to feed it raw meat!

I have taught my children to leave wild animals alone, and I practice what I preach. It is fun to go look at the animals at the Wildlife Park, but sad to think that some of them are there because people interfered.

On a happier note, if you like foxes, there is a talking fox in my book "Spellbreaker". My daughter and I also love fairy tales, so Tansy, the main character, gets pulled into a fairy tale. The talking fox is named Reynold and of course, Tansy loves him, letting him cuddle up beside her at night and eat off her plate. I will let you know when "Spellbreaker" comes out as an ebook but in the meantime, support your local Wildlife Park!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Overcoming a Broken Leg

Today, I walked to work for the first time since I broke my leg on January 30th. I was a little nervous at first, but once I passed the place where I fell, it was a great relief.

I walk to work because it is only about 1 3/4 miles from where I live and the exercise is great because I sit at a desk all day. Last summer, I rode my bike, which is another story. Anyway, it had just started snowing that fateful day when I started to walk, but I did not worry about it. I had on boots, a warm jacket, my stuff in a knapsack and was using ski poles. Even though the snow started coming down harder, I kept on because I did not want to turn back and get my car.

Besides there being snow and ice, I got out my cell phone and called a friend. So there I was, walking along, holding my cell phone up to my ear and carrying ski poles with the other hand, when I slipped and fell forward, dropping my cell phone on the sidewalk, where it broke open and the battery fell out. There was a flare of pain up my right leg, but I thought that I had sprained my ankle. I sat on the sidewalk and tried to wipe off my phone and put it back together, but the snow was falling too fast and thick, so it was impossible to get it dry and working.

I got on my hands and knees, but the pain was really awful when I put pressure on my right ankle. I tried to get up on my feet but the pain made me feel woozy and everything started to look gray. I remember looking at my watch, and it was a few minutes after 8 am. I tried waving to people, but everyone drove by. I was wearing a bright yellow sweater and a red coat, so I didn't blend in with the snow, and the area was by a school, so everyone had to drive 15 mph. No one stopped.

After a while, I looked at my watch and saw that ten minutes had passed by. I was cold and in a lot of pain. One of my coworkers usually took that route to get to work by 8:30, so I hoped that he would see me and come to my aid. I sat there, watching the cars go by and felt like I was in a daze.

Then, a school bus stopped on the other side of the street and the driver called out the window and asked if I needed help. What a wonderful person! I replied that I did need help, and he apologised that he could not leave the bus because he had little children on it. He did put on his blinking lights, forcing cars to stop so that he could alert drivers that I needed help.

A bunch of people stopped and helped and a very nice couple that I did not know gave me a ride to the hospital, where the doctor told me that I had snapped off the bottom of my fibula. I was issued crutches and had a cast put on the next day. Since I had broken my right leg, I could not drive and had to depend on family, friends, and co-workers for rides.

After 7 weeks in a cast, 5 weeks in a brace, I now am able to work on getting my leg restored to normal. At first, I could only walk a few blocks before my ankle would really start hurting. Today, I walked to work and my ankle only bothered me a little.

I am thinking of having one of my characters break their leg, and have them lay somewhere, unable to move....

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I'll Make it Myself

Sometimes it is satisfying to sew something for myself. I have been sewing for years, since I was ten years old and my mother signed me up for a sewing class because I kept begging to use the sewing machine. Being a chunky kid, I sewed a lot of my own clothes by the time I got to high school and when I was a stay at home mom, I sewed clothes for my family, curtains, drapes, and other stuff for my house, and even a wedding dress for a friend.

When I was sewing a new dress the other day, I thought about how many people I know that don't know how to sew or find it difficult, so I decided to pass on some helpful and timesaving tips.

First of all, I have a grid printed on cardboard, which I open up and lay on the dining room table. I cut out everything at once (I was making two dresses, a scarf, and a pillowcase.) For the dress I am going to show you, I ironed the fabric (having washed and dried it beforehand to pre-shrink it, and important step) and ironed the pattern pieces I needed before cutting them out. After cutting, I made marks for the darts with a special washable marker, then took the pins out and folded the fabric once or twice with the pattern, so I would know which pieces were which.

Next, I pinned all the darts and pieces together where I could. There are two important things to making something look great - sew it well and press as you go. I made a pile of items that were pinned and sewed each one, putting the sewn pieces in another pile, and then I pressed the seams:


After that, I kept sewing and pressing. I have a serger set up with the correct color of thread and I usually sew with that for most of the garment. In this case, I decided to line the dress, so I did not need to have serged edges.

The dress I made is like the purple one on the pattern envelope. The bodice is supposed to be lined but I decided to line the skirt, since the fabric is mostly white. It makes it easier in a way, but on the other hand, I am really sewing two dresses and putting them together. Once both the dress and the lining were sewn together, I basted the zipper in place (SOOO worth the time and effort!) and sewed the zipper, hemmed the dress and lining and I was done. I have a white belt that I put with it, though if I hadn't I would have bought the materials needed and made my own. (Maybe that can be another blog.)

My dress when done:

 The best part is while I was sewing it, I came up with the idea for a new book.....