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Backyard Visitors

We have always had birds in our backyard of course, but this summer we have had a wider variety and closer encounters than in the past.

My hubby, Lee, put the birdfeeders closer to the house and keeps them filled and the birds happy. Well not just the birds…

So yes, we have these bushy-tailed guys stealing our birdies’ food every chance they get, but we also have lots of our feathered friends.

The red wing blackbird

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Photography by Lee Bostic

The red wing blackbird is one of my new favorites. This guy is one of the most abundant and widely distributed birds in North America and is easily recognized by its black body with a conical red shoulder patch surrounded by yellow in most species. He is quite vocal, and I love his voice.

The bluebird

Bluebird

Photography by Lee Bostic

One of almost everyone’s favorites is the bluebird. They prefer platformed birdfeeders containing mealworms, but we have enjoyed this beautiful visitor who stops by our feeders from time to time.

The downy woodpecker

Female Downy Woodpecker

Photography by Lee Bostic

 

Male Downy Woodpecker

Photography by Lee Bostic

 

My husband captured these pictures of a female and a male downy woodpecker. I had never seen this smallest of the woodpeckers before–well I am a city-girl after all–until Lee put this feeder in our yard. I love watching them.

The Cardinal

It’s so pleasant to look up from my writing and see the bright red cardinal, too. His lady friend, though more subdued, is also lovely. Did you know that the colonists named this a cardinal because the red crest reminded them of the Catholic cardinal’s biretta?

There are times when I try very hard to keep my attention on my writing, but then all of a sudden…

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I am convinced I’m keeping my neighbors entertained with my squirrel chasing, but what can I say? They can be real little squirrel pigs! And apparently, the word is out because they’re coming in groups now. So I make frequent visits to the door… or out to the deck… or sometimes all the way out in the yard to shoo them away. They no longer scamper away as soon as they see me. As a matter of fact, they sometimes give me a look that says,

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“Seriously lady, if you don’t want us to eat it, then why’d you put it here?”

But at this rate, in a few more months he and his friends will probably look like this…

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And I don’t want to be responsible for an increase in obesity among the squirrel population.  So I’ll continue in my role as “The Squirrel Chaser” to try to give our birds more opportunities to eat and to pose for my photographer husband and me.

What kind of entertainment are you finding in your backyard this summer? I’d love to hear about it.

 

Bird tag

 

 

 

GOD BLESS AMERICA

God Bless America - Irving Berlin

God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above
light from above
From the mountains
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to the prairies
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To the oceans white with foam
ocean white with foam
God bless America, my home sweet home!
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Please pray for our country!
SunsetonthWatr-gkb

Summer Solstice

What is the solstice? 

Solstice comes from the Latin “solstitium” from sol (sun) and stitium (to stop), meaning the sun standing still. It literally means “furthest or culminating point; a turning point.” Now that sounds good to me.

A turning point! I think we’re all ready for one of those.

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Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

Our summer solstice occurred at 5:43 p.m. on June 20, 2020. If you’re interested in the science behind it, the summer solstice occurs when the Earth’s axial tilt is most inclined toward the sun, at the degree of 23° 26′, its most extreme. Can you imagine being in the Arctic circle where it will mostly stay light from June 19 to June 21?

What does all this mean for us? It means it is summer! It is truly summer! Time to leave our winter habits behind…

“I am summer, come to lure you away from your computer… come dance on my fresh grass, dig your toes into my beaches.” ― Oriana Green

It’s that turning point where we can turn away from the darkness of our winter worries, and look toward the hope of the future. Let the sunlight of hope lift your spirits, clear away the fog, and strengthen your resolve. 

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“A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.” ― St. Francis of Assisi

The following quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald seems to echo what many of us are seeing, feeling, believing…

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald

So shall we let our lives begin again with the summer!

Bathe in the light of the sun, do some gardening, watch the birds and listen to their songs, add summer decor to your home, walk on the beach, or do whatever lightens your spirits and brings joy to your heart.

“Be like the flower, turn your face to the sun.” ― Kahlil Gibran

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Picture courtesy of Pixabay

SunsetonthWatrSm-gkb

It’s Here!

The wait is over!

Now available on Amazon…

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On Kindle or Paperback.

You’ll have to wait just a wee bit longer if you’d like a signed copy.  I should have my books in hand to sign for you before the end of the month.

Let me know if you’d like to pre-order a signed copy.

1421PencilccGloria

 

Coming Soon

Pummeled by icy daggers, every cell in Detective Ron Bishop’s body screamed to wake up from his fifteen-year-old nightmare. Freezing shower shards cut through the 5:00 a.m. drowsiness. He knew he needed to be awake—wide awake and in the present—when he reached the crime scene.

WatercolorWhispers-GB-v2-front

So begins Book 1 of my new mystery series.

You will, of course, get to know the detective better as you read on, but he is not our main character. That would be our protagonist, Mia Reed. If you’ve read the Bridge Club Series, you will remember Mia as an adolescent in book 3, Premonition Bridge. We meet her again (now a twenty-three year old art therapist) at the beginning of the next chapter.

When the invisible hand guided hers, Mia Reed knew the image would hold a message—a crucial message—possibly a matter of life or death. But on this Tuesday morning her hand was her own as she looked at her newest client’s intake information.

So what’s it all about? 

Art therapist Mia Reed has a calling to help her patients as well as a special gift—paintings that provide clues to crimes. However, Freddie Alessi—an assault victim whose wife has gone missing—leaves every session more disturbed than when he arrived… almost as disturbed as Mia feels about his charming and attractive older brother Anthony. Her brain says run, but his fervent kisses keep drawing her back.

Detective Ron Bishop is intrigued by Mia’s gift as he struggles to solve missing persons and murder cases. But when Mia’s hand is guided by an outside force, can the clues in her drawings lead to the killer and answer the questions in time?

You can find out in the soon to be released Watercolor Whispers.

TO BE RELEASED THIS MONTH!

BlondeSig-gkb

 

 

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Tomorrow is the first day of June, and most of us are happy to say goodbye to May. Not that it was all bad, but having been quarantined for so long, the very idea of a new month that introduces a careful return to normalcy is exciting. June 21st is the summer solstice, but June 1st is the meteorological first day of summer, my favorite season of the year.

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From the musical, Carousel, Rogers and Hammerstein gave us “June is Bustin’ Out All Over” and boy does that sound like a theme for this year’s month of June. I think we’re all ready to be bustin’ out!

And whether you’re in or out, there is something to celebrate every day of the month. Well, actually more than one each day, but I’m just going to mention some of my favorites.

  • June 1 — Oscar the Grouch’s birthday, but more importantly, Donut Day
  • June 2 — National Rocky Road Day — After the stock market crash in 1929, William Dreyer mixed chunky almonds, mini marshmallows, and milk chocolate ice cream to create a new ice cream flavor that would make people smile in spite of the tough economic times. Thank you Mr. Dreyer!
  • June 3 — Egg Day
  • June 4 — Aesop’s birthday and especially for a good friend of mine, Cheese Day – Oh, and for some of my other friends, it’s Hug Your Cat Day.

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  • June 5 — National Gingerbread Day — In June? Who knew??
  • June 6 — D-Day-WWII and National Yo-Yo Day
  • June 7 — National Chocolate Ice Cream Day
  • June 8 — National Jelly-Filled Doughnut Day – Yes, please!
  • June 9 — International Young Eagles Day
  • June 10 — Maurice Sendak‘s birthday

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  • June 11 — Jacques Cousteau’s birthday
  • June 12 — National Peanut Butter Cookie Day – Now there’s one I can get behind!
  • June 13 — National Juggling Day and National Lobster Day – Oh yeah! Lobster-Tails-Lemon-Butter-Recipe-1S-5798
  • June 14 — Flag Day – Fly yours proudly!

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  • June 15 — Power of a Smile Day and Fly a Kite Day
  • June 16 — Fudge Day
  • June 17 — Begins National Week of Making (So get busy!)
  • June 18 — International Picnic Day

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  • June 19 – Lou Gehrig’s birthday and William M. Muhly, Jr.’s birthday (that’s my brother) 😉 and National Martini Day
  • June 20 — National Ice Cream Soda Day
  • June 21 — Father’s Day and World Music Day

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  • June 22 — National Onion Rings Day and National Eclair Day — Celebrate!!!
  • June 23 — National Pink Day (for my Mary Kay friends)
  • June 24 — Swim a Lap Day (Maybe those of us who can’t swim can just walk back and forth across the pool?)
  • June 25 — National Handshake Day — Perhaps this year we’ll do something a little different, like a tip of the hat, peace sign, or simple smile and nod. 😉
  • June 26 — National Coconut Day — Think I’ll celebrate with a pina colada.
  • June 27 — National PTSD Awareness Day

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  • June 28 — National Paul Bunyan Day
  • June 29 — National Waffle Iron Day – That could be fun!
  • June 30 — Social Media Day — Time to post, post, post!

What’s your favorite day to celebrate? I know I’m ready to celebrate every day in the beautiful month of June. I hope you enjoy yours too!

Humr-gkb

Never Forget

Memorial Day

Memorial-Day-Quotes-And-Sayings

How many have died for their country? How many have we lost?

How many have given their lives for our freedom?

Here are just a few numbers…

          American Revolution – 25,000                Civil War – 655,000

                       World War I – 116,516                    World War II – 405,399

                   Korean War – 36,516                      Vietnam War – 58,209

      Gulf War – 294           War in Afghanistan – 2,216 — Iraq War – 4,497

This is what Memorial Day is all about. I certainly enjoy a good barbeque or time at the beach as much as anyone, but I cringe when I hear someone say “Happy Memorial Day.”

For this is a day of remembrance.

I think we must all take time out from our “kick off to summer” to remember all those who gave their lives for our freedom. Remember the mothers who lost their sons and daughters, those who lost their spouse, those children who group up without a parent because theirs made the ultimate sacrifice…

And it was for you.

God bless them, God bless the Gold Star families, and God Bless America!

 

914USAccGloria

 

 

Have you ever felt out of step… different from others… like a weirdo? 

Do you always feel that way?

Well don’t worry. That just means you haven’t found your tribe yet.

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This spring has been filled with disappointments. Things we’ve lost or missed out on. Trips to exciting places. Relaxing vacations. Weddings, reunions, graduations, birthdays, anniversaries. The list goes on and on.

Things we’ve looked forward to with great anticipation were suddenly snatched away because of COVID-19.

Like all of you, I lost some of those things. Between my husband, Lee, and I, we had trips to Maui, Argentina, Cape May, South Africa and Lancaster, PA all cancelled.

But wait… Did I say Lancaster, Pennsylvania? What’s so exciting about that?

For me, it may have been the greatest let down of all because it was the annual Pennwriters Conference. I started looking forward to this conference the day after last year’s conference in Pittsburgh.

Now what has all this to do with finding your tribe? Or being a weirdo?

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Let me explain first by saying I found my tribe.

I found a small part of my tribe (but a big part of my heart) sitting around my publisher, Demi Steven‘s, dining room table in 2015.

And then my tribe grew and grew through Pennwriters.

My tribe of funny, quirky, wonderful, inspiring writers always lift my spirits, and I discovered I’m not all that weird. Well, at least if I am, I’m in good company. Make that great company! (I am fortunate enough to have found myself part of several tribes, but that’s a story for another day.)

Yesterday — A good day — A great gift

People from all over Pennsylvania and beyond were feeling bummed as the weekend of “the conference that wasn’t to be” approached. Then an amazing group of people from Pennwriters gave us a delightful surprise–The Mini-May Madness.  They learned and mastered all the necessary technology, put in the many hours of ZOOM practice, etc., and presented us with a Friday night and all day Saturday experience.

I still missed seeing and hugging everyone and all the great happenings of a live conference BUT…

My tribe didn’t let me down. From the Read & Critique evening to morning meditation to mini workshops to Q&A with two amazing authors, Susan Meier and Jonathan Maberry, it was a day filled with inspiration. I am in awe of these presenters and their generosity.

 

And when Jonathan Maberry referred to himself as a “weirdo” like all of us writers, I was suddenly proud to say, “I’m a weirdo too!”

Who inspires you?

I hope you’ve found your tribe, but if you haven’t…

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Until next time,

GloriaBooks-gkb

First, let’s talk about Clara Barton.

There are certain books we read as children that leave an indelible impression. For me, one of those books was Clara Barton, Girl Nurse. During this pandemic, as we have all become more aware than ever of how special and crucial nurses are, this very special woman’s story came back to me.

So who is Clara Barton, and why is she special?

Born Clarissa Harlowe Barton, the list of her accomplishments is long, but the most notable is as the founder of The American Red Cross.

Clara lived from 1821 to 1912. She attended boarding school where she extremely timid and shy and became so lonely and depressed she was brought back home. Always anxious to help, she found herself at a loss and didn’t want to burden her family. Hoping to help Clara overcome her timidity, her parents suggested she become a schoolteacher. She acquired her teaching certificate in 1839 at the age of seventeen. And from there, she began to blossom. Continuing her education, Clara soon became so well written that her body of work could instruct statesman of the time. She moved to Washington D.C. and in 1855 had a clerkship in the U.S. Patent Office making the same salary as men. This was unheard of at the time, and she suffered much abuse from her male counterparts for the three years she was there.

In 1861 the Baltimore Riot resulted in the first bloodshed of the Civil War. When forty wounded men from the Massachusetts regiment were brought to Washington D.C., Barton was there to meet and nurse them. That was the beginning of her dedication to army work as she dedicated herself to supplying food, clothing, and other supplies to the wounded soldiers. She also provided emotional support to lift their spirits by talking with and reading to them as well as writing letters to their families. Clara Barton became known as the Florence Nightingale of America as well as the “Angel of the Battlefield” since she spent time on the frontlines tending the wounded.  Probably what she is most remembered for though is founding the American Red Cross.

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Next, let’s talk a little about Florence Nightingale.

A contemporary of Clara Barton’s, born in 1820, Florence Nightingale knew by eighteen how she wanted to spend her life as she felt called on by God to dedicate her life to the service of others. Her high-class British family was not at all happy about this, but despite their outrage, by 1844 she’d made up her mind to become a nurse.  She and the nurses she’d trained, tended wounded soldiers in the Crimean War. It was said in The Times that “When all the medical officers have retired for the night and silence and darkness have settled down upon those miles of prostrate sick, she may be observed alone, with a little lamp in her hand, making her solitary rounds.“ Nightingale became known as the lady with the lamp and an angel of mercy.

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Lady with the Lamp

Perhaps the most important contribution Florence Nightingale made to society was to declare hospitals must not be a place where people get more sick. She knew they must be designed to provide safe conditions and filled with well trained nurses to care for the sick and injured.

Finally, let’s talk about Darleen Muhly.

What? You’ve never heard of her? Well, that’s probably because she is not one of the twenty-five most famous nurses nor is she known for some particular contribution to medicine. No, I’ve chosen Darleen Muhly to represent all the wonderful nurses who quietly go about healing and caring for their patients without any special recognition. This nurse, who also happens to be my wonderful sister, spent much of her nursing career in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) caring for the most vulnerable little humans born a little too soon. She may not be known to many, but I know without a doubt there are many, many parents of those once fragile little ones who are forever grateful to her and others like her.

Is there a special nurse in your family or one who holds a special place in your heart for the care they give? I’d love to hear about them.

520MouseccGloria

 

 

 

Meet Simeon

JLMcatsgreypersian - Simeon

Who is this Persian beauty you ask?

Meet Simeon, one very affectionate Persian cat.

Mia Reed, the protagonist in my upcoming book, Watercolor Whispers, told me she wanted a pet, and with her busy schedule as an art therapist, it simply had to be a low maintenance pet. She decided this beautiful Persian cat was the solution. That is before Simeon told her, no demanded, that he be brushed daily. One must take care of long hair like his after all. But Mia has decided it’s totally worth the time and effort because brushing Simmie, as she calls him for short, is very relaxing. Especially with the calming sound of his purring. And so what if her wallet took a hit because of the special food she buys him to prevent hairballs.

Although Persian cats are often referred to as furniture with fur, and it’s true Simeon is not terribly active, Mia soon found out he is not to be ignored. He is definitely a lap cat, with Mia’s lap being his favorite spot. If that spot is not available, Simeon may be found in his second favorite place in the apartment, the solarium where Mia paints. There he enjoys soaking in the sun from the deep window sill and keeping an eye on the neighborhood. while Mia works on her watercolors.

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Simmie tells Mia how much he cares in several other ways. One of his favorites is kneading which he sometimes begins early in the morning. I think it may be his way of saying, “I love you and also it’s time to get up.”

Simmie will sometimes hold eye contact with Mia for a few moments, then blink slowly. These slow eye blinks–often accompanied by more purring–are another way he shows affection. Did I mention he’s a regular purring machine?

One more way he shows he cares is by twitching the tip of his tail. But look out if he swiftly lashes it back and forth–that most certainly means he’s annoyed. Simeon, aka Simmie, it turns out is also a good judge of character. He can tell the good guys from the bad guys. Honest, he can!

In this tale, you may want to watch Simmie’s tail.

Where did Simeon get his name?

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Stained Glass courtesy of Pixabay

Simeon, described as a just and devout man, appears in the New Testament of the Bible one time in the gospel of Luke. Forty days after the birth of Christ, Jesus was presented at the temple (as was required by the laws of Moses). There Mary and Joseph met Simeon who had been visited by the Holy Spirit and told he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Upon taking Jesus in his arms he uttered a prayer which is still used in some Christian churches, the Nunc dimittis, also known as the Song of Simeon.

Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace; Because my eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

So what does any of that have to do with the name Mia chose for her little Persian Prince? On February 2nd the Lutheran Church celebrates the Presentation of the Lord. Mia was brought up in the Lutheran Church, and her birthday falls on St. Simeon’s feast day. Perhaps she chose this name because of that coincidence, or perhaps it was because she knows she has also been visited by the Holy Spirit through her “special” drawings. Those of you who read Premonition Bridge, Book 3 of The Bridge Club Series, will remember Mia has a gift through her art and her faith that resulted in her surviving a perilous situation. In Watercolor Whispers, Book 1 of a new mystery series, she has grown up and become a professional art therapist whose gift will be an integral part of solving mysteries.

I’m curious, are you a dog or a cat person? Or neither? What do you think is the best pet?

 

GirlCat-gkb

 

 

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