Monday, December 6, 2010

Book Signing Dec 11 from 1-3

Give the gift of a great book--Shops of Emmaus will host a Author Event on December 11 from 12-3. Then Emmaus Public Library and Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group sponsor readings from these authors.

For more details:

Each store will host one or two authors inside their store. So you can buy a Christmas gift and buy a signed book of your choice. Come, see, hear and buy!

My favorites: A Saving Hurricane, Project Happily Ever After, Charley's Choice.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

In defense of NaNoWriMo

November is national novel writing month or NaNoWriMo. The goal is to write a novel (50,000 words) or rather a novelette. However there is a general disdain for this type of challenge among certain literati.

I know everyone has a story with in them. Maybe it's only one (i.e., Margaret Mitchell "Gone with the Wind") or many (Stephen King "Shawshank Redemption" Cujo" "It" etc). Either way, every writer no matter where they are in their writing journey should undertake this type of challenge

1. because you have to write every day
2. because there's a deadline
3. because there are no limits to what you should or shouldn't write
4. it's for a good cause--donations go to libraries and literary campagins all over the world.

The website admits that you will write a lot of poor quality material. They operate on an honor system: you cannot use anything that's been published by you or anyone else. They also want to encourage everyone to write whether you are Stephen King or not. Once you reach the goal of 50,000 words by November 30 at midnight, to them you are equal to Stephen King.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Leaves fall because...

...they want to.

Leaves fall from deciduous trees due to the release of hormones (yes, trees have hormones) that close off the transportation of nutrients and inhibit the growth of the leaf. The "anti-growth" hormone causes leaves to snap off at a specific point where they're connected to the branch of the tree.

The benefits of losing leaves include conservation of water, shedding of insects (eggs and pupae), limiting the growth of fungus and other parasites. So it's probably best to take all fallen leaves and destroy them or rake them as far a way from the tree as possible.

Sources: Backyard Nature

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

September is National Honey Month

September may claim to be the sweetest month of the year--next to National Candy Month (June). For bees it's the best.

Honey has a long history of a multi-tasking food talent. Used in desserts, alcoholic beverages, wound healing and medicines, honey was noted in hieroglyphics in Egypt as far back as 4000-5000 BC. Egyptians had a regular supply of honey as beekeepers were involved in a serious task to keep the golden liquid pouring.

Lately, there have been reports of the decline of the honey bee. Called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) a mysterious illness has been killing honey bees over the last few decades. It is most notable in wild or feral bees. Though seen a pest because it stings, the depletion of bee populations is however, dire. About 33% of the world's foods require honey bee pollination. Flowers will not produce fruits and vegetables unless pollinated by bees.

Weakened immune systems and multiple diseases and pests are most likely the cause of the decline of the numbers of bees. So for September buy fresh, local honey, spare the spray and don't swat the bees.

For recipes try:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Alice Hoffman & common "witchcraft"

Alice Hoffman author of 28 books (for kids & adults) including "Practical Magic," made into a movie starring Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Stockard Channing, and Dianne Wiest includes a number of superstitious sayings in her novels: "Practical Magic," "Probable Future" and "The River King."

Eerie and sometimes accurate, residents of New England didn't fully understand nature, but used decades-old observations to predict everything from bad weather to true love and passed it along to their daughters and sons.

"when the candle meets the pin your true love walks in"
Women would stick two pins through the middle of a red candle at midnight and when the candle burns down to the pins, the lover is said to arrive. Since a beeswax candle takes about 8 hours to burn, it was likely that the man who would walk into a home--would be the father or brother (hopefully they'd bring a friend).

"mint on windowsills keep flies at bay"
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) contains menthol which is a volatile oil unpleasant to most insects. NOTE: Flies may not be discouraged from entering the home other ways.

"wind from the east spells trouble"
Weather in the United States runs from a west to east direction. New Englanders knew that the wind blowing from the opposite direction indicated a Nor'easter. It's formed by a far south low pressure system rotating in a counter clockwise direction coming back along the coastline. Nor'easters are responsible for the worst Atlantic hurricanes and blizzards.

"a bird in the room means doom"
Birds brought all sorts of good and bad luck. Migratory birds would signal the end of summer, the beginning of spring, while crows always brought bad luck, even death. Crows are scavengers, so it was not an unrealistic connection as they would often be seen eating carcasses of dead animals. Birds in the house meant bad luck. Most probably the birds were fleeing from danger coming through an unknown hole in the roof, window or wall.

Sources:, University of New Mexico,

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer time...

time for the earth to get close to the sun.

Technically, the longest day of the year doesn't exist. All days are the same length--24 hours. However, on June 21 the amount of daylight goes from about 8 to 12 hours at the equator.

The summer solstice (Latin for sun stands still), occurs every June 21 (June 20 in 2008) and marks the beginning of the season of summer. The season lasts about 3 months or 63 days. Then fall begins. But let's not rush things.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Ides of March--to be feared?

In a word, no. The ides of March were simply and ancient term for the lunar calendar's full moon period, about 2-3 days. But four decades before the birth of Christ, the ides became a portend of horrible things.

On March 15, 44 BC Julius Caesar was murdered by the Senators of Rome. It was the basis for Shakespeare's play: Julius Caesar. While Caesar did many things to anger the senate (oddly marrying Cleopatra when he was already married wasn't one of them), his brutal murder also foretold the downfall of Rome. The Senators quarreled amongst themselves for a portion of greater power--rather like now in the U.S.

Sources: NG:, Ancient Coins:

Friday, February 12, 2010

You are here...

After getting battered by snow storms, the East Coast inhabitants are hungry for warmth--and not from their space heaters. Most are looking to the skies and hoping to follow waterfowl south.

How did they get so much snow? Regardless of where you fall with the theory of global warming snow comes this time each year in greater or lesser amounts to climates above the 35th latitude. It doesn't matter if you are in France or Fargo. Snow also falls on mountains at altitudes of 5000m or just above the timberline. Problem is, the amount of snow that fell this year was above the average and broke records in 5 states (Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia). That kind of white stuff strikes fear in the heart of the average snow shoveler.

We can't count on the El Nino & La Nina patterns of air that moves across the globe because they are difficult to predict. And both can bring warming and cooling effects. Weather experts are throwing up their hands (the cautious ones anyway), because they cannot predict 20 years ahead (let alone 20 hours ahead). They can only rely on weather modeling and cannot account for things like solar and volcanic activity which heat and cool the earth's surface regardless of weather patterns.

Best news is that March 20 is officially spring.