Saturday, January 31, 2009


Well, it's been one of those months, hasn't it? Yep, 2009 certainly started off with a bang! and, as we head into its second month, it looks like the whole bang! motif is going to continue for a while.

But do you want to know something funny? We've sort of grown accustomed to the whole thing. Really. What fazed us six weeks ago is something of a "normal" mode around here.

The next few weeks will be a challenge but we feel completely ready to meet it so, really, this whole bang! new year situation isn't all that terrible. It could be worse, and we're adapting, so there are no complaints from this corner of the world. All in all, everything's pretty darn good around here.

On the writing front, I managed to make my wordcount for the JaNoWriMo challenge. I'm not saying they're all good words, but they're words and I do have a story so I'm pleased. Total words? 51,357. Very happy about that!

Even more exciting is the fact that the JaNo writers are continuing into February. I am jazzed, because I honestly love peeking into the writing lives of others, and hearing about their successes. I think it's great that we can cheer each other on. It really does make writing a less solitary sport, at least for me. My next project is titled Madcapped. My fingers are itching to get started!

Before we officially head into February, I want to thank everyone who has been supportive, kind and compassionate these past weeks. Your friendship and encouragement, thoughts and prayers, have warmed our hearts and made this difficult month much less taxing than it could have been. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I appreciate all your kindness more than I can say.

I hope you have fun with my stand-in blogger. She'll be around starting tomorrow and will sit in my chair until at least Valentine's Day. While I won't be here to chat, I will be thinking of you, and hoping your days are sunny and filled with laughter.

See you in February!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Guest Blogger

I just want to let you know that from February 1st through the 14th there will be a guest blogger here at From the Heart. I've got something going on that will keep me pretty busy those days and I doubt I'll have any time to access the Internet so I figured it would be best to ask someone to fill in for me. I hope you enjoy my guest. She's a little quirky but has a huge heart and is often surprisingly insightful.

I hope you have a great few weeks! I'll miss you but we'll have to catch up when I get back, alright?

Oh! Before I forget, my guest blogger will be holding a From the Heart contest while I'm gone. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on a post. Every comment is an entry, so comment away, please! Keep her company so she's not lonely while I'm gone, okay? Thanks!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wake-Up Call

In December I spent a few nights in a hotel. One of the highlights was this gorgeous sunrise I was lucky enough to witness. Isn't it lovely?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Talking Turkey

I get such a kick out of watching the turkeys who visit our yard. They come at unexpected moments, keeping a schedule I haven't yet figured out. I usually hear a "Gobble" or two, and know they've arrived. Sometimes there are as many as fifteen of them visiting, but yesterday only these two stopped by. Aren't they fun?

Hope you have a great day! Oh...any turkeys in your yard?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tango At Midnight

Woo Hoo! The exhiliration! The joy! The sheer madness of it!

The...uh, knowledge that a good portion of the first draft will end up victimized by the Delete button!

Still, as I close in on writing The End to Tango At Midnight, I can't help but grin from ear to ear and--but don't tell anyone this, alright?--giggle. Yes, you heard right. Up here in Snowville the writer is giggling like a loon.

Just about 4,500 words from the 50,000-word mark and I am psyched. Can you tell?

So, what's got you grinning (and giggling, perhaps?) on this deceptively bright Tuesday morning? Anything you'd care to share?

Monday, January 26, 2009

January At Its Best

We are under a Winter Storm Watch here. Just so you know, up here in the middle of nowhere we keep a pretty close eye on the weather channel, and take these watches and warnings to heart. No one wants to be caught out in the middle of a snow or ice storm unprepared, do they? No, take it from me, they do not. So...we listen.

A Winter Storm Watch.

One word? Ugh.

Ugh is a word, isn't it?

And, when I think about it reasonably, I can understand the need for more snow. Really. I can.

I mean, it's obvious we don't already have enough of the white stuff, isn't it?


Ack--it's a word, isn't it?

What have you got planned for this Monday? Me? I'm going to make sure the snowblower is ready for Mother Nature's latest round of fun.


Oof--a word, no?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Special Day!

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Global Warming

I don’t usually comment on anything political or potentially divisive. I just don’t feel this is the place for me to air any of my views on such topics. I figure that if you want that type of blog post you’ll go somewhere else, someplace where the writer is more qualified than I am to discuss such matters.

Me? I’m a woman following her dreams, living the best life she can and hopefully becoming the best person she can be. Totally not qualified—or interested—in writing about politics or anything else that might rile readers.

But I can’t keep my mouth closed on this one. I just can’t…mostly because every time I see the commercial that keeps breaking my heart I am reminded that this is an important topic, one that I can’t ignore. I can’t help but wonder if discussing it might somehow, in some small way, have an impact on the situation.

Have you seen the commercial with the polar bears? Not the one where the bears are lounging, sleeping and looking like they don’t have a care in the world. I am talking about a commercial that focuses attention on global warming. In this commercial there are polar bears floundering in water, trying to gain purchase on ice that looks like it keeps slipping away from them. The message is that the ice is melting and bears are drowning.

Nothing preachy here. Just an observation from someone whose heart breaks every time I see that commercial and think of those gorgeous animals drowning. I can’t help but wonder what I can do to help prevent this horrible tragedy…what we can all do if we keep the situation in the forefront of our minds and hearts.

Friday, January 23, 2009


What are you reading? Anything interesting?

Me? I’m revisiting old friends this week. A few days ago I pulled two all-time favorites from my bookshelf and it feels fabulous to spend time with them.

Tenor of Love by Mary DiMichele is a fictionalized account of love, passion and betrayal involving one of the greatest opera singers of all time, Enrico Caruso. We are opera lovers in this house, so reading about Caruso’s life warms my heart on many levels. I enjoy “hearing” about Puccini, about the tenor’s time at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Tuscan life that produced such a memorable figure. I’ve read Tenor of Love many times and each time I find something new to make me smile.

Currently I am reading one of my very favorite books, Under the Tuscan Sun. Frances Mayes tells a riveting tale of falling in love with a crumbling villa in the Italian countryside. She shows the pulse of the people in the area, and brings the scents, sights and tastes of her adopted country to life so vividly I feel transported every time I dive into my well-worn copy of her fabulous book.

Do you have old favorites you return to time and again, like I do? And do they make you feel the way these books make me feel—like I’m visiting with dear friends? I hope you do…and that they do.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


It’s happened. I’ve succumbed. I tried to resist but…in the end, I fell prey to one of my husband’s leisure activities. What is it? One word: Sudoku.

Hubby pores over these boxy little puzzles and always seems very satisfied with himself when he snaps his Sudoku book shut. I’ve got to admit I’ve been curious but have kept my nose out of his book, content to work the puzzles in my large New York Times crossword puzzle book. Yesterday I finished the last crossword in my book so Hubby’s Sudoku puzzles took on a whole new level of intrigue. He saw my interest and, with a smile and a “C’mon, take a bite” look, reeled me right in. It only took a few minutes for me to find this new-to-me venture engrossing.

How engrossing? Let’s just say dinner was late—and vegetable-less—last night because I just had to figure out where the eights and threes all went.

Sheesh. Just what I need, a new interest—as if I’ve got tons of spare time on my hands already, right? What about you? Have you succumbed to the Sudoku craze yet? Or do you indulge in a different kind of puzzle passion? Because, you know, I’m always open to trying new puzzles, especially now that I’ve got this Sudoku thing under my belt!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Anytime is a Good Time

“Honey, can I get you anything from the kitchen? Something to drink? A snack?”

He pulled his gaze from the puzzle book before him. “What are you having?”

She smiled, knowing full well what his response would be. “Ice cream.”

As if on cue, he let his mouth fall open, his eyes widen. “Ice cream? You’re kidding, right?”

“You know I’m not.”

“But it’s about ten degrees outside. No one eats ice cream in weather like this.”

“I’m not going to eat it outside. So…do you want anything?” A smile, and a gentle tease. “A bowl of ice cream, maybe? It’s mint chocolate chip, one of your favorites…”

A low, throaty chuckle. “No, thanks. I’m not as adventurous as you are, I’m afraid. Would a cup of cocoa be too much trouble?”

“No trouble at all.” She spun on her heel and headed toward the kitchen. “Want a splash of whipped cream on the top?”

“How about a small scoop of that ice cream instead? It’ll melt right into the hot chocolate, don’t you think?”

Swallowing a giggle, she poured milk into a saucepan and put it on the stove to heat. When they met he never would have considered having ice cream during the cold months—not even on his hot chocolate. She’d rubbed off on him…one scoop at a time.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mail Call

It’s that time of year again. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? Despite the frigid weather there is sunshine in our mailbox. Yes, the deluge of seed catalogs has begun! Yay!

I love trekking down to the end of our drive and pulling a stack of catalogs featuring breathtaking flowers and enormous vegetables from the mailbox. Honestly, these are the only catalogs that really capture my attention. I hold them close to my chest as I slog up the hill and back into the house. They are surrendered—momentarily—while I hang my down jacket and stuff my mittens in my snow boots. Then I bring them inside and sit beside the roaring fire with a cup of tea and pore over every page, dreaming of what we will grow come springtime.

This year we will scale back drastically on our gardening endeavors. There is no way around it; hubby will not be fully recovered for months and there’s just no way I’ll be able to care for all the gardens we usually plant. So we are going small this year but we are no less enthusiastic about it than if planned to go whole hog. We are being selective about choosing what we will plant.

I hope there might be a spot to try one or two unusual things this year, though. Last year we grew Walking Stick Kale because it looked interesting—and it was. This year I’ve got my eye on an African melon. Who knows? Maybe I’ll find a spot for a plant or two near the greenhouse. Really, how much extra work can a few melons be? Oh—there are Japanese eggplants that intrigue me, too. Hmm…melons and eggplants…and maybe some of that colored chard I saw in one of yesterday’s catalogs…

What about you? Are you planning your summer garden?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Old Favorites

Here we’ve snuggled in for the winter. Good thing, considering we’re in for the long haul here in upstate New York.

Usually we count the days between snowstorms and smile as the inches of fluffy white stuff mount. We keep our cross-country skis beside the back door and our snowshoes on the mat near our snow boots. We are jazzed by the snow, and the season.

Of course this year is a little bit different for us. There are no skiing or shoeing excursions. I know I could go out on my own but, honestly, that seems kind of mean. I know my husband would understand if I did indulge myself but on the same vein I wouldn’t understand my selfishness in doing so. I will wait until next year when he is well—and we will ski and snowshoe and make snow angels to our heart’s content.

This year we are finding “new” ways to pass the snowy afternoons indoors. Actually, there’s nothing new about what we’ve been doing. What is it that’s keeping us busy?

Board games. A few days ago hubby felt well enough to be restless, so I knew I had to come up with something to keep him occupied. I remembered we have a pile of board games on a shelf in the top of the coat closet—that was all it took to bring a smile to the patient’s face.

Yesterday we played “Clue”—on the same game board that I used when I was a child. It’s been a long time since I had to deduce the facts behind the crime scene! What fun! We spent a couple of hours laughing while we visited with old friends. In the end, we found that the crime had been committed with a rope in the library, and the culprit was…ah, you almost got me to tell, didn’t you? Of course I’m not at liberty to say just who did what to whom—maybe my even saying where and how is against the rules so let’s just keep it between us that I blabbed, okay?

Any board game suggestions? The winter is going to be long and I wonder just how many games of solve-the-murder we can play before we lose interest. I’d love to hear about your old favorites. Who knows? Maybe one of them will become a new favorite in our home, too!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Legacy of the Celtic Brooch

Some time ago I wrote the second installment in The Wild Rose Press’s Legacy of the Celtic Brooch series. My story, Freedom’s Touch, got great reviews and has generated some wonderful reader feedback. I loved being part of this special project.

Now there’s more news about this intriguing series…the individual stories have gone to print in two anthologies! Freedom’s Touch is in Volume One—but I’m going to buy both volumes so I can see the brooch move smoothly through time.

I was so psyched to see the brooch stories making a comeback! How exciting!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Feeling persnickety

...and in the mood to remind us all that someday, somewhere (maybe here, who knows?) there will once again be sunshine and flowers.

*grumble, grumble...grumble*

The wind is howling so loud here it would be frightening--if I was the sort to be easily frightened, which I'm not.

Really, what's the temp in your backyard? Got any flowers like this growing nearby? If you do, I might just be packing a bag this afternoon and coming for a visit!

Happy Saturday!


I know, I know…no one wants to hear about the weather but honestly it’s all I can think about early this Saturday morning. I’ve been up and about for a couple hours—when I’d much rather be sleeping, believe me—and it’s due to the bone-chilling temperatures. It is well below zero so I’m very conscious of the heat, especially with Hubby being under the weather. (Pun intended!) I can’t help but worry that the pellet stove will run out of pellets and go out or that the woodstove will lag because I haven’t fed it frequently enough. We do have another heat source but it’s so ridiculously expensive I cringe when I hear it come on, so while we’re home I try to use the pellets and wood exclusively.

So…I got up well before the crack of dawn to feed the pellet stove. Then I stirred the embers in the woodstove and got that roaring. The house is warming up nicely, and I’m certain that by the time Hubby’s eyes open things will be toasty here.

I’ve got to tell you, warmer climates have been calling me—loudly!—these past weeks. Entertaining the idea of moving somewhere warm and sunny sure sounds good about now…

What’s on your mind this shiver-inducing morning? And how’s the weather in your neighborhood? If it’s even remotely tropical I just may put it on my list of possible relocation destinations. What do you think? Are you open to having new neighbors? Hmm?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tango at Midnight

I’ve been working on my JaNo novel, Tango at Midnight. I began the writing adventure much later than the other participants but I’m hopeful that I’ll catch up eventually.

It feels great to be writing again. This non-writing stretch, from early December to just a few days ago, is the longest I’ve endured in years. I say endured because, although I was in an overwhelming, busy whirlwind, I felt truly tested each day that I didn’t put thoughts to paper. I was lost without my characters and stories to keep me company. It’s funny, isn’t it? I feel more at home with myself when I’ve got a work-in-progress.

Anyhow, Tango at Midnight is going well. It is the story of a woman who, despite her attempt to escape the past that irrevocably changed her, must return to the place that she fled from. Of course she must confront the man who hurt her, in the process reclaiming the part of herself that she has neglected during her years of flight. And just to add a bit of…I don’t know…intrigue to their situation, a body (maybe two!) will show up in an unexpected place and send everyone into a tailspin. After all, what’s a love story without a body?

If you’re interested, follow the link on my profile page to the JaNoWriMo blog. There are a bunch of interesting authors working hard to write 50,000 words by the end of the month over there. Lots of fun posts about the stories behind the stories, as well as a glimpse at the lives of those who write them.

So I'll be writing this weekend. What about you? Any plans you'd care to share?

Thursday, January 15, 2009


We were in a hospital room on Christmas so most of our holiday gifts went unopened for weeks. We are just now opening packages—something that feels strange but is also a happy event.

My godmother always sends the best books in her packages. She has a knack for choosing books that I love but wouldn’t usually buy for myself. This year one of the titles she sent is The Nature of Monsters by Clare Clark. I began reading it last night and I’ve got to tell you, I’m loving every single word of it so far! Don’t you just love it when you’re pulled right into a story? This is historical fiction that feels very Edgar Allen Poe-ish, and while I was intrigued from the first sentence I was also a tad frightened. Glad, too, that I didn’t live in 1666!

I’ll let you know how it ends up. I’m savoring this book so even though I want to hunker down and zip right through it I’m restraining myself. Too, there are other things that require my attention at the moment so I’ve got the chance to mull the story over in my mind bit by bit.

What about you? Have you read anything recently that completely transported you to another time and place? Any recommendations?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Catching Up

This weekend I began to sort through some of the huge stack of mail that came while my husband was in the hospital. Along with the usual bills, fliers, catalogs and junk mail there were some lovely surprises!

Of course there were lots of Christmas cards to open, which we did. I get such a kick out of the cards with photographs in them. Don’t you? I love to see how children change from year to year, or how families spend their vacations at Disneyland or on camping trips. We got one card with a photo that showed friends on a raft, their kids grinning from ear to ear and mom and dad looking like they forgot to bring sunscreen along. We smiled, and for a moment we felt like we were along on the trip, too.

One bundle contained books from Melissa. Thanks Melissa! What a wonderful surprise! Who doesn’t love finding books in the mail pile? I sat right down yesterday and read one while Hubby slept…it was a glorious escape from what’s been going on here. I feel renewed, and entertained, and grateful for Melissa’s kindness.

Normal things. We’re beginning to do normal things, like open the mail and eat food that doesn’t come on a hospital tray or from a vending machine. Slowly, but surely, life is getting back to what it was, and it feels fabulous.

How did you spend your weekend? Anything you’d care to share? I know I'm kind of late, but I'm trying to catch up!

Monday, January 12, 2009


Lately I've been losing track of the days of the week. They all sort of roll together, and I find myself wondering what day it is. Ever have that happen to you?

Today I know it's Monday, though. We have a very important medical appointment this morning. I'd sincerely, from the very bottom of my heart, appreciate it if you could send a good thought or small prayer our way. We need for this appointment to go well.

So, we're keeping our fingers and toes crossed this Monday morning. What about you? How's everything going in your house? Did you have a nice weekend?

Saturday I began a project that's got me very excited. And yesterday I baked a chocolate cake. So , all in all, we had a good weekend here. :-)

Now, to get through Monday successfully, then get back to my habit of not knowing what day of the week it is...that's my goal for the day!

Saturday, January 10, 2009


January is turning out to be not like anything I expected.

We all contemplate a new year with such high hopes, fabulous expectations and optimism. I am no different from anyone else in this respect.

This year, however, all of that has taken a back seat to some very serious life issues. Still, I am hopeful that before long life will begin to return to normal here at Casa Leone. I see us doing ordinary things, laughing and loving and enjoying health and happiness. Time...I think that will all return in time.

And when it does, I'll be ready to tackle my New Year's resolutions. Yes, I did make some! Did you?

Hmm? Mine? Oh, I resolved to:

1. Write four novels by June.
2. Laugh as much as I can.
3. Never skip dessert. (Unless it's Jello--I can't stand Jello!)
4. Not worry overmuch--about anything. There are things that can't be changed, merely endured and accepted. No sense worrying over them, is there?

So, there you have it, my January resolutions. What about you? Did you make any that you're willing to share with us?

Monday, January 05, 2009


Good morning!

Happy 2009!

Um... Now what? I've got to admit, it feels kind of strange to be chatting with you after such a long absence. I hardly know what to say, which is strange for me. I'm usually one of those talkative types but how does one go about filling in a two-week gap?

With the truth, I suppose. An abbreviated version, because the play-by-play would probably scare the pants off you. We definitely had a Stephen King-ish December here...

My absence has been due to illness. Not mine, but Hubby's. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know how close my husband and I are. We practically breathe for each other, so when one of us is ill we both suffer.

Do you recall the ice storm we had here in early December? That weekend, Hubby hurt himself. We thought he'd pulled something, and that it would get better on its own. Apparently he hurt his back more than we'd thought, because his condition deteriorated and we ended up taking a middle-of-the-night, during-a-snowstorm ambulance ride. Very frightening experience, on so many levels.

The good news is that he's home again. Recovery may take a couple of months so I might not be around as often as I'd like to be but I hope you understand and bear with me. My focus has to be on helping Hubby back to his feet and the active lifestyle he enjoys. I have faith we will do that, but I know it will take time.

On a cheerier note, a couple of New Year's surprises for you...

First, one of my resolutions is to spend more time sharing one of my favorite things, cooking, with you. So beginning on the first, I'll post recipes on the From the Kitchen page every Monday and Thursday. I hope you'll try a few, and enjoy them.

And on the From the Pages page, I'll have author interviews on Tuesdays and Wednesdays! I'm very excited about this because I love getting to know the author behind a story. A lot of interesting folks have graciously agreed to be grilled--ahem, interviewed. I think the interviews will be a lot of fun. An added bonus is that many of the authors will be giving away prizes and the only thing anyone has to do to be eligible to win is leave a comment! What could be easier than that?

Fortunately I already had both the recipes and interviews in the works before Hubby became ill so both are set up for the next few months. I'm hopeful that by the time I need to upload more recipes or interviews, the man will be on his feet and much more self-sufficient. Until then, though, I hope you'll understand my hit-or-miss blogging, emailing and blog-hopping.

Right now we're practicing the "in sickness and in health" part of our marriage vows, and it's keeping us pretty busy!

Again, Happy New Year! I hope this year is a filled with love and laughter, health and happiness for you and yours.