Archive | April 2014

Springtime in Maine by Ava Armstrong

From Christina: It is with great pleasure today that I welcome author Ava Armstrong to Time for Love. She’s sharing a few thoughts about springtime in New England. Enjoy!

 

Springtime in Maine

by Ava Armstrong

New England SpringSpring is a gradual process in Maine, but it always has the same effect on me, filling me with hope that better days will come. I have friends and family who escape to southern states to avoid the mud season. Being a New Englander, I couldn’t imagine missing the majesty of spring, watching the birds return and the Forsythia blooming brightly against the stark landscape of dried mud and naked trees. Early spring always makes me feel rejuvenated. This year, spring is arriving later than usual. Two days ago, walking in the front yard I noticed the beautiful Hyacinth, brightly purple, blooming. It was a pleasant surprise. The robins are now taking over the lawn. They are working busily to find food and build nests. Buds are forming on the trees, a yellow-green color, furled tightly still against the cool spring air. The sun will eventually coax the buds to open, always a glorious miracle to witness.

The ground is a soggy mess, but the grass is just starting to green ever so slightly. I tread lightly in my rubber slip on boots. The sound of stepping on the lawn makes a squishy sucking sound. There are some areas that the wind has dried up. The woodchucks are actively seeking prospects for food. They look like little balls of furry fat as they scurry out from underneath the garden shed. They are adorable but I will put the fence around the garden to discourage them.

The pine trees show signs of suffering through the harsh winter. This year we got 33 extra inches of snow, breaking a record I think. The bark is dark and there are sections missing. No doubt animals needed nourishment during the harsh cold spells. One tree in particular is very old. A colony of insects has taken up residence, it seems. One good thing about that is the ground water will be replenished by Mother Nature and there will be no drought conditions early in the season.

CrocusA few insects have already come to life awakening as if from a drunken stupor. On days when the wind dies down, the only sounds are the birds chirping and an occasional dog barking off in the distance. Adjusting my chair, I can usually find a windless place to sit in the sun and read a book for an hour or two, a wonderful pleasure missed during the cold indoor winter months.

Maybe that’s why a New Englander is so appreciative of these tiny, gradual changes. The long winter makes us appreciate every little bit of warmth so much more. The changing of the seasons follows the cycle of life, with spring representing the beginning of everything anew. It’s as if we can start over every year. Wipe the slate clean. Bring new people into our lives, make new friends, see something new every spring, plant new flowers or vegetables, read new books. Simple pleasures are most often the best. The simple pleasures of springtime are a salve for the soul.

My friends have e-mailed me from the southern climes telling me about how hot it is already. I feel like they are missing the greatest show on earth!

About Ava: 

Ava Armstrong lives in a small town in New England. An avid reader and gardener, she’s always found writing to be a enjoyable means of self-expression. She is a wife and mother who loves animals, especially dogs.

Her novel, A Sense of Duty, was recently published and is available at Amazon.

 

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Wildlife Rescue by Cassandra Shaw

From Christina: Recently Cassandra Shaw was featured as the guest author at Seasons of Love.  She wrote about her personal experiences in wildlife rescue in her native Australia. I was so moved by the post, I asked her permission to share it with readers here.  Thank you, Cassandra!

Wildlife Rescue

by Cassandra Shaw

Two decades ago I followed one of my dreams and became involved in something that took time, money, and most certainly my heart.

I started caring for (raising, rehabilitating and releasing) Australian wildlife.

In my part of Australia, what is known as South East Queensland, caring for wildlife means kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, echidnas, possums, gliders, flying foxes, and bats, and many types of birds, lizards, and snakes. (Wombats are from further south so we missed out on these marvelous little fellows).

I stuck with kangaroos, wallabies and possums as the other species often take more specialized care, although we do rescue these and hand them on.

Raising an orphaned joey is a long term commitment, up to two years for an Eastern Grey Kangaroo if the joey comes into care young enough.

Many joeys come into care because the mother has been hit by some sort of vehicle. Most native Australia mammals are marsupials so if there is a young joey it is can still be in their mom’s pouch alive. I was constantly amazed at how mangled the mother could be and yet we’d find a bonny joey in the pouch.

I have extracted a live joey from a corpse that was fly-blown and stinking. Yes, the joey stunk (like nothing I want to re-smell), and yes, she was dehydrated and starving. But a wash (or six), warm marsupial milk and some vet help for the dehydration all saw her through. She was released as an adult healthy Eastern Grey Kangaroo eighteen months later.

Agile Wallaby we found unconscious on the road

One little Agile Wallaby (we lived further north then) we found lying on the road. We saw his dead mother at the side and suspect he’d been thrown out of her pouch from the impact of the car hitting his mom.

He looked dead, but I got out of the car to move him off the road so no other creature died trying to eat his remains. I picked him up and he twitched. 

Life is hope. Wrapped warmly in a blanket (we carry rescue equipment with us) within minutes, the little fellow came awake. He’d been unconscious and would not have survived if we hadn’t stopped.

We also love rehabilitating injured adult animals. In fact, we often find this the most rewarding.

I cared for ones hit by cars who sustained broken jaws, possums (ringtail and brushtail) that had been electrocuted on electricity lines, and even a swamp wallaby old momma that the vet thought had had a stroke as she’d been left partially paralyzed. She couldn’t be safely put back into the wild so she lived with us.

Sunny basked in the outside sun of our yard, ate the food she loved. Considering she’d been wild, she loved her chest being scratched and  adapted very quickly to sleeping on a soft warm bed inside our garage.

She was sweet and loving and enjoyed the last twelve months of her life in her retirement home. One night she died quietly in her sleep, and we were devastated.

It’s not all love and cuteness, although there’s lots of that.

Caring for wildlife is hard work, expensive, messy, and …  often addictive.

If the joey is really young I often have to wake 3 hourly to feed it with special formula suitable for marsupials (there are some great products available now). Joey’s have fragile systems and some die (for many and various reasons) and no matter what or how many I’ve raised the wrenching heartbreak of these losses never diminish.

But then I’ve always believed that if you don’t love your little charges then you shouldn’t raise them. You fight harder for something you love.

With losses also come miracles. There is nothing better when you are told an animal won’t make it and they do.

Wildlife care is not for the faint hearted.

I’ve seen some horrific injuries that I won’t describe, and have had to find a way to have animals humanely put down. Bagging an injured fully grown Eastern Grey Kangaroo who’s scared and bigger than you is dangerous work (there is of course normally more than one of us doing this). Koalas that are sick or injured are terrified and will try to run away or attack. I’ve never been badly injured, but I know some people who have. They might not be tigers or bears, but they are wild creatures. We can never forget that.

Then there is the time. My husband and I once spent hours and several days going to a lady’s house to trap a Kookaburra (bird) who had somehow had his bottom beak broken off so he couldn’t eat. We caught him using a washing basket, string on a stick, and some meat as bait. Hunger caught him for us.

I’ve had people tell me I and the other carers are wonderful but I don’t think we are. We do what we love and get a great deal out of it. As far as I am concerned, no act of kindness is without gain.

We are rewarded with love and by getting to understand each species and individual’s personality. And then when we release an animal on our land we are further rewarded by a mother coming back to show us her joey. I’ve also had ones released long ago come back for help when sick or injured. They remember.

Kangaroos

Over the years I’ve been frustrated by ignorance and lack of empathy by officials, but met many passionate people.

In the end there is nothing more rewarding than raising an animal the right way and releasing them to live free in the wild. (There is a way to do this, that is a slow gentle approach)

So if you love animals, get involved in your area’s wildlife rescue group – even if you can’t be a carer you can help raise funds and awareness.

 * * * *

About Cassandra:

Cassandra L Shaw. sml JPGCassandra L Shaw was a child of passion who prayed she was secretly Dr. Dolittle. She loved all animals and bugs with a fierce devotion that has carried into her writing. Most of her stories –be they paranormal, futuristic, fantasy, or suspense – have humorous roles for her character’s pets. These pets are often named after her own beloved dogs, cats, horses, goats, chickens, ducks and birds.

Tina, Tit Tit, Bones, Willow, Falcor, and Asha are already in her first book, and there will be more. She’s pinky promised her pets immortality, so they will have it!

 With a passion for fashion, Cassandra’s fun quirky female characters like to wear Goth one day, fifties dresses the next, or imaginary witch capes and wands. Her hot, muscled male characters wear tight clothes to best show off their … err … attributes.

Hey, what’s a hero and romantic lead if he isn’t hot??

If you don’t like having a giggle while Cassandra’s heroes and heroines fight evil and other bad guys, discover themselves, eat well, and enjoy a good taste of life, lust, and love then Cassandra’s stories aren’t for you.

At home on her small farm in Queensland Australia, demons, monsters, aliens, futuristic worlds, sexy men, and hot sex scenes nestle happily amongst the housework Cassandra pretends doesn’t need doing.

Cobwebs are soooooo chic, her family think so too. HONEST.

Featured Title: Coming to Terms with Love

From Christina: It’s with great pleasure today that I share a few thoughts from author Dilys J. Carnie, whose title Coming to Terms with Love was voted as the “Readers’ Choice” winner last month. Please join with me in welcoming Dilys…and in learning more about her winning title.

Living the Dream

by Dilys J. Carnie

DACMy home is on the beautiful island of Anglesey on the west coast of North Wales with my family. I am extremely close to all my family members and enjoy spending time with them. I am the proud mother of two grown up children. My daughter, Emma, is a primary school teacher and my son, Christopher, is part of the family business. Anglesey has been my home since the age of eleven after moving here from Scotland with my mum and dad and three sisters.

As a young child I loved to write. I always carried a notebook and pen around with me and wrote about everything. It was a dream to become a published author. However sometimes in life our dreams get pushed to one side as mine did. So, dare I say at the young age of fifty plus I think it is time for me to see if those dreams are everything I hoped they would be…and hey, it’s never too late to go and grab that dream!

I have been through many major changes in my working life ranging from a Diana nurse, running my own skin care business, helping with the family run bus company and even hairdressing, but my heart as always belonged to putting words on paper and making them come to life.

Five years ago I managed to get in contact with my best friend from Scotland who I hadn’t seen for over forty years. She lives in America and every year without fail I make the trip over to North Carolina and visit with her and her gorgeous family. This is where I have gained a lot of inspiration for many of my stories especially The Fitzgerald Brothers in Chesapeake.

I am living my lifelong dream of becoming an author something which I never imagined happening. If I had to give any advice to an un-published author it would be ‘Never give up the dream’ because I never did.

COMING TO TERMS WITH LOVE

Coming to Terms with Love by Dilys J Carnie

Her past destroys her confidence for the future.
But when she meets the giant of a man Corey, her heart beats a little faster. Then the doubt sets in and she refuses to acknowledge any kind of chemistry. No man would look at her, and she had a son…a son that she was fighting to keep.

He tries to fight what he feels, but he has serious doubts at his resistance.
Corey finds a part of him he didn’t know existed and can’t help falling in deeper than he ever thought possible. Trying to come to terms with his feelings brings him a peace of mind that was totally unexpected. And when an old enemy of Beth’s turns up on the doorstep he steps forward to put an end to her past. Will this be the beginning to their future together?

Excerpt 1

The air was like a magnetic field, as if sparks were pinging around them in the air. She watched as he controlled himself, she admired the way he had not argued with her. Her own heart hammered against her ribs, it had been so close…so very close she couldn’t imagine the horror that would have been on his face if he had moved his hand any closer.

Beth tried to catch her own breath as she watched him in the moonlight. It seemed that every nerve ending in her body was tingling in a way she had never experienced before.

“I should apologize…only I’m not sorry,” he whispered in between the harshness of his breathing.

He looked at her and she trembled all over again. “Apologize for what? It was just a kiss.”

He stood straight moving closer to her making her take a step back.

“Just a kiss?”

“I…well a good kiss,” she stammered.

He laughed out loud. “Good? Be serious, Beth, you felt that as much as I did.” He took a step closer tilting her chin with his fingers. His gaze penetrated hers and she shook her head dislodging his fingers, taking a step back.

“Okay it was sensational…you’re a good kisser. So what? Plenty of men are.”

He sucked in a breath before he spoke.

“I touched you and the searing heat from you set me on fire, when we kissed your tongue wrapped itself round me so hard that I became part of you. The air around us is so charged that if someone dropped a match, it would explode.”

They were words she didn’t want to hear, she didn’t need him to tell her how it was for God’s sake she knew but…but there was no way in hell that she was ready for this. How could she expect someone else to accept her body when she was still coming to terms with it herself. The verve of the last few minutes started to leave her body and the realization of what had happened took over.

“Beth—”

She knew he was waiting for her to say something; she wanted to try and be as honest as she could.

“You’re right, we did…connect but it can’t go any further than this…I don’t want it.”

“Baloney.” He pushed his hands into his pockets scowling at her. “The minute we set eyes on each other we knew what it would be like once we touched, why the hell did you think that I left so quickly the other day?”

Excerpt 2

“Why is she staying in the cabin? Has she bought it?”

“Yes she bought it about three months ago.”

“Strange that a single woman would hide herself in the depths of a mountain with several feet of snow outside her door.”

“You mean as strange as a single guy who’s been hiding for three months up there?”

He glowered at his brother. “That’s different, I’m recovering.”

“Whatever, brother, but she just might be doing the same thing.”

“What do you mean?” His voice lowered.

“You do know, Corey, she has been—”

He turned completely round to face Gabe. “What?”

“Nothing. Eva would kill me and besides it’s not up to me to say anything.”

“Gabe, you can’t stop there, what?”

“Ah look there’s Eva on her way over. Sorry, bud, I’m afraid I’m going to have to go and sweep her of her feet dancing the night away.”

“Gabe, don’t you dare walk away from me.” His eldest brother just laughed and turned away, sweeping his wife up into his arms. Damn if they didn’t look perfect together.

What the hell had Gabe been about to say?

Corey couldn’t pull his gaze away from Beth, there was something about her that drove his libido into a mind of its own…she was sexy but she was trying to hide it and now when he looked at her, really looked at her, he could see that she held herself away and although the dance was sensual she was aloof with her body but she was laughing.

He glanced back at his brother dancing with Eva, and Gabe mouthed “ask her to dance” pointing with a nod of his head at Beth. Corey started to feel uncomfortable and tugged at his ear. He wanted to punch his brother who was smirking from a distance. He looked across the room where Beth was sitting down with a champagne glass in her hand.

“Well, hell,” he muttered under his breath but couldn’t stop his feet from putting one in front of the other. It was as if she could sense his approach and she turned her head to watch him. Her dark green eyes were bright, he almost tripped over his heart beat. Her soft pink lips parted as her cheeks suffused with color.

She looked around her; he knew she was hoping to escape. Corey came to a stop directly behind her and he could sense she knew he was there because her shoulders stiffened.

She looked up at Micah asking him if he would like to dance again, her voice held a pleading tone, he glowered at his friend narrowing his eyes, warning him that it would not be in his best interests to take her up on that offer. Micah understood as Corey knew he would, his friend put his hand up, grinned back and waved his arm in front of him for Corey to go forward. Corey fashioned a grin on his face before turning back to the woman sitting in the chair.

“I believe, Beth Giles, you owe me a dance and an explanation.”

“I don’t think so,” she replied. Her back was straight, her face taut as she reached for Micah’s hand.

Corey moved round the chair like a flash taking hold of her fingers in his own before she could grasp onto Micah. His friend grinned unashamedly at Corey. He was one of the few men he knew apart from his brothers who was not intimidated by his stare.

 

Want to win a copy of Coming to Terms with Love?

Leave a comment on this post

and you’ll be entered for a chance to win an ebook copy

from the author.

Contest will close Monday, April 21, at 9:00 AM

 

25 Words or Less – April 2014

Spring has finally arrived! We all know, of course, that April showers will bring May flowers…but what to do on those rainy days and nights? How about curling up and falling in love with a good romance novel?

Here are more great titles — and quick little blurbs — to help you make the most of those delightful April showers.

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HappilyEverAfter_MEDHappily Ever After by Christina Cole

Sometimes fairy tales do come true.

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Please check out these titles from your favorite romance authors!

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When I See Your FaceWhen I See Your Face by Devika Ferando by Devika Fernando

Can Cathy trust a man to be part of her future who looks exactly like the man who ruined her past?

 

 

 

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To Love a Lady by  Lindsay DownsTo Love a Lady by Lindsay Downs

Having loved Lady Cara from afar, now by her side, will Lord Jack Harwick be able to keep her safe?

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A Most Unlikely Countess by  V L LoceyA Most Unlikely  Countess by V L Locey

Can a timid young woman find her happy ending with a world famous goalie?

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Artful Dodging by M S SpencerArtful Dodging by M S Spencer

Murders, misunderstandings, misfits, and misadventure—needlepoint artist Milo Everhart has her hands full. Can handsome lawyer Tristram Brodie prove to her that love conquers all?

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The Widowed Countess by Linda Rae SandeThe Widowed Countess by Linda Rae Sande

A sensual and fishy tale of a recently widowed countess, twin brothers, one of whom is a ghost, and true love.

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Portrait young beauty girl against black backgroundDancing with Temptation by Dilys J Carnie

Her trust in men is sorely blighted by past experience.He can’t understand what’s holding her back.

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Readers, please check out these books and let your favorite authors know how much you’ve enjoyed these stories.  Let everyone know! Your emails, comments, and reviews are appreciated.

Sinhalese New Year by Devika Fernando

From Christina: When Devika commented on a post I wrote about “spring cleaning”, she mentioned the traditions surrounding the Sinhalese New Year, known as aluth avurudda in Sinhalese. I was intrigued, and I quickly invited Devika to share a few thoughts. 

 

Sinhalese New Year

by  Devika Fernando

In Sri Lanka, we don’t experience the four seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter. There is the never-ending cycle of dry seasons and rainy seasons which influences flora, fauna and agriculture. So, instead of the spring cleaning the West goes through every year, we have an annual cleaning session when the Buddhist and Hindu New Year dawns. The old year ends on April 13th and the new year begins on April 14th. These dates are chosen because of their astrological meaning. Apparently, the sun moves from the house of Pisces to the house of Aries. To Sri Lankans, astrology is all but holy. That is one of the reasons why each year, there are different auspicious times. One year, the New Year might dawn in the evening, the next year in the morning or around noon. There are also auspicious times for special rituals.

  • There’s a time on the last day of the old year where any preparation and work must be finished. For a span of roughly 10 hours, you’re supposed to do no work (including housework) and to spend time with your family, with religious practices or just relaxing.
  •  There’s a time after the new year has begun where you turn on your oven for the first time. As some Sri Lankans still use a wood-and-fire stove and almost all others use gas for cooking, it is customary to create a small fire and place a pot of milk on it. The milk should boil over at roughly the given time, which brings a bountiful year.
  •  There’s a time when you can have your first meal after the 10-hour period.
  • Usually 2 to 4 days after the New Year, there’s a day and time to start work again.

In combination with these times, there are auspicious colours to wear on each of the occasions, and there is a direction (for example south, or north-east) to look at when you perform a task like cooking the first meal or going to office for the first time.

Sinhalese New Year

Subha aluth avuruddak wewa

 Wishing you a happy New Year

* * * *

During the days prior to the Sinhalese New Year, we perform our version of ‘spring cleaning’. The whole house is swept and dusted and washed and rearranged. Whoever can afford it, gets the building colour washed and the furniture repaired and polished. From the curtains to every item in the cupboards, everything is taken out and cleaned, and old and broken things are discarded.

Not only the houses have to be at their shiniest and newest, but the people, too. It is customary to gift family members and friends clothes, as well as buy yourself new ones. If the grown-up children live in the parent’s house—which happens more often than not—they buy new household items or some decoration.
Another reason for the date the New Year falls on is the end of the harvesting season for paddy (rice) and other major agricultural crops. So, in the villages, there are many rites and rituals around donating the first rice and how to cook it.

Of course, the New Year wouldn’t be a celebration if special food weren’t involved. There are several traditional sweets—many made from rice flour, palm syrup (treacle) and mung bean flour—that the whole family comes together to make. On the dawning of the new day, you eat these along with milk rice and a spicy onion-and-chili paste.

Sri Lanka
Games—climbing a wooden pole smeared with grease, having a pillow fight while balancing on a beam, trying to hit a hanging clay pot with your eyes closed, play drums—are an essential part of the New Year celebrations. Religion also plays an important role. On the first day of the new year, you go to the temple and offer flowers as well as prayers. The head of the family blesses everyone else.

Basically, it’s all about strengthening family bonds, taking a breather from the hectic everyday troubles, readying yourself and your house for the next 12 months to come – and having a good time.

* * * *

About Devika

devikaAlmost as soon as Devika Fernando could write, she imagined stories and poems. After finishing her education in Germany and returning to her roots in Sri Lanka, she got a chance to turn her passion into her profession. Having lived in Germany and in Sri Lanka with her husband has made her experience the best (and the worst) of two totally different worlds – something that influences her writing. Besides being a romance novel author, she works as a German web content writer and as a translator. When she’s not writing, she’s reading or thinking about writing. Her debut romance novel, When I See Your Face, is now available at Amazon. 

 

Spring Brings Eternal Hope by Cindy Christiansen

Spring Flowers

 

Spring is God’s way of saying ‘One more time!’

– Robert Orben

 

 

 

 

Spring Brings Eternal Hope

by Cindy Christiansen

 

There is something magical about spring. The earth warms and brightens, seeds sprout and grow into a gorgeous colorful array of flowers, grass turns a vibrant green, and trees bud new leaves. I think more than any time of the year, spring gives me hope—a rebirth to accomplish new and wondrous things—to start anew.

Many celebrate each new year as a time to set goals and move forward. But there is something incredible about the rebirth of the earth that fills me with hope and optimism that life brings new choices and opportunities never before considered.

Reach out and touch those dreams. Wipe clean your slates and refresh your hearts. It’s a new day!

One of the first vegetables you can grow and harvest in the spring is peas! Oh, how I remember harvesting the peas early in the morning on our farm, sitting on the lawn grass underneath the shade trees podding peas. My older sister would eat more than she put into her bucket. My dad was just as bad. Mom would have to get after both of them. Soon the podding, blanching and packaging was complete, but Mom always saved a few out for a fresh pea salad. I share that recipe with you today in memory of happy spring days and future spring days that sprout new hopes, dreams and visions.

Fresh Pea Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh peas
  • 8 slices of bacon or 1/2 cup Hormel Real Crumbled Bacon
  • 2/3 cup chopped onions
  • 3/4 to 1 cup Ranch dressing
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 head lettuce

Directions:

1. If using strips of bacon: Cook bacon in skillet over medium heat until brown. Drain, crumble and set aside. If using already prepared bacon, measure 1/2 cup.

2. In a large bowl, combine and mix all the above ingredients except for lettuce.

3. Refrigerate pea dressing for 30 minutes or until chilled before serving. (We never can wait that long.)

4. Wash and dry lettuce (I use a salad spinner. Mom didn’t have one.) Tear lettuce into bite-size pieces in large bowl.

5. Pour pea dressing over lettuce and toss. Enjoy!

About Cindy: 

Cindy A. Christiansen writes sweet romance with humor, suspense…and dogs! With over thirty health issues and two autistic children, she struggles to write but finds it cathartic. She loves going where only her characters can take her. She loves dogs and always includes them in her books and features them on her covers. She donates time and money to organizations that help abused and abandoned dogs. She lives with her wonderful family and delightful dogs in West Jordan, UT.