Tag Archives: The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

#Ghostly #Christmas #Romance Somewhere the Bells Ring on Audible!


Woot! A favorite novella of mine is now available in Audio at Amazon. Narrator Tom Jordan did a terrific job.  He says Somewhere the Bells Ring is, ‘The most touching romantic ghost story since Demi Moore made pottery with Patrick Swayze.’   

Somewhere the Bells Ring was an engrossing story to write, and yes, very moving. The old house in the story is based on the family homeplace in the Shenandoah Valley where my father grew up and that I often visited as a child. The story opens in 1968, an era I have a lot of nostalgia about, with time slips back to 1918 and the end of WWI.

Story Blurb:

Caught with pot in her dorm room, Bailey Randolph is exiled to a relative’s ancestral home in Virginia to straighten herself out. Banishment to Maple Hill is dismal, until a ghost appears requesting her help. Bailey is frightened but intrigued. Then her girlhood crush, Eric Burke, arrives and suddenly Maple Hill isn’t so bad.

To Eric, wounded in Vietnam, his military career shattered, this homecoming feels no less like exile. But when he finds Bailey at Maple Hill, her fairy-like beauty gives him reason to hope – until she tells him about the ghost haunting the house. Then he wonders if her one experiment with pot has made her crazy.

As Bailey and Eric draw closer, he agrees to help her find a long-forgotten Christmas gift the ghost wants. But will the magic of Christmas be enough to make Eric believe – in Bailey and the ghost – before the Christmas bells ring?

“An intriguing, gripping ghost story with a focus on romance rather than terror.” ~Reviewed by Stephanie E with Fallen Angels Reviews

Listen to Somewhere the Bells Ring at: https://www.amazon.com/Somewhere-Bells-Ring-Time-Book/dp/B075GWRZ1G

Geese Have Quite A Lot to Say, Actually


Here are the geese having a clandestine meeting. They do that a lot, with secretive quacks and goosey murmurs which change to alarmed scrambles when I’m spotted. Bad me, spying on the Goose Alliance.

But I feel compelled to stay abreast of their plots. Even more furtive, are these gatherings at dusk with the cows. I suspect they’re planning an uprising and trying to take over the farm.

Again, all appears innocent in this early morning shot of them grouped beyond the flowers, but beware. Geese For All and All for Geese.  I’m suspiciously absent from their mantra.  I could be wrong, though, and the gaggle are exchanging knitting patterns. In case I’m right on, I will continue my surveillance. Does anybody truly know the mind of a goose?

“The goose that lays the golden eggs likes to lay where there are eggs already.” Charles Spurgeon (No idea what this means, but I’ll keep a lookout for it).

Coming Soon-My Very First Newsletter!


With much appreciated help, I’m putting together my first ever newsletter, a mix of gardening, geese, the farm, my furbabies, books…new release…If you’d like to be among the happy recipients please message me your email at bctrissel@yahoo.com or fill out the form on the left side of my blog. A $20.00 Amazon gift card will be awarded to one of the recipients for coming on board. I’m too busy herding cats, geese, Puppy Cooper, gardening, and that writing thing…to get a newsletter out more than quarterly so don’t worry about being bombarded.

This announcement is brought to you by my publicists, Peaches and Cream..

‘The Darling Buds of May’


2Flowering Crab

As a child growing up during the 19th century, or so it sometimes seems, I remember placing baskets of flowers as a surprise on friend’s doorstep early on a lovely May Day morn. Also, dancing around the May Poll festivities in which, not I, but my younger brother and sister both participated. The little girls with garlands in their hair, decked out in pretty spring dresses. Mom made my sister’s. One year the wind toppled the May Poll and then there’s the time the children got all wound up in the ribbons and over it went.  Humiliating for my young brother who’d practiced so hard and tried to no avail to instruct his fellow dancers to wind them properly. I never did trust that May Poll thing to go as planned and hoped to be crowned May Queen, surrounded by a glad assembly of courtiers. No such luck. But May Day was special and has strong flowery associations in my memory. And wind. It never entered anyone’s mind that this revelry had possible pagan connotations. May Day festivities were simply a spring rite and good fun. (*Flowering crab apple tree in our yard)

How about the rest of you? Any May Queens among us?


“May 1st, often called May Day, just might have more holidays than any other day of the year. It’s a celebration of Spring. It’s a day of political protests. It’s a neopagan festival, a saint’s feast day, and a day for organized labor. In many countries, it is a national holiday. (Royalty free image of birch tree)

Beltane

Celtic calendar feast ushering in the start of summer. (It also went by a variety of other spellings and names in assorted dialects of Gaelic.)

Bonfires, often created by rubbing sticks together, were common features of Beltane celebrations. Related rituals included driving cattle between two fires, dancing around the fires, and burning witches in effigy. Another tradition was Beltane cakes, which would be broken into several pieces, one of which was blackened. They would be drawn by celebrants at random; the person getting the unlucky blackened piece would face a mock execution.

In recent years, Beltaine has been adopted or revived by neopagan groups as a major seasonal festival.

Bringing in the May: *This is more what I remember.  🙂

In medieval England, people celebrated the start of spring by going out to the country or woods “going a-maying” and gathering greenery and flowers, or “bringing in the may.” This was described in “The Court of Love” (often attributed to Chaucer, but not actually written by him) in 1561. Totally irrelevant, but I am a direct descendant of Chaucer on my father’s side.

(Iris and poppies image by my mom)

“And furth goth all the Court, both most and lest,
To feche the floures fressh, and braunche and blome;
And namly, hawthorn brought both page and grome.
With fressh garlandes, partie blewe and whyte,
And thaim rejoysen in their greet delyt.”

Another English tradition is the maypole. Some towns had permanent maypoles that would stay up all year; others put up a new one each May. In any event, the pole would be hung with greenery and ribbons, brightly painted, and otherwise decorated, and served as a central point for the festivities.

May Day was also a time for morris dancing and other dances, often around the maypole. In the 19th century, people began to braid the maypole with ribbons by weaving in and out in the course of a dance. Other later traditions include making garlands for children and the crowning of the May Queen.”

From an interesting site: Herbal Musings

Beltain, Bealtaine, Beltine, May Day, Cetsamhain (‘first Samhain‘), Walpurgis Night (Beltane Eve), Celtic ‘Flower Festival’

Druidic Name: Beltane

archangel-michael, old stained glass windowChristian Equivalent

Roodmas, Rood Day, Feast of Saint Philip and Saint James, Feast of Saint Walpurga

Beltane is the cross-quarter festival that marks the start of the summer quarter of the year and the end of the spring quarter. This is a time when nature blossoms and felicity and fertility return to the land. In times past, the livestock stockaded at Samhain was returned to summer pastures at Beltane.

…a joyful festival of growth and fecundity that heralds the arrival of summer. It is the festival of the ‘Good Fire’ or ‘Bel-fire’, named after the solar deity Bel. Bel was also known as Beli or Bile in Ireland, with Bile meaning ‘tree’, so Beltane may also mean ‘Tree-fire’. Beltane is the counterpart of Samhain (and is sometimes referred to as Cetsamhain, the ‘first Samhain’), and these two important festivals divide the year into summer and winter halves, just as the two equinoctial celebrations, Ostara and Mabon, divide the year into light and dark halves.

Lighting fires was customary at Beltane, and traditionally a Beltane fire was composed of the nine sacred woods of the Celts. All hearth fires were extinguished on Beltane Eve and then kindled again from the sacred “need fires” lit on Beltane. People would leap through the smoke and flames of Beltane fires and cattle were driven through them for purification, fertility, prosperity and protection.

AngelicaIt is a traditional time for Handfastings (marriages), and for couples to make love outside to bless the crops and the earth. Maypoles were often danced around at Beltane to bring fertility and good fortune. Beltane lore also includes washing in May-day dew for beauty and health, and scrying (peeping) in sacred waters, such as ponds or springs.

The festival is sometimes referred to as Roodmas, a name coined by the medieval Christian Church in an attempt to associate Beltane with the Cross (the Rood) rather than the life-giving symbol of the Maypole. Beltane was also appropriated by the Church as the Feast Day of Saint Walpurga, who was said to protect crops and was often represented with corn.”

(*Royalty free images of the Archangel Michael and the sacred herb Angelica)

Geese Are Grazing In My Yard


Geese in front yard.jpg1

(Image from last summer but you get the idea)

Barnyard geese grow fussy and restless this time of year. The gaggle are in search of nesting sites and busy bringing about the goslings who will soon scuttle behind their parents. I read our variety of geese are called Pilgrim, because their coloring resembles the drab garb of those early folk to America’s shores, not because they date back that far. I used to think they did. Duh on me. This American breed was developed in the early 1900’s. They are termed friendly and called good parents by one site who sells the fuzzy goslings. I beg to differ. While it’s true these are not ‘attack geese’ I must point out that they hate me and run fast and far, so I must sneak up in them to get pics or use a telephoto lens.

Gray Geese sitting on eggs

(Nesting Geese in the barn)

As for their parenting, I would add, ‘When they remember.’ They tend to misplace their offspring and forget where they put them. It’s not unusual to discover a peeping gosling in great distress because it was left behind. I’ve retrieved and returned these babies more than once. But the adults lose a certain number every year. If they didn’t, the gaggle would be far larger. They roam about the farm, my yard, and the meadow. While they love swimming on the pond–now empty as it will soon be dug out and deepened–they are content with puddles, the cow’s watering trough, and ample grass. They also glean corn from grain the cows spill as they eat. We never feed the geese anything. They are free ranging. I’ve tried tossing grain their way to make friends with the ‘Beth haters’ but they just think I’m throwing stuff at them and run faster.

Geese and goslings

Sigh. I continue to try and befriend them but they are a ornery suspicious lot. Still, I’m fond of the cantankerous critters and protect them more than they know. So don’t ask if you can buy some to eat, and people do. The answer is NO! I am their defender whether they like me or not.

The poetry of the earth is never dead. ~John Keats


We’ve had a lovely garden season this year with rains enough not to need the sprinkler. This may change, as higher temps are in the forecast and no imminent showers, but weather can turn around overnight, so we shall see. Meanwhile, we’ve been blessed and I’m sharing July pics of the farm and garden with you.

A parade of poppies by Elise(A parade of poppies by daughter Elise)

_MG_0679_copyright (1)I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. ~John Muir (1838–1914)

I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright. ~Henry David Thoreau

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes. ~e.e. cummings  (Cone flowers by Elise)

Good heavens, of what uncostly material is our earthly happiness composed… if we only knew it. What incomes have we not had from a flower, and how unfailing are the dividends of the seasons. ~James Russell Lowell

poppies and alyssum by EliseI know the thrill of the grasses when the rain pours over them.
I know the trembling of the leaves when the winds sweep through them.
I know what the white clover felt as it held a drop of dew pressed close in its beauteousness.
I know the quivering of the fragrant petals at the touch of the pollen-legged bees.
I know what the stream said to the dipping willows, and what the moon said to the sweet lavender.
I know what the stars said when they came stealthily down and crept fondly into the tops of the trees. ~Muriel Strode, “Creation Songs”

(Poppies, sweet alyssum, and bachelor’s buttons by Elise)

July 5th evening light in between rain storms

(Grazing cows in the meadow taken by Beth)

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. ~Rachel Carson

Happiness flutters in the air whilst we rest among the breaths of nature. ~Kelly Sheaffer

barn in sunset                                              (Barn against sunset by Beth)

If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere. ~Vincent Van Gogh

All I want is to stand in a field
and to smell green,
to taste air,
to feel the earth want me,
Without all this concrete
hating me.
~Phillip Pulfrey, from Love, Abstraction and other Speculations, http://www.originals.net

I can still smell the green of the grass crushed beneath me. Feel the damp of the dew on my elbows. Hear the birdsong. ~Kristina Turner, The Self-Healing Cookbook, 2002, originally published 1987

Garden shot by Elise in July

(our garden by Elise)

God’s handiwork is all about me,
As I sit on the porch and gaze
At the far-off peaks of the mountains
That are touched with the sun’s bright rays.
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, “In the Mountains” (1940s)

farm pond with cow(Our meadow with pond and hills beyond by Beth)

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. ~John Burroughs

A setting sun still whispers a promise for tomorrow. ~Jeb Dickerson, jebdickerson.com

Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.
~William Wordsworth

Brilliant coreopsis and Queen Ann's Lace by Elise(Coreopsis Tinctoria and Queen Anne’s Lace by Elise)

There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough to pay attention to the story. ~Linda Hogan

Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain. ~Henry David Thoreau

morning garden along the road(Bee Balm, white Phlox and other flowers in front garden by Beth)

The hum of bees is the voice of the garden. ~Elizabeth Lawrence


“Gardening requires lots of water — most of it in the form of perspiration.” ~Lou Erickson~ This quote repeated in my mind while I weeded this afternoon. The sun came out after cold rainy days and the meadow shone like a green jewel in the glorious light. All was bright and beautiful.

blue iris and poppies

(Image taken by my mom)

“Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.” ~ And a lot of herbs, flowers, wild flowers, vegetables, and weeds.  Many of my plants were sown by the birds, or carried in by the wind. My goal is to have a garden for butterflies, bees, birds, and people to enjoy. The cats like it too.

“The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.” ~George Bernard Shaw

warbler

I’ve spotted this little warbler in the back garden. They migrate through in the spring and fall, wish they’d stay. I purchased this image because none of us are fast enough to capture him ourselves.

In every gardener there is a child who believes in The Seed Fairy. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com

No matter how many seeds we have, it’s never enough. I count my wealth in seeds and just ordered some more. Seeds are filled with promise of the magic to come. The garden is magical. I believe in seed fairies too.

“In my garden there is a large place for sentiment. My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful.” ~Abram L. Urban

The garden uplifts my spirits and is a perfect place to dream lovely dreams.

“It is good to be alone in a garden at dawn or dark so that all its shy presences may haunt you and possess you in a reverie of suspended thought.” ~James Douglas,Down Shoe Lane

June Roses Abraham Darby

(My favorite rose, Abraham Darby, by daughter Elise)

blue phlox spring blooming

(Native blue phlox.  Image by Elise)

“Weather means more when you have a garden. There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans.” ~Marcelene Cox

“It is a golden maxim to cultivate the garden for the nose, and the eyes will take care of themselves.” ~Robert Louis Stevenson

“Gardens are a form of autobiography.” ~Sydney Eddison, Horticulture magazine, August/September 1993

owl-cat-in-the-garden.jpg1

(Owl Cat in the garden. Image by my hubby)

“Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity.” ~Lindley Karstens, noproblemgarden.com

Salad garden.

(Salad Garden. Image by Elise)

“You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.” ~Author Unknown

“The garden is the poor man’s apothecary.” ~German Proverb

“No two gardens are the same. No two days are the same in one garden.” ~Hugh Johnson