Sending Off An Adventurer

My sister left this week.

One of my sisters. I have a few.

This particular sister is nineteen. I’ve mentioned her before. She has been living with me for the last several months, but she is off now.

Off adventuring.

I drove her to the airport on Tuesday. We talked about boys the whole drive.

Okay, one boy.

Okay, Colin Firth, in the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice.

In other words, we had a great time. After a two hour drive, I dropped her off and left her all alone. By herself. She flew to Austin, Texas, then to Iceland, and finally to Amsterdam, where she was picked up by the staff of the school she’s attending.

A lot of adventure for a nineteen year old.

In case you were wondering, yes, I’m a wreck. She’s been my best friend for a lot of years, besides being my roommate (cabin-mate?) for the last several months, and I’m going to miss her terribly. I’m not saying I cried in the car on the way home, but I cried in the car on the way home.

Just a little.

No one will sit by the fire with me in the evenings, no one will read everything I write and tell me if it’s good or not, no one will make me tea or eat all my cooking and pretend it’s amazing.

In short, I’m devastated.

But I’m very excited for her. She’ll be living in Amsterdam for three months, then transferring to an—as of yet—undisclosed location for the remainder of her school. Thanks to Skype and Facebook, I’ll be able to keep in touch with her, but she won’t really have much time to talk to me. Classes and new friends will take up most of her time.

I went to a similar school when I was nineteen, one located in West Kilbride, Scotland. I spent three months living in a castle on the beach (above), then another two months backpacking through Cambodia. It changed my life to see the sun set on the other side of the world, and I am so excited to see my sister go through the same experiences.

So, yes, I’m happy for her.

Just sad for me, because I have to live without her for a few months.

Christmas Books

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Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year.

It’s time for Christmas lights, peppermint-flavored everything, Christmas carols, fudge, peanut brittle, and mistletoe. This season can be a hectic one, and my favorite way to counter that craziness is to keep my evenings to myself.

It’s so easy to commit to caroling, numberless Christmas parties at work, and shopping trips with friends, but I prefer wiggle out if I can manage it. Instead, I keep my evenings for quiet moments. Wrapping presents (or making them), baking cookies, or—best of all—reading.

My favorite nights are the ones when I light candles and spend the evening curled up with a cup of peppermint hot chocolate, a fire in my wood stove, and a good book. My kitty will come read with me too, and is there anything better on a cold winter night than a cat purring in your lap?

Choosing books that fit perfectly with a night like this one isn’t easy, but some of my favorites to pair with a roaring fire and a cup of good cocoa are:

A Christmas Carol

This charming classic has been adapted into plays, a million different movies, and episodes of every cartoon you can think of, but have you ever read the original story by Charles Dickens? I hadn’t—at least, not until a few years ago. Then, I was utterly blown away by a story for the ages—and one that fully deserves the notary that it has obtained over the years.

Little House in the Big Woods

Family and Christmas go hand in hand, and I can’t think of a better story than Little House in the Big Woods for both. This sweet book encompasses an entire year of Laura Ingalls life as a very young girl—including Christmas in the big woods. Her descriptions of life in the 1800s and of their Christmas together as a family are vivid and beautiful, a definite addition to any Christmas evening.

Little Women

Comfort books are a must for me during the craziness of the Christmas season, and Little Women is high on that list. The book spans a large number of years in the lives of the March sisters, and their Christmas seasons are simple, heartfelt, and filled with a richness that illustrates the depth of their regard for each other and the community around them.

The Tailor of Gloucester

Beatrix Potter weaves magic with her illustrated stories, and The Tailor of Gloucester is—in my opinion—one of her finest books. This Christmas tale has charm, compassion, a naughty cat, and a lovely, inspiring ending. Her pictures are vivid and heartwarming, and it’s a book I will be reading aloud and to myself for many years to come.

Christmas is a season for wonder and thankfulness, for pausing to reflect, and for appreciating the quiet moments. These books carry a thousand memories of years past, and I will continue to enjoy them for many years to come.

Of Bullfrogs and Snapdragons: Coming Fall 2019

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Hedgehogs, O most faithful of readers, make excellent writing companions.

I would not admit this to anyone but you, for some of my friends would be terribly jealous if they thought that I was choosing favorites. Belinda Munkindot, who I am sure that you remember from my previous letters, would fly into the most ridiculous passion if she so much as suspected that I preferred a hedgehog’s company to her own. But there it is, dearest reader, and I do hope that you will keep my secret.

Since I have taken on the task of chronicles these small adventures for you, I have had many little visitors to my cottage. Lumpkin has come several times. He roams about beneath my desk, tapping on the walls, and occasionally will clamber up to sit on my shoulder, reading the page that I have so carefully inscribed for you and uttering a few complaints if the story happens to be about anyone but himself. Once, I caught him digging through my flour barrel, as if he really did think he would find treasure buried inside. I am afraid that I dusted him off rather roughly and ordered him to go home at once.

He is still sulking.

Belinda, too, has come to see me many times. She flits in and out of my window as she pleases, sometimes resting on my writing hand to get a closer look at what I am saying about her, sometimes tinkling in my ear, and sometimes admiring herself in the mirror I keep on my desk to distract her. Her tinkling is very bothersome, and as she seldom does anything but scold about the stories I’ve chosen to tell—or not tell—about her, I find it very trying to have her with me for long.

Wignilian would be a fine companion, I think, if he wasn’t so easily distracted. He scuttles about, sniffing this and nibbling that, and drives me quite frantic. I have been forced to banish him several times.

In the end, I have found that the only little creature I can stand to have rooting about on my writing desk is a hedgehog.

Actually, if I am to be most entirely honest, it is one hedgehog in particular that has snuffled his way into my good graces.

His name, dear reader, is Lester Winklestep.

Of Bullfrogs and Snapdragons, the sequel to Of Mice and Fairies, is set for release in the fall of 2019. Mark your calendars!

Free BOOKS!

 

Of Mice and Fairies by A.R. Geiger in leaves
Of Mice and Fairies by A.R. Geiger

Today, we are celebrating!

Several things, in fact.

Firstly, it is November. And we have snow. And I love snow, especially when I know my woodpile is going to last me through the month.

That is definitely a good feeling.

Secondly, this blog recently passed its one year anniversary, AND reached 100 followers! YAY! So, this weekend we are doing giveaways!

Double YAY!

Of Mice and Fairies and The Birdwoman
Of Mice and Fairies and The Birdwoman

Both of my books (The Birdwoman, and Of Mice and Fairies) are FREE on Amazon for the next five days, so hop over and get yourself a copy on me. I love you all! Thank for taking this journey with me and making this year such a very, very special one!

In Which Wignilian is Heroic

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I must be completely honest with you, dearest of readers, and admit that the old mill down by the pond is not really a part of Bushkyn Hollow. It is, in fact, in a different part of the forest altogether, and one must walk quite ten minutes from one to the other.

But the mill is every bit as dear to my heart as Bushkyn Hollow, and I can’t imagine one without the other. I often bring my notebook and pen to a quiet little nook that I know of, right beneath the mill wheel. The rocks are covered with thick moss, the air is cool and misty, and I can see right across the still pond into the woods on the other side. Occasionally, a deer or a fox will come by for a drink and a pleasant chat, or the frogs that live in the reeds and rushes will swim over to pass the time of day. Frogs are remarkably proud creatures and think very much of themselves, but they can occasionally be pleasant, especially if the day is warm and they have found a good many fat flies to catch.

But perhaps my favorite of all the animals in and around the Old Mill is Wignilian Finch. He is a great friend of mine, and sometimes will consent to ride about in the pocket of my dress while I am out walking. I do enjoy having him with me, but I sometimes suspect that he allows such an indignity simply because he would prefer not to walk himself. As I have said before, he is an exceptionally lazy mouse…

My book, Of Mice and Fairies, is available now Here! I hope you enjoy the rest of this story, and others like it, as much as I have.

Night Festival

I do not review books by request on this blog.

Ever.

It’s just not something that I do. The books I post about are the ones that belong on my shelves, the ones that broke my heart and soothed my soul. These posts are about chronicling my own journey as a reader, highlighting the books that have moved me and built me, and offering my bookshelves to other readers searching for their own collections.

Not giving two stars to a book I only picked up because someone sent me an email.

dLOao6VAAnd yet, the most amazing books can sometimes drop into your lap in the oddest of ways. An email or a short message can be exactly the relief that is needed in days with too much stress and too many hard things happening. For me, that is exactly what Ms. Simpson’s note was. So this time—this ONE time—I am making an exception to my rule, simply because this book touched my soul, and I wanted to share it with you.

Night Festival is a wordless picture book created by illustrator Michelle Simpson. It has not been released yet, but her Kickstarter for the project is located here, and I would highly, highly recommend going over to check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

I certainly wasn’t.

Ms. Simpson’s simple, yet incredibly creative illustrations are heartwarming and beautifully expressive, telling a story that will speak to the youngest child and the most cynical adult. When I read the book, I had just finished an especially difficult and nerve-wracking job interview and needed, more than anything in the world, an escape. A place to hide, a place to recover, and a place to find myself again.

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Night Festival was that place for me. The magic in this sweet book, the beautiful imagery, and the story that will immediately reach out to anyone who has ever felt lost or displaced in unfamiliar surroundings captivated me, and helped so much to relieve some of the anxiety that comes from new job opportunities, new situations, and working really hard to smile and talk normally whilst still post-surgery swollen.

In other words, this book managed to work a miracle. For that, I am deeply grateful.

Night Festival is not Ms. Simpson’s only book, for those of you disappointed by its absence on the general market. She has another for sale here, called Monsters In My House, and while I have not read it yet (I fully intend to), it looks every bit as charming and sweet as Night Festival. May you enjoy her enchanting work as much as I have!