We recently did the North Central Pathway rail trail. It technically extends between Gardner and Winchendon, though there is a break of about a mile that has not been developed yet. It’s a beautiful paved trail that runs through clear, lovely, green woods in a straight path. At the Winchendon end, we cycled down toward a sports/recreation area, but right off the trail is this cool abandoned factory and what appears to be a ware house. It’s all next to a set of falls and canal off the river. Since there weren’t any “No Tresspassing” warnings or locked gates, we checked out the area, being careful not to take any risks of falling or hurting ourselves.
Here’s a picture of a smoke stack; somehow the rest of the factory seems to have fallen away – although there was a building behind it that looked as if it might have been part of the original manufacturing site. Look at how gorgeously azure-blue the sky was that day. The sun was so bright, I had to wear my shades – prescription, of course, or I’d have been riding off the road.
In this other shot of the chimney, you can better see the tree growing up around it and what’s left of the building behind it.
There were man-made falls next to the buildings and a canal running along it for water power. The scene was beautiful. I have no idea what they made here. Since this town was the rocking horse capital, perhaps that’s what they produced?
We got back on the trail for our return ride, passing a pond that had some Barrows Golden Eye Ducks. Would that they had been close enough to photograph. These are diving ducks. So it was a hoot to watch the flock sit up on the water, flap their wings, then dive down and disappear beneath the surface for a stretch. Then, up they’d all pop. Now you see them, now you don’t, now you do!
We did get to photograph some cute critters, though – at least I think they are cute. So, here’s the trigger warning: PICTURES OF A SNAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I almost ran over a little one of these guys when he was trying to cross the trail. I guess he wanted to get to the other side. Playing chicken? He was too small for me to see right away, but Yang assured me he was okay. Then, I came across his big sister right here. A beauty, eh? I don’t know what kind this one is. His/her color is coppery with darker markings, so it doesn’t look like a garter snake to me. What do you think? Can anyone answer my query?
So, for those freaked out by this lovely creature, here are some soothing images. First, the ginormous (for us, anyway) pumpkins Yang and I grew last year.
So, to keep you entertained while you breathlessly await the forthcoming blogs on my appearance at The Book Lover’s Gourmet and my adventures at the Shakespeare of America Convention in New Orleans, here’s a link to an audio interview with me by Pat Driscoll for The New Worcester Spy. It contains more details on my interests in film noir and horror, on film and on the page, and even a little more on my background. Just click here. It’s what Dusty would want!
Well, after all my announcements and commotion, here, at last, is the report on my reading and signing at Annie’s Bookstop in Worcester. I HAD A BALL! What a wonderful experience. So, I will commemorate it in words and pictures for you.
Ah, a long shot of Annie’s as viewed by the author and her entourage – aka her husband. Hey, he’s one guy but he’s worth a battalion. We all know that about Yang!
Wait, here’s the heart-stopping moment where I see myself and my work celebrated in an honest-to-goodness advertisement! I’m a star! For the day. Sort of. That’s good enough for me!
One of my loyal fans, Barbara Werblin greets me with gifts celebrating my great victory in actually getting the darned thing published! We’re buddies from the “Y,” so she’s seen me in my sweats and really knows me! Barb’s a great friend who has given me tons of encouragement – and she loves the book, too! As the Mom of a wonderful poet, she understands the writer’s burden. Sigh!
You can see my pal and colleague MaryLynn just behind me in the shot above. In these two pictures, you can see my friend and former student, Erin Bassler, having a good time while she reports on the event for The New Worcester Spy. (Read the article here!) Ultimately, we had about 12 or 13 people attend, all told. I had loads of support from my friends: students, colleagues, folks I know who enjoyed Bait and Switch and like seeing me be a wise guy. So take a gander at some of the shots from the reading, question answering, and signing. Also, note how I got myself all gussied up in my smart-talking, forties gal, film noir look: white blouse, black skirt, black and white spectator pumps, technicolor red lipstick. Agent Carter, eat out your heart!
Someone said something shocking! How about those gorgeous flowers that Barbara got me for the occasion? And chocolate. She got me chocolate, too. A brilliant woman!
Here are some nice shots of other folks coming up with questions, pondering the noir-style mysteries engendered by James Crawford leaving Jessica Minton that mysterious package in Bait and Switch.
Erin Fragola follows along intently while I ham up my reading in the background.
Everyone gets intense with Pam McKay concentrating to express her thoughts on one of the many exciting and intriguing questions people posed to me on the characters, plot, historical background, cinematic style of the novel, and the true identity of Dusty. Both Erin Bassler and I look perplexed. Must have been a humdinger of a query! Something to do with Nazis?
While I’m signing books for my loyal fans, Pam and her friend Gaylene are perusing Bait and Switch to throw more thought-provoking questions my way.
Ah, the end of an exhilarating day! Here the author poses with her masterpiece. I could use a nice cuppa about now.Bait and Switch is the first in the series of Jessica Minton’s adventures in the 1940s. I’m not telling who else will be along for the ride in subsequent novels. You’ll have to buy the books to find out!
I’m lucky to have so many friends to support me and to enjoy what I write. My only regret is that I didn’t get to include pictures of two people who made this wonderful day possible, but I do extend my heartfelt thanks. Patty at Annie’s and my husband, who always believes in me – and is lots of fun to be with – yes, I know I dangled a preposition. So there!
One of my favorite places on our trip to China in November ’14 was the Beijing Arboretum next to Xiang Shan (Fragrant Hill, 香山). We arrived there after a long, traffic-packed drive from the city and got a second dose of autumn colors.
There were plenty of paths to hike amongst the trees and plenty of critters and birds about, including the ever-present magpies and azure winged magpies. There were also many Great Tits (like our Chickadees) and sparrows – is there ANY place that isn’t over-run with sparrows? Unfortunately, they were all too quick to allow any picture taking. However, here’s a picture of Yang, who as just as charming to behold as any of our feathered friends.
The trails wended through wonderful pine and willow forests and up slopes of jagged rocks, at times past pavilions and monuments to students who had camped out and trained here to prepare to fight the Japanese during WWII. Yang and I weren’t quite so tough. Here, I’m giving my knee a rest (gardening injury), well-pleased with the scenery and the hiking. Aren’t the seats made from old red wood trees interesting?
There was also some unexpected forms of “wild life” in the park. We came across well-fed dogs and cats, just chilling in the forest, part of the families of people who worked and lived at the park. Here is a cat with a surprising resemblance to Winston Churchill. He even miaowed gruffly! Dig that expression. Could it be a reincarnation?
A young Chinese girl and I had a laugh over how unique he appeared, and how nonchalant, in a gruff way, he was with humans. When she said in English to me, “It’s a cat!” I meant to say “Dui” In Chinese, but my default mode slipped and I concurred, “Oui!” We both had a chuckle. I actually managed to converse a little with her in Chinese, saying that I liked cats and we had two at home. That was as far as I could go in Chinese at that point, so we switched to English. She and her boyfriend were a cute couple, so we took a picture of them with their camera and they took a picture of us with ours!
Surprisingly, though there was lots of traffic coming out here, most people were visiting the nearby Xiang Shan parks.
This little guy is called a Little Grebe (if you click on the picture, you can see him much better).
Here’s one more neat shot of the wonderful fall colors. I understand that when there hasn’t been a drought, the colors are really gorgeous.
Finally, I have to insert a picture of a creature we saw which really knocked Yang and I for a loop. Like dopes, we didn’t take the camera out until he had scampered away. So, this creature climbed out of the tangle of a twisted pine. At first, I thought I was seeing a big black crow. Then he settled on the ground and sat up. I was flabbergasted! It took a moment to figure out we were seeing a squirrel. He poked around, looking for food, then sat eating for a bit, and finally scampered away by the time I realized we had a camera. When we got back to the hotel, we checked him out on line. I knew I’d seen pictures of this critter before, and discovered he was a Eurasian Red Squirrel – except he’s black. Go figure. Interestingly enough, I read that the black variety of squirrel thrives in pine forests better than its red brethren. There’s plenty of pine in this place! Also, in China, the name for this type of guy is “Satan’s Squirrel.” He is rather demonic looking, isn’t he? Apparently, they are also bred commercially and sold as pets.
Getting home was almost as much of an adventure as the hike, what with overpacked buses – when they finally came. What the heck! When you have great company and beautiful weather and everyone’s in the same boat, er, bus, who cares!
No copyright infringement intended, noncommercial use of photosTree Squirrel Photo 1: http://cutterlight.com/tag/hiking-near-ulaanbaatar/