Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Winter, Be Gone by Leigh Riker



"Now is the winter of our discontent…" Those are the first words of William Shakespeare's play, Richard III. And the title of John Steinbeck's last novel. In either case, they're an apt description of the past few months in my neck of the woods--and possibly yours?

This has been the longest stretch I can remember of such gray, cold, sometimes icy, and snowy weather. Last week we had eight inches of the fluffy white stuff! And according to the forecast, there'll be more tomorrow. Sigh.


Here on my little mountain (1400 feet high) in southeast TN, and in the valley/city below, normally we see only a few picturesque flakes of white now and then with no accumulation. At the first hint of bad weather the entire place shuts down. Schools close. Events are canceled. The roads clear of any cars. The shelves in grocery stores are quickly stripped bare. The other day before this season's latest storm, there wasn't a bag of sugar to be had.

Not to worry, though. I'm a veteran of bad winters and I come prepared. When I lived in Ithaca, New York, and had two little boys under five, we had 100 inches of snow one winter, which wasn't unusual there. I learned to stock my cupboards by mid-October. I still do--to the amusement of my newer neighbors in the South. My first year here, they laughed at me for keeping at least a week's worth of food on hand, a big box of powdered milk, and all the basic supplies to make bread. "If it ever snows here," they said, "we'll know where to come."

They're not laughing now. But then, neither am I. Like them, I've been hibernating all winter, staying warm and cozy by the fire. And being a writer has its perks. I can work in my slippers if I want to. In spite of the cold and wind outside, and often a pearly fog that comes right up to the windows, shutting me in a cocoon of clouds, over the past few months I've had a grand time plotting a new story and getting to know some new characters.

Smack dab in the middle of this dark winter, I'm happy to say, I got a contract offer to write two more books for Harlequin Heartwarming. See me smile. The first is Painted Ponies (working title), and so, after all, every snow cloud has its silver lining.

Besides, how much longer can winter last? It's already March and next weekend Daylight Savings Time begins. Spring is just around the corner. Sir William and Mr. Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent is almost over!

Wherever you live, how did you survive the season? Are you an outdoor person who welcomed the opportunity to ski? Or did the weather make your productive indoors--perhaps working your way through that To Be Read pile at last?

Happy reading! Happy Spring!

(P.S. Looking ahead to summer, in July my Heartwarming title, Man of the Family, will be on the shelves.)




28 comments:

  1. Like you, Leigh, I'm a stockpiler. If my stockpile gets down to one of any particular thing, I NEED to find it at least two pals. Same goes for paper products, OTC meds, hygiene & cleaning supplies. (It's a little-known fact that dust bunnies, cobwebs, fingerprints double in size & number during blizzards.) I'd blame my born 'n' bred in Wisconsin background, but the truth is, this began when a decades-ago blizzard trapped us for more than a week. Lesson learned? Loved ones get ugly when served jelly on soda crackers for supper.

    This has been Baltimore's coldest winter on record since '79, & we're bracing for another 6-10" of snow. So I'm with you there: C'MON, SPRING! (You're my witness: When weeds in the veggie garden & flower beds are taunting me & it's 100+ w/90% humidity, memory of this socked-in winter stifle my complaints.)

    Stay warm, Leigh, have a terrific rest of the week, and big congrats on the latest contract! :-)

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    1. Thanks, Loree. I too have been trapped during several blizzards--which started my stockpiling. I won't mind a bit if you complain about the hot, humid weather next summer. It's that way here too.

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  2. Looks very cozy! We have bizarre weather here in Northern, CA. Way to warm and dry, but just this past weekend there was a wee bit of snow...in San Jose! My grandmother would have said it was the Russians who had perfected their weather machine. It was a good Cold War theory, I suppose! Keep warm!

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    1. LOL. Who knew the Russians were responsible for this winter weather! I envy you the warm and dry part but not that little bit of snow.

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  3. I am not a good stockpiler. If I bought ahead for several weeks, two years later I’d be going through the dates on the boxes and tossing them. Besides a chance to write, you also have taken some lovely pictures to remember this winter of discontent.

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    1. Glad you liked the pictures, Marion. I've certainly had the opportunity to take some this season. I hear you about those boxes. I'm sure there are more than a few in my pantry that should be thrown out.

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  4. I'm a panicker. :-) I do not stockpile because it worries me having things I don't need, but I am one who dashes to the grocery at the first snowflake just to make sure there is coffee, milk, and bread. And maybe cookies...

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    1. Ah, so that's you at the grocery store buying up all the bread and milk. I vote for more cookies too.

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  5. Leigh, congrats on the contract. That will keep you busy through the rest of the snowy days, and more. I'm glad you have kept up the habit of stock-piling some staples. One never knows when things will happen. My kids seem to dislike out-dated food stuff. When they come they go through my cupboards and fridge and toss things they're sure will kill me. Ha. Not so far.

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    1. Thank you, Roz, about the contract. Love your kids going through the cupboards for dangerous items. I've had that happen too when family comes to visit.

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  6. I have to keep a full pantry and fridge at all times because I have boys in the preteen to teen years and they eat like bears just out of hibernation lol. But when there's a bad storm threat, I like to make sure we have jugs of water because we're on well water and if we lose power, we lose water too.

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    1. Interesting point about the well water. We used to have one too so I know what you mean. No power, no water. And you're wise to stock up for the boys. My grandson hasn't been eating that much lately but I expect that to change any day now, probably when he enters another growth spurt.

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  7. I'm like Liz and Marion. I usually go to the little market around the corner from me daily to get meat and whatever else I'm having. And with snow and ice bearing down on us as I type, I'm off to get makings for a pot of soup.
    Congrats on the two new books!!! Love your Macbook pro, too.

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    1. Ooh, yummy. Save me a bowl of that soup! I like the idea of shopping daily for whatever's going to be on the menu. I tend to do a big buy all at once, though, not to have to drive down off the mountain every day. Laziness on my part. I too love my Macbook Pro!! Changed over to all Apple devices a few years ago and don't regret it.

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  8. You make getting snowed in sound lovely, Leigh! Definitely not having that issue out here in CA, and you have the PERFECT excuse to enjoy the gloomy, pretty snow. :) Happy writing--and so excited about your new books. LOVE Painted Ponies as a title. :)

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    1. You know, it can be lovely to get snowed in--and not have to try to get out. I'm over it for this season but you're right; it makes the perfect excuse to look out the window and write. Glad you like that book title. I'm hoping it doesn't get changed. There's a carousel horse and a real horse in the story.

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  9. I am so sorry to all you people buried under snow. We have daffodils here...Congrats on the contract!

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    1. Melinda, I saw a "host of daffodils" on my way home from the store this morning. I blinked twice, wondering if they were a mirage. Hope they don't get frosted in tomorrow's ice storm. Thanks for the congrats.

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  10. Leigh! Congratulations! Nothing like job security. Oregon has had a lovely, mild winter. Right now, we're having a long string of crisp, clear days - low forties, blue, blue sky. When it gets icy here, though, (usually once or twice a winter) everything stops because of our steep hills, and power often goes because of our old, old grid. But we have a cozy neighborhood, so I just go halfway up the hill in my battle boots with a full tea kettle and spend an hour or so with a neighbor who has a wood stove. Coming down again with a kettle full of boiling water is a little tricky but in order to be able to make tea, I become like one of those ice road truckers with a load of nitro. I'm good.

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    1. Yay for job security! (a fragile thing) Your milder Oregon weather sounds nice--except for the occasionally icy hills. What a brilliant idea to linger at a neighbor's house before carting your tea kettle back home.

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  11. Leigh, Congratulations on your new contract! I live about an hour from Muriel and we are having a mild winter and now an early spring--crazy! Didn't even really have enough snow in our mountains for good skiing, which normally helps get me through the winter. We have daffodils blooming already and we've seen two pair of swallows already!

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    1. Thanks, Carol. Lucky you, and Muriel too, having that easy winter and early spring. No good for the skiing, though. :( I'm guessing the swallows are early too. We've had some interesting and unusual birds at our feeders lately. I love watching them. Hurrah for more daffodils! They always look so cheerful.

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  12. I'm a stockpiler, too, although with the new kitchen, I've gotten rid of stuff. And, it's hard to be a stockpiler when you have a bunch of eaters (hubby and son) living with you.

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    1. I'll bet you love that new kitchen. It was fun to see it come together. My big eaters are gone now but I still stockpile--maybe why I have stuff in the pantry I really don't need. Now to convince my husband we need a new kitchen too!

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  13. Leigh, we've had an unusually long and cold winter. I, too, am looking forward to it being behind us.

    Congratulations on your new contract!

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    1. Thanks, Kate! Let's wish for spring. Today we have ice again.

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  14. Congratulatons on the sales, Leigh. And yes, it has been quite the winter. I usually don't mind being shut in, but enough is enough!

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  15. Oh, I know, Kristine. Normally, I like staying home but I'm done with being housebound! Thanks for the congrats. Stay warm.

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