Truth in Blogging

Like writing in a diary, blogging is an edited keyhole into a larger life. I don’t ever lie in this blog, but I confess that I’ve omitted some things. Sometimes, looking back, like at yesterday’s blog, I think that I’ve painted too narrow, too didactic, a picture. Notice how I even did that nostalgic photoshop effect around the photo of Main Street?

It is absolutely true that I love shopping in this little town, but I do shop elsewhere. Yesterday, my teenager bought clothes at Kohl’s. I buy sheets at Bed, Bath and Beyond, I’ve bought dog food at Petco, and yes, I’ve had coffee at Starbucks.

In the summer I buy at a farmers’ market, but in the same week I’ll end up at a Stop and Shop Supermarket, the Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s.

I love Indie bookstores, and as a writer I am ever-grateful to their love of books, their ability to sell the obscure author and the personality they bring to towns. But, I also buy books at Barnes & Noble (my teenager loves their superb magazine selection), and I buy off Amazon and

Obviously, there are a zillion choices out there. I try to be thoughtful about them, but not a self-righteous localvore. That said, I stand behind yesterday’s blog in that if I can find it on Main Street, I’ll go there first. And then I’ll get a cup of coffee. Not at Starbucks, but at Nashoba Brooks Bakery. It’s really good. Their chocolate biscotti are made in-house. They don’t come in a plastic wrapper like at Starbucks.

I’ll meet you on Main Street. Happy Holidays.

Say No to Malls

I am lucky enough to live 6 miles from this small town. Looks like a picture-postcard New England tourist town, doesn’t it? But, there are still useful stores – a hardware store, a cheese shop, a bookstore, a shoe shop. There’s also a gallery that sells the most gorgeous jewelry (useful in its own way!)

New England small town shops in winter

We get our share of out-of-towners (Walden Pond is nearby), but a town like this survives only because the locals support it. My husband and son are there picking up last minute gifts. I just came back. No, the sweater I got my husband wasn’t on sale, but it’s exactly what I had in mind for him, and the shop owner is the father of a son’s classmate. I figure that I got just what I wanted – not only the sweater, but also this community.


henhouse in snow

Santa will certainly have easy sleighing in my neighborhood.  Nineteen inches of new snow is on the ground, and on rooftops, and in the chicken’s yards…..  Candy is delighted. The chickens are not. We’ve shoveled an area for them in the run, but they refuse to go outside. Smart birds. It’s 15 degrees F. out today, and very windy. Several of the hens are at the end of their molt and are a tad naked, poor things. But, it’s cozy and draft-free in the coop. The waterer is on a heating pad (specially made for chicken barns), so it never freezes. The hens are winter-hardy breeds, so they don’t need a heat lamp. Scooter, my little chihuahua mix, does. Actually, he’d like us to keep the fire going in the hearth all day for him. He also needed a potty area shoveled out. Lily Dog loves bounding through the snow, but she doesn’t have much of a coat and so she, too, would rather be in front of the fire. Me, too.

The snow is work and inconvenient. But isn’t it pretty?

I’ll be taking a blogging break between Christmas and New Years. Enjoy your holidays!

Joy and Zoomies

Scooter took one look at the snow and zipped around the yard in gleeful circles. That little dog is fast! Lily ran big loops around the coops and behind the vegetable garden. Candy hopped patterns into the snow and then planted herself in it, satisfied. They were each expressing JOY in their own ways. Am I reading into their behavior emotions that only humans know? Am I guilty of anthropomorphism? I don’t think so. A growing body of research shows that animals have emotions – you can document it in their brain chemistry.

It is wrong, though, to apply human traits to our animals. Jean Donaldson’s book, Culture Clash, cites the many cases where dog owners attribute thought that isn’t there to behaviors (for example, like believing that a dog has shredded your blanket in spite.) There are thoughts going on in the dogs brain, of course, just not what the owner wishes to believe! Don’t apply your own emotional baggage to explain the behavior of your animals. They have a life unto themselves. And sometimes, watching them express it, like seeing my dogs have joyful zoomies. helps to set aside your own problems.

Relationships with chickens aren’t as fraught with expectations and desires. They are birds of modest brains, after all, not, “man’s best friend.” And yet, what good company they are! Charming, often silly, busy, productive and inquisitive. Even better, what brings a chicken joy is very simple – a nice bug, a bit of corn, a shiny drop of water. These joyful moments happen frequently. Maybe that’s why it’s so nice to sit in the coop with the girls. A little of that joy rubs off on us.

Wishing you many moments of joy in the coming year.


Tillie News

Tillie Lays an Egg has been getting great reviews! My book got a starred review in Publishers Weekly, and raves in Kirkus and School Library Journal. It looks like people are having as much fun reading it as I had making it. Your local bookseller can order a copy and get it in time for holiday giving. In these days of re-evaluating what is good and lasting and necessary, I do think that books are right there in the “must-have” list. They’re a pleasure to hold, and are the ultimate hand-me-downs. However, if you’re on a really tight budget, make use of your public library! A gift to your children (or grandchildren) of a read-aloud night is as good (better) than any toy. Settle down with popcorn and a stack of books in front of a fire. I hope that Tillie and I will be there with you.