The stories we read

Comfort Reads


It comes as no surprise to have read little these past few months. The newborn stage is consuming and fleeting. I’ve had little energy for reading, both for myself and to my children, beyond the picture book at bedtime. But now that we’re already in the second quarter of 2017 (what!!??), I thought I’d share tentative reading lists for myself and my kids.

Books to read with my kids:

Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Including the author’s name almost seems unnecessary here, but maybe that’s just because I’m so familiar with this series. We read Little House in the Big Woods last year and we have yet to begin the next in the series. This is the year!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling. (Another well-known name, if not more than the first). They enjoyed TSS so much last year. I’m looking forward to the next installment as much as they are!

-Others-wow, I really had a specific title in mind here, and now it’s gone. (ha) Well, I’m leaving the rest of this one open. I’d love to keep going in the Little House series. We’ll have to hunt down some more classics from the library because 2 or three novels is a nice start, but I’m hoping for more than that this year.

My list:

The Life-Changeing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I really want to see what all the hype is about. Plus, with 4 kids, I’ve never been more invested in de-cluttering. Any help I can get is appreciated!

Middlemarch by George Eliot.  I picked up this book from our local used book store last fall. I’ve heard good things about this author and it’s been a while since I’ve read a classic.

Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist. A friend gave me this book of essays on this often puzzling and heart-rending quality of life. I’ve read the first essay and I love Niequist’s style-easy to read, but raw and real without being jaded or harsh. I’m looking forward to finishing it.

Rising Strong by Brené Brown. Pretty much anything by Brown has my attention! And, it was given to me by the above mentioned friend. Therefore I would be a fool not to read it.

It looks like I’m trying to read what’s already on my bookshelf this year. I’ll check back in a few months from now and let you know my progress. Also, I’m leaving room for ‘comfort reads’-familiar books that sort of rest my mind when I’m not able to invest in a new story. There will still be lots of picture books enjoyed with my children, but I hope to add at least 3 or 4 novels to their repertoire this year too.

What are you reading this year?

Comfort reads if I ever saw them!

My written stories

Coyotes Gambol

When I was little, my mom often read The Three Little Foxes by A. A. Milne to my sister and I. It always made us giggle. Early this morning I heard the mischievous laughter of coyotes out in the field. Milne’s poem came to mind; with a little effort, this poem sprung to life too. Enjoy. 

Coyotes gambol in the field in the dark

They scamper and jump and tumble and bark.

“Let’s go here,” says one to another.

“No! Over there,” says his brother.

They roam and wander like a circus troupe

An ever ebbing and flowing group.

Yipping and yapping, the field is their park, 

Coyotes gambol in the field in the dark.

(I wish I really had a picture of them, but here’s one shot of the field.)

My written stories · Uncategorized

Fridays with Flora Felda 6

Read the first 5 episodes here.

March 17th, 2017

Hello again! Now, where did I leave off last time…oh, yes. The kitchen floor…

James, Lavender and I walked for what seemed like hours in the dark. Far above, a nightlight cast a faint light too distant to illuminate our path. Finally, a square shape loomed before us.

“The kitchen table,” I said.

“Strange that’s where we had our party not long ago,” said Lavender.

“There’ll be even more parties if we find this Charm,” said James.

Suddenly the ground shook beneath our feet. We staggered and cried out, too scared to speak or think clearly. Before we knew what was happening, a giant shape hovered over us a minute, blacking out the faint light, and then fell just in front of us with a woosh.

“It’s a human!” Cried Lavender.

“Hush! He’ll hear us!” James hissed, as the three of us ran for cover. We caught our breath, watching as the giant human got himself a midnight snack.

“Soon we’ll get our own midnight snacks,” I said as we waited for him to leave. The possibilities!

Compelled by this thought, we hurried on. Few things blocked our way (except for all those crumbs under the table…does the Authoress ever sweep?)

At last a thin stretch of light appeared on our horizon. Terror suddenly clutched our hearts. The Abyss.

But where else would the Charm of Charmaine be found?

My written stories

Fridays with Flora Felda 5

For the first 4 episodes, go here

March 10th, 2017

It’s me again, Flora Felda here. No, I didn’t fall off the face of the earth, although I almost did…in a way.

Where to begin? Our adventurous search for the Charm of Charmaine was not what we expected! I guess that’s life, hm? Stuffed animals aren’t what we expected either-but I’m getting ahead of myself.

So, when I last wrote, we (Lavender, James, and I) had decided to search for the Charm ourselves. We convinced the Authoress to leave our drawer open and packed a few essentials.

“Tea pots are not essentials,” argued James. Lavender glared at him.

“Then neither are three tins of mustache wax,” she shot back at him.

“James, you don’t have a mustache,” I pointed out.

“I used to. It wore off.” He sighed. I returned to my packing. Mustache wax! I laughed so hard I could barely zip my bag.

We waited for the house to quiet. That took a long time, as one of the Authoress’s children kept getting up and asking for things like a drink of hot chocolate. (Maybe she and Lavender would get along.)

Finally, quiet pervaded the night like a soft blanket. At least we hoped so. We Pollys are not known for our sense of hearing. But we slowly made our way down from the drawer. Is this what mountain goats do? I think, for Pollys, we did exceptionally well! Scaling such heights is no small feat. So I suppose it makes sense when, somehow, the wood slipped out from under my feet and I lost my grip.


Thankfully the carpet is very soft.

“Careful, Flora!” Lavender whisper-shouted.

“Shhh!” I shushed her rather irritably. Falling is still not pleasant.

We made it out of the bedroom without further difficulty. Then we arrived at an unfamiliar sight. It wouldn’t be the last…

James wrinkled his nose, squinting into the dark. The small yellow light that glowed far off didn’t help us much on the ground. “Is that…what I think it is? I didn’t know what he thought it was, but the thick carpet we had struggled across suddenly gave way to a vast, smooth, surface, the air tangibly cooler above it.

“Is that ice?” I asked incredulously. Lavender and James seemed to have had the same thought after all. James looked around.

“How did we get outside?” Lavender said, casting a suspicious glance at James. He held up his hands.

“We aren’t outside, you plastic heads,” I said. “This is the kitchen floor! Remember?”

“Oh! Right.”

We all laughed, thinking how silly we’d been and that surely, our way was safe from here.

How little we knew…




The baby was up every two hours or more last night. I slowly ease him onto my bed, swallowing my sore throat and hoping he’ll stay asleep long enough for me to get coffee and a sippy cup for his big brother. I could try the sling but I don’t want to yet. My shoulders and back ache from nursing all night. I sat slouched on the bed because I was too tired to walk to the rocking chair for every feeding. 

He stirs and grunts. His blue eyes pop open-I’m awake! Oh well, at least he’s happy. Surprisingly, K is still asleep and I hurry to get the assorted beverages. Better grab the tissues, to, for our assorted runny noses. Make that coffee extra strong, please, enough to wipe some of the brain fog and eye pain out. Coffee, can you magically remove yesterday’s makeup for me and make me look (smell) like I got a shower yesterday? 

I sit down with the baby and coffee. Still silence. I should change my clothes at least. Why though, when I’m already dressed? Wash my face, then. Make my bed? Empty the dishwasher? Nope, here comes the toddler. We snuggle for a few minutes to take his mind off the fact that daddy’s at work. Baby is still content, now in his vibrating massage chair. (I guess he should be, on that score.) It’s only a matter of time before he starts fussing again though and we start all over. 

My older two children trickle out to join us. Clothes? Bed? No, I’ll do something I’ve wanted to do for weeks now. I toss together the wet ingredients and add them to the dry ingredients I set aside yesterday. Oatmeal applesauce muffins in 20 minutes.

The entire day can seem to stretch before us like one long, monotonous road. We won’t think about the entire day. Instead, we’ll eat muffins and take it one step at a time.

The stories we read

January Reads…Sort Of

January started out with the arrival of our 4th little one, born hours before 2016 ended. We are so happy he’s here. 

Ah, those first 2 weeks of newborn bliss. “Bliss”is a rather complex word when used in conjunction with the postpartum period! However, it’s safe to say I read a lot. I was feeling  ambitious and began several books. Now I’m back on my feet and my ambition (and time for reading…and attention span…)has waned. This is the month of the unfinished book(s).

The House on Mango Street- Sandra Cisneros-No picture because I can’t find it. So typical. These short essays based on the author’s childhood are poignant and revealing. Cisneros writes of both the universal struggles of growing up and the specific difficulties faced as a minority. I’m always blown away by writers who convey a lot with few words, and she does not disappoint. Hopefully I can finish this one next month. Thank goodness I can renew missing books online…

1215: The Year of Magna Carta-Danny Danziger and John Gillingham-Ok, I mostly picked this one for its size and cover art. Yep. Oh, but I do like history too. The authors write wittily about all aspects of life surrounding and leading up to this critical document. I jumped around since the chapters are more topical than chronological. What I remember most is discovering what may be the root of longstanding British prejudice against the Irish. The British favored towns and cities over rural life, and when Prince John visited Ireland with Gerald de Barri, Barri wrote two books that furthered a wide-spread disdain for the Celts. 

You Are A Writer (So Start Acting Like One)-Jeff Goins-I actually finished this one! I chalk it up to 1) reading it on my phone via Kindle, because only one hand was needed, and 2) short, pithy content. The first part deals with common insecurities and hold-ups faced by all beginning writers. The second and third parts were incredibly practical and helpful for building a platform, brand, and more (not as yucky or scary as I always thought). I like that he often says, “I wish I’d known/done this years ago” because then I feel better about my progress as a writer! If you write, I recommend Goin’s book. When I can start applying the principles here in 6 months or so I’ll have to revisit this one.  

There you have it. One out of three is not the best, but there’s next month.

I take it back-I finished a second book this month:

Right before I chucked it through the return window.

My kids are fans of Junie B. Jones now. The writing is laugh out loud funny, but I’ll let my son read the next one himself. I need a break from first grade drama. 

Thirteenth century war and prejudice, anyone?

PS. I also finally got a copy of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. It’s a much acclaimed book. Can I finish this one before I lose it or the library calls it home? We shall see…

My written stories

Aboard the Calliope

Picture source

The enemy ship boarded us under a beating noonday sun. They swarmed like ants, shouting, onto the Calliope while I watched from behind a barrel, my palms sweating so much that I almost dropped my sword. I had escaped slavery only to meet my worst fear: pirates. 

But twelve years old is almost a man. I jumped into the fray with an emboldening yell.  I slashed right and left, shocked when anyone fell, dodging blades with the nimbleness of skinny youth, images of blood and gore searing into my brain but not yet my consciousness. 

 To my right, the first mate Cosmas laughed as he slashed, his face crinkling along the deep scar won long ago. Ahead by the stern, the captain’s iron-gray hair flung loose in the breeze as she battled, a fierce war-cry breaking from her lips. With shock and relief I realized we had killed or put the enemy to flight. It was over as soon as it had begun. 

   There was the cleaning up, while the stench of death rose in the shimmering heat. 

   “Boy. Come here.” I spun around towards the rasping voice. Who had called for me? Darting over to starboard, I nearly tripped over a body. It was Captain Nyx. A red stain spread from her side. Her face was pale and her breath jagged, but she gripped my scrawny arm with a ferocity that forced me to kneel beside her.

   “You must take this to Dion.” From her vest she withdrew a brown phial and pressed it into my palm, leaving a sticky red smear on my fingers. “Shove it down his throat if you must, but he shall have it.” She coughed, and blood spattered her chin. Her deep green eyes grew cloudy. Still she clutched my arm. “Do not fail me, Judas.”

   I nodded. The captain took a shuddering breath and lay still, loosening her grip on me. I looked at the brown phial. I dared not shake it, but I wondered: what did it contain? Poison? A secret scrawled on a parchment shred?

   The only thing I knew was that when we docked at the next port, I and the phial would belong to Captain Nyx’s long-sought after son.