Blog

Summertime in Greenberry, 1970 (And So We Dream, a novel)

A nostalgic look at the summers of not so long ago…

(The fictional small town of Greenberry is the setting for my latest novel, And So We Dream.)

Back when watermelons had shiny black seeds set in deep ruby red.

Back when corn was grown in wide discernable rows, “knee-high by the Fourth of July.”

Back when the sky was clear of satellite dishes and cellphone towers, when a bike ride uptown to the concert on the square or to the ice cream shop was high adventure.

And dreams were the soul and sustenance of three teenage girls — Anne, Vita, and Beth — and Joey, the twelve-year-old boy who spends the summer with them.

Coming from Chicago, “Joey thinks of the small town of Greenberry as ‘boyland’ – a world of riding bikes, fishing, going barefoot, and the county fair.”

A place where summer meant vegetables fresh from the garden,

and evenings were for enjoying homemade ice cream with neighbors.

When the days were filled with lemonade stands and swimming,

and all the skies were cotton candy skies.

And the magic of summer came from the belief that everything begins with a dream.

(Images from my Pinterest boards.)

A brilliantly engaging, entertaining, and at times poignant coming-of-age story, ‘And So We Dream’ is a compelling read that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book is finished and set back upon the shelf. From the author of the ‘Christmastime’ series, ‘And So We Dream is unreservedly recommended…” -the MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW)

A dream garden…

“A dream garden is better than no garden at all. At least your mind is filled with flowers and color and beauty. And I think, without even being aware of it, we slowly move towards what we hold in our minds.” (Words from Millie to her daughter Vita in my novel And So We Dream)

If I had a garden, I’d take my breakfast there.

I’d find a hammock or a garden chair and enjoy the peaceful shade.

I’d invite a friend to join me for lunch among the blooms,

and I’d find a quiet spot in the fragrant afternoons.

In the garden’s comfort, I’d indulge in a book or two,

and include a pot of tea and a floral china cup.

And in the scented evenings, the garden all aglow,

I’d sleep among the flowers and dream the sweetest dreams.

(images from my Pinterest boards)

A late spring

While much of the country has already experienced soaring temperatures, here in New York, this has been an especially beautiful spring. Cooler temperatures have prolonged the season of lilacs, irises, and azaleas.

Even the rhododendrons and peonies are just now in full bloom.

I think of these kinds of days as “gift” days, allowing me to more fully enjoy the cool mornings and to take longer end-of-day strolls through the neighborhood, with its profusion of flowering bushes and small flower-filled gardens.

I hope wherever you experience spring, you have an abundance of flowers and blooms to enrich your day —

including bouquets of fresh-cut flowers that also bring about that same springtime joy.

(images from my Pinterest boards – and my neighborhood!)

And So We Dream – my latest novel

Anne, Vita, Beth. They were hippie girls. Teenagers. Long flowing hair, embroidered peasant tops, long skirts, dangling earrings, bare feet. Pulled one way by the tradition of their small Mid-Western town, another by the promise of the wide world outside.

Twelve-year-old Joey Roland spends the summer with them while his parents “work things out.” He soon discovers that, like the home he left behind in Chicago, the small town of Greenberry is also filled with sadness – loss, betrayal, fears, and disappointment.

The difference is that the three sisters – especially the middle one who pursues the path of acting – teach him how to infuse ordinary life with magic, adventure, and joy.

The result is a summer of transformation, and, for Joey, new-found confidence in his dream path.

Springtime reading

Now that it’s officially spring, reading outdoors has even more appeal. Opening a new book amid the first flowers of spring or under blossoming trees speaks of new beginnings, a sense of well-being, and hope.

There’s the promise of longer days and milder weather, and hopefully, more free time to indulge in the discovery of new books.

And if it’s still too cold where you live to read outdoors, bring a bit of springtime inside with a few blossomy sprigs or some fresh-cut flowers to remind you of what’s up ahead.

All images are from my Pinterest boards.

And So We Dream

My new novel, And So We Dream, is now available for pre-order on Amazon, Kobo, and iTunes (and will be available on Barnes & Noble and Google Play in a few days,) with a release date of March 1st.

Back cover:

In this coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, a lonely boy finds acceptance when he spends the summer in a loving family with three beautiful daughters.

Twelve-year-old Joey Roland is sent away to family friends while his parents try to work things out. He’s eager to leave sadness and secrets behind in Chicago and head downstate to the small town of Greenberry, where the Vitale family awaits him. He thinks of their town as boyland—a world of bike riding, fishing, and going barefoot. Though initially shy of the teenaged daughters—Anne, Vita, and Beth—they welcome him into their lives of adventure, beauty, and dreams.

Joey especially bonds with the middle sister, Vita, and her all-or-nothing pursuit of an acting career. Joey’s “there must be more” merges with Vita’s “I must make it happen” resulting in a magical summer where the town of Greenberry becomes the crucible for two desperate dreamers.

Though the story is not autobiographical (alas), many of the details are rooted in my life. The fictional small town of Greenberry is based on my hometown of Carlinville, in south-central Illinois, and I was one of three teenaged sisters during the 1970s (along with two younger brothers). At the encouragement–and example–of our mother, we approached life as a wonderful adventure, with each day to be savored, and dreams to be taken seriously and actively pursued.

As with all my books, AND SO WE DREAM is very much about stepping into a world of beauty, wonder, longing, and, ultimately, transformation.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09SK36812

Valentine’s Day – Happy reading!

This Valentine’s Day, light a candle,

fix your favorite hot drink, snuggle into your reading chair,

and indulge in a good read.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

All images from my Pinterest boards.

Ahh – the bath

Relaxing, indulgent, soothing. In bathrooms simple and uncomplicated,

old-world ornate and Bohemian,

or vintage elegant,

the simple act of bathing can easily be transformed into a rich and tranquil experience.

A hot fragrant bath can relax the muscles, ease the day’s tensions, and bring about a sense of wellness.

By adding a few bath salts, lighting a candle (or using a nightlight), and using your favorite soap and bath towels,

the ordinary can become an indulgence.

There’s a certain pleasure to be found in a daytime bath, with sunlight filling the bathroom.

There’s another pleasure with a bath at end of day, in preparation for nighttime and sleep.

On these cold winter days and nights, enjoy the soothing experience of a hot, fragrant bath. It will both relax and recharge you, and increase your sense of well-being.

Home Arts in the Christmastime Series – Part 2

In the Christmastime series, the home arts were always made of materials that Lillian, her sister Annette, and Kate and her daughters had close at hand. Sometimes this meant stepping outside to collect greenery, pine cones, and red berries.

A stroll around the orchard, farm, nearby woods — or for Lillian, Central Park — provided a way for them to bring nature indoors and decorate their homes for the holidays with winter bouquets, garlands, and wreaths.

A way to add a splash of color or a bit of charm throughout the house,

or to bring woodland beauty to the mantelpiece.

Orange slices were dried and combined with spices to decorate the Christmas tree and windows.

And of course, the holiday table was made more festive and colorful with holly, cranberries, and pine added to traditional desserts.

The home arts were a simple, old-fashioned way to make the home cozy and welcoming. Then and now, bringing the outside indoors is always a good idea.

All images from my Pinterest boards.

Home Arts in the Christmastime Series – Part 1

Throughout the Christmastime series, the home arts enrichen the lives and homes of Lillian in Manhattan, her sister Annette on her orchard in upstate New York, and Kate and her daughters Ursula and Jessica on their farm in the Midwest.

Knitting, sewing, crocheting, and embroidering were activities for early winter evenings while they listened to the radio, or sat near a fireplace with a hot drink at hand.

The home arts were practical and serviceable, yet at the same time, they were creative endeavors that added beauty and charm —

whether quilts that were lovingly made from salvaged scraps of fabric,

cozy afghans that kept away the winter chill,

or crocheted-edged pillowcases and handmade sachets that made sleep sweeter.

The Christmas holidays were made more festive with red and green embroidery,

and decorations using oranges, pine, and cranberries added color and scent,

and were used to trim the Christmas tree.

The home arts added a sense of comfort and love throughout the year but were especially welcome at Christmastime.

All images are from my Pinterest boards.