Released: The “Big” Book

Yesterday, publication was completed. That’s that. If you are not a Kindle user, Conventions: The Garden At Paris is now available in paperback, too:

That paperback, which is a pretty BIG book, is also at Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and all other Amazons worldwide. Tell your friends!

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Once, It Was 1840

Another new year is upon us, of course. I’ve seen in 2017 here in the Catskills, a low mountain range about 100 miles north of New York City. They are scenic, as well as awash with history – including literary history: for example, New Yorker Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle” (which Irving wrote while in England) “lived” here.

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The Most Serious Action Of All

Our Christmas house guests have returned to London. They landed at Heathrow several hours ago. Fortunately, they got on the upstate New York roads and down to Newark Airport yesterday before…the snow hit:

So we’re not really going anywhere today. And we have a few days of “peace” ahead here before we too have to return to England. Time to get into some presents:

Back on Monday we headed to the small Windham cinema and saw Rogue One with one of those house guests – my youngest nephew. He’s 14 and a Star Wars fanatic. I thought it was a better film overall, in my humble opinion, than Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

On Tuesday night, eight of us sitting in front of the tele, we happened to catch Bogart in The Maltese Falcon on TCM. I told that nephew that Falcon is THE detective film of all time. Every detective film since then pretty much owes its existence to The Maltese Falcon.

The Maltese Falcon on DVD. [Photo by me, 2016.]
The Maltese Falcon on DVD. [Photo by me, 2016.]

Unsurprisingly, he’d never seen the film. Afterwards, on another channel we watched a much more recently made Marvel Captain America. I don’t recall which film it was exactly; I admit I lose track. One scene I recall saw Scarlett Johansson running around on a bridge, guns in both hands, spraying bullets at bad guys amidst bystanders’ cars crashing and bursting into flame and people running for cover.

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A Few Days Of Holiday Hibernation

Here, near Windham in the Catskills, we awoke to some snow yesterday:

Lovely to look at and fortunately not enough to be a major driving problem. English relatives will be arriving here later today, driving up from Manhattan where they’ve been sightseeing for the last two days. We’re prepared:

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A “Timeless” Place

Aside from posting that Instagram photo of our 2014 visit to nineteenth century U.S. President Martin van Buren’s Kinderhook home…

…I decided to have mostly a “social media-free” day yesterday. I know: how ridiculously quaint, right? Largely cutting oneself off?

I needed to have my car seen to over something minor and to prepΒ to leave for my dad’s. Dad’s is where I am now again this morning – at his house a hundred or so miles away in Pennsylvania. The first part of the journey back to Britain has started.

And, as that Instagram caption notes, yesterday was my mom’s “anniversary” – she died a year ago. Dad, my sister and I went out to have a quiet dinner near his place last night. We all must carry on:

Self-explanatory. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Self-explanatory. [Photo by me, 2016.]

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Alone In The Dark Mountains

I’m taking a few days away from my writing to do some reading and have a mini-break to recharge the batteries. So I wasn’t going to post today at all. But you know me…once my mind starts going as morning gets going…

Down the spiral staircase we go... [Photo by me, 2016.]
Down the spiral staircase we go… [Photo by me, 2016.]
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You’ll Find Me On Instagram

Although I did some writing on the plane over, I’ve decided to give “Robert,” “Carolina,” “Henry,” and “Marie-ThΓ©rΓ¨se”, and the others a rest for a few days. They probably could use a short “break” from me, too. πŸ˜‰ While it’s said you should write constantly, you do have to pause now and then and clear your head.

Moreover I don’t want to veer into “killing off” any characters accidentally because I’m feeling briefly somewhat “off” myself. With my mother’s one year death anniversary on the 26th, I’m trying to find a real-life “happy place.” I suppose these Catskills are one of them:

Catskills. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Catskills. [Photo by me, 2016.]
I snapped that photo yesterday afternoon. It doesn’t look like that outside now, I assure you:

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Home(s)

I’m flying to New York (alone) next week for a 10 day visit to check on my father in Pennsylvania and also check on our house and “lock it down” for a Catskills winter – where temperatures can easily fall to -10C (14F) for days on end. Hopefully, no “local guests” have eaten it completely since I was there in June! You may remember what was awaiting me the last time

What porcupines can do. Catskills. [Photo by me, 2016.]
What porcupines can do. Catskills. [Photo by me, 2016.]

This dawned on me as well as I explained that plan yesterday while I was answering a message from a cousin in Connecticut. Now married with two young sons, she and I grew up living around the corner from each other on Long Island – where none of our families now live any longer. With my mother’s one year anniversary upon us, she’d written me asking how my dad is doing these days.

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As Decided In Philadelphia

Well, my absentee ballot has arrived here in Britain. The election is almost upon us. I vote in New York state, in the 19th congressional district, which is located upstate partly in the Catskills where our house is:

New York State absentee presidential ballot. [Photo by me, 2016.]
New York State absentee presidential ballot. [Photo by me, 2016.]

Let me offer a quick explanation of that ballot because this fact might baffle some people. The United States does not have a presidential election as such. It has essentially 51 presidential elections simultaneously – separate elections in all 50 states and the District of Columbia (meaning Washington city, which is not in any state but is the national capital named after, OF COURSE, HIM!).

As I vote in New York State, I vote for electors – locals whose names one rarely knows – who gather at Albany in early December. They are pledged to cast THEIR ballots formally for the pair of candidates who had received the most votes back on November’s Election Day.

…Please, stay with me a moment. πŸ˜‰

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Sunday Morning In The English Garden

The in-laws are driving up from London later to see our new place….

Rear of the house. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Rear of the house. [Photo by me, 2016.]

It’s Sunday, too. Of course I had to go all “American” and prepare:

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