The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers by Melissa Burovac

A video look at The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers

The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers by Melissa Burovac

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I’ve recently put together a video for The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers to replace cancelled book readings and events. Check it out below; see if this is a book your child might enjoy. With fun, adventure, mystery, and a frisky dog – how could they not?

Watch the video here:

Lucy and Matthew, along with their old black lab Harley, are reluctantly doing yard work on a beautiful spring morning when — whoosh! — all three are whisked away to a strange land filled with mysterious rainbow-colored flowers. 

With no sign of civilization, they must fight for their survival amongst wild animals and discover the reason why they were transported. 

Growing up with video games and shopping malls, will the children be able to survive by finding food and building fires while stranded alone? Will the rainbow flowers lead them on a path to safety or harm? Why were they taken from their safe home to that strange place?

Find out the answers as you follow two kids and a frisky dog on a journey of discovery and wonder, hardship and environmental disaster. See how they help make their world a better place to live.

“My son doesn’t normally enjoy reading – he’d rather play video games or hang out with his friends – but he wouldn’t put this book down until he finished it. I was so proud of him.”

-Happy Mother of a Reader

Get your copy on Amazon or at any major bookstore! If you can, support your local Indie bookstore – you can order a copy, but you may have to wait a little longer to get it! I know Kona Stories has a few if you’re in Hawaii.

Be well, and happy reading!

Melissa

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Need a book to read?

Or pick one from my Quarantine Book List, which really needs to be updated again…

My Quarantine Reading List

I see so many posts online from friends asking for new book recommendations, so here’s a list of the books I’ve read in 2020 — I hope you can find something to spark your interest.

I’ve only added the books I’ve enjoyed; no sense in sharing the others. For the full list you can see them on my Goodreads Challenge, both the good and the bad.

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This isn’t a list of my favorite books of all time, although some of them have been added to it (The Inspector Gamache Series!). Maybe that will be my next list.

I hope you can find something interesting and new to read, and remember: supporting authors is not only buying books, but getting them from your library as well. Don’t forget to leave reviews!

Are you on Goodreads? Be my Goodreads Friend.

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Read a good book lately? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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Add these to your reading list (and request them at your local library):

The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers

NPR Books Summer Poll 2020: Kids’ Books

Do you have favorite kids’ books? NPR is taking a poll of books you love for kids, whether they are picture books, a series, or even an adult book that changed a child’s life.

You can vote for up to 5 books, and I’d be so happy if you included The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers!

It’s tough to get noticed as an Indie Author without the budget for promotion like the big publishing houses. This poll, along with a review from your place of purchase and Goodreads, goes a long way in helping me get my books into the eyes of the public. Spend a minute on the poll if you liked The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers.

https://www.npr.org/2020/06/23/872079728/the-npr-summer-reader-poll-returns-tell-us-about-your-favorite-kids-books

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The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers by Melissa Burovac

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Thank you for taking the time to read and help me promote my latest book.

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Need a book to read? Check these out:

Death, part 2

Read Death, part 1 here.

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Death was changing into her swim suit in the locker room. She used to swim a lot when she was Alive, but it had been many years since her job had taken her to a pool and she thought she’d get in a few laps while she was there. Not that she needed the exercise — she was a Skeleton, after all. She wouldn’t be able to feel the cool water on her skin or even smell the chlorine. But Death could remember those sensations and the physical act of jumping into a swimming pool was enough to conjure up the memories. 

Her next Name was scheduled to be at the lap swim in half an hour. Death took a final glance at the spreadsheet on her iPad before closing it into the locker with her Cloak and Scythe. Allison Marie Stevens. 72 years. 5’5” tall. Curly, medium-length blonde hair. Blue eyes. Retired. Widowed, 3 adult children. High School Pool. 

Death activated her Powers of Similarity and assumed a similar look to what she imagined Allison Marie Stevens looked like. She glanced in the mirror on her way to the pool and stopped to stare at her new, freshly-wrinkled skin. Vanity still had a strong pull in the Afterlife, and she had half an hour before her appointment, so she reverted to her Image of Self and became the leggy 24-year-old athlete she had been in her former Life. 

Death had lived through the phases of aging like a person of typical lifespan. She had been an athlete most of her life, slowing down as the decades added up until the day came when she could only take gentle walks with her cane. She counted herself lucky that her End arrived before she was totally bedridden, and because of that, didn’t feel guilt for her assignment at the pool.

But still, why not look like a 24 year old in a bathing suit when you have the chance?

Death did a half-turn to check out her butt in the mirror. Looking good, she thought, and gave herself a flirty little wink as she exited the locker room and walked onto the pool deck. She tucked her hair into her cap, adjusted her goggles over her eyes, and dove into an empty middle lane. 

Even though Death technically didn’t have skin and couldn’t feel the temperature of the water, one of her strongest memories was the shock of the cold when she first dove into a pool. She added some goose bumps to her Appearance for a more realistic experience. 

Swimming is a lonely activity for the most part. With her head underwater and staring down at the tiled black line of her lane, Death could only contemplate her Existence. She remembered when she was in high school, conjugating French verbs as she swam to stave off boredom; she didn’t need to do that anymore, having Infinite Knowledge as one of the job perks. Her work took her around the world occasionally and she needed to speak every language, but only when a war or natural disaster overwhelmed the local offices. 

Her mind turned to her next job as she counted off lengths of the pool with her steady freestyle stroke. Allison Marie Stevens was 72 years old. Had she accepted the idea she might die soon? Death recalled a businessman, 96 years old, who fought his End thinking he still had to control his children’s lives and his material empire; he couldn’t imagine how the world could still spin without him. But an End is an End, and everyone’s got one. Since he refused to Pass quietly and take the Leisurely Option of Afterlife, he was assigned to the Bureau of Timetables and Scheduling and now was one of Death’s most reliable subordinates. He never called in sick, and often opted for overtime when asked.

But Allison Marie Stevens? It was time to find out how she would accept her Fate. Death pulled off her goggles and cap and hopped out of the pool. Better for the lifeguard if she took care of work in the locker room. 

As she walked through the door, Death saw only one woman sitting on the bench in front of the lockers, and since it was Time, it had to be her. Normally, Death wouldn’t chat up her assignments but it was a slow day. She retrieved her towel and Scythe and sat down beside Allison Marie Stevens.

“Did you have a nice swim?” the older woman asked Death, who had so enjoyed being in her 24-year-old body that she forgot to resume Similarity. 

No matter. Most older women didn’t have a problem chatting with a younger woman. At a certain age, or with a certain satisfaction of life, jealousies become irrelevant. Allison Marie Stevens gave Death a quick once-over glance, taking in her long legs and youthful shape and perhaps thought momentarily about her own youth, and smiled into her eyes. 

“The water was cold,” Death replied, knowing no such thing. “Are you prepared?” she asked, although she wasn’t sure if she was talking about the swim or the Afterlife.

“I’m always prepared,” Allison Marie Stevens said, holding up a long-sleeved swim shirt. “At my age, dear, I’m ready for anything.”

That was all the answer Death needed, and touched the woman with her Scythe. 

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Again, just a draft, maybe it’ll be a real project soon. I hope you enjoyed reading.

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Need a book to read? Check these out:

Death, part 1

Death walked into a bar. She found an empty stool, leaned her Scythe up against the polished wood counter, and ordered a gin and tonic from the bored-looking bartender. She flung the black hood off her head and looked around as she waited for her drink. 

Is this where I’m supposed to be? she wondered, taking in the faces of the few patrons in the room. She had had a rough day; two of her employees had called in sick, although she was sure they were faking. Death had divided up their lists among the remaining employees but they had grumbled and moaned about the extra work and she had ended up taking most of the assignments herself. She had saved the man at the bar for last, knowing how badly she’d need a drink after such a long day.

It wasn’t like being a Grim Reaper was such a hard job — plenty of worse occupations in the Afterlife. Death picked up her drink and took a sip. Weak. 

She wouldn’t, for instance, want to be one of those called upon to do “parlor tricks,” as she thought of what the Dead summoned to Seances had to do; that was a job best suited for people who always had to be the center of attention in life and couldn’t let it go after they Passed On. If you’re with us now, rap on the table three times! Most people think the gypsy or witch or whoever is running the seance fakes the knocks on the table, but really only when that department is overbooked.

“Can I get you another?” The bartender startled Death as she sipped and the last of her drink came out the holes where her nose used to be. 

“Yes, please, and don’t be so shy with the booze.” 

He sauntered off with her empty glass and began chatting up the woman sitting solo at the end of the bar. Death might get a stronger drink but she’d pay for her remark in the amount of time spent waiting for it. 

She pulled an iPad out of her Cloak to check on her last assignment of the night. Infinite Pocket Space, one of the perks of the uniform. She could have stashed her Scythe in the pocket but no one seemed to notice it anyway. Let’s not forget it at a bar again, she reminded herself. Luckily, as an Unseeable Object, the Scythe was exactly where she had left it after a few too many drinks; she only had to break into the bar the next morning to retrieve it before work.

Still waiting on her drink, Death scrolled through her daily list. All but one name had a check mark next to it, and she read across the columns of the spreadsheet: Kenneth David Black. 51 years. 5’8” tall. Short brown hair. Brown eyes. Construction worker. Single. The Red Hammer. Vital statistics, occupation, and location of death were usually enough data, although occasionally she had to text the secretary at the Office of the Nearly Deceased for more information.

Death leaned over the bar to retrieve a napkin from the plastic container; The Red Hammer was written in block script with, of course, a red hammer below the words. When she first read the name that morning she imagined a sort of Soviet Era decor, but beside the downtrodden workers it seemed typically American. A place near the downtown construction sites for the workers to relax before heading home to their families. Kenneth David Black had remained after his coworkers left, having no family to hurry home to.

A fresh gin and tonic slid across the bar and bumped into the iPad, spraying droplets of drink onto the screen. Rude, she thought.

“What’s your name, honey?” Death asked the bartender in the sweet yet Compelling version of her voice.

“Nicholas Swift,” he answered.

“Middle?”

“Edward.” No one thought to question Death’s Compelling voice.

Death wiped the gin off the iPad with the napkin, sipped her new drink — marginally better — and sent a quick text to her secretary. Find out when Nicholas Edward Swift is scheduled, and put my name down. She didn’t tolerate rudeness.

Knowing she was at the right place, Death swiveled on her stool to analyze the customers. Only four men remained, and only one met the description of Kenneth David Black. An easy one to end her night; much easier than on a crowded subway or in a football stadium. She picked up her drink and walked to the back corner where he sat staring at his phone and sipping a beer. Calling on her Powers of Similarity, Death assumed the guise of an attractive woman with eyes and hair just a shade different from Kenneth David Black, according to the rulebook: When forced to interact with the Nearly Deceased, a similar-looking identity will foster familiarity.

She certainly didn’t need to interact with her target to get the job done but thought she may as well have a couple more drinks while she was at the bar, and company never hurt.

“Hi, I’m Morgan. Do you mind if I sit with you? My friends didn’t show up.”

Kenneth David Black took a last look at his phone, glanced at Death, and gestured to the chair opposite himself.

“Have a seat. I’m Ken.”

“Buy me a drink?” She shook the cubes at the bottom of her glass. He wouldn’t need his money after tonight anyway. “Gin and tonic,” she said. Sweet and Compelling.

Ken gestured to the waitress rolling silverware into napkins and shook his beer bottle at her. He said, “And one for the lady,” as she walked toward the bar.

Death was not one for chitchat, even before her End. Apparently Ken wasn’t either, and they stared at each other awkwardly waiting for the drinks. 

Maybe I should just get it over with, she thought, but she hadn’t yet given any consideration to what Manner of Death he would have. The rulebook stated: Choose a Manner of Death suitable to the location and situation of the Nearly Deceased. The rule was not specific and allowed the Giver a little creativity if he or she chose. The most obvious for Kenneth David Black were heart attack and choking on his drink. Perhaps a slip and fall on the newly washed floor on his way to the restroom. 

“Come here often?” he asked. 

Oh Lord, where’s my Scythe? Death thought. The conversation was obviously going nowhere interesting. 

“Excuse me a moment.” She walked to the bar and retrieved her Scythe as the waitress deposited new drinks on the table. 

“I only ask because you look familiar, maybe I’ve seen you in here before.” He looked Death up and down, his eyes lingering where her breasts would be if she still had them; Ken saw her Image Projection — a compact, athletic build with very little in the way of actual projections on her chest. He stared anyway.

“This is my first time,” she answered. “I just happen to be in the neighborhood for work.” She tried to get him to focus on something more in the area of her face. “Would you say you’re happy with your life, Ken? Did you have dreams and goals? Is this how you saw your life 20 years ago?”

“My dream right now is to get you back to my place. Watta ya say?” He lifted his beer for a sip, flexing his construction-worker arm muscle.

Death sighed, then leaned over and touched him with her Scythe. Kenneth David Black coughed and slumped in his seat, a trickle of beer leaking from the corner of his mouth. 

Sometimes no company was preferable. Death picked up her Scythe and reclaimed her seat at the bar. “One more, please,” she said to the bartender and checked off her final Name for the night.

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Just a rough draft of a new project. Not sure where it’s going yet.

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Stay safe and sane, and thanks for reading.

Need a book to read? Check these out:

One Lonely Wren

The following short story was written for Literary Cleveland; the idea was to gather stories from many different writers about some aspect of a particular day in Cleveland: May 12, 2020. The editors are stitching them all together for one story taking place all around the city. I’ll post the link to the final story when it is available; here is my contribution:

One Lonely Wren

May 12th, 2020 dawned bright and clear in Beachwood, Ohio. A late cold front brought snow and below-average temperatures to all of Northeast Ohio earlier in the month, but the 12th showed promise of being the real first day of spring. The last of the daffodils scattered throughout the yard turned their yellow faces to the sun while an array of bright red, pink, and yellow tulips bloomed, and the old Maples and Oaks began to unfurl their new leaves.

The first bird to greet the day with song was a solitary House Wren, warbling his cheerful tune atop a birdhouse in the garden behind the house. As the day grew brighter and the sun rose, hundreds of avian voices joined him while birds searched for food, mates, or just celebrated a new day. Between the earliness of the hour and the reduced traffic owing to a good proportion of folks still working from home, the varied songs of the birds rose clearly above any ambient city noise and the day promised a certain cheerfulness as the temperature crept up into the 50’s.

Bird migration was in full swing and pairs flew together in and out of the woods to find places to lay their eggs. Most of the birdhouses were occupied by various brown Sparrows and mesmerizingly blue Eastern Bluebirds, who were busily searching the ground for twigs and dead grass to line their nests. The lone Wren sang his long, happy song from several perches in the yard near his chosen house: he sat on the fence and called; he flew to the roof and called; he landed on the back of a pickup truck and called. In between songs, he picked up small twigs and disappeared into his house to build, sometimes carrying a stick so big he spent minutes finding the perfect angle to fit it into the hole. His mate had not arrived yet, but he didn’t give up, he kept up his bubbly song.

Red Northern Cardinals chased each other from feeder to feeder, the males and females easy to distinguish. Red House Finches and startlingly bright Yellow Finches flew in groups, as well as speckled black European Starlings and shimmery Common Grackles. Several orange Baltimore Orioles took turns at their feeder sucking the juice out of orange halves, and Gray Catbirds and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks took their place when the Orioles flew off to the trees. Call and response was heard from dozens of bird species as they prepared their nests in the woods around the house. The House Wren continued to sing alone.

This particular Wren, the only one of his kind in the yard, had been singing non-stop from his birdhouse for a couple of weeks. Would he ever find his mate to share the home he was so busy furnishing? He likely migrated from far south, as Wrens are known to winter as far away as South America and hatch their young anywhere from there to northern Canada. Was he such an efficient flyer that he arrived in the north far ahead of any others, or would he be the only House Wren to pick this part of Cleveland for his home? These worrisome questions didn’t seem to bother him as he went about his routine of building and calling.

As the day turned from a cool morning to a warm afternoon to a chilly evening, the frantic activity of the birds lessened as they flew off to their nesting sites for the night. In the twilight after sunset, one lonely wren still called, never losing hope for his future.

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I hope you enjoyed my story. Maybe it took your mind off the craziness of the world for just a couple moments; if so, that is success. I had a page-long list of things that happened on May 12 that I could have written about, but most were kinda depressing. Focusing on nature (and staying off social media) helps keep me sane.

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Although I still haven’t been recalled to work, I have not been writing much. In fact, almost not at all. My days have been spent working in the gardens (pulling weeds, mostly) and hiking in various parks with Lucy while taking pictures of anything interesting. You can see some of my wildlife photos on the Wildlife and Flower Photography FB page and my Etsy shop.

Stay safe and sane, and thanks for reading.

Need a book to read? Check these out:

  • Wandering – non-fiction travel/adventure/humor
The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers by Melissa Burovac

Free eBook for your quarantine – The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers

The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers
The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers by Melissa Burovac

This week, get a free download of The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers – maybe it’ll keep your kids entertained for a couple days.

Lucy and Matthew, along with their old black lab Harley, are reluctantly doing yard work on a beautiful spring morning when — whoosh! — all three are whisked away to a strange land filled with mysterious rainbow-colored flowers. 

With no sign of civilization, they must fight for their survival amongst wild animals and discover the reason why they were transported. 

Growing up with video games and shopping malls, will the children be able to survive by finding food and building fires while stranded alone? Will the rainbow flowers lead them on a path to safety or harm? Why were they taken from their safe home to that strange place?

Find out the answers as you follow two kids and a frisky dog on a journey of discovery and wonder, hardship and environmental disaster. See how they help make their world a better place to live.

The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers by Melissa Burovac

This is a great book for kids who love adventure and the outdoors, with a healthy message. It’s also a fun read for young adults and adults!

Download it today from Amazon to be certain you get a free copy! It’s also free to read with Kindle Unlimited.

This is a great chance to get some extra reading time – be sure to check out other Indie Authors, and support them by leaving reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Every review helps!

Thank you for reading, and please take care of yourselves and your neighbors.

Reading and book signing for The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers

Come one, come all – you’re invited to Loganberry books on Sunday, February 9th from 3-5 pm for a reading and book signing for my newest book The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers.

The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers by Melissa Burovac

Lucy and Matthew, along with their old black lab Harley, are reluctantly doing yard work on a beautiful spring morning when — whoosh! — all three are whisked away to a strange land filled with mysterious rainbow-colored flowers. 

With no sign of civilization, they must fight for their survival amongst wild animals and discover the reason why they were transported. 

Growing up with video games and shopping malls, will the children be able to survive by finding food and building fires while stranded alone? Will the rainbow flowers lead them on a path to safety or harm? Why were they taken from their safe home to that strange place?

Find out the answers as you follow two kids and a frisky dog on a journey of discovery and wonder, hardship and environmental disaster. See how they help make their world a better place to live.

The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers is a book suitable for children, young adults, and adults. It’s an adventure tale about survival and using the skills kids learn without actually realizing they have learned (until they need them).

Melissa Burovac author

Loganberry Books is an independently owned and operated bookstore in the historic Larchmere neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. Established in 1994, they feature a carefully curated collection of new, used and rare books in all genres for both readers and collectors, with an inventory over 100,000 volumes. They stock a great selection of Cleveland history as well.

I hope to see you at Loganberry books! If you can’t make it, you can find all my books on Amazon (as well as many other stores), and I’m sure you’ll find one you enjoy.

Thank you for reading, and if you have enjoyed one of my books, a review on Amazon is appreciated.

The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers by Melissa Burovac

Enter the book giveaway for The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers

Enter the book giveaway for The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers

The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers by Melissa Burovac

In celebration of my newest book, I’m having a giveaway for The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers! To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post – it’s that easy! For those readers in the United States, I’ll send you a paperback; for those in other countries I’ll send the electronic version of your choice.

In a few days I’ll randomly pick 10 winners. Leave a comment and enter!

The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers is a Young Adult book, but I think people of any age will enjoy it. Here’s a summary for you:

Lucy and Matthew, along with their old black lab Harley, are reluctantly doing yard work on a beautiful spring morning when — whoosh! — all three are whisked away to a strange land filled with mysterious rainbow-colored flowers.

With no sign of civilization, they must fight for their survival amongst wild animals and discover the reason why they were transported.Growing up with video games and shopping malls, will the children be able to survive by finding food and building fires while stranded alone? Will the rainbow flowers lead them on a path to safety or harm? Why were they taken from their safe home to that strange place?

Find out the answers as you follow two kids and a frisky dog on a journey of discovery and wonder, hardship and environmental disaster. See how they help make their world a better place to live.

The Mystery of the Rainbow Flowers by Melissa Burovac

As always, I’d love a review on Amazon or Goodreads! With so many books out there, the ones with reviews are the ones that get noticed. Please take a moment to write a sentence or two, it means a lot.

Thank you, and happy reading!

Other books to check out:

Wandering – non-fiction travel/adventure/humor

Sylvie Writes a Romance – romantic comedy

Sylvie Falls in Love – romantic comedy part 2

Surfer, Sailor, Smuggler – adventure/ocean fiction based on true stories

Surfer, Sailor, Smuggler - Melissa Burovac

Kindle sale for Surfer, Sailor, Smuggler – get it this week!

It’s a happy 4th of July book sale!

From now until July 9th, pick up the Kindle version of Surfer, Sailor, Smuggler for only $1.99! For less than a cup of coffee, you can spend your day relaxing and reading an ocean adventure.

Surfer, Sailor, Smuggler - Melissa Burovac

Get it on Amazon!

Sail from California to Mexico to Hawaii, surfing and smuggling drugs.

Two boys growing up together in a small California town are the best of friends. One conforms to his parents’ wishes and follows a preset path to a career; the other creates his own path, sailing the world, surfing and smuggling drugs to Hawaii.

Watch their lives diverge and reconnect through the years with tales of action and adventure, brushes with the law, Mexican cartels, and lost families and friends. Do they regret their lifestyles and the consequences of their choices as they approach old age?

Based on the true stories of surfers, sailors and pirates on Kauai. 

Amazon reviews:

“This was written as a narrative of the sailors life and his philosophy of life. She also protrays his feelings about the life he has led. A good read.”

“Great character development. Terrific adventure. Fun read.”

“Loved this tale of two unlikely lifelong friends. Sailing, island living, and all of the adventures that go with kept me happily entertained until the end. Another win!”

See more reviews here or leave one after you’ve read the book.

Aloha and happy holidays!

Holden Arboretum - wander with melissa

Two weeks in Cleveland

Holden Arboretum - wander with melissa

 

I’ve been in Cleveland for just over two weeks now.

And now I’ve stared at that sentence for about half an hour with no thought of a follow-up. I always imagined I would run into a time where something like post-vacation depression would set in, but thought I had enough of a plan to avoid it. I haven’t gotten a job yet, but most of the containers are planted, seeds are started for the garden, small projects on the house underway, and I’ve taken Lucy to a couple parks to explore. I didn’t really count on being so exhausted that I don’t want to do anything but sit around and read. I could easily have the entire interior of the house painted and a good start on remodeling our upstairs bathroom in the time I’ve lounged around but maybe next week… I haven’t even put all my clothes away yet.

seedlings - wander with melissa

 

I find that driving in traffic is still enough to make me tired. It’ll be a while before I’m completely used to so many lanes and so many cars. And so many losers hogging the fast lane. When I go to my parents’ house, I take all the small one- and two-lane roads instead of the highways; it adds an extra 40 minutes but the scenery is nicer and I’m not stressed out when I arrive.

In coping with post-Hawaii syndrome (which, when Googled, brings up a lot of info on rat lungworm disease), I bought a membership to Holden Arboretum and Lucy and I spent the morning there yesterday. Spring is just beginning to explode there so I will go back in two weeks to stroll through the Rhododendron and Azalea gardens when they are blooming. Our highlight was the baby geese – tiny, fluffy, fuzzy yellow balls with beaks swimming in between mom and dad in the ponds. Mama Goose did not love Lucy staring at her, even across the water. It’s hard to be a wildlife photographer while walking a hunting dog.

Baby geese - wander with melissa

 

The real reason I went to the arboretum was to visit Mark’s tree; a Quaking Aspen was planted 25 years ago in his memory, but when a new path was constructed around the lake his tree was in the way. It’s probably more trouble than it’s worth to transplant a common tree after 20 years, so his tree is young again and quite beautiful.

Mark Braun's tree - wander with melissa

 

For the most part, the weather has been rainy and cold in Cleveland. I asked my mother today when the rain usually stops and she told me this is the worst she’s seen in years. Figures. In the meantime, I’ve got two bird feeders strategically placed outside the windows of my office to keep me entertained; birds don’t mind cold rain as much as I do. I’m learning my bird names and will possibly join a bird-watching group if I can find one that is not entirely comprised of really old people. We have black-capped chickadees on the suet feeder (poor planning on my part, nobody wants suet when spring happens – I’m learning), while the seed feeder has attracted sparrows, robins, nuthatches and a cardinal. Peregrine falcons hunt the woods behind our house (and I have been throwing our food scraps a good distance away in hopes of attracting mice to attract more falcons), and I see the occasional woodpecker. Both black and brown squirrels have tried (and failed) to get the bird seed, and I see a random chipmunk. Deer are usually in the far woods, but my trail of yummy food leading to a salt lick has yet to entice them close to our house. A nuthatch family has moved into our birdhouse on the front lanai, and this afternoon a hummingbird buzzed my head – the first I’ve seen this year. I ran inside to stare through the window at the hummingbird feeder but she hasn’t found it yet.

Black capped chickadee - wander with melissa

 

This seems like a ton of bird activity, and I love watching it, but I can’t help thinking about how much I miss my fish. Some mornings I wake up and think I’m late to meet Mei at the pier for a swim before I realize where I am. I suppose in time I will adapt to land, like the earliest fishes with feet. I did apply for a job at the only scuba shop around yesterday – I plan on taking a dry-suit course before I stick even a single toe into the water here.

Perhaps the next time I post I will be meaningfully employed. Or perhaps the rain will stop and I’ll start building a tree house in the woods instead.

Say hello to the fishies for me.

M

 

Looking for a book?

Wandering – non-fiction travel/adventure/humor

Sylvie Writes a Romance – romantic comedy

Sylvie Falls in Love – romantic comedy part 2

Surfer, Sailor, Smuggler – adventure/ocean fiction based on true stories – now available on Nook and Apple! Click the link!

Stock photos on Adobe Stock

Sign up for this blog on the homepage to get updates on Cleveland life, and watch Hawaii Ocean Photography for extra photos!

Lucy Easter - wander with melissa

A dead man’s toilet paper

I’m sure you’ve been hanging on to the edge of your seat, waiting to find out if I made it to Cleveland. So yes, here I am, safe and sound.

After two blizzards and getting stuck in both Minneapolis and Bloomington, Illinois, the weather was a perfect 50 degrees for the final drive to Cleveland. I can’t say I loved the route of the trip without my planned sightseeing, but there will be time to go back and see what I wanted to see. Especially since the job I was so psyched to come home to was given to someone else while I was sitting in the snow – I have some extra time now.

The final mileage was around 4,200 after wandering around trying to find a way around the storms. In that time, I was only in one near accident – a baby blue semi, which I passed with the pedal down since it was swerving crazily, ended up getting off at the same exit when I stopped for gas. I was sitting at a red light at the bottom of the exit ramp, looking around, and noticed it in my rear view mirror, barreling down the road behind me. A long, loud squeal of brakes from the out-of-control truck, which made Lucy try to dive to ground, alerted me to the idea that my tailgate (and grandmother’s end tables) might not survive the next few moments. I had a few empty feet before the car in front of me and quickly stabbed the gas pedal, the result being I had an inch in front and about an inch in back – no contact. It was a scary moment and the asshole truck driver calmly acknowledged the bird I flew from my window. If anyone deserved it, he did.

In 4,200 miles, that truck was the only instance I thought I might have an accident. A few crazy, fast drivers swerving through downtown traffic scared me, but I forced myself to remember that plenty of people are good drivers and as long as I pay attention I should be fine. What really pissed me off was the random cars and trucks that sat in the fast lane and wouldn’t budge for anyone. I can’t understand why the don’t get the rules; if you’re slow, get out of the way. Seems pretty simple.

Thanks to Apple maps, I was never lost. I have to take a moment to praise this glorious bit of tech – for me, it might be the greatest invention of all time. Pre-internet, I never went anywhere without several folding maps (that never ended up folded along the original creases) plus handwritten instructions on every turn I had to take to reach someone’s house. After that, I had a glove box full of of MapQuest printouts for every destination, with scribbles on each of them when I encountered a closed road or a friend told me a shortcut. With the advent of portable GPS, my family pitched in together to get me one since they were tired of me calling at all hours when I was lost; I loaded the city I was preparing to drive through on my computer from a disk, connected the GPS, and had decent directions if I regularly updated through my dial-up modem. Now, my phone can find me 20 different ways to get to the same place, and I found some beautiful spots to drive through that I would never have found otherwise. This might not seem like a big deal to some people, but I can look at a sunset and have no idea which way is north, so yeah, it’s huge to me.

Now I’m in Cleveland, and the metroparks are as beautiful as I remember. I had one day before my sister Mary and I had to move her from her rental house to the house we bought, so I haven’t done much exploring yet. We have a house on 3 acres, complete with a fenced-in yard for the dogs and a forest with deer and squirrels and turkeys. The house must have been built for short people; I can’t use the upstairs shower, and I’ve hit my head five times already on the ceiling fan in my bedroom. But the outside is wonderful, with deer-fenced gardens and lots of room to plant whatever I want.

our house - wander with melissa

 

Today I took some time to go to a garage sale; I saw pictures of garden tools online and couldn’t wait to get started (April showers bring May flowers, and it’s been pouring for a couple days so I’m just preparing). I found the house about 40 minutes away (thank you, Apple maps), and went right to the garage. I quickly loaded up half my truck bed with tools for $50 (ridiculously cheap for what I got), then headed into the house to poke around. I feel that Mary is more in charge of the indoor decoration, while I am in charge of outdoor, but it doesn’t hurt to look; I can text her pictures if I feel like I want something. None of the furniture interested me, but I walked into the kitchen and realized that EVERYTHING was for sale. I picked up an unopened carton of vegetable broth and saw the expiration date of 2007 – put it back. Since we had just moved, I grabbed one of the multiple 12-packs of toilet paper sitting out, bought it for a dollar and headed for the door. That was when I heard what the sale was for: a man had worked his entire life at the same blue-collar job, finally retiring and getting his pension – then poof – heart attack three weeks later. Dead.

Now I have a dead man’s toilet paper, and that’s the least of the problems I have with that scenario.

Before I wax poetic on death (which is really unlike me, but Mary opened a bottle of Proseco and that might be why I’m so full of feelings right now), I’ll finish the day. I took a wrong turn out of the sale (I didn’t have my maps up yet), and ended up in a very familiar-looking square; it was a place I knew from my childhood, but couldn’t quite place why. Upon turning the corner, I quickly parked – Dick’s Bakery! The place where my mother would take us after swim practice if we were good. I always got a chocolate chip cookie, and that didn’t change today. Well, except that I got a dozen. I have my own money now. And I had them for dinner. Adulting at its finest.

I went to my parents’ house to pick up boxes I had mailed from Kona, which filled the rest of my truck. It was nice to be reunited with my scuba gear, but the prospect of it sitting unused for months makes me sad. The water temperature in Lake Erie is 43 degrees today, up from 34 when I last checked, so maybe next month.

My father is doing well, more lively than I had imagined after starting chemo; we are arguing over a riding mower in his shed. He originally offered it to me for our immense lawn; since then, he has listed a dozen things seriously wrong with it (since it is as old as I am), and decided instead that I cannot have it and he will buy us a new riding mower from Home Depot as our housewarming gift. I sat on the old tractor today, noticed the cobbled-together battery cables he mentioned, the flat tires (original), the dull blades (original), the choke that doesn’t choke, the heavy crank to engage the mower, and thought, “I must have this.” I don’t even know how I’d get the old beast to my house, rent a trailer, perhaps, it’s too big for my truck bed. So I told my father I wanted it, and he said “let’s go to Home Depot and look at mowers; they’ll deliver.” No way. I want that beast. It is solid, as only machines built 30+ years ago are solid. It’s roughly twice the size as a comparable mower, and only has one single belt (original) that runs everything. I’m currently looking up names of mythological creatures to see what fits. (Just got an email from my father as I’m writing this: “Forgot to tell you, no brakes on the tractor.”) I’m going to evade the issue of a new mower until I show up with a trailer and haul the old thing away.

I cut with mowers when I was young, although I don’t remember this particular one. And I really don’t understand why my father has this monster since his house is on about a quarter acre. But along with the other garden tools and power tools he is giving me (also could say he is “unloading”), it seems to be a part of history, a bit of my childhood comes back with each – the grill they don’t use anymore, the shovels and rakes, the hoses and drills and screwdrivers. Just like driving through neighborhoods and feeling the nostalgia of my youth (even though after 30 years new buildings are everywhere), the tools in my parents’ basement bring back so many memories. I could recognize the smell of WD-40 anywhere. It’s strange to be here, without a doubt. Everywhere I drive used to be open fields and are now office parks and malls. I haven’t even ventured downtown yet. And, if you read the past blogs, my grandmother’s tables made it no problem. More crazy nostalgia.

grandma's tables - wander with melissa

 

All in all, though, this is a good new adventure. I’m going to build boxes in the forest to attract falcons and hang feeders for hummingbirds; not the dolphins and manta rays I used to photograph, but all wildlife is life, and all of it is beautiful and worthy of appreciation. Daffodils are blooming and the trees are beginning to leaf out. Lucy and I will explore the area’s parks, which are immense, and I hope to find hidden spots all around this city to hike and fall in love with the land. Lucy and her new best friend Coco are getting along tolerably well, as much as a 9-year-old dog and a crazy 2-year-old can coexist. Lucy lives for the moment when Coco hauls herself out of bed, thinking she has a whole day of playtime ahead. She’ll learn.

Lucy and Coco - wander with melissa

 

Those are the big updates for now, and I hope to share some of the beauty of Cleveland with you soon – did you know this is the 50th anniversary of the burning river? I have been assured that it is much cleaner now.

Aloha from Cleveland!

M

 

 

 

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