A Good Read on a Lazy Summer Day


A lazy day in July + a hammock + a good book

What could be better?

OK–maybe some ice cream…

All three books of the Karakesh Chronicles by yours truly are available from Amazon or www.handersenpublishing.com 

–or from me

K with books

Awakening Magic cover2

The most recent is my favorite–I think I said that before.



Culture Overflows in New Paltz

chamber music

Right in front of the library, last Saturday afternoon, the Olive Quartet graced listeners with their pleasant and peaceful music.  We sat on a bench and enjoyed their offerings.

balkan fest rt

Sunday found us at the First Annual Balkan Festival at the Rail Trail Cafe in New Paltz.  Bands included Greek Night, Max’s New Hat, and Caprice Rouge.  Musicians switched places and bands in a baffling display of talent.

Dancers added to the fun.

The Rail Trail Cafe is a beautiful venue.  Dogs and passing bikers and hikers add to the ambiance.


Just remember to bring your insect repellant!

Verbal Abuse

call me hope

Call Me Hope

by Gretchen Olson

Little, Brown, & Co., NY 2007

In this novel, twelve-year-old Hope lives with a verbally abusive mother.  Her older brother, Tyler, is sometimes helpful and defends Hope on occasion.  Worked into the plot are the reading of The Diary  of Anne Frank and viewing the film Life is Beautiful.  With these learning experiences, Hope is able to devise a point system to make her life more bearable. She creates a safe space in her closet.  She looks forward to a week of Outdoor School. But…

Enter the adults.  Her social studies teacher, Mr. Hudson, is aware that Hope is struggling at home.  The school counselor knows that Hope’s relationship with her mother is painful.  Hope makes friends with the owners of a second hand store, who also are aware that Hope has problems at home.

All of these members of Hope’s community step in to assist Hope, so that she can attend Outdoor School.  And guess what? Hope’s mother sees the error of her ways and begins to reform.

Verbal abuse is a real issue for children.  As Olson’s book points out, the victims may not be aware that what they live with is abuse. Fortunately, Hope has a school community that is attentive and responsive.

I came from a pair of loving parents who were educated and whose jobs involved early childhood education.  And yet I can still hear my father’s irritated, harsh voice saying, “What is the matter with you?” Abuse? Hmm…maybe not.  But it stuck.

Perhaps the first step is identifying the situation as abusive.  Hope is a smart sixth grader and she has help.  Who will help the others?



*Olson offers educational resources at the end of the novel

Dog Show

On a whim, Pat and I went to the dog show at the Ulster County Fairground.  It was a beautiful, sunny day.  We arrived too late for most of the action, but in enough time to see the finals for the hounds and the toys.

Owners and handlers prepped their contestants with hair dryers and comb-outs. fullsizeoutput_205c               YyM%xOdLRPOfn8RTKb7%mQ

Papillon knows how to pose.                   Pomeranian all fluffed up.

chinese crested  Chinese crested hairless reminds me of Count Chocula.


The poodle gets a spritz of hairspray.  This was the winner of the best in toy breeds.

basset poseBasset hound gets its photo taken.

2 greyhoundsGreyhounds wait their turn.

tired Irish wolfThis Irish wolfhound is hot and tired.

weimar poseThe Weimaraner’s owner said that dogs of this breed love to be close to people.  For me, the best part of the afternoon was meeting this dog.  My family had a beautiful Weimaraner when I was little. She was well-trained, thanks to my father, and so gentle.  I remember lying on the floor with Maida, my head on her chest, while I played with her soft ears.  She never growled or snapped or moved away, no matter what I did.

akc dog bookIn the years of my childhood, we had a much older version of this book.  The cover was black.  I pored over the photos of the different breeds until I could recognize most of them.

And last Sunday, I got to see many of them in person.



What I’m Reading

Identity Crises:

Two Roads 

by Joseph Bruchac

Dial Books for Young Readers, NY 2018.

The Other F-Word

by Natasha Friend

Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, NY 2017

After the disappointment of Inheritance, by Dani Shapiro, I found these two books that presented identity quests in a believable way.  Isn’t it peculiar that fiction can be better than memoir?

Two Roads is set in 1932, during the Depression in the United States. Cal Black, age 12, and his father live as hoboes.  Having lost both mother and family farm, Cal and his father, a veteran of World War I, ride the rails. When the vets converge on Washington, D.C. to demand the bonuses promised them, Cal’s Pop decides he must join them.  It is then that he reveals to his son that he is a full-blooded Creek Indian, making Cal a tribal member as well.  Pop sends Cal to a government boarding school for Native Americans in Oklahoma.  Despite the bad conditions at the school, Cal makes friends with other Creek boys, and learns about his people.

In addition to portraying the era and Cal’s self-discovery with accuracy, this novel offers readers a close and heart-wrenching look at the lives of Native Americans who endured government policies.  Be sure to read the Afterword.

The Other F-Word gives readers a handful of delightful, lovable characters as we follow four children on a quest to discover the identity of their sperm donor.  Milo and Hollis were born to lesbian couples. Noah and his twin brother, Josh, have heterosexual parents.  All share the same donor, #9677.  Included in this group is Milo’s friend, J.J. Rabinowitz, perhaps my favorite, who is adopted and looks nothing like his family.

I zoomed through this book, enjoying the personalities, the humor, and the believability of it all.  Oh, and the other f-word is family.


Raccoon Encounter


Not long ago, Pat and I were taking a walk on Cicero Road when we were surprised to see this raccoon picking its way across someone’s lawn.  It seemed to barely notice us as it made its way slowly to the drainpipe on the roadside.

Something was wrong.  The raccoon wobbled down to the water where it appeared to take a drink.  Then it returned to the lawn and started across the road.  It staggered, fell sideways, and then wobbled in a confused circle in the middle of the pavement.

Sick? Dying of old age? Rabid?

We kept our distance until it moved away.

When we got home, I called the DEC. The man I spoke to said there was an officer nearby who could check on the situation.

I’m left with an undercurrent of sadness from meeting up with this failing wild animal.  Maybe because I’ve reached the age when my peers and I are struggling with illness, solitude, and mortality.  Bodies get sick, need repair, and ultimately quit.

What comes next?  Raccoon heaven?


Outdoor Concert

Betty and the Boomers

Saturday, May 25

Waterstreet Market, New Paltz, NY



Tight harmonies, fabulous songs, sunshine, iced chai latte–what more could anyone ask?

from their website www.bettyandthebabyboomers.com:

 When Betty Boomer, Jean Valla McAvoy, Paul Rubeo, and Steve Stanne began singing together more than 30 years ago, the name made sense—a play on Betty’s name and the fact that all are children of the baby boom. Bassist Robert Bard fit right in demographically when he joined later on. If they’ve had second thoughts, it’s too late to change now. “Betty and the Baby Boomers” appears on the covers of the band’s five CDs, and the name is known to folk music fans from the mountains of Connemara in Ireland to the Catskills overlooking New York’s Hudson Valley, their home base.
I’ve known most of these performers since my days with Clearwater and the Beacon Sloop Club. In fact, I used to sing with the Sloop Singers, but mostly on the choruses.

Husband Pat enjoyed every minute.


Listen to them here: