The Wood Is In for the Winter

We’ve had a wonderful autumn here in Vermont. As a friend of mine said, “Best one evah!”
Woodpile for web
Now it’s a race with winter to get the outdoor chores done.

And we got to cross a big chore off our list yesterday—all of this year’s wood is stacked in our bulkhead or in the outside woodshed that feeds our upstairs stove.


Of course, this joy is short-lived because we have four cords of green wood destined for consumption next year on the way.

Also wanted to let folks know that we will be hosting a Piecing for Parkinson’s event at Quail Hollow in West Lebanon, NH this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A daughter wraps her father in a quilt by Bob Johnson
A daughter wraps her father in a quilt by Bob Johnson

We have a lot of donated fabric so you don’t have to bring your own if you don’t want to—just your machine, your favorite sewing tools, a bag lunch and a big smile!!

Now It’s the Oaks

Most folks “from away” think of a New England autumn as the relatively short stretch of time when our trees reveal the colors they’ve been hiding behind their chlorophyll since spring.
Red oak leaves in sun

But the first signs of autumn—or at least the change in seasons—actually begin in early August when the leaves on certain trees begin to take on a yellowish cast.

And then, of course, there’s the August version of solidago (goldenrod) that blooms along the river behind our house.

The first trees to turn on their fall foliage are the birches. Then it’s maples and ashes and the incredible staghorn sumac.
Red:green oak leaves in sun for web

The last to take their star turns are the oaks and beeches.

Usually, our oaks turn from green to a rich coppery brown with not a lot of other colors in between. But in this magical fall, they are revealing the depths of their redness.

There was frost on my car’s windshield this morning when I walked to the end of the driveway to get our newspaper. (Yep, still enjoy my wood pulp and ink with breakfast.) And the predictions are rain for the rest of the week, by the end of which we probably won’t have much left on the trees.

Yellow to brown beech leaves for web

But it’s OK because for this lifelong New Englander, this is truly one of the best falls ever.

The Morning Walk

Autumn 2014 is going to go down in Vermont’s weather history one of the best so far this century.

Cathedral of trees
Cathedral of trees

The weather has held, staying (sometimes too) warm. We haven’t had any major storms to shake the leaves from the trees.

And the color—gasp! Just phenomenal.

Just wanted to share part of the trail that we maintain along the White River that we reopened this year. We had to let it go after Hurricane Irene because there were just too many other things to attend to.

And we missed our tree cathedral, a lot.

There’s still one last part of the path that stretches down to a rocky hook that we call the North Point that remains closed. It’s where the main debris pile of trees, building parts, and other detritus built up during the storm.

It started off twelve feet high but through composting and time, it’s now “only” six feet high, and the local flora and fauna are doing their best to recycle it. (It’s quite the bird sanctuary.) But it remains impenetrable to two-footed mammals for now.

Still, having the path back this summer was so, so good.

Print versus eBooks

I’ve recently been reconnecting with some friends from high school on FaceBook, a benefit from social media that I never expected. (I was dragged kicking and screaming onto FaceBook because it’s ONE MORE THING I have to attend to so this is truly a plus.)
FreePile for web
This morning, one of these oh-so-pleasant reconnections was applauding the fact that print books are still outpacing electronic books in the overall sales of books. Personally, I don’t think books-on-paper were ever in any danger of disappearing.

If you remember back to the thrilling days of yesteryear (2010–2013), the media were full of stories about the meteoric rise of ebook sales. There were thunderous predictions of how the ebook would swamp print sales. Paper-and-ink were out! In with the digital!

We haven’t heard any of those stories lately, have we? Somehow, the flattening out of ebook sales and the non-death of print are just not as interesting.

Now I watch the publishing industry pretty closely, both because I’m a writer and because I own a book production company, Full Circle Press, so I have to understand the latest trends in order to advise my clients intelligently.

Or at least try to.

So for those of you who may be interested, here’s the full scoop.

Of all book sales in the U.S., approximately 30 percent of them are now ebooks, and that figure’s been holding steady for about a year and a half.

Genre fiction—fantasy, sic-fi, mystery, thrillers, romance—account for more ebook sales than all other categories combined.

Even though there are lots of non-fiction and children’s titles available electronically, the sales of these types of books are still relatively low as a percentage of all ebook sales. And books that are image-heavy (art books, how-to books, cookbooks) sell even less in the ebook format.

Now there’s a third media format for books that needs to be part of this discussion—audiobooks.

Even though the media is not shouting about this from the rooftops, you might be interested to know that the sales of audiobooks is growing rapidly. There are now online service companies that help independently publishing authors convert their books to the spoken word.

That is what is feeding this trend because traditional book publishing companies (the Random Houses of this world) are once again lagging behind when it comes to keeping up with reader preferences. (They were so late to the party on the ebook front, they almost didn’t show up.)

Books-on-paper as we know them—pages cut to the same size held together by a cover of some sort, a format called a codex—came into being somewhere around the 3rd century. That’s a longterm relationship if I’ve ever seen one.

That’s why I don’t think anything will ever replace ink-on-paper books. We like them too much.

To me, ebooks and audiobooks are just another choice for readers, not a replacement for the original.

Read any good books lately?

The Generosity of Quilters

The Parkinson’s Comfort Project attends conferences every year to talk about what we do and to distribute quilts. On Monday, we’ll be at the Grappone Center in Concord, NH at a conference put together by Diane Church of the Parkinson’s Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

Olivia was one of the recipients who smiled all day. Her quilt was made by Joanne Shapp.
Olivia was one of the recipients who smiled all day. Her quilt was made by Joanne Shapp.

I have four totes full of the most gorgeous quilts to give away to people on a Parkinson’s journey. I know they will bring smiles to the faces of those who bring them home.

Quilt by Sarah Monego
Quilt by Sarah Monego

Within the quilting community, the generosity of those who love to play with fabric is well known. Every guild I know of has a community service committee that makes and gives these magical gifts to those in need. And many guilds and individual quilters adopt programs such as the Parkinson’s Comfort Project or Quilts of Valor as recipients of their creations.

Quilt by Ellie Leach
Quilt by Ellie Leach

But too many people outside the quilting community are unaware of this giving. So I wanted to take this space to give you just a wee sample of the 34 quilts that will find new homes on Monday. The first one was made by Sarah Monego of Thetford, Vermont. The second is by Ellie Leach of Wells River, Vermont. And the third is by Nancy Graham of Newport, NH.
2014-072: Nancy Graham 2 for web
And the turquoise and yellow creation wrapped around the shoulders of a recipient at the spring Parkinson’s conference was made by Joanne Shapp of Pomfret, Vermont.

My heart just overflows with gratitude.