Sunday, December 18, 2011


     Last year at the Winter Solstice, I had barely moved into my house and I remember laying in the snow in the frontyard, hoping my new neighbors we'ren't watching as I gazed up at the Lunar eclipse of a full moon. How magical. 

    The festival was called Satunalia by the Romans as they honored the god Saturn. Yule by others.  My goats especially love the notion of Joulupukki, a Scandinavian tradition whereby goats pulled Santa's sleigh.
      On the night of the Solstice, the longest night of the year, darkness triumphs then gives way to light. Some believe the Dark King is transformed into the Infant Light, the divine child Sun who is the bringer of hope and the promise of summer. It is the rebirth of the King of the woodlands, the Green Man, and the days begin to grow longer and will do so until the Equinox.
         art wrok by Anne Stokes

    The word solstice comes from the Latin words "sun" and "to stop", due to the fact that the Sun seems to stop in the sky. The Sun is directly overhead at "high-noon" on Winter Solstice at the latitude called the Tropic of Capricorn. In the Northern Hemisphere, the solstice days are the days with the fewest hours of sunlight during the whole year.Winter begins in the Northern Hemisphere on December 22, 2011, at 12:30 A.M. (EST).

 Winter Folklore 
Deep snow in winter; tall grain in summer—Estonian proverb
Visits should be short, like a winter's day.
A fair day in winter is the mother of a storm—English proverb
Summer comes with a bound; winter comes yawning.
Onion skins very thin, mild winter coming in. 

                         and to all, a magical good night....

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Just saw my ad for LADY GALLANT in the lovely holiday issue of STILL MOMENTS MAGAZINE

    Thank you Darlene Fedette for the opportunity and the beautiful layout.

        Lady Gallant is set during the holiday season and is the perfect read for winter. Hunker down and cozy up and go along with Josephine Posey as she heads off to the Black Sea with Florence Nightingale to tend the wounded in the Crimean War. 

       The hero, Garrick Allen, a reporter for the Times, is one of England's first war correspondents. He'll win your heart as well as Josie's as he champians the soldiers and tries his hardest to let the people back home know exactly what is going on.

     From the charge of the Light Brigade, to the backstreets of Constantople, there is intrigue waiting for you. And even black market schemes and bombs bursting in air can't stop the passion waiting for Josie and Garrick.  

Praise for Lady Gallant:
     “A very romantic Victorian love story,
circa 1854 set during the Crimean War.
Rifkin’s novel is epic in scope, meticulously
researched and finely detailed. A genuinely
sweet romance married to an exciting
war/espionage story.”
                                                ~RT Magazine

     “I was intrigued at the possibility that this story
might offer something fresh. I was not disappointed.
Reading Lady Gallant was a pleasure. The characters
are relatable and the romance is touching. I highly
recommend it to any fan of historical romance.”
                                              ~Long and Short Reviews


   Disowned by her father and still mourning the death of her fiancĂ©, Josephine Posey joins Florence Nightingale’s brigade of nurses bound for the Black Sea. Thousands of British soldiers desperately await these angels of mercy and a new life awaits Josie. Amidst the chaos of death and despair, she finds a spark of hope, lighting the flame once more inside her soul.

    In search of the truth, Garrick Allen, one of Britain’s first war correspondents also journeys to the Crimean Peninsula. To him the soldiers seem all but abandoned by Queen and country, and as he smokes his cheroots and makes friends with a bottle, he writes his bold but honest dispatches for The Times.  Not wanting anything more than to finish his job and go home, Garrick is blind-sided by a nurse with attitude who offers him a new slant on life and a reason to love.

    She wore no corset, only a camisole, and the curve of her firm breasts threatened to spill up and over the sleek fabric.
   Dazzled by the riotous accumulation of lace, roses, and ribbons, Garrick's gaze drifted lazily over her form, the combination of his prim image of Josie and the erotic under-things she wore exploded into a conflict of unexpected sensations—delightfully unsettling.
     “You’re quite bold in your choice of fashion,” he pointed out with a smile, as he envied the silk that caressed her in places he longed to touch.

     Doubt shadowed her expression. “Does it leave something to be desired?”

    “Oh yes, I dare say it does.”

    “What?” she demanded petulantly.

    “Only you,” he reassured.

     A naughty smile was her only reply. The expression didn’t appear to be practiced
or contrived. He ached a little more with wanting her.

    “You’re so beautiful.”

     She glanced down almost as if embarrassed or unbelieving. He tipped up her chin, forcing her gaze to meet and mingle with his. “Take off the rest of your dress,” he whispered.

     Like a cat uncurling from a sweet dream, she rose to stand before him. Then she slipped her thumbs under the fabric that hung gathered about her hips and with a slight bit of encouragement, the quilted taffeta slid downward over the wonderful curve of her bottom. The fabric billowed to the floor and pooled around her ankles.

Lady Gallant is available at The Wild Rose Press in paperback or e-book.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


NOVEMBER, the month for giving THANKS.

  Let me start by thanking the MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. (Yes, I know there are only 6 people in this photo, my sister went missing for a minute)

One year ago, on Halloween, I moved to the house I presently occupy with my small herd of feathered and four-footed "children".

   The move was one of necessity rather than true desire, and without family and friends, I don't think it would have been possible. 
    There were those who stood by at the new destination holding down the fort and preparing for our arrival, a stranger who offered to personally move the animals and hay, friends that put up fencing and unloaded said animals and hay, and new neighbors who came over with good cheer and welcome. 


    In a world filled with so much sadness, strife, suffering and  intolerance, what a joy to be surrounded by your kindness and glowing spirits.


   November is also the month of the traditional Thanksgiving holiday. Most of us know how the first one started, but the story of how it became a national holiday is also an interesting aside.

When you sit down to dinner on that Thursday, give a toast to Sarah Josepha Hale.

Sarah Josepha Buell Hale, born October 24, 1788, was an American writer and an influential editor. She is the author of the nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb".

She seemed to have a rather bipolar approach to women’s rights. Respected as an arbiter of taste for middle-class women in matters of fashion, cooking, literature, and morality, she also reinforced stereotypical gender roles, celebrating the "separate sphere" for women while casually trying to expand on it. She did not support women's suffrage and instead believed in the "secret, silent influence of women" to sway men voters

     Hale is credited as the individual most responsible for making Thanksgiving a national holiday. Previously it had been celebrated only in New England. Each state scheduled its own holiday, some as early as October and others as late as January; it was largely unknown in the American South.

   Her advocacy for the national holiday began in 1846 and lasted 17 years before it was successful, during which time she wrote letters to five Presidents -- Zachary Taylor, Millard Filmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Abraham Lincoln. Her initial letters failed to persuade, but the letter she wrote to Lincoln did convince him to support legislation establishing a national holiday of Thanksgiving in 1863.The new day of celebration was considered a unifying day after the stress of the American Civil War.

   Prior to the addition of Thanksgiving, the only national holidays celebrated in the United States were Washington's Birthday and Independence Day.

    Hale retired from editorial duties in 1877 at the age of 89. The same year, Thomas Edison spoke the opening lines of "Mary's Lamb": the first ever recorded message on his newly invented phonograph.

Hale died at her home on April 30, 1879 and is buried in the Laurel Hill Cemetery, in Pennsylvania.

Thank you Sarah Hale….now please pass the dressing and mashed potatoes.

   Here at Compass Rose we sponsor a turkey each year rather than eating one. This 12 year old tradition especially makes the duck and goose happy.  This year's rescue is the lovely Victoria.

Friday, October 28, 2011


     The wheel turns. It's hard to believe it is Samhain already, my favorite night of the year.
    Since this is the Celtic New Year, I see it as getting a leg up on setting resolutions, looking forward to new beginnings, and being thankful for the past 12 months.

    I hope your Celtic year was prosperous, enlightening, and kind. Filled with family and friends. I am realizing more and more that the support of others, both physically and spiritually, is the only way to learn and grow (actually to survive) on this journey. The only way not to fall off a cliff, sink in the river, or fly too high. 
Listen for the wolf howling in the night, you may hear the ancient words and thoughts related to this most joyous day. 
    On this night, the ancestors walk abroad. The gates between the worlds are open wide. We call upon our ancestors, those known and unknown, to come among us and celebrate our reunion on this night of Samhain. We call upon our loved ones who have passed into the Summer Land to come and feast with us tonight. We offer remembrance and honor to their spirits. They help us to realize that at the time of greatest darkness, there is the greatest light.
   We look behind us at the past year and begin to assess what we have done with our year…and what we failed to do.

We look back on friends and loved ones who have gone beyond the veil and remember them.

We look at what we must leave behind in order to move ahead.
    We stand between the worlds in this Time-out-of-Time. We stand at the door of a New Year in a place that is not a place. In this doorway we are neither in the past or the future, we are in the Realm of Ancestors, the Island of Avalon.
We welcome the Lady of Avalon who gives rest and healing to those souls, who welcomes the dead, and who guides us all to rebirth. Please protect and comfort those who have gone before us. Ease their suffering if need be, remind them how much we miss them. How much we cherished having known them. How much we value the time they spent with us.

Tonight we call upon the spirits of this special realm to be at peace with us and to walk lightly among us. Help us to relinquish unnecessary burdens and walk into our future with light steps.

So leave your offering to placate the spirits.


And burn a candle that your ancesters might find their way. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Love a man in a kilt, or a knight on horseback?
 The Estes Park Scottish Festival had it all.

    Although there is already snow on Trail Ridge Road, the day I spent in Estes Park was beautiful. (Thanks for taking me, Sis). 

    Temps in the 70's, sunny and bright, with an intermitant refreshing breeze, and the Rocky Mountains a breathtaking backdrop. Oh, and of course, gorgeous men no matter where you looked. It was a romance novel cover come to life. 

               They had a "real live" trebuchet!

They were lobbing bowling balls into the lake at an inflatable
 "Nessie".  Luckily they missed her every time.

A brief history of the Trebuchet
     Rocks were the first basic weapon, easy to find and easy to use, just lob one towards your enemy. Eventually someone came up with the idea of the sling, which simply uses a piece of cloth or looped strap in which a stone is whirled and then let fly.
     Next came the idea of the catapult. A simple machine that throws a stone or other projectile farther and harder than a human could. The Trebuchet was capable of hurling stones weighing 200 pounds, with a range of up to about 300 yards. And once the counterweight model was invented, the rate of release was amazing - up to two thousands stones could be released in one day! The force of the Trebuchet was capable of reducing castles, fortresses and cities to rubble.

    Compared to the basic catapult, the trebuchet is pretty young. The ballista- a type of catapult built like a very large crossbow, was first reported near Syracuse, Italy, around 400 BC.  The mangonel was being used by the Romans around the first century, AD.  We don't find the trebuchet until the second century AD, where it was first used by the Chinese.

       These types of machines became popular as both siege (attack) and defense weapons. They made their way through many cultures, probably moving from China, to the Byzantine Empire via the nomadic Mongolian people. Although focused around Turkey and the Balkans, the Byzantine Empire had ties with Europe.

      In 1216, Prince Louis of France used the trebuchet to attack Dover Castle in a bid for the English throne. The constable of Dover castle was Hugh de Burgh - he refused to surrender. King Edward I ordered his chief engineer, Master James of St. George, to begin work on a new, more massive engine called Warwolf (what a great name). The Warwolf is generally thought of as the most powerful and most famous of the trebuchets in history.

        The French made improvements to the projectile range and accuracy of the trebuchet making it the siege machine of choice in the middle ages. Soon, the Traction Trebuchet, which used people as a power source, was replaced by the Counterpoise Trebuchet, which used a weight on the short end. It was so reliable the trebuchet was still being used even after the introduction of cannons. The word 'Trebuchet' is derived from the Old French word 'Trebucher' meaning to throw over.

     “Ammunition” for the trebuchet often included more than stones, such as: sharp wooden poles and darts, fire, casks of burning tar, burning sand ( this became trapped inside armor ) pots of Greek Fire, dung, dead (sometime mutilated) bodies, disease ridden bodies, dead animals, any rotting matter, and quicklime

       The Trebuchet revolutionized warfare. They were usually built "on site" in a surprisingly small amount of time. And when the battle was over and the castle breeched, they would burn the trebuchet to the ground, retrieve the hardware and be ready to build the next one when the occasion arose.

A great collection of armaments was available for perusal and purchase. 


 There was no shortage of interesting characters, whose regalia inspired thoughts of highwaymen and scallywags.


And the women took no backseat to the men in jousting or costuming.

The Medieval equivilant of "Got Milk". We passed on this. The traditional recipe follows.

  • 1 sheep's lung (illegal in the U.S.; may be omitted if not available)
  • 1 sheep's stomach
  • 1 sheep heart
  • 1 sheep liver
  • 1/2 lb fresh suet (kidney leaf fat is preferred)
  • 3/4 cup oatmeal (the ground type, NOT the Quaker Oats type!)
  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup stock
Wash lungs and stomach well, rub with salt and rinse. Remove membranes and excess fat.
 Soak in cold salted water for several hours. Turn stomach inside out for stuffing.
Cover heart and liver with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Chop heart and coarsely grate liver. Toast oatmeal in a skillet on top of the stove, stirring frequently, until golden. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Loosely pack mixture into stomach, about two-thirds full. Remember, oatmeal expands in cooking.
Press any air out of stomach and truss securely. Put into boiling water to cover. Simmer for 3 hours, uncovered, adding more water as needed to maintain water level. Prick stomach several times with a sharp needle when it begins to swell; this keeps the bag from bursting. Place on a hot platter, removing trussing strings. Serve with a spoon. Ceremoniously served with "neeps, tatties and nips" -- mashed turnips, mashed potatoes, nips of whiskey.

For more indepth information on haggis,
watch for a future posting... 
The History and Mystery of Haggis.

Monday, September 19, 2011


The Equinox is not just a car.......
      This is the second harvest, Alban Elfed, the Celtic celebration of Mabon.  On the 23rd the sun rises due east and sets due west. It is the fleeting union of solar and lunar forces. A time for thanksgiving. A time of wonder. A time of balance as the sun enters Libra, a special sign for me. A time ruled by love and the planet Venus.

        According to legend and ancient belief it is the time of the dying sun and we honor our dead and celebrate their memory with joyous remembrance.  We pray for their rebirth into another plane another world that we do not understand. 

We honor our elders and all who have taught us regardless of their age.  The wheel turns, we should be thankful for the goodness the year had brought rather than lamenting the darkness ahead.  Endings are new beginnings.  Sometimes a painful concept

Mabon has grown old and will die at Samhain. This time of year is associated with Herne the Hunter, who leads a wild phantom chase through the forest, heralding confusion and change. It is the Night of the Hunter. 

 It is the "assumption of the Crone," when the dark face of the Goddess assumes the sway over the world which She will hold until the return of the Maiden at Imbolc.  The month of September also marks the "Wine Moon," the lunar cycle when grapes are harvested  The full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox is the Harvest Moon. 

 It is a day sacred to Carpo, goddess of Autumn, and Carmon the Irish patroness of poetry.  It is the time of Frey, and we ask for fertility of mind and spirit.

In the days ahead when the sun is our friend and we seek his warmth rather than running from his touch of fire, let us be thankful for the food we have stored and the love we have garnered (deserving or not).

  This is the only day in which light is vulnerable and is overtaken by darkness.  Today we feel the earth wobble on its axis, it is the day of the sacrificial death of  Llew the god of light. The fall of John Barleycorn-spirit of the fields. For the Christians it is Michaelmas.

In stories of old it is the time when Demeter’s daughter, Kore, is given by Zeus to Hades. Her name now Persephone, she abides in the underworld. Demeter curses the earth and no crops will grow. 

Zeus sends Hermes to retrieve the girl but Persephone has been tricked into eating the seeds of the pomegranate. Demeter is furious. Trying to find a peaceful accord, Zeus declares that Persephone will spend 6 months with her mother and 6 months in the underworld with her husband Hades. The time has come for her to descend to darkness and yet to her lover. It is the time that Demeter’s curse still rules the land and all the plants sleep as we await their return in springtime.

words to ponder

The leaves fall, the wind blows, and the farm country slowly
changes from the summer cottons into its winter wools."
-Henry Beston, Northern Farm

Autumn is a season followed immediately by looking forward to Spring."

Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile.
-William Cullen Bryant

I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself,
than be crowded on a velvet cushion.
-Henry David Thoreau

Summer, where did you go?
I hardly knew your face at all.
Did you hide yourself from me?
Or did I not take the time to look?

While the September equinox occurs on September 22 in 2008 and 2009, it occurs on September 23 in 2010 and 2011 (UTC). The September equinox has also occurred on September 24(UTC), with the last occurrence on that date being 1931. The next time a September 24 equinox occurs will be in the year 2303. Moreover, a September 21 equinox will occur in 2092.

There are a few explanations on why the equinox dates differ in the Gregorian calendar. The varying dates of the equinox are mainly due to the calendar system – most western countries use the Gregorian calendar, which has 365 days in a year, or 366 days in a leap year. According to the National Maritime Museum, the equinoxes generally occur about six hours later each year, with a jump of a day (backwards) on leap years. An extra day is added in a leap year to minimize a gradual drift of the equinox date through the seasons.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


    I'm so sad. My duck died last night. We'd been together for ten years, her name was Emily, named for Emily Bronte, and she was one of the original three.

Dear Emmy Duck:

     You liked to hide in tall grass and make nests and I had to look all over for you. I would call you, but you would just hunker down and pretend no one could see you. One day, I found you sitting in the water bucket and you couldn’t get out. Don’t know how you even got in there.

    You survived the West Nile epidemic, were the smartest of all the ducks I ever had, and taught the rest of them how to use the ramp to get in the barn and the step to climb into the pool. You never fought with your buddies, you were gentle, a pretty kaki Campbell. You didn’t talk much, had a black beak and black feet and got grey “hair” in the end. You waddled so cute and made me laugh, you were the one I loved the best, (don’t tell the other fowl.)

    I’m not sure why you died. You acted a little droopy the night before but you’d done that before. And you’d spent a fine day in the sun chasing grasshoppers.

    A long while ago, when we lived at our other house, you hurt your leg, but with TLC and hydrotherapy in the middle of winter, you recovered just fine. I’m sorry you died alone, I hope you are okay now and with your sister Charlotte and swimming in a real pool with moss and flowers and lots of bugs and cracked corn to eat.  

I miss you little brown duck.

I hope when we die, we get to see not only the people we love, but all the animals who have brightened our journey and taught us those lessons humans cannot impart.

Thursday, September 8, 2011



Full Moon Web Hunt
sponsored by
Night Owl Reviews

Open - 09/01/2011 (Noon PST)

untill 10/31/2011 - Ends at Midnight PST

For details on how to enter, click on

GRAND PRIZE to be divided between five winners
Silver Publishing - Amazon Kindle and 5 eBooks from Silver Publishing
Erin Kellison - $15 Amazon Gift Card
Terry Wright - $15 Amazon Gift Card
Beverly Rae - $5 gift certificate to Samhain Publishing's eStore
Castles & Guns - $20 Amazon Gift Card + $10 Amazon Gift Card + eBooks - Unbreak Me by Lex Valentine, Crimson by Nickie Asher
Donna Brown - eBook copy of Short Stories I-IV + and eBook copy of Fezariu's Epiphany
Angela Johnson - Autographed copy of Vow of Seduction
Rachel Haimowitz - eBook Copy of Each - Counterpoint: Song of the Fallen, Sublime: Collected Shorts, Where He Belongs, and Anchored: Belonging
McKenna Chase - Readers Choice of my available ebooks (McKenna Chase) via Kindle or directly to winner's computer via the Free Kindle app
Simone Bern - $10 Amazon gift card + Readers Choice - a copy of one of my ebooks
Darah Lace - eBook from my back list and $15 gift cert
Mary Abshire - 5 of my ebooks (I have three in a series to select from)
Carol North - $15 Amazon Gift Card
Elle Druskin - eBooks - To Catch A Cop, Nominated as Best Romantic Comedy of 2010 by The Romance Reviews | To Catch A Crook, the second book in the "To Catch" series due for release on June 30, 2011 | Outback Hero, a contemporary romance set in the Australian Outback
Maggie Jaimeson - Choice of autographed print copy of ETERNITY and print copy of EXPENDABLE OR a $15 gift card from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Karen McCullough - ebook copy of Heart of the Night - ebook copy of A Question of Fire

enter the