Sunday, February 16, 2020

Clearly Focused

After struggling with increasingly dry eyes and eye allergies that made wearing the gas permeable contact lenses I've worn for over thirty years become extremely uncomfortable and difficult to see clearly, I recently switched to wearing soft lenses. Even though I knew they were usually more comfortable for people who fought the same issues I did, I fought making the switch. My hard lenses helped to keep my vision stabilized for years, and they were easy to care for and pop in and out of my eyes. Watching friends and family take care of soft lenses, not to mention taking them out, I wanted no part of them. It looked like they were putting tiny pieces of Saran Wrap into their eyes, and I couldn't fathom how they took them out of their eyes. It appeared they pinched them right off their eyeballs! 

I've now had soft lenses for a month and still have issues some days putting them in and taking them out, but I have improved to the point, that if I am lucky, I can put them in on the first or second try. They still feel a bit cumbersome, ready to slide off my finger and into the sink if I don't balance them on my finger just right. But what a feeling it is to hold down my lower eye with one finger, center the lens in my eye with another, (without blinking is key!) then listen to the lens crinkle into place. When I hear that noise, I know vision in that eye will soon become sharply focused. 

Not only are things becoming increasingly sharply focused as I get used to caring for and wearing my new lenses, (after a couple of switches to my prescription, I can see great, and they are very comfortable) but my work in progress, Leaf Peepers, the sixth book in the Nature Station Mystery Series, is becoming more focused as well. I have chosen a well focused front cover image of maple leaves exhibiting bright fall color for the front cover and narrowing down images of a Lake Michigan sand dune for the back cover. The book takes place in the late summer, while my main characters are planning an ecotour for so-called leaf peepers to view lovely fall foliage along the south to southeastern shoreline of Lake Michigan. 

The story still has a long way to go, (over 50,000 words to write!) but I am now at the point that not only do I know who dies, but also who killed him, and how and why it was done. It may seem silly not to have that all figured out before I start writing, but this is my process, and once I get to this point in the story, things click into place, allowing the rest of the story to come along quickly and more sharply focused.

Since the main characters travel out of town, several new characters must be introduced and fleshed out to help Kristen Matthews and her amateur detective friends solve the mystery. After not being able to work on Leaf Peepers much for the past few months, I'm getting back to work and hope to have everything ready for an early fall release, since the story takes place over Labor Day weekend. This positive feeling is almost identical to the feeling I have when my lenses are in place and helping my peepers see clearly.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Adventures in Ontario

My family always looks forward to our summer vacation. My younger daughter helped to choose this year’s destination, Canada, and she also wanted to see polar bears. In cruising the internet, my husband stumbled upon the Detroit Zoo as having a cool polar bear exhibit, and it made sense to combine it all into one trip. My older daughter, always eager to travel, especially when it involves a stamp in her passport, was also on board with this plan. I researched places to visit. Ontario covers a lot of land, so I was excited to see two national parks that looked not only interesting but also feasible to visit on the same trip.

We couldn’t leave as early as I would have liked, since the place where our dogs were staying didn’t open until ten o’clock on Sundays, so we didn’t hit the road until eleven o’clock. Oh, well, no big deal, right? Wrong. We intended to stop at Lake Michigan on the way, but by the time we finally got through traffic and made it to the Indiana Dunes, it was extremely crowded. Settling for a quick drive along the shoreline, we got back on I-94, only to be stuck in traffic in Michigan as well. As we edged closer to Detroit, we were excited about crossing into Canada. I hadn’t been there since I was a child—long before passports were required. We maneuvered through downtown Detroit without issue and found the tunnel entrance easily--thanks to GPS’s help. I’m not a fan of underwater tunnels, so I was thankful the line into Canada was moving along steadily, while the line to get into the U.S. was bumper to bumper. We topped off the long day with dinner in Little Italy in Windsor. Finding a parking place on the main drag, we were disappointed to see a parking meter, for which we had no Canadian coins. Fortunately, a lady from above yelled out her window at us in Italian, (It felt like we were in Italy!) and we figured out that parking was free on Sundays. We found a place that was open and was fabulous—great food, service, prices, and plenty of locals eating there too.

The next day we went back through the tunnel, traffic moving along quickly, since we’d timed our outing to miss rush hour. At the zoo we toured the exhibits, with the polar bear residing at the farthest point away. It was hot, and we were all starting to feel a little drained. We perked up as we neared the polar bear habitat, and my daughter was excited to see the backside of the bear outdoors. We assumed we would have even better views from the tunnel aquarium. Wrong! We enjoyed watching the seals but were disappointed we didn’t see the polar bear swimming. We cooled off and regrouped. Deciding to make another attempt, we scanned the outer area for the bear but didn’t have any luck. We figured the bear had grown tired of the hot weather and gone inside for a swim. Apparently, that was not the bear’s plan. Fortunately, my daughter wasn’t too disappointed, and we did get to see several other cool critters.

Lake Erie and Southern Tip of Canada at Point Pelee National Park
Itching to travel to Canada’s countryside, we packed up and headed to Point Pelee National Park, a tiny peninsula at the southern most tip of Canada that extends into Lake Erie. After taking in the amazing lake views, we walked along the marshland boardwalk at the north end of the park. Feeling refreshed after some beautiful lake scenery, we started northward. The drive to the hotel seemed to take forever, as we wound along well-maintained country roads, trying to follow the 50-mph speed limit. (only 60-mph on four-lanes—what a shame, since the roads were excellent, much nicer than Illinoisans are used to!) Once we reached the highway that hugged Lake Huron we made better time.

Marsh Boardwalk at Point Pelee National Park

We left Owen Sound and trekked farther northward where we planned to visit Bruce Peninsula National Park. I could hardly wait, but at the park’s entrance the ranger told us we needed reservations to hike and directed us to the visitor’s center. Used to working with people turned away without reservations on a fully-booked day, the ranger gave us several ideas for hiking to see sites all along the peninsula’s bayside. The sites we saw of Lake Huron, rock formations, and other neat places were just as beautiful as those in the park, and probably less crowded. We definitely want to return to the area to visit the places we missed.
Devil's Monument - Bruce Peninsula

Lake Huron at Devil's Monument Trail
Lake Huron at Fathom Five National Marine Park

The next day we started for home, once again taking the highway along Lake Huron. We crossed into the U.S. at Port Huron, the process taking over an hour from start to finish. It was a rude awakening to enter the U.S., where we could see the drought taking its toll, poorer roads, and more traffic. Finally reaching Kalamazoo, we were looking forward to crashing at our hotel after going out for dinner. Long story short, we ended up at a different hotel and ate delivered pizza.

We eventually made it home, after a couple more traffic delays. Despite a few things that didn’t go as planned, it was a beautiful trip, even if crossing back and forth into Canada a couple of times didn’t earn us a stamp in our passports.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

The Life of Queen Wappi

Brenna took this picture of me for her 4-H project. She got a red ribbon on it, but I think I look pretty cute. 

Brenna Powelson

I was born on March 25, 2015, along with my eight other
siblings, but I am everyone's favorite. My mean brother
Wexford put a pawprint on my nose, which I’m told is quite
cute. People adore me, but I don't adore them. See, when I was
just a puppy I was in a home with two other dogs {update: I
was not a puppy. I was eight months old, but I am being told
that’s still considered a puppy} Anyway, my silly owners said I
was getting into fights with the other dogs, so they took me to
a shelter -- ME THE QUEEN, TO A SHELTER! See, the thing
about me is I know I am the best, and so does everyone
soooooooooo  I was shocked when they took me to a shelter
anyway. I was there FUR  almost 16 months. The day before my
birthday I got adopted, and I was happy. I had a home, but then
a month and a half later a new dog came {Jada}. She was a big
fluffball, and her name was Jada, soooooooooooooooooo I had
no choice  but to attack her. I got in trouble, but I don’t know

Okay, so I happen to like the bathroom. 

It has been two years,  and Jada and I have became the best of
friends. Just like Jada, I have a favorite {BRENNA}. Also, I am
still mad at Wexford.

We like to keep the house safe from predators, like little bunnies. 

100% written by Wappi--
not BRENNA at all.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Jannifer Powelson Releases Bee in her Bonnet, the Fifth Book in the Nature Station Mystery Series

It's summer at the Nature Station, and love is in the air! The prairie and newly installed pollinator garden are ablaze with color and buzzing with life-and death-when a guest drops dead the day after the bridal shower maid of honor, Kristen Matthews, hosted for her best friend and co-worker, Hope Johnson.
A seed is planted in Kristen's mind after she and Hope discover the body. Is the victim's allergy to blame for her untimely death, or was she murdered? With Hope and Deputy Todd Livingston's wedding just around the corner, Kristen and her friends hurry to dig up the dirt from the past to help solve the present day case. Will they track down the killer in time for Hope and Todd to begin their future life together?
Powelson will launch her newest title with at event on Saturday, June 22, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Prairie Arts Center during the Midsommar Festival in Bishop Hill, Illinois and at a book signing at I Know You Like a Book in Peoria Heights on Saturday, June 29, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Powelson is also the author of four books in the award winning Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk Series. These educational books use entertaining storylines, colorful and realistic illustrations, and actual photos taken by Powelson. She is employed as a resource conservationist at the Stark County Soil and Water Conservation District and resides in Princeton with her family.  Ms. Powelson is currently working on the sixth book in the Nature Station Mystery Series.
Books in the Nature Station Mystery Series and the Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk Series may be purchased from several local stores and online retailers.

* * *

Series: Nature Station Mystery Series
Paperback: 298 pages
Publisher: Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, LLC (April 20, 2019)
Language: English

Price: $12.95

Books available: - - select stores and online retail stores
Progressive Rising Phoenix Press is an innovative publisher founded by authors. We believe a network of authors working together is more effective than working alone.

For author interviews contact Progressive Rising Phoenix Press: Twitter: @PRPpress
Progressive Rising Phoenix Press

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

My Name is Jada
Story and photos by Brenna Powelson (Jada's favorite)

My name is Jada. I wrote this story to tell you how grateful I am to my human family for adopting me. 

The first  thing I remember when I was with my first family was that everything was fine until I turned one year old! That's when my family moved and left me behind. I walked for a while. It was dark, and I was starving; nobody had fed me that day. Not knowing a car was coming I walked into the road, and all I remember was the car lights blinding me, {note I am not blind} and I tried to run, but I got hit! The next thing I knew I was lying on the ground. I got up and walked to a tree. I was weak and had no family.

The next day some people pulled over to help me. They took me to a vet. I was happy to be taken care of again. Then the vet told them I had heart worms. I had no idea what that meant, but it did not sound good. When we left I thought I would be going home, but I was wrong--oh how I was wrong! I was in a crate in a shelter where I had been staying for a month when I overheard some people saying that they could not afford my heart worm treatment. Nobody wanted me because of my heart worms, so a person lowered my adoption fee to $50.00. I saw dogs leave to go to a new home every day, but not me.

Finally, one day I was told I was getting a new family. We drove from Arkansas to a PetSmart in Illinois. After an hour of seeing dogs leave but not me, I got sad again. But when I saw a family of four I got nervous. When they said my name, JADA, I was filled with hope! As soon as I got out of the van, I laid down, AND THEY GAVE ME A BELLY RUB--I REPEAT A BELLY RUB! When I got in their van they gave me a treat, and I slept all the way home.

When we got home I met a new dog named Wappi. She attacked me, but after that we became best friends. The first six months were not easy, but I got through it, and now I have no heart worms. I have been here for two years, and it is safe to say I have found my forever or furever home  I love my family. My favorite is the youngest {Brenna}.

My Best Friend, Wappi