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Friday, December 30, 2011

Reading and Reviewing 10

Giving It Away, a short story by Pete Morin, at, for free!

Five Stars

Imagine living in southeast Maine and winning a lottery for a hundred million dollars. So many ordinary people find that suddenly coming into a lot of money changes their lives in unexpected ways. How nice that Pete wrote a story that allowed the winners to remain themselves, happily in love, loving their jobs, and living their lives together. I relish stories of the people in Maine, the settings there, and the goodness that is found in hard working people. Thanks, Pete, for a happy ending so sweet.

To read Pete's short story, click on Giving It Away

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Reading and Reviewing 9

January Kills Me (Samantha Rialto Mysteries)January Kills Me by Evan Katy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A ninety-nine cent full length Kindle mystery!

If this is the first in a series of monthly murder mysteries, I'm in. The characters are well developed, the story line has enough changes to keep the reader guessing, and the language is well written. That the main character is a middle school music teacher is another hook for me. I read it in two days, and enjoyed every moment. The question now is whether I read the February book right away or whether I'll save it until early February ...

View all my reviews

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Reading and Reviewing 8

Angie Edwards
FREE SHORT CHRISTMAS STORY on the BOOKS4TOMORROW blog: “WITNESSES” by guest reviewer Ellen Fritz. Ellen is an aspiring writer and this is her first ever short story. Some positive feedback or constructive criticism welcome. Click here to read this free story.

I read it today (sneak preview?) and enjoyed it. It is written in a style similar to Black Beauty, an old English tale (1877 by Anna Sewell) that I read to my fourth and fifth grade classes in elementary school years ago. Ellen Fritz's "Witnesses" has that same point of view, told in the voices of the animals, in subtlety furthering the belief that animals can speak on Christmas Eve without actually promoting it. You'll enjoy it, and maybe add your reviews to mine, here or there.

Two more days 'til Christmas Eve~

Here is a guest review written by a friend, Karin Swier Wilmarth; you can see the book and preview it on kindle at this link. Here's Karin's review:

I have recently read Following Atticus by Tom Ryan. This book following the remarkable journey of Tom and his miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch. They are unlikely pair of mountaineers but after a friend passes away from cancer, they decide to attempt to climb all forty-eight of New Hampshire’s four-thousand-foot peaks twice in one winter to raise money for charity.

If you like dogs, the mountains of New Hampshire or a great friendship story ... then pick up this book. (Oh and an extra plus is that the book has a connection to Newburyport.)

Thanks, Karin. I am looking forward to reading this, and love that it has local connections!

If anyone else has reviews of good books they'd like to share, leave it here in a comment or send me an email at, and I'll be happy to post it here!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Another Christmas Review:

The Santa Shop (The Santa Conspiracy)The Santa Shop by Tim Greaton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Santa Shop (an endearing store that so echoed my husband's own devotion to making wooden toys) held my attention and kept me wondering what would happen next. The beginning seems to be a haunting of sorts, which is not fully explained until the end of the story.

The existence of the homeless in our cities is explored through the eyes of a man who has lost his wife and infant son in a tragic Christmas Eve fire. His guilt in not being with them that night ends his successful career and leaves him homeless and wandering, seemingly purposeless and yet feeling destined to make amends for his perceived fault in their deaths.

The settings of an upstate New York urban area, with the callous attitudes of regular people toward irregular people is balanced by the kindness of the rural small village population in far northern Vermont. This stereotypical portrayal of people in cities is somewhat balanced by the character who cares for the homeless in her own tough way, but it seems not quite enough, which is why I rated this one four stars.

Great use of language, very few typos, and a storyline that somehow fit the season. It seems that there are other titles that are linked to this book at Amazon. The author is sometimes called "the other Maine author."

You can find The Santa Shop at Amazon as a ninety-nine cent Kindle book. I am glad I took the time to read this story.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More From Santa

A Sweet Story of Santa and his Mrs.

A Christmas Jar for Santa - A Christmas Jars StoryA Christmas Jar for Santa - A Christmas Jars Story by Jason F. Wright

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Christmas stories, and this one is particularly seasonable. Behind every strong man there is a stronger woman, and that old saw really fits the story here. It's a sweet story of partnership, commitment, and enduring love shared with many. I recommend this one to everyone who loves the spirit of Christmas, the giving of what can be given, and the down home stories of the past that can be continued in our present and future. One need not have read the other Christmas Jar stories to understand the symbolism here.

You can get this story for you Kindle at this link, for ninety nine cents.

View all my reviews

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Mellow, Quiet, Introspective Christmas Read

Dakota Christmas (Kindle Single)Dakota Christmas by Joseph Bottum

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Christmas books are typically either rooted in religion, or in North Pole fantasies. This one is different. The author is skilled in expressing the quiet thoughts of a man remembering his boyhood, of the real experiences contrasting with the hype of today's holidays, and of the true nature of the winter season and the people who survive it. It can be read in an evening's time, and is well worth it.

This book will delight the men in one's family as well as the women and teens, all searching for an end to the holiday hype that exhausts us, and may inspire some to write their own reflective thoughts in a journal, for later recollection.

You can find this book by clicking this link, and it's at Kindle for ninety nine cents!
More later!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday ... a reminder of a giveaway underway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Teaching by Terry Crawford Palardy


by Terry Crawford Palardy

Giveaway ends December 19, 2011.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Tomorrow noontime is the deadline for this giveaway through Goodreads. It's the second giveaway I've done. Last month two lucky readers won paperback copies of Multiple Sclerosis, an Enigma. If you're not familiar with Goodreads Giveaways, click here on Goodreads Giveaways, and then scan what other authors are offering you.

Check back for more reviews here later ... reading now!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Treading the Tech Trek, part 4: this will make more sense if you start with the first Technology Trek entry dated 12/6/11

I enjoyed the Mac Performa. We bought a "mahogany" (pressed board with paper veneer) armoire that held the monitor, the keyboard and mouse, the CPU (central processing unit, which was horizontal, unlike the pc's that had vertical towers). There was also room below for reams of paper, the printer, our stereo/record player/cd player/tape player, and little cubbies above for notes, pens, etc. The shelves all slid out for easy access, which was particularly nice for the keyboard and mouse.

I wrote many reports at that computer, and many letters, and many journal pages. It was upstairs in the bedroom for a year or so, and then I talked my son into helping me move it downstairs to the parlor, where it is today.

It was that following September that I received the laptop computer from school ... and returned to the (now not so familiar) PC world, leaving apple and all in its orchard behind. Our school needed a webmaster for our new website, and our principal turned to me, knowing I had a tech-savvy son at home. He was our actual webmaster, though I was his proxy and so collected the stipend for that position (depositing it into his college fund.) A year or so later, another teacher took over the webmaster role. And I had learned as much as there was to learn about the PC world.

My Performa MAC sat unused during those PC years. I turned it on just the other day, after leaving it sitting for twelve years, and it still worked ... and I still remembered enough of its apple-idiosyncrasies that I could call up old files. Nostalgia ruled the rest of that afternoon, and had the printer ink not dried up, I would have printed out dozens of forgotten pictures, and hundreds of pages of journal writing that will otherwise be lost to software obscurity.

I'll buy ink cartridges (if I can find them) and have another day of memories this winter. Then, having retrieved all that is useful and special, I'll try to find someplace to donate it. Otherwise, it will join the TRS 80, the slow early PC made by Rick, with its dot-matrix printer, it's green and then amber screens, and the apple IIgs in the "museum" in our barn.

At school, the transfer from apple to PC continued. At first, our computer teacher had to teach us all how to translate our Clarisworks files to Appleworks files, and then recopy Appleworks to AppleworksX, which the PC computers could then read. As the generations of computers progressed, compatibility became slightly simpler, though never the twain should meet.

As I was taking courses at the local university for teacher license renewal, you can imagine my surprise when one assignment was to be done on a MAC ... a new MAC, one that took USB drives, CDs that slid into the side of the skinny screen, and up to date video/movie maker software that did not transfer to the PC that I now had at home. When I realized how far from the orchard I had strayed in the past decade, and how quickly I would need to reorient myself to the Apple world, I broke down in tears. My husband had helped me use PC language on our computer at home to produce a comparable movie, which I took into the class on a flash drive, but it would not transfer to the new MAC. I left a note of apology on my keyboard, for I could not find the off button (SEE PREVIOUS TECH TREK FOR ANDY ROONEY VIDEO), and left quietly during the lunch break, never to return. The professor was kind and gave me credit for making the PC movie.

That last class was the beginning of the end for me. I was no longer a "quick study" with technology; I no longer could walk both sides of that line. Retirement soon followed. My son bought me my own laptop computer that Christmas before retirement, a PC, one I could use comfortably on my lap, with my feet up and a lap-desk between me and the heat of the computer. I had gone through three school laptop computers in one year at school, in part because the motherboards overheated. This past week, I found a lap-desk that contains a cooling fan, and bought that to keep both the laptop computer and myself cool, and safe.

My partners are encouraging the schools to go back to MACs again, finding them more creative and user friendly for making video presentations with music and photos for student projects. And so the circle continues...apples, oranges, apples, oranges, and now apples on the horizon again.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Writing In Wonderland: A Writer's Wish List

I'm spending the day today writing out Christmas cards, as they have begun to arrive here!I'll be back tomorrow with more of the saga of The Tech Trek.

Sharing another writer's blog today: she's made up her list, and checked it out twice, suggesting gifts listed only for Nice ... check it out!

Writing In Wonderland: A Writer's Wish List

Thursday, December 15, 2011

In Honor of Firefighters Everywhere

Over twelve thousand firefighters from all over the United States and Canada have gathered at this moment in Worcester, Massachusetts for the solemn funeral of a LODD. Worcester Firefighter Jon Davies entered a building in search of possible victims, and lost his life as portions of the building collapsed. It is a danger that every firefighter faces every day.

Rather than dwelling on whether or not this fire was sparked by arson, today is the day to mourn the Loss On Duty Death of this man, and to celebrate memories of his life.

Several thousand firefighters returned to Massachusetts about a week later to attend another LODD in Peabody, Massachusetts. Fire fighter Jim Rice lost his life in a house fire, in which he inhaled deadly gases and succumbed to a heart attack.

In Methuen, Massachusetts, another firefighter, Robert George died of a heart attack between shifts, and the same happened to Randy Rideout in Medford, Massachusetts. In nearby Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a firefighter lost her four-year battle with cancer, after witnessing a tribute of AMR pink ambulances during her illness, a testimony to the link between ambulance services and fire fighting. And a few months earlier, on a clear summer day, a Salisbury, Massachusetts firefighter lost his life while using his mechanic's skills to repair a department vehicle which fell onto him while on duty in the yard of the fire station. While media may wrangle over which of these deaths were duty related, the connection between physical exertion, racing adrenalin, noxious lethal gases of burning plastics and stressful settings cannot be denied as contributing to the deaths of fire fighters. Massachusetts in particular has paid a heavy price in fire fighter deaths this fall.

I have firefighters in my family of whom I am very proud, and will dedicate today's post to them as well as to those families who have lost their heroes. This is a repeat of a column I'd posted a few years ago on my website, It is on the page called Sentimental Letters, and I invite you to read it there. Here is a link to The Bravest.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Reading and Reviewing 7: Two of Christmas, and Two of Youth

I am meeting a number of writers at Facebook, and through their experiences and helpful suggestions, I'm branching out into the world of e-publishing. I'm also enjoying their writings ... some books, some stories, and some just portions.

The Wrong Side of the TracksThe Wrong Side of the Tracks by Mike Wells

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Young men begin as growing boys, and pass through challenges of adolescence surrounded by peers. The characters in this story are high school students, ninth grade and some eleventh, some wealthy and some without luxuries in their lives.

Their friendships are controlled in large part by their geography within their town. The haves are with the haves, and the have nots stay close to each other.

Mike Wells has a clear understand of adolescence demonstrated in the real and raw emotions he shows through his characters' conversations and actions.

There are a small number of grammatical, typo, or omission errors in the text, and these can be easily resolved with a focused edit for such. They do detract somewhat from the smooth reading, but not enough to confuse anyone's understandings of the actions and characters.

I'm looking forward to part two; part one does stand alone as a character developing short story. The unresolved questions and choice of directions of the characters will optimistically be addressed in part two.

***** ***** ***** ***** *****
One Christmas SoonOne Christmas Soon by Johnny Pappas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Love this book - a great read aloud for the whole family, focusing on differences and similarities among family members, and the intervention of angels when in need. Characters are memorable, setting is well described within a small amount of text, and the story, though short, is complete. Delightful!

View all my reviews

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Here is a short piece I found at
Smashwords is a publishing site that offers readers ebooks at reasonable (or even free) prices. The author of this story, Elizabeth, is also publishing paranormal works at her website:

White Christmas - a short story
Ebook By EH Walter
Published: Dec. 13, 2011
Category: Fiction » Historical » Victorian
Words: 3147 (approximate)
Language: English

Ebook Description
See the other side of a Victorian Christmas through a housekeeper's eyes. Christmas is the biggest day of the year for Felicity and all the other servants at the de Veyney London house. There is food to prepare and guests to accommodate, including drunken cousins and amorous sisters. But no matter who they are or what their position, they all long for a white Christmas.

Review by: Terry Crawford Palardy on Dec. 13, 2011 : Five Stars
This is a delightful glimpse of a special day in the life of a young housekeeper, keeping Christmas for her Master and Mistress and their various assorted relatives, and keeping their secrets as well. I liked the easy flow of what might have been stilted language (though I did see an awkward place about half way through.) They were an engaging group of characters, very well developed for such a short piece, and i would like to read more of their story.

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

And here is another short piece, but complete in its brevity. You can find this one page thriller/excerpt?/opening at the author David Bishop's website

The Bijou – The Movie House of our Youth

This is a very powerful short piece. David is obviously as much an old movie buff as “Very Special Agent Anthony DeNozzo” on NCIS! Drawing in the woman's old neighborhood, the deteriorating theatre … gives this piece a nice style. "I’ll be back," as they say.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Treading the Tech Trek, part 3 This will make more sense if you start with the first Technology Trek entry dated 12/6/11

This disparate existence, this competitive crawl forward of technology was a negative example of how competition hurts rather than helps progress. While we were teaching students of the eighties to collaborate, to support, to share ideas and seek the synergy that we believed they would find, Gates and Jobs continued to make individual progress, at our expense.

At one point, an elementary principal sent another teacher and me to IBM, to assess the educational software being designed and promoted for PC users. The schools were then fully in Apple / Mac mode, and to be fair, the software developers were targeting the Apple/Mac platform, as they were buying. PC marketers were more in line with businesses and software that met the needs of businesses. My colleague and I found PC software cumbersome, lethargic, and more powerful than our students could appreciate (or so we thought.)

However, our minor assessment of the status of PC educational software did not hold sway with the powers that be. While the elementary buildings in our district continued to work with Macs, the secondary buildings were gradually switching over to PC format. Laptops had made the scene, and they were primarily and affordably PC in format.

I had moved, at home, from the Apple IIGS to a Mac Performa, a powerful computer with a color monitor and color printer, on which I could use Clarisworks and Appleworks, and so coordinate more effectively with the classroom computers at the elementary level. There were glitches: Clarisworks was constantly updating its versions, and Claris 4 would not read Claris 3 data diskettes, but eventually Claris 5 resolved that issue (shortly after I had manually transcribed all 3 data to the new 4 specifications.) I grumbled through all these arbitrary changes, looking at my old record player which generously played records whether they were RCA, or Motown in production. But I will let Andy Rooney (rest his soul) explain the confusion
click here

The year I moved to middle school was the year the district decided to go PC at that level. Sixth grade teachers had received PC laptops and rudimentary training on them the year before. And though I was a year late for the laptop bonanza, I was given one because the middle school needed a webmaster for their new website. More on that unexpected adventure to come~

Monday, December 12, 2011

Reading and Reviewing 6, and a pre-holiday message

Where the River SplitsWhere the River Splits by Jeffrey Penn May

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jeffrey Penn May has written an award winning book which he has shared with all of us. It is filled with beautiful descriptions of the wilderness in Canada, the Midwest, the West, and in Mexico. The reader can see the surrounding vegetation, feel the spray of the river rapids, and sense the scent of the foliage and trees. But more than that, Jeffrey has given us a view of two lives, their inner conflicts, their shared struggles, and their solitary quests. The balance of power between Susan and David shifts throughout the story, as it does in life. Fans of pre-Columbian history in MesoAmerica will be satisfied with the accuracy of his settings and cultural observance. This book gives an equally satisfying amount of plot and character development that enhances the story's action. And it leaves the door open for a sequel~

Here is a special book written by Lauren B. Grossman that I've been reading this weekend: Another five star review!

Once in Every GenerationOnce in Every Generation by Lauren B. Grossman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was drawn to this book by the brief summary that hinted at a life interrupted by MS, for I have MS as well, and have recently written of it. Lauren has written a true novel, and her character development is excellent, her plot interesting with just enough layers and turns to hold the reader's enduring attention. I agree with the author's statement, that this is a book for all generations of readers. Bravo, Lauren, this is very well done. May I ask you to take a look at mine? Multiple Sclerosis,an Enigma

View all my reviews

And a Pre-Holiday Note to the Students and their Parents who are Readers:

Before you bake those cookies or fill that holiday mug with chocolates or tea sachets. before you buy the special book or pick up that book store gift card, before you shop for your children's teachers, please note:

After thirty years in the classrooms of public schools, having received precious hand made cards from elementary students and warm notes of appreciation from older students, I can tell you honestly that those are the gifts I remember. I have many holiday mugs, tree ornaments, and memories of leisurely winter vacation reading in books that were given that make me smile as well, sometimes still able to connect a name with a mug, or a book, or an ornament ... or a memory of cookies or fudge or tea.

But holidays have changed in classrooms today. In our state of Massachusetts, teachers must now record and declare gifts received, and attach an estimated monetary value to each one. Sounds, crass, doesn't it? How does one value a batch of chocolate chip cookies, or home made fudge ... or store bought goodies, for that matter? This legalese is in response to accusations of greed at the higher levels of government... it is our legislature's effort at maintaining transparency in financial benefits to public employees.

It puts teachers and parents in an awkward position, but one that need not be experienced. If students and parents and teachers were to simply wish a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukah, and a Happy New Year to each other ...

I worked with a teacher who, quietly, for years, bundled up her December holiday gifts from students and took them all to the nurse's station at a local nursing home, to be distributed among the elderly residents ...

The same could be done with the local homeless shelters, or food pantries. A simple card or cheerful greeting exchanged is enough, and leaves open the possibility for sharing and caring among those who need it most.

The way the government form reads, the teacher who transfers the gifts to the shelter or food pantry will still have to fill out the inventory form with prices attached. But if parents and students make the donation instead ... all the better.

Rethink your holiday spirit this year. Times are different, now.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

First reviews posted at Goodreads for Multiple Sclerosis, an Enigma!

Here is my own review of the book, posted to summarize the book for interested readers:
Multiple Sclerosis,an EnigmaMultiple Sclerosis,an Enigma by Terry Crawford Palardy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I wrote this book as a discovery draft, finding a focus gradually as I added chapter to chapter. I would describe it as part biography, part family/relationships, and part medical narrative. It evolved on a writers' shared workshop site known as, where writers post their work and are critiqued by other writers, who in turn read and review each other.

This is my story, a story of a middle aged school teacher / wife / mother/ daughter / sister ... all roles involving caring and a fair amount of energy. It is the story of an unexpected diagnosis and a treatment that exceeded my professional skills. As I explain in the book, I am not a nurse nor a doctor, but I am a professional teacher with skills and goals.

This is not your typical "I have MS but MS doesn't have me" story; I found it difficult to celebrate the modern treatments for this diagnosis. I'll leave it to you to decide how you might have chosen if faced with the same.

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

And here is a full review from a fellow Goodreads Author who has read the book:

~ 5 Stars, From Merita King, UK
This book is a clear account of the author's own experiences. Terry takes us through each step of her journey in a detailed and straightforward way, without the 'pity me' overtones that such books so often contain. During the course of reading this book I felt that I really came to know Terry in quite a personal way, and that I like her for her strength and no nonsense attitude to her experience. She describes in plain detail each step on her journey through diagnosis and treatment and you cannot help but feel her frustration alongside her as she deals with each new crisis as she fights to find a way of coping that feels comfortable for her.

Anyone going through their own journey with MS will find an immediate connection with Terry. Her story can only serve to help others going through similar experiences who may be lost and anxious and frustrated at the lack of empathy displayed by the medical fraternity. Those who have loved ones with MS will find this book a valuable resource in helping them towards a closer understanding of those they live with and look after.

And, from another Terry at Goodreads, this one in Oklahoma:

bookshelves: to-read, can-t-wait-must-read, life-changers, nonfiction, ok-you-ve-caught-my-attention

Wow, can I relate to this author... sounds very similar to my own experiences with MS.
Would love to read about Ms. Palardy's journey.
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
And, here is the new Giveaway at Goodreads:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Teaching by Terry Crawford Palardy


by Terry Crawford Palardy

Giveaway ends December 16, 2011.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Reading and Reviewing 5 : Two from Peggy Webb

A few days ago, I reviewed a book, Christmas In Time, that flashed back to the beginning of the twentieth century, aboard the Titanic. The author, Peggy Webb, has written so many books that I could spend the rest of this year and most of next just reviewing her books. Peggy is a southern writer who also teaches writers in Mississippi. Each of her books are available inexpensively at Kindle. Here are my reviews for two more from her vast collection.

Touched By Angels (Loveswept, No 538)Touched By Angels by Peggy Webb

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a timeless story, not limited by a particular decade but possible in any of those I've lived in. The characters are developed so carefully, so artfully, and their inner conflicts remain inner but eventually lead to a climactic resolution between the two main characters. The child, Jenny, born "special" plays a partial role in bringing these two adults together and then apart. In the sequel, well, ... I won't tell you yet! Jenny's mother, Sarah, presents a strong female lead and for that alone, I would recommend this book for adolescent girls as well as adults. There is romance, but the scenes are tastefully and discreetly presented.

Here is a link to Kindle for Touched by Angels.

A Prince for Jenny (Loveswept, No 656)A Prince for Jenny by Peggy Webb

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jenny's own story is the topic of this sequel to Touched by Angels. Though Jenny was born "special", meaning challenged in speech/language and gross motor skills, she is adept with a paintbrush and charcoal, and is now earning an independent income through her portraiture. Physically, she is as beautiful as her mother Sarah was in the original story. Her determination to be who she is, and to use the talents God has given her, adds a soothing spiritual element to her character. She experiences emotional ups and downs very similar to those experienced by her mother, though she was too young to realize and compare these situations to her own in adult life. The romance and love scenes are more plentiful than in the first book, and are a bit more revealing than in Jenny's mother's story. If I were to question one character's development in this sequel, it would be that of her mother Sarah, who plays nearly an invisible role. I enjoyed both books, and am amazed at the productivity of this author.

Here is the Kindle link for A Prince for Jenny.

View all my reviews

Congratulations to the winners of my giveaway at Goodreads! Looking forward to their reviews, one from California, and one from Louisiana. Over two hundred readers applied to this!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Multiple Sclerosis,an Enigma by Terry Crawford Palardy

Multiple Sclerosis,an Enigma

by Terry Crawford Palardy

Giveaway ends December 10, 2011.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Friday, December 9, 2011

Treading the Tech Trek, part 2 This will make more sense if you start with the first Technology Trek entry dated 12/6/11

While the school department was entering the world of computer use in classrooms, they were walking in the apple orchard. But at home, Rick was introducing us to the world of personal computing (PCs). It changed our evenings forever!

We had lived without a television for six years ... we had begun our marriage with many wedding gifts, one of which was a black and white portable television, complete with rabbit ears for reception, and a halo antenna for UHF, those high-numbered channels like 38 and 56. It lasted for six years, and it died when we were moving into our first home, on a wooded hilly lot, with no reception. Busy winterizing the cottage, we had no time to worry about watching television, and our young daughter was already, at five, becoming an avid reader and board game player. We were happy.

But Rick came home one day with a Radio Shack TRS 80 (later known as the "trash-80." It was intriguing. It read programs on cassette tapes, and came with a matching cassette tape player. It had no screen, though. It had only 32 bits of internal memory, but a cable that would hook up to a television screen. Rue the day.
It also had an internal read drive which took cassettes that resembled 8-tracks, and on that, we could run such programs as Logo, Math Blaster and, of course, a word processing program whose name I have forgotten. In time, we found a smaller green monitor, and the television took its place in the living room, with a black wire attached to an antenna on the roof that would pick up the channels from Boston. Our evenings were never quite the same again. But I digress...Trish, now eleven, remained an avid reader but in her own room. The board games were put away.

In time, we outgrew the TRS-80; Rick was working nights in a manufacturing plant that built the outsides of computers ... and the surrounding structures for printers, among other industrial structures. A group of men there were working on constructing their own home computers during their dinner hours. they called it "govenrment" work, referring, I think, to work of the people, by the people, and for the people, and he joined them. They purchased the inner workings at electronic shops, and welded their own outer bodies of scrap. He came home with one a few months later, with the software to run it on five-and-a-half-inch floppy diskettes TeleWriter was the name of that software, and it required 64K of memory. It was another new language for me to learn, but I succeeded in writing student profiles on it, relishing the ability to backspace and delete typos, and save my data on one of those diskettes. He bought a dot matrix printer, and I could then print out my work. It was an incredibly slow printing process, mechanically not unlike the ball letters on an electric typewriter, but stopping to load the memory of each line before printing across. Many minutes passed.

One night, he surprised me with an upgraded PC, one with more memory, and an upgraded TeleWriter program, using 128 K of memory. He set it all up in the playroom-turned-office, and we turned it on. We had an amber screen now, but still the dot matrix printer. as it clicked and whirred and blinked and hummed, we waited. He told me that some of the commands may have changed a bit with the upgrading, and left me to sort it out. Within minutes he was back, responding to my calls ... it would not read my data diskette, as the upgraded format had changed. And I had to print out my carefully stored student Individual Education Goals and Profiles for the deadline the next day. Looming tragedy further darkened the night.

As it was now nearing midnight, Rick called one of his fellow workers/computer enthusiasts who had not yet upgraded the innards of his computer, and arranged an immediate swap. Within a few hours he was home and had installed his friend's computer, connected it to our amber screen and dot matrix printer with the right cables, and I began printing out the reports, line by painfully-slow line. I finished the profiles and goals just in time to get changed for work at 6:15 am.

Of course, nothing I did at home on the computer could be transferred for editing post-meeting on the school computers, for they were apples and ours were, well, oranges, I guess. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs had had their falling out, had separated, and the two were irreconcilable in those years. An apple data diskette could not be read on a PC platform, and vise/versa. Eventually we had to give in and buy and apple for home use. We bought a used Apple IIGS. I have no idea what GS stood for, but it worked with a mouse, and unfortunately, the port for the mouse was damaged, and so it worked inconsistently. We could still use word processing, with the arrows as commands rather than the mouse, but we had to start each document over, and we had to buy a different printer with the apple format. My irritation at these changes grew ... I had learned the language of Appleworks and Clarisworks at school, but only some of my work at school on a IIE would transfer accurately on the IIGS.

My friend, Ruth, meanwhile, had bought a new Apple IIC, (the "c" for compatible,) and her computer would transfer about 80% of what we did at school on a IIE. We found a program through a colleague named "Sideways" and so could type our goals and profiles in what would later be called "landscape" for printing on school forms. We diligently planned to spend a morning working with the new software on our profiles and goals for the students' plans. It seems cumbersome looking back, but at the time, we were young, and brave, and knew we could do it.

The Apples gave way to the MacIntosh ... which was dependent on a mouse, of all things ... more progress and changes ahead. Our own skills would evolve with the technology.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Reading and Reviewing 4 : Another from Steve Puleo, and 2 of my own

I am happy to offer a review of another Stephen Puleo title. Stephen is a Professor of History, and researches diligently as he writes of local events. This one is a topic that I covered in my eighth grade enrichment course called "Not So Current Events." Though the class met only once a week for 45 minutes, the students were thoroughly engaged in the readings and discussion of his book, Dark Tide.

Today I'm also reviewing two of my own titles. Each of these has recently been added to the Kindle book shelf, and are available at Amazon for Kindle, priced at a reasonable $2.99. I hope you will consider recommending these to teachers, parents, and school committee members, as reviews I've received from others (available for viewing at the Amazon site) indicate that they are valuable readings for those interested in educational practices and reform.

They are both still available in paperback form at Amazon, or at my shop, for those who enjoy holding and reading a tangible book. I'm happy to offer my books in both forms, and look forward to reading your reviews of my work at Goodreads and Amazon. Those not local can access my books through my website store at:

Dark TideDark Tide by Stephen Puleo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a wonderful book, the true story of the people of the City of Boston in 1918 who experienced the "Great Molasses Flood" in the North End of the city. Stephen Puleo has carefully crafted a human story out of a long ago tragedy that is remembered by those who lived through it and only vaguely spoken of by people who had no connection. He treats the statistics seriously with empathy and compassion, and gives a clear view of the eventual ramifications this event had on engineering standards for American cities. I share this book with an enrichment class of eighth graders each year, and they are attentive and interested in the story and in the details.

View all my reviews

Teaching: Education and Academics at the turn of the century. (Volume 1)Teaching: Education and Academics at the turn of the century. by Terry Crawford Palardy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a compilation of edited columns written over a period of six years. They were Education and Academics Columns in the Phi Kappa Phi Forum (Formerly titled the National Forum of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society). The focus of the columns changed, from social issues in the classroom to budget considerations for the town at large. Change in pedagogy in response to state mandated standardized testing and the ever enduring but hardly endearing homework conundrum are also discussed. The columns are written in a conversational, narrative style, reflecting the view point of a veteran teacher.

Teaching Volume 2Teaching Volume 2 by Terry Crawford Palardy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my fourth book published with Amazon's It contains stories of teachers in the classroom, or in conference with each other. It also speaks to the working conditions of teachers, the status of "tenure" in today's schools, and the damage that the economic recession has done to public schools. I recommend it both for enjoyment and for information. In combination with my first volume, Teaching at the Turn of the Century, it would make a good gift for a new teacher, and would be equally appropriate for a retirement.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Remembering the Day

December 7th, 1941 began as any other morning in America. People rose, began their day at the breakfast table, and until turning on their radios or leaving their homes, were unaware that Pearl Harbor Naval Station in Hawaii had been brutalized by 'the Empire of Japan.'

America lost two thirds of her Navy that morning. We never expected it to happen. Who would ever have imagined that we would be so immediately impacted by a member of the opposition in a war that was happening elsewhere, but not here, not in America.

It was a sobering realization that it did happen, and that it could again. There are many, many books written about this day, and to choose one to feature and review here would be like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.

Instead, I will take this morning to reflect, rather than remember, for I was not yet born in 1941. Over a hundred planes flown by single Japanese pilots, aimed directly at the largest repository of our Naval force, with determined focus of destruction of the powerful military of the United States ... what a horrible image of humanity lost in this targeted mission. It was the determining factor that brought our country into their war. I then became our war, too.

It is a rainy morning here today, with a bit of lingering fog, the remnants of this unexpectedly warm December week. Later today, Rick and I will venture out to enjoy a traditional Christmas display once packed away but recently revived, the Enchanted Village of Jordan Marsh in Boston. The store itself is now gone, the village, which indeed enchanted generations of Boston children, displayed, after the venerable store of New England closed its doors,for a few years by the city on The Common; it has now been rejuvenated by a store south of the city with a coincidentally similar name: Jordan's Furniture. It is an attempt to bring back the nostalgic sense that all is well with the world at an American Christmas time.

Our military men and women in Iraq are coming home this Christmas. We still have many in Afghanistan to bring back. And sadly, there are many who cannot return, our nephew Stephen among them. This generation's war is not with the Japanese, nor with the Germans, nor with any other group of countries. The war today is with an ideology, an elusive, sinister group of warlords infiltrating susceptible countries and manipulating the people there, indoctrinating their young to hate all that America stands for. It is, more than any other in our history, a war of religion.

But Rick and I will go today to try to rediscover America's season of Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward Men.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Technology Trek

Long ago, when I was a special education assistant in a multi-grade classroom, I learned that our school had acquired a computer for student use. It was housed in the kindergarten room, far far away from our classroom. But one early morning I stopped in to see the teacher, and the computer, and asked if I might borrow it for a morning, to introduce it to our students, and she agreed.

Students are very intuitive with technology, and far more willing to try things out for themselves. I wheeled the black Apple into our classroom, and asked who would like to figure out how to make it work. I had three volunteers, two boys and our only girl. Within a few minutes it was plugged in and whirring.

"We need a program," they advised me, almost in unison. I asked what a program looked like, and they giggled. I had a very rudimentary knowledge of BASIC, and so I sat down and typed in "10: print 'my name'. The kids began to ask me to use their names, and so I typed "20: print 'their names' and they howled in protest, but I continued. I then typed 30: print 'everyone', and then typed 40: run.

The green screen began running the three repetitive lines up the screen over and over and over again. I looked at the kids after a few minutes, and asked,
"Does anyone know how to make it stop?" and one of them pulled the plug, to more howls of protest from the group.

Later that day, I returned the computer to the kindergarten teacher, and asked whether we had any programs for it, and she said no, but that some were coming eventually.

In a few weeks, we received some simple color recognition and number programs, which were fine for the kindergartners but didn't hold much allure for my students. The extent of my understanding of BASIC had already been exceeded by their own curiosity, and they were content to give simple commands to the screen. The next program we received was a typing training program. In time, we began acquiring slightly more sophisticated programs that quizzed them on basic math facts, spelling, and word definitions. We began using the computer for a few mornings each week.

The next year, our black Apple was replaced with a beige Apple IIe, with 64K of memory (as opposed to the 16K of the black Apple II) and more sophisticated programs, as the Apple people were becoming invested in elementary programs that supported learning. One of their favorites, in fifth grade, was "The Oregon Trail," which involved planning supplies, encountering challenges on the route, and shooting wildlife for food. The shooting portion involved using the arrows and the space bar to aim and fire at moving targets on the green screen. Years later, "The Oregon Trail" would be a vastly different computer game, but retained much of the original social studies learning.

Color screens came when the Apple IIes were loaded with 128K and then an astonishing 256K of memory, and two external floppy disk drives instead of one internal drive, to allow spell check with the second diskette holding a dictionary of words. Bank Street Writer was an early word processing programming, later replaced by Applewriter.

But the most intriguing program that we encountered in those early years was introduced in Seymour Papert's Mindstorms book: it was a language called LOGO, which required not only that the kids were understanding line segments and angles, but also true programming concepts such as procedures, sub procedures, super procedures ... and that led to understanding acute angles, obtuse angles, polygons, and more.

Eventually I became one of the teachers, and the Apple computers were replaced gradually with mouse driven software, starting with the Apple IIGS, and then ultimately 'The Mac' line. Applewriter was replaced with Clarisworks, incorporating more sophisticated word processing with spreadsheets and data bases into the students' repertoire.

All of this progress took place while Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were still working together. But much more was ahead, and I learned quickly that the easiest way to learn each change was to let the kids discover it through trial and error. They are fearless, which leaves them open to learning, and they then taught me every step of the way.

More later this week on Terry's Travails along the Technology Trek.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Reading and Reviewing 3: Webb, Puleo, Zander

The one hundredth anniversary of the ill fated Titanic's maiden cruise is near, and I am sure it is not coincidental that this charming story includes a reminiscence of that day. Here's my review:

Christmas in TimeChristmas in Time by Peggy Webb

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Whimsy and Nostalgia ... This is a delightful book, deceptive in its title but rewarding in its historical context. Gilly is an easy to understand character, with family and friends who exemplify bonding love. I read it in an evening, tucked under a quilt, with candles in my windows celebrating the coming holiday. I loved it, and look forward to the sequel!

Review also posted at Goodreads and Amazon
***** ***** ***** ***** *****

A bit earlier, in the nineteenth century, we have a story of the city my Dad loved, the city his parents chose when they emigrated from Scotland shortly after the beginning of the twentieth century. Focusing on the years 1850 to 1900 Steven Puleo has captured the most dynamic half century in Boston's story:

A City So Grand: The Rise of an American Metropolis, Boston 1850-1900A City So Grand: The Rise of an American Metropolis, Boston 1850-1900 by Stephen Puleo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finished the book just in time to enjoy Stephen Puleo's participation in our local library's author speaking engagements. He again spoke to a delighted, large audience, addressing the highlights in the book: the incredible decade of the eighteen fifties and the abolitionists in Boston and surrounding areas, the Fugitive Slave Law and Boston's humiliation when a slave was forcibly removed from the city, the later decades that saw the filling in of the back bay, accomplished in thirty years and resulting in a planned development that cost no city or state dollars. The notable names mentioned in both his presentation and in more depth in the book awakened a pride in our region's history. He is an inspiring, down to earth speaker and writer of remarkable non-fiction and history.

Review also posted at Goodreads and Amazon
***** ***** ***** ***** *****

I also read one about the twenty-first century that was given to me by a good friend for a retirement gift. He is one who always looks around carefully at the present, and then looks forward. The book is written by a husband-wife team, Ben is an orchestra conductor who travels the world leading professional orchestras and teaching college students; Ros is a therapist, and both offer their skills from different areas of talent, and blend them very well:

The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal LifeThe Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

On finishing the book and reflecting on the passages that I'd marked, I would have to admit that the musical anecdotes were less "insight-filled" to me as a reader. I felt a stronger connection with Roz's passages. Perhaps I wasn't open enough to those passages that spoke of musical selections with which I am unfamiliar. I did learn in reading it how little I know of an orchestra student's passions. As an academic teacher whose orchestral students were sometimes missing from class for extra practices, I briefly felt an annoyance with Ben's admitted assumption that he had no realization of his student's other commitments. We as adults pull students in so many directions... we often forget that their own passions may differ with the expected compliance with mandated curriculum.

Review also posted at Goodreads and Amazon

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Keeping a Blog

I'm finding my way through various types of social media: Facebook, my own website, Twitter (which still eludes me - I'm there, but hanging by a thread (excuse the pun), and Goodreads, and Rick's Facebook page for his shop, and my Facebook page for my writing and quilting tips, and now this blog.

I'll give you all those social network sites at the end of this entry, but I have to ask myself, do I need all of these outlets?

I enjoy Facebook - I have my own page, the first that I opened this spring, when I realized how much family information I was missing by not having one. Photos, reminders of dates, birthdays, gatherings - and now I have my second page, which I use to focus on offering writing tips and quilting tips each day. Thinking of the tips and writing them causes me to try to live up to them, which is a good thing. And Rick and I have the shop page, and Rick has his own page, to keep up with fire fighter and other friends.

I've recently been invited to and joined two writers' pages on Facebook as well, and they generate a lot of traffic ... fellow writers posting questions to each other, and promoting their books and asking others to review them. I've joined that activity as well, and have reviewed more than a few of their books this past week, and sent one of my books off to West Virginia and Ontario for reviews. One of the writers, happy with my review of her work, asked me to post it to Amazon UK, which I did, feeling very international at that point.

We both have emails ... we both have two email addresses, one for personal email and one for "business," but the lines are usually blurred between my accounts. I'm getting better at unsubscribing to things I never wanted and didn't realize I'd subscribed to. I even figured out how to avoid duplication notifications of every post that every person on my friend list was posting. I really didn't need forty-seven emails letting me know that friends were talking on Facebook while I was looking at Goodreads ... because I knew I would have as many notifications when I came back to the page. I wouldn't miss a thing.

My website has been a bit neglected. Before Facebook, I was updating the website at least once a week, adding bits of new writing to collections of old, and finding and posting pictures that went with certain pieces. I loved building the Quilter's Quarters page. It's still there as I left it months ago. That's the thing about a website, and I guess about this blog. They don't disappear. They stay right where you left them, easily accessible by the table of contents.

Well, I promised you the list of social media addresses, so i'll cut and paste them here. Feel free to visit me anywhere, and say hello to Rick, too!

You can follow me at Twitter, though I don't know where I'll lead you, as I’m often lost myself there ... twitter@#thoughtsthreads

you can blog with me at my new blog site, where I'm trying to build a writer's audience base (

you can still visit at my original website where I've posted a lot of writing and many photos of quilts with stories (

you can see what I’m up to reading at Goodreads (

You can see what’s new in my world of published books at Amazon

You can spend some Facebook time with me at Terry's Thoughts and Threads to see my daily tips for writers and quilters.

Or you can come and visit Rick and me at Wooden Toys and Gifts / to see beautiful pictures of the things that Rick builds to make people happy.

Or over at Rick's Facebook page called Wooden Toys and Gifts

Happy Clicking!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Reading and Reviewing 2

I've just finished (well, almost finished) reading a book that was introduced to me on a Facebook page for writers of fiction. Now, I've not written a fiction book yet, as I've been busy with the "must be done" writings to clear my brain for fun ahead. But somehow, I was invited to join this closed group on Facebook.

I have no idea who chose my name, but am grateful, because I have met an interesting, supportive group at that page. The page is called "Talking Fiction." And the same day I was invited to that page, I was invited to another Facebook page, titled "Share and Promote your Book." I am enjoying making new contacts at that page, too. But the downside is that my email in-box is overflowing with Facebook notifications that someone has posted something on one of those two pages, in addition to my own two pages at Facebook. Oh well, communication is good. There is probably a way to limit the double notification. I'll find it eventually.

You might wonder why I've posted a review before finishing the last two chapters of the book - It is a mystery book as well as a science fiction and paranormal book, and I wanted to write the review while I was still in suspense myself. No spoiler alert here!

The Lilean Chronicles - RedemptionThe Lilean Chronicles - Redemption by Merita M. King

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm now at page 261, at the beginning of chapter 18, with only two chapters to go. But before I finish the book, and so possibly ruin your reading by telling too many details at the finish, I will post this review now:

The Lilean Chronicles: Redemption, by Merita King

This book was recommended to me as part paranormal, part sci-fi, and it is surely both of those. Merita’s characters are quickly and effectively developed with intriguing detail. The confusion her main character, Farra (a thirty-ish woman from earth who has taken on an intergalactic military career,) faces in the first few chapters helps guide the reader into the strange settings. The paranormal character is both her guide and the omniscient guide for the reader as well.

Farra’s task, to personally place the hard-won valuable cube into the hands of the elusive one who can reverse the unfair trial findings of a Lilean hero, restoring his reputation and potentially his race, requires more than a human’s strength, and so early in the book she is transformed with bionic improvements.

Rather than spoil the story by giving more details, I’ll just say that anyone interested in galactic intrigue, interplanetary relationships, danger and the unexpected will want to read this story. It offers all of the elements that this genre requires for success.

I posted the review at Amazon, Amazon UK, Goodreads, and Lulu.

I feel like I've truly joined the 'writers of the world' now, posting international reviews of others' work, and knowing that one day, people will be posting reviews of my books, too.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Four More Weeks

"Fast away the old year passes ..."

In four weeks we will see the end of 2011. New Year's Eve parties will be scheduled, Hanukkah and Christmas decorations will be stored away, and Kwaanza fruits will be a new memory. Winter will have arrived formally, and the long dark nights of December will begin to shorten, welcoming the bright horizons of another year.

My fifth title, Georgetown at the Turn of the Millennium, contains a story written at the end of a year. Here's a segment of that brief book:

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  
"December closes another year, and amid the flurry of holiday celebrations, winter weather preparations, children out on school vacations, budgeting deliberations, our New Year's hopes and plans and dreams can still seem long away. The new page is just ahead of us, within reach, and whatever we write upon it will stay with our children for generations to come... We all have a part to play, a year to record. The choice of pens is our last obstacle.

Will we write, fine pointed in light colors with tentative strokes a pale new history for our children...

Will we write with bold color, in strong flourishes, a celebratory tale...

Will we sometimes print in crayon, sometimes scrawl in pencil, and sometimes brush in paint our feelings... bravely sharing our human side...

Anything is possible on a fresh, new page... "
 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

I may use that piece for a Christmas note (as my Christmas cards are often late anyways, in the past I most often wrote them during the peace of the December school break.)

What will you write to your family and friends? What will you share? What will  you create? 

There is still time now to "do it up right" and share your best with the people who most care.

Here's the link to my fifth book at Amazon; it is on sale right now, with a reduced price from the seller:

The book has received only one review so far, at ... I'd love to know what you think of it?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Reading and Reviewing

I read a great book ... an honest story of a teacher's year in the classroom. The author, Jeffrey Penn May, tells the story in the teacher's voice, providing insight into the many challenges faced but often unseen and unrecognized by the general public.

I've posted reviews at Amazon and at Goodreads of this book. Here's what I've written:

No Teacher Left StandingNo Teacher Left Standing by Jeffrey Penn May

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a true to life story of one year in an elementary teacher's life ... and in reading it, I felt as though I would have written it myself in just such a way. Believable characters, all too true situations, a passing admiring glimpse of nature ... You could not read this book and not come away with a better understanding of both the pressures faced and the tenacity required in a teaching career today. This is a validating read for teachers, and an enlightening one for those considering the career. Well done!

Jeffrey is offering this book, and several  other titles, as ninety nine cent kindle books. This is something that is happening more and more often now, as authors work at building an audience base. As more readers invest the small amount and discover that the author tells a story well, the belief is that books written by this author will then be more recognized, and purchased.

I've purchased three books from this author, each for $.99 cents. I've found that I like his style and like the voices of his characters; I'll continue reading his books in the future.