A Highly Successful Vacation Redo!

My girls standing at Pickering Wharf in Salem, MA

I can honestly say that this most recent vacation with my girls was the best one we’ve had so far. We crammed a lot into it while still finding time to relax and best of all, we had fun! Having spent last year’s vacation in hospitals, Jaycie was eager to do things on this vacation and every day she enthusiastically asked, “What are we doing tomorrow?” She wanted every day filled with something and for a girl who admits that she’s lazy and is proud of that fact, it was an amazing thing to experience!

While the drive out was filled with the usual traffic on 495 the last hour or so, we all had a good time. The girls watched movies on my laptop and I listened to my music up front. We stopped plenty of times for leg stretches and snacks and I didn’t worry about being stuck in traffic because we were in no rush.

We arrived at the Best Western Merrimack Valley in Haverhill, MA a little after 5 p.m. and I was immediately impressed by the cleanliness of the facility and the friendliness of the staff. Our room was on the third floor and I was pleasantly surprised to find that we had our own private balcony with a sliding glass door leading out to it. Being on the top floor, the room had high, upward slanting ceilings and was very spacious. We had two queen beds and they were very comfortable with clean bedding. The room felt very homey and welcoming and I knew we’d be happy there.

Shortly after unpacking the car, the girls and I headed down the road to the 99 Restaurant. We don’t have 99’s where we live in New York, so it’s a treat going to one in New England. Although the restaurant was a little busy for a Wednesday night, we had a great waitress and got our food relatively quickly. The food was delicious and the girls devoured their food, while I took half of mine back to the hotel to eat later. It was a great first evening on our vacation.

The next morning, we headed into Newburyport for the Newburyport Whale Watch. This was what Jaycie had been most excited about and her excitement continued for the entire cruise. She loves boats and being out on the ocean and she was smiling, animated, and happy the entire time. We saw a large pod of dolphins, a sunfish called a mola mola, a couple minke whales, and a humpback whale. At one point, Jaycie was walking back and forth through the lower level of the boat checking one side and the other for whales as the narrator of the tour suggested. She’s spent most of the summer relaxing on the couch or outside swinging so watching her be so animated was almost like seeing a different child. Jordan enjoyed herself too, but was a bit more reserved in a typical 15-year-old fashion. She’d go up on the upper levels of the boat or sit inside reading the book she brought along.

We ate lunch on the boat and weren’t quite ready for dinner yet so we headed into Amesbury, MA to Friendly’s for some ice cream. Ice cream after several hours in the sun on a boat was just what we needed and we decided to just have dinner back at the hotel after picking up some groceries.

On Friday, we headed into Salem, MA because the girls had never been there. I’ve visited twice before, once in October and once in the summer, so I knew my way around pretty well. We walked the streets a bit and I took the girls to the Salem Witch Memorial and around the graveyard a little. We then ate lunch in Red’s Sandwich Shop, which was delicious! Jordan and I brought over half of our lunches with us and they were worth carrying around Salem for a bit before we returned to the car. We visited the Peabody Essex Museum just for the gift shop and to enjoy the air conditioning and then decided it was time to head back to the hotel. We ended up back at the hotel most evenings by 5 p.m. and that was fine with all of us because we were tired.

Saturday, we headed into Boston via the Oak Grove T Station and we got in shortly before lunch. Comic Con Boston was going on so we headed toward the Convention Center just to people watch. On the way there we stopped at South Station for lunch in the food court area because we could all get what we wanted and it was nice and air conditioned! We eventually reached where Comic Con was happening and sat down outside to watch people coming and going. It was fun seeing all the people dressed in costumes and trying to guess what some of them were. Jaycie didn’t quite understand why Jordan and I were so excited seeing people in costumes, but she was a trooper and made the walk for us.

After that we headed back to South Station and then took the necessary subway lines back to where we’d parked the car at Oak Grove. It was a good day to be in Boston because there had been some clouds and a nice breeze, but we were all hot and tired nonetheless. I showered once we got back to the hotel to wash the T humidity off of me and we just relaxed for the evening again.

I’d determined Sunday would be our day of not doing anything and that’s indeed what it turned out to be. We hung out at the hotel for most of the day then drove to a nearby town in New Hampshire to get Popeye’s and Long John Silver’s for dinner. We don’t have either of those chains near us so again, it was a treat for us. I got my beloved hush puppies from Long John’s while the girls got chicken and biscuits and we all ate happily back at the hotel.

Monday, we headed up to Portsmouth, NH for a bit and then drove the short ways up to Nubble Lighthouse in Maine. There’s not enough parking at the lighthouse for the endless stream of cars coming in so we ended up parking at the ice cream place up the road and walking down to the lighthouse area for a bit. We then walked back up the hill and enjoyed ridiculous large “kiddie” size ice cream dishes as a reward for our exercise.

The highlight of Tuesday was heading to Hampton Beach State Park in New Hampshire in the afternoon. The girls had a ball walking and splashing in the waves and as they both said that was their favorite part of the trip, we’ll be spending more time at the beach next summer. Actually, when I asked Jaycie what her favorite part of the day was at the end of the day she’d always say getting whatever toy I happened to buy her. When I asked Jordan what her favorite part was, she’d say not being in a hospital. So having both girls agree that the beach was the best part was quite impressive.

Although the hotel was nice, clean, conveniently located, and had a lovely indoor pool that Jaycie enjoyed, we all three agreed that next year we’re going to rent a cottage on Plum Island, MA again. It’s just nice staying in a home where I can make dinner and we can just hang out and enjoy our surroundings. I’m going to try and reserve the cottage I stayed in our first week long vacation in New England because it was on Plum Island sound and I loved watching the various birds fly overhead every morning and see the tide come in and out from the sound. As I have a whole year to save up for next summer’s trip, I know I won’t have to type my fingers off the last couple months before the trip and I won’t feel quite so pressured. Next summer sounds like a long way away considering this summer isn’t over yet, but I know it will be here sooner than we expect!

The Great New England Vacation Redo!

Humpback whale tail. Image by Newburyport Whale Watch

Humpback whale tail. Image by Newburyport Whale Watch

Every summer I take my girls on vacation to New England. This year marks our fifth year of this annual tradition. Although we’ve visited the areas of eastern Massachusetts and southeastern New Hampshire many times, there’s always something new to see and we always have interesting adventures.

Unfortunately, last year’s “adventures” were a bit more than I bargained for as Jaycie had a bout of appendicitis that had her spending almost the entire New England vacation in the hospital. She received the best care in the two hospitals she stayed in and she doesn’t remember much of the ordeal thankfully, but her older sister and I still remember. Jaycie had her appendix removed last fall and has been healthy and happy ever since, much to my relief and delight. She’s feeling perfectly fine this year as we prepare for our trip and we’re all looking forward to making new memories. 

There’s one particular memory I wish to erase from last year.  During the ultrasound in the hospital that was very painful and uncomfortable for Jaycie, she told the nurse that we were going on a whale watch later in the week. The nurse and I both knew that wasn’t going to happen and that moment broke a little crack in my heart because she wouldn’t be able to do the thing she so wanted to do. None of us really got to do what we’d wanted or planned and it was difficult for us, but I know that all that really matters is that Jaycie was properly cared for and eventually recovered.

To help undo the unpleasantness of last year’s trip, one of the first things we’re doing is going on the Newburyport Whale Watch. Jaycie loves boats so she’ll be happy even if we don’t see any whales. Being out on that boat will replace a bad memory with a good one and I’m sure everything that happens on vacation will continue to erase last year’s memories.

We’re staying in an area of Massachusetts I’ve never stayed in before but it’s close to a T station and a short drive to the coastal areas I’m familiar with. Although we were in Boston last year while Jaycie was in Boston Children’s Hospital, our visit there obviously wasn’t the fun time we’d hoped for. So our return to Boston this year will be infinitely better. We’ll make it into Salem, MA this time and wherever else we feel like venturing. 

It means so much to me as a mother to spend a full week with my daughters and I know this year’s trip will be another amazing vacation for the triumphant trio!

Another Whirlwind Tour of New England


Massachusetts hills by JulieAnn Corbin

Tomorrow morning I head to New England once again and I’m so looking forward to it! Last time I visited was at the end of March/beginning of April and I had the misfortune of driving through an unexpected snowstorm on the way home. As it’s now May and very summer-like, I do hope that won’t be happening again!

As usual, I’ll be cramming a lot into my visits and it’s all of my own choice. My days in Upstate New York are relatively predictable, but I don’t consider that a bad thing as I’m quite happy and never bored. However, driving out to southern New Hampshire/northern Massachusetts offers me new, interesting adventures not possible where I live. I’ll be spending a day in Boston, hopefully visiting Newburyport and Amesbury, helping set up for the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness Spring Planting Moon Pow-wow in Marshfield, MA and attending the event on Saturday. I love visiting with my friends from the MCNAA, helping out however I can and dancing in the circle. I’m sure I’ll have a wonderful time!

One thing that surprises most people about my road trips is that I actually enjoy the drive out. The drive home always feels a bit longer, but on the drive out, I love watching the scenery change as I move east across New York State and enter the tall hills/mountains of western Massachusetts. I always know I’m getting closer to MA when the hills grow taller and the road becomes more winding. There are some who don’t do well in thruway/interstate traffic, but I’ve become accustomed to it and I set my cruise at a safe, reasonable speed.

So tomorrow morning after my girls get on the bus and head to school and I’ve dropped Jazzmin at the doggy hotel, I’ll be stopping at Dunkin Donuts to grab my usual large coffee and breakfast sandwich before hitting the thruway east. Look out, New England, here comes another whirlwind tour by yours truly! 😉


Another New England Adventure Awaits!


Wampanoag post at Plymoth Museum

Informational sign at Plymouth Museum

As I don’t have my daughters for the upcoming school break, I’ll be heading to New England Wednesday morning on another adventure! It will most likely by my last trip out that way until next year so I plan on make the most of it.

My plans include attending The National Day of Mourning in Plymouth, MA, heading into Boston for a day and attending the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Annual Inter-Tribal Potluck Social. While I’ve visited Boston several times, this will be my first time attending the two Native American events. I’m eager to partake in these new experiences and further expand my knowledge and understanding. I urge anyone in the area to attend one or both events as everyone is welcome.

It was only a few months ago that I uncovered my own Native American ancestry and I’m constantly working on learning more about the culture that was kept secret in my family for generations. To that end and to acknowledge what this time of year means to Native Americans, I started reading The Mourning Road to Thanksgiving by Larry Spotted Crow Mann last week. I saw Larry Spotted Crow Mann at the very first pow wow I attended at UMAss Amherst in Spring of 2014 and I found him to be a very engaging storyteller. Although I’m only a few chapters into the book, I’m finding it very educational and interesting and I feel it’s something that everyone should read to help learn the truth about this time of year.

I am a solo traveler and to some, the idea of being alone in a hotel room during this time of year might not appeal, but as my days will be quite full of new and exciting experiences, I’m sure I’ll happily collapse into bed every night I’m there. I’ve been making these road trips out to New England since November of 2011 and while I didn’t know during the first trip that it would become a regular thing for me, I’m very happy that it has and I look forward to every single one with the same excitement of my very first trip!



On the road again


To say it’s been a challenging past couple of weeks is an understatement and I certainly think I deserve a break! Thankfully, I headed off on a road trip to New England this morning and my adventures always restore and re-energize my spirit.

While the weather was overcast for most of the drive through New York, there were a few breaks in the clouds and I even saw the sun a couple times!


Alas, shortly after I crossed into Massachusetts the clouds thickened and I soon drove into rain. I didn’t encounter any overly heavy downpours but the periodic gusts of wind were enough to blow my little Matrix around.

Despite the weather, I still enjoyed the drive and was quite happy to see that the trees in Massachusetts and New Hampshire have more substantial foliage than the nearly bare trees back in New York.

When I finally reached my exit in Seabrook, NH, I made my usual trip to Market Basket for a few little necessities like milk and snacks. Then it was off to the hotel to check in, unpack, and take a nice hot shower. I relaxed for the rest of the evening by watching television and I discovered there are some funny new shows I’ve never managed to sit down long enough to watch until now. It felt kind of weird not doing freelance work or college work tonight but I know I need the break and will benefit from it.

For some reason, driving through rough weather makes road trips feel like they take days even when they really didn’t take much longer than usual, and I’m already starting to doze off. While the forecast for the next couple days doesn’t look great, I know I’ll still manage to keep myself busy and have fun!

When the time is right

snhu acceptance

This past trip to New England with my daughters was the best trip I’ve had so far! Being with my girls for an entire week was great and they got to meet most of my friends in Amesbury, MA. There was even a miracle that proved to me that anything really is possible when you’re determined enough! It also showed me that when the time is right, everything has a way of falling into place in ways even better than you imagined.

I’m always sad to leave New England at the end of my trips but each visit convinces me even more that my future lies out that way. To further my pursuit of that future, I’ve decided to pursue an online degree from Southern New Hampshire University. My current endeavor is a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and English but that might change as I figure out the best degree to accomplish my goals.

I had the opportunity to go to college right out of high school but I chose not to because I was tired of school and wanted to continue earning money in the workforce. Almost twenty years later, I’m a single mom who is making a living as a freelance ghost writer and I’m proud of my accomplishments. I know I can go so much further though and I feel that college will open up new avenues for my development as a writer and a person.

I chose SNHU because I already love New England, want to make my life out there and because they keep showing their commercials on my TV stations in NY. Everyone I’ve dealt with at SNHU has been very helpful and supportive and I’m excited about this new chapter in my life! I’ve enrolled in two courses for the first semester and while I’m certain adding that into my already busy life will be a challenge, I’m certain that I can do it. I’ve already done so many things I never imagined I could, what’s one more?

The Power of Three prepares to conquer New England!

The Power of Three in Newburyport last summer.

The Power of Three in Newburyport last summer.

This coming Saturday, my two daughters and I are heading to New England for a week-long vacation. We took a family vacation to New England last summer but it was only for my usual custody days with them, Saturday through Wednesday. This time I have them for an entire week and instead of staying in a hotel like last time, we’ve rented a cottage on Plum Island. This is the first week-long vacation we’ve ever taken just the three of us and I’m certain the Power of Three will find many new adventures!

Last summer’s vacation to New England was filled with ups and downs, including a trip into Boston that didn’t exactly go well. That was the first time I’d been in Boston in the summer and I was overwhelmed by the amount of people! We visited the Aquarium which was far too crowded and noisy to enjoy and went on a whale watch that evening. We did see some humpback whales which was amazing but the long boat ride out and back took a toll on all of us.

Girls excited about Boston on the train in.

Girls excited about Boston on the train in.

One of the whales we saw.

One of the whales we saw.

How the girls looked heading back on the Whale watch.

How the girls looked heading back on the Whale watch.

As I just went into Boston in June, I’m now better prepared for the crowds and I scouted some great places to take the girls. We’re driving to a T station and heading in that way because taking the train from Newburyport ended up being more exciting than we wanted when we had to take buses back for part of the journey due to a shooting at/near one of the train stations.

All threes of us crammed into one seat on the bus. It was a bumpy ride!

All threes of us crammed into one seat on the bus. The girls smiles are a bit more strained lol. It was a bumpy ride!

I don’t want my daughters having that last experience as how they remember Boston so this time, we’re going to take our time, have fun and take the T as much as possible to avoid getting exhausted from walking. I have faith they’ll enjoy Boston much more this trip!

I will of course be taking the girls into Amesbury, MA more than once during the trip so they can meet the new friends I’ve made there. We’re going into Amesbury Saturday night after we get in because I promised Jordan pizza from Flatbread as a second birthday dinner. This Friday she’s turning 12 and while we’re having a birthday dinner and cupcakes here at my house, it might be a bit hectic as I finish packing the car and such. My promise of a second birthday celebration once we’re in New England made Jordan’s eyes light up like fireworks and I’m sure we’ll all be happy to be munching yummy pizza after a day in the car!

We’ll also be venturing into Salem and Plymouth which I’ve been to and Gloucester which I haven’t visited yet. Even though I’ve been to places before, they’re always new to me when I have my daughters with me as they point out things I missed in previous visits. Three females on a trip together might not be all smooth sailing but we’ll navigate the waters in our usual Corbin woman way and return home with a boatload of great memories! Look out, New England, this Power of Three is coming your way!

You can’t keep a good girl/resourceful woman down!

Driving toward the Mohawk Valley area of NY.

Driving toward the Mohawk Valley area of NY.

This bridge over the Hudson River is one of my favorites!

This bridge over the Hudson River is one of my favorites!

When I left Upstate NY this morning it was a pleasant 60 degrees with low humidity, blue skies and tons of happy, puffy clouds. That was an extremely welcome change from most of my previous trips where it was pouring, snowing, sleeting, ice-storming or marking the return of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Okay, that last one was a slight exaggeration…

Shortly after I crossed the border into Massachusetts, the clouds got thicker and less happy looking. The skies eventually turned quite dark and ominous but luckily I only drove through a few sprinkles. I could tell by the state of the roads though that it had rained quite a bit during the day.

I only got caught in a couple of bouts of stop-and-go traffic amid construction and that was another positive improvement! Usually I encounter bumper-to-bumper situations through every major city/town in Massachusetts.

Notice how much distance I keep between myself and cars ahead of me. I used to work for an insurance company, nuff said!

Notice how much distance I keep between myself and cars ahead of me? I used to work for an insurance company, nuff said!

I arrived at the hotel in Seabrook, NH at around 4:15, checked in and unloaded my car. Once everything was settled in my room, I hopped in the shower to wash away the day of driving. The cooler, drier weather hadn’t reached New England yet despite my best  efforts to drag it along behind my car. It was still rather gloomy when I left the hotel to head into Amesbury, MA but I was certain it would clear up eventually.

My usual route into Amesbury was blocked by a police car and I didn’t realize why until later when I left the town. There were some lines dangling so low that it was impossible for cars going into town to sneak under them. I don’t know what kind of lines they were but they must have diverted traffic because of them.

Well at least there's caution tape on the lines...

Well at least there’s caution tape on the lines…


My trip into Amesbury proved less eventful than usual because shops were closed and I was bit bummed. I’d really wanted to see some familiar faces today. But I’m not one to stay down for long so being the resourceful woman that I am, I decided change my plans and head elsewhere for dinner.

I’ve been craving clam strips and fries ever since I failed to get them during my last trip so I typed “seafood restaurant” into Foursquare and one of the places that came up was Lena’s Seafood in Salisbury, MA. They listed exactly what I wanted on their menu and were only a few minutes from Amesbury so off I went. I ordered my food and didn’t have to wait long before they called my number and presented a plate covered with a mountain of clam strips, fries, onion rings, coleslaw and a roll. I definitely got my money’s worth!

It'd take 4 of me to eat all this!

It’d take 4 of me to eat all this!

The food was delicious but way more than I could eat. I stayed at Lena’s Seafood until the latest bout of rain stopped and then headed back to Seabrook for a little shopping. I’d forgotten to pack an item of clothing I needed so I headed to Kohl’s where I originally bought it. When I parked my car I noticed a couple shopping cars scattered about blocking parking spaces. I grabbed two carts and then saw a third and managed to steer them awkwardly back into the store. Nobody likes having a stray shopping cart run into their car and I figured they’d been rained on enough for one day. Happy with myself for doing such a good deed, I breathed in the air conditioning and looked around to discover the store was laid out exactly like the one back where I live in NY! They had what I needed and a few other shirts that jumped off the rack and into my arms 😉

After Kohl’s I went to Market Basket for my usual milk and other small essentials before heading back to my hotel. By then the skies were clearing up nicely and the red tones of the sunset promised warmth and sunshine tomorrow.

Looking a bit brighter when I parked at Market Basket.

Looking a bit brighter when I parked at Market Basket.

Glimpse of the sunset from my hotel.

Glimpse of the sunset from my hotel.

While the evening didn’t quite go as I’d hoped, I’ve learned to adjust quickly and think on my feet. I am living proof that you can’t keep a good girl/resourceful woman down!

My Clark Kent persona. Glasses and fuzzy hair.

My Clark Kent persona. Glasses and fuzzy hair.

Expanding explorations

A rough idea of where I'll be going this trip!

A rough idea of where I’ll be going this trip!

Tomorrow I’m heading out to New England for one of my monthly adventures. I make it a goal every trip to explore a new area of New Hampshire or Massachusetts and so far, so good! My last trip I explored new areas of Boston, scouting out places to take my daughters in August and finding the best route to get there. Despite getting lost once or twice in Boston, I found exactly what I was looking for and know the girls and I will have a ball in Beantown.

For my trip starting tomorrow, my newest exploration destinations are Plymouth and Cape Cod, MA. I’ll be staying in Seabrook, NH as usual but on Friday I plan on leaving rather early to head south to the Cape Cod Bay area. I’ve encountered the traffic to the Cape on more than one occasion and I know that the earlier I go, the better. I plan on visiting Plimoth Plantation and the Wampanoag Homesite and then wander wherever the spirit takes me.

Before heading to Cape Cod Bay Friday, I’ll spend Thursday in my favorite city/town of Amesbury and the surrounding areas. I plan on visiting my favorite businesses in Amesbury and investigating a couple of the new ones for future write-ups. There are also trails I’ve yet to walk and sites I’ve yet to see! I’ll scope out where the girls and I will be staying on Plum Island in August and visit the beach at least once.

On Saturday and Sunday I’ll be attending the MCNAA Annual Summer Moon Pow-wow in Danvers, MA and have volunteered to help out there on Saturday. It’s supposed to be a beautiful weekend and I’m looking forward to experiencing more of the Native American culture.

I cram a lot into my days in New England and I love having the freedom to go wherever I wish. This summer is going far too fast but I’m going to fill it up with endlessly expanding explorations as I pursue the path leading to my future in the area I love most!

Jovial Julie, Road Warrior

A little rain, or even downpours, aren't enough to stop me.

A little rain, or even downpours, aren’t enough to stop me.

I thought I’d continue my movie-themed blog titles with a play on the Mad Max Road Warrior flicks from the 80’s. I’ve been driving to New England pretty regularly for a year now and I do consider myself something of a road warrior. I definitely don’t need GPS to find my way anymore and I even though I’ve driven the route many times, I look forward to every single trip!

Unlike my first trip to New England in November of 2011, I now have packing down to a system, everything fits in my car and I can still see out the back window and I even know where to stop on the thruway and expressway for decent food that isn’t McDonald’s. I always need some breakfast and a jolt of caffeine to start me on my trip so I stop at the Dunkin’ Donuts near the dog boarders before I hop on the thruway. I grab a nice big hot or iced coffee, a breakfast sandwich that holds me for 2-3 hours and hit the road!

I stop every couple of hours to stretch my legs and do other important things and during those stops I often make interesting observations. I get behind couples in line who can’t decide what they want and stand there saying ” What do you want?” “I don’t know, what do you want?” I want to suggest they grow a backbone and be decisive instead of overly complacent but that would be rude. Instead I just stand behind them and roll my eyes until their wishy-washy shared brain makes a selection. I know what I want and when I want it and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that!

By now I expect foul weather of some kind during my drive out to New England. I’ve driven through everything including ice storms, blizzards and torrential downpours that slowed traffic to a crawl. I bless my reliable little Matrix and the powers that be for getting me through all kinds of weather and keeping my driving skills sharp. This last trip I drove through several bouts of heavy rain but I was prepared with a brand new set of wipers that did their job splendidly!

Rain drops on the windshield don't ruin the lovely view!

Rain drops on the windshield don’t ruin the lovely view!

I’m grateful for cruise control as I can rest my legs a bit as I navigate through traffic. Somewhere along the way I usually encounter stop and go traffic which isn’t enjoyable in a stick shift car but I make it through. I love watching the change of scenery and the increasing hills as I head east toward Massachusetts. A majority of the drive through NY isn’t overly spectacular but there are some sections like the Mohawk Valley that are breathtaking through all seasons. Seeing the “Massachusetts Welcomes You!” sign always makes me smile happily and I take in a deep breath as I return to a place that feels like home to me.

Time flies on my way out to New England as I think of all the adventures that await me and enjoy every moment of the drive. Well, all of them except the white-knuckle ones through bad weather. Every trip brings new experiences, life lessons and a reminder why I’ve become and remain Jovial Julie, Road Warrior!

A Trio of Beautiful Weekend Warriors


Jaycie and Jordan enjoying Salisbury Beach, MA

My two daughters and I had an amazing weekend of adventures! It was wonderful attending the Pow-Wow, showing them the parts of New England I love the most and discovering new areas together. Seeing things through their eyes and hearing what they have to say about where we went opens my eyes even wider to the wonder of it all.


Driving back up through Boston after the Pow-Wow

This weekend’s trip was beneficial for all three of us. The girls expanded their vision further outside of NY and I was reminded of how blessed I am to have them. We are a powerful trio of beautiful weekend warriors and together we can accomplish anything! While I always enjoy my solo adventures, being a mom is central to who I am.


My 11 year-old daughter and I by Powwow River Falls in Amesbury, MA


My 7 year-old and I

The love my daughters and I share is a force to be reckoned with and never to be ignored. They are my heart, my world, my inspiration and my daily motivation to be the best person I can and to set a good example of what a successful and independent woman is.

There is so much more to tell but it must wait as I pack up and prepare us for the drive back to Upstate NY. On this Memorial Day as on all other days of my life, I am eternally grateful to the veteran who bestowed upon me unparalleled love, unforgettable lessons and a courageous spirit. Thank you, Dad!

White Knuckle Drives

Another winter storm?! Seriously?!

Another winter storm?! Seriously?!

I was supposed to drive to New England tomorrow morning for another planned visit. Unfortunately, Mama Nature saw fit to send yet another winter storm up the east coast. Such storms haven’t deterred me in the past. In fact, every time I’ve driven to New England this winter I’ve endured all sorts of scary winter weather. From the harrowing snowstorm the day before Thanksgiving to the freezing rain nightmare in December, Mama Nature has thrown it all at me. This time though, I decided to let her win. I’m staying in New York.

During my various white knuckle drives I have discovered that I’m better at winter driving than I realized. All those tips my good friend told me about winter driving actually sunk in and pop into my head right when I need them most! I’ve come upon multiple car accidents during night time snow storms, I’ve watched cars go sliding off the road when they hit their brakes too hard in freezing rain and I’ve felt my heart in my throat more times than I care to remember. I am always eternally grateful that I arrive safely at my destination and believe me, there is quite a bit of praying to all the powers that be during the drives!

I’m certain I have a guardian angel or six watching over me during my travels and I appreciate their help and guidance. I think by now though that they’re as tired as I am from the winter drives and we all deserve a break. I’ll try again in February or March or both and every month after that as the weather turns nicer. I won’t be kept from the region I love for very long but for now it’s time to regroup, recharge, write, create, stay warm and play lots of lobster fetch with Jazzerboo!

What Can Be Built in a Day

There’s that expression “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and while that’s true, there’s still a lot that can be accomplished in one day! At least for a multi-tasker like myself.

The temperature today was in the single digits with a wind chill below zero as the snow cascaded down in tiny, icy snowballs all day long. I only went out long enough for Jazz to do her business and after that we’d snuggle up inside, her in her doggy sweater and me in multiple layers. Days like these I am extremely grateful I don’t have to drive to my job anymore. My job is comfortably in my home where my desk offers me a view of the plows going by every hour or so.

A storm outside is a perfect opportunity to be productive inside and that’s exactly what I did. I started working on designing my business cards so I can actually get my name out there when I physically visit places in New England. I still think they’re awful but like everything in life, they’re a work in progress…

My business cards are still a work in progress...

A drafted up card. Less than exciting!

When I’d take a break from that, I’d work on building a location I’m using in my fantasy novel, Unbroken Flames. Many areas in the book are based on places I’ve visited in New England, Amesbury, MA especially. There are so many intriguing parts to that town that I adore exploring and incorporating my love of the area seemed like a natural thing to do for my book.

Today I worked on one building in particular that rests along the banks of the Powwow River in Amesbury. I took a few pictures of it while I was watching the ducks swimming around in the frozen water. It struck me as the perfect hideout for my main character during a certain part of the story. I’ve never been inside that particular building but I can imagine what it’s like and modify it to suit the plot. The proximity to the water and waterfall provide great potential for all sorts of interesting adventures and I’ll make sure to take more pictures next time I go.

You can be quite sure that I’ll give credit to all the places in New England I use as backdrops for my book. What better way to put a place on a map than to weave some magic, heroism and adventure around it?

The inspiration for a setting in Unbroken Flames. A building near Powwow Falls, Amesbury, MA

The inspiration for a setting in Unbroken Flames. A building near Powwow Falls, Amesbury, MA

This is what I had done by the afternoon...

This is what I had done by the afternoon…

Looks better now but more work to be done!

Looks better now but more work to be done!

Rendering Dreams into Reality

A partially rendered city from one of my fantasy books.

A partially rendered city from one of my fantasy books.

I’ve been writing fantasy stories since the age of 12. I started after reading A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony. I found the idea of creating anything I wanted through my words extremely appealing! It was also a great escape from the trials and tribulations of my tween and teen years.

My beloved English teacher, Derek Hulse, read some of my fantasy work and one of the big things he told me I needed to work on was my scene descriptions. What I saw so vividly in my mind wasn’t coming across in my words and while that was disheartening to me, I knew I could improve! Derek always believed in me and with his help, I developed into a far better writer.

Through the years of writing about my fantasy world of Aindar, I created over 10 books that spanned multiple generations of my favorite characters. As the time passed and I tried to recall certain events and scenes from the past, my memory faltered and describing areas in a way accurate to times gone by became a challenge. I drew places out in sketchbooks such as houses, castles and outdoor scenes but I’m not a good enough artist to quickly, easily and realistically flesh out those scenes with pencil and paper. That’s when I decided to investigate 3D rendering programs.

This was back in the days of Windows 95, long before I had children. I came across a highly recommended program called Punch! Home Design and I bought it. It came with a thick book of instructions and helpful tips and for the first few weeks of using the program, that handbook was my best friend. Eventually I began figuring things out on my own and everything from then on has been self-taught through trial and error.

harn midshire deya layout

The floorplan for a room in one of my fantasy castles

harn sitting rm1

A 3D view of one of the chambers of that castle room. I created the wall torches by modifying one of the program’s wall sconces.

I’ve continued to upgrade the program through the years and it’s still a very solid and easy to use 3D rendering program for my needs. When my Dell laptop was thoroughly killed by a random virus two years ago, I stopped creating houses. I kept meaning to install the program on my new Toshiba laptop but kept being sidetracked by life, the universe and everything.

Earlier this month I finally put the program on my laptop and then upgraded to the newest version. It’s lovely how quickly my Toshiba renders the 3D images! On my old laptop, it took forever and it sounded like the poor thing was going to expire. I’ve been refreshing my memory on the ins and outs of the program as I work on a sample room for my New England dream house.

A start to the living room of my New England dream home.

A start to the living room of my New England dream home.

One of my favorite parts is tweaking the size, shape, color and material of the furnishings in the room. I’ve created several original 3D objects from scratch for castle scenes in my fantasy books. I’m a bit rusty in that area but I’m sure it will come back to me as I work more with it. Nothing compares to having the ability to walk right through the room I’m writing about in order to get all the details just right. Overall, I’m having a fun time rendering things I see in my dream and imagination into the reality of a 3D computer model.

An outdoor scene I created for a fantasy story.

An outdoor scene I created for a fantasy story.

Holiday Wishes Granted in New England – Part 1

My festive outfit for the holiday events.

My festive outfit for the holiday events.

Last year around this time I wrote a blog about how I wished I still had holiday parties to go to like I did in the past. Well this year that wish came true, only not quite as I expected. I didn’t get to go to holiday parties like I attended in the past, the holiday parties I went to this year were world’s better than anything I’ve been to in the past! I’m sure a big reason why was that they took place in New England.

On Thursday, December 12th, I made a quick stop in at Jon P. Mooers Gallery in Amesbury as the book signing was beginning just to see the gallery all decked out for the Frosty the Snowman author and his artwork. The author was already signing books and there were trays of creatively arranged food for those who came in. I always love going in there after being outside in the cold because not only is the temperature inside warm, the atmosphere is welcoming. I snapped a few pictures, listened to the author talk about his book with those getting signed copies and then left the studio.

The window display at the gallery.

The window display at the gallery.

The creative food display.

The creative food display.

The author Wade Zahares signing books.

The author Wade Zahares signing books.

Display of the books.

Display of the books.

I walked back by the Powwow Falls because I just don’t feel like a visit to Amesbury is complete without that. It was lovely seeing downtown all lit up and the tall tree reaching toward the sky. The moon was shining brightly in the night sky and I took some pictures with my phone camera because I’d left my good camera in the car. Just taking my gloves off long enough to take those pictures left my fingers frozen but it was worth it! I made it quickly back to my car in the cold wind and was glad I’d worn thick tights and tall boots with my festive skirt.

Amesbury's tree downtown with the moon in the sky above

Amesbury’s tree downtown with the moon in the sky above

Once in my car with the heat going, I typed in the address for the event in Peabody, MA that Jackie Moldau from Jackie’s Tees & Custom Apparel had invited me to. It seemed easy enough to get to so off I went! It was an uneventful drive and the Men’s Spa at The Mansion was easily accessible on a little side road in Peabody. The parking lot was already pretty full so I created my own little spot for my car and headed inside.

My parking spot.

My parking spot.

The moment I opened the large front door I was met with the sounds of loud conversations and lively holiday music. I couldn’t help but smile. Two nice women greeted me by the door and gave me discount coupons and asked if I had a business card. I don’t have business cards yet but I’ll be remedying that quickly for future such networking events. Can’t get my name out there if I don’t have cards to advertise my services! I wrote my name on a blank card for the door prize drawings later and then headed further in to explore the party. I was hungry so I immediately dished up a plate of pasta, crackers and cheese and bread and butter. I found a big cushioned window seat in the large barber shop room and settled on it for a little picnic. The food was hot and delicious and the wine from Mill River Winery helped warm me up!

The buffet of food

The buffet of food

My first plate of food

My first plate of food

The barber chair across from the window seat

The barber chair across from the window seat

I didn’t really know anyone there (I only knew Jackie through Facebook) but they all seemed to know each other. Even so, I felt so privileged to be there and part of a social event instead of home with my dog. My initial hunger sated, I sought out Jackie in the massage room where she’d laid out the free t-shirts she provided. She greeted me and had me enter my email address on her tablet explaining that she was trying to build her business. Being a self-employed freelance writer, I totally understand! She saw my email address and the name Corbin sounded familiar to her so I explained the Facebook connection. She was surprised that I’d come all the way from New York and that I did it often. She was very friendly, introduced me to a few people and showed me all around before returning to her other friends at the event. I happily made up and ate another plate of food accompanied by a second glass of wine as I sat on the window seat again.

My window seat picnic

My window seat picnic

There’s much more to say about that night at the party but it will have to wait until part 2!