Countdown to Diagon Alley

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In just two short weeks, sunshine, butter beer, and magic will fill my days.  While my kids were growing up, we made a yearly escape to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida.  As a family of avid movie buffs and adrenaline junkies, the destination provided thrills and memories unlike any other family vacation. In 2010, Universal brilliantly added Harry Potter to the mix and created an “island” dedicated to Hogwarts Castle and Hogsmeade.  On July 8th, Universal will add a new dimension to the experience with Diagon Alley.  Stay tuned for the inside scoop and photos, as well as a recap of last year’s adventure, but to wet your appetite here is the majestic Hogwarts Castle at Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure.

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Dark and Twisted: Short Story Duos

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Dark and Twisted: Short Story Duos   Click Link to Download.

The first volume of my short story anthology Dark and Twisted: Short Story Duos is now available for download!

Two stories. Two Dark and Twisted themes. A 19th Century serial killer with a peculiar fascination for skulls finds his perfect victim…or so he thinks. Next, a Victorian Era child is murdered by a mysterious stranger, and her porcelain doll becomes the catalyst for a century of torment.

Dark and Twisted is a free anthology designed to provide the reader with a quick hit of horror and the supernatural.  Download and enjoy, and feel free to forward the link.  I love referrals!

Thank you and happy reading.

Susan Cunningham

Crawford Notch State Park in New Hampshire

The perfect place for a picnic, afternoon dose of sun, or artist inspiration.  The White Mountains of New Hampshire is known for its beauty, but the region has a soul of its own.  The air carries a sense of purity, and the spirit of the mountains can be felt along every breathtaking path. Time slows and the sense of being one with nature provides peace and tranquility.  Pictures show the beauty, but the true experience can only be shared through a visit.

Goodbye to our sweet, sweet boy.

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Tucker lost his battle with degenerative spinal myelopathy today.  At first, the symptoms were minor, but the disease progressed to the point where even pulling himself into a standing position required effort.  Everyone told us we would know when it was time.  We waited for the signs, and indeed, there were times when he laid on the floor and the spark in his eyes was gone. There was a distant look, not of pain, but of resignation, as if his will had ended.  But then, he would see one of us or catch a whiff of food and the light would rekindle.  The roller coaster of emotions in deciding when to end his struggle became almost unbearable. What if we made the choice too soon? What if waiting caused him to suffer?

Our discussions focused on the depth of his spirit…the way he no longer transformed into a bouncing ball of energy whenever we mentioned going for a walk. How he could no longer stand and beg at the table. We kept telling ourselves that he still seemed happy even though his body was failing.  We talked about Saturday mornings when he would pound his paw against the bedroom door until it opened and then run to the bed and “Tucker” us.  The nights he spent cuddled with our daughters throughout their teenage years listening to their stories of heartbreak.

Tucker gifted us the kindness of his soul for almost twelve years.  How could we use the breaking of his spirit as measurement for when to say goodbye? Was it really quality of life when he could no longer walk without his spine collapsing? Yes, the spark within still burned, but we realized we needed to let him go while the gentleness of his soul still existed.

Our gift to Tucker was to not let him die alone. With his failing health, our greatest fear was he would pass during the day alone and scared.  Today, we celebrated his life with hot dogs for breakfast and a pizza party for lunch. He then left this world surrounded by the family he gave so much too.  A peaceful death for a peaceful soul.

Tucker “Dude” 08/15/2002 to 06/12/2014

Spring Hikes-Arethusa Falls

The first hike of the year found us in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Route 302 is a spectacular drive with views that seem like paintings. It winds through Crawford Notch State park and a plethora of hiking trails. At the heart of the route is the Highland Center on the Appalachian trail, a huge complex providing shelter and meals to trail hikers.

After lots of recommendations, we chose the Arethusa Falls trail. The reward at the end of the hike is one of NH’s highest waterfalls.  A challenging, but not hazardous journey, the trail meanders up the mountain and over an abundance of rocks and small steams. It takes about an hour to reach the falls (unless you are REALLY in shape). Once there, the landscape becomes a little difficult if you want to reach the base of the falls, but is still doable as long as you have good shoes and OK balance.

After a picnic and lots of pictures, I regretted not bringing paper and pen as the falls is the perfect place to catch up on a little writing. A hint to those looking to make the trip…go early as the crowds begin to descend around 10:00 am.  We arrived just after 9:00 am, and wished we had made it a little bit earlier. On our way back down, we met lots of people and dogs making the hike. However, the little traffic jams on the trail provided the opportunity for some good conversations with our fellow hikers.