How many reindeer did Santa have?

For most of us, visions of Santa’s magical reindeer fleet begin dancing in our heads as soon as the holiday decorations hit the store shelves. But have you ever wondered about the real-life animals behind the fairy tale?
Reindeer, also known as domestic or semi-domesticated reindeer, are a subspecies of the wild caribou. These hooved mammals inhabit the Arctic and subarctic regions of the northern hemisphere, covering areas like Scandinavia, Russia, Alaska, and Canada. Both reindeer and caribou boast amazing adaptations that allow them to not just survive, but thrive, in some of the planet’s harshest weather conditions. They possess incredible stamina and adaptations for living in extreme northern climates. Their wide hooves act as snowshoes to walk on snow. Special nasal passages warm cold air entering their lungs. Thick, dense fur insulates them against temperatures as low as -50°F. Their seasonal migrations traverse huge ranges as they continually seek out lichen and other sustenance.

One very interesting fact about caribou and reindeer is that the female of the species also gets antlers! Both genders drop the antlers in early winter (painlessly) and regrow them every spring, Do You know what that means? All those pictures of Santa’s sleigh being pulled by reindeer are wrong! Or they’ve been cleverly modified.
As it turns out, reindeer have a truly captivating connection to Christmas. Centuries ago, legends recounted that shamans harnessed the mystical flight powers of reindeer to traverse different spirit worlds. When emerging Christian traditions overlapped with existing pagan yuletide celebrations, the image of a sleigh led through the winter night by flying reindeer took hold in the public imagination.
The famous 1823 poem by Clement Clarke Moore “A Visit from St. Nicholas”- also known as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ – introduced and popularized the enduring image of Santa and his reindeer to the public consciousness. Their names – Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder (later Donner), and Blitzen – have become part of the Christmas tradition. Thus reindeer have come to symbolize the Christmas season through their connection to Santa Claus aka Saint Nicholas aka Sinterklaas.

Oh, and how many are there? Well, there are the original eight (named above), Rudolph, and ‘the other’ reindeer, Olive. What? You don’t know about her? Surely you recall the stanza in the song, “Olive the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names…” That makes ten reindeer.

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Settings for my Books

When people ask me about the most interesting thing I have ever done, I can’t help smiling as I answer without hesitation, “Traveling.”  Every time I discover a new country, a new city or village, beach or mountain, or an ancient civilization, I imagine a lovely American young woman, my heroine, surveying the scenery as a tall, dark and handsome man, living in the area, approaches and exchanges a few words with her. If I feel they have the potential to share a good chemistry, I visualize a few more scenes, grant them life and start my novel in the setting that inspired me.

To Love A Hero   and   Heal my Heart   are set in Belarus where I traveled in the nineties as Project Manager to refurbish laboratories under a contract from the Department of Defense. Both books highlight the hospitality and warmth of the gorgeous and gallant Belarusian officers who sing and toast and make a woman feel like a goddess.

We left for our first trip to Belarus at the end of October. We included: a government person and his interpreter, me, my lab manager and computer specialist.

My two books relate my first impression: cold weather, gray skies and cigarette smell everywhere. The curious looks of the local people made me feel as if I was wearing the wrong clothes. Of course I didn’t have a chapka (that fur hat that is a must over there). I remedied the problem on my first visit to the bazaar where I bought myself the cutesy real mink chapka. I still have it. I literally froze in my drafty hotel room and continuously requested and begged for a hot cup of tea. I was often offered vodka instead.

Many of my special stories are related in my books. In To Love A Hero, I even included my fall on the broken escalator of the airport. I was rescued by my lab manager while my heroine fell in the arm of a hero to die for, the handsome Major General Sergei who made her pulse race and stole her heart.

Traveling is not only about visiting monuments and palaces in foreign countries or snapping photos in front of famous landmarks. Traveling opened new horizons, exposed me to different cultures, and introduced me to new languages. Every time I traveled I felt indelibly marked by what I saw, what I heard, even what I smelled. I discovered that the right setting triggers my imagination, sets my muse into action and creates characters for me.

My readers love to take an armchair trip with me to France, [Mother’s Day Babies in Paris, The Missing Statue in the Loire Valley]; to Greece [Her Greek Tycoon set in Mykonos Island]; to Sicily [Husband for a Week]; to Belarus, or enjoy a Mediterranean cruise in Spain and Italy [Honeymoon Cruise].

The whole series of Modern Princes deals with the Princes of Rensy Island. Rensy Island is a fictitious British island in the Channels, so similar to Guernsey.

A setting is not just a place or a time in history. It has its own architecture and colors, the particular noises associated with the area, the scent of the fields, the beach, and the streets.

In my novels, I let the setting mirror the characters’ feelings and use a romantic setting for a special kiss. The top of the Eiffel Tower, with Paris lights sparkling at night, provided an exceptional background for a first kiss in Wright Name, Wrong Man and also in A Bride For Prince Paul.

In Last Chance Plans, I included a trip to Argentina and an unforgettable tango dance that led to a fabulous love scene.

Love on the Slopes and Sunshine Over Snow are set in ski resorts in New Hampshire. In Time For Christmas takes place in airports during a blizzard and We’re All Together in St. John during a hurricane so similar to the hurricanes Wilma and Irma that I personally experienced in Fort Lauderdale. But many other books have stories starting or ending in Florida or St. John Island [Sailing Away Plans  and the whole Love Plans Series] or in small towns in Kentucky, Ohio or Georgia.

I included a war zone in some books—Valentine Babies with the war in Iraq and We’re All Heroes, with a rescue trip to the border of Poland and Ukraine.

Several of my medical romances are set in hospitals and their ORs but the wink of the hero in medical scrub and mask sends delicious tingles to the heroine at the wrong moment and creates the beginning of a romantic scene in a very unromantic place. Babies in the Bargain, Christmas Babies,  On Christmas Eve,   A Complete Family,   We’re All Winners, …

#New Release We’re No Saints

The ghosts from the past destroyed her peace of mind. Can the charming lawyer help her while keeping his own secrets?

The Student and the Dog

Lilly is a sophomore student, smart, hardworking, and determined to achieve her goal. Packing her car to the rim, she drove to college three weeks earlier than her first day of class for orientation on the first week and sorority rush on the second week. The apartment Lilly would share with three roommates wouldn’t be available for the next two weeks. A friend gave her the keys to her apartment, and Lilly settled there on her own.

Soon she discovered that with without her friends, the campus was too boring. To kill the time, she browsed her social media and discovered a picture that melted her heart and a post she couldn’t ignore. A five-year-old German Shepherd in the Animal Shelter needed a foster home until it could be adopted. With nothing else to do, our generous student went to visit the shelter and met Jane. It was love at first sight, and Lilly offered to foster the German Shepherd for a couple of weeks. She never expected Jane to be such a sweetheart, so loving, so obedient. Boredom disappeared but a new problem arose.

Lilly couldn’t imagine abandoning her new companion to shelter life. But she couldn’t adopt her either. The rented apartment where she would move into soon had a strict no-pets policy. Desperate but determined to save Jane from a miserable future, Lilly called her parents, asked and begged for a special favor. But… Her family has a lovable cockapoo, Bosty, a hypoallergenic dog, that doesn’t shed. Mom has asthma and can’t live with a dog that sheds. Could they find a solution?

Grandma studied the Internet for hours and found out that if Mom brushed the German Shepherd every morning with a bristle brush, got rid of loose hair with a hair dryer at high speed, and then rubbed the dog’s coat with olive oil, the shedding would be controlled. Mom should also wear a mask while brushing the dog, and give him a bath three times a week.

Mom agreed to give it a try for two months. If everything went well, the family would keep the new dog for a year, and Lilly will take her back when she moves to a new apartment next year. Grandma also researched the food that would help minimize the shedding.

Lilly is my granddaughter! Yesterday, she drove Jane to her parents’. I hope and pray her new dog doesn’t send my daughter to the ER!

Here’s the first meeting between Jane and Bosty. Bosty was petrified by the big monster and couldn’t stop shaking. The family improved things by going on a walk together and giving both dogs treats and new toys.

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Contemporary Romance with emotion and a touch of humor.

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Contemporary Romance with emotion, passion, action, and humor.

An Unforgettable Vacation in Egypt.

If you are looking for a different and memorable vacation, at an incredibly low price, I suggest you carefully read this blog. My kids have just returned from a one-week vacation in Egypt.

Riding a camel wasn’t easy, but we made it

Using the highly recommended Memphis Tours, they organized the whole trip from the US by email and paid 25% of the whole amount when they made their reservations. The rest was paid when they arrived in Cairo. The price included hotels in Cairo and Luxor with breakfast and lunch, car transportation, flight to Luxor, and visits to all the monuments. Before traveling they got their visas and recommended vaccines. My daughter and son, and their families flew to London and boarded the same British Airways flight to Cairo.

Lunch at the 9 Pyramids Restaurant. We came by camel!

At Cairo International Airport, they were met at the gate by a Memphis Tours Representative who took their passports and asked them to follow her. Bypassing the long lines, she took care of all the formalities, passport control, and customs, and led them out of the airport to their van in no time. The Rep introduced them to their driver, English-speaking guide, and bodyguard who would accompany them for the whole week. This completely reassured my daughter.

The van drove them to the Kempinski Hotel (German chain of hotels) in downtown Cairo, right on the Nile. That first night they had dinner on the terrace of the hotel and enjoyed the magnificent view of Cairo by night.

At the step pyramid of Saqqara with Emad, our tour guide, an M.S. in History and a well of information.

On Day One, they went to the Pyramids, rode camels to tour the area, visited the Sphynx, and reached the restaurant where they enjoyed a delicious lunch of grilled lamb and chicken kabab. In the afternoon they visited the step pyramid of Saqqara, and went inside one of the pyramids.

The famous Khan El Khalili Bazaar where we shop to our heart’s content.

On Day Two, they visited the Citadel, (an old fortress) and the old museum and saw the King Tut exhibit. (The new Big Museum is still not open yet). After lunch they spent time in the Khan El Khalili Bazaar and enjoyed the inexpensive shopping.

The Temple of Karnak

On Day Three, they flew to Luxor, visited the Temples of Luxor and Karnak, sailed in a felucca and enjoyed a sunset on the Nile.

Going down a tomb in the Valley of the Kings. We saw King Tut’s mummy!

On Day Four, they left the Sofitel hotel at 8 am, (the renovated old Windsor Palace where many celebrities stayed). Right after breakfast, they went to the Valley of the Kings where they visited 5 Tombs out of 63, then they drove to the Colossi of Memnon, and later to the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. Back at the hotel, they spent their afternoon in the pool, and after dinner attended a Sound and Light show at the temple.

In front of Queen Hatshepsut Temple. Her son had her head removed from all statues and paintings and replaced with his own head!!!

On Day Five, they flew back to Cairo, and on Day Six, they visited the Old Cairo churches that dated from the second century A.C. and the Ben Ezra Synagogue, sometimes referred to as the El-Geniza Synagogue or the Synagogue of the Levantines. According to local folklore, it is located on the site where baby Moses was found.

Sound and Light at the Temple of Luxor

The six-day trip to Egypt cost them less than any cruise or local vacation. The dads were happy to have a driver, the moms enjoyed the inexpensive shopping, and the girls were delighted to have Internet in both hotels. They were able to post their pictures on Instagram from day one. They are already planning another fabulous trip for next year to discover more wonderful monuments in Egypt.    

The Gods of Dark Love

The book is based on the Legend of Isis and Osiris. This is a sensual dark romance, with explicit love scenes, but not erotic in frequency or type.)

According to the legend, the evil Egyptian god of storm, Seth, killed his brother Osiris, chopped him into fourteen pieces and flung them all over Egypt. Isis, goddess of family, reassembled thirteen of his body parts. Since she couldn’t find his supernatural male member, where his godly power was stored, she reattached a human one. Isis has always loved Osiris, the charming god of labor. While dreaming of marriage, family and a son, she helps him fight Seth. Together they struggle to survive iniquities and perils.

His trip to the Afterlife has changed Osiris. He regrets his past womanizing. Guided by oracles she utters when they make love, they search lands and seas for his missing organ so he can recover his godly attributes. Osiris has fallen in love with Isis but the sins of his past and their unexpected consequences threaten to separate them more painfully than Seth’s mayhem and curses.

SECRET KISSES

The story is set in Ohio, and includes a visit to Egypt and a cruise on the Nile River. For love and friendship, three best friends will defy families and society.

Katy Mahoney, Hoda Seif, and Sarah Kohn. Three girls from different backgrounds and religions pledged to maintain their friendship forever.

For five years, the three friends meet and exchange confidences and advice. Life is so confusing for a woman in love with a man from a different religion. Sarah is concerned about Omar’s narrow-mindedness and decides he has to change. Katy knows she’ll have a battle royal on her hands with her pious Catholic mother. And Hoda is in a worse shape. Her family’s religion forbids her to marry an infidel.

Will the three friends manage to convince their families to let them marry for love or will tradition tear the lovers apart?

This book is part of UNFORGETTABLE LOVE, Unforgettable Wonder