Thursday, December 22, 2016

Awestruck

awe
noun
  1. 1.
    a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.


Did you know that feeling awe may be the secret to health and happiness? 

"...new studies show that it's a dramatic feeling with the power to inspire, heal, change our thinking and bring people together."  Paula Spencer Scott, Parade

We've all felt it. 

That feeling of being struck dumb by something wonderful. We've all experienced, at one time or another, that compelling emotion of being paralyzed by something so beautiful, it tickles our very soul. Now scientists are discovering that this crave worthy emotion is a part of being human that we all need. Not just crave.

5 times I was struck dumb:

1) Watching my hero, my beloved Kahlesi, being rescued by Drogen, her dragon. It may not be real, but it was the most compelling drama I've ever witnessed on the boob tube. T.V. at its finest. Daenerys flies off, for the first time, flaxen hair flying, to safety. Applause. I love Game of Thrones! And the books are even better. George R.R. Martin is a genius.



Drogen and Daenerys

2) Seeing my first cone shaped volcano in Costa Rica, burping fire. Now I've seen many and more. In Nicaragua. The land of 19 blazing hot infernos.


Volcan Arenal in Costa Rica 

3) Riding the Transformers ride at Universal studios. The combination of 4-d is thrilling! And insanely real. Insider tip: Take advantage of the single rider line.


Transformers, Universal

4) My fist zipline. A whopper in Fortuna, Costa Rica. We flew 600 feet in the air. Gulp. And one line was a mile across. Yikes. The feeling was indescribable. 


Sky Adventures in Fortuna, Costa Rica


5) Visiting the Mayan ruins of Xunantunich. We took an ancient (it sure seemed that way) ferry, pushed via gondola stick across a jungle river in Belize. Then we stepped out into the past. Mayan ruins always inspire awe. The past seems to drift just below the surface of the present. Belize is a hot bed of discovered and undiscovered ruins. 

Xunantunich, San Ignacio



Bring on the awe in 2017! 


Friday, December 16, 2016

Thrill Me!



Thrill me. Scare me. Read me!


A few months ago I saved a Stallone quote. You never know when a sound bite of wisdom from Sly Stallone will come in handy. Old Sly was being interviewed, when he said something that cocked my ears like a curious cat. It was the kind of comment that was very self aware, humbling and funny. He was talking about when he wrapped his Southpaw around the role of Rambo. Iconic, right? Who else could play it? O.K., maybe Arnold or Bruce. These days, I'd pick Tom Hardy. Yum. 

Stallone said he was the 11th choice for the Rambo character. "They were just about to hire a chimp." he said. Good one Sly!


Well, at the same time, I was reading the wildly creative, The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy. A dark, futuristic re-imagining of the Lewis and Clark adventure west. That's when I discovered that the local author was hawking a new book. A book of essays compiled to help authors put the thrill in their writing. Thrill Me is the title. The book also has an eye popping visual on the cover. See above. 


I've read a lot of books on the craft of writing. Benjamin Percy's was different. It was very generous and full great advice from a unique and humble perspective. Entertaining advice too. It was like getting the nasal flu shot. It inoculated you against bad writing with no pain. Plus, unlike the nasal mist, it really helps!


At the end of Thrill Me, Benjamin Percy talks about being inspired by Sylvestor Stallone. A.K.A, Rocky Balboa. Or Rambo if you prefer. "Go the distance," he tells his audience. 

In a nut shell, be like Rocky. Work, fight hard and don't give up. This is great advice for whatever challenge you are facing.


I love the Grrrrrr.

Benjamin Percy wrote Go the Distance in my book. Will I be able to do it? Will I be able to persevere the trials of publishing my novel, The Chorus of the Crows?

Well, I don't know. But then again, I did save that Stallone quote. I might have some fighting spirit in me.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Nature Traveler

"Over the years, I have found that travel allows me to discover personal priorities that are discernible only when the chatter of daily living melts away. And with this discovery, I can re-calibrate the basics of life; this is especially true when the travel is in nature."

Katherine Hanson
Special to the Star Tribune


Sedona, Arizona

I was inspired by the above snippet from an article in the Star Tribune, to wax poetic about travel. I guess I can relate to Katherine's feelings. Maybe you can too. Travel, especially nature travel, means the whole wide world to me. And I've only scratched the earth's varied and beautiful surface with a little stick. 

5 top chicken scratchings:

1) Hiking on a narrow path, 2,000 feet above the stunning Waipo Valley on the Big Island of Hawaii. Hugging the left. Because the drop off was an epic 2,000 foot vertical slide.

2) Swinging through trees like a monkey in Costa Rica. (tethered to a zip line mind you, since I can barely open a jar of pickles) 

3) Utilizing mountain roads in Central America no better than a lonely cow path. Is it a road if there are no other vehicles, no bridges over mountain streams and no other signs of life other than locals on horseback? I guess so. We made it.

4) Hiking to see the fury of Pele first hand, again, on the Big Island of Hawaii. There was a man ahead of us that literally brought a little stick. It was in his back pack. It turns out, he brought it with him for the sole purpose of sticking it to the lava. To watch it burn. 

5) My husband and I both agree, that our best night ever was in Granada, Nicaragua. It was our first night. New Year's Day. As we walked through the colonial city, we peeked inside home after home, witnessing elaborate Christmas shrines. It was so different than we decorate here. They really were shrines. Bright, festive and holy. Then, we had a marvelous steak dinner, serenaded by parrots and fortified with Flor de Cana rum. The best in the world if you ask me. Afterwards, we trolled around town, stopping at a towering old church. We were serenaded again, by hundreds of voices rising to the rafters in Christmas song. The acoustics were inspiring! Lastly, we picked up two Tonas (the local beer) and wandered back to our room. We sat on a warm balcony with the whole trip ahead of us, talking travel. Sigh. Memories. 

There's always some unforgettable memory on each and every trip. I could go on and on. Like this summer, while rounding a desolate turn on a dry, desert road of nothingness. Immediately, after rounding the bend, the scene turned to eye popping visuals of towering red rock country. In Sedona, Arizona. The landscape was lunar, like the leavings of a child's mud sculpture. Massive, martian and as seductive as a Georgia O'keefe painting. The only other experience that compares, so far, not talked about in 1-5, was heading down another windy road years before. This time, we were in Costa Rica. Our first trip. We rounded a turn and there, in the distance, sat a towering cone shaped volcano belching fire. We were hooked. Five trips later, the waves of Dominical beach draw us back with their perpetual siren song. The scarlet macaws of the Osa peninsula shriek from on high. And the pirate bar in the Dominical hills serves up our favorite burger with a side of rum!

I feel like travel is the fertilizer of life. It can turn nasty mental weeds into beautiful winter blooms. It nourishes the soul, sustaining it through the down times. It gives the traveler wings. 

When a trip is in my rear view mirror, photos are my favorite souvenirs. Thanks for looking.  

Happy travels!

P.S. Leave me a comment with your favorite travel memory.


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Great Conversations...


"All stories are in conversation with other stories."
Neil Gaiman




 Behind the Beautiful Forevers was the first selection for a book club I attended briefly. It was hand picked by a member who has traveled to India and seen the beautiful and the antithesis first hand. Normally, I would never pick up a book like this. It's a harrowing non-fiction tale of the inhabitants of the Annawadi slum. Trust me. If it was fiction, it would be easier to absorb. Unfortunately, it is disturbingly true. But, that being said, it is beautifully written and enlightening. As an aspiring writer, I'll never forget how the author describes little yellow flowers as the open beaks of baby birds. Dazzling imagery. There is so much ingenuity in almost all of the characters. Like teenage Abdul. His talent is foraging for recyclables. He digs, sorts and scrapes together a meager existence for his entire family. In fact, exceeding their income far above others in their slum. And then there's Asha, clawing her way to the top by utilizing every means available to her. Rarely an honest mean is ever selected. In fact, Angela, from my book club, described honesty as a luxury in Annawadi. There's no truer statement. 

The most powerful character for me was Fatima the one leg. Her plight becomes a main plot point as the book progresses. 

You'll never forget the fighting spirit of these unforgettable, real life characters. 


 I'm just starting to admit to people that I'm writing a novel. After telling my cousin Jane about my story, she noticed definite similarities between my novel and the one she had just finished. So she handed me Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger and told me to read it. She said she could barely put it down. She said that for awhile, it had been her go to book for nocturnal reading sessions. So I dove right in. Research, right? During the day, mind you.

The voice of teenage Frank narrates the novel. He's the son of a Methodist minister. Unfortunately, the life of Frank and his family become awash in un-ordinary deaths. A literal laundry list of his neighbors and even sadder still, people much closer to him. The small town scene comes to life visually. The train takes off and doesn't stop. And the characters are real citizens of the time. My favorite character was Gus. He was living in the basement of the church across the street from the central family. And plenty of mischief ensues from that simple fact. There's a bonus for us Minnesotans too. It's set here.

 Being of devious mind, I guessed what the mystery revealed in the end. But it didn't matter. It was still a great book. 

Extraordinary. 




"Our son will be your son now." 

The diminutive sentence above is the heart and soul of the haunting book LaRose by Louise Erdrich. It is an affecting story of loss, love and the lore of a whole culture of people in North Dakota.

I learned about Native American life in the book. The good and the bad. The old and the new. There were so many well drawn characters. Like the wise beyond his years LaRose. The 5 year old boy at the center of the story. But there are many namesake LaRose's hanging from the family tree like beautiful wind songs. We meet all of them in the book. The mystical backstory of the first LaRose was my favorite part. 

The conflict occurs when Landreaux, LaRose's father, accidentally kills his neighbor's child while deer hunting. The lives of all of the central characters are subsequently torn apart.  Landreaux resorts to the old ways for guidance. He visits a sweat lodge and is compelled to give away his son, to make amends for the one he killed. 

I wish I would have purchased this book at our local Minneapolis book store, Birchbark Books, owned by the author. Because then I could have acquired a signed copy. It was so good.


Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Stephen King 




Friday, November 25, 2016

The Waffle House Index


A patient dog, waiting for master, at a Naples, Florida Waffle House. 
An old favorite photo of mine.

Fear not fellow Americans. Well, let me clarify. Fear not fellow hungry Americans that live in the South. There is a new weather forecaster in town. In fact, as we count down to the inevitable,  futuristic nightmare of world Armageddon, look to the Waffle House as your guide for the end of days. 

The rest I gleaned from the internet. Enjoy...


Weathermen took to the airwaves Thursday declaring Hurricane Matthew historic, a storm like no other central Florida had seen, one that would rage and ravage. Millions along the East Coast were instructed to evacuate. Grocery store shelves emptied. Gasoline ran out. The Sunshine State’s governor said “this storm will kill you.”
To all tuning in, it was clear this storm was dangerous.
But some Floridians refused to accept the true gravity of Hurricane Matthew’s destructive spin until the South’s most reliable, authoritative voice spoke out.
“All Waffle House restaurants on 1-95 between Titusville, Fla. and Fort Pierce, Fla. are closed,” the restaurant tweeted Thursday afternoon. “Stay safe Waffle Nation!” The Washington Post


“ . . . if a Waffle House store is open and offering a full menu, the index is green. If it is open but serving from a limited menu, it’s yellow. When the location has been forced to close, the index is red.” Magazine EHS






One tweet summarized the reaction like this:
News: “Evacuate Florida”
Floridians: “Nah”
News: “Waffle House closed”
Floridians: “IT’S THE END OF DAYS!! F—— SAVE US BABY JESUS!!”



 Purpose of a Waffle House:

1) informally but decisively indicate whether the world is going to be destroyed by God's wrath,
2) waffles. Kaleb Horton





I love the Waffle House!



Monday, October 31, 2016

I See Dead People...



"If you dis a kid with a crayon, you just might end up with fuzzy wuzzy brown on your face." logic from Sharon Wagner: child artist, revenge advocate, recess crayon warrior.

 More words of revenge wisdom from the internet....

1)  My silence is not weakness, but the beginning of my revenge.

2) Your knife, my back. My gun, your head.

3) When karma comes back to punch you in the face, I wanna be there...just in case it needs help.

4) Never go to bed angry, stay awake and plot revenge.

5) Weak people revenge. Strong people forgive. Intelligent people ignore.

Did you read number 5? I threw that in, just to show you I've grown up. Poor Theresa. She crossed the wrong girl. She didn't know I was packing heat. But not too much, it might melt my crayons. I remember drawing this, brain firing on all cylinders, laughing hysterically. (not really)  But, I have no idea what made me mad in the first place. Tyrone is the real loser. Figuratively, not literally. I deemed him objectionable enough to be a dire warning of a bleak future. Hey Theresa, if you dis me again, you'll end up married to Tyrone. Ha. Take that!  Of course, the last laugh might be on me. Because they obviously were married a long time and died on the same day. How romantic. Unfortunately, 2022 is fast approaching. It must have seemed so far in the future when I was in grade school.

I love my weird creativity in giving the girl ghost boobs. And both cadavers have their arms sticking straight up. There's no relaxing for the damned! Not in my world. And both ghosts need canes. I guess to portray their feebleness. Is that a sun? In the middle of a black crayon night? Good grief. What was I thinking? The moon is my muse now. I love painting it. See below.



The good news is I forgave Theresa for what ever the heck she did. But, will she forgive me if she sees this? I hope so.

Happy Halloween!

I'll be back in December...


Monday, October 17, 2016

What Lies Beneath?

Quarry Hill Nature Center

The question, "What lies beneath?" is very appropriate here. At the very top of a wooded hill in Rochester, Minnesota, there's an abandoned limestone quarry surrounded by a restored oak Savannah. Eight miles of trails zig zag its perimeter. But it's really what lies beneath that make it interesting. 

The 329 acre park was once part of Rochester's historic state hospital grounds. The hospital was built in 1877.


This fireplace opens its gaping mouth over a former landfill for the hospital. The fireplace site became a picnic area for patients. Click to enlarge the placards for the rest of the story. The placards do most of the talking today.

click to enlarge


This 250 foot cave was used for food storage. It was dug by a crew of hospital patients. The leader of the crew, Thomas Coyne was a poet. He carved lines of poetry into the soft rock walls. If you visit during the right time, you can take a guided tour. It was rather cavernous and creepy when we peered inside. Trust me. 

Inside the cave...

click to enlarge



2,019 grave sites dot the hillside below the Quarry. The park is in the process of placing new grave markers on all of the burial sites. But, a few old markers remain. They rise above the soil like spooky sentinels. 


click to enlarge


You can see some of the old markers here.  Eroded and lonely.


There was an occasional marker that was still legible. Ella must have had an unfortunate life. 

The state hospital was an asylum. 


Treatment of mental diseases at the hospital before the 1920s consisted mainly of keeping patients occupied with work and recreation, and restraining violent patients. Many patients worked on the hospital’s 500-acre farm. Plays, concerts, and dances were put on for recreational purposes. In the late 1940s insulin and electroshock treatments were common, and in the 1950s lobotomies were used on some patients. Throughout the hospital’s history the use of drugs became more extensive. The hospital served as a surgical center for many of the other state institutions, as well as for Rochester State Hospital. The Mayo Clinic provided doctors free of charge, and the hospital absorbed the cost of supplies.

It made me wonder if those lost souls still wander...

The Awesome Links:


Monday, October 10, 2016

It was a ghost...



Belize Snow. Served poolside to ghosts at Cahal Pech

We didn't have a T.V. when we stayed in Boquete, Panama last January. So, what do two early rising, exhausted and tipsy, middle aged travelers do at night? Read TripAdvisor reviews. But, we have our standards. We only read reviews of places we've had negative experiences with or ones that have crossed our paths, that resemble dumps. And there's one particular dump that's at the top of our list. Cahal Pech Resort in San Ignacio, Belize. We stayed there twice. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on us... 

The only reason we stayed there in the first place, was that it was the lesser of two evils. We booked a week at Iguana Junction, affectionately known as Iggy J's. (forever known as Icky J's to us) Unfortunately, the place flooded earlier that year. Every rustic cabana was sloped, sinking into the ground and moldy. At night, disco music blasted from a neighboring bar. It sounded like someone was menacingly holding a megaphone against your skull. And the worst part, was the stinky sheets neatly folded over our bed. They smelled like the owner's mangy dog. Do you know why? Because the dirty dog napped in the laundry room.

We hightailed it up to Cahal Pech. And in comparison, it seemed like a beautiful castle on a verdant hilltop. It has a great location overlooking the city. At night, you can sit in your own cabana, enjoying a Belikin and listening to the city. It also sports a great pool, delicious drinks (see above) and is next door to the Cahal Pech Mayan ruins. The cabanas however, are rustic at best.

Flash forward a few years. The cabanas were worse for wear. The rooms were dirty, crumbling and the blankets were scratchy and full of quarter sized holes. So, we weren't surprised, on our Panama trip, to read several bad reviews for the joint. We posted our own negative review after our stay. But what we didn't expect, was a hilarious review. 

Imagine this...you're awakened in the middle of the night by a deranged monster; his drugged out face plastered against the thread bare screen to your room. You're in a foreign country and you are terrified. You call the front desk and then the police. An employee is quickly dispatched to comfort you. They tell you...that it was just a ghost. Ha! Is that supposed to make you feel better? I think not. 

But it wasn't a ghost. It was a Spanish speaking employee, trying to say in English, that it was only a guest. Hilariously lost in translation. It turns out, the wayward guest took sedatives for the first time and was so looped out, he wandered around the resort, asleep, like a deranged ghost. I mean guest. 

The review by Chase S. is posted below for your reading pleasure. The large print is the best part. Enjoy....


2 of 5 starsReviewed July 23, 2014

I've been debating writing this review for a long time... but the lack of customer service has struck me so much that I had to finally take the plunge.

My family and I visited this establishment for a few days as we made a day trip to Tikal around the new year. They picked us up from the airport, provided good service on the day of entrance. The daytime staff seemed very welcoming and cordial. The "Belize snow" award-wining mixed drink was very good. The Cahal Pech dig site next to the resort is fascinating and under appreciated or documented in the Fodors/Lonely Planet/Travellers Bible realm. However, overall, the "resort" was quite cheap looking on the inside. It felt like a run down beach cabana or college dorm -- that might be insulting to a college dorm. There weren't even phones to call the front desk in the room. Very bare bones. Fine, we'd rough it, we thought... until the second evening...


I'll try not to embellish this next part: at 1am, someone climbed onto our deck balcony and banged on our door, trying to get in. Luckily my fiancé had locked the door. Terrified, we tried to scare him off. He looked wild-eyed and altered. He stumbled off the deck onto the next deck. We tried to get help from the front desk but alas no phone. Worried as we were in the middle of nowhere, we were hesitant to leave the room as we couldn't see where he went. He came back again. Other patrons in neighboring rooms were yelling, too, screaming for help and for him to go away. Finally after 20 minutes of yelling a very confused man who only spoke Spanish came running with a headlamp and machete. He was more frightened by our story than we were -- kept calling it a ghost. I dragged him downstairs as my protection to find the only working phone at the front desk unmanned. I called 911 and luckily the police spoke english and said they were on the way. In the meantime, we saw him trying to break into another patron's room via chair banging on their deck window as they were screaming. Finally the police came and we ran around the corner. They fired gunshots, the whole hotel was awakened. No staff but this make-shift security guard. Luckily no one was hurt and the hauled the guy away in handcuffs. 

I awake the next day after taking us forever to get to sleep and we check-out to find that the guy was a patron of the hotel, a tourist, who took a sleeping pill he'd never taken before (probably Temazepam or Zolpidem/Ambien), doesn't recall the event and was delirious. I'm a physician. I understand that. This is probably a rare circumstance. I don't fault the hotel/resort for it.

However, I do fault them for being dismissive of the event, simply shrugging their shoulders, and offering no recourse. Their security was severely unhelpful. There are no phones in their rooms. There was no way to easily get help. Had I not intervened, would one of the patrons been even more hurt--either this delirious man or the people whose room he was about to break into? Absolutely. The staff did not thank me, did not want to hear the story despite multiple patrons being upset and furious. No apologies, AND no compensation. I don't ask for food to be returned or special treatment or reimbursements at restaurants or hotels. But in this case? Yes, absolutely, especially in light of no thankfulness or apologies. And nothing.

I don't believe it's proper for them to call themselves a resort. I perhaps would have given them two stars had this rare event not happened. But it did and the place is unsafe in the event of a rare circumstance. I'm not a sensationalist but they are close to very high crime neighborhoods. Their security is lacking. Their customer service is lacking. Their professionalism is lacking. I would never recommend friends or family to stay here.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Burning the Wood

"But people need to have their real sadness and fear to be justified, then begin working through it, to accept that their greatest wounding can be their greatest gift. That's what I call burning the wood. Only after you've burned all the wood are you ready to move on."

Your Story is Your Medicine: A Prescription for Healing in an Imperfect World. by Shelli Stanger Nelson





My dad and his animals during better times.
I love these photos.


I burned the wood by writing a novel inspired by my dad's long and insidious battle with Parkinson's. The story percolated in my cerebral cortex for years after his death. Spinning and spreading until I decided to listen to the voice urging me to write it down. Now that I'm weaving the story onto the page and nearing the end, I'm glad for every day that my brain functions normally. Scenes and sentences drift through my brain quickly and peacefully, like a bubbling stream, when ever I conjure them. And my fingers spryly tickle the keyboard. For now. But I worry. What if I'm afflicted by Alzheimer's or Parkinson's someday? 

Every story has a great villain. And Parkinson's is a sinister foe. 


 In my book, a retired farmer named Oren Walton is plagued by Parkinson's and menacing hallucinations. The visions start out benign enough. Small things really. Bugs that others don't see. A stray animal darting through the house. Little things. As Oren's disease progresses, so do his hallucinations. Crows act as a menacing harbinger as the hallucinations escalate mysteriously, as if fertilized by a poisonous and insidious farm chemical, until they become the central conflict of the story. 

All of the characters revolve around this conflict.

I'm almost done with the book. My wood has been reduced to flickering, undulating embers. 

I think we could all benefit by burning our wood pile...

Monday, September 19, 2016

Read, live long and prosper!


I just read in the Science and health section of the Star Tribune that book readers live an average of 2 years longer than non readers. The Yale study found a similar (but weaker, gulp) association among those that read newspapers and periodicals.

Well, luckily, I read lots of books as well! Here are 3 short and sweet book reviews I created for Springtime in Magnolia.  Including my newest review of The Dead Lands.

 Read, live long and prosper!






The Dead Lands is first and foremost, a re-imagining of the journey West by explorers Lewis and Clark. This time, in a post apocalyptic future, the expedition is led by Mina Clark and Lewis Meriwether. These characters didn't earn my love or reading devotion throughout the book. They seemed one dimensional, leaning on the harsh side. But since they were on a journey of survival, they were written in a singular way. The characters had little time for anything but staying alive. My favorite character was the psychopath Slade. He collected odds and ends from unlucky victims and adhered them to his mannequin collection. Delightfully wacky.

But it was an enjoyable and expansive story. Inventive, interesting and wildly creative. The book begins in the dusty, captive world of the Sanctuary.  Formally known as St. Louis. As the journey West unfolds, the reader flips back and forth between the struggle West and the trials of life in the militant Sanctuary.  If you think Trump would be a bad president, the character Thomas, Mayor of the Sanctuary, would be ten times worse! 

As an aspiring writer, I'll never forget the author's line, "...her teeth chattered a skeleton's song." That isn't an exact quote, since I couldn't find the passage. But the character was cold. And the sentence described it beautifully. 

This book isn't for everyone. I read it because I don't have a particular or preferred genre. I love them all. And Benjamin Percy is a Minnesota author endorsed by Stephen King. You can't beat that.





I have to admit, the first thing that intrigued me about Michele Raffin's book The Birds of Pandemonium was the beautiful cover. It's really hard to believe how many exotic and dazzling bird species fly our skies and nest in our trees. I love to spot them in the jungles of Central America. But most of them live in places that only exist on my bucket list. 

But not for Michele Raffin. On a whim, she rescued a dove by the side of a California road. No kidding. That is how it all started. We've all had that impulse. To save an injured animal. Or adopt a sad, abandoned pet. Michele took that impulse and ran with it. Now, her sanctuary is one of the largest in the country and she has rescued over a 1,000 birds. And many of the 89 species she has saved were threatened. 

Well, all of that is admirable.  But the real question of a book review blog is, "How's the book?" It is so charming. The reader wakes up with Michele and experiences the subtle, sweet sounds of bird chatter. Well, it is not always so soft and sweet. Sometimes it is demanding and deafening! And the birds, all 1,000 of them, have their own personality. You will discover that not every bird story has a happy ending. But you'll be glad you entered their feathered world for a little while.

It's a good read.





I brought the book Gone Girl with me on my last vacation. Well, it was so good that it was gone in a flash! But luckily the rental where we were staying had a pile of books. It was especially opportune since we were lodged in a remote area of Costa Rica. The Tico Times or a Spanish novella might have been my only other options. 

Clearly this book was left behind by a female traveler. It definitely was not part of the home owner's collection. His stash seemed to be all male. Politics, John Grisham and obscure biographies. But this booked screamed, "Read me on the beach! I'll entertain you." And it was a fun and fast read. Just look at the cheery cover. That usually says it all.

I'd definitely take Elizabeth Noble on a vacation. I bet she is just as fun as her characters. But she would probably prefer I take one of her books. In this book we meet Natalie and Tom. Tom is trying to win Natalie's heart. So far, he's been unsuccessful. Then he proposes an unusual arrangement of dates that run the garment from A- Z. The first thing they do is Abseiling. What the heck is that? Well... 

Abseiling (/ˈæbseɪl/ or /ˈɑːpzaɪl/; from German abseilen, meaning "to rope down"), also called rappelling, is the controlled descent of a vertical drop, such as a rock face, using a rope. Climbers use this technique when a cliff or slope is too steep and/or dangerous to descend without protection.

It was a fun book.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Human Wrangling




I've never wanted to be a human wrangler. Never. My friend Nina called me a cat wrangler in jest once. My new part time occupation stuck like a barbed tongue full of fur. Cat wrangling just sounds cool. But people? No way. 



Well, a couple months ago I created a new social group on the Meet-ups site. It is a website where cowpokes and their ilk, can coral groups of people with similar interests. Like reading, hiking, dining, traveling or cat wrangling. Whatever. I decided to start a book club for women writers. So far, it has been a small success. I've managed to rope in a few gals. And, I've even fenced in a few free laughs. Here's my open call...


This is a book club for women writers. We have a unique perspective. The books we read not only entertain us, but inspire and strengthen our written word. We'll socialize over a glass of wine and most importantly, take turns answering questions and discussing books. Everyone will get a chance to shine in this club. The future goal will be to form a small and intimate group of kind, thoughtful and committed readers and writers. 


As a creative, I use words like a paintbrush. And reading is my part time job!



I ran into a few wayward calves on my ride. First, I posted a few simple questions to weed out the prime Kobe beef from the mutton. Some of the answers tickled my funny bone. While others left me wondering if anyone really cares how they come across anymore. In the age of i-phones, it seems there's only a select few who attempt to spell, capitalize or give a generalized hoot about what they say. It makes me sad. If you were attempting to join a group of people who like to read and write, wouldn't you try to come across as doing both successfully? Here are some unsuccessful answers...


Why do you want to become a Novelista?
like the club description
What is the last book you read?
the turner house
What kind of creative writing do you do?
none....want to start
There's no need to attend every event. But, we'll be a small group. So please rsvp carefully. And if you need to cancel, be sure to change your status. How often do you hope to attend?
?? don't know
We'll be a small and intimate group. If you belong to dozens of meet-ups, this group might not be for you. Can you tell me what makes you Minnesota nice?
good listener,

What kind of creative writing do you do?Not much. I love to read.

What kind of creative writing do you do?Due to limited time, commenting on blogs.

What is the last book you read? 
I did just answer this.
We'll be a small and intimate group. If you belong to dozens of meet-ups, this group might not be for 
you. Can you tell me what makes you Minnesota nice?Can't. From Iowa.


No, you didn't just answer that...dog. (Chris Hansen reference) The Iowa remark is pretty funny though. I'm left wondering, why would you want to join a group of writers, if you don't even write a darn thing? 

At least it gives me something funny to write about!




Uff da. 


People.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Survey Says!

Facebook research indicates, "...that dog-posters tend to be more extroverted, more upbeat and luckier in love than their feline photographing friends." (According to the photos and posts of facebook users.) 




What you talk'in about Willis?


"Meanwhile, cat people tend to be single, express a wider range of emotions (including chiefly exhaustion and annoyance), and to harbor an unusually strong interest in fantasy, anime and science fiction."

This is from an article posted in the Star Tribune by Caitlin Dewey of the Washington Post.

Thanks facebook. I already hated you. You always make me feel like a loser when I post a favorite photograph and get 3 likes while other people post that they just burned their toast and get 100. Now, according to you, I'm an emotional, exhausted nerd too. (O.K. facebook nailed it) Because I don't have a dog. If I did, I'd post lots of upbeat photos of him or her on facebook. And if I'm lucky, get 4 likes. Maybe 5.

So goes my love/hate relationship with facebook. When I post something on facebook, I feel like James Corden, struming his guitar while singing his heart out on the street in the movie Begin Again, only to look up to discover no one is listening. No one at all. My "likes" might not be quite as pathetic as all that. But close. Most of the time. 

I also just read another related article about addiction to social media in the Star Tribune. I guess some people become addicted to facebook and other sites, just like with drugs. The feedback and "likes" act like a drug affecting the dopamine levels in their brain. They get a virtual high. 

How can I get some of that?

Don't get me wrong. I believe that people can experience a real addiction to social media. Everywhere we go these days, people are staring at their phones like in-human drones, strumming them like a guitar. I almost expect them to look up and shoot a penetrating glare my way, revealing mechanical pupils and whirly gigs. It just makes me mad and ultimately sad, that I'll never experience a dopamine high from facebook. Now I really am annoyed!