Twofer Tuesday: rebel hikers edition

When Zebu was a high school senior, he brought home a paper outlining the “rules” for senior photos. In addition to sensible guidelines such as “Do not wear sunglasses,” and “No props such as guns or weapons or other offensive material,” was “Students’ heads should not be pressed between two trees.”

October 13, 2017

Ever since reading that, we take every opportunity to photograph ourselves with heads wedged between two trees. Granted, Emma and  I are nowhere near wedged in this photo, but it’s the thought that counts.

Zebu would approve.

Honoring Michelle

Today Zippy and I went to Berry Patch Farms in Brighton, Colorado.

Michelle’s mother and sisters arranged to have a bench and stone placed there in her memory, seeing as it was one of Michelle’s favorite places to visit with her young daughter.

 

At the top of the stone is a quote from Michelle: “Now this is what a strawberry should taste like.”

Note: the rooster windchime on the tree was there before Michelle’s bench. Can you say SERENDIPITY?

On their frequent visits to the farm with the old red barn, Michelle and her daughter would watch the chickens and roosters.

They’d pick berries together and take home bouquets of cut flowers.

Today, Michelle’s mother, sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, and friends gathered in her memory. For the past two weeks or so, the weather has been uncharacteristically cold and rainy, but today the sun was shining in a blue, blue sky. The morning was lovely, and I suspect Michelle pulled some strings to make it so.

It was bittersweet being at the farm without Michelle, but here I am warming her cheery red bench along with three of the Writing Roosters, the critique group she lobbied to include me in its membership. Michelle’s generosity lives on.

Jenn Bertman, Tracy Abell, Jen Simms, Laura Perdew (Vanessa Appleby & Claudia Mills were unable to attend)

Get your ball out of the gutter

This week’s date night was Zippy’s choice. He chose bowling.

Here he is tonight, displaying his inscribed “Willie” ball.  Our friend Willie gave it to Zippy years ago after left-handed Zippy told Willie he really liked bowling with the right-handed ball.

We bowled two games and they were both pretty bad. On the up side, we got a few strikes. On the down side, we threw gutter balls. Oh, and there were also ugly rental shoes.

All in all, it was a pretty good date.

So much more to a book

This photo hangs on the wall at my brother’s house. Here he is with the smiling Wildebeest and Zebu, many years ago. I’m not sure any of them remember the exact moment the picture was taken, but love and happiness are written all over this image. It’s no coincidence that a book’s involved.

There’s so much more to a book than just the reading.
~  Maurice Sendak

Happy birthday to my sister

On this Sunday, I’d like to thank you for a gift you gave me thirty-five years ago.

(Peace Sunday was a concert to support nuclear disarmament,
and it included an impressive lineup.)

I wanted to attend this amazing live music event, but didn’t have a ticket. You, despite not liking crowds or concerts, said we should go. Right then! So you drove us in your “Blue Goose” from West LA to Pasadena, where 85,000 people had converged on the Rose Bowl. It took us a while to find a parking space and then we walked and walked and walked. Well, meandered was more like it seeing as you had your camera and were being meticulous about noting f-stops and shutter speed for each photo you took along the way.

When we finally reached the Rose Bowl, the concert had started and, of course, there were no tickets available. We needed a hand-stamp to get in. There was a chain-link fence near the entrance and some guys standing nearby had our answer: they licked the stamps on the back of their hands and then pressed them against the backs of our hands. It worked! We had our own hand-stamps and were officially part of Peace Sunday!

Many details of that day are hazy (cough, cough), but I believe our seats were to the side and slightly behind the stage. Wherever we were, we couldn’t see the stage. And the sound was pretty crappy right there. But we’d made it! We were part of the Peace Sunday experience.

I do remember when Joan Baez brought out Bob Dylan. It gave me chills, knowing two of my very favorite singer-songwriters were so close. It was rather surreal, hearing them sing from a stage we couldn’t see.

Joan and Bob’s performances weren’t great, but because of you, I was there! Because of you, I was able to join a swath of humanity that’d come together for an incredible day of music and to say NO NUKES! It was an unforgettable gift. I hope you also have fond memories of Peace Sunday. Thank you again for being my generous and funny big sister who gave me a very special day.

Happy birthday to you.

Sidetracked by aquatic mannequins

I’m drafting a new scene for my middle-grade novel, a scene that takes place on a lake. There’s a raft and it’s a hot summer day, and the protagonist is learning how to do a back flip off the diving board. Anyway, I wanted to document where I’m at with this book and so went to Pixabay in search of a lake-raft-swimmer image to use.

I found this:

The photo has absolutely no connection to my scene (okay, this lake is comprised of water, as is the lake in my book), but upon discovering this image, I quit my search. I mean, this piece of photographic genius deserves its own documentation.

There’s so much weird going on here. You could focus on the fact that these women are playing cards / gambling in swim caps and goggles or that the mannequins are wearing robotic assassin expressions, but all I can think about is how it’d feel to stand in lake muck while slimy lily pad stems wrap around my legs.

Eww.

So. Many. Words.

Only 26 letters in the alphabet, yet so many words to choose from as I write this book. I’m not talking “damp” vs “moist.” ** I’m talking about the pressure of potentially stringing together words that inadvertently take my novel in a whole new direction. Words wield so much power.

But words are also a writer’s playground, and it can be very cool to play with them. Sometimes, though, writing a first draft reminds me what it was like to get off one of these old merry-go-rounds.

I’d be disoriented and slightly fearful about what I was about to crash into. I’m having that same feeling today.

** (Sorry, moist-haters, couldn’t resist)

Shout-out to my nephew

Today, my nephew left for his stint in the Peace Corps. For the next 27 months, Jamie will be working in Ecuador. I’m so proud of his generous and adventurous spirit.

This photo of Jamie was taken in 2004 when we visited my sister’s family in NYC and PA.

Buen viaje, sobrino!