Posts Tagged With: Road Trip

A Busy June

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Hello Again!  I know there’s been radio silence for quite a while over here.  Sorry about that.  But in good news, the novel is finally finished!!!  Which means I’ll be slaving away on the synopsis so I can start shopping it… That’s the worst part. Ugh.

And here’s another warning that posting may not be as regular as I’d like for the next month or so, although I’ll try.  I’m traveling quite a lot in June and will probably forget that it’s Monday and there is a blog due, or Thursday, or whatever.  I shall try my best.

The novel being done means I’ll have to decide what I’m working on next.  I have 3 other novels that are currently in first draft form, and I assume I’ll pick one and start editing that one up.  But I’ve been working on a novel constantly for 5 years now, and I’m a little loathe to just dive right into another one.  Plus, I’ve been reading about the benefits of practice in artistic endeavors.  I’m taking June to have a little fun.  I’ll be using my 20 writing days to do a little practice writing with no outcome expected other than weirdness.  I’ve created sort of a Pinterest board for things I’m thinking about, if you’d like to see what I’m planning for those few stories.  It’s here.  They may or may not appear on the blog, depending.

And that’s all the shop I’ll talk today.  Brian and I went on an epic journey last weekend to see a VW Spider sculpture, visit the bearded cowboy muffler man, eat shakes at the International Banana Museum (it’s not just a banana museum… it’s international), and ended up at Salvation Mountain, which was a little like being in a Seuss book if Seuss had been rampantly Christian.  It was a lovely day, and we couldn’t stop giggling through the whole thing.

We’re off again on a secret birthday adventure this weekend.  Brian won’t tell me where we’re going.  It’s a tradition. Here are the clues I have so far: it’s an outdoorsy thing and I should pack for hiking, but we’re not actually camping.  I don’t really need to worry too much about the 100+ temperatures forcasted for Redlands and the desert areas east of us.  He’s packing breakfast and lunch fixings.   It could be anything, right?

And then we’ll be in Massachusetts next weekend for a wedding and much pilgrim goodness.  Yeah, it’s pretty crazy around here.  But it’s all fun, so I’m not complaining.

See you when I see you.  I’m sure it will be soon.

Categories: Life, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Book Review: Good Poems, American Places

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I mean, it’s sort of a review.  And a contemplation on America and life:

I didn’t move that far away from where I grew up and yet it still feels like a different world out here some days.  Most times that’s a good thing.  The views of bouldered green hills, snowcapped mountains, and rows of citrus make me feel like I am living in Ultimate California.  Although with my former job in my home town, I hadn’t really been able to enjoy it.

Now that I’m here, I’ve been exploring Riverside in fits and starts.  Between it and Redlands, I think this corner of the world might have been made for me.  On Tuesdays, the local movie theater screens classics.  The bakery down town has the most divine cinnamon twists.  There is a British Emporium & Tea Shop and an indie bookstore called the Cellar Door just minutes from my office.  Couple that with the civil war reenactors in Redlands, that amazing red library, and the fact that I am walking to the symphony Saturday night and I am in bliss.  I’m ready to take a walk and buy oranges at the fruit stand down the street.

For my reading challenge, I bought Garrison Keillor’s Good Poems, American Places at the bookstore last night.  It’s billed as poems for those who don’t like poetry.  I’m one of those people who scoffs at poetry, and I can support his claim because I’ve been loving it.  “The world is our consolation,” Keillor says of Americans in the introduction.  “When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes, we get into our car and drive.  It’s a big country.”

I was listening to someone last Saturday night tell about adventures in Uganda.  They were strange and wonderful, but I knew that it was no more than a story to me unless I somehow, by some miracle, grow deeper pockets. I am realizing while reading this collection that what I do know is America.

I know boating on a placid, icy lake to a deserted hiking spot.  I know tubing in the summer sunshine while pontoon boats rise above my head.  I know the view of the golden dome of the capital building from the high rise hotel with city lights shining brighter than stars beneath.  I know planting tomatoes in the earth in front of my semi-generic tract home, and long road trips across concrete highways.  I have seen Old Faithful burst from the ground, and I have ridden the boat to Disneyland.

The book is making me contemplative and a little melancholy, I think.  But in a good way.  There’s so much to love in this book, so many moments that I’ve also felt along with the poet.  It feels like mine in a way no other of Keillor’s Good Poems collections have.  I’m very glad I found it.

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Summer Vacation Reads

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It’s summer, and I have been thinking about vacation.  I just got back from a lovely weekend in Oceanside, and it looks like I’ll have another trip on the horizon to Maine.  The all-important decision, of course, is what to bring to read.  I have found that by practicing careful vacation reading curation, I am left with books I’m unable to separate from the landscape.  It’s a lovely thing to have happen.

So in that spirit, I thought I’d make some recommendations.

It’s a bit of a mish-mosh, these lists.  They’re to my taste and to my whims as they stand today.  I tend to agonize over what I’m reading and pick a theme, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with where I’m traveling.  My first trip to Yosemite was steeped in Tolkien.  The Ross Lake adventure was mostly dystopia amid stark mountains and placid, cold waters.  I spent a bit of the summer in Maine at my Aunt’s house by the river, in a sunny room full of antiques, reading Jane Austen.  But if I had to pick on place alone, these are what I would recommend in this moment, depending on where you’re traveling.  It’s a little bit of heartbreak, some silly, a heap of amazing prose, and a pinch of magic to round it all out.

I also want to say that in reviewing this lists, there is not nearly enough Rainbow Rowell, nor Diana Wynne Jones here.  They didn’t seem to fit into categories very well, but you can’t go wrong in reading ANYTHING by these two.  I especially recommend starting with Dogsbody, Fire and Hemlock, or Howl’s Moving Castle with Jones though.  She has so many, it’s hard to weed-through.  Rowell’s backlist is still fairly manageable.

Happy adventuring, and happy reading!

The Beach:

  • Colony, by Anne Rivers Siddons: four generations of family secrets and betrayal on the shores of a summer colony in Maine; and the strength of the women who keep the colony intact.
  • The Moonspinners, by Mary Stewart: While on vacation in a remote part of Crete, Nicola runs into two travelers who have witnessed a murder and are being hunted by a man from the local village.
  • Lake Woebegone, Summer 1956: A coming of age novel about Gary, self-described tree toad, who writes stories about talking dogs and is somewhat obsessed with his bad-girl cousin Kate.
  • Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray: If you mashed up Lord of the Flies with the Miss America pageant, and then added a smidge of reality TV, you might get this novel.
  • The Summer I Turned Pretty, by Jenny Han: Belly is used to tagging after the boys all summer long at the beach house her mother’s best friend owns.  But now they’re all older, everything has changed, and the boys are running after Belly.  And the adults are hiding something life-changing.

Camping:

  • The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien: Bilbo is very surprised when twelve dwarves show up on his doorstep and sweep him off on an adventure containing elves, wizards, a dragon, talking ravens, and a very strange ring.
  • Always Coming Home, by Ursula K. LeGuin: An ethnography of a matriarchal culture in California that exists after the nuclear apocalypse. Weird and interesting, and just beautiful.
  • Watership Down, by Richard Adams:  Because of Fiver’s presentments of doom and destruction, a group of rabbits go on an epic journey to find a new home.
  • Chalice, by Robin McKinley: With the Demesne ravaged by misuse, and a new Master who is part fire-demon, Marisol must attempt to hold the land together with her hives of bees and her chalice, or lose everything to the men who seek to usurp them.
  • Plain Tales from the Hills, by Rudyard Kipling: A collection of short stories featuring soldiers and others in India.  Usually of the heartbreaking sort.

The City:

  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith: Francie grows in Victorian New York, struggling against gender roles and poverty to become the woman she needs to become.
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot: The strange and sometimes terrifying story of a woman whose cancer cells are used in almost all stem cell research, yet her poverty-stricken family cannot afford health insurance.
  • Hospital Sketches by Louisa May Alcott: A tale of Miss Tribulation Periwinkle and her time as a nurse in Washington during the Civil War.
  • Isla and the Happily Ever After, by Stephanie Perkins: Isla has a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh.  When they both end up friendless at the American School in Paris, it looks like something might blossom – during senior year.  Just in time for them to have to part.
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris: A hilarious collection of essays, including his life as an artist in New York, and the time he spent in France.

Road Trip:

  • Paper Towns, by John Green: Pretty, perfect Margo Roth Spiegelman climbs through Qs window one night and they go on a spree of pranking.  But then she disappears, and it looks like she’s left him clues to find her.
  • Candy Freak, by Steve Almond: About one man’s search through the candy factories of America and abroad in an effort to sate his sweet tooth, or perhaps just to ferret out the other Candy Freaks.
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman: Richard runs into a woman bleeding on the pavement one night, and finds he must help her.  He wakes up to discover that he no longer belongs to London.  He belongs to a strange world called London Below; and he must go on a perilous journey to restore the status-quo.
  • Forever Liesl by Charmian Carr: a lovely memoir not only of the making of a Hollywood starlet, but of the movie The Sound of Music and of the lives it touched across the globe.
  • Travels with Charlie In Search of America, by John Steinbeck:  Steinbeck travels America in the 1960s, with nothing but his trailer and his poodle, Charlie.  This is his beautifully written memoir of the people and attitudes he encountered along the way.
Categories: Book Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Yosemite

I’m posting Brian’s note about our anniversary trip instead of writing my own.  He feels better about it than I do.  I mean, our tenth anniversary trip was not going to live up to the hype.  I knew that already.  I was just hoping that it would not be filled with all my most glaring faults: my disorganization, my forgetfulness, my inability to physically handle nature, my insecurities about all these faults.  But we did have a good time overall.  I love him lots, and there is no better person to face adversity with. 

Shameless plug:  Brian’s blog is at http://dovearrow.wordpress.com/

The good news is, Casey reserved a tent in Yosemite Valley for the weekend.

The bad news is, she accidentally reserved it for April instead of July.

The good news is, we were still able to get a cabin for the night.

The bad news is, it was 90 degrees outside and we had no air conditioner.

The good news is, the next morning, we were able to hike up to Vernal Falls.

The bad news is, we couldn’t get another room for Saturday night like we hoped.

The good news is, we found a Holiday Inn near Sequoia National Park with air conditioning.

The bad news is, I set Casey’s purse down at General Sherman Tree to take pictures and we left it behind. (Casey edit – it’s so nice that he’s taking credit for my inability to keep track of my purse.  We all know better)

The good news is, we got tickets to tour Crystal Cave.

The bad news is, Casey got the first stages of heat exhaustion on the half mile trip back to the car.

The good news is, when we got home, we had a message on our phone saying they’d found Casey’s purse.

Like our relationship over the years, it was a lot of ups and downs, but like our relationship, we somehow managed to have a lot of fun through it all. I love you, Casey. Here’s to 10 more years of chaos and shenanigans. 🙂

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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