Reaching for the Stars: Prose Poem? #MondayBlogs #yoga

I felt the staccato snap of each vertebrae in my spine as I lengthened and then twisted my torso in Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) and wondered how much longer I could keep looking up at the ceiling before I lost all feeling in my neck.

The yogi urges me to take two more waves of breath and then release—slowly—back up to Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Two).


Then I am exhorted to drop my right arm down and behind, grazing the back of my left thigh with my hand, and lift my left arm, shining my heart to the ceiling for Reverse, or Proud, Warrior.

I inhale,

then exhale,

then inhale and slowly straighten my left leg for Stargazer, my favorite pose because it reminds of you.

I imagine us both reaching for the stars, me metaphorically and you literally with your fancy camera and telescope.

The shutter of your camera snaps in time with each of my vertebrae.


I wrote this a few years ago in an online poetry class. I don’t know what you call it, if it’s a poem or just a bunch of sentences. The form was originally one paragraph but I like this better. I was practicing yoga one night at a local studio and, yes, thinking about my husband who was out in the wilderness taking photos of the stars.

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Warning: Strong language, grief and rage.

When you grow up in as large an extended family as mine (my mom was one of 12 children), tragedy and premature death is fairly commonplace. In no particular order:

  • A three-year-old cousin dies in an accident on the family farm.
  • A cousin and two of his friends drown in a canoeing accident; another cousin in the canoe (only about 10 years old) survives because a bystander was able to fish him out of the river. The collateral damage from this accident extends far and wide among my family and beyond.
  • An aunt dies of a heart attack while driving. She’s the first of the 12 siblings to die, but she was only in her 50s.
  • An elderly aunt is killed by a train as she crossed the tracks after picking up her mail.
  • A relative contracts rheumatic fever which weakens her heart. She’s told she should never have children when all she ever wanted was to have children.
  • Colon cancer ran amok through various aunts, uncles, and cousins for a time. Some survived, some didn’t.

With all these tragedies, guns were never involved.

I grew up in an area where guns were and still are plentiful because people like to hunt. I don’t like guns, never have, and they scare me because of their power to maim and kill. Yet, while I was growing up, it seemed that guns were only used for hunting or target practice or killing rats. They weren’t carried around like accessories. They weren’t valued for how many rounds they could fire off at a time. You can’t eat deer that’s riddled with bullets. My stepfather who liked to recall his hunting days before he became disabled scoffed at the idea that anyone would use an assault weapon to hunt deer. Simply put, he thought it was cheating. If you were a true hunter, he’d say, you’d try and level the playing field as best as you could. Of course, he was the kind of guy who would track deer for hours in the dark and cold and snow. And he would eat the deer because why else would you hunt?

Why am I writing all this?

Because for the first time in my life, I personally know someone who is dead because someone else took a gun and shot her.

Her name is Dr. Nancy Van Vessem. She was my primary physician from about 1994 to 2001. She was practicing yoga at a studio when she was shot and killed. She was only 61. I am only 61. Maura Binkley was also killed and she was only 21. Only. Twenty. One. Let that sink in.

Several others at the yoga studio were wounded.

Last night (Friday) we decided to watch the local news before going to bed. The first news story was of a shooting at a yoga studio. I practice at a yoga studio. The film footage showed a building with a long balcony. It looked similar to the building where I practice. It was several minutes before the reporters finally announced the studio name and location.

It wasn’t my studio. Of course, I was relieved. I had been sitting all those fucking long minutes running through the names of instructors who might have been teaching that night. But the relief wasn’t enough to keep me from shaking, from feeling shock settle in because the yoga community is a small one, and Tallahassee isn’t as big of a city as it likes to think, and I knew that somehow I was going to be connected to the dead and the wounded. I wasn’t going to be several degrees removed.

But when I saw the names in the paper this morning, when I saw Dr. Van Vessem’s name, when the memories of her treating me came flooding back …

I don’t want to get any closer than this. I don’t want the next cycle of violence to include one of my relatives or coworkers or close friends.



Damn it, people! Where do we draw the fucking line? I still don’t understand why the massacre of little children at Sandy Hook wasn’t a game changer. I still don’t understand why we didn’t rise up like Australia and say enough is enough. We’re better than this!

Sure, the shooting in Tallahassee last night was possibly a domestic issue (don’t you just love how violence against women is trivialized by the word “domestic”?). No doubt some will argue that we shouldn’t conflate a domestic shooting with shootings at the Tree of Life or Parkland or Sandy Hook.

Why the fuck not??

Tell me how one is worse than the other? People are dead. People who were just going about their business, going to pray, going to practice, going to school, for fuck’s sake.

How is it that a domestic incident is something we’re supposed to shrug off as if “that’s life. Just a crazy guy with a gun. Nothing you can do about that. Just move on and forget.”

We shouldn’t forget. We won’t forget.

What if we chose to not shrug it off? What if we, as a nation, said we were fucking sick and tired of anyone dying senselessly, prematurely, violently? What if we, as a nation, said we were fucking sick and tired of anyone who survives a shooting having to spend the rest of their lives possibly disabled, with PTSD, survivor’s guilt.

I want to have joy in my life. But, you know, it’s really hard when every day someone’s joy is ripped away from them because of gun violence. Yeah, gun violence. Some say guns don’t kill people. Guns are designed to kill people. That’s what they do. I’m not talking about the kind of guns that are used for the sole purpose of shooting game.

I’m talking about the kinds of guns that people buy for the sole purpose of shooting people. The people who claim it’s for self-defense. Right. So how do I protect myself from you?

How does a toddler protect himself when he finds his daddy’s gun in the glove compartment?

How does a 13-year-old sister protect herself when her 9-year-old brother shoots her dead because of a video game?

How much you wanna bet this lowlife obtained his gun legally? Florida is not a model state for gun laws. Our laws are too lax, have too many loopholes. People obtain guns in Florida and then use them to commit violence in other states that have stronger gun laws.

It’s supposed to feel good blowing off some steam, giving in to a rant. But I don’t feel good or even better than I did when I started writing. This post won’t bring people back to life.

That’s another aspect of our gun-loving nation that I don’t understand. When you shoot someone dead, that’s it. They’re gone and you can’t get them back, can’t turn back the clock, say it was all a misunderstanding, you didn’t really mean to kill them. The damage is done and it’s permanent. I’m not saying people aren’t killed by knives or other weapons. But there is a surety with guns, a confidence that guns will kill the most people most of the time. And that’s why they are used.

I want this to stop. I don’t want to live my life in constant fear because some people think their ownership of guns is more important than the lives lost because of guns.

Outside of my house, my yoga studio has been a sanctuary, a safe place for me and others. There, no one is judged and all are welcome. We honor the light we see in others as they honor the light they see in us.



Comments are closed because I want to grieve and not have to defend or reiterate what I’ve written here.

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Views From the Road: The Kindness of Strangers #MondayBlogs #humanity

Here we are at long last. The finale. The End. If you’re just joining me, feel free to take a detour to my earlier posts about our trip to California and Nevada. The best way there is to visit my last post (just click here) and pick a link.

This is not going to be an easy post to write, but I have a story to tell. During our sojourn in Nevada, we had an experience that could have ended very badly. It didn’t because of the kindness of strangers.

Remember this lovely landscape?

This was once lakefront property!

Yes, it was once lakefront property, but it hasn’t been for thousands of years. The day we were here it was hot and dry. The air was so dry that when I slap a mosquito off the back of Greg’s leg, the blood dried on my fingers in seconds. Maybe even milliseconds. We had been guzzling water since we arrived in Nevada, yet we never felt hydrated. To protect my skin from the sun, I was wearing long sleeves and long pants. Greg was wearing shorts and a T-shirt. We were hot and thirsty, but we weren’t worried. We had plenty of water in the car.

As we left Grimes Point, we decided to pull over to the Petroglyphs Trail. It’s a nice spot with shaded picnic tables and a paved parking lot. We walked the short trail and then headed back to the car.

I had the car keys. I had driven us over from Grimes Point, all of one mile. I was feeling smug that I finally had had a turn at the wheel. We were fixing to leave and head back to Reno. I opened the truck of the rental car, ditching the bag in which I carried water. The keys were in my way. My pants pockets were a bit too snug and my red Baggalini waist pack was stuffed. I rested the keys in a groove on the inside of the trunk, at eye-level, and fussed with our stuff. Once satisfied I had made everything more neat and tidy, I closed the trunk. It popped open. Maybe it was the heat. Maybe it was dehydration. Maybe it was just the “out-of-sorts” feeling I had had since arriving in Nevada. Whatever the reason, I lost my temper and pushed the lid down hard until it latched.

I reached for the keys and froze. The keys were in the trunk. I had just lock the keys in the trunk. I screamed. I tried to open the trunk with my fingers, hoping, praying that it hadn’t latched. But it had and I could sense it mocking me for being so dangerously stupid. I screamed again. Greg was walking toward me, not running because he could imagine what I was screaming about. I had locked us out of the car which held all our water and snacks, our jackets, his eyeglasses.

We were about 100 yards from Highway 50, the Loneliest Road in America. Now I was in shock. It was about 5 o’clock. I looked at my husband in his shorts and T-shirt and wondered how we could protect him from the sun which still bore down on us. How would we survive? We were out in the middle of nowhere, in an unforgiving arid landscape, several miles from Fallon. In another climate, we would have just started walking. In this climate, that wasn’t an option. Not without water.

Greg was all calm and reason. He didn’t scold me. He didn’t tell me I was stupid. I was already doing that anyway. He was confident that we’d be okay. First things first. Let’s see if we can hitch a ride to Fallon.

I know you’re wondering, why didn’t we just call for help? Remember how our cellphone service abruptly dropped when we were in Fallon? Apparently Fallon is Verizon country. No AT&T service. Nothing. Zip. Lesson learned: Always have a burner phone just in case.

We went out to the highway and Greg coached me on how to stand and hold out my thumb. Several people passed us. I lost hope very quickly. I didn’t think we looked like criminals, like a Bonnie and Clyde just waiting for some Good Samaritan that we could rob. But who picks up hitchhikers these days?

I was scared. What if nobody stopped? It was so hot and so dry. I have had heat exhaustion before, but I was more worried about Greg. He’s fit but he has a bad back and he wasn’t dressed for a cold night under the stars. And it would get cold.

After what seemed like an endless 20 minutes, a beat-up old truck with pine logs sticking out its backend slowed and pulled over. We ran … or rather trotted over. Greg got to the truck first and had explained our situation by the time I hobbled up. The driver, a middle-aged man with long wispy blond hair, welcomed us in. “You looked kind of desperate,” he said when Greg told him about all the other cars that had passed us by. I stayed quiet, trying to keep down  the panic that still filled my chest. Greg made small talk with the driver, discussing how Fallon had changed over the years, the Fallon Naval Base, planes. I missed most of their conversation, too preoccupied with what we would do next. Also, thanks to my overactive imagination and steady diet of horror stories and crime novels, I worried that the driver might be an incarnation of Ed Gein … except he seemed too friendly and laid back to be a serial killer. Then again, so was Ted Bundy. But Ted Bundy was handsome and our driver had seen better days. But I digress.

The driver suggested we either go to the Sheriff’s Office or the Fire Department. He dropped us off on Main Street and wished us luck. We were effusive with our thanks, and I imagine he would enjoy telling his friends about the two senior citizens he had picked up.

We set out for the Sheriff’s Office. We walked and walked. We found a building where the Sheriff’s Office had been and were directed by a sign to another address. We were disoriented and found it difficult to navigate the streets. Finally we turned a corner and saw a group of law enforcement vehicles. Then Greg confessed that he didn’t really want to go to the Sheriff’s Office, didn’t want to get law enforcement involved. Better to leave them as a last resort.

Across the street we saw fire trucks. Bingo! Just as we turned another corner to find an entrance, a siren went off. A door opened and a group of rather fit and handsome men filed out in a hurry. We ignored them and they ignored us and as the last men left, Greg managed to grab the door. We slipped in, hoping someone was still inside. No one. Zip.

I hustled back outside. I started calling to the men who were now suited up and coming back to get into their fire trucks, Greg behind me saying it was too late. At first I thought they were ignoring me when one (the most handsome guy … all chiseled chin, tanned and blue eyes) came out and said, “Can I help you, ma’am?” Greg explained our situation and when he said our car was at Grimes Point, the young man winced. “We’ve got a call. We have to go, but I’ll let you inside. One of the guys in there will help you.” We thanked him, got back into the building where at least it was cool and there was somewhat potable water, and waited.

I searched the building, hoping I’d find someone, anyone, but it was vacant. Apparently everyone had responded to the siren. I used the women’s rest room more than I needed to . . . just in case.

We debated waiting at the station versus going back out to look for a phone. Greg wanted to find the CVS, confident that they would sell Tracfones. There were no landlines in the fire station that we could find. One of the fireman had left his cellphone behind, but we didn’t want to touch it. We wanted our own phone. Greg suggested that I wait at the fire station while he went in search of a cell phone. I nixed that. No way was I going to let him out of my sight.

We set off, figuring that we could always come back to the fire station.

We found the CVS. They don’t sell phones. The young woman at the counter began to list all the other stores that did sell phones when I interrupted her. “We don’t have a car. Our car is locked at Grimes Point. We need a way to call for help.” I spied a landline near her. “Can we use your phone?”

For the next 45 minutes, Greg worked with a roadside assistance service. We had gotten the 800 number from a sticker on the back of the car. My heart lifted when Greg turned to me and said it sounded like they could find someone local to unlock our car. I almost broke down when he said, “He can be here in 10 minutes.”

We agreed to all the fees, understanding we would be set back by a couple of hundred dollars. Considering the alternative–breaking a car window–it was a small price.

While we waited, Greg cautioned me that the tow truck driver might not want to take both of us, in which case I’d have to wait for him at the CVS. I agreed but knew that I’d hang onto the back of the vehicle if I needed to in order to stay together. In less than 10 minutes, the tow truck driver arrived. He was cautious, even slightly suspicious, but when Greg agreed to all the costs, he let us both in.

On the ride to Grimes Point, my husband made small talk with John (at least we got his name). I even chimed in a couple of times. John was full of stories. Back in his late 20s, he was looking forward to a great military career when he was hit by a drunk driver and left paralyzed for a long time. No one thought he would ever walk again, but look at him now, 30-some years later and he’s doing just fine. He told stories about picking up “burners” (attendees at Burning Man) that made my stomach flipped. I wish I could remember more detail, but I was singularly focused on getting into the damn rental car.

We got to the car and John gave us a lesson on how to properly break into a vehicle without scratching the paint. He popped the door open, Greg found the release button for the trunk, and the trunk lid popped and lifted. I ran to the trunk, found the keys right where I can put them, and clasped them to my chest. I looked up and there was John, backlit by his headlights, his head thrown back as he laughed with joy at me hugging the keys.

You all can imagine how the rest of the night went. We thanked John, Greg slipped him a tip. We got back to Reno about 10 pm, split a bottle of wine, and made a small meal of cheese and bread. I cried, finally able to release the fear I had felt.

We were very lucky and trust that, in the future, we’ll at least check for cellphone coverage when we go to places unknown.

The silver lining of this experience was how complete strangers were willing to help us. The truck driver who thought we “looked kind of desperate” and gave us a lift into town. The women at the CVS who let us use their phone. John who could have blown us off or charged us a hell of a lot more than he did. I know that being white and (relatively) old worked in our favor. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe there are people out there who just see that you’re kind of desperate and need help and so they help. Without question. Without judgment.

I know there’s bad people in the world. I might even live next to one or two. But there are good people, and Greg and I met four of them that night in Nevada.

Thank you for reading this story. As a reward, here’s a time lapse of the Milky Way over Lake Tahoe, courtesy of my fit and handsome husband.


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You asked for it: Yesterday Road now available in paperback!

This is the kind of news flash I like to see! Kevin Brennan’s Yesterday Road is now available as a paperback! Yesterday Road is where I fell in love with Kevin’s writing. For a hint as to why I fell in love with his writing, read my review: But even better than that, read Yesterday Road for yourself:
You’re welcome, readers 🙂


Yes, I’m delighted to announce that you can now display Yesterday Road, my first indie novel, on your bookshelf. Check out the paperback edition over at Amazon.

When I first decided to dabble in self-publishing, I decided to go strictly ebook. Just testing the waters. And it worked well for Yesterday Road, because I could focus on the ebook in terms of marketing and building my so-called brand. It helped me learn the ropes. I was glad I did it that way, because I was pretty intimidated by the whole thing, and keeping it as simple as I could made it all seem doable.

For my next two books, though–Occasional Soulmates and Town Father–I went ahead and had paperbacks made. Both of them turned out beautifully, thanks to covers and interior design done by the incomparable Max Scratchmann, Edinburgh’s favorite idiosyncratic artist and guerrilla poet…

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Views From the Road: Grimes Point and Petroglyphs #MondayBlogs #Nevada

Well, we’ve finally arrived at the penultimate post on our trip to California and Nevada. If you need to catch up (and it won’t be for the faint of heart), you can begin here with The Devil’s Slide and Mussel Rock, then take a drive up to Mt Hamilton and the Lick Observatory, come back to the bay and spend some time at the beaches, and then you’re off to Reno, Nevada. Last week we spent a bit of time at the W.M. Keck Earth Science and Mineral Engineering Museum among other places.

Today we are going to Grimes Point via Virginia City. We had originally set out to go to Carson City and from there to Grimes Point. Once we got out of Reno, my husband (who was as usual at the steering wheel) decided to do a little exploring first. We picked up Highway 50 and drove a little ways when he said, “Let’s go to Virginia City.” So we did.

Virginia City is an interesting town, definitely catering to tourists but with some nice local establishments. Like this place where we ate lunch and enjoyed some ice cream.

I suspect if we lived in Virginia City, we’d be at The Roasting House a lot. Our sandwiches were delicious, the ice cream (Maple Pecan) was yummy and the service was great.

And though there was the tourist element, it was fun checking out the old brick buildings and looking (as always) at mineral and fossil displays.

The day was getting on so we finally tore ourselves away from Virginia City and headed to Highway 50. Even though in previous posts, I’ve complained (and complained) about the heat and aridness of Nevada, I find the landscape to be peculiarly appealing to me.

Heading out of Virginia City

Twisty, winding roads always make me a bit nervous, both as a driver and a passenger; however, my husband recommended an app for my iPhone called Hyperlapse which I decided to try out. Heh heh heh. Even though we were going much slower than suggested in the video, the time lapse does capture how I felt.

Well, soon after that fun ride we found ourselves in Fallon, Nevada. I’ve never been to Fallon but Greg had often been there for work. About 30 years ago. It’s changed a bit since then. Lots of casinos where there once were none. Schools were letting out and the traffic was godawful. We both get tense in traffic congestion, especially in unfamiliar places so we stopped at a CVS to get our bearings and some eye drops for Greg. It was at the CVS when we realized that we no longer had cellphone service. None. Zip.

We got back on Hwy 50 and the hell out of town. Our moods lifted as the highway became less populated.

We finally made it to Grimes Point, about a mile down a rocky dirt road past the Petroglyphs Trail. Amazing to think that this area was once filled with water.

And that my husband allowed me to keep him in the video. Will wonders never cease. Of course, as he already knew, he was in shadow so, yeah, you can’t pick him out of a lineup.

The following slideshow is a mashup of both Grimes Point and the Petroglyphs Trail. Both areas have petroglyphs (duh), but the Petroglyphs Trail is located nearest Hwy 50 off a paved section of road. The importance of these details will be evident in my last Views From the Road post. For now, enjoy the slideshow, and thanks for coming this far with me.

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Views From the Road: Back to Nevada Where There’s No Hurricanes #MondayBlogs #Rockcandy

The good news is my home and hearth came through Hurricane Michael with some inconvenience but no damage, no loss of life or limb, nothing but a scary few hours and no power for a couple of days. Words cannot express the devastation that Michael wrought elsewhere. Frankly, it’s with relief that I turn my thoughts and my writing back to Nevada where there’s no hurricanes.

If you’re just joining me now, you can read earlier installments on my fun-filled vacation here and here and here and here. I have enough fodder for another two or three posts, then … God knows what I’ll do.

But I digress.

While in Reno, we visited the W.M. Keck Earth Science and Mineral Engineering Museum (isn’t that a mouthful?). It’s a small, lovely museum but even before I entered it, I was taken aback by this “room”:

This sign was situated where I could view it best. Right next to the toilet.

Once a classroom, now a restroom!

You read that right! This restroom was once a classroom. I have to admit, the conversion was artfully done. I wish my bathrooms were as nice and spacious. And I’d love to have this radiator anywhere in my house.

If I approve of the restrooms, then I’m going to approve of the rest of the building. The Keck Museum did not fail to impress. I’m not a geologist, but even I could not help but be captivated by the beautiful minerals and jaw-dropping fossils I saw.

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The University of Nevada campus is lovely, with much of the original architecture still in use. I wish I had taken more pictures but I fatigued quickly in the heat. Still, I had to pause long enough to take a few photos of this oasis.

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In my next two or so posts I plan (oh, my, am I really using the word “plan”???) to share our trip to Grimes Point, my husband’s quest for the “Holy Grail” of time lapses (the Milky Way over Lake Tahoe), and a story about the kindness of strangers. Hope to see you all here again soon.

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Another Unscheduled Interruption #HurricaneMichael

Now if I were a planner, I’d have all my remaining posts on our vacation written, proofed, revised and scheduled. But “Planner” is not my middle name. My middle name doesn’t even begin with P.

A more disciplined person than myself would have used this day–oh, happy day off work–to at least write up and scheduled those posts. And no one would be the wiser. But “Discipline” is also not my middle name, nor does my middle name begin with D.

No, this happened instead:

I wear hearing aids. Fancy ones with little soft plastic detachable domes that sit in the ear. Yesterday at work, I pulled out my left hearing aid and saw that the dome was gone. I searched the floor, thinking it had fallen off. Nothing. Not worried because I have plenty of these parts at home. I go on with my day. Go to the gym to walk/run the treadmill while listening to an audiobook with my earbuds. Go home. Have dinner, a glass (or two) of wine. My left ear starts to itch and it feels like I got a chunk of wax in there. Later I try to coax out the wax with … you guessed it … a Q-tip. Nothing. Then my ear starts to ache. Too late I realize that the dome was stuck in my ear. I tried some ear drops to see if lubricating it would allow it to slip out. Of course, not. It’s too big. I tried flushing with water. I went to bed in a panic because, of course, it was already past midnight and you know, there’s a hurricane coming. I eventually fell asleep but the earache got worse. First thing this morning I called my doctor’s office. Forty-five minutes later I was there. Ten minutes later the nurse practitioner pulled out the dome with a pair of tweezers. Fortunately I hadn’t done any harm to my ear canal or ear drum, although I have to use prescription ear drops and avoid wearing my hearing aids for a few days. Whew! Although I do need them, I don’t like wearing my hearing aids and usually don’t wear them unless I’m going to work or driving (public safety … need to hear those sirens).

The best part of the story is it gave me an opportunity to get some cash, fill up the gas tank, and buy some more water before the last minute shopping mobs clog the streets. Oh, and I tried to put diesel gas into my Prius. Just grabbed the wrong hose but it took me awhile to figure it out. Sometimes I feel (and act) like such a flake.

Now, you should have read that “there’s a hurricane coming.” Yeah, Michael–that hurricane (

See the light purple? I’m in there.

Okay, so there’s a hurricane coming and I haven’t any blog posts scheduled (except now this one) and I’ll be falling off the radar for awhile … not literally I hope.

I expect power outrages, of course, but fingers and toes are crossed that we all get through this safely. We’ve had plenty of notice and even some practice with Hurricane Hermine in 2016. Since we don’t live on the coast (we’re about 20-30 miles inland), we are not being evacuated. We will be riding out the storm as they say, but it’ll be bumpy.

So think of us over the next few days. I know I have some good friends out there who have weathered events like this (pun intended) and lived to tell the tale. I won’t pretend to be fearless. Hurricane Hermine made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane, and that was scary. Michael intends to be a Category 3.

I suspect that before the end of the day, we’ll all be huddled in the bedroom closet with Junior.

Mom?? Is Michael here yet??? MOM!

Posted in hurricanes | Tagged , , , , | 25 Comments

Views From the Road: Reno, Nevada #MondayBlogs #travel

When we told people about our upcoming vacation, and that part of it would be in Reno, most responded, “Reno?! Why Reno?” Often I answered, “Why not?” When we lived in San Francisco, we spent our summer vacations hiking and camping around Nevada. My husband in particular is fond of the basin-and-range topography. We actually had wanted to stay in Carson City, the state capital, but I couldn’t find us a decent Airbnb. I must confess, I love Airbnb. I love staying in a neighborhood where I can pretend, for my short visit, that I live there. I love being able to eat-in instead of having to dine out, which of course saves a lot of $$$.

Greg suggested Reno when my Airbnb search in Carson City came up empty. Besides, we both noted, the airport is right there.

So after our excursions in California (which you can read about here and here and here), we took off for Reno, Nevada. Our drive across the state was longer than anticipated because:

(1) we woke to find our rental car had a flat tire and so Greg had to change it out with the spare, then we had to find a Budget place nearby and switch out the car. This was the Saturday before Labor Day, mind you, and getting service was no easy task.

(2) I-80 is a slog. Stop-and-go almost the entire 200+ miles.

Lucky for us, I have a friend along the way, near Auburn, and we were able to take a break and visit with him and his wife, their dog and transient cat in their very lovely home. Some of you know this friend: Kevin Brennan. Yeah, THAT Kevin Brennan! Woot! It was great fun to sit with Kevin and Sue and drink ice water (have I mentioned yet how hot it was) and talk about writing and politics. It would have been more fun if we hadn’t had that flat tire and been able to arrive in time for lunch. Eh, it was a wonderful respite nonetheless. Meeting Kevin face-to-face was the highlight of that day for me. We’ve been “virtual” friends for about four or five years now. It was nice to get a real hug from him instead of an emoji.

By the time we got to Reno, it was dusk, my husband’s eyes were itchy, and we were bickering about how to find the condo we were renting. We found it.

Our Airbnb condominium in Reno, Nevada

Our condo was on the seventh floor, high enough for Greg to do a day-to-night timelapse from our window.

Watch the video and you’ll see fireworks at the end. Seriously, fireworks. A block from our condo are several casinos. We assume the fireworks were some kind of promotion or entertainment. They definitely were entertaining for us.

Reno is an interesting city, definitely a work in progress. We met a friend of a friend who has been living in Reno for the last couple of years. She’s an artist and is very excited about the developing art scene. It was fun to walk around with her, but it was also hot and very, very dry. I have to admit, I felt unsettled, uneasy from the moment we arrived in Reno. While I know Greg and I are on the hunt for affordable living way west of where we currently live, I wished we had stayed in Lagunitas for a second week.

I never shook off my uneasiness. Some of it was a sense of foreboding, some of it was fatigue. Even though Reno is a walkable city, it was too hot and dry to walk much. But when we walked, I took lots of photos. The photos below are grouped by location rather than time.

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The Truckee River literally runs through Reno, bisecting it into North Reno and South Reno. We had a view of the river from our living room window, and it is a wonderful amenity. One late afternoon, I took off by myself to just walk along the paved path that follows the river. Here’s my favorite photo from that walk:

Truckee River going west.

Reno is investing in its creative potential. Whimsical metal sculptures, colorful murals give a lift to the otherwise grimy, gritty feel of the city, especially where the casinos are. The grittiness never left me, though, and thanks to the dry air, by the end of the week I was having nosebleeds.

Yeah, that bad.

We had more adventures ahead of us, some fun, some … not so fun. Tales of our time in Nevada will be continued so stay tuned.

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We’ll Always Have Messenger #MondayBlogs #ILoatheFacebook

A few days ago I took a Texas chainsaw to my Facebook friend list. I was teetering on a tipping point, the same tipping point that I’ve been balancing myself on for a few years now. I’ve come to loathe Facebook. Yet I still use it. Every time I decide that now is the time to delete my account and be done with it, someone I really really like sends me a Friend Request. And I simply can’t refuse.

But there are friends and there are … “friends.” For a long time the majority of my Facebook friends were family members, mostly cousins. Now, the thing about my cousins is that we are quite diverse, not just geographically but politically. Yeah, you know where this is going.

Shortly after Trump was elected I witnessed emotionally charged arguments on Facebook between cousins, people who were otherwise close and affectionate with each other. For some reason, people just had to weigh in if a cousin shared a news story or a meme that they didn’t like. Rather than just move on and leave the bickering to others, they would jump in with both feet. Being fairly thin-skinned myself, I was shocked and saddened by what I read (and, yes, I often made the mistake of participating). We had all been on Facebook for years and yet everyone, including myself, seemed surprised at how quickly these “disagreements” could escalate. Eventually everyone settled down, went back to their silos, probably turning off the “Follow” button so they could still be Facebook friends but not view whatever was going on in their friends’ or cousins’ lives.

Let’s fast-forward a little bit. There was the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Plenty of evidence all around that Facebook was in the business of making money first and protecting users’ data … like never. We all got through that.

The political roller-coaster that our country is in continued, with motion-sickness pills being passed around and people slowly becoming numbed and adding insulation to their silos.

Then Kavanaugh. Need I say more?

All along I’ve been hating Facebook. I try to make it work for me but it never does. I follow and unfollow people, frustrated that I might miss some important family news when I don’t follow and then being inundated with memes and news items when I do follow. (By the way, I don’t get my news from Facebook. Just sayin’.) I’m constantly manipulating my so-called news feed so it doesn’t keep showing me the same darn post over and over again because once I’ve pretty much unfollowed everyone, all that is left are … knitting ads.

Back to Kavanaugh. I started losing my balance on the tipping point when a couple of cousins noted that they didn’t believe Dr. Ford. Fine, but who cares? Well, I care. Bigly. And the element of snickering snarkiness in the comments decided it for me. My life is simply too short for this kitty poop. So, you say, simply unfollow the person who made the post and the people who commented on it. Not so easy, because you see, I am my own worst enemy when it comes to Facebook. As another cousin described it, Facebook is like driving by the scene of an accident. You really shouldn’t look but you can’t help yourself.

I totally lost my balance when I saw this article in the Washington Post:

Interestingly, the Facebook account of another relative of mine was hacked into a few weeks ago. He wasn’t the only victim. Many people associated with his account got a message presumedly from him, only it wasn’t. I was one of those people. What might affect 50 million users directly exponentially affects a thousand times more.

With that, I revved my Texas chainsaw and unfollowed every one of my cousins. I didn’t want to play favorites. I didn’t want someone coming after me one day and saying “I always knew you liked so-and-so better.” And I love my cousins, really I do. I just don’t want to be Facebook friends anymore. We were cousins long before Facebook, long before Mark Zuckerberg himself was born. We’re still cousins. We’re still family. We don’t need Facebook.

I haven’t deleted my account. I belong to a couple of writing organizations that are pretty active on Facebook so I want to stay in for a while, at least to see if being involved in those groups is worth my time.

But if any of my cousins happens to read this, just remember, we will always have Messenger. And if you want my phone number, you can always call my mom.

Posted in Facebook | Tagged , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming … #bookreview #shamelesspromotion

Florida’s Emerging Writers, published by Z Publishing House, is now printed and available for purchase. I have a story published in this anthology and, yeah, I’m pretty proud of it. That’s about as shameless as I can get.

No wait. I can up the shamelessness of my self-promotion. Carrie Rubin (yes, THE Carrie Rubin. Author of The Seneca Scourge, Eating Bull, and Bone Curse) wrote a review of my story and others in the anthology. You can read her review here:

You can imagine my delight and gratitude when I read Carrie’s review. You can also imagine how choked up I got when a friend told me over dinner one night that he had read my story three or four times and then proceeded to talk about its meaning, in particular the part where Melissa and her mother June drive over the “railroad tracks, a hump in the road that made Melissa feel that she was going up a roller coaster.” My friend riffed on the idea of trains, how they come and go, the sense of traveling through time, these two women trying to visit a past that had already left the station.

If either Carrie’s review or my friend’s comments peak your interest in this new anthology of Florida’s Emerging Writers, please click here. Any purchase you make using this link will net me a small commission. (And my continuing shameless self-promotion includes peppering my post with the link for purchase.)

Thank you all for your support.

Yes, there is a cat in my office window. Why are you surprised?


Posted in Book Promotion | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments