Category Archives: Travel

Chaos at the Casa

Some of you probably know that I am just back from a vacation in Austin, Texas. It was super to get away, to see dear friends and visit the desert. I kept about six hundred of the pictures I shot–we saw everything from scaled quail to a fox!–and these are percolating out to my various photo sites.

Coming up in the next very short while: I will be at the Ad Astra SF Convention this weekend. This’ll be your first chance, if you’re local, to hear me read from Child of a Hidden Sea. We are wrapping up the paperwork portion of our condo purchase next week, and plunging into a few necessary renovations before we move. My next UCLA Extension Writers’ Program course, Writing the Fantastic, opens on April 14th. (There may not be slots available right now, but if it has filled there is a waiting list.)

Then we move to the new place! In, seriously, three weeks!

Much is happening, in other words. How about all of you?

Cat Bags

I bought the bag covered in cat butts in Rome, at the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary.

Cat bags 1&2

I bought it mostly to give money to the worthy cause of kibble, veterinary care and spaying for the cats of Rome, but it turned out that bag was not only the lightest, best-organized, all-around handiest purse-like object I’ve ever owned, but it got compliments wherever it went. Seriously. Women with fashion knowledge were all, like, “OMG, that bag!”

Had I known, I’d have bought five more and spread the kibble love.

Anyway. It’s been two years, just about, since Rome and the bag is dying. I contemplated calling Rome and having a pointless conversation in my appalling Italian: Avete … um, do you still have this bag? Would you consider shipping this bag? Does any of you cat-loving women know from Paypal? And then I got over myself and went to Kelly’s new fave bag store in the PATH.

There I found one bag that had the same double strap, of the same length, and virtually the same pockets. (It’s heavier, which is not a plus, but what can you do?) And what the heck, peeps? It too is covered in cats.

Will it garner the praise of its predecessor? Hard to say.

Cities I have seen – the Pinboard

I am filled with love for Pinterest. I can’t help myself: sticking things up on walls so I can see them is pretty much my preferred way of remembering things. (As opposed to, you know, actually remembering them.) And though I tend to ‘do’ Pinterest with what I think of as downtime, it’s remarkably productive for downtime. All those pretty nature pictures, especially the nudibranches, really are research for the current trilogy. And the writing essays, and the book covers–it’s just handy to have this particular bunch of virtual baskets.

So one of the boards I’ve been assembling is simply a list of cities I’ve traveled to. What’s been fun about this is I keep remembering other places I’ve been. I wouldn’t say I’m very well traveled, but this makes me realize how lucky I have been.

The board is here.

Please do tell me all about your favorite pinboard!

Things both golden and lovely

I began this blog entry in Cafe Calabria at about 7:30 this morning, having had an amazing brainstorming session. I’ve decided I will have a draft of the new novel, the third set in Stormwrack (where “Among the Silvering Herd” takes place), by June 28th. The idea is to have it Frankensteined by the time Kelly and I go to San Francisco for, among other things, Les Contes d’Hoffmann featuring deitylike tenor Matthew Polenzani.

There was an incredible sunrise pouring over the roofs of the buildings across Commercial Drive, but I wasn’t positioned to take advantage of it, photographically. So, since I can’t share today’s dawn with you, here’s Matthew:

Down Memory Lane in Nevada

Kelly, Barb and I spent the holiday season in Reno, Nevada, visiting my relations and touring Kelly around some of the significant-to-me places from childhood. This, for example, is the view from my grandparents’ front window:

The Grandparents' Ranch

We went out to the ranch in Yerington on December 24th – my aunt had basically kicked us out of the house so she could make bird and ham and other holiday feast items without meddling from the rest of us.

One site on my must-see list is the now-flooded Anaconda Copper Mine. So peaceful-looking, no? So very contaminated, I’m afraid.

Anaconda Copper Mine

I also wanted to revisit a piece of playground equipment that looms large in my memory.
Rocket Slide
Though Barb doesn’t remember the rocketslide, she was nevertheless able to find it (Yerington is that small) and she took these two of me regressing to the age of six.
Rocket Slide

Chickitty chickadee crow crow

Kelly and I have installed a little plastic bird feeder to one of our fabulous new windows, and chickadees have been visiting. They’re still getting comfortable with our dinner table being nearby, but the desire for good sunflower seeds is winning them over.

I want to get a picture, but that would mean stopping everything, setting up the tripod and camping the front window… and I have heaps and gobs of things to do.

The feeder is held on by suction cups and is designed for small birds, but that hasn’t stopped the occasional crow from latching on with its talons, flapping wildly, and scooping as much seed as it can get. I’ll get a shot of that too, in time. It is a little startling to catch a glimpse of great black wings scooping air when you aren’t expecting it, but I’m fond of our local murder and all its members; if they can get the food out without knocking the whole affair over, I’m for ‘em!

As for the pigeons… not so much. I’ve never really warmed up to pigeons, despite how gorgeous they are.

Coming back to the daily routine after two weeks on the road has been a bracing experience. The grand total on my six to-do lists on Monday was 72 items. A good dozen of those amounted to self-care and not all of them had to be done first thing, but still… daunting. Especially since this didn’t include the tasks back-logging in the Inbox. These first few backs have been chilly, rainy, and have felt quite long. I also caught a cold in Alberta–after Onoway, thankfully–and I’m not quite up to full strength yet.

I have two more travel-type gigs set for June and then I figure to be home continuously for three or so months. The first trip is an overnight to Victoria so I can participate in a short sail on a tall ship called the Pacific Grace, with an organization called S.A.L.T.S. This is research for my new trilogy, which will enable me to confidently talk about reefing sails and the like. The other, of course, is the reading in San Francisco on Pride Weekend.

I am looking forward to both trips, but I am also looking forward to just being home. Norwescon and Portland and Alberta plus two more jaunts, all since Easter, feels like a bit too much Disruption to Routine.

Speaking of routine, I’m seriously considering doing the Clarion West Write-A-Thon again this year. Who else is playing?

Back at work!

As you were probably all able to deduce from the photos, Kelly and I spent the past couple of weeks visiting family all over Alberta before swinging west through the Crowsnest Pass so we could explore Nelson. We wrapped up our time off by spending two glorious nights at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards and a few low-key days at home.

 

I’ve restricted my work activities over this stretch of time to teaching and answering a few of the most urgent e-mails, so the pile on my desk is rather mighty this morning. But I will start mowing through it today. If you have been waiting on me for anything, it should be headed your way quite soon.

 

Voicemail from the Parade of Death

An old friend of my family’s died the night before last. He and my mother were extremely close–she’s pretty shattered–and my father was rocked, I think, when I wrote him in China to tell him what had happened. Rick was in one of Bear’s earliest crop of drama students. My first memories of him are as a giant-sized guy who built sets in the theater where I spent a lot of my early childhood. He tolerated having a four-year-old underfoot pretty well; he came from a big family, with lots of sibs.

Because he and his partner were tight with Barb, I’ve seen a bit of him over the years since. I knew he’d had leukemia quite a few years ago, and got a bone marrow transplant that sent it into remission. Miraculous, that, but the cancer came back recently and he didn’t survive the second round of treatment.

So I’m a little sad, and a little thoughtful, and this is also why I haven’t managed to blog about the Powell’s reading or all the fabulous things I did in Portland with M.K. Hobson and Rebecca Stefoff and others. Where, I’ll have you know, I took 350 pictures. Let’s see if I can post one from my current location:

And there may be a little more radio silence. I have an enormous paperwork monster to slay this afternoon, and a bunch of little things to wrap up today and tomorrow. Once that’s done, K and I are off on a big sweep through Alberta to see our loved ones and collect even more pictures.