The final stretch is a trip through the deep south. We end up spending the night in town in which the only open restaurant is a fast food chicken place, and the only open grocery store is whatever they sell at the bait shop attached to the local gas station. We patch together a meal from what’s in our car.
The next day, as I drive up the road to my own house, my last rule of the road, #28, is clear. Be grateful to have made the journey. Be grateful to have made it home.
I’ve been listening to my playlist of 25 songs with home in the title. When the list is done, Gabrielle Aplin’s Home is the one I play twice. Make that three times.
I don’t see the video until after I’m in the house. It has such a creepy start that I almost don’t post it, but I watch it a few more times and it wins me over. So much of the country she travels through looks like where I’ve just been.
I could swear I passed the guy in the yellow truck at least once in my travels. In fact, I might have stayed at his Airbnb. Or maybe I saw him at Burning Man. At any rate, the video resonates with my journey, and her song leaves me smiling … because I’m finally home.
Read the full post at Day 28. Grateful and enjoy the final video.
I’ve spent several days at Burning Man, which I think we can all agree is a world unto itself. Now that I’m back in what burners call the default world, I seem to be hyper aware of the fact that none of us live in quite the same reality as each other.
The point is really brought home today when I go visit my husband’s brother and his wife at their ranch. I admire these two a great deal. Years ago they made a choice to live off of the grid, growing or raising most of their own food, hauling in their own water, generating their own solar power. Their food is pure, their bodies work hard.
The vision has morphed somewhat, allowing more modernization and convenience, but they still live a harsh and solitary life in a stunning location. Today’s big news is that they have found a way to have hot running water. They’ve both just taken their first shower at home at the turn of a knob since they began this life about a decade ago. They are quite pleased.
For all that I find their place beautiful, and their choices admirable, I realize that I’m glad I don’t live their life. I enjoy hot showers and baths, among many other creature comforts.
Read more and enjoy the song of the day at Day 23. What’s Your Reality?
I should have reconsidered my plan to follow-up 6 nights camping at Burning Man with two long days of driving. Last night I woke up twice in the night thinking the place was filling up with dust. An inch or more of the flaky grey coating on everything gave the room the look of something out of a horror movie, until I turned on the lights and saw there was no dust at all.
The second time it happened I knew I needed a little more decompression time.
Read more at Day 22. Stop, or Else …
It’s jazz. New Orleans jazz to be precise, and I realize this is a funeral procession …. Then I notice just how big the procession is. It’s got to be hundreds of people, maybe more. They are getting closer to the temple ….
I’m happy to let my private tears coexist with this noisy tribute. Then I realize the trajectory of this procession will take it into the temple via one of the many curved entrances, and it happens to be the one in which I’m sitting in the dust crying. I’m about to be in the way of the largest single act of mourning ever held at Burning Man.
Read more, see more photos and check out the song of the day at Day 17. If you get interrupted by a parade …
I left Kansas when I was 17 years old, and I remain surprised at the number of Wizard of Oz references I still get when I tell someone where I was born and raised. Today I am off the road, enjoying the town I once called home. To my delight, it remains surprisingly familiar.
I knew before I began my day what my Rule of the Road #8 would be. Get off the road once in awhile, and look around.
I also knew what my song of the day would be. It really was no contest. Yes, I know it has been overplayed, but trust me, if you had listed to as many dumb jokes about Toto and Auntie Em as I have, you’d want this song here too.
Read the full post at Day 8. There’s No Place Like Home
As I post this, I am mourning the loss of a wonderful woman who died last night, and my heart aches for those who called her daughter, sister and mother. It’s starting to rain, and I think on how the sharpness of their loss will dissipate with time, but the sense of melancholy will linger. If I get my one question of the powers that be, it’s likely to be along the lines of “this whole death thing … was it really necessary?” The answer damn well better be yes, along with a reason that finally makes some sense.
Day 7: Cry
I put Hays into this trip because it is the deepest of my roots, the place where I was born and raised, where I came back to be married, and where both of my parents are buried, along with any other ancestor who died after arriving in the U.S. It’s been six years since I was here, and as I cross into Kansas on Highway 81, the rain and the destination combine to form a sense of melancholy.
Read the entire original post at Day 7. Cry
Today, I face the fact that one of the reasons I write is to leave something behind.
“Oh, so you want to be immortal?” you ask. No. I’ve studied too much astrophysics to think anything in this universe will last forever, and enough history to know that few humans leave a noticeable footprint more than a few generations into the future.
The key word to me is noticeable.
Somewhere in my heart, I think if you leave something of value behind, it will affect others who will do the same and so on. Yes, I’m enough of a realist to expect the effect to diminish with time, and to recognize our life expectancy as a species probably isn’t all that long, anyway.
So? It’s not an influence that lasts forever I’m after. However, the idea of leaving a little of me here for awhile is something I’m driven to do. Like I said, individual tastes do vary.
Read more at Remember My Name.
(Read more posts about why I write at The Number One Reason I Write Books, My Eye-opening Second Reason for Writing , I write because it’s cheaper than therapy, Nothing cool about modest ambitions, I love to be loved and What’s the Point?)
Couldn’t you go research all these things and more, and not bother with the writing part, you might ask? It would be a fine question. Of course I could, but I probably wouldn’t. I’m curious about so many things, but my ability to get myself to sit down and learn about them instead of goofing off is pretty limited. Unless I’m doing it for one of my books. Then I will spend hours on it.
Read more at My Eye-opening Second Reason for Writing.
While I was in Peru, I got asked what I knew about the massive Maya discovery being made in the Petén region of Guatemala. What??
“Oh yes,” I was told. “It is so big and amazing that soon people will want to visit it instead of Machu Picchu.”
Really? How could I have missed that.
Read more at History at its most exciting.
(For more on my trip to Peru see What you don’t know …. has the power to amaze you and woman traveling alone.)
I have less of a sense of time. Hours pass unnoticed when I write, minutes last forever as I stare at a blank page. I attribute this to living more inside my head than out of it. But if hours and minutes confound me, years and decades are worse.
Read more at A sense of time.
(For more of my recent thoughts on time, see my post Spending Time.)
Big numbers kind of all sound the same to us. If you tell me something is 100 million miles away, or 100 trillion miles away, it gets the same reaction. Far. Damn far. Never mind that one is a million times more far than the other…
What do you say we get rid of these big numbers?
We run our government, and the good, bad and ugly parts our country, with 1/6 of what we take in. Incredible isn’t it? You’d think if we could do that, we could have avoided getting into this mess in the first place.
Read the complete post at How Much for a Wall?
Last week, I crawled out of my own brain to fulfill a childhood fantasy in real life. I started a club, or, to be more precise, a Meetup group.
Now, I’m not a particularly social person, but I recognize that writing is an almost brutally solitary activity and contact with other writers helps maintain perspective and promote sanity.
Read more at I started a club!
I was sort of like someone who wants to fire a few BB’s at a squirrel to scare it off the lawn and gets handed an AK-47. Before I knew it, I had dozens if not hundreds of relevant images and so many cover ideas that my head hurt. Take a look at a couple of the wild combinations…
I had to make a decision. I picked something that I thought would please everyone a little and my novel first appeared with the cover below.
It took me no more than a few days to accept that I did not particularly like it.
Read more at Designing your own book cover, part 3.
(For more on this topic see Designing your own book cover, part 1 and Designing your own book cover, part 2.)
But hope wasn’t quite the word I meant, any more than peace and joy had been with the first two books. I was trying to talk about refusing to let go of fears and animosity from the past, and refusing to give others a chance based on old experiences. And I was talking about the belief that humans cannot change, that they cannot learn to be, or choose to be, better.
Read more at A better word than hope?
(For more thought on words we need, see A better word than loyalty?, A better word than peace?, A better word than joy? and A better word than courage?)
Then, imagine my reaction when I realized that I would not be here for the big event. Days earlier I had booked non-refundable airline tickets for four to Kenya for the safari trip of a lifetime. No, the eclipse would not be visible in Kenya. No, the tickets could not be changed. Maybe I should have checked, but seriously, who looks at a schedule of eclipses before they plan a trip?
Read more at Missing the Eclipse: There is Always Another?
“What do you hope your daughter studies?” I asked.
The question seemed to make him sad.
The U.S. presence in Kenya
“She won’t have so many options to choose from,” he told me. He’d been careful to keep most of his opinions to himself as we traveled, and this is probably a wise thing for any travel guide, anywhere, to do. But for just a moment he spoke from his heart.
“It doesn’t bother me that you don’t appreciate all the opportunities that you have in your country. What bothers me is that you don’t even recognize that you have them.”
Read more at Still a Sunrise?
(Read more about my trip to Kenya at Like Eating Crab, Smiling my way across Kenya, Replace me with … and Happy Peace Day, Chinese Person in Tent Number 59)
I can give you a long list of things I do not believe in, and an even longer list of kind-ofs to which I can add many qualifiers. But today, I’m forcing myself to make a short list of simple virtues in which I firmly believe. Virtues that can shape my everyday actions, you know, Wonder Woman style.
Read more at Believe.
(For more Wonder Woman inspired thoughts, see Top Requirement for a Superhero, It’s About What You Believe, I believe in appreciating those who protect us. All of them, and Believe in Tomorrow.)
She turned twenty-one that day, and married her high school sweetheart. He was about to turn twenty-two, and had already returned from the war, smoking cigarettes and telling tales of the motorcycle he had learned to ride. She thought that he seemed pretty full of himself since he got back, but she married him anyway at the small country church in the town in which she was raised. A 9:00 mass was followed by a giant buffet lunch which was followed by an afternoon of drinking and dancing and then a lavish dinner with more dancing and drinking after that.
Read the rest at And that’s the way it was, June 10 1947.
(For more segments about June days from long ago, see That’s the Way It Was June 15, 1984, June 18, 1972, June 28, 1888, and June 30, 1940.)
I remember visiting Yellowstone as a teenager and being upset that I was not allowed to take even one tiny little insignificant rock home as a souvenir. Up to that time, I always brought a rock home from places I enjoyed. What difference could my little memento make?
Then I looked around. Thousands of people were here with me, and if I was the only one who ever took a pretty stone, there would be no problem. But what if half of them wanted rocks, too?
Read more at Leaving a Light Footprint in a Far Away Place.
(For more thoughts on Far Away Places see As Far Away Places Edge Closer, Caring About Far Away Places, The Courage to Embrace Those Far Away Places, and Those Far Away Places Could Be Next Door.)
But because the stories I tell myself are never told from a single point of view for very long, how could the stories I tell others ever be? One of my greatest fascinations with a tale is how differently the events appear to various characters. So if you read something I write, be prepared to hear the plot unfold through several sets of eyes.
Read the entire post at Point of View.
(For more excerpts from my new novel visit Am I sure I’m Sherrie?, Worry about those you love and write about what you know, Cease worrying when you can and write about what you know, and The Amazing Things I Get to Do.)
Part of my growing politicization is that I have decided that I do not have to apologize for thinking the following:
1. Education is a wonderful thing. However you make your living, knowledge makes you a better person.
2. Open mindedness is a wonderful thing. What ever your religious beliefs, being hateful to any group does not please anyone’s God. I think every holy book on the planet is pretty clear about this.
This does not make me an elitist or a snowflake. Education makes us smarter. Open-mindedness makes us kinder.
Read the entire post at Smarter, kinder and living in 2017.
Never ran a stop sign? Crossed the street on a red light? Exaggerated the value of your clothing donations on your income return? Never double parked or jaywalked or even drove a single mile over the speed limit? Ever?
She had their attention then, and we generally went on to have a pretty lively discussion about what it means to be a law-abiding citizen. I liked to talk about Jack Sparrow’s famous quote that his pirate code was really more of a “guideline.” The fact is, we all consider some laws to be guidelines, particularly when we believe that consequences of our breaking them will not hurt anyone. The perception of which laws this applies to changes over time.
Read the entire post at Have you ever broken a law?