The house is hot. Really hot. Inside, it’s a single room with a room air conditioner stuck high in a window up over an armoire. It’s turned off, of course, and there is nothing to stand on to reach the controls for the AC.
This is ridiculous.
We try several ill-fated and bad ideas for getting the place cooled down when my husband notices a page of info for guests to read. It includes the usual wifi password and request to do ones own dishes, and one sentence that is key.
“Turn on the AC by flipping the light switch just to the right of the bed.”
Read more at Day 24. If it seems ridiculous …
Next thing I know we’ve changed our route to have lunch because isn’t this amazing. Yes, it is great to see him, but throw in a little road construction and a couple of other longer stops than expected and we arrive well into the dark, 14 clock hours after we left.
Not a problem, except this Airbnb is along the unlit and poorly marked dirt roads west of Trinidad. Our host’s verbal directions are vague and once we make a wrong turn, my phone is so flummoxed it shows us heading across a pasture, which we clearly are not.
Frustrations are rising, so I call our host and describe our location. She talks us, landmark by landmark, to the edge of her long driveway where she meets us with a flashlight to guide us in. Some Airbnb hosts go well beyond the expected. Yay for nice people.
The frazzled nature of the day leaves me craving soft music and pretty sounds as I get ready for bed. I’m not particularly religious but my time on the road has put this song in my head. I turn to this amazing rendition, not knowing yet that it will help me get through the remainder of this journey, and soothe me for many more nights once I’m home.
Read the full post at Day 21. Time flies like an arrow and …. and enjoy.
There are no trees out here. Hell, there are hardly even bushes. We marvel at the wide expanse of nothing as we take turns driving, and treating ourselves to coffee, sodas and coconut water purchased at each gas stop as we whittle down the miles.
After a while though, all those liquid treats begin to catch up with us. An eager look at the map shows the next town is, well, quite a few miles a way.
“We can make it,” my husband declares. But after about twenty more minutes he is squirming in his seat, and finally he pulls over.
“Sorry,” he says. “I’ve got to go.” He steps off to the ditch and does what he needs to do.
Now, have you ever really, really had to pee and listened to somebody else take a leak that goes on and on and on? If you have, you’ll understand. There may be no bushes to hide in, but at that point, I don’t care. I join him on the side of the road, doing my thing the way I have to do it.
“That was kind of embarrassing,” he mumbles. I agree. But nobody passes us from either direction, so there are some advantages to a lonely stretch of highway.
Read how this ended, and enjoy the song of the day at Day 20. Someone to Help Me Get Home
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 spend about half an hour trying to find the henna tattoos, located at 4:00 in center camp. Hot and cranky, I finally give up. This has certainly turned into a shitty day.
Then I stumble upon friends and next thing I know I’m on an art car with some sort of south seas theme. It takes us to a memorabilia-filled tiki bar tucked into a bus and I’m drinking rum drinks and talking to a psychiatrist about phobias when I meet an older burner at the bar who’s been doing this since the early 90’s and he kisses my hand and suddenly I feel so welcome here.
Read more, see more photos and enjoy the song of the day at Day 16. What Rules? What Road?
This day is as dusty as yesterday, with short bursts of almost no visibility. I’m determined to survive in this and I fill the day with getting settled in to my camp and doing a little preliminary exploration. The beach bike I have brought to the playa is perfect, its fat tires riding smooth and sturdy over the desert.
As twilight comes, the winds stop, and the world takes on a carnival glow. Color is everywhere, blinking and twinkling in the most unexpected of shapes. My camp mates invite me out for a bike ride on the deep playa, that place away from the campers where art cars roam and art installations glitter, waiting to be admired.
Read more at Day 14: Magical ride
Given that Google has spent so much effort trying to reroute me onto slightly more efficient paths on all my previous days, I also decided I’d try this without its assistance. Like turned off. I mean, it looked pretty direct. How could I go wrong?
Read the whole story at Day 9. It’s Okay to Ask a Human for Help.
Galen Surlak-Ramsey has written a book that is great fun to read, and certain to delight those with an understanding of computers. The overall tone of the book is fun, funny and self-deprecating. The narrator/main character has a shrewd self-awareness that keeps him from becoming obnoxious, even when he does outrageous things like compare himself to God.
Read my full review at Little Computer People
I was complaining to a family member about feeling underappreciated in one arena of my life, adding that the real insult was this involved volunteer work for which I wasn’t even being paid. Can’t I at least be paid compliments? I asked. If not that, then maybe pay me a little respect?
Wait a minute. It looks like there are more than two things we can pay. Our language contains so much truth.
Read more at What I want to be paid.
(For more conversation about the truths hidden in our language see Pay Attention, and Spending time.)
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.
I write books. Why?
It is a reasonable question. I recently started participating in writer’s groups again and much about them has got me thinking. A women well into her second novel told me of an acquaintance who has made it to the New York Times Best Seller list. Wow. Something to be in awe of, of course. My critique group-mate is also in awe of the woman’s process. To paraphrase, she read the top ten fiction books at the time, analyzed what they had in common, and wrote the perfect hybrid book, designed to succeed. And it did.
All I could think was “what a miserable way to write a book.” That brought me round to the essential question of this post. If I’m not writing to make a best seller list, what am I doing? I tried to be brutally, unflatteringly honest and I came up with seven reasons I choose to spend most of my free time on my laptop creating books. Some of them are pretty stupid.
This post is about the first answer that popped into my mind. It may not be my biggest reason, but it may be the one that keeps me writing novel after novel.
Read more at The Number One Reason I Write Books.
I recently had a wonderful trip to Peru, and came home realizing something new about what I don’t know. It’s the only thing that has the power to amaze me.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of knowledge. It’s essential for smart behavior in everyday life, and it makes traveling easier and less stressful. I research my trips ahead of time and I have fun looking forward to experiencing sights, sounds and tastes recommended to me by other travelers. But if that is all I do on the road, I’ll never be surprised. My trip to Peru made me more aware of how it is the unexpected discovery that holds the power to astonish.
Read more at What you don’t know …. has the power to amaze you.
(For more on my trip to Peru see woman traveling alone and History at its most exciting.)
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 loved the unexpected ideas, the unusual perspective and the way it made me think about issues large and small. I have a fond spot for stories that give me insights into other parts of the world, and for characters who plausibly behave in ways I cannot imagine myself doing. This book has all that and more.
…. this particular passage from the author sticks with me:
But I cannot escape and leave behind reality, just like I cannot leave behind my shadow. Reality brands each of us with its indelible mark. Every era puts invisible shackles on those who have lived through it, and I can only dance in my chains.
Read my full review at Review: The Three-Body Problem.
Deep Sahara Review: This is an impressive book, but not an easy read. If a reader is willing to make the effort to flow with this unusual story, I believe they will find themselves haunted by it, in the way only a fine novel can manage. I give it a 9/10.
See Review: Deep Sahara for all my thoughts and for more information about this book.
One of my resolutions for 2018 is to review more books on my x0 blog. For these reviews, I am interested reading speculative fiction of all sorts, including science fiction and fantasy. I have a fondness for metaphysical tales and particularly like stories with a strong female protagonist. I will consider novels of almost all types that relate to the general theme of world peace.
Read about my requirements for a review, and get my contact info.
Because I’m the kind of person who gets carried away with an idea, I decided to center the action around the place on the globe that was exactly opposite of Nigeria, where my my first novel took place. Turns out that location is just south of the equator, smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This fact might have discouraged someone else …
Read more at A better word than joy?
(For more thoughts on words we need, see A better word than loyalty?, A better word than peace?, A better word than hope? 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?
I can tell you that I wrote these books filled with a sense of energy and purpose unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life. Many days, writing wasn’t just what I wanted to do, it was all I wanted to do. It was an addiction, an obsession, and a nepenthe against all the world’s ills. I let it consume me, and I enjoyed the ride.
Read more at Why would anyone call a collection of books 46. Ascending?
This process goes on for hours, as we found out sitting in our rescue van waiting. Windows had to be kept closed due to dust, engines shut off, voices hushed. There must have been twenty or thirty vans and jeeps like ours, quietly waiting and watching while the wildebeests collectively weighed starvation of the many against death by crocodile for a few. I could appreciate that it was a tough choice.
Marcos did his best to sooth us, his unwilling passengers, as fatigue set in and claustrophobia grew while his two paying customers took endless photos of the timid wildebeests. Finally he declared “This is it. They are about to do it.” Even I felt the excitement.
Read more at Happy Peace Day, Safari Guides Leonard and Marcos.
(Read more about my trip to Kenya at Like Eating Crab, Still a Sunrise?, Replacing me with … and Smiling my way across Kenya)
I love to travel, and I do my best to embrace the types of joys my current journey has to offer. Last week, I went on what had to be an Alaskan king crab sort of trip.
That would be a journey in which one has to work to get what one is after. Long flights, language difficulties, bumpy roads or high seas can make this a kind of vacation that many would be loathe to take. But the reward is seldom seen beauty and unusual wonders, and sometimes, a sense of personal accomplishment.
Read more at Like Eating Crab.
(Read more about my trip to Kenya at Smiling my way across Kenya, Still a Sunrise?, Replacing me with … and Happy Peace Day, Chinese Person in Tent Number 59)
My Amateur Photo
I traveled 8000 miles to see Mount Kilimanjaro, and I almost missed it. It’s true that I also came to see lions, elephants and zebra in the wild, and to have an adventure with my relatives, but Kilimanjaro was near the top of my list of reasons for making a daunting journey that took three plane flights, eighteen hours in the air, four vaccinations and sixteen days on malaria meds.
Unfortunately, the 19,341 foot former volcano that rises 15,000 feet up off the plains of Tanzania tends to be covered in clouds in August, which is something I didn’t know ahead of time. On the drive to our camp, we got to see the very top of the peak poking out above the clouds, impossibly high in the sky.
I hope his photo looks like this
At the very end of our stay, we would get to see much of the base of the mountain glowing in the sunrise. But my one chance for the best, the fullest view, happened when I was busy reading a guidebook to Kenya. I know, it’s ironic. And I should have read that book before I left home.
Read more at Happy Peace Day, Chinese Person in Tent Number 59.
(Read more about my trip to Kenya at Like Eating Crab, Still a Sunrise?, Replacing me with … and Smiling my way across Kenya)
I spent the summer of 1972 checking groceries, making out with my high school boyfriend, and trying my first marijuana. At the time, I needed both the money and the worldly experience because come September, I was off to study journalism in the big city of Chicago.
Even though I was going to be too young to vote, I also spent that summer following politics. I’d met Nixon the previous year and felt a visceral dislike for him. I’d become increasingly opposed to the Vietnam war. I was a geeky high school debater with a lot of opinions, and less of them favored the GOP each day. Oh, and I loved spy novels.
So on June 18, when I heard about a break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters, of course I was intrigued. Over the next two years I would become enthralled by the enfolding story.
Read more at And that’s the way it was, June 18, 1972.
(For more segments about June days from long ago, see That’s the Way It Was June 10, 1947, June 15, 1984, June 28, 1888, and June 30, 1940.)