A Grand Adventure!

Our family trip to the Grand Canyon was full of so many firsts, so many little boy giggles, alien terrain and moments a camera could never do justice!

This was my first time out west. The towering walls of red sandstone rising up against blue sky were shocking to me. (Considering we live fourteen feet above sea level!) While the boys climbed, explored and brushed off scraped knees, I tried to wrap my mind around the raw talent of mother nature. She is quite the artist:

Time seemed to stretch out like the dusty open landscape. Our body clocks had us rising at 5:30 every morning with the sun. With these longer days, we toured the icy Colorado river on a rafting trip in Page, then made the three-hour drive to the North Rim where we hiked (and I practiced calming breathes and tried not to look over the edge):

At the North Rim, the boys camped in a tent for the first time; made their own marshmallow sticks and  smores; learned about fire, absolute darkness and the importance of checking your shoes for critters before you put them back on.

From there, we drove to Sedona were we toured the massive red rock formations in a jeep and then a rock crawler. Yes, this part of the vacation took a sharp turn into boy territory as we bumped and climbed our way over rocks, choking on dust and searching the area for tarantulas and scorpions. I needed a dose of civilization and culture after this.

So, we drove to a quirky little town called Jerome. One of my favorite parts of our adventure! Jerome used to be a copper mining town, then a ghost town and now a thriving artist community. We ate at The Asylum, which really was a mental hospital-turned hotel/restaurant. Oh yeah, right up my alley! After the mind-bending climb and twisty turns, we arrived:

Then we promptly jumped back in the car as two snarling black dogs ran up the hill straight for us. The staff apologized and had no idea where they came from. The hounds of hell, maybe? The food was worth it:

Along with the creepy decor…

All in all, it was an amazing adventure! Even so, in the end, I was ready to come home. One thing I learned about myself. You can take the girl out of Florida, but you can’t take the Florida out of the girl!

Have you been to the Grand Canyon? What amazing adventure did you have this summer?

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Kylee’s Broken Heart

When I was nine or ten I read the James Harriot books. Remember those? All Creatures Great and Small? All Things Bright and Beautiful? He was a fabulous story-teller. I knew that I wanted to grow up and be and writer and a vet just like him.

Fast forward thirty something years later and I’m only a writer. Not a vet.  Because (besides being seriously allergic to math)  I found out you can’t actually save all the animals–that no matter how much knowledge, training, or passion you have–as a vet you have to deal with loss. You have to watch people say goodbye to their pets. And that would  break my heart.

So, I told you all that to say that today I’m able to use my writing to help save someone’s pet, which is the best of both worlds for me.

Her name is Kylee. She’s an eight month old mastiff puppy born with a heart defect. Eight months is just not enough time for this sweet girl to spend on this earth with the people who love her. She needs a life-saving operation. I know we can’t save them all but this girl’s mom, Ro Lewis,  is part of the mastiff community that I belong to and she does so much for others, I wanted to find a way to help. So this is personal.

Here’s the part where my writing comes in. I’m giving a copy of Karma’s A Bitch (A Pet Psychic Detective) to everyone who contributes to Kylee’s chip-in page.

You can give a dollar. Five. Fifty. Whatever you can afford because every little bit helps! Then Ro will send me your email address so I can send you the book. Easy! You get to help save a life and get a free book. What could be better than that? And your dog will love to read it, too just ask my friend Morgan:

 

“I hope to make people realize how totally helpless animals are, how dependent on us, trusting as a child must that we will be kind and take care of their needs.” -James Harriot

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Magic Mike, Pizza & Deceit

Imagine you are in the mood for a cheese pizza with a light pineapple topping.

You squeeze a  grocery store stop into your busy day just to grab said pizza. You invite your friends over to share it, preheat the oven, rub your hands together with glee as you rip open the box. And then you stare at the pizza in dismay.

Confused, you flip the box over and check the picture again. Yep. Plain old cheese pizza with a few pineapples stare back innocently from the cardboard. You blink. Shove the pizza back in the box and then pull it out again. Blink. Then you get mad. You feel betrayed. Lied to. Because there…in the midst of frozen cheese and a few shriveled up wanna be pieces of pineapple are…anchovies! And mushrooms! And some kind of green slimy thing that nauseates you.

You have to apologize to your friends, mumble something about someone else picking out the pizza next time and go to bed hungry and angry at the lie on the front of the pizza box.

This was my Magic Mike experience and I left the movie depressed and in need of a shower. I call it bait and switch. Anyone who’s seen the previews expects a fun, shallow movie with a splash of romance that you can unwind and giggle with your girlfriends about. In reality, it was about the sleazy, seedy lifestyle of male strippers, complete with drug abuse, drug dealing, skanky sex…oh, and  a pot-belly pig licking up vomit.

I know. Nauseating.

As a writer, I know a book’s cover tells the reader what to expect from the book. You know if the story inside is a mystery, sci-fi, literary, romance or erotica by how it’s packaged and marketed. This movie was like picking up a book with a romance cover and falling into gritty, urban street fiction. I won’t even mention the romance part except to say it didn’t work. At all.

Now, I’m sure Mr. Soderbergh didn’t intend to deceive us. He probably considers himself an artist and didn’t want to just make a movie about  Channing Tatum dancing  for an hour and a half.  But, honestly, I would have preferred this because for me, the ten minutes of Tatum’s moves were the only redeeming factor in this movie.

If you’ve already seen this movie, what did you think? Were you disappointed? Disgusted? Am I being too sensitive? Or did I just make you hungry for pizza? Inquiry minds wanna know!

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Mommy Won’t Buy It

Happy Mother’s Day! Being a mother is truly hard work, so I don’t mind having down time to celebrate it for a day. Unlike my birthday, where it’s kind of embarrassing getting gifts just for growing older.

Speaking of time…when I think of what I would like for Mother’s Day this year, I think of time. I would like to freeze it; keep life square in this moment where my family is healthy and happy and we’re all excited about the future. Because, as we all know, change is inevitable.

So, since I can’t wave a magic wand and freeze time, I would love to test drive this baby:

Oh yeah! With this Cuisinart beauty I could chop, blend and puree myself into a food coma!  Here’s the funny thing, I could just buy one and be done with it but I haven’t. Then I realized there are things that I’ve wanted for years and just will not buy. Why is this? I mean, I bought myself a spirooli for crying out loud, but I won’t buy matching bath towels?

It got me thinking: What other things have I just refused to buy? So here ya go:

TOP TEN THINGS I JUST WON’T BUY

10. A real fruit bowl (Plastic tupperware bowl anyone?)

9. A mousepad ( Poor mouse.)

8. Replacement flowers for the ones that perished in our backyard landscaping two years ago. R.I.P.

7. A feather duster (Okay, I just may be being lazy here.)

6. New kitchen knives (Ours don’t cut anything harder than bread. And it better not be stale bread.)

5. A new vaccuum cleaner (All the duct tape seems to be holding it together just fine.)

4. Yoga blocks & strap (After seven years, I’m still using the nasty gym ones. Yuk.)

3. Luggage (The old beat up black Walmart one gets the job done.)

2. Aforementioned matching bath towels (We’re still using the mishmash of colors and shapes from combining our households eleven years ago.)

1. Socks! *

*When it got chilly this winter my hubby got tired of me stealing his socks and bought me some of my own. Sad, right?

So, fess up! What do you just refuse to buy? And would you want someone to buy it for you for Mother’s Day?

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Playtime!

Remember running and screaming from your playground mates as they tried to touch you?

Okay, that came out sort of wrong. What I was trying to do was inspire memories of the beloved childhood game: tag. This post is sort of like tag for bloggers. There have been a few Meme’s making the rounds in the blogosphere lately and although I was tagged by a couple of savy writers for the Lucky 7 one, I don’t have a page 77 yet in my current WIP so couldn’t participate. But, when the lovely Lynnette Burrows tagged me with the 11 question game, I realized all the running and screaming was over and I am now the one to be feared on the playground….bahahaha!

The rules for 11 Questions:

1. You must post the rules. 2. Answer the questions on your blog. Create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged. 3. Tag eleven people and link to them. 4. Let them know you’ve tagged them.

Whew! I think this is burning as many calories as chasing people. *glancing at snack* I could be wrong.

Her questions, my answers:

1. What book or series can you read over and over again without getting bored?

Really, anything written by Margaret Atwood. I read her books over and over just for the pure pleasure of studying her way with words. Of course, lately the books I’ve read over and over again are my boys’ current favorites: “Stellaluna” and “Are You My Mother”.  Children’s books never get old!

2. What TV show character do you hate and why?

This one stumped me. I like all the characters in the shows I watch: Fringe, The Mentalist, Being Human, Psyche. Even the villians are likeable. Guess that says good things about the writers!

3. If you were a super hero, what is your super hero name and your special power?

I’d be the pet whisperer and I’d be able to talk to animals.

4. What is your favorite ear worm (song that gets stuck in your head)?

“Oh I wish I were an Oscar Meyer Weiner…that is what I’d truly like to be…” (You’re welcome)

5. If you could be any character of the opposite sex in any story, who would you be and why?

Aidan from Being HumanWhy? Because I’d be a hot, sexy vampire for eternity. Plus, bonus–I could see myself sans shirt whenever I wanted!

6. What was the worst job you’ve ever had and why?

Working in a department store. The epitome of boredom.

7. What was your favorite TV show when you were growing up?

The Lone Ranger. Which, I was excited to learn is being made into a movie starring Johnny Depp. My second favorite was Scooby Doo. Which kinda explains why I write mysteries and have a dog that looks like this:

8. What mode of transportation (horse, automobile, bus, train, boat, airplane, space plane, etc.) would you never want to use and why?

Any mention of transportation gets me excited (especially now that I’m working on my fear of flying) because I immediately start thinking about all the cool places I would travel to. Though, I don’t think I’d enjoy being in a submarine. Encased in metal, tight spaces, emersed in water. *shudder* Is it getting hot in here?

9. What job/occupation would you never want to try?

Working in any kind of chocolate factory. It would mean sure death from a sugar coma. Or anything to do with public speaking. Or spiders.

10. If you could tweet a warning or encouragement to one person in history, what would you tweet to whom and why?

my tweet: @aynrand For the luv of all that’s holy, don’t let them grant movie rights to your novels. Love, a concerned fan.

11. Tell us about one thing on your bucket list.

Okay. I want to spend the night in a really haunted house or hotel (or European castle…what? A girl can dream) with the Ghost Hunters team…including their ghost busting dog, Maddie.

AND…as I am late to play, I have seen most of you answer your own 11 questions already so to I’m going to be a rebel and just ask questions here for whoever stops by to answer in the comments. Answer either or both & thanks for playing!

What is your favorite childhood memory?

Do you believe in ghosts? Why or why not?

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Weekend in Atlanta

Living life outloud. Being fearless. It has to be a decision, right? You can’t just float through life; you have to take the reins, write your own story. I decided my story has to start including more exploring, more adventure and that would have to include flying.  It was time to deal with my fear of flying.  So, this weekend, I held my best friend’s hand, breathed through a lot of anxiety and we met my daughter in Atlanta for the weekend.

Every city has its own flavor and Midtown Atlanta is no exception. I love my little beach town, but I had forgotten how magical diversity is. To experience new sights and sounds, different accents, fashions and  ideas was intoxicating.

We walked to The Flying Bisquet for breakfast the first morning down Peach Street as apple blossom trees, overhanging the sidewalk, showered us with velvety petals like confetti. The hip little eatery was jam-packed with people–some already dressed in funky St. Patty’s day attire–mouth-watering scents and conversations. The food was delicious but the fulfilling part was sitting in that kind of atmosphere, soaking in the creativity of everyone. It truly fed my soul.

That evening, we draped ourselves in plastic green beads, flashy St. Pattty’s day buttons, green glitter and headed to Ri Ra’s Irish Pub for their live music, fish & chips and green beer. We had some great conversations, laughed, people watched…and let me say, people are happy on St. Patty’s day! It is now my new favorite holiday.

It was only a weekend. We only got to walk around the edges of Atlanta, only got to stick a toe in the surface, connect on a level that left me wanting to dig deeper, taste more. There were moments I wanted to savor, moments I wanted to entangled my fingers with, hold on to; then there were places that were dark that I wanted to ignore but couldn’t…a row of homeless tents on the sidewalk, an abandoned building next to an expensive hotel where addictions are fed. But it was a weekend I will never forget, shared with two of the coolest people in my life.

Oh, and just to prove to you how cool my daughter is, she actually ordered oysters for breakfast the next morning. Seriously, for breakfast?! Gotta love her.

I wish I could say I’m over my fear of flying, but it has definitely lost some of its grip on me and I will get back on a plane again. There’s too many cities out there to explore.

Too many adventures await.

So, where will your next adventure be?

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Beauty of a Woman Blogfest!

I’m a science geek at heart, so when August McLaughlin announced her Beauty of a Woman blogfest tour and invited us to participate, I had to get right down to the nitty gritty and start with the question: What exactly is the purpose of beauty?

The answer, as far as mother nature is concerned, is to attract a mate and propagate a species. There are evolutionary advantages to colorful feathers, bright petals, the right hip to waist to breast ratio.

But beyond that, I think we humans have evolved to appreciate beauty beyond just a way to choose a mate. I believe appreciating beauty is also a spiritual evolutionary advantage, a way to connect to the world around us. For example: I love my dogs, but I’ve never seen them stare at a sunset in awe. They have no need to grow flowers or hang paintings just to surround themselves with beautiful things. The sun sometimes glints off the lake in back of our house like a million diamonds and I am enraptured. My dogs only care if there’s a duck.

What do lakes and ducks have to do with the beauty of a woman? I believe this ability to appreciate beauty outside ourselves also allows us to appreciate beauty at a deeper level within each other.

When we learn to appreciate the beauty in our surroundings we learn to appreciate true beauty in a soul. The beauty of a woman has nothing to do with the size of her waist, what matters is the size of her heart. The most beautiful women I know of today are the ones who spill over with compassion and joy.

Women who treat every being they come across with empathy and dignity, who are at peace with themselves and passionate about peace.

(Aung San Suu Kyi)

Women who have a smile for all, whose eyes sparkle with loving kindness as bright as my back yard lake.

 (Karen Maezen Miller)

It has been argued that beauty and truth are one in the same. These women are the truth of beauty and the beauty in truth.

And the really fabulous news for us women, this kind of beauty doesn’t fade with age. If we feed it, it flowers, grows wings, spreads glittering seeds of light and sets the whole world aglow.

Beauty is not embodied in movie stars. It’s in every woman when we become stars, burning beyond our corporal bodies with the kind of love that is unique to each of us yet the same in all of us. Eternal love. Eternal light. Eternal beauty.

I’ll leave you with the words from the timeless words of Before the Throne of Beauty XXVI by Khalil Gibran:

“Beauty is that which attracts your soul, and that which loves to give and not to receive. When you meet Beauty, you feel that the hands deep within your inner self are stretched forth to bring her into the domain of your heart.”

* Visit August’s blog on Friday Feb. 10th to read all the contributions to this topic. Also there are prizes up for grabs! Including a Kindle!

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