Monday, September 30, 2013

A Vegan Looks at Alaska

A while back, I had the opportunity to actually meet some Twitter friends!  They came to Alaska for a vacation and, yes, we arranged a "tweet up", albeit a smallish one.
The Buck-White Boys
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Alas, Jeb and I didn't have an opportunity to meet the four-leggeds pictured above, but we did meet the two-legged Buck-White Boys and had a delightful visit.  It's remarkably fun to meet folks (in person) for the first time, whom you already like and are pals with.   To make the entire experience even more fun, we've been e-mailing back and forth and one of the Buck-White Boys has generously shared today's guest post about the Alaska trip. 

A Vegan Looks at Alaska
T. Clay Buck 

No, not that kind of Vegan, a LAS Vegan, as in from Las Vegas.  You know, “Vivaaaaaaa Las Vegas!”  That one.

There are three types of people that move to Vegas:  1) Those desperate to make it – at a slot machine, gaming table, in a show, with someone; 2) Those who are, at best, ambivalent about Vegas or, at worst, hate it, but they’re only here because they have to be (job, spouse, family, couldn’t stay in California/Hawaii/Other expensive state); 3) Those who really do love this valley and recognize it for so much more than its bright lights, big entertainment reputation.

I like to think I fall into the third category.  I moved here eleven years ago.  Fell in love, grew my career, bought a house and am now living the neon-tinged suburban dream.

Very, very few visitors ever get beyond the Strip.  And if they do, they might go to Hoover Dam or the Grand Canyon.  What so few people know about Vegas is its high desert topography.  We have Red Rock Canyon to the West, Mt. Charleston to the North, Valley of Fire and Lake Mead to the East – when you really look at it, it is a beautiful part of the country.

And there’s the weather – yes, it’s very hot here.  In July and August.  Triple digits.  Joke about it all you want, but it IS a dry heat.  And there is a difference, a very big difference, between 10% and 75% humidity.

But for the majority of the year we have clear skies, bright sun and you can see from one end of the valley to the other – a distance of about 25-30 miles.

And you reach a point where you realize that you can’t live without that kind of openness.  Trees, mountains, hills, cloud cover all make you a bit claustrophobic.  But you also crave water. 

We’ve been in a drought for the eleven years I’ve lived here, so you don’t very often see a lot of standing water.  Any time you do see water that’s spilled or running off from a sprinkle you think what a terrible waste it is.

You guys in Alaska have an awful lot of water.  That’s really the major first impression that hit me both times I’ve been.  There is so much water in Alaska, it just hangs around in the air and you call it fog.  You have so much water you can afford to let it freeze and sit on top of mountains for thousands of years.  You have so much that that frozen water spills over the side of the mountain, you call it a glacier and sell tickets for us Lower 48ers to come see it.

Good for you. 

Nearly everyone who visits Vegas says to a local, “Oh, I came for a few days and it was more than I could handle.  Just too much overload.”  Listen, in Anchorage apparently there are moose walking down the streets like it’s an episode of Northern Exposure and Vegas is too much overload?  We reached a point on our trip where it was just, “STOP!”  Ok, just stop.  I need five minutes without a glacier, an animal, history, something stunning to look at or a freakin’ salmon. 

Because you come to Alaska to feed your soul.  You come and you fill up on all of that water and beauty and scenery.  You breathe it in through your pores (really, great skin after an Alaska trip – could you bottle that?) and on those days in Vegas when its 111 and you haven’t left the house in 3 days, you have that memory, that beauty, that sustains you through the long hot summers of life.
Mendenhall Glacier
You can get to know The Buck-White Boys by going to their blog, visiting them on Twitter or liking their Facebook page!

I hope you find this guest post as charming and thought provoking as I do and may you have a week filled with perfect moments!

Magic All Around is available in digital and paperback formats from Amazon and can be special ordered for purchase at most brick and mortar bookstores.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Cheese n' Waves

Sometimes, I don’t know what to blog about.  I don’t mean that I don’t have lists with a zillion ideas on them (yeah, a ZILLION!) but that none of the things on those lists is thrilling me and woe unto her who writes about something she’s not thrilled by, right?
So, I was brainstorming.  If I have to brainstorm for more than three minutes, there’s one thing I always do.  I call my friend Babs.  She’s my brainstorming partner.  I help her brainstorm her art projects (often textiles and wearable arts) and she helps me brainstorm my writing projects.  Babs suggested that I write a post about Jeb’s glowing eyes (I’d just texted her a photo wherein his eyes were glowing green because I’d had the flash on) or about my ten favorite kinds of cheese.  I have to say, the cheese idea had a strong appeal.  My brain immediately made that list (Brie, pepper jack, goat cheese, ricotta, fresh mozzarella, smoked gruyere, Colby jack, camembert, cream cheese and ricotta) and I had to go eat some cheese.  After that, I decided you probably don’t want to hear me go on for an entire post about how I love cheese.  I figured that you either agree with me about cheese (i.e. you love cheese, you love it sliced, diced, melted, served as fondue, served as dessert, cold from the fridge or eaten from the package fresh out of the grocery bag) and can write your own blog post about cheese-love, or you don’t agree with me about cheese and feel nauseated just reading this much about it.  At any rate, I needn’t go on and on more than I already have.
In fact, what my poor brain really wants is to get back to writing my novel, so I’m going to give my brain, and yours, a break and share photos (courtesy of Babs who lives in Ketchikan and took these pics yesterday) instead of more nonsense from my goofy noggin!
In a rainforest of evergreen trees, autumn colors are elusive.  The fireweed leaves turn fiery red (hence the name), then with surprising swiftness erupt in puffs of airborne seeds that abandon the now brown and mulchy plant.  Otherwise, most of our native leafy plants display subtle autumn colors and even then, the spruce, hemlock and cedar take center stage and hog the spotlight.  Southeast Alaska is not known for traditional autumn scenery.  For us, fall is heralded not by bright colors, but by high tides, increased rain, and wind.  It may look drab to some but it fills me with exhilaration! 

 May your day, week and autumn bring abundant joy!

P.S. Desperately seeking guest bloggers during this novel-writing time since multi-tasking is clearly not my strength! :-)
Topics may include happiness, joy, dogs, Alaska, writing and mental health.  If you have an idea for a guest post that you think would fit on my blog, please tweet or e-mail me!  

Magic All Around is available in digital and paperback formats from Amazon and can be special ordered for purchase at most brick and mortar bookstores.

Monday, September 16, 2013

What is it like to write a book? 7 Answers

Hi Friends! 
This will be another short post from me because I am still hoarding most of my words for Magic Within.  I am delighted with how the novel is progressing and, by my estimate; I am back on track for a November 17, 2013 release. 
Aside from writing, there is little noteworthy happening in my life at present.  That’s because I’m in front of my computer anywhere from six to eleven hours each day.  Writing.
What is it like, this sitting about and writing a book thing? 

What is it like to write a book?  7 Answers

1. It’s emotional.  Everything I put my characters through, I feel.  Every nuance.  Half the time, I act out the dialogue, action and emotion in order to write it realistically.  If you had a hidden camera aimed at my kitchen table, you’d have quite a show.
2. It’s absorbing.  When I’m this deeply involved in telling a story, I don’t want to think about anything else.  It’s hard for me to concentrate on reading and the only conversation I’m able to have is one that involves me talking about what I’m writing.  Usually a good listener and fair conversationalist, when I’m in the midst of writing, I develop a one-track mind.
3. It’s exhausting.  For me, at least, writing requires intense focus, self-discipline and creative thinking.  It wears my brain out.  Not only that, I really do run out of words.  If you try to converse with me towards the end of the day, you’ll have the peculiar experience of having to carry most of the conversation without me.  Dale jokes that a long day of writing makes me brain dead.  I like to tell him that I'm his zombie-wife. 
4. It’s grungy.  Let me put it this way, everyone should be grateful that I’m showering and brushing my teeth.  Grooming, cosmetics and fancy clothes have never been a huge priority for me, but when I’m writing, my biggest fashion statement is cleaning my glasses.
5. It’s thirsty work.  I don’t know why, but writing makes me thirsty.  Some folks fuel their writing with coffee and/or alcohol but I cannot write without a big bottle of water.
6. It’s a ropes course.  Trust-building, teamwork and unorthodox solutions are happening in my brain when I’m writing a book.  I wouldn’t be able to do this if I didn’t trust my subconscious to bail me out of whatever plot pinches I manage to write myself into.  Luckily for me, it always does. 
7. It’s exhilarating.  No matter how much I plan and plot, my subconscious loves to throw surprise parties for me.  The best part of writing is the thrill of discovering what happens next!

May you have a magical Monday and a joyful week!

Magic All Around is available in digital and paperback formats from Amazon and can be special ordered for purchase at most brick and mortar bookstores.