Road Trip Across America

Our Road Trip from San Francisco to New York City: a 3,200 mile excursion with Tayya, our 8   year-old Lab/Australian Cattle Dog, IMG_0144

And Coral, our 5 year-old Betta fish.IMG_0317Strapped in for safety for all of five miles, then the water sloshed, and the bowl wound up secured on the front floor in front of me. You should have seen the looks when I carried the fish into the hotels.

On the way to Sacramento, we road through Donner Pass–some history there (plane crashed many years ago and people ate people to survive). Of course Larry, my husband, had to ask me if I was hungry.

IMG_0259 Then on to Utah, and the city with the cleanest street and calmest feel, Salt Lake City.IMG_0262  Larry had to buy a Duncan Donuts coffee, his favorite, and a fond memory from his New York City days.

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Beautiful views leaving the city. See the salt mound in the second picture?

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We loved Denver. We were so filled with the city, we forgot to take more pictures! However, we did visit the car show, and decided that since we move so much, we would buy one of these. The motorcycles fit on the back. Of course, we’d have to travel more north with that plow!

IMG_0295 IMG_0296 Although Larry truly would have preferred one of these two cars. 🙂

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Wyoming is one of my favorite states.The winds howled and the gust exceeded forty miles an hour, with fingers threatening to touch land.
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Stopping for meals at different ‘home-down” restaurants, we came across this very different cocktail recipe in Idaho Falls, a college town where half of the town seemed to be inhabited by all 35,000 students of the university. Young bloods all over the city! The sunset … well ….

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I thought I would love Chicago.IMG_0331IMG_0341IMG_0350 But between the cold weather, overpowering high buildings all in rows blocking the sky, and lack of beauty, I felt disappointed. My theatres were dark as most are on Mondays and Tuesdays, but

IMG_0358luckily, the Art Institute of Chicago had a French Impressionism show with pieces we had never seen! Yay!

We stayed at the Hilton, and instead of heading out to a fine-dining restaurant, we eased into comfortable chairs, ate way too many nuts, and toasted the falling snow–that the denizens cursed, yet again.IMG_0368IMG_0379Across from the street there stood a park with a lone rider.IMG_0380

Onward to home … pictures … tomorrow

 

 

 

 

St Patrick’s Day Celebration with the Friends of the Elderly

DeDe

I volunteer for Little Brother’s Friends of the Elderly, a group created in France during World War II in hopes of uniting elders who have lost family, with young children who also lost family. Now in several US cities, the goal of LBFE  (www.littlebrotherssf.org) is to match volunteers with an elder, especially those who live alone, have no family, or the family lives at a distance.

I volunteered to drive DeDe (above) to the St. Patrick’s Day party and be her companion during the day. Besides eating, drinking (coffee), listening to the entertainment, and playing bingo, we gossiped volunteers and staffwith other elders, met John a voracious reader, mainly of historical events, and all decided that the San Francisco bay area was the place to live.

So many people gave of their time and energy. The entertainment and the staff cajoled and sang, and acted as waiters and waitresses. Seth Augustine, Program director, coordinated the go-to party of the day.

But DeDe proved to be the prize of the day as she unfolded her life’s story. Born in Austria, she learned to ski young, not a surprise. She loved skiing and biking, but especially swimming. She still swims an hour a day at 91.  She was a Holocaust survivor. While riding her bike one day in Nice, France, her mother, who refused to leave, was taken–and never seen or heard from again. Imagining her mother dying in the “showers” gave her nightmares. Her father had died when she was nine and before the terror began. She traveled throughout Europe and did odd jobs meeting wonderful and helpful people along the way, and learning four languages fluently: English, French, Spanish, and Germain. DeDe settled into a home as a caretaker at eighteen back in Nice, but was captured toward the end of the war and brought to a camp in Portugal.

I never knew that some of the countries had their own little Nazi camps. DeDe could speak fluent Spanish and would talk to the guards, who later, let her walk about the tiny town. While walking in town she asked some men to help her escape, explaining her story. They did, and she headed north. Later, she wrote her Aunt in America, but people in Austria were not allowed visas, so she immigrated to Montreal, but hated the cold. Visiting her aunt in NY, she knew one day she would come back to America. Many years later, after going back, once again to Nice, she came to NY and met a man from San Francisco. One daughter, and one lifetime later, she continues to reside in her apartment of twenty-something years. She likes going to the Friends of the Elderly parties and meeting all the young volunteers and other elders.

I felt touched meeting her. Although I’m not a Bingo fan and the cacophony of singing-with-the singer usually curls my skin, I loved every moment of the day. It took some effort to open DeDe up, and her hearing impeded some understanding of my questions, but once the background noise stopped and we sat head to head, her words flowed into her life stories.  Wonderful.

Finale of Gumby’s Locked Gate Mystery.

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Last we left the Gumby’s crew, Gumby dove into the pool where he had previously retrieved a plastic purse. He had remembered seeing the filtering system nozzle somewhat ajar, and wanted to inspect it.0062820810002_500X500 (At this point, I didn’t have a clue what Gumby would find. At first I thought a weapon, but what good would that do the story, especially jammed in the nozzle? The filter nozzle was too small for anything useful. Then I pondered a disk, hidden with spy information. But really, spy stuff is really not “in” right now. How about a drone sensor and a list of those to be murdered? Nah, didn’t feel right. That’s international stuff. I wanted to keep it lighter, unhappy person to unhappy person. Well, then maybe he finds nothing. I didn’t like that either. Time to end this story. Gumby would have to stretch his abilities and find the biggest clue of all, if not the motive.) He unscrews the nozzle and carries it with him to the surface, massive amount of water now running through the drain.images (3)

Once on the surface, Officer Blue awaited his return. The Officer gaped at Gumby, and Vim and Vigor, with Pokey, watched over his shoulder as he disassembled the filter. To all their surprise, (and mine when I thought of it,) was a laminated, hand painted, portrait of a panther. “I know that panther!” Gumby shouted. And on the photo was a a dollar amount and a short note. $3,000 for the mold of the sculpture. Aha, Officer Blue and the others yelled. Now, all we have to do is count the money! The officer, not concerned about crime scene149895804.Y4mbCdpk evidence being touched–even though the money was soaking wet– unraveled the roll of hundreds, and sure enough, the amount totaled $3,100!  “She was going to pay for the mold of the un-famous panther! But why would someone kill her for this mold, and why did she hide the photo before she drowned?” Gumby asked. Vim hopped around like a Jack rabbit. “I know, I know! Call on me, I know!” The officer pointed to Vim. “Because, well it’s obvious, because the panther was going to become famous, and the murderer wanted more than $3,000, and not just a hundred bucks.” Vim smiled his widest smile. Vigor shook his head back and forth contemplating the option.  “I think the extra money was for her to get home,” Pokey suggested, “and maybe even have dinner along the way.”    “Well,” Officer Blue said, “We have a dilemma. I’ll take all the evidence back with me and we’ll go through it piece by piece.” He pocketed the picture and the money. Pokey, not liking what she saw said, “Have you ever been to this house before officer?”    “No, I haven’t,”  Officer Blue proclaimed. Siren could be heard around the corner. “A aha!” Gumby yelled. “We got you!”  “Oh! I was right! It’s police officer!”  images (1)   “No, but close Pokey. You gave me the idea! It was the security person that protected this house that could get back in easily without a key, and that probably heard that the lady here was going to buy that mold for $3,000 bucks. I called the police right after you did!” Gumby turned to the fake Officer Blue. “i called and checked on this house after seeing the security sticker on the window. Nice try, but you’re going to end up in jail.”   Officer Blue ran to the gate where he was met with the police. Gumby was thrilled! He had the most exciting day of his life! “Pokey,” he said affirmatively, “I know what I’m going to be!”  “A detective? You did so well on this case, and look at you … you’re thrilled.”  “No, Pokey, I’m going to be a travel agent. I’ll be damned if I’m going into pools to retrieve dead bodies and hold my breath trying to find evidence. I’m going to be a travel agent.” Gumby was thrilled with his decision. It enlivened him. He invited the crew out for a drink to celebrate the end of the caper the beginning of being a travel agent career.                                                                                         Gumby loved being a travel agent!                                                 149336127.ct5MqB7J.IMG_1798

PS… When I saw the picture of Gumby with the panther, I had my answer. Thanks to Peter Schmidt’s photos of Gumby on their vacation, and lots of other places—–

Next: We go back to the serious, the psychological, the lonely and “The Art of Being Alone.”

The Key to Gumby’s Locked-Gate Mystery.

gumby_at_the_beach_by_chewyraezen-d46hnllAs I tried to conclude the Gumby story, letting my unconscious run away with me once again, I asked the drowned woman in the pool, “Who killed you? What were you doing near the pool or in the house? What was so special in your purse? Was the proof to the murder already in the murderer’s hands?” Then I asked the others what they thought. Vim didn’t have many thoughts on the subject, and Vigor thought the butler did it. Pokey spilled all her mystery-reading knowledge and swore that the police person who came to the scene first killed her and would protect himself or herself by collecting all the evidence, if they left any. She had read that, she told Gumby. Gumby thought that might be too complicated, but wouldn’t dismiss it.

The keys, rolled-up hundred dollar bills, and missing identification caught Gumby’s attention. Who was this lady, he wondered? Who cared about her, hated her, and what kind of work did she do? What kind of trouble was she in?  Was she an innocent victim or did she attack the attacker? This corpse peaked his interest.  “I’m going to collect all the clues,” he announced to Pokey and the others, “and take a look around. I have a gut-level feeling bout this,” he added in his mostGalinas party (10)

efficient voice. “The police are here,” Pokey shouted as the police car drove up some where in the front of the house. “You better hurry!” Pokey trotted toward the end of the pool near the house away from the gates. “There’s only one officer. He looks all officer-icious. He’s got huge eyes, probably to help him see all the clues.

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Gumby had noticed something in the water while swimming to the unfortunate woman. He only thought about it when he let his mind focus on different objects under the surface. Without thought, he dove into the pool. He studied the area and found what had flashed in the sunlight as he recovered the purse. The water filter in the pool! The intake nozzle seemed ajar! Maybe she hid something in there before she died? As far-fetched as it seemed to Gumby, it felt right. He loosened the nozzle, and …0062820810002_500X500

Stay tuned for the finale of Gumby, and the closed-gate mystery. 🙂

Locked Gate Mystery–Gumby and Friends

Last we left Gumby and his friends, he was swimmingGumby in poolin a pool toward a dead body with something moving under it. Vim ran and hid behind Vigor who stood near the edge of the pool in case Gumby needed help. Pokey squinted at the body in the stock-vector-illustration-of-cartoon-dinosaur-vector-114351466pool after she called 911.

Gumby stayed still until a black shadow surfaced next to the body. A black plastic purse! It must be filled with air. Gumby swam to the body, and pulled her to the side of the pool by her suit jacket, the coat floating off of her body. Creeped-out Gumby jumped out of the pool, and stood next to Pokey waiting for the police. “Should we take the purse out of the water?” Gumby asked Pokey as if she knew what to do. “No, let the police do that.” They all glanced at the purse as it sunk to the bottom of the pool. “Well the police are going to have to dive in for that,” Gumby said. “So much for going for a swim.” He felt149895752.GfnSgbTK.IMG_3436 down again. Nothing seemed to be going right. Now, all he wanted was a drink and a smoke.

(Gotta do something with that purse, I thought)

Pokey inspected the body, and Vigor helped her turn it over so that the eyes face stared up at them. They gasped! Pokey moved aside so Gumby could see. Around her neck was a blue blotch of bruising. She was strangled! (I knew there had to be some clue on the body since there was no blood.) She was murdered! (yep, murder mystery) They all jumped back a step as if she would come alive.

Pokey trotted over to the house and twisted all the doors knobs. Locked. The gate was locked and the house was locked. Maybe there were keys in her purse? “Go get her purse, Gumby,” Pokey nudged, “Maybe there is a clue in there. We can help the police. Aren’t you curious? I am.” Vim ran around the pool. “Me, too! Me, too!” he shouted as Vigor nodded. “Go get it,” Vigor added. Gumby sighed, but had to admit he was also wondering about what secrets the purse held. “Okay.” He jumped in the pool and enjoyed the splash of cool water on his green skin. He dove to the bottom and grabbed the purse. No sooner did he pull himself out of the pool, Pokey snatched the pocketbook, opened it, and turned it upside down letting the contents fall onto the cement walk along the pool. What fell out of the purse as the police sirens could be heard approaching?

(Gotta go and figure the rest of this out. No, I don’t know what happens yet.)

Tune in ….

 

Gumby and Friends Find a Body

GUMBY AND FRIENDS FIND A BODY

 

Vim, the smaller of the two twins, and the fastest, is the eternal optimist.  stock-vector-illustration-of-cartoon-dinosaur-vector-114351466His cup is always half full. His head is sometimes in the clouds with dreamlike reality, but he mostly helps his friends keep going, move forward toward their goals. His favorite quote is: “Onward!”

 

Vigor, the bigger twin, is grounded in reality and doesn’t believe in dreams or having heads in the clouds, or moving too fast into anything. stock-vector-illustration-of-cartoon-dinosaur-vector-114351466He is practical and strong. He also has gotten his brother out of more scrapes because of misunderstandings.  His cup is neither too full nor too empty, and he doesn’t understand all that anyway. Who cares? His favorite quote is: “Go slow, and be sure of yourself.”

 

 

                                  gumby-waving-drivingGumby wanted to leave as soon as he met Vim and Vigor. He desired no more than his couch and TV. Just as he was saying good bye to the crew, Pokey suggested they drive to his friend’s house and go for a swim. Vim jumped around Gumby and coaxed Gumby to go with them to Pokey’s friend’s house. Vigor didn’t think it was a bad idea, either, but he wouldn’t swim, just watch. He was too big and not very fond of the water. Gumby changed his mind about going home, and brought them all to Pokey’s friend’s house. After all, he loved the water, and the beach, and the sand. He still wasn’t sure what he wanted in life, and thought a travel agent really wasn’t such a bad career.

Pokey wondered why his friend wasn’t home. pokeyThe pool gate was locked, and his house seemed empty. Vigor gave Pokey and Gumby a lift over the fence. Pokey thought his friend wouldn’t mind if they took a little swim in his pool. Afterall, Gumby needed his spirits lifted.

Gumby loved the pool 149401597.zLhhmrqD and couldn’t wait to dive in.

Pokey gasped, then pointed to a body floating in the pool. Someone Pokey didn’t know. A female, with her face down in the water and her long hair fanned out from her neck. She was orange with blue hair and dressed in a black suit with what appeared to be heels on her feet. (The pool idea came to me when I went to the gym and thought about swimming. The door to the pool was locked, and rubber tubing was floating in the water.)

They all stood in shock. “What are we going to do?” Vigor asked as Vim ran around the pool. “Gumby, jump in, and get her, and I’ll call the police,” Pokey suggested. Gumby in poolGumby jumped in the pool, but stopped swimming when he neared the body. “There’s something under her,” he exclaimed in a high voice. “I think it’s alive!”

 Stay tuned!

Gumby, Gumby, Gumby. What was I thinking?

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Someone name Peter Schmidt photographed his travels with his little green companion, Gumby, to Florida. I guess Gumby could work as a travel guide. Maybe not.

During the holidays, I thought about Gumby rarely, I must confess. I started to wonder if I had picked the right character for my next short story. I can’t imagine why now, but at the time in Santa Barbara, I felt a zing in my imagination, and said, “Gumby could be the ONE. Noodle some ideas around in your head and see what pops.” Nothing popped. In fact, Gumby fizzled. Gumby, Gumby, Gumby. Judy, Judy, Judy. Character. Imagination. Plot. Imagination.

Gumby went to Florida. Stood by a palm tree. No coconuts hit him. He pointed out the swimming pool. No one kicked him in. He swam at the beach (or kissed the sand), and didn’t drowned. He rested in a beach chair to get some sun and a deep, deep forest-green color. No one sat on him. What next?

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A symbol of what I should do with my idea of a short story involving Gumby?

No! This is the beginning of how a short story forms. Anything goes, until something hits and whala! Maybe I have to look more into the heart of the character. It can’t be fun being so small and green, not to mention not even being alive. There is no heart in this character. Now I have to create the heart.

I’ll have to noddle this some more, maybe even get Pokey involved. Pokey was a horse, his friend. Pokey is female, well, I don’t know that for sure. But in my story, Pokey will be a female. She’ll be fun and feisty and full of herself, and an energy that introduces his boring world to vim and vigor. Hey, I can make them characters! Vim and Vigor are twins. Parents of twins often do that … like Janet and Joan … Peter and Paul … it’s a shred of believable reality that we can pull into the story. Yeah, I like it. I’m feeling invigorated again. Okay, so Vim will be impulsive, not thinking things through before acting, a bit weak when it comes to confrontation, but fun. Vigor will be the essence of the action, the strength, the grounding rod for Vim. So now we have Gumby, and Pokey (his best friend and one of his few), who acquaints Gumby to Vim and Vigor.

Gotta get Gumby out of the travel business … get his head out of the sand, and into something much more exciting.

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Onward …

 

From Short Story Idea to Completion-Part 1

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Walking down State Street in Santa Barbara, a desire to write another short story nagged my imagination. I had begun another novel, a dark psychological novel that subdued me for weeks. I needed a breath of fresh air, and my imagination needed to explore another short-story avenue. Can’t stay submerged in one writing arena for too long, I get anxious, restless to wander.

I studied items in the Fine Arts Museum shop window: books, jewelery, posters, toys, models of sculptures. Yes, a full window. Maybe I should write about something I see in the store, I thought. That would be new. Although I’m never lost for ideas, I wanted to write something different than my usual mystery. I wanted to practice writing something “out-of-the-box” for me. Although I tend to be very diverse, and many a critique has felt less than positive about the multiplicity, I wanted to stretch myself–like an artist does when doing a series of pieces and studying dimensionality.

I then decided I would take pictures of the items that most caught my eye, pick one to write about, and take you along for the ride.

Here they are as I photographed them: (Which one do you think I chose?)

One of my favorite cartoons as a young kid.

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IMG_0930 Love robots (Robbie the Robot being my first from Lost In Space.)

IMG_0931 Psychologically who doesn’t feel this way at times?

IMG_0932 Oh so pretty.

IMG_0933 Photography makes the picture. Love it.

IMG_0935Ah, that gruesome side of humanity, the darkness, the depth, and the dead.

I came home and downloaded the pictures. I studied them and how I felt about each of them. Where did the story lie? I decided right-off that it wasn’t in the pretty dress … didn’t tickle my fancy enough. And “The Scream”–too psychological for me. Easier to write, not out-of-the-box enough for a wayward story. Beard and photography … I would save that for a later date. The front-cover picture unfolded its own story, and I wanted nothing to suggest the person, profession, or timeline of the tale. Darkness, depth, depression, and death–all in my new book–needed to get away from that. Okay, I was left with the robot, and the cartoon. Which would be the hardest to write? I had already imagined and started notes for “The Archivist”, A sci-fi story that takes place in the distant future. But I had stopped it dead in it’s over-worded tracks. Hmm, yes, I went with Gumby. I haven’t the foggiest clue where the Gunby team will take me, but we’re meandering the road together headed into a new light. I’ll need to noodle it around in my brain, in fits and starts, day and night, pieces floating through an untouched abyss until they meet and form.

To be continued … dreams, ideas, and characters

Thanksgiving and Your Shadow

Thanksgiving and Your Shadow:

 

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In Jungian Analytical theory there is a concept called the Shadow. The Shadow is the collection of unacceptable characteristics about ourselves, others, and society that we place in the dark nooks and crannies of our personality. As these characteristics expand, they form their own “shadow” personality. It does not enter the conscious pathway easily. For example: Only through years of repressed anger, will a simple comment by your mother release a venomous slip-of-the-tongue response that could slash her to pieces. It may feel good for a second, but then the shadow bolts back into the eerie subconscious, and you are left holding your guilt. So I wouldn’t advise you curse at your mother in front of everyone this Thanksgiving.

One aspect of our culture, and all cultures throughout the world, is the need for social mores, an important part of the function of the civilized world. As Robert Johnson says in Owning Your Own Shadow, “Some of the pure gold of our personality is relegated to the shadow because it can find no place in that leveling process that is culture.” Part of our culture is imbedded in traditions and holidays. Thanksgiving, a holiday formed from the bringing together of two disparate forces and giving thanks for the union, has changed over the years.

Football, turkeys, family meetings, Macy’s parade of plastic icons, and overeating.

“Every individual needs,” as Jung stated in 1966, “a revolution, inner division, overthrow of the existing order, and renewal, but not by forcing them upon his neighbors under the hypocritical cloak of Christian love or the sense of social responsibility.”

What is it you really want to do on Thursday? What does your shadow whisper in your ear?  Are you being hypocritical by being with someone you don’t like, and feel forced to “be good”?

Why? Really.

The Reluctant Send Off

Well, I did it! I finished my novel, Seniors Inc.  I’m happy. Very, very thrilled, and relieved. Excited. Nervous. Not nail biting. No. A bit scared. Not panicked. No. Will send her off for reviews. Reviewing. Looked at. Studied. Scrutinized. Not anxious. No. Weary. Yes. Keep her home. Yes. Safe. Yes. No. She must go. Go. Yes. Good Bye. Never to return the same.

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That was my reaction to letting my completed work go to reviewers, a trip it has yet to take.

 

Priscilla Royal, a fellow mystery author, who writes the Prioress Eleanor / Brother Thomas medieval mystery series from Poisoned Pen Press has graciously allowed me to reprint her blog post, and share author Anne Bradstreet’s poem on this exact subject. The tenth book in Priscilla’s series, “Covenant with Hell” will be released this December. Look for it. Her website is www.priscillaroyal.com.  Here is her post from The LadyKillers Blog.


 I offer the following 17th century poem from Anne Bradstreet, often called the first published American poet. I think she speaks for many of us when we finish a book, send it off to the reviewing wolves, and hope against hope their teeth will not leave scars… 

The Author To Her Book  

Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,

Who after birth did’st by my side remain,

Till snatcht from thence by friends, less wise than true,

Who thee abroad exposed to public view,

Made thee in rags, halting to th’ press to trudge,

Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).

At thy return my blushing was not small,

My rambling brat (in print) should mother call.

I cast thee by as one unfit for light,

The visage was so irksome in my sight,

Yet being mine own, at length affection would

Thy blemishes amend, if so I could.

I washed thy face, but more defects I saw,

And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.

I stretcht thy joints to make thee even feet,

Yet still thou run’st more hobbling than is meet.

In better dress to trim thee was my mind,

But nought save home-spun cloth, i’ th’ house I find.

In this array, ‘mongst vulgars may’st thou roam.

In critic’s hands, beware thou dost not come,

And take thy way where yet thou art not known.

If for thy father askt, say, thou hadst none;

And for thy mother, she alas is poor,

Which caused her thus to send thee out of door.