Sunday, November 27, 2016

25,401 words

This month I wrote 25,401 words of a novel. That's 90 pages, in case you're wondering, so it's not finished. Not even halfway.

I know there are still 3 days left in November, but there's no way I'm going to make it to the 50,000 words I need to "win" this year's National Novel Writing Month, so I'm going to have to call it.

I'm tired.

I'm disappointed that I didn't meet my goal.

Writing a novel is (insert whiny voice here) hard.  Even when you have people taking care of you so you can focus. (I did. Special people made sure I was fed, had clean clothes to wear and a clean house to live in. They didn't make me feel guilty about hiding away evenings and weekends or not being available for certain events. For that, I'm enormously grateful.)

So why is it so hard to write a novel? Well, I'm sure that having ADHD doesn't help. (I really was diagnosed with ADHD back in graduate school, so there.) Actually, the first thirty or forty pages was easy, but then I started wavering about what to write next: should I put this scene here, or there? And I started forgetting details. For example, one of the minor characters lives in Tega Cay, South Carolina in a fancy house on Lake Wylie. I kept wanting to put her at Lake Lanier in Georgia AND I DO NOT KNOW WHY because Lake Wylie is practically in my backyard and I know absolutely nothing about Lake Lanier. Or Georgia, for that matter.

I have this tendency to want to edit as I go along. I know this is wrong! But I just can't help myself.

And then there are things I don't know, so I have to stop and look them up on the internet. One of the main characters has an acoustic guitar. But what guitar exactly? A Gibson? Martin? Larrivee? OK, so pick one. But then what model? And what does it look like? Is it made from Indian rosewood? Mahogany? Hawaiian koa? And is that the wood on the body or the sides or the neck? Jeez, Louise, there are too many details and too many choices.

In an effort to focus, I shut myself off from social media. No Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter (OK, there were one or two tweets), and no blogging for 27 days. Until today. Right? But you see, there was that one big thing that happened on November 8 . . . yeah, that election thing . . . somehow I managed to keep away from social media despite the temptation to get online and voice my very strong opinions about the election results and read what others were writing. But I managed to restrain myself, because I knew that would kill way too many writing hours.

So here I am with these 25,401 words. It's not a lot, really. I have so much further to go. I'll "lose" another NaNoWriMo (I've done this for five years and only "won" once, in 2014 -- but I didn't actually finish that story.) Yet in doing this, it reinforces the reality that I'M A WRITER.

But will I be a Novelist? That remains to be seen. If I can muster up the discipline I've had this month into the next eleven months, then maybe. I already have a book cover concept, a publisher, and an ISBN number. I've just got to come up with more pages. More WORDS.

Maybe someday...


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Rocky Mountain HIGH

The view from Pike's Peak
So I bought a t-shirt in the gift shop at the top of Pike's Peak. It says:

Pike's Peak - 14,115 feet - Being this high is illegal in most states, but not this one!

I didn't expect to come to Colorado on this trip. After a few days in Northern New Mexico, we were supposed to go South, to Las Cruces, Ruidoso, and Roswell. But our plans changed and we thought HEY! Let's go north and see if we can find some aspen trees!

I also wanted to check out another possible retirement spot: Manitou Springs. Just next to Colorado Springs and at the foot of Pike's Peak, it's a cute town that in some ways reminds me of (a way smaller) Asheville. It just has a funky vibe to it, and lots of interesting people.

Manitou Springs
There were a lot of things I liked about Manitou Springs, but I'm still too enamored with Los Alamos to think about living anywhere else right now.

Manitou Springs is close to Garden of the Gods, and we spent several hours there walking through the park and watching some rock climbers.

Garden of the Gods: Walking in the Shadows
Garden of the Gods: The Descent
I still hadn't seen many of those awesome aspen trees, so we drove around the mountains via Woodland Park, Divide, and Midland out to Victor and Cripple Creek. And there they were! Words like AWESOME!!! and STUNNING!!! don't do them justice. Just look at these photos, which by the way, only capture a tiny fraction of what the eyes see.
Aspens along the road to Cripple Creek.

The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

My eyes are so much richer now as a result of seeing the aspen trees in their glory. I will never be the same again.

Looking forward to a return visit to Colorado. And by the way, the only Rocky Mountain High I got was breathing the air up at Pike's Peak. Oh, and listening to the John Denver song a time or two.


P.S. Colorado is nice, but I left my heart in New Mexico.

The solitude that is Northern NM

Eagle Nest Lake

Continuing the vacation saga . . . we took the scenic route from Santa Fe up to Taos, Angelfire, Eagle Nest, and down to Cimarron en route to I-25. The drive was amazing. Not too crowded (except for Taos which was a traffic nightmare -- sorry, not impressed). Long stretches of beautiful secondary highway.

The Rio Grande just outside of Taos -- yeah, THAT Rio Grande!

Descending from Eagle Nest, we saw lots of ranches and pick-up trucks and people wearing cowboy hats. Stopped in the plains town of Cimarron for a snack. Had the coldest Mountain Dew ever (the only one of the trip -- I've cut back significantly in the last five years!) Gotta say it really hit the spot.

I love New Mexico. Did I say I love New Mexico?



Friday, October 14, 2016

Ghost Ranch . . . and my future town?

A few hours outside of Santa Fe is a small town called Abiquiu. People I respect told me I needed to go there to visit Ghost Ranch while I was in the area. Artist Georgia O'Keeffe lived on the ranch for three years and in the area for many more. Ghost Ranch is now an education and retreat center owned by the Presbyterian Church and you should check out their website because they've got a lot of cool stuff going on there.

A cottage at the Ghost Ranch looking all New Mexico.
Dirt Road looking from Ghost Ranch to Pedernal, Georgia O'Keeffe's mountain.
Now, one of the reasons I came out to these parts is because I'm in the (very) early stages of looking for a place to retire. New Mexico -- specifically the Santa Fe area -- has made my short list. I fell in love with Santa Fe on Day 1, but then the unexpected happened . . .

I fell in love with a small town that wasn't on my radar. At all.

Awesome view along the Santa Fe - Los Alamos route.
I am now officially in love with Los Alamos, New Mexico, population approximately 15,000, home of the Los Alamos Research Laboratories and my friend T, who recently moved back there with her family after living East for several years.

Los Alamos has trees. And extremely clean air. And a high percentage of PhDs. And beautiful homes, such as these:

I want so badly to live there. In an adobe home. Like one of these.

And Los Alamos (which means "the Cottonwoods" - as in trees) was recently named one of the best small towns in America with its smart citizens and high quality of life. There are way more than 8 Reasons to Move to Los Alamos if you ask me.

What's not to love? I'm ready to move there RIGHT NOW.

In my next entry, I'll share some of the highlights of taking "the long way" from Santa Fe through Taos, Angel Fire, and Eagle Nest over to I-25. Until then...


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Santa Fe

I recently returned from this year's highly anticipated vacation to New Mexico. This destination was selected in early summer, and I seriously couldn't wait to go. It was my third time in the Land of Enchantment, and my second time in Santa Fe, and it was AWESOME! Seriously, if you haven't been, put it on your list. Especially if you like 1) good food; and 2) art. Here are some of my favorite photos from The City Different . . .

I love the adobe buildings!
My first meal in Santa Fe was at Pantry Restaurant. This is "Christmas" chili (both red and green). De-LISH!

Tacos breakfast at Palacio. Green chilies, which turned out to be my favorite.

One of the many art galleries in Santa Fe.

Ristras - dried chilies! I wanted to buy a wreath, but didn't have room in my luggage to bring it back.

Next blog post . . . Outside Santa Fe, the Ghost Ranch, and I find what might be my perfect retirement city! Come back again soon.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016


International Civil Rights Center & Museum and the F.W. Woolworth store
We went to Greensboro last weekend for the National Folk Festival and while we were there, we decided to tour the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, which includes the Woolworth's store where the 1960 Greensboro sit-ins took place. The museum has several wonderful exhibits, including the actual diner where the "Greensboro Four" along with local college and high school students and other supporters changed history.

We met up with my Greensboro cousins and set out in search of music. And we found plenty of it! I wasn't familiar with most of the artists at the Festival, but that just made it more fun to check them out. Some of the ones I enjoyed most were:
Yeah, I like all kinds of music, for sure.

The Festival will be in Greensboro for one more year, so y'all need to get to it in 2017!


Friday, August 26, 2016


Ocean Isle Beach from the Pier, 20AUG16

That song that says "the living's easy" in summer certainly hasn't applied to me this year! This has been the busiest, most intense summer I've had in a very long time. I haven't taken any time off work (because in my new company, you have to earn it before you can take it). I'm loving the new job, but I've never in my life worked so hard for so many hours. This has been a summer of work, eat, and sleep and not much else, but I'm not complaining.

The biggest 'distraction' of my summer has been Postcrossing. It's a web site where you can register to send postcards around the world, and in return you get postcards from other users. So far I've sent 38 cards and received 26. The top three countries I've received from are Russia, Japan, and Germany and the top ones I've sent to are Germany, Netherlands, and Russia. It's a pretty cool hobby and it only takes a few minutes to write a postcard.

I have two pen pals. You know, as in old-fashioned letter writing. I got one of my pen pals through the Letter Writers Alliance and the other one I "met" on Twitter. One lives in a small town in Oklahoma, the other in a city in Wisconsin. We write each other about once a week. So another hobby of late has been to find pretty stationery, which isn't nearly as easy as it used to be.

These are hobbies I can pursue at home in the evenings that don't take too long and yet the reward is thrilling. I love getting snail mail! It makes my day to get a letter or postcard. 

In other news, my parents recently celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary. (Hard to imagine that two people could stand each other for that long, LOL!) On my visit to The Farm last weekend, I told them I wanted to take them out to dinner to celebrate and asked where they wanted to go. I was thinking they'd probably want to go to the local steak house or Italian place, but they said they wanted go to Calabash. (Calabash is a small town on the southern North Carolina coast that's known for seafood restaurants and "Calabash-style" -- um, deep fried -- seafood.)

I hadn't taken them on a road trip in a while, so wasn't expecting this request, but I'm always ready to go somewhere. So we piled into the car and made the 90-minute drive. After our meal, we decided to go to one of the beaches. We ended up at Ocean Isle Beach and took a walk on the pier. I could have sat on the pier for hours -- it was so relaxing.

Enjoy the rest of your summer, Northern Hemisphere peeps. For those of you South of the Equator, summer's on it's way! Cheers!