A JOURNEY SOUTH OF THE BORDER

Mexican flag

The flag flying against the blue of the sky was a beacon for those on the cruise last week.

My daughter’s birthday was Saturday, the thirteenth, and two days before, she and a group of friends headed to Ensenada on a cruise ship.

Today I’m sharing some of the photos.  Below, my daughter Heather and her friend Jessica are heading down to Long Beach to catch the boat.  These two have been friends since they were teenagers, and I enjoyed watching them both grow through those challenging years.

 

 

Heather & Jessica - Cruise, Day 1

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The group of them in a formal shot, before all the heavy partying starts….

 

A Friends Photo

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Catching some rays….

 

Cruise - Sunbathing

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Hi, Kitty Kat!

 

Heather  Tiger

 

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I think the party has started….

 

 

Heather & friends - cruise

 

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On dry land for a bit….

 

 

Mexican beer

 

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A formal shot of the engaged couple, Heather and David….

 

 

A birthdayengagement portrait

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An interesting view….

 

Another view

 

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And here’s another….

 

 

Cruise - Water View

 

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This post is linked to West Metro Mommy Reads, for Saturday Snapshots.

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A JOURNEY WITH HEATHER: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

1977 - Rain & Heather

Happy birthday to my baby girl, Heather!  Above, she is ten months old, and we were enjoying a get-away along the Central Coast.  That shot was taken in Solvang.

 

Below, she is age three….Her hair looks like that because I had braided it, and then brushed it out, trying for a flower child style…probably not her best look.

 

 

 

heather at three

 

Fast-forward through the years:  her oldest brother, Craig, a photographer, captured her against this wall in a grungy look.  She was fifteen, and really hates that hairstyle now.

 

 

1962

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Several years later, she went to Pismo Beach to get married, and her two-year-old, Noah, showed off his blond curls for the occasion….

 

 

heather and noah at Pismo Beach

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There have been many occasions with photos of Heather, but here’s the last one I took, earlier this week, when we celebrated her birthday early.  Now she is on a cruise, with fiance and friends, celebrating 40 years!

 

 

Heather's birthday lunch - 2016

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She was born on Friday the 13th, in August 1976.  Many happy returns!

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This post is linked to West Metro Mommy Reads.

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BACK TO THE BEGINNING: A JOURNEY

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Today I decided to search my archives for posts from back in the beginning…and found this one from 6/22/09, my very first post on this site.  Back then, it was called Explorations….but it later morphed into its present form.  The message is the same as it was back then:  my journey through life via my various creations.  The A-frame house above is one I was living in when I wrote the novel, and it was the inspiration for parts of the story.

Today I also changed my theme.  Another thing I do fairly regularly.

Here is a copy of that first post:

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In my novel “An Accidental Life,” I focused on a local phenomenon in the Central Valley of California – methamphetamine abuse.  In the early nineties, I was working in child welfare services for the County of Fresno, and a proliferation of substance abuse cases (related to methamphetamine or “crank” abuse) became a regular aspect in the life of the social worker.

Years later, when I decided to pen a novel that featured these issues, I chose to zero in on characters that were composites of those I met during this time in my professional career.  I also added my own personal take to the story by creating characters from my personal history.

As a result, we have a bird’s eye view, as it were, into the life of social workers and their clients.

To spice things up a bit, I added a subplot that featured a stalker/murderer, a nod to another aspect of Central Valley life – homicides.  We have had our share of unsolved mysteries in this Valley city, but in my novel, I chose to reach a solution to the stalker/homicide that focuses on one of my characters.

Finally, because I do not believe in “happily ever after,” I did make one concession to this familiar theme:  I chose what I call a “hopeful ending.”  The characters are left with the faith that the “journey” in life is really what it’s all about.  Finding themselves on the path of self-discovery, with its complexities and obstacles, allows the characters to persist – to believe.

In the end, that’s really all we have.

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Here’s an excerpt from An Accidental Life, the book that started it all for me and my creations:

 

Once upon a time, Karin Larson had believed in endless possibilities.  In her childhood, all the adults had asked her the same question: What do you want to be when you grow up?   Picturing a giant list from which she could choose, Karin had played with the task, picking out one thing or another, while watching the reaction of the grownups to help her know if her choices were right or wrong.

 

Much later, Karin had come to realize that selecting one thing meant giving up something else.  A possibility lost…perhaps forever.  Sometimes, not making any choice at all was just a different way of choosing.

 

Karin often wondered about those alternate paths.  As a single mother and a social worker for the past fourteen years, she was a responsible and professional person.  She had achieved some expertise in her field.  On the surface, an observer might see her as a calm, reasonably attractive woman in her mid-to-late thirties.
So why did she wake up every morning of her life wishing she were somewhere else and anyone else?

 

Today was no different from any other.  Karin heard the alarm and cringed.  Then, to stave off the inevitable, she pretended to be on vacation in some tropical island.  She could almost feel the breeze off the ocean, and the scent of suntan lotion wafted toward her.  She could feel her body relaxing into the chaise lounge, while a handsome man approached with a tall, cold drink with one of those little umbrellas on top.  “Mom!” Bridget’s voice interrupted her reverie with its irritatingly teenage quality, that tone that demanded immediate attention.  As she pushed open the bedroom door, she continued.  “I can’t find that book I’m supposed to take back today!  Have you put it somewhere?”  Her tone, almost accusing, brought Karin rudely back to reality.

 

“No, Bridget,” she replied, forcing an appropriately calm and maternal tone into her own voice, refusing to resort to exchanging irritable words with her daughter.  “Why don’t you check the desk?  I think I saw it there last night.  And, good morning to you, too!”  She aimed a curving smile in her daughter’s direction.

 

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OUT OF MY INTERIOR WORLD: FAMILY TIME & BEACH TIME

August 2016 - Crescent City beach -layered waves

What a week! 

On Sunday, I joined two of my grown kids and their kids…and a couple of other grandchildren…for our semi-annual lunch.  We met at The Elephant Bar, and here are some shots of our celebration.

First:  a group shot, showing how tall some of us are.  Aaron, in the middle, is around 6’6″. 

 

July 31 - family group 1***

Here are my two eldest grandchildren:  Alec and Dominic, 21, both born in June.  They are each attending universities.

 

Alec & Dominic - 731***

 

A close-up of Aaron, the tallest one, age 18, flanked by Alec and Dominic.  He’s heading off to a university in Phoenix in the fall:

 

July - Aaron, Alec, Dominic***

Left to right:  Dominic, Fiona, and Aubrey.  Both girls were born only days apart, too, in February 1997….they are also college girls:

 

Aubrey & Fiona - July 2016 - Dominic, too***

And let’s not forget the youngest of the clan: Noah, at age 13:

 

July 31 Noah

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So…the next morning, after this event, Fiona and I got up VERY early and headed up north to visit my youngest son and his wife in Crescent City, near the Oregon border.  The beach shot at the top of the post is there….and here are some of our other finds:

Into the redwood forest:

 

August 2016 - redwood forest***

The Trees of Mystery, where visitors are greeted by (Oops!) John Bunyan  Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox:

 

 

August 2016 - Paul Bunyon & Babe the Blue Ox - Trees of Mystery, Klamath

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After an unplugged week of enjoying the world outside my Interior one….I am exhausted, but also eager to get back into blogging.

I read two books while I was away!  I can’t believe it, but I read at night before falling asleep.  Just posted my reviews this morning.  The Melody Lingers On, by Mary Higgins Clark; and The Girl You Lost, by Kathryn Croft.

 

 

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I loved my time away, and enjoyed everything except the 10 hour drive each way…with constant road work on Hwy. 101.  Family time was great….and I saw some Netflix shows not on my list, including a tear-jerker dog movie called Hachi.

But….I’m happy to be home!  What was your week like?

This post is linked to West Metro Mommy Reads, for Saturday Snapshot.

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PINPOINTING THE “BEFORE” & “AFTER” MOMENT: EXCERPTING “WEB OF TYRANNY”

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In an excerpt from Chapter One, of Web of Tyranny, Margaret Elaine Graham thinks back to some defining moments in her childhood.

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Later in her life, Margaret would remember the summer of 1956 as that time when she’d still had illusions about what life could be.

 

Even with the backbreaking, seemingly endless chores, there was still that camaraderie amongst the workers.  Even Lucy helped keep things light, chattering away about her plans for the evening.  Margaret listened and pretended she had Lucy’s life with Lucy’s parents.  Uncle Joe and Aunt Noreen laughed a lot.  They even had a television set and when Margaret had the good fortune to visit at their house, hanging out with Lucy’s younger sister Nanette, the whole family sat around on the couch eating their dinner on TV trays and laughing along with the I Love Lucy show.  Sometimes Margaret thought that Aunt Noreen, who was Father’s sister, must have grown up in a different family.  They were total opposites.  Father was all stern and uptight, while Aunt Noreen laughed and joked and seemed to enjoy being with her kids.  Just like Father’s other sister Molly, who had all those stories to tell.  Even Uncle Victor and Aunt Janice seemed so different from Father.

 

Margaret couldn’t figure any of it out back then.  Later she would come to believe that it all had something to do with Father being the eldest child in his family.  The one who had to drop out of school to work the farm.  The one who had to give up his own fun and lightheartedness to help bring in the crops.

 

But in her tenth year of life, Margaret Elaine Graham only knew that the father who had once loved her had turned on her.  And her life had somehow shaped itself into Before and After.  First there had been love and acceptance.  Then there was coldness and disapproval.   And fleeting moments of secret fun and freedom meted out in small portions, to be grasped and cherished.  As rare and unexpected as a stash of jewels.  And just as precious.

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FINDING MY “BLOG” PEOPLE: LIKES & DISLIKES

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Blogging is a big part of my days.  I’m at my laptop blogging most mornings, but also some evenings.  I love posting on my six blogs, and I enjoy visiting a variety of blogs.

What do you look for in a blog?  What makes you decide to follow?

I’ve read some posts about this topic, so I thought I would personalize it for myself, writing about what draws me into a blog…or what puts me off.

WHAT I LOVE IN A BLOG:

  • Being a visual person, I am attracted to the themes, headers, and text in a site.  I want my eye to land on pretty things, some kind of organization, and a user-friendly space.
  • I notice what’s in a sidebar, and hopefully will discover what I need to know to follow the blogger; I also like to discover who that blogger is, via an “about” page, or through something in that sidebar.
  • Of course I want to learn more about the blogger’s taste in books, and I enjoy the occasional discussion post that makes me want to have a conversation with the blogger.

 

images blog love

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That’s pretty much it for me…I’m not just drawn to similar tastes in books, etc., as I relish the opportunity to stretch, and to go outside my comfort zone…a little.  I also want to be able to chat with other bloggers.

WHAT TURNS ME OFF:

I really don’t like talking about negatives, but…I cringe at loud noises, so blaring music will scare me away and keep me away.  LOL

Text is important.  If it is hard to read, I’m leaving…and quickly.

I love stuff in the sidebar, but if it is chaotic, I probably won’t find what I’m looking for.

So…that’s pretty much it.

What do you think?  Do you have items you look for in blogs?  Do you find your own special “people” using certain criteria?

Come on by and let’s chat about it.

 

Madeleine on June 15 - coffee

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MY INTERIOR WORLD: CHECKING MY BALANCE

curl up in cozy office - july 12***

Welcome to my Interior World.  Here’s a peek at my Cozy Corner in my office/guest room.  You can see the desk/laptop area, the new office chair…and my bookcase with Coffee Cup, Liberty the Book Mascot, and a portion of the cozy chair.

Underneath the desk and the chair, there is a plastic carpet cover that has seen better days.  Yesterday, I moved everything out of the nook and pulled the cover outwards so more of it will be under the chair…and not the desk. (This photo was taken before I had done that).

I need to get a new one.  Now that I know I can do the change-up myself…I  have added it to my shopping list.

To move the desk, I removed all the stuff from the top, in the cubbies, and the drawers themselves. 

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Now let’s talk about balance…again.  It has probably been a few weeks since I’ve done any serious furniture rearranging…or am I in denial?

I haven’t done any book purges since last year.

The last time Fiona was here, when she assembled my office chair and my dining bench…she helped me reorganize the garage shelves.  She can hoist some of those big bins to the top shelves.  Here is what we’ve done so far…I still need to haul away some of this stuff, but at least the shelves look organized…sort of.

 

garage organization - 1

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garage organization 3

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What’s next?  Oh, back to more reading and blogging.  And later today, I have to run some errands, check the mailbox (I found out that my state tax refund is actually coming as a paper check instead of a direct deposit.  Annoying, right?).

Maybe I’ll reward myself with one of these….

 

july 5 martini

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Pippa will accompany me.  I’m reading Paris Runaway, by Paulita Kincer, and I’m loving this mother who is chasing her teenage daughter through the streets of Paris…and enjoying how she shares what she sees and thinks along the way.

 

 

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My week in books has been all over the place.  I started with one book…and then remembered that All Is Not Forgotten, a NetGalley review, was being released on Tuesday…so I switched to that one.

 

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I finished both of those books by yesterday.  Dear Carolina was the one I’d been reading.

Click titles for reviews.

 

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What does your interior world look like this week?

 

balance

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