Tag Archives: Arizona

I am a rancher at heart, now I have brand to show for it! – 75.5/366

My house was built before Arizona was a state.  As such, it has seen so many things and as I go to bed each night I try not to worry about the leaky pipe or the wobbly porch with a hole in it and instead try to concentrate more on what stories it has to tell.

This past weekend the grandson of the second owner of our home stopped by for a visit.

He grew up in the house and shared some marvelous stories with me.

I learned that there is a cover-up and I was sworn to secrecy.

I learned that Wilford  Hayden would ride his old mule from the ranch about five miles north after dinner and sit on the porch chattin’ until well past midnight.

I learned that the brand the Stevenson family use (and did so when they lived in my home) was this:

can we pretend it is for 6 Squink or (last name redacted)? Also, my cousin has a brand that needs to be renewed

I learned that I need to crash the next meeting of the Scottsdale Old-Timers club!


The 5-Week Author Blog Challenge 2015 – Day 11

Prompt 11

Describe the research process for your book. Did you interview people? Travel? How prominent a role did the Internet play? If you didn’t do new research, how did you learn what you needed to know to write your book?

On going.

There are some major themes I want to use and one of those was/is love.

Love is an interesting philosophical topic and I started at Wikipedia for some thoughts… I used the Greek words for love as a start…. but at some point my own life experience intervened and I remembered that there had been some discussion of other Greek words, so I moved to google and found a list of six.

I liked the idea of the central characters to the story each representing these different kinds of love and how they can play out. So to this end I created a character spread sheep based on the specific aspects of each form that I wanted to use; who represented them, what was the conflict to illustrate it, how does the resolution show their aspect of love to be a higher state of being (this is magic realism after all, where emotions can have magical effects on the world).

If certain people inspire me, I talk to them, not as a strict interview process but as a way to see how the aspect of them that I am intrigued by affects their mannerisms and such. If there is something specific, like plane travel in the 1960’s , I look on-line and then follow-up with googling pictures and talking to people who experienced it.

Travel, since the stories I am currently working on are shaped by the landscapes of my youth in Latin America, travel was involved.. though not recent travel. I am starting to think that I should go back, with a keen eye… but the truth is that in many ways it is just a form of homesickness and I just want to go back.

In terms on doing that which did not involve research, I guess it is based on my very own experiences (which I consider a kind of research anyway and thus I find myself in a circular argument.


The hat tip today goes to Mary Ellen Stepanich, PhD as she reflects on the changing face of customer service. I have to agree, the face to face exchange between a provider and a subscriber has changed rather dramatically.

The 5-Week Author Blog Challenge 2015 – Day 10

Prompt 10

Describe your process for outlining your book. What do you do to stay organized? Do you use a software like Scrivener? Index cards? Sticky notes? Giant posterboards taped to the wall?

Is it OK to say that I do most of this in my head? While this is where I do most of my work, I do create documents to help navigate the complexities of the story I am trying to tell. I create a folder for everything related to the story.

Some of the documents include;

  • basic cast of characters; this gets added to as I navigate through the story
  • a narrative outline
  • separate documents with key interactions with other characters named by the other characters
  • files with background research (say, international travel in 1960 or the various forms of love, philosophy)
  • a character spread sheet
  • the story – in bits
  • the story as a whole

Wow, I guess there is more to my madness than I thought. I have thought about going the route of purchasing something but frugal is a gentle word for me and I would hate myself for buying something and not using the hell out of it!  So, that option is out for me… at least for now!

I wish that I could say that these work well for me… but I don’t write enough to think it is particularly effective. I suppose though, I should celebrate that there is something  actually that is written down.

Here is a second excerpt:

Clara’s parents suffered each other, as that is what unhappy married people did in those days, suffer the space the other occupied in their lives, though the pain was diminished by Clara’s presence in their life and was only acutely felt when she was not near them.

Katarina and Victor managed to have one other child, after Clara and because of Clara. Her presence alone was able to ignite another night of passion, though it was short-lived because she could not stay next to them.  They had boy who was conceived on a night that neither parents recalls after putting Clara to bed, and thus the baby boy was entrusted with the gift of oblivion. Clotilde, who had become a faithful servant to the family prayed to St. Jude Thaddeus when she pulled Theodore from Katarina’s body. Later, Clotilde would claim that she heard angels weep when Theo was born. Clotilde felt a devout devotion to the child as well, partly due, of course, to the presence of Clara in the room with them.

As a schoolgirl she had friends in everyone that crossed her path, and her presence alone would manage to make even the most vile of bullies and hateful people to stop what they were doing  and the most meek to smile and wave.  She was a remarkably happy girl, she had been taught to curtsy to everyone she met. Adults were filled with delight as this beautiful little girls with her pony tails in corkscrew curls would stretch one leg out behind her and dip low on the leg in front, lowering her head in a gesture of respect. The adult for whom this gesture was being performed would often roar with delight and little Clara would look up and beam at the happiness in their faces.

Clotilde watched Clara grow and realized that while Clara was a happy child, that there was something amiss. Clotilde surmised that perhaps it was that Clara felt very lonely as her ability to love was unsurpassed by any other person around. Clotilde surmised that the young girl in some way suffered through the tremendous amount of love that she exuded and that it was not that she did not feel love, it was that Clara had yet to meet someone who would fill her heart with the kind of love that created her and for that, she was still much too young. Clotilde was not entirely wrong, for it was indeed that Clara longed to be loved as much as she was capable of loving but it was not the kind of love Clotilde imagined.

Anyone have any thoughts? Am I being silly for sharing?


My hat tip today goes to Habit Daddy… aside from posting pictures of a beloved park near my home, shares with me a transition from night-owl to morning person and what it has brought us…. he advocated for vodka in a previous post of his and I kind of like the idea! A good read!

The 5-Week Author Blog Challenge 2015 – Day 6

Take us through your writing process. Do you keep a regular writing schedule? Do you write on your laptop or longhand? Do you have a favorite place to write? Are you most inspired in the morning, afternoon, evening, or middle of the night?

Ohhhhh. Emmmmmm. Geeeeee.

I wish I thought I even had a writing process… or even a writing schedule. I have a bunch of files in google docs, separated out into folders. Some have ideas, other have actual writing, some have pitiful versions of outlines. I write on my phone, my desktop and even a laptop.. ok, in the interest of full disclosure I haven’t written at all recently. That is exactly why I am here today, doing this blog challenge… though it is easy to do when you have prompts. I can write the answers to the prompts, getting myself to open one of my folders is another story. I don’t do it. I get to the point that I rarely even think about it except as I am drifting off to sleep.

OK… I will just do it!

So here, for your perusal are the first two paragraphs (which is all I can bear to share, mainly from shame, but I do have about 70 pages of this story down in all kinds of stages of development):

Clara was a very happy child, this is in spite of her parents disdain for each other as well as her brothers most innocent oblivion.

She and her family, and all the servants, lived in an old home whose walls were filled with the memories of all who had lived and loved there before.  The memories were often made better by her mere presence in the house. It was amazing how hate or indifference seemed to shrink away in her vicinity. Couples arguing as they walked in front of the family home stopped arguing and would begin to giggle like young lovers, cars would slow down, and even the stray cats and dogs that roamed around her neighborhood would stop and rest against the walls enclosing her home; the cats purring, the dogs wagging their tails, and birds singing a lovely song.

Clara was conceived at the the apex of her parents love.  He mother, Katarina, and father, Victor, must have entrusted all the love their bodies could posses to her, as they never seemed to like each other much after that one spectacular night in which Clara was conceived. As a result of their magnificent lovemaking, Clara was endowed with fawn eyes, a generous spirit, and the ability to nurture love with a glance or a delicate touch of her hand. When the midwife, Clotilde,  pulled Clara’s small little body from her mother almost ten months later, she fell hopelessly in love with the beautiful baby and made a silent vow to Saint Raphael to help her protect this divine little girl.   In later years Clotilde would say that angels sang when Clara was born.

I would appreciate any and all feedback!


Today the hat tip goes out to Ashley Howland. She writes books for children and they all look fascinating! (note to self, add to wishlist – check)

The 5-Week Author Blog Challenge 2015 – Day 1

The Prompt:

What are your goals for the Author Blog Challenge? Do you want to introduce new readers to your writing? Increase traffic to your blog? Get in some extra writing practice? Share your very important message with the world? Use your first post to talk about why you joined the ABC, what your goals are, and what you hope to learn from the experience. In short, let your readers know that you’re participating in the ABC and why.

The Writing:

My goal, I suppose… is to just write. I don’t do much of it physically, though I do plenty mentally. Not the same thing. I may consider sharing what I have written about the story rolling around in my head. I tend to be ok with the mulling about of the story, it seems fitting to rest there, picking up tidbits of details that are not easily forgotten. The story is magical, it is based on my experiences growing up in South America, a part of the world that experiences magic on a daily basis. Some may call the stories of these Latin American authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez to be illusion, but after being raised in , I can tell you that they are very real… the mists of magic cover everything there… I want to put that into a story.

Blog traffic, a novel idea. not my big priority.

I do, however, want to increase my practice time, this may help!

I joined because I like deadlines, in the sense that I hate them but I like that they make me feel accountable enough that I try to meet them… this kind of event prompts that in me. So here are, hoping something magical will happen and that I will somehow get the hint and start putting my ideas down on paper.

There is a lot going on in my personal life, a seriously ill family member, I am starting a mindfulness course with my son tonight, work, life… but I want to try this. I want to let go. I want to find a stronger voice. I want to go into my second year of being cancer free with more liberty of self.

TEDx yzpdqbil*

I have to admit, I am currently a little obsessed with TED talks.

It all started with this one talk – I think I saw it sometime in the fall of 2008;

I was floored, and moved, and thought “what a great way to put things out there”.

And since this was new I kind of waited to see what it would bring. I made my mother watch it. I sent it to my friends, and have fondly referred to the talk and my reaction to it ever since.

I was not a Ted-aholic, though. I would only reach out to Ted videos when I referred to them.

But something changed.

As I was preparing to host a movie screening with panel discussion, and I could not find anyone willing to serve as master of ceremonies, I realized that the job would fall to me.

So, I began watching them to see what makes for a good speaker, what are things that are compelling, what things did I like.

I even made Squink watch them while he would take a bath, the bio-luminescence ones are super cool!

I think I am a mediocre speaker. I have some strengths, but plenty of weaknesses.

But after the event, I had the idea of a themed series of talks, something like the Ted talks I had been watching for cues.

It is possible:  https://www.ted.com/participate/organize-a-local-tedx-event

But I think the one for Phoenix is taken.

And they frown upon “themed” events.

And when I thought about it some more, I saw so many possibilities and had to chuckle at the notion that each one had at least one “rule violation”.

I thought about one dealing with the many faces of cancer; from the physicians that find it, the pathologists that decipher it, the oncologists that treat it, the people who have endured it, the families of those who suffered it, the nurses who care for them, the scientists researching it.

It would be good, but it is a theme and violates the programming rules.

Then I thought about what it was like growing up as a third culture kid, and how cool it would be to get other people who grew up that way. I think my friend Doralice would have some wonderful insights, as would my friend Sparrow, and my friends Jeff and Erica. I think it would be interesting to give voice to that kind of experience. It is a bit unusual.

I have met so many interesting people, I would love to have an event to hear them talk… the Jivaro indian that had to flee his tribe because he wouldn’t convert, the people who started putumayo, the circus people, the rodeo folks, singers, entrepreneurs of the ridiculous, those off grid (the hardest to organize), photographers, movie stars, cartoonists in the golden era, explorers, survivors, hedonists, narcissists, and so on.

That got me to thinking about what would happened if I was told I had to give a Ted talk…  kind of talk could I give? what would it be about?

My ideas for Ted events is large…. but the list of things I feel I would be qualified to talk about is pretty non-existent.

I suppose I could talk about how being diagnosed with cancer was life changing in some spectacularly subtle ways… or what it was like being born to a bullfighter father and an explorer mother, though that is really their stories. About being a child of divorce (booooooring).  What it was like managing a high stress pregnancy, most of which was spent on bed rest (gag me).

At this point in my life, I think I would talk about why I think vaccines are important, from a theoretical view, and cultural view, and prevention view, a mothers view, a survivors view,

What would your Ted talk be about?

*stands for examine your zipper, pretty darn quick, before I look (a childhood phrase)

A year in my life…

A year ago, I had sent my son off to Europe and missed him terribly.

I think it was the Starbucks app of the week that was a picture a day app. I downloaded it, because;
1) it was free
2) I was thinking about documenting how much I missed my son

So, I took the selfie… and time flowed and I stuck to it and yesterday I got a notice that I had taken 365 photos.

One year, one insane year.

A son sent abroad at a very young age and being diagnosed with cancer. Not really sure which was hardest at the inception.

I missed my son terribly and was so happy when I reunited with him.

And hearing you have cancer sucks, sucks, sucks… and somehow it infiltrates everything.

But I missed my son and that was the hardest thing ever, and yes.. in a way, it was harder than being told one has cancer.

But the cancer things has its own craziness, craziness that makes everything outside the norm seem so much scarier.

So here is that one year of selfies, and as I sit here trying to figure out what all to tell my oncologist when I call him tomorrow, I think I look so much happier now than I did when I missed my son so much!

A seasonal urge

I grew up in the land of eternal spring… some even called it eternal fall.

I never have experienced four strong seasonal changes… usually it was two… but it could even be argued that there was one season unless one counts “more rain” as another season.

Ecuador had that… rain and more rain, it was eternal spring, or something akin to the glorious autumn season of the southwestern US.

Yes, it is confusing, but the big seasonal denominator for me has been the presence or absence of rain.

Today was that kind of day here in my beloved American Southwest… overcast and lightly rainy. A huge high pressure system that seemed unexpected causing tension headaches and achy bones. The release when the rain managed to push past. The smell of creosote wafting in the air.

I always feel a different kind of contentment in the rain, no matter in what part of the world I am in. If there is rain, I get this feeling. It isn’t particularly productive, but is a certain kind of peace or contentment. Though I do tend to write more when I can hear water droplets hitting the windows or the cadence of rain on the tin roof of my back porch. I feel the magic that my favorite authors are able to convey about this world, the kind that feeds the stories of Borges, Allende, Esquivel, and Garcia Marquez. While I do not claim that there is a Latin Exclusivity to the genre, as a daughter of its lands, I can understand the origins every so deeply.

When it rains, the world feels magical.

                                                     Rain in the magical jungle city of Tena in Ecuador

“The seasonal urge is strong in poets. Milton wrote chiefly in winter. Keats looked for spring to wake him up (as it did in the miraculous months of April and May, 1819). Burns chose autumn. Longfellow liked the month of September. Shelley flourished in the hot months.”
Helen Bevington