Rainy days and…Wednesdays

We had more glorious rain today which, if you’ve been following me for a while, or if you live in California, you know is a really good thing.

When we went through the drought a few years ago, it was actually pretty hard to cut water back to the level each of us needed to do. Of course most people don’t waste water here in California, not even when it’s raining, after going through drought like that.

The rain has put me in mind of our visit to the Killarney National Park and the Ring of Kerry in Ireland. We had to skip the Ring of Kerry (sadly!) because of the storm, but we saved one sight-seeing goal that day. Ladies’ View is one of the most-photographed places in Killarney. Here’s the info from the official site:

Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting visited here during the royal visit in 1861. They were so taken with the view that it was named after them.

https://www.killarneynationalpark.ie/visit-us/ladies-view/

Here’s Ladies’ View on that day with a pano shot:

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On the way there, it was so rainy we really needed our umbrellas and were grateful to be able to duck into a pub in Kilmare for lunch. We walked up and down the street, fighting the rain, we were cold and wet, yet still taking time to read the posted menus so we would choose the place best for us. We selected a pub connected to an inn, and it had the coziest bar. We had the place to ourselves. It was an off hour, off season, and very off weather, so we could really relax in the prime location next to the fireplace.

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It was kind of odd, there was a tradition of Americans passing through signing a dollar bill and tacking it to the rafters. We did not participate in that.

I was so grateful to be warm and dry. I think I had soup and hot chocolate and my husband had Shepherd’s pie or something like it.

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Finally we pressed on to the Dingle Peninsula, which must be spectacular in good weather. In our weather, we were lucky to survive. Ha ha! It was a bit harrowing when Google Maps took us to the top of a mountain where the road turned into a precipice leading to a one-way road that clung to the side of a cliff so high you couldn’t even see the water, and then said, “Lost connection.” I didn’t take a picture there, so you’ll have to believe me, it was terrifying. We backed out, and the people behind us had to back out, so we could get by. We thought they’d be annoyed because they’d be in a hurry to continue on the road. No…they all turned around and followed us back the way we came! There were a few brave (stupid) tourists out that day and Google sent them all to what would be a scary country road in the best of weather, especially with tourists trying to figure out how to negotiate oncoming traffic and trying to remember who has the right-of-way.

I did manage to get this photo on the way back at a restaurant where we stopped to use the bathroom.

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On the Dingle Peninsula Ireland

And I took a zoom shot from the car window when we reached the head of the pinunsula, LOL. Nothing like a zoom when it’s pouring rain.

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Dingle Peninsula

I had more ideas for the book I want to write about going to Ireland. I’m making notes; I’m going to write that as soon as I’m done with my WIP.

Donegal Ireland

This county on the northwest of Ireland continued a trajectory of magic that I experienced in Western Ireland. It’s hard to explain the feelings I had in Ireland, but I will try to share it a bit as I explore these photographs with you and because I think that this is something I’m going to try to capture in my next book (not my work in progress, which is already FULL of other travel locations!)

I was sick with a cold the last week, and when I have a cold, I rest. While resting I discovered a new (to me) TV show called Room to Improve with Dermot Bannon, an Irish architect. The first episode was set in Donegal, which when I first heard pronounced properly by an Irish person, sounded musical to me, and the Sligo taxi driver who said it was delighted when he heard we were going there next. He said we’d love it.

We plan our trips ourselves, and this one was ambitious. I planned four hour driving days sometimes, which is nothing here, but it is WAY too much in Europe. The roads are not the same, and it’s exhausting. The outcome of that planning error was that many things I had planned had to be thrown out the window, but I’m still thrilled with everything we accomplished.

The planning had to account for driving time and working in sights along that path. We booked all our hotels and B&Bs in advance and we sometimes had to choose them based on where we needed to get to that day to be set up for the next day.

We chose to stay in Dungloe because of just such math. We found a wonderful B&B.

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Our B&B

Tired of driving, we walked to town and saw this view. I hadn’t brought my camera, but we both snapped photos with our phones. I was so happy to have a camera on my phone, the light was just right!

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Here are two views of the town of Dungloe.

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Dungloe from the road above

By the way, I recommend Room to Improve and especially that episode set in Donegal. It really gives you the sense of the people, the architecture, and the countryside. Plus in that episode the way the house turns out is lovely, a bit hard in some of the interior finishes for my particular tastes, but I love the way he lets in light, opens spaces, creates a sense of peace, and optimizes for the views and “bringing the outside in.” In other words, a lot to love in the finished product.

 

Funny thing is, I’m wearing my Aran Islands sweater today, and I didn’t even know I’d be writing this post when I put it on! It’s toasty warm and brings back good memories of meeting one of the women who knit the sweaters from local wool. I am warmed on the outside by the wool and the craftsmanship and on the inside by the memory of our interaction with the lovely woman in the little shop.

Ring of Brodgar

Standing stones from prehistoric times, henges, are so mystical. I love them! And the Scottish Highlands and islands have so many of these sites. One Neolithic Orkney site is called The Ring of Brodgar. It was breathtaking. Maybe it was set up for practicing Astronomy, or perhaps for ritual.

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The Mysteries of History: Orkney Islands Scotland

We took a thrilling trip to Ireland and Great Britain last year, and I’m excited to share some photos with you. I’ll start with my favorite, the Orkney Islands. You really have to travel far to get there, and once you do, it feels pristine and untouched except for the magnificent job the Scottish people have done with preserving one of the most amazing stone-age sites of all time. It’s called Skara Brae, and here are some photos to show you what we experienced. Note: It rained a lot while we were there, but we were undaunted!

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Fortunately, my camera survived. That wasn’t smart to take photos in the rain!

This trip is not part of my current book, but it will be part of a future book. In the meantime, I plan to share the photos and stories with you, so stay tuned .

Writing Women’s Fiction

I’ve been busy the last couple of years and have written a couple books but haven’t published them.  I’ve changed genres a couple times and have landed finally on women’s fiction, which is more general than Romance. The emphasis is more on the woman’s life and there might be a romance in it, but it wouldn’t be the emphasis, and it also might not even have a romantic element. I’m working on a book now that does have a romantic element. I like general fiction about life, and especially women’s lives as they learn, grow, and achieve their dreams, so that’s what I’m writing.

My work in progress features a lot of travel. You know my husband and I travel as much as possible, well I thought I’d figure out a way to work that into my books more. In this book, Easter Island is one of the locations visited. I thought I’d share some of the images from that trip, or re-share, because actually, I shared them a long time ago when I first started this blog. Easter Island is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever seen, and I feel very lucky to have had a chance to visit it.

Here are some photos of what I saw.

Birds

I put up the finch feeder again after taking it down for the summer because the finches it attracted were going after our veggie garden. Now we have too many veggies and no finches. I was wondering why we don’t have them…yes, they migrate. Well the sparrows (I think that’s what they are) are occasionally making use of the finch feeder, so that will help those of them who can eat that kind of thistle seed to do well this winter. Next summer I might let the finches have their way with our garden. There does seem to be enough to feed them and ourselves.

Actually now that I look at them, there are two kinds of birds here. The little black and white one was part of a small flock that was eating the bottle brush blossoms, the one on the feeder is a completely different kind.

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Success: Opportunity meets preparedness 

This is what the start of winter looks like in the Sierras near Lake Tahoe.

Plus it’s very cold so the resorts are making snow.  The two resorts will be able to open for the huge Thanksgiving holiday week, which is this week. Their work prepared them for the opportunity of early snowfall and cold temperatures, and now there is a huge economic benefit, not just for the resort owners, but for all the employees who rely on the season for their livelihoods. Extending the season in the spring and fall helps stabilize the economy up here. I grew up here and it’s nice to see the doldrums of shoulder seasons shrinking. Nice to see people working.

Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows prepared over the last years and especially last summer to be ready for snow making. The temperature has to be cold enough to make snow and you have to have a lot of infrastructure to be able to do it. We passed by an installation of electrical lines on the mountain side when we were hiking in Alpine Meadows a month or two ago. 


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Alpine Meadows ski resort during a storm

The only huge problem is lack of housing. Somehow economic growth always seems to leave out adequate housing. Hopefully the expansion and development and Squaw Valley will include employee housing. I’m not sure if it does or not. In California we need 3.5 million more homes.

Hello after a long hiatus

I hope the fall is treating you well. Right now I’m sitting in a rain storm wishing it was a snow storm and reminding myself…hey, it’s water. We Californians want no-more-drought pleeeease, so this is awesome. And the skiers among us…it’s snowing on the upper mountain and Squaw Valley is opening Gold Coast tomorrow. Woot! (I’m not going. LOL. We wait quite some time for there to be a lot of runs open and no crowds.)

What have I been up to? Writing. I finished my Coming Soon book, well the first draft anyway, or maybe that would be the second or third, and sent it to my editor. I also went to the Seattle Indie UnCon. That’s an un-conference for independent authors. How is a conference an un-con? There are no workshops. You sit in a conference room and talk.  A moderator sets the topic for the discussion based on what people said ahead of time they wanted to talk about. People talk about that topic and it’s an information fire-hose, in a good way.

This was my first conference as a romance writer. For years I used to go to a literary conference with my mom. We had fun. We were really wannabe authors and that was a cultural experience. I also learned lots of things about writing and met some amazing famous authors. But that was a long time ago, and I’ve been reluctant to get back into conferencing for a number of reasons. When I heard about this un-conference though, I immediately wanted to go. Turns out I was lucky to get in because it’s small. Now that I’m in I can keep going, yay.

I took a lot of notes and generally became excited about marketing and business. That’s huge, since I would say I was not very excited at all about those components of being an author. It was energizing for me to tap into this indie group, too. All these power writers, not all in my genre, it’s a big world.

I do have a few images to show you. These are from the Animal Ark in Sparks Nevada. All these animals are well-cared for rescued wild animals.

Images have become more difficult for me to process since I dropped my Lightroom subscription, so sometimes I really don’t want to take the time to open them in GIMP and shrink them to a reasonable size. I might end up buying the software for Lightroom though. It’s not too bad and then you don’t have that monthly fee that really adds up over the years!

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Monty
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Moyo (or Jamar, not sure which was which)
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Brown Bear

Western Australia, part 1

Sorry for the long delay in getting more Australia photos posted. I had to concentrate to finish a novel. The cover is on the blog in the right frame (desktop and tablet) or in the cluster of images at the bottom (on mobile devices).

I worked on STOLEN when we were in Australia, but the setting of the book is another location I have traveled to twice, Monaco. Though it was so long ago I don’t even have pictures, Monaco is a glamorous place that left an indelible impression on me.

Of course the same can be said of Australia. Maybe not the glamour in the same way, but the indelible impression. On this trip we saw different parts, always scratching the surface you know, but pretty much blown away and left wanting more.

Broome, where Cable Beach is located, is an access point for the Kimberley wilderness in Western Australia. We arrived at the Cable Beach Resort, one of the places on my Must See lists, just before sunset. This was not accidental! Actually we were supposed to get there a few hours earlier, but our flight from Darwin was delayed. We were lucky not to miss the famous sunset.

Guests at the Cable Beach Resort were mostly Australians from the south having a beach vacation away from their winter. The Kimberley and Broome are way north, closer to the equator and have a wet and dry season. The season when people visit is Dry which runs, I believe, from May to August.

It was nice to be some of the very few Americans around. I’m not sure why we were, but it’s a long way, and there’s a lot to see in Australia (understatement). I think most foreigners hit Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef, and Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock). Friends of ours who emigrated from the US to Australia have settled in Western Australia, and they were the ones who told us about the Kimberley.

Anyway, I love tide pools, and I went crazy with my camera at Cable Beach. Here are a ton of photos if you want to see what it’s like. If you can go, I highly recommend it.

 

Yes I was fascinated by these little sand balls deposited around a hole in the sand. Not sure what it is…