Wednesday

The Immovable and Everlasting


In June, I crossed ‘a close up view of the Rocky Mountains’ off my bucket list. They are the perfect antidote to the crazy way we live.
On the Pearl Street Mall, a pedestrian-only space in Boulder, you can stand amid the stores, gelato stands and restaurants and look up at the Flatiron Mountains. A constant presence, they reminded me there are things we can count on, like the beauty of creation.

It takes a few days to become accustomed to the altitude, so on our first day we took an easy trail into the Flatirons. The murmur of the breeze through the pines was the only sound and their scent was heavenly.
On our third day we drove to Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s worth the ride and a good place to start your relationship with the Rockies. We climbed a well-marked trail to Alberta Falls. You can go further into the back country but we were still not acclimated enough.

On our fifth day we drove through narrow canyons, between steep peaks to Roosevelt National Forest, to Brainerd Lake. We walked 2.5 miles in to get to the lake and along the way, wonderful things happened that reminded me again of things you can always count on, love and friendships.
“Can I ask you a question about taking pictures with an I-Pad?” a sweet-faced lady asked my husband. We began to walk together. Her husband joined us and so began our journey together. Pat and Marty met in Colorado in the sixties and they return every year in the month of their anniversary to re-visit and remember. When we started to tire, they encouraged us to continue to the lake. They knew there was something there we could all count on.

After walking for twenty minutes, in a clearing close to the road, we met a group of gray-haired ladies who were watching a mama moose and her calf. They have been friends since their children were young, and they have been hiking the mountains together for years. Lifelong friendships cultivated in the sight of those glorious, ever-lasting peaks.
We talked and watched for a while then said good bye, and the four of us continued on. Talking and getting to know Pat and Marty helped us to keep going. Two hundred feet down the road we saw the papa moose, a majestic bull with full antlers. You can only watch in silence and marvel.

Then, in a second, around a bend in the road, there they were. “Wow! Look at that!” I exclaimed. “I’ve never seen anything like that!”
Straight ahead of us, in a semi-circle were the Indian Peaks, snow-covered and jagged, the tallest rising to 13,000 feet. After we took some pictures, including one for a bicyclist from Denmark, I sat on a rock that seemed to be put there just for contemplating the mountains.

The sense of serenity, permanence and strength were overwhelming. Those mountains have fostered relationships that have lasted for years.  Pat and Marty invited us to join them for a hike to the Isabelle Glacier next year. They’re there every June. So is the glacier.

Sunday

The Writer's Life and Some Who Live It


For a little bit of something different, this post is part of a writing process blog tour. It’s a chance for writers to network about the writing life. I want to send out a big ‘thank you’ to Lisa Vogt, a fellow ReadWaver for turning me on to this tour and inviting me to participate. I urge all of you to check out the blogs of the writers I’ve profiled.

First let me answer some questions about how the process works for me…or how I work for it.

What am I working on?

Warming Up was such a personal story. Writing parts of it was wrenching. I decided to write something completely different for my second book. About that time I reconnected with my best friend from childhood who was the model for the character Rosie in Warming Up. We recalled that, as children, she wanted to pursue her drawing and painting and I wanted to write. We always dreamed that one day I would write a story and she would do the illustrations. We’re working on a children’s book set in the marshes we used to play in as children.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

If the genre is literary fiction, I think the one thing we all have in common is that the stories are personal. It’s the courage to mine those personal histories and emotions that makes the writing worth reading. That also means that every story is unique because it comes from the mind and heart of each writer.

Why do I write what I do?

I’m convinced that we all have stories to tell, and that the best of them come from family experiences. I’ve talked to people whose family histories rival anything you’ll ever read in classical or contemporary literature. I try to mine the stories and experiences I’ve been hearing about since I was a child.  These stories, so grounded in reality, are the best place to start.

How does my writing process work?

While working on Warming Up I had about four months to write full time. What a joy! I found the best thing was to wake up early, grab a cup of coffee and set to work before the ‘inner critic’ woke up. After 3 or 4 hours I would go for a walk to the center of town and watch the people and traffic go by. Then I would go back and edit what I had written that morning. That was ideal but it’s not always possible. Mostly it’s carving out blocks of time and having the discipline to push everything else out of my mind and write.

And now I'd like to introduce you to some writers I have admired.

Aaliyah Miller is an award-winning screenwriter who believes the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. Miller has a passion for storytelling and enjoys writing for theatre, film, and her blog, In the Mix.

Her film credits include After the Headlines, a short film she wrote, directed and produced (official selection of the Kent Film Festival, Action on Film Festival, and the Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival), The Anniversary (short film), and Moonshine (feature film). Her script Finding Patience was the recipient of the Sir Edmond Hillary Award and her short screenplay, After the Headlines won ‘Best Dramatic Scene’ at the Action on Film (AOF) International Film Festival and was an official selection at the Urban Mediamakers Film Festival.

She holds a master in Communications and Leadership from Gonzaga University and a master of fine arts in Professional Writing with a focus in screenwriting and public relations from Western Connecticut State University. She currently works as a communications professional in Connecticut.

Sid Schwab is a native of Portland, Oregon and has lived in Seattle for the past 32 years. He attended Amherst College, went to medical school in Cleveland, Ohio and did his surgery training at the University of California, San Francisco. He is retired from his general surgery practice, although he still assists on complex cancer surgeries.
He has written a book about his days of surgical training titled “Cutting Remarks, Insights and Recollections of a Surgeon.” It is available on Amazon.
His “Surgeonsblog” was mentioned in the New York Times as a worthy medical blog. He says of the blog, “My aim was to bring the lay reader into the life of a surgeon, to get a feel for what it’s like to operate on fellow humans, as well as to provide information on various surgical illnesses, and to tell a few good stories.” His most recent post is a sampler of sorts, with links to several of his favorite and representative posts.
He also wrote a year-long column on various issues for a local newspaper.
He and his wife Judy are expecting their first grandchild any minute now.
Thanks for reading and special thanks to Aaliyah and Sid for taking part.