Archive | September, 2017

Windmills, Æbleskiver, and My Uncle Erick

23 Sep

A ride along the coast through windy roads and mountain tops, through heavy clouds and mist, I found the small town that sparked the sunshine and gave us smiles good enough to be sealed in by the Jar of Awesome.




With all the wineries and quaint feel good vibes of this small town, I had a flashback of Miles from the movie Sideways and his wine-tasting montage, without the comedic angry outbursts, of course. I was out and about on a quick getaway to find out what this Danish Days Festival was all about, and in the process I discovered the awesomeness of Æbleskiver.



Now I couldn’t even pronounce it. But they knew what I wanted when I got there and this was the place to get them. I was lucky to come before the lunch time rush and I only had to wait about ten minutes in line. But after I got my order, the people behind me weren’t so lucky. The line got pretty crazy and they were there at least 30 minutes.

Yeah. They were that good. Flaky, fluffy, sweet, tasty treats sprinkled with powered sugar and hitting the spot.

Now normally I wouldn’t drive about three hours anywhere for food I could probably buy in the melting pot of our culinary city, but this little town was a place my Uncle Erick liked to go to when family visited from out of town. He enjoyed the drive along the coast, the vibe of the place, the peace of a small town, the wineries, pastry and coffee shops on every corner. He enjoyed feeling like a tourist as he walked around admiring the architecture and enjoying the food. He smiled when he was there. It probably reminded him of his trip to Europe, and he liked the quick three-hour getaway down memory lane. I felt it would be a good excuse to go, Danish Days Festival, I mean come on … Viking stuff, Legos, woodcarving, music, dancing, kids jamboree, parades, and tiny wooden shoes.

This spoke of adventure. As soon as I told my kids Legos and food with powered sugar was involved they were on board.



And so we toured the place and felt the vibe. I could see what my Uncle Erick enjoyed about it, but most of all I remembered my Uncle Erick and his willingness for three-hour road trips just to get the family together, just to try something new. I remembered my uncle as I watched the woodcarver make art from blocks of Redwood, I remembered my Uncle Erick as we watched the parade, I remembered my Uncle Erick as I saw the windmills and the city sign, I remembered my Uncle Erick as I sat to eat the Æbleskiver,  I remembered my Uncle Erick, the dreamer who always wanted something better and never stopped looking for it, the one who loved his daughter above all else, the one I looked up to as a kid, and the one my kids never met because he died before they were born, but I know he would loved to hang out with them.

I remembered my Uncle Erick and told stories about him all day.

Buen Camino my friends.





Staying Within The Lines

16 Sep

Some people just roll on out of bed with a wish for confrontation.

I’m talking about regular people with blatant disregard for the common decency rules of life. Yeah … they’re out there. And I saw one. I took photographic evidence.

But not so much to report anyone, more so to laugh.

You see, about an hour before I saw this dude, I had pulled into a lot and did my very best to park this loaner I was driving into a spot. Now seeing how I’m not used to parking this bad boy Toyota Sienna, it took me about three attempts to completely stay within those double white lines. Yup.  I was putting it in drive and reverse, drive and reverse, and then drive and reverse again, with all eyes from the AARP Crew looking at me from the diner across the way. Just sipping their coffee and staring at me through their bifocals.

My parking job doesn’t have to be perfect and my tires don’t have to be equidistant from the lines on both sides. I just have to be in the slot, I want to give people enough room to open their doors. I just don’t want to be a jackass. That’s it. So after my multiple failed attempts and a triumph that took 5-10 minutes, I moved on and went to run some more errands and that’s when I saw this dude.


I mean he wasn’t even close. And you guessed it … it was one of the last spots on the lot.

Now normally things like this really burn me out, but under this new Super-Soul Sunday everyday vibe I’ve been flowing on, I ended up cracking up. This dude did not care. Not one bit.

I mean I’d understand if we were at the ER and it was a life and death situation, but I was at the 99-Cent store, there are plenty of Cup O Noodles.

So when I saw this Volvo, I just paused for a minute and laughed. This dude is living by his own code.

You see out here in the traffic congested city I live in, there are parking rules that people let slide because you know what the drawbacks are, for example an SUV parked in a compact-only spot will probably get his door scratched or dented by the other cars. That’s a given. If you park in someone’s driveway, you might get hit, or towed before you roll out of bed early enough to move your car,  it happens. You take two spots instead of one, you might get a nasty note on your windshield or a confrontation in your future.

People are aware of the consequences. They know. This guy knew, but he didn’t care.

Growing up in this city I take these rules fairly seriously. I don’t want to  be a jackass. So I tend to stay within the lines. The fact that I worked so hard to park my loaner car an hour before and then see this Volvo-driving nut just handle this spot like a dictator cracked me up. I mean who thinks that way. I just had to laugh. I couldn’t react any other way.

Buen Camino my friends.




Writer Wednesdays … Literary High-Five

6 Sep

Sometimes you’re just in a funk, and you can’t find the right words for your characters or feel like that missing piece is never going to fall in place.  You have no idea where the writer inside disappeared to, then all of sudden you write a letter, an email, or do a different type of writing  and you get the groove back.

I’m getting my groove back.


Recently, I had a blogging buddy of mine Jacqueline Cangro edit one of my manuscripts and let me tell you, having someone read something like that gave me the butterflies. I mean I know that eventually it’s going to be out there for everyone to see, and some close friends of mine have seen parts, if not all of it. But Jackie was going to edit it … really edit it. So I was nervous. I was like … dude what if she hates it? Will she ever return to my blog? Or how will she let me down easy. I was creating all kinds of scenarios in my head, but none of them panned out.

Jackie was really nice about it and spoke with me about my concerns. Sh did an amazing detailed job with content analysis, story and characterization. I was so glad to have met Jackie. Her advice was on point and I could feel the missing pieces coming together.

But I’ll be honest with you, rewriting and rewriting after edits and edits became a daunting task, even with the awesomeness that is Jackie. I got a little nervous. I didn’t want to veer too far off course, I didn’t want to get lost in all the editing that I couldn’t find my way back. And then the universe sent me a sign.

A friend of mine asked me to write a grant proposal for arts programs at my son’s school. Now normally I don’t get involved with the Mommy Mafia or the PTA clicks, which she is a part of,  but seeing how this was a close buddy and it was for a great cause I thought it would be a great service for the community and a good opportunity for a pause in novel re-writing plan.

So I took a step back from my 100th rewrite and did something good for someone else. During that process I learned that tapping a different avenue of my talents, helped stir up the writing mojo in all areas of my life. Writing about advocacy and arts engagement helped boost my own focus. Being able to write a cohesive statement that had nothing to do with my crazy character and her journey, helped glue ideas together in the recesses of my mind, and make things click. I was making connections and feeling confident about the fine-tuning that was going on.

And this is where I find myself.

I find myself looking back on how I turned the corner and I never would have guessed that grant writing or executive summaries would have the power of a high-five, because that’s what it was … a literary high-five. After I finished writing it … I thought damn! That was me … I put these words together. I conveyed how critical arts were for inventiveness and out-of-the box thinking. I put together a piece that speaks to the heart of this school and the need for arts education despite financial cutbacks. I convinced someone, I persuaded them to give money … and just with words. They hadn’t even met me yet. All they knew were my words.

And that seemed to be pretty powerful stuff. That seemed to be the make-up of a writer. That seemed to put be back on the yellow-brick road pathway.

So while, I’m still working on the grant, which will be due in a couple of days, I feel that time away from my story, spent working on a different discipline, has helped bring the story back full circle. I don’t know if any other writers experienced something like that, because I figured people get inspired or back into the story, by being away from it for a moment, taking a trip somewhere and then coming back from that sabbatical refreshed ans zoned in, but it was my first way down that road. And I’ve got to say, it was interesting.


Buen Camino




Inspired by Hanna-Barbera … Duct Tape Adventures Return

3 Sep

I look forward to this adventure every year, it takes me back to my seven-year old self, the one watching Hanna-Barbera cartoons on Saturday mornings.

I’ve told you about this before, my love for these kinds of races and the origin of it all …


Cartoons were a big deal to me back then, that’s where I got most of my fantastic ideas. And this one — the Wacky Races —  has always stayed with me. So when I heard about this cardboard boat regatta down by the beach a couple of years ago, I jumped at the chance to participate in the fun. It’s actually turned into a family tradition. Something I hope my kids will look back on fondly.

The entire process jazzes me up. From conception to creation to craftsmanship. The annual cardboard boat regatta challenges the small artist I have in me. I’ve learned to enjoy the process, the trials and errors, the measure twice and cut once philosophy, the entire duct tape process, being present, and enjoying the building part with my kids was one of the many takeaways from this experience. I’ve been grateful enough to remember it every year. The actual race takes about five minutes so enjoying every bit of the process leading up to that helps slow time down and increase the gratitude factor. I’m glad I can remind myself of this, but feel even happier that I’ve introduced my kids to this life lesson. So it’s a win-win.

Creativity happens here and I’ve learned that it involves duct tape. I look forward to the seven rolls of duct tape that make my vessel seaworthy. This year it was five rolls of Gorilla Tape and two of silver duct tape, not that it matters or anything, but thought I’d share the supply list in case you wanted to get creative too.

The multiple trips to the local Do-It-Yourself Hardware Center become a weekly adventure during our creative process. I enjoy seeing whether or not the finished product meets my kid’s expectations. Most of the time it does, last year, it was so amazing that I even patted myself on the back. This year was a little trickier, considering inspiration came from Despicable Me 3, Gru’s car, and his minions of course. But we managed and came up with this …


Gru’s Car/Speedboat

Cardboard and duct tape. Total Festivus Miracle! And not only was the creative process enjoyable, we also ended up winning our heat. For the second year in a row, after losing the first few years, we paddled our way to the finish line first, without sinking and eventually placed third overall in the parent-child category.


Making it to the finish line … smiling all the way.

But in addition to paddling our way down the pool, hanging out with and talking to the other boat makers was so much fun. I enjoyed seeing some of the masterpieces and listening to the inspiration behind it all.



My son really enjoyed the Star Wars vessel and my daughter loved the Moana boat, but I have yet to recover the picture for that one. My favorite was of course this white one.




I couldn’t believe it when I saw this whole boat made out of cardboard, but it was only for display and not for racing purposes. The creative process on this one must have been great.




Everyone ended up having a good time. Don’t know if they were inspired by Hanna Barbera, but something inspired them and the inventiveness came through in the form of cardboard and duct tape creations. Remembering that the process and being present were just as important as paddling to the finish brought sunshine to my heart.

Buen Camino my friends!