Memory Lane: a classic VW van, belching smoke ….

smoking vanHi, friends and readers:

I came across this video clip the other day, and I laughed so hard I thought I might wet my pants. When I was in college, back in the early 1970’s, a friend owned a van just like the one in the video clip, replete with curtains on the windows. We used to refer to his car a “The Smoking Van”, and not because smoke came out of the tailpipe. My friends and I were all dedicated weedheads back on those days; we smoked bales of the stuff, but I don’t think it did us any harm. A-h-h-h, the good old days. I wonder if that van is still around?

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Another great jet airplane photo; I’m back from North Carolina ….

jet plane #2Hi, friends and readers:

If you follow this website, then you know I have a thing for good photos of jet airplanes. I don’t know why, but I find them fascinating, and I really like the one I have posted here tonight. Do you like it as much as I do?

Airplanes are on my mind right now because I’ve just returned from spending five days in Boone, North Carolina, my first visit there. Western North Carolina is a beautiful place; it’s so mountainous and green. My friends and I took several interesting hikes, including one with fabulous views of Linville Falls in the Pisgah National Forest. The weather was perfect: cool and sunny, with highs in the low 70’s and lows around 60 degrees F. The people in Boone are warm and welcoming, and the town itself is charming. Appalachian State University is located in Boone, and the students seemed very much in tune with the natural beauty surrounding them. I didn’t meet a single disagreeable person while there.

If you ever get a chance to visit western North Carolina, be sure you do. You’ll love it there as much as I did.

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The importance of respecting alternative ways of thinking ….

respect alternative thinkingHi, friends and readers:

I came across the photo to the left just a few days ago, and I liked it so much I decided to put it up for all of you to see.

In previous posts on this site, I have mentioned the importance of travel. It exposes us to new and different people who live in ways utterly different from ours, and yet they seem as happy, or maybe even happier, than us. Whether you’re talking religion, cuisine, social customs, fashion or lack thereof, music, or literature, everyone doesn’t have to do things the way we do in the U.S..

I have spent four summers living in Berlin, Germany, which is certainly a different world than the barrier island I dwell in on Florida’s Gulf coast. But I loved my stays in Germany. I got along fine without a car, and I never watched television. I came to enjoy traditional German cuisine, and the National Museum of Art is one of the best I have ever visited.

We can learn a lot about life by paying attention to folks who do things differently than us, I believe. The photo I’ve posted says it all, friends: “Respect other people’s way of thinking.”

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A pair of leaping dolphins ….

dolphinsHi, friends and readers:

I live on a barrier island on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Most every morning, weather permitting, I walk three miles on the beach, usually around 7:30. It’s peaceful down there, and sometimes I am rewarded by sights like the one in the video clip I’ve posted here.

Yes, dolphins in the wild really do jump out of the water in pairs; I’ve seen this many times during my walks, or while I’m boating around the Tampa Bay area. Dolphins are both intelligent and playful; they’re amazing creatures.

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Nice little photo: a guy and a jet plane ….

jet planeHi, friends and readers:

I love good photography, particularly when it offers a bit of humor or mystery. The photo to the left offers a bit of both, doesn’t it? Unless the picture was “Photoshopped” (And I don’t think it was.) then I want to know why a jet airliner would fly so low and close to a beach? Now, I have surfed on Patrick Air Force Base in Brevard County, FL, and I’ve had military transport planes fly right over my head as they’re about to land at the base, but those are prop planes, not jets. I wish I knew where this photo  was taken, and if maybe the angle it was shot from makes the plane appear to be closer to the young man than it is.

It’s been a typical Monday for me. I have a new YA novel coming out in December, and I’m in the midst of working on revisions with my wonderful editor. I really don’t mind the revisions process at all. A good editor will always improve your book if you’ll let him or her do their job. I exercised at the YMCA and bought groceries on my way home. Now I’m in for as relaxed evening at home. Have a pleasant Monday night, everyone.

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Happy Labor Day, to all my friends and to all those who labor ….

Ford-Assembly-Worker-in-FactoryHi, friends and readers:

All across the U.S. we are celebrating Labor Day, a day of rest in honor of those who work with their hands to produce the wonderful products we enjoy that make our lives easier and more productive. I have great respect for those who work with their hands, since during my early years I worked every imaginable drudge job: dishwasher, fry cook, laundry worker, yard maintenance, taxi driver, gas station attendant and mechanic, stock room clerk, and department store clerk. For a few months, I worked at Sears Roebuck, unloading car batteries and steel-belted radial tires off transfer trucks.

You know something, I learned a lot form working those drudge jobs, and I learned to appreciate my co-workers who I labored alongside day after day. They are real people with lots of challenges to face at work and at home, and I try to remind myself of this whenever I deal with them at their workplaces.

Thanks to all of you folks who are giving it your best every day. And Happy Labor Day. :-)

 

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A reason to smile: 20% off on my Prizm books Sunday and Monday ….

tom daley #3Hi, friends and readers:

That’s Tom Daley to the left; he’s my favorite Olympic diver, a real hero in my view, for many reasons. Tom has an infectious grin, and right now there’s a reason for you to smile, as well.

This weekend Prizm Books, publisher of my novels Tyler Buckspan and Josef Jaeger is offering a 20% discount on both books.

Here’s a link to the Prizm Books website:http://prizmbooks.com/zencart/

The discount code is: laborday14

If you’ve been putting off buying either book  because you are on a tight budget, now’s your opportunity to save some money and get yourself a good read for the Labor Day holiday.

Enjoy ….

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I’m on top of the world. “Tyler Buckspan” is now on the shelf in seven major public libraries ….

rioHi, friends and readers:

I feeling pretty stoked right now, after I received notice my YA novel, Tyler Buckspan, is now on the shelf at the following public libraries around the country: Harris County Public Library in Houston, TX; Muncie, Indiana’s public library; Central Library in Dallas, TX; Bettendorf Public Library in Bettendorf, Iowa; University of Iowa Public Library in Iowa City, IA; the Seattle Public Library; and the Corvallis-Benton Public Library in the town where Oregon State University is located.

Here’s a link someone sent me:

http://www.worldcat.org/title/tyler-buckspan/oclc/858843936

I feel very gratified that Tyler Buckspan has been made available to so many young people in these communities, but I’m disappointed no public librarians in Florida, my home state and the setting for Tyler Buckspan, have chosen to put the book on their shelves. Why does Florida, indeed the entire southeastern U. S., have to be so backward when it comes to providing GLBTQ youth with literature they can relate to?

Still, today’s a happy day for me.

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Back home after ten more days on the road; travel’s over for the summer ….

on the roadHi, friends and readers:

If you are wondering why I have not posted here lately, there’s a reason. Last night, my partner and I returned to our island home after spending ten days on the road, first in Quebec and then in wilds of Maine. This was my third major excursion of the summer, and our last, as my partner starts law school in two weeks, and he’ll be tied down with his studies until Christmas break. It’s okay, as much as I enjoyed all of my excursions, it’s time for me to get busy on writing. I have a novel in progress that is already 60,000 words long and nowhere near to getting finished. I have a finished novel going into final edits next month, and then into publication, so I’ll be busy myself.

A few words about our most recent journey ….

We flew to Burlington, VT, where we rented a car. Then we drove to Montreal, where we stayed in a B & B for three nights while we explored the city. Montreal’s very cosmopolitan and culturally diverse, and it’s by far the friendliest major city I have ever visited. French Canadians welcome visitors and they are quite proud of their province. Public transportation is excellent, and the architecture, both old and new, is interesting. We saw buildings dating back to the 1700’s, and also brand new high-rises that dazzled the eye. The cuisine we sampled was varied and excellent.

gazingWe spent one night in Quebec City, a beautiful locale with much historic architecture and a breathtaking view of the St. Laurence Seaway. We stayed in a wonderful B & B operated by a friendly staff; they couldn’t do enough for us. The building dated back to the late 1800’s but was quite clean and comfortable, and our breakfast was great. I wished we could have stayed longer, but we had to leave for Maine, where we stayed in a friend’s cabin on a large lake, or “pond”, as they call them up there.

gazing #2In Maine, we spent five days hiking, exploring, and boating. We even played nine holes of golf at Mount Kineo on Moosehead Lake. The weather was perfect for outdoor activities: sunny, dry and cool. The time flew by, and yesterday we returned to Florida and our island home. All was well when we arrived, and now it’s time to get back into the daily routines we follow here.

I’ve said this many times on this site: I think travel is the most enriching experience you can treat yourself to. You expose yourself to different ways of living and thinking, and different terrains. What’s better than that? You quickly realize there are different ways of living life, and differing social attitudes. I’ll say this, we did not encounter any angry or hostile people on our trip, only folks who were willing to help us in any way possible. I find that somewhat amazing, really. So I’m feeling very fortunate about the past ten days.

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I’m home after three weeks of travel ….

thinking #2Hi, friends and readers:

It has been a while since I posted on this site, and there’s a reason for it. I just spent three weeks traveling to remote places where I had no Internet service and my cell phone didn’t work.

Firstly, I spent ten days in British Columbia (BC) with three friends, one form Florida, two from Southern California. We stayed in a house directly on a bay with evergreen-covered mountains rising from its banks. about 100 miles north of Vancouver. We hiked, boated, dug clams, gathered oysters, and drank a lot of beer while soaking up the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. The closest village was Lund, the closest town was Powell River. I can honestly say that the natural beauty of BC was eclipsed only by the friendliness of BC’s people. I have traveled all over the world, and have never met such welcoming folks. I caught my first salmon (nine pounds). I shucked and cooked my first oysters. I skippered a 23-foot boat we were lent by our hosts. The entire experience was amazing. The weather was cool and sunny, such a nice break from Florida’s summer heat. I’d go back to BC in a heartbeat.

in the carRight after I returned from BC, my partner and I packed up my Honda Element. Then we drove to northern Wisconsin to spend a week in Door County,  in a beautiful home right on the coast of Green Bay. This, of course, involved driving about 1600 miles from Florida, and then driving the same distance home after our week’s stay in Wisconsin. That may sound like a chore, but it wasn’t. We spent the night in Savannah, GA, Columbus, OH, a small town in Tennessee named Laurenceburg, right on the Ohio River, and the Virginia Highlands neighborhood in Atlanta, GA. We dined on a variety of cuisines and met all sorts of interesting people.

 

We finally arrived back in Florida last night, in time to fix a meal and share a bottle of wine before we hit the bed. I’m feeling a bit travel-weary right now, but thoroughly satisfied in the spiritual sense. I think travel is the most enriching activity a person can experience, and I would not trade the past three weeks for any other I’ve spent in my life.

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