One New Thing: August 2012 – In the Limelight

Here it is, almost the end of September and I’m just getting to my one new thing for August. There have been books to edit and write (and read), swords to swing, dances to learn, parties to plan, friends to hang out with, and far too little time for all of it. In the face of it all, the blog has been chugging along slower than usual. What I wouldn’t give for a clone (as long as it didn’t lead to twice as many story ideas).

Outside of my work, August was dedicated in many ways to the old new things. The perpetuation of prior adventures, the nurturing of continuing friendships, and the never-ending pursuit of learning.

In spite of the rather overwhelming task of keeping up with life, there was opportunity to do something completely new and slightly out of my comfort zone (which is a good thing to push occasionally).

Michael and I were talked, rather easily I might add, into performing a dance for the Arthur Murray Summer Showcase (Michael being that darling gent theatrically rolling his eyes on my left and our instructor being the lovely enthusiastic lady on my right).

Sadly, I haven’t gotten my hands on a recording of our performance, but it was a Foxtrot routine performed to the song He’s a Tramp by Peggy Lee (we didn't use this version from Lady and the Tramp, but it's one of my personal favorite movies).


I’m not that comfortable in front of a crowd and dancing is still a relatively new activity, so this experience, stepping out in front of all of these people and performing, was a bit nerve-wracking and yet refreshing in an odd way. I like to push my boundaries toward becoming a stronger, more confident person, and this was a great way to do that. I didn’t pass out on the dance floor or die from the pressure of so many eyes looking my way. Awesome!

Now we’ve signed up to do a tango routine at Arthur Murray’s Masquerade ball in October. We’ll be dancing to The Lunatics Have Taken over the Asylum by Collide. Dancing in costume during my favorite month of the year. Oh, yes. This will be fun!


Happy adventuring!

One New Thing: July 2012 - Graveyard Spit

I know what your thinking. Graveyard spit? What the hell? Is she spitting on graves now? How incredibly rude. Actually, no. Today we’re talking about spit as in the land formation. Per a narrow point of land projecting into the water. Simple enough.

The main spit is actually Dungeness Spit. Graveyard is the fork that shoots off to the right before the lighthouse at the end (yes, the white spec in the distance is a lighthouse). I didn’t use Dungeness Spit in the title, however, because Graveyard Spit sounded more interesting and ominous. To be honest though, I didn’t set foot on Graveyard Spit or make it anywhere near the lighthouse

because I rolled my ankle the friday before this hike (dancing swing, which is apparently quite dangerous) and walking on the sand was a challenge.

Now for some facts and history on this gorgeous spit (that just sounds wrong).

Dungeness Spit is the longest natural sand spit in the United States. Extending 5 miles into the Strait of Juan De Fuca, Dungeness Spit has grown about 15 feet per year for the past 120 years. (Information from the Washington Department of Ecology site.)

Since 1915, this area has been part of a 756 acre wildlife refuge visited by over 250 species of birds.

Graveyard spit also has a bit of history that explains its name.

Just before dawn on September 21, 1868, a band of 26 S’Klallam Indians conducted a raid on a party of 18 Tsimshian Indians camped on New Dungeness Spit waiting for daylight and good weather before making the 22-mile journey north, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Vancouver Island. During the attack, 17 Tsimshians were killed and one, a pregnant woman, was wounded and left for dead. The injured woman managed to make it to the lighthouse, where the Blakes gave her refuge. Later, Henry Blake took the woman to the home of Benjamin Rainey, whose wife was from the Tsimshian tribe.

The Tsimshian murder victims were buried on a branch of the spit that became known as Graveyard Spit.

Visit to read more about it.

Despite the deaths here, it's clearly a happy place.

And these birds were quite happy, waiting for the dead seal at the edge of the beach to finish washing in.

This scene reminded me a little of the seagulls in Finding Nemo.


And just to prove that I actually did go here, this is me posing with some of the spectacular driftwood piled along the middle of the spit.

While we didn’t get far on this hike due to my injury, I’m hoping to come back with the kayaks and explore the area from the water soon. True to the great northwest, this area was breathtakingly beautiful and worth a trip, or maybe several.

Happy Adventuring!

One New Thing: June 2012 - Zombie Movie and Big Guns

June was full of new things. I went into the month with a clear plan of what my one new thing was going to be, but my plans are like my book plots, they always work out differently than I expected. I guess that’s because the people in my life, like the people in my head, have their own ideas about how things should go. The Plan: Go hang with my family in Indiana. Simple enough.

The trip opened with a visit to one of the coolest structures in the US. How many structures look this interesting from any angle?

This was my favorite photo, snapped out the car window on the way out of town.

On to Indiana. It’s always awesome hanging out with my sister and her family who I don’t get to see anywhere near often enough and I always love spending time with my mom who also flew out to Indiana for the week. However, since I’m sure you don’t want a blow-by-blow of the family visit, we’ll skip to the highlights.

For a portion of the trip, we went out to stay at my brother-in-laws family’s property out near the Shawnee National Forest.

There was the ‘civilized’ hunting cabin complete with showers and working toilets where we ‘roughed it’ for a few days.

And the not-so-civilized hunting cabin complete with a room of death (which I opted not to show here out of good taste) and some questionable eraser board art (which I also opted not to show because I write some young adult and it’s more fun to let you imagine what a pack of brave hunters settled to drinking and playing darts after a long day of chasing vicious deer around the countryside might come up with to draw on their eraser board).

Yes, the image is sideways and blurry. Just pretend you’re a drunken hunter.

This is where I discovered video. My mom had purchased a tiny video camera to take videos for my grandma who couldn’t come. I promptly commandeered the camera and began shooting a zombie flick, because that is so much more interesting and who's grandma wouldn't prefer some excitement in their family films.

For the sake of my loved ones (I don’t wish to be disowned), I will not share most of those videos, but here is a little bit of the setting that inspired my film project.

The creepy deserted cabin. Somebody needs to hide from zombies in this place. (Although they'd be lucky to make it this far without being sucked dry by ticks. We almost didn't.)

A fine array of victims. My little niece is the survivor, though I haven’t quite worked out how she gets away and continues shooting film once we’re all dead.

Outside of filming and creating impromptu ice sculptures

the entertainment included shooting clay pigeons and various dishware from previous marriages (not mine). This was beneficial to the movie as it meant that, by the time the zombies arrive, we would obviously be out of ammo. I’m better off not shooting a gun anyway as the video below shows. Though, to be fair, I did hit my target. If you're bored enough to watch the whole thing, you can see my sister vaporizing a plate that I didn't even have time to acknowledge was there when I went back to filming.


Nope. Not a gun person. Give me a sword. When everyone else runs out of ammo, I’ll take the stage.

We also visited the remarkable Garden of the Gods

where my sister and niece became lost briefly and our array of imaginative brains had them lying dead at the bottom of some beautiful cliff. Fortunately, that wasn't the case. They were eaten by zombies! (Okay, not really.)

From there, we moved on to Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana,—I know, I thought he lived at the North Pole too—a theme park with plenty of insane wooden roller coasters like The Voyage designed to give you whiplash, a vile headache, and drastically compress your spine. Truly, a great deal of fun. The Pilgrims Plunge, the world’s tallest water ride, provides an exciting transition into the water park side, Splashin’ Safari, which boasts a wide array of delightful water rides from the mellow Bahari River to the Mammoth, the world’s longest water coaster where we shared our boat with a woman who clearly expected to die there.

Unfortunately, by this point in the trip, my mom and I were already both very sick and getting sicker, hence the lack of photos. Some nasty virus that people from Indiana are apparently immune to as no one in my sister’s family got sick. It was still a good adventure.

A few other new things in June:

My iaito, fresh from Japan and barely used, still, because I’ve been sick almost since I got it.

To answer your question, yes, it is.

Happy adventuring!

One New Thing: May 2012 - Visiting Diablo

For the game geeks out there, I'm not talking about the newly released Diablo III, but I will admit that a chunk of Memorial Day weekend was dedicated to that worthy pursuit. Sadly, my first hardcore character died at level 7. (Cue mournful violin music.)

Anyway, on to the one new thing. May was a rather crazy month (a theme that seems to be bleeding into June), so finding time to squeeze in a new experience was a challenge. However, my kayak was up to the task.

Yeah, that gorgeous thing in the foreground is my kayak. Because I name everything (not much of an exaggeration, actually), I have given my kayak the name Umi Tonbo (海蜻蛉) or Sea Dragonfly for those not versed in Japanese.

Umi and I and our partner in crime...

embarked on an exploration of Diablo Lake, a much underused and remarkably beautiful lake in the spectacular North Cascades. Unfortunately, everything went perfectly, which doesn't make for much of a story. No one capsized in the jade colored glacial waters and the weather was so fantastic we were able to play in the paddle-thru boat wash.

The full trip tallied up to almost 10 miles of paddling out to the dam (or as far as they would let us go)

and around other parts of the lake with a stop off at an island for lunch. All around, it was a fabulous way to kick off the Memorial Day weekend. What adventures have you had lately?

Spiders, the Versatile Blogger Award and Stupid Birds

Before I get into the Versatile Blogger Award, I want to clarify another rule for spiders overlooked in Talking with Spiders: The House Rules. This one applies to all of you, regardless of type. If you drop in on me while I am driving, you get what's coming to you. This is not as funny as you seem to think it is. Now to a different set of rules, because these awards always come with rules.

1. Thank the person who nominated me.

Thanks, Mike!

2. Include a link to his/her blog.

You can learn about Mike and read all his wonderful blog posts at Realms of Perilous Wonder.

3. Nominate fifteen blogs I enjoy and follow.

Fifteen! Really? *sigh* I suspect many of you will have already received this nomination, but here goes...

  1. Simon Poore
  2. The Baffled King Composing
  3. Cora Ramos Blog
  4. Sonia G Medeiros
  5. Wordbitches
  6. Tami Clayton
  7. Margaret Miller's Blog
  8. Gabriel Rumbaut's Blog
  9. Sharkbait Writes
  10. Neither Here nor There
  11. Dr. Shay Fabbro
  12. Elizabeth Fais
  13. Two Gallants
  14. Liv Rancourt
  15. Patricia Caviglia

And 4. Tell you seven things about myself.

I know, how exciting is that? I can sense your electric anticipation now.

1. Started writing my first book in the 6th grade after reading Birth of the Firebringer by Meredith Ann Pierce. It rambled and bounced all over the place. You couldn't dig out a cohesive plot if you read until your eyes bled, but it was delightfully creative. I still have it in one of my five briefcases full of hand written books and book ideas that sit in the corner of the loft.

2. I hate zucchini. My mom tried to make me eat it when I was little. I threw up on the table. I think that was the last time she tried to make me eat something I didn't like.

3. Last Halloween we had our second Steampunk themed Halloween party. The decorations are still up. This is not procrastination. This is a cunning plan to make it much easier to set up for the third one.

4. I've fought with a sword in heavy armor. Being hit in the head with a sword while wearing a metal helmet is not painful, but does seem to slow one down for a few seconds. The battle ended when I stepped back on the hem of my dress and fell flat on my back. I couldn't get up because the helmet was too heavy (and I was laughing too hard). Lessons learned:

    1. Just because the man on the other end of that sword claims to love you, it doesn't mean he won't try to beat the crap out of you.
    2. Don't wear a dress to a duel.

5. One place in life that I feel at peace is hanging on a rope in a cave above some long drop. Swallowed by darkness and listening to the drip of water or the occasional shift of rock as someone below or above waits. There is a sense of complete detachment from the rest of the world that is both humbling and revitalizing. I have found lesser degrees of this same peace sitting in my kayak on the ocean, riding my horse when we are working in harmony, and practicing iaido.

6. I am a music whore. I know, that doesn't sound very nice, but it's true. I love music. I can't get enough and I love discovering new music regardless of genre or language. I even have soundtracks in my dreams. It's like a thrilling big-screen movie every night in my head, only typically weirder.

7. I stole my mom’s socks. When I was unpacking from my visit, I found a pair of white socks in my suitcase. Since I forgot to pack socks, it was immediately apparent that these were not mine. Sorry, Mom. Unlike the good tweezers I stole when I first moved out of the house, I do actually intend to give the socks back when next I see you.

Lastly, a quick note to the bird that just ran into the picture window. That was the second stupidest thing you could do around here. The stupidest would be landing in the cat garden. I hope the impact didn't make you dumber because I hate finding bird parts in my house. Sleep it off and try a different trajectory next time.

Have any fun facts about yourself to share? I would love to hear them in the comments.

Happy living!

One New Thing: April 2012

Here we are again. It’s time to share my new experience for April. I got through most of the month without a real plan for this. Fortunately, I live in an amazing place full of adventures waiting to be had and my mom was in town, ready to be dragged around the countryside. A short ferry ride, can take you to any number of fantastic new places. This one took us to Orcas Island, one of the beautiful San Juan Islands that we hadn’t yet visited. From above, Orcas Island looks a bit like a clump of floating detritus that got wrapped around a tree (or two).

Since the ferry landing is on the bottom of the large left lobe, it is clearly necessary to drive around to the end of the large right lobe in order to maximize ones experience. 

Upon arriving on the island, we drove around to the city of Eastsound in the narrow middle section where the spotting of a bookstore inspired us to stop and have a look around. (Because that’s why you go to beautiful islands, isn’t it? To visit the little bookstores). In addition to the bookstore, there were a number of fun little art galleries and a nice place to pick up lunch by the water.

We continued around through Moran State Park toward Obstruction Pass and hunted down a beach, which is what you do when you’re surrounded on all sides by salt water. A nice rocky beach is great for strolling, poking at creepy looking dead crabs, and viewing gatherings of starfish.

Wet sand and pebbles are not the best, it turns out, for practicing iaido, but how could I resist. Since I'm used to doing this on hard floor with a bokken, trying to look smooth and flowing on the beach with a poorly balanced, waterlogged branch was a challenge, but I’ll swallow my pride and let you chuckle at my efforts. (For more on what iaido is, visit my One New Thing: March 2012 post.)


From there, we turned back and revisited Moran State Park, taking a side trip up to the top of Mt. Constitution where we discovered this lovely somewhat medieval looking Mt. Constitution Tower and some amazing views.

Happy adventuring!