Sequoia National Park

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 11:37 am on Thursday, May 18, 2017

This has been a busy year so far. I planted a garden, went on many hikes, watched Laura Marling perform, saw a parade, and attended a lobster and rose tasting, where I eavesdropped on rich people arguing about servicing their Audis. I learned that an Audi oil change costs $100, but the service agreement is $700, so if you’re only going to keep the car for three years, it’s better to pay for the oil change out of pocket. However, the other rich people argued, what if your Audi is a lemon? Then you could be out thousands. What then, huh?

I also took several small trips. I went to Monterey, visited the snow in Tahoe, and wrote in a cabin in the redwoods. But the best thing we did was take a spontaneous trip to Sequoia National Park.

I mistakenly thought that sequoias looked like coastal redwoods. Not at all. They are orange, for one thing. Their bark is flat, scratchy, and brittle and spongy at the same time. Imagine a bunch of giant orange trees on top of a huge granite mountain, and that’s Sequoia National Park. Pictures:
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Kyle by sequoias

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Looking up at one of the trees.

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We came upon this cute family holding hands around the tree.

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General Sherman, one of the biggest trees in the world.

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Ranger holding up a pine cone

We also climbed to the top of this:

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That’s Morro Rock. There was a staircase going up to the top. It looked like this:

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Here are some views from the top:

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Gideon also climbed the rock. I was proud of him. Here we are as a family, at the top. This was right at the moment Gideon started acting squirrely and scared us by flopping around.

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No one died.

Article: How Beatrix Potter Invented Character Merchandising

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 10:38 am on Thursday, May 18, 2017

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I have an article in the Smithsonian on how How Beatrix Potter Invented Character Merchandising. Excerpt:

Beatrix Potter is known for her gentle children’s books and beautiful illustrations. But the sweet stories of Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-Duck and others helped hide a savvy mind for business—and an author who was among the first to realize that her readers could help build a business empire.

Read the rest here.

Short Story: Murmur

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 10:34 am on Thursday, May 18, 2017

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My short story Murmur is up on Every Day Fiction. It’s about a ghost. Excerpt:

She came in with the rain, through an open window. It was the house of a young family. The ghost, whose name had been Amaya, gazed curiously at their cleanliness, their food-in-bar-form, and the bright newness of everything they owned. She watched the mother string grapes onto skewers and then paste chocolate chips on one end with icing, the eyes of a long green snake. When the children came home from school, they ate the snakes as snacks. The mother said the grapes were healthy. Grapes had been so expensive when Amaya was alive that she hadn’t tasted them until she was an adult.

Read the rest here.

Book Review: Hourglass by Dani Shapiro

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 10:26 am on Thursday, May 18, 2017

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I really enjoyed Hourglass by Dani Shapiro. Check out my review on KQED. Excerpt:

My 15th wedding anniversary is in June. It seems impossible that my husband and I have been together for that long. The first 10 years of our marriage galloped by, or so it seems to me, before we finally had a child. Now my son is turning 5, my parents are elderly, and I’ve been married 15 years. These facts don’t feel real to me, but I guess they are anyway.

Read the rest here.

Article on NPR: Bountiful Beach Buffet: Fresh Seaweed Is Making Waves Among Foragers

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 4:12 pm on Wednesday, January 18, 2017

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I wrote an article on seaweed foraging for NPR.

Did you know most seaweed is edible? And that it’s a natural thickener? And a source of protein? And MSG? AND that seaweed isn’t even a plant, but algae? Interesting stuff, I tell you.

Check out Bountiful Beach Buffet: Fresh Seaweed Is Making Waves Among Foragers.

Goodbye 2016, Which Wasn’t So Bad For Me

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 12:37 pm on Tuesday, December 27, 2016

There’s no arguing that 2016 was a terrible year for the nation as a whole, so I feel almost guilty saying that it was a great year for me personally. Almost every month was full of exciting, fun, or interesting events, and the year felt very full and rich for us.

Sorry.

I mean, 2016 was the year I went up in a hot air balloon. How can I think it was all that bad?

Work went well this year. I attended two artist residencies, completed a draft of a new novel, studied with Paul Harding, was a finalist in a novel contest, spoke on the radio in Ireland and Australia, and published some of my best work so far. Here are my favorite publications from 2016:

We traveled a lot this year. We took a 3,000-mile RV trip to Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, and Vancouver. Kyle spoke at a computer security conference in Amsterdam, and I took smaller trips to LA, Humboldt County, and Monterey. I also went to Cuttyhunk Island Writer’s Residency and to Wildacres in North Carolina, which was a wonderful experience.


Blue Ridge Mountains

Is it just me, or are double rainbows becoming more common? I saw at least 10 this year. The best was a full double rainbow that ended in a Montana lake. I’m not sure why this is happening, but I like it.

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I spent a lot of time in nature this year, in the redwoods and the Blue Ridge Mountains, on boats and islands, beside glaciers, in national parks, and near my home in Sonoma County. As such, I had many close encounters with wildlife. I saw a bear, buffalo, elk, big-horned sheep, a bald eagle, two tiny screech owls, a weird spider, deer, chipmunk, and many other creatures.

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Look! A Baby Buffalo!

In 2016, Kyle and I worked at home full time and Gideon attended preschool. He’s starting to read and write. We remodeled our kitchen and added two more chickens to our flock, bringing it to a total of four. I got pretty good at baking bread, but of course my husband one-upped me and made croissants. I went mushroom foraging too, although I’m pretty terrible at it. (Don’t worry, I won’t poison myself.)

As usual, I planted a big garden. I discovered that ground cherries are prolific and delicious and that glass gem corn is disappointing, but makes good popcorn. My mulberry tree continue to be the most delightful plant ever. I killed thousands of box elder bugs—no exaggeration—and they still ate all my nectarines, and a raccoon or fox or skunk ate most of my figs.

Next year, I’m going to be more protective of my fruit.

There you go. A New Year’s resolution.

Happy 2017!

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Merry Christmas 2016

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 7:32 am on Sunday, December 25, 2016

May Christmas uplift your spirits and bring you peace and love.

Kitchen Is Done!

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 2:36 pm on Monday, December 19, 2016

We have successfully remodeled our kitchen.

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This is something we’ve wanted to do for nine years, since moving into this house in 2007.

Here’s what the kitchen used to look like:

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As you can see, the kitchen that came with the house was probably 50 years old. It was dingy and needed to go.

I mentioned in this post how difficult it is to tear out your kitchen and put another one in. At one point, the kitchen looked like this.

We had people install the cabinets and counters, but we did everything else, including painting, plumbing, electricity, and tiling the backsplash behind the stove.

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One day in an antique store we ran into a vintage tile mural of Don Quixote fighting a windmill. It was hand-painted from Spain. I knew right away I wanted it for behind the stove.

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Up close:

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Now the house is 90% remodeled.

Nine. Years. Later.

Whew.

Superstition Review: On Sondheim and Whether Lyrics Are Poetry

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 12:27 pm on Monday, December 19, 2016

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Over at the Superstition Review, check out my essay On Sondheim and Whether Lyrics Are Poetry.

I wrote about why I don’t think Bob Dylan should have won a Nobel Prize in Literature, using Sondheim–another great storyteller through lyrics and music–as an example. An excerpt:

When people equate lyric writing with poetry, they’re often trying to express how meaningful they found a song. The word “poetry” is associated with depth, so to call something poetic is to say it’s beautiful, eloquent, or profound. Thus, songwriters who are adept at language are called poets despite the fact that they aren’t actually writing poetry.

But to say that lyrics and poetry are the same is to discount the role music plays in a song. Song lyrics, no matter how lovely, are meant to work with music. When you separate one from the other, you’re getting only part of a whole. On the other hand, a poem, as poet Paul Muldoon said, “brings its own music with it.”

READ THE REST HERE.

Yellowstone National Park Part 2

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 7:36 am on Thursday, December 15, 2016

Here’s more from our trip to Yellowstone National Park. See Part 1 Here.

Yellowstone is the Earth’s largest active geyser field.

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We’ve all heard of Old Faithful Geyser, but it is one of hundreds of geysers in Yellowstone. There are so many that the landscape steams with them.

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It rained for part of our trip, so many of my geyser pictures didn’t turn out, but they are quite a sight. Some look like the mouth of a dragon. Some look like bubbling mud puddles. Some shoot water hundreds of feet into the air.

My favorite was the Grand Prismatic Spring. Here’s a picture of it from the air:

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Because of the fall weather, we didn’t see that version of Grand Prismatic Spring, but what we did see was fascinating. The colors in the spring are caused by heat-loving bacteria. As such, each area is a different color and pattern, often reminding me of stained glass.

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I have to stop myself from posting more pictures. I mean, the mud looked like this.

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And this.

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I would definitely go back to Yellowstone. We barely scratched the surface of what there is to see there.

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Ominous witch cloud bringing the rain.

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