Tag Archives: vacation

I Think I Got the Lividity and How Perceptions Differ by LV Gaudet

Anyone who has ever experienced the family vacation knows the family vacation experience starts weeks before and ends weeks after the actual vacation.


This is about a family vacation experience, and about different perceptions.  Writing a story is all about the use of perception.  Twisting and focusing the reader’s perceptions, utilizing opposing perceptions, and even tricking the reader into thinking you are following a certain line of perception before revealing your true intentions.  What you do with this depends on your story and its goal.


Real life is drama.  Don’t shortchange your readers by forgetting that in your stories.


Feel free to skip to the parts that actually interest you.  I am also sick again as I write this, so please bear with me.




Of course, there are the “pre weeks” aka “the months you can’t get back”; the weeks where one of you spends a painful amount of time researching vacation possibilities (because travel agents are for wusses, people less cheap than you, and people with a different type of common sense).  They endlessly read opposing reviews, getting excited and then woefully disappointed by the same resorts, before finally taking a great intake of air, holding it indefinitely, scrunching their eyes tightly closed, and hitting send.  The vacation is booked.


And then once the vacation is booked it is the stressful “vacation time coordination”. Anyone with differing vacation in-house work rules will find this more difficult.  We are lucky in this.  Unlike some, we don’t have to definitively and un-irrevocably book vacation time all at once for the year and not be able to change plans.  Still, you have at least two people with different work vacation booking rules, plus kids/others, to try to book everyone off for the same week and it can be a juggling act.


Then it’s the preparation time.  You have to make sure you pack all of your stuff, that everyone else has theirs, and plan for every possible contingency and buy a pharmacy.


How you think it will go aka “the boring story” or “what your character wants” – You make your list, pack and purchase, and everything is packed nicely and easily.  Stress free.  And you happily and contentedly go to sleep looking forward to your vacation.  Your vacation is flawless. You do stuff, relax, enjoy, and come home refreshed.


How it really goes aka “insert drama here” – Ugh.  Let us not forget how real life can get.  You have a job, kids, dogs, and a house.  So, in between looking after all of that, you have to find the time for packing, lists, shopping, re-packing, and cleaning.  And, if your dogs are lucky enough that you have someone willing to house sit/dog sit so they don’t have to spend the week stressed and panicked in a boarding kennel, you also want the house clean when you leave.


Starting with the dogs, the husky, Roxy aka The Big Dumb Bunny, decides to pick that time right before your vacation to start blowing out her coat.  In the middle of winter and -30 to -45 wind chills.  How a dog can shed more than her weight in hair every hour is beyond me. Cue the endless vacuuming.  We call the other dog, Meeka, the “good dog”.  She does not blow out her coat, steal all your socks, or make you put her out every five minutes.


20180210_173118.jpgThe kids.  Anyone with kids can tell you that you really need to plan a week off kid free to clean the house for anything upcoming of importance.  This still applies when they are teens.  As fast as you try to clean, the place is unraveled around you into a bedlam of chaos and mess.  And, the virtual extra large dogs aka the Big Dumb Hair Bunnies you need to vacuum up endlessly.  You are also trying to get all the laundry done, and make futile attempts to pack your own stuff.


Just a quick interject – naturally, pre-vacation week you get sick (cough cough). You feel like Bill the cat from Bloom County looks. If you don’t know, look it up.  But you still must be up before six every morning, go to work, and deal with the kids, dogs, family, house, etc. every evening, plus vacation preparation.


Three days prior to vacation you announce to the entire household (repeatedly), “Tomorrow night I have to pack my stuff for the trip.  All my stuff.  I have nothing packed.  So let me do that or I won’t have any clothes to wear.  After I pack all my stuff, I can help you with yours.”


Two days prior to vacation, the “I MUST PACK ALL MY STUFF” evening, …guess what. Yes, you guessed it. Kids.  One, who is old enough to handle it in my opinion, absolutely needs your help to figure out and fill out the grade 10 course registration for next year that ABSOLUTELY MUST BE DONE THAT NIGHT OR THE WORLD WILL END.  Because it has to be handed in tomorrow, since it is due when you are gone on vacation.


The other kid has a mountain of homework that she absolutely cannot figure out on her own, even though she is the one going to school to learn it and knows it better than you do.  Seriously, some of these math word problems I am sure are written in some archaic ancient dead language from a planet in a far away galaxy.  Mostly I repeated the questions on the page until she started actually thinking about them and solved them herself.


Now, it is past bedtime for everyone, you still have laundry and cleaning to do, and have not packed a single sock.  Or maybe you did pack a sock, but the Big Dumb Bunny stole it.  At this point you are too tired and sick to know or care.


The Nightmare before Christmas, I mean (um), the night before vacation.  Okay, now you really need to pack.  You start your morning with slopping an entire cup of coffee on yourself minutes before you have to leave for work.  Nice.  Now you have to do laundry again because you had to pull clothes out of the stuff you washed to pack, because you don’t have enough clothes that fit.  You bust your butt at work all day making sure everything is done. You half expect at this point that your car will break down on the way home.  Somehow the stars and planets align and it does not.


However, and, I should have put that in all caps.  Let’s try that again.


HOWEVER, you get home and while you were at work the good dog puked, the toilet upstairs plugged and overflowed, and the house is a complete disaster.  The panicked teen tries to resolve the overflowing toilet by staring moodily at the toilet bowl, water flowing over its sides to flood the bathroom floor, glares at it, and starts throwing all the towels on the floor in an effort to make it all stop without asking for help, and the water continues to flood over the toilet bowl.


Meanwhile, on the downside, aka the kitchen, water has begun to flow from the ceiling light fixture located directly below the offending toilet.  Cue the sudden discovery by your spouse that something is wrong upstairs.  This, by the way, is next to the brown spot in the kitchen ceiling from the other kid previously trying to fill water balloons by placing them over the entire tap end, forcing the water to wash back up the space between the water pipe and the tap covering until it wets and stains the ceiling below.


20180210_075200.jpgIt is your last evening to pack, and you are overtired, still sick, and trying to clean, do laundry (again), deal with dramas, back up all your life’s work so you don’t risk losing it if anything happens to your laptop (because you stupidly think will all that spare time while you are up hours before everyone else every morning on vacation you will have time for writing), and attempt to pack your stuff, finally.  Only, the evening is gone before you know it, you have accomplished little if anything, the house is still a mess, you are still doing laundry, and EVERYONE HAS GONE TO BED WITHOUT YOU.


Oh yeah, and you still have to pack all your stuff for the week, but you can’t because everyone went to bed.


Vacation day!  You are not sure what time you went to bed.  Eleven?  Eleven-thirty?  You are up at two am because you are supposed to be ready to leave the house by 4 am.  Showered, dressed, and dolled up.  Your brain is mush.  You know you are forgetting a thousand things.  You have half an hour to pack.  You are constantly being interrupted despite your pleas of, “Let me pack!”  Your spouse is trying their best to help.  You gather stuff, set it down, turn, and it is gone. Your spouse packed it in their bag.  At this point you are now packing without knowing what you actually packed.  You can’t find anything because your brain is mush.  You will take stock of everything you are missing when you get there.


20180208_194931You will get there to find that you are missing basic essentials like deodorant, hair brush, and a toothbrush.  You will spend an exorbitant amount of money buying two of the three at the little resort store, only to find halfway through the vacation it was packed in your spouse’s suitcase.


After arrival and after going through the customs security screening and passing through the door of “Thou Shall Not Go Back”, the thirteen-year-old discovers she left her phone in the bathroom on the other side.  Being stupid Canadian tourists they let us through and watch in confusion as I scurry with her to retrieve the lost phone.  Later we learned how terrified our handler was that we committed such serious a faux pas, and we speculated was possibly shocked we were not arrested for it.


20180210_112138.jpgThe vacation.  Day one, everyone wakes up cranky.  Everyone is moody, miserable, and fighting.  The beds and pillows actually inflict pain; they are so bad.  But, once settled in, each person has the time to start living the moment instead of only reacting to a fast paced series of reactionary moments.


While on the drive from the airport to the resort the previous evening, you are taking in the world the local people live in through the bus window, your kids, who are sitting much closer to the front of the bus, are noticing how rude, insensitive, and disrespectful they feel some of our fellow vacationers are being towards the travel guide whose job it is to get everyone to their hotels.


20180209_153704.jpgWe are in a place where the local population is predominantly dark skinned.  You notice how kind and friendly all of the people working there are, how some struggle with the language barriers between them and their guests, but they still do their best to help.  Your kids, however, whose sole experience with different people in your other raced neighborhood is what they learned in school about the history of black slavery, are feeling weird and at odds over watching all these dark-skinned staff serving the predominantly white guests.  They question the appropriateness of it, not understanding it is so only because of the nature of the local population’s demographics.


20180210_103428(0).jpgDuring one dinner, while you are observing the strange behavior at the next table, your spouse is observing a very different scene behind you.  The table next to you, a larger group, are taking turns politely clapping each person as if each is taking a turn quietly sharing some life affirming moment.  The moment feels almost cultish to you, and you wonder if this is some sort of retreat for some group.  Your spouse reaches across the table, touches your hand to get your attention, and looks you in the eyes.

“Get ready to move fast, there is going to be a fight behind you and I think it will be ugly.”

You glance quickly at your teen sitting next to you and then at the couple quietly arguing being hind you, just at the moment the whispered argument gets louder.  The wife was very inebriated, and the husband not.

We each had a very different memory of that dinner.


Naturally, being a vacation of the sort we have not been on in years and may not again for years to come, everyone has to take a turn being sick.  Another wrench thrown into that perfect vacation.  Another drama, another obstacle to overcome.  I have to say, I don’t know when I felt a sickness like that.  After the vomiting the large ball of discomfort settles in to take up permanent residence in your stomach.  You are cold and hot.  Every inch of your muscles and skin hurts.  The weight of your body against the mattress is agony.  Even the feather weight of the light sheets is pain.  Luckily we packed a pharmacy.

At one point, as I lay there, my spouse thought he saw bruising.  It was only shadow.  I said I had the lividity.  That now I know what dying feels like and it hurts like hell. That I am now The Walking Dead and if I didn’t feel like such crap I would probably be eating everyone.  My spouse called me a dork.


20180210_075334.jpgOf course, the vacation was not all bad.  Kids and teens, being who they are, were in a constant flux between getting along and annoying each other.  Anyone with teens knows how little you see them when they start hiding in their rooms.  And, with work and kids, how little time a couple actually has together.  We had eight full days, including travel both ways, of all four of us being together 24/7, getting reacquainted with each other.  That was through good and bad, sickness (literally, with us taking turns being up all night vomiting), and health.  We still like each other.


20180211_144645.jpgThe trip home.  The plan was to have everything packed and cleaned up the night before and ready to go.  Everyone is up, showered, dressed, and last bit packed with lots of time to haul our stuff to the front lobby, get lunch, and hop on the bus to the airport.  Easy.  No fuss, no muss.

The reality; okay that actually did sort of work out for us.  Not so much for the other family with two small boys who were on the wrong time zone.  They missed the mandatory check out time, thus incurring the wrath of the forewarned late checkout surcharges.  The bus did wait for them while they hurriedly put their two small boys on the bus and scurried off to hastily pack all their belongings and race back to the bus.

It also presumably did not work out so well for the others who our vacation company on-site liaison, bus driver, and hotel staff were unable to locate.  They missed the bus.  All but one eventually made it to the airport, where we all looked at each other wondering what fate befell the mysterious man they kept paging over the intercom to make his way immediately to our boarding gate.


20180211_105331.jpgGoing through customs is its own experience.  Leaving Canada, the fourteen-year-old was randomly selected for the “sniff test”.  Yes, apparently they had to make sure a fourteen-year-old girl was not carrying or recently in contact with cocaine.  I, being the concerned parent, laughed at her plight.  The Canadian customs staff were typically Canadian, indulgent and kind about it.

And then there was the phone in the bathroom incident on arrival, which we teased the thirteen-year-old about and told her that her father would have had to contact the Canadian embassy or consular service or whatever they have there to have our government try to negotiate our release from a foreign country prison.

Coming home, we learned while in line to check our luggage that the rules for carrying going the opposite way are different.  We hastily shifted items from our carry on to our checked luggage.  On the way to security I ended up having to throw out my chapped lip stick because that apparently is illegal.  Every man woman and child went through a cursory pat down.  The Dominican customs people were all very understanding and kind while processing all of us.

On arrival in Canada, and after a slightly bumpy landing, it is time to breathe a sigh of relief.  It is over.  You are home.  Cue laughter.

We are in the back quarter of the plane.  Naturally, disembarking is done from the front to the back.  Everyone is collecting their stuff from the overhead compartments and beneath the seat in front of them, committing incredible acts of acrobatics trying to squeeze through the ten-inch aisle with their stuff to the front of the plane, and stumbling numbly down the tunnel ramp on legs and buttocks that are no longer functional after a more than six-hour flight trapped in tiny uncomfortable seats with their legs pressed to their chins.

20180211_144010.jpgLiterally, with the last of the rest of the plane passengers passing through the door at the end before us into the great terminal beyond, an airport worker hurriedly rushes to the door and closes it in our faces.  We, and our fellow back of the plane passengers, are left staring dumbly at him as he motions us to stay and runs off through the secondary set of doors.  We look at each other.  There are a few nervous chuckles.  We are literally in a dry aquarium.  A glass-walled prison with no way out except to race back to the plane, whose door is presumably closed by now, and no place to shelter.  Is there some sort of airport security event?  Should we be afraid?  But, this is Canada, so the worst it might be is that someone forgot to say please and thank you.

After some moments of the same man who locked us in and another worker looking around in confusion, the other trying his swipe card on some random card swiper at a desk through doors the rest of the plane did not disembark through, a third airport worker came along and let us through.

20180211_143714.jpgAt last, we are home.  Or at least on the last leg of home, driving home with a slight detour that involved going in completely the opposite direction of home for some distance before realizing we are going the wrong way, and made it home.

The vacation, naturally, does not end there.  Because now you have to catch up at work and do all the other post-vacation stuff.  But the real story has already ended and that stuff happens after you cut to end story.


And that, my friends, is how an unexciting vacation story becomes filled with obstacles and drama.  Real life throws a wrench in things and so must you when you write your story.


While we were all in this together through various stages, every person would have had their own unique perspective and experience.


There is more to the story, of course.  The monkey on the beach, the walk off-resort through a possibly sketchy area, and the salami taxi.  But that is the fine details you flesh out later in your story.


Now, if I were to re-write this from each person’s perspective, each would tell a very different story.


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The Intangible World of the Literary Mind

This blog is about writing, being an author, and life.


LV Gaudet, author

This blog is for the fans of dark fiction, those stories that slither softly into your dreams in the night to turn them dark and foul.



Published with Indigo Sea Press:
where the bodies are


He can’t stop killing.


Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

Learn the secret behind the bodies in Where the Bodies Are.

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Filed under L.V. Gaudet, life, Travel, writing

Vacation Reading by Sheila Deeth

I started reading The Girl On The Train on a train

On vacation near London, I started reading The Girl On The Train at a railway station.

A London bookstore is surely the perfect location to start Mr Penumbra's 24-hour Book Store

This bookstore, with its horizontal as well as vertical displays, was the absolutely perfect location for enjoying Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Book Store

These dogs surely dared to dream while I read The Dog Who Dared To Dream

Then I followed some happily dreaming dogs while exploring The Dog Who Dared To Dream.

Surely punting on the Cam is timeless ande English enough to inspire reading The Eyre Affair

And punting on the Cam – a timelessly English pursuit – inspired me to read The Eyre Affair

A wedding goblet accompanies my reading The Daylight Marriage

A wedding goblet in the Victoria and Albert accompanied my enjoyment of The Daylight Marriage.

Then it's off to enjoy the play of the book, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time

Then off we went to watch the play of the book, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time, at the Gielgud Theatre.

Meanwhile my mum enjoyed Infinite Sum, hot off the press from Indigo Sea

Meanwhile my mum enjoyed Infinite Sum, hot off the press, freshly published by Indigo Sea.

And now I'm home, it's time for those final edits on Subtraction!

And now I’m home. It must be time for those final edits on Subtraction!

Sheila Deeth is the author of the Mathemafiction novels, published by Indigo Sea Press. Find Divide by Zero and Infinite Sum online and where good books are sold. Then watch out for Subtraction, coming soon!


Filed under books, Sheila Deeth, Travel

Sherrie and the Great World (by Sherrie Hansen)

It’s been a whirlwind ever since we returned from Romania about 10 days ago, so this will be short, and I’ll let my photos do most of the talking.

Romania - Bran Castle

In addition to trying to catch up with everything we missed out on while we were gone, and getting back on track at work, my mind is humming with the task of trying to process everything we saw and experienced on our journey.

Romania - Castle

There’s so much to write about that my fingers can’t move fast enough. I started working on Sweet William, the next of my Wildflowers of Scotland novels, again when we were in Cornwall and Devon, surrounded by British accents and quirky UKisms. My love affair with the British Isles came rushing back the second the roads narrowed to bicycle path width and the hedgerows got so tall that I felt like a rat in a maze.

England - narrow road England - menu England - heather

I will say of our “vacation” that it wasn’t very restful. And that’s just fine with me. We admittedly kept up a bit of a frantic pace, trying to take everything in, but in retrospect, we wouldn’t have traded a second of it in the name of relaxation. Nothing new there! When I was growing up, we had friends that went to the cabin at the lake every summer… the same cabin at the same lake, surrounded by the same people. Not my family. We liked to camp, and would often stay in a different state park every night, setting up camp, tearing down camp, building a new fire to cook over every night. And we traveled all over the state and the United States, and saw so much, and met so many people, and experienced a whole variety of places and things. I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. Or maybe I did trade it for the world.

Romania - Sibiu

So for those of you who have never caught the travel bug, here’s what I like about jaunting about the Great World…

Romania - village England - Thatch Romania - Timi

  1. New experiences stretch me, help me to grow, and push me to my limits. I never would have chosen to go to Romania if my stepson, Erik, hadn’t moved there 1 ½ years ago, and met his lovely bride, Cristiana.  Romania E&C I never would have believed that I could climb 1000 rickety stairs to the top of Dracula’s castle at Bran, Romania, or the watch tower overlooking the medieval city of Sighisoara, Romania or climb down a steep, 70 degree cobblestone-paved descent to the sea at Clovelly, Devon, or see the fabled ruins of King Arthur’s birthplace at Tintagel, Cornwall. Romania - stairs  Romania - stair curve Romania - stairway But I did it, and I’m so happy that I was thrust into a set of circumstances that allowed me to experience so many memorable things.

Romania - Haywagon Romania - wagons Romania - Buzias spring

  1. Seeing how the rest of the world lives and experiencing their joys and frustrations helps me to reopen my eyes to the beauty in my own back yard, and make me thankful for what I have. Part of it is looking at life through the lens of my camera. Once you start looking for beauty, you see it everywhere, even at home. Once you realize that much of the world doesn’t have and can’t afford air conditioning and a million other luxuries we take for granted, you realize how blessed we really are.

Romania - Hundedora Romania - ax

  1. Fresh inspiration and a renewed perspective gives me a boost of positive energy. It’s not that my life in northern Iowa is boring – far from it, but we don’t have the seashore and castles and roundabouts and surfing and medieval cities, and face it – never will. I’m glad I live exactly where I do, but I love the burst of creativity and inspiration that I get when I travel to the far ends of the earth.

Romania - swords Romania - storks

  1. Colorful new characters, each with their own story, make me want to write a million tales. Here’s where I will let my pictures – or rather the people in them – do the talking.

Romania - woman in window Romania - Skeleton Romania - Ukranian woman England - fisherman

Thanks for listening and looking into their eyes. Here’s hoping you have a chance to see the world from a new perspective one day soon, whether it’s a different corner of your own little world, or a vast new expanse on the other side of the globe.

England - sunset

Sherrie Hansen’s Bio:
Twenty-three years ago, Sherrie rescued a dilapidated Victorian house in northern Iowa from the bulldozer’s grips and turned it into a bed and breakfast and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn.  Sherrie has also lived in Colorado Springs, CO, Augsburg, Germany, Wheaton, IL, and Bar Harbor, Maine. She grew up on a farm in southern Minnesota. After 12 years of writing romance novels, Sherrie met and married her real-life hero, Mark Decker, a pastor. They now live in 2 different houses, 85 miles apart, and Sherrie writes on the run whenever she has a spare minute. Sherrie enjoys playing the piano, photography, traveling, and going on weekly adventures with her nieces and nephew. “Shy Violet” is Sherrie’s eighth book to be published by Second Wind Publishing.


http://www.BlueBelleInn.com or http://www.BlueBelleBooks.com


Books Titles: Wildflowers of Scotland novels – Thistle Down (a prequel novella), Wild Rose, Blue Belle, Shy Violet. Night and Day, Love Notes, and the Maple Valley Trilogy – Stormy Weather, Water Lily, and Merry Go Round.  


Filed under Sherrie Hansen

My Problem With Vacations by Harry Margulies

I have something in common with pretty much every person on earth – aside from beingBeach shell a person and living on this planet: I love vacations. Just the2 MerryGoRound
word itself, vacation, resonates to me like a gentle wave washing across stretches of powdery, white sand, or like the elevated laughter of children enjoying their first ride on a merry-go-round.


Vacation literally means (I’m guessing) to vacate and shun your everyday surroundings. Being on vacation then would suggest travel is on the agenda. And what’s not tofish underwater love about travel? It’s an opportunity to experience the unfamiliar, or to relive the familiar of past vacations. Travel can be exotic, relaxing, educational, and fun. I could go on, so I will. Who doesn’t become all tingly with excitement while sketching out itineraries, scouring vibrant brochures, or visualizing the ultimate snorkeling destination? Me – that’s who.


Don’t get me wrong; I love vacations, as I’ve mentioned. To me though, a vacation means Woman hands washing dinner plate in kitchen sinknot having to do the same things I normally do every day. Go to the gym at five in the morning? No thanks. I’m on vacation. Wash the dishes after I eat? (Or in my case, throw away my paper plate after I eat?) Nope. Sorry. I’m on vacation.


I realize that going on vacation, in the traditional sense, implies going somewhere, but it also implies an anticipated measure of fun, or pleasure. Travel stopped becoming pleasurable to me when I realized the anticipation was always more enjoyable than the trip itself. Anymore, just the thought of Retro Suitcase opened isolated over whitepacking a suitcase is unnerving. I cringe when I think of our hall closet shelf, the top one, where our bags reside like a house of cards, waiting for their chance to be part of the next day’s headline: MAN KILLED BY SUITCASE. Also, I’m not sure why we keep our suitcases nested one inside the other. Possibly it’s to conserve space. The more likely explanation though is it’s the only way they can weigh enough, collectively, to be lethal.


Assuming I survive the assassin luggage, I still have to somehow get to point B. There are no good options. I’d rather walk to any destination than travel by air. I suppose if I were wealthy enough to own a jet I’d reconsider. But I’m only wealthy enough to afford a middle seat in coach, sometimes with a nice view of the emergency exit-row seats up

passenger plane
Arrival of the train at railway station  The old bus

ahead – the ones behind the seats that don’t recline. If I had my own jet, I could park it at the airport five minutes from my house – the small, stress-free, private planes only airport. Instead, I leave the house hours before my flight, which, although never necessary, is a stipulation of the wife/travel coordinator agreement I signed in my sleep years ago. Take a train or a bus? Trains don’t roll where I live, and I’d have to take a one-hour cab ride to get to the bus terminal. And no offense to buses or trains, but I’m pretty sure I’d need a vacation after traveling more than a hundred miles on either.


I’ve considered driving, thinking at least I wouldn’t have to travel somewhere just to travel somewhere. I don’t mind driving, but after five minutes in the car, my wife is sound asleep. Five minutes later, she wakes up and begins searching for a rest stop. It’s a perpetual cycle. The only reason I ever drive anywhere is that I have this fantasy of

Driving a car
Beauty female portrait

7C FriedClams Montage

discovering a surviving Howard Johnson’s restaurant, buying plates of fried clams, and stuffing them into the leftover spaces of my executioner/suitcase. Have you ever tasted HoJo’s clams?


I know. I’m strange. I checked with AARP, and was able to confirm that I’m not yet curmudgeon age, so I don’t think that’s my problem, if indeed I have one. Maybe I should have been born a century or so from now, when getting to a vacation spot will be as easy as stepping into a Star Trek style beam me there machine. It’s possible I could enjoy one 8 StarTrekLogoof those – unless I have to travel to it.



* * *

Harry Margulies is the author of The Knowledge Holder and the to-be-released The Weight of the Moon. When he’s not writing about romance, money, women and other subjects he thoroughly enjoys but knows nothing about, he’s frittering his precious time as a cartoonist.

Fried clams from Woodman’s of Essex
Star Trek logo courtesy of PhiLIP


Filed under Humor, musings, Travel, writing

Dream a Little Dreamcation for Me by Sherrie Hansen


Some of my best work and most extraordinary inspirations occur when I fly halfway around the world. I’ve always been a homebody at heart – it is quite traumatic getting ready to leave the nest even for a few days. And don’t get me wrong – I love what I do, and my  day to day work inspires creativity of a different kind, but there is something that opens my heart, mind, and eyes to new possibilities when I am away on vacation.


When I am at my B&B or at the parsonage with my husband, it is so easy to get caught up in the mundane details of everyday life that I forget to look at the bigger picture. When I fly far far away, I am jolted out of my comfort zone and forced to see the world in a different light.


New scenery, people and experiences not only intrigue me, they spur my mind to look at the world in a fresh way, and to realize that I and the pesky problems that occasionally plague me are not the life force of the universe, or even the end all to my existence.


My eyes are opened to new possibilities and different options. It’s freeing.


Sometimes, what I see, and the history behind it, makes me more thankful for what I have at home.


At other times, I see empty houses in need of renovation and abandoned storefronts waiting to be leased and think, I could do this! I could make a life here. I could start over, earn a living, make new friends, be happy here.


Not that I want to move – well, most of the time – but realizing that the world doesn’t revolve around my business, my frustrations, and my own particular agenda is like magic.


My short-term problems become inconsequential and my worries fly away and my whole perspective changes.


Sadly, for various reasons, we have no grand vacation plans for this year. I dream of returning to Scotland, France and Germany. Mark is keen to visit his son in Romania. If we do head east, I would love to see Greece, and Bohemia, where some of my ancestors hailed from.



But instead, we are grounded by circumstances and obligations, and although we periodically think we see the light at the end of the tunnel, we are not there yet.


I keep hearing the word Staycation being batted around, which seems to refer to the practice of staying at home and relaxing, perhaps doing fun things where you are,  instead of going on a trip.


But for my husband and I, who live part time in a beautiful B&B, and the rest of the time at a lovely parsonage next to the church where my husband is a pastor, the concept doesn’t work very well. Since both of the places where we live are also the places where we work, I just don’t see a relaxing Staycation happening.


So – won’t you join me for a Dreamcation, perhaps to Denmark or Provence,  or Alsace Lorraine?


I prefer a place where my cell phone doesn’t work and internet connections are spotty. Someplace where no texting is allowed.


Perhaps a place with so many beautiful gardens, and quaint houses, and  tasty treats that I would soon totally forget what’s happening at home.


I can see it in my mind’s eye now… a villa in the south of France…


…or a half-timbered chalet in Alsace.


I promise you – the views alone will open a window to a whole new world!


Perhaps we will take in a flower market in Germany…


…or explore  a village here or there or anywhere, as long as it’s somewhere I’ve never been before.


Or perhaps you’d like to join me for a taste of Swiss chocolat?


I hear the patisseries in France are beyond compare.


Dreaming is my specialty, after all. It’s what makes me a good writer.  Won’t you please join me?


Sherrie Hansen is the author of 8 novels set in locales as diverse as Denmark, Scotland, the French Riviera, and Embarrass, Minnesota. Her books are available at the Blue Belle Inn B&B and Tea House, where she spends her days, all major online venues, and at http://www.SecondWindPublishing.com. All photos in this article were taken by Sherrie Hansen on her last trip to Europe in 2010.


Filed under Sherrie Hansen, Travel, writing

The Girl Who Couldn’t Learn Football

I’ve never been a football fan. Truth be told, I’ve never understood the sport at all. Keep in mind that despite cheering for the sport for a number of years in my youth, I’ve never been able to learn more than what a first down is and a hand signal or two. Basically, I know the sign for ‘holding’ and ‘touchdown.’

I know, sad.

Over the holiday break, I drove to Massachusetts to visit my family. During my vacation, I spent a couple of days visiting my sister in New Hampshire. One night, the Patriots game was on the television and I made the mistake of thinking my sister and I were spending quality time with each other. Imagine my surprise when she looked at the screen and hollared, “YOU GOTTA CATCH THOSE!!!”

Shortly after that, she began to scream at the ref in much the same manner as any man might do when watching the game with his buddies. I said to her what I’ve said to those men: “You do realize they can’t hear you, right?”

And yes, I received the same look of exasperation from her that I’ve received from men in the past.

In all fairness, I have tried on several occasions to learn the sport. I would ask questions while watching the game but soon realized that my questions that sounded something like, “So the guy in the blue shirt is the quarterback, right?” or “Which direction are they going in?” or “Why are they playing in the rain? Aren’t they cold?” were not as well received as I would have liked.

So why, despite my trying to learn the sport, am I unable to do so? I am a fairly intelligent person. I’m college educated and have been able to hold down a job since graduation. I speak grammatically correct, can make change without a calculator and can read instructions in order to assemble any number of household items. Why, I ask, does this football thing escape me? Why do I find it nearly impossible to keep track of who’s in what place or who is trying to get to which goal? And never mind which player ran so many yards in a game in 1973. Do we really care about this? Yeah, yeah, I know some of you do.

The thing is; football is great! If i were to watch any sport, football would be it. I love the crashing into one another, the die hard play-in-any-type-of-weather mentality, and let’s face it, the tight pants aren’t all that bad either.

So here is my New Year’s resolution: This is the year I will learn the fundamentals of football. I will learn the proper way to tackle someone without getting a penalty, I will learn what causes a penalty and perhaps even a play or two. I will learn all the positions as well as the qualities that are best suited for those positions. (Currently, I only know that typically, a big, burly guy is the center and a quick, smaller guy is a running back. But that’s two positions down! How many to go?)

In addition, I will follow a team through the season and cheer them on. I will make an effort to watch every game they play, even if it means I miss an outing with a girlfriend.

Now, who’s going to teach me the game?

Donna Small is the author of two novels: Just Between Friends and A Ripple in the Water. Both are from Second Wind Publishing.


Filed under writing

My Welcome Home — by Coco Ihle

On June 13th, I set off on a river cruise to Russia, Estonia and Finland, and returned to Florida on July 4th. My homecoming, however, wasn’t quite what I had planned. After about thirty hours without sleep, I arrived home at approximately 3 AM to find that a pipe had broken behind the wall in my master bathroom. Water had flooded underneath the vanity cabinets into the adjacent carpeted linen closet and traveled through the wall into my foyer, soaking the oriental carpet in the entry to the front door and out into the vestibule. On inspection I noticed black mold and fuzz now covered the back wall of the cabinets, ringed the carpet in the closet and followed the path the water had taken out the front door. Draped over several objects, I found the oriental carpet drying in the garage. I knew immediately there would be no sleep for me anytime soon.

My neighbor across the street had checked on my house the day before I returned and she immediately shut off the water heater and main water valve to my house. She also cleared out the linen closet, not knowing that the leak originated next to the closet. A note citing her observations and actions awaited me on my kitchen counter since she began her own vacation early on the day I got home. Her note expressed her regrets at the problem I had before me and she left me flowers from her garden and fresh water for coffee in the morning. Bless her!

I spent the remainder of the night cleaning out and boxing up the contents of the bathroom cabinets. Of course, naturally, that morning was July 4th. Luckily, my neighbor had left her water on for me to use until my water was restored. Good thing, because my plumber wasn’t able to come until the 5th.  Can you picture me darting like an animated cartoon character across the street in the middle of the night in my nighty to use her bathroom?

Early on the 5th, the plumber came to restore my water and he spent the day trying to find where  the leak originated and to figure out how to fix the problem. When he left, I had water on the guest side of the house, but my master bathroom pipes would have to be rerouted. Today is the 10th and the job is finally completed.

My insurance claims man arrived today as well, and we’ll have to wait and see if and how much of this problem will be covered by my insurance. My brain is picturing mega bucks. Shudder!

I had planned to start writing about my trip in this blog post, but I hope you will tune in again next month, dear reader, when I’ve had time to recover from my harrowing homecoming. By then I will have looked through the myriad photos I took, brochures I gathered and wonderful memories I logged in my brain. I’ll bone up on my adjectives, too. Russia, Estonia and Finland were awesome!


Coco Ihle is the author of She Had to Know, published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC


Filed under life, musings, Travel, writing

Along Life’s Road by J J Dare

2007 – Grounds at The Hermitage in Hermitage, Tennessee

Yesterday, I was talking about how sad I was that my late partner and I did not have the chance to take some journeys together. There were places I’d traveled that I wanted to show him and places he’d traveled that he wanted to show me. In addition, there were places neither of us had been that we wanted to experience as new adventures with each other.

We were able to go on a number of trips. The most exciting ones were to Las Vegas and Nashville. The best ones were weekend jaunts within a few hours of our home base. The perfect ones were the ones we were planning but had yet to take. Boston was at the top of our list of shared journeys we looked forward to taking.

Do we walk every journey in solitude? Even with someone sharing the adventure, do we ultimately move toward our destinations alone?

A close one brought up a point yesterday when I was feeling blue. Her conclusion was that, even beyond describing the places to others, we are the result of all the places we’ve been and those who aren’t with us on these journeys can experience them through us.

It was a lot to take in. My summation is I carry those I love with me, no matter where I go, no matter when and no matter who is with me. People who have been present for part of my journey are present for all of it, even if they are not with me in physical form.

The same is true with writing. The stories I tell are journeys and I travel with those who read what I’ve written. I want to take the reader to places I’ve been and to places I will only dream of visiting. Experiencing these destinations through writing has opened up my own world and the best compliment from a reader is that it has opened up their world, too.

One of my favorite quotes is “The journey is more important than the destination.” How many times have you read a book and when you come to the last page, you don’t want it to end? The journey you take when you immerse yourself in a world another has created for you is oftentimes more satisfying than the end.

With certain books I’ve read, in my mind I ask the same question at the end: what happens next? Sometimes the author will continue the story with another book. Sometimes I have to continue the story’s adventure on my own. I never want the journeys of my favorite books to end.

I am guilty of delaying some of my own writing adventures. Although writing is my lifelong voyage, the “False” trilogy I’ve worked on is one shy of the trio. Right now, it’s the “False” duo. Life happened and the journey I’ve been on for the past two years pushed the final book of my trilogy on an unforeseen hiatus. One day, though, one day.

The journey continues . . .


J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and triple digit works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is sharpening intangible knives and co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

Facebook addiction


Filed under books, fiction, life, musings, Travel, writing

Westward Ho! by J J Dare

Tomorrow, I start my journey west. Hurricane Lee delayed my exit today, but on Monday that dastardly General will be in my backdoor as I travel.

Well, actually, I’ll be headed north first to visit my daughter who is living in Siberia, I mean, Shreveport, Louisiana. After a day or two, I’ll head west to Texas. From there, I’ll be RV’ing to Colorado.

My favorite coffee cup, pictured above, will accompany me. I’m packing light, with only what I can fit in a backpack and sports bag. I’ll be roughing it: wearing the same jeans a few days in a row, fighting spotty internet connections, no fast food places within driving distance, and no cigarettes or booze. Oy.

It all came about rather quickly. I was asked if I wanted to go on a two-week escape and even before I made up my mind to go, I’d made up my mind. All I had to do was work out the particulars.

Particulars like, will my adult child remember to feed the cats, who will cut the grass, what should I bring, when will I get back . . . will I come back . . .

I need this, I’ve been told. Escape the ordinary, break away from the past, take a step or two into the future. It’s free, it’s two weeks in the Rockies, and it will be fun.

At any other point in my life, I would have had to decline. I have always been tied to someone who needed me around – now, for the first time in my life, I have no ties, no responsibilities. It’s an empty, strange feeling to be responsible only to myself.

Myself. What an odd experience this will be. Though I’m embarking on a vacation journey, it’s really the start of discovering who I am. There is a stranger staring at me in the mirror that I need to get to know

Creativity is awakening in my mind for the first time in two years. I’m excited to write, excited to unveil new characters and anxious to bring them to life. I’m anxious to bring me to life.

The adventure begins.

{ As an interesting side note, we stole the expression “Westward Ho!” from the Brits. It originated as the name of a satirical 1604 stage play by Thomas Dekker and John Webster, and has been the title of movies, books, songs, hotels, and even a small village in England }

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and about thirty works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch


Filed under fun, Humor, life, musings, writing

Starts, Stops and Goodbyes by J J Dare

Today, I bring my oldest daughter and youngest granddaughter to the airport. After a three week visit, I’m not ready for silence to envelope my house. I’m not ready to say goodbye. Life is fickle and I don’t know when I’ll see them again.

Sunday was the first time in a long time I was able to see all of my girls on the same day. The constant noise was loud and wonderful. A kaleidoscope of people flowed in and out of the house all day.

Last week, my mother went into a “skilled nursing facility,” a fancier term for a nursing home. After breaking a bone in her leg four weeks ago and after a stint in a rehabilitation hospital, she is still unable to manage. The hope is she will rally enough to begin walking again and, in her words, “break out” of that place and move back in with me.

My childhood home is gone. The closing was only thirty minutes long. Thirty minutes and a multitude of papers to sign and that was it. It’s no longer the central hub of our family. The shift is slowly turning to my own house as it becomes the hive of the queen bee.

In addition to the goodbye we said to my mother’s home, I saw some faces in my family unmasked. The actions and reactions from the loss of the home surprised and saddened me. The start of naked greed over a tangible thing contributed to the fracture of intangible relationships.

The days in July are starts, stops and goodbyes. They contain the birthday of my partner and later in the month, his deathday. Although it’s another month among the past eleven months of my mourning, the sixty-second anniversary of his birth and first anniversary of his death loom large. I grieve for him daily, yet, this coming month will be the hardest to live through.

My writing has come to a stop. I blame it on the lack of time during the day because of the care I  have to give to so many. The true reason is my muse has left me for greener pastures until I’m ready for her to return. Will she come back next month, the month I could really use her to distract me from my sorrow? Or, will my grief keep the door shut on my writing helper? As with fickle life, muses do not always come when called.

Yesterday, I was visited by a grandfather dragonfly. As the three-inch long insect kept me company outside, I thought about how the smallest things are as important as the largest. Life is fleeting and fickle. Reality is how you make it. Muses come and go, as do the people in your life. The best you can hope for is to walk the path fate has laid out for you without stumbling too often.

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and about thirty works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch


Filed under life, writing