All Right! All Write!

Last year I jumped into the pool of the All Write conference. It was better than I’d ever hoped. The sessions were great, but that wasn’t the real reason I wanted to go.

I’d been sitting on the sidelines dangling my feet into the water by reading the posts of those who attended, in years past. I thought, someday I want to go. So many slicers are there, I love meeting the person behind the words.

At first I’d discussed with my husband that perhaps we could go and then travel on to bike the trails of Michigan. That sounded okay to him, until I started talking about all the people I’d get to meet. He knew that I’d be torn, spending time with him vs. slicers. The decision was made, no biking (we’ll do that another time), go and be with the slicers.

I dived right into that water, even though it meant, 587 miles by myself in the car. I checked out a few audio books, had some music ready, and snacks to munch. The GPS guided me every mile. In no time I was in Warsaw and meeting the people who write the words I love to read.

It was the best of times and one I wanted to repeat this year. Several weeks ago I got an email from the conference saying registration was open. Could I? Should I? Would I? Absolutely! I’m ready to dive back into the water and splash about.

Sunday, I called and made my reservations at the hotel. Quickly followed by the on-line registration, and writing the check to put in the mail. Only one thing left to do, convince another slicer that she wants to go too.

I sent my email outlining possible travel plans. I got a response back saying I’ll think about it. Soon my email announced:  *****News Flash!***** I’m in, who do I make the check out to? Woohoo! My email begging her to come east worked. I am not spending time alone in the car this year. Kim of the Learning Tour Writing Stop will be joining me.

For the last two years we have met up in California, this year we will meet up in the midwest. I am so excited to have her coming with me!

Have you thought about attending? If not, what’s stopping you? Come on join the fun! Here’s a link to the flyer that you can download. Let’s make this a year to remember!

Time to Celebrate

What can you celebrate? Share your celebrations with the world at Ruth Ayres Writes.

What can you celebrate? Share your celebrations with the world at Ruth Ayres Writes.

Another day, another challenge to share a bit of my life through writing. This time the focus is to revisit moments of celebration from the past week. I look forward to sharing these moments with you. Today I have three moments of celebration to share.

This past week I’ve been observing teachers in their shared reading block. It has been a joy to watch students tackling some challenging texts with no hesitancy. Their voices strong as they chime in reading with their teacher.

While away from home, I love to try new restaurants. The Blue Duck recently opened so my father-in-law and I went to check it out. It was a lovely late afternoon so we opted for the patio. We had a view of the Missouri River flowing by and marveled how the trees were still so green. He ordered a Merlot, I ordered Trivento Torrentes, a white wine similar to a Pinot Grigio (so the waitress said), but when she reappeared she was carrying two reds. “If you don’t like this we will get you something else,” she said. “I don’t know if the bartender poured the wrong glass or if I put it in wrong.” The next thing I knew, she was bringing another glass of white wine to the table, my original order. A celebration of a free glass of wine was shared.

The red is a Malbec, quite tasty! Really enjoyed the price today. :-)

The red is a Malbec, quite tasty! Really enjoyed the price today. :-)

The final celebration was meeting up with my best gal pals for coffee this morning. We don’t get to spend a lot of time together, so we treasure the chances we have to get together and savor each other’s company. One pal had just completed a 10K and she got first place in her age group. Truly a reason to celebrate this morning!

Two friends I can count on for any and every thing.

Two friends I can count on for any and every thing.

What have you celebrated this week?

Fun Times (part 2)

On this trip to the west coast, time was on our side. There was nothing pressing (other than a lawn to mow) that demanded we return home immediately. So a plan was set in motion, visit family for a week, then head north to view the magnificent redwoods.

We decided to take the scenic route and travel the famed Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1). As luck would have it, I had just gotten a Living magazine and there was an article called “Eating Up the Road.” Several of the stops sounded interesting, so they were added to our travel agenda.

Unfortunately we did not see the exit for the Santa Barbara Pistachio Company, so we kept on driving. We stopped in Buellton for marzipan filled almond bearclaws. They were not on our list, but we needed gas and a mid-morning snack. Yes, they were as tasty as they sound, but also very crumbly.

There were several possible stops in Paso Robles. Our first would be Pasolivio Oil Company. We found the exit and we drove and drove and drove down a road that seemed to get narrower with each twist and turn. As we passed many wineries, I made a mental note that this may be a place I’d like to explore more. Finally we found Pasolivo. Inside we were introduced to a table of seasonings, salts, olive oils, and flavored vinegar. Can I say “YUM!” What a fun place! They had not seen the article in the magazine yet, so they made copies of my pages. Of course I walked out with some new flavors of olive oil and some seasoning.

My treasures from Pasolivo.

My treasures from Pasolivo.

We asked directions to a creamery that had sheep’s milk ice cream. The salesperson at Pasolivio called for directions, but this creamery was closed. How sad, no ice cream for us. Next stop, Taco Temple in Morro Bay. The article said, “Grab a quick bite of the highest quality fish tacos and Mexican food.” They had me at fish tacos. More twisting and turning roads led us to Taco Temple for a late lunch.

OMG! There are only 2 tacos here. I was more than stuffed.

OMG! There are only 2 tacos here. I was more than stuffed.

We probably would have never stopped here if we were just driving past. Does that tell you anything? But we are not afraid of trying something new, when it has a recommendation. It had all the qualities of a local dive. Our waitress was something to behold. I wish I’d gotten a picture, but I didn’t, so my words will have to do. I would guess she was in her early sixties, a large woman, big boned, with her bleached blonde curly locks tied up with a head scarf like Lucy Ball wore in the ’50′s. Her arms were completely covered with colorful tattoos which did not really match with the orthopedic shoes on her feet. We were addressed as hon as she highly recommended the carnita tacos. So I had a fish and a carnita. The fish would have been plenty. It was a filling and entertaining spot to stop.

Journeying on down the road the next stop was near Cambria to see the elephant seals. They looked like giant sardines as they laid on the beach. Occasionally you would see sand flying as they flipped the sand onto themselves.

seals

Back into the car to journey up the coast, stopping to take in the breathtaking views along the way. Our goal was to get past San Francisco so we would not have to deal with the city traffic in the morning. We arrived at San Rafael around 9:30, tired and hungry. I’m glad we’d had a late lunch that was filling. Nothing seemed to be open near our hotel, plus we didn’t want much since it was so late. We ended up at the grocery store. I had a small pita and hummus package and my husband had a deli sandwich. Not exactly gourmet dining.

Monday morning found us back hugging the Pacific coastline. Slowly we made our way up the coast. The scenery reminded me of the Amalfi coast in Italy. Maybe not quite as high of cliffs, but just as spectacular. We didn’t cover a lot of miles that day, but every moment was had something unique to see.

Unfortunately, the fog drifted in and out all day long.

Unfortunately, the fog drifted in and out all day long.

Late afternoon, we drove the Avenue of the Giants. The redwood trees take your breath away with their size. There were several stops along the Avenue where you could follow a path through the forest. I had a moment of panic because all the trees began to look alike and I didn’t know if we’d find our way out. As you can tell, we did find our way, but it was a scary moment for me. Dinner was in Eureka at a micro brewery before we ended the day in Arcata.

That's me next to a fallen redwood. I'm 5'8".

That’s me next to a fallen redwood. I’m 5’8″.

Photos just can't capture the sheer size of these trees.

Photos just can’t capture the sheer size of these trees.

Tuesday we visited more redwoods, then said good-bye to the giant trees.

Signs warned elk were in the area, but I didn't expect a greeting party of young elk watching the world drive by.

Signs warned elk were in the area, but I didn’t expect a greeting party of young elk watching the world drive by.

This is called Big Tree. It is 304' tall, 21.6' in diameter, 68' circumference, and estimated to be 1500 years old

This is called Big Tree. It is 304′ tall, 21.6′ in diameter, 68′ circumference, and estimated to be 1500 years old

One last scenic view before we head for home.

One last scenic view before we head for home.

My husband had made a plan for a route home, but he wasn’t too comfortable with it, so he did a quick check with Google Maps. Hmmm, they suggested another route. We decide to go with Google Maps suggestion. It is more populated and a better road. Green River, Wyoming is the stopping point for this day.

How far will we go on Thursday? It is 1064 miles to home, that’s a lot of miles for one day I think. Let’s just see how we feel and we can decide as we go is the decision made. Late afternoon we get a call from our credit card company. “Did you just make a $100 purchase of gas?” Our hearts drop, yes we did get gas, no it was not $100. What about here, here, and here? They are all $100 purchases. No, no, and no. Someone must have read our card from a gas station. This card is no longer working. The fraud department is on the case. This has left us unsettled and feeling violated. We want to be back home. So at 1:30 a.m. we pull into our garage, unload the car, and collapse into bed.

The adventure is over (for now). Many great sights and memories now reside in our minds. It’s nice to be home, but I know we will soon be looking for the next adventure.

Fun Times (part 1)

I have started this post at least fifteen different ways and every one of them have been deleted. I just don’t know how to start. My husband and I have traveled to southern California to visit our family. What a week we had!

It all began with meeting Kim (Learning Tour Writing Stop). What a day we had exploring the Sherman Gardens! So many interesting plants! I felt like I was taking pictures nonstop. At every turn there was something unusual to see.

Our day ended when Kim and I met up with my husband, son, and daughter-in-law at an Irish pub for corned beef tacos. Just saying those words doesn’t sound right, but actually they were quite tasty.

Next we went into active mode. One day there was a hike in the canyon. The next day we rode bikes on a bike path in Irvine. This city has created wonderful biking/walking paths. However, the ride was cut short when my son had a flat tire and we had no spare with us. My husband and I returned to this trail later in the week to ride to the end.

We have been trying all sorts of new food experiences. One night we went to a Peruvian restaurant. I have no idea what we ate but it was good. Another day we went to a new place called Pieology. You go down the line and tell them what you want on your pizza and they build it right in front of you. Yum! Don’t forget the corned beef tacos.

We have been to a birthday party, had a pedicure with my daughter-in-law, took my granddaughter shopping while babysitting, attended the granddaughter’s horse show, and met a friend (plus her family) for dinner.

All this was done in a week. I’m worn out reliving it, but you will have to return next week to find out what we did during the second part of this vacation.

I will leave you with a few photos from this past week.

Isn't this orchid interesting?

Isn’t this orchid interesting?

Did you know that koi love fruit? They really love bananas.

Did you know that koi love fruit? They really love bananas.

Outside the Irish pub, time to say good-bye. :-(

Outside the Irish pub, time to say good-bye. :-(

On our hike, I was going to take a picture of the flower, but look who zoomed into the photo.

On our hike, I was going to take a picture of the flower, but look who zoomed into the photo.

Everyone is rolling along, if we only knew a flat was in our future.

Everyone is rolling along, if we only knew a flat was in our future.

There were three hanging out, but two were shy. I guess they were chatting about the strangers rolling by.

There were three hanging out, but two were shy. I guess they were chatting about the strangers rolling by.

Mentor Power

I have a confession . . . I am addicted to . . . Draw Something. At every opportunity  I am checking to see if someone has sent me a drawing. My face lights up when I see the little message, (insert name) has sent you a drawing. Or, my shoulders droop when there are no pictures waiting for me. Sigh, when will a picture come in?

Draw Something is an app game for phones and the iPad. You select a word, draw it and your friend has to guess the word that you’ve drawn. Once you’ve guessed the word, you are awarded coins. Coins may be saved to buy more colors to use in your drawings or bombs so you can get different words to draw.

If you are on Facebook, you can find friends to play, but I am not on Facebook. So, I had to rely on a random selection from the game makers. I got lucky the day I was matched up to Raegan R. She became my mentor for creating better drawings.

You get to watch the line movements made as the picture develops. I watched very closely as Raegan drew people. Her drawings were so good! The technique she used for eyes, mouths, hair were movements I knew I could try. The perspective was another aha moment for me. Sometimes she drew only a portion of the body. I have played well over 1,000 drawings with her and yet I continue to study her movements. You would think I’d have it down, but I don’t. So I continue to watch and mimic when I draw.

This made me stop and think about modeling for students. Showing them once, twice, or even twenty times may not be enough for them. We need to watch our students closely and give them great mentors to follow. I’m glad I got Raegan, she’s teaching me and she doesn’t even know it.

Here are a few of her amazing pictures:

Meeting Up

It’s Tuesday, I am reading my email of comments made on the blog. There she it. She has commented and now I have an email address. My fingers reach out to send an email, but quickly I pull them back as thoughts begin to crowd my mind.

Would she want to meet me? Would I be a disappointment to her? I am in awe of her writing talent. What does she really think of my slices? Many more questions and writing insecurities cause me to stop any action . . . this week. I will face this dilemma again next week.

I am in California and I know that Write Kim Write of the Learning Tour Writing Stop blog lives somewhere around the area where I am staying. We could meet face-to-face. The idea intrigues me, but yet I hesitate.

Each day I walk around the neighborhood and wonder if she is near. Could I be walking by her home? Yes, I know the probabilities are nearly impossible, but stranger things have happened to me.

Tuesday of week two arrives, what will I do when I am faced with that email address again? There it is. Kim has commented on my slice. I think, what if I go home and she sees that I was here and writes you should have told me, we could have met. I want to meet her, but does she? If I don’t ask, I will never know. During the evening I make the decision to contact her. I create the email with the subject line: Message from Elsie since my email has a different name attached to it. I click send as my heart races. Will she respond or trash it (thinking it is some kind of spam). I don’t have long to wait. My iPad dings there is a message. Yes, it is from Kim and she wants to meet up! Several emails fly back and forth finding a time to meet. It’s getting late and she has to teach tomorrow, so we will finalize the plans later.

Wednesday I have a new email with details of a pl.ace and time. We plan to meet in Corona for lunch. Kim confesses she is a bit nervous about meeting me. I laugh when I read that because she doesn’t know the half of my case of nerves. It seems like a long time until Friday.

My husband decides to drive me to the meet because he can take our son out for lunch (as luck has it , he works in Corona). We arrive a little early, but soon a car pulls up and it is Kim! There is no time to be nervous or wonder what to say. Within five seconds I am so comfortable with her that it feels like we have known each other  forever.

What a fun afternoon we had talking, eating (shall I mention an apple cobbler a la mode?), and more talking. I don’t think there was a lull of five seconds at any point. Hours slipped away as we learned more about each other’s life. We ended up at Barnes and Noble in the children’s book section (are you surprised?). I had to share a few of my favorite new titles, plus we were looking to find the new Pete the Cat book. It was not on the shelf with the other Pete books, so we turned away disappointed. However, that did not stop Kim. She asked a worker and Pete was discoveverd in a new location. Kim picked up two books to buy. One for her and one for me!

“Whenever you read this, you will remember the day we spent together,” Kim tells me when I protest that she doesn’t need to buy this. Truer words were never spoken. I just think about that book and my face breaks out in a smile remembering a special person.

Sadly it was time to head for home. I can’t believe the day has gone by so fast. I only wish she lived closer so we could meet up more. It was the BEST day ever!

So here’s the lesson, if you have the chance to meet a fellow slicer, DO IT!

That’s me on the left and Kim on the right. Guess where we are.

Perverse Pleasure

I have to admit it, I am a little bit evil. There are times I indulge in perverse pleasure. Let me explain.

Have you ever bought something at a Staples store with a credit card? After you swipe the card and you are ready to put it away the clerk says, “May I see the card?” My usual response is to flash it and say, “Can you see it now?” The startled look on the cashier’s face makes me laugh as I hand it to him/her. I don’t know why, but I get  a smidgen of pleasure in that instant of confusion.

On Sundays, I go to get groceries. There is not a lot of traffic on one particular road but there is a stoplight. I am on the less traveled road and the stoplight must have a sensor to let the busier road know someone is waiting to turn left. I look left, I look right, I wonder will the light turn and you have to stop? Often there is no traffic and no one is inconvenienced by the stoplight. But this week was different. Someone had to stop in both directions. I’m afraid I have to admit, there was a bit of a smirk on my face as I made my left turn. That’s perverse pleasure.

Fun Times with the Girls

Four weeks ago, the date, time, and location was set for the girlfriends’ Christmas outing/party. Something to look forward to because it is an evening filled with good food, laughter, friendship, and best of all presents! The early weather forecast for our evening of fun was predicting snow/sleet, but fortunately that did not come through. It was cold (dare I say frigid?) but no precipitation interfered with our merriment.

I am the first to arrive to the restaurant. (side note: we are trying out a place none of us have ever been to, it’s a pizza place. What’s not to love about trying a new pizza place?) There is not a customer in this place. The sign says wait to be seated. I ask (being a smart aleck), “Are you sure you can find a spot for me?”

The waiter laughs, “We’ll do our best to squeeze you in.” Followed by, “Choose your seat, sit where ever you want.” I choose the table for six (so there is room for the presents, as I am carrying a big bag with three gifts and I know the others will have similar bags) as far away from the doors as possible.

The others are running late, so I have time to chat with the waiter (Nate) about the various aspects of their style of pizza and beverages that are available. I study the menu and know what my choices will be when we have all gathered.

Time passes, still I sit waiting and talking to Nate. Finally, I call Janay, “How far away are you?” I ask.

“Just pulling into the lot, I thought you were going to be late. We’ve just been driving around killing time,” she replies.

“Well, I was able to make it on time, and I’ve been sitting here waiting. I hope you will be able to find me.”

“Just jump up and down and wave.” (Remember this restaurant is EMPTY!) She walks in with Sister (no she is not a nun, but that would be another story). I am jumping up and down, waving my arms high above my head calling “Over here!” Of course she pretends she can’t find me, but finally makes her way to the table. They sit down and begin to peruse the menu, but first the beverage must be ordered. A pitcher is ordered, so all is right in the world.

We are waiting for the final member of our party when my phone rings and she says, “We are meeting in Quincy Magoos, right? Because that’s where I am.”

“Wrong, we are next door in Minsky’s.”

“Oh, be there in a minute,” she replies. As she walks in all three of us jump up, waving our arms so she can find us. (Restaurant is still empty, so we are not disturbing other diners.)

“It’s sure a lot busier next door,” she informs us.

Nate comes over, answers questions regarding menu and drink options. The order is placed without incident. (BTW someone else did come in for dinner.)

Salads are great! Fresh lettuce (no bag stuff) and veggies with dressing made at the restaurant. Pizza arrives shortly after the salads have been consumed. It’s a  just  right dinner for this night. Table is cleared and we are ready to get to the good stuff, presents!

The last one to arrive is first to hand out presents. We all have some of the same items from her, so we are to work our way through the gift bag together. The item on top is a fascinator (do you remember the head wear the cousin princesses wore to Kate and William’s wedding?). Janay and I have an incredibly sparkly martini glass affixed feathers and netting. Sister has a crushed beer can instead (beer is important). These are immediately donned and  there is even an extra one for the gift giver.

Stylish, don't you think?

The rest of the gifts from all were just what we needed. I now have an amaryllis plant (never had one before, but always wanted to try it), a handmade necklace, cool vase, homemade body lotion, hand-knitted fingerless gloves (love them! They keep my hands warm but yet allow me to type), several pairs of socks (all have a martini glass on them in some fashion, do you see a theme here?),  a bottle of champagne (it’s being chilled), and a pocket posh word power book (you may note my vocabulary may increase in future posts).

Nate has been summoned to take a group picture. Gifts are gathered, hugs all around, as we prepare to head for home.

As we leave the restaurant, the manager thanks us for entertaining them this evening. Good times, with good friends, what else is there to say?