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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Costa Rica trip!

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Playa Pelada-- the beach a three-minute walk from our rental house...

Hello everyone!

Thought I'd share some images from the trip I took with Ian and Lil Dude to Costa Rica over spring break.  We stayed at Playa Pelada, on the Nicoya peninsula... bliss... (except for all those times we got lost because none of the roads were marked... and a few other moments (stay tuned for more on that)).

Riding on horseback through the jungle (Lil Dude and Ian did this without me-- I'm allergic to horses, hippos, hamsters, cats, guinea pigs, and bunnies.)

On the beach...

Mangrove swamp!

 Howler monkeys hung out in our yard and woke us up every morning before dawn... they made this low, growly sound that brought to mind a zombie apocalypse.

I love caves... and these were accessible only at low tide, which made them extra enchanting for me!

En route to the caves...

I hardly brushed my hair for two weeks-- the sea and salt and wind made it wild... and then one day, I noticed dreadlocks forming, and finally gave in and had a looooong session with the hairbrush.

The other end of "our" beach... a place where local, ex-pat, and tourist families all hung out together at sunset.

My boys...

Lil Dude is such a creature of the sea... the sand and water could entertain him all day.

He learned to surf from an instructor that looked like a Costa Rican version of young Brad Pitt.

Ian practiced surfing too-- he's still a beginner, but very enthusiastic. ;-)

We hung out at this gelato place in the hot, hot, HOT afternoons...

Lil Dude LOVED the pool at our house... that's his snorkel you see on the right.

Our porch, where I read some magical books and scribbled in my journal and sipped agua de sandia.

Bougainvillea is so pretty... I wish we could grow it in our garden in Colorado.

Hibiscus, too...

We snorkeled here one morning... the most exciting discovery was a giant rusted fishing knife as big as a sword.  Fake pirate fights ensued.

We watched many sunsets from many scenic spots...

I feel compelled to interrupt this series of sunset photos to show you how we afford an international vacation every year.  I present to you my car (which has no hubcaps, a torn interior ceiling thanks to Lil Dude ripping it off as a toddler, and -- in addition to transporting us--it serves as storage for junk for several months/years at a stretch until making it to Goodwill.)

So I occasionally ask myself, Laura, would you rather have a new car or go on yearly international vacations?  Laura, would you rather have hubcaps or pay for half a plane ticket?  Laura, would you rather have that ripped ceiling fixed or pay for the other half of a plane ticket? Laura, would you rather get the car detailed or pay for a night at a rental house in some tropical paradise?  You get the idea. I believe that making travel a part of our lives is largely about priorities.  And really, visiting another country will stimulate your mind and spirit and senses SO MUCH MORE than a nice shiny new car (or the latest technology) will.... Anyway, pardon that rant, and now, on with the sunsets!

Well, actually, I also feel compelled to tell you that although we did experience high levels of bliss on this trip, every day one of us threw a temper tantrum (as with every family vacation we take).  It could be me, Ian, or Lil Dude... and I've learned to accept this as the small price you pay for vacation bliss.  (For example, one day I threw a tantrum about the jackhammer noises thundering from the house next door.  Ian threw a tantrum because Lil Dude and I claimed it was too hot to accompany him on a tidal pool exploration one afternoon.  And Lil Dude threw a tantrum because Ian and I wouldn't clean out all the bugs and leaf debris with the pool net one morning.)  I just feel it's important to juxtapose these sunset pictures with a little grounding in reality, you know?

Okay.  Now back to reveling in sunsets.  It's funny how usually temper tantrums don't happen in the moment you're watching sunsets over the ocean... everyone stops what they're doing and stares at the disappearing sun and just soaks in all that beauty.

Here's to happy travels in your future!


Friday, April 4, 2014

Thank you, Notre Dame Academy!

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I'm so grateful for the warmth the Notre Dame Academy (near Boston) showed me on my author visit for their One Book One School program! 

 The girls and faculty are amazing in so many ways-- I'll never forget my time there...


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Visit to the Southern Ute reservation in SW Colorado....

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Hi guys,

One of the best unexpected perks of being an author is this...

... traveling over the Rockies to lovely nooks in my state that I've never had the opportunity to see before.

I do about a dozen school visits per year, mostly in Colorado, but also farther-off places like California, Texas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nebraska, Pennsylvania.... It's so interesting to get to know more of my country.  Above is Marcia Vining, the awesome librarian mastermind behind my visit with the middle and high schools.  I love meeting creative and BIG-thinking librarians like her... such an inspiration! Her community is really luck to have her.

It's also really exciting for me to meet students who are working on their own stories and novels.  I connected with several teens who are passionate about creative writing... Emerald, above, is one of them!

Thank you, Ignacio, Colorado, for the warm welcome!

I hope you all are enjoying these first inklings of springtime... I'm guessing my juniper allergies will kick in any day now (ugh)... but I'm eagerly searching for the first crocus of the year (yay), now that the snow here has *finally* melted.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Solo in a Trailer in Venice...

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Hello, dear readers!  

I'm back from a blissful solo writing retreat to Venice, CA! (I was there last month with the family, and came back for some creative time away, and it was WONDERFUL.)

I had a plane voucher for a couple hundred dollars which I had to use back in October.  Wisely, I remembered that I always get depressed and restless in February in Colorado.  I always feel ready for winter to be over around now, but here in Ft Collins we get snow through April.... and I desperately crave warm weather.

I'm also a girl-of-the-sea at heart, and I can't get enough of the ocean....

So back in October, I scheduled this trip, and man oh man, am I glad I did!  The past couple months in Colorado have been rough-- with some days never getting above the single digits, freezing one's nose hairs within minutes outside.

I found this abracadabrant place to stay on Air B n B, in the heart of Venice... in a sixties trailer!  Heaven!

The couple rents out this trailer as well as an Airstream, and they did a great job renovating and decorating them. (As you might know, I have my own vintage trailer that serves as my creative space, and find it really cozy and inspiring.)


I loved traveling alone before I was a wife and mother, and I still love it... maybe even more now!  I love not having to cater to anyone else's needs or compromise with anyone... I love being able to follow my whims as I explore.  I love not having to talk to anyone unless I want to... and spending days conversing only with my notebook if I feel like it.

Ian was very sweet to encourage me to go on this trip... I have several author visits coming up this spring (that I didn't know about when I bought this ticket back in October), and I was hesitant to ask him to do solo childcare for Lil Dude... but he told me I should definitely go.  And I did (and of course, I missed them both), and I feel SO refreshed and invigorated now.

The courtyard area of this place was artistic and eclectic, filled with flea market finds, from antique globes to tribal statues to vintage farm tools.


I love this lifestyle, where there are no boundaries between indoors and outdoors.  The owners are artists-- Tao is an Italian film-maker and photographer who works out of another trailer in the yard.  Roisin, from Ireland, does some kind of research and takes a lot of care in arranging all the plants and artwork. It made me want to work more on having more indoor-outdoor flow in my own home, but of course, that's harder to do with the weather extremes in Colorado.  But I resolved that during the windows of time when our weather is gentle, I will do this!

Tropical plants galore... bouganvillea and honeysuckle vines and bamboo and a million varieties of succulents and what I call "Dr. Seuss plants." It was just a five block walk to the beach and to the yummy food on Abbot Kinney Blvd.  I ended up getting most of my food to go (cheaper), and ate it back here in the courtyard.  Gjelina's Take Away (GTA) was other-worldly delicious... I got ideas for new things to try making at home.  (In fact, this morning I'm making their salmon toast. *mouth already watering*)

I love reading about creativity, and how brains work, and one thing's for sure: Creativity depends on you seeking out new, stimulating experiences to make new and surprising neural connections. I try to honor this in my everyday life, by taking new routes on walks with the dog, or wandering around flea markets to discover strange old things.  And I'm adamant about making travel a big part of my life... for me, that's what travel is: zap-zap-zapping new neural pathways and opening new worlds and ways of thinking.

Okay, I'll wrap up the little tour now.  The bathroom! It was outside, in this little art-filled room.

And the cherry on top of my excursion was seeing my adorable cousin, Michelle (and her new husband and wee dog) .  I hadn't seen her for ages, but we caught up with each other this trip, and had brunch at this cafe right on the Venice beachfront.

 Oh, and another good thing about the trip: I didn't bring my laptop!  I wrote in my old-fashioned paper notebook and read old-fashioned paper books for entertainment, and it was delicious.  I read Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness.  Great, interesting memoir that I read in a day.  Made me feel so grateful to my brain, which, despite a few flaws (like tendency toward anxiety and panic), works pretty darn smoothly. (Thank you, Brain.)

 I also read part of Shine Shine Shine (loving its weirdness) and Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall.  (Not as crazy about that, but glad I read two of the stories and love the evocative title.)

I also learned about Dadaism, from a book in the trailer (and I guessed that might be the philosophical framework behind much of Tao and Roisin's art?)

If you're considering a trip there, here's the link to the trailer I stayed in. It's only for one person, but the Airstream on the same property is for a couple. Also, if you're considering going, note that I didn't need to rent a car... I just took a Supershuttle from the airport to the property, and walked everywhere.

All right, time to finish making this salmon toast! Thanks for reading...  I hope you're finding a way to survive February, too!


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Feliz Dia del Amor y la Amistad!

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Hello sweet readers,

Happy day of love and friendship to you!  Here are some valentines I made with Lil Dude for his party at school.  One of my creative goals for 2014 is to make at least three things with my new sewing machine... I think this counts. (See how we stitched on the eye patches?) 

I got the  idea here, if you're curious.  I'm so happy Lil Dude and I did something crafty together... I'm always dreaming of stuff like this, but he tends to prefer something like foam sword fighting when given a choice of activities.  He did get into operating the sewing machine, though, for a little while at least.

Another one of my goals for 2014 involves my new manuscript!  I won't give you details yet, but I will say that there's a three-legged skunk in it (as a very minor, but devilishly cute character.)  Here's a little vintage skunk figurine I found at my favorite flea market shop.  I kept him on my desk for inspiration while writing.

Thanks for swinging by! Hugs and hearts to you!