Danger, Will Robinson!

Thin Crust
Yellowstone, Wyoming.
I have a number of danger signs collected as do others participating The Daily Post’s Weekly Challenge, Danger! (Exclamation point required).

 Unreinforced Masonry
You have been warned! Seen in Palo Alto, California. California has legislated more warnings than anywhere else I’ve traveled.

Hazardous and Dangerous
Beware, I seem to be on a roll here. This might become a bit boring.

Unstable Material
Wisconsin

Danger
Guanica, Puerto Rico

Penalty Imprisonment X Months $XXX Fine
Seen at an airport in the Bahamas. Note the penalty is not specified.

Caution
Illinois Beach State Park

Danger de Mort
le Marais Poitevin, France

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Wandering

Polaroid CUBE

If you peer through the train windows, you can see a man waiting for a train and a woman carrying a musical instrument.  Who are they and where were they going?  Unless I’m plotting a thriller, we will never know.

Travel is a feast for the eyes, a harvest for the camera,  a respite for the soul.  It is adventure that makes home all the more appreciated.

Narrow Beach--sm
Polignano a Mare, Puglia, Italy

Europe is a delight for Americans because new experiences are only a short train ride away.  The United States are lovely and large but so much harder to view in detail, like a Google map pulled far out.

Chelan View--sm.jpg
View of Lake Chelan and North Cascades range, Washington

I write this post from my parents’ second home in Chelan, Washington. To get here, I travel from my Chicago home to Seattle, around 6 hours of travel by car and plane, then another 3-1/2 hours by car to Chelan. It is well worth the trip but a far cry from hopping the bullet train from London to Paris. Tomorrow I begin the reverse trip back to Seattle. By the time I arrive home my wanderlust will need a rest stop.

For the Daily Post Weekly Challenge, Wanderlust

Marching on

Paid more taxes--sm

I have been to two more protest marches since my last post.  The first on tax day to demand Trump release his taxes.  I am among those who think Trump has secrets from the American people, ones that we need to know.  I doubt we will ever see his tax returns unless someone leaks them but I believe that we need to keep stating our opposition to our president even if it comes to nothing.  On a lighter front, I have discovered a true joy in photographing the events and in being part of them at the same time.  I won’t usually take off work to march, but I had a free Saturday so why not?

Treasonous Nazi Coward--sm

The second march is the March for Science.  This one is nearer to my heart.  I am myself a physician scientist with a PhD in Molecular Genetics.  I am also the daughter and wife of scientists and believe deeply that science should inform our public policy.  We had some debate at home whether scientists should become political and perhaps scientists should remain above politics.  However, in an era of defunding of science and environmental protections, of gag rules and with a president who Tweets that climate change is a Chinese conspiracy, scientists need to act as citizen experts and declare their knowledge to the world.

Dump Fossil Fools--sm.jpg

The march coincided with a planned trip to Seattle to visit family, so instead of marching in Chicago, I wound up marching with my older son in Seattle.  This had a certain interest given the geek cred of the city although it turned out that, true-to-form, the Seattle march was a bit soggy.

Half a Brain--sm.jpg

What’s on my desk

What.jpg

Actually the desk is my dining room table which is currently unusable for eating in the aftermath of a home construction project.  In the interest of improving my writing I have been reading more, with a specific focus on middle grade and young adult novels and further attention paid to the opening pages since I am querying.  A mystery and a travel memoir made it onto the pile too.  I am also trying to review some old favorites from a writerly perspective in the hopes of figuring out what makes a particular story click for me.

I haven’t decided if I will add book reviews to this blog as it is already divided in content between travel, writing and photography.  Some of my book reviews can be found on my Goodreads site.  Feel free to check it out if you are curious.

Learning the trade (or the cat ate my manuscript)

Dot acts Silly.jpg
Healthy cat looking silly

I had a marvelous month in Italy completing my personal writer’s retreat.  I revised, wrote, revised again, wrote a query letter and obtained feedback, learned to use Twitter, learned to pitch a book on Twitter and sent in my first queries to agents.  I had no idea how much work it all entailed.  I thought the writing was the hard part!

The process of looking for an agent has felt similar to my earliest efforts at seducing a man.  Sometimes you chased without a hope in hell of success.  One of my first crushes already had a girlfriend.  That didn’t stop me from trying.  Well, agents these days are the popular kids; they don’t really need the geeky, awkward virgins of the writing universe.

Most of the rejections I received were form e-mails.  They were pleasant but uninformative.  I was therefore over the moon when I was rejected with feedback!  Many thanks to that particular agent.

In the meantime, I became somewhat fluent in Twitter and actually have a number of followers, some of whom aren’t trying to sell me a product.  I proudly know how to use a hashtag although I still fumble with some of the more nuanced aspects.    I met a critique partner and we exchanged first pages.  And then it sank in.  I need to do a major rewrite.  Not just a detailed line edit, which I have done and am doing again, but something more structural.  Be brave, I told myself.  You can do this.  Don’t mind the full time job.  It’s only a minor nuisance, after all.

Then my cat got sick.  I noticed she seemed a bit mangy a day or two after returning from Italy but she perked up a bit and I thought perhaps she missed me while I was gone.  A few days later it became evident something serious was wrong.  Loss of appetite, weight loss, weakness, in a 14 year old cat doesn’t need a vet to diagnose.  Even a highly trained Child Psychiatrist (me) could figure that one out.

Dot at the Vet--sm.jpg
Sick cat looking scared

A couple of vet visits later it was confirmed by ultrasound and biopsy; she has cancer, lymphoma.  She dwindled visibly over only a few days.  So did my interest in writing.  One day I may decide to write an essay about getting sucked into treating a desperately ill pet, but it is too long a tale for a blog post.  Suffice to say, my dear cat is getting chemotherapy and to our amazement it seems to be working.  After two weeks of refusing to eat and nightmare struggles with syringe feeds, subcutaneous fluids, and forcing pills down her throat, she is looking much better.  As the designated doctor of the family, I was delegated to “torture the cat.”  She may never trust me again but it may have been worth it to both of us I tell myself as she sits purring on my lap.

Now I need to suck myself out of the black hole of self-medication with computer games and get back to work.

Joy of Green

Kilchiaran Bay, Islay--sm
My son and I hiked among the sheep and cattle on Islay, Scotland.

This is the time of year I become starved for greenery.  Here in Chicago, the snow has thawed but nothing has yet begun to grow.  My friend in Atlanta is already complaining of the pollen count but I am just grateful for the melting of the snow.

The theme of the Daily Post Photo Challenge is “It is Easy being Green” so here are some green photos from seasons past.

Corner of Third and Corn--sm
As seen somewhere in Iowa.

Gardens--sm.jpg
Vegetable gardens, Daxu (near Guilin), China