Tag Archives: fun stuff

Exploring Yellowstone in the Fall

19 Oct

The last week really got away from me. The Helvetican and I went to Yellowstone for our anniversary trip. Most everything inside the park was closed for the season, and the town of West Yellowstone, where we stayed, was clearly wrapping up the tourist season too. Some of the restaurants were closed and several shops advertised clearance sales. However, having been to Yellowstone during the regular season and now, in the off-season, I much prefer going when there’s not so many other people around. It’s much quieter and the pace is slower. Good stuff.

My trip didn’t end on such a grand note, due to food poisoning the last night that made the drive home the next day a bit uncomfortable and exhausting, and left me kinda under the weather all week. But let’s not let that get in the way of good memories. On to the photos!

One of the great things about visiting Yellowstone in the fall is that you can look around the park as you’re driving and see steam rising from all the thermal features in the park. It’s amazing to see. However, it made taking photos of said features a bit tricky.

Emerald Pool is one of the many colorful thermal pools in the Yellowstone caldera. Most of them were impossible to photograph because in the cold air, the rising steam obscured the colors.

One of the many bubbling mudpots in the park. Many are reduced to hissing out steam rather than frothing with mud due to lower water/mud levels this time of year.

 

I got a kick out of this mudpot. Found in the Artist’s Paint Pots area, this one looks like bright white paint bubbling in the ground.

 

Definitely don’t want to jump in this pool for a soak. See the boiling going on there?

Got close to a bison just off the road. A good-sized herd of probably 50 bison, including babies, were fording this river, two at a time, for grazing hills on the other side. Reminds me of Peg-leg! (see Mending Fences)

There is a craggy canyon carved through one section of Yellowstone, where the river has been busy wearing away rock for millennia. This is the Upper Falls in that canyon.

Around a bend in the river/canyon, is another, the Lower Falls.

I met these two cuties at the lookout for the Lower Falls. The tree roots they’re playing on have had the ground eroded from below. There’s a drop almost straight to the bottom of the canyon beneath these cute critters.

Here’s the Helvetican! He brought his little telescope to better enjoy the features of the canyon.

This pretty elk stopped traffic to grab a bite along the road.

 

One of my favorite parts of the trip was a visit to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone. The wolves living in their packs are gorgeous animals. I loved getting so close to them, separated via a platform a few feet in the air and an electric fence. Apparently, if you stay in the hotel across the street, you can hear them howl at night.

That’s probably enough photos for now. I didn’t post geyser photos, mainly because there are photos of Old Faithful everywhere online. I may post more on here later, but at some point, it becomes rather like the old days of friends inviting you over to watch their home movies, you know?

Have you been to Yellowstone? What was your favorite sight?

That place where a great marching band and pop culture collide

25 Sep

Okay, today’s post has nothing to do with anything, save that I find the subject enormously entertaining. I just stumbled upon a video of Ohio University’s marching band performing Gangnam Style for a halftime show. LOVE this! I can’t help it, that song just makes me giggle, and seeing a great marching band turn in a fabulous performance doubles the fun! Have a look…

Now…on the off chance that you are not familiar with the original, Gangnam Style is a song by a South Korean musician by the name of Psy. One look at the video, and you’ll know why his song grabbed pop culture by the throat and refuses to let go.

Hope this strangely catchy tune infuses your day with some delight!

 

Lucy’s Friday Friends: Mia Downing

21 Sep

I’m starting a new theme: Friday Friends. Once a week (or every other week, if I get lazy um, too busy), I’ll bring one of my friends over and introduce them to you. This will be a chance for my beloved blog visitors to get to know other authors and interesting people I know. Leave a comment with your email addy because I’ll be drawing a name for the winner’s choice of one of my guest’s ebooks!

Today, Mia Downing is visiting. Mia and I have known each other for ages…since before the turn of the century! Wow, that sort of makes me feel old to say such a thing. Anyway, Mia’s suddenly exploded into publishing, with three releases out so far this year and more to come. She’s a naughty erotic romance writer, so her books are far hotter than mine, but don’t let the hot and heavy sex fool you. Her books are romances, through and through, and her heroes and heroines deal with some pretty serious issues and difficulties along the way to their Happily Ever After.

Okay, let’s get started with the interview, Mia. You’re now on the hot seat! What have you done while scribbling away in your garret, waiting for the publishing gods to smile upon you?

Mia: I have been a caterer, deli/convenience store clerk (Best. Job. Ever!) chef, lab animal tech, home health aide, worked at a garden center for a summer, a Riding instructor for able-bodied and disabled clients, and mom.

What amazing skills or talents do you possess besides writing?

Mia: My most lucrative talent is decorative painting. I’ve done glass, wood, tin and murals. My nonsense skills are making balloon animals, face painting and juggling. I’m a poor juggler but I rock the face painting. I’m so/so with balloons. I do make a mean sword and an excellent horse and when I had my little booklet, I could make a whole herd of things.

I always wanted to learn to make balloon animals! Speaking of which, what is your favorite animal?

Mia: Horse, but that’s really boring, so I’ll say the Three-toed Sloth. They are so ugly they are ADORABLE. They only hit the ground once a week to defecate. They won’t do it from the trees because when the plop hits the ground, the wild beasts will know its location and eat it. Other than that, they don’t do much but sit around. Wikipedia says they are good swimmers. It would be an easy pet to have because you don’t have to walk it or clean the litter box but once a week.

Okay, I can see the appeal of a sloth…What’s your dream vacation spot?

Mia: Uh. Alaska in winter. I have lupus, so the sunshine makes me physically ill, inside and out. That means most dream vacation spots are hazardous. But if I could go in the sunshine, I would go on a horseback riding vacation across Ireland. I would go to Egypt and see the pyramids (wanted to be an Egyptologist in 4th grade.)

I always worry about your health, my friend. Since extravagant vacations are out, if you could spend a day doing just what you wanted, what would you choose?

Mia: Lunch with friends, writing, reading. Doing that today! I’m a fairly simple girl.

I think I know the answer to this, but what is your favorite movie?

Mia: My absolute favorite movie is Pretty Woman. It’s the ultimate trashy romance.

Yep, not a surprise there. In romance, readers and writers tend to enjoy man candy.  Who are your favorite yummies?

Mia: Daniel Villa reminds me of Chase (Lucy’s note: one of Mia’s heroes), so we’ll go with him. And the usual suspects. Jared Leto for the great voice and body. Ian Somerhalder for just existing. Nathan Fillion for the sexy hot Canadian factor.

Oh, yeah. That list works for me! Your latest novel is Ripped, a M/M romance. What inspired you?

Mia: Ripped was supposed to be a short, fun m/m for the Boys of Summer series. I like conflict, and one of the heroes, Gavin, has a bit of baggage, which wasn’t revealed to me until I got to a certain shower scene. He’s a child of an alcoholic, and he suffers a lot of guilt and pain from that past. This wasn’t a direction I really wanted to go, seeing I am also a child of an alcoholic, and some of Gavin’s issues were my issues. But I considered it a way to purge, so I wrote it. The story is in no way autobiographical, and I think Gavin had the harder road to travel.

Two interesting things I discovered while writing Ripped. One was how I still have a very strong concept of ‘safe,’ meaning safe havens, safe people, safe jobs. When your home isn’t a safe place as a child, you tend to create these pockets of safe in your life. I had a huge upheaval of safe places this summer when I lost a job of 12 years due to sale of the company, and that was hard.

The other interesting thing was that Erik, Gavin’s best friend since preschool, never knew the extent of Gavin’s suffering. I have a friend I’ve had since I was ten, and she verified that no, I don’t talk about that aspect of my life. She knew my dad yelled, but she never knew why I practically lived at her (safer) home.

That breaks my heart, Mia, but what your past generated in Ripped is pretty amazing. What’s coming up next?

Mia: As far as releases: Spy Games: Lethal Limits, book 2 in the series, is out in late fall. If you’re not a fan of series, you should consider reading this one. Each book stands alone, and you can jump right in wherever.

Ooooh, that’s Jake and Tia’s book. That one is going to be fabulous, but, before you go, let’s give everyone a taste of the first book in the series.

Mia: Yes, Ma’am!

Spy Games: Trained for Seduction

Emma Walters didn’t choose to be a spy, but when her crazy father was caught selling bombs to the wrong people, she was given a choice–become a spy or rot in jail. Her exciting new life as agent Kate Wells becomes more so when she discovers her new boss is the agent–undercover and investigating her father at the time–who took her to third base. Emma is already half in love with the dark and dangerous Chase Sanders. Kate wants nothing more than for him to finish what he started, but he’s the devil incarnate. And one doesn’t make deals or fall in love with the devil.

If someone had told Chase he’d fall in love with a certain virgin when he was on his last mission, he would have shot them dead, sniper style. She was nothing more than collateral damage, damn it. But watching the sexy new spy morph into a bombshell killing machine is too much to bear. So when the powers that be command him to train her in the art of seduction for her first–and possibly last–mission, he’s scared witless. Making love to Kate means preparing her for sex with another man.

Somehow, Chase has to find a way to get Kate in–and out–of her mission without dying. And without falling in love.

Excerpt:

“I guess it’s time for…you know. Dinner’s over.”

Chase frowned, and for once Kate could see the wheels turning behind his brown eyes. “How about I make you a deal?”

“A deal with the devil is never productive.” He grinned, and she sighed. “Tell me.”

“We have all weekend, and I’m a very compassionate, very patient man. What you lack in your life is control. I’m going to give you control over when we make love. It’s your call. I will wait patiently until you can’t resist my charms any longer.”

Control. She liked that idea, because he was right. The only things that were keeping her from jumping him now were the facts that she had to be here and she was scared as hell. If this were a date, she’d still be scared as hell, but she’d be more than willing to make the leap. “What happens if we make it to Sunday night and it hasn’t happened?”

“Then we have a problem. But I have faith in my seduction skills. It didn’t take much to get you hot for me before. I don’t need until Sunday night.”

“Ego, Chase, ego,” she whispered. But that offer took an incredible amount of stress from her, and she heaved a sigh of relief. “So how will you continue charming me?”

“Well, we have dishes to do, and since you cleaned your plate, I promised you a movie.”

“I’d like that. I haven’t really watched much in the past year.”

“Neither have I. So we’ll make popcorn, and sit on the couch, and if you’re a very good girl, I’ll let you hold my hand.”

She thought of his hand in hers, those long fingers caressing hers. She bit her lip. A deal with the devil was definitely not a good thing. “And if I’m a bad girl?”

The ego returned, and he smiled a devilish smile. “Then we won’t need to worry about Sunday.”

You can pick up Spy Games: Trained for Seduction at The Wilder Roses or Amazon.

Here’s the blurb for Ripped:

Lifeguard/artist Gavin White has been holding the ripped shreds of his life together by the seams. Facing the anniversary of his sister’s death, he fights the dark call of dependency and is at the edge of succumbing when his best friend since preschool returns to his life. Handsome geek-turned-hunk, Erik Clarke, wasn’t afraid to come out and had been bold enough to kiss Gavin the last time they were together. Damn that kiss. Gavin wants more. So much more, but he was never brave enough to tell Erik his dreams. With his future hanging by a tattered thread, Gavin must trade one temptation for another or risk ripping his life apart.

Pick up Ripped at The Wilder Roses or Amazon.

Thanks for being here, Mia! Readers, remember to leave a comment with your email addy. I’ll be drawing a name and giving away your choice of one of Mia’s ebooks! You can follow/contact Mia here:

Blog: http://www.miadowning.blogspot.com  Twitter: @miadowning007

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads

Facebook

Mother & Daughter Tradition

13 Sep

The Princess and I look forward to the week after Labor Day (September) every year. That’s the week the State Fair opens. We like looking at all the farm animals, petting the goats and sheep, cooing over the rabbits, admiring the many varieties of chickens on display. But there is truly just one reason she and I go to the fair: mehndi.

If you’re not familiar with mehndi, it is decorating the skin with a dye, like a temporary tattoo. It originated in India but is practiced in several countries and cultures. The design is drawn with henna. The henna dries on your skin, flakes off, and leaves behind a reddish-brown stain that will last up to a couple of weeks.

We got our first mehndis at Knotts Berry Farm in California. The Princess was six years old. A few years later, we discovered a mehndi artist with a booth at the State Fair, and we’ve returned to her every year since. We went last night for our 2012 editions and were invited to share naan and chicken curry with our artist when we finished. What a great time! This year, our designs incorporated Jagua, a natural fruit dye that leaves a bluish-black stain behind. Bi-color mehndi, woohoo! As a side note, don’t ever use ‘black’ henna. It is toxic and can severely damage and scar your skin. If you want a black design, use jagua.

Here is my design:

This is an hour or so after getting the design. The henna paste and jagua gel are still in place on my skin, with glitter added to make it even more fun.

This is my design today, the stain left behind after the henna and jagua flaked off. The henna will continue to darken until tomorrow, and over the next week, the jagua will likely fade to a lighter blue-gray.

Here is the Princess’s design:

For both designs, we asked the artist to make something up rather than pick something specific. The Princess did ask for the Nerdfighter slogan DFTBA in her design. It means Don’t Forget To Be Awesome.

Do you have a tradition with a parent or a child?

Another Birthday Gone and Blog Hop Wrap Up

4 Sep

Birthday flowers from my boys!

Hi everyone! What a great Labor Day weekend. Things were truly hopping around here with the blog hop. Locally, after a huge thunderstorm rolled through here and cleaned out the air, we finally got a refresher course in what the mountains and blue sky look like without wildfire smoke haze obscuring everything. Ahhhhh! As an added bonus, the weather has cooled off, FINALLY. Sooooo done with summer heat. Bring on fall!

Thanks for all the lovely birthday wishes! The birthday stretched to three days this time, to accommodate everyone’s schedules. The Helvetican and I went for sushi on Saturday, yummy, then the family party was on Sunday, with my sister and dad hanging out with us for grilled chicken and ribs. My mom called and her hubby sang a birthday song he wrote.

The kids all remembered my birthday this year, and it was so much fun. The Princess wrote a song about my birthday with ukulele accompaniment. She also made me a Doctor

Tardis card, made by the Princess.

Who Tardis card, complete with the Tenth Doctor inside. Perfect nerd-girl gift! The boys went all out, with cards, coupons for free household chores, cards, flowers, Diet Coke, dark chocolate of several varieties…yes, I’ve trained them well. Then last night, we hit our favorite Mexican place, whose chile verde-smothered chimichangas are divine. I’m calling it a successfully completed birthday.

Inside the Tardis card…The Doctor, of course!

Romancing the Hop ended last night, and I have winner announcements! I plugged all of your comments into the Randomizer to come up with a winner. Miriam Roman wins her choice of a $15 Amazon or B&N gift card. Congrats, Miriam!

FYI, there were 9,000 comments left across the blog hop! Wow! The Hop Grand Prize winners are:

Kindle Fire Winner:
Laurie Goudge
(from It’s the Journey that Counts’s Blog)
$130 Amazon Gift Card:
Ellie
(from Carrie Ann Ryan’s Blog)
Swag Pack:
Cassandra
 (from Dana Delamar’s Blog)

Today’s plan? Get a magazine article out the door because today is deadline, and maybe sneak in a nap. Anything else is a wonderful bonus accomplishment.

What did you do this weekend? Any big plans for your week?

Romancing the Hop!

31 Aug R

Welcome to the hop! There are over 200 authors and bloggers participating in this blog hop, and the prizes are AWESOME! Each participating blog is offering a prize, plus, for each blog where you leave a comment, you are entered into the drawing for one of THREE grand prizes. Remember to leave your email address in your comment!

Now what are those prizes?

 1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet

2nd Grand Prize: A $130 Amazon or B&N Gift Card

3rd Grand Prize: The following Swag Pack!

 So, on with the hop! But first, and this has nothing to do with the blog hop, but I’m throwing it out there anyway…Sunday is my birthday! Happy birthday, Self!

Now then, let’s chat a bit about romantic gestures, those sweet things our heroes do that just melt our hearts. The Helvetican has always been good about the classic gestures: remembering the dates of my birthday and our anniversary, taking me out for regular date nights, buying me flowers (extra points for remembering that roses are not the only flower on the planet) and/or chocolate, and accompanying me to events he has no interest in just because he knows I want to go.

I love those things, but it’s the little things he does that really turn me to mush. Like how he remembers so many details from funny or sweet moments in our whirlwind courtship, and how he’ll talk about falling in love with me, or what he loves about me now. Or the way he always manages to walk in the door holding a Diet Coke when I really need one. Or the quiet flirting, the way he’ll hold me or drop a quick kiss on the back of my neck and pat me on the backside, even when there are teenagers in the room. Yes, they groan and tease us, but I think it’s a great example to them of keeping the good stuff alive in your relationship, even when you’ve been married long enough to have teenagers.

In return, I give him little romantic gifts, too. Guys do tend to find different things romantic than we do. With the Helvetican, when I pick up his car at work and return it to its parking spot after a wash and vacuum, he gets a little misty eyed. He’s the only guy he knows who never gets a honey-do list on his day off, and he regularly mentions how much that means to him, that he’s allowed to just enjoy his time off work. But I think his favorites are those little gifts of physical affection when he’s not expecting it, like a quickie before he heads off to work, or a little flash when we’re alone on a mountain trail. Those moments tell him I still find him sexy and I still enjoy playing with him after all these years.

It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut in a relationship, but it doesn’t take big romantic overtures to keep the wheels of love turning and stir up the passion. What’s your favorite romantic gesture to give or receive? Leave a comment (remember your email addy) for an entry into the Grand Prize drawing, as well as an entry into MY drawing! I’m giving away a $15 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card! Then, continue on the Hop with this link: Romancing the Hop. Have fun!

The Game of 15 Firsts

2 Aug

A friend of mine, MJ Fredrick, posted this on her blog, and I loved it, so I swiped it. It’s the 15 Firsts game. Here are mine:

1. What was your FIRST job?
I worked at a malt shop, where we specialized in mixing huge shakes and malts from something like thirty different flavors and add-ins. We also made burgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, french fries…typical fast food. It was located a mile or so from a university, so we were really busy, especially on the weekends.

2. What was your FIRST car?
I bought my first car, a yellow 1972 Volkswagon Super Beetle, with the flared rims and a Porche engine. I really loved that car, and to this day I regret selling it.

3. Do you still talk to your FIRST love?
Occasionally, on Facebook.

4. What was your FIRST alcoholic drink?
A wine cooler. Don’t remember what flavor now, though it was white. I was 19, on a cross-country trip with my best girlfriend. When we stopped for the night in Colorado and went for snacks at the nearby gas station, we realized we were old enough to drink legally in the state. So the wine coolers made it back to the motel with us.

5. What is the FIRST thing you do when you get home?
Hang up my purse and keys on the wall racks and kick off my shoes.

6. Where did you go on your FIRST ride in an airplane?
Hawaii, when I was 2 years old, to visit my father. He was on R&R from Vietnam.

7. Who was your FIRST best friend & do you still talk?
Her name was Jennifer. Sadly, no.

8. What was the FIRST thing you did this morning?
Let the dogs out, then fooled around with the Helvetican. Hey, I’m a romance writer. What did you expect? :-)

9. FIRST tattoo?
No real tats. I am terribly fond of mehndi tattoos, though. The Princess and I get them done annually at the State Fair. In fact, here is my last one: 

10. FIRST piercing?
Ears. I had them done when I was eight. I was lucky, the gun didn’t scare me too much, and they both healed really well.

11. FIRST foreign country you went to?
I have never been to another country. Sad, but true. Though the Princess is insisting that we go to Great Britain in a year or so. I’m game!

12.  Did you marry the FIRST person who asked for your hand in marriage?
Yes, because I was convinced, at the tender age of 22, that I would be an old maid and no one else would ever ask me. I’m sure the divorce three years later will come as no surprise. That was a much better decision that the first one.

13. What were the FIRST lessons you ever took?

Drawing lessons, when I was very young and very precocious. I’ve been drawing ever since.

14. What is your FIRST memory?

I remember playing in a yard with a white picket fence. There was a big pear tree, and I walked around beneath the tree, looking for fallen fruit that didn’t have worm holes in it. When I asked my mother about this memory, it took her a while to remember the house I described, and then her mouth fell open. Apparently I was all of 18 months old at the time.

15. FIRST published book?
Mending Fences, February 2012

So…what are YOUR firsts? Feel free to answer one or two, or all of them!

Book cover poses and the people who test them

24 Apr

My daughter gave me a hard time about the cover of Mending Fences when she first got a look at it. She zeroed in on the way the woman’s shoulder and arm look. Something about the top line seemed unnatural to her. It wasn’t until I took her in front of the mirror and positioned her like the cover that she saw, yes, indeed, that’s how her own arm looked in that pose.

The discussion reminded me of an awesome post back in January by Jim C. Hines. Mr. Hines is a fabulous writer. His series about Jig the Goblin is delightful, unique in its choice of hero, and very funny. His Princess Novels are another stroke of creative genius, twisting old fairy tales, using their darker origins, and turning princesses (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty,  and Snow White) into fantasy versions of Charlie’s Angels. Seriously, if you like fantasy or fairy tales, check these out. You will not be disappointed.

Now that I’ve told you a bit about Mr. Hines, I’ll explain how this relates to the book cover poses. Mr. Hines decided to discuss the frequently unnatural and downright ludicrous poses of women on fantasy and urban fantasy novels. Since pictures are worth a thousand words, he posted with photos of him mimicking the poses beside the actual book covers…and then discussed the pain involved in getting into those poses. And the post is a scream: http://www.jimchines.com/2012/01/striking-a-pose/

Now he has decided to take on male poses on UF and paranormal romance novel covers! http://jimhines.livejournal.com/628418.html His analysis of what is expected of men and women on covers is great.

Equally brilliant, I thought, is a post by Anna, a book blogger, who ran with the idea and did a side-by-side comparison of men’s vs. women’s poses. http://genrereviews.livejournal.com/371367.html

Really great stuff! I have only occasional flashes of brilliance myself, but I’m happy to take the opportunity to share the good things I stumble across.

What book cover poses have made you think the model must have been in pain or Photoshopped because a real body couldn’t possibly achieve that position?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 188 other followers