Tag Archives: travel

Y is for a Year (or so) of Travels (AtoZChallenge2018)

Yesterday I started my post with a clip from an old song… I’ll do the same today with this old chestnut, I Was Born Under a Wandering Star.

 

My mom was the one who used to sing this to me (in not quite as low a register as Lee Marvin does, mind you) every time I said I was yearning to hit the road and go travelling. I don’t know where that need to roam comes from, but for some of us, itchy feet have nothing to do with athlete’s foot.

 

The past year and a bit have been really good for finding myself in far-flung places. Strangely, though I lived there for many years, Vancouver Island has become a destination. Last year I had the pleasure of taking a couple of sailing trips with my daughter and her husband on their lovely sailboat, Easy Rider. 

 

 

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It was a little chilly lounging around on the foredeck in February… But that didn’t stop me from trying. That’s what those lovely survival suits are for, right? 

 

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Had a great road trip through the mountains in March and stopped (of course) at Grizzly Book and Serendipity Shop in Revelstoke where, it turned out, they were filming a Christmas movie (hence the Christmas decorations in March…)

 

 

After arriving back in Canmore (home, these days) I basically unpacked and re-packed and went off to Paris. But not before a late night ice climbing expedition:

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Our neighbourhood. For most of our stay we hung out in the 15th, a five minute stroll from this bridge. 

 

 

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From Paris, I took a quick trip to Montreal, Toronto and London as one of my books was nominated for a Silver Birch Award in Ontario. 

 

Then, back to Paris. Where, among other things, I ate frog legs.

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Eventually, we returned to the mountains, but only briefly, just long enough to climb a mountain or two.

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The weather was good on the coast and I was longing to get back on the water…

 

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I’m fastening on the ‘don’t lose the dog’ netting on the boat before we set off for a few days of puttering around in the Gulf Islands. I have no more photos of this trip because I dropped my brand new phone overboard as we approached Nanaimo Harbour! Note that the weather had improved dramatically so no survival suits were required. 

 

Once back in the mountains I played about with my replacement phone and enjoyed a bit more climbing

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before heading back to Europe.

There was a day in Paris…

 

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quick visit to the Centre Georges Pompidou…

 

… and then on to Madrid, where I met my daughter and Dad in Madrid…

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From there, a train to Sarria where we began a very slow walk 120 kms or so to Santiago de Compostella as part of our Great Camino Project. (If you haven’t already found it, check out @lastlegbook on Instagram for lots of photos of our journey).

 

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Santiago… that way… 

 

Because we were working on a book about the project, after our time was up in Spain, we jumped on a cruise ship in Barcelona and wrote 65,000 words or so… One of these days we will get the rest of the manuscript done and, with any luck, will eventually see a book. If you’d like to have a look at a few of the posts written along the way, here are a couple of links…

That Way!

The Kindness of Strangers

Once back at home in the mountains, I lost a bet and had to jump down Main Street wearing a pink bunny suit…

(and no… I didn’t… pass wind, that is… I did jump through town while singing the Happy song by William Pharrell… )

When all that was over, it was time to pack our bags again and head back to the coast for Christmas with family.

 

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The gang in Vancouver… 

 

You might think all that was more than enough packing and unpacking, but what did we get for Christmas? Yes!! Allegra and I received tickets to go on a cruise together! So off we went again to explore the Caribbean… but not before a little ice climbing…

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It’s kind of nice you don’t need seventeen layers crampons and ice axes to have fun on the beach… (this one in Jamaica).

 

And then, home again just in time for spring break and (this is getting a bit ridiculous) another trip to Paris!

 

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It was a wet spring in Paris – the Seine is threatening to overflow her banks… 

And finally, back home to the mountains for a bit more ice climbing…

IMG_2126.JPGYeah. It’s been quite the year, or so… I couldn’t have imagined all those many miles being logged had I tried to look ahead at the beginning of 2017. Who knows where this next year will take us?

Yikes!!

 

 

 

X is for Xavier, Xanadu, Xi, Xlotl, and Xul… and, yes, X-rays (AtoZChallenge2018)

Thanks, Dad! Xavier Cugat is not a name I’d ever come across, but Dad, who has been following along as I’ve worked my way through the alphabet for the AtoZ Blogging Challenge this month, sent me a note this morning saying I should include Xavier and his Waldorf-Astoria Orchestra as they play this 1943 song, Brazil. While you are playing that in the background, I’ll keep going with the letter X.

As it turns out, this month I’ve actually had three sets of X-rays – two on my jaw (sadly, the result of those eXplorations will be removing a root canal and installing a new one… that does not sound in any way like it’s going to be fun), and the other on my hips. The findings there were that yes, my left hip is basically shot – arthritic and rather exuberantly sprouting bone spurs, perhaps in a misguided effort to replace the cartilage which seems to have gone missing. Using an ultrasound (sort of a watery X-ray…), we managed to shoot the hip full of cortisone and some weird lubricating gel stuff and the pain is much relieved. Good news, as I should be able to keep hiking and climbing on it while I wait to get old and decrepit enough to qualify for a hip replacement.

 

 

 

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Hm… this map doesn’t include the red dot showing exactly where Shangdu town (near where Xanadu used to be) is located… Curious? Click here…

 

I love to travel, but one of the places that’s been on my wish list for the longest is one I have yet to get to; Outer Mongolia. Turns out that Xanadu, in Inner Mongolia, was once the summer palace of Kubla Khan. One of these days I will get to Mongolia… no plan yet, but that seed was planted so long ago it has grown into a serious old oak and such a large tree is a bit uncomfortable to keep lugging around.

While vaguely in the neighbourhood (and speaking of trees), here’s a painting by Guo Xi from the Northern Song Dynasty (920-1126).

 

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Trees by Guo Xi, a long time ago in China

 

 

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The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth (Mexico), Myself, Diego and Señor Xólotl by Frida Kahlo (1949)  I have to say that’s one of the longest, most intriguing titles I’ve come across… But it does contain an X. Thanks, Seńor Xólotl!

For those who are biting their nails and wondering how the manuscript/deadline race is coming along, here’s the update. I’ve finished a rough and tumble draft, which is a bit long. I’ve got that printed out and am going through it searching for the 2500 or so extra words that seem to have snuck in there. If I keep going at the pace I’ve been working, all things being equal I should have made the cuts (on paper) and entered the edits into the digital draft in time to send it off to my editor by Sunday midnight. That’s a day ahead of schedule, technically, but I’ll be heading to the airport on Monday and I really don’t want to take it with me, so that’s the plan.

This is the first draft my editor will have seen, so I fully expect that not long after I get back I’ll have my draft and a set of notes back to work on. But, that’s getting ahead of myself. There are a couple of things I already know I want to change in the next draft, but that’s what the revision process is all about. Modifying and refining. As always, I’ll be pretty excited to see what the editor has to say as her wise insights always make the books better…

I’ll leave you with this final image by an Argentinian painter, Xul Solar. It was cooking hot here in the mountains today, so it feels appropriate to celebrate the sun!

 

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Pegaso de Sol by Xul Solar, 1922

Until tomorrow! Ciao!

 

 

 

 

 

V is for Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands (AtoZChallenge2018)

 

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The Baths on Virgin Gorda in the BVI – can you imagine a better combination? Bouldering, beaches and swimming in balmy waters… Oh, yes! 

 

One of my favourite places in the world is the island of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. I was last there in 2015, just before I met Fabio during my fateful wander around Skaha Bluffs looking for climbing partners (you could say that worked out rather well!)

 

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It’s shoulder season here in the Rocky Mountains – the waterfalls are melting rapidly, so ice climbing season is likewise fast running out. But at the base of plenty of crags it’s still muddy or slushy, so it’s not perfect yet for rock climbing (though, that’s changing fast as well). Solution? Snorkelling! Of course, there isn’t much of that to be done here even on the hottest days of summer, but in the BVI… different story!

 

You can’t imagine how delighted and excited I am to be able to say that very soon I’ll be hopping on a plane and heading back to the Virgin Islands with Fabio and Ally in tow! Yay!

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For the moment, I’ll leave you with these photos of fond memories… Keep watching the blog for more photos coming soon of our next trip together!

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F is for Feet, Fine Friends of Wanderers

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Detail from the Plaza de Dali in Madrid. 

Walking. It’s a great way to travel, even though we don’t often think of our feet as a legitimate means to cover lots of territory. One of the things I love, love, love about Paris (and, there are plenty of things…) is the fact it is such a walkable city. Every day while I was there over the past couple of weeks I walked – miles and miles and miles.

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I passed this piece of sculpture while cutting through the Tuileries in Paris … I could have stayed underground, I suppose, but it wouldn’t have been nearly so much fun.  

Yes, I generally started out on the Metro, hopping on at the local station and heading somewhere close to my destination. But once turned loose in a neighbourhood, as often as not I would start roaming, knowing that at any point when exhaustion overtook me (and my feet) I wouldn’t be far from a Metro station and could always drop down below the streets and head for home.

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This piece of sculpture in Santiago de Compostela in Spain honours the work the feet do when it comes to transporting pilgrims across Spain. My feet felt every step of the 120 or so kilometers we walked in October as we travelled from Sarria to Santiago. (Want to see some photos of the journey I took with my father and daughter? Come follow us on Instagram: @thelastlegbook) 

I might not have thought to honour my feet with a whole post if it weren’t for the fact that they are starting to grumble and complain (you know, squeaky wheel gets the grease and all…). I am developing arthritis in various joints, but the one that causes me the most grief is my right big toe. It sounds ridiculous (big toes are somehow unfailingly undignified), but my goodness, I sure appreciate all the years of uncomplaining service I’ve had from my tootsies.

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Rodin had a thing about feet… well, I guess he had a thing about bodies and getting their various bits to look right… This display is in the Rodin Museum. 

 

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Detail from one of the sculptures in the sculpture garden at the Rodin Museum in Paris. 

Next week I have an appointment to see my sports medicine doctor who will be repeating a treatment he did about 18 months ago – injecting a soothing dose of cortisone into the problematic joint space. I was dubious last time, but after feeling the relief that followed the first injection, I am sold. I’d been told that I’d need to repeat as often as every 4-6 months, but I’ve managed to hike a lot of miles over the past 18 months before feeling the need to go back.

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Not that long ago I was lucky enough to find myself on a beach in the Caymen Islands… the first thing I did was to free my feet from the confines of my sandals. There is nothing like the feeling of warm sand beneath bare feet… There is something positively soul (sole?)-rejuvenating in the act of connecting directly with the earth, the ocean, the beach… Cramming my feet into heavy winter boots is just not the same… 

And on that note, I now need to load my computer back into my backpack and walk home. I’ve been out and about running (well, walking) errands here in Canmore, making good use of Shank’s Pony. The sun is blazing out there, reflecting off the snow. It’s cold and crisp but still suggestive of spring and I’m happy to be moving. We had a crazily long trip back from Paris – almost 24 hours of being trapped in too-small airplane seats or trying to get comfortable in airport waiting areas so it feels good to be breathing unfiltered air and able to get up and go when I feel the need.

Until tomorrow when we meet again over the letter G…

 

 

 

A is for Abbesses, Amelie, Artists and More (#AtoZ2018)

Well, I thought A might be for Art but that was three days ago before I had spent some time on the Paris Metro. When we were here last year I thought it would be great to do a journey to all the stations which are, conveniently, listed in alphabetical order here. The first station on the list is Abbesses, a name which always seems to me to have too many double letters…

 

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This is the platform in Abbesses Metro station as depicted in Amelie. (That’s Amelie over on the left)

 

The deepest of all the stations (118 feet below street level), there are a lot of stairs to climb to get out of there. Reading a bit about it, I discovered it was used in the movie Amelie. Well, sort of… the set was made to look like Abbesses, but in fact, the filming was done at an abandoned platform at the Porte de Lilas station.

 

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Abbesses during my visit today… the actual, real Abbesses. 

 

This tidbit led me to try to remember the movie Amelie, which I thought I had seen. Thanks to the miracles of modern technology, I found it on iTunes and watched it in my BNB (closest Metro station to where I’m staying is Lourmel on Line 8, named after General Lourmel who was killed in the Crimean War).

 

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Between the tourists, the garbage can, the shipping container and construction zone, it’s pretty hard to get a decent shot of the exterior entrance to the Abbesses Metro station. So, here’s a cinema-style letter box crop in an effort to make the best of a difficult photographic situation…

 

Turns out either I haven’t seen the movie or my memory is way worse than I could have imagined. I think the former as there are so many odd moments and bizarre scenes that something would have rung a bell, even if dimly…

As a result of watching (and thoroughly enjoying) the movie (and because I love my Navigo pass and any excuse to ride the Metro, particularly if it means a trip to Montmartre – location of Abbesses station), off I went to have a quick peek before heading to the Rodin Museum for my daily… oh, there it is… Art fix!

 

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Do I share my ‘argh’ moment, or not? Ok, why not… I foolishly purchased my Rodin ticket twice! Once online in the wee hours of the morning and then again when I arrived at the museum. What can I say, I thought I was going to go to the Musée d’Orsay… which I am going to do tomorrow… And, since it’s the first Sunday in April, the d’Orsay will be free, so I won’t actually be out of pocket. Not really. But seriously, argh. 

What a bonus to find not one but several pieces of sculpture by Rodin that featured artists!

 

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For the sake of today’s A-themed post I will pretend I am not in Paris where this is obviously a peintre. Sadly, I will be long gone before the letter arrives!

 

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This is not a great photo for various reasons (it’s not sharp, for one thing), but I include it here because of the scale. The hands really were massive… 

 

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Art students hard at work sketching Rodin busts… How they managed to concentrate with all the tourists peeking over their shoulders and obnoxiously taking photos, I don’t know… 

 

 

While I was in Montmartre, I took my time wandering back downhill to jump on the Metro at Blanche. On my way I stopped in to poke around in the Montmartre Cemetery. There I found the grave of Endre Rozsda, a Hungarian-French artist who died at the age of 85 in 1999. I found this self-portrait online:

 

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Endre Rozsda – born in Hungary in 1919 – this self-portrait dates from 1939

 

 

 

What’s your favourite movie set in Paris? The Red Balloon? Midnight in Paris? Let me know in the comments below… If I have time before I head home I might just go on another jaunt to a cool location captured on the silver screen. And, since we are also talking about A for Artists, who is your favourite artist who spent some time in Paris?

(Here’s a p.s. of sorts… the reason I may have been a little groggy at 2 am when I finally went to bed and bought that extra museum ticket is that I might have been slightly distracted by all the ads I was reading for Paris apartments. Ahh, dreaming. It’s always fun to fantasize about things like going shopping for a Paris apartment, though doing so right before bed resulted in some peculiar nightmares about buying an apartment and not having any money left for furniture.)

Nurture Your Inner Medici! 

Enjoy the blog? Consider becoming a patron to support the creation of these blog posts, photo essays, and short videos. In return, you’ll have my undying appreciation, but you’ll also get access to Patron-only content, advance peeks at works in progress, and more – all for as little as a buck a month! It’s easy – head on over to Patreon to have a look at how it all works. And, if enough (like a gazillion) of you all sign on, maybe that Paris apartment will be mine some day… and then you can come and visit and we can take photos of art together!! And then sit in a quaint café and talk about how we met right here at the end of a blog post about artists and Amelie and Abbesses and stuff…

 

Ah, Paris…

In the interest of sparing you the details, just let me say my ability to sleep on airplanes is greatly diminished these days. Are the planes really getting that much smaller? Or am I getting that much older and less bendy? Maybe a bit of both… What is not getting old, though, is arriving in Paris in the evening and heading out for a stroll around the block in order to see the tower sparkle!

At the top of each hour after dark, the tower twinkles as tour buses pull over and selfie stick-wielding tourists grin and snap photo after photo. I would have done the same except my selfie stick had not yet been unpacked, such was our haste to get out into the streets and take in the sights.

 

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Booksellers along the Seine… Just strolling by makes me happy!

 

Today has been a day of fighting jetlag, running errands (in the rain), and sticking close to home while trying to stay strong and not nap. I’ve also been making lists – both for work and for pleasure. On the work front, I was busy this morning (wide awake at 4am I eventually gave up on the going back to sleep project, and instead had a shower, breakfast and worked on the book about assisted dying). After reworking a rather cumbersome section that deals with definitions of suicide (surprisingly more complicated than one might think – while jumping from a tall building is pretty obviously suicide, if a very sick patient decides to stop eating and drinking, should that be called suicide? After all, the end result is the same…) I started working my way down the list of people I am planning to contact with questions relating to some aspect of the subject.

 

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As darkness falls at the BNB, I write… (and sketch in my notebook… one day maybe I’ll be brave enough to share those primitive efforts…)

 

Lists, Lists, and More Lists

With work out of the way, it was time to start making a list of what I’d like to try and see and do while I’m in town. I’m very much looking forward to a lunch with writing friends on the weekend and tomorrow am also hoping to meet up with a bookbinder/writer friend for coffee… I’d really like to get to the Rodin Museum this trip as well as pay a visit to the Musée d’Orsay. I’m not sure where the best place is to go to see portraits… I don’t think Paris has the equivalent of the National Portrait Gallery, though all the major museums will, of course, have some portraits in their collections. I’m particularly interested in self-portraits at the moment, in part because I’m intrigued by self-portraits, but also because of what’s been going on with Dad’s artwork ever since we did our Camino in the fall. Because I’ll be doing the AtoZ Blogging Challenge, I’ll save the details for one of the April posts…

Meanwhile, though, the list of possible museums to visit is long… As is the list of possible live performances I could take in. Comedy… musical… drama… And then there’s the English language cinema club… and the Shut Up and Write Group… and, and, and…

Because I have promised myself that I will continue to push ahead with this draft of the assisted dying book, I do need to allocate a certain number of hours a day to work, as well… All of which to say, a week in Paris is not enough!! Not nearly long enough…

Spindrift Near Banff

Being back here I am having one of those moments where I really wish I could clone myself. I love my home back in the mountains (I mean, what’s not to love?), but I really love this city, too…

Love Paris? 

When we were here last year I tried to come up with a list of reasons why I like this place so much… If you missed that post, here’s a link… 

Edith Piaf Alert

In case you are curious, the soundtrack in the background here this evening (actually the evening of my second full day here… I’m already way behind on ye olde blogge…) is an Edith Piaf playlist courtesy of Spotify. I have to make do with this as all tickets seem to be sold out for the Edith Piaf show I had wanted to see… Le sigh. Not sighing at the playlist, I hasten to add… at the dirth of tickets.

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Enjoy the blog? Consider becoming a patron to support the creation of these blog posts, photo essays, and short videos. In return, you’ll have my undying appreciation, but you’ll also get access to Patron-only content, advance peeks at works in progress, and more – all for as little as a buck a month! It’s easy – head on over to Patreon to have a look at how it all works.

Theme Reveal: Transitions, Travel and Transformation

This will be my fourth year attempting to blog every day for the month of April as part of the AtoZ Blogging Challenge (details here, if you want to learn more about how the challenge works and who else is participating). Each year I’ve bogged down somewhere in the Q, R, S, T region of the alphabet. I could consider these past efforts to be abject failures (I mean, the rest of the alphabet is just as worthy of posts, no?). But I’m a glass half full kinda gal, so I’m choosing to look at the 50+ posts I have managed to write as part of this annual challenge to be posts that I wouldn’t have written otherwise.

This year I’m keeping my theme pretty general because, hey, there’s lots going on and I can’t quite predict which of several potentially interesting developments will become the major focus for the month ahead. I know some people pre-write a bunch of posts and then release them over the course of the month. Other people come up with a list and then write and post as the days come and go. I’m going to try and write pretty much every day and tie the topic of the post to something that’s reasonably current.

 

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Frog legs in the Latin Quarter… a lot of work (I had no idea how many little bones there are in each leg…) for very little return. And, yes, sort of tastes like chicken. 

 

Given that I’m heading for Paris on Monday, at least some posts will fit neatly into the travel category. Transitions and transformation are related, but subtly different but will allow me to write about works in progress (there are several at the moment), progress on the job search, what’s going on with my efforts to become more involved with theatre, TV, and film, setting (and reaching?) climbing goals, and maybe even a bit about my ongoing quest to be healthier (so I can live longer and have half a hope of getting a few more of the outstanding items on my To-Do list done). Art, photography, friendships, family, yoga, and a change of seasons will all likely get some love during April.

 

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Working on my crow pose… a contender for C-Crow, B-Balance, Y-Yoga, F-Frustration

 

There won’t be a list in advance – this will be a seat-of-my-pants month, but as always, it will be fun to take (and share) snapshots of what’s going on. Equally fun (and inspiring and stimulating and intriguing) will be reading what other participants will be sharing.

This year, each day I’ll also post a link to another participant who has caught my eye. Today’s pick: The More Than Words blog – theme this year TRAVEL.

Climb aboard and enjoy the ride!

Curious about topics from previous years? Here are a few links to posts from the past.

From the Climbing Year:

M is for Munter, Mountains and More…

F is for Fancy Footwork, Flights, and Fortitude…

From the Writing Year:

Ordinary Day at the Office

From the AtoZ Farming Year (when I actually made it to the letter Z)

Catching Some Z’s

From the Farming Year (a slightly different 30-Day challenge back when I had my farm)

The Pros and Cons of Farm Life