Friday, September 29, 2017

    
A blue-and-gold macaw at the Southwick Zoo

Earlier this month, I attended Encore in the Student Union at Rhode Island College. My writing friends had raved about this one-day event, but I had never gone. Instead, I chose longer retreats and conferences, like Falling Leaves and the 21st Century Nonfiction Conference.

a rare white Bengal tiger
At Encore, I sat at one table throughout the event and listened to five author-presenters. They were all great speakers with a wealth of knowledge to share. I scribbled character traits on Post-it notes, completed writing exercises, listened to revision techniques, and delved into numerous ways to add emotion to a manuscript.
Turkey
Two-toed sloth
The buffet was also excellent. Overall, I found Encore was an affordable way to connect with other writers and advance my writing skills. 


Monday, August 14, 2017

One thing I did this summer that has boosted my productivity and organization skills was to switch from a freebie Hallmark calendar to a planner that spans one and a half years. Now, I have plenty of room to jot down multiple tasks. I have found that when I write it down, it gets done. It was well worth the few dollars I paid for it. At the end of every day, I look at my list and smile at all the things I've accomplished. It has also reduced those writing ruts--the kind that used to swallow me up and leave me wondering why I bother.

Last week, I took a day off and went to the Southwick Zoo. It's fascinating to watch the animals. 

chimp

I stopped by the tiger and lion cages numerous times because they were sleeping. Finally, the Bengal tiger woke up.

A grad student told me this young male and his dad were play fighting

A parakeet landed on my hand!
      

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Picacho Peak, Arizona

Picacho Peak (taken from the car while on the highway)
I'm astonished at how much time has passed since I last posted. Right now, I'm busy writing passages and line items for a major test. The process is taking longer than I expected, but the amount of work has doubled. What started out as chemistry and physics work has now grown to include Earth science and biology. The work requires some thinking, but creativity is sorely lacking. 

The cables got progressively more challenging.
It's getting a little steeper. Gloves are recommended for this hike.
In April, I volunteered at the New England SCBWI Conference and two days later, I attended it. I'm so glad I went. It was nice reconnecting with the gang from Falling Leaves and with a science writer I met at the AAAS conference in Boston this past February. It was even nicer getting a long list of editors and agents I could submit to.

This was insane! I was trembling a little bit here.
On the way down, a gust of wind swept my new sunhat off my head. I ventured beyond the cable to retrieve it (scary).
When I was in Arizona in March, we hiked Picacho Peak. Someone from town suggested it and said he loved that hike. I read up on it before going, so I knew it was going to be a challenge (understatement). In the top photo, you hike up on the left side until you reach the cliff wall. Then you trek to the right and go up and over the middle (the saddle). To climb the peak, you hike it from the back and end up on the left peak. Sounds simple (laughs).  Walt called this the most hazardous hike we've ever done.  



What a gorgeous view!



Saturday, March 25, 2017

Grand Canyon - South Rim

South Kaibab Trail head
At the top of the South Kaibab Trail, in the frigid morning air, I passed a woman who seemed petrified. The upper canyon was shrouded in snow, and ice coated the first mile or so. Even though I was wearing stablicers, I still went slow.

Beyond the ice, the trail looked like this.
Fabulous vistas changed at every switchback. I was thrilled to spot the river, then the bridge across. I shot my fist in the air when we entered the tunnel before the bridge--it was level the rest of the way.


This area had a steep drop-off, so I hugged the rock wall and gave the mules the precipitous edge.
Despite seven miles of downhill, I didn't get a single blister. Not one. In the past, my feet have killed me hiking down Mount Washington, so the downhill was my biggest concern. I made three changes to my footwear: new boots with a wide toe box, Injinji liner toe socks, and boots tied for downhill hiking. I also wore these cushy socks that my friend gave me. They were wonderfully soft.
Lunch with a view of the river. Phantom Ranch is on the right.
Phantom Ranch was nestled under an oasis of trees across the Colorado River. I was lucky to get a reservation at one of the few cabins at the ranch. One couple had brought their baby all the way down to the bottom of the canyon. The young woman planned to carry her 16-pound bundle uphill, and that pack wasn't going to get any lighter.
Across the river, the trail goes left to the ranch.

I wore shorts on the 10-mile uphill hike. It energized me in temperatures that hovered around 50°F. On the first mile or so, the Bright Angel Trail was sandy and followed the river. Eventually, the trail wound its way uphill inside a canyon. Slick ice greeted me at the top.
suspension bridge on the Bright Angel Trail
As I crossed the Colorado River, morning sunlight gave the canyon a golden glow.

The top of the Bright Angel Trail was a bit hazardous.
Overall, the hike was a phenomenal experience, but the time flew by too fast. It was a lot easier than I had expected. What I found challenging was balancing a writing deadline and an active vacation. With most jobs, you leave your work behind. I brought mine with me. The plane ride gave me a long stretch of time to get immersed in my work and accomplish enough to put my mind at ease. When I returned, I put aside the unpacking until my article was close to finished.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

This yellow brain fungus was delicate, like a flower.
I've started 2017 with a flurry of webinars--I registered for five. I like webinars. They're inexpensive ways to learn. They cut down on carbon emissions and offer flexibility. If the time doesn't work for me, I'll get a link to the recording and listen later at a more convenient time. Often, participants get the opportunity to ask questions, but admittedly, I never have. At a recent webinar, I was pleasantly surprised to discover I got the opportunity to submit!

The remains of an old quarry reminded me of Greek architecture (purple trail).
On the science front, I went to a Science on Screen documentary that was fascinating. The event had sold out, but a generous man gave me a free ticket and he wouldn't take any money! At that price, I'm planning to go again next month (laughs). I also want to see Elizabeth Kolbert at UConn in early February. I used to drive to campus to see the Teale lectures, but now I watch most of those at home (except for Kolbert's).

There's a guy in a white shirt a little more than halfway up this trap rock ridge.
I took these photographs at Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden, Connecticut. In the past, I've taken the easy crushed gravel path to the tower. This time, we climbed up and down ridges via the blue trail, which is rated difficult. The recent rain made some rocks slick. The dog had trouble in spots, so we had to help her up some of the steeper sections. On the way back we took the easier purple trail, which was fairly level.


The blue trail took us atop the ridge to the giant's head.