Monday, June 28, 2010


Small towns across America share so many similar issues that one could move pretty much anywhere and hear the same things from folks. Which is what makes taking a road trip on the "roads less traveled" such a joy - you stay three days somewhere and you're considered a "resident".

Tonight, I got sucked into small-town Greenfield. While just paying a friendly call on one of Pastor Chuck's parishoners this afternoon (that's what my baby brother's called by the locals) she invited us to participate in a meeting to - ta-da! you reading this Doug? - consider how to attract more visitors / customers / quality businesses to the town. The main commercial area of this delightful town is centered in a perfect square around the county courthouse. While it's not evident from the photos I've offered here, most of the buildings are vacant. Some have tenants in upstairs apartments, some are in fairly good condition, some need either major renovation or complete teardown.

Ideas abounded at tonight's meeting. No idea was categorically rejected and some were given real, serious consideration - like mine, in conjunction with two young women, to open a bookstore / bakery / candy shop. We have the location scouted and a embryo of a business plan already talked through. I'm actually about 1/4 serious about doing this. (My daughters are laughing up their sleeves, then standing with their hands on their hips going, "Oh, jeez, Mom, give us a break! Will you just get your a... home, already, and tend to the irons you already have in the fire, like your vegetable garden that you're making poor Rick water every night. Come ON!")

Hey, I just might continue giving this embryo consideration - oh, wait! I hate the winters back here. Oh, that's okay, I'll just find someone to run my bookstore part of the business in my absence. Yeah, that'd work, wouldn't it? Anybody care to offer their two cents on my idea here? We could take a community vote - democracy in action. Yeah, let's do that! J.P., you want to get the ball rolling with a response? Or, Marshall?

Okay, I'm a little punchy and it's my bed time, so that's enough for one night.

Cya later, al-i-gator!


PS: Here's hint for my next post:

Sunday, June 27, 2010


According to all things calendarish, it's been five days since last I wrote to you. Been a little busy, I guess. Let's see - on Wednesday the 23rd, Megan and I headed across Iowa to Greenfield (again!). Our launch on that leg of our trek was hampered by an early-morning thunderstorm, the likes of which only the Great Plains can produce. Loading up cardboard boxes of books and our various pieces of luggage and other "cack" with the rain pouring down our necks just did NOT seem like an intelligent thing to do. We had no specific time to be anywhere that day, so leaving Clinton around 10 AM didn't do anything except push our entire Jello-ish plans back a bit.

On our way here, we stopped for lunch in Mt. Vernon and took time to explore this lovely, old college town a bit. Cornell College, which opened its doors to students in 1857, is the only college in the U.S. to have its entire campus listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That fact becomes important when you're going after some grants. It also tends to dictate what you can and cannot do to the facades of those buildings and grounds so designated. That, of course, can be good and not so wonderful in terms of maintenance.

We ate lunch at a tiny cafe in the back section of an old brick home now used as various commercial shops and offices. Then we crossed the street and let ourselves into the absolutely gorgeous old Methodist Church. From the curved balcony above we could see the two unbelievably beautiful and huge stained glass windows on the sides of the church. I pasted a photo of the Rose Window over the altar (from the church's website) at the top of this post for a bit of inspiration.

So on we went, headed for Des Moines. Knowing we were going to be late getting to West Des Moines where I already knew the location of a Bank of America where I could deposit the VAST sums of cash collected at our Quad Cities and Iowa City events (yes, I am being sarcastic), I asked Garmin to navigate me to a closer bank. He sent us careening into downtown Des Moines and sure enough, right on the corner of some street and another avenue there was a large building with the Bank of America sign at the top corner. However! when we parked and headed for what looked like a front door we discovered there was no longer a bank there - only a parking structure over where it used to be. And we were now too late to find another branch.

I ignored Garmin's NAG-ivating advice and got myself pretty disoriented (which is another word for LOST). Finally, to Megan's GREAT annoyance, I did find my way back to I-80 West and headed toward the lowering sun. I called my sister-in-law to let her know I'd be later than originally discussed getting to their home in Waukee on the west side of Des Moines, then called Charlie in Greenfield and told him the same. No problem at either location, so I hauled Megan and me off to Waukee, where Megan promptly - well, as soon as she could after introductions - headed off for a marathon walk while Rick's brother, Derwood, and wife, Kathy, and I enjoyed a good family chat.

Megan and I had a bit of a blow-out driving away from Des Moines. She was tired and so was I and she really does not like car trips, so all the driving, stopping, driving, detouring, driving really had driven her past her point of tolerance. She snapped at me, I snapped back and, fortunately, rather than being "off & running" with a full-blown argument, we both stepped back and went quiet. After a period of slightly tense silence, she asked me a simple question and I gave a simple answer and we were fine with each other once again. Would that all potential arguments could resolve themselves so quickly and easily...and with no lingering bad feelings between the parties.

We had a GREAT art show / book signing last night at the E. E. Warren Opera House on the square in downtown Greenfield. I think about half my brother's church congregation showed up and most bought books and several bought Norm's artwork. I, myself, bought two absolutely wonderful paintings. Megan and I were just talking about the dichotomy that shows how a relatively unknown author, doing a "big" booksigning in a large town may net a few book sales while a smaller event in a smaller town can net many books sold. So, we've learned NOT to judge a booksigning by its potential group size. In fact, this morning in church, several people said they were sorry they had other things planned for last night and couldn't make it to our soiree, could they still get books? Charlie quickly announced that we'd have a casual reception Tuesday afternoon in the church fellowship room for any that had wanted to meet Megan and me but had not yet. Boy, oh, boy! You really just never know, do you!

Tomorrow, I'm heading back into Des Moines where I once again intend to make my way to a B of A and deposit the now even greater sum of cash and check's we've garnered. Again, that's my intention! I am also having a casual luncheon meeting with the Patient Services Manger for the Iowa/Nebraska Leukemia/Lymphoma Society. Wendy sounds like a delightful person from her emails and I'm happy we're able to arrange this get-together.

For now, from beautiful close-to-downtown Greenfield (Iowa), I bid adieu!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

This will be VERY short tonight. I have nearly completed my re-packing in preparation for leaving one brother's home in Clinton, IA, and driving to the other's in Greenfield, IA, tomorrow. We'll be making a stop in West Des Moines to deposit the vast sums of money we've made here at our Clinton / Quad Cities / Iowa City events. Wait, I really didn't mean that as sarcastic as it came out - not at all, actually. We've done well with the book signing aspect of our time here and even better with the new contact and friends we've made.

Today's "Lunch & Learn" at Trinity Medical Center in Rock Island, IL, (which, for those of you not familiar with this part of the country, is one of the Quad Cities - the others being Moline, IL, and Davenport and Bettendorf, IA) was well attended, fun, and productive. It was primarily staff from virtually all departments of the large hospital and several outlying clinics and a few cancer and stroke patients and caregivers. Most of the staff present were nurses, whom Megan and I were absolutely delighted to talk with during our presentation.

After we packed up from the Trinity signing, we drove a couple miles to the Wester Illinois Area Agency on Aging (WIAAA) office where brother Dave works. He showed us around their very overcrowded office and introduced us to everyone there - a bunch of busy, productive, passionate people. Dave works closely with the senior volunteers who are placed in a variety of jobs and organizations, from hospitals to schools and everything in between. It was really nice to put faces to the names of people Dave has talked about over the years he has worked at WIAAA-RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program).

This evening we had dinner at a new friend's home, David and Monis Ramnath. Megan met David while walking and asked him to come to our book signing at Book World last Saturday. He did and bought the only books sold that afternoon. He so enjoyed our spirited conversation then that he wanted to continue it and invited us, his sister, who is the Director of Clinical and Professional Development at Clinton's Mercy Hospital, and another couple to enjoy dinner that he and Monis prepared. Megan and I have never been known to pass up good Indian food and this was great. And, they insisted on buying some books, which we had not brought with us. But David was acting as our chauffeur for the evening (freeing me to enjoy TWO glasses of wine with dinner!) and so took our personally autographed books back to his family and friends after dropping us off. A wonderful end to a very enjoyable day.

So, that's it for today. Goodnight!

Sunday, June 20, 2010


The weather forecast for today started out with dire predictions of more thunderstorms. We watched the sky this morning and, sure enough, the storms didn't happen. So, about noon, brother Dave, Megan, and I took Dave's canoe out on the Mississippi for a bit of paddling and relaxation. We went a little way upstream almost to the big bridge that crosses the river at Lyons. Lyons was originally a small town north of Clinton. But Clinton grew north and Lyons grew a little bit south and soon they were co-joined so Clinton annexed Lyons into its tax base and census counts and school district.

So after paddling upstream we paddled less exuberantly down, watching out for a couple big barges being pushed up or down, and recreational boats flying about the river with great abandon and noise. We headed to a small sandy beach - well, it's there when the river isn't as high as it currently is - and just sat around watching life along the river. Dave entertained us by playing some nice tunes on his "hooter", small keyboard mounted on a mouth-organ, really called a melodica.

We were out on and beside the river for about four hours and are now preparing to go for Mexican food at a relatively new restaurant downtown. Having such great Mexican food all around Southern California, including the two restaurants right in Idyllwild (La Casita and Arriba's) it will be interesting to compare this one.

Tomorrow Megan and I have to sort through the boxes of books we shipped here from Amarillo, not having enough room in my little Corolla to transport them along with all our other "cack". We have a big, important event at Trinity Medical Center in Rock Island (IL) on Tuesday. We're both doing our presentation we call "Hope, Humor, and Healing" at a staff "Lunch & Learn". This is our second time doing a co-presentation of this nature at Trinity, having done one in July, 2006, when Megan was in this area on her amazing 12,000-mile / 8-month Bike Ride Around America. We hope our presentation will be as well received this time as in 2006.

These are some more photos from Megan's talk and signing Wednesday afternoon (June 16th) at the Genesis Outpatient Rehab Center in Bettendorf, IA. They so nicely demonstrate the brief, close relationships that develop between Megan and people with brain injury. It's really quite amazing to watch this magical thing happen as Megan's stories unfold.
Thursday evening Megan spoke at the Communication Sciences & Disorders Department at the Univ of Iowa Hospital. This presentation focused on aphasia, which is when a person can understand what's going on around them but can't verbalize responses. This often happens with stroke and other brain injuries. The meeting included students studying under Dr. Jean Gordon who put this thing together.
After Megan's meeting and after I finished my meeting with a cancer group just around the corner from them, Jean, Megan, and I went out for a snack in downtown Iowa City. The three of us talked for nearly an hour about the physiology of speech and other communication problems. She's a smart, articulate woman who gave Megan some great insight into why her aphasia continues to plague her seven years after her brain aneurysm that left her totally unable to communicate. Every time Megan can talk with these specialists, she gets another piece of the puzzle to understanding how her brain works and why sometimes it doesn't work as well as she'd like it to. Helped me understand why my brain has developed memory and other issues as I've aged, as well. Aged? me? Heavens not!

Friday, June 18, 2010


No, let me correct that heading - it's been pretty much pouring down off and on since about 2:00 this afternoon here in Clinton (IA) on the banks of the Mississippi. The mighty river, itself, is now starting to show the effects of massive amounts of rain all through the central and eastern parts of both Iowa and Minnesota. All the rivers that empty into the Mississippi are at the tops of or over their banks. This afternoon Clinton's tornado warning siren went off and, frankly, I didn't even recognize the sound or know what it might be telling me - and I grew up in this country. The siren was warning about severe thunderstorms approaching the area with potential winds up to 80 mph. It did blow and there was a lot of lightning and thunder but here in the center of town, nothing serious to write home about - oh, wait, that's what I AM doing! Hmmm...

This afternoon's storm knocked the power out in most of Clinton and nearby Comanche for more than 4 hours. I felt right at home!

So, the siren. As the former President of MDP (Mountain Disaster Preparedness) I had more than one person tell me I should support the notion of Riverside County mounting emergency sirens around our mountain communities - to warn of approaching wildfire. Why? Again, I grew up in Iowa where tornados are a way of life and was here when the first storm warning sirens went into many communities around the state. Even so, hearing the one today, I did not think I should dive for shelter when I heard it this afternoon. Frankly, no one did. Yes, there were some clouds building in the northwestern sky, but nothing that caused those of us out walking in the sultry afternoon undue concern. And, I'm pretty responsive to emergency situations, I think most people who know me would agree.

So, just what would we in Idyllwild do upon hearing a warning siren blasting away somewhere in the community? Get in our cars and go...where? Turn on WNKI? Yes, certainly, but many of us already do that just upon smelling suspicious smoke, or seeing it. It has been said that should an approaching wildfire occur in the middle of the night, the siren would wake us and give us warning. Not in my house! Our bedroom is so well insulated against sounds outside at night that...well, it just wouldn't wake us unless it was installed very close to our house. And, who'd be pulling the chain to activate it? Probably the same folks who are authorized to activate the County EWNS (Early Warning Notification System) that will call us on our telephones and WILL give us information of value to help us decide our next appropriate move. And, of course, the County Sheriff Deputies will be dispatched in the event of an evacuation to go door-to-door waking us and getting us moving. So, for me, a siren just does NOT make much sense, especially when the cost is compared to the almost total lack of benefit that I can see.

Enough of that.

Tomorrow afternoon, Megan and I have a very fun book signing planned. My brother, Dave, is joining us at the local Book World store in downtown Clinton to sign copies of a book he authored for an elderly (now deceased) gentleman he met through the Senior Volunteer Program Dave directs. And, Dave talked his two buddies who play mostly Bluegrass music with him in a trio they call The Ripplers (after their early-on favorite wine, Ripple) to come down with their banjo, fiddle, and guitar and help him entertain the hoardes of people I just know are going to show up. The "boys" were here in Dave's dining room this evening, practicing with the thunder outside accompanying them and I just had to grab a pair of wooden spoons from the kitchen drawer to do my bit for one or two tunes. We're all going out to eat at Rastrelli's Italian Restaurant afterward - Megan's treat, 'cause she's sold SO many books! - and since I won't be driving, I plan to drink at least one glass of wine more than I should. (I'll be thinking of you, Frank, as I slurp down my ravioli.) So, don't look for a post from me tomorrow night by any means, fair or foul.

Here's something really cool - it's been nice enough to leave the windows open here. Occasionally the sound of a train crossing the big railroad bridge across the River comes in, complete with bell clanging and horn tooting. Sometimes the trains have to wait while the bridge span swings open to let a barge or boat with a high superstructure move up or down the river. Yesterday morning, as I was working on the computer, I heard the repeated tooting of a train's horn, answered by another one, then the first, and the second - back and forth that way for about 20 minutes. The engineers were "talking" to each other in a code they've worked out for just that purpose as each was waiting its turn to cross the River. The sound was strangely comforting, like something from the past. Dave says the sounds I hear from his living room window represent 20th Century technology - certainly not antique, but not truly modern, either. He's of the opinion that these older types of transportation and manufacturing I'm hearing are not long for this country. I asked what's to replace them and he doesn't yet have an answer for that. I love those kinds of dichotmies. Like life, itself.

Another storm front is rumbling in. Lightning is flashing brighter and faster outside. A cool breeze will make for great sleeping tonight...unless we're wakened by the sirens.


Thursday, June 17, 2010


Was at my youngest brother, Charlie's, from last Friday through yesterday morning. Drove from his home in Greenfield, IA, to Megan's talk at the Genesis Stroke Support Group in Bettendorf, IA, then here to my older-younger brother, Dave's, home in Clinton, IA, yesterday afternoon. In the photo above you see (L-R) Alicia Owens of Genesis Medical Systems, Megan, and me. Alicia had a nice group of stroke survivors, caregivers, medical staff, and even two student nurses gathered for a showing of "Chicken" and a great Q & A session with Megan.

Last night, when I arrived at Dave's house, his fiance, Sally had my bed made up SOOOO nicely and topped with one of my grandma's quilts. I also slept under one of Nanna's quilts at Charlie's house. I realized last night how much doing so now means to me. Nanna lived to be 93 years old and had what they called "dementia" for about the last 5-6 years of her life, forcing my mom into the excruciating decision to admit Nanna to a nursing home. I know her current diagnosis would be Altzheimer's. I also absolutely know, whether Mom ever did before her death in 1986, that having Nanna well cared for in a lovely facility run by the Sisters of Mercy in Dubuque, IA, was the right decision.

This afternoon I'm meeting with a book club at Gilda's Club in Davenport, IA. Gilda's Club is an organization started by Gene Wilder and Joanna Bull, Gilda Radner's therapist, following Gilda's death from ovarian cancer in 1989. Open to all people living with cancer and their caregivers, there is never a cost for the services the Clubs provide. I learned that there is a Gilda's Club in Cathedral City and I have contacted them for a possible "Meet The Author" event there in November or December.

This evening both Megan and I are meeting with support groups in Iowa City. Megan's presentation will be with an aphasia group and mine with a cancer support group. We're looking forward to finally meeting the two women she and I have been working with for several weeks by email to set up these meetings. That's is often the best part of these "meet & greet" events we're doing - finally putting a face (and often a voice) to their names and credentials.

More later!


Sunday, June 13, 2010


I promised J.P. to write every day, but things have happened that kept me from keeping that promise. For this, I apologize and will make a concerted effort to not fall down on this job again while on this tour.

This is an old building in downtown Chanute, Kansas, that I absolutely fell in love with and wish I could own. That window alcove? That's where my writing desk would go. It looks northeast, so would have great natural light all day. The building is currently unoccupied, runs half the big city block to the alley behind and has viable outside steps leading down to four different basement units along the side street. No one I talked with could tell me anything about the building, so I'm going to do some research and see what I can learn on my own.

We had an interesting talk & book signing in Kansas City on Friday - actually, Mission, Kansas. We were given an address in Kansas City (MO) that was an old Catholic school and NOT the right place. When I tracked down Megan's contact by phone, she gave me an address in Mission. When we arrived, they were already half-way through their "luncheon", which was really the stroke survivors and caregivers who had brought sack lunches. The gal in charge couldn't get the DVD player on her computer to work at first so we could show "Chicken", the award-winning short film made by an Idyllwild Arts student in 2006 that is a great introduction to Megan's story of her brain aneurysm and recovery. So, Megan just launched into her spiel while we got the technology working.

Given the small size of the group, our late arrival, and other factors I won't go into here, Megan and I figured we might sell, maybe, 3-4 of her books. Let's just say, we were wrong. And, the drive to Kansas City / Mission was well worth it.

From there we came to Greenfield, IA, where my youngest brother, Charlie, lives and is the town's Methodist minister. I went to church to hear him preach this morning and as we were all leaving the sanctuary, I told him that was the best sermon I've ever heard. (It was also the shortest - about 5 minutes!) The kids were showing us what all they learned in vacation Bible school that just finished, so the pastor's portion of this morning's service was "blessedly" short.

This afternoon, Charlie and I prepared a mostly vegetarian dinner for a few friends of his. It was an excellent dinner - yes, I AM bragging about my own cooking! - and the friends hung out until after 10:00 chatting and chatting with Megan and me. It was fun to get to know these folks.

We'll be here until Tuesday or Wednesday, when we head across Iowa to the Quad Cities where we both have several events lined up. Tomorrow we're going to try to catch the attention of someone at the Des Moines Register for an interview / article. And one of the gals who was here tonight is going to try to stir some interest in a PBS or NPR interview, too.

It's nearly midnight, I'm pretty tired, so I think I'll grab some recreational reading material and head for bed.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Busyness is good when it's productive. Today was such a day. Megan spoke at a luncheon in Yukon, OK, sponsored by the Integris Health System. Integris is promoting their TeleStroke system which is helping save lives in ER rooms around Oklahoma and helping stroke survivors have fewer physical limitations as they recover more quickly from the initial incident by providing outlying hospital personnel with real-time support via electronics.

Megan's story was well-received, as always, and people had lots of questions for her. Her 12,000-mile, 8-month solo bike ride around American in 2006 is the stuff of both fascination and legend. Megan definitely sold enough books today and again this evening at a small stroke support group meeting to justify our time here in Oklahoma City. Beyond the book sales, however, is the larger mission of sharing our stories with people who have walked the same path or are walking it right now - some painfully and angrily.

I have an interesting story to tell tomorrow night - I'm TOO tired now! - about two small towns Megan and I explored when we jumped off I-40 yesterday. Also need my camera to show you some photos taken in one but it's downstairs in the car and I'm NOT putting my jeans and shoes back on now.

So, manana!


Monday, June 7, 2010


We are in OK City. I think. I hesitate to say for sure because once we got to the general metro area and my Garmin started routing us to our hotel, Megan and I both thought we'd end up in Dallas, as that's what all the freeways Garmin was sending us onto said. But, I'm pretty sure it's still somewhere near OK City - near the airport, that is. I'm told our trip in the morning BACK to the westside where Megan's gig is taking place should only take us about 30 minutes. That's a run down the Hill to Hemet, right?

Getting Megan's stuff loaded for the run from Amarillo to here was interesting. I knew we'd have to ship some boxes of books on to my brother in Clinton, IA, but I wasn't anticipating how many boxes. So, she and I have added yet another layer of cost to this already expensive trip. I sure hope both of us sell a few books. She's already sold a decent number while in Texas - (thank YOU, Kathryn and Melinda, and friends!) - but with these UPS costs to figure in, Iowa and Nebraska better be "barn-burners" or we're coming home poorer than we left, and that's not a good thing when you're planning on making two bucks.

So, now, I need to create a couple promotional flyers for people helping us with PR. Wash my dirty, sweaty face, read a few pages of my current "recreational reading" book, and shut my eyes till morning. We're here, actually, for two nights and tomorrow should be a bit earlier getting back in, so I'll try for something more interesting then.

Night for now!


Sunday, June 6, 2010


Left Idyllwild at 6:00 AM. Arrived at my hotel in Alburquerque at 9:30 PM (New Mexico time), which made for a VERY long driving day. Lots of water drunk, so lots of short stops, which is all good, except for the amount of time that always adds.

And, lots of construction on the freeways, so lots of slow-downs. Fortunately only one accident and they had traffic re-routed up and over the exit / on-ramps so it was pretty fast moving through that kaffufel. And, it was mess on the freeway. A pickup truck rolled carrying a big load of what looked like construction demolition material - at least that's what the stuff spread over all four lanes of the freeway looked like as I scooted past. Didn't look like any other vehicles were involved, but it was a major mess.

So, on to Amarillo tomorrow.

Will report in from Oklahoma City tomorrow night. Goodnight, nurse!


Saturday, June 5, 2010

No photos, sorry!

It's coming up on 11:00 PM, Saturday. I'm exhausted. Had a GREAT day today, starting with finishing up the few little garden projects I was "stressing" about leaving undone.

Family and friends began arriving for my birthday party around noon, as requested, and from that point, I totally relaxed and just enjoyed the day. It is not every day you survive two rounds of life-threatening illness and feel the joy of reaching 60. That's 6-0! Yes, yes, I know, many of you reading this are saying, "Gee, I remember 60!"

See, the thing is, I used to look at 60 and think, "That just sounds OLD!" But now I'm here, it ain't. It isn't. It's just a number that is truly meaningless. It's how you got to 60, how many carcasses of relationships are strewn behind you and, then, how many times a day you're still able to laugh - deep, real, belly-laughs. That's what has meaning. And, oh, yes, how many good, strong, loving, caring relationships you have now - that's the other part.

I believe that we live our lives essentially alone, within our own skin. We cannot live for another person, nor they for us. But living alongside someone who adds dimensions to your life that wouldn't exist if not for that person - that's the good stuff. If you have it, you know exactly what I'm saying. If you don't, that's okay, too. Really. Because, you're still you, still living inside your own skin and no one can take that away from you unless you choose to give it away.

So, to each person who came by our little house on Fir Street and wished me "Happy Birthday!", for every nice (and, Marshall, naughty!) card, for the awesome cake my daughter, Laura, made of which not a crumb was left when the last guest departed, for the gorgeous bird bath that found its perfect place in my front garden (gift from Daughter Sara, hubby, and two little granddaughters, Emma and Hannah), for Rick and Danny who sweated along with me from 8:00 to noon, getting those last few garden projects finished, for my loving husband of 30-some years who right this moment is in the house snoring in his LaZyBoy chair waiting for me to come back in and drag him off to bed, for my cat Nacho who took seriously his responsibility to greet nearly every guest as they arrived today until exhaustion drove him to find a sleeping spot - THANK YOU!

To my young-adult grandchildren, Jessica, Matthew, and Krista and to GREAT-grandbaby Jake who stole the show, and to Emma who made me my purple birthday "crown" and to Hannah who picked Mountain Marigolds for me - I love you more than words can say. You are the icing on the cake of my life. And, for me, the icing is the best part. Yeah. If I'd known being a grandma was going to be so much fun, I'd have skipped the mother part and just gone right to "grand".

Today was perfect! Thank you, God!

(You're welcome, Nancy.)

More from Albuquerque tomorrow night.


Friday, June 4, 2010


Spent most of today getting things packed, organized, and ready to go.

Put a few seeds into the vegetable garden.

Took care of some bookkeeping and office straightening.

Transferred files from my office computer to my laptop.

Shipped some books ordered by one of our event coordinators - Megan will be happy about this when I tell her.

Sent out email invitations for my birthday party tomorrow. (Take a look at my birthday cake on Laura's Facebook Album - search for Laura Slattery.)

Party starts around noon-ish. We're expecting our grandson, Matt, and Krista and GREAT-grandbaby, Jacob Matthew. THAT will be fun! And Daughter-the-Younger, Sara, son-in-law, Brad, and little granddaughters, Emma Rose and Hannah Noel from Riverside. Granddaughter Jessie may make it, depending on her work schedule.

So, every local friend who stops by for a bite of cake (and a glass of wine) will get to see the people in my family who make my life real. Who keep me honest and true to who I really am. And who yank my chain when yanking is called for.

A photo or two from the party tomorrow night, then I take off Sunday morning.

'Nuff for now!


Thursday, June 3, 2010

We're off! (Well, not quite yet.)

Okay, here's the deal. Megan Timothy (on left in yellow) and I are taking off for parts at least partially known to talk with people about brain injury / stroke / aphasia (that's Megan's gig) and living with cancer (my gig) - and to sell a few books along the way. One may ask why we're doing such a thing. My daughter-the-younger has asked this and challenged my sanity for the doing. She's not wrong for being concerned, but wrong for me. For what my life stands for.

The thing is, I've never lived my life within normal boundaries. I don't even know what "normal" means. I adjust as things come my way - good, bad, and sometimes downright ugly. More good than bad, I'd say. Well, until you get to about a year ago when things began to look fairly ugly.

That's when I came down with Shingles (for the second time in two years!) on top of my chemo treatments for Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia (rare bone marrow cancer that I've had in my body since 1999) that were already pretty much kicking my butt. Megan was here ostensively to work with me in editing her second book. She actually ended up being one of my primary caregivers, and was able to keep a close eye on me, keepin me fed and hydrated so Rick, my husband of 30-some years, could attend to his life outside our home. Don't know how I'd have waded through the worst of it without the two of them watching over me. Don't know how people who live alone do it - which is something I talk about when I meet with cancer support groups as part of my larger mission in my book promotions.

So, this Sunday, I take off at the butt-crack of dawn, heading for Amarillo where I'll pick up Megan, who's been in Texas on the first leg of her part of this book tour she and I are aiming at. Amarillo - I've heard that you turn left at the smell and stop when you step in it. Somebody local gave me that piece of navagational advice. Sorry, Amarillians - I didn't make it up, just reporting it.

From Amarillo, we head to beautiful Yukon, Oklahoma, then Oklahoma City, then Tulsa, then Kansas City, then...

Tomorrow I'll give you a peek at my traveling book-tour vehicle. Could use a van or a Mack truck, maybe, but my Toyota Corolla (yes, I've had all the requisite things fixed!) will have to do. She's nearly packed and my new laptop, Tosh, (short for Toshiba) is nearly ready with transferred files and setups and my crate of cd's (no, I do NOT have an MP3 player - yet!) is ready to get me down the road - oh, and a bag of Cheetos and lots of water.
So for now, that's the news not quite from the road yet.