Thursday, January 31, 2013

Prologue: Open Your Golden Gate

We Californians are a smug bunch, I won't try to deny it, we love our state and love the California Dream.  Nay, it is not love, it is entitlement.  We feel entitled to make our dreams come true and people come from all over the world to get a little piece of that for themselves.  The Texans generally make the most noise about their state, but we Californians can tell that they are just over-compensating. Our state history is more colorful, our terrain is more beautiful and we even have our own Alamo.

It was called the Bear Flag Rebellion and we actually managed to win ours, so there you go.

My family has been in the Golden State for generations, in fact I hear that my family is distantly related to Juan Cabrillo, who 'discovered' San Diego Bay, which almost makes me indigenous.  No disrespect to the tribes of California, I'm just being a little cheeky here.

Choosing to live in California is also choosing to be a daredevil; this is one of the most geologically active places in the world and our terrain depends violent natural forces in order to survive.  Wildfires are a biological necessity for many of our native plants and the unstable tectonics beneath our feet are constantly reshaping the land around us.  We are always at risk from earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, floods, fires and the dreaded tourists; but those are risks we are willing to take every day.

All those unstable forces are a blessing though, they pull the magic from the ground itself and fill the air of California with possibilities.  You can feel it all around you, the energy and electricity is like a drug; once your heart has found California, no other place can compete.  Our history is filled with dreamers who dared to be different, from John Muir to Alice Waters to Cesar Chavez to Walt Disney, visionaries all.

I did not set out to write a story about California, Wanderer was inspired by the show America Unearthed and I originally intended it to be set in the Midwest with two male protagonists.  But my stories have lives of their own that I am fairly helpless at diverting, this one is no different.  Wanderer became a love story, a Valentine to my home and the people who make it so freaking weird.

I love the weird.  I love the compost king in Southern California and Scotty's Castle in Death Valley; I love the Taco Bell on the beach in the Bay Area and I love that there are towns named Kool and Weed.  This is my California and I hope you see as much beauty and magic as I do.

Wanderer starts tomorrow right here.  California, here we come!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Age

That Mayan calendar was never forecasting the end of the world, it was forecasting the end of an era and I say good riddance to what was.  Now is the time for something completely new, completely different; the time has come for the Age of Self and I am beyond excited.

It may seem counter-intuitive in our overcrowded world, technologically inclined world to advocate for Selfism, which is a word that I just made up because selfish is something else entirely.  I submit that it is precisely that over crowding and technology that will spur people on towards a deeper relationship with their own selves.

Selfism does not imply withholding or anti-social behavior, it implies a strong sense of self knowledge and determination that makes people more social and more giving.  Once you establish an honest, loving relationship with yourself, a relationship based on full disclosure and acceptance, then it is much easier to give that person to the world.

The Information Age has left us all reeling from the sheer volume of data that hits us from every direction; there are competing ideologies shouted from every virtual soapbox and groups beckoning for followers for every abstract idea.  It is all chaos and from that chaos, the individual is forced into a stronger examination of his or her true motives and desires and that is the crux of Selfism.

Once we define our own lives according to our own drives and aspirations without submitting to anyone else's dogma, then the group becomes stronger.  A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and every person on this planet is a link in a very long chain;  the chain does not get stronger unless the individual links do first.  Until each person has a strong sense of self and accepts that it is their own selfish drives that fuel every action, then humanity as a group cannot move forward.

To be a Selfist is to proudly proclaim that you put yourself first in your life, it has always been the truth for every human that ever has been and ever will be.  Yes, including Ghandi and Mother Theresa.  Pretending otherwise is a waste of time and energy that could be better spent in pursuit of your own joy.

And once anyone has found true joy, true purpose in life, they cannot help but share.

Monday, January 28, 2013

I've Got A Name

I didn't know my real name until the second grade.  It wasn't because I was snatched at birth or being hidden from He Who Shall Not Be Named or anything dramatic like that, its just that no one bothered to tell me my real name until second grade.  Up until the well meaning but in retrospect really kind of dumb second grade teacher who spilled the beans, I thought my name was Carrie.

I have love/hate issues with being named Cairn, I love that being Cairn Rodrigues means I will never have to choose an email address with numbers or underscores, etc.  I hate that most people look at my name, automatically decide that the unfamiliar word is way beyond their scope and proceed to mangle my name like an idiot.  Usually in public.

cairn - A heap of stones set up as a landmark, monument or tombstone.

I am well past wondering why my mother gave my older siblings normal names and tagged me with this obscurity, but what's done is done.  Changing my name was never an option, I am what I am and I did not even take Clyde's last name when we married.  I came into this world as Cairn Rodrigues and I am going out the same way.

I have had rocks on the brain for the last few days as the short story gets written.  (Wanderer starts right here on February 1!) Two nights ago, I had a revelation about my name; one of those exciting ideas that I wish I had thought up a decade ago, but oh well, better late than never.  It occurred to me that I was bestowed with a built-in alias, a symbol that clearly states my name to anyone anywhere anytime; well anyone who knows what a cairn is and that there is also a Cairn.

I have embarked on a new side career as a tagger!  What I love about it is that no spray paint is required, no special artistic skill and very little breaking of the law.  Spray paint is expensive, I have no skills in the drawing arts and, despite my anarchist heart, I'm not much of a scofflaw in real life.  So random piles of rocks suit me perfectly, Mom must have been much smarter than I gave her credit for, and if you see one of those piles of rocks in an odd setting, please know this:  CAIRN WAS HERE.

Once my big idea became my life's work (about 4 minutes after I had the idea), I knew exactly where to start my grand tour.  Yesterday Clyde and I cruised over to South Sacramento and tagged my old high school.  Go Titans Class of '82!!!!!!

And one last thing, lest any of you forget how much I love my homages, shout outs and Easter eggs:

Fight the power!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Tyra Mail!

Let's be honest Travellers, you knew this day was coming. I've gone on and on about the Doctor, Lost and Buffy; but something big has been missing, something.......fierce!  Oh yeah, it's Tyra time.

Before I go any further, this needs to be said by me: I am an internet idiot minus the savant.  This is being mentioned again because of a tiny tug of war between my sister and niece.  Niece wants more pictures, I get that; most blogs have plenty of eye catching visuals that I envy.  Sister says this phrase "stealing bandwidth", I don't fully understand the concept, but I do understand the word "steal" clearly.  To err on the side of Karmic caution, I opt to only publish pictures that I take, so the long version of this story is that there are no photos of a super model in my blog about a super model.

If only I had a snap of me and Tyra doing our ugly-pretty faces, sigh.

I am one of the Top Model Obsessed people that Oxygen just loves and there is usually a full cycle of the show on my DVR so I can have a bit of Tyra-time at my leisure.  I do not know or understand why it is I find Top Model so satisfying, it's not a devotion to Tyra that inspired me to watch the very first time.

In truth, I fast forward through many of the Tyra bits of the show that aren't judging panel because I can't stand her embarrassing fake accents and little 'acting' exercises she likes to indulge in.  Is Tyra Banks a narcissistic fame whore?  Very much yes.  Is she the multi-talented singing/acting/writing/dancing uber-threat she pretends to be?  God no.  But did Tyra Banks single handedly change the face of both reality television AND modeling?  Oh yes, Tyra did do that.

Here's my overall concept on how the mentally imbalanced people of history shaped our world.  If one does not have at least a touch of the crazy, you can't get anywhere.  Think about the great conquerors and leaders, you can't get there without being narcissistic enough to want that for yourself; to be willing to kill hundreds of thousands of people just to be in charge.  Only crazy people go for that and only crazy people truly succeed.

Now I don't think that Tyra is planning a violent coup any time soon, but she doesn't have to, Tyra has already taken over.  It did not come easily to her and it did not come quickly, but Tyra kept trying, she keeps trying and she has my eternal respect for that.  Tyra Banks is not afraid to put herself out there in scary places, like her failed singing career from Cycle 2.  She's not a bad singer, but a boring one and that went nowhere; people mocked her efforts but that did not stop Tyra from trying something else.

She wrote a book, I haven't read it but can say with absolute authority that it is garbage.  How can I say that?  Because Tyra Banks does nothing anymore that doesn't become part and parcel of Top Model.  It's kind of her way of shoving the naysayer's noses right into her success.  Take that Naomi Campbell - and good luck with your Top Model rip off The Face.  But that book and its obscene drivel are part of the Top Model canon now, complete with a miniature movie and thunderously stupid nicknames for all.

It is very easy to mock Tyra (see above paragraphs) and I am not blind to how ridiculous she can be. But I am also not blind to all that she has achieved and I know that she could not have done all that without daring to be ridiculous.  Top Model is changing the world, starting with how we define beauty and that is mostly Tyra's doing; she see's the beauty in the short girls, fat girls, older girls (gasp! you're 22 and just starting out??  but you are older than dirt and your looks have already withered away) and even girls with vicious burn scars.  Tyra embraced all the beauty and shoved it down the industry's throat, she took their power away and gave it back to the women.

Anyone who takes a close look at Tyra can see that she genuinely wants other people to succeed, she wants all of us to embrace our inner beauty and open up to the beauty of others.  Tyra is a wonderful role model and a classy lady worthy of respect.  In closing I will share one of the best pieces of advice that Tyra Banks has given me.

Don't dull your shine for anyone.

Fierce and Love,


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ms. Charisma

Anybody who claims to be 'enlightened' or 'evolved' is full of crap.  Human beings are self-serving, grubby little critters and always have been, the only thing that truly separates us from the cave men is that we have better stuff.

While that may seem like an odd way to start a post about personal charm, I think we all know by now that I like to take the scenic route to my point.

I am charming, this is not a boast but rather a description; I also have brown hair so it just is what it is.  I've always had the million dollar charm, pretty much always been aware that I got it and pretty much always exploited it ruthlessly.  It makes my life easier, I'm human, I grub.

I don't use it to take advantage of people, to relieve them of their cash or convince them to join my religious cult - which are all time honored professions for people with an excess of personal charm.  Mostly I use my powers for good, to grease the wheels of goodwill for myself and loved ones because life is hard enough; it's up to me to make it a bit easier.

Strangers don't bother me at all, I can chat up anyone in any situation with the same ease as I chat with Tess or Tina.  Stick me in the 'hood and I will discuss the relative merits of Tupac over Biggie with the local historians or take me to an art museum to hash over the meaning of Pollack's splashes, it's all good.  If I am lost, I just stand on a street corner and ask loudly for directions because I know that several people will offer to help.

It used to bother Clyde how it was that I can say pretty much anything I want to anybody - impish, snarky and possibly even rude things - and not just get away with it, but actually ingratiate myself to the target.  He is one of those shy and quiet types; he thinks it is some sort of thought-out social strategy that I apply myself towards.  It is not that at all though.

For all my vitriol and gnashing about the behavior of people in general; I am still and always on the side of every individual I meet - at least until they give me a reason not to be.  I do my best to support all the people I come in contact with, even if it is something tiny like holding a door or chasing them down to say that their coffee cup is on the roof of their car.  This is not a studied behavior, this is my natural way and always has been, I am naturally inclined to want strangers to be happy and fulfilled.

People are like dogs, we can smell the ineffables about each other and I think that is the crux of my 'charm'.  Most people can sense that I do not pose a threat to them, that I genuinely have their back and will help if I can, so they are drawn to me.

Sounds like an enlightened viewpoint, eh?  It's not.

So why should I bother caring whether or not the other 7 billion people on this planet are happy and fulfilled? Precisely because there are 7 BILLION other people sharing this tiny rock with me, and if they are all happier then my life is easier.  Grub, grub, grub.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Not Penny's Boat

I wasn't watching Lost last weekend, but I saw those three words on another program and my heart seized up instantly.  Warm tears pressed up behind my eyelids as I was jettisoned backwards in time to that horrible   day in the submerged Looking Glass station where Des and Charlie were desperate to turn off the jamming signal and help get their friends off the island.

That scene still wrenches my guts, watching Charlie seal the hatch against the explosion thereby sealing his fate.  Seeing Charlie, who was my second favorite after Hurley, realize that he only had seconds left to live and he chose to use those seconds doing everything possible to save his friends.  Charlie found a permanent marker as the chamber filled rapidly with seawater, he was scared for his friends more than for himself at that moment, and he wrote those three words on the palm of his hand, pushing it against the porthole until he was sure Desmond got the message.

Not Penny's Boat.

Oh I loved that show, I loved Lost second only to Buffy and way more than Star Trek and even Doctor Who.  I loved my visceral connection to the story that my friends and family still mock and I love how caught up in it all I get.

My other best friend Tess has a favorite memory of me, it was a Wednesday morning and I was in the cafe as per usual.  Tess came in for some breakfast and asked how I was doing and, according to her because I don't really remember, I looked at her with heartbreak in my eyes and incredulously informed her that "they killed Buffy".

I remember watching Buffy die and the shock that hit my system, I remember looking at Clyde and wailing that they just couldn't KILL Buffy Summers because they named the show after her.  Other than that, the details are still fuzzy.

This is on my mind today because I want some of that for myself, I want people to have that same visceral, emotional connection to my story and I want that very badly.  I want people to dress up like my characters on Halloween and name their children after people I created.  Any girl born in the late 60's named Miri has parents who understand me.  Perhaps these are not the loftiest of goals, but they are important to me in a way that is hard to describe.

But I will try, I think I want this because it is my only genetic legacy in a way.  I love my children deeply but they were not born of my body and they do not carry my blood.  One of the greatest sorrows of my life is that I was never able to have children, never able to experience that satisfaction of knowing that my essence will move forward with my heirs. I'm not saying that my kids were not shaped by me, that their actions were not influenced by me, that would be untrue and that is certainly a legacy I value.  I am saying that it is a devastating thing to know that natural selection has looked you over and taken a pass.

So none of their children will have my eyes or my golden palate or my frustrating impulsiveness and that grieves me deeply.  I poured that all into The Song of Solstice, I imprinted it with my DNA and it is my child in so many ways.  And like any good mother, I want that child to have a wondrous life, to go forward and be of the world, to spawn children of its own in order for me to live forever.

I want to know that I left something behind me, that time won't completely forget me because time is no longer on my side.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Upcoming Attractions

Thanks for checking in this morning Travellers!  I'm going to take a couple days off from blogging so I can make some much needed changes to my little home.  The Light Stealers Song will be easier to read and navigate (fingers crossed) with lots of exciting thingies to click.

I have an announcement too, since January was the 'month of the blog', I think that February shall be the 'month of proof'.  On the first I will be starting a short story only on this blog with a new installment everyday until the 28th.  I've been telling you that I can write, so now it's time to prove that.

Make sure to come back and see the improvements and then alert the media to the wonder and awe.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Question Authority

You know the Authority Song by John Mellencamp?  It's a catchy tune and I sing along with it gleefully whenever it comes on the radio, "When I fight authority, authority always wins."

I like the guy, but what a sap eh?  Always???  You're not fighting hard enough John, your win/lose ratio should be slightly more balanced.

Authority was created to be questioned, bucking the rules is a human condition and a very proud American tradition.  I mean, we would not even exist as a nation if a bunch of malcontents did not question authority, did not fight authority and did not win.

But they did fight and they did win, so now I have the luxury - nay, RIGHT - to sit here every morning and speak my mind freely.  Thank you to the malcontents, I toil in your honor every day and do my level best to honor the example you set.

I have a new favorite show called America Unearthed over on H2 Friday nights.  Scott Wolter is the host, he is an archaeologist by trade and a questioner by nature.  A kindred spirit.  He owned me within the first few minutes of the show, he owned me when he said that most of the things we know about American history are wrong.

My issue with a large portion of the scientific community is the hubris, medical doctors are especially prone to it, but I see that smugness everywhere in all branches of science.  Just because you know some things, does not mean you know all the things and unless you are always willing to be wrong, you will never be right.

Being willing to be wrong simply means acknowledging that you are fallible, that your judgements may not be correct and that you make mistakes.  If you are not always willing to be wrong, then you fall into the trap of not seeing the possibilities.  Once your mind is closed off to the possibilities, then no real science can happen and you become a pompous joke.

What gets me is how often accepted historical or scientific fact is proven wrong and that the scientists STILL hold on so tightly to their other accepted facts.  How many fourth graders in the 20th century saw the map of the world and pointed out to their teachers that South America and Africa used to be the same chunk of land?  I remember my fourth grade teacher telling me that I was wrong, foolish and wasting her time with such flights of fancy.

And then someone discovered plate tectonics and all the fourth graders should have gotten the freakin' Nobel prize.  Or what about the centuries of sailors who claimed that their ships were capsized by waves of unusual size that came out of nowhere.  For centuries the scientist called all those sailors drunken fools and ignored them, now I watch entire programs devoted to rogue waves and how they capsize ships.

Scott Wolter is not afraid to be wrong, being wrong is a huge part of his process, it is a huge part of everyone's process because we learn far more from our wrongs than our rights.  He wants the cool answers, he really does, but he is not willing to put aside all his questions just because he found one sexy answer.  I admire that so I will keep watching because it is not the answers that I seek, it is the questions.  It is always the questions.

So I question authority, we all should if only to keep authority on it's toes and from getting too complacent. Be wrong and embrace the wrong for the gifts it brings, be wrong and be human, it's ok.

Here is my wild scientific theory for the day:  I think Sasquatches are real, I believe in bigfoot and all those stories.  I think no one has found a Sasquatch because people keep looking on the ground for an ape and why would a group of apes seek shelter in densely wooded areas just to live on the ground??  They are apes, in trees, so look up dumbasses, not down.

That's my theory and I am happy to be wrong about it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Miss Anne Thrope

I love humankind; we are creative and querulous, inspirational and depraved; humans are full of surprises and mysteries that are as endlessly diverse as our fingerprints.  Yep, I love humankind very much, it is just many of the people that I can't stand.

Not you of course Travellers, you are all obviously quality persons with high standards and a refreshing zest for life.  If you are reading this, then you are awesome and no one can take that away from you.  It is all them others who aren't even trying - and that's what I loathe, the not even trying.  I mean really, what is the point of drawing breath if you aren't even in the game of life to win?

I am saying this because I have officially withdrawn from the Ultimate Blog Challenge, I'm glad I entered but that glad is almost all gone now.  It was best to get out before I said something, well something Cairn-like that is wholly based in truth but wholly unappreciated.  As you can imagine, I've had some experience with that.

It is not the challenge itself that I found daunting, obviously.  I can do a fresh blog every day from here to the rapture without recycling, reprinting or using somebody else's material. I have made some quality friends through the challenge, learned a fair bit about how to improve my blog and got pointed in the direction of a very good group of like minded folks, so it hasn't been a huge loss that I regret.

What I regret is believing that all the other participants were on the up and up like myself.  I should have known better, but I get all Pollyanna sometimes.  I performed the last integrity test on them yesterday and they failed that one just like they failed the previous three.  Seriously, four integrity tests is being very generous with them, four is a high number in certain circumstances.

There's this daily thing called the Comment Chain; if you post your blog link in the chain then you read and comment on the two posts ahead of you and everyone else does the same.  In theory.  I did my part, several times over but almost never received the same respect and that is a lack of integrity on such a fundamental level that I cannot abide.

There is a valid school of thought that I shouldn't be all sour-grapey, to not pick up my marbles and leave in a huff.  But I put my marbles in thinking that all the players were in the game, they are not which invalidates the game to me.  I'm all in, I always go all in that is just my nature, so if you are not built that way then don't play marbles with me.

This whole experience has taught me one very valuable thing.  I want true believers only, I want adventurers who are unafraid to try.  I want Travellers.

No more trading facebook likes or Twitter follows, I'll follow you if I dig you and you do the same.  If I lose some folks, then they weren't worth having to begin with and I have always been willing to live with the consequences of my words and actions.

I don't make life easy on myself, I've been hearing that since I was a toddler and that is fine with me.  If it was easy, any idiot could do it.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

London Calling

Dreams do come true Travellers, especially the dreams you have when you are wide awake.  Not just in movies or epic poems, but in average and everyday real life to real people - to the people who dare to believe in their dreams.  These people do more than dare to believe though, they stop dreaming and start doing whatever it takes to make that dream come true.

Both this post and my quest to become a successful author are dedicated to my friend Martha Kight, because she is truly the inspiration from which I draw most often.  We met eons ago, back when everything was still a great adventure, back when I was still doing theater, back when the ravages of age did not inform even our smallest actions.  Ah, good times.

Martha is a brilliant actress, this is not just the love of a friend talking because she is very well known in the local artistic community and there are plenty of written reviews to back that up.  We met during a production of Pippin, I worked the back stage area - which pretty much set the 'stage' for me working in professional kitchens.  There are very many similarities to putting on theatrical production and putting on a restaurant meal, in fact it's almost exactly the same.

Martha and I bonded almost instantly over Bruce Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A. was a relatively new album then and Bruce was touring the world supporting that album.  I had already publicly declared for Springsteen years earlier, but Martha was new to the party - and she came with bells on.  It was love at first sight for her, she knew Bruce was her man just like so many others of us did, so Martha was one of 'us' now.

Growing up, there was a popular local radio station - now gone - that sponsored a contest to win a trip to London on the fourth of July to see Springsteen at Wembley Stadium.  KZAP heavily promoted the contest of course and it was a hotly contested prize as you could imagine.  Martha set her sights on that prize; she set her alarm to wake her on the hour through the night so she could call at the appointed time and her name would go into the lottery as often as possible.

And if that was all she did, then this post would not have happened.  Any idiot can pick up a phone and make a call, but Martha did much more than that: Martha believed.

She believed that she was going to London, so much so that she got her passport well before the contest ended and started "saving her pennies" (exact quote) also well in advance so that she could enjoy her trip fully.  Let me just say here that anyone who devotes their life to local theater ONLY has pennies to save, it is a labor of love and YOU should go out and support local theater in their honor.

I don't have to tell you how this ends, you know that Martha Kight went to London.  Of course she did and I'm going to London too, metaphorically speaking that is.  We can all go to London, we can all watch the Boss at Wembley Stadium and we can all make our waking dreams come true.

It is the power of wanting; the power of trying and most of all, it is your power of believing.

I believe.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Are you feeling betrayed by Lance Armstrong?  Did you buy and wear that rubber yellow bracelet, proudly declaring yourself as a drinker of his Kool Aid?  Are you now feeling like you have been conned?  Lied to?  USED?

That's because you were, Lance Armstrong is a liar, has always been a liar and is still lying.

This is not the braying of a dismayed believer, I passed on that cup of Kool Aid when it first started flowing. This is the woman that all of you jeered at when she said that Lance was nothing but a fame whore who took performance enhancing drugs to win a game.  Which is cheating and therefore not the action of an honorable man.

The only reason Lance Armstrong is coming forward now is because he knows the battle to keep his lie alive is more than lost. Now he is desperate to hold on to what little fame he has by playing the part of the prodigal son, pretending to be chastened, claiming that he has learned his lesson.

I don't follow the news so I didn't hear about this whole business until late last night.  Clyde was filling me in with a very surprised expression in his eyes; Lance went on Oprah Winfrey's show and came clean.  I was shocked myself, this was real news to me and I still don't want to believe it.  Oprah has another show?

Big surprise, I don't drink Oprah's beverages either.  In fact, Oprah's couch is the go to destination for people who wish to tell truths that are just better dressed lies than before.  Not to be trusted.

It's not that I don't want to believe, it's that I just can't when I see the lies so naked in front of me.  I don't understand how so many people line up behind media creations and vow fealty to undeserving people, it's the same thing with the Khardashians.  None of these people are finer than you or better than your friends, they are products on a very big shelf with shiny packaging designed to siphon off your funds.  And their lies always catch up to them, the same way lies catch up to all of us, only to be turned into another marketing ploy.

Any publicist will tell you to 'Hugh Grant' it these days; do the talk show tour and bravely share the story of how you were seduced by fame.

In fairness, I will acknowledge that Lance Armstrong raised a lot of money for cancer research, but this does not give him a pass.  I submit that Lance could have raised the same amount with just the honest story of his survival and without winning the Tour de France.  It just would have taken more time and, this is the crucial part, Lance would not get to play the rock star that way.

He's a fame whore, we are all fame whores in some way, look at me trying to get your attention right now. And it's okay to want some of that for yourself, but it is not okay to make yourself into a lie in order to be famous.  Technically, it's fraud.

Lance Armstrong defrauded you and some clever attorney out there should file a class action suit on behalf of everyone who believed in him.  He owes you, don't let him off the hook.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Media Frenzy

It is time to put together a media kit, actually it was time about a week ago, but I've been dragging my heels. I'm not exactly sure why I find this particular project so daunting, but every time I set myself to this task, I end up watching Top Model or playing mah jong instead.

In all honesty, I thought this heel dragging business would be over once I found an acceptable photo of myself, but apparently that is not the problem.

A media kit is the same as a press kit, from what I've read because this is yet another thing that I've never done before.  I don't think it has to be terribly fancy, just a couple of pages describing the book and author with a photo, picture of the cover and some technical bits like how long the book is, where to buy it, etc.

It is not like I don't have all the information, so what is my problem?

Okay bear with me please because this may get convoluted.  My problem is that somewhere deep inside myself, one of those negative voices keeps shouting that my stupid little media kit will look homemade, like a little kid's art project or something, and that one little voice keeps stopping me cold.

I have no issues writing and self publishing my homemade book, no issues posting homemade blogs up in here every day, heck I even proudly boasted about my homemade bulletin board.  But a homemade media kit???  Apparently that is my inner line in the sand.

I get the same way whenever I get a jury summons, which seems to happen every 6 months or so because those leeches down at the Yolo County courthouse seem to think I'm their personal judicial bitch.  One would think they would tire of my relentlessly asking them where my due process went as I sit in the overcrowded and freezing jury room watching them profligately WASTE MY TIME.  Obviously, I have serious issues with the hypocrisy of jury duty.

Yolo County has the power to put me in jail if I don't answer the summons though, my mythical media kit has no such powers of persuasion.  But I can't dally anymore, someone will be kindly featuring me and my book on their blog very soon and that kind person needs me to do my part.  I need me to do my part.

Is there such a thing as a personal assistant fairy?  I need one of those.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Magick Spell

Uh oh Travellers!  I'm having one of my notions and it's time to let you in on it from the ground floor.  Just minutes ago, I was lounging on my bed watching the birds and thinking about how words ignite magic.  It's an idea more fully expressed in Travellers & Tramps, but put simply, I was wondering how the energy I put into the words of this blogs manifests in the lives of the readers.

I know that I am overflowing, bubbling and twitching positive energy right now, that energy doesn't just evaporate away, it is going somewhere specific.  The energy is going towards all of you, it flows out of my mind on a river of intent and changes to kinetic energy as my fingers fly over the keyboard.  It got me to wondering if all my blog posts are magic spells in a way, a way of harnessing energy in specific ways to suit my ends.

The next idea made me all tingly.  What if I deliberately cast a magic spell on my words?  Nothing ominous or thunderous, just an experiment in the movement of energy.  I have a fountain of bright light and there's plenty to go around, so let's see if it does indeed go around.

If these kinds of things make you uncomfortable, stop reading here.

If you are still here, good for you!  It's just a bit of science after all.

This is a magickal spell, everyone who reads these words will be soon blessed with a moment of perfect beauty.

Okay, that was it.  I don't have a magic wand, but I don't think I need one - not that a magic wand would not be cool.  Remember Travellers, this is for science, so make sure to report your findings.

State of Fair

Happy Monday Travellers!

I've been in such good spirits for the last week that I am almost as airborne as Nelly.  Almost.  Every time I close my eyes to see her, Nelly is a bit farther up off the ground with a tremendous smile.  And she's bouncing, I think that's the right word, yeah bouncing.  Her head keeps making the starry ceiling of my vision bulge upwards when she bounces.

I gotta say that it's all pretty cool, since Nelly is generally very reserved.  It's cute to see her so animated and I am pleased that she is pleased.

But, other than all the smiling bounces, no real tangible progress has been made towards my goal of being a successful author.  I haven't sold a book in weeks and no important publishers have pulled me out of the chorus to proclaim, "Kid, I'm gonna make you a star."  Not yet, but tangibles are the last link in the chain, all those intangibles are sizzling around me, so much so that I almost smell smoke.

I'm being unusually patient, which is weird because I don't play the patience game very well -- unless it comes to cooking of course, but that is a different blog.  Whatever is coming is coming, when it is coming is anyone's guess and I have plenty to do in the meantime.

One of those things is to say clearly and for the record that, despite the many bad things my poor eyes have witnessed over the course of this blog challenge, I am exceedingly grateful for the UBC.  Through the challenge I have learned so much about improving and promoting my blog in a very short amount of time, it's been a crash course in blog dynamics.

There are fabulous (other) blogs out there too, with distinct voices and melodic prose that are worth reading. One of my favorites belongs to Caro Ness, I have described her blog as a buffet filled with tasty treats like dragons and Roald Dahl.  Purple Panda is another big fave of mine, Janet has an exuberance about embracing life that matches my own and a connection to those intangibles that seems very familiar to me.

There are no Springsteen bloggists in the challenge, that I've seen anyway, and I have checked out most of them in the last few weeks.  What a humorless bunch of stiffs, they all seem to specialize in set lists, as if fifteen blogs about all the songs Bruce played in Wichita last night was important news in need of dissemination.  I love my Bruce and have seen enough of his shows to say with certainty that levity, humor and whimsy WILL NOT KILL BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN.  It's no small wonder that the younger set keeps mocking my loyalty to the Boss, with all those sheep bleating about him regularly.

My last bit of business today is to acknowledge my sister Bonnie Domeny for all of her help in making this blog more beauteous and functional.  She made the new starry sky banner for me among many, many other things and is always gracious when I reach out.  Bonnie is an artist in her own right, a master of thread with a great web site for embroidery folk full of patterns and education, so please take a look if you are a crafty soul.

Okay Travellers, I have work today.  This is the day I enter the Amazon Breakthrough Novel award and I have to make sure my pitch is perfect.  If I don't get this done, Nelly is very likely to smack me on the head with that book she is holding.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Will The Real Slim Shady Please Stand Up?

One of the early recommendations of the Ultimate Blog Challenge was to write about our heroes.  They send us daily emails with suggestions for blog content that I routinely ignore, because if you are desperate for content for your blog, then it's a reasonable idea that you shouldn't have one.

I have said before that I don't have many heroes, but I think that I should actually define that.  It's a stone fact that no one person is completely heroic or completely villainous, we all have aspects of both and everything in between.  People commit heroic actions that I admire all the time, but it's the action that is heroic, not the person.  I have too much respect for my fellow human beings to tag them with one defining label and expect them to be that label all the time.

After some thinking about heroes, I realized that mine are all a very roguish lot.  Henri Charriere, who wrote Papillon, is my greatest and he was a criminal, convicted of murder from what I understand.  That was certainly not the action I admire, it was all that came after on Devil's Island that inspired me so.  General Nasser is on my list, he was arguably the hottest world leader in history and a person I wish I could have had dinner with at least once.  My daughter is pretty heroic to me too, she is a veterinary technician and anyone who tends to the sick and abused animals of the world is a genuine hero in my book.  (To anyone who knows her and is now thinking that sweet Shortening does not belong in a rogue's gallery, I humbly submit that you don't know her all that well!)

And then there's Eminem.  Yep, that misogynistic, violent and angry voice of the f**k you generation, he is endlessly heroic to me.  Marshall Mathers is not afraid of his fear, he confronts it head on and his rage spews out into some of the rawest poetry ever written.  It is NOT pretty, it is NOT easy, but it IS his truth and he is unafraid to say so.

That is a hero to me.

From what I see, Eminem's anger is his closest ally and fiercest enemy.  It motivates him to try and be better while simultaneously clouding his emotions into preventing that from happening.  Such a seething personal dynamic is a rare, vicious beauty from which I cannot look away.  I don't know what he will say next, but I'm pretty sure it will provoke a visceral response of some kind inside me, which is his goal as an artist.

I have a lot of anger that I embrace too - nowhere near the Eminem scale mind you - because anger is a great motivator.  Making people angry makes them think, sometimes their anger is ONLY because you made them think and that is fine by me.  Get angry, some of the best things were born of ill temper so let it flow; don't be scared at finding new depths of your anger, instead embrace the fact that you are deeper than you know.

Em isn't for everyone and this is not me saying go out and buy his music, this is me saying that the messages are valuable regardless of the source.

So will the real Slim Shady please stand up
And put one of those fingers on each hand up
And be proud to be outta your mind and outta control
One more time, loud as you can, how does it go?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

All The Pretty Horses

My grandpa used to say from time to time, "That's what makes horse races."  I totally got that, if all the horses were exactly the same, then that race would be pretty boring and ultimately pointless.  I've been thinking about that for a couple of days since I had a brief facebook chat with one of my old friends.

It was not a conversation of any great import, Gordon is now at the stage of life I was at when he and I first met.  He has young kids and has learned firsthand that feeling of cold, black terror that comes when your children are threatened.  I like to think that he is slightly more empathetic with my emotional responses to my kids, but Gordon is at heart a very practical and grounded person, so he is not ever likely to share them publicly.

At the end of our conversation, he asked me how the book was doing and I said "still very slow, but not for long...the world better watch out because I'm coming."  To be frank, I expected one of his genially patronizing answers -- that don't bother me a bit, in fact I've come to be rather affectionate about that tone in Gordon's voice.

His response surprised me, "I like that!"

And that's what makes horse races, you can never be completely sure what those horses are going to do next.  Let me make clear here that I know for a fact that Gordon supports me on my endeavors, he wants the book to be a success and he wants me to be happy.  He, like Nelly, just doesn't always endorse how I go about doing my thing, it's a little airy-fairy for his taste.

Which is precisely the thing about him I love most, he challenges me and I challenge him right back.  After the dust has settled, we are still friends, still bound by the bonds of voluntary affection and still very likely to have another strong disagreement about something.  I value his opinion because he fights for it, he stands his ground with me every time - which is not an easy thing to do for most people.  I'm a verbal street fighter, words are my weapons and my wit is honed more sharply than a samurai's blade, so anyone who can give that back to me is a keeper.

I'm saying all this today because there is a very important point here to be made.  My little blog is growing every day - and welcome to all the new readers by the way!  This is my personal journey, my road to travel, and I am delighted that so many of you are travelling with me.  As much as I like to think I am right about absolutely everything, I am very wrong about very many things and it's up to you to slap me back down when I'm getting too uppity.

Metaphorically slap of course, the last person who tried to actually slap me was a mentally challenged individual at a bus stop.  She was twice my size, but when that crazy bitch reached over the bus bench and put her hands on me, well it did not end the way she anticipated.  Not at all.  I really don't advise trying to physically harm me.

But sticks and stones, people, sticks and stones.  Words won't break my bones at all, strong and dissenting opinions actually make me happy and THAT is what makes a good horse race.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Starry, Starry Night

Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and gray
Look out on a summer's day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul
It's my day off today, I woke up in the darkness of the early morning hours thinking about Vincent Van Gogh and crying.  I'm crying right now as I write this, fat salty tears that pool up behind the lenses of my glasses before spilling down over my cheeks.  Vincent always makes me cry for many reasons; the beauty of his work and the depth of his despair are just the easy answers as to why.

Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent's eyes of China blue

These words are from a song by Don McLean titled Vincent, and I hear it inside my head every time I get lost in the image of Starry Night.  For me, Starry Night is the most beautiful piece of art ever conceived, nothing even comes close to the emotional response my soul feels when I see that painting.  It is breathtaking and brilliant, profoundly uplifting and as raw as a heart breaking before my eyes.  Starry Night is the panoply of human emotions swirled into the colors of a deceptively simple image which became a master piece of tortured complexity.

Colors changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artist's loving hand

I figured out the main theme of my vision board, but those stars...I can't get past the stars.  Their meaning is still unclear, what is Nelly trying to tell me?  Since Tuesday night's vision boarding exercise, I see Nelly's beautiful head bobbing amongst the bright stars followed immediately by the image of the mason jar stuffed with twinkling Christmas lights.  So something is there for me to see, but I don't see it yet.  Please don't even think the trite thought that Nelly is encouraging me to 'reach for the stars', Nelly is me and me won't ever tell me something as dumb as all that.

Now I understand, what you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they'll listen now

I'm listening Vincent, I've always been listening to you.  Deep down, I know that our paths have crossed at some point, when you were not being Vincent and I was not being Cairn.  I loved you deeply at one time, I felt your pain then and it carried across time to inhabit my soul, my little piece of you to hang on to when we're not together.  Does Vincent carry a small piece of me too?  Does the person he became unexpectedly burst into tears when he eats a cookie?

For they could not love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left inside
On that starry, starry night
You took your life as lovers often do
But I could have told you Vincent,
This world was never meant for
One as beautiful as you
We're supposed to say that suicide is wrong, bad and somehow immoral, I don't agree.  Life is a choice as is death, Vincent's pain was too much for him to handle so he did the kindest thing he could for himself, Vincent ended his pain.  He was not cowardly or weak, he was tired of hurting and perhaps he finally understood that he was the master of his own being.  There is no ultimate penalty for suicide, of this I am sure, there is no penalty for claiming responsibility for your own existence.

Now I think I know what you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they're not listening still
Perhaps they never will
I still don't know what Nelly is trying to say to me about the stars, I am only sure that it is obvious or will become obvious soon.  Neither Nelly or I believe in convoluted messages, so those stars/twinkling lights do not represent some obscure wisdom that I must struggle to obtain.

I will keep puzzling it out though, it would be impossible not to with both Vincent and Nelly urging me onward with every passing second.  More tears will spill, but I am not afraid of salt water.  I only fear the day when I run out of tears.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Mood Indigo

What if I am an indigo child?  If you are not familiar with that term, it's cool because I had never heard of it until yesterday either. I Googled the word 'indigo' as well as a few other search terms like 'color theory' and 'spiritual dark blue' until I was satisfied that I had the full story.

Towards the end of my search, just about to the point where I was about to call it done because my answers regarding the vision board did not seem to be about any of the stuff I was reading, I stumbled onto the indigo children.  A woman, allegedly a psychic, named Nancy Ann Tappe noticed a large number of children born during the 60's that all had indigo auras.  These indigo children are claimed to have unusual spiritual gifts, possibly even super natural gifts, of empathy, creativity and telepathy.

Since I am not one to board the nearest band wagon with a free seat, I am still letting this idea ferment inside myself.  But there are some interesting points to ponder here, this is how Wikipedia describes potential indigo children.
  • the belief that they are empathetic, curious, strong willed, independent, and often perceived by friends and family as being strange
  • possesses a clear sense of self definition and purpose
  • exhibit a strong subconscious spirituality from early childhood (which, however, does not imply a direct interest in spiritual or religious areas)
  • a strong feeling of entitlement or deserving to be here
  • a high intelligence quotient and an inherent intuitive ability
  • a resistance to rigid, control-based paradigms of authority
Sound like anyone we know?  I have to admit that all the above things resonate quite truthfully for me but there is a sound argument to be made that most people fit the above criteria.  I disagree with that, quite a bit actually, but I am not here to debate the validity of indigo children.  At least not yet.

While I do like the idea of having a fall guy (exasperated person, "What is your problem NOW Cairn?", me, "I'm an indigo child" shrugs shoulders and moves blithely on) and am more than willing to be obnoxious about the whole situation, I'm glad my mom never found out about this.

I can't even imagine the course my life would have taken if Jean had latched on to the indigo child movement.  It's a bullet well dodged for truly.

As it happens, my vision board was not about any such thing.  It came to me last night in the shower, not too long after I posted about useless blogs.  Which, by the way, I do not regret, feel sorry about or have any desire to back pedal away from.  As usual with my fits of temper, I'm glad it happened.

It cleared the decks for a revelation and that revelation is right in front of you if you are reading this blog in its original form.  Take a close look at this page - not the words because this one time, the words are NOT important - what do you see?

I see a field of varying shades of dark blue with a white lacy script at the top.  Oh my!

That Nelly, she never steers me wrong and she is telling me that we are on the right track, that the road to publishing success is through this blog and that we are ready to fly.  So, so ready.

The thing is that I can't fly alone, I need you to help make my dream come true.  Americans love an underdog story and I am that dog, a shaggy mutt from Sacramento, California with a sweet story and a big desire to share it with the world.

So, if you like this blog, please share it with someone, please visit Prospector's facebook page and give him a like or add some words of encouragement to this page.  Your support means the world to me, literally.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Blahg, Blahg, Blahg

Oh I know this is going to earn me some haters, but I'm an opinionated gal - you may have noticed.  So I've been doing a blog challenge this month and therefore reading a lot of blogs, most of them I would never go near under different circumstances.

And with good reason, many of them are completely worthless.

Far too many of them deal with the *struggle* to take control of their own lives, to fight the evil media barons that allegedly rob them of something important or to just walk away from that job/relationship/social media that is bringing them down.

Oh boo hoo, if you don't have something meaningful to contribute, then shut the hell up.  Just because a blog is available, it doesn't mean you should regurgitate every pithy saying that crosses your path.  You are accountable for YOUR own life and only YOU can control how outside forces affect YOU.

Blaming the outside forces is not only a waste of time and energy, but also a fantastic way to skip out on your obligation to your own self.

Quit whining and start doing, there is a brilliant blog down that road.


Vision boards look like the new big thing lately, but it is only the phrasing that is new.  When I was in my teens they were called treasure maps and even earlier when I was in grammar school they were simply called collages.  Treasure map resonates much more for me than vision board because I'm writing an entire series of books about a man seeking treasure.  But, whatever the phraseology, it is all good because the end result is the same.

So what is a vision board and what is its purpose?  Simple, it is a method of allowing your subconscious mind to guide you in choosing words and images so that you can see what it is you truly want as well as the road to manifesting your dreams.  You don't need any fancy materials, just a collection of magazines and other printed material, some glue and a canvas of decent size.

I have made many treasure maps in my life, in fact my big board is just a larger and more functional version of a treasure map.  But it was my conscious mind that put the big board together, so when my good friend Maude Schellhous sent me an invite to Hypno Studio for guided vision boarding, I was anxious to attend.

Maude and I go back a while, well over 10 years now starting when Clyde suggested we get hypnosis to help get us through a rough patch in our relationship.  At the time, Maude was in business with another therapist who took on Clyde, and I - thanking all my well aligned lucky stars - was given over to Maude.  My sessions with her changed my life in ways both subtle and broad, because of her, I easily let go of a lifetime of old, useless hurts that I had been clinging to desperately.

The most important treasure that I ever uncovered during my sessions with Maude is Nelly.  Other people would call Nelly my spirit guide or my angel, but neither of those terms is the truth.  I am a trinity, we are all a trinity of Me, Myself and I, and Nelly is I.  Me is the who I am right now, Cairn from California; Myself is all those other people I have been before this life and I is the eternal me, the essential me and the culmination of my journey.

Nelly has always been with me of course, but I never saw her before Maude.  Nelly is a very old woman with a stern visage and long steel gray hair, she lives on a sunlit prairie with a tall chain of bluish mountains on the west side and a huge fig tree on the east.  Nelly always wears a yellow gingham dress that sets off her pale blue eyes and she is frequently not alone on her prairie.  Until last night when everything changed.

There were about 15 of us last night, all stretched out on yoga mats and blankets on the floor as Maude's practiced tones put us into a relaxed state of being.  Once you've been hypnotized, it doesn't take much to go back under - at least for me - and my inner wisdom perks right up as soon as it hears her words.  It was no different than a solo session in a comfy chair and my mind went where it always goes when I'm under, out to the prairie.

At first I thought there was something wrong because it was dark on the prairie, everything was saturated in a deep, dark indigo blue including Nelly.  She was not garbed in her faded yellow gingham anymore, last night she was wearing a long indigo dress with a strip of pure white lace around the throat.  And she was not standing on the prairie, Nelly was floating above it with a sea of twinkling stars sparkling around her and a copy of The Last Prospector tucked in her arms.

There was only one other time that Nelly was not dressed in yellow gingham, she wore a shiny pink dress the day that Maude regressed me.  It was Nelly's way of acknowledging the help that Maude had given us because pink holds a special meaning to Maude that I found out about afterwords.

When Maude brought us all back out, I was a woman on a mission.  I cut out all the vivid dark blue images that I saw and was especially drawn to round things like a pristine white bowl and rings encrusted with blue and white gems.  Pictures of people leaping with abandon, a random paragraph about creation stories, a school of tiny blue fish and a photograph of a mason jar filled with small white Christmas lights on a dark blue background are the images my mind keeps seeing today.

My treasure maps are not works of art, I've seen many that are but that is not my style.  The minute that I try to prettify my collages is the exact same minute that my conscious mind has usurped control, so my treasure maps are a visual hot mess.  To other people.  I see those seemingly random bursts of images and I see my own thought process, I never claimed to have an ordered mind and my treasure maps are ample evidence of that.

I'm still not exactly sure what message Nelly is trying to send me, there's the obvious one that I am doing the right (write) thing with my life.  Which is good to know, btw, Nelly doesn't always approve of how I go about things.  But there is something more, it's all that indigo that keeps making my inner dog bark.  In my book series, the Yndigon tier is one of the most influential in Solstice and the Yndigons prefer to worship the dark twin Ynoirya.

Ynoirya is chaos and destruction, she almost destroyed the indigo tier once but the people who survived the 'great uplift' did not curse or blame her.  Instead they built a cultural tradition that embraces the blessings of Ynoirya and go on to create one of the strongest communities in Solstice.  The Yndigons are an interesting group, inspiring awe and revulsion often at the same time, but there must be something else there that Nelly wants me to see.

But I don't see it yet and that's the thing with vision boards, the meanings aren't always immediately clear.  Often it takes years before a person sees the connection between an image and how it affected their life. It will come, my inner wisdom will bubble up with something good when I'm thinking about something else.  Or not, maybe it's just the question that is the thing itself, seeing as how my engine runs on queries that would not be impossible at all.

You don't need hypnosis or a special class to make your own vision board, but I recommend it if you get the chance.  Is the now the time for you to see what your inner wisdom is trying to tell you?  Absolutely yes!  Do it for fun if nothing else because you just might be surprised at what pops out.

And, if you are feeling especially treat-worthy, give Maude a call and set up a session.  If you tell her Cairn sent you, I get candy :)  Just kidding, I don't get kick backs.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Wanted: Half a Clue Seeks Same

I realized with an ugly start yesterday that I have a life outside of The Last Prospector that's being neglected. It started when I sent an update email to one of my closest friends and then suddenly remembered that I had left another good friend hanging about something important.

Omigosh, I felt so guilty as I dashed off a message to The Point (that will be good friend's code name from here, I named a significant geographic feature in Solstice after her).  The Point was trying to find homes for two cats whose elderly owners were moving to a care facility and knew that I was looking for an older cat to take in.  I'm adamantly against taking in a kitten or small dog if Sweetback the hawk considers our back yard to be part of his hunting territory.

Well, all this happened in the days leading up to the blog challenge and the challenge opened up many opportunities for me and Prospector, so I'm ashamed to say that I forgot all about the cats.  The Point was more than gracious about my lapse, but she's a very gracious and kind lady and even asked about my happenings with the book.  I briefed her and my closing line was this, "I still only have half a clue about what I'm doing, but that ain't stopping me."

Such true words that could describe easily half of the things that I've thrown myself into over the years.  Perhaps even three quarters.  Life is an adventure and I am a thrill seeker of sorts, I have yet to bungee jump and am not opposed to it, but my thrills are more offbeat.  I almost never fully look into something before throwing myself headlong into the unknown and publishing is no different.

Here's exactly how it went:  I threw down the book that catalyzed this in disgust and told Clyde that I was writing my own story, I went on to say that I would also self publish and that I would figure it all out on the job.  End of saga.  No research, no planning, no strategizing -- I'm coming to this new world, so make room.

From what I've read, I'm doing this all wrong.  I should have tested the market, built up a strong online presence before the book was released and be much more aggressive about selling The Last Prospector through this blog.

This is for the permanent record folks:  this blog was never intended to be a vehicle for sales (blasphemy, I know).  My sole intention for creating The Light Stealers Song was to prove to the world that I could write coherently and entertainingly so that people would have enough faith in me to go out and buy the book.  I want everyone to have the exact same confidence in my words that they have in my food, it's just that I've spent a whole lifetime proving that I can cook.

The only people who ever knew I could write were my English teachers, so I hope they are all happy now! And if any of you out there know Bill Karns from Cosumnes River College, tell him Cairn says hey :)

So I keep making moves, right and wrong moves, but at least it is motion.  And I learn more every day, but the most important thing that I already know is that there are as many roads to success as there are feet walking.

That's all my bleating for today, I'm looking forward to tonight's uber-super-duper-cool fun that I will breathlessly report on tomorrow.  Pleasant day Travellers!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Granny Panties

Well we got it together yesterday and took some photos.  It wasn't horribly traumatic at all, in fact Clyde and I kept breaking out into laughter during the photo session, I'll tell you why in a moment.

We spent most of Saturday setting it up, Clyde enjoys photography but our past portrait attempts were kind of sad so he cruised the net for some tips.  He set and reset the lights with me stepping in whenever testing was required, rearranged all the furniture to set up a 'studio' and tried various things to diffuse the light.

Clyde asked me for my cheesecloth. "Mmmmm, no, that's mine", I said, "that's a kitchen necessity and you can't have it."  Let me just say here that cheesecloth can be both expensive and difficult to find; when a cook needs cheesecloth, it's an immediate need for which there is no easy substitute.

So, I was off to Wal-Mart Saturday night in search of diffusing material.  Somewhere during that brief drive over, my mind changed the material from white to colors.  I got it into my head that he wanted color filters for the lights, even though Clyde had said no such thing.

I did not look for white anything, instead I went to the slut section at Wal-Mart (it's the section where they sell padded bras to preteen girls, don't get me started on that one) and started flipping through clearance bits. Oddly, they only had flannel and fleece items, sure it's January, but this is Central California.  I stood there in the slut section thinking furiously until it came to me.

Oh yeah, granny panties.  It's a fair bet that the good people at Fruit of the Loom did not see me coming, but they were ready for me anyway.  I snatched up the last five-pack of colored nylon panties; blue, green, yellow, pink and one wild paisley pair.

I love this picture, I'm going to frame it and hang it in the kitchen.  The back drop is a chenille bedspread draped over the vitrine (which is a china cabinet of sorts that we pried out of Clyde's grandparent's wall before the house was demolished) and covered with some sheer sparkling fabric we had around.  Clyde rigged up the lights and I held a piece of white poster board on my lap to reflect light back up.

Those colored panties turned out to just what we needed, and many thank yous to the Universal Order for the course correction.  It wasn't the harshness of the lights that we needed to address, it was the color, and we noticed the vast improvement with the first test shot.

It took a lot of experimenting with combinations of colors and panty placement on the lights, but by the end of Saturday night we had a good set up.  Yellow and purple were the best colors for me, which is odd because those are the colors I am going to paint my office (Shortening's former bedroom, she doesn't need it anymore.  My kids aren't wild about the idea of being named in my blog so they are code named Shortening and Cracker).

On Sunday, Clyde took a couple hundred shots that I have culled down to about 20 that I can live with.  So what do you think, does my photo look good enough to share with the innocent citizens of planet Earth?  Wait!  Before you answer, consider this:

Happy Monday Travellers!

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Something fabulous happened yesterday, it wasn't anything big or life altering, but it made me ridiculously happy and I'm taking it as a sign.

It's been mentioned in this blog before that I enjoy back yard bird watching, I've always enjoyed it but stopped putting out food and feeders when Charles Howard came to live with us.  I felt so guilty luring those poor birds to their certain death and CH was not a cat to let a bird just fly away unharmed.  (For the full CH story, please see the earlier blog posts The CH Thing, St. Valentines Day Massacre and Impact Craters.)

So I did not resume my bird feeding until this last summer, I knew CH wasn't coming back this time and there were no new pets on my horizon.  It started with the hummingbirds - my family will understand my new obsession with hummingbirds once Travellers & Tramps comes out - and they still come in droves.  Doves, sparrows of all types, finches, mockingbirds, and, the valley standards, scrub jays can all be found daily on my back patio.

The gold finches started coming a couple of months ago, but not for the food, they want the hummingbird nectar and aren't afraid to beat the living crap out of the feeder to get it.  I set them up with a regular bird watering tube in the climbing roses, so there is less finch-on-hummingbird action now.  William across the street gave me a feeding sock full of nyjer to attract different birds, but I guess my feng shui was all wrong, because the birdies didn't touch it until yesterday.

I asked Clyde to get out the ladder and put the sock up in the tree branches, he did and 20 minutes later the cute little gold finches were singing right outside my bedroom window.  Success!

Then it got better, dark eyed juncos!  That is a first for my backyard, but all travellers are welcome, and the patio was filled all afternoon with birdsong and feathered antics.  Clyde even mentioned how crazy full the back yard was and I said they are harbingers of fortune.

I can feel it, feel the tide coming in, and I am ready.  There is a (good) tightness in my chest that gets stronger every day, I see the energies gathering to my summons and practically percolate with excitement.  It's either going to be very wonderful or very annoying to live with me in the near future!

So now is the time Travellers, now is the time to get in on the leading edge of that wave.  There are only a couple weeks left to submit an entry for The Name Game and win a copy of The Last Prospector.  Just make up a name, any proper name for a person, place or thing, and send it on via the comment section on this page, sending me an email or posting on Prospector's facebook page.  Prospector is a warm and wonderful guy, so if you 'like' him, he'll like you right back.

It's that easy, there will be three winners plus one grand prize winner who gets a book and will see their submission used in a future book in the series.  So get those entries in now, before I take over the world.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Picture Day

I was blessed with many gifts in this life like a warm smile and a ready wit, very many blessings that I try to acknowledge with gratitude whenever possible.  We all have gifts but life always finds a balance, so each blessing comes with a dark side.  That ready wit doesn't always find welcoming ears and it gets me into a bit of trouble from time to time.

That smile has a dark side too, one that I have to face today.  But this is part of my journey and the time has come for me to walk down that road.  This all sounds really ominous, doesn't it?


I need photos of myself in order to promote The Last Prospector and it's illustrious author properly.  The problem is that I am not photogenic, not in the least.  My expressive features do not lend themselves well to still photography and that beaming smile takes over so all most people see is teeth.

I have a round face with two big apple cheeks and a head full of thick curly hair, photos of me look like cartoon characters.  Especially if I'm wearing my Mr. Magoo glasses that block my small eyes that get even tinier when I smile and my fat cheeks swallow up my tiny eyes.

Now, please don't think I'm getting down on myself.  I don't think that I am unsightly, but I know my weaknesses.  Tyra Banks would say it has something to do with the geometry of my face that doesn't work for still photography and I can live with that, we all know higher math isn't for Cairn.

My husband's niece is the exact opposite, she can't take a bad picture.  Even blurry pictures of her are very pretty, she could have been a model if she was a foot taller, maybe foot and a half.

But my many years of watching and re-watching cycles of America's Next Top Model has taught me there are ways to combat bad photos.  Mr. Jay says to get in front of that mirror to find your angles, and I have, there aren't many good ones though.  Actually there are only three, but three is a good number and I only need one picture, so I like those odds.

Lighting is important too, Clyde is on that detail since he's the photographer and it will probably take all day just to get that right.  We'll get it done though, so that leaves make-up, ugh.  Mr. Jay isn't here to help me with that, so it will be minimal - I have tried a few make-up tutorials on line, not a pretty picture.

I guess it's a really good thing that modeling was never one of my life's goals.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Gold Medal

Welcome to the land of Friday Travellers.

I've made an important decision, it came to me late in the afternoon yesterday and I know it was the right decision because, after I made it, I started craving something yummy.  Indecision and bad decisions do not make my stomach yearn, only quality decision making engages my appetite, so there you go.

Cue up the Lost flashback violin music:

Back when I owned the cafe, I was always looking for new and delicious things to offer my customers.  I belonged to a trade organization that specialized in upscale food offerings and had an annual convention in San Francisco.  If your are a foodie, then please try to imagine the Moscone Center completely filled with food vendors, all of them thrusting samples at you.  It is paradise, the land of plenty, Mecca, heaven and Willy Wonka all rolled up in one.

This trade organization sent out a monthly magazine featuring new products, announcing contests and general restaurant news.  The last year that I went to the convention, the magazine spent MONTHS extolling the virtues of a small, boutique cracker making concern.  They raved endlessly about the sublime beauty of the graham cracker and heaped multiple awards on the company.  As each new magazine came and we approached the next convention, I became suspicious because it's just a freakin' graham cracker and no graham cracker deserves 22,000 words of praise.

Unless the cracker is curing cancer or bringing Buffy the Vampire Slayer back to Tuesday nights.

That suspicion prompted me to go out of my way to taste this cracker creation of the gods, I simply had to know if the magazine people could be trusted.  That year I went with one of my closest friends, a foodie who wanted to see the Promised Land, and I told her all about the cracker saga.  We searched for that cracker first thing, it didn't take long because they had the biggest booth.

I know the common wisdom is that we eat with our eyes first, I do not because my eyes lie to me all the time.  My tongue has never lied to me, not once in almost 50 years, I trust my tongue implicitly.  Let me just say here that my tongue rejected that grainy, flavorless dog biscuit immediately.  I spit it into my napkin and scraped the little masonry-like bits of my tongue before telling the cracker people they were full of shit.

Those awards had all been bought and paid for, not earned, just like all food awards, it is nothing but a lie to get you to buy the stuff.  Wine is generally the worst offender, it's the joke of the food world.  I never entered any of my food into contests because the fix was in and I have waaaaaaaayyyyyyy too much pride to buy an award.

So why should I think that the publishing world is any less of a whore than the food world?  I doubt that it is, so I'm gonna do me.  I am not entering The Last Prospector in any contest that I have to pay to enter, in fact, I am only entering one contest.

The Amazon Breakthrough novel award is my goal, my only goal in this matter.  Just being a finalist would bring me many readers and the grand prize of a publishing contract is what I covet, although I would spend that fifteen grand in prize money quite happily.  Fresh new socks for everyone!!! (I love socks)

I get an excited, tight feeling around my heart when I think about winning that contest, when I see myself winning that contest.  When you are nearly 50, that feeling is hard to come by, so I'm grabbing on to the exhilaration and not letting go.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Metaphysician

It is day 3 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge and I have a raft of ideas for posts on my big board, but none of those are ringing my bells this morning.  Instead, my mind keeps wandering off to think about all the other blogs that I've been reading and why those are the ones I chose.

There are nearly 1,000 people participating in the challenge this month, nearly 1,000 distinct points of view offering me a glimpse of their worlds, and I can't read them all.  So I peruse all the offerings, steering away from anything about sports, business that doesn't apply to publishing and anything that refers to organized religion.

If there is one thing on this Earth that doesn't need organizing, it's religion.  Faith is a sprawling mess and trying to contain it or codify it is a fool's errand.  And don't even get me started on sports, I live with a sports fiend and watch way more of them than I like.  Let me just say here that most of today's top athletes are whining babies who play a game - FOR A LIVING - and complain it about it ceaselessly.  Grow up or get a real job, a REAL job would cure all those divas right quick.

So, what are the posts that draw in my eyes?  Anything quirky, someone posted about the color orange yesterday and I clicked on that right away; I'm also attracted to posts encouraging people to be bolder, crazier and more vivid in their everyday lives.  But the ones I tend to click most are the posts that speak to the esoteric energies of existence; visualization, magnetization and manifestation.

I read Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach when I was in my early teens and saw right away the many wisdoms in that book.  My family was Catholic before the divorce, my mom used to work for the diocese but many experiences there soured her on that religion.  I am the youngest child and the only one who was never baptized, so I did not get the dreaded catechism that my older siblings had to endure.

What I did get was a mom who spent years shopping for a new religion, one that spoke to her in a truthful voice without any hidden agendas.  As a kid, my absolute favorite was the Holy Rollers, finally a church that encouraged fidgeting!  And they gave us Mary Janes after Sunday school.

Mom eventually found a church that satisfied her but could never understand how that experience of faith shopping drove me away from religion altogether.  It never took me away from God, in fact I think it moved me much closer, once I eliminated the middle man.  But true religion is inside me, where God resides inside me, and it moves with me wherever I go.

Since my young mind was never trained to listen to the tenets of major religions, it had the freedom to travel down many spiritual roads, just to see where they led.  All roads lead to energy in one form or another, the understanding that everything is energy and that energy is easily manipulated forms the basis of my personal religion.

That awareness of energy formed the matrix from which Solstice emerged, the land itself was formed by small bits of matter being caught in a net of energy and is held together by the combined energies of the light stealers.  The magicks of Solstice are an everyday fact of life, the citizens of the tiers understand that the magick, or energy, is in the air all around them just waiting for a direction.

But we live in that kind of world too, at least I do, I see the magicks in the air and seek to harness them.  And I am not alone, not by a country mile, there are millions of us out there who live in the light and splash regularly in the fountain of creation.  We are disorganized and happy to be so, we have the same worries and pains as everyone else but see avenues of relief that others miss and we are always happy to make room at the fountain for everyone else.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Veal Prince Orloff

Several years ago when I owned the cafe, one of my customers and I were chatting about dinner parties.  Marilyn is just a tad older than I am, so when I said to her that I was the Mary Richards of dinner parties, I assumed she knew what I meant.

She didn't, Marilyn looked at me with thinly veiled contempt and said, "Well, I'm not, I'm terrible at throwing dinner parties."

Sigh.  And so was Mary Richards.

Here's today's history lesson.  Many decades ago there was an awesome sitcom called The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary was a plucky young news producer carving out her own place in the working world during the sexual revolution.  Mary was beautiful, smart, a great friend and had a fantastic wardrobe, but even though she tried and tried, could not throw a successful dinner party.

Her most famous dining debacle was the night of Veal Prince Orloff; Mr. Grant was not only extra cranky, but he took half of the portions of veal and Rhoda brought an unexpected guest.  The poor guy had just lost his job, but the good news about that was in just a couple of short years, that guy landed a great gig on Happy Days and became one of the most loved icons in America.

So what do Henry Winkler, MTM and dinner parties have to do with me and The Last Prospector?  Great question, glad you asked.

Not long ago, I started a contest called the Name Game so I could give away some copies of my book and, thus far, I have received no entries.  Not a one.  Not even from my sister who is supposed to support me in these things -- that's right I called you out Shaman Ydemon!

This is most disheartening, so I am asking nicely.  Please enter my contest, especially since right now, your chances of winning are excellent.  All you need to do is make up a name and send it on, you could possibly win a copy of The Last Prospector and you will absolutely, definitely make me smile brighter than a lighthouse at midnight.

And the other thing that Mary Richards and I have in common is that we can both turn the world on with our smile :)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

I Love A Challenge

Happy New Year Travellers!

2013 is finally here and I am ready for it, I'm not one for making annual, sweeping resolutions because they rarely stick.  For the most part, I stay with small, daily resolutions like being more productive or dedicated to house cleaning, things I can handle easily.  HOWEVER, I am not averse to making wild predictions for the coming year, so I am stating at this time that The Last Prospector is going to be a big hit in '13.

I can see it every time I close my eyes and I want it like few other things I have wanted in my life.  That same little voice that told me Charles Howard was coming home is now telling me that this is my year, the one where a lifetime of trying finally pays off, and I am listening.

This blog is where it all starts, I'm almost certain of that, because this is my way of reaching out to the whole world and pulling them all into my world of Solstice.  Today is the kick off of the Ultimate Blog Challenge, to post every day for 31 days in an effort to gain more readers and more exposure.  From what I have read so far, it seems that some people have difficulty finding enough content for their blogs and the UBC is sending daily ideas for bloggers.

This is not much of a problem for me, I've got enough content for this blog, Spoon! and a whole other one for my musings about life that don't involve food or the book.  But there are still some good ideas from the challenge and I am using one of them today...

HELLO!  My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!

Oh wait, that's not me, I just have a hard time following HELLO! with anything else.  I'll try again.

Hi there!

My name is Cairn Rodrigues and last year I wrote and published a book titled The Last Prospector.  It is the start of an epic fantasy series and is about a man who knows that he is the last man who will every carry the name and title of Prospector.  He has a destiny, he knows it is waiting for him but that is all he knows as he journeys inexorably towards a questionable future.

The Light Stealers Song is a blog devoted to my journey as neophyte author and publisher, to share this new world I have entered as I flounder my way through.  Here is where I can share my frustrations, vexations and excitations (thank you Brian Wilson for making up that word!) while trying to make sense of all that I'm doing.

The Last Prospector is available at, please check it out.

I know this is a long post and it's about to get a bit longer so I can explain about the 'stealers.  The following is an excerpt from my book, I hope you like it.


It has been said that the light stealers were the first creatures that ever came to be on Solstice.  But it is more truthful to say that Solstice came to be because of the light stealers.  Light stealers are misnamed, as Ylumya’s light is always given freely, but the light stealers are an impish lot and enjoy playing the rascals.  They are also extremely social creatures and can only survive in the company of their kind.  The bonds they form with one another are so strong, so tangible, that matter flowed in and around them, growing slowly until they were all connected by the ground from which Solstice sprang.

Light stealers come in an untold array of shapes and in every one of the thousands of shades in the spectrum.  Each family group has its own ‘personality’ and many are happy to share their glow with all creatures.  There are also more reclusive varieties that are very adept at hiding and are rarely seen by people.  Most light stealers continue growing until they die which can take hundreds of years and there might even still be ‘stealers alive that were here before the beginning.

In addition to glowing, the light stealers also sing although most people have trouble hearing anything other than a buzz or hum.  They sing to each other constantly; they even sing as they slumber the day away, and it is that song that binds the little particles of Solstice and holds them together.  They are the wisest of Oneno’s creations because they understand that substance is in fact not at all substantial and everything hangs on wispy threads of sheer belief.

It is ironic, because the light stealers made Solstice, that the blooded creatures which had sprung up profligately did not even know of the light stealers’ very existence for centuries.  It wasn't until the Second War of the Twins, when the girls were fighting over the torch.  That particular skirmish set the torch on its perpetual path up, down and around Solstice.  Until that time, the land had always been bathed in light and it was all the blooded creatures knew.  So when the torch started dipping that very first time over the eastern edge of the land and the sky began to darken ominously, no one knew if the light would ever come back. 

The creatures panicked as they had never been cold before, never before been blind.  But just before the torch disappeared completely, something amazing happened.  The ground all over Solstice exploded into islands of warm colorful light, throwing back the darkness and revealing the glory of the light stealers for the first time.  The first night passed with joy instead of fear, which they would never have known if they had not been thrust into the darkness.