Monday, February 15, 2021

Our Nomadic Winter

The body's ability to heal continues to amaze me. Four months after falling in Mexico and severely spraining my ankle and foot--and not being able to put weight on it for a long time--I was able to do this:

skiing Brighton, Utah

It was the first time in three years we were on the slopes. Initially, I was scared. I'm envious of those who are totally at ease downhill skiing. (I didn't learn to ski until my late 40s.) But after two or three runs, I was reminded why I love it. 

It's an invigorating contrast to be in the cold mountains after having spent 10 months in Mexico. 

lunch stop during our 5-day Baja-to-California drive

We'd had mixed feelings about traveling during the time of the pandemic, but we'd already accepted a housesit. Also, the clock on our visas was ticking (even though we'd extended them once). To our pleasant surprise, it was pretty easy to go where we needed to and keep relatively safe.

San Ignacio springs

We left in November to drive up Baja. We've done the drive multiple times, but this was the first time we stopped at San Ignacio springs. And we are so glad we did. We stayed in a lovely little yurt and kayaked the peaceful springs, seeing all kinds of beautiful wildlife.

Instead of heading right to L.A., we spent a week in Palm Desert. Exploring Joshua Tree was the highlight.

Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Park

The L.A. housessit was in a gorgeous home in Pacific Palisades. We did a quick  masked turnover with the owners. We'd hoped to be able to see our many friends in So Cal, but L.A. was on lockdown. Still, we were able to squeeze in a few socially-distanced outdoor visits.

Pacific Palisades housesit

visiting my longtime friend Nancy in L.A.

The physical therapy for my foot injury included beach strolls and easy hikes on some of the gorgeous nearby trails. We also spent time in the magical hot tub under the trees in the back yard, did yoga, spent time with Izzy, and read like the book maniacs we are. Goodreads reported that I read 74 books last year. Dave doesn't keep track, but I wouldn't be surprised if he read at least that many.  

Something else that took up my time was yet another medical issue that was painful and mysterious. After seeing a number of docs, I finally found one who quickly solved it. I'd assumed he was old school because he was at least in his 70s and his hearing wasn't so great. But I kicked myself for that judgment when his prescription of yoga, standing rather that sitting while writing, and cognitive adjustments WORKED! I was grateful for the reminder that advanced age can mean great wisdom. I thank him.

magic hot tub

Meanwhile, the homeowners decided to come back a week early, which would have been awkward for us if not for their thoughtful decision to pay for an Airbnb for us. We chose Los Osos on the central coast. I grew up in California but had never been to this sweet spot on the planet. It's dramatically beautiful.

Hiking in Montana del Oro on a high ridge overlooking the Pacific Ocean

One of Dave's great catches at Sweet Springs Nature Reserve in Los Osos

 Our little cottage was my favorite Airbnb ever.


The next week we spent with our friend Mark in San Jose. We all got tested and created a bubble. It was such a joy to be able to hang out together. We watched three nights of the Radiators streamed from New Orleans in an empty Tipitinas--a bittersweet experience since a few years ago we'd been there together to dance to them live with hundreds of others. When the world opens back up, I plan to go to as much live music as possible; I will never again take it for granted.

It was also great to be able to watch the inauguration together. I loved every minute of it...and was especially moved when Kamala Harris made history.

boogying at home

At one time we stored a bunch of stuff at Mark's, but on every visit we whittle it down. At this point, it's mainly our ski gear and winter stuff--which we took with us as we drove 11 hours straight to Sandy, Utah for our next housesit. 

Dave snowshoeing in Utah

We didn't meet the owners in person; we'd done a video walk-through with them, a young couple who were headed to Mexico to give birth to their baby. They also travel with their cat but not their bunny, so Bun Bun is our company, along with three chickens that live in a heated henhouse.

Bun bun is shy but likes to be petted and fed spinach.

In the midst of all of this, the novel I co-authored with my friend Mary Janelle Melvin under the pen name Mary-Kate Summers was released with a super sexy cover! I feel that our publisher really *got* the characters with this image. 

It was the first time I'd written a historically-based love story, something Janelle has been doing for years. I learned so much in the process and fell in love with the characters and the story. It's wonderful that we're already hearing from readers who feel the same.

I never imagined that the release of this book would coincide with an incredible event: 

While in the Bay Area, I'd been able to see my sister, Crystal. In the process of packing for her move to San Diego, she came across three manuscripts that my mom had been working on. One of them I remembered reading years ago and always wondered what had happened to it. It's a historical romance that takes place in California during the Gold Rush. I was beyond thrilled when I held it in my hands.

Mom editing

Reading it was a beautiful and bittersweet thing. Our mom, who died nine years ago, had dementia and didn't speak for the last year of her life. As I turned the pages, I wet them with my tears as I was reminded of her voice, her intelligence, her humor. 

And what timing. Not only had I just co-written my first historical romance, I'd recently had an incredible dream of her. And now here in my hands was my mom's book in that very genre. It is incomplete and needs work, but the bones of it are strong. 

I am in the process of doing a rewrite. When I came across an unnamed character, I named him William. In the next chapter I saw she'd given him the name...William.

So, she's here. Cheering me on. Cheering us on as we write together.