Letters to my new writer self

Dear New, Young, Passionate, Painfully Aspiring Writer Self:https://www.flickr.com/photos/rightee/1257384934/in/photolist-2V7qJA-f53bGW-aqLtfV-f53bNo-f53bKA-kfCw7-iGsrd3-bkW1jX-aj699g-5dNDc7-ifDfk3-5C5g1X-kzfbqM-8D4zwo-4SQXUM-bN1oSe-9PG53Y-j8p8pU-dmFX6J-gasMno-fxddKr-nr5Wr2-6xnrVk-eUhbNb-gsXvkx-6vaNSi-eUYdqL-bUQdeY-ezj98j-ezfUB6-ezfVik-5FQYQN-7WRZ8B-hnmLtF-dJzN2o-4VvLvq-bQu3Hz-4As9wf-9rnux-hcN3iz-3Prxu-4wZ2FW-5rnNZp-4ZZL89-7eVnCE-4wYZeh-4wZ8Ho-ek4Luu-f2BHW3-7kNGQf/

I am looking at you with great tenderness. Your passion for your craft, your hunger for publication, your commitment to continue to try makes my heart swell with pride. It is not easy, what you’re doing, writing, or rather, writing with the full intent to publish.  It’s easy to write if you are doing it only for yourself.  It’s only a joy, then, a secret pleasure, a tattoo on your inner thigh that you share only with your most intimate associates.

Writing for publication is a much more dangerous and challenging undertaking.  It means risking your ego and your standing in the community. People don’t understand your desire, even those you expect to understand, like reader friends and your librarian. Oh, I know how you’ve learned to dread that question at gatherings. You say you are a writer and someone says with excitement, “Are you published?”  You have to say no, and watch their eyes dim and their attention stray.

But you will not always have to say no. If you stay the course, you will be published.  For now, you go ahead and claim the title of writer, because you are a writer. You write. You put in the hours of study and practice, over and over, whenever you can fit it in. You do it even though no one does particularly understand or even believe that you can ever break into the hallowed company of Authors.  I am so proud of you.  Keep it up.

A few other things that will help you stay the course: pay more attention to what you are doing right than what you are doing wrong. Time, reading, and practice will heal most of your flaws, but no one can do what you do as well as you do it, so stick with that. Polish it, explore it, love it.  That’s where your voice is, in the things you love and do well.

Keep reading a ton.  People tell you that writing will corrupt your process, but that’s how you came to writing in the first place, isn’t it? You read, more than anyone you know, always.  Keep doing that, and don’t just read in the areas where you write. Read everything—articles and essays and poems and books of fiction and non-fiction. Read crap and read classics. Read genre and read literary fiction. Just read. It teaches and guides new writers better than any other single thing.

Keep your eye on the prize. You’re going to keep trying on hats until you find the one that fits, and once you do, your life is going to change in such big ways that you will never believe it could be your life. You will eat a meal in New York City with an editor. You will see your book on the shelves of your local bookstore. You will get letters from readers who love your work more than any other writer out there. Honor her, that reader, with your will to stick with it.

One more thing: don’t be afraid of editors and agents. They are busy, but they are always looking for the writer they connect with, the one they can publish, the one they adore. Some of them, over time, will become your friends for life.  Some of them will only make you crazy, but this is the great secret: editors and agents are your equal. You are all a corner in the great triangle of publishing. Don’t be intimidated.

Finally, you are more powerful than you know. Have faith in yourself, and the work, and trust it to take you where you want to do.

Your older, wiser, more experienced self

Want to read more letters from other writers to their younger selves?  Check out http://soyoureawriter.blogspot.com/

1-random-front  stoked_800  IMG_0222  echo_800  (click on covers to read more)

And don’t forget to like Lark O’Neal on Facebook, so you can stay current with new releases (and there are quite a few coming, my friends!)  https://www.facebook.com/LarkONealAuthor


Someone teasingly called me an Anglophile the other day, and I was completely startled.  “Really?” I said, “Do you think so?”

She laughed and laughed and laughed.  I came home and asked (my British beloved) Christopher Robin if he thought I was an anglophile. Field at HawkhurstWithout a blink, he said, “Uh….duh.”

I suppose I don’t like the word because it sounds like I love England more than I love America, which is not true.

So I had to look around my life, and yes, it’s true that I have an English husband, and he’s the reason for a lot of our quirkily English habits, like the (imported) PG Tips for breakfast, not coffee, and the HP sauce and Branston pickle in our cupboard, the salad cream (not mayo) that he must have to put on his salads in the summer time. Those are for him. Mostly. It’s true I love tea, British tea made with sugar and milk, and drink great gobs of it, but I grew up on tea.

Well, and there is the matter of English history, which I know much better than American history, if I’m honest. American history bored me to cross-eyedness, whereas English history was full of queens and princes and monarchs and swords and moats. I loved historical novels as a girl—of course I would love English history! And then I started writing them, so I had to study those eras even more, the Georgians and the medievals, and then I discovered plague, which is so desperately interesting and not exactly English, but a great force in English history.


It is also true that I love the fact that the English garden, as if it is a national sport.  Sometimes, in England, you can visit a garden that is also on the grounds of an old manor house or even a castle. With a moat or a bowling green or some closet that once held a body. I love gardens and flowersand castles. Why wouldn’t I like them all together like that?

And okay, there is the matter of the beauty of those landscapes. I am constantly amazed at the number of people who can be hidden away among the rolling hills, how it can all appear to be completely deserted, only a horse and a couple of sheep occupying the landscape far into the hazy, hilly distance, and then you spy, hiding, a subdivision that must house thousands.  
st waiting for me?

It’s also a walking land, full of paths steeped in history. I am a walker, thus I love places where I can walk.

Oh, the history, did I mention history? History in every village, across every road. History reaching far, far, far back in the most

The local castle, where CR's father volunteered for a long time. I used to have a picture of this castle in a book and couldn't imagine that I'd ever get to see it.
The local castle, where CR’s father volunteered for a long time. I used to have a picture of this castle in a book and couldn’t imagine that I’d ever get to see it.

interesting ways. To the kings fighting for dominance, to the French invading, the Celts, the whoever else, the barbarians far back.  History in layers like the rings on a tree, here and here and here.  Standing in a village square, I could, if I had a time machine travel to 100 BC or 1066 or 1348 or 1942.  Where else can I touch history like that? The scars of the Blitz, still lingering on buildings? Walk on the battlefield that changed history entirely? Drink in a pub where Shakespeare might have sat?

Pubs. Yes. There are pubs with solid beer in pints, and we all know that I do love ale, and pints of it are absolutely agreeable, even if bartenders always try to talk me into a half-pint, seeing as I am so ladylike and all. I love pubs and pies and fires and dogs. Yes, those things, too.

I ask you, what’s not to like? I’m hardly an Anglophile for loving perfectly fascinating things, am I?

CR says I am an Anglophile because I can’t see the forest for the trees. That forest, according to him, is that England Is A Cold Wet Miserable Country.  He’s a Coloradophile.

Are you an Anglophile, like me? Or another sort of -phile? 


That Apartment in Brooklyn

3DAllYouCanDream1-216x300By now, most of you must know I have a new book out, The All You Can Dream Buffet by Barbara O’Neal.  It’s one of my favorite books so far, a tale of four food bloggers who gather at a lavender farm in Yamhill Co, Oregon, which has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. (It is no secret that I adore lavender and it was a delight to do the research, let me tell you.)

One of the things I did to support the release of the book was travel to New York for a class discussion at Fordham with my editor, and while I was there, I went to brooklyn & cassandraBrooklyn for a signing. (Waving to Cassandra Mariano, from Staten Island, who came in with her mother. So much fun to meet Facebook friends in new cities!)  My friend Therese Walsh, author of The Moon Sisters, had rented an apartment close to the bookstore where we were signing together.

It was a sweet little place, big by NYC standards, a fifth floor walk-up with essentially one big room and a well-appointed little kitchen with a big window and plenty of  space. The bathroom was a triangle barely large enough to stand in front of the sink, but who cares with a kitchen like that? A pile of New Yorker magazines were stacked by the couch, and spying them, I felt time shift abruptly and intensely. No longer was I standing there, too hot in my scarf and waiting for everyone to go downstairs. Instead I was instantly transported into my twenty-year-old self, who was a very hungry and ambitious writer who dreamed of having exactly that life–the one I would live in this apartment. I would have some not-very-thrilling job in the city and take the train back home, dragging my stuff up all those narrow flights of stairs to the apartment at the back, with three windows and turquoise appointments on the walls, and books everywhere and a curtain dividing my day life from my night.  For an iridescent moment, I floated there with Twenty, being both my selves, each image overlaying the other.  Now and then.

As we headed down the stairs, I smiled to myself, because in a way it has all come true, my writing life, born when I lived in a second floor apartment in an old house on a busy street in a city where cars drove by all night long and I had stacks of New Yorkers and piles of books everywhere, and a big kitchen where I never cooked anything because I was working and studying and partying all the time.  I read from The All You Can Dream Buffet and went to dinner with Therese and a couple other literary friends (all of us from Writer Unboxed) and we talked about what we’d done to make our dreams come true, to capture for ourselves a literary life.  I drank wine in Brooklyn and thought of that girl, who was waiting for it all to happen.  When I got back to Chelsea (taking not the train but a cab even if was expensive because I’d been on the go all day to meetings and lunch and then a long, long evening and maybe the train at 11 pm was more than I really wanted to deal with–plus one of the gifts of being Not Twenty is the liquidity to take a cab when one wishes), I walked out into the night to take one last look at the silvery finger of the Empire State Building sticking up into the dark sky. I walked to the store in the mild night and bought water and milk for my coffee. Twenty was pleased, and so was I, walking back on the quiet street, with the smell of garbage somewhere in a can not quite closed, and voices in an apartment, and a glimpse of a classroom in the school.

Have you ever encountered a younger self in the street somewhere? 

All Is Well, even if it doesn’t seem like it

It has been a traumatic period in the history of my city.

A photo I took the Friday before last at the Arcade.
A photo I took the Friday before last at the Arcade.

Last Friday night, I watched the water pour through Manitou Springs, over the sidewalks and bridges, through the streets, through a café I love. The water is black and thick with debris and it’s wrecking things.  Things I love.  Things that feel like they define me.

Last summer it was Waldo Canyon. I know there was a lot of coverage of the loss of homes, and that was deeply tragic. But my loss was the hiking trail there. I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately. There was a meadow by the creek where the trails diverged at the circle point. People camped there, though I never did. I would have been too afraid of bears wandering about to get the raspberries that grew thick along the ravine.

I hiked there, though, more times than I can count.  I walked with my friend Renate, a charming German who made me laugh, and Chrysauna, a young teacher with ice blue eyes.  Once, my friend Heather and I had to take the last of the hike at a .10 of a mile an hour pace to let an old dog rest. His paws had grown raw over the hike and he was too big too carry.

Mostly, I remember early mornings in high summer, with hot blue skies and a group of cheerful companions in good boots parking their cars at the lot and tromping up the stairs to the trail, laughing and joking and feeling good about ourselves because we were going to hike.

I loved that trail.  The raspberry bushes, and the place where we stopped behind a bunch of boulders to pee, deep in the shade of Ponderosas.  The switchbacks up the long steep stretch about a third of the way through, and the spot were we always, always stopped to admire Pikes Peak in full revealed glory, one of the best views in the county.  I loved the high view of the city, hazy in the distance, and the spot where we stopped sometimes to eat a snack, on a long log that had fallen sometime ago.  Once, Chrysauna and I got lost and ended up in Crystola, and had to call Christopher Robin to come get us.


There is some part of me that kept thinking, quite irrationally, that if I had a cheerful attitude that somehow the trail would be restored.  That somehow, some miracle would happen and—It has come home to me lately that I will never hike there again. It is gone. It only exists now in my imagination. It was burned to nothing in that big fire. We are not allowed to go there, and even if we were, I would not know it.This is not easy for me. I know it is not like losing house.  But it’s a pretty gigantic loss to me. It’s personal.

The Friday before last, I was restless from working too many hours and I texted a friend to see if she wanted to go to Adam’s Mountain Café with me. We sat on the patio by the creek and watched the creek rush by in its stony channel and ate grilled watermelon salad and a Small Planet burger and even indulged desert. Afterwards, we ambled through the arcade and I stopped to have my ritual sip of water from the ever-flowing fountain.

I have been wandering over to Manitou since I was a small child. It tugs me to its bosom when I am tired or confused or lost, allows me to dance on its streets when I’m celebrating.  It holds my life like a prism, showing now the the wild me, the young me, the weary me, the Colorado native me.  Every time I walk through that arcade, I am five again, with my father’s hand in mine, and I am looking down at the creek visible between the boards beneath my feet. I am sure I could fall through.  My father assures me I will not.

I never have.

The Friday before last with my friend, I resisted buying salt water taffy from Patty’s, and instead bought a copper bracelet to see if it would heal my wrist. I shot Instagram photos of the old-timey signs. I thought, with gratitude, of how much I love the place. The hot sun burning my head. The arcade, the restaurant, the twisting streets.  The hippies, the homeless kids, the tourists, the old timers with their grizzled long hair, the dogs.

Last Friday afternoon, an inch of rain fell on the Waldo Canyon burn scar.  In a half hour, the water came roaring down the canyon, washing over a highway, sweeping cars ahead of its raging force.  Houses were torn off their foundations, 40 cars were swept away. One man died, a woman is still missing. It’s chaotic.

This has all happened before, the fires and the floods.  It will happen again. All of it.  I understand—intellectually—that it’s a normal, natural process.  Emotionally, I feel grief and exhaustion.  Emotionally, I wonder what can really possibly be done to really stop the floods from destroying Manitou. That might seem unnecessarily negative, but those bold facts stand there, staring.  The burn scar is naked and enormous.  There are three canyons that feed into the town. There is no place for the water to go.

Eventually, maybe levees will be built. Eventually, there will be even more ideas that are better than that.  In the meantime, every time there are thunderstorms over the scar, we are collectively looking at Manitou.

When the fires licked so close to the skirts of the town, I chanted under my breath, please not Manitou, please not Manitou, please not Manitou.  And it was spared.  What does not seem plain is how it will fare under this new threat.

The good news is, we are toward the end of the summer.  The monsoons will slow.  And we have all learned, in our beautiful city, that life is more precious than we realized. Things can change in an instant, when a spark ignites a forest. When a rainstorm arrives, as always, on a summer afternoon.

That’s the thing. Life is always random. We just pretend that it is not. Fire brings it home. Floods remind us. But it’s always like this.  Ultimately, life is dangerous and unpredictable.

It is also so unbearably perfect.  I am lucky enough to have the shady, fragrant trails of the Waldo Canyon trail in my mind, living and breathing in my imagination. As long as I live, it will live with me.  Manitou, as it is right now and perhaps always will be, also lives.

Once again, I remember: be here now. What we have is today.  This moment. In my world it is sunny and summer, cool enough with a breeze coming in through the window that I thought about putting on sleeves.  My old cat is sleeping her box.  A big fly is in the window. Clothes are washing.

Be here now.  What is your here and now?

A dog, a ball, and a lake


My brother had a dog named Loki, a black springer spaniel mutt, who loved the water and loved chasing balls. If you combined the two, say a lake and a 1012181_481787078578553_1501958219_nball, he would chase that baby for hours.  Hours.  Until his legs were shaking. Until the sun was setting. Until my brother had to leash him to make him stop.

That’s what exercise should feel like.  Believe it or not, there is an exercise out there that will feel that good to you. Our bodies were designed to move and every single one of us has something that will feel like that spaniel and the ball in the lake

As I’ve said before, I was the anti-PE girl.  And I’m still so uncoordinated that I wouldn’t dare pick up a tennis racket or try to throw a baseball. But this afternoon, I headed out to the garden.  I kept thinking I should go swimming because I’ve been doing it a lot and my massage therapist said that my back looks great, and many of us are headed out to the national RWA conference next week, so I wanted something to keep looking good. Calves and back, that’s what I’ve got. (And forearms, baby. Let me flex my forearms for you sometime. Please?) Everything else is showing its age.

What I did instead of swim was drift out to the garden.  READ MORE  >>>>>

Fare thee well, James

I’m trying to remember to post when I have blogs elsewhere, which is quite a lot more than it is here these days.  (The Goddess Blogs, Writer Unboxed, Reinventing Fabulous)….
By now you’ve all heard the news about actor James Gandolfini, who died of an apparent heart attack in Rome.  Weirdly fitting that he was on his way to Sicily.

I don’t get much into celebrity watching, the lives and deaths and weddings and babies of famous folk, but I am quite sad about the passing of Gandolfini.  There was something real and true and clean about him, a deep understanding of the vulnerability of the human condition that made his acting one of the best things we’ve ever seen. Continue reading at The Goddess Blogs


I haven’t had enough artist’s dates recently.  Every time I imagine taking the afternoon off to enjoy something–a friend, a meander through a bookstore, a movie–I start fretting about what I’ll have to give up to get that. Work or exercise mainly.  I won’t give up the afternoons with Amara, which are artist’s dates in many ways, and there is a garden to put in now that the ground is warming.  Gardening can be an artist’s date, of course, especially a little later in the season when I’m buried in flowers and emerging vegetables.

Hilary, the wild-mind, tattooed bad girl who does most of the heavy lifting, has been rebelling as a result of this neglect. I realized it over the weekend and made a resolve to do more for her–let her direct us to shoot photos in the morning before we start writing, arrange some flowers, spend an afternoon a week out doing something like wandering the shops on the westside or having tapas with a friend or…whatever.

Yesterday, I went to Pueblo to see my parents.  It’s been way, way, way too long since I’ve seen them–another example of my neglect of the rest of my life–and we went to lunch on the Riverwalk (actually, we ate at Angelos, which is the site of a pinnacle scene in The Garden of Happy Endings), then meandered back to the car along Union Avenue.  There is a massive and wonderful antique shop there.  We stopped.  All of us look at different things, though at first my mother and I look at each other’s stuff, then we wander into our own worlds.  I never know what will catch my eye, if anything.  I’m pretty ruthless about bringing too much stuff into my house.

Almost as soon as I walked in yesterday, this caught my eye.



A window. The screen is still intact, and despite the worn look of the paint, it’s quite solid, $25, with 20% off, making it $20. I was smitten, but forced myself to walk away until I’d gone through the whole place.  When I circled back, I still wanted it, my mind offering possibilities–it could be a mini greenhouse. I could put a light inside and photos on the windows and hang it in my dark basement.  It could form the structure for a collage.  It could even be a backdrop for photos, studio-like, if I set it up right.

Whatever. I thought about whether it would even fit in my Mini, especially since my mom was riding in the backseat. Maybe not–but I could always have my father bring it to me.  I just knew that it would be one of those things I’d think about later, wishing I’d given myself permission to play.  Check out the chain.

So I paid a whopping $20. It fit just fine in the back of the Mini, especially once I dropped my parents off and could put the seats down.

And I’ve been happy about it ever since.  I might paint it a very light aqua and cream or just clean it up and distress it.  Or put shelves in.  Whatever. Hilary is happy and occupied, playing with ideas and possibilities. Giving her this little present is exactly what she deserves.

Oh, I also bought some charming little bottles for flower vases, but wordpress is not letting me post a photo.  Who knows why.

A great artist’s date–and I spent time with my parents, too!


Upcoming workshops and appearances

Have settled the summer schedule:

June 15, 3013:
Missouri Romance Writers
“The Heroine’s Journey”
Booksigning: 12:30
Maryland Heights Centre, 2344 McKelvey Road, Maryland Heights, MO

July 16-20, 2013
Romance Writers of American National Conference
Panel on Romantic Women’s Fiction
Friday 2-3 pm
Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atlanta GA

July 28-August 3, 2013
Antioch Summer Writing Institute
Writing Commericial Fiction workshop
Mornings, all week
Antioch University, Santa Barbara

A New Walker

Yesterday, I took Amara to the park.  We walked most of the way.  I couldn’t help but think of my grandmother, walking with me in a dozen parks and on hundreds of city blocks and country roads and shopping malls and small towns.

So the circle turns.  What a blessing!

Afoot with Amara



South Island, New Zealand Trip Report, #1

January 10, 2013


(Having trouble adding images….will try to add more later today….)

It’s raining this morning, a very agreeable weather considering how many days in a row we’ve been moving, moving, moving. I was delighted at the moody weather when we drove in last night, heavy clouds in dark puffs around the startlingly high, steep mountains and the enormous, long lake.

There is a reason a tourist town becomes a tourist town.

And the rain gives me time to collect a few thoughts about the trip so far. Everyone else has gone swimming, so I am left in the silence of the apartment to gather the sea- and sun- and delight-drenched moments to see what we have here. It goes so fast when you’re in the middle of it, and I have rarely been anywhere I felt so very much at home, but of course, we are outdoors, doing outdoor things, and when we are not, we are drinking tea and or ginger beer or choosing a little cake from a glass case.

How to gather a thousand moments into something coherent for you? I don’t have time to condense it all, so just follow along as you will.

Three words: color, animals, the sea.

I knew NZ was beautiful. I’d seen bits of it ten years ago, on a whirlwind trip to the North Island. The sea and trees and mountains are a winning combination.

But when we came South, I was not expecting it to be so mouth-gapingly beautiful, so lavishly painted with color. How many times have I stood still to grapple with ways to describe the layers and layers and layers of color here? Not all colors, but two of my favorites–blue and green. The bays, perhaps because they are relatively shallow, are startling shades of aquamarine, turquoise. The mountains are green close in, blue and bluer and bluest against the horizon of blue sky. The Abel Tasman park has to be one of the most gorgeous spots I’ve ever seen, with that stunning colored sea and the islands covered with heavy bush, and little caves coyly placed nearby gold sand beaches.

In Marlborough, were the Sauvignon Blanc grapes have become the countries largest fruit export (at 68% of the total), the rolling hills are planted endlessly with green vines, that familiar striped pattern undulating for miles and miles and miles, all of it quilted against soft brown hills that look as velvety as antlers.

And everything remarkably uncrowded, even at one of the busy times of year. We have encountered crowds, of course, at the main sites, but nothing like they would be in any busy tourist center in the US or Europe at the corresponding high season.

I thought Abel Tasman was as beautiful as it could get, but then we arrived in Kaikoura, where the mountains are taller, and then we drove further down to Dunedin’s little town on the sea, and now we’ve arrived in Queenstown, which is even more startling.

A lot of it looks like Scotland to me, the lochs and the hills, the sudden sweep of a turn that reveals a bay or an expanse of ocean.


It feels in a way that my education this time is all about the ocean. What lives there, how it looks, how it smells, how it feels. Just how very salty it is on my face by the end of a day of kayaking. Just how tangled my hair can be (and full! and wavy!) I grew up in Colorado, so there was no sea, but I remember clearly the first time I saw the ocean, the Pacific in Southern California. It was a windy day and the steel gray waves were high and choppy, and then it died down and we wandered on the beach picking up shells. I have no idea where we were exactly–somewhere near San Diego, I’m guessing. Ever after, I had the sense that the ocean would make me happy. I struggled to get back to California, and almost joined the Navy (but they would have made me cut my waist length hair). I landed there again a couple more times before my children were born, on a long wander down the coast at nineteen, and a couple of months living in San Diego a year or so later.

But then I settled in to go to college, and then raise my boys, and we traveled to the interior of the country more often than not. Sometimes, RWA conferences were held by the sea, and I could visit. A few times, I visited friends who had access, and they would take pity on my yearning and we’d go to peer in tide pools or walk along the sand so I could get my feet wet. My family and I took a ferry across the Irish Sea and I learned I can be terribly seasick. CR and I took a ferry from Vancouver to Victoria, British Columbia, which was astonishingly beautiful. When I started teaching at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference (which I will be doing again this summer–please come!), I had the most beach access of my life–that vast beach in the early morning, deserted except for me and my yoga mat, the boats bouncing gently under the June gloom.

The ocean itself, its vast, deep depths still were a mystery to me. I don’t really eat fish. I don’t know how they live and grow. I know it’s deep. I know things live in the water. I have no desire to swim in it. (Okay, maybe I’d swim by the Great Barrier Reef. That was very clear water. You can see what’s coming.)

This trip seems all about Things That Live In And Around The Ocean. Whales, seals, dolphins, sea birds, fish. The gigantic Royal Albatross, with it’s six foot wing span, wings that fold in threes, neatly, like origami, over its gigantic back. It can fly 1000 km in a day. It knows how to get back to the place it was born so that it can mate. Sometimes mated pairs arrive at the mating ground within hours of each other. Hours, after flying alone, thousands of miles, for months on end. How do they DO that?

How delicious is it that there are varieties of squid for every level of feeder along the currents where squids live? Seals it one variety, whales and penguins each another type.

I have learned to recognize three kids of sea gulls, all of them big and bossy and brash. I don’t like them since being mugged by one in Santa Barbara, but this time, I sat and watched a trio bathing at the edge of the water, fluttering wings and dipping heads, and it was peaceful and kindly, a ritual of conversation, coos and clicks. It isn’t their fault that they are the tourist scavenger birds from hell.

The whale was impressive, but nowhere close to as thrilling for me as the pod of little dolphins we saw, frolicking and dancing, or the baby seal pups diving and swirling in a small pool ringed with adults sunning themselves with one eye open.

This afternoon is more rain and a quiet dinner alone with CR. In between, my sister and law and I are going to indulge at the spa, which is a holiday sort of thing to do, as well.

More as I am able.

Oh, PS: KAYAKING ROCKS! How is it possible I never indulged this pursuit until three years ago??