#304–The Florence Festival of Books is back . . .

I’m back to writing my blog post every Friday!!! And the Florence Festival of Books is back––as of last weekend. Much was the same, but much was different. It had the same events—the Friday afternoon panel discussion, the Friday evening Keynote Speaker, and the book fair from 10 to 4 p.m. on Saturday. And all events were held at the Florence Events Center.

William Sullivan and Bob Welch in the background, Friday afternoon panelists and Festival participants, with their books at the Saturday book fair. Sullivan is speaking with publisher Bob Serra of Maple Creek Press (my publisher).

To attendees at the book fair on Saturday, it must have seemed the same except for the masks, which everyone wore. But when they entered the display area and started walking from table to table, they realized that the configuration was different. There was a much wider space for walking around. That’s because instead of four rows in the middle, there were only two and the tables were spaced more widely. Thus, allowing for social distancing for participants as well as attendees.

One third of the tables had been left out. Instead of 80+ participants, there were about 55. I think the break down was 50 authors and 5 publishers. It was hard to keep track. Because of the virus, several participants decided during the last week before the Festival not to participate. That made it so we were able to provide a table for everyone on the waiting list. Then one participant showed up Friday evening that we were not expecting. He didn’t find his name on the list, but he had paid and had his receipt. He emailed me. I emailed Aleia at the FEC and by 8:30 the next morning, when the doors opened for the participants, we were ready for him.

We were thrilled that the Oregon State University Press was one of our participating publishers. It was their first time at the FFOB.

Saturday morning a little after 8 before I headed for the FEC, I checked my mobile phone and no messages from participants. But after I arrived, I checked again and another one was dropping out. He was coming from Portland and had set his alarm for about 4 a.m., but the phone rang even earlier to say his son needed him cause his daughter-in-law was going into labor and they were heading for the hospital. He got up and went over to stay with their toddler. And the baby—a little girl—was born that afternoon.

So, right up to the last minute we were making changes, and all but one were due to the surge of the Delta Variant.

And we didn’t know for sure if we were even going to be able to hold the Festival. As of August 21, we could have a total of 200 people maximum occupancy in the FEC. But that could change at any time. Lane County often made restriction changes on a Tuesday that would take affect the following Friday, and sometimes, the FEC didn’t really get the word until Wednesday. So, when we made it to Wednesday evening with no occupancy changes, I felt we could actually pull it off.

Bob Welch listening attentively to a potential book buyer.

The FFOB Planning Committee normally starts meeting in early April, but this year we spent all of April and most of May debating whether we should even try for a large indoor event during a pandemic. If we did, would any participants sign up? Would they want to stay indoors for several hours surrounded by people not in their bubble? And would the public even attend?  

 We decided to plan for it with Covid restrictions and be ready to pull the plug at a moment’s notice. So, we got a late start with a smaller than normal committee that met at first via Zoom. We got the applications out a month late, and were amazed when we were booked up within a few weeks. and started a waiting list We didn’t expect it, but we didn’t really know what to expect.

In May, I asked two of my favorite Oregon writers, Bob Welch and Bill Sullivan, if they would participate in the Friday afternoon panel discussion. Because of the pandemic, they were not solidly booked up and they agreed to do it. I was thrilled; I was over the moon. I had asked them a few years before, and they were too busy. This was a positive that I could chalk up to the pandemic.

Melody Carlson (left) was our Keynote Speaker. She is one of America’s most prolific and beloved romance writers with 250-300 books to her credit. We felt very fortunate to have her. Vicky Sharbowski (right) is part of the planning committee and a fan of Melody’s books.

Our Keynote Speaker, Melody Carlson, who had been scheduled the year before—the year we had to cancel—agreed to wait a year. What a sweetheart! She writes for children, teens, and grownups—mostly women. She has written between 250 and 300 books, which are mostly romances. She learned as a young mother to write when she could find the time and to write fast. She doesn’t know what “writer’s block” is. She has won numerous awards for her writing in the romance genre. She also has a Hallmark movie to her credit and another in the works.

We felt very pleased to have this all-star line-up, for our 10th Festival of Books. It was a milestone year for us––in more ways than one.

George Byron Wright, a returning participant from Portland, has a terrific set of books that he has written. I have a couple and want to get more.

Then we did everything we always do. We contacted sponsors (without whom the Festival would not happen), sent out press releases to the media in June aimed at participants and again in August aimed at attendees.  We got flyers/posters designed and then distributed by mail from Portland to Bend to Ashland to Astoria to Brookings to their newspapers, libraries, bookstores, and tourist hot spots Then we got them plastered even more so in Florence, Eugene, Reedsport, and Yachats.

Lori Tobias, from Newport, was a reporter for the Oregonian for years and her new book, Storm Beat, is her memoir of being a coastal reporter. She has attended the Festival at least four times and recently did an article published in a couple of places where she interviewed me about the Festival. (See on my Facebook page)
Joe Blakely, a Eugene author, comes most years to the FFOB,
and his books are quite popular.

We lined up and trained volunteers for each of the activities. We had advertising in a regional magazine. We had an advertising package with KCST where they recorded radio spots (by me) and an interview for Our Town by two committee members and were there on Saturday with a live feed, interviewing everyone. We had an advertising package with the newspaper too with ads, articles, and the insert filled with articles writen by committee members (mostly me this year) and the table layout with participants and their table numbers (some of which got changed after it was printed). The insert goes out with the paper the Wednesday before and is our program at the book fair on Saturday.

Marianne Rudd, a new Festival participant this year, wrote a book about riding this bicycle across the country. It was quite an attraction.

This is what we do every year plus more that we just didn’t have time for this time. This year, we always had the fear that in spite of all our efforts, it may not happen. With the surge of the Delta Variant right in Florence in September, we were worried. At our last committee meeting just a week before the Festival, we voted on whether to go ahead, postpose with date to be announced, or cancel. My agenda for the meeting had a Plan A if we voted to go ahead and Plan B if not. We voted to go ahead.

We also lost a committee member one week before the Festival. Ellen Traylor has been on the committee since its inception. During the last few years, she was unable to attend many meetings because of her husband’s health. The day before she passed away, she emailed me to say she would be unable to attend the meeting via Zoom because she had been in the hospital for a few days, but to let her know what we wanted her to do re the Festival. Then we learned the next morning that she was gone. We were stunned and still find it hard to believe.

This was taken in 2019 of the FFOB Planning Committee. It includes Bonnie MacDuffie, Karen D. Nichols, Maire Testa, Julie Jarvis, Vicky Sharbowski, me, Kevin Mittge, Aleia Bailey, and Ellen Traylor. Meg Spencer was taking the photo. We will miss Ellen on the committee.

In spite of everything, I’m glad we went ahead with the Festival. The crowds were small due to the pandemic, but everyone seemed upbeat. I heard over and over how glad people were to be there. The same was true of the participants. Lots of networking went on. Everyone was just so pleased to be around other writers. And at the panel discussion and the keynote address, the crowds were small, but very involved with the question and answer segments—a happy vibe. So, my takeaway of the Festival was that I loved every moment, sold about 2/3 as many books as I normally do, and thought it was all rather wonderful!

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#303–EcoGeneration––a supercalifragilistic event . . .

Note: For three Fridays in August, I will be taking time off from posting on my blog. I’ll lbe back in September.

Some things are good, some things are very good, and some things are what I call supercalifragilistic good!  EcoGeneration Recycling Take-Backs falls into this third category. This organization helps the entire planet with its plastics recycling program.

This seems to be a very successful plastics recycling group, which is sorely needed everywhere.

After China refused to take any more plastics from the U.S., there were short-lived, good-hearted attempts and slightly longer, half-hearted attempts, all of which resulted in much confusion. But now there is EcoGeneration. I was afraid to say anything about them earlier because I didn’t know if it would last, but this past Sunday was the third such event and the second one that I’ve attended.

Let me point out right here that EcoGeneration does not handle plastics that have the 10¢ return deposit. Those can be returned elsewhere.

In Florence, it is held at Siuslaw Middle School.

EcoGeneration deals with just about everything else. And these folks are serious. Every single item is examined. Let me repeat that, every single item is examined. If you dump out 100 yogurt containers, every, single one is checked. If there is one that is not acceptable, it is returned to you. These folks are serious about what they do. And one volunteer said to me, “And these will be looked at again.” So, nothing gets past them.

Folks just kept coming with their bags all sorted.

Learning Curve

If you don’t have everything exactly correct, never fear. These folks are excellent instructors. I had a bag of yogurt containers last May on my first time. I truly did not think the labels would come off. The young fellow looked in my bag and told me that the labels had to come off. When I told him, I didn’t think it was possible, he patiently showed me how to find the “zipper.” He then unzipped one and slipped off the entire label in less than two seconds. I was so impressed that when I got home, I gleefully unzipped and removed labels on about 60 containers in about 10 minutes. So, this time, when I went to the Siuslaw Middle School on August 1, I had those plus a bunch more and received a totally different response. The volunteer dumped them out, looked at each one, and said, “I wish all recyclers were like you!” The yogurt containers were part of the #5s. That’s the number in the triangle at the bottom of the container.

Masks and social distancing and lots of patience with those bringing in their plastics for recycling.

At the #2s table, all my containers also passed muster. I was on a roll!

But that ended at the #1s table, as some items were returned to me. The clamshells, containers that berries are sold in, and other flimsier plastic containers fall into a different category, although they, too, were marked #1. I learned that not all #1s are the same.

At the last table, they took all my lids. I had a plastic bag with every single plastic lid I’ve used since May 2. That’s when I learned that lids can also be recycled. Even though they took them, they said that they will have to be sorted. They advised me to look for numbers and any paper that may be tucked inside. And I would need to remove any labels on the lids. The learning curve continues.


Now I have a new word in my vocabulary––delabeling. At the May EcoGeneration event, I came home with all of my dozens of milk containers because they still had labels on them. I experimented with various ways to remove them and found a system that works for me.

To me, the secret is to take your time to get it started and then peel ever so slowly. Any stickum left on can be easily removed with Goo Gone.

If you just rip them off with much of the label still attached, there is no easy way to get it all off. Some people soak them overnight. My secret is to use my thumb nails and work very slowly. I work a thumb nail under all along one end loosening it, and then––ever so slowly––ease the entire label off. If a little bit of stickum is still there, I shoot it with my spray bottle of Goo Gone. i work it in with a scrubber until it feels smooth. Then I wash it with soapy water.

I don’t enjoy doing this to a huge pile of items. So, I’ve gotten into the habit of delabeling each item as I empty it, whether it’s milk, peanut butter, or pill bottle containers. After each one is delabeled and washed, it goes into my plastics collecting garbage bag in the garage.


When it’s time to attend the recycling event, I take my three or four garbage bags of containers and sort them. l use my laundry baskets to help sort. And, because it is hard to read some of the numbers hiding within the recycling triangle at the bottom of each container, I have a bright light and magnifying glass.

These berry containers are referred to as “clamshells” and they plus other flimsier #1s can be delabeled and go into a brown paper bag, to be recycled. There is a cost of $20 per bag.

After doing it a couple of times, you just know the numbers for certain containers. So, like with anything else, it becomes easier with practice.

There is a way to recycle those clamshells and other #1s, but it costs money. Up to this point, there is no charge to attend the recyling event, but they do accept donations. The cost to recycle the clamshells and other #1s is $20 per filled large brown paper bag. Next time, I will have enough to fill a brown paper bag.

Many people attend with their bags clearly numbered. The next EcoGeneration event is scheduled for October 3, 2021, at Siuslaw Middle School in Florence––11 a.m. for seniors and noon for everyone else.

It’s not just a good thing, it’s supercalifragilistic! I’ll be there. Hope to see you too!

Note: EcoGeneration works with Lane County as Community Collectors for clean, label-free plastics coded #2,#4, #5. They also collect and recycle within several other streams of waste and collect at various locations in Lane County. For recycling questions, tips, up-to-date events, see Recycling with EcoGeneration Facebook group or http://www.ecogeneration.org.

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#302–New book is here; now the fun begins . . .

The Cancer Blog (TCB), all 1,500 copies, arrived during the first time for me to be away for more than a day in 19 months. Of course, they did. But my neighbors had been forewarned, and they made sure the 33 boxes of books were stacked on plastic in my book storage area. Thank you, one and all––especially Carole.

I am very pleased with my new book.

A few days after I was back, I met with my publisher at River Roasters, and we are both very happy with this new printer—Seaway Printing Company, Inc. of Green Bay, Wisconsin. We love the cover and the look and feel of the inside pages. And the color in the photos is nicely saturated. We are happy campers.

I will be contacting those who helped during my chemo period. These are the folks to whom TCB is dedicated. I will be giving each of them a comp copy. Now that the books are here, the fun begins––marketing. I am a one-woman show––I write, market, and deliver the books. I did some pre-marketing on my blog, my Facebook pages, and the Backstreet Gallery newsletter, but I haven’t been to events—such as Yachats Farmers Market, book fairs, and PowerPoint programs––where I would be passing out info about my new book. That really works, and I’ve missed doing that this year.

I will need to update my business cards . . .

I absolutely need to update my business card by adding the new book name on the back, create an invoice for TCB, write an info sheet about TCB that I will send to the appropriate venues that sell my other books. Some of the venues that have been the most consistent with selling my books, I will give a comp copy of the new one for them to look at and decide if they want to sell it.

Not all coastal venues will be interested in selling this book. So, I will have to seek out new venues. Since The Cancer Blog has to do with cancer and treatment and healing and staying positive, I will seek out places that have these connections.

. . . both front and back.

I will also seek advice from a friend who is a wiz at marketing through social media, I will check out Instagram since another social marketing wiz advised me to do so, and I am considering creating an actual website, instead of trying to sell books through my blog site.

And I will write a press release and send it out to newspapers, and try to get on at least one local radio show.

While it’s a real thrill to have a new book, it is also the start of a lot of work. It’s time to move on to the next phase. The writing phase is over and the selling phase is about to begin. . . . So, how many copies did you say you wanted?

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#301–Cruising the coast with Teeta in a Tesla . . .

Teeta had a new Tesla and wanted to drive it. So, she picked me up, and I played tour guide for the northern half of the Oregon coast while she drove.

Teeta’s new Tesla was too smart for me.

We planned the trip months ago and I made reservations in March because I know how slammed with tourists the Oregon coast is in July. I made reservations at places I either wanted to stay in or wanted to return to.

Trip to Astoria

We left Monday morning, and Teeta enjoyed the ocean views between Florence and Yachats. We stopped for coffee in Waldport.

The Grandview B&B was charming and delightful.

When we got to Lincoln City, we stopped at Volta Gallery because Teeta loves blown glass and that’s what they specialize in. And she did find something she wanted. Then we visited the glass blowing studio across the highway. More glass to oogle as well as watching the glass blowers.

We could have stopped at a dozen places to eat lunch with an ocean view before Lincoln City, but we weren’t hungry then. We went over to the ocean at Pacific City looking for a place to park with a view of the ocean but no luck. And we needed to make sure we could get to Astoria where Teeta planned to charge her car. So, we headed back to 101. We ate while we drove on to Astoria.


We found the Grandview B&B, which is an historic Victorian with friendly ladies managing it where we had reservations for two nights. It was not elegant, but charming and delightful. And eating breakfast in the only bullet turret in Astoria was a special treat. The breakfasts were very good, and we enjoyed our room. I had always wanted to stay in one of the historic Victorian B&Bs in Astoria; now I can cross that off my bucket list.

One morning, we had breakfast n the special bullet turret.

We found a place to charge the car across from the Fort Henry Brewery, pub, and bakery. We also found an angel who came from the Brew Pub, He was an older fellow, who also owned a Tesla. From his second story perch in the Brew Pub, he saw Teeta struggling with trying to figure out how to use this non-Tesla charger. He came down and helped. It was complicated, but with his help the car got charged.

We ended up having pizza and beer at the Fort Henry Brew Pub, and it was great. I enjoy beer from the tap right at the brewery. And the pizza was very good, but filling. We took half of it with us.

The next day we saw the Astoria Column, but did not climb up because there was low cloud cover and there would be no spectacular view. Then we toured the elegant Flavel House. It is just as fabulous as the last time I saw it. Then we went to the Columbia River Maritime Museum and spent a few hours there.

The fabulous Flavel House Museum.

We really scarfed down our pizza by the time we got back to the B&B. Then we talked and talked. We have been good friends for 60 years, which is very hard for us to believe, since we both feel about 40 . . . most of the time.

That night, we had no reservations and found that our first two choices were filled up or taking no walk-ins. We luckily stumbled upon Fulio’s Pastaria and a table was available. It was a fabulous Italian meal. We had really lucked out.

Off to Cape Foulweather and the Inn at Otter Crest

We stopped in Seaside at the Outlet Stores where we found Tesla superchargers. You can do major charging in much less time on these. While the car charged, we shopped. Of course, we did. It’s one Outlet Store after another. Who can resist!

Then we toured Seaside and Teeta enjoyed seeing the quaint cottages and brilliance of the flowers in the many flowerboxes. We also stopped to see the Lewis and Clark Salt Works that are on a side street—no longer on the beach. I thought we would get out and walk along the Prom, but it was too crowded.

The Lewis and Clark Salt Works in Seaside.

We cruised through the main street of Cannon Beach. There were so many people and no visible parking, so we moved on. We did check out Haystack Rock, as well as the one off Pacific City two days earlier.

Next stop, Manzanita. As soon as I saw a parking place, I said to take it. Mistake. This town was not as crowded and we walked and walked and walked and saw plenty of parking places. We looked but did not see any place to eat until finally a Mexican Café. It had very good food. Teeta also enjoyed the many flowers on our long walk back to the car.

When we got to Tillamook, Tillamook Cheese, where I wanted to stop for an ice cream cone as well as a self-guided tour, was jammed with people. So, we headed for Blue Heron French Cheese just a short distance down the road. We got lots of good cheese to take with us and some still warm small baguettes, as well as a Tillamook Ice Cream cone. And we got to see the petting animals—pea hens, chickens, a goat, an alpaca, and more. We enjoyed this stop.

Wonderful cheeses, plus Tillamook ice cream cones.

We also stopped at Bear Creek Artichokes, between Tillamook and Pacific City, and got some wine and salad to go with our cheese and baguettes for a dinner in. The Mexican food earlier had been very filling.

We arrived at the Inn at Otter Crest by taking the northern route. We took the single lane around Cape Foulweather and Teeta, as well as her car wondered if I knew where I was directing them. Just when I was beginning to wonder myself, the Inn appeared.

I had stayed at Otter Crest about 25 years ago with a group from Oregon Coast magazine. I loved it, and always wanted to come back. Beautifully landscaped grounds, fabulous views from the rooms, and a special tram to take you to your room were just as I remembered. The Inn is composed of 24 buildings on a slope overlooking the ocean.

The Inn at Otter Crest (near the top) is located on the slope of a rugged part of the coast.

Our room did have a fabulous view and was spacious. We enjoyed staying in and having a terrific dinner of all the goodies we had accumulated.

Onward to Yachats and The Adobe Resort

We slept in and checked out at 11. Since they didn’t have breakfast at the Inn, we stopped at The Chalet in Newport. It was fabulous (and we were hungry). I had a Belgium waffle with bacon and an egg on the side. Then we toured Nye Beach, which was quite crowded just like all the other tourist hot spots.

Teeta likes beads and in Nye Beach, a sign saying BEADS caught her eye. So, we stopped at Nye Cottage Beads. What an amazing assortment for anyone into beading.  And Teeta found something she needed.

Nye Cottage Beeds has fabulous assortment.

We also cruised through the BayFront. Too crowded, so we didn’t stop. On to Yachats. We checked into the Adobe early and our room wasn’t ready, so we headed out to explore the town. We got some coffee and checked out the town and then had lunch at The Drift Inn. Always good food there. I had a hamburger and fries and couldn’t eat it all.

We headed to the Overleaf Lodge to charge the car. Then back to the Adobe where we got our key and headed to our room on the second floor. When we used the key card to open the door, imagine out surprise when we found that there were people already in the room. What a shock! We immediately closed the door. Then it opened and a woman came out and we showed her our card with that room’s number. Somebody goofed!

The Adobe Resort is right on the water.

Back to the front desk where they finally figured out how it happened. Then they started looking for a room for us. Only rooms left were two on first floor with no ocean view or one on third floor with view and king bed. We need two beds—I have restless legs and Teeta flip-flops through the night. So, we took the king room and requested a rollaway.

The rollaway was larger than most twin beds. And it turned out to be very comfortable. The room was huge, the view fantastic, and we were happy campers. Both the couple in our original room and Teeta and I in this third floor room got better rooms than we each paid for! Not a bad deal, after all.

We went to the Adobe dining room for dinner, which is one of my favorite places on the entire Oregon coast. I wasn’t real hungry, so I ordered the steamed clams that were on the “starters” part of the menu, had a cup of soup with some bread and that was it. Oh! We did share a gigantic piece of chocolate cake that was delish! Then I was full, very full! Teeta turned in early, but I sat up and watched the waves that were lit by the Adobe’s lights. The rooms are very close to the waves. It was wonderful.

Teeta at the rock shelter at Cape Perpetua.

Heading back to Florence

The next morning, we went to the lobby area and received a bag breakfast of many items that we could choose among. We went back to our room to eat and then packed up and left at check-out time. Just a few miles south of Yachats is Cape Perpetua. We turned off the highway and went up to the top of the cape and took the trail to the rock shelter. What a fabulous view and the day was gorgeous. Teeta was impressed.

We stopped to see Heceta Head Lighthouse and the Keepers House and the Cape Creek Bridge, but didn’t stay—too crowded.

We stopped in Florence and Teeta charged her car. While it charged we went up one side of Old Town and down the other. I felt just like a tourist, until I saw familiar folks. Then I knew I was home.

My Astoria refrigerator magnet to remember the trip–– Maritime Museum, the Astoria-Megler Bridge, Flavel House, and Astoria Columnm.

The takeaway: For the first time in 19 months, I went beyond Yachats or Eugene and ate in restaurants––lots of them. I also discovered that a Tesla is way too smart for me. And Teeta got to cool off from the hot weather of California, got to see the northern half of the Oregon coast, and got to drive her new Tesla. Most importantly, it was a wonderful trip for two long-time friends.

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#300–In praise of my refrigerator magnets . . .

When some people travel, they return home with art to adorn the walls, crystal or pottery to adorn shelves, or books to adorn the coffee table. I, on the other hand, return home with refrigerator magnets. Okay! I do have some crystal and pottery and books along with lots of pamphlets and postcards. But, nowadays, I’m running out of space. So, refrigerator magnets it is!

Love the historic village and gift shop, which are part of the Kern County Museum.

Oops! I almost forgot, I collect Christmas ornaments, so I do keep my eye out for really special ones. So, ornaments and magnets are on my radar when I’m traveling.

One of the reasons I like refrigerator magnets is that they are seen and enjoyed every day every time I open my fridge. Here are some of my favorites:

For years, on my trips to Bakersfield to see my family, which I did three times a year for many years, I would stop at the Kern County Museum and visit their gift shop as well as the village composed of historic buildings from throughout the county. The village was amazing and one day, just by chance, I saw a house being transported along city streets in very slow motion on the way to the historic village. And I always found something special in the gift shop. I couldn’t resist this  magnet, which just fits my sense of humor.

A favorite painting at the J. Paul Getty Museum in L.A.

The J. Paul Geddy Museum in the L.A. area is perched high on a hill top. It is easily accessible from a nearby freeway and parking is plentiful. Then  you take a tram to the top and have fabulous views of the L.A. area. When I was there, no smog blocked the views. The buildings are stone surrounded by gardens. The whole place is very impressive––outside and the vast amount of art exhibited inside the many buildings. You could spend days and not see everything. I have been there with my sister, Edna, and her ex about a decade ago. Then a few years ago, I visited it again with my friend Theresa Baer who lives in the L.A. area. I got this magnet on my first visit. Both times this painting by Fernand Khnopff titled Jeanne Kefer (detail), 1885, stopped me in my tracks. And I wasn’t the only one. The docent on duty told me that it is one the most popular paintings on display.

One of many windmills seen in Solvang.

Yes, Solvang has windmills. Many of the businesses sport windmills and some others are actually real. Solvang is a tourist attraction, but a delightful tourist attraction. It is built like a fairy tale Danish village with many delightful shops. Theresa and I have been there twice and we would go back in a heartbeat. The Havarti cheese and the chocolate were to die for. We checked out their Elverhoj Museum of History and Art, the Old Mission Santa Ines on the edge of town, and other fascinating and less touristy towns in the Santa Ynez Valley. The visits were great fun, and I have my windmill magnet as a souvenir.

Even though it fell and broke into three pieces, it ia a favorite.

We also went to Barstow, even though everyone wondered why—including the folks working at the Barstow visitor center. They asked where we were headed and were momentarily dumbfounded when we said Barstow. Theresa wanted to get out of L.A. and see the desert, and that is what we did. It was Christmas time and perfect weather. We found many terrific places to eat in town and fabulous places to see such as the NASA Space Museum and the Route 66 Museum both housed in the over-the-top Harvey House train station––all in town. Outside of town, we saw lots of Joshua trees and toured Rainbow Basin one day and spent another day at Calico Ghost Town.  I love my cactus magnet from Calico and was upset when the freezer door slammed open, hit the wall, and my magnet broke into three pieces when it hit the floor. Thank goodness for Elmer’s glue.

In remembrance of some wonderful meals.

When my sister and I spent two weeks driving up the Maine coast a few years ago, my goal was to check out their lighthouses and eat lotsa lobster. I accomplished my goals and I have this red, metal magnet to remember how delish the lobster was. The first evening there, we had the classic Maine dinner—whole lobster, corn on the cob, and steamed clams with blueberry pie for dessert. We had had little sleep on the overnight flight and meals had been spotty, so we were very hungry and enjoyed it all.

A fun way to remember Acadia National Park.

My sister’s goals were to visit the home and museum of one of her favorite authors––Sarah Orne Jewett––and to stay on one of the many islands off the Maine coast. And we did both of those. The island we stayed on was Vinalhaven––truly a step back in time, and definitely not a tourist trap. We couldn’t get over the friendliness of the people. One of our last days in Maine, we visited Acadia National Park and had the traditional tea and popovers at the Jordan Pond House. This clever teacup magnet caught my eye in the gift shop.

My sister and I walked here.

In 2019, my sister and I went to Washington D.C. and saw everything we planned to see and much more. Neither of us had been there before, so we treated it as a once-in-a life-time trip and filled all 16 days with memories. One day, we took a cruise along the Potomac to Mount Vernon. It was exciting to walk around the house where George Washington actually lived. I was amazed that it was not a mansion but a very nice farm house with a couple of special rooms for visiting dignitaries. I couldn’t resist this magnet from the Mount Vernon gift shop.

II’ve had this one for many years. It has a place of honor on the fridge.

And, many years ago, on a visit to Florence before moving here, I bought this magnet, not knowing that it would become my favorite bridge of all the McCullough bridges on the coast of Oregon. It holds a place of honor on the fridge.

I do enjoy my magnets. And I’m sure I’ll continue to add more. . . . Maybe I should invest in a larger refrigerator. Hmm!

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#299–Back in the groove––sorta . . .


My normal summers were busy with trips up and down the coast, delivering books for sales, which I’d already arranged over the phone or by email and had the invoices ready. Sundays were spent at the Yachats Farmers Market selling books, every other Wednesday I was at the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum as a docent, and I’d put in three or four days a month clerking at Backstreet Gallery as a member/owner. I also edited the newsletter and press releases and was in charge of receptions every other month at the Gallery.

Not at the Yachats Farmers Market this year. I miss being there.

The rest of my time in summer was devoted to the Florence Festival of Books––regular meetings twice a month and subcommittee meeting more often and, as secretary, I wrote up and distributed minutes and did the agendas. I also wrote many press releases and articles, contacted many of the sponsors, was in charge of the marketing sub-committee, delivered flyers and posters all over western Oregon either in person or by mail to all the venues that carry my books.  

What a Difference a Year Makes, Again

2020 was a lost year. When it came to my book sales, they were down by 87%. The Museum was closed, and the Gallery reopened at the end of June last year at reduced hours and only a few days a week. So, I ventured out very little last summer. 

This summer, 2021, some things are getting back to normal, others not yet, and some things are just the same as before. Book sales are improving, but not enough to justify long trips up and down the coast. The farthest I’ve driven this past year on the coast is to Yachats. Speaking of Yachats, I’m not participating at their farmers market on Sundays this summer because it’s still at a reduced size, and food vendors have priority.

I’m here on duty as a docent every Sunday!

In every other area of my life, though, things are picking up and I’m keeping busy. Instead of every other Wednesday at the Museum like I had done for 18 years, I’m there every Sunday––hardly anyone wanted Sundays. I’m there with Ellen Bloomquist every single Sunday.

At the Gallery, we’re now open six days a week and later hours on the weekends. I’m busier than ever because I’m the secretary as of last November. So, twice a month, I take notes at Zoom meetings, type them up, and distribute a draft, put in numerous requested changes, and then redistribute. These folks take their minutes seriously! I clerk three or four days a month and continue with the editing. No receptions to plan for yet––perhaps, by fall.

FFOB Still Takes (Almost) All My Time 

After a year off, the Florence Festival of Books is back in my life and back to taking up most of my time—just like it always has. After nine years, I am no longer secretary. Hooray!  But since my co-chair, Meg Spencer, is the Librarian at the Siuslaw Public Library, she can no longer get away for meetings because of cuts to staff and volunteers. So, I am conducting the meetings and still do the agendas and most of the other stuff I’ve done in the past. Just as busy as ever with the FFOB. 

This is the logo designed by Karen D. Nichols for the FFOB.

As an example, here’s how this week is going. Monday, I had a lengthy conversation with the other person working with sponsors, Bonnie MacDuffee. That phone call covered enough to be considered a sponsors sub-committee meeting. 

Then I prepared for and met (at my house) our newest FFOB planning committee member who is now part of the marketing sub-committee. That’s where we needed the most help. After almost two hours, she left eager and motivated now that she has an idea of what needs to be done.  After she left, I typed up her duties with suggested time frames in which to do them and emailed it to her.

Tuesday, I did the agenda and emailed a committee member hoping she can take on some social media commitments. 

Wednesday, I need to start contacting the sponsors I’m responsible for. Then Thursday is our next planning committee meeting. It seems like, every day there is something to do for the FFOB.

,As it turned out, my Microsoft Word just plain quit; I couldn’t open documents or create new ones. I could not access the sponsor letter Bonnie and I had updated. So I edited the Newsletter for the Gallery and a press release; then I balanced my checkbook, did my budget for July and paid some bills. 

On Thursday, Jolene at FTS Computer Repair remotely worked on my computer and got Microsoft Word back in working order. I was so relieved. And our hybrid Zoom meeting, also on Thursday, worked. The sound was a little difficult at times for the folks on Zoom, but the bottom line is that it worked. So we will continue that way.  

Here at the 2018 FFOB, someone may be pitching an idea for a new book to this publisher. Hmm!

There are eight active members on the FFOB planning committee and two past members who will help out when they can. One of the active members recently moved out of state, but still has a home and business here. She can handle the social media, thank goodness, and get the word out on her own extensive mailing list. Zoom works well for her. Two other active committee members work at the Library, and, therefore, have limited time for FFOB this year. That makes three on Zoom, and the other five can now attend in person for our meetings at the Events Center.

The committee is at its smallest size ever and could use more members who live in the Florence area and have time to help plan for and put on the Florence Festival of Books. We won’t overwhelm any new members with too much, and it is fun to be part of such a terrific event. There are many moving parts when it comes to putting on a major event, and we really do need more help.

The planning committee is so pleased that the FFOB has become one of the major events in Florence and one of the most popular book fairs in the state. Mark your calendars for September 17-18. You won’t want to miss it.

Note: Applications open for participants July 12–September 1. Due to social distancing, there will be 48 tables instead of 68. Expect tables to fill up sooner and a waiting list. For more information, check http://www.florencefestivalofbooks,org or call Florence Events Center, 541-997-1994. Applications will be on website.

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#298–I am woman, I am strong, I am resilient . . .

I love the song “I am Woman.” During most of my adult life, it did not necessarily describe me. It provided goals to aim for and made me feel fabulous when I sang along with Helen Reddy. 

I was one of the speakers when Oregon City’s Arch Bridge designed by McCullough was reopened back in 2012. I was asked because, since writing Crossings, I’m considered one of the McCullough experts.

Being a widow for 20 years. I’ve learned that I am strong. I am not necessarily invincible as the song lyrics say, but I am resilient. For the past decade, I have been living a life I never dreamed I could. Fifteen years ago, I had no clue that I could write books that would sell. That I could give PowerPoint presentations all over western Oregon and become known as The Bridge Lady of the Oregon Coast. That I could co-found a book fair that is considered one of the best in Oregon. Who knew!

I’ve been a single person homeowner for these past 20 years. I have learned that I can handle small and large crises. What first comes to mind are a few leaking water pipes within the house over a 10-year period that caused problems that could be solved by spending hundreds of dollars each time. Then there was the major water leak that caused a whole ceiling to collapse. Then I had to bite the bullet and re-pipe the whole house as well as pipes leading to the road and having to come up with how to pay for it. This time, it was many thousands of dollars. I used up savings, borrowed from life insurance, cashed in a money market fund and and came up with several more thousands to turn the downstairs into an apartment. I didn’t have to mortgage the house or borrow from family or friends. But I had shot my wad and had only what came in each month, which was almost enough to live on.

The den was turned into a kitchenette and living room after all the water pipes were replaced. It became part of an apartment with its own entrance.

Without creating the apartment/money source, I would have had to put the house on the market and find a less expensive place to live. The house is paid for but there are ongoing maintenance expenses as well as the annual homeowners’ insurance and property tax. Just this past year, I replaced the 25-year roof in its 24th year, replaced some vinyl floors that needed it, and had an unexpected collapsing septic tank that had to be replaced. There is always something when you own a home.

I have learned that I can handle a lot at one time, like handling declining health and a dire diagnosis of a life-threatening illness while in the final weeks of preparing everything needed for a major event. I didn’t give in to it and end up in the ER until the day of the event. At that point, I knew the book fair would be fine without me and I had lined up volunteers to cover my table. The weeks of diagnosis and testing gave way to five months of treatment, all of which were scary. But I learned that I could handle it. Without a support system of friends and family, though, I could not have stayed in my home alone during the five months of treatment. For that, I am forever grateful.

Wearing my new wig, I’m hooked up to chemo during my second of six treatments.

So mentally, I can say that I am strong. But I can’t say that about me physically any more, which is no surprise, since I will be turning 80 later this year. Some chores, I simply don’t do these days. I don’t scooch along the edge of the roof cleaning out the drains anymore, and I don’t climb all over the various roof levels to clean clerestory windows and skylights anymore. I still wash all the other windows, though.

In the yard, I don’t do as much either. I have had the same yard man for 30+ years and he is doing more and more for me. By making accommodations, I can still do a lot. For example, I bought four large bags of bark mulch a week ago. It was raining, so I left them in the trunk of the car. The next day, there was a forecast of rain in the afternoon, but it was simply cloudy in the morning. So, I really got with it. I used my hand truck (like a shorter wider version of a dolly) and unloaded two bags onto it and pulled it up my driveway, along the road 100 feet or so and then along the lot next to me and into my back yard to the top of the steps leading down to the greenhouse. Two trips got all the bark into place, where I could handle it.

My terraced slope in the back has four levels.or tiers, as I refer to them.

It took all my energy to make those two trips. I came in the house and laid down. And I didn’t get up for 45 minutes. Then back to work. I slid a bag down the steps and drug it to the third tier of my terraced area. This first bag was the most difficult part of the whole project, lifting it over and around all the ferns. With the second bag, I didn’t have to go quite so far. Then the third and fourth bags I slid all the way down to the level of the greenhouse. I was able to mulch the third and fourth tiers of the terraces and the planting areas around the greenhouse. I had no idea, four bags would go so far. I thought I was just going to do the third tier. I was really, really pleased when I got done but also really, really tired. Once again, I came in and laid down. This time I got up after only 30 minutes. Then I had lunch.

Later, I did something I had often watched others do, but had never done myself. I re-caulked the corners of my shower. Only a couple inches on one side and about 15 inches total on the other side. Not a big enough job to hire someone, so I read about what I needed to do, got what I needed, and did it. I had already picked out the bad stuff and prepped it. And it looks great! So, I’m very proud of myself. . . . I do have a shoebox lid that has one end on the inside totally caulked. I had to use something for practice, because I had never done it before. I discovered that it is a lot harder to do than it looks.

Looking back over the past 20 years, I can say that I am woman, I am strong, I am resilient . . . but not totally invincible!

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#297–Updates: Oregon Coast magazine, FFOB, new book & online shopping . . .

Oregon Coast magazine

The final issue of Oregon Coast magazine with the Siuslaw River Bridge on the cover.

Last fall was the last issue of Oregon Coast magazine or so we thought. Yesterday, I received the summer issue of Oregon Coast magazine in the mail and this one probably is the last issue. I have a soft spot for this magazine because I worked there from March 1989 until July 2009. That’s where I honed my writing skills and learned to become an editor.

And I have a soft spot for this last issue, it has my favorite bridge on the cover—the Siuslaw River Bridge––and inside is an eight-page story I wrote about the coast’s iconic historic bridges. I was so pleased to be asked to contribute to this issue along with two others also affiliated with the magazine for many years. Coast Lines, the editor/publisher column, explained it well. “We thought it was perfect that these long-time contributors end up in the final issue.”

Many photos were added, some historic and some present day. I like the way all of it turned out. (Although, the caption for two Siuslaw River Bridge photos got it wrong.) The last page has two sidebars about two other interesting south coast bridges. One of them took much research to find what I needed. The big story took a lot of time, but was not hard because I used excerpts from my book, The Crossings Guide to Oregon’s Coastal Spans.

I have an eight-page story about the coast’s historic bridges in this issue.

The first of those two bridge sidebars only took a little digging when I researched it, but the second one—the Chetco River Bridge––was difficult. It took days, I checked every site on the Internet that sounded like it might have something. I did get some background on previous bridges on that site, but not even a sentence about the current bridge. Then I looked in books I have on bridges and finally found what I needed in one of them. So, if you get a chance to see this issue, check out my story and appreciate that one last sidebar that took so much work. And see if you can spot what’s wrong in the caption for two Siuslaw River Bridge photos.

Florence Festival of Books

A press release I wrote and sent to many newspapers throughout western Oregon and this is the one printed in the Siuslaw News, June 12.

We had our third meeting of the Florence Festival of Books (FFOB) planning committee yesterday, Thursday, and everything seems to be going along on schedule.

I was able to share with the planning committee the press release printed in Florence’s Siuslaw News last Saturday. I had sent the same press release to newspapers all over western Oregon. I hope it gets run in most of those newspapers. It’s aimed at the authors and publishers who plan to attend the FFOB on September 17–18. It may seem a long way off, but we start accepting applications July 12 and we usually fill up within a few weeks. So, I want to get the word out about the July 12 date.

New book—The Cancer Blog

In a few weeks, I’ll have copies of my new book.

After weeks of waiting, we finally received a proof copy of the inside pages. I was concerned that they may be too dark. And they were! So, Bob, my publisher, sent them back, asking for them to be lighter and for another proof copy. More waiting. It arrived this past week and the color photos were much better. So, we gave the go-ahead. In a few weeks, we’ll have a shipment of 1,500 books. Now, I’m getting excited!


Online Shopping

Last week I ordered two silk plants for the front porch. And I ordered clothes for summer travel where the weather will be a lot hotter than it is here. I ordered three gauze tops and two pairs of cotton pajamas, none of which were my first choice. The clothes part was a day-long frustrating experience.

The pajamas I ordered arrived last Friday and were only 60% cotton and did not fit very well. So, after trying them on, I decided not to keep them. I re-wrapped and returned them. Later in the day, I ordered two pairs that I had seen on Cuddledown. They were more expensive, but they had my first choice in color in my size and said that they were 100% cotton. I was so pleased, that everything worked so well on this order that I thought I would cry. Yesterday, I got word that they have been shipped. I can hardly wait.

One of two new plants for the front porch.

On Saturday, I received a new Coldwater Creek catalog. On the cover were some big shirt type crinkle cotton shirts that could be worn as a top or with a tank top or other shirt under it. Lightweight like gauze, this was exactly what I was looking for. So, I immediately got my credit card and headed for the computer and found the shirt and lo-an-behold, they were out of all sizes in the colors I liked except small and extra small, which is not me! Once again, frustration.

Tuesday, I received a Northstyle catalog and found a tan shirt that looked perfect. Tan seems to be out of favor in catalog colors right now. Of course, it’s what I want. It was available in size and color and 100% cotton. So, I was ready to order, but I read through the reviews first and one stopped me. It said, since it is cotton, it needs ironing after laundering. Well, I have a perfectly good tan shirt that is linen and looks terrible without ironing and even after ironing, one wearing and it looks rumpled. So, I rarely wear it. That’s why I could use a tan shirt but not if it is another one requiring ironing. The fun continues.

As to the plants I ordered, one is delayed, but the other one arrived yesterday. It was scrunched but with a bit of working with the stems, it looked fine. I put it on the porch and I like it. So, I’m getting to end on a happy note!

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#296–Convenience & frustrations of online shopping . . .

On my front porch, I had a crummy looking, faded plastic planter. Every few years, I would replace the plant. But plants did well there for years at a stretch. Then the planter developed cracks, and I had to replace it. I got two lovely pots, one slightly larger than the other. I got plants that looked great. But over a matter of a couple months they died. I got new plants and again within a couple months, they failed to thrive and just withered. After the third time, I decided to go with fake plants. Something, I never thought I’d do.

An Areca Palm.

They look so realistic these days. I found a company online called Nearly Natural,  and wow! Their plants look very real. I spent more than an hour looking and deciding. I finally decided on two totally different plants. And got a really good coupon deal, so it didn’t cost as much as I thought it would. I decided on what I wanted, ordered them, and they are on the way. That’s the way shopping online is supposed to work. Later that day, I had a different experience.

I live at the coast where a really warm day in the summer gets into the 70s. Most days are in the 60s and the afternoon wind makes it seem cooler. I don’t have summer clothes and winter clothes. I just wear one less layer in the summer. I wear sandals in summer but with socks. There’s maybe one day every other year when air-conditioning is needed. A really warm day is rare. Therefore, I am not at all acclimated to hot or even warm weather.

Not only am I not used to hot weather, I don’t have any hot weather clothes. And this summer I’ll be gone on a trip to Montana, where we’ll be in some really hot weather. And since I burn easily and don’t need any more skin cancers, I need to have very little skin showing. That means, no tank tops. That means long sleeves. I checked my clothes and decided I needed three cool day time tops and two pairs of pajamas that are cooler than my flannel ones.

This is a Hoya.

So, I went through catalogs looking for light-weight, long sleeve tops and cotton pajamas. I went through Soft Surroundings, Land’s End. L.L. Bean, Coldwater Creek, and Cuddledown. I spent more than an hour going from catalog to catalog, changing my mind over and over. I finally decided on light weight gauze tops heavy enough that you can’t see through. Then I found the styles I wanted. I got out my pants and decided on just the right colors. I even checked the size charts to see which size for sure I should order, since I seem to be between two sizes. I even read reviews on the styles I had chosen. Then I did a similar search for pajamas. I decided on traditional, button top with short sleeves and cropped legs just above the ankles for the pants.

I had done my research, knew what I wanted, and was pleased that most were on sale. I got my credit card. I was ready.

I went online and found the catalog, the category, and the item for the first of two tops. And I was going to get two of the same type in two different colors. Then I hit my first roadblock. They were out of both colors. So I got the one called “Crema,” which I assume is the color of cream and will go with everything, but not what I wanted. I moved onto the second top and ran into the second roadblock. It was out of stock and not expected back until September, which would be too late. Geez! This was turning into a thrill a minute!

Some of many catalogs.

I went to a third style that I had considered but passed on earlier. It was not on sale, but they were still sold out of my first choice in colors. I felt I needed more cool tops for the trip. So, I ordered two in different colors.

I wanted three gauze tops and that is what I got. I got one of my choices in style but neither of the colors I wanted. And I ordered a top that was not one of my top two choices with totally different colors. Everything should work, just not my first choices.

Then I went to the pajamas. The ones that I had chosen were on sale and sold out. In fact, everything I liked was either on sale and sold out or they didn’t have my size or the colors/patterns I wanted. I kept searching. I think, I looked at every pair of pajamas that was available on several websites. I finally found two that I liked both cotton and one was on sale. And, miracle of miracles, both were available in my size and in patterns that I liked. Each one said that I was getting the last one available. Normally, I wouldn’t believe it; I’d consider it a sales gimmick. But this time, I believed it.

It took most of the day, and by the time I was done, I was punchy. Shopping online is convenient but can be so very frustrating.

The waiting game has begun. Will the plants look natural? Will I even like them? Will I like the clothes? Will they fit? Tune in next week!

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#295–Updated Edition The Crossings Guide . . .

A guide is supposed to provide the most updated facts about whatever it is covering. The Crossings Guide to Oregon’s Coastal Spans covers the historic bridges of the Oregon Coast. It was written in 2012, and at that time, it was totally up-to-date. Right from the get-go, it was a popular book. Folks liked that it fit in a backpack, tote, or glove compartment and that it guided them down the coast bridge by historic bridge.

By 2019, The Crossings Guide needed to be updated. For several months toward the end of 2019 and early 2020, I worked with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), and updated what is currently being done to some of the bridges and added what is planned for the future of each of the bridges.

I learned that ODOT has a new, less expensive process in applying cathodic protection. The new process was used on the Umpqua River Bridge, which was the last of the historic coastal bridges to receive cathodic protection. That’s the preservation process that ensures these bridges will continue on for decades to come. The new process is explained in the introduction to the book. Once again the historic coastal bridges are cutting edge.

While nearly every page of text had some changes made, the cover photos and all other photos were not changed. So the book looks the same. On the cover, look for the two words “Updated Edition!!” in the upper left-hand corner.

Because I did not want to change the format of the book, I had to add changes without adding to the total number of words on each page. That meant some words had to come out. I removed extraneous phrases, superfluous adjectives, and out-of-date segments. And I totally rewrote the introduction, since there were so many changes there.

The newly updated guide became available for sale a year ago—last June––in the middle of the pandemic. That was terrible timing. Many bookstores, museums, and tourist hot spots that normally carry my bridge books, had not reopened or had not reopened their gift shops or were not investing much in inventory. So, I’ve waited a year to to get the word out that The Crossings Guide to Oregon’s Coastal Spans has been updated. If you see The Crossings Guide somewhere and want to know if it’s the updated version, just look for the sticker in the upper left corner that says, “Updated Edition!!” Or the large words on the back cover in the blue box that says, “Updated Edition.” Or on the inside, look on the ISBN page for the words “Fourth Edition.’

It’s always available from the author. For those who want an updated edition, go online to crossingsauthor.com/books. Price $15 plus $3 shipping. The 100 or so copies I have left of the Third Edition, I’ll sell at a reduced price––$10 plus $3 shipping.

I like to say, “Whether driving, cycling, or hiking, don’t travel 101 without it.”

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