Fly Me To the Mountains

I recently went on a family trip to Keystone, Colorado. I grew up going to Colorado for summer camping vacations. Sometimes, there are places where you know you belong. My soul belongs in the jagged peaks of the rocky mountains. I have lived at sea level in sweltering heat my entire life, but I have always known this was not where I belonged. When I sat down to write a story with characters who needed a wild and beautiful place, there was no question where it would be. I chose a fictional Colorado mountain town called Turning Creek.

The skyline in Keystone, Colorado.
The skyline in Keystone, Colorado.

Turning Creek, in my mind, is outside the mineral belt of Colorado, somewhere west of Leadville. Some of the mountains have similar names to other peaks in Colorado. Pikus Peak is a play on Pike’s Peak, one of the fourteeners. Silvercliff is a Christian camp my church takes our youth group to every year. It is a place I have found peace and joy as I watch young people I love find peace and understanding with the Lord.

Silvercliff is named for the silver white rock face shown here.
Silvercliff is named for the silver white rock face shown here.

It was a singular joy to go to Keystone this past week and see real, honest to goodness, road-closing snow for the first time in my life. We went to Jackson Hole, Wyoming three years ago and while there was plenty of snow, very little of it fell during our trip. I know some of my readers from the great white north are laughing, but I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen real snow. I have also never seen real fall leaves, but I digress.

This post is about the mountains and what I did there not how deprived of seasons this southern girl might be.

Everyone went skiing, except me. I am horrible at it and am not too fond of the endeavor so I sat for two days and consumed more caffeine than is recommended at a delightful place called Inxpot. As an unexpected bonus, Inxpot serves Mules, a colonial era drink featuring ale or ginger beer, alcohol, and lime. I had one with ginger beer, honey whiskey, and lime. It was wonderful. In case you were wondering, and I know you were, I researched Mules and a drink called Flip for Letters in the Snow, a Turning Creek novella featuring Iris, which comes out this summer. Flip was the drink that got Paul Revere drunk on his overnight ride to warn the militia.

Inxpot: excellent coffee and treats, plus books for sale!
Inxpot: excellent coffee and treats, plus books for sale!

I sat, drank coffee, and wrote the first couple chapters of Plagues of the Heart, the third Turning Creek book, featuring Dora. I walked around quite a bit breathing deeply and remembering all the reasons I love the mountains. Did you know that mountain streams smell different than other moving bodies of water? They do and it is a fabulous smell.

Mostly it was an amazing  trip because it has been a very long time since I was able to go on a family vacation with my boys.


I wish all of you a place of joy in your life, where your soul feels at home and where there are people with which to share the view and a good drink.



Silvercliff or Bust

I know a week of silence here is not something out of the ordinary, but I will be offline for the next week. I will be at Silvercliff Ranch in Colorado with a bunch of high school kids. No cell phones, no email, no Twitter. It is nice to be unplugged for a few days.

Gideon and Mom
Gideon and Me

I know 24 hours on a bus and then a week of late nights and early mornings with a bunch of teenagers sounds terrible to some of you. I think it is one of the best weeks of my year. I will miss my boys, but I will be in the mountains, which for me is the sum of all good things.

When I get back, I am going to announce an exciting project for RWA Conference at the end of July. Authors, even if you are not going, you will want to know about this. Stay tuned.

The Quest for Good Beer


Originally uploaded by Wandering Eyre

My morning was filled with the Wee Bairn and I driving all over town looking for the illusive St. Arnold Divine Reserve 8.

I camped out at the Spec’s (a large local chain) before they opened this morning at 10. I was not the only one there and we were all sad to hear that they were doubtful that they were going to get any at all. This batch was smaller so there were not as many 6 packs to go around.

After some internal waffling, I decided to race up the freeway 40 minutes to the large Spec’s downtown. I grabbed Gideon and raced into the store only to be faced with the fact that they too were out. I slumped home, sure that this year, I was not going to get the strong scotch ale about which I have been dreaming. I found out later in the day that they sold out of 70 cases in 20 minutes.

I stopped for eggs and milk at the Kroger near my house. On a whim and a prayer, I cruised down the beer aisle. To my joy, the beer guy was putting two cases of Divine Reserve on the shelf. I almost kissed him (he was cute and holding beer, can you blame me?).

Two 6 packs are now resting comfortably in the Rochester fridge.

We will make them last as long as possible.

–Jane, all hail St. Arnold.

Old Books and Love


Originally uploaded by Wandering Eyre

The Rochesters were in Boston this past weekend and we had a great time doing all the history tourist things, plus a few fun things as well. We walked the Freedom Trail, went to Harpoon Brewery, and attended the Red Sox v. Orioles game.

One of the highlights for me was going to one of the oldest bookstores in the country, the Brattle Book Shop. I was in raptures.

They let me up on the third floor where they keep all the old tomes. I walked the aisles, running my finger along the faded spines. The air was heavy with history, dust, and places seen. I was in heaven.

Sadly, I did not see any of my favorite authors that I collect though there was a complete collection of the Brontes that gave me palpitations. Alas, it was far, far out of my price range.

The weather was great and the company wonderful. The Wee Bairn charmed all who saw him and issued nary a peep on the plane ride.

–Jane, loves books will travel

I Know Why People Have Harleys, a top 10 in pictures

I spent a weekend in Milwaukee before the Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium. I have an Aunt and an Uncle who live there and I see them so seldom that I had to take the opportunity to visit. Milwaukee is a beautiful city and in the summer it really is at its finest. I had a great visit. Here are my top, rather belated, 10 things from that short trip:

10. The weather was amazing. Cool. Breezy. Sunny. I reveled in it.
9. The flowers. At a time in Houston when everything is starting to get brown around the edges, there are vibrant blooms everywhere!
8. Sitting on Aunt Sue’s porch drinking vodka and Squirt and catching up.
7. The sunset over Pewaukee Lake.
6. Bloody Marys at The Wicked Hour. They were spicy and came with all kinds of goodies.
5. Brats. (pronounced brah-ts, the food not the annoying toddler next to you)
4. Hanging out at Fest Italiana.
3. Spending the afternoon with Uncle Larry and Aunt Jennifer. They live in East Troy, a sweet little town. Their house is surrounded by tall tress, green grass, and flowers. Jennifer collects sediment from all over the world and Larry collects Harleys. I do not get to see enough of them.
2. Getting to see Aunt Sue. I love that lady. I always have fun with her. We went to a couple local bars, went to the market at Cathedral Square, and walked through Fest Italia.
1. I know why people have Harleys and ride motorcycles. Larry took me on my first real motorcycle ride (dirt bikes do not really count, now do they?) It was exhilarating. All of the smells around you slap you in the face. Everything fills your senses. I could barely keep from giggling the entire time. It was amazing. We stopped at a local bar, Kuckleheads, for a drink and then returned home as the sun was setting. I could not have asked for a better end to a wonderful day.

–Jane, is ready to go back again

Larry and Michelle on Motorcyle

Learning about L2

Learning about L2

Originally uploaded by Wandering Eyre.

This is the picture of the audience of the preconference I gave today at TLA. It went off without too many hitches and we had some great discussion in the morning about Web 2.0 tools, privacy, and trust. Librarians always have a lot to say. I was pleased to have a very interactive audience. In the afternoon, I handed the podium over and my co-presenter talked about Web 2.0 nuts and bolts, the things that make our software run.

We created a wiki with the presentation notes and some basic resources.

–Jane, off to have celebratory drinks


Pullo waits with Cassie

Originally uploaded by Wandering Eyre.

This morning I am packing and getting organized for a quick three day trip to San Antonio. Pullo thinks I have stayed home to play with him and is disappointed that all I have done so far is upload Flickr photos and laundry. Pullo does not like it when one of us is gone and I always picture him at the window, like this, waiting.

I am nervous about the preconference I am teaching on a few different levels. This will be the longest class I have taught, even though, my song and dance is just in the morning and someone else is teaching the afternoon portion.

I feel better then I have in days, even though I am woefully behind in everything. I am hoping that the couple days after TLA and before CIL will be enough for me to catch up. The next post should be a report from the field (unless I find time to do some reading). Everyone traveling to TLA, be safe.

–Jane, see you in the world

Last Thoughts – Internet Librarian 06

Plugged In

Originally uploaded by Wandering Eyre.

Internet Librarian was a wonderful conference. The atmosphere was completely different from any other conference I have attended. There was a congenial, light-hearted mood in every session. All of the sessions were packed with Library 2.0 goodness. I felt at home in the sea of laptops gathered around the nearest plug. If no plug was to be found, we sat in the front, the best distance for heckling.

If you search Flickr tags for IL2006, you might get the impression that all librarians do at conference is walk around outside, eat food, drink, and take idiotic pictures of each other. You would not be entirely wrong, but I did learn a bunch of new tricks that I am going to try at my library.

The people I met and was able to connect with again made this the best conference I have ever attended. We laughed, traded ideas, and made fun of each other (not too hard a feat). It was nice to talk with others in the profession working with technology, even if most of our conversations revolved around the hand drier in the bathroom of the Crown and Anchor.

–Jane, will definitely be there next year