Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Reflections

They say you should never take a photo into the sun, but I often do. The effect can be interesting (just be sure your eyes are protected). At Lake Sylvan, New Zealand, I caught the reflection of mountains, snow, and sky in the water–as sun rays shone down onto my camera’s lens.

I tried to capture some of this adventure in my new book, “Fire and Ice.”  Where have your journeys taken you?

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Travel Theme: Liquid

Travel Theme:  Liquid

In Russia, liquid turns to ice in winter. I spent 6 months teaching English in Samara and enjoyed walking across the frozen Volga River, watching skaters skim over an open rink, and observing the plaza’s ice garden.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Green

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Green

Once I owned real “Lord of the Rings” armor. I had a Sting sword and a winged Gondor helmet. I lived in New Zealand with my two children, in an old Maori village on the South Island. My children would play with the armor (under my supervision, of course), and I would take photos of them with the local children, creating scenes as in my fantasy novels.

In this photo, a young Maori boy poses as a silver warrior against a deep green fir tree. He seems ready for the battles of life.

I had to leave New Zealand with my children 5 years ago. We went back to California, and I lost everything to my ex-husband in divorce court (including my lovely mountain home and custody of my children). My life became a raging battle. I fled a mountain wildfire and then flew to Russia to teach English, landing in Turkey after that.

Read about my adventures in my book “Fire and Ice.”

Enjoy my epic fantasy story about how Selah the slave girl flees desert witchcraft to find love in the mountains–in “Selah of the Summit.”

Life can be a battle. How do you endure the fight?


Weekly Travel Theme: Animals

Weekly Travel Theme:  Animals

I took a photo of this squirrel outside the window of my three-storey mountain house in Lake Arrowhead, California. He was taking a nap in the rain, his tail curled up above to protect him. Only the window glass separated us as I snapped his picture with my digital camera.

That house is no longer mine. I am far away in Turkey, teaching English. I miss standing at that window, high up in the evergreen trees where squirrels sleep. I also miss my two teenagers who still sleep in that house with my ex-husband.

I’m trying to write my way back to visit them. It’s been two years since I’ve seen them or stood on a mountain in America.


Sonnet: “The Beating Wings”

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Solitary (Close)

Here is a close-up of the same white egret which stood in the waters of Milford Sound, New Zealand. My daughter Jessica, who paused at the water’s edge and watched the scene with me, loves birds. She lives in California now, while I teach English in Turkey.  She just turned 20 and studies languages such as Arabic and Spanish. I miss her and am writing my way back for a visit!  Turkey is half a world away from California, about as far away as New Zealand . . .

Here’s a poem I wrote about a girl, dying of cancer, who also loved birds:

“The Beating Wings”

(for Kristen

who died of leukemia

at age 12)

She sat, a scarecrow in a slit-back gown:

Trans lucent skin, her fingers stretched like nails.

She reached to me beside the silver rails.

And when she turned, her head bobbed up and down;

The blood shone on her teeth, like web spun ’round.

The thread, that pain, it wrapped her eyes–once pale–

And pupils swallowed blue in one dark veil.

I watched–she seemed to speak–there was no sound.

Kristen, I remember when we saw the birds

In cases, stuffed, their eyes unblinking glass;

An egret, its wings like crystal, seemed to rise.

You spoke its name, I leaned to catch the word;

It was yourself you called–Oh, you flew past–

I saw the beating wings behind your eyes.


From my true cancer survival book, Crossing the Chemo Room.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary (Far)

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Solitary (Far)

A lone egret stands in Milford Sound in New Zealand. The white bird is surrounded by water, trees, sky, and the distant, misty mountains. I stood at this spot with my children Jessica and Jonathan, a few years ago. We could feel the peace of the place, solitary in a vast landscape–yet connected to each other. Now they are in California, and I am in Turkey, writing to get back to them.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Everyday Life

Child Rides Tram in Taksim, Istanbul

Child Rides Tram in Taksim, Istanbul, Turkey

I took a ride on the tram (like a trolley car on tracks) that goes through the busy Taksim district of Istanbul, Turkey. This local boy, with some friends, rode on the back for free–a kind of Turkish Joyride. Taksim is amazing, with old buildings and trendy shops. Come visit me in Turkey!