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April 2008 Archives

April 1, 2008

April Contest - A Royal Expose!

In honor of April Fools' Day, I thought I would do something a little different for this month's contest. Here's the topic: A Royal Expose. Write about the "truth" behind Your Sovereign, Sir Tim, Our Bus, The Pets or really, whatever strikes your fancy - anything at all in the QUEEN OF THE ROAD universe will do. Be sure to enter via the contest page of the website. Again, basically a 250 word parody/fantasy/made-up story (remember this is in commemoration of April 1) about anything that has to do with QUEEN OF THE ROAD. For ideas, you can certainly root around the website (especially the home page - click on the pictures for details of each, and you should get a pretty good feel for the players and the trip). But, c'mon: Two shrinks on a bus for a year? It's writing itself, people! The prize, of course, is a signed (galley, or actual - depending on when they're available) copy of QUEEN OF THE ROAD and... I'm stickin' with the moose poop, people. It seems to have caught on.

To whet your appetites, here is another winning entry from the very first month's contest (topic: If I could take a year off) this one from Patti Tucker (she's a real funny broad - I'm a regular reader of her blog):

if i could take a year off, which by the by i just have, and closed a business to boot so i could take said year off (a risk that remains to be seen as a smart move), i would finish my book (done), and find an agent (working on). i would read and write and cook. i would mourn by pooch (not planned but unavoidable) and cry till dry. i would eat frito pie and velvetta cheese without nary a guilty thought. i would join a book club so we could talk of our lives instead. i would learn to live a new way. the way that has left many a relative shaking their head.

I loved a lot about this, particularly the eating part, the mourning part (I haven't even been able to blog about that, yet... ), and particularly the learning to live a new way. That's what the "bus thing" taught us, without our even hoping for it, planning for it, or even knowing it - until our return.

April 3, 2008

Another Winner

Here's the final February Winner of a galley copy and a poopin' moose - Polly Kahl. That month's topic was, What Would YOU Do If You Could Take A Year Off.

My husband and I fantasize about taking a family trip similar to yours. We'd lease a huge camper and take the kids and travel the country for a year. The camper would be large enough to provide some areas for privacy, while also having ample room for family activities such as playing board games and art projects. Ken dreams of us taking the kids to the Grand Canyon the way his parents took their kids, back in the 60s, in their old station wagon with the fake wood panels on the sides. I dream of a year of conversations without the interruptions of video games, land lines and television (the laptop's comin' with me.) The boys dream of an endless selection of amusement parks, finding new hills to climb, beaches for dune buggying, and natural wonders such as hot springs, caves and volcanoes. We all dream of seeing the varied terrains and interesting kinds of people who cover this vast country. Our children are both nearing their teen years and quality time with them, while we can still enjoy it, becomes more precious every day. It would help if we found a magic pill for our gender-confused male kitty Sophie's car sickness. A cozy lap cat would be the perfect accompaniment to long highway cruises while watching the changing landscapes go by.

As you can tell, Polly is a wonderful writer and a darn nice gal, to boot! You can see (additionally) for yourself on her website.

And, don't forget to enter for your chance to win! For this months' topic, see the post below.

April 7, 2008

Miss Four Seasons? Play Some Vivaldi.


After all my ranting about Modesto, I was a bit embarrassed when, during the first snow since our arrival back home, I had the fleeting thought, "What was so bad about Modesto, anyway?"

My newest BBFF, Katie Schwartz (she's a riot with a book coming soon. Check out her blog.) were commiserating that our particular tribe does not do well in the snow. Which made me recall...

We moved to Colorado from Tucson in 1993. I had instigated the move because I "missed the four seasons." (Watching needles fall off cacti every fall just wasn't doing it for me.) Our very first week here, we were on I-25 at night in January, during a WICKED snowstorm - cars were spinning out into the shoulder. Tim turned to me and said, "I hope you're enjoying your four seasons."

See? Even my lovely hubby is capable of some snark.

April 13, 2008

More Winners!

We had two winners of galleys and moose poop for March: Jessie Bowdoin and Dennis Myers. I'll post Jessie's entry in the next week, but herewith, Dennis' (The topic was "Travel Stories from HELL."):

Contest Entry: The First and Last Trip From Hell

Early in my marriage with the family (three daughters and a perfectionist wife) we relocated to So Cal (that's Southern California for those who have not watched TV) and life was just too good at the time. I set out to fix that!

I was compelled to screw with it by talking my wife into a camping trip. Why? Just seemed like a good thing at the time. I sold it to a reluctant spouse who thought roughing it on the road was running out of ice in her drink sitting by the pool.

Had we ever camped as a family? Of course not! No experience and having never driven an RV were just lame excuses. It was one of the times I forced the issue and actually won! It was a bad omen that I should have recognized. I never won arguments! Probably some sort of reverse psychology my wife employed to teach me a lesson (again).

So off we went heading in a Northernly direction with the goal of seeing as much of California as we could in two weeks.

The first campground was a State Park. My wife was concerned about security of our belongings. "People that camp are honest folks," I replied. That was before a camper ran off with some of our cooking utensils. Strike one, but always a good conversation starter for the next campground.

The first night was painful (I refer back to my wife's definition of "roughing it"). The girls did sleep soundly, but I had no peace at all. Speaking of peace, I had also declared that I was going to grow a beard for the trip, whereupon my darling said I would get no "piece" if I grew a beard or mustache. She was true to her word. I refused to shave, so you had the classic "Russian standoff." I will leave it to the reader to guess who ultimately won the standoff.

Second night, second State Park. My wife marched the girls off for showers before bed. (There were no such things at the first camp ground.) I hear screaming and yelling that sounded like a mass murder was occurring in the shower room, but it was worse! My wife came marching back for dry pajamas for the girls because one of them accidentally knocked the first set of pj's into the watery shower stall. Again no peace or piece.

The third and fourth day were rather uneventful compared to the first two nights. Just some miserable weather, near misses on the highway, and a needed assortment of wrong turns. Now I was not having fun either. I also learned that being in a confined space filled with four unhappy females was not a good thing.

In one last and futile attempt to have fun, I found a swimming hole in a camp near the Northern California mountains. I sold the girls on how this was the way to go swimming--just like I did as a kid. Lot's more fun than those antiseptic heated swimming pools. I rushed for the water and dove in head first. Even with a beard there was no way to shelter the body from the numbing cold of that mountain water. I skipped out of that water much like a flat stone you would skip across the surface of that pool of tranquility.

Actually I had experienced that sensation once before. Suffering from a hangover on a spring break from college I dove into Lake Huron in Northern Michigan with the same results. The good news there was that my hangover cleared up real fast!

Needless to say after the swimming hole farce, I declared we were returning home as fast as that RV could take us. My audience showed agreement with total silence that lasted for the entire return trip.

So, two weeks shrank to one week, I had no peace or piece, and never again attempted to do a camping trip with the family. You know, as things go, running out of ice at the pool and calling for room service is not all bad. I got some peace and some pieces. I chalked it up as one of my many learning experiences.

The irony of this is that Dennis is the new editor of Bus Conversions magazine. Did his family come around to the "joys" of camping? Or, are his wheels forever clipped? Perhaps Dennis will enlighten us...

(Quick warning: Dennis is a gourmet cook, but plans to use his moose poop to fool guests in various mousses. I'd also love to hear about THAT, Dennis.)

And, if you'd like to try your hand at the contest to win a galley of QUEEN OF THE ROAD (sigh, and the ever-more-popular moose poop) the topic this month is in honor of April Fools' Day. You still have until the end of the month to enter.

April 15, 2008

My First Book Group

OK. It's not that I'm like a book group virgin or anything, but I just got my first real book group request! I say "real" because my own book group - the one I've been in for over a decade - is reading my book off galley copies in May. (I'll be posting pictures of the gathering on the book group page of my website.) But, they kinda have to read it, ya know?

Not this group. Nope. This group contacted me! And, I don't know any of them! How cool is that? They are local and we scheduled for early August, so I can even go in person and not just by speakerphone. (You can bet your tiara I'm bringing my camera and will post pictures right here on the blog.)

I can't tell you how exciting it is to have the first, real, tangible evidence that SOMEONE other than those who must - like my agent, editor, mother and friends (who want to stay so) actually wants to read QUEEN OF THE ROAD.

Oh, lord. What if they hate it? Maybe I SHOULD appear by speakerphone?

Wait. They promised alcohol. Never mind.

April 19, 2008

Quick and Simple? Not so much the latter.

The fabulously wise and wonderful editors of Quick and Simple Magazine have decided to do a spread on QUEEN OF THE ROAD for one of their summer issues.

As such, Tim and I were each interviewed by phone, and a local photographer dispatched to take pictures of us in and around the bus. The plan was to drive it to nearby Red Rocks, for a simply gorgeous setting for the outdoors shots. Since this was to be for a summer issue, we were to wear summer clothes. After much rummaging through the Royal Wardrobe, I settled on a light top, light pants and sandals.

Joe Hancock of Hancock Studio and his assistant, John, were quite wonderful - and quick. We'd had magazine photo shoots before for my first book and the promised "three hours" inevitably turn into an all day affair. (Hey, Joe! Wonder why I insisted on meeting at 3 p.m.? I figured dusk would hold you to the three hour thing.) This was actually the very first shoot we've ever done which came in UNDER the promised time. Thus, we got our "quick." Unfortunately, "simple" was not to be had.

It started snowing. Did I mention I wore sandals?

Red Rocks would have been obliterated by white out, so we stayed at the warehouse where Tim stores the bus. Scenic, huh?


Joe and John stayed all nice and snuggly warm in their North Face parkas.


If I look like I'm freezing, I am. Then, there was the constant wind thing...


Poor Joe. I kept demanding, "Don't supermodels on swimsuit shoots in Antarctica get like $10,000 a day?" When he informed me that no one on this particular shoot would be getting anywhere near that amount, I countered with, "Fine. But, I doubt while those supermodels are freezing in their bikinis, the photographers are allowed to wear parkas." Joe kept quiet on that one, although it's not hard to imagine what he was thinking. (Something along the lines of, "Why didn't I listen to my mother and become an electrician? Oh, no. I had to be an artiste.")

Poor Joe.

(And, in case you're wondering - the shoot could not be rescheduled due to the magazine's deadline.)

***Special thanks to John Frank of Vanture Coach Manufacturing (our bus converters) for taking the photos of the photo shoot. (I figure I'll get as many favors out of them as I can before they read about themselves in the book - I kid! I kid!)
Oh, and ladies (as well as 10% of the gentlemen amongst you): DO check out this picture on my book group page, taken just as we took off at the very start of our bus year - The Men of Vanture Coach. They're quite ready for their own close ups, no?

April 21, 2008

Wildland Blaze in Boulder

Yesterday, Tim and I stood in our yard and watched 1-2 acres burn, as over 100 firefighters fought a blaze for several hours. A slurry bomber dropped fire retardant.



A crew was left there overnight to make sure the fire stayed contained. Several homes were threatened (not ours) but thankfully, there was no loss of life (or property).

They suspect a hiker dropped a cigarette, easily igniting the fire because it's been so dry and yesterday was so windy. How can it be considered dry when it just snowed? (See my last post.) Apparently (according to Tim), the few inches of snow we got was equivalent to "just a spit" of rain.

We used to live in the mountains where we were very aware of the fire danger. The fire yesterday was closer to town than anyone can remember. Several home owners got reverse 911 calls (we did not) but I still found myself wondering, "What would I take if I had only 5 minutes to evacuate?"

The answer was very different from what it would have been before we did "the bus thing." Then, I might have tried to salvage clothes, shoes, art work, etc. Now, it would only be pictures - our wedding album and my computer (because of the digital photos it stores).

As I learned on our bus year after the fire and armed robbery: Everything is replaceable.

What would you take if you only had 5 minutes? (Besides pets and children, which are a given, right?)

April 27, 2008

My Least Favorite Pair of Shoes


Ah, the "great" outdoors.

Tim took me on a hike today. Well, that's what happens when you get older, you forget stuff, ya know? Like what happened the last time he took me on a hike (which would have been on Sitka, AK during our bus year. Suffice it to say, that expedition shall forever be known as The Great Alaskan Death March.)

(Miles and me on Sitka. We're beaming because my whining just induced Tim to agree to turn back. I know what you're all thinking: "But, you've never looked so happy!" Well, yeah. I said this was taken at the precise moment we stopped. And, by the way: my editor agreed with you, because that's my author photo.)

As Tim gets even older, I suppose he'll be immune to my pleas, what with being able to turn off his hearing aide and all. If a princess whines in the wilderness and her consort can't hear her... did she even agree to go on the damn hike in the first place?

In this royal's case, not so much.

What did possess me to go? I do try to grace Tim with my presence on these things at least once a year just to remind us both why I don't go more often. And, truth be told, I did make the mistake of complaining that I was getting bored with my usual workout; daily treadmill in front of TV. Yes, I do "interval training" where I jack up the speed every few minutes just to fool my body into thinking I'm actually exerting myself. But, still. Ugly Betty has been on hiatus, The Bachelor's current crop of contestants are the most vapid in years (vapid's usually highly entertaining, but this season proves even vapidity has its limits). And, American Idol, well, don't get me started. Oh, all right. I think it's a measure of the show's lack of impact this season that it was only when I watched it yesterday while working out I discovered Carly'd been booted off. Where is Rock Star when you need it?

So, I agreed to the hike. After clearing out the cobwebs from my hiking boots, figuring out the best outfit (D: But, you said to layer! T - I didn't mean a sweater set) we were off.

Well, not quite. This particular hike usually takes Tim an hour when he's solo, so he never bothers to bring anything. For this auspicious occasion, he found it necessary to inform me (with considerable glee I might add) what he was carrying in his pack: Moleskin ("in case you blister your feet"), a space blanket ("in case you injure yourself and I have to keep you warm so you don't go into shock"), waterproof matches ("in case I have to build a signal fire for the rescuers to find you when I have to go get help when you injure yourself ").

You get the idea.

He continued his helpful commentary on the first steep slope.

"Wow. You're doing much better than I thought you would." I informed him that I should hope so, since part of my treadmill routine included 10 minutes of 3.5 mph walking on the steepest incline. He was impressed, if a tad disappointed, as in, "Gee. I thought this was going to be more entertaining." Then, a couple ambled toward us with Styrofoam coffee cups in their hands. Tim couldn't resist stopping them to ask, "Hey! How far is it to the Starbucks at the top?" The couple laughed uproariously. I didn't get the joke. There's a Starbucks everywhere, isn't there? You don't suppose...

It was just then I remembered actually doing this very hike with him some years ago with Miles. I still recalled how I balked when I saw that very steep incline, as Tim raced ahead with the poodle. After a few steps, Miles turned around and waited for me. I reminded Tim of this, saying, "He and I were looking at each other like, 'Are you going? I'm not going if you're not going. Let's just wait for the crazy man, here.'" Tim had a slightly different take on the incident.

"Miles assumed you'd come up lame and wanted to stay with you."

What does my husband want from me, anyway?

When we did reach the top (no establishments for refreshment of any kind, I might add), several cars were parked at the overlook. Tim pointed out a woman sitting in the passenger seat of one of them, while her husband ventured out for a peek.

"Look! She likes interacting with the outdoors the same way you do."

Yeah, there were nice views. But I think doing this more than every couple of weeks would get even more boring than my treadmill routine.

At least I can change the channel.

Seriously, for the outdoors inclined amongst you, can anyone explain to me? What's so "great" about the "great outdoors"?

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About April 2008

This page contains all entries posted to What Do You Want From Me? by Doreen Orion in April 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2008 is the previous archive.

May 2008 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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