Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Movie Premier in SF

If you're going to be in San Fran tonight (assuming there are still seats available), check out the Chu Brothers movie "The Recess Ends". It premieres at the Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St. The doors open at 7pm. Entry is FREE, but you must RSVP to

Here's a sneak preview (film time 3 mins., 14 secs.)

The Recess Ends: Extended Trailer from B-Rilla on Vimeo. (Found this through David Miller's blog, senior editor at Matador)

For more previews of the movie, check out Vimeo's website.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A moment from "The Innocents Abroad"

I'm currently reading Mark Twain and this passage has had me laughing for days, so I thought I'd share it:

I never shall want another Turkish lunch. The cooking apparatus was in the little lunch room, near the bazaar, and it was all open to the street. The cook was slovenly, and so was the table, and it had not cloth on it. The fellow took a mass of sausage-meat and coated it round a wire and laid it on a charcoal fire to cook. When it was done, he laid it aside and a dog walked sadly in and nipped it. He smelt it first, and probably recognized the remains of a friend. the cook it away from him and laid it before us. Jack said, "I pass"- he plays euchre sometimes - and we all passed in turn. Then the cook baked a broad, flat, wheaten cake, greased it well with the sausage, and started towards us with it. It dropped in the dirt, and he picked it up and polished it on his breeches, and laid it before us. Jack said, "I pass." We all passed. He put some eggs in a frying pan, and stood pensively prying slabs of meat from between his teeth with a fork. Then he used the fork to turn the eggs with - and brought them along. Jack said, "Pass again." All followed suit. We did not know what to do, and so we ordered a new ration of sausage. The cook got out his wire, apportioned a proper amount of sausage-meat, spat on his hands and fell to work! This time, with one accord, we all passed out. We paid and left. That is all I learned about Turkish lunches. A Turkish lunch is good, no doubt, but it has its little drawbacks.

Have you experienced a meal like this on your travels? Leave your story in the comments area.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Crater Lake: A Photo Essay

Sunset as we arrive to Crater Lake National Park.

Our cabin the next morning.

The Klamath peoples' legend tells of two Chiefs, Llao of the Below World and Skell of the Above World, pitted in a battle which ended up in the destruction of Llao's home, Mt. Mazama. The battle was witnessed in the eruption of Mt. Mazama and the creation of Crater Lake.
(found on

The landscape is still recovering from the mighty explosion that happened 7,700 years ago. The trees are slowly but surely growing back and reclaiming the pumice desert.

One of the lake's residents.

Only just hanging on: both my niece and the tree.

A parting glimpse.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bella and Tarra

(Video time, 2 mins. 44 seconds)
I just love this video. If an dog and an elephant can get along, two animals of different size, color, and species, why can't us humans figure out how to get along with each other? We're really not all that different from each other. Our ideas might differ, but we're all still human.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Why I Moved Home

Friday night's here and I've got a date with an old friend, her daughter, my husband, a pitcher of micro-brew beer (or two) and a karaoke machine. Who could ask for anything more? The star of the show turns out to be my friend's three year old, Olivia, with her rendition of "Twinkle, Twinkle" and "The ABCs Song". Three moments stand out as my favorites:
1) slow dancing with Olivia to "Tears in Heaven",
2) hearing Olivia tell her mom "You can't sing!" when Mom was trying to help her with the ABC's. Such independence! Definitely a girl after my own heart and
3) being asked to be Olivia's Godmother. I am so honored.
Overall, what a great night.

The next morning, bright and early, the alarm sounds. Ro and I drag ourselves out of bed, get packing, showered, fed and then on our way to Redding to meet my uncle. Only slightly later than we intended, we made it on the road after having a divine breakfast at my friends' cafe, Cafe Coda.

Two hours to Redding, another hour to the beginning of the dirt road, an hour on the dirt road, then a short but steeply uphill climb, and finally we have arrived. My uncle, his girlfriend, Rohan and I made it to our home for the night: the look-out at Hirz Mountain.
Upon arrival and after a hearty lunch, I appreciate all the effort it took to get here; it's a pretty isolated spot. The only noise is the sound of the wind whistling through the canyon and the occasional bird song. If we look one way we see Mt. Lassen and the other Mt. Shasta.
A lazy day followed. Lots of talking, reading, snacking and then it was dinner time. On the menu: garlic cheddar, fresh sourdough bread, heirloom tomato, shitake mushroom and garlic sauce, fresh pasta, roasted garlic and a bottle of California Zinfadel. Not bad for camping! A stunning sunset full of reds, oranges, pinks, purples and blues tops the day off nicely.

Too early for my taste the sun comes streaming in through the windows. Mind you, all the walls of the room are windows, so any hope I may have harbored for rolling over and blocking it out was useless. As I lay there, I watched the sunrise and the hummingbirds zip up to the feeder for their breakfast.

All too soon it's time to pack up and head back down to civilization. Weekend's like this are the reason I moved home: time with old friends, family and the gorgeous Northern Californian environment. Just writing this as a reminder for when the doubts creep in.

Decision Time

The alarm gently pulls me out of dreamland. Before I get up, I take stock of the day. It's raining, which means no selling fruit and veg at the stand. I could roll over and go back to sleep. But Rohan's up and the guilt of him going to work and me sleeping in gets me out of bed.

I wander out into my parent's kitchen and turn on the kettle. Ever since we returned to the States, we've been living in the house I grew up in. Battles with banks and bureaucracy have kept us from buying a house, so we're still here. My parents, Rohan and I have fallen into a comfortable routine of living together. It won't be this good forever, but for now it works.

I kiss Rohan goodbye and wish him a good day at work. With my cup of tea in hand, I sit down and discuss the world's problems with my mom. Heavy talk for first thing in the morning. Even from our divergent political views we can agree that things are stuffed. We've nearly solved some major issues, but she's gotta go get ready for work, so our waxing lyrical is stopped short.

Out of distractions, I head to my room to start writing. I briefly consider continuing to procrastinate and do some cleaning, but decide against it. Focus, Tabatha, focus!

I briefly glance at my email, find David Miller's blog, take a quick look at Twitter, Facebook, Matador Life and my Matador profile, accept a traveler request, review blog comments and realize I'm still procrastinating. I will do some writing today, I'm determined to concentrate! Today I will finish a chapter of my book and a MatadorU assignment. I will not waste my day searching endlessly for paid writing work while not actually doing any writing.

The decision to stop trying to find travel writing commissions from anybody and everybody is only a recent one. And it came about because of an email I received from an editor two weeks ago.

The day I got the fateful email started out much like today: I got up out of bed, made my tea and sat down in the front of the computer. When I opened the email from the editor, it was with a positive sense of expectation. Up to that point all of our interactions had been congenial.

I had to reread the email twice to believe what it said and one line in particular stood out: “I would hold off writing the [next] piece as at this time, for the level of writing that we are receiving we don't feel that it is worth the $14.” Not worth $14! The $14 isn’t worth the time, effort and agony it took to write these experiences. Truth be told, I didn’t really enjoy that style of writing.

As I sit here thinking about that line and rereading it for the two-hundred and sixty-first time, my decision to stop seeking any and every commission is confirmed. I write for me first. And I don’t necessarily want to do it for a living. I want to teach for a living and write for enjoyment. If the writing pays, great. If it doesn’t, that’s fine too.

I sit here, at this desk over-looking oak, pine and cedar trees, and try to write the kind of stuff I like to read. What I like to read is not the best-kept secret, must-see, exotic, treasure trove, jewel of an oasis that typifies travel writing (words and phrases courtesy of: thetravelersnotebook). I want to read and write something different. As a result of that email I received two weeks ago, I was able to decide what I don’t want to write and therefore focus on what I do want to. Perhaps I should thank that editor for helping me put it in perspective.

Time to Stop Procrastinating

Hello?! Is there anybody still out there? I wouldn't be surprised if you have all abandoned me. I have been extremely slack about writing over the past few weeks. In part it's procrastination, but it's also the dread of facing the empty computer screen. . .

Today, a rainy day, means I can't go sell fruit and veg at the stand. It's time to stop avoiding writing and just get to it. I've got assignments for MatadorU coming out the wazoo. Stay tuned folks, later today there will be posts to read!