Sunday, October 28, 2018

Climate Refugees

I've often noticed that many Tahoe residents are climate refugees. Like us, they came for the skiing and stayed for the year-round sunny weather. Although we're now used to California weather, I was reminded of it when we came down to exhibit my books and Kit's paintings at the Sacramento Fine Arts Festival (October 26, 27, 28). While much of the country is getting a taste of cold, wet winter weather, and Tahoe's daily highs are all the way down into the 60s, Sacramento is in the high 70s and low 80s, and the sun is brilliant.

So I Googled "Sunniest American cities" and here is what I found. Sacramento and Los Angeles are number 3 and 4.

Here's the link:

It's a fun website. You can search for lots of variables like cloudy days and average temperature. You can also search by state and by city.


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Painters Paint, Writers Write

The pesky part of being a writer is you have to write the books. You can't just think about it or talk about it. Same for painters.

Having said that, I admit that my wife and I have it pretty good, living where we do and both having creative occupations.

This past week, enabled by perfect weather, not too hot, not too cold, was an example. We went out to Hope Valley, just south of Tahoe. I brought a chair and my laptop, Kit brought her plein air easel, and we focused on that pesky work. Nice gig...

The view of Kit's work space as seen from my "desk." This is the Carson River, still flowing after all these sunny months. The little bump in the far background is Round Top, 10,400 feet.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Kids And Horses

One of the cool things about being an author is participating in charity-name auctions to raise funds for a worthy charity.

I've done this a few times. The way it works is an author agrees to allow a charity to auction off the right to have one's name used for a character in the author's upcoming book. The winning bidder gets the fun of having their name applied to a fictional character, whether it be a wonderful heroic character, an evil bad guy, or somewhere in between.

My most recent title, Tahoe Skydrop, had two characters named for auction winners. One provided funds for the Women and Children's Center in Reno. Another provided funds for the Carson City Friends of the Library.

Last summer, I was approached by the organizers of a fundraiser for the Kids & Horses charity in Minden, Nevada. They provide therapy for kids that revolves around getting those kids into contact with horses. It turns out that many kids with problems strongly connect to horses, whether riding them or simply being around them.

The fundraiser auction was held in Incline Village a few weeks ago. They auctioned off two names for me to use in my next book.

How much did those two character names raise? $5,000!

Wow, I guess I better do a good job with those characters!

Here's the link to Kids & Horses

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Jackie, The Very Nice Ski Instructor

Last weekend, I exhibited my books at the Candy Dance Festival in Genoa, Nevada. It was, as usual, a mob scene.

One fun experience was when a charming woman with her two sons in tow came to my tent. She introduced herself as Jackie, and she explained that 28 years ago, she'd been a ski instructor at Heavenly.

The view from Heavenly

That was the year my wife and I moved to Tahoe. We wanted to take a break from the real world, so we decided to try the "ski bum" life for a season and got jobs at Heavenly. I worked as a "liftee" helping skiers as they rode the lifts. I asked the supervisor if I could be assigned to the "Mighty Might," a type of rope tow on the beginner hill where skiers grab onto "paddles" attached to the tow.

To give you some perspective, the total vertical drop at Heavenly is 3,600 feet. The total vertical drop of the Mighty Might hill was 10 feet. But you'd be amazed at the trouble (and fun!) beginning skiers can get into with just 10 feet of rise and drop.

The Mighty Might assignment was considered the lamest, most uncool job in the lift department. But I saw an opportunity to make it my own. I put up a blackboard and wrote down the names of countries that the beginning skiers came from. Dozens of countries every day, from all over the world! I put up fun quotes. And when I wasn't busy, I sat in the sun (or in the storms!) and wrote.

When ski instructor Jackie introduced herself in Genoa, she said how she still remembered me on the Mighty Might hill, writing every day on my yellow pad of paper. She was so glad to see that my writing had turned into something.

Then I suddenly remembered her from 28 years ago. And I recalled that my singular impression of Jackie was that she was the nicest, smiling-est instructor at Heavenly. And like me, she didn't consider working the Mighty Might as lame at all. She saw it as an opportunity to help brand new skiers get a great introduction to a fantastic sport in one of the world's most beautiful areas.

As my memory of her came back, I told her two sons about how nice and kind and generous Jackie was with her ski students.

They looked a bit doubtful.

Jackie said, "See boys? I CAN be nice. I HAVE been nice.

What fun!