Midwest Trip 2019

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 4:15 pm on Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The cool thing about owning a camper van is that ordinary trips can turn into epic road trips. So when I found myself needing to go to Michigan for work last summer, we decided to take a month-long road trip across country.

Some of the things we saw included Hemingway’s birthplace, Frank Lloyd Wright’s first house, the biggest candy story in Minnesota, and Maud Hart Lovelace’s house, as well as:


The Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah



The Grand Tetons in Wyoming




A glass bottom shipwreck tour of Lake Michigan


And lots of campsite, sometimes accompanied by weird Michigan sunsets.

It was an educational trip. Michigan is beautiful. Lightning bugs, snapping turtles, and cardinals are magical creatures. And I really tried with Wisconsin cheese, but it’s just not that good, y’all.

I still haven’t been to every US state. Still too see: Maine and Alaska.

Hawaii Trip

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 12:47 pm on Monday, November 11, 2019

In October, we went to Hawaii! I’d never been before. We went to the Big Island and stayed for a week at a lovely resort. I couldn’t get over the sunsets.




Nature there doesn’t disappoint. For one thing, there are black sand beaches:


For another, there are so many animals. We went kayaking and a pod of dolphins were swimming around us. A baby dolphin flipped on its back and showed us his belly, then they all swam under our boat. We also saw manta rays as big as coffee tables, mongooses, tons of birds, and sea turtles:


Kona coffee is a thing there. It’s overpriced, but tasty. We went for a tour of a coffee plantation and it was interesting to learn how they harvest and process the beans. I’d never seen a coffee tree up close before.


In general, the food was delicious, especially the fruit. I tried rambutan, passion fruit, dragon fruit, apple bananas, honey cream pineapples, and many others. I’m going to make Hawaiian sweet bread for Thanksgiving.


The Big Island has five volcanoes, three of them active. We took a helicopter ride over some of the volcanoes, which was very exciting. I’d never been in a helicopter before.


They took us over the volcanoes so that we could look down into them.



Of course, last year an enormous volcanic eruption wiped out a large neighborhood on the island. They flew us over the damage and showed us pictures of what the area looked like only two years ago. It was shocking to see.





So add us to the long list of people who love Hawaii. Someday we’ll go again and visit one of the other islands.


You can see more Hawaii pictures on my Instagram.

Joshua Tree National Park

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 9:00 am on Sunday, November 10, 2019

Way back in February, we took our RV to Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California. It’s one of the most surreal places I’ve ever been, like walking inside a Roadrunner cartoon.

At one point we were walking down a canyon and pieces of white fluff started sweeping around us. It took a moment to understand it was snow because the sun was out and the sky above was blue. In the morning, a light dusting of snow covered all the cacti.







Goodbye 2018

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 7:48 am on Sunday, December 30, 2018

Even though I didn’t get everything I wanted, 2018 was a successful year of career achievements, travel, and adventure. Highlights:

* Kyle completed his first year as CSO at Purism, a company that makes privacy-oriented laptops and is working on a cell phone. He signed a book deal to write about computer-y things and spoke at several conferences, including the Freenode in Bristol (link is to his talk). I love his integrity, work ethic, and pretty much everything else about him.

* In addition to polishing up the two books I wrote (email me if you want to know more), I published a lot this year. I’m most proud of breaking into The New York Times with my article on Eugene O’Neill, as well as The Washington Post with an essay on Writing and Motherhood. Some other publications I’m proud of:

Bohemian Tragedy: The rise, fall, and afterlife of George Sterling’s California arts colony in Poetry Foundation.

Ghost Writer: The Story of Patience Worth, The Posthumous Author in Longreads.

My Year of Smoke: Finding Echoes of Frankenstein in the California Fires in LitHub.

Student Debt and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for Ploughshares.

Sleep Disturbance in The Forge Literary Magazine.

second place

* Gideon turned six and went into first grade. We worked on swimming, Spanish, reading, math, and piano. He won second-place at the coloring contest at the fair. He beat his dad at checkers and joined chess club at school. He’s always making something cool out of cardboard tubes.

* We bought a camper van. We went to Bryce Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, Dinosaur National Monument, Las Vegas, the Oregon coast (twice), Yosemite, Mendocino, Humboldt, my parent’s house, Big Sur, Half Moon Bay, and Fort Brag.

* We also went to Greece!

* And we checked out Disneyland for the first time.


* Beyond that, I saw Othello in Oregon; hiked; fled from the California wildfire smoke; baked (including the above star-shaped bread); read more Shakespeare; painted about a dozen paintings in an attempt to improve my art skillllz; saw Neko Case, the Punch Brothers, and En Vougue perform at different points; threw a fondue party; saw a parade; went wine tasting; ate a Dickens-themed dinner; grew a giant garden; and generally lived life. Much of this is up on Instagram and Twitter.

So, pretty good year. Goodnight 2018.

Greece Trip 2018

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 3:47 pm on Thursday, October 25, 2018

This October, we went to Greece! It was a sensational trip. (Good word, sensational.)

Here are pictures. If you want more, Follow Me On Instagram.

We visited the Acropolis in Athens:

acropolis jk


And saw where the Oracle of Delphi used to sit:


And ate tons of food:


Especially olives:


And visited ruins of theaters where important Greek plays were first performed:


And wondered at the strange reality of Greek mythology:


And swam in the Mediterranean:


And ran a race in the original Olympic stadium:


And found Greek mythology relevant in light of the Kavanaugh hearings:


And stayed on a Greek island full of cats and donkeys:


And stayed in a medieval castle built upon a giant rock:


And saw Mycenae, the world’s first literary site:


And really, Greek mythology is so interesting:


Sensational, I tell you.

Everywhere We Went In Our Camper Van

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 2:28 pm on Saturday, October 20, 2018

Oh hello. It has been awhile. Well, we’ve been busy. For one thing, we’ve been driving around the country in our camper van. Here are the places we went:



Bryce Canyon



Dinosaur National Monument in Utah


The Rocky Mountains

rocky mountain

The Oregon Coast

oregon coast

If you want more pictures, you can Follow Me On Instagram.

What have you been up to?

We Bought A Camper Van

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 9:01 am on Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Kyle’s dream has come true. We bought a camper van.


It’s a 1996 Roadtrek Popular 170. Here’s the inside:



Cabin In Mt Tamalpais

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 7:56 am on Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A couple of weeks, friends invited us to spend the night in a cabin in Mt Tamalpais. Can you believe the view off the balcony?


We had a great time: lots of hiking, board games, listening to people playing music, and seriously, check out this view.



And at night:


And in the morning:



Disneyland, Othello, and Hikes

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 8:11 am on Monday, March 19, 2018

Here are some things we’ve been doing lately:



Even though I’ve lived in California all my life, I’ve never been to Disneyland. So we took Gideon down there, and had a great time.


They do what they do well.



This is my favorite time of year to be outdoors in California. Everything is green and cool, the birds are super active, and there are yellow flowers everywhere. So I’ve been going on a lot of hikes.

I was excited to discover a new hike near my home that I didn’t know about. It was eight miles uphill, but I hardly noticed because it had gorgeous views of vineyards and forests the whole way. And then we were on top of a mountain!


Othello In Ashland

As I mentioned before on here, I’m making my way through all of Shakespeare. So for Valentine’s Day, Kyle and I went to Ashland and saw Othello at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.


It was a good production.

2017 Was A Dumb Year, Hello 2018!

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 10:05 am on Tuesday, January 2, 2018

While everyone was moaning about 2016, personally it was a great year for me. But 2017 was pretty dumb. Just before Christmas, Kyle’s grandmother Ruth passed away. We just came back from her funeral in Kentucky. For much of the fall, most of California was on fire, including my own beloved Sonoma County. It looked like the fire might come into Petaluma, where I live, but luckily that didn’t happen. Still, lots of people lost their homes or were otherwise affected by the fires. And other dumb stuff happened too. My dad was sick with various illnesses, many things I tried to do failed, and Kyle had work strife that, while eventually resolved, was stressful. Finally, my friend’s cat Peja died, which doesn’t sound like much, but she was a special cat.


Lots of good things happened too. For one thing, I signed with a literary agency.


And I wrote a number of articles that I’m proud of. Some of these include:

Tight Wires Between Us: On “Difficulties of a Bridegroom” by Ted Hughes in LA Review of Books.

Why Aren’t There More Women Working in Audio? in The Atlantic.

Hollywood Loved Sammy Davis Jr Until He Dated a White Movie Star in The Smithsonian.

How Beatrix Potter Invented Character Merchandising in The Smithsonian.

Bountiful Beach Buffet: Fresh Seaweed Is Making Waves Among Foragers for NPR.

Murmur, a short story in Every Day Fiction.

I was also interviewed by CNN and on XRAY In The Morning in Portland, Oregon. This week there’s a Q&A with me on The Navi Review.

Gideon turned five this year and started kindergarten. Kyle, as I said, switched jobs and is now CSO at Purism. He also published a book, Linux Hardening in Hostile Networks: Server Security from TLS to Tor.


For travel, I went to the snow in Tahoe, which was lovely.


And Sequoia National Park, which was astounding.


And Germany and Austria, which was one of the best trips I’ve taken. I blogged about it.

Part 1: Germany
Part 2: Castles
Part 3: Salzburg
Part 4: Hallstatt

Lots of other things happened. I went wine tasting and saw Laura Marling and Martha Wainwright perform at different points and sailed a blow-up boat in the river and went out to fancy dinners and generally had a nice life. I grew a big garden.



Check out this bread I made. It looks just like bread.


I’m looking forward to 2018 being better. I’m being optimistic. I’m going to read a lot of Shakespeare and paint insects and probably go to Greece. I’ll try to write my best work yet. Our country will … not suck so much … ? Well anyway, we’re going to Disneyland on Thursday, so that’s not a bad way to start the year.

Happy New Year!

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