Farewell to Summer

Sunflowers outside Siena, flickr, by Cristos.

Sunflowers outside Siena, flickr, by Cristos.

Sunflowers bloom anytime between June and July in Tuscany. The hotter the weather, the earlier they bloom and this summer was a scorcher.

My friend and I traveled between Siena, San Gimignano, and Montalcino during the second week of September.

Swaying stalks of sunflowers waved a tricolor swath. The egg yolk yellow of youth, the gold of prime time, and the sepia color of age.

By the time we left Siena, last week, the sunflower fields became a personal haiku.


Once golden, bronzed

heads bid farewell to a

summer of brilliance


Goodbye, summer.

I look forward to the colors of autumn and traveling to Denver, CO to see the vibrant shades of fall.

Enjoy your last summer weekend!

Five Ways Travel Inspires Writing

Terracotta tiles, soaring medieval towers, huge duomos, the lush landscapes of Florence, Siena, Cinque Terre, and the Tuscany area of Italy still fill my mind.

Only 414 steps to top for this view of Florence's Duomo

Only 414 steps to top for this view of Florence’s Duomo

Travel refreshes. It pushes the borders of one’s mind and taste buds out into new frontiers.

When my eyes took in the scenery in Italy I was inspired to write and share some photos with you.

The landscapes inspire. Green comes in hundreds of shades: the olive tree, broad grape leaves, deep green shutters against sunbaked yellow walls.

Architecture evokes time’s past and juxtaposes the present. Medieval towers with black iron gates, alabaster and pink marble churches, french gothic mixed with romanesque styles dating from the 1200’s, crumbling fortress walls with Smart-cars parked beneath.

Indigenous food. Fat ribbons of pastas, creamy cheeses, dense chocolate, velvety panna cotta with limoncello, berries that vibrate with color.

Foods of Siena, Italy. Pappardelle, Sformatino, Panna Cotta, berries

Foods of Siena, Italy. Pappardelle, Sformatino, Panna Cotta, berries

The everyday scenes. Gatti’s (cats) sunning, elderly ladies sweeping, the high shrill of horns honking, and the voices selling wares, “the best in…”

Gatti sunning in Monterosso, Cinque Terre, Italy

Gatti sunning in Monterosso, Cinque Terre, Italy

And I cannot forget the wine, especially the Brunello wine from the Abbadia Ardenga Winery. Mario, the 86 year-old owner was our host. His wife, our chef. You can read about him here.

Brunello of Montalcino, Italy.

Brunello of Montalcino, Italy.

Landscapes, architecture, food, everyday scenes,

and finding treasures like this poetry in San Gimignano are five ways travel inspired me to write today.

Poem to the migrants lost at sea, San Gimignano, Italy

Poem to the migrants lost at sea, San Gimignano, Italy

Dedication to Migrants-San Gimignano, Italy

Dedication to Migrants-San Gimignano, Italy

Guess the Vacation Spot

It’s time to recharge and go on my much anticipated vacation where I’ll spend a birthday. 

I plan to go here: 

Guess where? flickr.com

Guess where? By Jason Pier, Flickr.com

And then here:


By Jon Cox, flickr.com

With a daylong trip here-hopefully in the water for awhile.


by Rebecca Anchondo-flickr.com

I’m not taking my laptop, but with luck may get some nice photos off my cell. 

See you in two weeks! 

How to Fight Domestic Violence

If I can stop one heart... by Emily Dickinson

If I Can Stop One Heart by Emily Dickinson

Life between the sheets (of paper) is not always rosy. And I know people like to read about the ‘rosy,’ because there’s so much evil and trauma in the world that it can be overwhelming. I understand.

The issue of violence, domestic violence, is one of those non-rosy topics but it’s important to talk about.

Even after many years, my own experience is hard to discuss. Victims/Survivors feel judged if they talk about the topic, sometimes by others and other times by themselves.

Suffice it to say that domestic violence can be deadly at worse and traumatic at best.

I’ve heard it said that writers work out their own issues in story. There’s a lot of truth in that. In one of my novels (unpublished) the main character experiences violence. The opening lines:

I didn’t run because I killed him. I ran because I didn’t. He was alive when I left, but that wasn’t important to the judge who sentenced me to San Bueno Correctional Facility. He was sure of two things: Alek was dead and I was the one who did it.

These are the black and white statistics:

Nearly one in four women, one in seven men and more than 3 million children in the United States are affected by domestic violence.

You can help change those numbers.

Assistance is a used cell phone away.

HopeLine phones are refurbished phones equipped with 3,000 anytime minutes of airtime and texting capabilities. They come with Verizon Wireless Nationwide Coverage, Call Forwarding, Call Waiting, 3-Way Calling, Caller ID, Basic Voice Mail and texting.

They are available to survivors affiliated with participating domestic violence agencies. This program has collected over 10 million phones, while donating over $18 million dollars to domestic violence organizations.

A great explanation of the program can be found here. 

Through HopeLine, the public can help prevent domestic violence by donating no-longer-used wireless phones and accessories in any condition from any service provider at any Verizon Wireless Store, by mail or at special events held throughout the year.

How to Donate

If you donate your phone, erase any personal data from the address book, deleting call logs, erasing messages, removing stored photos and other media. As part of the refurbishing process, phones donated to HopeLine are scrubbed prior to distributing them for reuse to ensure all customer data is removed.

Three ways to help HopeLine:

In Person: Drop phones at any Verizon Wireless communications Store. Visit the online store locator.

By Mail: Print a postage-paid label , adhere it to the box/envelope and mail.

Organize a Phone Drive Suggestions and Tips

Now go find those old phones stashed in the junk drawer and help someone fight back.


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