A life-changing journey in the Himalayas!

Take your writing to new heights…

I’ve been invited to teach in KATHMANDU in September. For real! Come join me and Meredith Cole. We won’t be climbing Everest, but your prose will soar!

And if you’re not writing a mystery but you want to come anyway, OF COURSE you can. Writing is writing. Come to Kathmandu!

High Crimes: Mystery Writing in Nepal

with SJ Rozan and Meredith Cole

10-day writers workshop, and life-changing journey in the Himalayas!

Sept. 18-28, 2017

Learn more.

On the subject of Confederate monuments

I’ve been thinking a lot, as I bet many of you have, about the spark for tragedy in Charlottesville — the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue.

I’d like to point this out about it and many other Confederate statues: they did not go up immediately after the war as a way for the defeated but still proud South to honor its leaders. The vast majority of them went up in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s (the one in Charlottesville was commissioned in 1917 and installed in the 1920’s, by a private citizen, on land he bought and donated to the city) at the height of Jim Crow. They were an indirect but unmistakable message to black people who theoretically had rights and were trying to exercise them.

The timing of that is as though Germany, now, 70 years after the end of WWII, started erecting statues to honor Hitler, Goebbels, etc.

That being said, however, I’m not sure the right way to deal with this is for the statues to come down. I think they should be interpreted, as per the above, and to them should be added, facing them, statues of Sojourner Truth, of John Brown, of Frederick Douglass. Of the now-anonymous slaves they bought and sold. Of Emmett Till, of Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney. Of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The history of the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights Movement are what they are. Our side talks about inclusiveness; let’s include the whole of those histories together, side by side, so we can begin to talk about them.

 

 

More Assisi, and a little Bastia

I had the best of intentions of blogging often. I was thinking Ah, I’ll be lounging about, drinking a little cappuccino, laptop on my lap… My tenth year here at Art Workshop International in Assisi and I still haven’t figured it out. Between teaching and hanging with my buddies, between walks and art and my local friends I only see once or twice a year, all that lounging time doesn’t exist.

So here I am, belatedly, back again, with some photos. Most of them are from Assisi, though we took a little trip — and I mean little, literally 4 minutes on the train (though of course you have to walk down to Santa Maria degli Angeli to get the train, and then wait for the train, so from the hotel the trip is about an hour and 4 minutes) — to Bastia, and strolled around.

View from our favorite cafe

 

Breakfast at the Hotel Giotto (plus a little fruit for lunch…)

 

The hard-working guys holding up the rose window at San Rufino

 

Below street-level plantings. Don’t show this to Grow Dammit, he’ll feel insecure.

 

Flower pot on the wall

 

Sunflowers, almost ready for harvest

 

Bastia: the market’s over

 

Bastia: painted wall

 

Filipina nuns in habits and identical straw hats waiting for the bus.

 

Bastia: I don’t think this is the police station any more…

 

…or else some cop has a very green thumb.

 

Dragon sings karaoke

Assisi, Assisi

Arrived at the Hotel Giotto, went to my regular room, unpacked and I already know where everything goes. Charles Kreloff and Bob Hughes had a slice of Pane di San Francesco waiting for me. Went for a walk around town: it’s been beautiful for 1,000 years and it changes but it doesn’t; still beautiful. Herein, the first set of photos. Including food, as requested.

Salad at dinner

Archway

Bootleg photo in the Basilica (no photos allowed!)

Basilica door detail

Outside my room, dawn

The Pope’s Dining Room in the Basilica. For nine hundred years, when a Pope visits Assisi, this is where they feed him.

Interior garden at the Basilica

Lemon and sage ravioli (SO yummy)

We visit the Basilica at night

Walkway

 

Sprucing up the Rancho

With the landlord’s blessing, took a patch of grass thatch by the house and did THIS! The sad-looking lying-down ones are irises that a friend gave me. I’m hoping they’ll perk up. Everything else is doing fine, thank you, including the Queen Anne’s lace liberated from the side of the road. Please note the clematis already climbing the trellis. Now I’m sitting on the porch having a Negroni made by the house guest. (House guests at Rancho Obsesso have to work!)

 

Early morning at the Rancho

Well, not exactly at the Rancho. On the causeway nearby. Went for a sunrise walk, and can report we are rich in egrets this year. That must mean the marsh is rich in fish. Also was dive-bombed by some smaller shorebirds I can’t identify, but this also happened last year when I walked too close to their nest. (How come you nest so near the road, guys, when you have the whole marsh to choose from?) All the osprey nesting platforms are full, and a few telephone poles have been colonized with those big, sloppy nests osprey build. We have robins, redwinged blackbirds, catbirds, sparrows, cardinals, house finches, some kind of warbler I can’t identify, starlings, crows, Baltimore orioles, and woodpeckers (don’t know what kind, have heard but not seen them) in abundance but no wild turkeys, of which last year we had two broods marching around on their route from house to house, chowing down. The butterfly bushes I planted last year are just starting to bloom, so I’m expecting hummingbirds when we come back next weekend.

#resist #rememberwhatyou’refightingfor

A great idea! In fact, two.

I’m just loving this: ice stupas!

To bring water to drought-stricken areas.

Photo by Sonam Wangchuk.

And speaking of the Himalayas, come to Kathmandu!  Click the link for details. (Not the photo, the link.) See you there!

http://www.himalayanwritersworkshop.com/mystery-writing-in-kathmandu

 

Opening weekend at the Rancho

Inaugural dinner. Swordfish and onions on the grill. Jim making it happen, with kibbutzing from everyone. (“It’s done!” “It’s still raw!” “Take it off!” “No, just move it to the side!”) Summer has begun. Photo by Susan Chin.

I love New York

Meanwhile, with all the appallingness going on in the world, New York continues to come through. On the serious side, there’s now free college tuition throughout the state for kids of middle-class families, and a serious look being taken in Albany at single-payer health care. And on the who’d-a-thunk-it side, there’s this. It’s the NYPD Out and Proud Mobile, parked across the street from the Stonewall Inn, where what was then called the Gay Liberation movement really took off in 1969 in response to a, yes, NYPD raid. What you can hardly see unless you look closely is that the lights in the light bar on top are rainbow-colored. What you don’t see is that I had to wait to shoot this photo until a car pulled away — it was driven by a black-dressed Hasidic Jew who stopped beside the cops, gave them a thumbs-up, and said in a heavy Yiddish accent, “You guys are beautiful!”

I love New York

Pouring in NYC this afternoon, so  I ducked into one of those specialty coffee places. I waited behind two other wet people ordering from a barista so sprightly I could only assume he’d been hitting the product. When it was my turn I asked for a cup of tea. He pirouetted, grabbed a teabag, pulled the hot water, and said, “I can tell you how tea started. I mean, if you have time.”

“It’s raining, go ahead.”

“Well, a couple of thousand years ago the emperor of China used to drink hot water three times a day and then one day he was sitting in the garden and a leaf fell into his water and when his servants tried to take it away and give him another he said no because it was fate so he’d drink it and see what happened so they all watched and they were scared but afterwards he felt so great he wanted more of those leaves in his water the next day. And that’s how tea started.”

He grinned, gave me my tea, looked past me at the wet young man behind me and said, “What can I get you?”

I love New York.

 

Bookcamp in West Bend, Wisconsin

Actually, Bookcamp is outside West Bend, WI. That sort of qualifies as the middle of nowhere but that’s why I love it. That, and the hard work of the students and the wonderfulness of the other faculty — Lisa Lickel, Phil Martin, and Dave Rank. I spent my time teaching; meeting one-on-one with students; listening to talks by guest faculty; walking in the woods; and sitting in my little room at the Cedar Valley Retreat, the 100-acre UCC facility Bookcamp rents for the week. And eating: the cuisine is Midwestern Hearty.

Below, some photos from the week. If all this sounds and looks good to you, Bookcamp 2018 will be May 20-26. You need not be Wisconsin-related, nor even able to spell Wisconsin, to come. Put yourself on my mailing list (scroll to the bottom) and you’ll get the details for next year when they’re out.

And just in case you can’t wait until next year for a workshop, I’ll be at Art Workshop International in Assisi, this August, and at the Himlayan Writers Workshop in Kathmandu, yes Kathmandu, in September. If you’re so moved, come to all three!

And now, Wisconsin.

View from my window

 

Birch trees

 

Pond

 

View down the road

 

Pond

 

Lawn at the edge of the woods

 

Chapel windows

 

Robin who aimed for me (but he missed)