Thursday, May 2, 2019

Town of Art


I'm with Nila in front of a Lake City wall of art.
ARTFIELDS

My sister Nila and I spent a couple of days touring art venues at ArtFields in Lake City, SC. The town is literally innundated with works of art, paintings, sculptures, installation art, photography, illustrations. Art is on display in the barbershop, the mattress sales shop, restaurants, boutiques. I was in heaven!

Nila and one of her favorites.
To make the visit even more exciting, visitors can vote on their favorites. This year, I had 33 favorites. My sister had 37. I’m glad that ArtFields allows ordinary people to participate in choosing the art we like. Contemporary art as chosen by professionals (gallery owners and museum cureators) has put art a step removed from my sentiments, or at least I have no emotional investment in some prominent art that I see. 

I'm with textile art here


Sunday, April 28, 2019

Rice Festival



COLLETON COUNTY RICE FESTIVAL

My tent was located between a booth with birdhouses and another with Mexican goods.
At the Colleton County Rice Festival, there was constant traffic throughout Friday and Saturday. I’m not good at judging attendance at events, but it may have reached the 30,000 estimated on Festival Net. From my seat under a tent, it was like watching a side show of people passing by.

Doug (left) is checking out bird houses.
Lots of strollers and kids. People who stopped at my tent were from Walterboro as well as the surrounding area, some from Charleston and Edisto. The locals had good things to say about the town. 

The food vendors were circled in a nearby town square, but Doug didn't find the food to his taste. I preferred the festival's attraction—Lowcountry rice, good and spicy with sausage. 

You may not recognize the Festival mascot, a kernel of rice, 
or at least I think that's what it's supposed to be

.
Walterboro's Main Street has the vacant look of so many small towns. Despite shady trees, well tended buildings, and awnings, too many empty storefronts stare into the street. There is a well-stocked antiques market, which I managed to visit a couple of times. Bought a painting that’s hanging on the wall of my office.

My new painting from Walterboro Antiques is at the upper right.
The photos are thanks to Doug Stanard (my husband and assistant).


Monday, April 22, 2019

Pickens Azalea Festival


Good location for my booth, open to traffic on two sides.

A WASHOUT

Saturday at the Pickens Azalea Festival I learned that in some cases you need more than a tent. It was a promising venue—well organized, various arts represented, continuous traffic. But I left at noon. 

Even with a coat, I went to the corner coffee shop to warm up.
The temperature didn’t get out of the 50s and as soon as clouds blew out they blew in. Almost constant drizzle if not rain. The worst of it was that the wind blew the rain into our tent. If you’re selling jewelry or wood art, it’s not so bad. But rain ruins books. Pickens was great. The weather was awful. 

A day for coats and umbrellas
















 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Azalea Festival



PICKENS, SC—WHERE I'LL BE SATURDAY

Join me this Saturday, April 20, for an adventure— a visit to Pickens, SC for the Azalea Festival. Booths with wares by artisans and artists (including writers like me) will line both sides of Main Street, which will be closed to traffic. Other entertainments throughout the day include a pet pageant (12 PM), magician (1 PM), bands and music. Also amusement rides for the kids.

If you’re a history buff, these nearby historic sites are up your alley:

* Hagood Mill, an 1845 gristmill at 138 Hagood Mill Rd., 10 AM – 4 PM, Parking $5
* Hagood-Mauldin House, antebellum, at 104 N. Lewis St., 10 AM – 4 PM, $5
* Pickens County Museum at 307 Johnson St., 9 AM – 4:30 PM

I’m happy to be going to Pickens for the first time. It is one of many small towns in SC that preserve our heritage while adjusting to the 21st Century.

Pink, red, and white azaleas are in bloom throughout SC, a celebration in itself

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

two writer events



WORDS & WINE

Back-to-back literary events in Columbia this week. At the Lourie Center Tuesday evening mystery-writer Raegan Teller discussed “Top 10 Things I’ve Learned about Being a Writer.” 
With Raegan Teller. I won a copy of her novel in a drawing for a door prize.
Raegan started the countdown at 10 and described each one. Examples:
— learn to say “no”
— storytelling is in our genes
— find your own way 
Number two on the list was “UBU.” In other words, take advice but find your own voice, be the authentic "you." This sounds easy. But “voice” is no easier to spot than the wind. Which is perhaps a good analogy. What you see of the wind is not the wind, but its effect on trees and other things.

Topping off the list at number one was “It takes a village.” Most of us writers work in our offices alone, but getting to the end product, the novel, requires many people.

Open Book
Tonight (Wednesday) I attended the last presentation of the 2019 Open Book series at the University of South Carolina’s Capstone building on campus. Professor Elise Blackwell introduced author Margaret Sexton, who talked about writing her novel A Kind of Freedom.
 
Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
On the day she was sworn in as a lawyer, her cousin was going to jail. The disparity of their situations haunted her and inspired her to write. After an unavailing year of working in the Dominican Republic, she labored on a manuscript, which met with no success. Other writing that was "too easy to be worthwhile" turned out to be the first draft of her novel. Another novel is forthcoming, about a family of former slaves living in the 1920s. 

The Open Book series will return in the spring of 2020 with more authors and books to talk about. Professor Elise Blackwell of USC makes this program available to the public, and at no cost. 
Elise Blackwell -- thanks to her, we have visiting authors.


Sunday, April 7, 2019



PURPLE MARTIN FESTIVAL
St. Matthews, SC
The traveling Purple Martin visited my booth.
The Saturday festival at St. Matthews, SC, brought visitors and locals to the Court House square. My booth was near the steps where continuous music and entertainment were staged. I can tell you, it’s not easy to talk to possible buyers when a rock band is blasting in your eardrums. Notwithstanding that, it was a good day, perfect weather, steady traffic. 

My husband Doug helped with my tent and set-up. Photos thanks to Doug.
Food vendors had a central location, BBQ was popular.
I was situated on a corner spot. I'm not ignoring people, just looking at traffic in the other direction.








Sunday, March 31, 2019

purple martin festival





APRIL 6, FESTIVAL

I’ve borrowed a tent and have talked Doug into staying with me for five hours Saturday (April 6) while visitors trawl the Purple Martin Festival in St. Matthews, SC.

My tent, along with other festival tents, vendors, and food trucks will be parked on the Calhoun County Courthouse Grounds from 11 AM until 4 PM.

According to the Festival’s Facebook page, there will be a parade, street dance, live bands, raffles, antique cars, and crafts.

St. Matthews is a country town located south of Columbia and northeast of Orangeburg. A short drive for those of us in the Midlands.

I’LL BE AT UPCOMING UP FESTIVALS

April 30: Azalea Festival, Pickens, SC
April 27: Cayce Festival of Arts, Cayce, SC (Doug standing in)
April 26-27: Rice Festival, Walterboro, SC

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Starry Place Between Antlers



JAMES DICKEY

This morning at the White Mule in Five Points I attended a panel discussion held to celebrate writer James Dickey. It’s subject was “The James Dickey Influence On SC Writers.” The panelists, for the most part, were former Dickey students who recounted anecdotes. Roger Pickney told of a poetry reading in which Dickey growled, roared, and sweated, ending by saying that his audience had seen his last reading. It was too hard for him. He couldn’t do it again. At some later venue, Pickney told of seeing the same performance, with Dickey saying it was his last poetry reading, too hard. 
(LR) Ellen Malphrus, Roger Pickney, Ray McManus, Jane Zenger
Dr. Jane Zenger gave the most insight into Dickey, quoting comments he had said in the English class she took from him. She said Dickey’s view was that there were two ways in which poems were written: 1) one-shot and it’s done; or 2) a labor of years. She engaged the panel in an aside to Dickey’s philandering. Ray McManus, though he hadn’t been a student, told of how his work has been influenced by Dickey. 

This first panel was followed by two readings, one of them poetry. What I get from authors reading their work is impatience. I would like to have seen later panels but didn’t want to wait two hours.

The name of the event, “The Starry Place Between The Antlers” is taken from Dickey’s description of Columbia. I’m glad to see our city celebrating its literary heritage. Wish there were more of these.


Monday, February 25, 2019

2019 oscars



We had several friends over last night to watch the Oscars on TV. We chipped in an ante and awarded a pot of $$ to the person who accurately guessed the most winners. Doug won the pot.

We didn’t necessarily vote for our favorites. The point was to try to guess what winner Hollywood would pick. Though I haven’t seen all the nominees, I was happy to see Green Book win Best Picture (though A Star Is Born is almost as good). 

It’s inspiring to see that five books were made into Oscar winning movies. Five more books were made into movies that received nominations. Meg Wolitzer wrote the novel that became The Wife, one of my favorite movies of the year. I was conflicted about how to understand it. Seemingly the wife had been wronged, but had she?

Inspired by the Oscars, I’m going to see Vice with a couple of friends this week. Christian Bale, who plays Dick Chaney, looks nothing like himself in the previews. The actor, when a young boy, starred in a movie I’ve watched numerous times and still love, Empire of the Sun.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Pat McNeely Presentation



WORDS & WINE

Author Pat McNeely had the spotlight last night at Words & Wine hosted by the Lourie Center in Columbia. Many, if not most, of her nonfiction books focus on the history of South Carolina, with titles such as Eyewitnesses to General Sherman’s Campaign, and Lincoln, Sherman, Davis and the Lost Confederate Gold. Her other books touch on the media and recipes from an historic perspective.

Her presentation, “Andrew Jackson, John C. Calhoun, and the Petticoat Affair,” pointed out the many commonalities between Calhoun and Jackson. Though they had been friends, later in life they became fierce enemies.

SC author Patricia McNeely
Wish I had taken notes and could report some of the fascinating details McNeely brought out. However, I was too engrossed in the program. She delivered many interesting asides to the life of each of these historic figures.

Nobody left hungry, given the spread of cheeses, fruits, crackers, sausages and wine. And two of my favorite guitarists, Ken Baldwin and Igor Agafonov, turned the welcome into a party. Sponsors for the evening were Trader Joes and Rob Akers-Trevett.
Words & Wine hosts monthly events that feature local authors and musicians. Chris Maw does a great job of getting it together. Chris emails a calendar of the author presentations as well as other local events. If you're interested in being on her email list, the address is chrisemaw.2015@gmail.com.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Sumter Author Event

Great cookies provided by Betty Reese and staff.
BOOK SIGNING

The Elephant Ear is located at 672 Bultman Dr,. Sumter, SC.

I, along with other SC authors, signed books in Sumter at The Elephant Ear Gallery last Thursday. Betty Reese arranged the event, billed as “Meet the Author.” The gift shop is of modest size but well-stocked with booths that display and sell arts and crafts. Many people attended, but not many book sales, at least not that I could see. 

 
We authors sat at a table in the back of the shop.
 
I sat between Mike Long and Carla Damron

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Sumter Book Signing

COME THURSDAY

On Thursday, February 7, Doug and I will be in Sumter, SC for a book signing. Betty Reese of the Elephant Ear Gallery will host “Meet the Authors Tea Party.” Come by and say “hello” and taste the cookies. The address is 672 Bultman Drive. Ph. 803-773-2268.

For several years I taught school at Alice Drive Middle School in Sumter. Had a wonderful principal and a terrible librarian. She once told me to be quiet while I was assigning student projects.

I lived in the back door rooms of an old antebellum mansion owned by a family slipping on a financial slope. The owner had a wonderful Southern brogue. The acreage around the house had been sold to a developer who had put ranch houses up to the lawn. I was young and in love with my independence—thought I was making a fortune on a teacher’s salary.

Connected with other teachers who lured me into a life of parties (I’m still grateful to them...). Partied every weekend with soldiers from Shaw Air Force Base. Met an Olivetti we whispered was related to the typewriter fortune. Great memories.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Rockvale Writers' Colony



TENNESSEE WRITER’S RETREAT

This week I have been at the Rockvale Writers Colony in Tennessee working on my manuscript about a traveling group of actors in 1672 France. Yesterday I wrote “The End” to the first draft, something I had expected to do over a year ago.

The writers colony is an 1853 farm house that was expanded into a Bed and Breakfast. I am in the Tennessee Room and the board walls and floor are beautiful old plank boards. Stenciled flowers are painted on the floor around the fireplace. 

I'm in Tennessee, the state and the room
 
My bed (very comfortable) and fireplace
Other rooms have local names: College Grove (the PO address); Flat Creek (runs along the highway); Williamson Room (the county). In addition to the farm house are two cottages. It is a compound that could probably accommodate 12 or 15 guests.

I met director Sandy Coomer and her assistant Heather Meek on arriving, and we had dinner with the other writer guests. Sandy is a writer herself and converted the B&B into Rockvale in 2018. Although there are others about the place, I rarely see them. Meals are on our own. Nothing scheduled. Perfect! 
Here's where I spend the day
I know from experience that I can get chunks of work done in isolation. And my schedule will explain why. Here’s a typical day:
9:30 AM Get up, do my stretches, get dressed
10:30 AM Eat cereal breakfast
Work on writing
2:00 PM Lunch, often tuna salad
Work on writing
Go for a walk
Work on writing
5:00 PM Supper, instant oatmeal
Work on writing
11:30 Bath and bed

I don’t cook, clean house, answer the phone or shop online. When I focus on writing I can become absorbed by the story and march ahead.

By the end of my stay, I’ll be ready to go home. I miss Doug. I hope to keep the momentum going once I’m back in my office.
The sun is in my face. Nice weather but cold

Saturday, January 5, 2019

new year's resolutions



WRITING GOALS

In a talk I made to the Irmo Shepherd’s Center in November, I advised my audience to seek out experiences that take them beyond their comfort zone—not just to enlarge our understanding, but to provide a foundation for our imagination and intellect. This morning I was outside my comfort zone for an hour when I appeared on Kasie Whitener’s radio program WriteOn SC (100.7 FM). It was stressful, but not as difficult as my first time on the program.

We talked about goals for writers. It benefitted me perhaps more than our audience. I had decided to make no New Year's Resolutions this year. I was discouraged that I hadn’t succeeded in keeping my 2018 (and 2017) resolution to complete a manuscript. I have learned that this goal—to complete a manuscript—is a weak, if not ineffective, one. It doesn’t change my behavior in a way that encourages me to achieve the goal. Yes, I want to finish it, but to get there, I need more productive habits not verbalization of the goal. For 2019 I’ve changed my goal to: write (not research nor revise) for an hour each day on the manuscript.

A BAD GOAL
Worse than helping me, the “finish manuscript” goal became an impediment. It caused frustration and disappointment with myself. What we need with goals is incentive. The definition of an incentive differs for different people. This gives rise to a couple of approaches to writing goals. On the one hand, you can make time-defined goals (an hour a day) or, on the other hand, output goals, 200 words a day.

THE CHALLENGE
If you are motivated by challenging or hard to achieve goals, you might go for six hours or 1000 words a day. However, not everybody (read Bonnie) is motivated by exhortations such as Steve Jobs’, "We're here to put a dent in the universe."  

Unrealistic expectations make me nervous. To begin with I fret about whether I can reach the goal. Fret turns into anxiety as I try harder and harder. Trying too hard impairs my ability to write. I am better off with targets I feel more confident about.

PIN IT ON THE WALL
An important point I learned this morning—I need my written goals pinned in sight of my computer. Last year, the resolutions I made in January were forgotten by February. I have a better chance of reaching the finish line by consistently remembering and sticking to the list.

Some of my friends have given up making New Year’s resolutions, which makes me sad. One reason for making resolutions is to take stock of yourself and aim to be better. I think we’re getting old when we give up trying to better ourselves.


Thursday, January 3, 2019

published poem.American Journal of Poetry



IN THE SHADE OF CHERRY TREES

My poem “In the Shade of Cherry Trees” is published online in the current issue of The American Journal Of Poetry. Unlike most of my poems, this one touches on life in Washington, DC. I try to avoid politics and social issues altogether, in part because I don’t like to read such poems. I have yet to read a good poem on social justice (or feminist angst, child abuse, gay rights, etc.). Having said that, several of my poems contradict my intention.

When you think about it, Emily Dickinson lived her adult life during the Civil War, a time of extreme political controversy, but you will be hard pressed to find a reference to the war or slavery in her poems. Somehow they stayed grounded but rose above everyday grappling.

When it comes down it, isn’t poetry more organic than social anyway?

My thanks to Editor Robert Nazarene and his staff for producing The American Journal Of Poetry and for publishing my poem. I’ve received encouraging comments and, of course, I’m delighted with the feedback. Here’s the link to this issue. Scroll down to my name and choose it.


Thursday, November 8, 2018

st. andrews shepherd's center


EASY READING IS HARD WRITING

That was my topic on Tuesday (the 6th) when I spoke to the St. Andrews Shepherd Center’s lunch crowd. I borrowed that quote from Nathaniel Hawthorne who actually said it was “damned hard writing.” There were about 96 people present, having a Thanksgiving lunch of turkey and dressing while I talked. After my presentation, we had a drawing and I gave away a copy of Cat’s Fur.

Thank goodness for a microphone, for it was a large room at Ashland United Methodist Church. I touched on questions writers are often asked. Below I’ll give my answers, but I compared my experience with well known writers such as J.D. Salinger, John Grisham, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Steven King. 

—How long does it take to write a novel? (took me 10 or more years to write Kedzie)
—What experience prepares a person for writing? (I have picked and chopped cotton, retouched negatives, operated a switchboard, been a nurse’s aid and waitress)
—Where do ideas for books come from? (Antebellum diary; stories told by my ancestors; a wish to share my background with my future generations)
—What are the work habits of writers? (I don’t have habits. May write 10 hours one day and none the next)
—What advice for prospective writers? (Don’t listen to advice. Write something and take it to a writers workshop.)
My thanks to Carol McGinnis Kay and the Shepherd's Center for the invitation. The lunch was exciting, the audience most accommodating. 


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

author events


At Aiken Indie Author Day, all set up and ready
WORDS & WINE

Last night, I was a guest author at Words and Wine in Columbia. Author Pat McNeely paid tribute to the late Rachel Haynie, whose work includes a video she produced that focuses on local artists and their work. She wrote 12 books about South Carolina, such as Myths and Mysteries of SC. Two other authors signed books—poet Al Black and non-fiction writer Sheila Morris

Guitarists, Ken Baldwin and Igo Agafonov play music as background to these events, a talented duo.

COMING UP: Words & Wine's Holiday Book Signing, November 20 at 6:00 PM. The venue is Jubilee Circle, 2627 Millwood Ave. in Columbia, SC.
 
I won a drawing at Indie Author Day and what a win -- Great basket!
INDIE AUTHOR DAY

I, along with 30 other authors, participated in the Indie Author Day in Aiken on Saturday, October 13. The Aiken chapter of the SC Writers’ Association and the Aiken Public Library did a great job of organizing this event. I enjoyed meeting other authors.

Programs scheduled throughout the day covered subjects such as marketing techniques and publishing. Raegan Teller a fellow author of the Columbia II workshop was on a panel that discussed the pitfalls of writing a series of novels. The day would have been a great success had there been more traffic.


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Indie Author Day 2018, Aiken, SC


Last year, setting up at Indie Author Day 2017

I’LL BE BACK

On Saturday, October 13, I’ll be selling and signing books at the Aiken Library from 10 AM until 5:00 PM during Indie Author Day. I attended last year and had a great time. Lots of book lovers wandered in and out. The guest speakers covered various aspects of writing. 

Justin Wheelon discussed script writing at the 2017 Indie Author Day
It’s a good time and place to meet local authors as well discuss the art and craft of writing. I’ll be one of over twenty authors at tables located on the first floor of the library. Last year, I met a number of interesting writers and visitors. 

Will Jones had assistance demonstrating song writing in 2017
Programs about everything from poetry to fiction to marketing techniques will be held in the meeting room throughout the day. Independent publishers will be in the foyer with information about services they offer. During lunch, visitors are invited to try their hand at writing with Ken Doyle’s Writing Sprints. And there will be door prizes.

I hope the speakers this year are as good as the ones last year. If you go, come by my table and say “hello.”

The address of the Library: 314 Chesterfield Street SW Aiken, SC 29801


To my left (in yellow shirt) is Mike Lythgoe, who discussed writing poetry in 2017

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

columbia author event



WORDS AND WINE
 
Last night I attended author A.J. Brown’s presentation at “Words and Wine” held at 2627 Jubilee Circle on Millwood Avenue in Columbia. A.J. has always been fascinated by the dark side of life. Even when he was a child, his mother said, “He’s my dark child.”

Naturally enough, Steven King is an inspiration. A.J.’s research takes him into subjects such as cannibalism, abuse, and racism.

“I don’t believe in plot,” he said to explain that his stories are character driven. He’s a pantser, not a planner. Pantser, which I thought was a term invented by a writer in the Columbia II writers’ workshop, is apparently in more common usage. (I’m not sure of the spelling and it’s not in my dictionary). Anyway, a pantser is a writer who writes without an outline (i.e. writes by the seat of their pants).

Thanks to Chris Maw, “Words and Wine” is a monthly event where writers of central South Carolina promote their books and meet other writers. There’s music and wine and nibbles as well as writers. It takes place every third Tuesday. I hope more readers and writers will become interested and support this effort, which in turn supports us writers.

Would love to see you there Tuesday, October 16. Starts at 6:00 PM.

PS I took photos and accidentally deleted them. Not again!



Wednesday, August 29, 2018

WriteOn SC


 
Another chance at the mic
RADIO TALK SHOW
Last Saturday I was a guest on the radio talk show WriteOn SC along with sci-fi author Rex Hurst. Host Kasie Whitener led our discussion about research and writing. It’s a topic especially germane to historical fiction.

RESEARCH 
I talked about how I research background information. The main resource I use is writings contemporaneous with the time of my manuscript, in particular diaries, biographies, and autobiographies. You can find titles from indexes of other books on the period.

When it comes to digging for the answer to a specific question (did toothbrushes exist in 1857?) I start with Wikipedia. A Google search is often helpful. And you can find online photos and art of your period with clues to fashion, architecture, and geography.

AUTHORS WITH NO AUDIENCE?
Though you wouldn’t know it from the paucity of literary events in South Carolina, the state has an enthusiastic community of writers. However, aside from college and religious bookstores, there’s only one bookstore in the city of Columbia — Barnes and Noble. The city of Lexington has one, Books-a-Million. West Columbia has Ed’s Editions, which specializes in collectible books.

That is to say, SC authors in the Columbia area with books to sell won’t find a friendly face at a local bookstore. If you’re already successful, i.e., a name-brand author, our libraries occasionally sponsor guest appearances. They’ve also organized book clubs, but I don’t know of any author who’s been invited to appear at one.

A NEW PLACE WHERE AUTHORS MEET READERS
Kasie Whitener’s radio talk show WriteOn SC airs at 9:00 AM Saturday mornings on 100.7 FM The Point. It’s an opportunity for the community to meet and get to know local authors. Kasie is on the lookout for SC authors and publishers to participate in the programs. If you’re interested in being considered for a guest appearance, click on her blog.

SUPPORT for WRITERS
Better still, if you’re willing to support the show as a donor, go to the Patreon website.

To inquire about placing an ad on her show, get in touch with her through her blog.


Sunday, August 26, 2018

Iceland


REYKJAVIK

Last weekend my husband Doug ran the Reykjavik Marathon. I went along to provide a distraction from the rigour he was undertaking. Our son Jason joined us and ran with Doug, a much appreciated source of encouragement.
Doug and typical landscape
 Iceland is hilly and, outside Reykjavik, mountainous. It’s windy. It is a runner’s challenge. For the tourist, it’s a unique natural wonder. And you don’t need a guide to find scenery that will take your breath away.

In the drive from the airport into Reykjavik you’ll look out the window of your car and think you’ve landed on a different planet. What would be fields anywhere else is acres of rocks so rough you can’t just “take a walk.” The island’s volcanic heritage is alive and well in its landscape.

VOLCANIC CRATER

How deep is the water! How high is the rim! We walked around the top, and I worried while two French children, unnoticed by their parents, jumped and played at the edge of the cliff. 

At Kerid volcanic crater
GEYSER
You have to wonder if the geyser is prompted by a time mechanism that transcends our understanding. Picture a group of us tourists standing in anticipation for several minutes, growing restless, wondering...wondering. 
 
Me at Strokkur Geyser
Then a burst of steam shoots 15 feet into the air for about 20 seconds and disappears. The ground is quiet. Another wait. Waiting. Another shot of steam erupts, this one 30 feet. This one 30 seconds. Ohhhh! A collective gasp.

BLUE LAGOON
On the drive to the Blue Lagoon, you see numerous geysers coming from the sides of mountains, some of them little whiffs, some big enough to remind you of a nuclear reactor. We had great weather, about 50 degrees every day. Even at that, walking outside from the locker rooms to the Lagoon in a swimsuit is no fun. 
 
At the Blue Lagoon
The excitement starts when you stick you foot into the water. Ahhh! Must be 90 degrees! Heaven! And the color suggests you’re entering a magic kingdom. It’s more iridescent than appears in the photo.

NATURAL WONDERS
Most of the trees appear to be planted, and there aren’t many of those. However, the birches and firs are perfectly formed, as if Photoshopped. Most of the mountains are bare rocks. Water is everywhere, lakes, ponds, streams. The current is so strong the water crashes into rocks in the streams.


Doug at Gullfoss waterfall

UNNATURAL WONDERS
The food is about the best you’ll get as a traveler. No fast food chains. We saw one KFC, and it was at a service station along the highway. Many coffee houses. Even at a tourist shop I got soup that puts American imitations to shame. It was broth based, unlike the creamy gruel we get.
Me at Bobby Fischer's grave.
BOBBY FISCHER Museum
He became the World Chess Champion when he defeated Boris Spassky in Reykjavik in 1972. He lived a tortured life and died in Iceland. His museum is modest. His grave is a lonely one in a small church yard.

Iceland is an expensive vacation. One night after supper Doug got the bill and said, “Only $80.” It was one of the cheapest suppers we had. But the dishes are prepared to order and the vegetables are fresh. With no evidence of farming (except for the rare greenhouse), the country must import its food. There are sheep and on occasion a few cattle. But not enough to put meat on the table.

I’d love to go back to Iceland. It’s the kind of place you wish you could share with your friends.