Tag Archives: writers

Guilin a Good Forward to Li River Trip

karst peaks along the Li River
karst peaks along the Li River

Guilin was the beginning of our Li River experience. Chinese travelers packed our plane from Shanghai to this small city of about 1 million in Southeast China. I had read that Chinese people were traveling as tourists in their own country in increasing number. This was nice to see. Everyone seemed in a good mood.

Fascinating scaffolding
Fascinating scaffolding

My companion was impressed with how quickly Chinese air travelers exited the plane. No futzing around. Deplaning was their mission and they got ‘er done. Jan, who has been traveling around lately on U.S. conveyances, marveled at the mass efficiency we witnessed on Air China.

As we both did the driving in crowded cities—and pretty much everywhere is a crowded city. Our car drivers, experts in their field, seemed to manipulate the traffic rather than fall prey to it. Every moment called for attention in the extreme and was spent in what amounted to a contest of wills: cutting in front of, or dodging, all manner of vehicles: from bicycle trailers piled high with produce and three-wheeled trucks carting construction materials, to umbrella’d scooters loaded with whole families. Add to the mix multitudes of necessarily wary pedestrians.

Guilin’s traffic was less tense most of the time, except coming back from a cave walk and tea farm tour when we hit rush hour. (At the tea farm, we were able to try the regional variety made from sweet osmanthus.) Our hotel was surely the finest. Pagoda style, it sat in the center of Seven Star Park. Guests could only approach by staff-driven eight-person carts, luggage and all. They carried you through lush vegetation and grass clearings where people did Tai Chi, children raced around post-picnic, and tired parents relaxed.

Pagoda of Royal Palace Hotel
Pagoda of Royal Palace Hotel

Our second-story room looked out on a central pagoda and a couple of koi ponds. I say koi ponds because the fish dominated, particularly next to the bridge leading to the breakfast room. Children were given little bags of dried food to feed the begging fish, probably to discourage the kids from dropping miscellaneous breakfast items into the pond and to keep the koi on their regular diet. I had a favorite yellow giant but it was impossible to single out any one in the gush of bodies.

A light rain fell both mornings we were there but obligingly lifted as we left the dock on our Li River boat ride. That was fortunate because I didn’t want to miss one peak of the karst mountain ranges along our four-hour ride. We are talking bucket list, here, so I planted myself on deck with binoculars and camera. My friend and Australian tablemates were more comfortable downstairs and the views were good as well, but I somehow wanted to be in the outdoors. It made the mountains more immediate and real. Because one’s first impression of the scenery is, “This is not real.”

A standout on the Li River
A standout on the Li River

You must have to get up earlier than we did or stay out later to see the famed Li River fishermen with their cormorant pets, whom they have taught to catch fish and “hand” them over. But that was a small matter compared to seeing the endless, crazy, pointy mountains lining both sides of the river. I suppose one of the things that makes them remarkable is that they rise from the flat plains. The mountains’ limestone shapes are what one tourist outfit calls “fantastical.” I think that’s about the best adjective I’ve heard. I think I only took a little over 100 photos.

Next: The Chinese tourist town of Yangshuo


F and Main Gallery Opening Saturday May 16th – Isleton,CA

FandMainGallery_Chamber_Ad_FinalI’m excited to invite you to the opening reception of my new gallery and home of Home Free Publishing beautiful downtown Isleton, California.  Save the date and join us for an evening of art, music, food and fun. Everyone welcome!

Grand Opening Reception of the F and Main Gallery

Featuring works by these Artists:
Painter, Gregory Crawford
Painter, Sally Ooms
Photographer, James Motlow
Photographer, Keith Palmer

36 Main Street, Isleton, CA

(on the corner of F St.)

Saturday May 16, 2015
5PM – 8PM

Hors d’oeuvres from local purveyors
Local wine and other beverages
Live music

Everyone welcome!



Nomadic People

A friend has sent me some pages from the book she is reading: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson.  I liked this quote: 

Nomads“A nomadic people learn to take their homes with them—and the familiar objects are spread out or re-erected from place to place. When we move house, we take with us the invisible concept of home—but it is a very powerful concept. Mental health and emotional continuity do not require us to stay in the same house or the same place, but they do require a sturdy structure on the inside—and the structure is built in part by what has happened on the outside. The inside and the outside of our lives are each the shell where we learn to live.”

House Keys Not Handcuffs

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am editing the upcoming book House Keys Not Handcuffs by Paul Boden, a former homeless man and 30-year advocate for homeless and poor people in the San Francisco Bay Area. (His story is included in my book, Finding Home: How Americans Prevail in the “Outsider Insights” section.)

Paul started the Coalition on Homelessness after he witnessed the inability of local and federal governments to deal with ever-growing homelessness. He now is head of the Western Regional Advocacy Project, a group of California programs that works together toward creating housing for those without shelter and putting an end to mass poverty.

His book gives organizing tips to others who would like to begin advocacy organizations or groups. We follow the pitfalls he has skirted throughout the years and see what concerns activists should be alert to as they plan to help others in an efficient and generally successful manner.

Bob Prentice has written the introduction to House Keys. He was formerly director of the San Francisco Public Health Division and founded the Bay Area Health Inequities Initiative, a collaborative formed to transform public health practices and eliminate inequities, and to create healthy communities.

Paul Boden of WRAP
Paul Boden of WRAP

The book contains artwork that embodies homeless and poor people’s struggles and other civil rights efforts during the 30-year period Boden addresses. Artist Art Hazelwood, famous for his artwork in this genre, adds a detailed history of art that has been created to accompany justice movements and publications in San Francisco.

Boden’s book is due out in October. He will speak at the Howard Zinn Bookfest (billed “a celebration of subversive books”) in San Francisco on Nov. 15 and at landmark City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco (co-founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti) on Nov. 18.

Freedom Voices Press Celebrates 25 Years
Tuesday, November 18, 2014, 7:00 P.M., City Lights Booksellers, 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco


New Mexico Press Women Award

cover jpgMy book Finding Home:  How American’s Prevail won 2nd place for General Non-fiction in this year’s New Mexico Press Women’s Annual Awards.  The NMPW contest is the broadest of any media competition and includes print (writing, editing, design), photography, radio, television, electronic communications, advertising, public relations, speech, and books.

I am a long-time member of New Mexico Press Women and the National Federation of Press Women.  I am also a member of the Northern New Mexico Press Women’s group headquartered in Santa Fe.  It includes journalists, editors, public relations people, publishers and authors. Author Anne Hillerman is currently the president of that group.  While I was unable to attend the convention in Las Cruces in April, I have been in contact with press women in the state.

“Wow, it is mind boggling to think of what it took to write these stories. The introductory paragraphs work well. Fun to read…”

-from the judge’s comments.


Story Project Colorado Springs May 2014

Storytellers for the Story Project in Colorado Springs Sunday afternoon, May 25. The program was performed before a live audience, each storyteller talking about the subject of mother(s) and was broadcast on the local affiliate public radio KRCC from Colorado College.



From left presenters are Jennifer Ryan, Coordinator of The Mural Project; Sally Ooms, storyteller and author of Finding Home: How Americans Prevail; Jene Jackson, author of The Oat Project; Amity Wagner (community advocate) and daughter Ana; and moderator Patrick McConnell. The program will be rebroadcast.  More info on Facebook and my Twitter feed.

Four Eyed Frog Books & TIDE Radio Events

SallyAtBookStoreA beautiful day for a reading at the seaside town of Gualala, CA, April 12. Wonderful bookstore, the Four-Eyed Frog. If you are on your way to Mendocino, stop in and say hi to Joel, wife Rosevita, his brother Chris, or beloved dog Angish. Knowledgeable and hip people, great selection and a friendly pup.


KTIDE_joelApril 11,  I was interviewed on The Tide radio in Gualala, CA, by Joel Crockett who hosts a two-hour show every Friday night. He’s  known as Joel the Frogman because he owns the bookstore in Gualala that bear the name The Four-Eyed Frog. Joel developed a list of songs with the word “home” in the title in honor of Finding Home: How Americans Prevail. And, he played bluesman Keb Mo’s song, “Your Own Way Home” (I quote a stanza in the beginning of the book) right before the interview began. This guy is a jewel.

Written Word Mixer

Writers—fiction, non-fiction, poets et al— mingled with illustrators, publishers, bloggers, Tweeters and storytellers March 11 at the friendly and eclectic Aqus Café, in Petaluma, CA. (Don’t ask about the name Aqus. There is not really a solid answer.) The seven-store Copperfield’s Books sponsored the Written Word Mixer as well.

The crowd was asked to break up into groups of three—that’s two other people you had never met, please—for about five minutes at a time. This gave participants an opportunity to give their elevator speeches and add a few personal details.

photo (3)

Then, those who wished to, grabbed the mike and told the crowd circled ‘round them what they are all about, what their aspirations are and why they came to the gathering. Most were looking for help in some arena—finding an editor, discovering a book translator, or ferreting out the right publisher. Yours truly learned names of book clubs I might attend and talk about my book, Finding Home: How Americans Prevail.

All were people who value writing and books in all forms. They shared information and connected, and that was what it was all about. The idea was to create community for these professionals and it was a success. Thanks Aqus and Copperfield’s.

For more information about community building spearheaded by Aqus, go to aquscommunity.net. Also check out copperfieldsbooks.com.