18 Days Until NaNoWriMo

I was going to skip today because I’m working the early shift at work tomorrow, but then I thought that it wouldn’t be a good precedent to set to decide to write any little thing every day just to keep writing and then miss the third day.

I was actually going to write about the weather this week. They predicted rain all week, then they predicted rain Tuesday night and all day Wednesday and Thursday.

It rained a bit this morning, but then turned hot and sunny. I really had thought that the chance of rain had disappeared. In fact, Google seemed to say that there was basically no chance of rain.

About two hours ago, a storm started. It’s not a major storm — I don’t think that people’s trees are going to be damaged or anything — but there’s thunder and lightning.

It’s now probably going to rain all night and then it’ll likely blow over and we won’t get any rain tomorrow. Maybe.

Tonight’s Gratuitous Amazon Link is for the second book in the Monster High SeriesThe Ghoul Next Door, by Lisi Harrison. This time, it’s Cleo deNile, the daughter of The Mummy’s time in the spotlight.

19 Days to NaNoWriMo

I really need to do this writing earlier in the day than this. I’m training myself to write, all right, but I’m training myself to write late at night.

Wow. That all rhymed. That was *not* intentional.

So today I’m going to write about singing.

When I was, oh, nine or ten, my friend Leonora and I went Christmas caroling. Partly we did this to spread cheer, but mostly it was the profit motive. We had both seen our parents giving money to carolers, so why not?

Once we started singing, I realized that I really enjoyed it and I sounded pretty good to myself. I began to think of myself as a pretty good singer.

In junior high, we had a chorus. The choir director (what was her name? It was German and started with an H. That doesn’t limit it much, does it?) was very approachable and said nice things about my singing and she held after-school mini-voice lessons and after those, I always thought that my singing was slightly better than it had been before.

My freshman year of high school, I joined my church’s choir. That was a lot of fun and so I wanted to join the choir at my school, too. My folks refused to let me join the choir. They wanted me to play in the band so that I could do both of my musical things.

I auditioned for the spring musical, My Fair Lady. I totally didn’t get in, but the next day at school, the choir director took me aside and said that he hadn’t realized I could sing. He said that the sophomore choir was the chorus for the spring musical and so if I joined the choir my sophomore year, I would be guaranteed to be able to be on stage.

Of course, my folks refused. I mean, we ended up not having a spring musical my sophomore year anyhow, but still.

By the way, remembering that teacher telling me that he was surprised I could sing has carried me through a lot of subsequent setbacks.

My junior year, my folks finally relented and let me join the choir. Only, starting in junior year, you have to audition. And I was so effing nervous that I totally blew the audition. I also totally can’t type “audition.”

So, at this point, remembering how much more confident I was after those mini-lessons, I started campaigning for voice lessons. I told my mom that I wanted them because I didn’t have confidence in my ability to sing. You know what she said? “Voice lessons won’t help you sing on-key. Your grandmother took voice lessons and she couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.”

Now, I ask you. Why would you say that to a child who just said that she lacked confidence in her ability to sing?

Eventually I prevailed upon my mom to at least let me try them and then we had trouble finding a voice teacher who had space for new students.

I gave up for then, but my mom implying that I couldn’t carry a tune still rankled.

Thomas joined the major choir at his college and said disparaging things about the choir that the women who failed to get into the concert choir ended up in because I knew that’s where I would have ended up because I was too nervous when singing to do as well as I should have. Thomas also assured me that far from being more confident, voice lessons would make me feel less confident. My confidence in my singing was so bad that I couldn’t imagine how voice lessons could possibly hurt.

So. When I was in college, I finally took the plunge. I contacted someone in the music department at my school and made an appointment to meet with one of the voice teachers. I successfully auditioned and was told that while I didn’t need voice lessons, I certainly had enough to work with and we sat down with our calendars and realized that we didn’t have any openings in our schedules that would work out.

But I did it. I auditioned and would actually have had voice lessons if my course schedule had permitted it.

Two epilogues here. I think I’m going to go in reverse chronological order.

First, when I did the 23 and Me, one of their reports is ability to match musical pitch and I’ve got a 50/50 chance of being able to match a pitch. And I know for a fact I can do that. I also can hit a pitch that I only hear in my head. Nine times out of ten.

Second, after I did the audition, the next time I went home, I said to my mom, “I know you don’t think I can sing, but I auditioned for voice lessons and she thinks I can sing.” She was surprised that I ever thought that she thought that I couldn’t sing, because she knew I could. She thought I sang really well. When I asked her, she had no idea why she’d tell me that voice lessons wouldn’t make me sing on-key because she’d never noticed me singing off-key.

I’m not really facepalming, more sort of resting my face on my hand with my fingers resting on my sinuses.

I’ve decided that I’m going to look further into Google ads. I really want to make this go professional and hopefully after this ramp-up to NaNoWriMo, I’ll be writing enough during NaNoWriMo to have a few months’ worth of posts already created.

I’m not going to stop the Gratuitous Amazon Links, though. But when I’m not feeling it, or I’m on a creating-new-posts binge and don’t want to ruin my groove, I’ll be able to skip it.

I’m not going to skip it for today, though, because working out the AdSense will be more involved than I can cope with tonight. This is going to be kind of frustrating, because the fourth and final book in this series is . . . somewhere and I can’t find it.

Today I’m starting on the Monster High series by Lisi Harrison. This was a sort of/kinda tie-in novel for the Monster High toy series, but it is set in a different reality closer to our own. In this reality, the monsters lived freely among the “normies” until the beginning of the era of the Universal Studios monster movies. Suddenly their friends, coworkers, and neighbors began to hate and fear them. The leaders in their community decided that Salem would be a good place to hide out, since the witches would be sympathetic, only due to a clerical error, they ended up in Salem, Oregon, rather than Salem, Massachusetts.

The first book in the series, focusing on Frankie Stein, the daughter of Frankenstein’s monster and a new character named Melody Carver (I am very upset that we never got a Melody Carver doll), is here: Monster High, by Lisi Harrison.

20 Days to NaNoWriMo

I know I’m going to focus on blog posts again for NaNoWriMo. I’m going to get ahead on this someday. I hope.

So I’m going to just post something every day until November 1 so that sitting down and writing will be just a thing that I do by then.

So, Hi.

What’ve you been up to lately?

I’ve been working, mostly. I went for a walk on the Riverwalk on Saturday. It’s nice that things are cooling down a bit, so that I have more energy for exploring.

I’m going walking with Ray on Wednesday. That’ll be nice. We haven’t seen each other in months.

I’ve been waiting for Nowhere Bookshop to open, which it has, and I’ve been there three times so far. I certainly plan to go there again in the future.

Wow. I had to take a potty break and now I can’t remember what I was going to write next.

Oh! I was at the gym and a song came on and my brain briefly felt like it felt back when I was writing fiction. I didn’t have any actual, like, plot or characters or anything, but a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. So that’s encouraging.

And I really, really am thinking about putting AdSense ads on these pages. I’m not 100% sold on it yet.

So, until then (and likely afterwards, as well), we have our Gratuitous Amazon Link. Today we have The Glass Sentence, by S.E. Grove. I’m sitting here trying to figure out where to start. The world has been fragmented across an unbelievable number of eras and no one can figure out what year it was when it happened. From our heroine’s point of view, it happened in 1799. In the eastern half of the United States, it is the 19th century. The people who were in Southern Canada, however, are gone, and the land is as it was during the ice age. It’s all very intriguing and took me a while to figure out. Definitely worth reading, though, or I wouldn’t’ve posted it here.

Take Pictures of Things

Okay, so I was getting ready to go to sleep yesterday. I’d done my reading, I had my nightlight, the bunion in my right foot is bothering me, so I had my toe separator in, I lay down, I started to count . . . .

And then I suddenly bolted upright.

Did Wurzbach used to end at Lockhill-Selma? I was nearly certain it had. I even had a memory of a T-junction with lot of trees and brush and things. But was I remembering correctly?

Was that the Voelcker farm?

I mean, when we first moved here, I turned the wrong way onto Northwest Military and drove almost all the way to Huebner. Did Northwest Military Drive go *through* the Voelcker farm?

And there were my memories of when they started the Wurzbach Parkway part of Wurzbach. Had that been a brand-new street? Or a continuation and broadening of something that had already been there?

Later, by the way, I remembered that I had begun to wonder if I’d turned the correct direction onto Northwest Military when all I saw on either side of me were trees, and I certainly wasn’t going to try to make a U-Turn in an entirely new state like that. Although, at that point Wurzbach wouldn’t’ve done me any good even if it had gone through to Northwest Military. I mean, I couldn’t’ve gotten anywhere I recognized on it. I was really, really new to the city and this was before Google Maps.

This was before Google, even.

Back to 2021. I bolted out of bed and went into my closet. I figured that the map we had when we first moved here must be around somewhere, and I had a boatload of maps in my closet. I had three Texas maps with inset maps of San Antonio in my closet, but they were all too new.

So I finally went back to my desktop and found oldmapsonline.com and with entirely too much hit-or-miss clicking (I’m not sure what’s up with the navigation on that site), I finally got the map for my area in 1993 and, in fact, Wurzbach did end at Lockhill Selma back then. So my memory of the street ending in trees and brush is probably accurate.

I also often wish I’d taken pictures of the park down the street from where I grew up, so that I could, for example, find a picture of the Japanese artillery piece that stood in the park. I didn’t have access to a camera until 1974, so I suspect that the elephant slide we used to dig away the sand under and hide underneath was gone by then. I could’ve gotten some pictures of the people-sized hamster wheel that used to be in the park in the next town over, though.

This is all in aid of saying, take pictures of the area around you. Things change, which is part of the fun, but it’s also fun to be able to see how things were and how they compare to now.

Now I’m going to start planning how to take pictures of, like, everything everywhere, so I can track the changes over time.

I’m going to try to spoiler-tag my Gratuitous Amazon Link. There’s an area with dark gray text. Highlight it if you want to see whom Zuko brings back to the Fire Nation Capital with him.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time! We’re on to Smoke and Shadow now. Recently, someone on Reddit opined that it’s unrealistic to show that Zuko took the position of Fire Lord and they all lived happily ever after. Welp, here we have an adventure from the Fire Nation. Zuko is coming home with his mother, stepfather, and half-sister in tow, and someone, seemingly a spirit of some sort, begins to kidnap Fire Nation children. Is it a spirit? Will Aang be able to help? Or is this something that Zuko has to handle on his own?

I Should Be in Bed

I really should. I have to be up in a little bit, but I just finished Hollywood: Photos and Stories from Foreverland, by Keegan Allen and I have thoughts.

I bought this book from the discount table at a store. I’m pretty sure it was my own store, but maybe it was a different Walmart. I started it a while ago and really enjoyed it, but something interrupted my reading and I just found it again and decided to sit down and read it cover-to-cover.

It is a truly fast read — most of the book is photographs — but it made me think things. So I’m going to try to capture some of my thoughts before they disappear.

I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of pictures of people. Sometimes I wonder if that’s a sign of autism* or of facing some of the abuse I’ve faced in my life or if it’s just how I am and there is no real “why.” So, when the first few pages of landscape turned into pictures of people, I was kind of disappointed. But Allen clearly loves to photograph people and somehow it shines through in the beauty of the people he’s photographed in this book.

Not everyone in this book is conventionally beautiful. There are old people and scarred people and one guy with a forked tongue, and somehow, they’re all beautiful. I wonder what his secret is. Maybe it’s just love.

There are also poems and little vignettes written by Allen that are stories of the people who come to Hollywood. Some are running from something and some are running to something. Some achieve what they dream of and some do not.

And as I read them and empathized with them (yay for reading!) I also reflected a bit on my own past. Recently one of my friends posted a quote about how we become what we need to be to survive. And that is very true in my case, but it’s time to expand beyond that, I think.

My whole childhood, I wanted to write. One of my first pieces of fiction was a story I wrote when I was in . . . second grade? . . . about a friendly black widow spider. I’d just learned about venomous spiders and they frightened me, so I decided to take away the fear by making the spider a friend.

A few years later, I discovered the Nancy Drew books and decided that writing adventure/mystery books in that vein would be a good way to become a writer. I was horrifically embarrassed by my first attempt, in which my girl hero was visiting Egypt and got attacked by a lion. My uncle knew that I wanted to be a writer and he asked me what I was writing. I was afraid to tell him because, well, a lion? Really? He asked me if I knew where lions were from, and I said, Africa, and he asked me if I knew where Egypt was, and I said Africa. He told me that why would I think it was stupid to have someone attacked by an African animal in Africa. That made me feel a lot better. Rest in peace, Uncle Edward.

The next big turning point in my writing was in high school. My freshman year, my mom was not impressed by my high school’s newspaper**, so she encouraged me to apply my sophomore year. So I did, and by golly, the only people who got in were those who had had straight As in freshman English. I hadn’t; so, so much for that. I very briefly considered journalism after that, but gave up on that idea quickly because if I couldn’t get into my high school’s newspaper, what was the point?

My junior year, I sweated blood over a short story about a girl who worked in the local ice cream restaurant (based not-so-loosely on the Baskin Robbins down the street from my house). Several of my friends loved the story and I submitted it to my high school’s annual literature magazine and it didn’t get in. My friend Donna was incensed. She actually went to the teachers’ lounge to ask the faculty advisor why it hadn’t gotten in, and the advisor said that it was a great story, but it was too long, so they couldn’t publish it.

My senior year, I had a creative writing course, and several of the things I wrote for that class did get into the magazine, despite my not having submitted them. My teacher submitted them, which was amazing.

Then I had a hard time settling into college and by the time I got it back together, I was an A student in Education and my writing fell by the wayside for those years. I toyed with a novel about two teenagers with hyperactive and distracted ADD (I didn’t realize that was what I was writing, but yeah) who go on a fantasy adventure and find themselves becoming friends, but that never really went anywhere.

I got my writing back together in the mid-9os when I discovered fanfiction. I wrote a lot a lot of stories during that era. Then Thomas and I split up and . . . so much for that.

That brings us to the current era, when I’m having trouble writing fiction. When I found myself needing money, I made a few hundred dollars writing for content farms. I wrote some history, some travel, some . . . gardening? And really discovered that non-fiction has some appeal for me. If you’d’ve told 13-year-old me that I’d enjoy writing history and travel so much, I’m not sure I’d’ve believed it.

I’m now considering some fiction. It’s like, oh, maybe a Rubik’s cube or something. I take my fiction out and fiddle with it a bit and then put it back. I then return to my history and travel writing and book reviews.

The two fiction things I have at the forefront of my mind right now are a fantasy novel that started out as historical fiction about a world where Chinese explorers discovered North America before the Europeans do and a steampunk story about a sibling pair carrying classified information cross-country from their dad to their mom. I’ll continue playing with these and who knows? Maybe someday I’ll be a novelist.

I might even actually write that ADD-kids book I wrote two chapters of back in the 1980s.


*I’ve never been diagnosed and I’ve done online screenings that say that I probably am not diagnosable, but I do have some traits that people on the spectrum have. If I’m on the spectrum, I’m on what one of my friends calls the not-inconvenient end of it.

**Now, I’m paraphrasing here, since this was, oh, dear God, 41 years ago, but she said something about how the newspaper read like it had been written in a foreign language and translated badly into English.

My Travel Memories: Eagle Creek Park, Indianapolis, Indiana (1991, 198?)

Note the “198?”) above. I’ve been to Eagle Creek Park twice. The first was when my cousin (technically my second cousin once removed, but my family is so small, that she was just my cousin) took my mom and me in the 1980s.

It was such a beautiful park that when Thomas and I were thinking about going to Indianapolis for our honeymoon, I thought that’d be a nice place to visit.

And it was, erm, mostly.

Eagle Creek Park charges an admission fee. Because of this, I kind of assumed that it was a state park. It isn’t. It’s a municipal park.

Eagle Creek Park is more than 5,300 acres (2,145 hectares) in total area. The City of Indianapolis’s website says that it’s “more than” 1,400 acres of water and “more than” 3,900 acres of land*. As far as I’m concerned, that’s more than 5,300 acres total.

On its way to becoming a municipal park, the land that is now Eagle Creek Park was been owned by J.K. Lilly, Jr.

Time out. The website at Eaglecreek.org says that J.K. Lilly Jr. was the brother of Eli Lilly, so I was trying to figure out how Eli Lilly’s brother would come into so much money, I assumed that the Lilly family’s fortune stemmed from the pharmaceutical company. “Did Eli Lilly’s family have money before he founded the pharmaceutical company,” I wondered.

Turns out that there are two Eli Lillys. The Eli Lilly who founded the pharmaceutical company as the grandfather of a different Eli Lilly who was a philanthropist and is the one whose name is emblazoned on libraries and on rolls of donors of churches and the historical society.

So. J.K. Lilly, Jr., the grandson of the founder of the pharmaceutical company and the brother of the philanthropist, used to own the land that is now Eagle Creek Park. Beginning in 1958, J.K. Lilly Jr. donated the land to Purdue University.

Eagle Creek flooded in 1957 and caused a great deal of damage, the city began plans to buy the land from Purdue University and to put a dam on the river, which, of course, wouldn’t stop the flooding, but would keep the water contained. They began that purchase in 1966.

I’m researching the Native American history of the area, but so far I haven’t been able to find anything official. I think I’ve found an archaeological report, but I’ll have to do some digging to find it. I may even have to call Indiana State University for a copy. I missed my September 18 post and I want to get this written.

When Thomas and I went to Eagle Creek Park, it was before we had access to the Internet, so we didn’t really have a good source for all of the information about the history and high points of the park. As a result, we just kind of bopped around taking nature walks and seeing what we saw.

First of the two things that stick out in my mind was a visit to the nature center (that building is now the ornithology center). There were little cages and tanks with examples of native wildlife and a hutch with a Flemish Giant rabbit in it.

Now, I’ve looked at photos of Flemish Giant rabbits and never seen one that looks as intelligent as this one did. It actually really weirded us both out. Clearly, the rabbit was the baby of the guy who was working there that day, and I don’t want to speak ill of someone’s baby, but yeah.

The other one was my fault. We’d stopped at a picnic area for a snack and some geese approached us. Used to feeding ducks, we gave the geese a couple of nibbles of pretzel rod. And while ducks are like, “Nice snack. Thank you.”** Geese are like, “Nice snack. Give me more.”

We ended up running away from those damn geese. We walked behind a building and then literally ran to the other side. When the geese walked behind the building, we dashed for our car as fast as we could. When we got back to our car, we busted out laughing. We should’nt’ve fed them, of course, but it sure added something memorable to our honeymoon.

Now I’m going to have to do some research into my next Gratuitous Amazon Link. Looks like I’m at the final book in the probably-final Riordanverse series, Trials of Apollo: The Tower of Nero. I’m currently rereading this series.

*About Eagle Creek Park

**I know. We shouldn’t be feeding ducks or geese bread products. This was 1991, though, and we’d been raised feeding things like that to ducks. Nowadays if I were to feed anything to ducks, I know to bring them fruit, vegetables, or whole grains.

In Searching for a Tagline . . .

This is going to be a short post to make up for missing September 16.

I’ve never chosen a tagline for this blog because nothing really appealed to me. So I just put “A Blog in Search of a Tagline” up there.

That being said, I may be on the track of something usable. I read a study once that said that people who spend their money on experiences are happier than people who spend their money on things.

And, well, I definitely spend my money on experiences — travel and books. And now I’m blogging about travel and books. So I think that this weekend I’m going to dig through Google for that study and see if there’s any quotes I can make punchy enough for a tagline.

In other news, a new series based on the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson is coming out on Amazon Prime in November, so I’m thinking that maybe that’ll be a theme for NaNoWrMo this year. Maybe not the only theme, but definitely a theme. Some posts will be basic plot summaries, some will be in-depth looks at the characters, some will be squeeing about spoilers.

I need to come up with some idea of how to mark spoiler posts. When I first started blogging, I was told that it was polite to use cuts so that people visiting my blog wouldn’t be overwhelmed by text and scared off. So I did. And what traffic I did have plummeted. I went back in and removed the cuts and it went back up. So I don’t use cuts anymore. Maybe someday I’ll get steady traffic and will be able to keep it with cuts, but for now, no. I don’t think it’s very professional to use ROT-13 in a blog, but that may be my best solution just so no one can see that (choosing random surprise ending from a movie here . . . .) Rand’s been dead all along.

So I guess that today we’re having a Germane Amazon Link: The Eye of the World, by Robert Jordan. I’ll probably not have Germane Amazon Links all month, though, just in posts where I talk about events of one single book. For posts about character arcs and so on, I may do Gratuitous Amazon Links.

Book Series that Went to H-E-double-toothpicks: Michael Vey

I’m starting this series because there are so many series — kids’s series and adult series — that started out so promising and then just . . . went to hell.

I’m starting with Michael Vey simply because it’s the one that is on the screen in my Goodreads tab. It’s nothing personal about the series, or about Richard Paul Evans.

I picked up the first book, The Prisoner of Cell 25, in an airport. Geeze. Which airport, though? San Antonio? Baltimore? It doesn’t really matter, of course.

I. Loved. It. The characters were smart, they banded together and solved their problems. I believe it won some kind of award from, like, the science teachers’ association for the use of science both in the way the kids’ powers work and the way the kids used the scientific method in the book and . . .

I’m getting ahead of myself.

Okay, a little background. The Michael Vey series is about a teenage boy named, er, Michael Vey. Michael is being raised by his widowed mother and he’s pretty much your classic underdog — small for his age, smarter than average, and he has Tourette syndrome (not the dramatic swearing type — just a realistic tic-ing type). Oh. And he can shoot electricity from his hands.

Cheerleader Taylor Ridley sees Michael zap some bullies and talks to Michael privately. We find out that she also has electrical powers — she can distract people so that they forget what they were doing/talking about/etc.

We also meet Michael’s best friend Ostin. Ostin was born in Austin, Texas, and his mother isn’t as smart as he is and she misspelled the town of his birth on his birth certificate (I was willing to overlook that little plot detail, but maybe I shouldn’t have). Of course, not many people are as smart as Ostin, because Ostin is a certified genius.

Eventually, Michael, Taylor, and Ostin figure out that Michael and Taylor were born within a few days of each other at the same hospital and that a lot of the babies born that date in that hospital died soon after birth. But, clearly, not all of them did, so they begin to look for the babies who didn’t die, forming a “found family” that they refer to as the “Electroclan.”

And I liked the Electroclan. The kids are great and “found family, yay!” And the Electroclan isn’t limited to electric children. Ostin is a member and two of the bullies that Michael zaps at the beginning of the series join the Electroclan.

But not all of the electric children join the Electroclan. You see, the thing that caused the deaths of the babies and the formation of the electric children was some kind of imaging machine that used . . . electric waves to form the images. It was stronger than they expected and, well, the rest is history.

The machine was invented by a man named Charles James Hatch, who has become CEO of Elgen, the company that made the machine. Hatch has been collecting electric children, whom he calls “Glows,” because, well, they glow.

Hatch is a megalomaniac and goes megalomania-ing through the books of the series. He invents a power source called the Starxource system that is made from electric rats (“rats” backwards is “star”). And I’m, like, okay.

Then we find out that Hatch feeds employees who have displeased him to the rats and I’m, like, all right . . . .

So now we have our sides — Michael and his Electroclan vs. Hatch and his Glows. And, you know, a bunch of teenagers versus an entire multinational corporation, that should probably take a few books. Maybe even seven.

But as the series progresses, it gets more ludicrous. Hatch is having trouble sleeping, so he orders someone to bring him an atypical antipsychotic — Seroquel — to help him sleep. I was kind of appalled by this, because this is a book that won a science teachers’ award. Seroquel does cause drowsiness, but shouldn’t he be taking an actual sleeping pill like Lunesta or Ambien?

In The Battle of the Ampere, the third book in the series, Michael finds himself living among an uncontacted tribe in Peru, the Amacarra, who have another electric child living among them (so much for uncontacted) and who speak freaking Mandarin. For example, the chief says “Wo syiwang jeiyang,” which in characters is — probably — “我希望这样” and in English is definitely “I hope so.”

I mean, really. I actually emailed Evans to say that I certainly hoped that the fact that the Amacarra were speaking Mandarin was going somewhere. And I even stuck out the whole series at least partially in hopes that it would go somewhere.

It didn’t.

Eventually, Michael kills thousands of people by zapping them all but Michael doesn’t seem to have any kind of remorse or PTSD or anything, which really bugged me. I mean, he killed thousands of people. Augh!

The last book in the series focuses on people I neither knew nor cared about doing things that I certainly didn’t really care about. By the end of the final book, I decided to just sell the whole damn thing to a used book store. I’m really sad to lose Prisoner of Cell 25, because I did love it, but even I can’t convince myself that the series was “Book 1 and then they lived happily ever after,” and I believe that there were only four seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer — 1, 2, 3, and 5.

Now for a Gratuitous Amazon Link to a series that didn’t go to hell. This is the Streetlights Like Fireworks series by David Pandolfe. Streetlights Like Fireworks is a four-book series about Jack and Lauren, runaway teens with psychic powers. Jack and Lauren head out to track down a musician who disappeared in the 1990s and just kind of never go home again.

On second thought, here’s the first book, since apparently there isn’t a box set of all four: Streetlights Like Fireworks. I really love this series and am so tempted to rerereread it, but I have three books that I’m in the middle of and so I need to forge ahead. Maybe sometime in the future.

My Travel Memories: Union Station, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1991

Thomas and I would be coming up on our 30th wedding anniversary in November. We got married soon after our college graduations and I had gotten my first full-time job, as a file clerk at a law firm in January 1991, so by November, I’d earned six months of vacation time.

Thomas didn’t get his first job until September of 1991, so he didn’t have any vacation time coming. As a result, we took a four-day mini-honeymoon. My boss paid for two nights at the Drake Hotel in Chicago and then we went to Indianapolis for Monday and Tuesday and were back at work on Wednesday.

The first night we were in Indianapolis, we went downtown and found Union Station.

I love train station architecture. My first favorite was the Van Buren Street Station in Chicago, which I could tell had been lovely at one point, but was pretty run-down in the 1990s. I was also very taken by Chicago’s Union Station when I took a train to Milwaukee in the late 1980s.

Actually, no. My first favorite was Union Station Cincinnati, which I’ve written about before. Not that it matters. Back to Indianapolis.

Wikimedia says that this image is in the public domain. I don’t know when it was taken, but it’s before the streets of Indianapolis were paved. If this is not in the public domain, please let me know and I’ll replace it with a more modern photo that has been released into the public domain by the photographer.

Thomas and I went downtown and walked around a bit. We found the Soldiers and Sailors Monument and, eventually, Union Station. At the time, Union Station had a bunch of little mom-and-pop shops and I’ve always enjoyed what we referred to in our family as “malling,” which is kind of like window-shopping but in a mall. Usually, malling involves the purchase of an item, frequently food, in order to pay for the visit.

So, we malled for a bit and purchased an assortment of Jelly Belly jellybeans (possibly germane Amazon link?), including, if I recall correctly, jalapeño and buttered popcorn. They did, in fact, taste just like jalapeño and buttered popcorn, which was really disconcerting, since the texture was just . . . wrong.

There is a possibility that somewhere in my collection of belongings, I still have the Union Station t-shirt I bought that day.

My Gratuitous Amazon Links are going to stray from the Avatar the Last Airbender books after this one, because the “omnibus editions,” which have the whole story, for the next two storylines aren’t out yet. I didn’t realize that the book for Shadow and Stone wasn’t coming out until October 5 until I’d put the post together, so there’s a post on photography coming out on October 5.

For today, though, we have Suki, Alone, which is a standalone story about Suki’s time in the Boiling Rock prison. There are two more standalone stories out now, which will come up as Gratuitous Amazon Links once I’ve been able to read them.

This Is the Dawning of the Age of Public Domain

My mom and I went on a road trip with my dad in . . . 1990? 1991? One of the places we went was the home town of one of Thomas’s friends from college and I gave her a call while we were in town.

Actually it had to have been 1990. She and Thomas graduated in 1991 and she and her college boyfriend moved out of the country right after graduation (spoiler: two of their friends — another couple — moved with them and her boyfriend and the girlfriend of the other couple ended up falling in love and the friend came home). Since she was out of the country in the summer of 1991, it must have been 1990.

We didn’t really do much that was new that year. I think I’ve covered Greenfield Village before, so there’s that.

Then, in November 1991, Thomas and I got married. We went to Indianapolis for our 1st honeymoon. He’d only gotten his job in September and so he didn’t have any vacation time. As a result, we took a long weekend. Our bigger honeymoon was in 1992, when we went to Florida.

We didn’t take any pictures that I can find of the 1990 road trip and all of my/our photos of any trips we took between 1991 and 2001 are all in Thomas’s possession. As a result, any pictures I include here for those years will be gleaned from Wikimedia Commons and US government websites for pictures to fill in the blanks.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not sure how much travel we did during those years. We went back and forth between here and Chicago quite a lot and we went to Eau Claire Wisconsin for a wedding and visited the Minnesota State Fair while we were up there.

Oh! We went to Seattle for Thomas to interview for Microsoft and took our first trip to California.

Wow. I’ll have to rack my brain on this one.

For today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link, I’ll be doing the next Avatar: The Last Airbender comic. This time we have The Rift, by by Gene Luen Yang, Gurihiru, and Michael Heisler. Now I was scared to read this one at first. I was a fan of Smallville for the first few seasons and “The Rift” was what we called the time when Lex and Clark’s friendship would end. As a result, my initial reaction to the title was that the Gaang was going to break up. They don’t. They may come to a parting of the ways, but it hasn’t happened yet.