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2.5 Million Steps

Last year I took 2.5 million steps. Well, according to my Pacer app two million, five hundred and thirty-eight thousand, two hundred and twelve to be more exact. And that’s only counting the steps I took with my phone on me. But it’s also counting the steps my phone thinks I take when I’m driving on a really bumpy road, usually on the way to a trailhead, so I’ll call it about even.

I like to walk and it’s one of those things I’m really good at because it’s low risk and I rarely ever fall and even when I do, I do all my own stunts so I’m usually just fine, and since I got a real camera last year instead of just using my cell phone I’ve learned to be a lot more careful. Really I should start carrying it around at home because that’s where most accidents happen because statistically, your house is actually a very dangerous place, and my plan to eradicate anything with a corner or an edge in my home met an early end because of – walls.

Green Heron

But even though walking is something I enjoy, it’s not always something I feel like doing. Half the time I don’t really want to go until I’m on the trail, and even then I’m sometimes grumbly because my body likes to conspire against me and I’m walking with a headache or a backache or knee pain or a wonky hip and really it’s not fair because I’d prefer not to be this way, and I never asked to be hit by a car or to have arthritis and joint problems and a muscle disorder or any of the other little things that occasionally add up and feel like big things, but here’s the actual most important thing – walking always makes me feel better.

The couch is not my friend, and over the years I’ve learned that I’m going to ache regardless of what I do, so why not make the most of it and do what I enjoy doing?

I find nature and fresh air and wildlife restorative. Hiking on a trail gives me something to focus on besides myself. It helps clear some of the fog that sometimes settles around my brain and brings clarity. And even though this part doesn’t really make sense, it takes away my fatigue. That’s not to say that after an eight-mile hike I feel energetic, but the general malaise gets burned away and replaced with a different type of tiredness.

One that lets me know that despite everything, at my core I’m strong and healthy and able.

Probably the most beautiful water lily I’ve ever seen – and it was growing in a ditch!

Those 2.5 steps helped me work out the plots for several novels and short stories. They helped curb angry words and soothed upset feelings. They helped me focus when I got super excited when an acquisitions editor wanted to develop one of my novels into a series. And they helped me recenter when the editor left the publisher and her replacement decided not to proceed with the project and I felt shattered.

On the days when I feel like following my dreams is a waste of time, I make myself walk.

On the days when just getting out of bed feels like an enormous effort and I need something to give me a sense of accomplishment besides just adulting, I leash up the dog and get outside.

When my husband and I start griping at each other because we’re overwhelmed with everything we have to do and there’s never enough time, we make it worse by taking a long hike together – which makes it so much better. We’re blessed to have the opportunity to see so many wonderous things, and they’re all the more special when we get to share the experience.

Even if he does get scared and yell at me when I do my own stunts. If he really wanted to help he’d do something about all those sharp edged walls in the house since they’re the real enemy. 😉

Book Review – The Woods Are Always Watching By Stephanie Perkins

Two girls with no experience camping decide to spend the weekend out in the woods together – alone. The premise alone opens up endless opportunities to terrify both the characters and the reader!

But would two such characters – and their parents – really go for this?

Perhaps. The author presents the situation as arising when two besties are faced with the pending demise of their codependent friendship as college approaches. This semi-plausible plot quickly takes a detour, though, when their weekend goes from bad to worse to downright horrific. I’m a huge fan of YA horror and anything scary that takes place in the woods, so I did ultimately enjoy this book, but if you’re expecting the same strength of plot as Perkins’ previous book, you might be disappointed. This one failed to meet its full potential. 3.5 stars rounded up.

Book Review: Yours, Cruelly, Elvira

Like many children of the 80s, I grew up an Elvira fan. Even though I’m not a huge fan of biographies,
as soon as I heard about this book, I knew I had to get my hands on it.

There’s no doubt that Cassandra Peterson lived a fascinating life, and she’s definitely so much more than the well-known ‘Mistress of the Macabre, Queen of Halloween’ character she created. That said, I wish that the book had focused more on her career and the character of Elvira. Parts read like a who’s who of all the famous people she’s known – I would have preferred more insider details about the aspects of her career that I knew her for. All in all though, an entertaining read with plenty of dirt and Elvira’s long adored wit!

About An Owl

Recently, while on a hike with my husband, we had the following conversation:

Me: “Do you think an owl used to live in that tree?” (Because that’s the kind of thing I think about.)

Husband: “No. I do not.” (He does not think about such things.)

Me: “But, you don’t know for sure. It’s possible, right?” (Because the tree really did look like it should host an owl. It was that kind of tree.)

Husband: “Probably not.” (Obviously, he knows nothing about trees.)

Me: “Maybe it didn’t live there full time. Maybe it just used the tree as like a clubhouse or something.” (At this point, he gives me a look like he thinks I’m weird, but he’s the one who married me, so if either of us is a weirdo, it’s him. Just saying.)

Me: “I was just telling you the other day that I’d like to photograph an owl. So if that’s an owl tree, that would be perfect, right?”

Husband: “I don’t think owls like to be photographed.”

Me: “Are you kidding?!?!? There are a ton of amazing photographs of owls. They’re very photogenic.” (They’re probably a bit narcissistic given their good looks and photogenic qualities and all, but I’d still like to find one.)

Husband: “Well, I don’t think there are any owls here.”

Me: “We never go anywhere nice.”

Husband: “This place is nice.”

Me: “Not if it doesn’t have any owls. Hey, look at that nest.” (Because I had to change the subject fast before I sank into a depression about the lack of owls.) “What do you think lives in that?”

Husband: “It’s pretty big. Probably a buzzard or something.”

Me: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a buzzard nest before.”

Husband: “Doesn’t mean they don’t have them.”

Me: “Doesn’t mean that’s one of them.”

Husband: “Doesn’t mean it’s not.” (Now he’s just being difficult. I suspect he learned this from me.)

Me: “I think I see some feathers in it.”

Husband: “I don’t see anything.”

Me: “Doesn’t mean they’re not there.” (See. This is where he gets it from.)

Husband: “I think you’re wrong.”

Me: “You should have learned by now that I’m never really wrong.” (It’s true. ish. And if I’m not sure I’m right I preface with, “I might be wrong…” which means even if I’m wrong I’m right because I said I could be wrong, but in this instance – like most others where the husband is concerned – I was quite sure I was right.)

Husband: “There are no feathers.”

Me: “We’ll see.” (I zoom in and take a picture.)

My plan to arrange a meeting is in the works. It involves one of the windup rats I bought my dog off of Amazon because he loves to catch lizards but there aren’t as many to catch in the winter which he takes personally, plus, the lizards deserve a break because even though he has such a soft mouth that he can catch the tiniest baby lizards without hurting them, he likes to release them and catch them again and again like a cat. Eventually, they try to hide in the grass and he uses his bear claws to play peekaboo and that is when they meet their fate.

Also, he loves to play and squeak his toys but he doesn’t like to play with people anymore and gets rather offended whenever someone touches them because they’re his and not ours and he puts them in his mouth and he’s never quite sure if our hands are clean enough or not, but I want to play and it’s not fair because my hands are very clean, so I bought the windup rats for him to chase around the house which he enjoyed for two minutes until I touched them to wind them up again. Now he won’t touch them, but I’m pretty sure the owl will like them so I’m going to use them to try and make a new friend. But don’t tell the husband because he thinks it’s a horrible idea and even though I think it’s a good one, I might be wrong……

The Last Thing You Want To See At The End Of A Five-Mile Hike

I think it’s safe to say that the last thing you want to see at the end of a five-mile hike, especially when the trail is a loop and you can see your car, is something blocking your path. Especially when that something is a particularly large alligator. One who doesn’t feel compelled to move. And there’s rather deep water on either side of the rather narrow trail….

Book Review: The Couple Upstairs By Shalini Boland

After a young couple buys a new house together, things slowly start to unravel.

This one was only okay for me, definitely not my favorite by this author. I didn’t connect with the characters and the plot just didn’t have the stakes necessary to hook me and invest me in the outcome, but this book comes highly rated/recommended, so while I found it underwhelming, many readers found it thrilling.

3.5 rounded up.

From Goodreads: I should never have become friends with the couple upstairs…

The first time I step inside this cosy apartment with its sash windows, just minutes from the sea, I think it would be the perfect place for me and my partner Zac to start again. A chance to leave our troubled past behind.

Chris and Vanessa, the couple upstairs, are so welcoming: smiles, flowers, a home-baked cake. It’s strange how he does all the talking, and she seems so shy, but I’m just thrilled to have new friends nearby.

But everything starts to go wrong… my business begins to crumble, I can’t ignore the whispers at our housewarming party and loud arguments from upstairs keep me awake at night. I can’t sleep, I can’t think straight and I feel like someone is watching me in my own home.

And then Zac comes home one afternoon, his face clenched with fury, and says he knows what’s going on. He knows about my secret…

He won’t listen to me. He storms out and I’m left in tears, completely devastated.

Why has my life fallen apart since we moved here? Am I going mad? Or is someone trying to destroy us?

If only I’d known what I know now.
If only I hadn’t trusted the couple upstairs.

From the USA Today bestselling author Shalini Boland comes an absolutely heart-thumping psychological thriller with a twist you won’t see coming. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl and The Wife Between Us. 

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