Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Dane: Aubrey, you lost my spot! I was somewhere in the Prologue...

Aubrey: Prologues suck.

Oh dear... (But she's kind of right, isn't she?)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Skylark Luncheon, Ashland, OR - January 21, 2010


I've been spending an hour a week at the local assisted living facility, writing down residents' stories and visiting. I bring my laptop, set it in my lap, and type without looking down as I talk with a small group of six or so - over slices of roast, fresh veggies, and some kind of pudding.

One of my favorite residents is Wendell, a former Army Major and world-traveler who carries a worn atlas in his wheelchair and says, "Oh, gorgeous, gorgeous," when anybody speaks of a place he likes. He recently suffered a stroke that left him slightly paralyzed, giving him grief when he wants to come up with specific words or details, but he's a delight to talk to. He has a sweet face, a sweet demeanor, and he smiles a lot as we all play his special form of charades.

He brought up London today and then made sounds and motions for Big Ben, the queen, and the guards, with clues like "tock tock," "crown!" and "the hat! the hat!" After we'd all guessed correctly, I chimed in "I like Trafalgar Square!" His eyes lit up, and he called out, "Gorgeous! Gorgeous!"

I then told him about traveling there with my good pal Maureen in 1993 and how I had her take a picture of me there - just as a pigeon sat on my arm and pooped on my coat.

Everyone in the room laughed and Wendell shouted out, "Pigeons! Pigeons!"

Next week I told him I'd bring pictures of London so he can point out where he's been or what he likes. Needless to say, I'll bring a big coffee table book from the library, but I'll also be slipping in this picture Maureen took of me one "gorgeous" day in Trafalgar Square.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


In the spirit of Flat Stanley, we just sent off a postcard to my friend Maya's son, Kai, in Mill Valley, California. His kindergarten class was collecting postcards from around the world (a map lesson) and Kai hadn't gotten a postcard yet. He was sad! So Maya sent out a distress signal via Facebook last night, and Dane and Aubrey and I answered the call.

Here's the postcard we chose this morning:

Here's what the kids wrote:

Dear Kai - The Gingerbread man came through Ashland, OREGON, and marched for PEACE at a MLK Jr. event with our school. Then he skied down Mt. Ashland, watched a play at the Shakespeare Theater, and drank the best hot cocoa ever at The Mix Shop! When he finally went to bed at our house that night, he fell asleep watching Yoda train Luke to use The Force on Dagobah (on DVD). From Aubrey & Dane Reynolds


Will post on Peter Ferry soon...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Travel Writing: A Novel by Peter Ferry

This'll be quick. I'm off to meet Pete Ferry, author of Travel Writing. He's chatting with my book club at Jennifer Margulis' house and then he's giving a two-hour mini-writing workshop at SOU. Can't wait for either of those. I loved the book -- so did Mick. But I'll have to report back later...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

FOLLOW ME! Or At Least Follow My Blog...

I've added a new feature in the right-hand margin of my blog. You can click on "Follow" and add yourself to my list of "followers" by typing in a couple things. What it means for me, of course, is that I get some sense of who reads this; what it means for you is that you can look at your "dashboard" and see when I update, instead of coming here every time you wonder about it.

I think that's what it does. Because you can make a list of all the blogs you read and "follow" them that way. Yeah, that seems to be how it's working for me - because I just started "following" other blogs officially, too.

Well, just give it a try and let me know what you get out of it. Maybe it'll just look like you're part of the Rogue Reynolds Fan Club. C'mon, you know you want that!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In Memory of Ruth

Ruth Scott was one of those members you can't miss. She was older than many of us at the Writing Mamas, somewhere in her seventies, and she spoke energetically and with wisdom. She also spoke often. That's the part that sometimes created detours in our meetings that slightly infuriated me (yes, I'll admit that) -- but usually her stories and insights were memorable for all of us. She was real and thoughtful and had depth of perspective that was special.

Occasionally, she commented on the Writing Mamas' blog site. One of my favorite comments ever came from her. I had written that I couldn't stop crying for the multi-layered losses a high school friend had endured, reflecting on how fiercely we pray not to lose those closest to us. Ruth commented:

I find it amazing that anyone is brave enough to have a child, to love another, as loss is always a possibility. Yet without the risk what is life. I know everyone has a sorrow. I go out everyday trying to not add a burden to anyone as I know they may already be overburdened. We are all interconnected in everyway. Beware that fear of losing someone can cause anxiety and over-protection and this too can be destructive. Ruth Scott

She had loved, lost, risked, gained, and survived - and had powerful thoughts on how to meet our challenges.

Ruth died last week, unexpectedly, quietly, in her sleep, after spending the holidays with all of her children and all of her grandchildren.

Here's her essay, which The Marin Independent Journal published yesterday at the request of The Writing Mamas.

Read it. You'll catch a glimpse of what we all loved about her, and what we will dearly miss.


By Ruth Scott

At 39, I had cancer.

During the week before surgery, I was walking down the street in Mill Valley holding the hands of my 4-year-old daughter, Ann, and my 7-year-old daughter, Alison.

In their other hands they each held an ice cream cone. I remember extreme awareness of my surroundings as I thought to myself, "If this is all there is, then I am blessed." At that moment I saw every leaf on the tree before me as individual, unique and important, yet interconnected to the whole. I've never forgotten that moment. I later heard someone describe a similar feeling that they had experienced with psychedelic, acid-type drugs.

I could understand why they would want to have this experience again. Life with cancer had given me a blessing. I felt centered, free to be in the moment.

Twenty years later I had my second cancer. One of my thinking processes at these times was to accept death, and try to learn its lessons. I wrote, "Thoughts of death bring sweet return, when from them more of life we've learned."

If you do not live, you have little use for this lesson, but there is always the chance that you will have time to practice what you have learned. I admit that I have learned many more things than I have been able to put into practice. I believe it was Goethe who wrote, "A seeker of truth is a student of death."

I believe this is true.

I created a game, a habit, of looking at or experiencing things as if it were "for the last time." We go through life learning new things, doing them for the first time. First we learn to see. Our eyes do not focus so vision must be practiced and learned, and it really is exciting if only we could remember. You can watch a child take his first step and see the joy and excitement it brings. We may record his first spoken word.

There is a different excitement and joy that comes from doing things and seeing things for the last time. There is a sense of appreciation and thankfulness, a gratitude for having the experience that a "first" cannot compete with.

To watch my grandchild take her first step is magnified and appreciated for perhaps I will never again experience that moment when a child launches herself into the bipedal upright stance. I savor the moment as I do all the times in the last few years that I have skied down the perfect slope on a clear winter day for the last time.

This summer I jumped off a cliff on Long Lake below Mt. Elwell, again, for the last time. The height scares the grandchildren; the cold of the lake challenges me, but it's there and the "last time" makes it seem easier, not so cold. "I won't have to do this again," I say, and I jump. My grandchildren may return at 75 and remember, saying, "Well, Grandmom did it, so can I."

Perhaps, I'll inspire from the grave what I could not inspire in life.

I climb again to my favorite pine that grows high on a rock over Big Bear Lake. It is alone, and one cannot see any soil around its trunk, only rock. Year after year this pine is still there, facing winter storms, the cold and the weight of wind and snow, and still it survives, bonsai, and beautiful. I come back every year for the "last time" receiving comfort and strength. "If you can make it, I can make it," I say to this tree, my friend and inspiration.

I can walk through Mill Valley for the last time and it's amazing what I see and review and I am renewed. It is enough to have had each experience and if it is the last of the last times I am fortunate to have appreciated each moment in time.

First times you can only have once; last times you can experience over and over again.


Click here to read more of her writings.

By Aubrey, as told to Anjie

I sent money to Wildlife Safari and to Heifer International for people in need. I bought chickens for people in need. The chickens will help them get money and the eggs will pass to other people that need chickens. The eggs can also feed them.

My grandma and grandpa gave me $12.50 for Christmas to give to people in need. I chose to buy chickens for people, but I didn't choose only people in need. I also chose to help the cheetah in Wildlife Safari.

I gave $10 and my brother Dane gave $10 to chickens and then we each gave $2.50 to Wildlife Safari. My mom and dad each gave $7.50 so we could send Wildlife Safari $20.

The picture up above in the blog - you can probably click on it and it will get big and you can read it - is the card I made for Wildlife Safari. I put a giraffe on it.

$20 will buy a flock of chicks at Heifer International: http://www.heifer.org. :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Such A Considerate Girl
Quote of the Day

Does anybody need to go to the bathroom? Because if anybody does, there is now a warm seat. I mean really warm.
-Aubrey Reynolds, age 7

Note: I should add here that I admire Aubrey - and Dane too. They say things like this and just slay me. And when I tell them I'd love to put their words or deeds on the blog, sometimes they jump all over it, sometimes they're embarrassed and beg me not to, and sometimes they're embarrassed but agree it's hilarious and tell me to go ahead. For the record, I never post anything they ask me not to - they're just so brave and confident, most everything's a go.
Check out the ScienceWorks
banner ad
for my spring camp.

Who's comin?!

Sunday, January 10, 2010



My girl's been YouTubed!

Ms. Karen Elizabeth Urlie
made the cut for the unofficial YouTube
Jeannette MacDonald cover collection.

Can I get a Brava?


Click and enjoy, compliments of Netty's Brag Page.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Dane dictates a post about his upcoming book report

My name is Dane. Anjies son. I am doing a reading report for my class. It is about George Washington. I have learned a lot about him. My grandpa is really into the Revolutionary War, so he's going to be a lot of help. For sure.

So far I know George Washington won the Battle of Cowpens and he won the Battle Across the Delaware. Those were pretty important battles. Cowpens was very important. I'm serious about that. I'll tell the story of that.

Okay, well, in the Battle of Cowpens, George Washington's team lined up in three lines. The first line was called The Sharpshooters. The second line was called, well, the ones that didn't have much practice. And the third row was the really experienced troops. General George Washington told the men in the front row to shoot three shots and retreat -- and only shoot when you see the whites of their eyes. And the second row would do the same. And then the third row was hidden behind a little hill, and that's the surprise.

And then the British came marching down, and the first row fired their shots, retreated to the side. Then the second row shot their shots and retreated to the other side. And then the rest of the British soldiers came marching forward and forward, and then the last, the third row, surprised them and got most of them.

And then they kept shooting, and then the two other lines swarmed around them and that was the end of the battle.

The End. By Dane.
See? We just found this. That's the same map from the Battle of Cowpens movie!

Aubrey shuffles up the stairs, hauling a load of books, a portable lap desk with a stretchy light, blank paper and a pencil. She's headed to her office, where she'll spend the next several hours. She'll even take a phone call there, flat on her back with her feet up in the air, toes curled around the metal wires.

The night before, Aubrey's office is Dane's hotel. He curls up on the pillow and reads Diary of a Wimpy Kid until he falls asleep, finally stretching his long tree branch of a body halfway out the door and onto the carpet. His last sentiments before he sacks out are, "Mom? Can we change Sharly's name to Turtle? We could call her Turd for short. Heh heh heh... Zzzzzzzzz........"

None of this seems to bother Sharly, though, who's made it clear that she's got her designs set on another piece of prime property in the house.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

JenniePal WriterPal SkirtPal

Jennie Englund and I met at Noble Coffee last summer. I was working on a new chapter for my novel; she was having coffee with a girlfriend. We started talking about writing and teaching (she teaches English 100s and 200s at Rogue Community College) and we hit it off.

We hit it off to the extent that Jennie suggested we be friends. This was rare, and I quote her: "I don't try to make new friends, do I?" she turns with a nod to her coffee friend. Her friend shakes her head, no. "I can't even be a good enough friend to the friends I have, so I'm never looking for new friends. But I want you to be my friend. It has to happen. We have to write together."

It was the funniest, silliest intro I could've had to a new friend in Ashland, and I was all over it.

My family was headed to King Tut in San Francisco for the weekend, so summer felt busy, but Jennie and I kept in touch via email and finally got together for some serious writing at the beginning of fall. This was a couple weeks after I'd seen her in Albertson's wearing an outfit I didn't realize was a costume. Turns out she was dressed like a pirate for the Tree Frog Trek camp, but I thought she wore ruffly shirts and vests for real.

Here's the beauty of this: I've been wanting a serious writer-friend to write with, revise with, and set goals with. Check. Check. And check.

A few weeks ago, Jennie let me read something she wrote a while back and I suggested she submit it to Chicken Soup for the Soul's Christmas edition; I also suggested she submit it to Skirt magazine's holiday contest.

Guess who won honorable mention in the holiday contest???

Yup, that'd be Jennie. Following is her story in full. You can also link to it here at Skirt! Way to go, Jennie! And I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for Chicken Soup - because we all like a paying market now, don't we?

How Sallie Bowles Saved Christmas

by Jennie Englund

Flames licked the fireplace door as my mom sat on the sofa, cradling her hot cocoa in her hands. Her blonde hair had long since fallen out from relentless rounds of chemotherapy. Instead, a blue handkerchief covered her head, and a reindeer-printed fleece blanket draped her swollen legs. She still wore mascara‚she always wore mascara. But her thin face and tired eyes reflected the battle she was going to lose.

She took it all in: the stories, the drama, even the fighting. She knew this was her last Christmas.

At 27, I knew it was her last Christmas, too. But my seven younger siblings didn't know it. Maybe some of them chose NOT to know it. And the two littlest‚ my ten year-old sister and four year-old brother‚ had absolutely no way of knowing it.

Ribbons, bows and wrapping paper flew around the room. Photo albums and Lego sets were ooo'ed and ahh'ed over, until the next package was ferociously ripped open. That year, we tore into the gifts like lions at their prey. We were looking for the magic gift—the contents of the one box that would make us forget our mom's suffering, and our own.

It never came.

The next Christmas, the reindeer-printed blanket was folded in the corner of the sofa. No one wanted to open any gifts. We wanted our mom.

But Christmas wasn't about wanting. And it wasn't about sorrow. The rest of our Christmases couldn't be this way. As the oldest sibling, I had to do something. We didn't have our mom, but we did have each other. And for the sake of our dad, who had lost his college sweetheart, I had to bring back Christmas.

As we pushed around ham and mashed potatoes with our forks, an idea came to me. Slipping from the table, I rummaged through my teenage sister's room for sequins and baubles. I fastened a too-tight silver bra over my black t-shirt and threw a feather boa over my shoulder.

There was one clear choice. My husband put in the CD we'd brought from our house: the soundtrack to the 1972 musical, "Cabaret." The sole song to which I knew all the words was the title track. As the trumpets began pumping, I slunk sheepishly from the hallway. My dad nodded. My teenage sister stood up on her chair. The four year-old gaped in wonder and surprise.

Like Liza Minnelli in her role as Sallie Bowles, I began singing tentatively at first. I stood motionless at the unplugged microphone, bathed in the beam of a powerful flashlight. Of course I asked myself what I thought I was doing, or even what I was undoing. Was this irreverent? Flat-out blasphemy? I mean, I was the responsible one. And even with all the sequins and baubles and boa and bra, I felt naked, completely naked.

But I could feel the eyes on me‚desperate for the return of holiday folly.

The music picked up pace. Sallie's voice picked up pace. And my confidence somehow adjusted accordingly.

I bumped my hips and twirled my necklaces and wrapped the boa around my brother's neck. My dad was laughing‚really laughing, ├«and every chuckle was melting the previous year of pain. My teenage sister danced on her chair. The four year-old clapped his hands against his thighs.

THEY were inspiring ME.

By the end of the show tune, I was belting out the lyrics, with my legs kicking up in the air:

"Life is a cabaret, Old Chum.

Only a Cabaret, Old Chum.

And I love‚ a cabaret.‚"

I held the last note until the drum stopped.

And then I collapsed forward.

The cheers and whistles were deafening. It had worked. "Cabaret" couldn't bring back our mom, but it could begin to restore a broken family's joy and hope.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

It makes me queasy, but I'll post this anyway

My 2010 Writing Goals

Research homes for (and submit):

  • Mustache Revolution
  • Name That Girl
  • Man in Kentucky
  • Veteran’s Day
  • Of Cherry Blossoms…
  • That Bike [check!]
  • Emergency
  • Buddy
  • Married To A Dentist: A Story of Love and Teeth
  • An excerpt from BLUE as a short story (???)
  • Poopy Brucey [can have a goal to re-name that, too]
  • To Cop A Feel
  • Cowboy
  • 9/11 Reflection
  • God’s Thumb
  • Beauty Marked
  • Nursed
  • Ultimate Ungulate Week
  • Loaded
  • Sharly

Apply for:

  • Oregon Arts Commission Grant – “Career Opportunity Grant” – by Feb 11, 2010


  • One piece a month for 2010
  • In Skirt!
  • In CSM
  • In Jefferson Monthly
  • In Ashland Tidings
  • In Ancestry magazine
  • In Oregon Humanities Magazine
  • In Brevity
  • In an anthology
  • A book review

Take/attend/volunteer at:

  • A writing workshop


  • BLUE draft by May 1

Daily Chores:

  • Read at least 2 of these:
    • CSM Home Forum
    • Skirt!
    • Ancestry magazine
    • The Sun
  • Read from a novel
  • Read from at least 1 of these Appalachian or Writing books:
    • Land of the Saddle Bags
    • Appalachian Stereotypes
    • Bloodroot
    • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
    • Between the Lines
    • How to Write a Damn Good Novel
    • Bastards and Bullies

Post progress on blog - along with fabulous things my family does

Collect REJECTIONS like love letters

Monday, January 04, 2010

Cheeseburger Soup
Monday's Rockin' Recipe Share

You don't need your own trailer to cash in on this one. All you need is a crockpot and a willingness to cook with some Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup. Not a staple in my house, but I tossed one in the cart on Sunday and had me some super soup fun.

Well, I actually tripled the recipe, so I tossed three of those babies in the cart.

Here's what I made:

Cheeseburger Soup
Prep: 25 minutes / Cook: 10-11 hrs (low) or 5-5.5 hours (high) / Makes 6 servings

1 lb ground beef
1/2 c chopped onion (1 medium)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 c sliced carrot (1 medium)
1/4 c ketchup
2 T yellow mustard
1 fresh serrano chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped (I skipped that one)
1/4 t salt
1/4 t ground black pepper
2 14-oz cans beef broth
1 10-3/4 oz can condensed cheddar cheese soup
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese (2 oz)
Dill pickle spears (optional)

1. In a large skillet, cook meat, onion, and garlic over medium heat until meat is brown and onion is tender, stirring to break up meat as it cooks. Drain off fat.

2. In a 4- to 5- qart slow cooker, combine meat mixture, potatoes, carrot, ketchup, mustard, chile pepper, salt, and black pepper. Stir in broth and soup.

3. Cover and cook on low-heat 10-11 hours or on high-heat 5-5.5 hours. Top each serving with cheese. If desired, serve with pickles. (Oh, we desired.)

Note: I just remembered that I tripled it, but it didn't all fit in the crockpot. You might just want to double it.

'Nother Note: Yes, I'll be posting recipes until I take the time to post other stuff.

'Nother 'Nother Note: Most kids like this, especially if you emphasize the "Cheeseburger Soup" part and that they get to eat it with a dill pickle.