Tag Archives: Ohio

R is for Road Trip


by Lillian Csernica on April 21, 2016

I love a good road trip.  The fact that I usually take them with my best friend, collaborator, and partner in crime Pat MacEwen does help.  Here are my Top Five Reasons Why I Love Road Trips.

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Staying in hotels — Air conditioning, big beds, and maid service.  What’s not to love?  Of course, there was that one haunted hotel….

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You see life in detail — Little jukeboxes at every table in a Utah diner.  Entering the city of St. Louis, Missouri.  Black Butte, the cinder cone near Mt. Shasta.  Traveling down the California coast on Hwy 101 and stopping to see the waves crashing against the cliffs.  All the stars you can see at night out in the middle of nowhere in Arizona.

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Plenty of time to work out story ideas and/or problems — Pat and I have discussed many of our works-in-progress while on the road.  It’s usually up to me to take notes.  Now that I’ve started doing my share of the driving, she’ll have to play scribe.  I don’t think we’ve ever had a story conference quite like the Night of the Lavender Oreos, at least not while we were on the road.  Safety first!

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The variety of food is great — The Black Bear Diner.  That BBQ place Pat and I stopped at on the way home from RadCon. The Mongolian BBQ in Stockton, CA.  The reliably low-cost comfort food at various Denny’s locations all over the Pacific Northwest.

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The people I meet:

The Man From Glasgow.  I met him on the casino floor of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas.  He was trying to find his way to the elevators.  Suddenly we were arm in arm, laughing and chatting.  He wouldn’t believe me when I told him I wanted to see Glasgow more than Edinburgh.

The nurse on duty with us when Chris, Michael and I had to spend the night in a Red Cross Shelter because it rained so hard that winter our house was in danger of being flooded.  Turned out she was regional director for the Red Cross with NICU experience.  She got stuck where we did by the landslides, so we all huddled together.

My Ohio cousins.  There are more than a few.  The first time we met, they ganged up on me, tied me to a tree, and blasted me with Spiderman squirt guns.  My family is so scattered that I haven’t had a lot of that kind of group family mayhem in my life.  Now I’m old enough to know how precious it really is.

To say nothing of the wide and wonderful variety of folks I meet at science fiction conventions….

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L is for Lost


by Lillian Csernica on April 14, 2016

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No collection of travel stories would be complete without tales of the times I’ve gotten lost.

On my first trip cross country to Toledo, Ohio with my father, I remember how we got lost with in Missouri on a dark and stormy night.  Even at age ten  I’d watched way too many horror movies.  I hadn’t seen “Psycho,” but I was pretty much on the lookout for the Bates Motel.  Just when Daddy was about to turn around and try again, we spotted red and blue lights ahead.  I think Daddy would have been happy to see a policeman at that point, just so we could get some solid directions.  The lights were the flickering letters on a hotel sign.  Never have I been so glad to see neon!

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When I was still in high school, my mother drove me up to Pasadena, CA so I could visit a friend at CalTech.  The important part of the story comes at the end, when we began the drive home.  At one point we had to change freeways.  I still don’t understand how Mom could miss the same off ramp three times in a row.  Seriously.  Three separate tries, three separate misses, even with me navigating.  I have to chalk it up to the lateness of the hour.  We got lost in the Chinatown area.  It was so late at night that nobody was around other than two Chinese men out behind a restaurant’s kitchen door.  I’ve never been able to speak much Cantonese, so I couldn’t ask them for directions.  Sheer dumb luck got Mom back on the right road to the freeway and headed home again!

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One night while I was staying in the Netherlands, I missed the last train home from the disco because I was busy dancing with a gorgeous Dutch soldier named Andre.  He’d just turned eighteen and came home on leave for a few days. He asked me to dance, which is one reason Phil Collins‘ “Against All Odds” will always be one of my favorite songs. 

When we realized the time, my host sisters and our friends had already left the disco.  Andre and I ran through the streets to the train station.  It was locked up for the night.  My luck was golden that night because Andre had a friend with a car. This was very uncommon at the time.  Andre and his friend were willing to give me a ride.  (I know, this sounds insane, right?  Every mother’s worst nightmare.) Fortunately, I’m good at remember landmarks.  That’s how I got us all the way from the disco in one town, along the highway through the dark and to my host family’s front door.  The girls were all sitting up waiting, expecting me to walk all the way home.  I think they were miffed to know I actually got a ride!

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On yet another of our convention adventures, Pat and I drove down to San Diego, CA for ConDor.  This really wonderful con is held at the Town & Country Resort and Convention Center. This place is huge, as you can see from the map.  It is located on a road referred to as the “hotel circle.”  We arrived late on Thursday night and did our best to figure out where on earth the street numbers were posted.  We went around the circle three times!  I tell you, we were both ready to scream.  We could see the lovely white buildings, we just couldn’t get to them!  We did eventually succeed.  This was a very special trip for me, because San Diego is the city where I was born.

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Three of A Kind


by Lillian Csernica on May 20, 2013

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 Today I play catch-up.  I spent the weekend at the San Jose Hilton where the 48th Annual Nebula Awards were held.  For those who don’t know, this is the annual award ceremony held by SFWA.  I am an Active Member, so it was a great pleasure to join my colleagues and hang out with some of the Big Names.  Came home with a brand-new SFWA tote bag (I am notorious in the family for acquiring tote bags) that was stuffed full of great science fiction and fantasy novels.  Now that’s my idea of some nice party favors!

 

Day 18: Tell a story from your childhood. Dig deep and try to be descriptive about what you remember and how you felt.

When I was five years old, my family lived in a three bedroom house not far from where I’d eventually go to kindergarten and elementary school.  We had not one but two back yards.  The first back yard had a big patio and then a grassy lawn with orange and lemon trees.  The second back yard was an empty dirt lot.  My father grew up on a farm in Ohio, so he knew how to turn that ground into a vegetable garden.  I remember being out there with Daddy, wearing sandals and a hat and sun glasses with a little summer dress.  I was carrying a plastic sand pail with the seed packages in it.  We’d move along the furrow with Daddy using a hand trowel to make deeper holes for the seeds, then I’d drop a seed into the hole.  The garden hose was involved at some point in this process, wetting the ground where we planted the seeds.  Spending time with Daddy on the weekends was special, because he worked the swing of graveyard shifts and slept during the day.  I never did get to know much about Daddy’s childhood, but this was like seeing some of what he did on Grandma’s farm.

I don’t remember much about weeding or harvesting the vegetables, but I do remember my mother sitting and the dinner table with a big bowl of peas in the pod.   She’d call me to help her shell the peas.   I had small hands, but that just made me faster than Mom.  I had to be careful, though, because if I slipped peas went bouncing everywhere.  There were other times when we’d be shucking ears of corn or snapping beans or peeling cucumbers.  Mom gave me cooking lessons when I was little, so growing our own vegetables and doing all the work to prepare them made cooking and eating them a lot more meaningful.  My sister had this nasty ability to make corn kernels squirt across the table at me.  She never got caught, either.

 

Day 19: Five of your favorite blogs and what you love about them.

Janice Heck: My Time to Write

Janice’s blog is a lot of fun.  Great nature photos, fun stories about her family, and always a final word from her cat.  The header with the maneki neko collection is pretty cool too.

Kristin Lamb’s Blog

Strong writing, well-informed opinions, inspirational commentary on the writing life.  My idea of what a mentor should be.

Three’s A Herd

It’s comforting to listen to the ups and downs of another mother who has more than one child with special needs.  Running such a household is more than just “a challenge.”  It’s a balancing act involving logistics, time management, awareness and support of various people’s various needs, and never losing sight of one’s own well-being.

Hunter’s Writing

A fabulous treasure trove of writing resources.  Easy on the eyes, full of items that make you want to stay a while.

Ruralspaceman

This fine gentleman’s tales of life in his household are told in such a wonderful, whimsical style.  I highly recommend the entry about the family dinner, rendered as the agenda of a meeting.

 

Day 20: Get real. Share something you’re struggling with right now.

 I’m trying to give up drinking Dr. Pepper and/or Coke.  Too much sugar, caffeine, carbolic acid, sodium, and chemicals.  This is very difficult, because we’re heading into hot weather and I have a terrible sweet tooth.  Also, I tend to eat spicy food, so if I don’t have some fizzy beverage, I end up feeling like an inflated balloon.  New York Seltzer is great, but I can’t find it anymore.  Hansen’s is all right, but I have trouble getting Mandarin Lime.  I can’t stand Cherry or Kiwi Strawberry.   There’s also a certain somatic component, like the one involved in smoking.  Sometimes it’s just nice to have the cold can and take that swig every so often.  The habit itself is no big deal as long as I find a replacement that gives me the fizz without the unwanted ingredients.

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