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Creeping Up Your Spine

This week’s  guest blogger is James Grady, author of Six Days of the Condor, among other classic thrillers. He shares a few thoughts on paranoia—just reading his stylized commentary has us peering over our shoulder!

You feel it. Paranoia.

They’ve got your number. It’s personal. You’re reading this. Looked at that. Took a chance, did something, or hell: they just think you did. You stood up for yourself. Stood out. You’re in their way: your boss who knows you know what really happened, your lover who wants you gone. Footsteps behind you. You’re in the shower.

You’re just a number. It’s not personal. It’s “just.” Like in justice. Or not. You’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time. A crazed Mommy in the grocery store grabs a cleaver. You’re part of the Matrix. Visiting a friend in the World Trade Towers. Ebola. Dr. Strangelove smiles. It’s not a movie witch that’s melting.

Life is out to kill you. All you want is to be left alone.

That’s the beating heart of paranoia: you’re all alone.

That’s true. You were born, nobody really knows you, you die and that is you, just you.

That’s false. It’s not just youWe all live, we all die.

Paranoia determines how we live and die.

McLuhan and the mushroom cloud moved us all into a global village, but our global compound fosters warring tribes. Yesterday it felt easier to know who “us” was. And to trust us: yeah, Big Brother, but of thee I sing.

Trust is the shimmer between prudence and paranoia. You wear your seatbelt yet strap yourself in a crushable metal box.

So how can you find the line between just being smart and being just scared?

“Facts” are not enough. “Facts” are who furnishes them. J. Edgar HooverOsama bin Laden. Fox News vs. MSNBC. The candidate who wants power. The housewife in the TV commercial. The guy who says: “Everybody knows….”

What helps you see the line between prudence and paranoia is fiction.

Fiction reveals possibilities. Fiction is our safe mirror. Fiction—in lines of prose or poetry, in the lyrics of a song, through the actors on stage or screen—is not “real.” Or so we can believe. And that belief lets us see the universal reality of a character “just like me…that happened to me.” Or “I wish that were me…if that were me….” Fiction glides us into what could be, gives us a world where we learn archetypes of who & what to trust without penalty, without pain. The what could be we experience with fiction helps us see the shimmer between factual forces and fantasy fears in our world of flesh and blood.

The “truth” may set you free, but the “lies” of fiction may be your best chance to escape paranoia, to perceive who and what to trust so you can best use our life’s terrifying freedom.

Author James Grady won France’s Grand Prix du Roman Noir, Italy’s Raymond Chandler medal, and numerous American literary awards.  A former investigative reporter, he lives inside D.C.’s Beltway and in February, will publish Last Days Of The Condor, a sequel to his Robert Redford adapted novel.

NAIBA 2014: Discovering Children’s Books

Children’s books were front and center at this year’s “Discovery” conference held in Crystal City, Va., September 19–21. Booksellers had a chance to meet children’s authors, ranging from Marla Frazee (The Farmer and the Clown, S&S/Beach Lane) to David Baldacci (The Finisher, Scholastic Press) and A.S. King (Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, Little, Brown) at breakfasts and dinners throughout the weekend. Read more here.

The Best Fall Festivals in New Mexico

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta fills the sky every October.
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta fills the sky every October. Photo © Artotem, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

When autumn settles over New Mexico, it brings crisp temperatures, clear skies, and brilliant colors, especially to the cool mountains. Therefore, fall is a great time to visit and enjoy a number of festivals and events in this southwest state. From the dazzling hues of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta to the delicious tastes and smells of the Santa Fe Indian Market, to the engaging songs of the Pueblo ceremonial dances, there are exciting events to please every type of traveler around this time of year.

Albuquerque

The city’s biggest annual event is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (505/821-1000), nine days in October dedicated to New Mexico’s official state aircraft, with more than 700 hot air balloons of all colors, shapes, and sizes gathering at a dedicated park on the north side of town, west of I-25. During the fiesta, the city is packed with “airheads,” who claim this is the best gathering of its kind in the world. If you go, don’t miss an early-morning mass ascension, when the balloons glow against the dark sky, then lift silently into the air in a great wave. Parking can be a nightmare—take the park-and-ride bus, or ride a bike (valet parking available!).

Just after Labor Day, the state’s agricultural roots get their due at the New Mexico State Fair, two weeks of fried foods and prizewinning livestock. It’s the usual mix of midway craziness and exhibition barns, along with really excellent rodeos, which often end with shows by country music legends.

Around November 2, don’t miss the Marigold Parade (505/363-1326), celebrating the Mexican Day of the Dead. The parade through the South Valley is a procession of skeletons and cars bedecked in flowers.

Santa Fe

Santa Fe’s biggest annual event is in late August, when 100,000 visitors come for Santa Fe Indian Market (505/983-5220). The Indian Market is centered on the plaza, with some 1,200 Native American artisans selling jewelry, pottery, weaving, and more, in traditional and wildly modern styles. It’s a bit of a frenzy, but also festive, due to free music and dance performances. After all the frenzy of summer tourism, locals celebrate the arrival of fall with the Burning of Zozobra, a neo-pagan bonfire on the Friday after Labor Day. The ritual kicks off the weeklong Fiesta de Santa Fe (505/204/1598), which has been celebrated in some form since 1712. It begins with a reenactment of De Vargas’s entrada into the city, then a whole slew of balls and parades, including the Historical/Hysterical Parade and a children’s pet parade—eccentric Santa Fe at its finest. Some downtown businesses close for some of the time, particularly on Zozobra day.

Taos

Taos’s biggest annual festivity (for which many local businesses close) is the Feast of San Geronimo, the patron saint assigned to Taos Pueblo by the Spanish when they built their first mission there in 1619. The holiday starts the evening of September 29 with vespers in the pueblo church and continues the next day with footraces and a pole-climbing contest. La Hacienda de los Martinez usually reenacts a 19th-century Taos trade fair, with mountain men, music, and artisans’ demonstrations.

Taos galleries put out their finest at the Taos Fall Arts Festival, a two-week-long exhibition in late September and early October that shows the works of more than 150 Taos County artists. On the first weekend in October, the Taos Wool Festival has drawn textile artists as well as breeders since 1983. Admire the traditional Churro sheep or an Angora goat and then pick up a scarf made from its wool.

Ceremonial Dances

This is only an approximate schedule for ceremonial dances at pueblos in the Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos areas—dates can vary from year to year, as can the particular dances. Annual feast days typically involve carnivals and markets in addition to dances. Confirm details and start times—usually afternoon, but sometimes following an evening or midnight Mass—with the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (505/843-7270) before setting out.

  • August 2 – Jemez Pueblo: Feast of Santa Persingula
  • August 9-10 – Picurís Pueblo: Feast of San Lorenzo
  • August 12 – Santa Clara Pueblo: Feast of Santa Clara
  • August 15 – Zia Pueblo: Feast of the Assumption of Our Blessed Mother
  • September 4 – Isleta Pueblo: Feast of Saint Augustine
  • September 8 – Isleta Pueblo: Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin
  • September 8 – San Ildefonso Pueblo: corn dance
  • September 29-30 – Taos Pueblo: Feast of San Geronimo
  • October 4 – Nambé Pueblo: Feast of San Francisco de Asís
  • November 12 – Jemez and Tesuque Pueblos: Feast of San Diego

Excerpted from the Ninth Edition of Moon New Mexico.

Festivals and Events in Albuquerque

Girls in traditional dress with skull facepaint walk down in the street in the Marigold Parade.
Albuquerque’s Marigold Parade celebrates Mexico’s Day of the Dead. Photo © Larry Lamsa, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Map of Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque
The city’s biggest annual event is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (505/821-1000), nine days in October dedicated to New Mexico’s official state aircraft, with more than 700 hot air balloons of all colors, shapes, and sizes gathering at a dedicated park on the north side of town, west of I-25. During the fiesta, the city is packed with “airheads,” who claim this is the best gathering of its kind in the world. If you go, don’t miss an early-morning mass ascension, when the balloons glow against the dark sky, then lift silently into the air in a great wave. Parking can be a nightmare—take the park-and-ride bus, or ride a bike (valet parking available!).

In April is the equally colorful Gathering of Nations Powwow (505/836-2810), the largest tribal get-together in the United States, with more than 3,000 dancers and singers in full regalia from over 500 tribes crowding the floor of the University Arena. Miss Indian World earns her crown by showing off traditional talents such as spearfishing or storytelling.

Labor Day weekend is dedicated to the New Mexico Wine Festival (505/867-3311), in Bernalillo. It’s well attended by a wide swath of Burqueños; the Rail Runner train runs on a special schedule, sparing stress on designated drivers.

Just after Labor Day, the state’s agricultural roots get their due at the New Mexico State Fair, two weeks of fried foods and prizewinning livestock. It’s the usual mix of midway craziness and exhibition barns, along with really excellent rodeos, which often end with shows by country music legends.

Around November 2, don’t miss the Marigold Parade (505/363-1326), celebrating the Mexican Day of the Dead. The parade through the South Valley is a procession of skeletons and cars bedecked in flowers.


Excerpted from the Ninth Edition of Moon New Mexico.

Take a Kentucky Covered Bridges Road Trip

Kentucky Road Trip - 8 Covered Bridges in 1 Day

If covered bridges are your passion, northern Kentucky is a great destination. The best way to see the bridges is on a multiday trip, where you can also visit the surrounding towns and small communities. If, however, you’re just passing through or are simply out for a long Sunday drive, here’s how to visit all eight of the region’s bridges in a looping day’s drive.

[pullquote align=”right”]This entire loop totals 217 miles, and it will take 5-5.5 hours to drive the whole circuit, not counting time spent at each bridge.[/pullquote]Begin your adventure in Covington, where you’ll take Exit 75 off of I-275 to the AA Highway (KY 9). Drive east for 31 miles on the AA Highway to reach stop number one: Walcott Covered Bridge. This bridge, located at the intersection with KY 1159, is visible from the highway, although you can turn off for a closer look. From Walcott Covered Bridge, continue east on the AA Highway for 4.7 miles, then turn left on KY 19. Drive 3.2 miles, and then turn right on KY 8. Drive 6.9 miles on eastbound KY 8 to Lee’s Creek Road. Turn right on Lee’s Creek Road, and you’ll reach Dover Covered Bridge in 0.1 mile.

Get a double dose of Dover Bridge by driving through it, then U-turning and driving back through it to return to KY 8. Turn right onto KY 8 and continue east for 1.6 miles. Turn right onto Tuckahoe Road, drive 3.9 miles, and then turn right on Minerva Tuckahoe Road. Drive 0.9 mile, and then turn left onto Valley Pike. The short Valley Pike Covered Bridge (23 feet) is privately owned, but you may view it at a turn-off.

From the Valley Pike Bridge, you’ll now head to the easternmost bridge before looping south and then back west. Begin by traveling 1.5 miles on Valley Pike to Germantown Road. Turn right and drive 0.8 mile to the AA Highway. Turn left, drive 2.9 miles, and then turn left onto KY 10. Continue on KY 10 for 3.2 miles through Maysville and onto combined KY 10/KY 8. Drive 6.4 miles on KY 10/KY 8, and then turn left on Springdale Road. After 1.8 miles, turn right on Cabin Creek Road and drive 1.7 miles to Cabin Creek Covered Bridge. This bridge is closed to traffic, so get out to admire it and then return to your car.

You’re now off to see Fleming County’s three covered bridges. Begin by retracing your path on Cabin Creek Road for 1.2 miles, turning left onto Owl Hollow Road. Proceed for 2.1 miles, and then turn left onto KY 8. Drive 0.6 mile, and then stay right onto KY 1237. After 3.7 miles, turn right onto KY 57 and drive 11 miles into Flemingsburg. Go straight through the roundabout, and then turn left onto eastbound KY 32. Drive 8.2 miles on KY 32 to the Goddard White Covered Bridge, which is located just off of KY 32 on Parkersburg Road. It is open to traffic, so go ahead and pass through. You’ll then want to pull off for some photos, which are more attractive if you shoot from KY 32.

After you’re done taking photos of the Goddard White Bridge, continue east on KY 32. Drive 6.5 miles to Rawlings Road, where you’ll turn right. Proceed 2.8 miles to the intersection with KY 158. Ringo’s Mill Covered Bridge, which is no longer used, is right next to the road at this intersection.

From Ringo’s Mill Bridge, it’s just a short drive to the second-to-last bridge on your tour. Turn right on KY 158, and drive 3.5 miles, turning left at the dead end, to reach KY 111. Turn left on KY 111, and drive 2.9 miles to Grange City Covered Bridge, which is on the side of the road to your right.

To reach the tour’s final bridge, retrace your path on KY 111, driving a total of 10.4 miles to westbound KY 32. After 0.9 mile, continue onto KY 32 bypass. Drive 3.3 miles on the bypass before turning left back onto KY 32. Continue 4.7 miles on KY 32 to KY 165, where you’ll turn right. Drive 6.2 miles on KY 165 to where it dead-ends at U.S. 68. Turn left onto U.S. 68, drive 1.8 miles, and then turn right on Mt. Pleasant Road. Continue 1.9 miles to Old Blue Lick Road, where you will take a sharp right, and proceed 1.5 miles to Johnson Creek Covered Bridge, the eighth and final covered bridge in this region.

If you’d like to complete the loop and return to Covington, follow Old Blue Lick Road and Mt. Pleasant Road back to U.S. 68. Turn right onto U.S. 68, drive two miles, and then turn right onto KY 165. Remain on KY 165 for 20.6 miles until you reach KY 19. Stay right on KY 19, and drive 0.9 mile to KY 10. Drive 10.5 miles on KY 10, and then turn right on Lenoxburg Foster Road, which will connect to the AA Highway in 2.7 miles. At the AA Highway, turn left and drive 26.8 miles back to I-275.

This entire loop totals 217 miles, and it will take 5-5.5 hours to drive the whole circuit, not counting time spent at each bridge. It’s certainly a full day’s trip, but it’s a very scenic route and a lovely way to explore the rural areas of this region.

For those using a GPS, coordinates for each of the bridges are as follows:

  • Walcott Covered Bridge: N 38° 43.992 W 084° 05.868
  • Dover Covered Bridge: N 38° 45.018 W 083° 52.719
  • Valley Pike Covered Bridge: N 38° 40.470 W 083° 52.320
  • Cabin Creek Covered Bridge: N 38° 36.574 W 083° 37.277
  • Goddard White Covered Bridge: N 38° 21.738 W 083° 36.930
  • Ringo’s Mill Covered Bridge: N 38° 16.110 W 083° 36.624
  • Grange City Covered Bridge: N 38° 15.294 W 083° 39.192
  • Johnson Creek Covered Bridge: N 38° 28.950 W 083° 58.722
Color travel map of Kentucky
Kentucky

Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Kentucky.

Baldacci speaks at NAIBA conference

The New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association held its annual Fall Conference in Arlington, Va., this past weekend, welcoming 166 booksellers and more than 250 authors and publishers, including David Baldacci, who spoke at the author breakfast. Said Baldacci to the booksellers, “If the book industry has a heart, and I think it does, you’re it.” Read more here.

Environmental Issues in British Columbia

Evidence of clear-cutting where swaths of trees are gone.
Clear-cutting on Vancouver Island. Photo © jayscratch, licensed Creative Commons Attribution No-Derivatives.

Humans have been exploiting British Columbia’s abundant natural resources for 10,000 years. Indigenous people hunting and fishing obviously had little effect on ecological integrity, but over time, the clearing of land for agriculture and development did. Today, the province is minimizing the effects of logging operations, global warming, fish farming, and offshore oil and gas exploration that are hot-button environmental issues in the region.

[pullquote align=”right”]By preserving its superb physical environment, the province will continue to attract outdoor enthusiasts and visitors from around the world, ensuring a steady stream of tourism revenues.[/pullquote]As rising population numbers have put ever-increasing demands on the region’s plentiful natural resources, conservation measures have become necessary. The province has imposed fishing and hunting seasons and limits, a freeze on rezoning agricultural land, and mandatory reforestation regulations, and has restrained hydroelectric development to protect salmon runs. By preserving its superb physical environment, the province will continue to attract outdoor enthusiasts and visitors from around the world, ensuring a steady stream of tourism revenues. But the ongoing battle between concerned conservationists and profit-motivated developers continues.

Forestry

The issue of forestry management in British Columbia, and most notably on Vancouver Island, is very complex, and beyond the scope of a guidebook. In British Columbia, where a couple of mega-companies control an industry worth $17 billion annually to the local economy, many forestry decisions have as much to do with politics as they do with good management of natural resources. The most talked-about issue is clear-cutting, where entire forests are stripped down to bare earth, with the practice in old-growth forests especially contentious. The effect of this type of logging goes beyond just the removal of ancient trees—often salmon-bearing streams are affected. Clayoquot Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, is synonymous with environmentalists’ fight against the logging industry. The sound is home to the world’s largest remaining coastal temperate forest. Environmentally friendly options are practiced, with companies such as the Eco-Lumber Co-op selling wood that is certified as being from responsibly managed forests.

You can see the extent of logging through British Columbia when you arrive, but visit Google Maps and click on the Satellite link. Then zoom into British Columbia—northern Vancouver Island is a good example—to see just how extensive the clear-cut logging is.


Contacts

For more information on any of these issues, contact the following local environmental organizations: Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Greenpeace, British Columbia Environmental Network, Society Promoting Environmental Conservation and Valhalla Wilderness Society.


Excerpted from the Tenth Edition of Moon British Columbia.

Visiting Winslow Homer’s Studio in Prouts Neck, Maine

Expressionistic painting by Winslow Homer of stormy waves crashing on rocks.
“Northeaster by Winslow Homer 1895” by Winslow Homer – The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Map of Southern Coastal Maine
Southern Coastal Maine
Discovering Maine in his early 40s, Winslow Homer (1836-1910) was smitten—enough to spend the last 27 years of his life on Prouts Neck, a granite-tipped thumb of land edged with beaches reaching into the Atlantic in Scarborough, just south of Portland. Homer painted some of his greatest works—masterpieces such as Weatherbeaten, The Fog Warning, and The Gulf Stream—at this oceanfront studio, taking inspiration from the crashing surf, craggy shores, stormy seas, and dense fog. Standing in the studio puts you right at the scene, and the docent-led tours will explain the artist’s importance in American art.

Originally the carriage house for Homer’s The Ark, the adjacent house owned by Homer’s brother Charles, the studio was moved 100 feet and converted to living quarters in 1883 by Portland architect John Calvin Stevens, one of the founders of the Shingle style. The piazza, pergola, and later the painting room were added.

The simplicity of the studio, with its beadboard wall and ceiling, tongue-and-groove floor, and brick fireplace, is pure Maine cottage. Some original furnishings and artifacts add context to understanding Homer. These include the Snakes! Snakes! Mice! sign he painted to scare off ladies who might be inclined to visit; the window in which he etched his name; the writings on the wall, such as Oh what a friend chance can be when it chooses; and a book of family photographs. Copies of his artwork, displays, and a slide show of images are exhibited in the painting room, or “the factory,” as he called it. Especially intriguing are the Civil War sketches he made for Harper’s Weekly while embedded with the Army of the Potomac.

The views from the second-floor piazza are the same as when Homer lived here. Gazing at the open Atlantic, listening to waves crash, gulls cry, and the wind rustling the trees, and maybe wrapped in the damp hush of fog, is perhaps the best place to begin to truly understand Homer’s inspiration. After absorbing the view and walking to the oceanfront, you’ll see the Homer works at the museum with a far deeper understanding of what made this genius tick.

Homer’s ties with the Portland Museum of Art date back to his 1893 exhibition, which included Signal of Distress. On the centennial of Homer’s death, the museum opened its Charles Shipman Payson wing, honoring the man who funded it and donated 17 paintings by the artist. The museum acquired Homer’s studio, a National Historic Landmark, in 2006, opening it to the public after a six-year project to restore it to its 1910 appearance. The 2.5-hour tours are limited to 10 participants and cost $55 for the public, $30 for museum members, $25 for students. They depart the museum on a schedule that varies by season and permissions. It’s wise to make reservations months in advance.


Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Maine.

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