The Strength to Take Criticism

I haven’t posted any reviews lately because I’ve been Beta Reading for a variety of authors.  What fun and how talented these women are.  And I think the most impressive part is their willingness to accept comments on their efforts.

I do believe writing a book is like raising a child, at least the first time out.  They grow inside you until you deliver the product to your own world.  Then you spend the next period of time developing them to greet the outside world.

And then the criticism begins – too big, too little, not focused, confusing storyline, etc.  You hate to think your child is less than perfect, but those that ask for feedback are the champions.  Their work improves and they write better.  As parents we get help from family, friends and physicians and we product healthier children.

And when the product is done and out on its own we have all those wonderful memories.  For the Author, you start another story.  For the parent, you can either start again with grandchildren or maybe write a story.  Either way, the process begins again.  Be proud of your success and unafraid to ask for comments.  I get better books to read and the world gets better people.

I’ll have a couple of reviews for you in the next month.  Until then – – –


Kenichi Wins AGT 2013

Another season of Americas Got Talent (#AGT) ends and the “The Voice” steps up to take its place next week.  The winner?  Kenichi Ebina, a talented visionary whose skills appealed to the young adults who vote.  Kenichi earned the votes of those that vote in today’s technical world.  Via online, phone and twitter, they chose a dynamic family man to award $1,000,000 to and have his own show in Las Vegas in October.

If you visit his Face book page you can feel the energy from this deserving individual, who we happened to vote for.  But we didn’t expect today’s voters to do the same.  Tracy and I talk about how our opinion is no longer the majority.  As older, conservative, and personally responsible seniors watch from our small mom and pop retail store and marvel at the choices today’s shoppers make.  We have to stay current in order to sell jewelry, photography and giftware in this resort community of 700 people who depend on tourists for their sales.  We continually adapt to the every-changing market and tastes of the current generation.  As we get closer to retiring from full-time retail, we appreciate the internet and what it provides.  But we cringe at the impersonalization of the world because of it.  It breeds a lack a respect for other people and their property (which we see here more and more).

That’s one of the nice things about the judges on AGT, their respect for each other and the contestants.  Occasionally they make some pretty harsh judgments, but for the most part act with dignity and understand that “kindness matters”.  They do have a playful side that is fun to see, but they are very thoughtful in their comments, and sometimes that wouldn’t be easy.

So if Kenichi was the best, what was wrong with the other five finalists?

In my opinion, for Cami, Forte, and Jimmie Rose it was the choice of music.  Their music in their final performances didn’t give me goose bumps.  They were nicely done and had lots of emotion, but they didn’t speak to me or to the audiences.  Forte was the biggest surprise, I thought they would be second because of their commanding voices and wonderful harmony.  But they chose another opera when it should have been “Over the Rainbow” or something like that.  And Jimmie Rose should have capitalized on his Country Western voice and style by singing a classic, but he didn’t.  No goose bumps there either.

Collins Key is a one trick pony, albeit a nice one.  Young and capable, if he stays with it he might get a gig here and there because it is a wonderful trick he pulls off every time.

And then there’s the comedian Taylor Williamson.  A very funny guy, with a cute face, quirky personality and pretty good lines, but they weren’t great.  And as Howard Sterns always says, “at this point in the competition they need to be great”.  It’s all like writing a story – you have to wow them at the beginning to get their attention, play your story along and then wow them at the end.

Kenichi Ebina did just that.  With the dropped head routine as his starting act, he slowly worked his way to the finale with a show of 8+ actors – all him.  He wove a wonderful story, gave us bits and pieces about his life, and kept us coming back for more.  Nicely written, Kenichi.


Harvest Moon and Sunflowers

It’s been a week that moves us away from Black & White, all or nothing, to thinking and accepting a full spectrum of colors, styles, values and emotions.  World affairs have reflected that as countries agreed on how to deal with a leader that needs supervision from their allies and enemies.  My perspective, which is biased because of Vietnam, is one that looks at the families on both sides.  How will war help the fatherless Syrian refugees and the fatherless US soldier families?  How does that feed them and put them through school?  And what does that give the single family parent left to deal with the loneliness, and challenges of raising a child by herself (himself)?  And how does that provide funds for veterans that have sacrificed everything for their country to be sent home and left to their own devices?

So many Hats for Vets have been made and donated to the homeless Veterans living on the street that have PTSD or other mental disorders because of war.  We can spend money on weapons for overseas but we cannot spend it on our mentally ill.  I wish we had all the money donated to Environmental Organizations to spend on the mentally ill.

Sunflower at the Adobe Wall

Since that won’t happen, we’ve worked our way through an August Moon and the September Harvest Moon (and the fall equinox) and the power of summer.  Between the Farmers Market and a friend’s garden I acquired enough vegetables yesterday for soup.  It’ll slow cook today and feed us many nights.  My thanks to all those who spend their time feeding the rest of us.  As the Sunflowers dot the landscape and the Festival of First Fruits brought families together to celebrate the Corn Tree, their giver of life, we make and give yellow dishrags as gifts of thanks.

My husband knows how I love Sunflowers so he recently created this image and gave it to me 16 x 20 for my kitchen Sunflower collection.  He’s a keeper.  You can see his work at


Friday the 13th

For those of us born on Friday the 13th, its a day of magic.

friday the 13th

We start out in fear of terrible consequences and then something magical happens.  We tend to chase rainbows and try to tame birds by putting salt on their tails.  And the whole world is full of magic.  We get nicknames like “flubadub” and “birdbrain”, but we enjoy the sprits of 13 and all it brings.

So for all my Friday the 13th friends, have a remarkable day and use your magic wisely.

Trade Show Adventure 2013-Part OneMerchandise

Merchandise buying for Gallery Escalante – Summer 2013

Sunday, August 4th, we ventured to Las Vegas to attend the Trade Show.  Found everything on “the list” and only 115 degrees.  Lots of nice $2.95 bracelets and necklaces – some more amber and more copper color chains.  Our hotel had been renamed due to a sale but it was still the same great quality but I’m sure the prices will go up.  We’ve been paying $29.95 to $34.95 for a King Room.  I just booked one for the Consumer Electronics Show in January and they are $60.00  No surprise.

We finished up our buying process, as we’ve always done it over the last 15 years, and then did the etra shopping at Fry’s, etc.  On Tuesday morning we checked out early and headed to Chandler.  We weren’t sure we go all the way, but there’s not much to amuse from Vegas to Chandler.

We stopped at Mr. D’s in Kingman for lunch.  They’re across from the Powerhouse visitors center.  Powerhouse folks are always helpful and we always make a donation to the jar.  One of their newest displays is a picture of the pickup truck owned by a woman that live in Chloride, AZ (just outside Kingman) that was used by Disney as the model for TowMater. We got some ideas and guides for Wickenburg and went across for lunch.

On down Highway 93 we took the turn-off for Burro Creek Campground.  We didn’t do much but look as it was 93 degrees and headed up.  The campground is perfect for a visit to Bagdad Mining Town and for fishing at Beaver Dam. .A clean campground with restrooms but no water.  On to Chandler for two nights at the Comfort Inn, which was excellent and a great hot breakfast.

The next day we visited the Heard Museum of Indian Art and Culture.  I could have spent all day in there writing down ideas, patterns, and absorbing the spirit of the place.  The many pieces of art were from the Navajo, Anasazi and Hopi tribes and were extremely well preserved.  The woven sandals of turkey feathers and yucca were exceptional.  They had one of the most unusual wedding pots we’ve ever seen and almost all the beadwork was stringing not weaving.  The basketry was 90% coiled, but there were a few very old twined baskets for water, mostly from the Paiutes.  The Mohaves made net-woven necklaces in the late 1800’s and there were a few on display. The Apache bead work was done in embroidery style using the couching stitch but lovely.  Some of the woven mat, sandals and sieves and a few of the cradle boards were woven willow.

We had lunch at Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant and enjoyed cooling off before we ventured on over to the Desert Botanical Gardens .  Most of the cactus had already bloomed but there was some older barrel cactus that was in full bloom  The Prickley Pear was totally covered with fruit and very colorful.  The gardens are incredible .  If Escalante’s winters weren’t so cold we could start one here.  The entrance garden is glass cactus. Tracy spent about an hour photographing one of the 5 trails established on this 145 Acre Garden which began in 1939, before he surrendered to the heat.  Currently, the garden has over 50,000 specimens of succulent plants – the only garden in the world whose mission is to focus solely on desert plants.  A must see

We’ll stop there for now and pick up more of the trip next week.