Staying close to home on vacation turned was nice. We went on a Harley ride, visited an empty state park, and explored nearby places. Here are some highlights from local spots in, or very near, Nevada City, CA.
There were a couple of road trips. We ended up at a trail that was closed, so we headed across the street to the waterfalls and explored. The next picture is an overlook of the Sierras off of Highway 20. Then there is the South Yuba River, and an old Wells Fargo building past Bridgeport in the South Yuba River State Park.
The Harley ride to Downieville, CA is a favorite. The road flows along the South Yuba River. The last picture is in Downieville in front of a place we stayed for one of our anniversaries years ago.
Here is our day at Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park. We were the only ones there and enjoyed exploring. North Bloomfield is the name of the tiny town within the park. I used to enjoy field trips there with my kids and working in the “Drug Store.” We couldn’t go inside this time, but the grounds are so lovely we didn’t mind, and we found this great little bridge to cross.
As we exited the town, we stopped at an old Catholic Church. Next to that was an old white schoolhouse. I felt uncomfortable near the schoolhouse, so I avoided it and pictures. Later I found out there’s a story about the schoolhouse and is believed to be haunted. It is said the schoolmaster killed and hung a student from the rafters above the classroom.
We left there quickly and continued to explore the beauty that surrounded us. I hope you enjoyed seeing some beauty we enjoyed on our vacation.
Embrace your inner child by reading a good book, and enjoying nature. D. L. Finn
“Ugh, Katie, you should brush your teeth, gross! And your eyes! Too bad Mom won’t let you put on makeup!”
“Delete that, right now, Matt! I hate it when you take my picture and use those stupid filters! Give it to me! Give, right now!”
“No, I’m keeping this one.”
“Stop calling me that, it’s a girl’s name.”
“Give me your phone so I can delete the photo and every other dumb one in your gallery, Mattie.”
“Mom says you can’t call me that, and I can keep them because they’re art!”
“Art? You took a photo of Dad’s nose hairs when he was sleeping and made them into octopus tentacles. Now give me your phone, or I’ll erase Minecraft from your tablet, forever!”
Matt looked like he’d seen a ghost. “You wouldn’t . . . I built an entire village on Survival mode!”
“Then, give it, now!” Katie grabbed the phone, but her younger brother tried to pull it away. The phone flew out of his hand and landed near the gumball machine at the front of the grocery store.
“You’re in big trouble! I’m telling Mom you broke my phone!”
“I hope it’s broken ‘cause you won’t get another. I’ll tell her that you’re making those stupid pictures again. You’re not supposed to take pictures of me, remember?”
Matt ran to get the phone and Katie went after him, but he got there first.
“You’re lucky it’s not broken,” Matt said. “What are you looking at? Oh . . . the purple gumballs.” He rolled his eyes.
Katie looked over her shoulder nervously. Wendy Grayson, the cashier, who was six years older than Katie, was busy ringing customers through. She turned back to Matt.
“Make you a deal. Get me a gumball and you can keep the photo.” She tried to sound nice, just like Stephanie Moore, who was mean, but could be nice when she wanted Katie to fix something on her phone.
Matt crossed his arms and frowned. “Got any money? I don’t, so how are we gonna get one?”
Katie smiled at him. “You’re smart, I know you can figure it out.”
Matt shook his head and yelled. “That’s stealing! You want me to steal a gumball for you! And not just any gumball, a purple one!”
“Shh! The store gets them for a penny each and sells them for a quarter! Who’s stealing?”
Matt looked uncertain, obviously he wanted the photo but didn’t want to steal. Mom was still somewhere in the store, probably looking at gross broccoli, eww! The car was too hot to sit in and Mom didn’t want to leave it running, so they had no choice but to come inside. They’d been told to wait by the cash.
Katie spotted Mrs. Perkins paying for her twenty cans of cat food. Nothing but Fancy Feast for her kitty’s. Honestly, the amount of money she spent on them, could have paid for a summer’s worth of coding bootcamp. She watched the old woman pay with cash, not even debit! Who uses cash anymore, except for, yes!
“Hey Matt, I’ve got an idea.”
Mrs. Perkins walked towards them, her reusable bag with the picture of a kitten hanging by its paws from the top of the bag. Kind of cute, just too much, thought Katie.
She whispered, “Okay, just look at her and smile, but kinda look sad, like someone just wiped Minecraft off your tablet. Matt! Get off your phone.” The brat didn’t answer so she gave him a swat across the back of his head.
“Shush! Smile, but look sad, remember?”
The cat lady smiled at them. “Well, I thought I saw your Mom, too far away to say ‘Hi’ to, though. I bet you’re glad school’s out for the summer. What are you guys up to, going to the cottage again?”
“Ya! Gonna rent a boat and hook a tube to the back and—ouch!” Matt rubbed his arm where Katie had pinched him. This kid had the memory of a goldfish.
Mrs. Perkins frowned. “Katie?”
“Um, sorry Matt. He had a mosquito on his arm, and well, I thought pinching would be better than slapping.”
Matt gave her an angry look but put on a smile and looked at Mrs. Perkins. “Um, I was wondering if I could, um, have a quarter for a gumball.”
Mrs. Perkins smiled at him. “Why don’t you ask your Mom?”
“She always pays with debit, never has any change,” Katie said quickly. It wasn’t lie.
The old woman gave him a wink. “Alright Matt,” she looked at Katie. “I’m sorry but this is my last one, are you okay with that? Maybe you could split it in half?”
Split a gumball in half? Have you ever tried that, Perkins? They squish! Katie thought, but said, “Oh no, I’m fine. Matt is the sweet tooth.”
Matt scowled at her but took the quarter and thanked Mrs. Perkins.
Once she left, Matt inserted the money and turned the handle. He gestured to the small door in the machine. “Your gumball, princess.”
Katie closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Please be purple! She opened them and lifted the door. Pink!
“Oh brother.” Matt slapped his forehead. “Just take it, Katie, they all taste the same. Color is not a taste!”
“You want it?” She held the gumball out to him.
“Oh alright.” He grabbed it, stuffed it into his big mouth and chewed loudly.
Katie cringed at the sound but needed to be polite and remained silent. She looked at the cash but didn’t recognize anyone in line. Too weird to beg for change from strangers. She looked around for another idea and saw the deli section where you could get pre-made soups, salads, and sandwiches. None of those interested her, but the little kits of plastic utensils did. They didn’t cost anything you could just go up and grab one. After telling her cow chewing brother to stay put, she went over and quickly stuffed one into the pocket of her purple shorts.
When she got back to Matt, she handed the kit to him. “Use one of these. The knife will probably work best, try it first.”
“Really? No, Katie, this is bad, we’re gonna get caught, and—”
“What? Go to Candyland jail? They don’t put kids in jail. Just do it quickly, I see a purple one at the bottom.” She looked over her shoulder, then back to him. “No one’s watching, do it now.”
Matt sighed but bent over and stuck the knife into the dispenser.
Katie bent down and watched as the knife appeared in the plastic bubble. “That’s it, you see the purple one, just above the orange? Just keep wiggling the knife and push that one out of the way. You should be able to get the purple to drop. The blade moved farther up, the tip touched the desired gumball but then came a loud snap and the knife stopped moving.
“It broke! See, I told you this was a bad idea!” Matt whispered. “I’m done with this. I’m going to tell Mom.”
“Tell her what? You’re just as guilty. Now take the fork and use it.” Katie tried to control her voice. Her imagination began to show pictures of Candyland jail, but without the candy cane bars. They were into this too far now. How do you explain a plastic knife stuck in a gumball machine? It had to come out and it might as well take a gumball with it.
The fork snapped and became stuck in the evil machine, too.
Matt stepped away from the machine and looked really scared. Katie was also afraid but couldn’t show it. Just walk away. She couldn’t because the ends of those things stuck out from the gumball machine.
“Get them out of there, right now Matt!” She whispered. “No, don’t look around, whatever you do! No, don’t look at me like that, use your fingers.”
Matt puffed his reddening cheeks but grabbed the ends of the fork and knife. He tried to yank them out.
“What are you two doing?” Mom’s voice came from behind.
Matt froze and looked wide eyed over Katie’s shoulder.
Busted. Katie stepped away so Mom could get a clear view of Matt with his fingers in the gum machine.
“Wha- I mean what is that? Are those? Are you trying to steal?” Mom was angry. “Matt Jarvis, I raised you better than that! I’m extremely disappointed in you! And Katie, were you part of this?”
She couldn’t look at Mom, instead she caught Matt’s eye, but looked away and shook her head.
“Okay Matt, you’re in big trouble. We’re going to get those things out of the gum dispenser, then you’re going to tell Mr. Williams what you did and apologize. Oh, and one more thing, give me your phone. You’re going to lose it for a month.”
Matt gave his sister an angry look. “It was Katie’s idea!”
“I know, and she’s going to lose her tablet for a month. But just because someone tells you to do something bad, doesn’t mean you’re innocent. You’re phone, now.”
Matt handed his phone over. He squinted at Katie and mouthed, “I hate you.”
Katie had felt bad for him but that was gone. She was being punished and he’d said that awful thing. “I’m sorry, Mom, but Matt took photos of me, again.”
“Well, I’ll have a look and delete them. You’re going to apologize too, by the way.”
“Yes, Mom.” Her back was to her Mom and Matt was still staring at her, so she crossed her eyes and stuck her tongue out at him.
“Mom! She just—”
“Don’t want to hear it. Just do as I said.”
Born and raised on a farm near Brockville, Ontario, Mark Bierman’s childhood consisted of chores, riding horses, snowmobile races across open fields, fishing trips to a local lake, and many other outdoor adventures. He was also an avid reader of both fiction and non.
Transitioning towards adulthood also meant moving from the farm and into large urban areas that introduced this “country boy” to life in the big cities.
Drawing on his many experiences as a private investigator and later a Correctional Officer, Mark combines his unique experiences and imagination to create his stories and characters.
The longest day of the year has arrived along with thoughts of swimming in our lakes and rivers. It’s the perfect time of the year to lounge under the stars gazing at the possibilities while being serenaded by the crickets. Yes, summer is here, and when I’m not swimming or watching for a comet to streak across the sky, I will be reading and posting my reviews.
Today there will be a different look for my “Books That Changed Me” Summer Edition. I’ve changed the format and won’t be re-sharing my reviews for the books anymore. I want to focus more on the stories or poems that moved me enough to “change” me.
In no particular order the books and their blurbs:
Murder, mayhem and suspense abound in this action packed page-turner set in 2087 Chicago. Our heroine, Dr. Noel Kennedy hears screams inside her head. They are the screams of her young friend, 20-year-old Zarah Fisher. She’s miles away and screaming for her life!
Noel knows the exact moment Zarah takes her last breath because Noel has a secret that not even her husband, handsome mayoral aide, Richard Kennedy, shares.
As the youngest Deputy Chief of Schools of Gang Territory, Noel has perfected her life. She is a solid, middle-class citizen from New Chicago, Incorporated. New Chicago and Gang Territory have become vastly different societies since the early Urban Wars. Now, year 2087 finds New Chicago’s military-trained police determined to enforce laws that keep “gang people” out.
Harlem Pierce, a New Chicago police detective, has been warned to stay away from Zarah Fisher’s murder investigation and he urges Noel to let it go, too. But a new killing involves Noel’s cousin and her boyfriend and links Noel to it in a startling way.
Who can Noel trust? Should she turn to Warren Simpson—the menacing, treacherous boss of Gang Territory? Or … could he be the killer?
If you like flying cars, robots, androids, dystopia and utopia mixed in with your thriller then this is the story for you!
Billy Battles is definitely not in Kansas anymore.
As Book 2 of the Finding Billy Battles trilogy opens, Billy is far from his Kansas roots and his improbable journeys are just starting.
The year is 1894 and Billy is aboard the S S China sailing to the inscrutable Far East. Trouble is not far behind. He has met a mysterious and possibly dangerous German Baroness. He has locked horns with malevolent agents of the German government and battled ferocious Chinese and Malay pirates in the South China Sea.
Later, he is embroiled in the bloody anti-French insurgency in Indochina–which quite possibly makes him the first American combatant in a country that eventually will become Vietnam. Then, in the Philippines, he is thrust into the Spanish-American War and the brutal anti-American insurgency that follows. But Billy’s troubles are only beginning.
As the 19th century ends and the 20th century begins, he finds himself entangled with political opportunists, spies, revolutionaries, and an assortment of vindictive and dubious characters of both sexes. How will Billy handle those people and the challenges they present? The answers are just ahead.
Step into a world where fairies, dragons, and other magical beings converge in a collection of poetry and short stories inspired by the celebration of Litha, the Summer Solstice.
Meet Drac, a dragon cursed by his own poisonous deeds, and two pixies who help an old man remember a lost love. You’ll meet a pair of fairies with a sense of humor, and a young girl who fulfills her destiny after being struck by lightning. Learn what happens when a modern witch’s spell goes terribly wrong. Meet the Sisters of the Fey, a group of Slavic Witches who sign a pact with the Rusalki Fey to preserve their magic for the good of all.
Atmospheric and haunting, the prose and poetry, will rewrite the mythologies of the past bringing them into the future.
Embrace your inner child by reading a good book this summer! D. L. Finn
“The Player” is the second book in the WarHawks series which focuses on hockey players. I loved the first book and felt the same way about this one. Roy has an ex-girlfriend who won’t let go, which ends up getting Roy benched. Patience’s job is to salvage his reputation and get him back on the ice in time for the playoffs. I love these two working together and their obvious chemistry. All the little details like Patience’s strong family ties, including her protective brothers, a stray cat, and Patience love of shoes, really drew me into the story. Not only is there humor and a budding romance, but it also deals with more serious subjects like mental illness. This can be read as a standalone, but it’s nice to be familiar with the WarHawks team. A well-written romance with that happily ever after that I enjoy and highly recommend! Five-Stars
“Akasha” is the second book of the Cats of Catarau Series. Akasha and two of her kittens die in a storm and end up in cat heaven or Catarau. One of her kittens is left behind, calling for her mother. Akasha finds a way back to earth, but her journey is riddled with obstacles. I was glad to see a cat from the first book make an appearance, but my favorite cat was Bo. The relationship between Bo and Akasha was endearing. There is a lesson that everything happens for a reason, even if it makes little senseat the time. This is a sweet and somewhat sad story for cat lovers with a happy ending. Five-Stars
“Spirit of the Book” is a YA tale about a young woman starting her life. An uncaring alcoholic mother raised Ellie, and the moment she could escape that life she did. It drew me in by how determined Ellie was as she quickly found herself a place to live and a job. Here Ellie makes over the shabby apartment, which is where she finds an unusual book. I love where the story goes from this point. What comes out of the book is my favorite part. The two timelines gave me better insight into the book’s story. Watching Ellie’s growth and doing what was right was the inspiring part of the magic. A great read that made my inner child happy at the end. Five-Stars
“Stranger at Sunset” is a psychological mystery set at a Jamaican resort. Kate is a psychiatrist who heads to Jamaica to help her friends after a critical review hurts their business. Matthew is the reviewer who is invited back with the hope he rethinks his opinion of the place. The story is told through several points of view, and the scenery is brought to life almost sensually. I was surprised at the twists the story took and can honestly say there was an event I’ve never seen done that way. Although I might have suspected what was going on, I still couldn’t have predicted the outcome. Other storylines and characters added layers to this. Ms. Baylee has a way of getting into her character’s heads. I appreciated some of the little details, like how Kate would take the first three letters of a person’s name and come up with three words that fit their personality. This was Ms. Baylee’s first novel in this genre. I haven’t read Ms. Baylee’s erotica, but I felt she brought a unique touch to this story I found entertaining. I will be reading more psychological mystery or thrillers from this author. Five-Stars
“Mateo’s Law” is an exciting paranormal, western romance that I read in two sittings. It is set in a small town in Montana, where Blair moved to join the force as a deputy. She is in a long-distance relationship but is attracted to the sheriff, Mateo. When something attacks a town resident, they investigate it together, but Blair is unaware of Mateo’s secret of being a shapeshifter. I love it when Mateo is in his alternative form, and I felt his freedom. The scenery is lush and the town a place I’d want to call home. Blair and Mateo have great chemistry, conversations, and working relationship. I was definitely rooting for Blair and Mateo and hope more stories are coming with these characters. If you love a paranormal page-turning romance, you won’t want to miss this! Five-Stars
I only post my 4 & 5-star reviews. If I don’t like a book, I won’t finish it. It doesn’t feel right leaving a review in that case, but I have been known to email the author:) Life is too short not to enjoy every book you read!
There will be no blog next Sunday as I am on vacation celebrating my 37th wedding anniversary this week:)
I’ll be silent on social media, except maybe a picture or two on Instagram if we are able to explore on this vacation.
I will be posting “Books That Changed Me” Summer Edition on June 20th! These are books I’ve read and have stayed with me. It’s hard to pick, I’ve been reading a lot of outstanding books.
The Monthly Newsletter goes out June 20th too. I always thank those who read my books, offer a glimpse into my current work, and there’s an Amazon gift card giveaway. I also really love hearing from everyone:)
Embrace your inner child by reading a good book and embrace the soulof each person you meet! D. L. Finn
I always want to take part in blog writing challenges, but I never do. When I saw the picture, and challenge to write a story under 750 words, over on Suzanne Burke Blog, a story came to me right away. Here is the link: FICTION IN A FLASH.
I am a slow writer. That doesn’t mean I’m slow at getting words down. It’s the process after or the arranging of the words, so they make sense. Editing is why I usually avoid challenges. This time the story wouldn’t let go, so I went with it and pushed the words around, trying to make sense accurately and quickly.
I’m also slow at processing my emotions as I try to comprehend them. I’m numb to what is going on around me right now and can’t put it in words yet. But this piece allowed me that final closure in losing our three pets last year over a small period. I dedicate this to them: Thunder, Alice, and Hermie.
It was our bench. I felt the familiar tug at my heart as I quickened my pace and maneuvered through the pungently earthy orange, red, and yellow leaves. I hated making this walk alone through the fall splendor.
I jumped when something brushed against my leg.
“Sorry. Lady escaped from her collar again.”
The pug sat at my feet with an amiable head tilt. I mumbled. “No problem.”
“She’s friendly if you want to pet her.”
I shook my head and stepped around the dog. Passing the brightly lit coffee shop that usually provided me with a latte, I kept going. Finally, I plopped down on a cold cement bench and was immediately greeted by a distant chorus of barking dogs.
A young boy burst through the door directly across the street. He was cradling a small black kitten.
“Can I name him Skitter, mom?”
As the mother agreed, I flashed back to the day I brought my kitten home from this animal shelter. Felix died right before his 18th birthday. I decided, after crying for two weeks, I didn’t want to go through that heartbreak again.
A wind kicked up, and the sun was sloping down. It was time for me to head home. I stood up to go but froze when a young couple exited the building with a small exuberant black lab just like… Tears flowed unchecked down my face. I missed my walking companion, Bessie. When I had to put her to sleep, after she lost her battle with cancer, it tore me apart holding her for the last time. My two constant companions were taken from me in only two months. Now, at sixty-five-years-old, I was not only a widow but petless too. With a heavy heart, I slowly made my way home.
The final one-hundred yards before turning into my driveway, I heard a muffled cry coming from a bush.
“Hello?” I called out, getting my keys ready to run inside.
It answered with a whimper.
I carefully pushed the branches aside and found a taped cardboard box.
My heart was racing as I ripped the box open and peered inside.
The yellow puppy barked and jumped on the side of the box with its tail wagging. I quickly scooped it up, and it nestled into my neck. The smaller black one wasn’t moving, and the black and yellow puppy could barely lift its head.
“You poor babies! What kind of monster would do this?”
I raced to my car and gently set the box down while still hanging on to the yellow puppy. My hand brushed over the black pup, finding no life, but the other pup let out a small sigh as I stroked its soft fur.
I dialed my vet and started the car, “I found some puppies in bad shape. Are you still open?”
“We just closed but bring them in, Marsha. We’ll wait.”
Soon the two puppies who had survived were on the vet’s examination table.
“They are around four weeks old and look like a shepherd/lab mix. It was lucky you found these two when you did. We will do everything we can for them and call you in the morning. Are you considering keeping them?”
I frowned. “I don’t think so, but I will pay for whatever they need.”
I spent a long night tossing and turning. Their sweet faces haunted me as well as the cruelly taped box. I knew I was meant to find them, but that didn’t mean I had to keep them. When the sun finally rose, I knew what I had to do.
The phone rang after breakfast. “Hi, Marsha. I’m sorry the boy didn’t make it, but the girl did. We will keep her here another night so we can monitor her, and we found someone to foster her so—”
I cut her off. “No, she has a home with me.”
A year later, Molly was proudly wearing her new pink collar. She yanked me toward our bench. Today we couldn’t sit there because a neighbor’s adolescent daughter had taken it over with a box of kittens that had a free sign taped to the side. Our walk was cut short when I locked eyes with a tiny black cat. We had found the missing member of our family and I had learned that having a pet’s love was worth any loss endured.
Embrace your inner child with a good story, and embrace each person’s soul that you meet along the way. D. L. Finn