Last Day of My Birthday Month!

Well here we are, the end of March, and I am exhaustively happy. Oh what a month!

Thank you to everyone who helped make my special day/month so very exceptional. I am one of the most fortunate people and I am so appreciative.
This license plate says it all!

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Tahoe Chamber's Business Expo...

Every year, this event is on our calendar for months. It is always around my birthday which just makes the celebration continue. Casey and Linda joined us for the party.

Event Description: Get to know the most cutting-edge South Shore businesses at the Business EXPO: GO Local. Tahoe Chamber’s annual Business EXPO, presented by Heavenly Mountain Resort and Kirkwood Mountain Resort, is the largest business and networking event in the Lake Tahoe area.
The Expo will highlight nearly 90 local businesses and their latest products, programs, and services to over 1,500 attendees. All members of the community are encouraged to attend and can expect a night of food tasting, beer and wine sampling, live music and vendor giveaways.
It is always a night of seeing friends, learning about new companies in town, drinking well and dining deliciously.
The Bistro at Edgewood served braised beef short rib over buttered potatoes. Oh my!

“Life is partly what we make it,
and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.”
– Tennessee Williams

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MammoGrahams: the New Birthday 'Cake'

Every year, as part of my birthday month, I get a mammogram- a gift for myself and a Public Service Announcement for any woman not giving herself this present!

No breasts were hurt in the making of this treat. Though I can't say the same of my day!
While the treats above are fun, breast cancer isn't. Annual mammograms can detect cancer early — when it is most treatable. In fact, mammograms show changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or physician can feel them. Mammograms can also prevent the need for extensive treatment for advanced cancers and improve chances of breast conservation. Current guidelines from the American College of Radiology and the Society for Breast Imaging recommend that women receive annual mammograms starting at age 40 — even if they have no symptoms or family history of breast cancer. So Day #29 of my birthday month was "Boob Smashing Day".

B is for Breasts Of which ladies have two;
Once prized for the function, Now for the view. 
-Robert Paul Smith

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My Surprise Birthday Party...

Through clandestine activity and covert operations (worthy adversaries indeed), five of my wonderfully sweet girlfriends truly surprised me with a birthday luncheon to exceed all others (my last and only surprise party happened on my 15th birthday).

Cyndy was the hostess who provided all the treats, including hula hoops!

Karen, Janet, Cyndy, Jan and Jenny all contributed to the fabulous surprise.

Who needs to make a wish with friends like these!

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Happy Birthday To Me...

I 💗 birthdays. I found this quote to sum the passing of time perfectly, "Age is merely the number of years the world has been enjoying you." I hope it gets to enjoy me for a heck of a lot longer! [Truthfully, I am just happy to be alive.]

"Fashions fade, style is eternal."
-Yves Saint Laurent

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Sugar Pine Foundation at the Library...

Six years ago I fell in love with these majestic trees. I delight in facilitating the spread of knowledge about the Sugar Pine Foundation's mission- a dedication to saving Lake Tahoe's sugar pines and other white pines by educating and involving Tahoe area students and community members of all ages in hands-on forest stewardship. Since 2008, they have planted over 95,000 trees with local volunteers!

Sugar pines are the world's largest species of pine and have the longest cones - but they are dying from white pine blister rust, a non-native, invasive fungus! Historically 25% of Lake Tahoe's forests, sugar pines now make up less than 5% of the forest composition. This amazing organization finds trees that are resistant to the fungus, then collects their cones and plants their progeny (which I did in 2012).
The audience was engaged and interested. Maria Mircheva, the Executive Director, presented the film The Seedling which was followed by thoughtful questions. It was a very cool evening spent with equally cool people. 
He who plants a tree
Plants a hope.
-Lucy Larcom, Plant a Tree

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From Books to Birds...

While at the Left Coast Crime Conference, I did not leave the hotel for almost 72 hours. The best cure for cabin fever is a birding outing with Jenny.

While out, I added a few new species to my Tahoe Big Year tally. Above are American avocets. I wish I could have gotten closer so you could see the uniqueness of its bill which is black, pointed, and curved slightly upwards towards the tip. It is long- twice the length of the bird's small, rounded head.
Another new find for me was the Say's Phoebe.

While not a new species for me, I loved these two images of the Northern flicker (Colaptes auratus), a medium-sized bird of the woodpecker family. It is native to most of North America, parts of Central America, Cuba, and the Cayman Islands, and is one of the few woodpecker species that migrate.  In addition, flickers are the only woodpeckers that frequently feed on the ground. Isn't he pretty?

I love Robins!
Magpies are very common here. I think they are so uniquely beautiful.
This little guy refused to look at the camera but we think it might be a Savannah sparrow. If so, that would be my third new find of the day.
My fourth species is this beautiful Cinnamon Teal duck. There is little information on Cinnamon Teal population numbers, but the species appears to have declined between 1966 and 2015. This duck rates a 10 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, a common bird in steep decline. I feel so fortunate seeing one today.
Art was found in the frozen tree branches along the lake's edge.

"The most beautiful attractions 
don't have a box office."

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Kudos to the Tahoe-Douglas Rotary...

Because I believe thank you notes are important, I sent this Kudos to the Tahoe Daily Tribune expressing appreciation for our phenomenal St. Patrick's Day party.

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments
when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."
-Thornton Wilder

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Left Coast Crime My Final Day...

Wow. This conference is nonstop amazement. Yesterday was a 17 hour day for me. I have pages and pages of notes and maybe when the fun ends, I'll do a more thorough description of it all. In the meantime, enjoy what I can share.

As you can see by the pattern of the last few days, the programming is one full of diverse literary events. The panels, one of the highlights, are incredibly interesting and quite hard to pick from. Today's first was one we thought would be perfect for Karen and me since we met in Italy- Arrivederci Roma: Historical Mysteries. Mary Lawrence moderarted a group of writers: Ana Brazil, Michael J. Cooper, Janet Dawson, and Melissa Lenhardt. While they were interesting, Italia wasn't mentioned once!
Next stop (I mean how could we miss this?) was Suspicious Minds: The Liars Panel. Oh my gosh... this was hysterical! Kelli Stanley, the moderator once said of herself that she was born with a fedora on her head. She was the perfect gal for the job. Oh what a great group of authors: Christa Faust (a professional dominatrix), Lee Goldberg, Howard Michael Gould, and William Kent Krueger. Each panel member was given a prompt and we, the audience, were suppose to determine if the answer was true or not. An example was  "I was almost arrested when..." and "Where was an unexpected location in which you had sex?" Needless-to-say, there was some blushing happening. HYSTERICAL.
We picked this particular panel, The Wonder of You: Taking Emotional Risks in Writing, due to its moderator, Naomi Hirahara, an author of honor along with William Kent Krueger (hence you seeing him so often). We were introduced to some pretty incredible novelists: Dianne Emley, Timothy Hallinan, Jamie Mason, and Josh Stallings. Each shared something they were terrified of due to the fact that emotions come from taking risks. Jamie made a memorable comment, "People wonder if we're really that dark because they don't come to these conferences and see how silly we are." Silly. Talented. Fun.
The one that has been high on our list of 'musts' was the after nap panel. Burning Love: The Sex PanelHolly West wrangled some pretty feisty characters: Linda Joffe Hull, Cara Black, Bill Fitzhugh, and Catriona McPherson. I have to elaborate on Catriona- a conference favorite. This hysterical Scot, is probably one of the naturally funniest people I've met, in a really long time. Anytime she was around, there would be guffaws. Holly West felt that she was qualified to lead this panel as she shares her name with a porn star. To begin the event, each panelist had to read one of the 'winners' from the Bad Sex in Fiction contest. Wild, laugh-out-loud stuff.
Did I mention the attendees are a dedicated bunch?
Our day would not be complete without a visit with our new author/friend, Dänna Wilberg.

Oh man, all the authors are incredible. One of the books I had to take home with me was Scot Free"[McPherson's] character-driven romp is sparked by the larger-than-life, quirky residents of the Last Ditch Motel, putting this laugh-out-loud whodunit on a par with the early Janet Evanovich."—Library Journal "McPherson, a master of creepy psychological mysteries, shows an utterly different side of herself in this zany series kickoff."—Kirkus Reviews
Hemmingway would have been proud of this panel, The Not So Secret Life of Authors: Bar Stories. Simon Wood helmed this boozy bunch: Christa Faust, Bill Fitzhugh, Linda Joffe Hull, and the riotous Catriona McPherson who told us stories that should only be shared over strong drinks.

Also, last night, while delighting in Mark Twain's talk, we met a gal named Kathryn who needed volunteers for helping at the Lefty Awards Banquet. Both Karen and I jumped in. What a great opportunity to meet even more interesting characters and help out a bit, too.
We pre-partied with L.C. Hayden. You just never know who you will meet in the hall.
The "Lefty" Awards Banquet was a gathering of wonderful people in a delicious culmination of four days of riotous fun and delights.
I love Todd Borg!
Our table mate was Aaron Elkins, who wrote a series of novels featuring a forensic anthropologist (Aaron's job as well).
I love Mark Twain, too.
Author Gigi Pandian was our hostess with the mostest!
It was a night of new friends, old friends, literary giants and a whole lot of unforgettable memories made while savoring my first ever Left Coast Crime Conference. Until next time...

“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road.
They are the destination, and the journey.
They are home.”
– Anna Quindlen in How Reading Changed My Life

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