Reading is Fundamental!

“So many books, so little time.”
Frank Zappa

So true, Mr. Zappa, so true.

oldbooks2004Books are lovely things.  I think I mentioned, somewhere back, that my family has a lot of them.  It is because we love them, a family trait I inherited from my mother, who always had bookshelves, crammed full, in every house I can remember.  I’m not sure where my husband’s love of books came from, I don’t recall ever seeing too many books at his parents or siblings homes.  But around the time we started dating, he was already well on his way to building his own library. We each had our own collections, which included some overlap and duplication.  When he and I began living together, we kept a spare bedroom lined with shelves and our collection continued to grow.

When our son and first daughter were quite young, we found ourselves in a space crunch, and we decided it was necessary to pack up our beloved books and store them in my mother-in-law’s garage loft.  To be honest, we didn’t miss them too much at first because A – there was too much little kid/family stuff going on; and B – we never stopped acquiring books!  Didn’t even slow down!  In a few years, when we were able to bring our original books back home, we had to first go buy 4 new bookcases in addition to the built-in shelves we started with.  Not to mention, everyone in the house has a bookcase of their own in their bedrooms.  Yes, we have passed the book-loving gene on to our children.  The reward is that they all are good readers and good students.

Yes, there is a lot of money invested in our collection, but its been spread out over a lot of years, too.  And we do buy wisely – we are not afraid of used books and we are fortunate to have a couple of good used book stores in the bay area. Considering how many hours of meaningful enjoyment we get from reading, I think the money we spend is worthwhile.  We also donate books we’ve outgrown to our local library, so others can enjoy them too.  The only thing I could possibly complain about is that the books take up so much space.  Thank goodness for Kindle!

Ok, truth is there is one other complaint I can make: over the years, I’ve become a much slower reader.  I don’t make nearly the time for it that I should, and also I often find myself getting easily distracted while reading, and sometimes I have a difficult time focusing.  I blame age, and life, and vow to work harder at it.  But, as Frank Zappa was quoted – “So many books, so little time.”  I’ll probably never catch up. *sad face*

Currently reading: “Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch” by Henry Miller.

Oh, and hey I’m on Goodreads, lets be reading buddies!


Home Is Where the Writing Happens

First off, let me make clear – I write notes whenever and wherever I happen to be when something occurs to me to write.  I am a notebook hoarder, and I have paper & pen within reach most of the time.  If not that there is always my phone with its handy note app. (unfortunately I have very un-handy fat little fingertips which make typing on my phone a pain.  Still, if that’s the only thing available, I struggle through.)

But for really serious, pages and pages writing, or blog writing, it’s usually at my computer, in my little office at home.  If not on the computer, then I’m curled up somewhere else in my house with coffee and a notebook, scribbling away.  Poetry, especially, happens by hand.  Usually, I write either early in the morning or late at night, whenever its quiet and I’m less likely to be interrupted by schedules, doorbells, phones, etc.  Most often, when I’m at my desk, my cat, Sophie, sleeps on the window seat next to me while I work.

I love my little office.  It started out as a place to keep books (we have a lot of those) and pay bills.  But I sort of took it over, and now its my own little place.  My husband has gone out of his way to make it especially nice for me – he found me a set of old french doors and worked quite hard to refinish them for me, complete with an antique glass door knob.  He also found me a beautiful old desk, where I am sitting right now, and this is where I write most of the time.

my desk, unusually clean.

my desk, unusually clean.

Today’s assignment included the directive to add a poll.  I love polls.  My polls tend towards the silly, but I’ll try to restrain myself in this instance.

ok, I apologize in advance, I’m just not feeling this assignment, but here goes:

Ok, I’d rather not die at all, thanks.  But we all know it’s eventual, so yes, definitely, I would prefer it happened while in the act of doing something I’m passionate about, rather than just, say, folding laundry.  To that end, I propose that we all just spend the rest of our time here doing only things we are passionate about.  Laundry be damned.

Of course, I also want to go with clean undies, so I will have to figure something out.  Maybe learn to be passionate about laundry.


Luis Llerena

Its so difficult to start.  I love notebooks.  They are so full of promise and potential.  And writing implements – gosh, I so so so love my Pentel Client retractable ball-point pen.  The body is so nice and pleasingly heavy in my hand, the medium point is so smooth and satisfying.  Throw in a cup of hot coffee on a quiet morning and I should be in heaven.  And yet . . .

I can’t make the pen touch the page.  I can’t.  I tell myself, it’s ok – start out slow.  Just write your name, today’s date.  NO! It seems so sacrilegious, I can’t bear to mar the beautiful pages.  Oh, don’t be silly, I tell myself.  I got the notebook just for this purpose.  Do it! Write!

But, its so pretty.  So clean, so pure.  Virginal.  My drivel would ruin it.

It was made to be ruined.  Made for your drivel.  Your bad poems. Do it!

I can’t! I can’t be so cruel, so heartless!

*disgusted sigh*

You’re weak.

Yes. Yes I am.

Come on, get it over with!  Be brave.  Own your notebook.  Write!  Write now!

I take a slow sip of coffee.  I look out the window.  I pick up my pen.

Somewhere in my head, I hear a deep, mental breath being drawn.

I begin.

Identify My Audience? But How?

I’m not sure I can identify my target audience.  I guess because I’m not really sure where I’m going with this blog.  It’s my learning ground.  And yes I understand that this particular lesson is about having a focus for the blog, with a particular reader in mind, but I’m just not there yet.  I have so many different things I’d like to do with a blog.  Post my photos, write, talk about travel & adventure, music, art, style. I love my family and my home, and sometimes I might like to talk about that.   I’d like to learn new things, and talk about that experience here.  Talk about what its like to be me – a woman at this stage of her life.   There are so many layers to people – nobody is just one way, one thing, all the time.  Pardon the dorky analogy, but we’re all like flowers, with layers of petals, all our different qualities and likes and dislikes.  (Hey, I almost said we were like onions, but I figured nobody wanted to be an onion.)

So, if I had to identify my audience, I would say it is people who recognize and are open to the same variation of life experiences.

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Cali-style Buddha. Pillar Point Harbor. #NorCal #Buddha

A post shared by c.a.sisk (@whimsicalcombustion) on

my audience has many layers.


Treasure is where you

find it. Under sea, in ghost ships.

Inside a mountain cave,

lighting up the stifling dark.

In your garden, where

your daisies grow.

In an old book,

on dog-eared pages.

On a gallery wall

in a kindergarten classroom,

finger-painted landscapes of your backyard.

From memory,

a remembered conversation,

years ago when I was a child,

and she’s gone now.

This treasure, mine as long as I remember her.



Road Trips I Would Like to Take: A List

I love road trips.  I can’t think of too many better ways to spend a weekend or week (or two!) than driving through the country, stopping at small towns and checking out the sights.  Maybe it’s because I’ve lived in the same general area (San Francisco Bay area) all my life.  Getting beyond the bay area cities and counties constitutes a grand adventure to me.  California offers a good variety of places to go, between coast and mountains, desert and valley, big cities and small, but I dream of venturing further.  Here’s my top 5 of road trips I’d like to take in the future.

  1. Pacific Coast Highway, up and down the California coast. I’d like to go as far north as Eureka, and down to San Diego. We’ve done portions of this route at various times over the years, but I’d love to take the time to do tip to toe.  Such a lot to do and see. And beaches are my favorite places to be.  Any time we’ve considered moving away from California, its the coastline that makes us want to stay.

    Point Arena Light Station

    Point Arena Light Station

  2. Route 66, all the way from Santa Monica, CA to Chicago, IL.This is like my ultimate road trip fantasy.  And yes, I would stop and photograph every single one pump gas station on the way.  To do it proper, we’d need a month.  And a convertible.  Lots of mixtapes.
  3. The Great River Road, following the MIssissippi River from Venice, LA up to Lake Itasca, MN.  Just because I’ve never been in the middle part of the country, and The Great River Road route covers 10 states. It will be quite a learning experience.
  4. The King’s Highway, from Charleston, SC to Boston, MA.  Approximately 1300 miles on the East coast. Historical. Yay.
  5. Northern California to Yellowstone, via Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.  Last year, we had to make a drive up to Boise, ID for some personal business.  We were in a big hurry, so we drove all the way to Boise in one day, stayed for one day taking care of our business, and then one day to drive back.  We didn’t exactly stop and smell the roses.  Even so, I enjoyed the drive.  It was the best thing about the trip.  Surprisingly, the best part of the drive, to me, was the Nevada leg.  I thought I wouldn’t like the desert and heat, but it was actually very cool (cool as in interesting, not as in temperature).  I would like to do this drive again, with the stipulation that we spend more time in Nevada.  Desert landscapes can be amazing.  Plus I’ve always wanted to go to Yellowstone, so we could combine the two, and make that the destination.

    somewhere in Nevada, late afternoon. July 1, 2014.

    somewhere in Nevada, late afternoon. July 1, 2014.

I write because . . .

I read. I read what others write, and they inspire me to respond to them and to tell my own story. It’s a very reciprocal relationship between readers and writers, and readers who write and writers who read.

also, there is this:

I feel sometimes like I have the quietest voice in every room I am ever in.  People never hear me.  Except when I write.  My writing volume goes to eleven.  If I want it to.   But, there’s no need to raise my voice.  I can say a small thing, and it still means what it says, no matter how small I made it.  And you may not hear it if I said it out loud, but once you read it, its always there.

In writing, everyone can hear you whisper.

Who I am, and why I’m here.

This seems a simple pair of questions.  Who I am?  I am Cindy, and I also sometimes answer to Cyn, but only rarely to Cynthia.  I am a mother, of 3 young adults. I am a wife, and my husband and I have been happily married for many, many years.  I am a daughter, of a wonderful woman who in the last year finished chemo and radiation treatments for breast cancer (she’s doing well, thankfully). Also, I’m a sister, to my one older brother. There is also a beautiful grey cat in my family, but I’m not sure if I could be considered her mother, or significant other, or whatever.  At the very least, we are very close friends.  Of course I have quite a few other familial connections, but these are my most important.

I have a healthy artistic side – I love photography especially, and I’m sure I’ll be posting a lot of my photographs on this blog in the future.  I also appreciate other art formats, as well as literature – poetry and prose.  I feel that art and literature is a way of communicating to others in a more emotional and thoughtful way than we usually do when merely conversing.  You can express deeply felt insights and thoughts with art & poetry, and the audience can feel that expression in a more meaningful, even a personal, way.  At one time, I wrote poetry myself, and the occasional short story, but I feel I have lost the skill from lack of doing.  It is something I’d like to regain.  So I practice occasionally.  In the meantime, I read and admire friends and others who write. In fact I love to read, only I have become too slow a reader these days. There are so many books on my shelves, waiting for me.

Why I’m here – well, I’ve dabbled in blogging off and on for the last 10 years.  I’ve had a live journal, a blogspot, a wordpress, a tumblr.  I’ve tried making my blog on my own website.  Blogging seems like a fun way to do something creative, to do something with my photos and thoughts.  Also, I like the interaction which can occur with other people on the internet.  I mean, I do keep a private journal which I don’t share with others, but with a public blog I feel like its possible to build a kind of community, even if its only an internet community.  I like to see what other people think and say and do; I’d like to join that community, too.  Unfortunately, what usually happens is I lose focus, or I get forgetful about posting, time goes by, and yeah, it just dribbles away to nothing, and then I eventually give up.  I would like to not give up anymore.  So, I decided to take these blogging and writing classes to see if I can learn how to do a better job of keeping focus, and to build my confidence as a blogger. This will be my learning blog, at least for now.