Photo Friday, No. 456

Current Photo Friday theme: Landscape 2015

This year I’ve used my camera almost exclusively for work, except for some photos of changes at Houndstooth Hall and the actual hounds in residence. I can only dream of time to see and shoot anything worthy of being called a landscape.

These are dolls that have found their way to me this year, almost all gifts. So we’ll call this Toyland-scape.

Photo Friday, No. 450

Current Photo Friday theme: Road Trip


I do have photos from road trips, but I’m dedicating this Photo Friday to Linda (Raven Moore) Gentile, one of the loveliest people I never met.

I first became acquainted with Linda through mutual blogging/online journaling friends. Over the years, I admired her gentle nature, her nomadic spirit, and her lovely humor. I wrote in my own blog about my enjoyment of her book A Little Twist of Texas, the tale of a road trip she took on her motorcycle, Beastie.

Later, she and her husband Don put most of their stuff in storage and began living on the road in their RV, Harvey. Linda’s passion was finding historical landmarks and historical markers, and she and her fellow travelers recorded them on her website Markeroni. Somewhere along the way, when she found out about my collection of Barbie dolls, she offered to dig through that storage room the next time they were there and send me the two Harley Barbies pictured above. In typical road trip fashion Linda could appreciate, the dolls were lost for a while en route, and we’d both given up on their ever making it to my house, but finally they did.

Harvey became one of the inspirations for part of my novel A Coventry Wedding, which reminds me of another way Linda was generous with me. When I had book signings, she encouraged her Houston-area friends to come see me and buy my novels.

In her quiet, graceful fashion, when Linda became ill with metastatic melanoma, she shared the news with only her family and a few close friends. Since I was a reader of her blog (the link no longer works), I wondered why she’d grown quiet, and my heart ached for Don, her family, and friends when he shared the news of her death in March in an email. As Don said, On the custom of flowers or contributions in her name, she preferred that flowers be left to grow, and suggested we simply “pay it forwards.” Linda’s mindset, intentions, and actions often included “paying it forwards” – altruistically redirecting repayment of her good deeds to others, increasing them, rather than back to herself.

I will think of her now whenever I see wildflowers and historical markers along the highways I drive. I will think of the adventurous spirit that drew her to the United States from England, to build a life with Don on a road less traveled. I will never have the opportunity to meet her in person, so I choose to think of her continuing her journey–not without a few misadventures. Those were the moments that tested her and that she rose above, choosing to look back on them with humor. She had a big heart, a sharp mind, and a gift of sharing both with her readers.

Thank you, Linda, for your many gifts. As the old Irish blessing goes, “May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields.”