Category Archives: COOL STUFF

You’re Invited to a Party! My Short Story Published in Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup for the Soul, Angels and Miracles

Hello, My Faithful Followers!

My short story called “The Desk” is being debuted in the new Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles book, AVAILABLE TOMORROW, November 1, 2016, at a book store near you! (Or online, of course! Here–> at AMAZON)

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I’m beyond excited about being part of the Chicken Soup for the Soul family now. It’s truly an honor.

This particular collection of 101 stories (cherry picked out of somewhere between 5000 and 6000 submissions!) is a widely varied collection of stories relating to . . . well, it’s much easier to allow the Chicken Soup folks explain it . . .

Miracles, answered prayers, cases of divine intervention—they happen every day—strengthening our faith, giving us hope, and proving that good things do happen to good people!

Miracles are all around us—we just have to look to see them. These powerful stories will deepen your faith and give you hope that good things do happen to good people. From guardian angels to divine messengers, from miraculous healing to messages from heaven, from mysterious dreams that come true to divine coincidence, you’ll be in awe as you read these 101 stories of true wonder and inspiration. These stories are written by real people—ordinary people who have had extraordinary experiences—who are just as surprised that these things happened to them as we are to read about them.

TOMORROW, NOVEMBER 1, 2016, the Chicken Soup folks are hosting a TWITTER PARTY for us contributors, with an open invitation for family and friends to join us. I’d love to have you in attendance if you can make it!

If you attend, make sure to give a shout out to me! My twitter tag is:  @SusanMaddyJ

Thanks to my family and friends who support me in my baby steps in the big, big world of writing and my big, big endeavors to find my place in it! I love you so much for encouraging me to dream that big!

Warmest love and regards,

Sue J signature

Find Your Adventure With Rose Parade Float Decorating

We’re watching the Rose Parade on TV today from our Phoenix home and reminiscing about several years of volunteering to decorate parade floats in Pasadena, California. These particular pictures are from working on an HGTV float. How appropriate is that to be

Definitely have to do it again some time. What a spectacular item to add to your bucket list!IMG_5683 IMG_5653 IMG_5668And we love the Rose Parade theme this year . . .

Find Your Adventure!

We here at Teardrop Adventures HIGHLY recommend getting out and exploring the jaw-dropping, ever-inspiring scenery and adventures that await you in the great outdoors.

Mother Nature rocks it and so should you!


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All our best to you this coming year,

Susan & Mark

Lost in Daydreaming at Lost Dutchman State Park, AZ

Lost Dutchman State Park Campground, AZ, Arizona, hiking, teardrop trailers, tiny campers, nature, camping, photography

This is the view from inside my teardrop trailer. How am I supposed to get any work done with a view like this enticing me to daydream instead of write?

I should’ve known the moment we stopped at the entrance gate to the Lost Dutchman State Park campground in Apache Junction, Arizona, that nature would be ready to play hard ball to win my full attention for the next two days . . .

We chose a spectacular campsite that typically is claimed by the camp host but was available during this trip. This week’s camp host was instead set up next door to the one we were interested in. Good thing, ’cause we fell in love with ours right away . . .

Cactus plants all around. Some very much alive . . .

Lost Dutchman State Park Campground, AZ, Arizona, hiking, teardrop trailers, tiny campers, nature, camping, photography Lost Dutchman State Park Campground, AZ, Arizona, hiking, teardrop trailers, tiny campers, nature, camping, photography

others providing valuable service as they delicately decayed . . .

Lost Dutchman State Park Campground, AZ, Arizona, hiking, teardrop trailers, tiny campers, nature, camping, photography Lost Dutchman State Park Campground, AZ, Arizona, hiking, teardrop trailers, tiny campers, nature, camping, photography

I enjoyed the outdoor space, while Mark took his time with setting up the trailer . . .

and a few “features”–like the outdoor shower . . .

Lost Dutchman State Park Campground, AZ, Arizona, hiking, teardrop trailers, tiny campers, nature, camping, photography

and the chili-pepper lights and hummingbird feeder . . .

We have new additions to our teardrop trailer this time around; did you notice? . . .Lost Dutchman State Park Campground, AZ, Arizona, hiking, teardrop trailers, tiny campers, nature, camping, photography Lost Dutchman State Park Campground, AZ, Arizona, hiking, teardrop trailers, tiny campers, nature, camping, photography

I tried to settle in and stay focused on my writing for the day, but how could I? With Gambel’s quails strutting about the perimeter . . .

and cottontail rabbits bouncing about, too, it was all I could do to keep my head down and follow my own words. When I wasn’t distracted by the wildlife, I had this view to contend with . . .

Lost Dutchman State Park Campground, AZ, Arizona, hiking, teardrop trailers, tiny campers, nature, camping, photography

The second day, we headed out for an early morning hike. There are many possible trails at Lost Dutchman, from easy to difficult. We chose a moderate one which afforded views like this . . .

after which we gladly ended the day like this . . .

Lost Dutchman State Park Campground, AZ, Arizona, hiking, teardrop trailers, tiny campers, nature, camping, photography

Sadly, on day three, we had to leave. While packing up, we chatted it up with a man walking the road past our campsite. He was telling us about the campground’s wildlife, things to look for and look out for when, mid-sentence, a sizable bristle-haired javelina (a medium-sized, wild boar-like mammal) charged out of the brush and across the road behind us. Our dog barked her objection at the intrusion, inspiring the javelina to race by in a flash. I had no time to take a picture, but here is what one looks like . . .

javelina

Anyway, turns out the man we were speaking with was our camp host, and the camp host is a writer, and the writer had written a book.

“Fabulous,” I said. “What about?”

“It has to do with 9/11 and a cross-country bicycle trip I took. It’s about having hope.”

“Funny,” I said. “I’m writing a book right now that relates in part to 9/11. I used to live in New York.”

“So did I,” he said. Conversation followed of towns we both knew and a dozen other things we seemed to have in common, including something to say about 9/11 and the power to heal.

“I’d love to read your book,” I said. “And, hey, maybe some day when I’m done writing it, you could read mine.” We shared that excitement and encouragement commonly found among fellow writers and agreed to exchange business cards before Mark and I headed home.

Within minutes, Ray came back with a copy of his book as a present to us. I was blown away by his generosity.

Ray of Hope, Inspiring Peace, Ray MadaghieleInside the front cover read the words, “Mark & Susan, Thank you for your adventuresome spirits & for being rays of hope in this world. Many Blessings”

I can’t wait to read Ray’s book, “Ray of Hope: Inspiring Peace”; something tells me I’m gonna feel good after reading it. As for you, Ray, if you’re reading this blog page, thanks for the thoughtful gift. I plan to pay it forward some day soon.


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Happy trails, y’all!

 

Sue J signature

Rose Parade Floats SNEAK PEEK

New Year’s Day is approaching and so is the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA. This week, we took a tour at several of the float-building facilities to watch the progress of this year’s floats. By the end of the night, we had signed up to volunteer for decorating. When you see sights like these, it’s not hard to understand why . . .

Paradiso Parade Floats had many open spots for volunteers this week. They and other float builders were still trying their best to avoid the mad crunch at the end of the week, but they’ve yet to crack the code on how to do that successfully. Paradiso shared a common work area with Cal Poly University in a tent where some rather grand automobiles were also being adorned with flowers and, it appears, even artichokes:

A fitting prelude to the floats themselves including a fanciful phoenix . . .

a beach-bound hippo (representing Zappos dot com) . . .

and a determined gremlin sprouting forth from a magical castle–designed and built by the students of Cal Poly Tech . . .

We toured during the day on Saturday and by Sunday night, we were bundled up in winter clothing, ready for a 4-1/2 hour shift. We easily scored an opportunity to prepare materials for Paradiso’s over-sized phoenix. All of these flowers from the day before . . .

Paradiso CAPolyTech tent 20

were broken down into petals only, and our job was to chop a zillion petals into small pieces until they blended into a lovely shade of butterscotch. We did this cupful by cupful with the aid of a standard pair of scissors.

After roughly two hours straight of maniacal chopping, we were happy to move on to our next chore: covering the wire frames of large dragonfly wings with glue and white rice, part of the colossal hippo float. We had our chance to scale the scaffolding and find a spot with some stability where we could reach to sometimes unreachable spots and cover them in rice.

When it came time to climb to the third tier, I had a sudden bout of acrophobia. I happily swapped places with Mark who took the high road to apply rice to the hippo’s inner tube while I finished off someone else’s dragonfly wings while balancing atop a tall ladder.

We’ve decided that we must make time for decorating Rose Parade floats at least every other year. We always have met wonderful people and love being part of something so cheerful. If you ever get the chance to help decorate, jump on it! It’s an experience unlike any other.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Thanks for following along on our Teardrop Adventures.

Promises to Keep and Miles to Go Before I Sleep

“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, / But I have promises to keep . . . ”

–Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

lovely night woods

Alas, the year is ending and I’ve fallen short of sharing with you all of the adventures this past summer on our three-week-long teardrop trailer trip to some of our country’s most unique national parks. I’ve been lured toward other deep projects, including several editing projects and most recently, planning a move to another state in the very near future. But, I did make a promise to deliver the goods and deliver them, I will. Stay tuned for coverage about our day trip to a hidden gem, Capital Reef National Park, and then to my personal favorite, Bryce Canyon National Park.

Happy New Year, y’all. Let’s make some New Year’s resolutions and stick to them this time!

Sue J signature

retro teardrop trailer

Bet You Never Viewed a Solar Eclipse THIS Way!

Shoeboxes? We don’t need no stinkin’ shoeboxes!

– quote by Sue J., inspired by Pacino  🙂


Impromptu Experiment:
Quickly craft a solar eclipse viewing mechanism without the use of the old shoebox method most of us are accustomed to

Materials:
Whatever the heck we can find around the house (excluding boxes because, well, we had no suitable boxes; hence, the need for an impromptu project . . . still with us? Good. Moving on . . .)

Allowable Timeframe for Completing Project:
Five minutes. Make or break, we clearly have more important things to do, but Heck, this is fun!


THE EXPERIMENT

I start off with the requisite foil square and poke a hole in it so the sun can do its job.

Next, a piece of paper that’ll serve as a projection screen. White paper is too bright, so Mark grabs a manilla folder.

I grab a metal clamp off the kitchen table (Hey, in a house inhabited by at least one mechanically minded person, if not often two, it’s not unusual to find a clamp, pliers, tape measure, etc., as part of the dining area decor.) figuring it would add to the scientific ambiance if we use a tool to hold the foil rather than just our hands.

Mark runs out the door, me trailing close behind with necessary paraphernalia in hand.

Folder. Check!

Foil. Check!

BAM! Solar Eclipse. Cooooooooooooool.

new method, new way of viewing a solar eclipse, safely viewing a solar eclipse, fun way of viewing solar eclipse

 

new method, new way of viewing a solar eclipse, safely viewing a solar eclipse, fun way of viewing solar eclipse

Design Improvement Attempt #1:

Mark tries to free his hands from having to hold the clamp so we can view it in a hands-free, all-mind, zen-like peace. He tries to hang the foil from a tie-down wire on the patio, but the angle isn’t working.

Back to the initial viewing configuration. But, hey, what’s this? THREE eclipses?

new method, new way of viewing a solar eclipse, safely viewing a solar eclipse, fun way of viewing solar eclipse

Way cool.

Sunlight is projecting not only through the foil, but through a cut-through hole in the clamp and through a tiny space between his fingers.

Design Improvement Attempt #2:

We don’t need no stinkin’ clamp!

We don’t need no stinkin’ foil!

VOILA! Solar Eclipse Au Naturel! 

new method, new way of viewing a solar eclipse, safely viewing a solar eclipse, fun way of viewing solar eclipse

Who ever would have thought it’d be this simple to watch a solar eclipse?

Grins of accomplishment all around, slaps on backs, high fives, a couple of atta boys and atta girls.

Mission accomplished on all fronts (fun, discovery, and nature combined. . . cool, cool, and cool).  🙂