What's Up Wednesday- Jan. 22nd

Kayaking with Monkeys, Birthday Loveliness & My Heart Goes Nuclear

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up.  Should you wish to join, check out Jaime's or Erin's lovely blogs and sign up with the link widget at the bottom of the post.


  • In the YA Department, I'm reading GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson. It's a fun read that kept me up well past my bedtime. (love it when that happens)
  • In the classics department, I read TESS OF THE D'UBERVILLES this week. I would like to go back in time and explain to Victorian authors that one cannot drown oneself simply by walking into a lake. If you have a time machine I can borrow for this purpose, let me know. 
  • Also, Boy Chris wondered why I wasn't listing my non-fiction or science reading in the "What I'm Reading Section". Good question. I guess I didn't think anyone would be interested. But in case I'm am sadly mistaken and there are others out there who like a good book about animals or moss *grin*, I'm currently reading BIRDS OF FOREST AND THICKET. It has wonderful descriptions and life-histories of birds that dwell in forests and thickets (Wouldn't have guessed that from the title, I know) It's more narrative than my normal science reading and really quite enjoyable.   


Our Adventures (definitely capitalized) this week gave me a tremendous amount of new ideas and new life to add to my WiP-LOVE AND OTHER CURIOSITIES. It was beauty and time travel and wonderment all rolled into one. I took oodles of pictures and jotted down notes on scraps of paper and maps, and leaves (yes leaves). You should always carry a notebook. I can't wait to tackle some of it at the Writing Retreat (a.k.a. the Retreat of Awesome) next week. So much good energy to be had. I can't wait to talk to other writers...in the Flesh! 

(These are the same section this week, because what we got up to was also incredibly inspiring)

It was both of our birthdays last week, so we decided to take a break from it all, rent a cabin in the woods and kayak one of our very favorite rivers. (It might be a new tradition, because we paddled it last year on our birthdays too.) It remains in the Top 5 rivers I've ever paddled because not only is it exquisitely beautiful, it has monkeys. MONKEYS! (Well, macaques actually, but no one knows what I'm talking about...unless I say "monkeys") 

It is like a biologist's wet dream. Boy Chris is just as obsessed with primates as I am, so we basically used every camera we had and every battery that went with it. 

It was just what I needed. A chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the "real" world. Nature in all its heartbreaking, achingly beautifulness. Plus I got to sit and watch 3 different troops of monkeys groom and play. 

We watched them romp in the trees. Splash in the water. It made me resolve to live my life more like a true primate. Thrilled to be alive. Amused by simple things. Loving. Tender. Completely in the moment.

I watched an infant nurse and its mother pat it on the back, then kiss it on the head. She looked right at me, sitting in my kayak with my feet in the water. She looked at me with those dark and timeless eyes. She made a sound I understood. It went right through my rib cage. It made my heart do something weird.

It was really, really hard to leave.

 l haven't had a chance to sort through all the photos and video we took this year, but I'll leave you with the video we took last year. (The monkeys show up about halfway through (2mins 50 secs), if you want to scroll forward.) (Also it's best in HD but you might have to let your computer advance a bit.)


  1. Such beautiful photos (as always)!

    When I was younger, I was friends with a guy whose dad was a bird expert and he writes books about them and everything. It's a cool thing to have such devoted passion to better understanding our animal friends.

    Happy (belated) birthday to you and Boy Chris!

    1. Thanks Jen! It's funny that I try to keep "biologist me" separate from "writer me" because I always end up writing animals into my books anyway. :)

      And thanks for the b-day wishes! Hope your week is as gorgeous as you are!

  2. I loved Girl of Fire and Thorns - I need to read the rest of the trilogy!

    A writing retreat sounds really fun! :)

    Those pictures are awesome! Kayaking with monkeys? Looks amazing!

    1. Yes, I can't wait to read the rest of the trilogy! I love it that they are already out. (I'm very impatient about waiting for sequels)

      Hope you have an amazing week!

  3. Cool video, Kris--you're quite adept with a kayak, and clearly very at home in the water, unlike that character from TESS. Now, if it had been me, yes, I would have drowned just walking into a lake. In fact, a few feet of water would probably finish me off. ;)

    Have a wonderful week! :)

    1. Thanks!

      And you're not a swimmer? Hmmm...I wouldn't have thought that. Please don't drown, the literary world would miss you. :)

      Everyone in my family started swimming before they could walk. One of my earliest memories is of swimming with my mother when I was a baby. She says I can't possibly remember that far back, but I swear I do.

    2. Just butting in to say that I'm not a swimmer either. Like Colin, I could probably drown in a few feet of water. Heck a tablespoon of water might do the trick. ;-)

    3. Okay Jaime, you're not allowed to drown either. If the literary world loses you too, it would be catastrophic! Catastrophic I say!

  4. What an amazing trip!!! I am beyond jealous. Pretty much every post you put up makes me jealous. Do you maybe want to trade lives?

    Happy birthday. I hope you have a great week. Although knowing you, of course you'll have a great week.

  5. That birthday trip looks and sounds wonderful! And how cool that there were macaques there! What a great place to feel inspired. I hope you had a wonderful birthday. :-) I'm glad you enjoyed GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS. The second book is even better, and the final instalment is also awesome. Have a great week, Kris! Oh, and enjoy your writing retreat!

  6. Your photos from the river paddle are gorgeous. I can totally see why you were inspired. What a wonderful trip! I've yet to read GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, but I've great things about that series. It's one I'll have to start soon! Have a fantastic week... I'll be thinking of you and everyone getting tons of work done at the writing retreat! Have a blast!

  7. Sounds like an awesome trip, with beautiful pictures. I love primates, though I've long since abandoned any ideas I once had about having a pet monkey, chimp, or orangutan.

  8. gorgeous pics! And so inspiring! Looks like you have a lot on your reading plate, but I say you can never read too much! Glad you found inspiration and excitement for your WIP :)

  9. Beautiful photos! Wow ^_^

    I saw monkeys in India and saw why we add the term "cheeky" to them. They swiped a woman's water bottle, unscrewed the cap and drank it. Impressive!

    Have an amazing time at the retreat. It sounds wonderful.

  10. Amazing photos, it's definitely sounds like adventures with a capital A!

    Have a wonderful retreat.

  11. There are some things Victorian writers wrote that make me LOL for days and days. I haven't read Tess of D'Ubervilles yet, but it's on my list, so I'm sure I'll get to it at some point.

    Amazing pictures! And happy belated birthday :)

  12. Wow beautiful pictures. I haven't read The Girl of fire and thorns but its also on my read list. New ideas is my favorite part of the writing process.

  13. Okay, I'm embarrassed to say that even though I've been to Florida, I didn't realize monkeys live there. How did I not know that?! I love your story about the mother with her baby, and that video was gorgeous. I showed it to my son, because he wanted to see the monkeys (they were so cute btw) and he said he wishes we could go kayaking there.

    I'm glad you enjoyed THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS. I read the trilogy recently and it only gets better after book one! Have an awesome week, Kris!

  14. Happy belated birthday! Your adventure on the river with the macaques sounds amazing! Glad you had fun.

    I hope you have a wonderful, productive, and inspiring writing retreat! SO wish I could be there. Looking forward to seeing all of the pretty pictures you take. :)

  15. So cool, Kris! The cabin/river time sounds perfect. :)