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Last Days at SNC!

Well, it’s official: Monday was the last day of my editing class (where my students brought in champagne and a very sweet card and gift), Wednesday I gave the final for my journalism class and just now I pressed “submit” on my final grades!

Sierra Nevada College is such a unique college and I really enjoyed teaching. The students are more involved than I ever remember students being at Penn State, and took such active roles in their own education. Add to that, the staff is very hands-on, as well. As soon as any staff noticed a student struggling, there was a team of people ready to help or redirect so that the student got all the help possible. It was a really cool thing to be a part of, not only because of the environment, but also, because I had such small classes, I felt like I could really see improvements in (at least some) students, which was so cool to feel like I really had an impact. Anyway, I think there are exciting changes for the program ahead and I’m looking forward to seeing the changes and improvements at SNC moving forward! In the meantime, I’m looking forward to having my days back—I never realized how many hours of planning could go into each 1.25 hour class! I think I’m treating myself to a much-needed pedicure next week!


Ending the SNC Semester!

Big day as today was basically my last day teaching at Sierra Nevada College! Next week we’ll spend Monday editing and preparing to produce the seventh and final issue of the Eagle’s Eye for the semester, then Wednesday my journalism class has its final.

The semester seems like it flew by. I’ve loved teaching, but it will be nice to take a break. The journalism department at SNC is undergoing a transformation, so classes are combining and changing. Which I think will lead to some good and necessary changes for the program. Right now, the biggest issue is the lack of students in the journalism classes (my workshop class, for example, had only two students), so I think combining them will be a nice way to get bigger class sizes, more collaboration and more crossing over between subjects, so that journalism can, as it’s doing in real life, hopefully cross over to more mediums than just print.

I also spent this morning touring a lakeside Incline Village home. Beautiful remodel designed by the talented Elise Fett, and very enjoyable to be able to not just tour but also meet the wonderful homeowners. I should tour my remaining homes next week, then hopefully power through my articles before the holidays gear up entirely. I feel like it’s an ambitious goal given the other things going on, but here’s hoping! And either way, it’ll be nice to make a dent in the workload before the Christmas chaos.

Catching Up

Whew. I’ve been bad about posting again, but in my defense I’ve been crazed for about the past month or so! School is going well, but unfortunately a few weeks ago, Tanya Canino, the teacher whom I’d taken over for while she focused on her cancer treatments, died. It was a huge blow to the students, and has been hard on me, too, as she was still helping me out with class information, scheduling, advice. Anyway, it’s been very sad, but we are trying to push on while preserving her memory.

On another note, I’m taking four students to a conference in Washington D.C. in about two weeks! We’re attending the National College Media Convention. Should be incredible: Keynote speakers are Edward Snowden, Bob Woodward, Donna Brazile and Jose Antonio Vargas. It will be great, if a little chaotic—students return late on a Sunday night, then have a long Monday putting together the next issue of the paper.

And speaking of chaos, I don’t think things will calm down much anytime too soon: I’ve got Home Tours for TQ’s Mountain Home Awards, my write-up for the Winter issue, plus some random travel (besides the conference, the family and I did last weekend in South Lake Tahoe and are going to San Francisco, then Sacramento twice in the next two months), my daughter’s birthday and Halloween (which we are already preparing for in my house). It’s good, but I feel like I’m going to blink and it’ll be Christmas! And on that note, I should get back to preparing tomorrow’s midterm.

When It Rains It Pours

I think this past week counted as the official end of summer for me: I’ve been swamped! I had an interview with the marvelous Marianne Rosenfeld last Sunday (she’ll be our featured artist for the next issue of TQ), and in between trying to put together that article for TQ, I’ve also been trying to update my syllabuses for the upcoming semester at Sierra Nevada College (class starts on August 22… eek!), finish three articles for the Tahoe Forest Health System (and they called yesterday to do see if I could write two more asap… double eek!) and prepare my 5-year-old to start kindergarten on Monday (my baby is off to school… triple eek!).

Anyway, it’s great, I love the work and it’s fun having such different projects to work on, but I’ve also been operating in chaos mode for the past few days. I’ve finished just about all the articles though, so now I can focus on the school year—mine and my daughter’s! I don’t know which of us I’m more nervous/excited for!

Summer Hiatus


I’ve taken a summer break from blogging (I’ve taken a summer break from most things, as a matter of fact!) but break is just about over! It’s been fantastic: I spent time with family in Pennsylvania, my husband and I did a big European adventure—Paris, Budapest and Germany—then we got back to Nevada to spent nice long days at the pool, with friends, boating at Lake Tahoe… all sorts of good adventures.

img_8721In the meantime, the Summer issue of Tahoe Quarterly hit the stands (and looks fantastic!). This was the first issue with TQ’s new editor, Sylas Wright, at the reins. It was hard saying goodbye to Kyle, but I think Sylas will be a fantastic fit for the job. I’ve got an article about painter Jude Bischoff, and I wrote the Looking Back piece about the history of the Hyatt Lake Tahoe throughout the years. Before it was the Hyatt, it was a teamster-owned casino called Kings Castle. It didn’t last long: the owner kidnapped and threatened his keno manager, and it went bankrupt not too long after. Still, pretty interesting!

img_8284I’m not trying to start transitioning back into work mode—I’ve got an article to write for TQ’s Ski & Ride issue, some freelance work to complete, plus I need to start prepping for my second semester at Sierra Nevada College. I’ll be teaching the same classes as last semester and am really excited to return!

And in other news, I saw this Where Budapest in a hotel while I was traveling. I was pretty excited to see a publication that I’ve worked for in a very unfamiliar place!

First Semester Complete!

I just submitted final grades for my classes, which means that my first semester teaching is officially DONE! We ended on a really high note: Tanya put together her annual Golden Quill Awards at Alibi in Incline, so we all gathered for beer and food. An old student of Tanya’s, Jason Paladino, came to talk to everyone. He’s doing some really interesting investigative reporting now and was such an inspiration to listen to! Tanya and I handed out awards (as was repeated through the night, “Journalists love to give each other awards.”), everyone had some drinks and food. I thought it was really interesting, too, because I got to meet some old students, some students in some of Tanya’s and Ann Marie’s classes, plus some people, like Mayumi of Moonshine Ink, whose name I’d heard forever and never had a face to match.

The final exam was on Monday and everyone did well enough on it. I thought it was really interesting: I made up a bunch of fake “facts” and had people construct a news story from it. If they need me to teach in the fall (which is still up in the air), I think this will be something I definitely try out as a lesson. It was amazing to me how different the stories were, even though everyone was working from the exact same set of information.

As much as I enjoyed the year and working at Sierra Nevada College, it felt good today to hit “submit” on my last batch of final exams. Now, time to celebrate!

Best of Tahoe 2016 on Stands!


The Best of Tahoe issue is in! I love this issue: It’s where we celebrate all the wonderful things (and there are a lot) that we love about Lake Tahoe.

I had a really interesting piece to write: I approached seven artists (well, eight, but one didn’t get back to me) and asked them to choose an artwork that, to them, represented Lake Tahoe and explain how that particular piece embodied the Tahoe spirit. It was really interesting to see the responses. There were, as you’d imagine, some of the “typical” lake artworks, like paintings of the beautiful turquoise waters at Sand Harbor. But there were a surprising number of pieces that captured the forest over the lake, which made me wonder if, perhaps, though the lake is Tahoe’s most defining feature, the forest may be its soul. Anyway, a lot of great artwork: paintings, photographs, some abstract, some vividly realistic, even one piece that was made using the forces of Tahoe weather through cold winters, lake water and night winds.

A fun piece to write, but there are lots of other good stories inside, as well. I love Wendy Hudnall’s photo essay featuring aerial views of Lake Tahoe, the history piece about George Whittell Jr. and the home design piece on actress Nancy Travis’ Martis Camp estate.

Now, time to get working on the Summer issue!

SNC Printing Press Field Trip

Browsing the paper, hot off the presses!

 Had a great field trip with members of Sierra Nevada College’s Eagle’s Eye down to Carson City yesterday! Tanya (whose two classes I took over for the semester) organizes this trip every year or so. It was very cool: We went to the Nevada Appeal, Carson’s daily newspaper, which is also the site where the Eagle’s Eye is printed. First, we toured the building. The editor was out sick, but a huge shout-out to Chris, who gave a very informative tour! We met Taylor, one of the staff reporters, who talked a little about her beats covering crime and breaking news. Then we watched the newspaper get printed. It’s a really remarkable process, and one I’d never seen before. The newsprint looks like giant rolls of receipt paper (though they can weigh 3,000 pounds) and between the inking, aligning, color corrections and everything, it’s a very intense process. It was so cool, though, to see the newspapers rolling off the conveyor at the end. Also, when you realize how many people work to make the paper a reality—beyond those people writing, editing, designing and taking photos—it really makes it all that more incredible to hold the final copy in your hand. Nevada Appeal prints some 30 papers at the facility, from papers south to Bishop and east to Winnemucca.

Anyway, great trip, finished with brunch at the Cracker Box, and got to hold the newspaper a day before the printed date, so a success all around!

Sizzling on the Silver Screen

where traveler

Almost forgot, but we had a Reno staycation at the Atlantis Casino a few weeks ago! Very fun trip—hubs and I had a babysitter come stay with the girls while we attended the big crab feed. Great event: king crab legs, lobster bisque, various types of shrimp and a lot of different desserts; I practically had to roll back to the room.

where traveler1BUT one of the exciting things was that in the guestroom there was a copy of Where Reno-Tahoe! My old boss at TQ, Chaco, now works for the company and had hired me to write an article about the film history of the Reno-Tahoe area. It was a fun story to write—researching the stories behind old movies (like The Gold Rush, which supposedly hired a bunch of Sacramento vagrants to struggle up a snowy Donner Pass, which was standing in for Alaska) to rewatching Sister Act while looking for Reno cameos.

Anyway, fun to see it in print! I wrote another article recently for Where San Francisco that I need to check up on. It was about Mark Twain’s time in Tahoe and was really fun to research; I took a trip to Virginia City and read Roughin’ It. Twain really is quite quotable and his words stick with you—I was at an Incline Village beach on Saturday and was telling a friend about the “balloon voyages” he took, which meant lying on a boat and simply looking down at the water and, because of its clarity, imagine he was floating in the sky. What a perfect description, right? And a good reminder to continue working on my descriptive writing!

Here is the link to the article: 18 Must-See Films Shot in Reno-Tahoe

TQ Mountain Home Award issue


My TQ Mountain Home issue is here! I LOVE this issue: People put so much time, attention, detail and love into these homes and it shows. Often, the homeowners and architects and designers aren’t just sharing a house; they are sharing a dream.

In the 13th annual issue, I write about an Alpine Meadows cabin that was once the home of 1950s screen siren Hazel Court. It’s been updated, enlarged and remodeled by the crew at Olson-Olson Architecture and Bruce Olson Construction. I also write about a Sugar Bowl townhouse that was remodeled in a European Alps style, thanks to the design vision of the talented Justine MacFee, as well as a unique, organic-style Martis Camp cabin that lives even larger than its 3,200 square feet, and was dreamed up by builder Mark Neave and executed by architect Dennis Zirbel and designer Julie Johnson-Holland.

There are so many other amazing stories in this issue: The Outstanding Home, which was built into such a steep mountainside that the construction superintendent estimates he traveled the vertical distance from sea level to the top of Mt. Everest 3.5 times; a funky waterfront estate named “Tahizzle”; a smartly designed Martis Camp cabin that lives in just 1,718 square feet (at least half, and, in some cases, just a small fraction of the square footage of many of the Martis mansions); as well as many, many other amazing homes and stories. Pick up a copy around Lake Tahoe or subscribe here!

hollywood-tahoe wood