Finding and following your joy

Follow your joy
I think that being able to find your joy and then having the luxury to follow it is a special gift. A privilege. 

My joy started in a place of sadness - after the loss of a beautiful kitten. That resulted in me writing the first book in the series - The Lost Colors. I self-published through Amazon (Amazon makes it very easy to do this.) That was at the start of the pandemic. During the lockdown and in the midst of such uncertainty these stories became my refuge. I designed the covers - ineptly using Paint 3d, and drew some "line art." I created five books in this series. I never gave much thought beyond the creative process. I thought that only family and friends would ever enjoy reading them. 

But I've decided to do something more. I am very excited about this. I am re-launching the series. I have found an amazing artist who I will be collaborating with, and who I know will create some beautiful art for the book covers. I want to elevate the series. I want to spread the joy around. This means I need to widen my distribution channels to target schools and libraries. 

Announcements relating to the relaunch, and upcoming books can be found on my Caitlin and Rio Series website. 

I am so grateful I have the privilege of following my joy. 


Peter Bosman 1935 - 2021 In Memoriam

My dearest Daddy passed away Saturday November 6th, 2021. I am devastated. 

Peter-bosman-head-shot-6912c

Dad gave me a wonderful, loving, and safe childhood. Only now as an adult do I realize how lucky I was.

I have so much to be grateful for. Dad taught me about family, the importance of working hard, of always doing one’s best, and of always trying. He taught me about respect. Not just respecting parents, and those in authority. But respecting people from all works of life regardless of who they are or what they can do for you. He taught me about honesty and decency.

I love you, and will miss you forever. 

Below is his obituary... 

Peter Barry Bosman, 85, of Fort Collins, Colorado passed away Saturday November 6th, 2021, under the care of Hospice, McKee Medical Center, Loveland surrounded by his wife and family after a courageous battle with prostate cancer.

Peter was born November 15, 1935, in Kimberley, South Africa, the only son of Lilian Agnes (Hamilton Hoskins) Bosman and Abraham Johannes Bosman. He was an only child. He lived with his Grandmother Judith while his parents served in World War 2.

He spent his childhood years in Kimberley, South Africa where he attended Kimberley Boys High School.

It is with grateful thanks to his stepfather, Carl Allekotte that Peter was able to attend St. Andrews High School and was able to go on to college. He attended the University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa where he graduated in 1958 with a Bachelor of Sciences – Civil Engineering. Whilst at University he met the love of his life and mother of his three children, June Elizabeth McIntosh.

They met at a dance. Legend has it Peter asked June, “Where are you from?” And then June replied, “I am sorry, but we don’t farm.” The rest, as they say, is history. They were married in Johannesburg, South Africa on December 14th, 1960. Peter was a keen photographer. June’s father, Brian was delighted that his daughter was marrying such a wonderful man. Of course, Brian was a keen photographer too. Peter was welcomed and loved as a son by June’s parents, Joyce, and Brian. Peter and June were looking forward to celebrating their wedding anniversary of 61 years this December 2021.

After graduating College and marrying, Peter worked for Robert Leslie, Consulting Engineers in Cape Town, and then for South African Railways, during the design and construction of Johannesburg Station.

Peter was awarded the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) Scholarship, and he and June spent approximately 2 years living and working in England. Their eldest son, Mark was born whilst they were in England.

On their return to South Africa, Peter started work at Gerald Stoch who designed filling stations before Peter joined WLPU (Watermeyer, Legge, Piesold & Uhlmann) in 1964.

In 1964 Peter bought half an acre plot of dirt and sand in Parkmore, Sandton, South Africa. They built a single-story modest home in a largely underdeveloped neighborhood. Soon after Andrew was born, the young family moved into their newly constructed home. Peter and June turned this house into a home – a home where they gave their children a warm and loving childhood. They transformed the dirt and sand into a thriving, verdant garden. Over the years the children brought in various pets – birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, cats, dogs, and ducks. They even had a chicken called Henny Penny who was a fixture at evening dinners. She loved to perch on the shelves in the dining room to keep an eye on the guests.

The house would be the family home for nearly 40 years and where Peter and June raised their three children – Mark, Andrew, and then later their daughter Sally.

Over the years, Peter used his engineering skills and the skills taught by his step-grandfather Orson (his beloved Grandmother Judith’s second husband) to add to the house – a garage, a playroom, a master bedroom, and an outdoor patio. The outdoor patio was built to host Joyce’s 60th surprise birthday party.

He taught Lazarus Kgali, who was employed initially as a gardener, how to build. Together they expanded the home. He also mentored Lazarus and helped him with his own home.

Peter loved family. He loved to take his family on vacations – safari self-drives to Kruger National Park, where all the children learned to drive, and the wildlife were scared away by “big Bertha” a big lens that Peter “engineered” using PVC pipes and a bellows focusing mechanism. The lens came off an old aerial survey camera.  He loved the Drakensberg Mountains. He would go on hikes with his camera and photograph the scenery, the flowers, and the people he loved.

He loved to travel. He and June toured some exciting locales – Thailand, Japan, China, and Russia with their friends. He loved to photograph and videotape his travels. More often than not Peter was to be found behind a camera and not in front of it.

Peter built up his career and reputation and became a world-renowned expert in natural draft cooling towers. He would often delight his children and amuse his neighbors by building cooling tower experiments in the back garden.  He filed several patents over the years. He worked on numerous projects whilst working for WLPU.  His first project was determining the best route for the pipeline to supply the town of Phalaborwa including the mine with water. His first power station was Hendrina, located on the Highveld in South Africa. He worked on projects in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Turkey, Australia, and India.

Peter rose through the ranks of WLPU (later known as Knight Piesold) and became partner of WLPU in 1976, and director of Knight Piesold in 1996. (In 1995 WLPU become Knight Piesold.)

In 2000 he transitioned out of his leadership role. He and June moved to Denver, Colorado with the goal of pursuing cooling tower projects in the USA and India. Eventually he set up his own company, KP Energy LLC to continue his consulting work, but still retained close ties to his old company and colleagues. During this time, he formed a close relationship with Paharpur Construction Company in Kolkata, India. Over the years Peter worked on numerous projects in India with Paharpur.

Peter would always joke that “Engineers never retire.” This is accurate because Peter only started to wind down his business activities when he was well into his 80’s, when he needed to devote his energies to his family and to fighting his illness.

Peter was a kind, generous and loving husband, father, and grandfather. Peter was deeply loved and will be missed forever. He will always be remembered for his sense of fun, his humor, his smile and his infectious laugh.

Peter is survived by his wife, June, and his two children, Mark and his wife Cheryl of Green Point, NSW Australia; Sally and her husband, Kevin of Fort Collins, Colorado; his granddaughter, Natasha of Coogee, NSW, Australia; his step-grandson, Billy of Birmingham, England and step-granddaughter, Chantelle of Hilton, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa; as well as many devoted friends and family members.

He was predeceased by his son, Andrew of Denver, Colorado.

Due to COVID we held a virtual celebration of life and Zoom reception. We set up a Tribute Wall 


Author Q & A

How did you begin?

The first book, The Lost Colors was first written about 20 years ago. In 2019 when we lost our 10-month-old kitten, (who is the inspiration of this series) I was devastated. I was cleaning out my study and came across the manuscript and computer disc. I reread the manuscript (it was such a long time since I had written it, I could not remember what happen.) I thought it would make a great story of a girl, Caitlin and her cat Rio (based on my Rio.) We had to scrounge to find a computer old enough to download the files. My husband, Kevin unearthed an old computer from our basement. I was surprised when I found that the disc contained a number story outlines, and character outlines of a couple of other story ideas – including a murder mystery.

I wanted to write the kind of stories that I remember enjoying reading as a child. For this series, I wanted to create a world where anything is possible. I also wanted to create a story with strong female characters. I want the central characters, Caitlin and her best friends, Molly and Trudie to solve mysteries and defeat evil. Of course, they are helped by Caitlin’s extraordinary cat, Rio.

Can I read the books in any order?

I have tried to make each book stand alone. However, for your maximum enjoyment I think reading the books in order is the best way to read the entire series.

Are your books based on real life characters?

These stories are a work of fiction, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is entirely coincidental. However, I do take my inspiration from real life events, experiences and inspirations. For example, the Rio in the series is inspired by my kitten Rio. The Missing Cats was inspired by a walk around the neighborhood and seeing the lost cat notices. Mr. Brewster’s dog, Angus is based on a Jack Russell terrier called Angus that I had growing up.

Who is your audience?

This series is for ages 8 – 12 years.

Why did you decide to write for this age group?

I want to write the kind of stories that I remember loving at that age.

Where do you get your ideas for your stories?

Ordinary suburbia is my inspiration. I like thinking about how I can take something normal and turn into something interesting and different.

How many books are in the Series?

I am not sure. When it feels right, the series will end.

Are your books available in Kindle?

Yes. All the books in the series are and will be available in Kindle.

Are your books available as audio books?

No. Currently the books are not available as audio books.

Why can’t I buy your books at Barnes & Noble?

My books are only available for sale through Amazon.

How can I find out when the next book will be released?

There are several ways – you can follow me on Amazon. Or check the blog, www.sallyalexander.com for announcements. Or email me at sally dot alexander at comcast dot net to be signed up for author announcements.

What does it mean to be an independent publisher?

Thanks to Amazon, independent publishing is easy and accessible. This means I can publish my work, without having to try and find a corporate publisher. The decision of when and what to publish is my decision.

Another name for independent publishers is self-publishing. Before deciding to publish through Amazon, I did investigate several self-publishing companies. I was not prepared to spend the money they were asking to self-publish.

Why are the books only available in American English?

For my readers in Australia, New Zealand, UK and South Africa you will no doubt notice and be quite annoyed that the books are written in American English with American spelling. I am an American now, and I write in the USA, and so I write in American English. I am also an independent writer and publisher. If I had a corporate publishing contract, the publisher would handle the publications of different editions for different markets – that is American English for the USA market, and British English for the other English-speaking markets. Thank you for supporting independent writers and publishers.

I love your stories. I love the Series. Is it available as a computer game?

What a great question. Thank you. Currently I have no plans to release the series as a computer game

If you have other questions?

Email me at sally dot alexander at comcast dot net.


Amazon Independent Publishing - some thoughts

Thanks to Amazon, independent publishing (or "self publishing") has never been easier. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) allows you to publish and sell your work through the Amazon marketplace. The hard part is creating the material, designing the book cover, and marketing the finished product. 

I found the website to be very intuitive and packed full of very useful information, informative videos and a forum. Amazon KDP does offer templates - for designing your book cover (or you have a choice of Amazon design selections), for your manuscript for print versions, and an easy platform called "Kindle Create" to create your Kindle version. 

I am really cheap. I didn't want to spend any money on vanity publishers, nor did I want to spend any money on professional designers to design the book cover. My cover and illustrations do look cheesy. I am not a professional designer and illustrator, and I guess it shows. But it least all the content is mine. 

 


Amazon's Author Central

So this is awkward. I published my first book in the Adventures of Caitlin and Rio series, The Lost Colors. Amazon automatically searches for authors of the same name, and assumes that if you have the same name, you must be the same person. It turns out there is another Sally Alexander out there. It is not immediately intuitive but I was able to contact Amazon's Author Central, identify the book by the other Sally Alexander, and request that the book not be associated under my bibliography. I do hope that Amazon can fix this. I feel awkward and uncomfortable having other people's work attributed to me. 

Fingers crossed. 


The writing project - The Adventures of Caitlin & Rio

I am so excited. I have published book 1 of the Adventures of Caitlin & Rio. It's called "The Lost Colors." It is now available on Amazon for $7.99 (print edition only.) 

The story is about a girl, called Caitlin and her cat, Rio. It's about 20,000 words. The intended audience is ages 8 - 12. I was inspired to write the story when our 10 month old kitten, Rio was diagnosed with Feline Infectious Peritonitis, or FIP. We were devastated to say goodbye to such an amazing cat. Like the Rio in the story, my Rio had beautiful blue eyes, a panda face and a black tail.  Unlike my Rio, the Rio in the series is a very special cat - he can talk just like a human, and he has two superpowers - the power of telekinesis, and mind control. 

In "The Lost Colors" Caitlin and Rio have to save the world. Something, or someone has stolen all the colors. Together with Caitlin's best friends, Trudie and Molly, they hunt for clues in search of the lost colors. They find out that an international terrorist and criminal mastermind, MacDougal has stolen the colors. It was in fact Professor Pinch's invention that sucked up all the color from the world. Professor Pinch thought he would be able to convert the colors into clean energy. Instead, MacDougal had duped Professor Pinch. The Professor, Caitlin, Rio, Trudie and Molly find out what MacDougal is really planning to do. Can they stop him in time? Will they be able to restore the colors back to the world? 

I am currently working on book 2, "The Missing Cats", and book 3, "The Wild Turkeys."

Book 2, "The Missing Cats" picks up where "The Lost Colors" ended. In "The Missing Cats" something very odd is going on. Blue-eyed cats are disappearing. This is very distressing to their owners. Why are the cats missing? Where are they? Together Caitlin, Rio and their friends hunt for clues and solve the mystery. (The Missing Cats is not yet published. 

In Book 3 we see how MacDougal's mis-use of Professor Pinch's invention has further disrupted the natural world. (The Wild Turkeys is not yet published.) 


Decade in Review

Thanks to this blog, I can look back over this decade - this blog is like its own personal time capsule. I count the last decade as beginning January 1, 2009 and ending December 31, 2019. 

The decade begins with the inauguration of the first African American President, President Obama. I watched the ceremony and blogged about it here. That was the time of the Great Recession and the stimulus package. We had the 2009 March blizzard.  an April Texas Road Trip and a South Africa Trip. At the end of 2009 we lost my brother Andrew. I miss him so. 

I began 2010 with a Photo a Day Challenge   My brother Andrew was an organ and tissue donor. In 2010 we found out that Andy's cornea's were used in a corneal transplant. See here for more information. We did some fishing, and a California Thanksgiving Road Trip. The 2010 Photo a Day Challenge final report summarized the challenge: I missed a total of 13 days out of 365 days. Maddie, our furperson, was my favorite subject. 

At the beginning of 2011 my Gran passed away. She was a wonderful woman. She taught me "about kindness, grace, and class. Who showed me that our actions speak to who we really are. A woman who taught me how precious laughter is, and who finally taught me to enjoy who I really am."

2011 ushered in yet another challenge - the "Eat Less, Move More Challenge." In May 2011 we attended with my mom and dad the Donor Family Tribute. This is for those families of members who had provided organ and tissue donations. It was very moving. The challenge died, we sold our house, and moved. I remember the move to be very stressful. In September, my mom and dad were ready to honor Andy's wishes. He wanted his ashes to be spread in a special spot in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Here is the post about that. We like to visit that spot, especially on his birthday. Mom brings bird seed to feed the birds. 

2012 began with, you guessed it, another challenge. This time it is the 10,000 steps a day challenge. Kevin's sister came for a visit. We did a Memorial Day Road trip, and the Eustis Sausage Festival. That was the year of the devastating High Park Fire

We ended 2012 with a California Thanksgiving Road trip 

2013 began with the passing of my dear mom in law, Jane. During 2013 I explored poetry in its various forms. During the summer we visited the Greeley Freight Station Museum. It was surprisingly entertaining. In August we attended Jane's memorial service. We ended the year with a Thanksgiving trip to Tuscon. We really loved the break. In December Nelson Mandela passed away. RIP Madiba. 

But for me 2013 meant the beginning of something completely different. This was the year Kevin and I got serious about financial independence. We had some amazing conversations about saving and investing philosophy and what we wanted to do in retirement. (Retirement is not just for old people. I plan to make my retirement time count!) Luckily these conversations showed that Kevin and I were completely on the same page. 

2014 continued my exploration of poetry with a Haiku challenge. In June I traveled with a colleague to Kenya on a work related trip. I love to travel. So far we had confined ourselves to mostly domestic travel. On a whim we traveled to Costa Rica, and had a fabulous time. During 2014 we "rediscovered the little things; like the beauty of the haiku, playing ping pong, and puzzles."

Blogging became more infrequent from 2015 onwards. In 2015 we did a cruise to Alaska, and had a fabulous time. Since Costa Rica, Kevin has acquired the travel bug. In December 2016 we did a fabulous trip to Thailand. One of the highlights was signing up for a day's cooking class. 

In 2017 Kevin and I resolved (without the aid of a blog challenge) to lose weight. To date (Jan 2020) we have lost 20 lbs each. We still have some way to go. But this does take work. 

For 2018 Kevin and I planned a 3 week road trip traveling through Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro. This was by far the most ambitious of our trips in terms of independent traveling. In May of 2018 I finally finished my MBA and graduated. 

2019 has been a year with no blog posts. We have been busy. The main focus of 2019 has been continuing with our weight loss/ getting fit path. Kevin has become more involved in table tennis. In December 2019 we traveled to Fort Worth, Texas for the Table Tennis US Open. Kevin competed, and we got to watch some amazing table tennis. 

What will the next decade bring? 

I hope for peace. If that is too much for hope for, I hope for personal peace, and good health. I think I know what is important in life (although sometimes we need to remind ourselves, it is easy to be caught up in all the unimportant stuff.) Family and friendships are the most important things. Stuff and material things do not matter. 

 

 


2019 Year in Review

I say it every time, "Can you believe how quickly that year has gone by?" 

I wish that I could slow time down, that I could bottle it up, and save it. But if wishes were wings, we would all fly. 

I did no blogging over 2019. This was not because I did nothing, we were extemely busy, but because I did not have the discipline to blog. 2019 has been a year where Kevin has stretched himself by becoming more active with the local table tennis community. He played in the state games in Colorado Springs in July, and competed in a number of sanctioned competitions in the state. In December we traveled to Fort Worth, Texas as Kevin was competing in the US Open Table Tennis competition. I have really enjoyed being a "support spouse." Table tennis is a great game to watch. (And it is fun to play.) It is a small community of players and families. We have met some great people. 

My brother Mark and my sister in law, Cheryl came out in February. Mark was competing in an archery competition in Las Vegas. Kevin and I joined my mom and dad and we watched Mark compete. I learned a lot about the sport. The bows are really heavy. I don't know how they manage to shoot with any accuracy. While we were in Las Vegas we got tickets to see the Blue Man Group. We had so much fun. The visit was a great reminder of how important family is. 

At the beginning of the year we last our dear fur person - Maddie. She was a very old cat, and lasted three years longer than the vet's prognosis. We selected the "at home" euthanasia option. It was very sad. Our fur people certainly leave paw prints on our hearts. 

It took us several months to feel when the time was right to find another fur person. We ended up buying a kitten from a breeder (first time for both of us.) Darling Rio, a beautiful Ragdoll kitty entered our lives. I then got it into my head that Rio, our new kitten was lonely. We had never had a kitten before as we had always adopted grown up cats from shelters or rescues. I was worried that Rio had no one to play with when Kevin and I went to work. I thought he was depressed. We took him to the vet to get checked out (just in case there was something wrong.) The vet could find nothing wrong with him, so we made the decision to find Rio a baby brother or sister. 

Red entered our hearts. Red is another Ragdoll cat. We again purchased him from a breeder, instead of a rescue. We started the kitten introduction program to make sure that Rio, and his baby brother Red were introduced gradually. 

Then Rio got sick. Red was also sick - but he bounced back. But Rio did not. We learned that Rio had FIP - that is Feline Infectious Peritonitis. It is a dreadful disease that is almost always fatal. We were devastated. In a matter of days Rio had deteriorated so much that we had to make the awful decision. We opted to euthanize at home. Rio was just 10 months old. 

Luckily we had Red. We got him tested, and found out that he tested positive for the virus. The vet explained to us that that didn't mean he would develop the disease, but he might. She also advised us not to introduce a kitten into the household until Red was at least a year. Red is a wonderful kitty. He is currently 9 months old. He loves to cuddle, and sit in the window and watch the bunnies, and the squirrels. Kevin got some books out from the library on clicker training for cats. Every day (or as often as I can) Red and I practice our training. Red, being a cat, is much better at training his humans than we are at training our cat. But he is very quick to learn, and very funny. So far - he can come to me at a signal, sit up and "beg", jump up on a chair, and then jump to another chair. I think it is official - I have turned into a crazy cat lady!

I also re-discovered a passion - writing stories. While tidying my study I came across a manuscript I had written some twenty years ago. It was a children's chapter book about a girl and her toy pig. I even had the old floppy disk it had been saved on. Luckily Kevin had an ancient old computer in the basement, and he was able to extract the files. It was fun reading a story I had written so many years ago. I decided to take the basic story, and tweak it. It is still a children's story, and it is still about a girl. But this time it is about a girl and her cat. I've named her cat, Rio after the Rio we lost. Thanks to Amazon publishing, it is easy and cheap to self- publish. I am currently writing the third book in the series. 2020 will be the year of the self publishing experiment. 

As we begin 2020, I am reminded about what is really important- family and friendships, and the time we have together.