Rabbit Holes


The things you find when going down rabbit holes researching a new novel. Novelists are always joking that we hope the FBI doesn’t investigate our browser search history, because we look up some seriously twisted things.

But not entirely twisted. I recently found out there’s an area 13,000 square miles in West Virgina, Virginia and a sliver of Maryland where you can’t use cell phones, because there’s no signal. On purpose. Because there’s a big honking radio telescope there. You’re not supposed to use a microwave oven, either, because it screws up the readings. Is that, or is that not, the Coolest Thing Ever?


Image via jamiev_03, via Flickr

That led me, eventually, via six or seven major detours, to this:


Zoom in and find where you live. See how much light pollution there is. I thought it got pretty dark if you got away from the two highways that meet in my home town. I was wrong. I also thought where I grew up in the country was pretty darned dark. I zoomed all the way in until I could see the actual road where our farm is, and the creek crossing where we used to walk through the culvert. And it was still in the orange section of the map. This makes me really, really want to get someplace good and dark. I think I have to add that to the bucket list: camp in a Dark Skies location.

(Come to think of it, I’ll bet they don’t have cell service there, either.)

Time is flying—and crawling. I’m very disoriented. We just finished picking strawberries, didn’t we? How can the peaches be in season? Wait—are those the locusts singing outside?

Which reminds me…are they locusts, or are they cicadas, like a friend told me? Let me go look that up. I keep forgetting, because I first ran across it while I was at the public library, and I certainly couldn’t play a dozen recordings while I was there….

Ah…here it is…my own personal song of summer is the Scissor-grinder Cicada.

Incidentally, all but one of the cicada songs on that page are part of my daily summer chorus, here in central Missouri…but this one? This one I did not grow up with on the farm, but moving 30 miles south put me into its zone.

But what was I saying? I fell down another rabbit hole, didn’t I? Oh yes, time is playing tricks on me. How is that I’m still feeling like it’s barely spring, and yet we’ve just stayed up late two nights in a row for fireworks? I keep waiting for it to get dark, and it won’t get dark. Oh yes, it’s summer. But aren’t we still several weeks away from the REALLY long days?

I’ll blame it on the Christmas bulletins. Yes, that’s the problem. I just turned in a set of Christmas bulletin inserts to my editor four days ago. No wonder I’m in a seasonal muddle.

On the other hand, I swear Nicholas grew four inches between the time he got on the bus for the last day of summer school and me picking him up seven hours later. I can’t blame THAT on the Christmas bulletins. (Or can I?)

But what other fun things have I unearthed in my research for this next novel, which is a road trip story? Well, there’s the UFO viewing platform in Colorado.

Incidentally, that web site is a huge rabbit hole. But a fabulous one. I mean, seriously. A corn palace? That’s almost worth a dedicated drive to South Dakota right there.


Yes. It is decorated with corn. Real corn. Image by Maggie T, via Flickr.

Add that to the bucket list, too: road trip across America, courtesy of Roadside America.

And here’s one: sound effects you can purchase and download, presumably for making videos. I was trying to come up with a visceral image for grief, and so I looked up “mournful sound animal.”

Oh dear. I set out to write a quick blog post in the midst of straightening the kitchen because now I have OT students coming to interview me about what exactly I’m not sure, at eight a.m. tomorrow, and look at the clock. It’s half an hour past my bedtime.

I think I fell down another rabbit hole…


Image by Miguel Tejada-Flores, via Flickr


5 thoughts on “Rabbit Holes

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with the strange Google searches! I actually wrote a post about how I Google the strangest things while researching for a blog post, and searches like “what is a baby straightjacket called?” look slightly incriminating. (It’s called a swaddler, by the way, and it’s perfectly humane!)

  2. Therese Sander

    The reason for the light you see now that wasn’t there when you were growing up is 1) the Walmart Distribution center to the southeast and 2) the new ball fields where we went to see the 4th of July fireworks to the southwest

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