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April 6, 2013 | 0 comments

I was reading quietly in the living room the other day when I heard voices coming from the kitchen.  Several people, men and women, were all talking at once.  Their voices kept rising as they became more frustrated, until they were stridently shouting in an attempt to make their points heard.   I called out to Rick.  “Are you watching the news?”  Yep.

Now, I’ve been known to sit at the kitchen counter and get in on the interview.  “Be quiet, you bozo, and let the other person speak!”  Maybe we’ve replaced the old Friday night boxing matches with the news programs.  We no longer watch two men duking it out in a ring, but enjoy a panel of supposed experts presenting “the facts” with volleys of sarcasm, indignation, exaggeration, whining, rationalization and justification.   Sometimes I expect to see them pointing fingers and sticking out their tongues when they’ve finished throwing their tantrums. 

When did “...

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April 2, 2013 | 0 comments

Have you ever been to the beach and wanted to feed the seagulls?  The problem is you tear off a little crust from your sandwich and toss it to one, and ten more show up.  Toss a little more and a flock descends.  You start to wonder:  if I run out of bread, will I become the meal?

Turkeys are different.  They startle easily and run for the barn.  In the wild, they run for the hills. Of course, they’re very tasty.  Benjamin Franklin thought them majestic enough to be an emblem for our country.  I’m sorry, but Thanksgiving would be downright depressing.  There’s our national symbol lying stuffed and roasted and ready to carve up for hungry guests. 

And then we have the eagles.  Our forefathers were trained in the Bible. I know there are many who want to revise our history, but truth is truth.  The only two questionable Christians are Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, so when squabbling became intense at...

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March 26, 2013 | 0 comments

These two words can strike fear in any writer’s heart.  It’s a given with me.  I know my characters inside and out – or think I do -- but sometimes how I picture them isn’t what’s coming through when objective readers get their hands on the manuscript.   By objective, I mean professional.  Also, by objective, I mean anyone who may have heard my thumbnail sketch of the story, but has yet to meet the characters on the written page.  I’ve been through endless conversations, triumphs and tragedies (all in my head) with these people (characters), but that doesn’t mean even I know them.  Sometimes I don’t even know myself!    Still, I’ve invested time with them – a year and a half.  I love a couple of the characters, would like to drop kick a couple others.  But have I written them as full as what it takes to engage the reader?

Group therapy – I mean group critiquing – can help.  Everyone has a different opinion...

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March 15, 2013 | 0 comments

We met so many nice people along the way, on the ship, in the bus, on land.  I filled a notebook, took hundreds of pictures and bought a shoebox full of postcards which are now in a memory box.  

Tidbits I learned along the way:

“The wet” is a season of cyclonic storms and monsoon winds.  Thankfully, the wet started two days after our visit to Darwin.  We had sunny skies with light breezes.  Our guides kept telling us we were very, very fortunate with the weather. 

The national bird is an emu and the symbol of Australia is the kangaroo.  Neither can move backwards, but only forwards – which is the reason they were chosen.  Australia is a forward-looking country.

“Advance Australia Fair” is Australia’s nation anthem – not “Waltzing Matilda”!

Aussies eat both emu and kangaroo.   I think they’re the only nation that eats their national symbols.  (We tasted both, and both were tasty – though...

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March 14, 2013 | 0 comments

Rick has said I am the only person he knows who takes longer to summarize a movie than it takes to watch it.  I could blog for the next year on what we saw and learned on this trip.  Someone asked me if I’ve ever thought of writing a travel book.  Nope.  I get too excited about tidbits, like the giant grasshopper I had to get down on all fours to shoot (a picture), or the flowers with a bee or bug in them or an interesting doorknob or crack in the side walk, or dripping bark from an eucalpt.  Rick just rolls his eyes and keeps walking, knowing he can’t shake me.  I run and catch up eventually.

However, since I am facing revisions and Tyndaleans may wonder if I might miss my deadline, I’ll put things on fast forward.

We cruised the rough Tasmanian Sea, landed in Hobart, visited Bonorong where I scratched a kangaroo’s chest (soft fur!) and watched Tasmanian devils run circles around their enclosure. We fed emus and cooked in the sun; pant,...

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March 8, 2013 | 0 comments

We didn’t see much of Picton, but boarded a bus for a ride through timber covered hills and vineyards to Blenheim – a small, quaint town.  Our goal:  Omaka Aviation Center, a small, but special display of World War I airplanes owned by Peter Jackson.  Rick’s passion is aviation, and  every time we pass a plane, he gives me the history.  I balk at the mechanical details. 

Jackson’s Weta Workshop put together the Omaka Museum dioramas, right down to realistic details of soldiers picking over the Red Barron’s plane and body for souvenirs, and another airplane hung up in a tree while a German and American pilot discuss surrender terms over a cigarette.  We could have spent a day there.  Alas!  When you’re on a tour, you get used to the command, “Time to get back on the bus.”  Aghhhh!  (The good thing about a tour is you don’t have to wait in lines to see the highlights.  You don’t get lost.  The guide knows more...

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March 6, 2013 | 0 comments

Wellington is a beautiful town – with its bay, hills, older renovated homes, booming film industry and weather that is gorgeous (while we were there, anyway).  Like San Francisco, Wellington has earthquakes, but every place has some little drawback to keep the faint-hearted away. Wellington is also Sir Peter Jackson’s home town, and the town loves him, not without good reason.  He pours his movie profits into buying buildings in “Wellywood”, and converting them to expand his Stone Street Studios.  He hires lots of Kiwis (the people).  His success means success and prosperity to a growing number of people.  He renovated one facility, adding apartments and even a gymnasium for creative people who don’t want to leave the building when the imagination is going strong. 

Jackson involved tens of thousands of Kiwis in the movie.  He went to the Westpack Stadium for a cricket game.  A shy man, when introduced, he said a quiet “Thank you.”...

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March 1, 2013 | 0 comments

I don’t write a daily diary, but I do write a daily journal while we travel, which brings me to our latest trip to New Zealand and Australia. 

I plan to share some of the things we saw and experienced while sailing around New Zealand and winging and busing our way around Australia. 

I’m a Tolkien fan and loved The Lord of the Rings book and movies.  Hence, I belly laughed at the safety film on Air New Zealand that has an Arwen stewardess and Legolas steward giving instructions to a plane full of elves, orcs, goblins, uruks, hobbits, and couple of ringwraiths.  If I remember correctly, Sauron sat in the front row checking his iphone. Gollum crawled around a seat and peered down the aisle.  Aragon (not Viggo) tossing his long hair and Gandalf pounding his staff in annoyance because he couldn’t smoke.  Sir Peter Jackson even appeared, snatching the ring from beneath a seat and admiring it wickedly as he says, “My precious”, then puts it on...

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February 27, 2013 | 0 comments

We went back to Israel with a group from church, and then went on to Greece.  We bus-traveled around Italy and later Switzerland with Rick’s sister and brother-in-law.  We cruised to Central America and went through the Panama Canal.  We’ve driven thousands of miles, taking in sites in Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota.  We’ve made it from Southern France through Paris to Normandy, Spain, Portugal, Morocco and wandered the capitols of Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

This year we checked off a couple of our bucket list places:  New York City, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park and seeing a Broadway play.  We grieved over the devastating results of Hurricane Sandy. 

Have we really seen the world?  Nope.  We have had a taste of each place we’ve visited.  To see anyplace in depth takes time, and we don’t have enough.  We see as much as we can by going with tour groups...

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February 22, 2013 | 0 comments

We had the travel bug and it caused a fever.  It’s never gone away.

If you haven’t got much money, you still find ways to travel, if you want to travel badly enough.   Television programs, books, day-dreaming.  Wherever we lived, we considered ourselves tourists and went out to explore.  We didn’t wait for relatives to come to visit before we found the local highlights.  Southern California is packed.

Starting a family business expanded our travel horizons.  Rick needed to travel to drum up more business, and did so alone or with the U.S. Department of Commerce.  He visited Germany, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, England and Italy.  I stayed home to tend children and run Rivers Aviation Services in his absence.  When Rick could manage it, he arranged for me to join him – once in London, another time in Rome. 

As my writing career continued, it involved speaking, which also meant...

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