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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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February 19, 2013 | 0 comments

My parents infected me with the travel bug.  Even on limited income, they found ways to get away.  In the beginning, our ventures involved stowing a picnic in the trunk of our car.  As they earned more, we graduated to tent and sleeping bags, then a small trailer, then a bigger trailer pulled by a station wagon.  They only had two weeks’ vacation a year.  If they wanted to take us to Yellowstone National Park, Glacier, and the great Northwest, we had to drive fast and far to cover the territory. 

Rick’s family had a cabin at Pinecrest.  He spent summers hiking, swimming, and hanging out with family and friends.  Of course, he also traveled.  At nine, he lived in Jordan, where the British school he attended took Friday and Sunday off.  His parents decided it would be more educational for him to travel with them on long week-ends.  Hence, he saw many of the major cities in Europe and the Middle East.  He explored the...

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January 18, 2013 | 0 comments

There have been many excellent cooks in my family, including grandmothers, mothers, and our daughter.  I know how to cook, but I don’t always follow a recipe. I’ve made a couple hundred meatloaves over the years, and Rick claims they’ve all been good, and all different.  He’ll say, “You can’t duplicate that one, can you?” Ah, well, who knows what went in them?  I don’t remember.  Whatever was in the fridge and cabinets.  I made spinach soufflé when neighbors came to dinner and the husband dubbed it “Green Death”.  He had three very large helpings.  No, he did not die.  I presented a beautiful “European” salad one evening and my eldest son asked me if I’d been weeding. 

Cooking is all about experimentation.  Isn’t it? 

Recently, a friend made a delicious beef stew based on a recipe of Carbonade Flamande-Dutch, Belgium origin.  It called for all kinds of ingredients, including dill pickle juice and an anchovy!...

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January 11, 2013 | 0 comments

I may be a native Californian, but I often find myself shaking my head. 

“Medical marijuana” is being grown all over the place, inside houses and out.  My brother lives up in the Green Triangle.  Over the past few years, his picturesque little town nestled among the giant redwoods has begun to look like the movie “Deliverance”.  I went up for a visit not long ago and took a nap on the sofa.  The window was open and I thought I smelled a skunk.  The scent was so strong I was afraid to lean my head out the window. Later, my brother asked if I’d noticed the smell.  Oh, yeah!  His neighbors are growing pot, a field of it.  For medicinal use, of course. 

No walking in the woods anymore.  Some growers have trip wires, guards with guns and pit bulls to guard their plants. 

Not that the growers are limited to his remote area.

No one seems to believe or care that marijuana is a gateway drug to other more...

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January 4, 2013 | 0 comments

Rick and I attended the International Conference on Missions not long ago, and sat in on every session to do with sex trafficking.  A friend in ministry told me the crime is increasing in Northern California, and we wanted to find out what we can do to stop it.  Frankly, we were shocked to find out how rampant this crime has become and how cunning the predators are. 

 

Warning:  This blog is not for the faint-hearted, but forewarned is forearmed. 

 

What is happening?

 

Girls between the ages of 12 – 14 are primary targets for sex traffickers.  Predators (gangs and cartels) don’t come after them openly.  They use a “bottom bitch”; a girl who is usually attractive and in her teens and connected to the predator.  The BB will go into a mall and strike up a conversation with a girl, then begin an on-line friendship.  Facebook is a primary tool.  Girls love to chat...

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December 28, 2012 | 0 comments

December 26 always finds me in the throes of post-Christmas blues.  I don’t want to put away the ornaments and take down the tree.  I don’t want to put away the Christmas music, Christmas movies, Christmas books.  It’ll be another year before I can bring out the bright red Swedish candlesticks, the Russian nesting dolls, the two foot brass tree with tiny ornaments that represent all the children in the family.  I’ll miss the scent of pine, not to mention the cookies, candy and leftovers from the family gathering.  At least I can still enjoy reindeer punch (ginger ale and pomegranate juice). 

The only thing that helps pull me out of the doldrums is pondering the new beginning right around the corner:  January 1, 2013.  A time to reboot.  A time to step up to the starting line and begin another marathon.  A time to refresh and rejoice. 

The new slate keeps my mind occupied with laying out a plan (not written in...

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