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March 13, 2006 - Seattle
Well, I’m going way way back. But hey, it’s only been three plus months. When I wrote the book, I had to go back 15 years. At least this time I don’t have to put myself into a trance to remember!
I promised on my last home page to talk about my reception in Dallas. It was pretty special. I had e-mailed several Dallas e-mailers that I wanted to meet unmet friends for dinner near the airport. I was flying from Mexico to Nova Scotia and the flights were limited so I had to overnight in Dallas. Carolyn Stalder wrote back and said she and her two boys, Charlie and Billy, would meet me and take me home for the night. She insisted, adamantly, that I was not to book a hotel. She further advised me that they would all be wearing hats so I couldn’t miss them. Well they were there, not just in hats but costumes as well.
Carolyn is addicted to surprises. I didn’t know it then, but I found out soon enough. Before the evening was up, there was a party of 25 neighbors and friends, all of whom had gathered in the garage while I was helping to cook dinner in the kitchen. On a signal from Carolyn, they marched in together. I had no idea they were there and they had no idea why they were there either….but they came anyway because Carolyn is always up to something interesting. They had brought, as instructed, their favorite recipes and I received the very special and potentially tasty gifts. There are some intriguing recipes in the bunch.
Then we ate a great artichoke dip, bean soup, and tomato-basil brochette (yes, I did get the recipes). The next morning, before we left for the airport, Carolyn, a professional photographer, shot a bunch of photos of me in my new white hair. One of them is on my home page. Off to Nova Scotia.
When I arrived in Halifax, I got into a cab and went to Liz’s house. Liz was not a reader; she was a friend of the Servas host who had said I could stay with her for a couple of nights. When Ellen, the Servas host, discovered she had to be out of town, she passed me on to Liz. I stayed with Ellen on the way out two months later. By the time I left Nova Scotia, I had two good friends in Halifax, both of whom had visited me in Meteghan, where I had rented a cabin. Servas is a great organization, even if it doesn’t always work out the way you plan.
I wrote a bit about my wonderful two-month rental cabin in Meteghan on my previous home page. Meteghan is an Acadian community that speaks French (they all speak English as well). I found the cabin when Margaret Jeddry, an e-mailer who owns the cabin and lives in Boston, wrote and told me about her hideaway by the water in Nova Scotia. I ended up renting it and meeting all her friends; and for the last few days, Margaret came up so I got to meet her too. The people, the culture, the water (about 50 yards from the cabin), the music, the library, the seafood, the rappi pie………….I loved my two months up there. Berthe, Helene, Glenda, and so many more…..I felt so close to so many. I got to talk in three different schools (and another near Halifax) and two different libraries. Interestingly, I couldn’t talk to the second grades, my favorite age group, in Meteghan………English is not permitted in the classroom until third grade. If anyone out there wants to rent Margaret’s cabin, you can send her an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. I loved it.
After Nova Scotia I flew to CT and hung out with my brother, Dick, and his wife, Margaret, and I got to see Uncle Bob and Elaine whom I wrote about in the New Zealand chapter.
Then I flew to Colorado. Asia Transpacific Journeys in Boulder, through Marilyn Staff, had invited me to talk about my life and book (I put their website on the homepage. I was very impressed with their operation and their catalogue. I can’t afford their tours. But if I could, I think I would try one of their personalized trips where they have guides at your service wherever you go….without the group. They take on all the organization and details. I would love that on a trip to, say, China.)
When I knew I was going to Boulder, I wrote to a whole bunch of Colorado e-mailers and ended up with a fabulous coffee with homemade pastries and about 60 people at the home of Melly Kinnard in Denver, probably 75 people at Hamlet’s bookstore in Breckenridge, and a fun evening at a pot luck party with a book club in Boulder that Nancy Lee put together.
I also had lunches and dinners and coffee and snacks with probably about 20 other new friends. Colorado was busy and fun.
I also visited my friend Susan in Arlington, VA; and I had a tour of Gallaudet with Megan, a former teacher at the school for the deaf. I gave a talk at Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia at the invitation of Anna Loh and met a group of her friends later that night at her house. Anna relayed me to Brian Mauro from Penn State, Allentown, and I spoke to an English class and to an open session there. That night I had the privilege of meeting Brian’s wife, kids, and her parents who had met when her father was in the Peace Corps in Thailand and fell in love with his Thai wife. Brian relayed me to Joy Stockey and I spoke to her group sponsored by the Buck’s County Writer’s group. I was a guest at Joy Stockey’s home that night. The next day I took a train to Maryland and hung out for the weekend with Ann from Lilypad café.
It sounds like a lot of moving around…..and I guess it was. But I have to say that my life is so enriched by the people I meet and eat with.
When my east-coast whirl was finished, I flew to Seattle to take care of my grand-dog Roxy while Jan and Bill were in Mexico. I liked having their house to myself and no one to talk to. Mostly Roxy and I went to the dog park which is a great space where dogs get to smell and talk to and jump all over each other.
In December I gave a workshop in Savannah. I’d never given an all-day workshop before and I learned a lot from Elizabeth Stewart, my sponsor. I had told her I needed help, so I arrived the day before. She set up a chart, divided the day into four time-segments, and we talked about stories, themes, and interactive elements. Then we wrote it all down on a story board that I used as a guideline….but left room for spontaneity. I think it worked. But I could not have done it if I hadn’t had an excellent teacher.
I also had a chance to visit with my gorgeous grandson, Cris, in Atlanta. And my niece, Michelle, and her two great kids, Griffin and Parker, in Houston. And my other niece, Danielle, who teaches school in Maryland.
Before I moved into the house, between Roxy and rental, I spent six days driving on 101 down the coast of Oregon, which might be the most beautiful drive in the whole United States. I connected with a whole bunch of interesting people down there, all of whom came into my life because of the e-mail in the book.
Now, I’m sitting still in my rented house in Seattle for the next three-and-a-half months. I already talked about my multiple intentions during these months (see my home page). The more I live among Balinese and other Indonesian crafts, the more I read the books in the house, the more I think I should go back to that young adult book I started a million years ago. Every time I read another account of life in Bali, my heart pounds and my head spins. I think I have to get back there. And for those of you out there who have never been…………hurry and buy a ticket before the urge leaves you. It really is an extraordinary culture. Go straight to Ubud and plan on no less than two weeks….more if possible. If you’re a teacher………..go for the whole summer. You won’t be sorry. You don’t have to make reservations ahead of time for a place to stay. Just go and ask your driver to take you to some “homestays.” Pack next to nothing and buy clothes there. If you’re retired and have lots of time……find someone to rent your house for a year and just take off.
Here’s a poem attributed to Noel Coward when he was in Bali in the 30’s with Charlie Chaplin. I’ve seen it in a number of versions, thus the word “attributed”:
As I mentioned this morning to Charlie,
There is far too much music in Bali.
And although as a place it’s entrancing,
There is also a thought too much dancing.
It appears that each Balinese native
From the womb to the tomb is creative.
And although the results are quite clever,
There is too much artistic endeavor.
They sculpt and they paint and
They practice their songs.
They run through their dances
And bang on their gongs.
Each writhe and each wriggle
Each glamorous giggle
Each sinuous action
Is timed to a fraction.
And although all the lovelies and pretties
Unabashedly brandish their titties,
The whole thing’s a little too clever,
And there’s too much artistic endeavor.
Forgive the afore-mentioned Charlie.
I had to rhyme something with Bali.
OK. If that doesn’t send you off to Orbits or Expedia, you are probably mired in kids or a job.
So, that’s my last couple of months. I’m not sure it’s all that interesting to anyone but me, but I’m coming through on my promise to keep everyone posted on where I am and where I’ve been. I wish I had jungle adventures to write about…..or a new culture to discover and share. Without any adventure, it reads a little like a Christmas letter………more than you want to know about the sender and lots more details and names than you need. But I can’t write about my US experiences without talking about some of the people who were involved. I don’t know when I’ll add another entry. Maybe I’ll just wait until I get back from Africa.
Oh, and I should mention that I am thinking of sending one of those Out-of-Office responses to the e-mails I get when I’m in Africa. I hate doing it, but I may want to write a book about my African trip and I don’t think I can keep up with e-mails if I want to have experiences worth writing about. Staying up to date on the e-mails requires many hours at the computer.
I think you can see from the bulk of this entry that I’m loving all the “connecting” that is going on in my life. I’m so glad that I put my e-mail in the book. The people I’ve met and continue to meet and hear from, have brought an incredible richness into my life. Thank you all for being a part of it. But I may have to give up the e-mailing if I ever want to write again. At least for a while. So if you are planning to write……do it now, while my adventures are on pause and my hotmail is still active.