I just purchased my plane ticket to Atlanta, Georgia to attend DragonCon Labor Day weekend. This will be my second time attending DragonCon and my fifth con. I had an amazing time in 2008 with my baby sister, Cathy. I wish she were coming, too. I'll be meeting up with several girlfriends, and I’m really looking forward to spending the weekend with them and listening to panels, acquiring autographs and photos from some of my favorite actors, and attending writing workshops. I’m having a serious fangirl moment because I discovered Bruce Boxleitner and Adam Baldwin are supposed to be there. Squeal!! The only question I have is—when did I become a groupie?
Last weekend my family, my parents, my aunt and uncle and two of my cousins traveled to Victoria, B.C, Canada. I had always enjoyed Victoria and the warmth and charm the city presented; however, I feel the city has lost some of it's charm and has become too modernized, too touristy, and too expensive.
We drove to Port Angles, parked the van in the overnight parking lot, and boarded the Coho Ferry, a private ferry line taking passengers and vehicles from Port Angles, Washington to Victoria, B.C. I had already checked online regarding prices, and shelled out $17.50 per person, each way. (Except Joey who was free, because he is under the age of 11). There are no student rates, nor senior rates.
After a 90-minute ferry ride and a quick trip through immigration and customs, we stepped out of the terminal and walked to the bus stop. By the way, all Americans over the age of 16 are now required to present a passport to enter and leave Canada. Those under 16 need to present a birth certificate. We boarded a bus ($2.50 fare ) and rode to our motel about 20 blocks away. Of course, the motel was at a premium with it being summer. We stayed at a Super 8. Can't complain too much--although the rooms were a bit on the small size and we had to share two double beds with our two older boys (the youngest stayed in his grandparents room), the price included free breakfast, and the staff was helpful, stored our luggage in a locked room after we had checked out, and also called us a cab.
all Our first afternoon was spent just walking around downtown, enjoying the waterfront and a quick tour of the old Empress Hotel. I had stepped outside to take a picture of the front entrance of the hotel and got caught in a deluge--becoming drenched in less then five minutes and I was only 50 feet from the hotel.
Once upon a time, I thought the city had more character, the hanging flower baskets still hung from the lamp posts and horse drawn carriages still prance down the streets, but it was rare to see a double-decker bus. In addition, I used to think it was like visiting Europe without having to take a long flight over the Atlantic, but I feel Victoria has just become too commercialized and not as clean as I once remembered. Maybe it was the grey skies and the rain.
After we did a little window shopping, we then stopped for dinner. Half the group went to a French Bistro, while the other half went to the Old Spaghetti Factory. We didn't think the boys would have cared for the French Bistro. After dinner, we took the bus back to the motel and went to bed.
The next morning, we all ate breakfast in the lobby of the motel and after we checked out, boarded another bus for Butchart Gardens. The gardens were still as beautiful as I remember from my youth and I really enjoyed the Rose Gardens and Sunken Gardens. I think even the boys appreciated the brilliant colors and water displays. I know Joey's favorite part of the park was the Ross Fountain. My only complaint is the high cost of the summer rate for gate admission--$29 dollars for adults, $14.50 for youth and $3.00 for children, plus tax. Then the youngest wanted to ride the carousel which was another $2.00. We had lunch at the Blue Poppy Restaurant and visited the gift shop. I'm sorry the weather had not been better the day before and we missed the firework show--because Butchard Gardens puts on an amazing firework display in the summer. I'm sure the boys would have loved it.
After lunch, the group split again, and half went to the Butterfly Gardens, while Ed and I took the boys downtown to see the Undersea Gardens. I admit it was interesting seeing the variety of marine life and watching the diver bring out the Wolf Eels and Giant Pacific Octopus, nevertheless the water is very murky and hard to see through the viewing windows. I would skip this one, not worth the cost or time.
Next, we waited in line at the ferry terminal before going through immigration and customs again and boarding the ferry for our journey home. Had a great visit with my aunt and uncle and cousins. I don't see them very often, so it was good catching up with them. However, I'm not sure if I will make it to Victoria, B.C. again, anytime soon. Not as a family get-away anyway.
This has been a week full of anger, frustration, and lots of drama. The kind of week where most people would want to pack up their bags and run away from it all. Unfortunately, I have let the drama get the best of me. However, I know running never solves anything.
When I was a little girl, growing up in California, we lived in a housing cooperative. And when I got angry, I would pack my little red wagon with a blanket, my clothes, and my favorite stuffed animals, walk down past the row of townhouses, until I reached the tiny front lawn, where I would set up camp, and never look back, until either the streetlights came on or my mom called me for dinner.
That is how life is, because sooner then later, someone or something brings you back to where you belong, and eventually you have to face what it is you’re running away from and deal with it.
Just shy of my fifth birthday, my mother led me into the Kindergarten classroom at the local grade school for the first day of school. Being away from my mother and my two younger sisters for the first time scared me, and it did not help I was unsure of myself and very shy. After my mom left, I paced the room like a caged animal—the fight or flight mode had kicked in. Then the opportunity presented itself when someone opened the classroom door and I bolted out the entrance, dashing past the main building of the schoolhouse, and ran and ran until I came to an intersection, then stopped to catch my breath. There I sat down on the curb of the sidewalk, because I was not allowed to cross the street by myself and this is where my mother found me a few minutes later. She calmly walked me back to the Kindergarten room. The teacher told me if I wanted to be a baby, I could go home. Well! Nonetheless, that was all it took for me to stay. My sisters were babies—I certainly was not! I stayed, faced my fears, made friends, and had a successful year in Kindergarten—no longer feeling the need to run away.
Ever since I was a little girl I've dreamt of visiting Europe, and seeing the Alps and my very first castle. Then in the winter of 2008, Ed and I were able to go on a trip of my dreams as we toured the countries of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. We also took in the sights used in the filming of Scarecrow and Mrs. King, as well as, The Sound of Music. I wrote a day by day account of our trip (it's a bit long), but we had 14 wonderful days, just the two of us. However, I have to admit a few days into our trip, I really started to me the boys.
Image an early October morning and you are walking down the train platform after dropping off your boyfriend, minding your own business, when suddenly a stranger dressed in a waiter’s uniform grabs you, tells you he is in trouble, and then begs you to give the package he is carrying to the “man in the red hat?" After following his instructions—with only a few minor missteps, you are thrust into the world of counterespionage. Now your ordinary life of PTA meetings and Little League is mixed with all-night stakeouts, courier assignments, and government secrets. . .
Welcome to the world of Mrs. Amanda King, a divorced, unemployed, housewife, and mother of two small boys (Phillip ,10 and Jamie, 8). Between balancing the checkbook and a station wagon making a suicide pack with the lawnmower, she helps out at an ultra-secret government intelligence agency working as an amateur ‘spy.’ It is so secret she can’t even tell her family, friends, or boyfriend about her new found job - A clandestine job filled with danger, excitement, intrigue.
Amanda: No! I can't sleep here. How would I explain it? I'd feel like I was lying and sneaking.
Lee: You are lying and sneaking. You're working for the government.
Amanda is paired with the Agency’s top intelligence operative Lee Stetson, codename Scarecrow. Scarecrow is a ladies man, a lone wolf, has been known to take careless risks, and does not work with a partner. . . after losing his last partner to a bullet he believes was meant for him. At first, Lee wants nothing to do with the housewife from Arlington, but later comes to rely on her instincts, her ability to think outside the box, and “her own style" of solving the cases.
Most people often discuss Lee Stetson and how much he changed from season one to season four: however, I feel Amanda’s change although more subtle, was equally just as important. In some ways, she is similar to Lee because she carries her own emotional scars and baggage—the loss of her father, the sting of a painful divorce, pitting her family needs ahead of her own. Most likely, she put off her life ambitions to help Joe through college and then through law school, and raised two young children on her own, because her husband choice to put his career above his family.
Although, I doubt Amanda would have admitted she was a woman looking for love (sure she was dating someone who I feel she thought was ‘safe’—Mr. “I bought you new bookends” boring, weatherman Dean), after she divorced Joe, she was reserved about committing her heart again to another man. In addition, even if her mother was pressuring her into a long-term relationship with Dean, when she had only been divorced for a year, I believe Amanda might have continued her relationship with him, but when (and if) he ever popped the question; I don't know if she would have been able to say yes. I don’t believe she was ever in love with him; she cared for him greatly, but I don't believe she was in love. No, all that changed when she meet Lee at a train station. His daring and charming personality, further developed those seeds of doubts regarding Dean. And despite his faults, she was able to see behind the mask and found a caring, compassionate man, who would lay down his life for her, protect her, and would always be there for her.
She was also a woman looking for a job or rather her place in society. More than just being a housewife and a mother, but making the world a safer place for Jamie and Phillip and helping the country she loved. Amanda had lost her confidence due to her divorce and had put herself and her ambitions ahead for the sake of the boys, her mother and even Joe. The day she met Lee changed everything and her. In addition, although not exactly fitting in with the Agency in the beginning, she proved herself a valuable asset. Moreover, once she got her confidence back and was secure in her role at the Agency, she moved up the ladder from part time civilian aide to full time agent, earning respect from her peers and her partner Lee. while she gained assurance as a woman and as an agent.
Finally, I want to add a big thanks to Kate Jackson for doing such a wonderful job of bringing Amanda King to life. She is truly a gifted actress and I can't image anyone else who could have portrayed her as well as she did. Her chemistry with Bruce Boxleitner is what brought me back week after week.
**Pride Leads to Ignorance, Humility to Knowledge**Integrity is Power**Unity is Strength**Serving Others Serves Self; Serving Self Serves No One Else**Listen**Understanding and Anger Cannot Live Together**Truth is Recognized, Not Created**Empowerment is Not Entitlement**
~The Circle of Law--by Lia London
I am excited for my friend Lia and for the upcoming release of her first book, The Circle of Law. Having had a sneak peak, all I can saw is--it is imaginative, creative, and a wonderful fantasy adventure novel. I highly recommend.
Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I'm dumb in school?
Whatif they've closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there's poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don't grow tall?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won't bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don't grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems well, and then
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!
~ Shel Silverstein
Today I am reflecting on the what if’s. I am a firm believer in destiny, and fate, and that everything happens for a reason; however, not all chance encounters are positive experiences.
When we come across an accident, how many of us are grateful we hadn’t left the house five minutes earlier, knowing that if we had we would have most likely been involved in the accident too?
In addition, just like Shel Silverstein’s poem, there are the nighttime what if’s—the things that keep us up at night: What if I hadn’t taken that road, what if I had missed that train, what if I had not taken that job or what if I had not gone to college?
The what if’s are also influenced by our choices—our choices whether good or bad sometimes come with consequences. We might choose not to wear our seat belt or life jacket or helmet—taking the risk of paying a fine or being hurt or killed.
This afternoon my middle son and I attended a memorial service of a classmate of his whom fate stepped in, and unfortunately, there was not a positive outcome. He made the conscious choice not to be wearing a bike helmet, he also chose to dash into the road without looking. Both I have witnessed my own children doing, so of course during the service I kept thinking what if that had been my child? Children sadly think they are invincible and will not get hurt and Chase paid the ultimate price for his mistake with his life, when he was hit by a car while riding his bike.
And although I’m sorry he lost his life and I feel for the young man’s family, I can’t help but feel absolutely terrible for the woman who was driving the car and tried in vain to stop in time. I’m sure the what if’s are haunting her nighttime.
By the way, Chase would have been 15 years old today.
Last summer, my eldest son took a college credit course in video production, and one of their projects was to do interviews. They all wrote, directed, filmed, and starred in their on projects; however, they could use other class members as interviewees or to be part of the production team. Michael appeared in a faux news segment with another classmate playing the role of "Bruce the shark"—the famed shark from the blockbuster film Jaws.
Michael’s delivery was a bit off, because I don’t believe he understood the humor behind the jokes. He was asked why he looked different then he did in the movies, and he replied, “I haven’t been myself since I did the guest spot on Happy Days.”
"Hey. . . it's me."
I live in the shadows of the Olympic Mountains in the state of Washington and I love camping, boating, kayaking, hiking, and hanging out with my husband, our three adult children, and our Bernese Mountain dog, Henry.