Travel Highlights of 2013

This was my first full year of retirement.  All my life I dreamed of traveling when I retired, and certainly God granted my every wish.   When I didn’t get travel, Manny did, so I have many wonderful pictures and memories for 2013.

Manny in Wuerzburg

On January 5th Manny and I headed south in my little green Prius that has 192,000 miles on it to San Diego where we met the History Girls.  We met Russel Ray, the San Salvador, and the bronze lady.  We faced peril in the Railroad Museum, and had to keep Manny under control in the Botanical Gardens.

Manny on San Salvador
Manny is climbing on the San Salvador as it is being built.

Later in January I attended a committee meeting in Berkeley and had time to walk around the neighborhood and take pictures.

Manny walking the streets of Berkeley

I went to Los Angeles to visit my friend Elane in February and so some shopping and serious eating.  I probably visited my dentist, Dr. Moy, as well.

Brian's classroom

In March California Council for the Social Studies (CCSS) held its annual conference, Social Studies on the March in Burlingame in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Marches in Birmingham.  SFW 2013 Folklorico Dancers 036

The next week the History Girls and I celebrated our friendship in Costa Mesa attending the play “Wicked,” which I had wanted to see forever.

getting made up
We all had to wear green make-up.

April is the month for the Executive Conference for CCSS.  As the President, I got to pick the place, and Vince prepared our house to host it here.  However, that didn’t work out for too many people, so we it moved to Los Angeles to the location where our conference will be held in 2014 at the Sheraton.

LA Sheraton

By May our neighbors wondered if I still lived here.  I visited my friend Elane again in Los Angeles.

Brian's classroom

My friend Jean and I went to San Francisco to celebrate her birthday for a couple of days and did walking tours.

Hotel Beresford

Towards the end of the month Vince and I took Cindy and Manny to Kauai, HI for her birthday.  The dogs watched our homes, and Kay and Mike East watched them.

SFW Luau Grounds071

We arrive home from Hawaii on June 3, and believe it or not, we stayed home until September 11, and rested up for the remainder of the year which made us dizzy.

Manny and Danny 3

Since we stayed home, we sent Manny to visit Ralph in July.

Manny going to airport

In August he left Ralph’s home in Spain, and traveled to London with Ute.

Manny at Buck palace

From September through November he went with Carol and Glenn to Cologne, Bruges, Brussels, Frankfurt, Tasmania, Toowoomba, Waterloo, and Wuerzburg.  I’ll be doing lots of posts about these trips during the year.  I just need to learn a little bit more about them, and Manny is being rather tight-lipped about the events of the trip!  Carol tells me they have some secrets they’re not telling me.  🙂

Manny in Toowoomba

Then he flew home with their daughter Melissa, who was going to Florida.  She sent him home from there.  His bags arrived in December from Australia.  He had fun showing us all his stuff.

Manny and stuff
Kalev thought Roo was for her. We caught her playing with him when we weren’t looking. She never plays with stuffed animals, but she loves Roo. We had to move him. 🙂

By September Vince and I contracted the travel bug, and went to Oregon to pick up the best Ebay bargain trailer on the market in Southern Oregon.  We turned it into our accidental vacation when our truck broke down in Klamath, CA.

Klamath Canon288

Manny was still on the road, so he missed my next trip.  A week after Vince and I got back from our first trailer trip, I took a train from Sacramento to Portland, Oregon to attend the Oregon Council for the Social Studies annual conference, and to meet my brother.

2013 OCSS Conference321

After the conference my brother took the train ride of our lives going first to Chicago, then to South Bend and Indianapolis, IN for a week.

Randy and Marsha's elementary school.
Randy and Marsha’s elementary school.

After a short jaunt to Louisville, KY, I headed home on a plane to CA, and my brother took the long way home by train back to Portland.

Louisville Sluggers

Almost immediately I had to go to a dental appointment, and stayed in Santa Monica, an took the opportunity to visit our President-Elect, Amanda.

SFW Santa Monica155r

No sooner than I got home than my house-bound husband wanted to take a trailer trip to the coast for two weeks.  We stayed a week, then he went home for some appointments. I stayed in Avila by myself to write my contribution to 2013 NaNoWriMo, Girls on Fire.  A few days later he drove back and picked the trailer and me up and carried us back home.

SFW SLO Beach 2013104

Less than two weeks after that, I flew St. Louis, MO to the 2013 National Council for the Social Studies Conference.

The Mississippi in Missouri
The Mississippi in Missouri

Manny and I arrived home about the same day, him from Australia via Florida and me from MO.  It was my husband’s birthday, and one week later the three of us got back on a plane heading for Honolulu, HI, where we spent a week in Waikiki.

Bishop Museum 122r

We have been home eighteen days, and today we took a day trip to the coast to celebrate our friend, Margaret’s birthday, but I think we are going to stay home for a while now.

birthday cake with S & M

At least until morning.  🙂

I’d love to hear about your highlights from the year?








Merry Christmas WP Friends

Merry Christmas everyone!

SWF 2013 Christmas207

I hope your holidays have been happy so far.  I got up this morning feeling blessed and so happy.

SWF 2013 Christmas213

Kalev was glad to have me back, but was more interested in my kangaroo that Carol and Glenn gave me.

SWF 2013 Christmas212

Mom and Dad, Kalev, Roo and I all wish you and your family the very best holidays ever.  God bless.

xox  Love, Manny  xox

(and Marsha  🙂  xox)

How to Conquer the Mountain of Manuscript Editing

You think you’ve done a great thing when your screen is filled with words and maybe some pictures.  As you read each chapter and smile, your accomplishment amazes you.  Pity the poor NSA person who has to read every keystroke because you’ve already made many changes before you completed the chapter.

Manny in prison

You finish.  It’s 50,000 words, and there’s a plot, characters, a setting, all the things it needs to turn it in to NaNoWriMo.  So you cut, paste, send, and they send back a verification.  You are done.  Take it to the publisher.  Right?  Not so fast.  There could be an error or two.  Oops, that was almost a month ago, and what happened?  Maddie sent me a great article she wrote on editing, so I’m working through it, but here are some additional tips I’ve found as I’m climbing the editing  mountain RANGE.

Manny's Big Boy pants

  1. Put on your big girl/boy pants.  Be prepared that some people won’t like things, or that the mistakes will overwhelm them, or they will be bored.  I’ve done a lot of writing, so I know to expect this, but it is always difficult at first because you have been smiling at your cleverness for a whole month, and you think everyone else is going to be blown away by what a magnificent writer you have become.  You need some of that self-confidence, or you’d never write in the first place.  If your writing is really horrible, probably you’ll never hear from the reader again, so accept the criticisms as a good sign.
  2. Enlist the help of close friends and family.  My husband didn’t read every word. In fact, he got stuck on Chapter One, and hasn’t finished it yet.  Nonetheless, he has been a great help.  I’ve gotten ideas from lots of other readers, and we talk them over.  For example, one reader said, “Take Trixie where you’d never go, and let her respond.”  Do you know how difficult that is to do?  My thought was where in the world could I take her?  My husband suggested a male strip tease club.  Sorry, I’ve been there – only once when I was in my 20s, BTW.  I begged my date to take me when we were in the big city of San Francisco.  It was a shock to see how ugly those girls were.  We stayed a few minutes, and left. After shocking my husband with this information, we got down to business and brainstormed where I might “take Trixie” that I’ve never been, and he came up with a great idea that ended up not being a place at all.  It means some research and adjusting, but it is very doable, and I’m pleased with the results.  I’m still smiling, so far at my little creation.
  3.  Get readers from outside your family and local area to read and help you see what is unclear.  One reader told me to explain what made my setting unique.   MORE research comes into play at this level of revision.  I used several books about my target city.  I looked up controversies on the internet.  I spent quite a bit of time looking at what others said about where I set my story.  I am very familiar with the place.  The investigations gave me new perspective.   So once I had the feelings are on the paper, I needed to go back and add those things that are unimportant to me.  It might be different to you.  You might notice the way things look, and have to go back and add the emotions.  Everyone is unique.  I had to cut back on my dialogue, and give the readers a little background information.
  4. Don’t worry about people liking or disliking certain characters.  One reader told me she didn’t like the character that I based mostly on my personality.   Oh well, my favorite character ISN’T me.  I can go back and change things about her/him.  Give him/her different interests, reactions, looks, setting, family.  I can even change “me” into a man or my male model into a woman. You name it, with the flick of a finger, you and your friends (who are your other model characters) are no longer in the book.  So don’t get hung up on whether someone likes your favorite character or not. It’s nothing personal. Different people appeal to different folks. That’s good.
Manny and Justina
Manny and Justina, with just a few easy changes! 🙂

So now it’s all good, (for now).  Darla says I’ll be done when I’m 64.  But YOU are ready to follow Maddie’s plan of attack.

Many thanks to Carol, The Eternal Traveler, for the many pictures she sent of Manny traveling the world over.  The photoshopping is mine.  You can catch Justin at

Any guesses about where Manny is in these pictures?  Setting IS important, yes?



Three Steps to a Positive Environment

Many people struggle Christmas and holiday time, so I trolled the positive quote bin before I started writing this post to give you some guaranteed happy thoughts.

Winter in Bellavista014
I’m happy because even in the middle of a storm, I’m warm and dry inside.

You can’t make positive choices for the rest of your life without an environment that makes those choices easy, natural, and enjoyable.
Deepak Chopra
A positive environment can mean lots of things, and I think of it with children, but it works for adults too.  We all have more life to live, and it’s better to live it happily and positively.  Here are some things I do to stay positive.

1.  Stay busy and physically active making things look better.  Vince spends most of his time making our house beautiful when he isn’t working to earn enough money to do that.  He loves the work even in the 100 degree heat of summer.  Mostly he loves what he accomplishes and how it looks.  After he mows he takes several strolls around the yard.

Vince, where are you?”

“I’m just admiring my yard.  I just love the way the lights look around the palm trees.  Don’t you?  Did you see how nice the bushes looked after I trimmed them?”

The yard is beautiful, by the way.

I mostly work on myself, and my community service work.  I spend a lot of time exercising and making sure I look as good as I can, and believe me that takes a lot of time.  My husband appreciates it, though, and I feel better about my self, too.  Oh yes, and I ask for the compliments even after he’s already given me the initial, “You look nice,” comment.

“Do you like this dress?  How do you like the color of my nails?  Do I look sexy?”

These two examples of what we work on to make things look better sort of leads to tip number two.

2.  Do the things you do for yourself for others, too.  

Vince loves to work in the yard, and I love to live in a place that looks like a park, so it’s a win win situation.  He spends a lot of time dreaming about what he wants to do in the yard, and telling me about it to get my opinion.  If I act like I’d hate it, he doesn’t do it.  When we both get enthused, he is energized, and he’s done some amazing things.

“I did this for you, Marshamallow Pie,” he tells me when he comes in tired and happy from all his effort.

I love to travel, too, so Vince decided that he could be happier traveling if we had a trailer that we could tow.  He has his own home on wheels.  We got a time share to a place he loves to go, and it is almost like home to go there, too. So now I get him to go with me sometimes.  Win win.

3.  Appreciate instead of criticize.  I grew up with an equal amount of criticism, and encouragement, so I’m a mixed up mess.  I do both with great ease.  My husband makes appreciating easy.  He asks me to appreciate, in case I might have forgotten.

“Did you see I did the dishes?”

“Yes, honey, thanks so much.”

I think I do things not expecting appreciation, but when I get it, I want to do more.  My husband loves my cooking.  I used to hate cooking, and now I enjoy doing it for him because he doesn’t just compliment it, he talks about it, and anticipates specific meals, and asks for specific dishes if I haven’t made them in a while.

Our communication has improved over the years, but, when we don’t feel appreciated, we start getting really grumpy. We have to recount the many times we’ve stopped to admire each other’s contributions.

These are simple tips, that you already knew, but sometimes it’s nice to be reminded about how to turn a sour environment into a bed of roses.

TC BV 2013


Christmas At Home

This is my 500th post to you.  Thank you all for being friends and readers.  Over the past year and a half many of you have become dear, dear friends.

I’ve read some of your blogs, and I’m so impressed with the depth of thought I’ve encountered.  I’m fairly shallow, but I’ll blend my wishes with yours and maybe they will acquire some great wisdom.

Merry Christmas1

Christmas is a time for loving, and going the extra mile for others, those you know and those you don’t.  It’s the perfect holiday to follow Thanksgiving.  Being thankful just naturally flows into giving to others.  May you be blessed with the joy of giving until your heart can’t hold any more joy and love.

SFW Christmas Eve051r

God bless you all, those that celebrate Christmas, and those who don’t.  To the ones we know and see, and those we can’t


Marsha, Vince, Kalev and Manny