Wednesday, November 30, 2016

So Magnificent, So Deadly

The Chapecoense soccer team from Southern Brazil could've made history with its Cinderella story. They were rising stars, but their trajectories were cut short when their airplane crashed in the mountains of Colombia just outside of Medellin. Medellin, known as the City of Eternal Spring, is also known for its airport. High hazardous mountains surround it, and landing is dicey on a clear day, much less on a dark and stormy night.

Seventy-seven young men, journalists, and flight crew members died. Only six survived. Colombia and Brazil are still in shock as they grieve the tragic loss. Atletico Nacional, Medellin's soccer team, has made it clear they hope the South American Football Confederation declares Chapecoense the champions of the 2016 South American cup.

Hearing this sad news reminded me of two other memorably horrific accidents. In a post (on September 2014) about a trip to Colombia with my oldest brother, I write about one. "Soon we will see the Andes, and I push the tragic memory of Flight 965 carrying Ariel Felton and Catalina del Corral out of my mind. That flight, and those school friends, didn't make it over the mountains in 1995."

And there’s the crash in 1972, when a Uruguayan plane crash-landed in the Andes carrying a rugby team to Chile. Sixteen of the 45 passengers survived and were rescued more than two months after the crash.

 Here's an excerpt about it from The Existence of Pity.

 “Why did everyone on the plane cross themselves and clap when we landed?” Aunt Rosie asked, setting her bag down by the car.
Mom’s hand hovered over the handle for a moment before she opened the door. I knew what she was thinking: South Americans never took flying over the Andes lightly. A few years earlier, a jet had collided into the mountains, stranding the few survivors on the treacherous peaks for over two months before they were rescued.
“They always clap like that,” Aaron told her with a casual smile. “They’re just glad to be on land again.”
 “Well, I’m glad to be on land, too,” Aunt Rosie said.
I hated to admit it, but my brother knew how to smooth things over.

 The Andes, so magnificent, so deadly. A Chilean saying is, “The Andes don’t give back what they take.” My heart goes out to the loved ones of those who died, and to the soccer community as a whole. This team will be sorely missed.

Friday, November 4, 2016

My Little Black Book of Books

Check out the guest post I wrote for fellow Red Adept Publishing's author Katrina Monroe. She writes, "I discovered a kindred spirit in Jeannie and her little black book of, well, books." Here's the link to the post:
Guest Post with Jeannie Zokan

But wait! Before you go, let me tell you about Katrina's amazing new 5-star novel, All Darling Children.

On the tenth anniversary of her mother's death, fourteen-year-old Madge Darling’s grandmother suffers a heart attack. With the overbearing Grandma Wendy in the hospital, Madge runs away to Chicago, intent on tracking down a woman she believes is actually her mother.

On her way to the Windy City, a boy named Peter Pan lures Madge to Neverland, a magical place where children can remain young forever. While Pan plays puppet master in a twisted game only he understands, Madge discovers the disturbing price of Peter Pan's eternal youth.
Now you can go to Katrina's website! :)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Stepping Off the Plane

I left Colombia at seventeen to go to college at Baylor University, and nearly flunked out because of culture shock. Merriam-Webster says it's "a feeling of confusion, doubt, or nervousness caused by being in a place (such as a foreign country) that is very different from what you are used to."

The displaced feeling never left, but I managed to graduate four years later and move to Washington, DC.

Living in the capital was a thrill. I loved walking down the busy streets, stopping for motorcades, visiting the museums, and finding all the statues spread around town. Every once in a while, though, I still pined for my childhood. "Life was so much better in Colombia," I'd tell anyone who would listen. The cold DC winters and the hectic pace wore me down, and the people, although friendly enough, didn't have the warmth and caring I grew up knowing.

One cold January day I was missing Colombia yet again when a new thought stopped me in my tracks. If I missed it so much, why not go back?

The idea took shape in my mind; maybe I could work at Colegio Bolivar, the American school I attended. Plenty of young Americans took jobs overseas, and I already knew the language. Why not me?

I set up an interview with the school and found another job opening in sales, then bought my ticket and headed to Cali. I could hardly contain my excitement in those days leading up to the trip. One way or another, my life was about to change!

On the airplane, I pressed my nose to the window as we approached Cali's airport, studying every mountain and cloud and village below me. Everyone clapped when we landed safely, the crew rolled the stairs up to the airplane door, then I stepped into the warmth of the balmy Colombian afternoon, and..... I knew immediately.

I knew I didn't belong in Colombia anymore. I loved Cali, but my life was in the States.

My stay was wonderful, even though I turned down both jobs. I visited friends and places, and didn't look back when I headed home again. And when I thought of Colombia after that, it was with a nod to an excellent past, and peace with the new life I was making for myself here.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sancocho: Gumbo, Colombian Style

Friend and fellow author Diane Skelton published a post I wrote in her blog, The Gumbo Diaries. I write about sancocho, and you can read it here:…/sancocho-gumbo-colo…

In anticipation of the upcoming release of my novel, The Existence of Pity. I'm sharing stories about Colombia wherever I can. It was easy to talk about Colombian food on Diane's gastro-literary blog! I hope you enjoy it, and if you write a blog, I'll be glad to write a guest post for you, too! 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Christmas in Cuzco

Fellow Red Adept Publishing author Kelly Stone Gamble published a post I wrote about my father. You can read it here:
 and I hope you do! This is in anticipation of the upcoming release of her novel, Call Me Daddy. She asked for stories about family: the fun, the inspirational, the heartwarming moments that make us part of a family. 
Mine is about a family vacation to Machu Picchu and Cuzco. Hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Juana Good Time Regatta!

Last weekend's Regatta at Juana's in Navarre: gorgeous weather, happy sailors, beautiful boats. Juana has been in the Beach Bar business since 1989 and hosting the Regatta about as long, and this year's event didn't disappoint. I don't sail, but I enjoyed watching the colorful sails on the water from our white-sand beaches. Everyone was easy-going, too, but that might be because the bar was already open when we arrived at 10 a.m.
I could get used to this lifestyle. Juana, my tennis doubles partner, sure makes it look fun. Maybe Chris and I will get a sailboat and compete in a regatta. I'd want the most colorful sail out there. For now, though, we'll just take pictures of everyone as they work hard to have fun. Or we'll be at the bar ordering some cold ones at 10:15 in the morning.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Our Marriage Revisited wrote this post six years ago, and wanted to share it again with an update at the end. Today Chris and I finally took an axe to Our Marriage. It had to be done, but it was a scary step, and now that it's over, I feel much better. Our Marriage had grown out of control, literally bursting out of its container, exposing its roots to such a degree that we were worried about its survival. Oh! I'm sorry, did you think I was talking about our marriage? No, no. I'm talking about a plant -- a lady palm we received on our wedding day fifteen years ago. At first we ignored it, which is probably a wise thing to do to a marriage. Five years later, when we moved to the house we live in now, we transferred the plant to a bigger container and left it to its own devices on the driveway, where it silently grew bigger and bigger over the years. We started calling it Our Marriage and were happy that it was a healthy home to a family of lizards and a welcome sight when we came home every day. After a while it started bothering me that the plant's job was to hide the trash can, so we potted it up again and moved it to a special place beside the park bench that sits under our oak tree in the front yard. The plant continued to thrive, but maybe more than we expected, because on yard day not long ago, we noticed the palm had split its container, exposing a huge root ball that really needed more room to grow. The problem was that Our Marriage was in the biggest pot we could buy at Lowe's. Alas, there was only one thing to do. Chris freed the plant from its pot and started hacking away at the root ball. We planted half of the palm in the ground in its honored place by the park bench, and the other half we put in another large pot. We watered the two halves of Our Marriage and set the new pot in the back yard. We will have to leave half of Our Marriage here when the time comes to move from this house, but we hope that the new pot will grow strong and travel with us.
Chris and I are watching to see how Our Marriage will stand up to the axe's work, but not too closely. We know that plants are unpredictable, just as marriages are. We will try to enjoy each day that the lizards jump from the palm's frond-like leaves as we sit beside it on our park bench under the oak tree, grateful that Our Marriage is surviving the axe of time.               It's been six years since we split Our Marriage, and as you can see, it's healthy as ever. Anyone want a cutting?