"" Writer's Wanderings: April 2006

Friday, April 28, 2006

T. Davis Bunn Shark Attack

When I first heard of the shark attack on T. Davis Bunn, author of the Lazarus Trap, I thought it was a joke--something to draw me into a new marketing ploy. Boy, those authors will think of anything. And then I checked it out. Sure enough, he was attacked while surfing near Melbourne, FL.

That is precisely why I would rather dive with sharks at their level than be floundering around at the surface like a wounded fish. It's an invitation to dinner.

The question that arises now is what will Davis Bunn do with this experience? As a novelist he is sure to incorporate his extraordinary encounter into his work somewhere. This is a guy who rides around in taxi cabs in New York just to get the feel for the cadence and color of a cab driver's language. As the story went at the writer's conference where he taught, he also got the lowdown on some other interesting aspects of city life and applied them to his novel.

But Bunn is also a Christian and I'm sure is thanking God for looking out for him. A hundred and twenty stitches later, I'll bet he's not thanking his lucky stars...he's thanking his Protector.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


This spring I am suffering for the lack of interest I took in cleaning out the flower beds last fall. They should have been weeded one more time before winter arrived. I remember looking at them and thinking--hoping--that winter's cold would kill them off.

Well, it didn't. Those weeds are tough old characters. As long as the roots are still in the ground, they'll grow back and twice as bad. Ask my aching legs and back.

When you're on your knees a lot (I've been at it for a week now), you begin to think about praying and other spiritual things. I couldn't help but see the analogy between the weeds I was plucking out of the ground and the weeds we let grow in our lives. If we don't keep the garden of our life weeded out, the weeds will take over and destroy the flowers and the beauty of that garden.

My sins of omission--not weeding in the fall--have certainly made my life more painful this spring. Makes me want to look and see if I've been omitting anything important in the rest of my life.

Okay, one more analogy and I'm done.

I've also been spreading weed preventer in all the beds. Hopefully when all those spring seeds from dandelions and maple trees start floating through the air they won't sprout when they land in my flower beds. Scripture reading and prayer seem like a good weed preventer for life.


Monday, April 24, 2006

Papua New Guinea

The following is a sample story from my newsletter, JOURNEYS.

“Shout our name from the mountains to seas, Papua New Guinea.” The strains of their national anthem still play in my mind. I expected a great dive adventure. I didn’t expect to fall in love.

Perhaps it was waking anchored in calm inlets to hazy purplish sunrises with the distant call of exotic birds, or looking out at the lush green islands of Milne Bay that contrasted sharply against the clear skies and deep blue waters that drew me in. Without a doubt it was meeting the wonderful people of the villages that dot the islands so far away from the usual conveniences we take for granted.

Silently the dugout canoes sliced through the water from each village as we neared. Men, women, and children in canoes congregated at the sides and back of the live-aboard with fresh fruits and vegetables to trade for staples like rice and sugar. Some displayed crafts of wood and shells to sell or trade for T-shirts. Some fished. But all watched as we came and went in our dive gear. We were the entertainment for the day.

The paradise above was magnified in the treasures below. Abundant colorful marine life in all shapes and sizes played over a patchwork quilt of brilliant corals. An abundance of lionfish, countless varieties of nudibranchs, endless fields of anemones with their guardian clownfish, and the unusual--the hairy ghost pipefish, kept us diving back in for more. On this 10 day trip, we were limited only by our ability, stamina, and common sense. (Read the rest of the story.)

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Okay, so it seems lately I'm doing a lot of complaining but I need to get this out. When I listen to the news on TV, I want to hear the news. Instead I hear "Coming up is..." and then there are four or five teasers which may or may not be coming up any time soon. This wastes at least a minute and a half--long enough to give me another news story.

Then there's the one that really drives me nuts. Waiting for the weather. There are two teasers in the half hour news program and at least three in the hour version and two of those promise the full report after the next commercial. After the third commercial the report is finally given.

I liken this to writing a story and rambling on and on. Good writing is tight writing especially when writing non-fiction (that's what the news is supposed to be). Readers lose interest if you promise them something and make them wait. TV viewers do too. We turn the nightly news off way before the weather finally arrives no matter how many times they promise it's coming. After all, when we get up in the morning, it will still be weather and we'll know whether the sun is shining or not.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Gas Prices--Shorter Drive Thru Lines?

This noon I stopped at Wendy's to get my son some lunch. I was going to use the drive thru. When I saw that it was wrapped around the building, I decided to go inside instead. We were through the line and back in our car before the last car made it up to the ordering box.

Now, I'm no expert on how much gas is wasted on an idling car but as the pennies, dimes, and quarters keep getting added to the price, doesn't it seem ridiculous that people would be waiting 15 minutes in a drive thru line?

As we passed McDonald's on the way home, I glanced at their drive thru line--around the building just like Wendy's.

What's it like in your neighborhood? Maybe we should do a study on drive thrus and the waste of energy sources. I'm sure the government would have some kind of grant available for that--probably even at a drive thru window.

Monday, April 17, 2006

...And Babies Were Three

Scratching and chirping continued over our heads in the dining room long after our intruder was carted off by the animal warden. With the help of our son, Bob removed the speaker in the ceiling of the room and began to pull down the insulation. It wasn't long before he pulled the first baby from the warmth and comfort of its nest. Two more followed.

Instead of the usual chicks and ducks, we were graced with three baby raccoons for Easter.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Intruder

The animal warden arrived that afternoon to see if she could determine what was in the attic. The minute we mention chirping sounds, her face clouded. The consensus was that we had a raccoon in the attic and she probably had babies. Apparently baby raccoons sound a lot like baby birds.

We set the box trap in the attic and baited it with some cat food. The warden assured us that we would know when we had caught our intruder. Well, we didn't hear much that evening and when Bob checked in the morning, the trap was empty--the food was gone!

Clearly we were dealing with a clever raccoon.

Undaunted, Bob bought some more cat food--two varieties--and reset the trap adding a bowl of water and wiring the bait to the cage.

His efforts were rewarded. The next morning two beady eyes blinked at him when he inspected the trap. He left his trophy catch on the porch for the animal warden and went off to work. Her report came back that indeed the raccoon was a female and she was obviously nursing babies.

The trap sits in the attic awaiting some hungry babies. If they don't show up, they will be routed from their nest this weekend. Usually kids get chicks and ducklings for Easter. Looks like we get raccoons. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

More Noises

The scratching was incessant in the evening. During the day there was only an occassional shuffle. Whatever was between the floors was nocturnal. That began to narrow things down. Mice? A raccoon? A skunk?

A skunk was frightening to think about. That could mean de-stinking the whole house if it let loose when cornered. A raccoon is destructive as are mice.

Bob opted for mice and set a couple of traps with his favorite bait--peanut butter. In the middle of watching our favorite shows we had TiVoed while gone, we heard a horrible clunking sound that seemed to run the length of the dining room. Something was in a trap and it was desparately trying to get out. And that something was BIG and angry. Rule out mice.

"Call someone," I began to chant. We have an animal warden and there are other pest control people. "Call someone."

Bob just kept shaking his head. "What could it be? What could it be?"

"Whatever it is, it's big and mad. Call someone."

He went to work the next day and, sure enough, the consensus at work was that he should call someone. He contacted the animal warden for our city and set up an appointment. At four, we would get an expert's opinion on what was in attic.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Did You Hear That?

What is it about husbands? When you say you hear a noise they just look at you as though you had just said the voices in your head were back. There couldn't possibly be a noise in the engine of the car. A tow and a repair bill always proves that statement wrong. What about the noise in the attic?

For weeks I said I thought I heard something walking in the eaves above our front porch and the response I got was, "I don't hear anything." Well, of course not! I was talking to the man who couldn't hear the stereo cries of his twin babies when I laid them down one on each side of him while he slept. And in thirty-some years, that hearing has faded even more.

He humored me and looked in the attic. There were no footprints in the fluffy layer of insulation so it was obvious I was just hearing the wind. We went on vacation.

Two weeks later we returned and while relaxing in front of the TV one night heard a terrible racket that sounded like a nestful of starlings. Were they back and in the attic? Oh yes, that was another noise--in the chimney--a couple of years ago that I imagined.

There was no denying it this time. He actually admited hearing the rumpus. To add to the mystery, we happened to look out the front door and find that part of the flashing over the porch had been bent as though something had fallen through it. The nosies began again.

What in the world was up there? Was it feathered or furry? Big or small? And how in the world had it manuevered between the first and second floor to lodge right above the dining room table?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Millenium Cruise Tragedy

We have just returned from our South American/Panama Canal cruise aboard the Celebrity Millenium. I meant to post while we were gone, but I left my password at home and for some reason my computer would not remember it for me. Can computers have senior moments?

At our first port, Arica, Chile, a group of passengers arranged a tour with a local company to go into the national park in the mountains just outside the city. Tragically, on a narrow winding road, their van swerved to miss on oncoming truck and went off the road, tumbling down an embankment for about 300 feet and killing 12 of the 16 passengers.

We had no idea what was wrong as we waited for the ship's crew to cast off the lines that evening so we could make our way to Callao, Peru. As passengers began to gather to watch the ship's departure, rumors began to circulate that there had been an accident. There are always rumors abounding when there is a change in schedule and we didn't take them seriously until we began to see more official cars arrive and cruise staff (we later learned a doctor and nurse) leave the ship with suitcases.

About two hours past our scheduled departure time, the ship's captain informed us that there had been a tragic accident and 11 people had died (one more passed away in the hospital). The details began to filter through. One man recounted having seen the van at the bottom of the embankment when their tour bus had returned down the same road.

It began to sink in.

There but for the grace of God...

While we had not been on the same tour--ours was an excursion to a coastal walk, arranged through the cruise company--it could still have been the scenario for us. We might have done the same thing had we not chosen the coastal walk instead. We love to explore parks and nature rather than the cities.

The ship was quiet that night. The nightly entertainment was canceled. No one would have attended the show. Many were lined up at the computer centers aboard ship. All with the same idea. The news media would be broadcasting with no names mentioned and there would be hundreds of families wondering if their loved ones were okay. Thankfully, I had wireless on my laptop and didn't have to wait long to let our children and family know we were all right. The messages, I hear, arrived just before or after they received the news.

We stayed the night docked at Arica until arrangements were in place with families and friends of those who died and the officials cleared the ship to leave after their investigation into the accident. The Millenium crew and the Celebrity Cruise company were outstanding in their handling of the situation as far as we could tell. While due respect was given to those who lost their lives--a room was arranged for any who desired to pray or meditate and counselors were available--the cruise was not given a melancholy atmosphere. Passengers went on to enjoy their vacation time but stopped for a memorial service the following week to remember those whose lives had come to such an abrupt end.

I'm sure that this week as we all return home, we will hug our families a little tighter and feel a little more thankful.
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