Saturday, August 16, 2014

Paris, France, August 2014

Hugh, Brian, and me, in front of Le Grande Colbert

We have just returned from a vacation in Europe, where we visited Paris, and then went on to Amsterdam. It was nice to be able to bring both of my boys.  Sam has since returned to his college, the United States Naval Academy, and this next weekend, August 23, my husband and I will drive Hugh to his college, University of California, Berkeley, where he will start school as a Freshman. 

When I knew we were going to Paris, I sent an email to the restaurant, Le Grande Colbert, is that restaurant in the movie, SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE.  The website states you may not try to make a reservation over the internet, but I sent it anyway, and then, three days later, I received a reply that told me that Francois confirmed our reservation, and needless to say, I was very happy. 

The day we arrived in Paris, there was a four-hour wait to get into the Louvre. line snaked around several buildings and out into the street, and we decided that we were absolutely not going to wait in a four-hour line.  But then we went back after dinner at the Le Grande Colbert, which was about 8:30pm, and there was no line at all!  The Louvre closes at 9:30pm, so we paid to get in and then rushed as fast as we could to show Brian the Mona Lisa.  After that, we had just enough time to view some of the statues.  

Sam and Hugh in front of the Mona Lisa.

The Statue Room

Another statue

A pair of statues
The one bad thing, it rained the entire time we were there.  My mother told me to bring a raincoat, and I did not.  But I did purchase an umbrella at the Eiffel Tower!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Dana Point Harbor, Orange County, CA.

Tails of the Majestic Migration Statue

Most Sundays, I take my dog, Holly, to the Dana Point Harbor a long walk with my husband.  We walk around the whole place and she says hello to the other dogs.  She usually walks between the two of us.  Holly is afraid of the big dogs, and when one comes along that looks like it might scare her, she will step back and walk on the far right of me, just so she feels extra secure.  

We always pass this TAILS OF THE MAJESTIC MIGRATION statue.  I wonder who had the time to make it, with all of the mosaics tiles and the little octopus that was inserted at the very top. 

Then, as I stepped forward, I noticed that the sign below had all of that information.  The sign reads:

Dana Point serves as a navigational landmark during the annual round trip migration of the gray whale from the artic to the Baja.  The sculpture was a community art project as a part of the 2009 Festival of Whales-Ocean Awareness Day. The Sculpture celebrates and honors the annual migration of these majestic mammals along our beautiful coastline. 

Sculpture: Eric Danton
Mosaic Artist: Aileen May
Contributing Artists: Community Members
Assisting Organizations: Dana Point Coastal Arts
Donated by the Dana Point Harbor Association to the County of Orange on March 6, 2011.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sam...and his great great Uncle Hugh.

Sam, standing in Memorial Hall

Sam with his great great uncle Hugh.  Hugh is giving Sam his Naval sword.  
When my oldest son, Sam, was a junior in high school, I took him to United States Naval Academy in Annapolis because he wanted to see the campus.  He wanted to know if it was right for him, if he could see himself attending this military academy.  We stayed with my great uncle Hugh and his wife, Dixie.  On the second day of our trip, we toured the campus and visited the admissions office.  And then we went to a football game.  We had my uncle’s fifty-yard line tickets.  My great uncle Hugh and his younger brother, Frank Robinson, both attended the academy.  Unfortunately, my grandfather, who is Frank Robinson, died in an airplane crash while in a training exercise.  My mother never got to meet her father.  Inside Memorial Hall at the Naval Academy, they have Frank Robinson’s name etched into stone.  He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  He is next to his mother and his father.
Memorial Hall, with Frank Robinson's  name etched in stone.

Frank Robinson's gravestone at Arlington National Cemetery

Frank and Hugh's parents at Arlington National Cemetery
But while we were at that football game, and each company was marching out onto the field, Sam turned to me and said, “Mom, I want to go to school here more than anything.  I’m going to do everything I can to get accepted.” 

And he did get accepted.  It was an eighteen month admission process, but he is there now and doing very well.  He was the first person to ever get accepted into the Naval Academy from his high school, Dana Hills High School.  Next year, he has to decide where he will serve.  There is no tuition when you attend a military academy.  Everything is free, however, the student pays back the cost of the education by serving in the Navy.  Sam has decided he wants to be a marine pilot.  That commitment is twelve years because the training is three years and then because the cost to train the pilots is so high, they expect at least nine years of flight service. 

I am very happy for Sam.  I know he will be a wonderful pilot and I know he will serve the United States of America, his country, very well.  

Monday, June 9, 2014

Thank You Letters from McKinley Elementary School

This sign was waiting for me in the Library.

I am a member of the California Readers.  It's wonderful organization of educators, librarians, authors, artists, and booksellers, which is run by the California Readers Board Members.  I have been very fortunate in that all of my middle grade novels have been chosen to be included on the middle grade lists.

So when Bonnie O'Brian emailed me to let me know that McKinley Elementary School, had won the Ed Pert Award, and that they had chosen me as the author, I was thrilled.  The Ed Pert Award is fabulous because not only does the school receive every book on the list, which is one hundred, they also have the author at their school for the entire day.

I gave a presentation to the third, fourth, and fifth graders, in the library.  McKinley Elementary School is a Title One school, and is over one hundred years old.  The librarian, Marcia Melkonian, was so very nice to me.  By the end of the day, I felt as if we were very good friends.

My youngest son, Hugh, attended a Title One Middle School, Marco Forster, in San Juan Capistrano, because of the extra funding the school received, he got a better education than his older brother.  Title One schools are special because they must meet certain guidelines to receive this funding.  They are wonderful schools that help students to be everything they can imagine.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


An overview of the plot of THE YEAR THE SWALLOWS CAME EARLY

Eleanor and her Great Grandmother
Tom and Luis
Officer Miguel and Eleanor's father

One of the members of my critique group is a sixth grade teacher in the Irvine School District.  His name is Jesper Widen.  He had a student who read THE YEAR THE SWALLOWS CAME EARLY.  After she read the book, he had her fill out these complicated charts.  I thought she did an excellent job of plotting the book, and then she filled out the Archetypes sheets, which state each character’s part, so that by the end of the story, we know what everyone’s role was.  I think this was a great idea, because in filling out these sheets, as a reader, we’re better able to understand exactly why a main character learns what they need to in order to see the world differently by the end of the story.  That’s what has to happen.  Your main character has to have something happen to them so that they see things differently.  This is how they grow and change, and this is what happens to most people throughout their lives. 

Certain events happen to us that make us see things differently.  Sometimes they are wonderful things and sometimes they are painful things.  But either way, our lives go on, and we learn what we need to in order to get up each day and live in this world.