“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” St. Augustine

Everyone enjoys traveling without a hitch. No one likes delays, cancelations, lost luggage, or any other problem. Now we have something new to worry about. If you fly domestically, you must have a federally compliant driver’s license called the Real ID to pass through security. This new requirement goes into effect October 1, 2020. To get this Real ID, take your driver’s license, proof of your Social Security number, and proof of citizenship to a Secretary of State office.

“If everything is in order, you’ll get a new license that has a gold star in the upper right corner – or an American flag on Michigan Enhanced driver’s licenses.” **

If you try to board a domestic flight on October 1, 2020 or later without the Real ID, you won’t be allowed to board the flight. “If you get turned away at the airport and forget to cancel your flight, you can kiss your ticket goodbye.” **

There won’t be a refund of your ticket.

Why haven’t we been notified about this before? 14 years ago, this mandate was signed into law; however, there have been numerous delays. Now the matter is urgent. Don’t wait until the last minute to take care of the matter. The lines will get longer, the delays numerous, and the urgency will hit all at once.

Get ahead of the game. Get your Real ID now!

**Detroit Free Press Sunday, October 27, 2019.

Episode 3: Death Offers a New Perspective

Amazing Journeys Online Episode 3: Death Offers a New Perspective

The wolf reached up, extending claws that dug into the tree trunk. In a smooth movement, she pulled up, back paws gaining purchase. The wolf’s gaze never left her prey.

Socrates swallowed. He scanned his “Hero” sheet, which appeared as a white document hovering in the air. The wolf visible through the translucent page. His stats were the basic starter set, all tens except for agility, which was an 11.

“Hmm, that must have been from the strikes with bow and arrow,” he thought. Of course that would not help in this moment. There had to be something, some skill that he could use to get himself out of the situation. The list was pitifully short:

  • Herblore – Rank 1: Locate and identify basic herbs from levels 1-10.
  • Cat’s Landing – Rank 1: Cushion landing from falls of 10 x Skill level + Character level for percent success: Currently 11% for up to 10 feet. Half for each 10 additional feet.
  • Climbing – Rank 1: 10% bonus to success to climbing, minus difficulty of the surface attempted.
  • Skinning – Rank 3: Skin animals for useable leather: 14% bonus to success
  • Fletcher – Rank 2: Make and repair arrows: 12% bonus to success
  • Bowyer – Rank 2: Repair and make bows: 12% bonus to success.
  • Archer – Rank 3: +2% chance of critical success to hits.
  • First Aid – Rank 1: Can make bandages and treat wounds that are basic.

Nothing. Socrates sighed. He looked down and jumped in fright. He landed while clumsily grabbing for branches above him. Vertigo swam through his head as the branch above him bent, lowering him forward where the wolf glared, her breath hot and fowl against his face.

As he scrambled for footing, the wolf reached a paw and sunk claws into the branch beside his foot. He immediately stamped on the paw, once, twice, three times. The wolf howled, snatching it’s paw back and scrambling down three feet.

Socrates breathed hard, hugging the trunk, and glaring down at the wolf. All he wanted to do was smash that smug face. Just once, before he became lunch. Suddenly, an idea came to him. He brought up the digital character sheet and looked again at his skills.

“It might just work,” he murmured. He looked down at the wolf, who glared back while extending a paw. “Either way I die. Might as well try and get some payback at the same time.” Socrates leaned over to gauge the distance. About 40 feet to the hard ground. He then stared directly into the wolf’s eyes.

“Hey you! Yes, you. Want a piece of me?”

The wolf growled in defiance. Socrates almost lost his nerve. He took a deep breath. “You can do this,” he said to himself. “Hope it works.” Socrates stepped off the branch.

The wolf’s eyes widened in surprise as Socrates hit her in the face feet first. The force pulled her from the tree. She scrabbled with her claws for purchase. Socrates bear hugged the wolf as they fell together. The ground rushed towards them.

They impacted the ground, the wolf yelping in fright and pain. The man grunted.

After several long moments, sounds of birds and insects filled the silence. After a longer breath of time, Socrates groaned and rolled off the wolf. Slowly, stiffly, he sat up. Message bubbles filled his vision alerting him to what he’d already known and felt. The damage he’d taken from the wolf’s claws in the seconds of the fall were significant. Normally, that damage along with the fall would have killed him, and sent him to the Death Waiting Room for nine hours to reflect, before he could return to the game world. But, Cat’s Landing worked in combination of using the wolf as a buffer.

Reminded of the wolf, Socrates reached out, tentatively at first, to touch the rough fur. The wolf did not stir. Looking closer, the life bar was empty. He smiled, reached for his skinning knife, and stopped. Moving his hand through the fur, it suddenly didn’t feel right to just skin it. The wolf would disappear once the skinning was done. He wanted to savor the moment, the exhilaration of defeating his first great foe, and being alive. He smiled, chewed on a healing herb that healed over time, and arched back to feel the warmth of the sun and the cool prickle of the grass.

Low growls drew his attention past the nearest trees. Several wolves appeared. There looked to be five, then seven, then nine. Most were adults, with a couple of pups.

Socrates scrabbled backwards. Pain aching through his body, as he used a tree trunk to climb to his feet. Climbing a tree was out of the question, not with this pack. Fighting was just as hopeless.

The wolves did not attack. Something or someone held them back. Socrates took slow steps backwards not turning away from the pack. He knew at any moment they would leap forward and he’d be done.

Another wolf appeared, larger than the others. The pack made space for the beast. It had reddish brown fur. A scar slashed between the eyes and down the nose. It woofed, and the pack grew instantly silent.

The World is a Book

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” St. Augustine

Efficient packing for trips begins with great shopping. Your luggage choices depend upon your destination and how much you wish to pack. I suggest bags with wheels unless you’re traveling to cities that don’t allow wheeled bags that ruin their cobbled streets and walkways. A backpack to handle short excursions into town is helpful. When my husband, Roger, and I travel by plane we don’t use our twenty-seven-inch bag because I always overpack. That bag is reserved for our road trips when we don’t have to worry about weight limits.

When we travel by plane or train, we take bags no larger than twenty-one-inches. Usually two carry-on bags, a backpack, and a large purse work for me. Roger takes two carry-on bags and a backpack. Some of our friends asked how we can travel with so few bags. The secret is in the purchases we make prior to our trips. Some of our purchases were made at Travelsmith.com, Magellans.com, llbean.com, as well as other department stores.

I purchased a dressy black lightweight three-piece wrinkle-resistant outfit that I can mix with various colorful dressy tops. My wrinkle-resistant casual clothes include slacks, shorts, and a variety of tops. I pack one pair of dressy shoes, one pair of casual shoes, and I wear comfortable walking shoes. I also pack a sweater, rain jacket, a small lightweight blanket, and a foldable sunhat depending on our destination.

I keep my costume jewelry to a minimum in a small carrying case. My lingerie is hand washable and quick dry. The shampoo and conditioner I prefer to use on my hair are packed in small, reusable plastic containers as is my body lotion. We always carry a foldable cloth laundry bag to take our dirty clothes to a laundromat.

Roger packs a sport coat, wrinkle-resistant pants, shorts, sport shirts, hand washable quick-drying underwear, one pair of dress shoes, and a Dopp kit for his toiletry items. We each pack a camera and books to read. We still have room for small souvenirs we purchase during our trips.

Prior to our twenty-seven-day trip to Australia and New Zealand, I searched online for information on packing suitcases efficiently. My plan was to take only a wheeled carry-on bag, a backpack, and a large purse. Rolling soft fabrics and folding stiffer ones seemed like an interesting way to pack. Once my bag was packed, I took a picture of my opened bag so that I could remember where each item was placed. This helped me when I repacked for our return home.

Does this give you good ideas for your future travels?

The Lost Girls of Paris By Pam Jenoff

I’ve just finished reading a great book! What do I mean by “a great book”? It’s the one that when it’s time to go to bed, and you know you have to be up early the next morning, you can’t put down. You just have to read one more chapter. You need to be sure the characters are going to be all right. In fact, you’ve forgotten that they’re characters. To you, they’re now real people.

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff is like that. It’s historical fiction. There really was a World War II and a Normandy Invasion. There really was a female spy ring run out of London to confuse the Germans and help the Allies. The real one was run by Vera Atkins of the Special Operations Executive. The historical fiction one is run by Eleanor Trigg. The real women were heroic and many didn’t come home. The same happens to the characters in the book.

The chapters alternate between the present: 1946 New York City with Grace Healey, who discovers a suitcase in Grand Central Station with 12 photographs of young women on her way to work one morning.

And the past: 1944 London with Marie, one of the 12, who was sent to France as part of a female spy ring to help the Allies. She was picked because she spoke French so well no one would suspect she was really an English spy. Marie had learned French, and her way around the French countryside, which turned out to just as important, when she was a child. Every summer, she and her mother had gone to France.

The Lost Girls of Paris is well written, vivid and inspired by true events. It has a number of plots and sub-plots to keep you sitting on the edge of your armchair waiting for the next thing to happen. The twelve photographs hold the story together as Grace searches to find out: Who were they? How were they connected? Did any survive?

There aren’t a lot of wartime books about female spies and women doing heroic things like blowing up bridges and sending back radio messages right under the enemies’ noses. If this is the kind of reading you enjoy, then this is the book for you.

Writer’s Confessional Part Eight

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost is one of my favorite poems. Fear can be a concrete barrier, miles high and unpassable. But to have the courage and make the choice that has an unknown outcome, well that is astounding. And as with all things hidden, I will fail sometimes. But I must look onward and climb or knock down the concrete wall in my way.

Failure is a bridge to success. I remind myself of this every day. I wanted the reminder so badly I had my own words tattooed on my skin. I won’t give up the journey I forged when I started my business, WjK ARTiSAN DESiGNS. I will travel on media highways to get more attention, to gain traffic that will return often. I will make contacts with store owners to build a retail relationship that will last. And I will look at new outlets to sell my art.

As Mr. Frost iterates in his words, “Yet knowing how way leads on to way…” my travels through life have been one moment touching another as my choices have consequences, just as the first domino falls until the last. Without pushing over the first domino how can I or anyone succeed? That’s why I catapulted over fear and jumped feet first into the deep end of the pool to start my business. I don’t know where the last domino will fall, but as they keep falling the speed with which they tumble gets faster and faster. With every choice, I’m hoping that my success will gain speed as well. I must be hopeful.

So, with fear as my constant companion, and not allowing it to overwhelm me with my daily reminder, I continue down the unknown road because my hope is greater than my fear.

“I took the one less traveled by…” to seek the success that I know I can achieve if I keep traveling down “The Road Not Taken.”