Tuesday, August 14, 2018

What We Learned on Our Cruise: Heritage is Priceless

Basel, Switzerland, Photo by Mary Vee
Last week, hubby and I cruised the Rhine River from Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam. I have a plethora of photos, new information, and SO much to tell...for another time. Today, I want to share what my new friends from the ship discovered.

Guests came from all over the world to experience a cruise. Traveling port to port. The convenience of leaving your suitcase in one stateroom the entire time and having the option to eat on the ship or to purchase a meal at a restaurant near the dock is so lovely. 

For every walking tour and excursion, only local guides were allowed to present information. So, a guide hired by the ship may take us to a palace built in the 1600's, but the same guide may not present information about the actual grounds. Only an individual living locally and is an expert in the topic may present. Seriously, I couldn't take notes fast enough. These individuals were a wealth of knowledge!

Remember, these guides are local individuals. They, of course, spoke English, which was the common language of all on the tour.

So, while dining one night, those at my table brought up an interesting observation. The guides communicated so well, we all felt they could reside in our respective country. There wasn't an accent to be detected. The only telltale variance in language happened when the guide turned to a fellow countryman and spoke the native language. 

The jokes. The mannerisms. So much resembled what we felt familiar with. There was one German guide who so resembled Ricky Gervais, a British comedian, I was certain he had to be a relative. From the jokes to his mannerisms in communicating the information, this man resembled Gervais. He wasn't the only one who surprised those of us in the tour group.

Those from my table concurred, television, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, news, and all other forms of communication have paved a way in blending languages and cultures. Globalization has been a theme for so long, right? Businesses and Powers to Be find a convenience in conducting business with other countries. 

But. What is lost?

Those of us visiting the Rhine wanted to experience a unique culture. We wanted to see not only traditional aspects of each country but also modern variations. What do the locals eat, do for entertainment, grow, use for transportation, like for architecture, and so much more? 

So when special nights happened on the cruise, like the German theme night we laughed and had such a wonderful time, even if we couldn't speak German. We ate delicious cultural foods and joined in typical German music, clapping and singing and never wanted it to fade.

Individual countries and their history have a wealth to offer. Those from my table hope cultures from around the world hold on to their heritage and teach their children. It is priceless.

This post has been brought to you by the one word: Heritage

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Call For Response

This is my opinion, based on hearing the program Wait. Wait. Don't Tell Me aired on NPR in July 2018

I am often out driving on Saturday mornings when Wait. Wait Don't Tell Me airs. I flip through the channels searching for music or an interesting program and have caught this program several times. Often portions are funny. Often portions are informative. Sometimes the program is disrespectful and inappropriate, and I understand many listeners appreciate the comedic factor that is intended in the disrespect. I usually turn it off, or down, waiting for the next segment.

BUT, the last show and the show that aired after the Thai boys were rescued from the cave in early July had comedic dialogue that went too far, in my opinion. Here is why I think so.

The teen boys and their twenty-something coach faced a horrific period of time in the underground cave. Alone in absolute darkness. Unsure they would survive. Days without food they managed to find limited water, which they scavenged from the cave. The world watched as experts worked the problem, hoping and praying for the rescue. We were amazed at the results, heralding the rescuers and volunteers. Proud of these young men for daring to dive through murky water, which was their only means to survive before the monsoons came. You know the story. It was epic.

A comedian, and also the host on Wait. Wait. Don't Tell me chose to joke about the situation. Paula Poundstone jokingly said she had made math problems for her children about the rescue like if there were twelve boys and one swam out of the cave how many were left. I thought, okay. That was application. But then she added this: we were sad the boys had been rescued. I mean, couldn't they stretch the whole situation out more? She amplified her comment to say the drama had been so exciting she didn't want it to end. The audience laughed. I did not. 

The host, Peter Sagal, chimed in: to the boy who was last in the cave, I know what it's like to be picked last. The audience laughed again. I did not. The boys had voted among themselves, choosing those who were sick, had the greatest need, and other issues to go first. The boy who offered to leave the cave last was every bit a hero. He let his whole team go before him. Only the coach and the doctor remained after this young man. This boy should be honored, not mocked.

I had hoped they wouldn't return to this subject again. Yet, my daughter heard Saturday's program, 7/28, in which she felt the Thai boys had been indirectly mocked in a joke about caves on Mars and the water that has been allegedly discovered.

In advocating for this group of boys who survived a terrifying event. I am calling for emails, a time of boycotting of the show, Wait. Wait. Don't Tell Me, to communicate there are certain topics that are not open to mocking, even in a comedic, lightly intended nature. 

Honor these boys, their rescuers, the diver who lost his life trying to save them, the community that provided food, the sleepless nights of volunteers and experts, etc. Think of your most terrifying moment. Would that be comedic material?

Did you know: In 1977, America rose up and boycotted Nestle for their investment in organizations that participated in South Africa's discrimination policies. The boycott became so powerful, Nestle and other companies stopped investing in South African companies resulting in a change for South African.

This post has been brought to you by the one word: SpeakUp

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Pack Your Virtual Bags. This is A Trip You Won't Want To Miss!

Would you like to take another virtual trip?

We've gone to Italy, Israel, Jordan, and a boatload of other places. What a great time we've had!

I will be the tour guide, passing on what I am learning, seeing, hearing, tasting, etc. Tons of photos!!

Okay, I hear you. You want to know where we're going this time? We will be traveling up the Rhine in Germany, visiting castles, and a wealth of other European sites along the way. 

I board the plane July 31st. I have my passport, haven't begun to pack, but I have my journal ready to go! You, reader, won't need a suitcase or documents. 

I'm keeping the travel log on a new FB page created solely for this trip. Each day I will choose a few photos, perhaps a video clip, and explanation. You'll be tempted by the delicious foods, and weary from climbing castle stairs. Feel free to interact in the comment section on the page.

Here is the link. You are all invited to join us.

Of course, we won't find any ghosts, but we will see intriguing history come to life.

Hope to see you there!

This post has been brought to you by the one word: RhineAdventure

Daring To Live, A Suspense Novel, is available on Amazon and makes for a great read this summer season. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

How A Tiny Plant Brought Prosperity To A War-Torn Country

Saffron crocus. Its stigmas and styles Photo Credit

Saffron is a spice. Its vibrant red is also used to color foods.

During a time when I made ultra fancy dishes for my family, I remember needing saffron. The tiny jar costs a lot of money. I only bought it that once. When adding saffron to my dish, I noticed the food took on a beautiful golden color.

Can I tempt you with this delicious recipe for Chicken Scallopine with Saffron Cream Sauce from the Food Network? Looks yummy, right?

Today's topic, though, is not about saffron recipes. We're telling a story: The Soldier and The Farmer.

One of the two places quality saffron grows well is in Afghanistan.

In this war-torn country, farmers cultivate the ground and grown rows of saffron crocus plants, but they had a problem. There was little demand in their country for their crop.

Last Saturday, the Weekend Edition of NPR aired a story of three US soldiers, Kimberly Jung, Keith Alaniz, and Emily Miller, who had been stationed in Afghanistan. One was a translator, one was on the cultural support team for night raids, the third was in a platoon that checked for roadside bombs. One day the translator happened by a saffron crocus farmer's field. 

The farmer talked with the soldier about his saffron crop. He shared how his family had grown the spice for generations. During the conversation, the farmer said he could easily grow more saffron, but there was little demand in his country.

The American translator told his two friends who also served in Afghanistan at the time. The two had business backgrounds. Between the three, they contacted the proper authorities and started the process for this and other Afghanistan farmers to sell their high-quality saffron to American consumers. The farmers were then able to expand their fields to sell to a new market.

Who would have known? A foreign soldier happens by a farmer's field and shares one conversation resulting in prosperity for the farmer and product for the soldier's country. 

What I also liked about this particular report was the three American soldier's description of the country. They raved about the beautiful Afghanistan countryside. As they said this, I wondered, how could a country so plagued with war be beautiful and still have fields of lovely saffron flowers? I listened more.

Afghanistan Sunset Photo Credit

Based on what they said, I would love to visit Afghanistan and see this amazing countryside.

If you'd like to read more about this, here is the link to the NPR article: Afghan Saffron Coming to US

This post has been brought to you by the one word: BeautifulAfghanistan

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Some Say It Takes A Village-This Time It Took A World

 Photo Credit
Have you had a chance to watch the rescue story of 12 Thai soccer players and their coach?

I realized, after writing a few posts on my Facebook page that not everyone has had a chance to follow this story. I wanted to dedicate this post to those boys and their coach. Also the volunteers and the many experts who sacrificed time, money, comfort, and for some, their vacation to come to the team's aid.

I waited to publish this post to hear the last piece of news. So some of you will be reading this post on Wednesday instead of Tuesday. This evening BBC news announced: the doctor who examined, treated, and stayed with the team during the rescue process and the last of the Thai divers have left the cave. The mission is complete, at least this portion. Talk about exciting.

My post today is not going to rehash all the details. Here is a link to the article that will give you all the details including links to more information. 

Instead, I'd like to talk with you about the global effort in the rescue.

1. The Thai people are to be commended for requesting help from other nations. This is difficult to do, even in a time of tragedy. While they had many of their own experts, the problem proved exponential, requiring the best from around the world. Thai men and women warmly welcomed the experts who dropped everything and hopped on the first available plane to Thailand, even to the point of cooking special food for those eating certain diets. 

2. Australian doctor, Richard Harris, was also experienced with cave diving and rescue missions. After the long flight, he made the underwater dive to be with the boys. He stayed in the cave and provided medical treatment, conversation, and other aid over the days required to rescue the entire team.

3. Three Thai Navy Seal divers and the doctor were the last to leave the cave.

4. Technical divers came from Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Canada. 

These are only the ones featured in BBC articles. However, other countries have been credited for their assistance. Prayers, watchful eyes, concerned hearts from all around the world have joined in the effort. Donated funds have helped defray costs. 

5. Of course, we cannot forget the one Thai Navy Seal diver who lost his life transporting oxygen tanks in and out. Retired Petty Officer, Saman Gunan, 38, was a Navy Seal Diver. His tank ran out of oxygen while on his way out of the cave. What a sacrifice. May he rest in peace.

The videos available on the link above and related BBC pages are heartwarming. I also liked seeing the illustrations designed to help us understand the complexity of the dive. 

I wondered, how did those British divers find the boys? The soccer team was 2 miles back in the cave on a small ledge. The boys had climbed down a steep area, crawled through narrow passages while outrunning the rising flood waters. 

I wondered how did the Thai people know to look in that cave? 

I wondered how the boys survived nine days without food or water. The water in the cave was muddy and not drinkable.

I wondered what the boys did to occupy themselves and encourage one another to hope for a rescue sitting in pitch dark.

What I do know is not one person who went to help thought twice about the commitment and hardship.

It's moments like this one in Thailand, and the mine collapse in Chile, and other tragedies that prove we need each other and God. This time it took a world to rescue twelve boys and their coach to bring peace and a Never Give Up Story. 

This post has been brought to you by the one word: Rescue

Daring To Live, A Suspense Novel, is available on Amazon and makes for a great read this summer season. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

So Un-American. So Should-Be American

photo by Mary Vee
Blue Ridge flag

An author, whom I've know from a distance for a long time and have had few conversations with but I doubt remembers, has chosen to retire. In the panel-yahoo group where he has shared his writerly advice for all these years, there is a big going away party. Memories shared. Thanks given. All the usual that is done for those who have given so much to their field.

What I wanted to share with you today, is his response to one of the compliments: 

For six years I served as a missionary in Kenya, East Africa. A few years later, I returned for my first visit. The night before I left Kenya, I met with a group of pastors in a mud-and-thatch hut for a final meal. 
          Unasked, those pastors began telling me things I had done for them. Their words shocked me. “Really? I don’t remember doing that,” I said each time, “but I do remember when you. . . “ 
         That kind of dialog went on for perhaps 20 minutes before Blascio spoke up in the Luo language. Here’s my translation into English: “Those who give must not remember; those who receive must not forget.”

          That incident kept filling my thoughts as I read through your kind and generous comments

You may ask, what is so unAmerican about that?

Well, we are a greedy people.

Each with our own ideas of how things should be done.
Each with our own ideas of how we should think.
Each with our own ideas of how to act/respond.

We have become a "me-first" culture. Infatuated with our own agenda/thoughts/desires/etc. In the wake, a new group of people is harmed. So, what's the difference? Two wrongs make a right? 

I read this message from the author and said to myself, yes. His words are true. And I should try harder to be a giver who considers all those around me, not an exclusive group. I should also move on without expectation of praise because if I keep busy doing the good for all the people around me, I won't have time to wait for my "due praise". 

Consider adding this phrase from a wise author who announced his retirement to your thoughts:  

Those who give must not remember, 
those who receive must not forget.

To those who live in American, I hope your Independence Day Celebration is full of good cheer, thrilling fireworks, family fun, good food, and proves to be a moment when you can show a strong patriotic spirit.

This post has been brought to you by the one word: So-American

My book, Daring To Live, A Patriotic Suspense Novel is available on Amazon and makes for a great read for this patriotic season. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

I Appreciated His Warning-Tornados

As an author, I have learned that many experiences can be understood with enough research. Social media pushes the emotion of whatever is viewed. Anger. Rage. Joy. Loss. Tragedy. Triumph. Victory. Discovery, etc.

Photo by Mary Vee, Oklahoma

I mostly agree with this still, because as the days go by, I write about a situation then reach into my personal memories, pull up my true responses, and insert that response into the character. I can empathize with those who experience a myriad of situations because I can call up my personal similar emotion.

You do too. Knowingly or unknowingly. You've cried, laughed, cheered at movies or while reading a book. Admit it. :)

But there are some experiences that extend beyond our realm of experiences encountered so far.

Photo by Mary Vee, Oklahoma

For example, yesterday, my daughter and I drove through Oklahoma heading east. I am not from Oklahoma, but I've heard plenty about their colossal storms. 

Tornado season has begun. 

We did not expect the 70-80 mph winds, the sheets of rain pounding the pavement, the hail, or the trees bending over. And although the driving was tolerable because we've driven in similar inclement weather, we took a break after two hours of fighting the winds. 

Photo by Mary Vee, Oklahoma

We pulled into a truck stop, ran inside, and crowded in front of a TV weather report with other travelers dripping rain onto the floor.

I have lived through many powerful storms.

And all was well

...until the newsman said, "There are currently no threats of tornados."

I have also lived through tornados touching down 1 mile from my home...more than once.

So all was well 

Photo by Mary Vee, Oklahoma

..until I remembered the videos of Joplin, Missouri from six years ago when an F5 tornado turned the town into toothpicks and killed 158 people. Joplin was near and on our route.

We were safe according to the reports and yet a fear rose inside me that I've only experienced a few times in my life. 

We ordered some food to wait out the storm. A man came to our table, with a compassionate look on his face. He looked at the 6-month-old we had with us then said, "Just wanted to tell you there is a four-hour window before the next storm comes. I've traveled with a baby before and understand how difficult it can be."

Photo by Mary Vee, Oklahoma

I appreciated his warning after witnessing the accident in this photo and the next. More than he possibly knew. We packed up our food and got back in the car. 

We rode on the tail of the colossal storm that forced us to take a break, outrunning the sister storm on the way.

I've never suffered damage from a tornado other than down trees and days without power. That is nothing compared to what the people of Joplin and other cities have experienced.

Photo by Mary Vee, Missouri

Sometimes we really don't understand what a person is going through. Sometimes we need to be available for hugs, listening ears, and a cup of water.

This post has been brought to you by the one word: Empathy

My book, Daring To Live, A Patriotic Suspense Novel is available on Amazon. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Reunited Families

At this moment, I am hanging out in a border state in the United States. Guess what the hot topic is here? 
Right, immigration and the separation of children.

Arizona/Mexican border, PC-Katy McNiff

I in no wise want to tackle a political debate here but want to discuss an interesting aspect of this topic brought up by the BBC.

At the end of a very lengthy immigration article posted by the BBC the writer asks: Was your family split up after entering the US? Are any of your family members currently being detained and kept apart? Email

The question got me thinking. 

The answer for my immediate family would be no, but the extended family, yes. However, it happened in another country.

With modern technology, we can now dig back into our genealogy and learn amazing pieces of information about our own family. So, if you're interested, you can find out if your ancestors ever experienced a similar experience.

Separation of families is not new. Stalin separated children from Lenin sympathizers. Hitler separated families. German children were taken to training camps to educate and train them for government service. There are many more in history that include national children taken from their homes for a purpose and immigrant children taken from their family unit for a purpose. Well, this depressing list could go on for pages.

My thinking slid into this question, what was the result for the families in the past?

For my extended family...not so good. BUT the love that was in the family...never left.  

Years later, after the situation ended, the family came from all parts of the world for a family holiday. We shared a meal at a table, squeezed into a tiny apartment. New languages had been learned by the children. The old one had not been taught to them. Still, the family found ways to communicate. One spoke to another who spoke the language of a third who translated to a fourth. We spent a week together laughing, sharing, renewing and reunited.

There is a one-day hope in this situation.

It may not be now.

But one day...

Never Give Up Stories 
lived and shared by Mary Vee

This post has been brought to you by the one-word: FamilyHope

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Flag Day This Week-Do you Really Want To Live In Another Country? AND CELEBRATING MY BIRTHDAY!!

This Thursday is Flag Day in the United States.

Photo by Mary Vee
Tennessee Overlook near Johnson City

No matter the good, the bad, and the ugly, living in the United States isn't so bad. I'm sure I think this because I grew up here, which makes it home. 

Many of you have visited another country or two, maybe more. You saw the great sights, ate the food, and made great memories. Me too. And for a moment I might have thought I'd like to move to that country. 

I'd probably have to learn another language. The culture would be completely different. I'd have to work around my savings, give up having the transportation I'm used too. Find a job. A place to live. Probably wouldn't be able to see my family as often. I don't know. Maybe it wouldn't be such a great idea.

After a while, I'd find issues with similar governmental decisions, etc. in the new country. I'd hear and read the complaints from those living there and eventually come to the conclusion every place has problems. So, I may as well stay home.

Would you really want to live in another country?

We say these things usually in frustration, but I'm not so sure we mean them. 

For now, let's choose to honor this country we call home and plan to raise our flag this Thursday.


My birthday is this week!!

I love to share with my readers on my birthday. This year, I will give away one eBook copy of my 2018 Patriotic book, Daring to Live, A Patriotic Suspense Novel to one commenter. 

Simply leave a comment and your email address for me to notify you. Only comments with email addresses are eligible as entries for this give-away. All are welcome to enter. The winner will be randomly chosen from all entries.

BONUS ENTRY; If a friend also mentions you in their comment, you will get a bonus entry. All are welcome to enter.

BONUS ENTRY for anyone signing up for a Never Give Up Story adventure with Mary Vee:

Come. Take an adventure with us by subscribing to a free Never Give Up Story to be delivered to your email! Each time a Never Give Up Story arrives in your mailbox, you will have an opportunity to virtually travel to an amazing place in the world with Mary Vee, suspense author. Ride a pirate ship, climb cliffs, whitewater raft, soar to the top of the Eiffel Tower, this and much more. Dare to explore from the comfort of your home. Join us. The passage is free!  Here is the link: Click Here to Virtually Travel Around the World With Mary Vee. It's FREE!


I am also listing Daring To Live, A Patriotic Suspense Novel on sale for $0.99 in celebration of Flag Day and my birthday for this week. CLICK HERE to get your copy

This post has been brought to you by the one-word: Celebrate!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Rural Life 101. So Much to Learn When Foiling Murphy's Law

Timing is everything.

I've been a city dweller and have learned to live by the clock. 

If I didn't, I'd miss the bus, train, subway, carpool, or get stuck in horrendous traffic especially during construction season. Oh yeah, this girl can survive in the city.

Now that I am a rural dweller I see this life also runs on a clock. Like planting season. Why, rural folk even put calling the septic company to drain the tank on the calendar! And that's not all! 

I've learned when the earliest time to safely walk on lake's ice, the best fishing spots, how to shop bulk because the nearest grocery store is far away, when to pick then can various fruits and vegetables, how to work a generator because the power goes out a lot of times, how to work a tractor mower and heavy duty snowblower, and much more. I can even make a dutch oven full of the best hearty stew you've ever tasted. This girl has her rural on. 

In both city and country the workings can get mucked up without a notice. This is the time I'd prefer living in an apartment because I can call maintenance. 

Unfortunately, the maintenance guy is us in our rural home.

These last two weeks I've learned how to identify and resolve a septic field that has collapsed.

I didn't remember signing up for this class.

Had I been asked ahead of time, I would have said the idea stank. 

But here I am. 

Two trips to the county office. County inspectors visits. The bad news in writing. Contacting a plumber. Hearing the news. Calling the county back. Getting a revised permit. Calling the septic service, then listen for the mighty trucks rolling.

I must admit, I thought the ten huge construction vehicles rumbling up the street were exciting until they crawled across our one-year-old asphalt driveway. 

Still, I felt like a little kid watching all the trucks and workers.

I was excited to see how easily the yard could be transformed into twenty ten-foot mounds. How easily the earth collapsed under a worker. He only fell six feet.

I filmed each step. Interviewed the workers. I could write a book about the subject.

But I won't.

Because I really don't like non fiction.

The tale is nearly over. Only half of the ten foot mounds are left in the backyard. The workers have gone home. They'll finish the job tomorrow morning.

And we have written on our calendar to check the system every three years like other rural folk do. BTW we didn't cause the problem. The poor system had become old. It lasted 30 years which is unusual.

The good news is we won't have problems when our 6 month grandson comes to visit next month. And trust me. Those little critters can test a septic system.

All in all. Murphy's Law didn't win (if anything can go wrong, it will). And Pollyanna can say we played the glad game. (Disney movie)

This post has been brought to you by the one word: FoilMurphy'sLaw