Monthly Archives: April 2016

Z is for Zippers


by Lillian Csernica on April 30, 2016

My one great nemesis during travel is zippers.  They don’t like me, I don’t like them.  Nevertheless, they do come in handy at keeping things closed.  At least, that is, until one of us breaks a foot, loses a tooth, or rips out a seam.

 

 

I hate it when this happens.  Only rarely do I get lucky enough to work the zipper foot down to the end of the zipper where I might have the slightest prayer of making the teeth mesh again correctly.  The other problem with zippers is how easily my long hair can get caught in them, especially under windy conditions.  Trying to pry my hair out of a closed zipper is not the most pleasant experience!

 

Much like my comb, once a zipper has broken or lost teeth, that’s the end of it.  Time to get a new one!

 

And then there’s the problem of the torn seam.  This can be mended, but it’s tiresome work when time is short and I’d much rather be out and about enjoying my latest  adventure.  On my most recent trip to Japan, I bought a rather large purse in the hope that it would function as a carry-on bag as well.  It does, but there’s so much room in there you’d think this was the luggage version of Dr. Who’s TARDIS!  I am forever zipping it open and shut, which has put some strain on the seams to either side of the zipper itself.  I suppose some reinforcement is in order.

 

And there you have it!  All 26 letters of the Alphabet, under the theme of Travel.  Thank you for joining me.  I hope you’ve had fun!

 

 

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Y is for Yearning


by Lillian Csernica on April 29, 2016

 

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There you have it.  During all the trips I’ve taken, in the midst of all the traveling I’ve done, there’s been a part of me that was waiting, watching, and hoping.  I’ve been on the lookout for that signal, that flare of recognition that would tell me I had finally found the trail that would lead me to my true home.

U2 said it best.

And so I keep traveling.

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X is for Xenophile


by Lillian Csernica on April 28, 2016

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From Dictionary.com:

noun
1.  a person who is attracted to foreign peoples, cultures, or customs.

 

Hello.  My name is Lillian and I am a xenophile.

I would explain why I’m a xenophile, but if you’ve gotten this far into the alphabet with me, it’s safe to assume you’ve already figured it out.

 

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W is for Waiting


by Lillian Csernica on April 27, 2016

 

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Waiting for the oiran parade at Toei Kyoto Studio Park and talking to the little old Japanese gentleman.  The one question he asked me in Japanese that I clearly understood was what kind of Japanese food I like to eat.  Figures, doesn’t it?  😀

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Waiting during the intermission at the Folies Bergere.  I bought a can of Coke to drink while I stood there in the lobby watching people go by.  I was a trifle stunned by the show.  The great advantage of being alone while you travel is not having to worry about your mother finding out what you’ve been up to while you were away!

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Waiting to see if the rain in Maui would let up enough for Mom and me to go on the submarine ride.  So many tourists on the island were so angry, so upset by their plans being cancelled.  It was a bad day to be in the hospitality industry.  To me it was still an adventure, a tropical storm with the palm trees bending way over just like in so many movies I’d seen.

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Waiting to see if Pat and I would find a gas station before we ran out of gas miles from anywhere in the dark.  I’ve experienced this particular wait more than once.  All I can do is cross my fingers and pray.  We’ve never been stranded by the side of the road.  Well, not yet, anyway!

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Waiting to see if I really could drive all the way to Fremont.  Then all the way to Stockton.  Then all the way to Seattle!  This wasn’t the usual kind of wait, given that I was driving at the time.  That part of my mind that’s always hanging back and observing was doing the waiting.  When I’m alone in the car I tend to talk to myself while I drive.  I hope anybody who notices thinks I’m singing along with the radio.

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Waiting to see if my destination would measure up to my imagination!

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V is for View


by Lillian Csernica on April 26, 2016

One of the best parts of travel is just standing there and looking at the view.  There’s so much to see, so many details, so many shades of color and meaning.

 

Cliffs along the California coast

Born and raised here, I am a California native.  When life gets me down, I go to the seashore and let the power of the elements make me feel better.

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Cypress veranda at Kiyomizudera

My #1 Bucket List item, accomplished.  This very spot is the setting for “A Demon in the Noonday Sun,” one of two stories I contributed to 12 Hours Later.  The view is truly spectacular in every season of the year.

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The Rose Window in Notre Dame Cathedral

There I was, standing in Notre Dame on a Sunday.  The clouds of incense were so thick it was like trying to see the window through fog.  Glorious.  There’s no other word for it.

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Fishing off the Four Mile Banks in Laguna Beach, CA

When I was in high school, my father and his friends from work would sometimes charter a boat to take them out fishing down by Laguna.  Dad took me with him.  The captain of the charter liked me because he thought I was good luck.  I always caught the first fish.

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Carlsbad Caverns

There’s a whole lot to see on the surface of our planet, but don’t forget to take a look at what’s waiting under that very surface.  When I was a little kid, my parents took our family to see the Carlsbad Caverns. Scared the daylights out of me then, especially when the bats woke up.  Now I can appreciate the beauty and wonder of the rock formations.

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U is for Undiscovered


by Lillian Csernica on April 25, 2016

 

Today we will examine some of the places on my Travel Bucket List.  I hope to visit them before I die.  This is yet another way I keep trying to motivate myself to exercise and lose weight.  I present these destinations in the order they occurred to me as I was daydreaming.

New Zealand

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Parliament of New Zealand in Wellington city

 

Reykjavik, Iceland

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Venice, Italy

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The Grand Canal at night

Ireland

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Denmark

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Egeskov Castle

Glasgow, Scotland

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Glasgow city hall

Jamaica

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Martinique

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Fort de France, Martinique

Morocco

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Santiago de Compostella, Spain

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Church interior, Santiago de Compostella, Galicia, Spain

Greece

The site of the monastery where my patron saint was abbess in the 4th Century.

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St. Irene Chrysovalantou Greek Orthodox Church

 

 

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T is for Toilet


by Lillian Csernica on April 23, 2016

 

Sooner or later when traveling one must take a break from all the fun and excitement to find a restroom.  For me this has led to some of the stranger and more interesting bits of information I’ve picked up along the way.

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Convention hotel bathrooms:

Pat and I have stayed in a variety of hotels over the years, from the random Motel 6 to the Hilton.  We have experienced many varieties of plumbing.  Being writers, we’ve compiled a list of questions and observations to do with this particular topic.

Why would any interior designer put the toilet facing the mirrors in the bathroom?  Only the most narcissistic person really wants to see him- or herself at that moment!

There’s one hotel where the doors slide together in a manner similar to Japanese fusuma.  They meet in the middle, leaving a narrow but perceptible gap.  The frames are heavy wood, so when they roll on their tracks, there’s considerable noise.  Not a happy thing in the middle of the night.

I’ve already mentioned the mind-boggling goofiness of putting the light switch outside the actual bathroom itself.

In the older hotels and motels, ancient plumbing is often temperamental.  If they can give me an iron in the closet, it would be nice to have a plunger in the bathroom.  Then maybe I wouldn’t have to go looking for one after midnight, which can lead to all kinds of trouble!

Airport restrooms:

Haneda airport has to cater to a wide variety of nationalities and religions.  I’ve never seen a bathroom stall with so many accommodations, several of which I could not identify.

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Japan — During Nippon 2007, Pat and I spent some time at the main hotel in the Pan Pacifico Convention Center.  We later discovered the restroom was divided into the side for the Japanese ladies:

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And the side for Western ladies and Japanese mothers with small children.  More buttons than we knew what to do with!

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Generally speaking, there are no paper towels in Japanese restrooms unless it’s a site that also caters to Western guests.  Japanese ladies often carry cloth handkerchiefs with them.

Paris — When I spent the weekend in Paris with the Dutch bus tour, I had a room to myself in the hotel where we all stayed.  This might sound ideal, but it wasn’t.  The bathroom left me perplexed.  Having never before encountered a bidet, I had no idea what it was.  It did not look like a toilet, I could see it did not function like a toilet, so I was left to wonder where exactly the actual toilet might be.

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Not until the next day did I finally ask somebody for help.  The solution to the mystery?  I could not find the “water closet” in particular because when my hotel room door opened it concealed the door to the little closet that held nothing but the toilet itself.

I’m positive some French architect did that on purpose just to make foreign tourists look silly.

My advice: Always carry toilet paper, a packet of sanitary wipes, a packet of tissues, etc.   Sooner or later you’ll be very glad you did.  What’s more, you may be able to bring aid and comfort to a fellow traveler!

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Steampunk Scribes


by Lillian Csernica on April 21, 2016

 

A delightful Q&A article between The Punkettes and some of us who have contributed stories to 30 Days Later can be found HERE.

 

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S is for Snacks


by Lillian Csernica on April 22, 2016

When you’re traveling, especially long distances, you want to keep a munchie stash with you because odds are good you will get stuck somewhere waiting for longer than you expect.  Low blood sugar makes the trials of traveling even more irritating.  These are my favorite snacks from all the places I’ve visited:

France

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Pain au chocolat (Chocolate croissant)

Germany

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Sausage (bratwurst)

Pretzels

Japan

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Daifuku mochi — Depending on the characters used, this treat is called either “big belly rice cake” or “great luck rice cake.”  The traditional filling is anko, or red bean paste.  Crushed melon is also used, and in the springtime strawberries are popular.

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Anmitsu: It’s a traditional Japanese dessert that has cubes of agar agar jelly, fresh fruit slices, red bean paste, and a dollop of ice cream.  In this case, green tea ice cream.  Looks really weird, doesn’t it?  Pat and I had this at the Haneda Airport during our twelve hour layover.  Not nearly as sweet as an American ice cream sundae, anmitsu combines flavors and textures into a unique and tasty dish.

Mexico

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Galletas (Cookies)

The Netherlands

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Stroopwafels are two large, thin cookies with syrup in the middle.  The size of stroopwafels vary, and you can get them dipped in chocolate, topped with whipped cream, etc.  A small package of these is just right for a snack.

United States

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Northern — Potatoes.  Baked, fried, or scalloped, I do love the starchy little devils.

Southern — Hush puppies and corn bread.  I love hushpuppies.  I would live on them if it weren’t for the fact that by the end of the first week I’d be able to actually hear my arteries hardening!

Eastern — New England clam chowder.  With lots of black pepper.  I do not eat the red stuff.

Western — San Francisco sourdough bread.  Whenever I order breakfast in a restaurant, I get sourdough toast.  No matter where in the U.S. I might be, the yeast starter probably came from San Francisco.

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Central — Cheese.  I love cheese, really I do.  String cheese, cheddar on my burger, grilled cheese sandwiches, alfredo sauce, you name it.  Can’t have bleu cheese because I’m allergic to mold.

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R is for Road Trip


by Lillian Csernica on April 21, 2016

I love a good road trip.  The fact that I usually take them with my best friend, collaborator, and partner in crime Pat MacEwen does help.  Here are my Top Five Reasons Why I Love Road Trips.

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Staying in hotels — Air conditioning, big beds, and maid service.  What’s not to love?  Of course, there was that one haunted hotel….

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You see life in detail — Little jukeboxes at every table in a Utah diner.  Entering the city of St. Louis, Missouri.  Black Butte, the cinder cone near Mt. Shasta.  Traveling down the California coast on Hwy 101 and stopping to see the waves crashing against the cliffs.  All the stars you can see at night out in the middle of nowhere in Arizona.

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Plenty of time to work out story ideas and/or problems — Pat and I have discussed many of our works-in-progress while on the road.  It’s usually up to me to take notes.  Now that I’ve started doing my share of the driving, she’ll have to play scribe.  I don’t think we’ve ever had a story conference quite like the Night of the Lavender Oreos, at least not while we were on the road.  Safety first!

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The variety of food is great — The Black Bear Diner.  That BBQ place Pat and I stopped at on the way home from RadCon. The Mongolian BBQ in Stockton, CA.  The reliably low-cost comfort food at various Denny’s locations all over the Pacific Northwest.

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The people I meet:

The Man From Glasgow.  I met him on the casino floor of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas.  He was trying to find his way to the elevators.  Suddenly we were arm in arm, laughing and chatting.  He wouldn’t believe me when I told him I wanted to see Glasgow more than Edinburgh.

The nurse on duty with us when Chris, Michael and I had to spend the night in a Red Cross Shelter because it rained so hard that winter our house was in danger of being flooded.  Turned out she was regional director for the Red Cross with NICU experience.  She got stuck where we did by the landslides, so we all huddled together.

My Ohio cousins.  There are more than a few.  The first time we met, they ganged up on me, tied me to a tree, and blasted me with Spiderman squirt guns.  My family is so scattered that I haven’t had a lot of that kind of group family mayhem in my life.  Now I’m old enough to know how precious it really is.

To say nothing of the wide and wonderful variety of folks I meet at science fiction conventions….

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