"" Writer's Wanderings: November 2005

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Macy's Parade Balloons

Scarf drawn around my head and neck, clutching my coat closed, I shuffled through the crowd of people heading for 81st street. It was a windy cold Wednesday night before the Macy's Parade. As Bob and I rounded the corner, we were greeted by the 10 foot wide smile of a big brown dog hoovering just slightly off the pavement. Scooby Doo looked plump with helium and ready to bound down Broadway in the morning. With the predicted winds, he would be a tough character to hang on to.

Other balloons in the parade were at various stages of inflation. Some were just being unrolled from bags that looked no bigger than those which would contain a good sized tent for camping. They lay pancake flat on the street until all the guide lines and appendages were unfurled and the hose from the industrial sized tank of helium on a truck nearby was attached. With a hiss, the flat fabric begins to take shape. Arms, legs, ears, lips, all fill with the lighter than air gas and it begins to float hampered only by the netting thrown across it to secure it for the night.

The next day we were awed as the balloons paraded by us tethered by two jeeps and 25-40 people who held guide lines to move the characters down the street. It was windy. They struggled at intersections where open spaces created cross winds. But, except for one mishap, they all made it safely to the Macy's department store on 34th Street--a miracle indeed.

Often, as the balloons passed by or stopped for a short time in front of us, the wind would cause the huge characters to sway--sometimes right over the top of our heads. Their size was overwhelming and the danger they presented should they get out of control was always a consideration.

I thought about how we inflate our worries so often like those big balloons. They become overwhelming and dangerous if we let them. They loom over us, darkening our world. Macy's used to release the balloons when the parade was over (they were smaller then) and let them float away to be taken care of by wind and air pressure that would eventually explode the inner cavities. It is a good analogy--let go of those inflated worries and let God take care of them.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Holiday Greetings

Life has been moving in the fast lane lately. Unfortunately that led me to neglect posting my musings and stories for the past week. But life has also been good. FYI we went to NYC for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (more to follow) and my BIG news--I now have an agent for the novel I have written, In a Pickle. I am one step closer to seeing the first of a series featuring Annie Pickels, pickle entrepreneur and world traveler. Yes, it is humorous. Yes, it has a dash of romance. And yes, I AM EXCITED!

The contract came just before we left for New York and needless to say, Bob wondered if he would have to tie a string to me to keep me from floating down Broadway with Scooby Do and Chicken Little. It was a little strange being away for Thanksgiving. Except for the year I was sick, I think it is the first Robbins Thanksgiving we've missed in 37 years. Not to worry though, we did have a great turkey dinner.

Bob made reservations with the restaurant in our hotel for our Thanksgiving dinner. There was a huge salad buffet and a modest dessert buffet (but tasty!) and inbetween the two was a plateful of turkey, dressing, gravy, cranberry relish and sweet potatoes. Mmm-mmm.

When we were first seated, our waiter came over to take our drink order. He introduced himself and I answered with "Happy Thanksgiving!" He straightened and stepped back. I wondered if I'd made a faux pas. I hate empty space so I filled it with, "I'm so glad you're here today so we could have dinner."

He started in to say, "What can I get you..." and then he shook his head. "You know, you are the first person today who's said 'Happy Thanksgiving' to me...and before you asked me to get you anything!" I felt tears rush to my eyes. I'm not a weeper so that surprised me. Here was this gentleman working his tail off all day (his shift ended shortly after we came) to make customer's happy with their holiday dinner and no one had taken the time to wish him good will.

Perhaps we shouldn't be worried with how we are greeted in the stores this season but more about how we greet others. There may be someone God has put in your path who needs to hear, "Merry Christmas!"

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Mending Broken Hearts

I just returned from a grueling three day seminar on speaking. The motto was "never let them rest." The leaders (CLASServices) lived up to the motto. It always amazes me to see the collection of people God gathers together at these types of seminars and conferences.

As Christian writers and speakers, we want to reach out to those who are hurting and need encouragement. Why? Because at some point in our lives we've been touched by some of the hurt or the ugliness of life. We remember the broken heart. The stories I heard in just three short days could fill volumes of works...and may, if the tellers also become writers.

While a speaker or writer cannot be the mender of the broken heart, she can be a vehicle for God to do his handiwork. What a privilege to be used in such a way.

"For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks." Matthew 12:34b

Friday, November 11, 2005

Had Me at Hello

This has been a year of natural disasters starting with a horrendous tsunami, followed by earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods. People have lost great numbers of loved ones, homes, jobs, all the things that were important in their lives.

We live under the threat of terrorists who bomb discriminately or indiscriminately at will. An expert commented the other day that no country is safe. A suicide bombing is not a matter of "if" but "when."

Crime, poverty, unemployment, disease, homelessness, death,--the list goes on, affecting our lives no matter where we live.

Wouldn't you think that we would have more important things to worry about than whether a Wal-Mart greeter says "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas" to us as we enter the store? How about "Hello?" It worked for Tom Cruise and Renee Zellwinger.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Typing 101

Do you remember Typing 101? After all those years of learning the alphabet--singing the song--suddenly you were faced with a keyboard that seemed to make no logical sense. Credit goes to inventor Christopher Lathan Sholes for what appears to be the haphazard organization of the keys. Originally the keys were arranged alphabetically but as his skill and speed in typing increased, he found the keys colliding and sticking together. Thus he had to reorder the keys to make the process of typing easier and more efficient and keep the mechanics of the typewriter in better working order.

Our lives are often like the keyboards upon which we type. Seemingly haphazard and out of order. Often nothing makes sense. We question, "Why?" But, just as we place our hands upon the letters on the keyboard and make words, paragraphs and even great works of literature, so God's hands upon our lives can bring order, grace and great works of love. The keyboard will always seem disordered but the master's hand upon it will determine its production.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Pink, Blue, or Yellow?

Okay, now here's a conversation starter: What's your favorite sugar? Pink, blue, yellow, or white?

Have you noticed how colorful the litttle container of sugar packets that sits on the restaurant table has become? There used to be only two choices--granulated sugar and Sweet N Low that came in pink packets. Along came Equal in blue and now we have Splenda adorned in yellow. Add to that, for the naturalists among us, the packets of brown containing raw sugar--especially good in cappuccino.

It's no wonder life is so complicated when our choices only continue to multiply and we are forced into constant decision-making throughout our day. Calories or no calories? Processed verses raw? Sucralose, asparatame, saccharin, or sucrose? Alright, my head is spinning already.

Have a sweet day!

Friday, November 04, 2005


There is nothing more frustrating when you sail a boat than seeing your destination but you can't get there in a straight line. Rarely does the wind cooperate and blow from just the right direction for you to make a bee-line to your destination.

In order to get where you're going, you have to tack. That means you zig-zag back and forth toward your destination. The captain at the helm (usually Bob) yells "Come about!" The crew (usually me) then lets go of the line on the jib sail (the one in front) and the boat is turned to catch the wind from the other side. The line is pulled from the other side and fastened off on the cleat when the sail is in the right position. In the few seconds it takes the sail to cross over the bow of the boat, momentum is lost. But as soon as the wind fills the sail again, the boat pushes forward and get closer to its goal.

Now if you had a power boat, you'd just buzz right to the marina in a straight line. But that's noisy and not nearly as challenging.

This week my writing adventures have seemed a bit like using a sailboat to get where I want to be. I was moving right along and then the wind changed--I got another rejection. Since I am the captain of this ship, I yelled "Come about!" and set the sail to the other side (I sent my proposal out again). There were a few moments where the sail lufted in the breeze--I lost a little momentum but I am still heading for my publishing goal, albeit on a different tack.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Inanimate Personalities

As we pulled out of Hamilton, Bermuda, the cruise ship's horn sounded mournfully long and loud--a heartbreaking wail to the ears of those who loved her. This was the last time this ship would see Bermuda.

When we set sail in Philadelphia, we were aboard the Horizon, the very first cruise ship we had ever sailed on back in 1993. It was a young ship then--only about 2 years old. It was magical. I remember the first afternoon so clearly. We checked into our stateroom and were directed immediately to the lunch buffet being served on deck 11. I don't remember what I ate but I do remember sitting outside at a table, looking out over the beautiful harbor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and thinking, "It's just like the Love Boat on TV." (It was a popular show back then.)

We sailed on two more cruises aboard Horizon after that--one more to the Caribbean and another to Bermuda. While on the Millenium (another Celebrity ship) we heard that the Horizon was being sold/transfered to a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean. It was a wild and crazy thing to do, but we booked the last cruise of the Horizon for nostalgic reasons.

Arriving at Bermuda, we couldn't pull into the port of St. George's because of the weather. Hurricane Wilma was pushing wind and unstable weather conditions ahead of her. The channel to reach St. George's is very narrow allowing for little error. More than 8 knots of wind makes it precarious for a cruise ship. We docked at Hamilton instead.

We anticipated traveling by ferry and/or bus to St. George's and other interesting spots on the island. What we didn't anticipate was what was about to happen to the Horizon...
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