On the Road without Advil or Tums

I love to travel. More accurately, my brain loves to travel. My body finds hours in an airline seat difficult, nights on strange beds rough, walking over rocky terrain challenging and new foods unsettling. So while my mind is having a great time, I’ve learned to pacify the rest of me with analgesics and antacids that I seldom have to take at home.

Because I have no intention of traveling less as I get older, I have pretty much resigned myself to an increasing regimen of over the counter helpers as my aging body keeps pace with the wanderlust in my soul. I mean, this is not a problem that gets better, right? Backs only get more cranky and stomachs only get more particular with the years, or so I have been lead to believe. In other words, this is one kind of change that is predictable and not good.

click to learn more about qigong

click to learn more about qigong

Through a series of odd flukes, two months ago I found myself attending a week long seminar on qigong, an ancient Chinese practice which is related to Tai Chi and bears similarities to yoga. Please don’t ask me how I could just sort of end up at a week-long retreat doing something like this, I know that is weird but it happened. To my surprise, I took to the exercises. They seemed to combine everything I had ever liked about Pilates, Lamaze, yoga, dance, and stretching into a simple fifteen minute routine. So, with only one exception, I have done this exercise every day for two months now.

I did it because I really like doing it. I have no ailments and no aspirations. It simply feels good. About a month ago I had to do something a little bit physically challenging, at least for me. I spent quite a bit of time up on a stool painting two walls bright turquoise and I was a little surprised at how well it went and how good I felt afterwards. Interesting.

But it has gotten weirder. I’ve not only spent the past week traveling, I’ve spent it visiting my in-laws. I and my king-sized husband have slept on four different beds in six nights including an eight-year-old’s tiny pink canopy bed, and a futon never made to hold the two of us. I’m in New England and am inhaling anything with lobster and experiencing cold brisk air almost never found in Texas.

The title of this post has of course given my punchline away. My back feels great. The budding arthritis in my hips brought on by cool weather has yet to show itself. My digestive system could not be happier. I haven’t touched a tablet of anything on my travel kit. My husband actually described me as “spunky” out on a tennis court today and that’s not usually the adjective that comes to mind.

Qigong? Some strange alien formula in my bath water that is reducing my aging process? A kind of placebo effect brought on by my own hopefulness? Don’t know. Hope it lasts. Going to keep up with the qigong (and with bathing) in hopes that it does.

Treasure hunting for treasure

changeYes, people do still hunt for treasure, and they do occasionally strike it rich. Last week-end a family in Florida found seven gold chains, three gold coins, and a gold ring  valued together at about $300,000, just 150 yards offshore.

One of the interesting things about modern treasure hunting is that is has an odd way of linking the past to the present. Modern technology is almost invariably the key to new discoveries, and this latest find used jets of air to dig holes fifteen feet into the sea floor.

However, it takes accurate historical information to put the seeker in the right spot to begin with.  Last week’s booty was thought to come from the wreckage of Spanish ships sunk in a hurricane in 1715. Digging artifacts out of the sea floor after three hundred years of burial is certainly a unique way to touch the past.

Maya 1The fictitious treasure hunters in z2 acknowledge early in their quest that they may end up with no rights what-so-ever to what they find. Situations vary greatly, and are affected not only by local and national laws but also the age and historical significance of the find. For more information on when and how you might be able to keep part of a treasure you find, check out the blog Treasure Trove Dreams here.

In the case of the recently lucky Schmidt family in Florida, they will be splitting their proceeds with Queens Jewels, the company that owns salvaging rights in the area, and donating twenty percent of their find to the state of Florida. Only they know whether when they are making or losing money off of their treasure hunting ventures overall. It seems reasonable to guess that either way they are having a lot of fun doing this, and that they are remain hopeful that an even bigger find is right around the corner.

That’s the great thing about hunting for any kind of a treasure. There is always hope.

Click to visit cvxegypt.com

It’s September. There’s hope.

daffodilIn the Midwest where I grew up, we looked forward to spring. One of my most vivid movie memories as a child (second perhaps only to my sheer terror at the wicked witch of the west and her flying monkeys) was a scene from Dr. Zhivago. After endless footage of snow and ice, the daffodils burst onto the screen and even a little girl could feel the hope in their bright yellow blossoms.  Ahhhh …. sunshine. Warmth.

And then I moved to the south. Now when the days begin to grow longer and the daffodils start to bloom, a sad resignation sets in.  Soon it will be summer and the windows will have to be kept closed and everything in my yard will wither and I’ll have to get up at 6 a.m. to go for a walk. Sigh ……

First I think that July is the worst, because you know this is going to go on yet for a really long time.  Then I think that August is even worse because it’s been incredibly hot for ever and it’s still going to be incredibly hot for a very long time.

autumnThen September comes. They days are shorter but it is still every bit as muggy as it was three months ago.  However, September brings something new.  Sooner or later, sometime during the month, there is going to be at least one cool evening, one time to sit out on the porch, one night to sleep with the window open. You don’t know when it will come, and it probably won’t be until late in the month, but it is coming.

We’re still a long way away from November, when we in Houston will have what passes for autumn if we’re lucky. Trees will turn and breezes will blow and for a few months we will get to eat out on the deck, just like the people in Moscow do in the summer.

It’s nice that where ever you live, there is hope.

What stays the same?

mayan numbers 300

Can you figure out how to write the number 20 in Mayan?

The story behind z2 is that of a clever 26 year old Maya woman who devises a puzzle to hide a secret she has promised to protect. I did a fair amount of research on Maya culture as I prepared to write z2, but it was only after I finished the book that it occurred to me that I had simply assumed that at least some of the Maya enjoyed riddles and brainteasers  Why? Well, the truth is that I assume that some people from every culture that has ever existed have enjoyed puzzles.

Is this true? I recently stumbled on a book called “Ancient Puzzles: Classic Brainteasers and Other Timeless Mathematical Games of the Last 10 Centuries” by Dominic Olivastro, and I am treating myself to copy. Reading through the reviews, it appears that riddles, mental games and brainteasers indeed span all continents and several millennium, not to mention being common among more trivial divisions like age, gender, religion and educational background if any.

Yes, things keep on changing and generally that is good. It’s also true, however, that some things do stay the same and I’m glad that a love of puzzles is one of them.

Of course, in z2, the puzzle has more to offer than just the satisfaction of solving it …. but that’s another whole part of the story.