Author George Gurney

I have had the honor of being a test reader for author George Gurney. I enjoy his writing style, as well as his unique and interesting life stories. He was part of the first Peace Corps project in Guatemala back in 1961. He tells us a bit about that in his Book Guatemala One, which can be found on

George did not stop there. He has also made time to write a cookbook, and numerous short stories, my favorites of which feature the honorable Detective Wang.

Check him out on the George Gurney Amazon page.


Happy reading/writing!

Chicago Part 2

My flight arrived at the San Francisco airport on schedule, descending over breathtaking views of the Bay. My first thought upon landing in San Francisco were of sheer delight. The plane was small, and the person in front of me had their seat back for the entire flight, crunching my legs into space only a 2 door Honda sedan would dare to call sufficient.

Once I disembarked, I felt a bit overwhelmed. Everything I expected of Ontario airport I got from San Francisco. So many people, such a big place. Finding my flight information was easy; there were monitors all over the place. My flight was delayed. I expected that, having heard about the Huston flight back in Ontario. The reason cited was “awaiting aircraft”. I figured this meant that it would get there when it got there. I tried to find my gate right away. I didn’t want to be lost when my plane finally did arrive. I got turned around twice, but eventually found my way.

I passed dozens of shops. See’s candy. Tortilla shops. Cellular shops. Neck Pillows for $34.99. Thank god I brought mine from home.  Once I got to my gate, I felt the familiar High-school uncertainty of finding a place to sit. It was very artsy, with odd shaped chairs and round ottomans mixed in with traditional airport rows. There wasn’t many places empty, and dozens of people were walking around looking for places together. My flight had not been the only one delayed.  I found a seat near a power outlet, where I could plug in my laptop and fiddle with Photoshop while I wait.

I will give San Francisco airport this; it may be very confusing, but it has plenty of places to plug in mobile devices.

It amazes me how so many people can be in one place, all making noise and yet no one talking to anyone. The whole row where I sat people didn’t even make eye contact. I made use of the extra hour, and avoided the other people back by doodling the picture below.

airport doodle copy

It was inspired by the guy sitting behind me talking loudly on his cell phone about being excited to go back to Hawaii from a semester stay in London. He was stuck in San Francisco waiting for his connecting flight. He kept talking about how warm it was in the airport. I thought about how relative warmth or cold is to people based on where they are from. Here I was wearing a sweater and chastising myself for choosing to wear sandals. I was cold the entire flight over, and I had all my closed toe shoes in my checked bag. I think he noticed I was listening in, becuase he moved a few rows over and started talking more quietly. Oops. If I ever thought I might run into him again I might have been embarassed, but there is zero chance of that, and if he meant for his conversation to be private he might not want to be shouting into a phone in a room full of people. Just saying.

When they finally announced our flight would be boarding, a collective sigh went up, along with a few cheers.

This flight was completely full, and it was one of the larger planes. I waited 20 minuites for my group to be allowed to board. I crammed into the window seat with a magical view of the engine. This flight would be nearly 4 hours, crossing 2 time zones. It took forever to taxi onto the runway, but when we finally, finally took off the excitement of being on our way  again took over, keeping me from sleep.

I was over being crammed next to two silent strangers, sitting next to a noisy engine, and having ice cold air blasted at my feet before it even began to get dark outside my plane window. At that point, we still had two hours of travel ahead. I hadn’t bought a snack on the airplane because it was way overpriced, and I was afraid sliding my debit card would lock it up for my husband back home (we have been having an issue with our bank thinking everything we do is unauthorized, even though I have told them my husband’s job cover’s three counties. They lock our card and we have to call to unlock it before we can access our funds. Can’t do that from a plane.) So I was really hungry, really cold, and really tired. Travel is not nearly as glamorous as I thought it would be.

We landed at O’Hair Airport after midnight Chicago time, just under two hours late.  I walked what felt like a mile to the baggage claim, trying to coordinate a meet up with my friend on my cell phone.  I saw him before he saw me, and I couldn’t help but feeling overjoyed. The discomfort and hassle of travel suddenly didn’t matter. I told him to turn around, at which point he squished me in a bear hug. After all that disappointment, there it was. The Hollywood perfection of seeing someone you love after a long time apart.

My Chicago friend and I, We will call him Robbie, have been friends since we were 11. Both of us have flame red hair and pasty white skin. For most of our school years, people assumed we were brother and sister. We don’t actually look anything alike, save our complexion, but redheads are rare in my corner of the universe, so people make assumptions. Over the years we have been roommates several times, coworkers, classmates, and the dearest of friends. Even When Robbie was in the navy we stayed in touch through letters, all of which I still have. I don’t know why we have always been so connected, we just are. Robbie had a really ugly break up, and he wanted a fresh start, so he moved to Chicago, his favorite station when he was in the Navy. Once he was settled, he invited me to visit.

So here I was, being crushed by my dearest Robbie, finally seeing the Chicago he had been raving about since we were teenagers. I squashed him right back. A few moments of no air, and a bunch of people shoving past us made us realize we were blocking the path to the baggage claim.  We laughed and retrieved my giant pink Hawaiian print luggage. Then Robbie asked me if I wanted to take a cab or if I was up for the subway.

“which is cheaper?” I asked. Silly me.

“Subway is always cheaper. But do you think you can handle it? We have to walk a ways.” Robbie warned me.

“It’s fine, let’s do the subway.”

When Robbie said it was a ways, I though he meant, two maybe three parking lot distances.

No. You descend into the bowels of the airport, and walk a very long ways until you get to the train. Robbie bought me a card that you use to pay for the subway. It makes an entertaining, “Bing-bong” noise when you hold it over the reader. Very new age stuff.

The train, however, was ancient. We were in the very last car, and it sounded like it was going to derail about every 15 seconds. Each little bump in the track lurched us into one another. Across from me sat a rather loud African American homeless man singing the blues off key. He stared at me the entire ride. I ignored him and tried to talk only to Robbie.

When we approached our stop Robbie jumped up and said, “come on this is our stop.”

The train lurched to a stop, and the doors opened only for a moment. I leapt out, feeling as though I’d jumped off a boat. The doors closed behind me and the train took off. Now I understood why he got out of his seat before the train stopped moving; Chicago subway trains only stop for about 20 or 30 seconds.

I thought that we would be on our way to his home from there, but instead we got on a bus. Robbie was my personal tour guide, talking to me about all the neighborhoods we were going through along the way. The sheer size of Chicago was staggering to me. It was hard to be impressed by the architecture just yet, since it was so late at night.

Finally we arrived in Lakeview, one neighborhood of Chicago. We then walked 6 blocks to Robbie’s apartment building. We took the elevator to the 12th floor. He made me a bed on an air mattress, and I sacked out for the night.

In the morning, I woke up to this amazing view out my window.

The view was just the first of many I would see over the next week.


Chicago part 1

Some of you are probably wondering where the heck I’ve been for the last couple weeks. Well, I was visiting a much beloved friend in Chicago, and in all the commotion of preparing to leave I simply forgot to tell my readers about it. My humblest apologies.

To make up for it, I will tell you about my trip to the most spectacular city in the united states. I have not traveled much in my 28 years, so I’m not entirely certain that assessment is accurate, but that is how it felt when I was there. Getting there, however, was almost as interesting as the vacation itself.

Flying has always seemed so glamorous to me. The hustle and bustle of important people sipping cocktails and jetting to their next important meeting. Maybe honeymooners coming back from a romantic getaway in Italy. My imagination has always made people watching exciting. When being invited to stay in Chicago I was as excited about getting on the plane as I was getting to see my friend. I have not been on a plane since I was about 19 years old, and even then it was only a 1 hour flight.  I suspect that my youthful sense of wonder painted a much more favorable memory of flying than reality.

My first flight was from Ontario to San Francisco. It was a Tuesday afternoon, which translates to slow and empty. There was also some bad weather in the Midwest that was delaying everything going in and out of Chicago.  The busy image of the airport I had in my head evaporated the moment I walked into those automatic doors at the United lobby. There were about 8-10 other people in line (I didn’t actually count), and every one of us were traveling to Chicago. Some by way of Huston, some on the San Francisco flight with me. There was one United employee at the counter. After about half an hour in line, the United woman announced that anyone boarding the plane to San Francisco could jump ahead to the self serve counter, as our flight was not delayed. After a small pang of empathy for those who were being delayed, I headed over to check myself in.

Here is where an inexperienced flyer such as me has a great deal of problems. I was checking a bag, and there are absolutely no instructions on how to do this. There aren’t really any instructions on how to check in either, but you can figure that out if you have half a brain. I stood there awkwardly holding my black carryon bag and my bright pink Hawaiian print luggage, praying someone would tell me what to do. To her credit, The United Employee was extremely helpful the moment I told her I was new to flying. She got my bag checked in and turned me loose. From there I had to figure out where to go next on my own.

Luckily, Ontario is a very small airport. Finding security is not difficult. Dealing with security is incredibly difficult. I get that being a security agent at an airport is probably not the most exciting or rewarding career choice. But would it kill you to say hello? Crack a smile? The answer is yes, it will kill them apparently. I walked up to the first security agent, who just stuck his hand out at me. I handed him my boarding pass (assuming correctly that is what he wanted) and he wrote all over it. When I asked him what to do next, he grudgingly mumbled “to the left”. I then figured out, by watching the person in front of me that you have to put all your stuff, coat included, into the white bins, then shove them onto the conveyor belt.  I reiterate that there are no signs that give instructions of any kind anywhere around this area.

I stepped forward and was told by a slightly more friendly female security agent that I must also remove my shoes and place them in a bin. Ick. All I could think was, ” I really hope I don’t catch athletes foot from this nasty floor”.  I went through one of those tubes banks used to use at the drive through (only these were human sized) with my arms up in the “M” pose for thy YMCA dance, then went to collect my stuff.

As Soon as I reached for my bag, the security agent manning the x-ray machine said, “Ma’am do you have a laptop in your bag?”

“Yeah,” I answered with a smile. I smile a lot when people make me uneasy. I made the mistake of watching a government conspiracy documentary 2 days before my flight. All I could think was, “great. They are going to think a $300 laptop I bought at Wal-Mart is a bomb and I am going to be strip searched and miss my flight.”

“You’re supposed to take it out.” The security woman huffed while rummaging through my bag to remove the offending laptop.

Once cleared, I was again set free to roam the airport and find my gate. I wandered past several closed up shops and gates with sparse passengers. I wondered how the travel industry has been managing through this rough patch in our economy.  My sympathy evaporated when I saw a price tag of $3.25 for a 20oz coke. Jerks. They don’t let you bring anything over 3.5oz past security, and then rape your wallet once you get there. It isn’t that I begrudge them the added security, I would like to make it to my final destination un-exploded, thank you very much. But I do begrudge them using that as a cover to gouge you on the other side. I already paid over $400 for my tickets there and back. They can charge me the normal $1.29 for a soda and still make a profit.

After a short wait, we boarded the small plane to san Francisco, packed in like sardines.  I got a window seat, and took great joy in watching the landscape shrink beneath us. It was a beautiful and smooth flight.  Even though the idea of flying was a little dimmed for me at this point, I was still excited to finally be on my way.


Stay tuned for the next installment.