Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to my friends, fans, and family! I appreciate every one of you!!! Since so many have asked when will I release my next book, I’ll offer a little backstory on that subject. In 2011 I decided to take a one-year hiatus to rebuild my muse that had been battered by a decade of back-to-back deadlines and the passing of my mom. I’m so glad I did. I think that one of the most invigorating–and scary–things a person can do is to make the conscious decision to step off life’s treadmill for a time. Taking away the pressure of the deadlines and publisher demands, I was able to better focus on my family and my full-time career as a commercial airline pilot flying 747s overseas, as well as living out a few HGTV fantasies by doing two–fixer-upper homes in a row, and LIVING in them as we renovated. I have traveled and challenged myself, and have grown so much, all while collecting story ideas like seashells at low tide. I never intended to take such a long break, but in a blink of an eye, it seems, my one-year hiatus has turned into three!

Sorry about that…

Thankfully, since I plan to go straight from keyboard to online digital publishing, the pipeline with be short and thus so will the wait when I do start putting books out there again. Please do keep your notes coming. I feel blessed knowing y’all have loved my stories enough to badger me into creating more of them. My readers are the best. I love you all!

Here are a few photos from 2014, a year of ups and downs, great adventure, and many significant personal challenges taken and completed:

In January I lost my best friend, shadow, and soul-doggie Tala to heart cancer:
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I worked a heavier than normal schedule this year, which included one last layover in lovely Sydney, Australia before the 747s were pulled from the route:

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Fun, fun! Birthday layover in Beijing with my bestie, also a United 747 pilot:
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Daughter’s 21st birthday vacation/spring break girls’ trip to Maui. My first time there. A gorgeous island. Lobster at Dukes…soooo good:

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Kaanapali sunset:

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Misty, one of my 2 cats:

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Cherry blossom time in Tokyo:

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“My” valley. View from our back deck (million-dollar view from a fixer-upper house):
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Bucket list trip, a westbound transAtlantic crossing on the AMAZING Queen Mary 2 (blog on that trip to come):

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My view of Mitchell Hall from the head table at the United States Air Force Academy Class of 2015’s Ring Dance dinner, where I was the guest speaker. Another challenge to myself, my first lengthy “speech,” something I always vowed to avoid (and plan to continue doing so in the future, haha) :

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Got a new puppy last summer. A naughty, spirited, wicked-smart Border Collie named Skye who now has to live up to “Saint Tala.”

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Ripening grapes in our vineyard. The deer subsequently ate every last one. A tall fence is in our future:

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Sauce made with beefsteak tomatoes from the garden:

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Another challenge accepted and completed–my first 5K. I took second place. :):

Dad’s 90th:IMG_4273

Labor Day/Parent’s weekend this year included as always Sunday brunch at the amazing Broadmoor:
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Jumbo jet selfie:IMG_4453

Filets made from our next-door neighbor’s grass-fed beef (with homegrown rosemary). The meat is so delicious I can almost forget how cute this steer was before..:

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September New York City trip with my bestie and her daughter. So much fun! Tavern on the Green in Central Park:IMG_4529

Freedom Tower. If you haven’t yet visited the new 9-11 Memorial, do. It’s so incredibly moving and beautiful:IMG_4548

Aw! Skye napping:IMG_4599

Fall views from the property:IMG_4706

The drought in Northern California has taken a toll on our land :IMG_4710

Parched vineyard. Irrigation is in our future as well as that deer fence:IMG_4713

Skye at 7 months is growing fast:IMG_4809

Sunrise at the “office”:IMG_4845

A bounty of Meyer lemons. These are a hybrid of mandarins and normal lemons and so delicious:IMG_4880

In cruise…:IMG_4767

A frigid morning in downtown Tokyo:

From the cockpit–The sky, the beautiful, ever-changing sky that I never tire of seeing:IMG_4926

And, when home, I never tire of the sunsets from the back deck…:IMG_4949

And to wrap up the year, here is Mew, the matriarch of the house, a 15 year-old Maine Coon, posing in front of the Christmas tree:

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May 2015 bring you love, happiness, and good health!

xxxooo Susan

Ronery in Tokyo

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Last flying trip of the year. I’ve worked steadily since the weekend after Thanksgiving with only 2 days off between each trip. The goal was to get a big block of time off for the holidays and kids visiting home from college. Goal achieved!! I’m off until sometime in January!

Tokyo was so clear and gorgeous. I’m on a trip where the captain is training a new guy. Not any captain can train pilots new to the 747 and fresh out of simulator training. He’s specially trained to do this, and is called a check airman. The part I didn’t like was that this trip was supposed to be MY flying trip, but I was pulled out of that position and told to be the relief pilot by the United Scheduling folks. Grrr. Nothing I can do about that. The new guy needs to land. I also “took one for the team” by volunteering to stay at the overflow hotel in Tokyo, so the captain could stay in the same hotel as the new guy. See, on international flights, learning the ropes of the layover procedures, like the transportation back and forth and where to eat etc is almost as important as the airplane procedures, and they don’t have simulators for that! So I’m alone on my layover which feels a little weird.

Last night after arriving I went out to see some truly AMAZING Christmas lights. The Yebisu Place Gardens area was filled with people taking photos of it all and shopping. IMG_4915
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of COURSE I had to stop and get some fresh and hot Okonomiyaki for take out!

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The hotel lobby was over the top!

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I was placed in a low floor room (the 6th) and needed my white noise app to block out the street traffic  and so I was SHOCKED to open the curtains this morning to see MT FUJI gleaming at me! I thought at first I was looking at a cloud on the horizon it was so unexpected.  It made feeling “ronery” a little bit easier to bear. :)

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A leafy hike

A few weeks ago I hiked into Seocho Park, a fantastic area of trails for running and walking that winds through the center of the financial center of Gangnam (yes, of the PSY Gangnam Style song fame) in Seoul and beyond. If the weather’s decent I make a point of working out here every layover in Seoul.  This ended up being the last of the fall color hikes because the next time I showed up it had snowed.

Leaves, leaves everywhere! Drifting up to almost sitting height.

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Yep, it’s a silk worm sculpture…

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I stumbled upon this directional sign pointing to North Korea. Nah. Not today…

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the trails wind in-between apartments and office buildings.

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The train station is the BEST for eats. This is my favorite dumpling place! Yummy way to rest up post-hike!

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Hong Kong-ing

Thanksgiving is over and back to work, this time to Hong Kong. I got a glimpse of the Occupy democracy protest on the way to the hotel. These kids are young, REALLY young, some look middle-school aged, wearing surgical masks and texting on their cell phones. Saw groups of bored looking police in gray riot gear. Just interesting seeing news up close and real…

There’s little I love more than breakfast with a view. And watermelon juice.

Except for maybe a room with a view. Talk about a command view of Hong Kong Harbor. Love it!
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On the westward flight over, the sunset lasted about three hours. Really gorgeous!
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Volcano!

This volcano was south of Cold Bay in Alaska, just where the land splinters and trickles off into the Northern Pacific. Does anyone know which one it is? It was smoking too. Could be related to the recent action all around the Ring of Fire.

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Khabarovsk!

I saw this city while flying high over remote and desolate northeastern Russia recently. I get so curious about these places and who lives there etc. Looked it up:

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Khabarovsk is the largest city and the administrative center of Khabarovsk Krai, Russia, located 30 kilometers from the Chinese border, at the confluence of the Amur and Ussuri Rivers, about 800 kilometers north of Vladivostok.

Cool!