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WIF seminar at AFM.



ALASKA:



Me and G. B Jones
at the Iditarod Banquet.



It's fun answering messages as
"Zuma" the dog in the email room.



"My dog" Denali with his mom,
musher Karen Ramstead.



Mary had a special cake
made for the re-start party.



G.B's "The Grateful Sled",
all packed and ready to go
1049 miles across Alaska.


Night shift at Nome Headquarters.



The burled arch in Nome,
where the race ends.


G.B. leading his team out of the fog
to finally finish the race.


NEW ZEALAND:


Niki Caro, director/writer
of "Whale Rider"



Keisha-Castle Hughes,
young star of "Whale Rider"
with Ramai Haywood,
a New Zealand Icon.



I met Cliff Curtis who played
Keisha's dad in "Whale Rider".



The Maori dancers were fantastic
even when they weren't performing.


The villagers steam their meals
in this "Hangi"


Beautiful red totem in front of
the Maori meeting house


Strange colored lakes
in Wai-O-Tapu.



I loved the bright green one.


Lindsay and I had a reunion in Wellington.


The amazing Pancake Rocks
in the South Island.



Bungee jumping where it
all started, near Queenstown.



Beautiful Akaroa.


Shrek the hermit sheep,
now a celebrity.



Springtime in L.A.



UPDATE, August 2004:

January was spent in Los Angeles with me finally getting inspired about exercise. Having joined the senior center in Culver City a few months earlier and discovering their gym, Tai Chi and Yoga classes, I had also fallen in love with the Rosen Method, done to music with an emphasis on slow movement, each session ending with a hands-on massage for and from a partner. By the end of the hour every joint in the body has been exercised. After several months, our wonderful teacher, Helene, facing personal tragedy in the family, withdrew for about 6 weeks and the rest of the students asked if I would "teach" the class. Not having ever studied the Rosen Method, I hesitated at first and then decided to try it. I did the best I could and found it stimulating to choose music to go with the various moves. I felt more creative about the class every week and also enjoyed leading the group through the massages and floor stretches. I'm seriously thinking of studying the Rosen Method at one of their workshops as I find I have a great affinity for it.


Rosen Movement Class.

Hands-on massage
at the end of each session
.

February was AFM time again, and having left RKO several months earlier, I concentrated on volunteer work with Women in Film. I was asked to share the Chair of the International Committee with Madeleine Schnell. And for the second year I produced and moderated a panel on co-productions as part of series of seminars produced by AFMA and programmed by various industry organizations. Our seminar was sold out and got good notices.


Now it was time to go back to Alaska for my fourth Iditarod. This time I would take three weeks off and go back to Nome for the final ten days. Even though I wasn't his Idita-Rider this time, G.B. kindly asked me to sit at his table during the banquet. All his friends were delighted when he won a $1000 gift certificate from Cabela's and a chain saw.

I started my volunteer work in Anchorage right away; answering phones in the hot line room and being "Zuma" the K-9 reporter in the email room. Emails were starting to come in every day from kids all over the world and by the time the race was on for a few days the volume reached over a 1000 a day. Some of the questions were amazing and some kids wrote songs and poems to Zuma or told about their pets. I worked a 4 hour shift every day there and sometimes 3 hours in the phone room.


I watched the start of the race
from above.

Col. Norman Vaughn,
99 years young.

The start in Anchorage and re-start (this year in Willow as the trails around Wasilla were not deemed passable) were exciting as always. I spent a bit of time with Denali, the dog I sponsor with musher Karen Ramstead from Canada. G.B. was in fine form as usual, and I was able to give a kiss to "my"dog Forrest, part of his team. Having been given a VIP pass to an upstairs venue near the Start Line, for the first time I watched the teams leave from a different perspective. I spent several hours in the company of Iditarod veteran, Colonel Norman Vaughn who ran the race when he was 84! He had also been in Antarctica with Perry. Now he was 99, in a wheelchair and seemed a bit frail but told me he was going back to Antarctica this year to celebrate his 100th birthday.

After the re-start in Willow, we were invited to Mike and Mary Dillingham's house in Palmer. The Dillinghams are "Rivers", the blind sled dog's mom and pop. What a spread of food Mary laid out for us, including an amazing Iditarod cake with a musher and dogs depicted on it at a check point.

The rest of the week passed quickly with me working most days anywhere from 6 to 8 hours. We had of course, been following the race and had been reading about some of our friend's mishaps, including G.B's broken sled, leaking boots, bad weather going over the mountains, etc.

I had agreed to do the night shift at the Nome Iditarod Headquarters again (I had done it two years ago) and the following Sunday was up in Nome trying to help set up the office. I started my shift on Monday at 11 PM and would do that all week, being relieved at 7 AM.

I love it when the night shift is busy with mushers and their teams coming in. One night 7 teams finished the race in Nome about an hour apart. So I asked the police to ring the town siren seven times. That didn't sit so well with some of the town inhabitants and to my dismay the next night I was informed I couldn't ring the siren after 10PM. What a disappointment! The siren, usually rung when the musher is a few miles out of town, tells the teams they are FINALLY reaching the end and also guarantees that there will be some people at the finish line. I do like the people in Nome, but I think they are dead wrong on this…the mayor too. Surely they could put up with a little inconvenience for one week in a year.

As the race was drawing to a close, and G.B. still was nowhere near Nome, it looked like he would miss the closing night's banquet and award ceremony. He did make it to nearby Safety that day, but stayed the night there and came in the next day. It was foggy in Nome and G.B. and team appeared out of the mist like a phantom. But we could see that he was still having trouble getting one of the dogs to lead the team, something that had plagued him throughout the race. We saw the team stop several times and wonder off Front Street. Finally G.B. realizing it was going to be a photo finish disaster, started running towards us in front of the team and whistling and yelling to the dogs and they all followed. And that is how G. B. finished the Iditarod. They had a special musher's dinner for him and two other mushers who has also missed the banquet, but I had a ticket on the flight to Anchorage and LA that night and was warned I might be stuck in Nome for days if I didn't take it. It was frustrating to miss that special occasion.




Maori ceremony opened the
WIF summit in Auckland.

Me, Laura and Peggy at the
opening luncheon of the summit.

In April I went to Auckland, New Zealand for the International Summit of Women in Film. Laura and Peggy, both in the NY Chapter of WIF flew in and we all met up at the Auckland airport within a few minutes of each other. The next four days were full of lunches, screenings, cocktails parties, seminars, networking and sightseeing around that wonderful town. One lunch the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark, was the keynote speaker. Whale Rider director Niki Caro and stars Keisha Castle-Hughes and Cliff Curtis were also there too.

Our hotel in Rotorua
through the thermal steam.

You could see and smell
bubbling mud from the balcony
of our hotel room.

Lucy Lawless (Zena) was the celebrity host of the summit and appeared at many of the events, charming us with her humor and charm. And we all found out she can not only kick butt, but has a wonderful singing voice. New Zealand producer/director/writer Gaylene Preston presented her film "Perfect Strangers" with Sam Neill and Rachael Blake, which was shot in the wild west coast of the South Island. After the film, Gaylene regaled us with many stories about the production and the cast.

Finally it was time to leave Auckland and picking up the rental car we set off for Rotorua, where our hotel balcony overlooked the thermal area and Maori Village. On the way there we stopped and took a boat ride through a cave that was entirely lit by glow worms. Bizarre. The next day we explored the nearby thermal areas and Maori village and we shown how they cook in a Hangi, which is pot lowered into a steam hole. We were also entertained by Maori dancers.

After Rotorua, with an excursion to the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, with its colored steaming lakes, we drove to Napier for an overnight stay and then on to Wellington. I invited my old friend Lindsay Shelton to dinner in Wellington and he brought me up to date on what he had been up to since he left his job as head of the New Zealand Film Commission. Wellington has an amazing Heritage Museum right on the bay and just two blocks from our hotel. We spent hours exploring it.

The next day we handed in our car and took the ferry across the Cook Straits to the South Island. The good weather held, and picking up our new car, drove all the way across to the West Coast and found a charming motel, right on the water in Cape Foulwind. Visited the seal colony there and had one of the best meals ever in a remote restaurant perched on a cliff, across from it. Discovered afterwards we were right in the middle of the area where "Perfect Strangers" had been shot and in fact, Sam Neill had taken over that very same restaurant for a dinner for the cast.

We drove south to the Amazing Pancake Rocks and its strange blow holes. I was the only driver, as both Laura and Peggy were nervous about driving on the left side of the road, I actually love it and I had done it before, both in New Zealand and Australia as well as South Africa. I ended up driving 2300 kilometers.

We continued to head south, stopping overnight in Franz Josef Glacier, then on to Queenstown. Leaving Queenstown, we stopped to watch bungee jumping and then went panning for gold. Brett Palmer, our handsome gold miner, who was explaining it all to us, kept repeating he was "single" and lived in a shack in the hills nearby. We couldn't figure out if he was "complaining" or "bragging" or "hinting"!


Panning for gold.

"Bachelor" Brett Palmer.

Eventually we made it to Christchurch, which we loved. We had heard about "Shrek" the hermit sheep that had escaped to the hills and lived in a cave alone for about 6 years. He had so much wool on him he could hardly stand or walk. Once he was spotted his "musterer" went to fetch him and all the papers and the TV featured a picture of him being carried off the mountain. His wool was eventually shorn and sold for a children's charity and Shrek became a celebrity. He even met the Prime Minister. We met him visiting the City Mall in Christchurch where he was strolling through in his pretty red coat, still collecting funds for the charity.

They had to return home earlier than I did so once Peggy and Laura were safely taken to the airport; I visited the Antarctica exhibit nearby. Spent hours there and went into a special room where they reproduced the wind and cold of a typical storm of the continent. It went down to -18 degrees and the winds almost blew me off my feet. Made me wonders how the mushers do it, day after day in Alaska.

I took off and headed up to the mountains, to Hamner Hot Springs, a beautiful place. Soaked for several hours but then the weather turned rainy and cold. So the next day I headed down for the Coast, through spectacular mountain scenery to Kaikura, but the sea was too rough to go out whale watching. Having heard about the Banks Peninsular (and Akaroa) near Christchurch, I decided to head for there. Many hours later, after an exhausting ride over the mountains in the dark, with hundreds of hair pin turns, I reached the little town of Akaroa, still showing some signs of the French influence by its original settlers. Spent two days there and found it wonderful. It is a paradise, with breathtaking scenery and a great climate.


I soaked in Hamner Hot Springs.

I froze at -18 in the Antarctica exhibit.

Finally it was time to turn in my car in Christchurch and visiting the Cathedral Square for the last time, came upon a big student rally for racial equality and diversity. A group of "skinheads" were also there to protest the majority.



A pleasant flight home to Los Angeles where I found that springtime was in full bloom. Soon I was looking forward to going to France to visit Art and Nami Horan, in their little town "Lit & Mixe" near Biarritz. They had bought the town charcuterie (deli) and were running it. It was quite a change from Hollywood where Art had been a producer and had worked with me at RKO. We visited the nearby Basque region one day and had lunch in the beautiful seaside town St. Jean de Luz.


Art and Nami Horan near their
new home in France.

Their deli has a special every day.
Today it was Quail cooked with raisins.

I borrowed their second car and drove to the center of France to visit my writer friend Bob Littell, who lives near the historical beautiful town of Martel in the Lot region of France. We had a grand reunion catching up on everything.

Finally I spent four wonderful days in Paris, saw many old friends there and walked and walked through that wonderful city. Enjoyed every minute of it.

Now I am home for most of the summer but heading back to Alaska in mid-August to explore the "marine highway", the inland waterways in the South East part of that incredible state.