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.
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
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"
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
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
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.