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Guadalajara, Mexico, June 21, 1998
(postcard of city)
Dear Editor,
Three weeks ago, American Airlines set me down in this city of 8 million. Instead of scrambling down steps from the plane to dash over to shuttle buses, there now are buses that butt up to the plane's doorway so passengers can enter and be driven to the terminal.

The city lies under a pall of smog and heat, the horizon an ominous yellow. The rainy season is late this year; some say "El Niño" is to blame. May, the traditional hottest month, has passed, with no relief in sight. Everyone is looking forward to the blessed lightning and thunder with the cooling downpours of a normal summer. Ninety-eight degrees day after day is too much. The heat and humidity have de-energized all.

However, there is a cheerful sign. This afternoon, (the day before I depart for home), the sky flashes with far away lightning. Streaks of jagged silver chase each other back and forth - - a hopeful sight! I don't want the airplane to be in it tomorrow though, when I leave!~Marion Pomeroy

© 1998 by Marion Pomeroy

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SeaTac, Washington, June 30, 1998
Dear Editor,

Montana Computer Terminology:

Log on: Making the wood stove hotter
Log off: Don't add wood
Monitor: Keep an eye on the wood stove
Download: Getting the firewood off the pickup
Mega Hertz: When you're not careful downloading (watch the toes!)
Floppy Disk: What you get from piling too much wood
RAM: The hydraulic thingy that makes the woodsplitter work
Hard Drive: Getting home in mud season
Prompt: What you wish the mail was in mud season
Windows: What to shut when it's 30 below
Screen: What you need for black fly season
Byte: What black flies do
Chip: What to munch on
Micro Chip: What's left in the bag after Bill Dontgitny eats most of it
Modem: What you did to the hay fields
Dot Matrix: Farmer Matrix's wife
Lap Top: Where little kids feel comfy
Keyboard: Where you hang your keys
Software: Plastic eating utensils
Mouse: What eats the horse's grain in the barn
Main Frame: The part of the barn that holds the roof up
Port: Fancy wine
Enter: Come on in
Random Access Memory: You can't remember how much that new rifle costs when your wife asks~contributed by Grant Coomer

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Reno, Nevada, June 15, 1998
Dear Editor,
Though he wasn't a Westerner by birth, this sums up a very common Western philosophy.
"We do not need more material development, we need more spiritual development. We do not need more intellectual power, we need more moral power. We do not need more knowledge, we need more character. We do not need more government, we need more culture. We do not need more law, we need more religion. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of things that are unseen. It is on that side of life that it is desirable to put the emphasis at the present time. If that side be strengthened, the other side will take care of itself." ~Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States of America, 1923-1929, contributed by John Burns.

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Co. Kilkenny, Ireland, July 18, 1998
(postcard of Kilkenny Castle, ancestral home of the Butlers)
Dear (Cousin) Editor,
Kilkenny is so friendly, and the people in the hotel and the town are so interested in a "fellow" Butler. The castle tour was wonderful. I looked for "familiar faces" in the elegant portrait gallery...not sure I had any luck! [Obviously, the Rogue's Gallery was off-limits.~Editor] Today we're leaving Kilkenny for Waterford, then on to the West Coast.~Dianne Butler Lucas

© 1998 by Dianne Lucas

Letters from All Over

Issue #2

Bangkok, Thailand, May 1998
Dear Editor,
When I first arrived in Bangkok, I wanted to learn to speak Thai not knowing it takes years to learn. I enrolled in a school downtown with some other expatriates: four Englishmen, four Australians, two Swiss, and me, the lone American. Our teacher was an attractive, young Thai woman who spoke enough English to get by. She was speaking to us in English, explaining the Thai word ron, which means heat or hot. She told how many ways it could be used.

It so happened that we had a female dog in our compound in a state of "heat," that is, she was ready to receive a male dog. Being curious, I raised my hand and asked our teacher how a dog would be described in this case. She seemed bewildered. She seemed confused. She clearly didn't know what I was talking about. After a pause, she answered, "Why, we'd call her a hot dog." The class went into an uproar and our poor teacher couldn't understand our reaction. In a way, I felt bad about setting her up.

Speaking of heat, let me tell you it's hot as bejesus over here right now! April and May are the hottest months; hence the kids are off from school. I'd sure like to be under the covers back in Seattle, cooling my brain. The humidity is the worst part. It's really sticky all day long, plus all night. I like to walk down the soi at about 6 a.m. to pick up a Bangkok Post at the newsstand. It's just a six block walk, three down and three coming back. Naturally, the first thing I have to do is take a shower. Fortunately, our bedroom is air conditioned. I don't have to remove my shoes since Thais don't wear shoes inside the house, but when I pull off my socks, they cling to my feet. The same goes for my T-shirt. I haven't worn a pair of shoes for six months. Getting out of your clothes is like climbing out of a wet suit. Many a day, I've taken four or five showers to get through.

We're going to Paris and Brussels in late July and part of August. Boy, am I looking forward to that! I'll send you a postcard.~Jay Smith

© 1998 by Jay Smith

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San Juan Islands, Washington, July 1, 1998
on board the Saratoga Passage
(postcard of Orca whales)
Dear Editor,
These are the mammals that "got away." They followed their stomachs northward to Canada, out of the range of our vessel. But, we had an exciting encounter with Dall porpoises. They came to our boat and played in the pressure wave for over 15 minutes. Dalls look just like baby Orca whales, black with white markings. They put on a wonderful show, weaving themselves through each other's paths. All of us squealed and laughed in the beauty of their play. They were obviously enjoying our joy in them. The exuberance was electric. The Skipper said that was longest the Dalls had ever stayed with the ship, and it was the most porpoises he'd ever seen -- there were over 20 of them, with three babies. I loved it when they would roll to look me in the eye. I was blessed!~Laura Snyder

© 1998 by Laura Snyder

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Pontianak, Indonesia, May 1998
Dear Editor,
I'm finally back home and it's good to be here. After being away for three months in Jakarta, my Semandang language skills have become rather rusty. I need to use and expand my understanding of the Semandang language -- only then can I increase my vocabulary. I've spent many hours this past weekend with our tribal kids and co-workers who live in town. My focus this week has been getting lots of practice with the language, so I can tackle the Semandang Bible Translation Project.

Our church has various activities for the young people, for the pastoral team, and for fellowship six evenings a week. Part of my schedule includes getting involved in several of these weekly activities. I'm not living directly with the tribe, so I must prioritize these opportunities. (I have a difficult time living in the jungle. Sometimes I don't mind roughing it, but months of living that way can be a little strenuous and lonely.)

You might wonder why we have a "Semandang" church, where the Indonesian language is the primary language spoken. This church's main focus is to teach the word of God to the tribal kids who are going to school here in town. Other than the Sunday morning services, all other fellowship activities are presented in the Semandang language. (Sunday morning there are usually other folks who attend who don't speak that language.) So, even though I cannot be in the interior at this time, I do have an excellent opportunity to improve my language skills and find potential translation helpers.

Last night one of the pastors called me and asked me if I would be able to teach a lesson to the girls in the Semandang dorm. With only a couple of hours to prepare, my notes came out in three different languages! I thought, "Hmm, This is going to be interesting." I didn't know if I'd be able to teach in Semandang or not. But with help from the group and by just taking my time, we shared a good lesson together. We didn't finish the lesson, but they would like me to continue.

Next Monday I start back full-time into translation. My long term goal is to translate the New Testament and portions of the Old Testament. There are parts of the translation process for which I feel very ungifted and unqualified to do. I have a hard time with the beginning of the process, and I have a hard time finishing it up--the layout and formatting. But the drafting and checking is lots of fun and I enjoy it very much.~Darcy Berglund

© 1998 by Darcy Berglund

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Dows, Iowa, June 15, 1998
Dear Editor,
Here's something for your readers:

Mississippi Summer
Summer breezes,
Summer sneezes,
Summer cruise,
Summer blues,

Summer sunsets,
Summer love nests;
Something's missing,
in reminicing.

Oh, how summers
Pass on by.
~Otis Luce

© 1998 by Otis Luce

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Tacoma, Washington, July 18, 1998
Dear Editor,
An irksome wind slices through the balmy, moist heat, whipping the frail, scudder-gray cotton draperies. Clothespins: the flexible answer for a quite a number of ailing problems. I will move right along. If a storm is in the offing, then power could be interrupted. Perhaps your next mailing from me will the result of the PC kicking in. (If I don't kick it in first?) I'm collecting e-mail addresses just in case...

Meanwhile, this manual, portable Remington Quiet-Riter - a Christmas high school gift from my parents -- will take up the slack. Its carriage return lever is absent. New typewriter ribbons are obligingly rewound on real metal spools left over from yesteryear. The junk plastic reels are promptly discarded in file 13.

My it is good to talk with you! Regarding my creative writing, I'm developing an alternative style as opposed to the Victorian, that voice which comes so naturally to me. (Style II is intended as fourth grade, Hemingwayesque. Please see enclosed example. Your comments are always appreciated.)

Besides stealing time for creative writing, and reading for my book discussion group, there's always yardwork, housework, part-time employment, Mother's nursing home time, my coveted play music whenever you can time, and so forth. Considerable time is spent to relocate items inadvertently misplaced. But Frank is improving. Although serious, we allow these hunts to have their humor... Frank left this morning (with kayak) for ocean paddling experience between the mainland and Vancouver Island. With my Coast Guard training of winds, weather, and waters, my negative judgement remains adamant. You couldn't pay me enough...~B.J. Blanchard

© 1998 by B.J. Blanchard

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