From the Desk of Ellen Fisher - January 2010

New Zealand

Hello and Happy New Year! Ellen is in New Zealand until the 31st, so I, Bonnie Neubauer, eZine editor, have decided to take pen to paper (actually fingers to ergonomic keyboard) and do my best to fill you in on her adventures. I am not as good a story teller as Ellen (nor do I look good in hats), but I promise to do my best.

So...Let's start at the very beginning. On the day of the flight to New Zealand, Ellen and Brian (her husband) had to leave for the airport by noon. Knowing Ellen saves most of her packing for the last minute, I called at 9:00 am to see if she might need an extra pair of helping hands. What I didn't expect, was that she would answer her cell phone from Home Depot where she was ordering carpet for her basement renovation, and that she had yet to put one item into a suitcase. The next chore on her list was Bed Bath and Beyond to return the wrong box of Space Bags (clear bags you pack and then suck out all the air so you can fit twice as much in a suitcase) she had purchased the night before and get a box of the right ones. Her goal was to share one large, wheeled, duffel bag with Brian for the three week trip. I volunteered to run that errand for her.

Minutes after I left "The Beyond," as I like to call it, with Space Bags in hand, I got an urgent call. Ellen forgot to buy a hostess gift for a New Zealand family that had invited them for dinner. She needed me to pick up something small, lightweight, and distinctly Philadelphia, or at least American. I made a quick U-turn wondering where, in Saint David's, PA, I was going to find a miniature, Styrofoam Liberty Bell!

By the time I gathered everything Ellen needed and got back to her house, it was 11:00 am. That's when the frantic packing began. I love to procrastinate, but waiting until the 11th hour would have definitely landed me in the bathroom with a serious bout of nervous stomach. (If that fact falls into the Too Much Information category, I apologize, but I did forewarn you that my story telling ability is nowhere near that of Ellen's.) Miraculously, at two minutes after noon, the giant duffel bag, stuffed like a sausage from the Italian Market, was zipped and a luggage tag was attached.

Their next door neighbor, Jeff, was the designated driver. While Ellen and Brian put last-minute items in their respective carry-on bags, Jeff picked up the big suitcase. As he started to hoist it over his shoulder, we all heard a rapid ripping noise, and right before our eyes, the handle tore apart from the rest of the duffle bag!

The rest of us were pretty frazzled by this little turn of events, but Ellen took it all in stride. Jeff ran to his house to fetch replacement suitcases. Everything was unpacked and repacked in a matter of minutes. And, believe it or not, they were on their way to the airport, only 20 minutes behind schedule. Amazing! I have to confess I felt like I needed a vacation just from participating in Ellen's vacation preparations.

Oh my gosh, I have filled up my paragraph quota and haven't even begun to recount Ellen's many wonderful adventures in New Zealand. I guess I will just have to leave that for her. I will tell you this much - all Ellen's emails from NZ have been chock-full of words like amazing, marvelous, and magical.

I will draw this column to a close now by wishing you a most magical, marvelous, and amazing 2010.

Bonnie Neubauer, Editor who needs a vacation (Hint, Hint Ellen!)

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