Gary by campfire

Recent Comments

Happy Valentine’s Day

Dear friends and readers,

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all. You are one and all loved by at least one very Astonished Tamale! Here’s hoping every one of you also is loved deeply and intensely by someone you love just as much.

Speaking of astonishment:

We’re pleased to note that for the second year in a row, Knoxville Tennessee — home of The Astonished Tamale! — is America’s Most Romantic City. We know this because Amazon.com, the universally acknowledged authority on such things, says so in this press release.

Amazon figures this out by tracking “sales data of romance novels [...]

Continue reading Happy Valentine’s Day

New Websites

Several long-term projects coming to fruition:

Please take a look at the all-new Stonehaven Press website at stonehavenpress.com.

This site, the storefront for the publishing company Cheri and I own, has been in the works for a long time. Way overdue, but we haven’t had the time needed to bring it into being.

Also its companion site, GaryMatthews.com. My personal author site, where I’ll talk about my writing, my books, publishing, book design, web design, and other topics. That site does not replace this one — The Astonished Tamale! — which is more for general-interest topics.

For me, the most [...]

Continue reading New Websites

Where We Left Off

“What’s going on with the Tamale?”

Thus inquired my friend Patricia, just last night. As a subscriber to this blog, she no doubt was puzzled at not having gotten any updates for the past four-and-and-half months. Okay, fasten your seat belts:

It was May 8-9 when Zabine Van Ness and I returned to Seattle from Hanoi, via Seoul, Korea. (See the previous article, Seoul Pancake.) I spent most of the next two weeks in Seattle as a guest of Zabine and her husband, Peter Van Ness, pictured at left.

A highlight of this visit was Seattle’s celebration of the [...]

Continue reading Where We Left Off

Seoul Pancake

Seoul004

Apologies to Rainn Wilson for the pun on his wacky, wonderful website. But facing a 13-hour layover in Seoul, Korea, I was ready to disclaim any further responsibility for anything.

Then Zabine and I got a clue: We remembered our Vietnamese home-stay host telling us of a terrific five-hour tour of Seoul we could take from the airport. Even if this tour hadn’t been a once-in-a-lifetime prize (and it was), we’d have seized it just to pass the time. (Do the math: Our 13-hour wait was sandwiched between a five-hour Hanoi-to-Seoul flight and a 10-hour Seoul-to-Seattle flight. Sleep, sorta-kinda included, [...]

Continue reading Seoul Pancake

Blending in in Vietnam

One faithful reader complains of difficulty in picking out my friend Zabine from the group photos posted here. The reason is that Zabine and I, as seasoned world travelers, have learned to blend into a crowd of Vietnamese.

Here’s a picture of the two of us blending in. Zabine, you’ll notice, does it better than I do. It takes special skill to fly under the radar when you tower over the folks with whom you’re blending. Still, don’t you agree I could do worse?

Be that as it may, Zabine blends very well, height-wise. So long as she’s surrounded [...]

Continue reading Blending in in Vietnam

Hanoi: Baha”i 20th Anniversary Images

#gallery-2 { margin: auto; } #gallery-2 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 33%; } #gallery-2 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-2 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

Hanoi: Baha’i 20th Anniversary

For Zabine Maryam (Linkins) Van Ness, this has been a journey of 20 years. For me, it only felt like one.

We arrived Sunday morning at the hotel in Hanoi where the Baha’i community was gathering to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its founding. Stunning floral arrangements were everywhere. Many of these, I hear, were sent by the government, which recognized the Baha’i Faith here four years ago and with which the friends now have very good relations. Wishing to offer support, government officials were taken aback to discover that the Baha’is could not accept funding from outside sources. They [...]

Continue reading Hanoi: Baha’i 20th Anniversary

Vietnam: Hanoi Beginnings

April 29, 2012 (Sunday) – As I have explained, the stated reason Zabine Van Ness and I are in Vietnam is that the Hanoi Baha’i community, on the 20th anniversary of its founding, wanted to honor Zabine for her role in that seminal event.

That “stated” reason is of course their reason – and a good reason it is indeed. But it isn’t Zabine’s reason for accepting the invitation. She came here with the hope that she could assist and empower the Vietnamese friends today, perhaps even more than she did in the past. “The celebration is about the last [...]

Continue reading Vietnam: Hanoi Beginnings

Historic, Healing Heartsongs

April 29, 2012 (Sunday) – Simple acts of kindness are miraculously effective at bridging deep divides. Among the many miracle workers we have met in Hanoi are Michael Orona; his wife, Selena; and their three children.

These beautiful Baha’i souls made history at the 20th Anniversary celebration of the founding of the Hanoi Baha’i community. There’s still a lot more other news and photography in the pipeline, so please stay tuned. But I could not wait to post the video below. The stage performance it depicts took my breath away because, as I was recording it, its significance suddenly struck [...]

Continue reading Historic, Healing Heartsongs

Vietnam Rice Dance

April 29, 2012 (Sunday) — Today is the big day of our trip, the reason we came: the 20th anniversary celebration of the founding of Hanoi’s Baha’i community.

I have a lot of notes and photos to document this milestone and will upload them Any Day Now. But while I’m organizing, please enjoy this video of the performance which opened the celebration. It’s a traditional Vietnamese “rice dance”, performed by a group of young women that includes Huyen, one of the two who guided Zabine and me during our second-day outing.

This video found its way onto YouTube minutes after [...]

Continue reading Vietnam Rice Dance