Far Away Places

When I was growing up in small town Nebraska in the 50s and 60s, we didn’t do a lot of traveling. We took a family vacation once a year —usually to Colorado—and we made occasional trips to visit aunts and uncles who lived near us in Nebraska. Maybe twice a year, we would drive the 65 miles or so to Omaha to shop, but it was a Big Deal.

I laugh about that now because I really don’t think much about driving the 65 miles to Fort Collins to see Jen for the day. And the round trip mileage from our AZ house to Bec’s is in the neighborhood of 40 or 50 miles, a trip I make without a second thought. It is not at all unusual to put 50 miles on my car’s odometer in a day if I’m doing a lot of errands.

I didn’t set foot onto an airplane until I was out of high school. Air travel was so different back then (when dinosaurs walked the earth). Stewardesses (for that’s what they were called) wore high heels and perky caps and fed you miserable little meals on tiny plates that balanced on a relatively normal-sized tray that was large enough to also fit a beverage. Whaaaaaat?

I flew across an ocean for the first time to Hawaii when I was in my late 20s, and finally went to Europe when I was 40 years old.

Times are so different now. Despite the fact that the flying experience is so much more unpleasant than it used to be, flights are cheaper. What’s more, the internet makes communication easier, making travel less, well, scary and isolated.

As I write this blog, one of our children and his wife are traveling in India. INDIA. Our children have traveled plenty, more power to them. But India. While they were both very excited to be able to have this experience, I think even they were somewhat leery. The trip advising team told our meat-loving son that it might behoove him to limit his meals to vegetables. India is very far away and oh-so-different from the good old U.S. of A. In fact, oddly enough, the time difference is 11-1/2 hours. I don’t know how that even happens.

As a sign of the times, their Facebook posts and email communications have allowed those of us who stayed on domestic soil to keep track of them, thanks be to God.

On Saturday, Bill and I stopped by our house to see how work on our floors was progressing. (Very nicely, thank you very much.) Where do you want to have lunch, Bill asked me.

Dare I tell him?

“To be honest,” I said carefully, “all this talk about their trip to India has made me hungry for Indian food.” I assured him I would be happy to go by myself and he could find himself a nice, juicy burger.

“No, I’ll go with you,” he said.

And so for one day we ate the way Dave was probably eating, without the fear of parasites……

My camera (and photographic ability) make this food look less appealing than it actually was, which I assure you was yummy.

But it once again made me think about living in the 50s in Small Town America. No Indian food. In fact, no Mexican food, no Chinese food, no pho, no falafels, no sushi. Fried chicken, meatloaf, steak. Not that there anything wrong with that.

For the next two weeks or so, my prayers will be directed towards India, even if I’m not.

Saturday Smile: A Day in the Life of a Birthday Boy

It’s not every day that a guy turns 75. Bill did a bang-up job of it, I must say. Especially given the fact that we are still wandering from hotel to hotel.

Actually, we have settled into a very nice hotel a couple of miles from our house that is suiting us just fine. We may move home Sunday or Monday. And then I will have to start making my own bed.

So Bill started his day with many birthday greetings from siblings, in-laws, and friends, most via technology….

We made a quick stop at home to check out our floors, and Bill got an unexpected delivery from Amazon. His brother Bruce — who knows Bill well — sent him some happy birthday Oreos…..

And of coursr course when you ask the man who was born and grew up in Chicago what he wants for his birthday lunch, he will choose an Italian beef sandwich every time. Lunch at Chicago Mike’s in Centennial with a Italian beef combo…..

We got ready to call our Uber to take us to dinner with friends only to discover we were both wearing red. Living in a hotel doesn’t allow for a lot of clothing choices, so we went as twins…..

We finished enjoying a delicious steak dinner with wonderful friends John and Carol…..

So much revelry, but a whole year to rest up until his next birthday!

Have a wonderful weekend.

Friday Book Whimsy: Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

I’m not a big fan of nonfiction unless it is a topic about which I have a great interest. Life in the hills of Appalachia is a topic I find entirely compelling. It’s why I am such a fan of fiction – particularly mysteries – that take place in the area designated Appalachia.

Hillbilly Elegy, a memoir written by J.D. Vance, therefore captured my attention despite it being a memoir. I very often find memoirs self-serving and uninteresting. Hillbilly Elegy caught my attention from the get-go, and kept it throughout the book. Well, almost. Even the most interesting memoirs can get tedious when the author is talking about certain points in his or her life.

Mr. Vance is a former Marine who graduated from Yale Law School despite his difficult childhood. He uses the word hillbilly, a term with which I find myself somewhat uncomfortable, despite the fact that I occasionally use it to deprecate myself as part of my humor. I guess that’s why its serious use makes me squirm a bit. Still, he uses it to describe himself and his family.

Vance’s grandparents moved from Kentucky to Ohio when they were newly married. According to the author, a large number of Scotch/Irish Appalachians moved to the so-called Rust Belt following World War II in search of a better life where jobs were plentiful in the mining and manufacturing region. Unfortunately, the poverty, drug abuse, alcoholism, violence, and general dysfunction followed the immigrants. You can take the man (or woman) out of the violence but you can’t take……

The book is not really so much about so-called hillbillies as it is about white working class Americans and how our system has failed them. Vance was mostly parented by his grandmother and grandfather, who were not unblemished themselves, but at least were a constant in his life. His parents were unavailable to him. His mother, in particular, failed him because of ongoing drug addiction. Aunts, uncles, cousins all demonstrated violent behavior and depended on drugs and alcohol to get through their difficult days.

There has been much talk lately about the problem of drug abuse as well as how poorly working class Americans are faring, but Vance’s perspective is different from many as this was his real life, the background from which he came. Drug and alcohol abuse, and general violence, were part of his roots. He credits his grandparents for his success.

Vance’s talk about government’s failings might be anathema to some who believe government assistance is the best way to help fight poverty. But he makes so many good points that I found myself highlighting section after section of my book. And then, unfortunately, returning it to the library.

A very interesting read indeed.

Here is a link to the book.

Thursday Thoughts

My thoughts for this Thursday are simple: My beloved husband turns 75 years old today, and I want to tell him how glad I am that he has shared over 25 years of his life with me. A couple of years ago, I wrote this blog in his honor, and today I will repeat it because my sentiments are the same. If you are surprised that he is turning 75 today, you are not alone. As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, Allen and Emma gave him a gift certificate for an indoor sky diving experience. Need I say more?

Happy birthday Bill!

This blog post was originally published in October 2015….


Love can never more grow old,
Locks may lose their brown and gold;
Cheeks may fade and hollow grow,
But the hearts that love will know,
Never, never winter’s frost and chill;
Summer warmth is in them still. – Eben E. Rexford

Bill high school gradThe words above are from an old song that was popular in the late 19thcentury called Silver Threads Among the Gold. For some reason, I remembered the words to that song and I assure you I was not alive in the late 19th Century (though I’m sure my grandkids think I was).  I’m telling you, I am using up valuable brain cells storing this type of useless information.

They don’t write songs like this anymore. Instead, you have classics such as I Can’t Feel My Face. My other thought as I read the lyrics was that you don’t run across many young boys being named Eben these days. Trevor, yes. Eben, no.

Aging is an interesting phenomenon. Someone hit the nail on the head when they said Old age is always 10 years older than I am. I should attribute that quote to someone; however, the internet attributes it to three or four different people. I couldn’t figure it out, so I will simply put it out there. Because, Friends, isn’t it all too true? When you’re 8 years old, don’t you wish you could be grown-up like your 18-year-old sister, whom you consider OLD. And it’s certainly true when you are in your 20s, 30s, and even older.

Bill and I began talking about this notion the other day. We figured out that when he and I got married, his mother was about the same age as he is now. A woman of some years. And Bill is, well, positively youthful!

My sister Bec was talking with her son Erik one day not long ago. In the course of their conversation, she mentioned that our mother was so young when she died. Erik asked her how old his nana was when she passed away. Sixty-eight years old, Bec responded. Erik’s reply? “I don’t think that’s that young.” Bec – uncharacteristically almost speechless — said, “You do understand, Son, that I am 65 years old.” Ah. There’s that.

All this is to say that today is Bill’s birthday, and he is 73 years young today.  The year Bill was born, the movie Casablanca was released. Gasoline was 15 cents a gallon. A house cost in the neighborhood of $3,700, which was a lot considering the average worker earned a little over $1,800 per year.

Bill has had a lot thrown at him in his life. Do you know how he would respond to that statement? “Who hasn’t?” He handles life with grace and dignity, which helps keep him young. He is one of the funniest people I know, and you know what they say about laughter and medicine. He is living proof. One of the greatest tributes to this astounding man is that my brother says he has fully admired two men in his life – our dad and Bill. I agree.

So, happy birthday to my husband, and I am sure in 15 years when I am writing my – well, whatever will have taken the place of the blog – he will still be young.

Celebrations and Wanderings

Bill and I continue to wander as our floors continue to be finished. The sanding is complete and today Joe will begin staining. A couple of days of staining followed by a couple of days of topcoat, and a few days of drying in between. We spent last night at a nearby hotel. I don’t know where we will be tonight.

Finishing our floors isn’t the only thing going on in our lives, however. Bill prepares to celebrate his 75th birthday tomorrow. Since Dave and Jll leave for a trip to India, we celebrated a little early…..

There weren’t 75 candles on the cake that was made by Dave. Dagny cut the pieces, and they were largish…..

Home is where the heart is…..

By the way, he got a very nice box of cigars from Dave and Jll, and an INDOOR SKYDIVING EXPERIENCE from Allen and Emma. Bill’s excited and I’m already biting my nails!

Rocky Mountain Songs

As I mentioned the other day, for all intents and purposes, Bill and I are homeless. Not homeless as in having no access to shelter; homeless as in no access to our own home. It’s a good thing, really, because it means that progress is being made and our remodel is in its last days.

We left for Estes Park on Sunday after church. While we were gone, Joe continued sanding the floors. Today is Tuesday, and he is still sanding the floors. Needless to say, progress isn’t going as quickly as I’d hoped. I am keeping my fingers crossed that he will be able to finish up the sanding this evening and maybe even begin staining.

By the way, I don’t think I’ve mentioned that Joe (who, I might add, is doing a very good job on the sanding, and believe me, Bill keeps close watch) can only work in the evening because he has a daytime job. It is making things go a bit slower, unfortunately.

In the meantime, our house is virtually unusable. The path to my washer and dryer is completely blocked by furniture. My refrigerator is in the hallway between the kitchen and the family room. It is plugged in, so we have access to food. It doesn’t do us a lot of good, however, since the doors are off on my ovens (they had to be removed to move the refrigerator out of the kitchen), so I am unable to cook. We are currently living in our bedroom.

Bill and I enjoyed our brief visit to Estes Park, however. We spent a bit of time walking downtown, where we made the mandatory taffy stop…..

We ate dinner Sunday night at a restaurant that has been a part of Estes Park as long as I can remember called Nicky’s. I enjoyed Rocky Mountain trout…..

……and finished up our first evening listening to the elk bugle, one of my favorite activities in the fall. It was a beautiful night, and the elk thought so too……

We woke up early on Monday, had a few cups of the pretty bad coffee offered in the room, then prepared to go someplace for breakfast. As Bill took his shower, I took my cup of coffee out onto our deck to enjoy the early morning, and was greeted by a 12-point bull elk munching away just below our second floor patio. It wasn’t long before he was joined by two of his closest buddies….

It was a sight to behold. The owner of the Deercrest Resort (where Bill and I stayed) came out to chat a bit and told me that they are there almost every morning in the fall. Either they have already gathered their harem or they prefer the company of one another. I don’t care, because they gave me a good show.

We returned last night to Denver because I had an appointment in the afternoon, and spent the evening in our room watching The Voice with the background noise of a sanding machine.

Day at a time….

Saturday Smile: Game On!

Game on, and I’m not talking about the World Series.

We are so close to the end of our remodel project that I can see the finish line. The flooring is all laid, and over this weekend and into next week, Austin and Joe (our flooring people, not to be confused with our Pod people) will be doing finish work, sanding, and finally, staining the floors. Talk about making me SMILE!

For the next few days, Bill and I will be wandering like the Israelites in the desert, but for a shorter period of time and with something better than manna to eat. Truly, I’m not entirely sure where we will be and for how long. I think we will spend a day or two in Estes Park to listen to and see the elk bugle. A couple of nights we will be bunking down at a nearby hotel.

At any rate, if you don’t hear from Nana’s Whimsies for a few days early next week, don’t send out the search party. We are somewhere.

Have a great weekend.