On the Road

We finally decided that we will fly home on April 30, and then fly back on May 26 for my niece Brooke’s wedding. After the wedding, we will drive the car home. It didn’t really make a lot of difference whether we drove the car home at the end of April or after the wedding. I think I’m just putting off the road trip home.

Road trips used to be so much fun. Well, maybe my age is making me forgetful. I am recalling one road trip that Bill and I took many years ago that was fun. I think it was sometime around 2003. We were still young and carefree.

We stayed on two-lane highways as we drove through Colorado and Kansas and Missouri and Arkansas and Tennessee making our way to Bill’s brother’s house in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. And when I say we, I mean Bill, because he drove the entire time. We then slipped through South Carolina and Georgia on our way to Bill’s other brother who lives in Birmingham, Alabama. We ate many kinds of barbecue, including Kansas City’s sweet sauce and Carolina’s mustardy sauce. We also ate some of the best banana puddin’ I’ve ever had at a little cafe in North Carolina. We went back the next day for more, but sadly, they only made banana puddin’ on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I’ll bet I could have choked down the pecan pie had I not been so pouty.

We drove through small towns and shopped in family-owned stores….

Despite the SALE, I don’t think we purchased anything at that junk store. I wasn’t in the market for a metal gas station sign at the time. But we did go to the junk store discovered by Bill’s brother in Winston-Salem. The store had an arrangement with UPS to take and sell the items that were undeliverable. Over the years, Bruce picked up some beautiful things at a fraction of the actual cost.

During our trip, we purchased a beautiful wooden lamp at a second-hand furniture store in NC. It remains one of my favorite pieces of furniture that we still own. That very lamp was in our back seat as we made our way home. Unfortunately, it was blocking Bill’s vision as he parallel parked our car in a small town in Kansas. He proceeded to back into it. As I recall, it required a cash payment to a police officer who I’M SURE turned that money into his office as soon as his shift ended.

I believe our days of road trips are over, unless we come into enough of a fortune to hire a chauffeur. Both Bill and I walk like Chester of Gunsmoke fame after a couple of hours in a car.

I think our grandkids are missing one of life’s biggest pleasures: the family road trip.

Steppin’ On Out

My daughter-in-law Lauren posted a photo on Instagram the other day that indicated she had received her first COVID vaccine shot. She was ecstatic to be on her way to being completely vaccinated. Her home state of Vermont has been particularly cautious in their handling of the COVID virus, and she and Heather are still working from home by mandate. They are both state employees.

Seeing that she is being vaccinated a mere 13 months after we were all placed in quarantine made me think about how things were a year ago. We were all frightened, huddling in our homes, carefully venturing out only under the most necessary circumstances. Like buying alcohol, apparently, as liquor stores were categorized as essential businesses in most states. We all remember the scarcity of toilet tissue, but I also was recalling the shelves being empty of pasta and rice, yeast and flour and sugar, chicken and ground beef. Bread shelves were empty. At the beginning of the quarantine, I was grabbing anything that I could turn into a dinner. We couldn’t see our loved ones except via FaceTime. Hugs weren’t allowed. I distinctly remembering asking permission to hug my sister Bec and my brother Dave goodbye when we left to go back to Colorado.

I read recently that nearly half the nation has received at least one of their shots. Personally speaking, I am not acquainted with anyone over the age of 65 who has not received both shots. Of course, there are many who aren’t choosing the vaccine, but every Baby Boomer with whom I am acquainted has been fully vaccinated, and are saying HALLELUIA!

The tricky part now is how do we start making our way back to whatever we are going to call normal. I’m thinking many things we considered normal BC will not return. Like hugging people upon introduction. I was not a fan of that anyhow, and won’t miss it.

My sister Bec sent me an opinion column from The New York Times that talked about that very subject. It is attached here, and well worth a read. Don’t worry; it’s short and uses very few big words. The author — David Leonhardt — points out that many fully vaccinated people are still finding it difficult to brave going out into the world, especially where people are gathering. And it’s no wonder when media is reporting facts like 5,800 fully vaccinated people have gotten COVID. Seriously? Considering the number of people who are vaccinated, that is a drop in the bucket. And most of the cases have been no worse than a cold. Doesn’t the media like to scare us?

The piece points out that while 100 Americans will die in car accidents today, zero or maybe one vaccinated American will die of COVID. And yet, we think nothing of getting in a car but are fearful to step out of our safe house.

Everyone is waiting for COVID to go completely away, and that likely will never happen. But if the experts are to be believed, serious cases will be infrequent, and should someone contract the virus, they will stay home for a few days like they would with a head cold.

I wear my mask when I am going into places with lots of younger people who have likely not yet received the vaccine. I wear it to church. I wear it to the grocery store. I wear it into restaurants until I get to the table. But I’m trying really hard not to panic when I see people — many people, in fact — who are choosing not to wear a mask if it’s not required.

It will likely get easier as time goes by.

Dog’s Life

When I was in the neighborhood of 7 or 8 years old, our family got our first dog. (As an aside, doesn’t it seem like in every single one of my childhood memories, I’m 7 or 8 years old? Either that was the most important year of my life, or my life took a great nosedive at age 9. Or perhaps I just stopped remembering anything that happened after 1960. Yep. A big blank.)

Anyhoo, back to our first dog. Without doing any research whatsoever on dog breeds, Mom and Dad purchased a toy manchester terrier. For reasons I can’t recall, we named him Geno. We chose that dog because my Uncle Jeep and Aunt Cork had just purchased a toy manchester, and we thought he was cute. He was, but only because there is no such thing as an ugly puppy. He was a sibling to my aunt and uncle’s dog. And, because he was a terrier, he needed a lot of exercise.

I can’t tell you whether or not he remained cute as an adult dog. What I can tell you is that none of us was a very good dog owner at that point in our lives. Dad and Mom certainly didn’t have time to take a dog on daily walks. Dog Parks were nonexistent because in those days nobody could imagine taking a dog anywhere outside your back yard, unless it was around the block. I’m sure Mom and Dad nagged us to walk the dog. We occasionally did, but not often. Part of the reason we didn’t like to walk the dog was that he was completely and totally untrained on the leash. Part of it was that we would rather have been playing with our Barbie dolls than walking the dog.

The reason I don’t know if he would have been cute as an adult dog is that I killed him when he was still a puppy. Not on purpose, of course. In fact, I was taking him on one of his infrequent walks. Mom was punishing me because Bec and I had gotten in a fight. While I don’t remember the cause of our fight, I must have been at fault because Bec was taking a nap, and I was walking the dog. I put the dog on the leash, went outside, and started heading to visit my Aunt Cork, who lived two blocks away. We lived on a busy street. The dog, being naughty on the leash, began running. He took off so quickly that he pulled the leash out of my hand. He ran out into the street, where he promptly got run over by a car. He blessedly died instantly.

A few years later, we got the dog that all of us would consider our childhood pooch. Mac was a mutt. We bought him from some farmers in a nearby town. He was purported to be a poodle and Scottie mix. There might have been some poodle, but the nearest Mac ever got to Scotland was in my dad’s glass of Scotch whiskey. Mac was an adorable puppy that grew up to be an fairly ugly dog, mostly because he became quite fat. Unfortunately, we had not become better dog walkers. But we all loved him very much, and my parents were broken-hearted when he died many years later. The kids were al grown up and had moved on to our own dogs.

I have been thinking about dogs recently for a couple of reasons. First, Bill and I enjoyed the time we spent with Jen’s pooch Winston. I still wait for him to run to the door when I come in from the garage. We both miss him. Second, I have recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure, and I think a dog would be a good buddy who would calm me down and force me to walk more.

Unfortunately, there are down sides. One of my grandkids — Mylee — is very allergic to dog dander. I think she’s better now than when she was young. But that’s a big thing. Second, if we have a dog, then we lose a great deal of our flexibility.

Weighing the odds. What do you think?

Saturday Smile: Chirp

There is no question that the thing that made me smile the most this week was discovering the quail nest in my geranium plant. I have been keeping an eye on the nest, and it appears that the two quail are taking turns sitting on the nest. That pleases me beyond belief.

On Thursday, Bec and I met for lunch. We went for sushi at a restaurant somewhere between our two homes. I opened the menu, and the first item on the appetizers list was quail eggs.

NO THANK YOU! Not now. Not ever.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Book Whimsy: The Chicken Sisters

I will admit that the first thing that drew me to this book was the title. I then learned that the story was about two families who are fighting over fried chicken. Boom! I was hooked, and set out on a chicken adventure — The Chicken Sisters, by K.J. Dell’Antonia.

A small town in Kansas is the home of two fried chicken restaurants run by separate families. Both make fried chicken — one pan fries and the other deep fries. The sisters who now own the restaurants hail from the two families who have been feuding for over 100 years as to who makes the best fried chicken. is it Chicken Mimi’s or is it Chicken Frannie’s.

The feud reached the boiling point when one of the daughters — Amanda — married the son of the other family. It has reached the point where neither restaurant is making money. So Amanda reaches out to a food network that features a program — Food Wars — that pits rival restaurants against each other. The network selects the two restaurants for their program. That’s when the fun and fury begin.

At the same time that Amanda is appealing to Food Wars, her sister Mae loses her NYC television job. She doesn’t particularly care about her mother’s restaurant, but she sees Food Wars as being a stepping stone to a national career.

The competition starts out slowly, but quickly becomes, well, a war. What was once a simple rivalry becomes a mud-slinging and finger pointing disaster. Will this family be saved? Will the restaurants survive? Who will win the chicken war?

The story is mostly a light-hearted look at small town politics and the importance people place on their local restaurants. Underneath, however, there are some important messages about social media, mental illness, and the importance of families.

I enjoyed The Chicken Sisters very much.

Here is a link to the book.

Thursday Thoughts

Chirp
The other morning, I went outside to water my plants. I took along a pair of scissors, and started to deadhead the geranium plant that sits on the counter of our outdoor kitchen. I took one snip and, to my surprise, a bird flew out of the plant. I was so startled that I couldn’t even tell what kind of bird it was. Probably a mourning dove, I decided. Hmmmm, I thought to myself. What was a bird doing in the geranium pot? I carefully peeked into the plant, and sure enough, I spotted seven little spotted bird eggs. I didn’t touch them of course, and went back inside. I was hoping against hope that nothing I had done would cause the mama bird to abandon her babes. Later that day, I carefully peeked again. I immediately spotted the black crown, and knew it was a quail, and it was sitting bravely on the eggs, despite the peeping thomasina. Aha, I thought. I had spotted two quails hanging around our back yard the night before. Spotting quails is not unusual in our ‘hood. But, in hindsight, these two had seemed like looky-loos who were house hunting. I looked on Wikipedia and learned that quails mate for life and that mom and dad take turns sitting on the eggs. Alas, we probably won’t be here to witness the hatching. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Mr. Roadrunner doesn’t find the nest, because quail eggs are a roadrunner delicacy.

It’s very hard to see, but the yellow arrow is pointing to one of the eggs.

Heavenly Movies
I had several responses to yesterday’s post in which I talked about my frustration when it comes to movies depicting the life of Christ. Several people agreed that the movie Jesus isn’t ever — nor WILL it ever be — the same as we imagine Jesus to be. How could it? But I also had a couple of recommendations. One of my cousins said that when she prays the rosary, the Blessed Virgin she always pictures is the one featured in the 2020 film Fatima. So I rented it last night, and she’s right. The actress plays a splendid Mary. Another person suggested I try The Chosen, another story about the life of Christ. I will give that one a try after finishing Jesus of Nazareth, which, by the way, I’m enjoying a great deal. Despite the actor’s vivid blue eyes, he is much like I would envision Jesus.

Vroom
Yesterday, Bill coaxed me into taking a ride in his Ferarri, which he apparently has up and running. I agreed, because he dangled a glass of wine on the patio of the Las Sendas Golf Club under my nose. Unfortunately, about five minutes into the ride, the car began making funny sounds. We weren’t far from home, and high-tailed it back quickly. He thinks it might just have been low in gas. Hmmmm.

Homeward Bound
We know we are going to head back to Denver in a couple of weeks. We are just now starting to talk about the possibility of flying home at the end or April, leaving our car here. We would then fly back for my niece Brooke’s wedding at the end of May (her wedding is June 4), and driving home after that. Neither option is decidedly better. Either way, we will have to drive one direction. But at least in June we wouldn’t have to worry about snowy weather. We will put on our thinking caps and come with a plan soon.

Ciao.

Greatest Story

Every year before Easter, my sister Bec watches The Ten Commandments. The story of the Israelites being led out of the desert by Moses — though not directly related to the death and resurrection of Jesus — is an Easter tradition. Personally, I think it’s seeing the red and orange crinkly paper mimicking the burning bush that does it for her. Every year she texts me at the end of the movie and says, “Moses once again led the Jews out of the desert and to the Promised Land.” As usual, Moses, himself, didn’t make it. I checked with Bec.

I love a good tradition, but not enough to spend three or more hours watching an overacted movie. I can say this conclusively, because yesterday afternoon, it came to my attention that Amazon was offering The Greatest Story Ever Told to its prime members at no cost. The Greatest Story Ever Told and free shipping. What more could a Christian want?

I started the movie. It took nearly 10 minutes for the film to actually begin because of all of the falderol at the beginning. Cue epic music and the names of The Best Of Hollywood who starred in the movie. And then the film began with the three magi meeting with King Herod to see if he knew the location of the new King of the Jews. Bad call on their part, because Herod wasn’t ready to give up his throne. “When you find the kid, let me know where he is so that I can kil…oops, I mean worship him myself.”

It was at this point that Bill, who was sitting at the kitchen table working on our taxes, said, “Joseph escapes with Mary and Jesus because an angel comes to him in a dream and tells him to go to Egypt.”

Seriously? He thinks I didn’t know this? Spoiler alert?

“Bill,” I said. “After 13 years of Catholic school and a lifetime of being a Catholic Christian, I think I know how the story goes. I also know how it ends.”

At any rate, I moved into the bedroom to continue watching the movie, which I had by then learned went on for three hours. Why are these Bible movies so dang long? I cued up The Greatest Story Ever Told, and watched it until after Jesus began his mission. I sat with him as he fasted for 40 days and ignored the devil, I watched him recruit Peter, John, James, and Judas Iscariot. And then I simply couldn’t watch it any longer.

Why? The filmmaker elected to use an unknown actor to portray Jesus. I think that was probably a pretty good decision. Watching, say, Clint Eastwood portray Jesus Christ would be so disconcerting. I would be waiting for him to tell Pontius Pilate, “Do you feel lucky today? Well, do you, Punk?”

But the actor he selected — a French actor named Max von Sydow — was horrible. I can forgive him for having blue eyes even though Jesus undoubtedly had brown eyes. It’s a movie, after all. It isn’t really Jesus; it’s an actor. Or at least I thinks so. I’ll ask Bill.

Anyway, what I couldn’t get past was his haircut…..

No. Just no. Jesus had shoulder-length hair parted in the middle. It in no way resembled this Dutchboy haircut with the side part.

I might have been able to withstand the bad haircut. But I simply couldn’t handle his speaking voice. In my mind, Jesus’ voice is warm and welcoming. The Greatest Story Ever Told‘s Jesus sounded like a snobby Brit who is unhappy that they let the town’s plumber into the Country Club.

I couldn’t stand it any longer, so I switched over to Jesus of Nazareth. Though there were a lot of blue eyes…

Mary, as portrayed by the stunning young Olivia Hussey
Jesus as portrayed by then-unknown actor Robert Powell

…..Jesus didn’t talk like a rich investment banker and Mary was stunningly beautiful.

Best of all, by this time Bill had gone back out to the garage so he wasn’t narrating the story.

Living a Dream

You may say I’m a dreamer,
But I’m not the only one.

JOHN lENNON

The other morning, I woke up from having one of the worst dreams of my life. I know we all dream every night, but for a very long time, I haven’t remembered my dreams. Suddenly in the past couple of months I have started remembering my dreams.

The nightmare from the other night was that my son — who is now a grown man of 40 — was once again a child of 5 years old. He and I were walking home from somewhere, and we were with my sister Jen and her daughter Maggie. Suddenly an old red Plymouth pulled up beside us, and a man got out of the car and grabbed my son. He pulled him into the car and drove away.

I began screaming for them to stop, to no avail. Maggie and Jen were frankly quite lackadaisical about the whole event in that very way of dreams. I rushed home and called 911. (Seeings as he was only 5, cell phones were not yet invented.) The person who answered my call was even less interested in the apparent kidnapping than were Jen and Maggie. By this time I was terrified, and I began screaming. In my dream, I screamed and screamed and screamed until my voice went completely hoarse.

And then I woke up. As I was waking up, I literally prayed: Please God, let this just be a bad dream. And of course it was. The other good news is that while I was screaming in my dream, I apparently wasn’t screaming in real life. At least Bill says he didn’t hear me. I think even he — a deep sleeper — would have heard me screaming until I was hoarse.

Dreams are really funny things. I wish I understood them better. Even now — a 67 year old woman — I frequently have nightmares. Generally, my nightmares aren’t tied to anything in my real life. But they wake me up and cause me to have trouble falling back to sleep. Frequently I will dream about someone who I have not given a single thought to in literally years. Where does that come from?

My 40 year old son, alive and not kidnapped

As I was telling Bill about my dream, I began trying to analyze it. (Since I didn’t get my Ph.D. in Freudian psychology, that is probably a grave mistake.) I suggested that Court being “taken away from me” in my dream was perhaps indicative of the fact that he and I are far apart in distance, and I miss him very much. Maybe the fact that no one in my dream seemed to care means that I am feeling lonely and invisible, like many older people. Maybe I should quit trying to analyze my dreams.

Here’s a funny thing about my dreams. Whenever I dream about a house — including the house to which I ran in the above-described dream — it is the house in which I spent my formative years. Yep. The little house in Columbus, Nebraska, where I grew up. Despite the fact that I have lived in the same house in Denver for almost 30 years, I still dream about the house in Columbus where I lived for the first 18 years of my life.

I chatted a bit yesterday morning with the barista about whom I spoke the other day. As usual, she was very friendly.

“How are you?” I asked.

“I’m very tired,” she responded. “I didn’t sleep well last night. I had a terrible dream.”

We commiserated for a bit about dreaming. Her dream was that she went home to visit her family in west Texas, and everyone hated her. They wouldn’t speak to her and, in fact, were very mean to her.

“I don’t know why I had that dream,” she said. “I love my family and they love me. It was so sad that I woke up and tears were rolling down my cheeks.”

The good news for her is that she leaves today to go home for a visit with her family. More than likely, her dream is tied up in some sort of psychological feeling. I can’t explain. I’m just a blogger.

Stay Calm and Carry On

I try really, really hard to face everyday obstacles with a positive attitude. Keep calm and carry on, as England’s government pounded into the heads of Brits during World War II. Frankly, I do a very poor job. Apparently my motto is not keep calm and carry on, but instead is freak out at the slightest change in a routine. Not only is it negative thinking, but it’s not nearly as catchy.

Bill is used to my freaking out, and has learned to gauge how seriously he needs to take my frenzy. Is the house on fire or is her bread overbaked? That sort of thing. When Jen was living here this winter, she would attempt to try to calm me down, using a patient voice (like the one she uses with her 98-year-old clients). She would say overly cheerful things like tell me what’s wrong and we’ll fix it together. You’re fine. You’re fine. You’re fine. She did no gauging. For all she knew, the house could have been on fire. I guess maybe she thought she would have smelled the smoke.

I believe the thing that causes me the most stress is technology.

I love many of the things that technology has brought us. I love FaceTime and email and texting. I love Amazon Prime and Netflix. I love my cell phone. I love my Apple watch. See? I’m not anti-technology.

What I hate, really, about technology is passwords. I hate passwords. I hate coming up with a password. I hate remembering a password. I hate changing a password. And I have to do all of those things times two because I have relieved Bill of password stress. He has to handle Parkinson’s. He doesn’t need to handle passwords. I keep track of our passwords.

I am not going to tell you how Bill and I keep our passwords handy. I’m sure that all of the evil password thieves read Nana’s Whimsies, waiting for the old biddy (me) to share her passwords in the same way as she shared her husband’s full name a few weeks ago. But I will tell you how we DON’T keep our passwords handy. We don’t memorize them. If you will recall, I confessed that I can no longer make mental notes. I am now confessing that I can no longer remember a password. Not if my life depended on it.

Yesterday, Bill found an unpaid bill buried in our paper pile on our desk in the bedroom. “Did you pay this bill?” he asked me. Nope, I sure hadn’t. It was a paper bill, and though I may or may not have made a mental note to pay it, I didn’t. Pay it, that is.

So I got online to pay the bill. In order to pay the bill, I had to know my password. I, of course, didn’t know my password, and my system for keeping passwords was no help because the password wasn’t there. After spending 15 minutes or so changing my password, including several verifying texts and a couple of emails, I finally got on and paid our bill.

But then I tried to change from paper billing to e-billing. I bet I looked at the website for 30 minutes, and couldn’t find a way to make that change. I know it’s possible. I just can’t figure out how. So I finally sent an email to what I KNOW won’t be a person, but instead will be a computer, begging them to help me. We’ll see how that goes.

And one more thing about technology. My sister Bec bought a brand new television a month-and-a-half or so ago, for the express purpose of being able to watch her beloved Washington Nationals play baseball this summer. She already purchased the MLB app, but her old television was outdated and wouldn’t support the app.

Well, guess what? She couldn’t get it to work on her brand new television. After talking to many, many people at both MLB and Samsung, she finally got someone who a) spoke understandable English; and b) knew what they were doing. She learned that her BRAND NEW TELEVISION wouldn’t support the MLB app because it was too old. Apparently you need televisions that are less than two months old.

Friends, I think I’m getting too old.

Saturday Smile: Tumbling

As the clock tick tocks its way to the day that we leave again for Denver, I’m trying to fit in a lot of things in the next few weeks. Mostly I want to see my great nieces and nephews participating in their sporting events. I have seen Carter and Kenzie playing soccer. I hope to see Austin play baseball. I would love to see Noah and Asher play basketnball and their sister Grace run track.

Yesterday I was able to watch Lilly in her tumbling class. She was really quite remarkable. I’m pretty sure that I have never been as flexible as is she. It is a very small and intimate class, and the teacher is wonderful and very patient.

It remains to be seen if Lilly is in the 2028 Olympics, but it made me smile…..

Lilly is closest to the camera, and, of course, the very best,

Have a great weekend.