Small World is More Than Just a Disney Ride

My teeny-tiny unimportant blog generally gets between 60 and 90 hits a day from somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 or 50 viewers. The discrepancy between these two numbers is because my sisters and my brother look at the blog a few times throughout the day, thereby increasing my hits. While these numbers aren’t remarkable, they are significant in that I started with maybe 10 hits a day, all from my family. They had to read it; I tested them!

Some really fun things have come out of this blog. For instance, I wrote a blog post in which I declared I was going to develop a taste for whiskey given that it looks so good when Frank Reagan, patriarch of Blue Bloods, drinks it along with his daughter Erin. I was subsequently contacted via my Nana’s Whimsies email address by a total stranger with whom I carried on a fairly significant back and forth email conversation regarding whiskey and Frank Reagan. We haven’t been in touch since. For a few years, I had a regular reader from Connecticut — a woman whom I had never met. When someone comments regularly, you begin to feel like friends. She has stopped commenting, and because her last comments made mention of being ill, I’m kind of heavy of heart. I pray for her every day.

Because of my blog, I have become more connected to old friends and some of my cousins who read my blog and might even comment, making me feel closer to them. I get hits from all over the world. Saturday, I even had a hit from Botswana. I love to picture a cattle herder out in the wilderness of Africa reading my blog. I’m not sure where I think he or she got the internet connection, but hey! it’s my imaginary story.

For a long time, the blog post that received the most hits was one that I wrote about a woman with whom I’m acquainted who donated a kidney to a friend. That record — over 200 hits — has stood for a long time. It held first place until a couple of weeks ago when I wrote about friends of ours whose son-in-law owns Bear Creek Distillery. While donating a kidney is important, what can I say? MAKING WHISKEY! Duh. That blog post has gotten significantly more hits than the kidney donation. I’m not sure if that fact has any social significance, but it is what it is.

Saturday evening, I was notified by a friendly ding from my phone of a new comment on that particular blog post. It came from someone with the same last name as my maiden name. From the comment, I learned that I have a relative living in Denver that, prior to this blog post, I never knew existed. The comment came from her father, who informed me that his grandfather and mine were brothers. I have unsuccessfully tried to figure out what that makes us. And to add even more confusion to the mix, what relationship does that make his daughter — the woman who lives here in Denver — to me? Does anyone have an abacus I can borrow?

It doesn’t really matter, because at the end of the day, blood is blood. My cousin-the-commenter said he has a vivid recollection of being in my father’s bakery. In fact, he recalls getting his high school graduation cake from Gloor’s bakery, and even remembers Mom handing the cake to him. And even more important, he noted that his grandfather made homemade wine just as did mine. And he admitted that it was probably lucky they both didn’t quit their day jobs to become vinters.

There’s a concept known as six degrees of separation. The theory is that all humans are six or fewer steps away from each other. In other words, the “friend of a friend” idea will connect one person to any other in six steps or fewer. I’m no sociologist, so I can’t comment on the reliability of this theory. Still, as Walt Disney said, “It’s a small world after all.”

Hey Cousin Mindy. Let’s have coffee!

M-I-C, K-E-Y, M-O-U-S-E

While our family went on vacation every year, my childhood remained somewhat unfulfilled because we never went to Disneyland. To be fair, Disneyland wasn’t anything more than a little spark in Walt Disney’s imagination until the early 1950s, and it didn’t open for business until July 1955. Since I wasn’t born until December of 1953, and using the theory that you shouldn’t take kids to Disneyland at too young an age because they won’t remember it anyway, I’ll give my mom and dad a pass. I’ll blame my personality shortcomings on a terrifying horseback ride when I was 10 instead of a lack of opportunity for a youthful bonding with Mickey.

I did, however, love to watch the Mickey Mouse Show, featuring Annette Funicello (who made boys pant and girls jealous) and Bobby Burgess (who later went on to breaking hearts on the Lawrence Welk Show. In more recent years, most of my grandkids and great nieces and nephews got hooked on a newer, updated Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and the gang. The theme song of the new version was stuck in my head many a night, but watching “Mi Mow” was a great way to distract Cole when he was 2.

In fact, I didn’t visit the Magic Kingdom until Court and I went to visit my girlfriend who at that time lived in Orlando. Court was probably about 5, and we went to Disney World. I guess it’s safe to say that I was hooked from the get-go.

Back in those days, Disney World offered the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Period. That was plenty, however. You had your joyful fun and adventures at the Magic Kingdom, and then you had your stab at something a bit more educational at Epcot. I will never forget the first time we visited the World Showcase, giving guests a feeling of traveling around the world. Food-wise, we never really got past Germany, because Bratwurst. But hearing the mariachi band in Mexico and seeing the red phone booths in the UK made me feel positively worldly.

Since that time, I have visited Disneyland maybe two or three times, and Disney World maybe another couple of times. I had the good sense to marry someone who — much to everyone’s surprise — loves Disneyland too. And I have clearly passed on my love for All Things Disney to Court, as he has visited both Disneyland and Disney World a number of times, even as an adult. In fact, when he graduated from high school, as part of his graduation gift, I told him I would take him anywhere in the continental United States – along with his cousin B.J. Anywhere. San Francisco. New York City. Los Angeles or Dallas or Atlanta. He chose Disney World. That’s my boy. He has taken his three kids to Disneyland twice, and yesterday, they left for Disney World.

I drove with them to the airport at – quite literally – the crack of dawn, so that I could drive their car back to their house. The three kids were quietly excited. Five days of sunny Florida weather (except for occasional rainstorms), visits with Mickey and Minnie and (my personal favorite) Figment, a long-standard at Epcot, swimming and water slides, fireworks, and parades.

Fingers crossed that they don’t run into an alligator. And I’m not kidding.

At the same time the Zierks are heading east, my McLain grands are driving (with their parents) west towards Alaska. And what with my two boys living in Vermont, I am – for the first time in a very long time – grandchildless in Denver. I don’t quite know what to do with myself.

Maybe I’ll watch Beauty and the Beast or Mary Poppins. It’s the least I can do…..