A Frame, grey hair, retirement, travel

City Girl Guide to Neebish

Neebish is antiquated. TV is huge and internet is a cost we will attain once the house is completed. But these nods from the past, while frustrating, also sum up life in the UP in a great way. An ancient quote sums up Neebish. “If I can sweep the train of my gown in the same grand fashion as Mrs. James Schoolcraft, an original settler, as she walked up the stairs of the little mission chapel, life would be worth living.” Gowns have been replaced but Neebish is still an area of old-fashioned manners, church goers, and simplicity. Truly, a look into the past while embracing the future. Kinda. But…while the present is creeping onto the island, with cost, patience, and a changing population there is a charm that will never change and important lessons to be learned when faced with island life.

1. Gowns are obviously no longer worn. The garb of today is something out of an outdoor magazine. Hiking boots, socks (a must on humid days, who knew), hats with a chin strap that avoids the ever-present fly away syndromes, and anything cotton on humid days. Anything warm on any other day. Matching is optional. No one will ever know. Ever.

2. When walking always have a walking stick. No, not the type you buy at a sporting goods store, the one that finds you. Right. The hubs says it is just like finding your wand from that infamous wizard movie series. Yes, that one. Sure it is. Exactly. Once you have your stick, you beat bushes to keep animals away and twirl it over your head like a baton to keep flies away when hiking. I have no words for this and was laughing too hard to capture a picture. No sticks have asked me to take them home. I will wait. Never liked my baton. Currently, when I hear anything on our hikes, I run and scream. So far, so good.

3. Before going to a small town consider that they might be a dry town (they exist) and do not order before looking at the menu. You will be embarrassed. Trust me. Also, when ordering a cappuccino realize that you might get an odd look. Really odd. Again, trust me.

4. Humidity sucks.

5. Enchanted forests are not really magical unless you are three or your husband is trying to entertain you as you fight off bugs. If you are with my hubs and he says you are going through a magical anything, tell him to eff off, grab his walking stick, twirl until the bugs are dizzy and run. Why run? He will obviously be pisssd that you have his magical stick that “found them.”

6. Understand, that in tiny towns a cappuccino ain’t happening. Nope. Also, try to contain your expression of confusion when they are excited to make their first latte, as no one has ordered one yet. Yup. I was a first. It is still 2021. I checked.

7. Internet. It’s an issue. Big issue. Don’t be shocked when shops don’t use it or if they do they do not share it. At all. Get used to holding your phone high to capture that strained signal from Canada. Or, like me, keep trying to convince the hubs that a mobile unit would work. Just be prepared to be frustrated and disconnected from life.

8. Watching the water is a hobby.

9. Watching freighters is a hobby and knowing your freighters is plus during meetups at the ferry for conversation starters. Actually, it is the main conversation on and off the island and the only conversation aside from weather, a local gathering, or animal siting. Locals, just point at me like and call me a boujie gal, as something to them is either missing or very extra in their world. Yup. Totally. Not changing. Cappuccino please.

10. Driving. Now, we normally live in Arizona. The streets are set out in a grid pattern, I was born with no sense of direction, so my bestfriend is Gertrude, my GPS. We go everywhere together. She never complains when I get lost and I can set her to any language. She loves her native British accent and prefers to be called Gertie. There are no animals running around or strange water coming from the sky at any given moment, usually without warning, and rather violent in its fall. Nope. Dry, blue skies are my traditional driving world. Neebish is driving for the crazy. First of all, it is an island, and while that seems obvious, circular with all roads leading back home, not so much. Signs. Yes, kinda. But not GPS registered. So, I am screwed and have to memorize locations and turns. This is bad enough for the direction challenged. To get to town, one gets on a ferry. Cue in extreme anxiety. Yup. Not pretty. Now, I have never minded being a passenger but driving on a floating ship in a big ton truck was enough to set me into overdrive. I clenched the wheel the entire time. Stupid yes, but comforting. Looking straight ahead, trying not to vomit. Plus, I was with the hubs, who feels everyone should drive fast, never get lost, and know how to read a map. How we married I will never know. Once I was released from my ferry hell. My directions were to go straight at a speed I was not comfortable with. All I could think about on the open road with fields all around, was killing a sweet Bambi, who wandered away from her group. Now the cars behind me were forming a nice parade line. In my mind they could slow down, wave to the obviously watching animals, and chill. What was the hurry. Was honking truly necessary? In my hubs mind, they were going to hit us, just to prove their island life point. It was all too much. I pulled over and gave up the wheel seven miles before our final destination. I will do this again, probably alone, and slower. So what did I learn, other than never to drive with my husband? I learned that to get the best spot on the ferry ask the captain and give him a wink. It will always work. Trust me.

So, with these basic skills mastered, especially the stick twirling, you can conquer life in its utmost of peacefulness. The only stressor that exists is the possibility of missing the ferry and having to head back to town, have lunch or dinner, and head home a bit later. Other than that. No concerns, and a life worth living even without the gown.

caregiver, grey hair, life, retirement

The Facebook

I like to believe I could give up on The Facebook if it were not for my mom, my Miss Brenda. Mmm. Maybe not, but I believe I could. Now, The Instagram and The Twitter, never. My mom inserts the “the,” not my terminology, as I am social media savvy. So I think. Actually, I know I am not. I am 58 my generation is just cocky not savvy at social stuff. How could I toss away the connection I get with the same ten friends over and over…I mean they are sick of me. I could leave. Frankly, kinda sick of them. Sorry. I could leave. So, I must stay for the forward thinking ads that take me down rabbit holes and mine for information. Yes, that is it. Google knowing my every move is an inviting reason to carry on this love/hate relationship. Something to stay for. Nope. The games. They are stupid and after I play them I never post my answers, due to the embarrassment, of playing them in the first place. Nope. Nope. Nope. So, the question remains, why not just hit that delete button, that never really deletes you, but it must feel amazing once pressed. Just think, a life you do not share, overshare, or have a need to share. I understand that many live like that, but if there was a twelve-step program for social media, I would be on it. No, I stay for my Miss Brenda.

Please note: I love my mom to pieces this is just how my brain and how our relationship works. Phew. Hopefully, this is understood. Don’t want to be labeled as that mom hating blogger because I use a moniker other than mom. Not me. At all. Let’s carry on.

My Miss Brenda is what they call her at her senior living facility. It has stuck with me. In a way it was my transformation that I am now really the mom. Yup, two kids. Thirty and eighty-one, they never played well. Sharing was a bitch. They never really got it. Actually, neither did I…the only child syndrome and all. I digress.

We have had our challenges beyond the usual mother/daughter stuff. But our love is real. Very. She is pretty, very social, and stands her ground. Now. But in her former life she ran away from controlling parents that led her to controlling men. Never physically hurt. Just emotional hurt. Her Romeo was never to be hers, and frankly, I am not sure she ever got over that moment in her life. Maybe. We don’t bring it up. It is all water under the bridge that will be in her lasting memories. Along with The Facebook. Sweet, actually. Cue a Shakespeare soliloquy.

Back to the title. The concept of a phone that does more than call is foreign. Very. I spent two hours times two days in Verizon with her, it was not enough. But if you need a new carrier I recommend them as being the kindest souls on the planet, my business is with them for life. Anyway, we learned texting. That worked. We even got that special stylus that made her feel fancy. Very fancy. I bought a pack of them. Just in case. Then she found facebook one day. “Tracy, my friend taught me about something today. It’s called The Facebook. I can see everyone’s lives.” Great. Within the first week she was hacked, the second week I started receiving odd messages from my Miss Brenda, definitely not written in her style and tone. By the third week we ended all of her accounts and got her a new phone, new number, and a new The Facebook identity. Yup. All of her financial stuff was transferred and secured. SO MUCH FUN. I was not a happy camper during this period and suffice to say the man paying the bills was beside himself. The hubs constantly questioned “Why does she need Facebook?” “It is not Facebook,” I said. “It is The Facebook, and it is her window to me, to us, to her grandson and great-grandson.” Proud of my absolute shutdown and the win for The Facebook.

Enter stage-right, Covid-19 and our absence from contact for one year, almost to the date, The Facebook was her saving grace. My posts are for no one but her… she enjoyed my over-sharing my true lack of importance for that third cup of coffee picture or my big toilet paper search. It made her laugh. Nope, it is all for Miss Brenda. I know no one cares and it mostly looks self-important but it’s neither. She truly gets a kick out of my daily pursuits, as trivial as they are. So, I carry-on.

We recently slipped into a new phase. Just using messenger (no more texts) or calls, unless she finds the “phone” image accidentally and of course where she stores her notes. Yes, Miss Brenda has notes. All neatly written in a notebook. Probably, color coded. Another new use is the all important The Facebook calls without the FaceTime camera. That is too many instructions. I have tried. There are no words, colors, tabs, or even a separate notebook for camera use that is going to get us over our hump. We are happy. It works. She feels as if she is experiencing my adventures with me and right now that is the best gift I can give.

I love you Miss Brenda! See you soon!

life, retirement, travel

Breakfast is NOT a Frozen Burrito…Or the Many Lessons Learned on the Road

1. Food. Travel in any form takes on different eating patterns but road tripping is an art! The first realization that sitting in a car makes you hungry or bored hungry. That is bad and the layout of gas station markets lures you to carbs and sugar. You must hunt and put blinders on. Have a focus list and go. Water, power bars, pre-popped popcorn, almonds, and sugar-free candy if needed. This worked for the first day and my little smug self was so flaunting my food list, steps, and this simplicity until we had an oops moment with the car. Bring on the donuts. Yes, bagged food followed. So in reality. Plan to eat, overeat, not give a damn, and just adjust when you get out of the car. Or fly.

2. Exercise. Considering the day is spent sitting. Movement is key. Currently, I am writing and doing a Peloton meditation so I do not jump outside of my skin due to boredom. It counts. Everything counts on these long days. Walking around a gas station, stopping at a side road museum, anything. The movement of body or mind is key as you got the time. Oh, so much time, and of course wearing a smart watch that adds a fun guilt trip with every alert to my needed movement times was a brilliant move. I went from moving at every stop like a crazy woman to raising my hand, shaking it while cursing and going back to my Netflix. But it did register my simple movement. Guilt conquered.

3. Hotels. Kinda. Depending on the size of the town there is little choice and they tend to be overrated on Expedia. Our four star home away from home was more of a one. But nonetheless I just kept chanting eight hours, eight hours, eight hours in monk like fashion. My husband snored away so there was no worry of him calling the nearest pysch ward. I learned quickly that time will elapse whether you sleep or not and you will be back in the car. So some sleep is great. The morning buffet advertised to the weary traveller is nothing short of frightening so beware you might get the option of a frozen burrito or a pancake machine. We were. So, just run towards your nearest bagged food option. But in case you wondered what a pancake machine is, I tested it, you are welcome. Life presented me a pancake machine. Of course, I am going to press the buttons. Duh. The machine is a large double decker toaster oven looking contraption, that allows you to plug in your desired amount of pancakes, on an outside keypad. Once entered it goes through the teachnical process of warming frozen circles up. Once the machine detects the food it warms the little round bites of fluff. Here comes the magical moment, they were spit out at you for you to catch in our choice of paperware of the day, a bowl. Yup. I had to try, buttons pressed bowl ready like a catcher behind a mound, I laughed, a maniacal laugh that if heard in this small town would have not only gained looks but perhaps a sheriff’s visit. Please note the lobby was empty. As they were still frozen. I tossed them. No one was looking at my rudeness and waste but there we no re-entering directions for uncooked pancakes. So no choice. I highly suggest you try one if you find the opportunity. Entertainment at it’s finest. Our last night on the road, I booked a real hotel. I could not deal with roadside Schitt Creeks one more night. I kept hearing the characters voices. It was unsettling. Cue pysch ward.

4. Know your audience. As we entered Nara Vista New Mexico my husband thought he would be cute and make a play on words between Nara and Napa. He got a look. He sings country. I watch Schitts Creek and he still has never heard of it…really! Your driving companion can’t change, you just have to accept, move on, make light of, or ignore. There is no changing the over 50 crew. None. So if you get in a car for a trip scan your crew, note their shortcomings, and count the days. I recommend meditation, netflix, your music, or feigning sleep. The last one did not work. He knew. Damn.

5. Attire. So let’s review. You will eat crap, stay in scary roadside haunts, allow every minor fault of your partner to drive you crazy and be so tired at the end of the day that your movement is minimal. Sounds heavenly. But I had one ace up my sleeve. Super stylish travel clothes. Yup. Take that road. Livingston for the win. Yeah, no. I packed all of my clothes for the trip in my bag a week before we left never thinking that these were my clothes for just the trip not the car trip. A couple days before my husband sat me down and explained the road travel bag concept of just taking in a small bag every night to the hotel. Just essentials. Sleeping. Getting up early and hurling yourself back into the car for the next day was the process laid before me leaving no time for “cute.” I cried. No prep time. Just brush your teeth and go. Ugh. This coupled with my last days of school I found myself hurling everything I hate into a backpack and calling it good. So yes, I looked like hell. Skipped makeup, wore socks with sandals for comfort, and wore clothes I would not wear outside my own home. But was I comfy. Yes. So, maybe it was a win. There are few photos of human life during these days. Nope. Accept my husbands cruel attempts of finding humor in my suffering. Deleted. All, while monk like chanting of thirty-three years, thirty-three years…

So, was it all bad. No. If you let go of your roadtrip fantasy looks, eating, nightly room choices in very small towns. You saw America and breweries and wineries for days. Fruit wine, anyone? Aside from all of the craziness I saw America. The farming America that works hard, votes with their pocket books, is kind, holds doors (all the time), apologizes for cursing, does not believe happiness is always attached to a university degree but is tied to family values, carrying on the farm and name, and saving not spending on every new latest fad. They are a special breed. I just take-in their life with a bit of jealousy but knowing that I was raised as a city girl who values everything they feel is unnecessary. My hope from this peek into Americana is that I now truly understand our fancy ways are truly in the minority and real life is dotted all across the United States in strings of small towns only varying by region, state, size, and local economic and farming opportunities. We the city folk, while blessed with opportunities, we often feel we are the majority of thinkers, movers, shakers, and biggest complainers. Our way is right. Period. Thus forgetting who we lean upon for everything that we consume in daily life. They are the real America. So, if you dare go on a drive and take-in the beauty, wonder, small town ways. Have a few small town conversations. It will bring you peace and insight. Just once. Then fly.

A Frame, goals, grey hair, life, retirement, travel

Tiffany’s is Always a Good Idea…

Today is our 33rd anniversary. I thought it was our 35th. Probably, because I wanted a big gift. But it is our 33rd. No big gift. I can’t even think of something that is worth this mountain of years. That’s good? Right? Or is it? Have we forgotten the art of celebration, become ho-hum or just understand it is not about the bling. It is the latter, but a trip to Tiffany’s is still in order on any given day. I have my gift picked out as of three years ago. Truly. No anniversary is ever needed just turn to page 27 of the catalog and we have it, can’t miss it! Really. We arrive at this moment with more questions than answers. The life of a politico has its moments which makes the ride a wild one and my little teaching life has been a thing this year. A real thing. So with time, more questions than answers, and the constant moving goalpost of retirement life, we have decided just to follow our hearts. Sounds sappy. Number 33 is our gift to follow our hearts and support our ever-changing dreams. I almost just threw up. Seriously. To know me is to understand gushy I am not. A gift with store wrapping and possibly a card is my thing. That is me in a nutshell. But I do give great gifts. Always. Just this year, there are no objects to be wrapped, just gushiness and heartfelt talks celebrating the years. This is our time to sort out our everlasting future, and treasure our present, as we approach those golden years. Tiffany’s sounds easier. Much.

In two days we are off to go to create a dream. A gift to ourselves. A week together in a car. Seriously. Stop laughing. I promised one cross-country trip in our marriage. Just one. Our final stop is property where we are starting the process of the building of an A-frame home on the water, in solitude, and embracing small town life. Seriously small. Ferry to the property small. Since we are in charge of the design, my request of my own peloton room and writing nook have been granted. The rest we oddly agree on. The home will be primarily used for the summers to just chill and for my writing and to enjoy the grandparent stuff. Swimming, rock collecting, fort building, raspberry hunting etc. Oh, yes and fishing. All so me. I am in charge of small town shopping. Moccasins, drums, bows and arrows, and cap guns. You know, outdoor crap. But shopping is still shopping. I am ready. It is time to enjoy the simplicities that life offers instead of constantly muddling through the mess. A special treasure is that all of this will be passed onto our son and his son for a lifetime of memories and traditions. So, this year our anniversary gift is listening to our hearts and making life decisions that fit not only our years in marriage but our future years of happiness. This has no wrapping. Just pure love and perhaps even testing our own levels of patience and commitment to what lies ahead. We got this.

So here’s to 33 Senator Hubs and to many, many more but please take a look at the Tiffany’s catalog page twenty-seven bottom right corner. If not this year, perhaps coming soon. While bling is not important it certainly makes me smile!

goals, grey hair, life, retirement

The Talk

Nope, not that one. The talk that happens long after the children go out of the house, you get used to the quiet, for awhile, and finally you wonder what is next after the peace is not enough to satisfy the happiness and pride of surviving crying through the night, toddler tantrums, the school and sports years, braces, graduation and more until they find their way and move on and out. If you wondered, peace sucks. I like chaos. I like loud. I liked all that went with raising a family. So to say that this transition has been difficult is beyond explanation and my son is 30. Or almost. A tad embarrassing? Yes. True. Most definitely. Now, real retirement is about ten years away. I shudder at the thought of not going to work. It is a hobby, passion, necessity, all of the above plus more. What would any of us do without being needed or fulfilled in our everyday life. What will I do? What will we do?

As I round another birthday, I finally feel we have a plan. Now, not a dream I am willing to share at this moment But we have one, a true dream, plan, and a time-frame. Something we both want and after so many years (thirty-three years on May 28th) many couples aka most of my friends drift away…instead we are growing closer. Not all castles, travels, and diamonds, but one that is real, loving, and on the same page. We have both changed for the better. His wishes have become mine and my wishes are supported at every turn.

So, our recent “talk” was good. Actually it was great, surprising, and a relief. At the end of it we were both amazed that we are on the same planet as we begin to explore our eventual golden years. For now, we start our newest dreams, just as we did long ago at the alter, again at Stanford Hospital for the birth of our son, and many years later upon the birth of our grandson. Our nugget. Dreams make lives golden, it is not the years, and thank goodness we have plenty of dreams that with work will come true.