life, Uncategorized

A Very Serious Chat About My Dishwasher…

If you balk at this title. Move on. This is not an essay for anyone that grew up washing their clothes in a creek with homemade detergent. Also, please move on if you believe that the dishwasher is killing our planet through energy use or excessive water waste. Never heard anyone complain of the latter. But in today’s crazy world, they are out there lurking, waiting, and ready for their moment to bring their secret cult mainstream to take down my favorite appliance. Probably yours as well, if you are still reading this rambling. As for those that carried water, took rocks to their clothes, or cooked by firewood. Bless you. But we have nothing in common. Nothing.

I like hotels, room-service, spas, and the option of five-star restaurants. I did not grow up this way, but I caught on early. My first hotel experience was during a camping trip in July in Mammoth, California. It snowed. While, I survived the night in my tent. The white stuff and I were not friends. A strange foreign feeling took over my body, later to be identified as frostbite, OK. Cold. But it felt worse. From this absolute horror a diva was born. I began to scream and demand breakfast in my sleeping bag and crying to leave the experience of white fluff with a tinge of freeze. I kept muttering hotel, hotel, hotel until my limp body was carried into the car. No. But I was a pain in the a** Who did I become? My absolute discomfort brought out a monster and earned a trip to the local Mammoth hotel.

Now, we are talking. A magical place where food can be delivered with a smile, as my mother had stopped smiling hours ago. I am sure it was the frostbite and not my tantrums. Nevertheless, I found others who would cater to my ways and I was happy to use all their services. That was the beginning of the end.

Now, in my real world I do not live in a hotel, albeit I could. Our first together home was in Northern California was 400 square feet, our laundry was serviced and delivered, our apartment was cleaned by a sweet weekly maid, bellman and concierge were available 24-7, and all other amenities including a driving service for those who worked in San Francisco. City and back everyday. No driving. No parking. Pure heaven. When the hubs decided we needed more room, for less of a price tag, I cried for days.

Fast forward thirty-three years. I would live in the city with a view and amenities galore. The hubs likes this thing called land. In this trade-off, he won. But I have every gadget to make life concierge friendly. My favorite is my dishwasher. A trusted friend. Truth be told, I never load it correctly, and am not a fan of unloading it, but the concept of hiding dirty dishes and pressing a few buttons to give you the clean sanitized feel is priceless. So, while I do not miss any other kitchen appliance on our yearly camp excursion. I miss my dishwasher. It is a true necessity and an often an overlooked friend of the kitchen. My best friend. Truth be told, she could stand an upgrade. I am just not telling her yet. She would be crushed.

family, life, thirty

Not Just A Day!

It’s a big day. Nope, a huge day. It is an insert expletive type of day, using any chosen expletive to emphasize wonderful. I like the one that rhymes with duck, but I do have a potty mouth. There are truly no words. Hence, the rocky start. Perhaps the middle and ending, as well. Just a great big warning label but I will try to get my wording together. However, no promises.

He was born at a normal weight and length, which was a blessing. I have epilepsy and he was a calculated risk. I had to gain an insane amount of weight to ensure his weight. Not sure, about this correlation, but I had weekly weigh-ins, and little did we know this was to be around his corner. After his birth we found out about his eating disorder. He was failing to thrive and by the time my pediatrician (one on the best, truly) believed the situation we where whisked into Standford Hospital where my Nanny walked me through an emergency baptism. We did not think we were leaving with our baby. We were petrified. So baptize I did. This was our first brush with the fear of losing him. After this point we became helicopter parents, to the extreme.

The kid had/has a stubborn streak and is the ultimate survivor. While, in the recovery stages we went to OT, PT, and feeding therapy. We did not need all of this but we did it all to make sure after failing to thrive nothing else was lacking or needed attention. He was the most popular kids at Standford, he was their rockstar. He had a smile that was killer, laughed, when not eating, easily, and loved people. He is smart and strong. He graduated out of all programs quickly. Which was wonderful but sad, as it was our playtime with other sanitized children. The one thing the kid could not be around is germy kids, in case of catching the slightest cold, as it would stop his growth. Every ounce was important. We could not be in a playgroup, or have little people contact, until on that weight chart. We were best buddies, more than the average mom/son duo. Daily he depended on me not just for the average kids food and play but to keep him alive. By eleven months the kid made it on the chart, the tube was removed, and our nightly pump feeds a thing of the past. Life as a normal kid could begin. Whatever that meant.

We meandered through the meaning of normality, and overall had success as a family unit. The kid was that kid who had it all…until his back began to fail. The failure is genetic and hastened by sports. The kid was physically talented. Now, we coped. We are a strong bunch and he is the strongest human I know. Truly. But a few scares between the countless surgeries plus a stroll on wild side that became rather dicey. This was not just a scare. It was a gamble with life. Most days, I fought back tears. Life went on. Kinda. Change only comes for those that want change. So we waited. He chose to see the light. I thank God nightly. Our kid who has fought for life since birth, chose life.

Actually, he excelled. Again. He pulled out of the darkness with his cheering section applauding every step. The hubs and I were obnoxious but when you fear the alternative you become obnoxious. I did not care. Still don’t. I am his biggest fan. It started with the baptism by fire with my Nanny coaching me. Afterwards, between the tears, I said. “Keep fighting and to never give up.” He heard me. He has listened to me for thirty years. Not liking me at all times, but loving me and listening. Try phlebotomy school. Did, and done. Try EMT. Did, and done. He was great and loved it…and would have gone farther. But, that damn back. The kid had a few more surgeries. He is now bionic. Now, he is just dad. Let’s hear it for them. Insert applause. Truly made for this life. Again, thank you God for giving him these skills. This is his life and world. His buddy flourishes due to their daily stay at home ways. But one day, when ready, he will venture back into the world. Perhaps, using his photography skills. The hubs and I know he would be a hit. But throughout his fight for life, his self-confidence has taken a hit. So, not quite ready, but he is listening. Kinda. Most importantly, he is alive and we are all celebrating thirty along with his best friend, aka goggle boy, who adores his daddy.

So, today is much more than just a birthday. It is a miracle in every way possible. From his birth, fighting early health battles, his back, and fighting some dark demons to now seeing the light through the youngest of goggle eyes. Happy Birthday!

fitness, grey hair, life

Big News.

But I can’t tell. Story of my life. The end.

No, but I tell you something much more interesting and a little off color. Gotcha. I have my Grandmother’s rear-end. I am PG. You were expecting a**. Not gonna happen. I always have had this caboose, it was just smaller pre-50’s. Not pretty. Hers was like that reality show family without the designer excess and no plastic enhancing. But it looked right. Always did. Now mine is also all mine, but the look is something to hide. Truly, no real pride, just a fact that I am trying to remove it. Quickly.

My grandmother, always complained she was overweight. She was 5’1″ and maybe 105 pounds. All in her caboose. But she looked awesome even before the rear-end was in vogue. To her that’s all she saw and she hated it just like we all hate our parts that are imperfect. Now she would be a rockstar. Which she was. In her own plastic covered couch, eat burned chicken kind of way. But her love was enormous and made up for her peculiarities. Did I mention she had zero wrinkles? Zero. She loved that about herself. It made the less perfect tolerable and she would glow when others guessed her age, usually far younger than her reality.

She was her own gal. Never met anyone like her. I miss her daily. I remember telling her goodbye and that it was OK to go and hangout with grandpa…but it wasn’t. Well, it was. Kinda. She had dementia and in the final stages it was bad. She left a few days after I told her to go…it was time. But I miss her, her terrible cooking, and how she always took a half of a bagel in her purse for after dinner treat, no matter the restaurant star level, the bagel was in tow. She had the other half that morning. Always. She took her own tea bags as well, and consistently asked me if the waiter would be mad that she just wanted hot water for dessert. Every single dinner outing. The same questions and the same begging. “Tracy, Sam (grandfather) he will see me with my tea and bagel, order something for dessert.” I obliged so the waiters stayed away. No one ever cared. If the waiter was lucky they were treated to her reason for bringing her own carbs and tea to the game. To keep them simple she even told the story in sequence and very quick to the point and if they asked it went something like this:

1. No sugar did she ever eat accept for her one bagel a day and her one apple or orange. Never more. Ever!

2. These were Jewish bagels. Not regular bagels and she would argue the difference.

3. Her tea was better than any restaurants. It was Lipton, but why fight. She also thought she would be charged. Again, agreeing was easier.

My grandfather and I would truly try to keep this story under wraps as we understood how crazy it sounded, but how happy it made her. More than anything it was her way to save a buck or two. She grew up with thirteen brothers and sisters. They packed their snacks if they were lucky enough to go to the movies. Packing was ingrained in her from a young age. So as for the rear. It did not come from her one bagel a day habit. She was just blessed and she was, but next to that famous reality show family, I have never seen anyone more obsessed with their tuchus.

So, where is this headed. Back to the beginning, I suppose. Big news, and a rear to shrink, quickly. But if my grandmother were still alive she would take my hand and reassure me that I am perfect and quickly distract me with a complaint about her day, as it was really Sylvia’s world, and we were just part of it.

Love you Grandma!

anxiety, book, epilepsy, grey hair, life, non-fiction

The Book

It has no title or direction. My writing is a bit like my anxiety driven mind. All over the place. On some days I feel I can create a children’s book, but then I wake up and realize I cannot write about a woke unicorn. Nope. My writing for children would sound old-fashioned, I would be labeled something I am not, and the book would sit on shelves. Moment over.

Fitness, cooking, self-help, or a how to do anything book. I think not for obvious reasons. Not fit, can’t cook, and my help would just result in head-shaking and confusion. As for how to do something. I have dabbled in many and mastered none, can I teach that. Again, I think not.

So with my slim audience. Unless you want to go down the road of addiction, multiple family divorces, or living with a quiet disease. Nope. Eh, the epilepsy, I own, but no one else signed up for this mess. So, while I will elude to my experiences, I am not pointing fingers. Still no book.

Politics. Nope. Nope. Nope. I have too much respect for those who give of their lives to move the needle of change. But I might share a few fun facts I learned from the political road I traveled. Still no tah-dah moment. No title, no main idea, no nothing or is this everything. Perhaps.

Back to the drawing board. Nope. Got this. My two readers, ok, three…as I will make the kid read the book, are going to take a trip through a collection of stories, all real, with some occasional embellishment for entertainment, that I have lived. My real life sprinkled with stories that see the wonder and humor in the bizarre situations that I have called this thing called life.

Untitled, at least for awhile.

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!

grey hair, life, travel

Secret Lumberjack

Ok, my hubs is not handy. Nope. But he is a secret lumberjack when he comes up north. He loves taking down trees, creating paths, and tending to more greenery than meets the eye. Who is this man? This person is not the same one I married. Or is he? Has he hidden these secret talents? Or is this his inner Neebish man just letting loose?

So what does the Neebish woman do when her northern status comes alive? I believe the female alternative to chopping trees is canning, quilting, or embroidery? I cannot imagine doing any of these hobbies until the hubs asked me to move trees with him on a recent hike. Ok, you know I laughed. Hard. Then I said words I cannot repeat. Many times. This, coupled with my usual mosquito cursing. It was an ugly moment. So, I searched out some lifestyle hobbies that seem to fit the bill for UP life. I have to find my out, quickly and obviously writing, reading, working out and hiking is not enough. Ooh, did I mention there are wineries galore in the UP…I mentioned this to the hubs, he laughed. Hard. Obviously, he watched the grape stomping episode of I Love Lucy as a child. Obviously, this hobby he will not support. Let’s face it, I was not going to do the manual stuff, just the everyday wine tours and tastings…who would come? I don’t know but they say if you build it…

In my quest to find a woodsy gig please realize this is only an excuse to avoid moving trees or watching him move trees. This delightful day of fun to my Neebish man sounds dreadful, painful, and I have no skills and no desire to earn my junior lumberjacking badge. While, I applaud him we must remember I grew up in the land of colored rock lawns, Phoenix, Arizona. The only green I see is on playgrounds, football fields, and our many golf courses. The green stuff is beautiful but I don’t see the need to get my hands dirty. I am more mental than physical personality. Let me write, read, lesson plan or create anything from that mind space. Does he not know me yet? Thirty-three years and he is talking lumber removal!

So let’s examine my choices:

Canning: The art of taking food and doing some sort of cooking and stuffing it into glass jars. You are able to can almost everything. I can almost envision a summer of canning and shipping my products home for fun jams, jellies, pickled vegetables etc. for Christmas gifts with that homemade touch or that Martha meets Neebish kind of flavor. It could happen. Now the jars are cool and come in every size. So the shopping would be fun…but let’s be honest if I cannot make a dinner that people do not have to choke down with a bottle or so of wine. This ain’t my gig. Besides, I love shopping the roadside farms way too much to take on this task or give up UP shopping, as there is not much to shop for up north and Walmart does not count. This is a big NO.

Quilting: The art of taking different squares of material and creating a design that will be meaningful or just go really well in a babies room. This involves design. I can do that. Shopping for material. Easy. A ton of sewing with an actual sewing machine. Houston, we have a problem. In high-school I had to take home economics. This was a disaster. I warned the school principal and offered to take any additional class to put in its place. Any. He thought I was being dramatic. Nope. I knew my limits. My first class sewing project was to create a sleeved apron. Everyone happily sewed and hummed away with the teacher singing their praises. When it came to me, she asked me to review my notes and shook her head. A couple weeks later we unveiled our final projects. Everyone modeled and we applauded their efforts. It was my turn and I was proud of my final project. My hands were in one piece, I could sew in a straight line, and I did not break the machine. I stood to model only to realize I sewed the sleeves together so no one could ever wear it. It was more of a wrap around without the ability to actually tie it around your waist. So I improvised and made a few jokes. My friends cheered me on. They knew. Everyone was warned. My grandmother fixed my project, as she could really sew. With every removal of stitch she shook her head and spoke in Hebrew to my grandfather. It wasn’t good. Something about me marrying rich. I was down with that. When we rotated to cookies, my first batch burned, my second batch was raw, as I forgot to turn on the oven, and in fairness the burning scarred me, and my third attempt was void of sugar. I forgot. I was elevated to the teachers personal TA and passed with a C and her heartfelt speech on why I should never cook or sew again. I warned them. Big fat NO.

Embroidery: The art of taking small threads and following a design pattern. Yes, sewing. See above. But small threads with a pattern and no big machine. This is a possibility. After much thought, about fifteen minutes, I am against this option. It involves a needle and the changing of thread colors to match the pattern. This requires patience. If you have read my previous blogs you will note that I have no patience accept for little people. All my patience goes to my students and grandson. So, this is another strikeout. Damn.

I knew after our hike yesterday I was going to be faced with manual labor. While not against, I was dreading what was ahead of me on this warm day. There is dirt and rocks in places I have never seen on my body. This is the art of getting down with nature. But I hate it. Every stick, stone, bug. etc. Give me a chair, a Whiteclaw, and face me towards the water. Feed me occasionally and remind me to pack when it is time to go home to the land of rock lawns. That is Neebish to me. Yes, the ultimate of lazy and my time to check out of life, reflect, laugh, dream, enjoy, and I guess pulling up a few sticks and stones along the way.

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, grey hair, travel

Packing For The Adventure

Tomorrow we place our bags in strategic order and we start the journey. Now, thus is not my first rodeo for packing but this car thing is on a new level of insanity. First, you need to pack all of your clothes, yes all. As the weather and activities vary from stop to stop. After, throwing everything into a huge duffel you need a second bag for hotel stops. So basically only clothes I wear to work are left in my closet, and now since I can see them, fall shopping is a must. I digress.

Next up is the cooler because food is not available across the USA. I guess. Frankly, it is just a manly thing so we are prepared with, umm water. Yup. This is coupled with every tool we own, just in case. Of what I do not know because we says prayers doing long-term charging of our small grey car battery. So yeah, we just call a tow truck. But everything is packed.

Then the cabin ( yup truck-life) it is an Arizona 50 year old man thing. It will pass. Oh it will. This must be arranged so everything needed can be easily ordered or reached for while one hand is firmly on the wheel and the other is only seconds away from safety.

While the hubs packs I am just hanging out downloading, books, games, Netflix, etc. as all my crap is packed and ready to go and I was already told he will not play the license plate game. Almost, a deal breaker for me. Truly. The hubs likes that last minute rush Not me. Nope. So I ignore his insanity and he ignores mine and it works. Tomorrow, we will be on the road with more than any family of five needs…that’s how we roll, I guess.

Off we go! #thetravellinglivingstons

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!