Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Summary

Did you ever stop and look at yourself in the moment and think ... "I never thought I would be this cliche." ?  Perhaps most of us like to think we are unique and a multi-prismed person of fascinating interests and activities.  We are thus different from the masses.  Yet, I  must admit that I am not.

I am one side of a set of grandparents that own a time share that is movable.  I am one of a set that vacations with grandchildren in all the traditional places such as beaches, cottages by lakes, amusement parks, major historical monuments. I am one of a set that loads a car to the brim and overflowing with bicycles, towels, coolers, snacks, games, drinks and DVDs.  One of those people I used to observe never thinking I was anywhere like that.  (Just look at that knobby-kneed grandma attempting to fit one more cooler into the back of that van!  Look at that balding man trying to get his bike lock around both old bikes!)

I have a son-in-law and daughter who manage to program every single hour of every single day on a family vacation.  We can go to a place that my husband and I went to years ago and see far more of it than I ever knew was there!  Of course, much of it is geared for a younger audience and that is why we bypassed it.

Son-in-law is adamant that every single thrill ride MUST be experienced.  He does push to include the kids, but since they are young he cannot get them on EVERY ride.  He is into mathematical data and knows which one has the most turns or goes the highest or has the biggest drop and maintains a memory list of those he has experienced as closely as a birder keeps his life list.  As he described a ride I would be terrified.

Of course time must be left to stand in lines (they were very short this year) for rides that barely move but make the small kids think they are running the show. 

And grandparents forced time to be left for the animal shows, the stage shows and the diving shows.  With the price of tickets we felt these shows were really high end and professional. 

No, it isn't IS an amusement park.

Daughter wants to hit the TravelAdvisor's top rated restaurants and we include as many as we can within limited budgets and small children's tastes.  Both parents set aside an evening to hit the outlets.  Son-in-law got several free vouchers for the golf course so he worked that into the very end of the day and skipped a few dinners with us.

Hubby really wants to be anywhere on the water, but when he cannot do that he is happy with a history lesson or two or just spending 20 minutes talking to the stranger next in line.  His neck surgery means he can no longer go on crazy rides, but his ego is small and he will ride the smallest of rides with grandson.

We did sleep in every morning until about 8:00 and then were out of the unit by 9:30 and not home again until after 7:00.  I was amazed and glad that the little ones had no melt-downs and were able to keep up with their parents.  It was a very telling time when the oldest boy, nine, did say on the last day he was looking forward to getting home as he was getting tired of going to "fun places."  When I commented that they were so upper middle class, I did get a surprised look from Dad.

Never knew I would be one of those folks who go on master vacations.  I used to be the weekend camper.  Times change.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Winding Down

Our week's vacation with three little ones and their parents located near an amusement park, a water park,  and four historical parks is winding down this morning.  Got up early and packed food and clothes.

Hubby is cooking banana pancakes, two little ones are already eating them and the third is playing his recorder...three songs he knows well...over and over and over.

There are swim goggles, board games and DVDs scattered in various corners throughout this two bedroom time share.

Parents are busy in their bedroom sorting clothing and charger cords and packing bags.

I have got the two kids set up to eat and am now quickly blogging while waiting for the dryer to buzz, but now I have to go and check on little ones eating once again.

On the way out we will hit Williamsburg village one last time.  I hope to check out the used book store there which is one of my favorite places to browse.  Us old people like old books!

Check in later.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Drowning in activities

Sunrise to sunset working on a schedule.  Spending time with schedule junkies, amusement park junkies, restaurant junkies, swimming pool junkies and one history junkie.

No time to blog, but maybe tonight will read some other blogs!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Give It Your Best Shot and Then Get a Beer

Good, better, best,
Never let it rest,
Until the good is better,
And the better is best.

Or....if it is not your life at stake,
You can accept the reality that you are not perfect.
You can accept the reality that you are somewhere in the middle.
You can accept the reality that you have lots of company.

You can accept the reality that while we honor and love the best in us and others, we feel most comfortable with someone who gave it their best shot and then can laugh about it when they missed the target.

Or, perhaps accept it was the wrong target after all?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Just Naysaying

I am tired of the naysayers.  Those who are the first to tell us why we cannot do something to fix something to test new waters.  Those who are the first to state how and why it will not work before giving it a real chance.  Those who offer no alternative but more of the same.

We cannot make school lunches healthier with more fruits and vegetables because the kids won't eat them and the school districts cannot afford the expense.  (Yet we seem to be able to afford the health consequences of obesity in our population years down the road.)

We cannot restrict the air pollution with newer laws because it will cost jobs and raise the cost of heating fuel.  Yet we can afford to listen to children have asthma attacks every evening and afford to give them more medicine, and perhaps watch them die an early death. 

We cannot expect cities to survive on solar panels as they are too expensive.  Some costs are projected at $30,000 per house!  Yet we can afford the endless resources needed to inject precious fresh water and chemicals into the ground and bring up finite fossil fuels, a process that also results in the release of carcinogenic chemicals into the air into nearby neighborhoods.  (I will also mention the idiot Congressional Representative who claimed we would diminish the winds on this earth by using wind power and thus make the earth warmer.  Please do not re-elect him.)

We cannot enforce laws that make men behave like civilized human beings, and if they do not, take away their guns, but we can expect women to carry their car keys as weapons on the way to parking lots, and know that the laws cannot assure them they will not be attacked by a male they know.  And we will make sure women are questioned on where they were, why they were there, why that time of day or night, what they were drinking, and how they were dressed during the attack.

We cannot expect students to be given reasonable loans for their college education because it would hurt the economy to socialize such a program and help future citizens get advanced education, but we can expect that large corporations get very reasonable loan rates on their HUGE federal loans after they destroyed the economy and created massive job loss.

We cannot socialize medicine, because although it works quite well in many, many other countries, in our country it will put the decisions of living or dying in the hands of state and federal bureaucrats and not the profit motivated insurance companies where it now lies, and of course, it will cost just too much.

I am happy to see that other countries such as Australia, Denmark, and the Scandinavian countries are moving forward on both social and economic fronts and proving us wrong.  Years from now they will be the standard for an advanced society and we will be the joke if we do not change our ways and put all of our people before the shameful profits of the oligarchy.

But then again we can just stimulate our economy by getting involved in another 1,000 year war as one Senator is promoting.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Traveling with Tabor, Norman Rockwell Style

I was going to avoid posting travel photos, because I do tend to feel a little like Betty White who when discovering that people posted their travel photos on Facebook explained that during her younger years "Seeing pictures of people's vacations was considered a punishment."  Some of you remember those slide shows at neighbor's houses?

Well, it appears some of you are masochists and wanted a more visual version of my recent trip with family.  Because I want you to think we are just a really happy, wholesome, all American family I have filtered out all the bad stuff on the photos.  ;-)  The filters are from some free software I downloaded off the Internet (Xero) and other filters from software I own.

We did not walk into the campground, as someone asked.  With all the stuff we brought in the back of three cars, that would have been a real effort.  We drove right up to the front doors of the three cabins (one off to the right in the photo below.)

We did take one small hike down the hill to the Blackwater Falls.

We did take one ride up to the top of one mountain on a ski lift and found it was the best place to have a picnic.  What a view!!

We did check out the yellow of buttercups and we did blow dandelion heads all over the place.  (Isn't this just so Norman Rockwell?)

The only source of water was from the well and the kids made a game of it!  What was wrong with those pioneer children who considered it a chore?

We sat around a campfire and played romantic.

We took a small hike to the nearby fire lookout.  Some of us ran and some of us sauntered toward our view from the tops of spruce trees.  One side was hidden in clouds and the other side gave us the view we were looking for.

While I told you we got was in pastoral fields of spring green!!

There, have I painted this trip as a perfect experience?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Long Weekend

Last weekend we celebrated Father's Day, yes, early.  My daughter had planned a long weekend away in a (another) state campground at some rustic cabins knowing that my husband loved being in the outdoors hiking all day and then sitting around a campfire as the sun set and dinner was cooked over an open fire.  My daughter, who has a very demanding job as a director of some such or other and is the mother of three all under nine, planned all the activities, made the reservations, planned the menus, and packed all the food, and packed all the stuff needed for her three children as well.  This cannot be my gene pool, but perhaps I can ride the thrilling tail of this rocket.  My son and his wife also joined us.

We always have S'mores (graham crackers, campfire toasted marshmallows and chocolate sections all put together like a sandwich) for dessert in the summer if there is a fire.   But this time daughter saw one of those new Pinterest ideas and also packed some sugar cones, miniature marshmallows, chocolate chips and sliced strawberries and whole bananas to slice.  When the oldest grandson saw all this chocolate and sweet stuff he said gleefully, "Wow.  This isn't going to be a very healthy camping trip!"  We filled the cones with the above, wrapped them in heavy duty foil and then placed them on the very warm coals at the end of our meal of foil dinners (meat, veggies, etc.) to heat up for a few minutes before dessert.  They were delicious and cool enough to be handheld!

I could post a bunch of photos to prove all the fun we had on trails, on rocky outlooks, at the top of spruce forests and at one huge waterfall, but instead I will tell you that we went to the mountains of West Virginia and got lost several times on winding dusty roads with no signs before we found our cabins tucked away in some lone valley.  When we reached the campground we struggled for some time before we got the lock combination on the road gate to work so that we could get in.  Hubby forgot the fire starters, but being a former Eagle Scout he managed to get enough twigs, with grandchildren help,  to start a great campground fire.  Son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter were the only ones who could carry a tune while son played his guitar, but it still made for a lovely accompaniment to our evening fire sitting.  And one little mouse managed to eat through the plastic cooking oil container during the night which kept me a bit awake in my sleeping bag in the dark and otherwise silent cabin.  We still managed to end up smiling all the way there and back.

Some of the pretty photos of the great outdoors will go on my other blog.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

See Ya.

Not blogging since I was away for the long weekend because I had a bunch of laundry to do, a bunch of email to delete, a bunch of bills to pay and then all got interrupted by this after the morning storm.

The big culprit, the 30 foot pine tree, had been leaning for a year after the last storm and so when he finally gave his last sigh this morning he brought down a locust, a dogwood and a maple in front of him!!  At least he left my bay shrub and the little landscape bed safe.

We are busy cutting wood, and hauling branches.  See you later.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Getting More Zen

More on the theme of my prior posts, living and dying.

I had a big crush on a certain guy in my younger years and this conversation written by his daughter when she questioned him about death and heaven and ever seeing her grandparents...his parents... again reflects his character and soul and is probably why I felt so inspired when watching his show:

"“You are alive right this second. That is an amazing thing,” they told me. When you consider the nearly infinite number of forks in the road that lead to any single person being born, they said, you must be grateful that you’re you at this very second. Think of the enormous number of potential alternate universes where, for example, your great-great-grandparents never meet and you never come to be. Moreover, you have the pleasure of living on a planet where you have evolved to breathe the air, drink the water, and love the warmth of the closest star. You’re connected to the generations through DNA — and, even farther back, to the universe, because every cell in your body was cooked in the hearts of stars. We are star stuff, my dad famously said, and he made me feel that way."

The man, of course, was Carl Sagan, a magical, happy, elf of a man who loved his universe.  The newer version of a Cosmos explorer, Neil deGrasse Tyson, is more of a teddy bear type who can scare you ever so slightly with his passion for knowledge.  Yet, I feel safe with him as a guide through this universe, as well.

Thus, when thinking about death, I think about Carl Sagan and I get more Zen about life. 

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Tick-Tock---How Do You Measure Time?

Two months ago one of our volunteers started giving so much of her time to the various group's projects.  When I asked about it to a friend, I was told that her husband had died recently without any warning.

My neighbor emailed me last month that the bearded man that jogs down our road every evening from another neighborhood had died of a heart attack.

My dear husband had his fishing trip cancelled two weeks ago because his fishing buddy had a "little" heart attack and is now awaiting surgery on that.

My neighbor on the right side needs to have back surgery to alleviate some serious pain, but he has to have surgery on an embolism near his heart first.

I missed the busy sound of the neighbor on my left side this week and find from a phone call from his wife that he had a "hard" pearl shaped blockage in an artery and had to have bypass surgery.  He is still in a lot of pain.

I used to joke with my husband that if he kept going down to check on his trees in the ravine he needed to let me know because he could pass out and I would never know where he was.  This is no longer a joke. I admit that I think about how I would deal with life if he passed on before me.  I envision we have decades ahead of us, but no one really knows how much time they have, do they?  I wonder if I would have the strength I see in the women around me and the bloggers in front of me.

(About fifteen years ago I told my son at dinner that I hated when the phone rang because I was afraid that one of my parents had passed on.  He looked at me with that insightful realization we all get at sometime in our lives. Both parents have since passed on, but I still hate the sound of the phone ringing in the early evening or at night. )

Sunday, June 01, 2014

The Greatest Generation

She is small and wrinkled like a blonde raisen, with dark button eyes intense in their observation of those heads close to hers.  There is a small permanent smile on the 87-year-old face.  And she has shrunk again this year becoming more like a house mouse.

I move gently around her, afraid I might break that fragile frame with a bump.  She moves with less care and faster than one expects through the crowd of our peers.  She earned her first college degree the year I was born which intimidates me in no small way.  What magic I wish I had to have seen the fire in those intense eyes when she was 20.

She also brings something tremendously delicious to each meeting.  Something that tastes as if it came from an award winning European bakery.  Something with chocolate and buttercream and that has more calories than she carries in that tiny body, and yet, she dares to call herself a nutritionist!

She approaches me with a miniscule frown between her brows and takes a deep breath before she thrusts the paper beneath my nose and begins her questions and critical comments and barely waits for my response to each.  Then without pause she turns toward her next victim and throws a smile over her shoulder as she comments, "Well, just so you understand for next time!" and she shuffles on.  I would lose in a debate with her hands down.

She has three beautiful daughters who are leaders in their own great generations and all stand a head above her as if they were well-selected hybrids of her gene pool.  Had she been born in Germany during the great war, her gene pool would have been ended on her way to synagogue.  None of us would have felt her ripples on the water of the community she graces.

Last week she won a prestigious award for the giving of her time.  Her mother and grandmother lived to 103, so she is not done yet!