Monday, November 13, 2017

A wedding and two funerals.

The phone began to ring a few months ago with news that my nephew (47) is marrying, for the first time, in Pennsylvania on my sister's anniversary. Can they come to "stage" at our house? Sure. It isn't an issue. Love my husband's family to pieces and would be delighted to do anything for/with them.  We prepared early. Beds were readied, blankets were fluffed and life was humming.

Then my son called. My daughter in law's best friend (31) had passed away from brain cancer. They would have a memorial service near the end of the month on the other side of the country. Could I come to his house and watch the kids while he taught and she traveled?  Sure. It isn't an issue. Great kids. Love my daughter in law to pieces and would do anything for the family.

Then my daughter called. Her father in law (53) passed away while herding cattle. Could we watch the older (4&10) boys while they traveled to my son in law's home to take care of things- from burying his father to beginning the estate? His parents have been divorced for many years. There was no will and son in law (30) is the oldest. Sure. As long as it does not overlap, it would be fine. Great kids. Love my son in law to pieces and would do anything for the family.

Novemeber has always been a crazy month.
My sister and brother in law were married 39 years ago. My nephew was to be married on the same date.
My father passed away 11 years ago. My daughter in law's friend will be remembered on the same date as his funeral.
My son in law's father passed away the same day as their wedding was announced, 11 years ago.

Reminders to me.
Remember to say, "I love you" every time you part from a loved one. My sister in law announced years ago that we are to say it at the end of every call. It is habit now. I am so glad we started.
Do a will!!!! Urge your children, brothers and sisters to do a will. Do a simple will if nothing else. Say good bye to your family in small ways. Make sure there is enough money to bury you somewhere that the family can get to.
Always have more blankets and extra coats. You never know when a 20degree day will show up in the middle of a beautiful fall.
Always be open. Life is fleeting.
I am SO thankful to be retired.
Even if I am tired again :)

Friday, October 27, 2017

What do you carry on a plane

It is the season for travel.
My back pack tends to have about fifteen things that simply stay put,
no matter where I am going.
They are things that seemed to come in handy when we were traveling overseas a great deal and in the 50 states as a company person.

First, I carry a 4 lbs back pack that can be carried like a suitcase.
Since I refuse to check bags, this has become my "go to" for a week of clothing.
A bit heavier for my purposes, but the convenience is huge.
One of the things I love are the pockets and packing system. 
Packing cubes are my friends as well.
This bag has a fold out water carrier- which can be repacked. 

What stays in my bag always?
Altoids tin: $20, bic lighter, several needles already threaded, 2 quarters, tiny flashlight, Swiss army knife, a couple of wipes, small copy of my driver's license in the top.
A pen and tiny notebook (I have carried post its as well)
Travel size bottles with: sunscreen, good lotion, shampoo, Vodka
Mylar blanket
Large, light silk scarf
Change of undies and socks
A few Granola bars
Woolite laundry soap (comes in packets)
Credit card multitool 
These do not stay in my pack, but they are often packed:
seven changes of undies,
Slip on shoes and warm socks,
more wash soap,
my fully charged Kindle- loaded with books and turned on to Airplane mode,
cords for media (packed in that small top pocket),
silk thermals (underarm can melt into your skin if caught on fire)

The heaviest things are my shoes.
I just don't know how to get around that, 
but my newest hiking boots are WAY lighter then any ones of the past. 
They weigh about two pounds. 

These days trips are all family related, 
but an airport is an airport. 

Happy travels!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Contrary to popular vote

No, this is not politics :)
We are going to redo the bathroom.
The decision came because we decided that we needed a bathroom that we could use if either of us was wheelchair bound for any amount of time.

There is background for this.
My husband had a hip replacement eight years ago. He was still in his 50's.
Unlike me, my husband has always been in great shape,
a runner,
careful in his diet.

And his "easy operation"? He got MRSA.
They had to take out the new hip
give him a cement hip for six weeks
(which means VERY little movement)
and then give him a new hip.
That meant three major hip operations in ten weeks.
That also means no, realistic, way to use any of the bathrooms in our large house.

We never want something like that to happen again.
The doors will be widened (by four inches)
A huge walk in shower will replace the jacuzzi tub
There will be access to the potty with few issues.

Yes, it may be years before we need these changes,
but we don't want to be scrambling

We decided that Israel is not in the cards.
Yup, I am chicken.
Getting blown up once in the Middle East is enough to scare me for good it seems.
Hate to admit that.
Maybe when I turn 65?

On my goals- tried two different protein bars. None that work for me yet.
Still have not shaken my chocoholic addictions- but am cutting down on the sugar otherwise
Walking has commenced. Not as often as I need, but it is several times a week.
Change jar needs to be emptied. We cleaned out some drawers :)

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Trip Goals- December is almost here!

We just got back from a whirlwind trip, with all of the family in tow, to NYC.
The 30 miles of walking in four days let me know that I have to be in better shape
when we take our daughter's children to Disney
in December

The plan is to walk between five to ten miles a day
with three kids
and four adults.

That thought puts goals on the table.
1) Walk every day. 
Start with the neighborhood and move out to the road until it snows.
Then, back to the neighborhood.
I learned on the NYC metro that my knees are not as bad as I thought
keeping them limber is important as well.
2) Learn what type of protein snacks work for me.
Try and review a different one each week until I find three that I like.
3) Start my body losing weight.  
My body needs a jump start. Fasting does not do it for me.
I am thinking of starting on a protein/veggie routine.
Gathering fresh veggies and placing them in the outside fridge so I have them longer.....
4) Save change
We purchased the full passes to Disney,
but there are lots of small things to purchase when you bring three children along for the ride.
Saving change, converting it, and then splitting it between the kids
will give them pocket money and leave my worries at the door.

Goals are not good unless they are measurable. Once a week I'll be back with small updates....maybe that will help to keep me honest.

Two other things I will do for the trip:
Stretch my toes.
My smallest toe has begun to wrap under my next toe.
I am a great believer in muscle memory and strength.

Figure out my shoes
I love my Go Walks- but they gain foot odor fast.
I need three types of shoes to interchange on the trip.
My Teva Mush flip flops will be my evening shoes.

Figure out my suitcase.
I plan to take few things
what is it that I need?

It is going to be a busy fall- a trip to West Point, crafts at my house once a month, DC and NYC for lights, Thanksgiving here. I love being busy!

Monday, September 11, 2017


Standing on the metro platform
crisp uniform
reading the Times
I, with ten school kids in tow,
tapped him on the shoulder.

and then that Irish smile
"What the heck?"

Years before
we had spent many hours
playing Risk
drinking whiskey.
A group of captains
and one stay at home mom
Friday Nights were never the same
after the advanced course.

We chatted about life,
living, family, joy and sorrow
all while taking over the world.

Our lives parted
our careers grew at opposite ends of the country
Christmas and birthday cards
The Army way.

Not surprised that he was working
in a near empty office
just "clearing the desk".

The world is quieter without Neil.
And I will remember him, always.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Helping to load the school backpack.

The teacher in me goes a bit crazy this time of year.
Of course there is a high need for new pencils and markers in my house....

Instead of packing my teacher desk I am working on my grandson's backpack.

A fourth grader this year, and first time in public school.
Homeschooling got him his basics
and now for the icing on the cake!

Why would I bother with his backpack?
You never know when some things are going to be needed.

Kids just don't seem to grow up the same way as I did.
I rode my bike to school in elementary and most of the way through high school.
I also took the bus more then once (the school was five miles away).

So, here is the "emergency backpack" for the bottom of his locker.
Simple, small, will take little space.

Inside that will be two juice pouches (not boxes) two power bars, a hand flashlight
Last, but not least, a printed Google street map to show the way home.
Simple, ready to go if mom cannot meet him in time.
Everyone should always know how to get home and have a bit of a snack for the hike!

Back to school we go!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The problem of statues.

Today I was reading about the removal of the Confederate statues from various parks.
The remarks were all over the board for:
Why should we have reminders of such a dark time
If we take them down we will forget.

As a history teacher of many, many years
This is my opinion.

Remove them.
If you must have them up somewhere, put them on the battle fields.
I am not even sure that is appropriate, removing them is.

I am not a revisionist for history.
The Civil War period (both before and after) were dark times in our history.

There really is no excuse.
A confederate flag also makes me cringe.

What do they want to be remembered for?
That large plantation owners suppressed
and enslaved peoples so they could have beautiful mansions.
Do they really think the majority of the white people lived well in this time and place?
I know my family did not.
They were extremely poor, and had to move to Illinois in the 1850's to get away from the mess.
They did not own slaves and probably worked next to them in fields.
I am betting most of the KKK member families were the same.
Blacks and the government did not take their stuff,
 their families did not have stuff to begin with.
Like blaming the Jews in 1930's
scapegoating for being poor is an easy out.
The rich figure out how to harness that.
For years and years after the whole area was suppressed because of these people who convinced others that it was their duty to support their way of life?

We learned some horrible lessons after WWI.
If you suppress an area too much- they will raise up and come back.
That is what Hitler gained speed on, and Stalin, and Mao and Jefferson Davis.

If you  help the people rebuild after a war
then the people can come back stronger, united-
as happened in Germany and Japan after WWII.
BUT- in both Germany and Japan NO mention of the war was allowed.
They certainly did not have statues named after the top generals
even if those generals had been nice guys before the wars started.

But keeping the statues, the flags, even the words
there is not a chance for people to heal completely.
And let it go.
It has been over 150 years (four or five generations) since the Civil War.
The statues need to come down. The streets renamed. The people need to unite , like the good people of Charlottesville, and move forward. We don't need to suppress the past, we just have to remember it as the ugly era that it was. Statues are for the winners.....

Oh and don't think that the North was such a great place either
The work houses that people fled to after the war
were terrible..... Maybe we need to rename some of those "winnings" as well....