Things I want to keep in mind.

Month: March, 2015

Eyes Wide With Wonder

Ah, the keyboard. It has been waiting patiently and quietly for my return! Ever the traveler – I have been off gallivanting. I had my old laptop with me but it was slow and difficult to navigate. By the time I was able to get the internet open, up and running, I had lost all train of thought. On one occasion, I had written three fourths of a page but it never did save.  I suspect that I closed the lid to the laptop before it was finished with the 10 minute process required by the antique laptop to do anything (and it is only 4 years old!).

At any rate, I am back now.  My mind has been racing for days…

I’ve spent the last week with my daughter and grandsons.  It was a busy week – they are very busy boys!  I give my daughter LOTS of credit, she hits the ground running and doesn’t slow down, ever.  She teaches a couple of college classes and takes care of the boys, the house, the dogs, everything.  Kudos to you, Jackie, you are a classy lady!  You know what is important and you rise to the occasion every time.

And my grandsons?  What a treasure!  What do I love about them?

Jack just turned three.  I love that he has a great imagination.  I love that he can have a conversation with you and is very sensitive, “I feel sad because Papa is not here.”  I love that he stands up for himself on the playground.  I love that he likes to laugh and play with his Gawee!

Charlie is 10 months old.  I love that he smiles with his whole body.  I love that his hair is wild.  I love his little giggle, which he gives freely and often.  I love his lovely blue eyes that are so very expressive.

Who knew what a wonderful gift grandchildren could be?   In five weeks, I’ll have another grandson!  I’ll be on the road again!  Can’t wait.

All that being said, it is good to be home.  It won’t be long before I’m really missing them again…but we’ll see them in May for Charlie’s first birthday.  (The best of both worlds for me would be if they lived closer so I could get a fix once a week!)  It is nice to do some laundry and a little cleaning…I’m sick, I know.  I feel retired again with some leisure and writing time!

In other news, I went to my mom’s to feed her dinner yesterday and she called me by name.  She hasn’t done that in months.  She still didn’t say much  but she did try to fill me in on what she knew.  I miss her.

I think it will take a while for me to gather my thoughts in a coherent trail.  As you can see, I’m going in all different directions.  More tomorrow.



Looking for the good

Don’t be blown about by every wind. That is a chapter title in one of my self help books. Good advice. It truly is difficult to step back. Detach. Not my circus, not my monkeys.

I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about happiness. One article talked about people who are naturally cheerful and statistics showing that they live longer. I can believe it. If you don’t spend your days looking for the bad things but for the good and seeking new adventure in even the simplest pleasures, it could make things roll along easier.

We live in a difficult world for being cheerful. I avoid reading the newspaper and watching the news because the stories are so tragic. There are awful things that occur in our city/state/country/world. We all know people who have cancer or multiple sclerosis or lupus or dementia or any number of medical maladies. It can all drag you down.

In one book, the author talked about a war torn country. He observed a group of children playing and laughing. The previous night, there had been heavy bombing with many losses and it was a traumatic event. But the children were laughing and playing in the rubble. The point of his story was that the children didn’t hold onto the event and carry it over into the next day. They could have been bombed again at any moment, but they sought out each other and played anyway. They could still laugh and feel joy. As adults, we often hold on to our fear and sadness. We wear it like a badge.

Being happy and feeling good has been much easier for me since I stopped working. That says a little about my job – it was not fulfilling. I miss my friends from work but a weight has been lifted since I retired. There are difficult things in my life right now – my mom’s dementia being at the forefront. I miss her but I know there is nothing I can do to intervene with her illness. I am enjoying my time with my kids and friends as much as I can.  This weekend, I’m going to see my grandkids again. My little grandson Jack is turning 3 years old! In a month, I will have another grandson!  Spring has arrived and it is beautiful.

Along with the bombing and rubble, there can be laughter.


I missed my computer the most.  I was on vacation for 2 weeks – I missed my kids and grandkids, my sister, my friends.  But each morning I was lost without being able to sit down at the keyboard and pound out my thoughts for the day.  My mind went into overdrive and I tried writing in my journal but, frankly, I can’t write as fast as I type.  Many really important (and some rather useless) thoughts were lost to the Gulf of Mexico – floated away on the warm sea wind.

I learned a lot about differences from this trip.  The differences between people and cultures; between countries; between cruise lines and between my husband and myself.

Any time you travel to a larger city, you will notice those differences.  If you like to observe people, you will see so much more than just outward appearance.  I had ample opportunity to observe – airports, airplanes, hotels, restaurants, museums, tour buses, bars, coffee shops, cruise ship – a plethora of material for any playscript or short story.  Some people were very helpful and friendly.  Some were very rude, bordering on obnoxious.  Some were quiet, some were loud, many were drunk (we were in New Orleans after all!).

During our stay in New Orleans, we walked everywhere.  Because we had smart phones, we could insert a destination and find our route and the time it would take to get there. This saved us both time and money for taxi fare! It also gave us the opportunity to see more of the city – up close and personal.  The buildings are very old and very impressive.  Some are in disrepair and some have been refurbished.  The streets are narrow and the drivers use their horns very frequently!  Foot traffic does not abide by the traffic signals; if there was no traffic, they would cross on a red light. This was very difficult for my husband, the “retired policeman”.  The first few times that I started across on a red light, he would make a disparaging remark about breaking the law.  But after being left standing on the corner alone while everyone else crossed a few times, he joined the rest of us lawbreakers.

I live in a small town, on an Indian reservation, in Montana. One of the most noticeable differences when we travel is the diversity of ethnicities. Lots of different languages and accents – difficult to understand – and we feel like foreigners. Certainly not a bad thing, just different. We also lead a much simpler life, at a much slower pace and at a much lower expense. We had to remember to keep cash on hand so we could tip everyone from the lady who cleaned the bathroom, to the guy who drove you to the airport, to the man who held your luggage for 10 seconds while shifting it from the car to the cart! And how much do you tip anyway? Burning questions for inexperienced travelers.

We have been on two previous cruises, both on the same ship with Royal Caribbean. This trip, we booked with Norwegian. There was a pretty significant difference – and if we ever go again, we’ll go back to Royal! This was a larger ship and we got a room with a balcony. It was very nice – rooms were great, the ship was older but very clean and well maintained. The service wasn’t top notch and drinks (coffee, pop and alcohol) were very pricey. I think they want you to buy their drinks package – so they charge exorbitant prices. The food at several dining rooms was included in the package (and was very good) and then their were other restaurants you could go to if you paid a “cover charge”. With Royal, you choose a dinner time and you had to “dress” for dinner each night but the service was wonderful and you felt very “special”. It was worth the gratuity because the staff anticipated your every need – your glass and bread basket were always full and fresh. For the most part, on this cruise, we ate at the buffet; the food was good and we didn’t have to wait to be served. The entertainment was great. The warm sunshine was glorious (although that wasn’t provided by Norwegian, per se.)

We were on the ship for 7 days. My husband and I are together 24/7 as it is – but when we are at home, we do our own thing and really only pass each other as we move about the house. Because we have been together for 30 years, married for 29, we have learned how to read each other. We definitely have our differences and our common interests. We are both a little on the OCD side and like to have control. I wouldn’t say we were control “freaks”, more like control “zealots”. It is difficult for either of us to relinquish control over our daily pursuits – to rely on someone else for transport and planning, makes us both a little edgy. But we managed with only a few hiccups – went to the beach in Cozumel, to the Mayan ruins in Belize, ziplining in Roatan and shopping in Costa Maya.

As the trip progressed, I began to note our differences. The biggest of which is that when we are sitting quietly – our minds definitely go down different paths. As we sat one day in the dining room, neither of us was talking so I (of course) asked him what he was thinking. He was thinking about the ship and the engines, they are diesel engines and they put out blah, blah, blah horsepower, there are blah, blah, blah (YES, I glazed over). Meanwhile, I had been watching one couple fight, a man berating his wife, a family of five laugh about something one had said, a group of drunken kids obviously on spring break and one mother trying to get her child to eat something other than cake and ice cream. I was watching and listening – he was calculating and processing.

Diversity can keep you together or break you apart – depends on your level of evolvement.

Difference #1 – I LOVE the sun, the heat is my comfort. My husband burns to a crisp and sweats like a hog in August.
Difference #2 – I enjoy walking on the beach, I prefer walking in bare feet along the surf. He likes walking on a smooth hard surface. Walking on the sand, even in sandals is difficult.
Difference #3 – I’m a mover and a shaker. I like to get up and get moving. He is a ponderer and a wanderer. He likes to think things over, walk along slowly. In some ways, we are like the bulldog and the Chihuahua – I run ahead, sniff things over then come back and circle him a few times before we arrive at our final destination.
Difference #4 – He loves a good buffet and will try a little bit of everything. I prefer to eat small portions, a little at a time, multiple times a day. To me, a buffet is a waste…everyone always eats more than they should just because it is THERE!
Difference #5 – I love a good comedy show. He likes a good sports game. We both like musical/singing shows.
Difference #6 – he loves a good bit of air conditioned air – I wear a jacket if it gets below 70. It worked out fine this time because, I sat out on the balcony and he sat in the room as we leisurely read our kindles.

There were times on the cruise (7 days with just the two of you is a long time for anyone!) when we were getting edgy. Without actually saying so, we took a timeout. I found a chair in the sun, he found a cool place onboard and we regrouped. Later, we came back together and were ready to proceed. Sounds like a business venture? In some ways, it is.

All in all, we really enjoyed this celebration of my retirement. We are still learning things about each other and this life we share – even after 30 years. Our differences make little difference in the grand scheme of things.


The first trip I remember taking alone, without my parents, was when I was in 4th grade.  Miss McGonigle’s (how DO you spell her name?) class took an overnight trip to Virginia City.  We rode in a school bus and stopped for sack lunches at her parent’s house in Butte.   Then we drove on to Virginia City.  We set up our camp – yes, we were to sleep in tents – in the park, near the center of town.   We were to tour our state’s original capitol and learn all about our state’s history.  What a brave woman she was – taking 20 nine year olds and a few chaperones for an overnight trip halfway across the state!  I don’t remember a lot about that trip, but here are the highlights I do remember (bear in mind, I was 9 years old at the time):

  • Butte was a huge town and they had a hotel with a real palm tree!
  • Butte was a town on a huge hill and the roads were very steep.  Also, we heard an explosion while we were in her back yard, I can only assume it was from some type of mining method?
  • Virginia City was a pretty cool place – we saw Cemetery Hill and lots of displays in the “ghost town” portion of the city.
  • Miss McGonigle wore pants!  (This was back in 1968 – all teacher’s wore dresses).
  • I was homesick that night when it was time for bed but, luckily for me, my cousin and best friend was there (we were in the same class) – so I didn’t cry.  Thank goodness.

At the time, I remember thinking that I was a world away from my mom.  I must admit, I’m surprised I agreed to go, though I don’t remember actually giving any kind of consent.  I was a mama’s girl and didn’t stray far from her.

As I prepare for a long vacation – a cruise no less! – I feel the same nagging pull.  I am anxious and nervous and I have to keep reminding myself to breath.  What is all that about?  Oh, I’m sure it is pretty normal.  I’m going off the grid for awhile, that is a concern.  What if something happens and no one can get ahold of me?  And of course, what if something happens to me while I’m gone?  What if the sky should fall?

There is another element.  This trip seems so decadent.  I have a nagging guilt for doing something so extravagant.  I can hear my mother’s voice full of criticism and judgment, “how can you spend that kind of money on something SO frivolous?”  I think this is something she would have loved to do – travel anywhere – see new things, enjoy leisure.  It was not to be – not for her.

The other day, I read an interesting article posted on facebook.  I realized as I wrote this – that the information provided in that article applies to this situation.  I was feeling sorry and a little guilty, that I could go on this trip when my mother never had that opportunity.  Some of my angst is a fear of rejection – because I am able to do this when she wouldn’t or couldn’t.

 No sacrifice a daughter makes  will ever be enough to compensate for the high price her mother may have had to pay or for the losses she has accrued over the years, simply by being a woman and mother in this culture. And yet, this is what many women do for their mothers very early on in childhood: they unconsciously make a decision to not abandon or betray their mothers by becoming “too successful,” “too smart” or “too adventurous.” This decision is made out of love, loyalty and a true need for approval and emotional support from the mother.

I looked up the article – here is a link (hope it works).  I think most of us do or did this without even knowing it.

I wish my mother could have traveled.  I wish she could have experienced more of the joys that she deserved.