November is a special month for me. It’s been that way for me for years now but I’m only now starting to appreciate it.
First off, it’s the month both my mom and sister were born. So I have people I love to celebrate and honor.
Then there’s the crisp fall air and pretty blue skies here in Colorado mixed in with the golden and rust hues of the trees. There’s gaining an extra hour thanks to Daylight Savings Time.
And the new clothes. Cozy sweaters and leggings. Fun boots to wear.
And Thanksgiving this year is right at the end of the month. The perfect holiday, in my opinion. No expectation of gifts or the shopping for them that stresses me out. I’ve always enjoyed my Thanksgivings, though none of them end up being the same.
There was the Thanksgiving when Hubs and I were new parents living in Lubbock, Texas. We did not have the funds to travel to Minnesota to be with our families, so we made the best of it by hosting a lasagna dinner (I had yet to make a Thanksgiving feast on my own at that time in my life) for new friends Hubs made in grad school.
There was last year, when we opted to stay put in Colorado and got invited to church friends home for a lovely Thanksgiving dinner that included the bonus of lively conversations.
This year, Hubs and I are flying our two adult spawn and one grandchild out to Colorado to spend an extended Thanksgiving holiday weekend with us. I will massively enjoy the planning aspect of it (as a medium recently told me, I’m a “chip off the old block” because my mom was a compulsive yet very talented planner Of. All. The. Events.).
For my small and beloved family, I will be making homemade comfort food (in addition to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Friday. Yes, I said Friday-because I think Black Friday should suck it). I will be choosing an array of family oriented “feel good” movies for us to enjoy. I will be determining games we can play together that interest all ages, from 5 to 52. I will be reserving tickets to a movie or live show that we can all enjoy together.
Note to self: I will keep it together if any of these plans go kaflooey on me. Appreciating that we are all together in one place for this specific and relatively short period of time will be my focus. Like Clark Griswold taught me.
This song will be shared. Because it’s the song that I imagine will play at the end of the movie of my life (yes, I have a rich fantasy life). Accompanied of course with images of my beautiful family, which will have expanded by that time in probably unexpected ways. The setting will be our dream home/cabin in the woods on a lake in Wisconsin with plenty of windows, a stone fireplace, and a couple of happy canines.
This is merely a test. A test of my ability to use my scant photography skills to tell a story.
One of my personal blogging goals is to improve my photography skills. Truly.
So, here I go!
Top left: a picture of our present day, imperfect, life. As you can surmise, no acrobatic moves were employed to capture this scene.
You see my very plain, cheap looking kitchen countertops (which someday before long will be replaced with something that actually looks cool). There’s the bunch of lavender I bought because I was at a Lavender Festival a couple of weeks ago with my best Colorado friend, Adrianne, and it seemed like the thing to do. My original intention was to google what to actually do with this lavender; I overhead the lavender selling lady at the booth where I purchased this telling another customer about hanging it upside down and waiting for the oil to drip off of it. But I ended up getting distracted by life, per my usual, and 14 days (give or take) later the bunch of lavender remains on the top shelf of my kitchen counter. I guess I’ll have to toss it soon, but I certainly am up for suggestions if you have any.
Speaking of the Lavender Festival, Adrianne and I had a very relaxing time chatting and listening to tunes on the way home. I shared with her my new favorite summer song.
Adrianne informed me that this particular song was actually a cover of “Doin’ Time” by Sublime, which came out in 1996, so of course we listened to that version as well. I would have known about Sublime’s version of this tune had I not been busy mothering my spawn, who were 3 and 4 at the time. The genre of music I listened to at that time was “new country”. It was a phase of mine that thankfully passed.
What’s in the orange bowl? It’s a “rustic” bread salad, a recipe that came highly recommended by my beloved sister, which was surprisingly not a hit. But more than likely, I used the wrong kind of salad dressing. Then there’s the half pint of vodka, which has become our go-to liquor (on those days when we are craft-beered-out) along with the Mio stuff that you add to said vodka for flavor (another suggestion by my sis, though this one was enjoyed much more than the bread salad thingy).
In the brown bag, there was a delectable cinnamon roll that I scarfed down the morning after taking this picture. It was purchased at the Farmer’s Market closest to me. Someone’s got to support small businesses-bakeries included, right? It would have been rude to do otherwise.
Then there’s a selfie taken in our “en suite” (‘scuse me, I’m feeling fancy and I’ve probably consumed too much HGTV). In case you were wondering, this pic is very much not inspired by a Kardashian.
Then there’s the picture from ye olden times (resting atop my sister’s much nicer looking kitchen countertops), featuring my Grandma Pearl (one of two, not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this) as a child with her wacky hairdo. Youngest spawn has a mass of thick hair with a number of cowlicks.
Of course, being the obnoxious human that I am, I texted the photo to alert them that their hair is indeed genetic.
So for the actual beautiful pictures: the skies at my sister and brother in law’s place (aka my happiest place to be) in far northern Minnesota, when we were there last month visiting the fam. These pics capture the moments when we were sitting around the campfire, shooting the shit on a warm July night.
Then there’s the two pics of Hubs and I enjoying our first experience at Red Rocks. In the middle bottom pic, we are tailgaiting in the parking lot prior to the show. Good times.
The pic next to that is of my new pedicure. One of my self-care “quirks” is that my feet need to look nice and pretty at all times. I don’t know where this comes from. Probably because sandals are my very favorite type of footwear and I don’t believe in showcasing them on gnarly looking feet (or seeing others showcasing their gnarly looking feet in sandals for that matter). I love that the nail lady (there’s a proper term for this, right? Technician perhaps?) offered to add a flowery design on my big toes. She did it free hand, using three different colors. I found this quite impressive. I’ll be back to see her again for sure.
I invite each of you to share your imperfect, weird, real-life photos that tell a story about what you’ve been up to this summer.
I appreciate a good song. Just like when I was a teenager and I would tape the top 40 countdown directly from the radio (anyone remember Kasey Kasem?), I’ve got loads of thoughtfully put together playlists on my tablet.
One such playlist I titled “Current Faves”. It is a work in progress, but so far I’ve got 18 songs on it. It’s my way of staying current. But not so current that it’s loaded with pop hits from BTS or FXY or whatever the youths are listening to on their Ipods. This playlist is mostly focused on a genre I have been digging for the bulk of my adult life: Adult Alternative. While most of my other playlists are chock full of songs that would be considered “classic rock” or “pop hits from the 80’s and 90’s”, my “Current Faves” playlist is comprised of songs that were put out in the 2000’s.
Informer by Snow. I heard this song for the first time while listening to “The Current” on the MPR station out of the Twin Cities. I often listen to this program on my tablet as they always play a solidly eclectic mix of upcoming and formerly upcoming artists, and I often hear songs I have never heard before.
Now onto my “Current Faves” playlist.
I’m not necessarily what one would refer to as a fan of rap or hip-hop, but this song has such a catchy melody. It reminds me of songs by the artist “Shaggy”. I think my friend CJ at Feeding on Folly would concur.
Take a listen and you may see what I mean:
I defy you to not shake your booty to this!
A couple of months ago, Hubs and I caught the band Greta Van Fleet on SNL. We really dug them. They, to me, are reminiscent of classic rock bands from the 70’s (Led Zeppelin especially comes to mind). I’m always intrigued by band names, including of course this one. It’s not like there’s a lead singer by the name of Greta. The band is comprised of male millenials, after all. Turns out, the band was named after one of the band members grandmothers. Isn’t that the sweetest?
Don’t you just love how this band looks like it just walked out of a 70’s supergroup album cover? And the lead singer! What a pretty face he has, right? He kinda reminds me of Marcia Brady’s crush, Davy Jones.
I’ve also got a couple of Elle King’s songs on this playlist. She is something else! Feisty, talented, and entertaining! She makes no apologies for who she is and what she represents.
Check this out:
Next month, Hubs and I are finally going to see a show at Red Rocks, after living about an hour from there for almost 3 years. Honestly, our decision to purchase tickets to see the Head and the Heart there was more directed by cost (some of those shows are ridiculously expensive!) than anything else. However, I knew a couple of their songs and since purchasing the tickets have been listening to them more and more.
I have so far added their songs “Rhythm and Blues” and “Missed Connections” to this awesome playlist.
Now, there’s one song I’m going to be putting on a new playlist I’ll be creating: The Ultimate Classic Rock Jam playlist. It’s inspired by our new housemate, Radar.
On account of having one car between us at the moment, I often find myself choosing to call an Uber to get me to and from work. Hubs has much farther to go to his office than I do, so it makes sense for him to have the car most days.
One of the things I learned quickly about Uber is that they have a rating system. It goes from 1-5, 1 of course being crap and 5 being quite top notch. Oddly enough, this ratings system is for both drivers and riders. I can’t help but imagine if the servers at all our restaurants had the opportunity to rate us as customers, just as we rate them when it comes to how much of a tip they get. I think perhaps if that was the case, there would be a decent percentage of folks banned from dining establishments, or at the very least given a red flag type of warning to the servers assigned to their tables.
Anyhoo, according to Uber, thankfully, I am a 4.97. That’s essentially an “A”. The only thing that perhaps could be preventing me from achieving the elusive 5 star rating as an Uber rider is my inability to be at precisely the right spot when my driver picks me up. Because I’m frugal and always choose Uber pool, this means that the driver is going to collect me at a destination convenient for them, and not me. Meaning I have to walk, say a block or two, and park myself on the northwest or southeast corner of whatever the designated street happens to be. Except I am directionally challenged. As in, I have really no clue about north-west-south-east. I’m more of a right-side left-side or tell-me-the-nearest-landmark kind of gal. So I make my best guess instead, which typically leads my driver locating me at the last possible second because they are looking for me at the northwest corner as opposed to the southeast corner where I am standing.
As an extrovert by nature, and a curious one at that, I typically employ the following mode of chit-chat with my Uber drivers. It goes something like this:
Me: So do you like driving for Uber?
Driver: (always) Yes, I do.
Me: Is it your full time job?
Now this is where it gets interesting. More often than not, it is not their full-time jobs. Some are insurance agents. Some are realtors. Some are small business owners. Some play in rock bands on the weekends.
One of the more dynamic Uber drivers I’ve had was a woman in her late 50’s. In a previous life, she lived and worked in New York City. She was an investment banker there, as I recall, and she left NYC for Colorado after going through a years long sexual harassment suit which she won. Uber was her side hustle. Her main hustle was starting a non-profit in conjunction with the NFL (or was it the NHL? Or the NBA? Something sports related), aimed at mentoring poor, at-risk kids. Teaching them compassion. I wish I could remember the name of her non-profit. She reminded me of Carol from the Walking Dead. Who was also a bad-ass.
My worst Uber experience was the crabby guy who complained incessantly about how difficult it was to find me (I was smack dab in front of the building), because he apparently first went to the incorrect entrance. His car was a bit of a junker, there were crumbs everywhere, and the worst bit was that he was listening to Rush Limbaugh. So here I was, strapped in for a good 20 minutes, forced to listen to Rush (would have much preferred the band) complain about all of the supposed rapists, murderers, and assorted criminal types coming through our southern border. As a special treat, a young white teenage male called into his show to complain about how his adoration of Mr. Limbaugh and his ilk was not understood or appreciated by his peer community. Instead of hurling and/or launching into a diatribe about the legit reasons why this misguided youth wasn’t getting the feels he desired for his backward political views, I opted to have him drop me off a bit farther from my destination so I could get the hell out of that car quicker.
Another Uber driver I rode with told me how she had to quit a job she had for close to 30 years and find another job that was flexible for her schedule, which included raising her two elementary aged grandkids with her husband. Being an Uber driver fit the bill for her. She shared that her once beautiful and very smart, college-educated daughter had fallen prey to a very bad man. A man who introduced her to hard drugs. Her daughter lost custody of her children due to her drug addiction and now this Uber driver believes, but isn’t certain, her daughter is now with a much older man, living in a rathole of a trailer, doing drugs. I couldn’t help but think to myself, as this woman was no more than 2-3 years older than me, that this could have been my life. Our oldest spawn made many a questionable choice between the ages of 18 and 21, and she got knocked up at 22. Thank the good Lord this pregnancy and her determination to get her ass back to college and finish this time put her on a healthier path.
Another Uber driver pointed out that he was only driving me a mile away. He offered, in his lovely Indian accent, (as I’m enjoying the exotic music and marveling at the cleanliness of his car and how delightful it smelled), that I could easily have walked to my destination. My (lame) comeback was that then I’d have to get up earlier in the morning. Of course I couldn’t deny that he was completely correct. So now whenever I need to go to this work destination (since November, I am housed in two different buildings at the direction of my boss’s boss), I now walk there. Unless of course it’s freezing rain out or simply too hot (both relative rarities in this climate).
Suffice it to say I have been enlightened and entertained by my Uber experiences.
Anyone else out there have some Uber experiences to share? I would love to read about them!
My “Kindness Jar”, which I wrote about here, ended up being a bust in 2018. Don’t ask me why. It’s not because I stopped noticing the kindness of others around me, or because I did nothing kind for anyone at all this past year. I guess I just lost interest in documenting all the kindnesses. It started to feel like I was just repeating what I had done the previous year with my “Happiness Jar” (same jar).
So in mid 2018, I just stopped doing it. And truthfully, I hadn’t given my old jar much thought since then.
However, on New Year’s Eve, as Hubs and I were sprawled out on the couch binge-watching Netflix (OMG-you must watch Black Mirror), feeling a little buzzed on craft beer, we began talking about what could be lying ahead for us in 2019. Hubs declared that the word for 2019, the word that would be mantra for the year as we plunge into our 29th year of marriage would be this: Adventure.
Now, that got me excited. So excited that I was prompted to come up with a new use for my old jar. In 2019, it’s going to be referred to as the “Adventure Jar”.
This is not to say that we are going to write down an adventure we had each and every day. That would be ridiculous. And likely disappointing.
Instead, we are going to individually jot down, when the moment strikes, one small (or big) “adventure” to pursue in 2019. As I told Hubs, the “adventure” need not be anything huge. Or costly. Or terribly time-consuming. It could be anything from “let’s go for a hike somewhere we haven’t been before”, “let’s try that new restaurant”,”let’s write a blog post together”, or “let’s visit the Sand Dunes in Moab”. Simple, doable, new-to-us experiences.
The only real requirement of this plan, as I told Hubs, is that whatever the chosen “adventure” is, it has to be something that we have not yet done as a couple. Something new.
Then, on perhaps a weekly or at least monthly basis, we will pluck one of our little notes out of the jar, then proceed towards the chosen adventure.
We started living out our “adventure” mantra this past weekend, in fact. As we did nothing of any real interest during the Christmas holidays, and on account of Hubs being furloughed (because of a stupid wall no one really wants besides that big dummy in the White House) and him being stuck at home every day essentially since 12/22, we decided to go on an overnight adventure.
In the spirit of being adventurous, I approved Hubs’ suggestion that he could do all the packing. That way, he could simply pick me up from work promptly at 2 p.m. on Friday (have I mentioned how much I love my part time hours??) and we could be merrily on our way.
This was indeed an exercise in trust.
Now, this blog is called “Pollyanna’s Path” and I do endeavor to exhibit as well as inspire a positive outlook, so all I’m going to say about the whole packing thing is on a scale of 1-100, Hubs got a solid 80. I’m not entirely certain that in the future I would be quite as willing to trust his ability to remember every essential thing (essential according to me that is) I need to go from looking like a troll doll when I wake up to looking like a reasonably decent member of polite society. But we’ll see.
Okay, so we drove 1 hour away to Idaho Springs, Colorado. The primary point of us going to this specific locale was to enjoy some time soaking here. We did that on Saturday. It was soooo relaxing. And serene. And comforting. And romantic (despite the 50 + people of all ages, genders and nationalities frolicking in the warm, soothing water all around us).
On Friday night, we stayed at this sweet little B&B. It was cozy, the bed was comfortable and breakfast on Saturday morning was quite a treat. An unexpected added bonus was the chit-chat we had with the other two married couples over this breakfast of quiche, hashbrowns, ham, and toast with homemade jam. They were all close in age to Hubs and I. They all had grown children. They were also seemingly hungry for adventure, just like us. We chatted about places in Colorado the couple from California could see before they had to fly home on Sunday. We chatted about having grown ass adult “kids” and how things are different for today’s millennials than back when we were in our 20’s. We talked about the legalization of weed (general consensus: alcohol is far more dangerous in our society than weed ever could be).
During our convo with these other couples, I was told that I look like Jamie Lee Curtis. Hubs was told he bears a striking resemblance to this guy:
The ironic thing is, Hubs and I recently caught the movie “Vice” (I give it mixed reviews) and started getting into “Black Mirror” (mentioned above) and this particular actor, Jesse Plemmons, was in both of them (and of course in the movie “Game Night”-pictured above-which we really enjoyed). Upon seeing the first episode of “Black Mirror” I told Hubs that this guy looks like he could be his younger brother. His less-good-looking-than him younger brother, of course.
We also enjoyed a nice, “neat”, glass of whiskey at a local bar in Idaho Springs. And we couldn’t leave the place without scarfing down some awesome “Colorado style” pizza at the original Beaujou’s. They have a bottle of honey on each table to dip your crust into to enjoy as a little dessert.
This little getaway was very refreshing and re-energizing for both of us. I’m looking forward to more adventures with Hubs as this year goes on.
What’s in your “jar” for 2019? Or maybe you have a special word, as Hubs and I now do, to guide you through this new year? Please share in the comments!
I’ve gotten to know a lot of people since moving to Colorado with Hubs almost 2 years ago. I’m appreciative of this. I’m especially appreciative of the older women I have come to know, as they inspire me to strive for graceful, healthy aging. Like the women I volunteer with each week at the food bank. Or the women with whom we attend church. And the women I work with along with the female senior citizens I serve in my job.
These women I’ve come to know don’t seem to let their age impede them in any significant way. They generally seem to take life in stride and their feathers are not easily ruffled. They have a strong sense of self and understand they still have the ability to help and inspire others. Their ages do not define them, which I believe is how it should be. They embrace the lives they have and do not wallow in the physical or mental changes that aging has foisted upon them.
One 80 year old lady I know gives me the impression that who she is now is who she’s always been. She is open-minded, witty, and her fingers and toes are always immaculately manicured. She once expressed a combination of confusion and frustration when a client referred to her as “cute”. She recognized this was an ageist statement and rightly took offense to it. I want to be like her when I grow up.
Another older woman I know is exceptionally loving and caring. She never had children, by choice, which makes her a rare bird in her generation. However, that doesn’t prevent her from looking out for people younger and less wise than she, as she has the ability to embrace and appreciate one and all. I want to be like her when I grow up.
Another female senior I know is a fun loving social butterfly. She readily strikes up conversations with anyone and peppers them with “dear” or “dear-heart”. She is a snappy dresser and tells great stories about her life as a wife to a Vietnam vet and mother to her now grown children. She recently visited Disneyland with friends and their teenage granddaughter and shared stories about how she and the teen rode almost every single ride together in the park. What other almost 80 year old woman do you know who does that? I want to be like her when I grow up.
Another woman I’ve come to know here is savvy and smart. She takes no shit from anyone. You know where you stand with her. She is not a word-mincer, which is a quality I sort of envy. I want to be like her when I grow up.
Yet another lady I’ve gotten to know, at our church, is adventurous. She travels frequently with girlfriends she has had since she was in college in the 60’s. She is big-hearted and a great listener. She happily donates her time and money to causes she believes in, but she is never showy about it. One time at church, I asked for prayers for someone I love very much who was experiencing a lot of struggles in a personal relationship. This wonderful lady called me a couple of weeks later to check in and see if things had improved with my loved one. I also want to be like her when I grow up.
Then there are the two retired women, who I believe are sisters, who come into our food bank at work about every other week and donate several bags of just purchased food. They look over the shelves and ask me questions about the types of foods our seniors seem to especially enjoy, so they know what to buy at the grocery store the next time. They do this out of the sheer goodness of their hearts. I want to be like them too when I grow up.
I also have a food bank client with bright blue eyes that do not betray her age. This lovely lady once struck up a conversation with me about cooking, which is a common occurrence when running a food bank, and promised to one day bring me her recipe for pork green chili (a Colorado staple). Lo and behold, a couple of months later, she gifted me with her handwritten recipe for this tasty dish. I think I want to be like her when I grow up too.
The thing is, we are all aging. Day by day. There’s nothing besides death of course, that is going to stop this process. I think that we all have the ability to choose how we are going to age. Some older women are preoccupied by their health problems, or the health problems of others, and seem to be stuck in a never-ending loop of worrying what illness will strike next. This negatively impacts their relationships and their quality of life.
However, these dynamic, older, and wiser women of Colorado that I’ve been fortunate to come to know give me hope and inspiration for my future as a female senior citizen.
Notes made to myself prior to embarking on a weekend exploring a part of Colorado we had yet to visit: Grand Junction!
The title of this blog post could just as well be “We make plans, and God laughs”.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Nothing completely horrible happened. It’s just that, because this is life, my plans didn’t fully pan out. Not complaining here, just reflecting.
Ahem…now onto my so called “plans” vs. reality:
Experiences to manifest this weekend in Grand Junction:
Morning coffee at a local coffee shop.
This was a super simple intention that didn’t materialize. No good reason why, other than the coffee at the hotel hit the spot good enough for me.
A hike or two.
Check-big check, in fact! We hiked the Cap Trail, which was truly spectacular. We encountered different terrain, various members of the lizard family, and outstanding views of the mesas. Hubs got some great shots with his Nikon, too. Like this one. And we encountered 3 different types of lizards (see above).
Brew pub and winery and buying swag there
I didn’t come across any swag worthy of purchasing, but we sampled a couple of new beers at area brew pubs and enjoyed a lovely chardonnay at Two Rivers Winery following our hike.
Damn stinking kids were piled into the hot tub- that was about half the size of your typical hotel hot tub, mind you-every single time we tried to use it. So that made me a little grumpy.
Not what I expected. But what did I expect? Turns out the place was a distillery too. Should visit again. Have a cocktail next time. Amongst the myriad lavender infused products was a full bar serving bloody mary’s and the like.
So this was “planned” for the second day, on our way home. Unfortunately, Hubs caught food poisoning somewhere along the way so peach infused alcohol and other peach what-nots were not exactly appealing to him, so we hightailed it home, enjoying the stunning views of rock formations and the Colorado River along the way. We decided to visit the area again, when it’s actually peach season. That’d be a better deal anyway.
Shopping/keep my eyes out for:
Hats and bow ties.
I know, weird things to be looking for, right?! To explain, Hubs and I will be attending a church fundraiser on 5/5 called “Cinco de Derby”. It’s a combo of a Mexican shindig and Kentucky derby party. We discussed it and decided to forage for these items later in the week at Target and the Michael’s craft store that is conveniently located next to it. I’m sure we’ll come up with something.
Ding Ding Ding! I scored 4 awesome ones for $1 each at a downtown book store. Lord knows who I will be sending them to, but no doubt figuring that out will be fun for me. I felt good about spending money at this independent book store on “Independent Book Store Day”. I also snagged a book there entitled “The Kindness of Strangers”. Thought it may provide inspiration for my “Kindness Jar” project.
Visit the hotel bar.
Why, yes we did. And we got some great advice there from Annette Bening. Lemme explain: She was approximately the same age as Ms. Bening, dressed casually in denim, drinking a beer and wearing reading glasses. She was situated at the end of the bar, but not the very last seat; the one next to that one. So she had two empty seats on either side of her. She motioned for us to come and sit, scooching down a seat to allow us to sit side by side. She then engaged us in a lively conversation of all things Colorado. She laughed easily and urged us to check out Mount Princeton for our next Anniversary celebration. She shared that it’s pricey, but there are awesome views of the mountains and wonderful hot springs to soak in. She also enthusiastically encouraged us to check out Telluride for their music festivals and good vibes. She spoke lovingly of her son, who was playing in La Crosse tournaments in Grand Junction this weekend. Hence the reason she was chilling at the bar for a bit. Such a cool lady.
Interesting that earlier in the day, I had purchased the book about the kindness of strangers, no?
I now can’t wait for our next Colorado adventure! Maybe a George Clooney look alike will make an appearance at a winery or distillery. You never know…..