I’ve got vacation on the brain. It is all I can think about and therefore all I can write about today.
Hubs and I are flying to Tampa next week (Coronavirus be damned), where we will meet up with one of our long time couple friends (Hubs’ first college roommate and his wife, Lynda) and drive a rental car to a 2 bedroom condo in Siesta Key. Where we will stay for 5 days.
There, we will be celebrating Hubs’ 50th and our upcoming 30th wedding anniversary.
Beyond having our flights and VRBO booked, no other plans have been made. Which is what makes me so excited about this trip (the element of surprise, you know). All four of us have agreed on our priorities while there: lounging on the beach, sipping ice cold adult beverages, and fishing in the ocean. That’s it. No further expectations.
The fishing part is all Hubs’ idea. Not that the rest of us goons hate fishing. It’s just that Hubs adores it. He and I went on a charter boat fishing when we traveled to Islamorada in the Florida Keys to celebrate our 25th anniversary. We both enjoyed it tremendously.
Lynda’s husband is wary of the “devil sun”, as he calls it. He will be slathered from head to toe in sunscreen, wearing a Minnesota Twins baseball cap and reading a newspaper. That is how he rolls, and we all know it.
Lynda and I will enjoy ourselves some chit-chat between our spates of attempting to catch “the big one”. Snort-laughing all the while. That is how we roll.
Of course, I’d be lying to you if I didn’t admit there are scenarios in my head of what we might do between the fishing, soaking up the sun on that white sand beach, and downing frozen fruity cocktails. Like kayaking, eating fresh seafood, and souvenir shopping (in tribute to my mom, Bonnie, who never failed to bring us all back tchotchkes when she came back from vacations).
And with the time I’ve left before this vacation, I’m going to be working on a playlist. Cool thing is, my office mate gave me a water bottle with a blue tooth speaker implanted in the cap. So I can take my bottle of cold *whatever* with me wherever we go, unscrew the lid and sync it up to my cell phone and together we can all jam out.
First song I will add to this playlist is going to be this David Byrne song that I discovered by accident. I was in awe of his performance with his talented troupe on SNL the other weekend, and it occurred to me that beyond the major “Talking Heads” hits, I wasn’t very familiar with his music. So I used google to grant my wish of listening to his music and this came up. As I was listening to it, I thought to myself that this is a perfect song to sit and listen to while on a beach in Florida with our friends. Then I looked at the name of the song.
As a writer, I’m perpetually searching for fodder. Music is the sort of fodder that I’m naturally drawn to on a daily basis.
It’s the stuff that fuels me. It inspires me. It soothes me. It motivates me. It nurtures me in a way nothing else really can.
That is why I’ve decided to create a bold new playlist for just me, myself, and I. It will be chock full of tracks that will keep me focused on my own self improvement path. Songs that contain the messages I need to hear.
So indulge me while I play “DJ” for a minute (a job I’ve always wanted to sample) and share with you the “must have” songs for me in 2020:
“Shower the People” by James Taylor. The lyric “Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel; things are gonna get so much better if you only will” is….just well, “IT” for how I aim to interact with others on the daily this year.
“Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” by Stevie Wonder. Not only does this song prompt me to break out in a happy dance, but it instantly improves my outlook. I like to think of it as a song that God inspired Stevie Wonder to write as a love letter to his beloved children. At it’s heart, it’s a song about faith.
“Everybody’s Cup of Tea” by Kasey Musgraves. I’m going to include a clip of this one because I don’t think it’s terribly well known, though it should be. I need to keep it on my soundtrack because I know that with my blogging and writing, not to mention my actual personal life, there’s going to always be people who don’t appreciate me. To stay strong and keep plowing ahead, I need to embrace that fact.
“Taking Care of Business” by Bachman Turner-Overdrive. It’s the lyric, “Taking care of business, every day, taking care of business, every way”, that gets my motor going. It motivates me to stay on top of shit. To not get so sucked into social media, binge-watching Netflix, or even blogging that I’m not fully taking care of important business. Like keeping our home in good order. Getting to work on time each day and completing each task that presents itself to me. Self-care in all it’s varied forms.
“Thank You for Being a Friend” by Andrew Gold. This song will be on my 2020 soundtrack because it’s important to me this year to make friendships, old and new, a bigger priority than in years past. To appreciate all the friends I have and nurture those relationships.
“Anticipation” by Carly Simon. This song is a very important one as I move forward in 2020. On account of my squirrel brain (which almost always has multiple tabs open simultaneously), I relate to the lyric “And I wonder if I’m really with you now, or just chasing after some finer day”. It stops me in my tracks and reminds me to be present. To focus on the “right now” instead of the “what’s next”. Because tomorrow is not a given.
“Take that Step” from “Bathtubs Over Broadway”. If you haven’t yet seen this Netflix documentary, do yourself a favor and watch it. Unless you don’t want to feel joy or be uplifted this year. The lyric “find that path others missed, life is better with a twist” is particularly inspiring to me as a writer with ambition!
“I Can See Clearly Now” by Jimmy Cliff. I’m sure you all know this song. It’s a universal musical “pick me up”, don’t you think? The reason it’s going on my 2020 soundtrack is because 2019 was a hell of a year. A lot of not-so-great things happened; however towards the end of the year things started to really look up again. On top of that, this song represents what I’m seeking most in 2020: Clarity.
This soundtrack of mine, much like this blog, is a WIP. Throughout 2020, behind the scenes, I will be ISO more songs that will guide me through the year with a sense of purpose, love for myself and others, and the mindset and energy level I need to accomplish the goals I’m setting for myself.
Do you, fellow music lovers, have any songs in mind for your own 2020 soundtrack? Please share in the comments 🙂
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.
Kind of like the bag of peppermint tea I sometimes have later in the evenings (to soothe my tummy and chill myself out), an idea has been seeping in my brain about publishing a post about beverages.
Really, ever since I found the groovy blog, Gin & Lemonade…with a twist. I liked that the first question asked upon joining this delightful blogger’s group on Facebook was “what is your favorite beverage?” My response was “Trader Joe’s mango lemonade with vodka”. Bums me out that this lovely liquid has not been on the shelves at TJ’s the last 4 times I have been there.
So, let’s talk bevvies. Or as my mother in law calls them (the only person I know who uses this word on a regular basis): Beverages.
Here’s a few I would be pleased as punch to serve you if you came over for a visit:
Craft beer. Hey, I live in Colorado, so it’s a given that I’d offer you a beer. There’s so many choices here! If I can assume that you are not a craft-beer aficionado, I’d offer you this one, though it is likely not available at our local liquor store. We’d probably have to get in the car and take a short jaunt to this brewery together, where we could enjoy this fruity, tasty concoction on the lovely deck at Rail’s End.
Bloody Mary’s. Not the kind with an entire meal perched precariously on top of it. The simple version: tomato juice, vodka, a generous sprinkling of celery salt. Green olives and a celery stick for garnish. It was one of my dad’s favorites.
Colorado Bulldogs. Most people know it as a White Russian. The only difference really is the splash of coke. It was my parent’s signature cocktail when folks would come to visit them at their cabin. One time, someone’s puppy got into one and got a little squirrely. We all had a good laugh over that.
Chardonnay-ZD. This is a superb wine that Hubs and I discovered during our first UCC Synod (for those not in the know, this is essentially a bi-annual conference for members and delegates of the United Church of Christ, the denomination Hubs and I belong to). No, they weren’t serving it during plenary. Ha! It was at a dockside restaurant in California, where we ate fish and chips with other UCC peeps. We look for it every time we travel somewhere. We found it once and bought it; however it’s got a pretty hefty price tag, so it probably wouldn’t be our go-to wine if it was available here anyway. But of course, I’d find a way to get a bottle or two if you came over!
Now for the non-alcoholic options:
Water. I know in some places in this country, heck this world, the tap water isn’t so great. In Two Harbors, Minnesota, however, it comes out of the tap ice cold, clear, and perfect. Here in Colorado, the water is of good quality but it’s not TH water. I don’t understand the people who say they hate the taste of water. It’s like, c’mon, it has no “taste”, no flavor. It’s wet and thirst quenching. And I don’t think I’d get any arguments by saying it goes with everything. Personally, I drink it with most every meal.
Iced tea. Not a beverage I grew up with at all. Hubs did however, so along with those other things one adopts in their married lives, making pitchers of tea with just the right amount of sugar (or in our case, Truvia), is something we do.
Coffee. Hubs and I are both devoted coffee drinkers, like both sets of our parents. We like it dark, roasty, and bold. High-test, if you will. And while I usually keep fresh half and half in my fridge to add to my morning coffee, if you were visiting, I’d spring for a couple of flavored creams so you would have options.
What’s your favorite beverage choice? Perhaps it depends on your mood, the weather, the time of day. Tell me about it in the comments!
Lucy and Ricky and Fred and Ethel. These two couples were the best of friends. Growing up in northern Minnesota, my parents had their own Fred and Ethel. This couple featured heavily in my childhood. In fact, they were my godparents. They were as close to blood relation to us as they could be. We frequently shared meals, many of them impromptu, together. They and my parents had such a closeness, that it was not unusual for them (or my parents) to “pop in” for visits w/no prior notification. And no matter what was going on they always welcomed each other.
I think as we go through life as couples, the friendships we develop with other couples can be priceless. These friendships can help us to avoid getting stuck in a boring rut of relying on only each other for entertainment and friendship. They can help us to appreciate each other more, as one half of the other couple may have an annoying habit or two. Like “She” is a loud chewer. Or “He” always shares obscure jokes that always go over my head. In my experience, these special friendships can provide hilarious memories to recall together as the years pass.
Hubs and I had a good thing going on back in Wisconsin. We enjoyed an active social life and had numerous memorable times with our couple friends. Gratefully, we are just now beginning to develop some new couple friendships here in Colorado.
Because I miss them all so much and want to pay homage to them, and because it’s Valentine’s Day and I don’t want to do the normal thing and gush on about romantic love on my blog, I’m going to tell you all a little bit about some of our beloved couple friends from back home in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Couple #1: They are younger than us by about 10 years, and share our interests in cooking good food and drinking craft beer and good quality wine. One time, we invited them along with their two youngins over for supper. While I was busy in the kitchen chopping up onions for the salad and they were hanging in the three season porch with Hubs, I accidentally sliced the tip of my finger about halfway off. Of course, blood was gushing everywhere and I freaked out. Hubs drove me to the ER, while our friends stayed behind. We anticipated that they would end up going home, heck we even gave them permission, but they surprised us and were still at our house almost 2 hours later, after having finished making the entire meal.
Couple #2: They are a childless couple who are around 10 years older than us. They are faithful Christians and are the only people we always pray with before eating whatever gourmet food she has cooked for us. He makes his own never-fails-to-be-delicious wine and craft beer, which he shares generously. He is also a master gardener who once shared magnolia shoots with us, which later grew to be a beautiful tree in the front yard of the first home we lived in in Wisconsin.
Couple #3: This couple is the closest we have to our own Fred and Ethel. Trouble is, throughout the years we have rarely lived less than an hour from each other. Of course, that means the time we spend together, while infrequent, is especially precious. The night I first met Hubs I was with her. The night she met her husband I was with her as well. We were in each other’s weddings. We have gone on camping adventures together, back when we were all still young and newly married. We also, years later, enjoyed a camping weekend with all of our kiddos (we both had two, just many years apart). They are the friends we include in biological family gatherings. Their daughters were in our oldest daughter’s wedding. They came and helped us clean out our apartment when we had toddlers and were moving several hours away. These two are the friends of a lifetime.
Couple #4: He was Hubs first roommate in college. She was a “townie” in the college town we lived and studied in for 4 + years. We have had shenanigans galore with these two. Like the two New Year’s Eve’s in a row when the four of us were out celebrating and won big on pull tabs. “She” almost knocked Hubs over, jumping into his arms with glee after the first win.
Fortunately for Hubs and I, we have even more of these couple friendships in our lives. And we treasure each and every one of them.
Do you and your spouse/significant other have your own Fred and Ethel? I would so love to hear about them!
It seems fitting to me, with it being November, the month of giving thanks and all, that I share what I’m grateful for, aka my gratitudes.
At this particular moment in time, I thankfully have an abundance of things for which I am sincerely grateful.
Without any further ado, here we go:
#1: I am grateful for employment. I started my new job last Wednesday, working part time as a program assistant in a non-profit serving senior citizens. And all signs indicate this is going to be a very good fit for me.
#2: I am grateful for our early Thanksgiving celebration with our two lovable spawn. We had a wonderful time with them last weekend, when they came out to visit us here in Colorado. We had our traditional Thanksgiving dinner, spent time cracking each other up playing board games, and saw a few local sites. It was all so very good for this mom’s heart.
#3: I am grateful for my friends, both old and new. Like my friend Kevin, who is like a brother to me, who appreciated the Google playlist I made for him when he came for a visit last month. Like my newest girlfriend here in Colorado, who has such a good heart and a fun loving personality. I’m looking forward to spending more time with her.
#4: The mild climate here in Colorado. Let’s just say I don’t recall being overheated in a long sleeved shirt outside in mid-November when I lived in Wisconsin or Minnesota. It’s actually supposed to be 70 degrees here on Thanksgiving!
#5: I am grateful for Hubs’ support of me working again, which he demonstrates by doing things like staying on top of the laundry and the dishes, and cleaning the house.
#6: I am grateful for our church family. They are a kind, welcoming, supportive and faithful bunch.
#7: I am grateful for nature shows on t.v. Hubs and I have allowed ourselves to consume an unhealthy amount of MSNBC the last couple of months. Nature shows, like the one we watched about sea otters the other night, are such a welcome and delightful respite from all of that bad news.
#8: I am grateful for blogging. Not just the process of writing and publishing, but the community. Lately, when it comes to blogging, I’ve been reading more than writing due to time constraints from having the job I am so grateful for. It is a bit of a Catch-22, so my future posts will not be as frequent as a result. Here’s a few posts from other blogger’s that I particularly enjoyed that I think you should check out:
This one inspired me to sprinkle cinnamon on my hot cocoa and it was fabulous!
Our big road trip visiting family and friends in Minnesota and Wisconsin came to a close when we landed home last Monday evening. The trip had it’s share of ups and downs. The downs are why I have not posted anything on this blog since our return. I, for lack of a better term, needed a “vacation from my vacation”. I realize that is utterly a “first world problem” but given my emotional/mental state after this two week journey, it is 100% true. I assure you, however, that there were more ups than downs.
It is so absolutely flipping awesome to be back home again in my happy bubble in Colorado. Back to our own comfy cozy bed. Back to my wonderful microwave that pops my popcorn to perfection with one small tap on the “popcorn” button. Back to counting bunnies on my (mostly) daily strolls around our neighborhood. Back to my weekly volunteer gig at our local food bank, where I have the pleasure of directly helping those in need while not being responsible for navigating the day to day trials and tribulations of my clients’ lives (as I did as a social worker in Wisconsin for years). Best of all, I’m back to blogging.
Time spent in the car traveling through Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin provided me with ample opportunity to do some personal pondering. I took stock of the varied life experiences I’ve had and how they have informed who I am in the here and now. That said, here is a by no means comprehensive list of lessons learned during my life as a girl and a woman. These lessons, in small and sometimes big ways, led me to become the 50 year old creative writer/optimist/politically aware and engaged/spiritual/feminist/truth-telling broad/hot mess I am now.
First lesson learned: There are truly good guys out there-you just have to be patient. And I deserve respect, dammit!
Moment: I was the girl in college who, thank-the-good-lord, chose to not stay with and/or marry the boyfriend who referred to my breasts as “clangers” (as in “hey honey, your clangers are looking fine today”). I shit you not. I met Hubs in the nick of time.
Second lesson learned: It’s okay to look like a fool. And you feel better about yourself if you resist the impulse to run away, crying in shame. And it’s okay that you just gave your fellow Zumba pals a funny story to tell over margaritas later.
Spoiler Alert: I may have learned this lesson from a goofy lady who annoyed Bob Barker.
Moment: I was the woman who at 40-something decided on a lark to join a Zumba class. Probably 2 classes in, I tripped over my own feet while attempting to keep up with a fast paced number, landing ever so gracefully on the floor with a thud. Shortly thereafter, I popped back up to continue the dancing festivities. I think this was the moment I decided to stop caring if I looked like an idiot in public. I imagine I may have looked a little like this:
Third lesson learned: God is among us.
Moment: I was the UCC’er (United Church of Christ) who experienced the most spiritual moment of my life when, at Hub’s and my one and only year of attending Lay Academy, our group was re-baptized under a sunny blue October sky in Wisconsin while singing the hymn “Here I am Lord”. The connectedness to the spirit and humanity in that place was palpable. Growing up, and as a young adult, I could not have imagined myself in this scenario.
Third lesson learned: You can survive the ultimate embarrassment of your mother doing this:
As a pimple faced, awkward 14 year old with a bad perm, I miraculously survived this epic mortification. Even in spite of the knowledge that all of my high school classmates got to watch it when it aired during the school day (it was a moment of civic pride for our small Minnesota town), I managed to keep my head held (somewhat) high. Thankfully I got to stay home with my family for a private viewing. I am ever so grateful my mother’s 15 minutes of fame happened in ye olden times before the advent of social media.
Fourth lesson learned: At the core of true friendship is kindness.
Moment: I was the 13 year old girl who desperately wanted to follow her big sister’s footsteps and be a cheerleader (Go Agates! Yes, that was our sport teams’ name. You can only imagine how much crap we got for that). My best friend, Therese, was also trying out for cheerleading. When she was picked and I was not (mind you, I had the voice and enthusiasm but absolutely no other cheerleading skills such as doing the splits or a cartwheel, so this shouldn’t have come as a surprise), she offered to decline the position in order for me to snatch it and bask in the glory of the cheerleading life. I refused her offer. To this day, this may be the single most kind thing another human being has done for me. Did I mention that all of the girls trying out made the team but me? We had a small high school. Don’t judge.
Fifth lesson learned: Choose your friends wisely, and treasure them always. And cancer sucks the big one.
I was the bride who had the good sense to appoint the best possible personal attendant in my dear friend Gail. She arrived armed with necessities such as safety pins and kleenex. She was a skilled wedding dress hoister-upper while I peed and smoked a cigarette to calm my nerves in the bathroom at our wedding reception. She passed away from cancer 5 years ago and I think of her often and miss her so so much. Cancer is such a cruel fricking bastard. This is why I will support political candidates who believe in financially supporting medical research. I wish everyone could have a friend as special as Gail was to me.
How about you all? What moments in the timeline of your lives contributed to the life perspectives you have now?