Category Archives: Lifestyle

Hometown Gem

Her name is Stephanie Himango and this is, ironically, the second time I’ve written about her in my life.

Stephanie and I both grew up in the small town of Two Harbors, Minnesota. She was two years below me in school. For that reason and the fact that she was sporty and I was most certainly not, we did not have any real interaction with each other. As far as I can remember anyway (this was like 35 years ago, folks).

As a senior at our long ago demolished high school that sat atop a hill, I was co-editor of the school newspaper. That extra-curricular sparked a passion in me for creating something out of nothing. A passion for written communication. One of my pieces then was about Homecoming. And in that piece I reported that Stephanie, as a sophomore, was in the Homecoming Court. I came upon that long forgotten factoid about a month ago when I was searching through a box of memorabilia, hoping to find pictures of Christmases past.

The reason I mention any of this at all is because in the summer of 2020 she accepted my friend request on Facebook. I had been made aware through mutual friends that over the years that Stephanie had made quite a name for herself career-wise. That she had a long career in the news industry, even winning a couple of Emmys as a writer and producer. She is also a published author.

Shortly after we became Facebook friends, Stephanie announced on social media that she was beginning her first ever podcast, entitled “Another Door Opens with Stephanie Himango”.

Stephanie promoted her podcast as being one in which she would interview a wide array of people from varying backgrounds to share their stories of overcoming life’s struggles and what, and as she says in each episode, “if anything”, the phrase “Another Door Opens” means to them personally. As if anyone she would interview would actually say that phrase means nothing to them! But that little qualifier exemplifies to me the genuine respect she has for her interviewees. She does not make any assumptions about them. She asks interesting questions and her enjoyment of asking them comes across through her voice as real and true.

So, as you can clearly see, I subscribed to Stephanie’s podcast. Stephanie interviewed everyone from a man who works as a sketch artist at SCOTUS to a veterinarian who treats pets of those experiencing homelessness to a woman who owns and runs her family’s pumpkin farm and much more. After listening to all of the episodes via Spotify (as of last week), I can tell you I’ve learned so much. I’ve been inspired. I’ve laughed. My eyes have been opened up about all the good stuff that people are out there doing with their lives. Kind of like David Byrne from the Talking Heads, who I wrote about here. Listening to Stephanie’s podcast brightened my days in the bananas year that was 2020.

Thanks for that, Stephanie. You are a Gem and I look forward to listening and learning from your podcast in the New Year. Maybe someday if we happen to be in our sweet little hometown (which in my opinion is home to lots of other interesting and inspiring people-maybe it’s something about that perfectly ice cold tap wonder we drank, courtesy of Lake Superior) at the same time, we will bump into each other. That’d be cool.

I encourage all of you reading this to check out “Another Door Opens with Stephanie Himango” and listen, learn and gain inspiration along with me.

I’ve no idea who this pretty young girl is, but I love the beautiful pictures of my home state and remember this song from my youth. Dontcha love the sound of the loons? The Minnesota state bird!

Unsung Heroes Of This Pandemic

What or who is helping you get through this pandemic? What or who is giving you comfort, helping you to remain hopeful, giving you purpose?

I am fortunate in that I have several answers to that question. One of them being my sweet boy, Radar.

It occurred to me recently that within this blog I had been sharing more anecdotes about Karl, our kiddo Rabbie’s sassy cat than I was about Radar. It also occurred to me that for many of us, our pets are the unsung heroes of this strange time.

They are always there for us. Always happy to see us. They don’t judge us for being in a cranky mood. They don’t judge us at all. They don’t ask much of us beyond loving them, ensuring they get outside for fresh air and potty breaks, and feeding them.

I wrote this post back in the summer of 2019, right after we adopted Radar. I loved him then but, amazingly enough, I love him even more now.

I love that he’s such a good boy at night. He fits perfectly into the rocking chair Hubs gave me for my 40th birthday, which now sits in the corner of our bedroom. He sleeps there all night long and when he gets up he offers a big yawn, revealing his extraordinarily long tongue and then he thoroughly stretches out his legs.

I love that when I come home after work, he is the first one to greet me. I only just begin to open the door, and there he is with his nose butting up between the door and the door frame in an effort to get to me as fast as he can.

I love how sometimes when he’s cuddled up with me on the couch at night, I can say his name and he cranks his neck to look at me upside down with his pretty brown eyes.

I love knowing that he is by nature a guard dog (at least half German Shepherd we believe). He would protect us if our house were to be broken into. Any intruders would not have a chance.

Keeping an eye out for the bad guys

I love his puppy playfulness. Hubs and I have never had a dog who loves to play with toys so much. Hubs always told me he wanted to have a dog he could take out into a field and throw around a frisbee with. Radar has gotten some solid training for this through jumping up to catch his favorite, super tough green and blue bone in mid-air at home in the early evenings.

I love Radar’s ears. Sometimes I find them folded back (or I gently fold them back) and I see that sweet black lab in his precious face. Then they will bounce straight back up, revealing his German Shepherd resemblance.

I also love that he’s the kind of dog that everyone loves. Every place we’ve ever taken him he charms all who he meets.

This dog has been such a blessing for me. He reminds me of the importance of playfulness in my day to day routine. He makes me feel appreciated. He comforts me if I’m feeling down. He has increased my general happiness, which has been a huge bonus during this upside down time we are still living in.

He’s my furry, loyal, funny, sweet, smart and loving hero.

About Bangs

So this is my attempt to produce a blog post after having written very little in the last week.

There’s lots of reasons I haven’t been engaged with blogging. 1) I broke my left foot last week and am adjusting to this unexpected temporary reality 2) the election (Yay Biden-Harris won!).

Photographic evidence

But I don’t want to focus on all that right now.

I feel like I have a lot to say on the subject of bangs and it would no doubt be of great interest to all of my followers.

I’m a fan of them. For myself. I have little tolerance for when they start invading my field of vision, and staying at home due to Covid-19 made me realize that I can trim them myself without completely destroying my “look”.

Rocking my Toni Tenille inspired bangs in 5th grade

Not like I have a “signature look”, mind you. I guess I just surprised myself because I always assumed if I tried trimming them myself, they’d end up way too short. To avoid coming across as idiotic, I’d have to make up some lie about how it happened, like I got too close to my glue gun while crafting and had no choice but to chop them off super short. And I am a terrible liar, so that would have not gone well for me at all.

When my bangs get too long and I’ve had a more physical kind of day that results in semi-profuse sweating on my brow, they do something really odd. They curl up towards the ceiling. Like straight up. Like the only way I can rectify the situation is to completely wet and then blow dry my hair. Something I only care to do once a day, thankyouverymuch.

Years ago, I found a website that allowed me to put a head shot of myself up and choose all sorts of different hairstyles to see how they would look on my face. It surprised me how many of the ones that didn’t involve bangs actually looked pretty darn good on me. Of course that website didn’t account for the type of hair one has, which was a major downside. It didn’t factor in my hair being relatively thin and naturally wavy. So how the do’s with no bangs would look in real life on me would most certainly not be flattering.

Despite my hairdresser and both my kids (all bang-less individuals) telling me that I most certainly could pull off the “no bang” look, I don’t think I have the wherewithal to allow my bangs to grow out. They would be in my eyeballs as they grew. I’d be forced to use bobby pins to hold them back, which would look quite strange. Or I’d be doing that thing where I’m alternating blowing air upwards out of the side of my mouth so I can get the hair out of my way and see what’s in front of me and swiping my fingers over my forehead to brush those growing bangs out of my line of vision.

So I think for the rest of my life I’ll be wearing bangs.

Going Straight to Gems

For those of you who have been following my blog for a while, you may recall me mentioning the term “Gems”. I believe I at least alluded to my plan for writing about “Gems” on an ongoing, regular basis in a recent post.

The reason I’m bringing it up now is because I am ready to start this series.

One small thing that you ought to know about this new endeavor of mine is that I have decided to go against what I said here about who “Gems” are to me. After thinking about it for a bit, I realized there is no good reason to exclude those of the male persuasion from being a “Gem” that I write about in this little blog.

I mean, not everything I think, say or feel (or publish) is written in stone. I’m subject to change (fyi-the original title for this blog). Isn’t that a good thing?

So here I go. I’m going to start with a recent “Gem” story. Diving in here.

I have been a fan of the online shopping site Etsy for several years now. I love the act of thoughtfully purchasing a handmade gift for those I love. Because unfortunately, unlike Bonnie and Rabbie (both Gems to me), I possess little talent with arts and crafts. And I love to support small businesses and artists.

I started shopping for gifts on Etsy back when I lived in Wisconsin, in our “Grandma house” on 30th St.

Fast forward to now. Living in Colorado. Still ordering on Etsy when the moment strikes. So I’ve got some wall space that needed to be filled in my living room. I found the perfect item on Etsy and placed the order.

A couple of weeks passed and I thought to myself “it should be here by now”. Then I got a call from Linda, the realtor who sold us our house on 30th St., then 2 years later sold that house for us to a nice divorced woman named Kathy.

Linda said that Kathy called because she received a large package via Fed Ex for me. Kathy wanted to know our phone number so she could contact us and figure out how to get the package to us in Colorado.

Oh my! I was embarrassed, as it was then I realized that in my excitement about obtaining this particular wall art, I apparently failed to notice that the address box checked for shipping was the one on 30th St. and not the one here in Colorado (that address on my Etsy account has since been deleted). Of course I told Linda to please give my number to Kathy and we’ll work it out from there.

So Kathy calls me. She noted it was a big package and it came from Lithuania! I told her that I loved shopping on Etsy for handmade items like this and apologized for my screw-up. She said she spoke to Fed Ex and they told her the easiest thing to do is just have them ship it to me. I told her she could go ahead and just return it to sender and I’d re-order it. I didn’t want her to go through any hassle.

Her response? She said it was no big deal, she was going somewhere that Friday and she would pass by Fed Ex so she would just send the package to me. I thanked her profusely and told her that I’d reimburse her the cost.

So how nice is this lady? She’s a gem, that is what she is. In our conversation, we talked about how much we both loved that little old house. She updated me on the next door neighbors, who now have a baby who is just starting to walk. She said she regularly sees the neighbors who lived across the street, Larry and Helen, at the assisted living facility where she works. They sold their cute little house, where they lived for 35 years and raised their 5 kids, shortly after we sold ours and moved out to Colorado. Kathy also shared that after seeing *now* her house her friends declared that the large unfinished basement was the perfect party spot. She said every year now she hosts a Euchre tournament there on New Year’s Eve.

I loved hearing all of this. I love knowing how much she loves and appreciates that sweet little house that was once ours.

About a week after our last conversation, I received my lovely new handmade wall art and put it up above our living room couch. I sent Kathy a check to reimburse the $19 she paid to have it sent to me. I included a gift card to Olive Garden that I had won in a silent auction last year. It was the least I could do.

Me, perched on my couch this weekend under my lovely new Etsy wall art

Alphabet Soup Challenge: Q is for Quiet

One of the things I’ve noticed as a result of the slow down of life in general that the Covid-19 pandemic caused is there are more periods of quiet in my days.

I really appreciate that. I savor it. I am better for it.

What I’m referring to here is those snippets of time when there is silence. No t.v., no music, no talking to others. When I am unplugged.

Like when I get home from work in the afternoon. Hubs is working in our home office, cat and dog are milling about. Rabbie is off somewhere working on their latest designs to sell online.

Or in the morning, when I’m enjoying a hot shower, letting the water massage my aching neck and shoulders.

When everyone is still sleeping in my house and the only sound I hear is the gentle tapping of my fingers on the keyboard of my Chromebook as I write my next blog post.

Then there’s the quiet of being out in nature. When Amanda and grandson Christopher were visiting a couple of weeks ago, we got to experience that.

Pic I took of the beautiful fall colors near Morrison, CO

I feel a sense of peace in these moments. Contentment. It’s restorative.

I can hear my thoughts. I can relax my body. I can sit in silence and offer up my prayers to the Universe. No one is asking or expecting me to do anything at all. I can just be.

I can sit next to Karl the cat and pet his soft fur while he slow blinks at me.

Karl, the coolest cockeyed cat around

I say all this as an extrovert. A person who enjoys being busy, accomplishing things. Checking things off my “to do” list.

But being in the quiet centers me. Allows me to relax and think my thoughts. Reflect on my day and consider tomorrow’s options.

I wish all of you the blessing of the quiet in these chaotic times.

***Header image courtesy of https://quotefancy.com/quote/982709/Khaled-Hosseini-Quiet-is-peace-Tranquility-Quiet-is-turning-down-the-volume-knob-on-life

Alphabet Soup Challenge: P is for Pets

Karl the cockeyed cat and Radar-ling

They touched noses. Two nights in a row. And I have yet to witness it. Hubs said it is a lightening fast interaction that intimates a handshake.

They have of late been engaging in rowdy chasing shenanigans. It’s not clear who is leading this activity nor does it matter. It’s not for us mere mortals to understand.

They are simultaneously interested in each other and the humans they live with. But there’s an underlying fact: they are in competition with each other.

They both know they are very cute. They both have pretty eyes. That is their secret weapon. They are aware that we believe they are both very cute with pretty eyes. And they use that to their advantage, because at the end of most days, they get a special moment to enjoy treats together on the kitchen floor.

Hubs perspective: he has trained Radar very well. Specifically to “leave it” when eyeing a smaller creature, such as a squirrel or a bunny. Radar’s response is a comprehensive lick of the chops.

They like to eat together. Radar waits patiently next to his bowl of food each morning for Karl to come downstairs. He won’t start eating until his friend is present.

In the evenings, they eat together and when one of them is finished, always leaving a little bit in the bowl, the other saunters over to finish. Neither gets pissy with the other-no possessiveness to speak of. It is beyond cute.

Some of us in this house are of the opinion that there will come a time, sooner rather than later, when these two will be cuddling up and grooming each other. I’m cautiously optimistic about that.

While Hubs were on our Great American Road Trip (3,300 miles over 2 weeks), kiddo said Karl missed us. He didn’t eat for the first 24 hours after we left and when we came home he expressed his disgust with our temporary abandonment by sneaking into the shower and peeing all over the shower curtain. Cats are so weird.

Radar spent the better part of the 72 hours of our time at my sister and her husband’s place in far northern Minnesota bonding with his new best friend, Sis’s dog Dingo (a rescue pup just like Radar).

Here they are (bear in mind this is the first time I’ve uploaded video onto YouTube and embedded it in a blog post. I’m learning!)

Alphabet Soup Challenge: V is for Vacation

Hubs and I are on one right now. A great American summer road trip, complete with camper and dog. Traveling Northeast to visit family, biological and otherwise, in both Wisconsin and Minnesota.

I am so grateful to be doing this. After missing out on our Florida vacation back in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic and starting a brand new project at work, I really needed a distraction from reality.

And I’m so relaxed. Like itdoesntmatterifwedonthavesuppertill8pm and noalarmsareset relaxed. Like any vacation ought to be.

We set out on our journey on the 4th. Getting onto the entrance of I-25, Hubs turned on the “Road Trip Radio” channel on Sirius XM. At the beginning of “Saturday in the Park” by Chicago (first band we saw live as a couple back in the spring of 1989).

We smiled at each other, taking it as a good omen.

Radar is still a puppy. He panted, tongue hanging out of his mouth, while scurrying from window to window in the backseat. If I only had a dollar for each time we had to gently push him to the backseat. Dude doesn’t want to miss anything. He did settle after a bit, for intermittent spurts of time. The best thing is he didn’t puke. He’s been known to do that on the shorter car rides he’s taken thus far in his life.

Upon arriving to our first KOA in Rapid City, South Dakota and cracking open a semi cold beer (the camper fridge wasn’t fully chilled yet), I mused that I had little recollection of the last few 4th of July’s. I suppose that’s not unusual for older couples like us, ones who are done raising kids.

I added that it seemed this particular 4th of July was going to be a memorable one.

After having a very simple supper and walking around a bit (95 degrees in the shade is why I say a bit) with Radar, we got back in the camper and turned on the t.v. Something I really dig when Hubs and I are on vacation is watching t.v. Now don’t get me wrong; we don’t become total couch potatoes during our vacations. But it’s special in a weird way: we don’t have Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu in our camper (or in a motel when we stay there), like we do at home. We don’t have our “go to’s” or shows we dvr’d. We are at the mercy of whatever channels are available at the campground we are staying at.

That means we watch completely different things than we do at home. And we have fun with it. On the 4th, after clicking through the 8 (?) channels available, we came upon a channel featuring the 60th birthday celebration of a true American icon-Willie Nelson. It was taped probably 25 years ago and to my delight, featured interviews and performances of other icons that where there to celebrate Willie. Ray Charles. B.B. King. Johnny Cash. All no longer with us.

One of my favorite parts was hearing B.B. King talking about how much he loved Willie. Like a true fan. He said that “Always on my Mind” was his very favorite song. B.B. and Bonnie Raitt later jammed together, singing a blues tune I don’t think I ever heard before. It was spectacular. If you can find this show out there on whatever platform you have, I urge you to watch it. Assuming you love music. But, who doesn’t?

The cherry on the top of this 4th of July was the fireworks. I had zero expectations, beyond the anxiety I believed Radar was going to express about them. And we were at a campground, a place we have never been on the 4th of July. Didn’t even know or take the time to find out if they were happening there or if we would see them from wherever they might be shooting them off.

But around 9 something p.m. we started hearing them. Fortunately, Radar was tuckered out from all the excitement and we had the sound of the a/c buffering it. So I went outside to check it out. Wow!! They were lighting up the sky in all directions. People were milling about in small groups, no one too close to each other, looking up at the sheer beauty of the colors and patterns popping up in the sky. I slowly moved in a circle, cell phone in hand, anticipating where the next brilliant display was coming from, attempting to capture it. It was magical and made me feel hopeful for the future.

Getting Reacquainted with my Kitchen

As an optimist by nature I’m finding the benefits of this partial quarantine. I have, as a matter of fact, rediscovered the joy of cooking.

Since the kiddo has moved in, I’ve fallen away from cooking our evening meals. It wasn’t intentional. It’s just that it turns out that in the years this kid was not living in our home, they learned the joy of cooking. And not the kind of cooking they learned from me (read: I am, until fairly recently, a strict recipe follower). The kind of cooking that is more organic. More intuitive. No measuring involved. They use more spices and a wider, and sometimes unexpected, variety of them.

And it turns out they are a really good cook. Quite a delightful surprise for this mom. The image of my mom pops in my head actually when I watch them whipping something delicious on the stove. Which always makes me smile. I think Bonnie would appreciate this.

A few weeks ago, before this partial quarantine (I am still going to work, folks), I remembered the meatball recipe I saw on my charming blogger friend Annie’s blog. And I decided we ought to try it.

Now, I wasn’t able to find smoked sea salt at the grocery store, so I used plain old salt. But I did find hamburger and italian sausage there. In fact, I picked up a pound of each, then split them up, putting half in the freezer for later. Because I assumed that they’d be so delicious I’d want to make them again. I assumed right.

Hubs and the kiddo raved about them. I thought they were scrumptious, though next time (despite my family’s opposition) I will cut down on the red pepper flakes just a bit.

Do yourself a favor and try it! Here’s the recipe: https://givememeatloaf.com/2020/01/31/spicy-italian-meatballs-with-classic-marinara-appetizer/

And here’s my picture of the finished product:

Last Friday at work, we received a large donation of home chef bagged meal kits. So many that I ran out of room for them in our refrigerators. I decided to take a couple of them home and try them. On Sunday, as we watched the remainder of the newest “Jumanji” movie (recommend this if you want some true escapism), I planted myself in our little kitchen and got to work.

There was something about doing that that gave me such comfort. I was being productive and useful. As there was no instructions found in these paper bag meal kits, I was forced to use the ingredients as I saw fit. I used all of them except the kale, sweet potatoes (the kid made homemade treats for Radar with them) and something called “cashew crema”, which resembled the tube feeding liquid someone donated to our food bank once. When I asked Hubs how I thought I should cook the kale, his response was that it needed to be thoroughly washed…then put down the garbage disposal.

After an hour or so, we wound up with this fantastic meal of whole wheat linguine with flavorful marinara sauce (which I doctored up with the shallot and garlic cloves supplied in the kit, along with a dash of red pepper flakes). Accompanied by baked and seasoned chicken breasts smothered in the prepared pesto sauce with pine nuts and bursting-with-flavor grape tomatoes. And all of us, as Annie would say,”lurrvved” it!

So on account of Hubs and I not spending money on our planned trip to Florida with our friends, I decided to do a little splurge. I went online and bought an “Instant Pot”. And I’m determined this new toy of mine is not going to go by the way of the air fryer I bought a couple of years ago (which is now referred to as the tater tot maker). This sucker is going to get used, baby!

How about you all? Are you like me, rediscovering the joy of cooking? Or rediscovering something else that gives you joy with all this unexpected time stuck at home?

Life Changes and a Bizzare Film Experiment

A couple of blog posts back, I christened 2020 as my year of Clarity.

What seems natural to me as a result of this is for me to be experimental. Mostly with my creative writing; but I doubt that my writing pursuits would benefit if I wasn’t also willing to simultaneously be experimental in my day to day life. Experimental with what I do and how I do it. With who I interact with and how. With my choices.

So yesterday was Saturday. I love that day of the week, don’t you? Because of my planning tendencies, I usually manage to make it a decent combo of fun/relaxation and taking care of important shit. Like grocery shopping. Which I did do yesterday.

Saturday mornings I always sit down in front of my computer and do some writing for this blog. Yesterday I think I wrote two whole sentences on one half finished (hopefully not half-assed) blog post.

So that was weird experimental.

What was far more experimental, however, is that Spawn #2 (who recently moved themselves and their cat in with Hubs and I and needs a better moniker on this blog) and I sat down and watched the most bizarre film I have every seen in my entire life: Midsommar. I don’t even know where to start on this one. I don’t know that I can even recommend it. As I told the kiddo, I can’t unsee that. I don’t know that I can properly describe it even. It was a fucking trip.

Let’s just say if you have the right combination of the things, you might appreciate this film. Though I’m not even sure “appreciate” is the right word here. Maybe you don’t appreciate it as much as you are compelled to see it through to the end because of morbid curiosity.

Here is what I feel one needs if they are to embark on the strange odyssey that is “Midsommar”:

  • A good block of time. Not that it’s the longest film ever; it’s just that we felt refreshed by the couple of breaks we took throughout the viewing. It’s that intense.
  • Patience. Much of the first half is, while tragic, very slooooowww moving.
  • Enthusiasm (or at least a heaping dose of tolerance) for the macabre.
  • A fascination with human psychology.
  • No one under 18 (or maybe 21?) in attendance.
  • A strong stomach and/or a willingness to avert your eyes PRN.
  • Willingness to hear more Swedish folk songs than you can imagine.
  • A sense of open-minded curiosity. Morbid works too, as mentioned above.
  • If you happen to be a fan of MST3K, you may want to consider not taking this film too seriously by making it a game with your friends. You know, the ones you can have a high old time playing “Cards Against Humanity” with.
A song that ought to be on the soundtrack for “Midsommar”

If you have seen this film, please do me a solid and share your feedback in the comments. I would love to dish (no meat tarts though please) about this with someone!

Talking to strangers and art appreciation

Hubs and I are back from our trip to Washington DC now.

What I didn’t do

In case you were wondering, no, I did not find myself swept up in a crowd of protesters demanding impeachment for our Bullshitter-in-Chief.

We did not make it to the charming Mrs. K’s Toll House for dinner. The only option for reservations for the night we wanted to dine there was 7 p.m. and that is just too late for supper for the two of us. Next year, we told ourselves, we will plan ahead to ensure we get a table there at a reasonable hour.

What I did do.

While Hubs was busy with work meetings, I embraced my lazy side relaxed. As in, woke up when I woke up. No alarms were set. Took my sweet time getting ready for the day. Indulged in some writing and reading. Caught some morning tv while sitting on our king-sized bed. Probably consumed too much HGTV.

I also talked to strangers.

One morning after breakfast, I chatted with a red-headed woman, her husband and probably 21 year old daughter on the one working elevator. I saw they were heading to the 9th floor, just like me, so I struck up a conversation. Asked them if they were here on vacation. Woman said they just came to see a concert the previous night and are heading home that day. The concert was “The Cult” (an 80’s band, the woman told me; despite being a teenager in the 80’s I’m not familiar with their music) and “Spirit Animal” which she and her daughter just started getting into. I got so lost in the conversation that I almost followed them to their room. It was an “Ope, wrong way!” sort of moment.

I’m guessing they were from New York or New Jersey based on the woman’s accent. I wondered if they drove here or flew. I wondered if this quick trip was planned months and months ago or if it was maybe more spontaneous, like last week. Maybe the daughter was online and happened to see that “Spirit Animal” (she was wearing their shirt) was on tour in DC last night. Maybe she showed her mom a video of one of their songs and mom said “let’s do it!” and off they went to share this experience together. I think they have a close relationship. I hope they appreciate it, because the fact is many people don’t share any closeness with their adult children.

While in line at Burlington Coat Company, a hispanic woman showed me a package of lotions and body sprays she had purchased. She said she was going to break them up and re-package them for 4 people. I told her that was a smart idea. She noticed right before she was going to check out there were holiday gift bags hanging on racks for purchase. She briefly considered it then said “no, I’ll get those at the Dollar Store”. I told her that’s what I would do. She thanked me.

Later, while shopping again (this time at Marshall’s), I was behind a middle aged black man in a leather newsboy cap. He asked the cashier if the color of the winter coat he was about to purchase was blue or black. He said he’s colorblind. I piped up and said I often couldn’t tell the difference between navy and black too; however this coat was definitely navy blue. He went on with his purchase and a couple of moments later, asked me if the gray towels he was going to buy were gray. I told him that they indeed were.

The art I saw

One of the days I was there, I took the Metro into DC to do some exploring. I found myself looking at a lot of art. I don’t think I fully realized just how much I appreciate art until this day.

I snapped pictures of the pieces that I especially appreciated. The ones that made me think. The ones that drew me in. Here’s a few samples:

Magnolia Blossoms by Josephine Joy. She was born in 1869 and grew up on a farm in Illinois, where she loved sketching things in nature. She did not follow her artistic calling however, until 1927, after her children were grown and her husband had died. By the early 40’s, while she was in her early 70’s, she became a nationally acclaimed painter.

The sign next to this piece states: “African Jungle Picture: If the ladies had knew the snakes wouldn’t bit them they wouldn’t have hurt the snakes; if the snakes had knew the ladies wouldn’t hurt them they wouldn’t have bit the ladies”. Food for thought, right?
This piece, called “Healing Machine” was created by a guy named Emery Blagdon, at his Nebraska farm over the course of three decades. He used found materials like hay bailing wire, magnets, and remnant paint from farm sales. He also included special ingredients and other “earth elements” from the local pharmacy in this piece. He called the individual pieces in this piece his “pretties”. He believed in the power of “earth energies” and in his personal ability to channel these forces in a space that through continuous tinkering and “aesthetic power” could alleviate pain and illness.
This piece is called “The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millennium General Assembly” created by James Hampton over the span of fourteen years. He based it on religious visions, prompting him to prepare for Christ’s return to earth. Many of the elements in this piece he handcrafted from cardboard and plastic, adding structure with found objects such as old furniture, jelly jars, and light bulbs. He utilized shimmering metallic foils and other materials to evoke spiritual awe and splendor.

I also visited the National Portrait Gallery, enjoyed a delicious burger and beer at Dogfish Head Brewery with Hubs and our friends John and David, and visited The National Museum of Women in the Arts, where I was awed by an exhibit from Judy Chicago entitled which depicted Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s 5 stages of grief. Click this link for more info if you are so inclined: https://washington.org/event/judy-chicago-end-meditation-death-and-extinction It was absolutely stunning and emotionally moving. I’d share picture of it, but photography was not allowed at that exhibit.

The most important “take away” for me from this trip to our nation’s capital is that I must return there next December, as, thankfully, this is an annual work trip for him.

Me and Hubs in the lobby of our friends condo building .