Category Archives: Summer vacay

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.

The Recombobulation Zone

After traveling by air last week, I appreciate the sign posted at the Milwaukee airport (and per Hubs, many airports in the U.S. because he travels way more than me).

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Because I’m relating to it on a deep level right now. I’m knee deep in the “recombobulation zone”.

What put me there, you may wonder. This very meaningful weekend I just spent in Wisconsin with the people I love so much. Some I am related to by blood; some I am related to due to the wise choice I made almost 30 years ago to marry into this family.

People, if I’ve learned anything in this life, it is that when you marry a person, you marry their family, too. For better or worse. Through thick and thin. It’s not perfect, but it’s beautiful nonetheless.

But clearly, my emotions were discombobulated and I’m now unpacking them. Spending quiet time outside on a lake in Wisconsin got me thinking of my parents. The reality of both of their deaths really started to hit me. More and more, I find myself thinking of them and what they would think of what we are doing, saying, and about how life is going for the rest of us still in our human form on planet Earth.

For the rest of this post, I will be focusing on the positive take-a-ways from the Davis family Wisconsin cabin vacation, however. I may be on a strange and up and down path, but my name is Pollyanna after all (or not).

Allow me to bullet point it, in the interest of time and K.I.S.S. (Keep. It. Simple. Sister.).

  • Our grandson is growing by leaps and bounds. He is high-spirited, intelligent, and curious about the world around him. I wish I could see him more often. His biggest concern re: starting Kindergarten this week? That for lunch he will be served pork chops every. single. day. Who knows how this got lodged in his 5 year old brain, but the fact of the matter is, he hates pork chops.
  • Despite her pessimistic “realist” outlook, I cannot underestimate the wisdom of my wonderful mother in law. Mental note to self: talk to her on the phone on a more regular basis.
  • The sight of small children and deer mingling melts my heart.

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Christopher at Fawn-Doe-Rosa, a wildlife adventure park

  • Women over the age of 40 can be truly badass. Take my SIL, Mary. She’s 47, in great shape, both inside and out, has a huge heart for all living things, and she’s furthering her education while working full time.
  • Choices a person can make in life can produce unintended, uninvited, and unpleasant consequences. But it’s a spectacularly hopeful thing to witness someone at the beginning phase of turning a rotting lemon into sweet lemonade.
  • Spending time outside with the ones you love the most, with no high tech distractions, just the smell of a campfire, the feel of a breeze on your skin, talking about life is just oh-so-good for one’s soul.
  • Witnessing your grandchild being introduced to fishing by your fisherman-at-heart spouse is a true delight.

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Food, how I love Thee

 

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What you see above is a picture of a supper I made a couple of weeks ago. Hang with me here, and I’ll share the oh-so-simple recipe at the end of this post.

For lack of a better term, I am a die-hard “foodie”. I understand that one should not “live to eat”, but rather “eat to live”. Intellectually, I know that is the healthiest way to think about food. In spite of this, however, I lean towards the latter and not the former.

A few years back, I made a decision to adopt healthier eating habits. My weight had grown to an unacceptable level in my view and I believed it was time to make some serious changes in my daily diet.

So after reading a few dieting books, I decided to go low carb. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I found myself mostly missing bread and baked goods, but not much else. I kept a daily food diary, which I think was the best tool I could have employed for this endeavor. I ended up losing 23 lbs over the course of about 5-6 months. I felt great about myself. I got myself down one pants size. People noticed.

However…I slowly but surely started to slip back into my old ways, enjoying bread on a semi-regular basis and increasing my consumption of chocolate. About a month ago, I told myself that while I’d managed to gain approximately half of the weight I’d lost, I was not continuing to gain even more weight. I was not gaining but “maintaining”.

Oh, the things I tell myself to justify poor nutritional choices.

I will at some point, in the not so distant future, purchase myself a brand spanking new notebook in which I will document my daily food intake. After of course I  recover those tried and true low carb recipes I collected back in the day when I was uber motivated to shed the weight.

Hubs and I recently returned from our epic summer road trip to visit family in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  I made the conscious decision to wholeheartedly embrace the “live to eat” method. The “YOLO” diet, if you will. Justified by the fact that I was on vacation. 

My vacay diet consisted of the following: cheeseburgers and french fries. Ice cream treats. Potato chips. Lots of those. Candy. Cinnamon rolls. Cookies. Pancakes. Banana cream pie.  I basically ate like the 10 year old version of myself in the lazy days of summer. And I have no regrets. Though to be honest, I am a good 6 lbs. heavier now as a result of this “no holds barred” foodie fest.  I am verging on the precipice of having to purchase pants in a larger size at this point.

I refuse to purchase larger pants. Even if they are purchased for a pittance at my favorite thrift store. Even if they are far more comfortable and don’t leave red indentations in my mid-section after taking them off. Not. Gonna. Do. It.

Luckily, the recipe for the supper I photographed for your hungry eyes is indeed both low carb and highly delicious. Here it is:

4 chicken breasts

Store-bought pesto (or homemade, if you happen to grow your own basil as I do)

Chopped garlic

Fresh mushrooms

Fresh tomato

Shredded mozzarella

Brown Rice ( I highly recommend Success Rice. Easy-peasy, trust me)

Using a mallet (and some pent up anger), pound chicken breasts between a couple of pieces of parchment paper. Sprinkle the breasts with salt and pepper to your liking.

Heat up some olive oil in a large skillet, then add some chopped up garlic and fry that up a little. Then add the chicken breasts. If it doesn’t appear to be cooking quickly enough, throw in a bit of water and cover the pan for a bit.

In a separate pan, heat up some olive oil and add the mushrooms. Once those are cooked up nicely, add them to the skillet with the chicken in it. Once the chicken is almost done, slather some of that delicious pesto on top of the breasts. Heat that up a bit, then sprinkle as much mozzarella on as you like. Slice up a tomato and put it on top. Cover the pan and heat it up a little more.

I’m going to assume you knew to make the brown rice in between all these steps.

Then simply plop your rice onto plates, and place a chicken breast onto that and chow down.

Enjoy, folks!

Pondering my playlists

I’ve mentioned in at least one previous post that, inspired by a different sort of self-help book entitled “Soul Song Playlist”, I started to create my own soul-soothing, uplifting, personal playlist. What I’ve discovered along the way is that this playlist is a work in progress. For me, it isn’t something I could just put together in one fell swoop.

I’ve added songs that I later removed, because they didn’t speak to me on a soul level like I presumed they would (“Let it Go” from the animated movie Frozen is a prime example) when I initially chose them. I’ve heard songs while driving that jumped out at me as the perfect additions to this very personal playlist of mine. I think I will continue adding and subtracting songs over the course of a good long time.

That said, I found myself last week itching to hear full cd’s of my favorite artists. The ones I cherish the most, to give myself a needed break from the overthinking I’d been doing with creating my soul song playlist. I listened to my very favorite cd of all time, Raising Sand, with Robert Plant and Allison Kraus. I listened to Alanis Morissette’s “The Collection” cd. So many rocking tunes on that one with very thoughtful, purposeful lyrics. And I listened to Sheryl Crowe’s “C’mon, C’mon” cd, which is one of those that I thoroughly enjoy singing along with. Raising Sand is not one I sing along with, for the record, because the sheer beauty of the songs on this cd compel me to simply listen. Few cd’s are like that for me.

That brings me to the new playlist I’m going to start creating this week, in preparation for our big summer road trip to visit family in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. Hubs and I will be strapped in for two full days so I figure a rocking playlist is in order. We can listen to it as we wish, interspersing it with catching up on national and world news on NPR and various podcasts.

The genre of our road trip playlist is primarily classic rock. With a few summery  pop hits added in to enhance our freewheeling, relaxed summer vacation attitudes.

Here’s a few songs that are going to be “musts” on this epic summer road trip playlist.

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A depiction of Hubs and I on our epic summer road trip

  • “2 out of 3 Ain’t Bad”, by Meatloaf (I feel I should know his real name, being kind of a music trivia buff. But more importantly, how did he acquire the name “Meatloaf”?)
  • “Walkin’ on the Sun”, by Smash Mouth (interestingly, at least to me anyway, was that this is the band Hubs named recently when I asked him what band he most wants to see live before he croaks. Didn’t see that one coming.)
  • “American Pie”, by Don McClean. A classic sing along song we always turn up when it comes on the radio. Doesn’t every American, at least over the age of 40, do the same thing?
  • “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, by Twisted Sister. A classic song of rebellion that begs to be sung out loud with righteous indignation, which is wholly appropriate in our current political climate.
  • “Layla”, by Derek and the Dominoes (for me, never the one put out by Eric Clapton years later…it’s just not the same, man).
  • “Margaritaville”, by Jimmy Buffett. A carefree summer driving sing-along classic.
  • “We Built This City”, by Starship. I know that many, perhaps most, people hate this song with a passion. But for Hubs and I, it’s a rollicking tune that reminds us of our younger days.
  • “You’re my Best Friend”, by Queen. Hubs is my best friend and I am his. I used to think it was sappy and unoriginal to proclaim this. But over time I have come to realize that it’s the simple truth. Me and my best friend are bound to have ourselves a great time on this road trip of ours. And now we will have a soundtrack that will set the tone.

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And so it begins

Hubs and I will be leaving this week for a road trip to visit family and friends in our beloved states of Minnesota and Wisconsin. I may or may not have opportunities to do any blog posts while we are away, but I will get right back into it upon our return to our still new Colorado home.

I have quite a mixed bag of emotions heading into this adventure: excitement, anxiety, and guilt are at the top of the list. I’m excited about the opportunities so see all those people I love and miss so much. I’m excited about presenting my mother in law, sister in law, and a dear friend their birthday gifts (all are in the month of July). I’m excited to give my dad a box of his favorite treats when we visit him in his new home. I’m excited to spend time visiting our friends at our favorite watering holes, restaurants, and backyards. I’m beyond excited to see our eldest daughter and our grandson.

I’m anxious knowing that this will be the first time at my parent’s home with mom living there alone.  It’s going to be so strange. I’m anxious about how my dad will react to our presence, as I’ve been made aware that he is farther into dementia than he was when I last saw him in April. I like to think he will know who Hubs and I are, but what if he doesn’t? I don’t know how to prepare emotionally for this possibility. I don’t want to cry in front of him because I think that will be confusing and upsetting for him. I must for his sake keep it together. Dementia is such a bastard.

The guilt will inevitably sneak it’s way into my brain too, I expect. Here I am, living the dream in wonderful, beautiful Colorado while my family is experiencing the hardship of my parents aging and the stress that comes with caregiving. I’m an unemployed (by choice for now anyway) housewife (domestic goddess?) with the time to pursue my love of creative writing via this blog and enjoy a decent social life.  Currently my life is virtually stress-free, which is a new state of being for me. I worry that my family might think “Who does she think she is?”.

But go forth we will. Much time and energy has been spent by Hubs and I in the planning of this vacation. That fact ought to optimize the chance that things will go smoothly.

I will savor the good times, which I have faith will be plentiful. Like having chats with Hubs in the car about the past, the present, and what hopes we have for our future. Listening to Al Franken’s audio book “Giant of the Senate”. Listening to the plethora of channels on our Sirius XM. Sitting in motel hot tubs with a cold beer at the end of a long day in the car. Trying new restaurants. Sitting out on my parent’s front porch reminiscing about the good old times with mom and Hubs. Morning walks along the shores of Lake Superior. Taking the dumpling (our 3 year old grandson) out for ice cream and to the zoo. Splashing in the hotel pool with him and reading him the Sesame Street book I recently bought. Having a nice long, heart to heart chat with my beloved eldest daughter.  Sitting out on my in laws deck, chatting the afternoon away sipping wine and smelling the barbeque my father in law is cooking on the grill. Having girl time with my sweet sister in law, laughing and shopping our way through Stillwater, Mn. Catching up with dear friends while sampling craft beers. Spending time at one of my very favorite places on earth: my sister’s home on the Baptism River. These simple things in life are what makes it worth living.

I am so fortunate to have all these people that I love so much and who love me back. I hope all of you, dear readers, are as blessed as I. Happy summer everyone!