Thursday, October 30, 2014

Traveling companions

  I met a young career woman on my travels. She was accompanying her ninety-two year old grandmother. How lovely I thought watching the bonding between generations. The young woman would be helpful in modernizing the intricacies of tourism. Maybe it was the other way around. Grandma set the pace. She knew what she was doing all too well, and when she slipped her iPhone from her pocket to take a photo, I was impressed. I changed my mind. It was two ladies traveling together.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The true meaning of a cold

     A cold is a cold is a cold. And it is making a dent in my lifestyle. I’m sick of sneezing and wheezing with a lack of sleep. Am I listening to the cold, or am I fighting the cold?  Sometimes a cold comes on to tell me to slow down and quit fighting issues that will work out anyhow. A cold is my comrade in arms, and I should let it run its course.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


If all good things come in "threes," then luck is arriving sooner than later. 

 Western rocks are a prominent resting place for this sole pumpkin basking in the warm rays.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Love you to pieces

     “Love you to pieces” is stuck in my head. The phrase simply won’t stop spinning around like a broken record. I find myself using the term all the time everywhere.
     Surely, you have your own signature phrase.
     I close online correspondence to friends and family with it — henceforth in this writing “it” is how I will refer to “love you to pieces.”
     I say it as a term of endearment. I say it with discretion to any and all people that I care for in life.
    If I must say so, it is one of those statements like “lots of love” and #foreverloved that is well-worn without a whole lot of personalized thought going into it unless you are careful.
     Overkill. Probably, so.
     Portion control. Yes.
     One afternoon I drop to the couch in complete exhaustion. I can’t believe it but I have used it to compliment the UPS driver for his exceptional delivery during a rainstorm. Is that necessary? After all, he is performing his job well and a generic word or two of appreciation would be fine I am quite certain.
    That is right after I say it to the carpet service cleaning man who freshens my house for another year of living with a pet and his sensitive stomach. I am so grateful that I am beside myself. It feels quite nice to end the fall with the house in order. There is nothing like the finishing touch of a professional anyhow.
     Neither of them bat an eye, and apparently, they are pleased with my goodwill. I suppose it is better than a yelling or complaining customer. They must get their share of those on a daily basis. A desperate housewife? I rather doubt it from me. I get plenty of conversational opportunities elsewhere.
     Earlier in the day I tell my husband that “I love you to pieces” for remembering to pick up the dry cleaning without being asked. Perhaps this is a case where it is appropriate language for a loved one. It keeps us giving like a gift of a plant in a positive way providing I can keep it alive.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

There's no stopping the clock

      I literally took a double take when I saw three preteen girls I have known since they were munchkins. I was flabbergasted at their growth over the summer.
     “Growing like weeds” fits sprouting legs and blooming shapes, and simultaneously keeps moms alert monitoring appropriate outfits.
     It occurs to me that I have written my share of columns about slowing down and taking in life at a leisurely pace. I think that I will shake it up a bit and reverse the motion.
     So, full speed ahead.

     The movie, “Boyhood” starring Ethan Hawke, Ellar Coltrane and Patricia Arquette fascinates me, and I am delighted that The Star Theatre in Dansville thought enough of its patrons to show it. The multiplexes in the region have options to suit all customers’ interests, but it is tough for a one-screen operation to mind read and select a quality production.
     It is incredible that the movie project went on over a span of twelve years. I consider that a long time to honor a contract by anybody to anything these days in our commitment phobic society. That’s beside the point, though.
     What impresses me is “Boyhood” unfolds in just under three hours, and it is like viewing life in fast time through a living room window. It takes a lot of emotional energy to engage in what’s put out in front of me.
      It is truly a coming of age story following Ellar’s character, Mason from first through twelfth grades. The phases of childhood are represented realistically, and I will admit that I suffered vicariously through rough family patches. (Well-buttered popcorn can be helpful.)
     A few curves are thrown at mom, Patricia Arquette but she has fortitude to push on through. In other situations, Arquette makes bad decisions and her children are forced to deal with the consequences of her choices. It’s not pleasant to observe, and I stuff more kernels in my mouth to ward off bad feelings.      

     Carefree dad, Ethan Hawke does a terrific job listening as well as stressing the importance of keeping the lines of communication open. Hawke shows-up and stays involved with his kids, and I hope that moviegoers notice. It pays off in more ways than one.  
     The love from his estranged parents and sister aids in developing Ellar’s resilience. He leaves for college feeling like a worthy individual, and I am convinced that he has the potential for greatness.
     I return home from the theatre and shake my head at how fast life slips by. There’s no slowing down the aging process. There is no miracle that I have come across that would put me back to age twenty-five without forfeiting my accumulated wisdom. (I don’t want to give that up.) And, I do believe that I have sage advice worthy to share with younger people if they will listen.
    Our kids and grandkids — count in great grandkids — are perfect examples of time marching on. How can it be? They are walking, starting kindergarten and going off to college like speeding broncos let out of the training corral.

     Facing up to my gardens after a vacation is difficult. Those weeds have turned pristine rows of manicured flora into a virtual jungle that will take a lot of extra management to straighten out. The flowers appear to grow at a normal pace, but the competition is way out of control.
     Weeds have survival skills that rival the hardiest plant. Think about how hard it is to yank one out by its roots anchored securely in the soil.
     Originally, weeds indicated something undesirable, as weeds grew where they were not wanted. It started as a term in agriculture. I’ve had my own experiences of planting mint and thyme in a small plot and watching those herbs take over space as fast as I pull them out.
    The term, “growing like a weed” has evolved to mean quick advancement like a company that takes off. Livingston County is proud of its successful main street restoration grants providing the impetus for small business owners to achieve their economic potential.
     It could be a group of dedicated citizens combining their efforts tirelessly for the betterment of cultural experiences in the community. It comes together quickly when the timing is right like the newly formed Dansville ArtWorks.

    Google has changed my whole approach to research, and in only 13 years. What’s at my fingertips is more than mind boggling. Although I don’t often read movie reviews ahead — I make up my own mind — I am curious to read “Boyhood” details about the production and the cast lineup. I can do it rather quickly with Google and go on my way.
     It is hard to believe that it has been 13 years since 9/11. I was in Utah touring national parks, and today, here I am visiting the memorial museum in lower Manhattan. I have watched the site evolve from the pile of rubble to the inspirational remembrance it is now.
    Growing pains can come at any point. It’s not only about childhood physical aches. Older people know that the faster they move their bodies, the better able they are to maintain independence.   
     Time flies when you’re having fun. Weekends race by and before you know it, Sunday is upon you, the workweek ahead and more of the usual drill.

     Speed — It’s a fascinating concept — shows up in all areas of life. Race you to the water cooler?  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A new favorite blog

At times I feel like I am "overblogged" and unable to read one more post before giving up.

Not so with this one from artist/writer, Jessica Ives. Her creative nature speaks clearly in both her art and narratives that reflect the beauty of seasonal family life in Maine. It is a sparkling treasure reflecting her spirited attitude and tenacious attention to detail.

Check out The Maine

Monday, October 20, 2014

Writing memoir

There are three avenues to memoir: be famous, do something amazing, or write well. I can't control the first, and the second is often dangerous or expensive. As for writing well, usually I don't know whether or not I've hit the mark until after several drafts. On occasion I know immediately. Stopping--or not starting--because I'm scared I won't measure up is like throwing away the seeds because I might be allergic to tomatoes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

In my Western travels I am contented spending hours in a rock shop off to the side of the two-lane highway, or on a back street in a small mining town that I stumble on to by pure blessed accident. 
Often the owner is the window to the area, too, and like Karen in Keystone, South Dakota, I gather advice and minerals in one-stop shopping.  Healthy eateries. Sightseeing off the path. Wine and beer trails. She marks up maps furiously so I won't forget. 
Keystone was founded in 1891 with the discovery of gold-bearing quartz at the present location of Keystone Mine. It makes me laugh that a large gold vein was named, "The Holy Terror" after the locator's wife. 
I just might have shared an hour or so with her modern day counterpart. Compliment, or not? You be your own judge.

Follow an animal's behavioral instincts

     The ideal thing to do on a rainy day is follow the example of a cat and take a nap, eat, take another and another nap. Animals follow nature’s rhythms better than humans. We manipulate too much, fill our bellies to overflowing and don't get enough sleep.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Slow seeing

Slow seeing 
shares a private moment 
with a stem inching upward into the sunlight 
or a petal unfolding in perfect symmetry. 
Slow seeing
requires emptying the mind 
 waiting patiently
not knowing what to expect
and embracing the loveliness of creation.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Juggling apple thoughts

A myriad of possibilities tumble around in my head when I see a bin filled with apples.
Pie. Cider. Applesauce. Sure, juggling practice. 

 The wooden crates of rosy reds and crispy goldens lining the edge of the dirt driveway are joined by Granny Smith tart greens. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Travels out west with Kay

    You could say that it all started when a friend didn't believe that I had never been to Mount Rushmore.
    "You've been all over the world and you haven't been there?"
    She laughed. I smiled back. I love her to pieces, and her remark didn't sting at all.
    Now I am not a believer in the bucket list drill, and tend to be rather serendipitous when it comes to travel destinations. If the time is right, and it feels good, I go.
    However, my friend started the wheels turning. I had to head to South Dakota before the snow covered the Black Hills and my window of opportunity was over for the season. The prior week the Rapid City area had recorded 5 inches. It made the national news, and momentarily I questioned the sanity of my decision.    
    I want to believe that Fickle Mother Nature did an about-face especially for me, and I received her warmer temperatures with a few downright hot days, too. It was wise not to put up a fuss and go with the heat while it lasted.
     I visited during September touring notable places like the Chief Crazy Horse Memorial, Deadwood and the annual bison roundup in Custer State Park. The blue sky was better than perfect and the aspens shimmered in their golden coats.
     Granted I was leaving behind a gorgeous Finger Lakes fall, except for the leaf raking which would be waiting when I returned. Sigh.
     It was one of those relaxed vacations — the Rapid City airport is so sleepy that you follow your shadow around — full of opportunities to see what adventures would unfold without fixed sightseeing itineraries.
     By the way, that’s practice in being resourceful and going with what's right in front of you. It makes you pay attention, too.
     Small towns and cities have all sorts of surprises if you are willing to uncover their charms. Spoiler alert: you may get your hands dirty panning for gold.
     With a lot of effort and encouragement from my husband, I slowed down to a snail’s pace — maybe I should say the slow motion of a grazing bison — and went with the flow knowing full well that the great wooly beast at any moment can outrun a horse if need be.
     The park ranger didn't promise any wildlife when she took our entry fee at Custer State Park. It wasn't but a few minutes and I was in luck, though.
     While my husband’s attention was focused on driving, I had a chance to be up close and personal with a huge bison feeding along the side. We pulled over to watch. I was too chicken to roll down the window for a picture, especially when the bison looked up at me, and I got a big wink from his eye — that’s what I wanted to believe anyhow. I was petrified realizing I was close enough to touch him. No way was I getting out. I knew better. My camera shook, and I had enough of that wildlife nonsense. The car window remained shut, and disappointedly my husband had to shoot his picture through the glass leaning beside me.
    Down-to-earth people, such as Karen in the sleepy mining town of Keystone, told us what to expect from the annual bison roundup in its 49th year, and offered advice on unique places to eat away from the typical tourist traps. She owned an amazing mineral and gem shop, and we never did get through all her bins of treasure.   
     The electrician at the Museum of Geology stopped his repair job and gave his opinion on the South Dakota quality of life that is meaningful to him.
     Our motel desk clerk spent her teenage years outside Syracuse, and she helped us understand why there are shut-off gates on Interstate 90. Our Upstate weather is more predictable than the sudden rain, ice and blowing winds forcing the closing of sections of highway in South Dakota.
    We did meet a couple celebrities just by being at the right place at the right time. Miss South Dakota Rodeo rode up on horseback in Custer State Park — her long blond locks swayed to the gait — to welcome us to the roundup. She was out checking the route, and couldn't wait to pose for our pictures making sure her sash would show.
     Governor Dennis Daugaard, known to be South Dakota’s best ambassador for business growth, came to Chief Crazy Horse for a visit while we were standing in the front lobby of the visitor’s center. No photos there.
    Mount Rushmore was every bit as grand as I had pictured in my mind. I walked the President's Trail to get as close as possible, and it was a hike along with the history makers of our country. That evening we watched from the amphitheater as the lights illuminated the presidents, and I took time to reflect on where I've been and where I'm going.
    As my husband and I wound down the mountain road in darkness, I looked over my shoulder at the shiny hillside one last time. The visit was all worth it.
   Native American culture spreads a profound peacefulness, and it replenishes my soul every single visit to Western reservations.
    People across America are diverse individuals with infectious spirits and stories to tell.

    You may have had enough of someone else’s travel story, and I understand.  If you are curious and want more, follow the link with additional trip writing and pictures.