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Posts Tagged With: travel

The gift of an unconventional Holiday

I knew the day was coming, and tried to keep my voice cheery as I zipped his parka, handed off his Ninja Turtle backpack, and sent my 4-year-old off with his father.  Freshly divorced, and newly navigating the every-other-holiday thing, I kissed my boy good-bye and squeezed his mittened hand one more time.  He took his cues from me, and although bio-Dad was consistently inconsistent with visitation, and I had not yet met  (or even imagined) the man-who-would-be-Hubbs, I needed to keep my act together so my little guy would be OK.

Shutting the door, I stood in the darkened entry and watched them drive away, a wave of sadness fell over me. It felt like the wettest blanket on the coldest night.  It was a rainy, dreary Wednesday afternoon in western Connecticut.  My family was a million miles away in Canada and I’d been too busy surviving working to have made plans.  At least he would only be gone for the weekend, and knowing the other one, probably coming home early.   I looked around our sparse apartment, at my pull-out sofa in the living room, his bunk beds and toys in the bedroom.  My eyes landed on our small table with two chairs, at books and Play-Doh from earlier play.

Calling Mom, we chatted for a while and caught up on the goings on there.  I heard her attempts at a cheerful voice, knowing we were so far away, and that I was by myself tonight.  When she asked what I’d be doing for the Holiday, I sputtered out something about being invited to a friend’s apartment.  “Oh, that’s good, dear.  You should go, there’s no need to be by yourself, and, well, we’d feel better if you did.”  She was right, of course, but there was about a .001% of me that wanted to go out and meet new people.   I promised her I’d think about it.

Later that night my friend Dee called.  Practically begging,  she admitted her parents were coming, too, and “you know how my Dad can be.”  Yes, I’d met them both, they were European, on-again-off-again as a couple, the Mom, quiet and nervous, the Dad, critical and imposing.  I knew she needed a buffer and, quite frankly, I suddenly had a need to get out of that apartment.   We agreed I’d be there mid morning the next day.

Upon arrival, I learned she’d also invited the “strays” ~ anyone in her building who didn’t have a place to be or family to spend the Holiday with.  Wow!

We quickly set to work peeling potatoes, setting a card table & chairs at the end of the kitchen table, scrounging around for Fast Food napkins, extra plates, plastic cutlery, tablecloths and a couple of old candles.  She turned on the radio – with a countdown of sorts, a mixture of Motown and Classic Rock, fun.  The turkey simmered in the oven, and the aroma, unmistakable.

Next she announced we had turnips to prepare ~ her crusty Dad had a thing for buttered  turnips, except she had no clue how to peel the waxy layer off of  it and neither did I.  We managed to get a steak knife stuck embedded in that thing more than once.  Laughing, we developed a rhythm, but we were more like Lucy and Ethel than Fred and Ginger. I peeled carrots and steamed them with peas, poured off the turkey drippings to make gravy, and mashed the potatoes.  She stirred corn and cream and butter together, microwaved Stove-Top Stuffing.  We ran into each other more than once.  Yep, Lucy and Ethel.

Soon guests began arriving ~ old and young, a shy woman with a bright-eyed toddler and no mention of the father, a married couple from Venezuela, she with lovely accent, his hand on the small of her back.  My friend’s son and his girlfriend, her parents and me, and Ivan, the lanky maintenance man with a heavy Russian accent, a shy smile and two bottles of vodka.  Everyone streamed in, offering what they had, ~ buttery Seafood Paela, a cheesecake, Wine, chocolates, sausage, pickles and cheese. We sent her son to 7-11 for more plates and paper products while her Dad took a seat to carve the turkey.  Her Mom, a bit tipsy from the vodka, chatted animatedly with Ivan.  We all found a seat on uneven and mismatched chairs, making small talk, clanking glasses,and savoring the moment.  I was in and out, serving, and bringing more to share.

It was there, grabbing another bowl of something in my friend’s kitchen, when I remembered that I’d forgotten about being sad. About being far from home.  I felt a tug ~ a love of cooking I’d not experienced in years.  See, since the divorce, I’d been getting by on “functional cooking” —  cooking to live, cooking to check the box.  Day-to-day. No joy, no creativity.  This was different.  This effort, stirring the gravy and mashing turnips in a new-to-me kitchen – transported me to my mother’s kitchen.  To Holiday meals and Mom’s and my Grandmother’s tables so lovingly prepared one couldn’t feel anything but gratitude at being included.  To feelings of warmth and happiness and appreciation for everything – the love and the labor, the sweat and the tears, that went into it creating so much magic for all of us.  It was in that moment, on that unorthodox Holiday, when I felt my love of cooking re-ignite. It was there, tasting the turnips, that I gave thanks.

one end of my Grandmother’s Holiday Table, an Emjayandthem (C) picture

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Flash forward to now:  After a visit with our grand-daughter at school yesterday morning, my son and I enjoyed a brief lunch together.   He’s no longer that little tow-headed boy, he towers over me by a foot, and has a family of his own.  He helps them with their mittens and coats.  Full circle.

I told him the story of my unorthodox Thanksgiving holiday so long ago, and how I thought we would all be well served to experience a holiday like that.  I told him that getting through that helped me appreciate where I’m from, and the traditions we enjoy today.

He gently teased me about my “holiday marathons” ~ I pointed out that when I start cooking 2-3 days ahead of the holiday, it’s because I want to.

When I prep multiple appetizers and side dishes, meats and desserts, it’s because I have people to cook for.

And when I decorate the table well before anybody steps foot through the door, I channel all of them: my Mom, My Grandmother, and the other wonderful women of my childhood who did such things for me.

  • Did you ever spend a holiday in an unconventional way? What do you remember from the experience?
  • What traditions are you carrying forward?
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Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Determination, Faith, Family, Food, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Mom, music, News, Opinion, Personal, Recipes, Seasons, Thoughts, Traditions, Wisdom, Women, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Random 5 Sunday – Family, Flea Markets and Pie

It’s Sunday and I was up early with the sunshine, sipping coffee, packing for my week ahead and thinking it’s about time for 5 Random Ramblings from my world.   Pour some coffee and join me, will ya?

1 )   A Family brunch yesterday had a host of familial layers all at the same table: Uncles and Aunts, Cousins and kids, Step-in-laws, son’s girlfriend and me.    Uncle Ron sat next to Hubbs who sat next to cousin Johnny who sat next to me.  Facing them was youngest boy, his girlfriend, an Auntie, Grandpa, a cousin and another Auntie ~ I nodded my head to the youngest ones to get them to look ~ and they caught it — all of the guys, various ages but similar in looks, structure, and all folding their arms up high on their chests, head tilted just so to listen to the  story being told.   The story-telling was being done by another cousin,  directly across from them, whose arms were no longer folded. Like them, when talking, his arms and hands were wide open and out as he drove home the point of the story, “and then they brought ME the mailbox they’d ran over like I’m supposed to go back and fix it!”  Laughter filled the restaurant and diners nearby looked our way, mostly with understanding, one with annoyance but many with longing.  Family.  It’s big and it’s noisy and it’s wonderful. Gotta love it!

2 )  Fall is here and glorious ~ colors are magnificent, the sky is blue and deep and wide and the air is dry and crisp.  It won’t last, I know.  But windows are open, supper is in the crock-pot and I’m loving every minute of it. Fall is my favorite season and I wish it could stay just a little longer …

Many scenes like this one right now google.images.com

3 ) With Fall’s arrival comes the start of indoor trade shows ~ I remember going as a girl with Mom & Dad.  This is shopping I love — wandering around from item to item, chatting with people and trying new things.  The shows we attended were Agriculturally focused with cattle breeders, farm implements and a host of novelty items targeted to the wives and kids accompanying said farmer  ~  the latest & greatest “as seen on TV” gadget,  smoked meats, candles, jewelry, make-up, toys, knives, you name it.  One such event rolled into town this weekend and a friend and I decided to go — and yes we saw the latest & greatest “as seen on TV” gadgets, sampled smoked meats, smelled the candles, laughed at the toys and books and “man-cave” items and more.   The usual suspects were there ~ selling Cinnamon almonds, home-baked goods, and of course, knives.   I came home with jewelry, Avon hand lotion, a pie and some herb-flavored butter.   Fun!

Like this but with 20x the people ~ Shipshewana on the Road

4 ) Traveling this week to a corporate conference ~ I’m looking forward to seeing my colleagues again.  I’m sure to learn a few things and I’ll do my best to avoid snakes (lipstick can’t cover fangs).  Over my working career, I’ve dealt with my fair share of Rats and Snakes and there’s always been a part of me that wants to ask this question, even though another part of me already knows the answer:

“Were you always such a snake,” the child asked, “or did you grow into what you are?”
― Dean Koontz, Odd Apocalypse

5 )  At the Flea Market yesterday I bought my friend and I each a sweet potato pie.  “Uncle Calvin” was selling them and promised the pies were his “Momma’s” recipe. That’s enough for me.

Before anyone freaks out about my non-sweets craving self enjoying a pie, I’ll share some perspective:

“The” pie .. next to my hand 🙂

Yep, I’ll scoop out the contents, skip the crust and enjoy every morsel.  It’s a taste and that’s enough for me.

So what’s new in your world? Had any pie lately?

 

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Faith, Family, Growth, Home, Humor, Joy, Life, Mom, News, Personal, Products I love, Thoughts, Travel, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Random 5 for October – 665, pies and Free Fallin’

It’s Tuesday! It’s Random! It’s time for 5 Randoms in my world.  Ready?  Set?  Go ->

1 )  665 – that’s 665 days without 1 sick day.  I was last sick (bronchial infection/the flu) in December of 2015; I started the 10 day Grain Detox on Jan 4 2016 and lost weight, the fluff & puff, and regained my health.   Cutting out grains cut the inflammation that feeds illness ~ no more seasonal allergies, colds, flu, sinusitis or bronchitis.   It’s not that hard to do and while I was super strict the first 8 months my life shifted with even more travel and I relaxed and leaned into it.  I still (largely) follow the guidelines and – to my amazement – am never sick.  Amazing!   10 days became a lifestyle.

2 )  Death ~ we had a death in the family last week, Hubbs’ Dad.  He had been estranged from the family for many years, and lived far away from all of us, by choice.   Still, it’s never easy to lose a parent, regardless the circumstances.   Someone asked me what he was like and my answer was, “He was a hard man to know.”   And there it is.   But – to clarify – when I write here about time spent with my FIL, I’m writing about Hubbs’ Step-Dad, who lives nearby.   Fathers come in many forms.

3 ) Seasons ~ it’s October and feels like June, with higher than normal temps, skies like September and heat like summer.   Birds and squirrels are as confused as we are!

2 doors down & Taken on my cell phone. An Emjayandthem(C) Photo.

4 ) Travel ~ I have gobs of travel this month – day trips, overnights, and out-of-towns.  Current events make for nervous travelers, watching the crowd, staying alert.    You know what keeps me going?   Too much vacation has to be used again so I’ve booked a week off at Thanksgiving ~  I’ll be reading, pie-making, relaxing and shutting out the world.      It’s good to have goals 🙂

My sister-in-law’s homemade Saskatoon berry pie.

5 )  Tom Petty.  RIP.   So many great songs, all sing-along-able.  This was and is a favorite.   “She’s a good girl, loves her Mama, loves Jesus, and America, too.”   ~ Sigh

And how was your week?

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, Food, Grief, Growth, Life Lessons, Men, music, News, Opinion, Personal, Seasons, Thoughts, Travel, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Random 5 (Lion) Friday

It’s Friday! It’s time for some Random thoughts ~ here we go!

1 )  March roared in like a Lion and …well she’s still roaring.  Yesterday brought freezing rain and lightning, all the same day. Today .. rain and winds.  The grass is greening and the Robins are fat… hmm.  Maybe April will come in like a lamb?

google.images

2 ) Old favorites ~ I put a tee shirt on the other day and laughed because I remember when it was new. 10 summers ago.  I still like it and still wear it but now just around the house ’cause it’s a little worse for the wear.   It’s like an old friend, comfy, soft and forgiving.  It’s from the summer we took Mom on this trip, and that’s the shirt in the picture below. Sissy and I are going again in June and Mom will be with us in spirit, clapping her hands, grinning widely and taking it all in.

One of my favorite pictures of Mom & me… having a Killian’s in Branson, MO.  Summer 2007.

Of course we saw an “Elvis” show! Tony Roi as Elvis was AMAZING!

3 ) I wrapped up 7 consecutive weeks of heavy work travel and meetings.  Yesterday we were asked to set goals for the year – one of the goals surrounds meetings & outreach.  I smiled realizing I’m halfway to the goal.  Yes!!

4 )  It’s Friday.  I can hear the birds singing and my calendar, for the most part, is wide open today.  I have a few projects to tidy up then I’ll hand the reins to another and my team – and be off on v.a.c.a.t.i.o.n.   It’s 34F here and 75F where we’re headed …and there’s not a schedule in sight. Ahhh.

photo courtesy of the Farmers Almanac.

5 )    Amazing. Yes, that’s it.   Ha!

That or glasses!

How about you? What’s the oldest piece of clothing you still wear?  What are you looking forward to?  Have you set any new goals for the year?  Have you amazed yourself lately? 🙂

Happy Spring, peeps!

 

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, Fun, Growth, Joy, Life, Mom, music, Relationships, Thoughts, Travel, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Random 5 Friday

It’s Friday! It’s Random! Here we go:

1 )  Spring?  Summer?  Fall?  Certainly not winter.  We hit 70F this week and yep, you guessed it, snow’s coming back tomorrow.  I think Mother Nature is going through ‘the change.’  Nothing is as usual – grass is green, bugs are out, things are growing – Bam! They’re going to be surprised when the next wallop of snow lands!

2 ) Lots of travel lately – I don’t mind because I am open to and enjoy the random interactions that occur. Example: between meetings in the capital city this week, I grabbed lunch at a little cafe.  I noticed an older gentleman wearing what had to be his finest suit.  He was decked out from coordinated socks to a beautiful tie to his exquisite hat – you don’t see hats much anymore.  As I got up to pay my bill, I complimented him on his handsome hat – a wide grin broke out and we enjoyed a short chat – he was in town in meetings on behalf of a seniors care organization (similar to Meals on Wheels).  He was polished, articulate and commanding;  I can’t imagine anyone saying no to him.  Well the company I work for has a program that seniors can benefit from – he has my card and I have a friend in Mr. William (Bill) Jones.  You just never know where your path will take you;  I’m glad mine took me to him.

3 )  Saw this the other day and it reminded me of my cousin and I – who does this remind you of?  I need to send it to my sister, too – she’ll get it!

laugh-till-you-snort4 ) An Auntie has been dealing with a tough situation over the past few months – my offers to help have been politely declined.  One day last week she contacted me and said “I need your help – I am at my wit’s end.”  The back story is she’d been forced to place her (dementia-afflicted) husband in nursing home care – a decision that was very tough for her to do.  The problem was the home he ended up being placed in was a) too far away, b) not not working for them and c) all efforts to move him closer were regularly thwarted by the (for-profit) center.  As I told her, I don’t know anyone in this world, but I have many contacts and I’ll try. I spent the day on the phone, and by 4pm had his case over to the state regulatory bureau who investigates and licenses nursing homes. (Go big or Go home, my Mom would say!!)    Uncle was moved the next morning, after months of attempts.  The best part was that every (Government)office I called – and every person I spoke to – once they heard their story-  they reacted as I had – with disbelief, anger and a sense of urgency.  It buoyed us all to know that, when given the opportunity, strangers very happily did the right thing … and quickly.   He’s closer, she’s happier, and being able to help her blessed me.   🙂

5 )  And with that, I’m off on my next road trip – but – I’ve timed it so I can meet a friend for lunch on the way back into town today.    Life’s rolling by too quickly and it’s time to carve out some friends time, too.

“Yes, you see, there’s no such thing as coincidence. There are no accidents in life. Everything that happens is the result of a calculated move that leads us to where we are.”
― J.M. Darhower, Sempre: Redemption

What’s random in your world these days?  Met anyone interesting?

 

 

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, Friendship, Growth, Home, Life, Love, Mom, Personal, Quotes, Self Discovery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Stress, horizons and pie

Vacation is on the horizon!

vacation next exitStarting Monday ~ 5 glorious days off with Thanksgiving tossed in for good measure.

Emails will pile up, phone calls will continue, conference calls will be scheduled even though others know I’m away.

“Take the time before you lose the days.”

I now have more vacation time “in the bank” than I have time to use.

Emails continue to come in, fast and furious, hundreds every day.

Calls, meetings, schedules.

Lately I feel like I’m scaling the Grand Canyon on a daily basis…. blindfolded.   I can feel the tension in my shoulders, which now approach my ears. I can feel stress in my heart rate when I lie down at night and can’t quieten my thoughts.

1,000+ miles in the past 10 days, 150 yesterday and another 400 tomorrow – and all the while project calls get scheduled and scheduled and scheduled. “Could you take the lead on this?”  “But you and your team know so much about X” “We want you on this task force…”  Flattering but ..my cup runneth over.

I hear my mother’s voice whispering in my year, “You can’t be everything to everyone, dear.”

My weariness reminds me to shut it down, shut it up and shut them out.

So – vacation is on the horizon … and there shall be pie!

“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.” ― David Mamet, Boston Marriage

*Note: no pies were consumed in the writing of this post.  Pies shall be made for 1) Grandpa (apple), 2) oldest boy (blueberry) and 3) youngest boy (pumpkin).  Will I have any? Not likely. See, the joy is in the creating ~ the cutting, the simmering, the kneading of the dough, Al Green on the stereo and happiness in my kitchen.

Oh so true!

Oh so true!

 

*Are you taking some time off over the Thanksgiving Holiday? What are you looking forward to most?  Is there a pie in your future? 😀

Flapper pie; an Emjayandthem (C) photo

A Flapper pie I baked in Mom’s kitchen ~ an Emjayandthem (C) photo

 

 

Categories: Determination, Food, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Mom, Opinion, Personal, Seasons, Thoughts, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Random 5 Sunday ~ house cats, Chihuahuas, kids menus & donations

Like my summer, October is already flying by!  Driving home from work one night this week I caught my surprise at the brilliant reds already in the trees ~ see, that shouldn’t be happening yet b/c, in my mind anyways, it’s only … August!

Today I’m cooking for my guys and packing for a flight tomorrow – a whirlwind trip to Denver for a conference with colleagues and dinner with the CEO, how lucky am I! 😀

Here are 5 randoms from this beautiful October Sunday:

1 – Since cutting grains I’ve lost just over a House Cat & a Chihuahua in lbs.  What I’ve gained has been so much more – respiratory stability, increased stamina and glowing skin.   I thought this graph was a great illustrator of what stuff weighs.  Rephrased I’ve lost a medium bowling ball & a table lamp+ a couple of books!!  I’ve got some more to go but the best part isn’t the smaller sized jeans it’s NEVER BEING SICK – with tons of stress this year, travel, Mom’s passing, and gobs of sick people around me ~  I. Don’t. Get. The. Crud. Anymore.

Amazing!

how-much-does-this-weigh

2. This made me laugh out loud.   Our dog never did this but I know a few who have – at least they were sorry!

dog-ate-remote

3. I took a personality test a few weeks ago for the conference happening this week ~ the results will be shared, analyzed and we’ll use them to help us learn our team’s personality types and strengths.  I barely remember my answers – oops!

tgif-friday-dog-cute-funny

4. This may be the greatest kids menu ever written!  Truth be told, every time we go out I read the menu then order the exact same thing I ordered last time! You?

best-kids-menu

5  This picture perfectly sums up why I donate vs. sell.   You?

bike-for-sale

Truth!

 

What’s up in your corner of the world?

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Confidence at any age, Food, Fun, Joy, Life, Personal, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Five for Friday and Fall

It’s Friday ~ Whoop!!  A crazy week filled with travel, airports, meetings, people and … whew … not much personal time or space.  Home again and looking at a busy weekend filled with fun outings ~ Yay!

Here’s my Friday Five:

1  Fall has arrived.  My. Favorite. Season.  The mornings are cool & the days are warm.  We have a saying around here:  winter on top, summer on the bottom.  Meaning you can wear shorts & a hoodie most of the time and be perfectly comfy. But you’d better have a tee-shirt under that hoodie for the hot afternoons. And keep it close for when the sun departs.  Fall!!  Colors.  Temps.  Clear Skies.  Apples. Pumpkins. All of it – I. Love. Fall!

Frankie loved Fall

Frankie loved Fall, too (an Emjayandthem (c) photo) ❤

2  I had to take another personality test for an upcoming (work) conference.  I swear they’re trying to decide if you’re a serf or a serial killer.  Underling or a Gladiator.  The questions are so extreme and some are just stupid.  Your choice of answers include: highly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree or highly agree. Here’s a sample question:  I strive to be accurate.   My answer: highly agree.  Isn’t being accurate the point?  You’re either accurate … or you’re not.  Being close, in most situations, doesn’t count. You can’t sort of explain policy.  You can’t kind of return a phone call.  You can’t sometimes make sure formulas work.  You either do … or you missed the mark entirely.  Geez Louise.   Yeah, they’ll probably deduce I’m a highly accurate Gladiator!

russell-crowe-in-gladiator-movie

Is. That. Wrong?

3   At our meetings this week we were asked to introduce ourselves, talk a little about our background and offer up a favorite song, movie and book ~ judging ensued and prizes were awarded.  It was a fun way to get to know the new people in the organization and I was proud that my book choice made it to the final round.  If you’ve never read it, I highly recommend “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Canadian Author Margaret Atwood.  Chilling.

google.images.com

google.images.com

4  I had a layover in Chicago O’Hare where I enjoyed people watching, airport shopping and … buying new books. 🙂    It’s funny to me how the items for sale in an airport fall into 4 categories 1) luggage related, 2) I’m bored and ooh that’s so very sparkly, 3) books and 4) food.  That’s pretty much it.   I passed up the bedazzled briefcase on wheels, the designer cologne and scooped up 2 bestsellers.  Yes!

image from theexaminer.com

image from theexaminer.com

5  I always say this but as much as I love to go~ I love to come home even more. My flight was due to land at 10:30 and I still had to grab my car etc so I texted Hubbs to let him know it’d be 11:30 before I got home and not to wait up.  Sweetest response ever, “I’ll wait up. Be safe”   It’s the little things ❤

 

Happy Friday! Are you also excited for Fall’s arrival?   Do personality tests freak you out?  What’s the most interesting thing you’ve bought in an airport?   If you had to list them – what choices would make it to your top song, book and movie? 

 

Categories: Attitude, Family, Fun, Home, Life, Men, Opinion, Personal, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Random 5 Friday – Carry on, visitors, stories and mittens

It’s Friday and I’m feeling random – here we go!

Traveling this week and found 3 consistencies:

  1. “Carry-on” is a joke.  Everyone carries a bag the size of a couch + at least one more thing.
  2. People smell.  Most don’t mean to, some don’t care, but you just can’t jam that many people into such a tight place without experiencing breath that smells like a goat’s toenail.
  3. Babies cry on planes, their ears hurt, getting huffy about it doesn’t get us there any faster.

Also, I notice different things where-ever I go:

  1. More people, more noise.  Everywhere. Inescapable.
  2. Visitors form a kinship with each other – in the nation’s Capitol the first tip-off are all the name badges, the second are that the people wearing them are the only ones visiting with each other, the “regulars” buzz by in a blur.
  3. Everyone has a story to tell; this week I traveled with a middle-aged lady and an elderly dog, an excited young family, a new father with a shared 4-H background, and an older gentleman with an elegant chapeau. Humanity, gotta love it.

Coming home I noticed the following:

  1. Long lines at McDonald’s; 0 at the salad bar
  2. $6.00 water, $5.00 apple juice and $4.00 bananas, see #1
  3. On the flight to Michigan, someone holding up their hand to point to where they’re from.  Smiling.   Home again.

 

Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

 

mitten state

The Mitten State

 

And how was your week? Any randoms to share?

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Fun, Home, Joy, Life, Opinion, Personal, Thoughts, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Random 5 Sunday – Coyotes, silence and Carpe Diem

It’s Sunday and I’m still in a bit of a fog after being “away” on vacation.  I went home to the family farm in Saskatchewan – to visit Mom, attend a wedding, and catch up with family.  Here are my random 5 thoughts from this past 10 days:

1. Lessons. Other travelers sure were chatty.  On 3 out of 4 flights I had someone older sit next to me and once they learned what I was up to every single one spoke longingly of their departed family members.  Some had a parent or sibling remaining, others had none.  It was not lost on me, as the youngest of 5, that time marches on and there will come a day when I don’t have them anymore.  Coincidences are just His way of remaining anonymous.

2. Time.  I found myself wide awake before 5:00 a.m. most days (that’s 7:00 a.m. in MI) and outside soon there-after. Hitting my 5 mile daily walking goal was a breeze. Most days I walked 6 miles before 9:30!  That time gave me the opportunity to visit with my brother & sister-in-law, chill with the farm dog & kitties, and drink in the intoxicating fragrance of freshly cut hay.  Ahhh.

Stevie the dog and the road to home.  An Emjayandthem (C) photo

Stevie the dog and the road to home. An Emjayandthem (C) photo

3.  Silence.  I hadn’t realized it until I was there but opportunities for meandering conversations with Mom don’t happen as frequently as they used to.  She doesn’t hear as well now and it frustrates her to miss out on things.  And as busy and restless as I tend to be, it was challenging to sit in the stillness with her.  But I’m glad I did because opportunities still came.   Case in point:  The day we left for the wedding city, a 2+ hour drive, I could feel her anxiety and sensed she might pull the pin on our plans.  It took several hours for me to get everything loaded up and once I had her buckled in I asked, “You ready, Thelma?”  Her response? “Let’s do it, Louise!” That – and a fist bump from my 85-year-old Mom – and we were off.   Traversing roads she hadn’t traveled for years I laughed when she chatted and commented the whole way there.  She told me, more than once, that she never could have gone without my help and thanked me time and again for making it so much fun. Priceless!

Me, Mom and my Sissy, Mother of the Bride.  An Emjayandthem(C) photo

Me, Mom and my Sissy, Mother of the Bride. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

4.  Milestones.  We had fun at the wedding but, as we suspected might happen, the excitement and schedule left her a bit weary.  Plans to go out for a birthday supper were changed to a gathering at home instead.  She got into her comfy chair, surrounded by kids and grands, and smiled all afternoon. We enjoyed take-out Chinese food and my sister’s delicious home-made chocolate cake with Opal’s Caramel Frosting .    Between the pictures taken and the smiles shared we all felt a pinch wondering how many more times we’d get moments like this. Not one to dwell on such seriousness, she polished off her Caesar (aka Bloody Mary) and asked that we move outside — it was too hot in the house and she wanted to visit where it was cooler.  In the dusk of twilight, we listened to the yips and yelps of nearby coyotes and Mom had her own “Carpe Diem” moment right there.

Mom's 85th 2015

Mom’s comment: “I’m glad there are 2 big candles instead of 85 small ones!!” An Emjayandthem (C) photo.

5. Appreciation.  Being away from Hubbs made me appreciate him even more. How I missed our daily conversations and comments and humor.  How I missed being able to chat with my boys and get regular updates on their lives. I looked around my childhood bedroom and laughed to myself that the same types of things “saved” there are “saved” in my MI home.  I am my mother’s daughter in a very big way! My first morning back in MI youngest boy commented that he’d always known I did a lot (around here) but he didn’t know how much until he had to do it.  “All I did was clean and tidy up and take care of things and water your plants and look after the pool and … wow you do a lot!”  So as much as I love going away, hey, it’s good to be back home again.

 

*I’ve missed all my blogging friends and am way behind on reading your posts. I’ll catch up as soon as I can – in the meantime – how’s your week been?

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Beauty, Faith, Family, Fun, Growth, Home, Life, Mom, music, Personal, Relationships, Seasons, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Random 5 Tuesday – mixing it up

It’s Tuesday and it’s Random!!  Why not Friday you ask?  Well .. I’m leaving (on a jet plane) tomorrow and my head feels like it’s been in the tilt-a-whirl all day so why not? 😀  Here we go!

1.    You know those people who pack everything all sweet and tidy and arrange perfectly coordinated outfits? Really?  Please send them my way because that is so not me. I tried to work worked a half day and then squeezed in a pedicure (massage chair .. ooh, ahh) then raced home and attempted to jam 7 days of casual + wedding + gift opening wear into one suitcase.  Plus books for Mom. And pretty soon I found myself working up a sweat.  Good grief.  And then it hit me:

i-cant-keep-calm-im-going-home-

2. Speaking of Mom, last night I asked her if there was anything I could bring her.  Her response? “Just bring yourself.” Such a Mom answer!

Oh so true!

There’s pie in my future!

3.  I had everything at work organized, delegated, situated, you name it-ated.  Till this afternoon.  My phone blew up, emails were flying and finally, at 5:00, I shut it off.  My team is rocking and ready to go and I have no doubt everything will be just fine.  Sometimes you have to step away and let people show you what they can do.

light shining

4. Rooting around in my dresser reminded me that I like things neat and organized.  My closet looks pretty good but the dresser is a disaster.    It looks like it barfed out tees, shorts and socks!  I read a preview of this book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” and it reminded me of a conversation with Hubbs:  we’re planning to downsize and, discussing our house and contents, we both agreed there’s not much we’d move.  So if we wouldn’t move it, why do we keep it?   Hmm.

get-your-happy-on-quote-1

5.  Speaking of work, I informed some corporate folks that I will be off the grid.  As in so far off the grid there is no grid.  I won’t have cell phone service or broadband.  I quipped that, unless I put tinfoil on a cow’s ear, anyone who wanted to reach me should have called … last week. 

If you Google "Cow with Tinfoil on his head" this is what you get - HA!

If you Google “Cow with Tinfoil on his head” this is what you get – HA!

And with that, I’m off!

Have a great week, peeps! Look around — what can you get rid of?  Are you an expert at packing?  Ever gone “off the grid?”

*all images from Google.com

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Faith, Family, Fun, Growth, Home, Love, Mom, Personal, Quotes, Random observations, Technology, Thoughts, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Random 5 – Landmarks, Adventures, Immigrants and Connections

So I’m home for a few days before I blast off again (~sigh).  I enjoy what I do but I miss my home.  However, this is my “Triple Crown” week – the last of three with me traveling, yay! With that, here are my random observations over the past seven days:

1) Flying into Newark a week ago, I looked up from my book to take in a birds-eye view of One World Trade Center.  *Chills*.  The last time I was in the NY metro area, I was on a flight bound for Texas.  Oldest boy and I were moving with my job, Hubbs and I had fallen in love but were still just dating, albeit long-distance.  When I last looked out at that skyline …. our towers were still there.   And then, off to the right, I saw her – Lady Liberty.   And that new tower and her presence gave me comfort.

lady liberty

2. I’ve written a lot about saying YES to things I want to do – experiences, relationships, you name it.  First, I had to learn how to say “no,” and doing that helped me make space for more joy.  My flight got into D.C. early enough on Sunday that I had several hours to explore The Smithsonian Museums or stay in my room and work.  It didn’t take me long to head out into the throngs of people!

the count

Imagine my delight at discovering “The Count” at the Museum of American History? 🙂

3.  During a chat with a Senate staffer Tuesday a colleague and I were given passes to the Senate and House Galleries.   Several layers of security screenings later we found ourselves up in the Senate chamber watching votes being cast.  No pictures allowed and when I began jotting down names of Senators –  Stabenow, Peters, Paul, Franken, McCain, McDonnell, Feinstein and more …I felt a tap on my shoulder and a directive to stop writing.  Oops.  It was kind of like when you go on vacation, sometimes it’s best to just put the camera down and let your mind freeze frame the moment.  Later, as we exited the Capitol, we stepped out into a sea of K9 units, with barriers up and police officers everywhere — there had been a threat called in and the response was immediate.    This is a photos I was allowed to snap – Justice and History.    It’s fitting I think.

History and Justice sculpture_the Capitol

The sculpture Justice and History is located above the Senate bronze doors on the Capitol’s East Front. The draped female figures of Justice and History recline against a globe. Justice holds a book inscribed “Justice / Law / Order” in her left hand; her right hand rests on a pair of scales. History holds a scroll inscribed “History / July / 1776.”  source: http://www.aoc.gov

4.  We took taxis everywhere and I have a stack of receipts several inches high to show for it.  When the opportunity presented itself, I asked my drivers about their lives as I could tell most were immigrants.  I led with the fact I had been an immigrant once and sharing that opened the floodgates to conversation.  The countries they came from (Ghana, Sudan, Ethiopia, Nigeria,  Zimbabwe) were different from mine but their story was not.  Many spoke of previous careers as engineers, scientists, and mechanics.  All spoke of their families, hopes, dreams and happiness at just being here.  If you ever find yourself disillusioned with the state of things, take a taxi ride with a Ghanian engineer who plays classical music while joyfully pointing out landmarks and incredulity at his “most lucky life.” -Direct quote.

taxi

5.  A highlight of the week was meeting my blogging friend Dianna and her husband, Motor Man, on Thursday.   Last year when I blogged about visiting D.C. she mentioned they lived nearby (a 3 hour drive!) and that she’d love to meet up.  I tucked that comment away and this year, as my trip approached, I made contact and soon plans were formed.  It’s difficult to put into words what our meeting meant to me.  First I have to share Hubbs’ commentary: “You know this is how people go missing and end up dead, right?”  The same man who champions my work successes and pushes me to get in there and “show those boys how it’s done” was convinced meeting strangers was a terrible idea.  I couldn’t believe they were going to drive all that way for little old me!  And, when thinking about it, the only ones who ever had were: 1) Hubbs, 2) my sissy and 3) my cousin.

When I saw Dianna’s smiling face, we both rushed to share a hug and then another and maybe even a tear or two.  Over lunch, and in between a host of stories,  I spoke of Hubbs’ trepidation and her hubby teased “text him and tell him you’re in the trunk!” HA!   The conversation flowed, laughter came easily, and we talked about our backgrounds and updates on our lives and families.

Why did I make the trek to meet with people I don’t know? Here’s the rub: I did know.  I know, through her blog, that she is a loving wife to him and Momma bear to her son and others she cares for.  I know, through her encouraging words to me and others, that she is a kind and caring person.  I know, through our shared experiences and easy camaraderie, that she is someone with whom a soul connection just comes naturally.  Sometimes you just know and this was one of those times.

dbmj3-6-11-2015-12-39-28-pm1

Dianna & me. “Soul connections are not often found and are worth every bit of fight left in you to keep.” -Shannon L. Alder

And how was your week?  What have you said YES to lately?  Have you ever made a soul connection in an unusual way?  When was the last time you took a risk and how did it turn out?

 

 

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Friendship, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, Quotes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

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