Sunday, September 4, 2016

Summer of Travel


Is summer really gone?  Ah, yes.  I am back in the classroom now, back in the serious shoes, so, yes, I guess it is gone. 

As a teacher I have those glorious stretches of time known as summer vacation. Ever in need of some sort of structure in my life, I have in the past assigned a theme to my summers.  I am a hard-working pony, but one that needs fences around the very large ranch of summer, lest I wander off and become completely feral.  

In the past I had Summer of Service, Summer of Reading, and Summer of Health.  This summer was Summer of Travel. 

Thanks to the internet, planning trips is ridiculously simple.  It’s fun and easy to prop yourself up with five pillows, computer on your lap, calendar on your right and credit card to your left, and plan trips from the comfort of your bed. 

I first planned a trip to Portland on the train, simply because I wanted to travel on a train and sleep on one.  Brian was game.  I booked a trip on the Coastline Starlight.  The next trip to was to see my niece and her family in San Antonio.  She had recently moved there, has adorable children and Southwest was kind enough to offer me a nice fair.  Boom.  Done.  Next my friend Jim mentioned to me that he wanted to go to San Diego to see the Shakespeare exhibit there.  Why drive when you could take a train ride?  Next, I planned a trip to Kansas to see a friend and pick up two of my sisters and a niece and drive to Oklahoma to see another sister.  Road trip!  Our final trip was to Boston to see Brian’s son and daughter-in-law.  Five glorious days in Boston?  Yes, please.

My summer of travel was a great success.  I spaced out the trips so I had time between each one.  I loved all the beauty I saw along the way.  The adventure of getting places was a bonus.  

On our trip to Portland I sat in the observation car and saw the beauty of the Cascades.  In Texas we explored streams and woods.  Kansas and Oklahoma were gorgeous.  Ever a Midwest girl at heart, my heart fills up when I see rows and rows of corn, and long sweeping vistas of green, gold and blue.  The bustle of San Diego was fun.  I stood and looked at a 400 year-old collection of Shakespeare’s work, open to one of my favorite passages from Hamlet and thought I would weep.  Then on to Boston.  What an incredible city.  We walked Freedom Trail, went to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument, and rowed a boat out on one of the large ponds there.  

Yes, I saw some beautiful scenery and breathtaking historical monuments.  However, a letter from my friend Jim got me thinking about my Summer of Travel. Jim wrote that he loved the Shakespeare exhibit but his favorite part of the trip was playing cards with me on the train.  I smiled because I had thought the same thing.

Portland was great but my fondest memory is sitting with Brian on the train, holding hands and talking, watching the scenery go by.  

My favorite times in Texas?  Sitting on the floor, reading books to my great-niece and my great-nephew, their little bodies leaning into mine as we read book after book.  Their tiny hands turned the pages; their bright voices sang to me as they asked questions and laughed. 

Boston was one big, beautiful city and yet, the memory that comes to me time and time again is sitting around the table with Brian’s son and daughter-in-law, at their home talking about nothing in particular, just being together and laughing.  

I thought about my trip to Kansas and realized that my favorite part was hearing my sisters’ voices drifting through the night air as we settled in our beds, calling out to each other and giggling ourselves to sleep, just as we had long ago, in another house very far away.


The deck of cards passed between old, familiar friends, that square of carpet with books spread out and children nestled, waiting for the stories within, the hands that hold ours as we pass through tunnels,  those familiar faces around the table, the sweet voices wafting across the air to wish us happy dreams. That’s where the real sweetness in life is. 

It’s true I traveled thousands of miles across land this summer, but more importantly, I traveled deeper within life.  Those are the journeys that matter the most.   

I am grateful for it all.



Rowing with Phil and Brian.


Swimming with the sisters.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Summer of Travel: San Antonio

My summer travels continued to Texas when I went there to visit one of my nieces and her family.



Aren't they cuties?



Felicity, my great-niece!























Turner loved the construction equipment I brought him,
and I loved watching him play with them.



The area around their home was so beautiful.  


Sonic Stop!

I loved spending time with my special peeps!


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Summer Travels: Portland

This was a summer of travels for me.  The first trip I took was with my husband, that fabulous man.  

I had always wanted to take a train trip and so we took off to Portland.  




The trip took about 26 hours.  It was so much fun traveling in our roomette.  If you've never taken a train trip, I recommend it.  The views out the window were really fabulous.

Once we got to Portland, we set out to see the city.  




Of course we stopped at Voodoo Doughnuts.


Brian got the voodoo man and reported that he was delicious.


We traveled all over the city and saw wonderful sights.  We always try to see the library in whatever city we visit.  Portland's did not disappoint.


Beverly Cleary's books played a huge part in my childhood, so naturally, I went bananas when I saw this section of the library.

Brian and I had such fun in Portland.  It was a great way to kick off the summer.

More travel reports to come!


Monday, August 8, 2016

Fair Time!




Look who is sticking her nose back into blogland again after a month's absence.  Yes, it's me, fresh from a trip to the fair.

Our county has a great fair.  The grounds are right next to the ocean and palm trees line the walkways.  It's a lovely way to spend the day.

Let's get started, shall we?




(I could post about 100 pictures of goats.  Be glad you are getting the condensed version here.  I am crazy about goats and fair time is the only time I get to drool over them for an extended period of time.)




Bears who hang around.





Real Horse




Carousel Horses




Balloons



Pole Placement Fail (At least for the fish taco stand)



We had a great time at the fair.

I'll be back with more excitement soon!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Beach Read Day!


Even though we live near the ocean, three of my friends and I decided we don't go to the beach enough, so we organized a Beach Read Day.

We packed up and headed out!



We came prepared! 




Before reading though, we had to get that sand between our toes and and enjoy watching the waves. 




Then before picking up our books, we decided a stroll along the beach was in order.  
This guy decided to join us!




Seriously, were we supposed to be looking down at our pages when there were the flocks of pelicans to watch overhead?




Of course we would read soon, but first we had to chat about what we had been doing in the three days since we had seen each other.




Well, maybe Beach Read Day did turn into Beach Gab Day, but at least our books got out of the house and enjoyed the scenery as well!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

It's Puzzling

(You know Betty is living a wild life when she devotes an entire post to her thrill at putting together a puzzle.)

I came across this the other day in a store and bought it for a puzzle-loving friend of mine, but then I was too intrigued by it to give it away.



I hadn't done a puzzle for a very long time.  Why not just start this 1000 piece one?





As you can see, I had some help.  Zelda was right there to lend a paw.




Until it was nap time, of course.




My son and daughter-in-law soon got in on the action.  I discovered that I was completely drawn in by this activity.  

(That is another way of saying I was a complete nut--staying up late, getting up early, getting sharp, shooting pains in my neck and shoulders and still continuing to search for the piece that looked like the state of Missouri and had part of a green Ju-Jube on it.)

I think more puzzles are in my future!  Woo-Hoo!  Watch out world!



Sunday, July 3, 2016

Sipping Our Childhoods




I stood in the aisle of Galco's Old World Grocery trying not to cry.  It's not every day a soda standing on the shelf in a grocery store can reduce me to tears, but when my son pointed out the Grapette, well, I pretty much lost it in the store.  





The owner of the store came up and looked at me.  "Grapette?" he said.  I nodded.  "This is the good stuff, not the kind from Walmart.  You gotta go to Guatemala for this.  They are the only ones who have the original formula now."

I stood there and picked up one of the bottles, feeling the way it fit into my hand and my mind went back to a hot July day in Kansas when I was six.

My father was a busy farmer and didn't have much time to spend with me, his fifth daughter, especially during the prime daylight hours.  However, on this day he let me ride the three miles to town with him on the tractor.

The John Deere pop-popped down the rock road, then turned on the paved road into town.  Cars passed us occasionally and meadowlarks flew overheard.  I did not envy either.  I wanted the ride to last forever.  I was riding high, perched on the front of the plywood board that made up the seat of the tractor.  My father sat behind me, his strong hands on the black steering wheel.

Once in town, we got down off the seat and went to the pop machine in front of the lumber yard.  I rarely got soda so I was amazed when Daddy slid the quarter into the machine, opened the small side door and pulled out that bottle of Grapette.  Using the bottle cap opener on the machine, he popped off the lid and handed me the slick, ice cold bottle.

I did not realize it then, but now I think I can safely say that no drink in the world, either before that moment or after that moment ever tasted as good as that one.  It was not the sweetness of the drink as much as the sweetness of the moment.

I was safe.  I was on a grand adventure. I was with my daddy.





As I stood there in the store, holding that bottle, Brian was across the store, holding a bottle of Green River, a drink his father used to buy for him as a treat.  Needless to say,  when we left the store, we had our treasures.





Yesterday on the patio, we opened them up, breathed in the smell and then sipped the sweetness.





It all came back--all of it--retrieved from the distant past.  We sat, side-by-side, each in our own lovely bubble of memory, smiling, feeling lucky and grateful and maybe, just maybe, a little melancholy too.

Cheers to all.