Thursday, January 31, 2008

Let it Snow!

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!  Yes, that is a Christmas song, but our trusted weather experts tell us that we are going to get snow 8-12 inches before it stops snowing  tomorrow noon.

The rest of the song says " The weather outside is frightful but the fire is so delightful, since we've no place to go Let it snow let snow let it snow!"  

So I am thinking that if we really get all this snow and when I wake up tomorrow if I am looking at 7-12 inches of snow on the driveway,  I may just stay home and curl up with a book by a blazing fire.

I will have to haul in some firewood as soon as I get home!  Just in case.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Returning to my childhood

I spend a great deal of time these days thinking about when I was a little girl. Maybe I am bored or just plain tired of the way the world is these days and I want to return to a time when life was fun and so much simpler.  

Right now I am thinking of A&W Rootbeer.  My new favorite soda is Diet A&W Rootbeer.  I treat myself to one once a week now.  I try not to drink so much soda these days and I have gone to diet because I am watching my blood sugar levels.  So I indulge with a Diet A& W rootbeer and a bag of popcorn once a week while watching a movie.

I think about the days when I was a little girl and my mommy and daddy would load us into the station wagon and take us to the A& W stand.  We could order from the car and they would bring out my baby root beer in a frosty mug.  Life could not get sweeter than this!  

I had a simple and very happy childhood.  Small things like going for a rootbeer were so much fun.   I try now that I live in this world were instant gratification is expected most of the time, and things seem to cost so much, to remember how good life was with the simple pleasures.  It costs me less than $2 to enjoy a diet A& W, a bag of popcorn and a good movie! For these times I am most grateful. 

Against the Wind

"I'm older now but still running against the wind"  Bob Seeger

I have been in love with Bob Seeger for a long time.  I saw Bob Seeger at the St. Louis Ice Arena, a long time ago.  The St. Louis Ice Arena;  that sounds so wonderful.  It was a great building where the Blues played hockey and they held concerts at other times.  A time before large corporations bought out everything and changed all the names of the event places to things like the United Center or  the Scott Trade Center and turned the sporting events into extremely large advertising venues.  You can hardly miss all the advertisements if you go to a Blues game now. The St. Louis Ice Arena was imploded years ago , but it held many great memories for me.

But I digress.  Bob Seeger has a great gravelly rock voice and is a terrific storyteller.  My dad got me a Greatest Hits Cd for Christmas.  It has many of the songs I love from the vinyl albums that I still have stored at home.  Against the Wind is one of my favorite songs. I have always been running against the wind.  It seems I always do things the hard way.

I got married when I was 20 years old.  Stopped going to college, married, had a baby and was divorced after 3 years.  Then I went back to school and got a degree, while I worked all day and raised a 15 month old child and my little brother ( because we had lost our mother when he was only 10 years old).

Then after trying to get it right the second time, I waited 9 years to get married again. I dated a lot of guys.  After finding one that I really thought I connected with,  I got married and had two more wonderful children.  But I was still running against the wind, as I decided to stay home and raise my children while my husband went to school and finished up his masters and then his doctorate.  

At the time I thought it was a grand idea, and I wouldn't trade the years I got to stay home and be a full time Mom for anything,  but I find myself "Older now and still running against the wind", as my husband left 7 years ago, after 17 years of marriage, for another woman.  I am trying to survive on a lower salary and keep things stable in my life and the lives of my girls. 


Which brings me to what I really wanted to blog about,  the weather!

The wind here in Urbana was so wonderful and strange last night.  Regena had to work and needed a ride home at 9:30pm.  Now I am happy to oblige her as I get to have a chat and she brightens up my life.  I dropped her off at work at 5:30pm, went home and ate and showered and snuggled up with a book until House came on.  House is my favorite tv show now  I think.
I watched House while the wind seemed about to burst through my bedroom window!  

When I went out at 9:15pm to drive the few miles to Pages for all Ages, I was amazed out how the world looked.  It was beautiful and eerie.  Lots of clouds and amazing wind gusts.  A small amount of snow on the roadway.  But with the cold temperatures and the wind and the snow, I felt like I was in a scene from Dr. Zchivago.   As I was driving through the country the snow was coming down and blowing and the lights of Savoy had an eerie yellow blurry glow.  It looked like I was looking at the world through the lens of a camera with a filter on it.  

I sat waiting for her to come out and the wind was blowing so hard I thought the car might just blow away!    Anyway it was really amazing and I just love to chat with my girl.  When I got home I suggled up with the book again and listened to the wind howl.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born" Anais Nin
I really love this quote. It so eloquently expresses how I feel about my friends.  I am fortunate to have many friends. I have friends that are always there for me. I have friends that share my love of food and drink. Friends that I can share my  love of movies and theater with. Friends that I feel comfortable sharing my deepest secrets and fears with.  Friends that I can talk about hockey with. Friends that will get on an historic carousel with me, while all the other riders have small children! That same friend will stand up at the 4th of July fireworks celebration and dance to the music with me, when everyone around is not!  Friends that bring new ideas to me, like starting this blog! Friends that get me through the day.

Some of my friends are actually relatives.  I count my sister as my dearest friend.  We may be different, but I still count her as my friend.
I feel very lucky indeed.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Men; I seem to spend a good amount of time thinking about them.  

I would like one that looks like this!  

Okay just kidding,  I would like one that looks like Johnny, but I would settle for
a decent, caring, unselfish regular guy.  Unfortunately those seem hard to come by.
I have given the most popular internet dating sites a fair chance.  I am here to say, they aren't very good.  The sites tell you to broaden your ranges of age, increase the distance you are willing to search and any other thing they can to try to get matches for you so they don't look like failures.  

Well I tried all those things , even though I really don't want a 65 year old man that lives 2 hours away!  I met about 15 men in a 3 year period and I AM STILL SINGLE!

My experience with men is that they are fundamentally self centered and selfish.  That being said, I do have a list of very excellent men!  Men that care as much about their wives and families as they do about themselves.  Men that don't think that their wants are all important above everything else.   Here they are:

My Dad.  Can't say enough about him.  As a child growing up I learned how men are supposed to treat the woman they love and the family they  created.  It is the standard that I have gone by. Unfortunately, neither of the two men I  married lived up to the standard.

My brothers Pat and Mike.   They both have very nice families and have been good husbands and fathers.

My brother-in law Pat.  My sister is a very lucky woman!

My nephew, Pat.  

My cousin Jerry.  I have recently reconnected with my cousin.  He is the 6th out of 8 children in his family and is the cream of the crop in that family.  He is a kind and gentle spirit, and he reminds me of his mother, my Aunt.  He is a good father and has two very great children.

My friend Mike; in today's world which is much harder to live in than the one I grew up in,  Mike is the best dad and husband that I know.  I love to hear stories of his kids and the fun things they do together.  Mike is still the guy he was before the wife and kids, he has just added another facet to himself.

My friend Wendy's husband Jim,  and my friend Brenda's husband John.  

The stories I hear of these hard working family men  keep hope alive for me that maybe someday I can find a really decent, caring, unselfish guy.  

Saturday, January 26, 2008

My inner child

I often get this e-mail from my friends.  In the e-mail you have to answer 10-15 questions about yourself.  Now depending on the day of the week, or the month of the year or just the present moment, some of my answers will be different.  

Two of the answers are always the same:  What is your favorite color,  answer:  now and forever  GREEN.   What was your favorite toy as a child, answer:  now and forever CHATTY CATHY!

Imagine the joy on my face when I got an e-mail from my friend Eve, and the subject was remember when?  There was my beloved Chatty Cathy just as she looked when I was a little girl.

I spent many loving hours pulling that string and chatting with Cathy!  I always was so happy to hear Cathy say "I love you" or "Please brush my hair"!  I was a very happy and well loved little girl, a little on the spoiled side.  I had a loving mom and a really terrific dad.  I loved to play with my dolls and all the stuff that went with them.  I was always every bit a girly girl!

I think it is good now that I am an adult, to always remember to connect with my inner child.  Remembering when is a game I love to play.

I am going to connect with my inner child next month (February, my least favorite month of the year:  probably a future post)  when I have my girl friends in for a night of games, munchies, drinks  (okay that one is on an adult level), and movies! 

Oh if only I could find my beloved Chatty Cathy again!  But she would probably be in an antique store!!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Oh I forgot

Well this is part of that state of being,  forgetfulness.   I wanted to share this great quote in the last blog.  I think it is worth sharing, so here it is:  

 "We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us"  Joseph Campbell

I just love that one and I have been trying to live up to it.

Empty Nest

Last evening I was reflecting on this strange state of being that I have entered. 

Empty Nester: A parent whose child has left home.

Well I am cannot really be considered an empty nester quite yet.  But my 
nest is feeling rater empty.  One of 3 children is totally flying on his own. The 2 of three is 98% flying on her own  and 3 of three has couple more years at home, but is living in a dorm at present!

My reflections led me to that place where I know I am not supposed to be alone.  This time in life is when I was supposed to be doing things with that man I fell in love with and raised these adorable children with, who now have much more time for.   Well life does not always turn out the way one expects.   Mark Twain said "The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself"  In that respect I am not that lonely.   I  am longing for that male companion  who understands me and shares some of the empty times.

I am feeling a little like this bird in the photo,  the nest is empty (nearly) and I am stuck on a ledge.

Happy times tonight however, because Friday is Hockey Night in Urbana!

Thursday, January 24, 2008


"I've never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting."  Mark Twain

For many, many years I was exactly like Mark Twain.  Exercise
bah, I walked and cleaned house. I hated exercising, or being told I should!

Well, now that I am older and wiser, I have realized that maybe exercise is a good thing!
As my cholesterol numbers climbing the charts, and the doctor kept telling me to get some exercise, a fantastic thing happened to me.  

A co-worker mentioned a new workout place very close to our building.  The most exciting part was that is was affordable.   For only $10 a month, I can work out at WORK OUT 24 as often as I wish.  They even provided a trainer at no extra cost.

Well 45 weeks ago I signed up and got started!  Guess what,  I love exercising!!
I never would have believed those words would come out of my mouth.  I go to the gym 5 days a week (well sometimes I only get there 4 days).  I have a weight training program that I follow including weight machines and free weights.  I also do cardio on the elliptical jogger for 30 minutes a day.  If something comes up that I can't get to the gym ( which I don't let happen too often)  I really miss it.  

I am amazed at how toned my muscles are now and how much better everything feels.  Oh my lower back still hurts and probably always will , but as long as I stretch, I am good to go!

So here I am at 52 extolling the virtues of exercise!   It really is the poor woman's plastic surgery!    I really hope that when I get the blood test for cholesterol, that all this wonderful exercise pays off.  It certainly has paid off in other ways!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Feeling Sad

Well I really want this blog to be upbeat and optimistic, except this morning I am not feeling upbeat.  Movies and actors are among my favorite things in life.  I really should have been a film critic, or involved in the entertainment world in some way.  I truly love the art of film.

The entertainment world lost a promising young actor yesterday.  I was working out on the elliptical jogger and staring stupidly at the television as I counted down to 30 minutes of jogging. I saw a photo of Heath Ledger on the screen and the terrible caption Heath Ledger found dead in NYC.   I felt so shocked and saddened that I almost couldn't finish out the 30 minute jog.

What a waste of a life. He was 28 years old and apparently took a drug overdose.  I will miss his brilliant smile and his talent for making characters become real.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Have I forgotten something?

This weekend I had a wonderful time. All of my children where home. We went to the hockey game on Friday. Everything seemed right with the world.  I didn't get much done around the house but that was okay.  I went to the ballet on Saturday with Regena, Swan Lake, my favorite.

Then I had a day off on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. Well I am here to say that so much variance in my routine was not good for my menopausal memory!  I forgot several things.  I am not used to forgetting things.  I had made and appointment to have my will written at 9:00am on Monday morning.  I put it on my ICalendar with an alarm to remind me to go. The only problem is that I wasn't at work on Monday morning at 8:45am. In fact I was sleeping in at home since I didn't have to go to work!

Well I remembered at 11:15am that I had missed an appointment, so I called and confessed what a nut I had been and they rescheduled me for 1:30pm.  I felt really bad though. So I got the will thing done.

Regena had called to ask me for a ride to work at 4:40pm. Unfortunately she called me early in the day.  I picked Janet up at around 2:30pm so she could pick up her laundry that she had done at home on Sunday.  Then I went back home and made a fire in the fireplace and started doing some of the chores I had set out for Monday.  I had gotten out some boxes that I have been saving for years and years, of things that belonged to Ryan, Regena and Janet.  I took a walk down Memory Lane.  Looking at the little outfits that I had saved from when Ryan was a baby, made me tear up. Well Ryan didn't really want any  of those things, as he has no plans to have children.  So I had all of these things laid out all over the family room, trying to figure out what in the world I should do with it all. Regena and Janet got into all of their old books on Sunday, I guess we all needed to walk down Memory Lane, and those are still in the family room. Well I am digressing; back to the story...

I was all busy arranging things and enjoying a warm fire when Regena called at 4:45pm.  "Are you not on your way?" Regena said.  I thought "oh crap". I told her "Good thing you called, I'll be there in a few minutes."  Well she was only 5 minutes late for her job! But I felt terrible.  I never used to forget anything.

So the moral of this story is for menopausal women, make lots of notes and don't vary your routine!

Friday, January 18, 2008

...From whence cometh my help

"I look to the hills from whence cometh my help"  Mother Superior says this to Maria in The Sound of Music.  Now Mother Superior could tell you exactly where in the Bible to find that verse, but alas I cannot.  I am a fervent believer in all things divine but I can't tell you where to find bible verses.

What I can say is that you never know from whence your help cometh. The idea of dealing with the car has been hanging over my head like a hawk over a field mouse.  It has been coloring all my moods.  I was chatting with  Ed, our building maintenance guy and he went out side and showed me how to fix the darn blinker!  I went to the auto parts store and bought a bulb and Ed is going to put it in for me!  

I am just amazed at how kind some people are!

It's Hockey Night in Urbana!

A long time ago, in a state not to far away, lived a little boy named Ryan.  Ryan was a bright, sensitive, intelligent, imaginative boy. He lived in a townhouse, in the University of Michigan's family housing unit on McIntyre Drive.  Ryan met some friends. One of his friends, Etienne was from Quebec.  Ryan began to play sidewalk hockey with his friend.  Ryan's mom was a stay at home mom with a 5 month old baby girl Regena.  Ryan's mom started babysitting for a sweet little girl named Katie, so that she could make a few extra dollars to buy Ryan a pair of hockey style roller skates  and Regena a Radio Flyer wagon.  Ryan loved hockey!

Every Friday night is Hockey night in Canada.  Living so close to the Canadian border, there was always ice hockey available to watch.  Ryan's mom learned to love ice hockey too. And now I can't get enough of it.

Tonight the Illini Hockey club takes on Kent State at the Big Pond.  Ryan, his mom, Regena and his other sister Janet will be there to watch the action.  There are not many games left and this is the first time Ryan has been able to come to Urbana and attend the game with his family.
The thought of being with my three favorite people at my favorite sport venue makes me feel really happy.  It almost makes the fact that I have to leave work early to go get that blinking blinker fixed, bearable.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cars Could we learn to live without them?

When I was a little girl I used to sit on the fender of the car and watch my Uncle Ray fix whatever  problem we were having at the time.  I thought my Uncle Ray was really the best thing ever.  He taught me all the parts of the internal combustion engine when I was 5.  He also used some language I wasn't used to hearing.   I have lost a lot of the knowledge I gained as a little girl of 5, but I never realized how often I would have to tap that bank of knowledge that was left.

My single least favorite thing about being single in my 50's is having to deal with cars and the problems they have.  Automobiles are a status symbol for many people.  For me, they are a way to get from one place to another.  Being a child of the 70's when energy use was a daily concern, I want to have an efficient automobile. I am driving a 1995 Dodge Spirit.  It has 96,000 miles on it. It gets decent gas mileage. Things are starting to fall apart, but the engine is running great.  I no longer have an indicator on the dashboard for which gear I am in, but that is not so bad because anyone with a brain, who has been driving for 36 years knows that the first click is reverse, the second neutral and the third drive.  So as long as I can still count, I am not investing in getting that fixed.  Now the right blinker doesn't blink!  The light comes one, but no blinking.  I am thinking it is a fuse.  But, here is the part I hate,  where does one go to get a blinking light fixed?  Do I take it to the ever trustworthy Hanson Auto, but they charge a flat rate of 70$ and hour for labor.  I also have a small leak in the left rear tire.   Where can I go to get both of those things taken care of?  

These car worries can take up a lot of energy and time.  Time I would rather use reading a book! I took the car to Jiffy Lube to get the oil changed yesterday after work.  The technician said I could use a new air filter,  and he was right!  Don't think that had been changed for awhile and it looked totally wasted!   He seemed amazed that everything else in the engine looked good. I told him, "That's why I hang on to the car"    I don't see any reason to have to go out and pay good money for a car payment when Hero, (that is what Janet named our car) gets us where we need to go.  And dead cars just pile up in junkyards.  

So I am hanging on to Hero, dealing with  all the tedious car care issues and being grateful I have transportation.  But I am keeping my eye out for a guy, who will take care of my car, talk with me about books, movies, theater, is helpful in the kitchen, will mow my lawn, listens when I talk, gives massages, likes to snuggle and is generally pleasant to be around.  At 52 I think my chances of finding him are growing slimmer!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Sweet Smell of Roses

We got on the bus!  Yes, December 31, 2007 we were off to Pasadena again.  This morning we had a leisurely breakfast sitting by the Koi Pond.  I had a chocolate muffin and coffee from the Koi Cafe. The fish were swimming and the turtles sunning on rocks.  It was very relaxing.  We had a delay with people who were late coming down to the bus.  In fact, some one had to go into the hotel and get them from their rooms.  So we were one of the last buses to get to the Kickoff Luncheon and Hall of Fame induction. The luncheon was sponsored by Trader Joes.  The lunch was a cold one and was waiting for us at our assigned tables.  It was delicious.  We had chicken and beef, green salad and pasta salad and a decadent chocolate cake.  We all got a souvenir football ( a small one, table decoration) and a really neat tote bag from Trader Joe's.  Boy did that come in handy hauling all the loot back from California.  You see I had forgotten to leave any room in my suitcase!

Brent Musberger was the announcer for the Hall of Fame,  Emeril was the Grand Marshall of the Rose Parade and he spoke too.  We heard from both coaches and heard both bands.  The Orange and Blue section of the Marching Illini really revved up the crowd.  They so out played and out revved!  those Trojans.

After lunch we got back on the bus and left for Santa Monica.  We walked and shopped and went back to the Pier and walked back to the hotel along the beach.   When we reached the hotel we got out of our Orange clothing and got dressed for supper at The Grille.  The setting was lovely, we looked out on the pool. I ate Squash Latte with grilled Camebert and apple butter for an appetizer.  Then I had Loch Duarte Seared Salmon with rock shrimp chowder and flat leaf pesto.  Wow was it tasty!  The chef came around to check and see if everything was cooked to our liking.  The prestentation was so lovely I felt like I was on an episode of Top Chef!  I did find it shocking that I had to pay $18 for one glass of wine,  I mean really it was just wine, nothing special!  At 8:30 the piano player began to play.  The staff brought us party hats.
After dinner we relaxed in the room and I celebrated the New Year at 10:00pacfic time because that would be 12:00 central and that is when my girls were celebrating.  Then I tried to get some sleep because January 1 would be a long day!!  Sandy stayed up repacking some of her things.

We got up at 5:00 am to get on the bus for the Rose Parade.  There were 12 buses of Orange clad fans from the 3 hotels in Santa Monica!   The bus parking lot was jammed bus to bus.  I couldn't figure out how we were ever getting out of there!  We walked to our grandstand seats but it took a while to get everyone in there because we had to step around all the native Californians who had slept on the street to get to see the parade.
The parade  was really fun to watch. Seeing the floats completed and what thinks opened up and moved on each float was  neat to watch.  The transforming Honda truck that went from a desert road vehicle to a flying space machine complete with pilot was amazing.  Our bus had been held up by the Honda float turning around, the day before as we were going to the Kickoff Luncheon. It took the entire intersection and parts of two streets to turn the thing around.
The Portugese American float got a flat tire right as it approached where we were sitting.  The guys in white suits came with ther walkies and a tow truck backed up down the parade route from the closest side street.  While they were hooking the float up, the Honor Band that was marching behind them, divided and went around the float  and never missed a beat or a step.  
Then we had to find a bus that was going to the Tailgate.  Well we were the second to last bus to get to the tailgate and due to poor planning by the catering company there was no food left when we got there.  There was lots of food left on plates by people who had taken more than they could eat, but alas there was nothing for us.   I expect that all of us who didn't get to eat will be getting a reimbursement for the high cost of those tickets.   Captain Rat and The Blind Rivets were very entertaining and the Orange and Blue Marching Illini played for us again.
Then we entered the stadium!  I am not a crowd person, but I wasn't going to miss this.  The stadium is nestled in the mountains and is quite beautiful on the outside.  It could use some better bathrooms however.   What can I say, the Orange filled the end of the stadium,  our fans had great spirit and really didn't loose it even though the team performed rather miserably.  By the time we boarded the bus I was ready to get back to the hotel. All I had eaten all day was a muffin a banana, a nutrigrain bar and 6 oz of orange juice.  Oh yes and at the Tailgate they finally brought out some rather nasty pasta salad, and we got a little of that.
We walked to the promenade and ate at Johnny Rockets,  old fashioned burgers and shakes!
Then to the hotel to pack and get ready to go home.  As much fun as I had I was really ready to go.  After some delay at LAX,  that is a long story,  we took off.  

Unfortunately I picked up a nasty virus in California and lost my lunch about an hour from Champaign.  I then proceeded to bring that nasty virus into my home and on Friday both my girls had it to.  It took four days to run its entire course.  
Well that is the end of my travel diary!  Next post will be entirely new!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Roses Seeds and Floats

We got in the bus.  That is absolutely the best way to travel in Southern California the first time one gets to visit.  I could look around and see everything without having to figure out where I was going.  We went from Santa Monica to Pasadena.  I saw street names and cities I knew from movies, and the cities blend into one big metropolis.  
When we arrived in Pasadena and I got off the bus I was in awe at the beauty of the town nestled in the mountains.  I was snapping photos when I saw one of the Rose Parade officials all dressed in a white suit.  They all dress in white suits.  Well he saw me snapping his photo and came over to talk to me.  He said "I saw you snapping my picture.  How about your friend snapping one of us together? And here is a rose, you can say you got Rosed." He placed an embroidered rose sticker on my orange Illini sweatshirt!  Well, flirt that I am, I jumped at that chance.  Don't have the photos developed yet, (still living in the old world with real film!).
Sandy and I then walked over to the tent area, where all the vendors sell their wares.  And boy do they sell them.  Well it is probably the only time I would ever be in Pasadena at the float construction, so I bought some pins, some drinking glasses, a seat cushion and a coffee mug!  Then we walked over to the first tent.  
We bought a "passport" and had it stamped in the first tent.  There were 6 floats in that tent and it was so mesmerizing we forgot we had a whole barn to look at!  The first float we saw was the Sesame Street float.  People were sitting cutting up carnations into buckets.  One woman was gluing green beans in a herring bone pattern on a country on globe. One country was tiny sliced carrots and Hungary was going to be soybeans.  The smell of flowers was intoxicating.  They were everywhere.  Well we looked at everything there and then got in line (that would be the first of many lines) to see the floats in the barn.  It was a very long line and we risked being late for our bus to get a chance to walk through the barn.  It was worth it because we had a top down view of the floats.  We saw the City of St. Louis float and about 6 others.  And got our passport stamped!   There are two other cities where they build floats but we didn't get to see those.
Then it was back to Santa Monica.   We regrouped and set off for the Third Street Promenade for lunch.  There were musicians playing and singing in the center of the street. The shops were all the usual places.  We ate at Wolfgang Pucks, went to find the Belgian Chocolate shop that we saw when we where on the bus earlier in the morning,  then back to the hotel to drop off our chocolate and onto the beach. 
Walking along the edge of the ocean was like a dream.  The sun was beginning to set and there were sandpipers walking along the edge and cormorants dipping and fishing in the waves.  We stayed to see the sun get lower then walked over to the pier. That was a lot of fun and we decided to eat supper at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.   Of course I took the opportunity to shop while we were waiting for our table. I bought the girls Bubba Gump t-shirts.  The food was really delicious.  
We then walked around a little more and went back to the hotel.  The next day New Year's Eve we would go to the Kickoff Luncheon.  We made reservations at The Grille, a nice restaurant in the hotel for supper on New Year's Eve.  Then off to bed for another fun filled day tomorrow.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Friends and Roses

"The only way to have a friend is to be one" This was the message in my fortune cookie.  On Friday last I went to lunch with some friends.  I had to leave before the fortune cookies came because I had an appointment to have my hair dyed!  One of my friends brought my fortune cookie back to work and left it on my desk.
It made me think about friends, so here is the third installment of Blessed Friends and Family. This has to do with accepting gifts.  Since I am so inclined to be a giver rather than a receiver, it has been rather difficult for me to receive gifts.  One of my dearest friends taught me how to receive gifts without feeling guilty or embarrassed. Well that character trait was tested when my good and blessed friend, Sandy, called one evening to invite me to the Rose Bowl. Her daughter is in the Marching Illini and Sandy did not want to go to California alone.  She offered to fund the entire trip, except for food and incidentals.  At first I thought I can't let her do this,  this is more than I can accept.  But the words of my friend about accepting gifts thankfully without worry, came back to me as Sandy explained why she wanted me to come along with her.    So I gratefully accepted her invitation.  I felt like a dream had come true.  I had never been to California!  And to be able to go with a wonderful friend made the opportunity just to fabulous not to accept.

So I headed off to California on a chartered flight from Willard Airport on December 29, 2007.  It was funny because Sandy and I both were randomly selected for extra security screening.  That meant we were pulled aside and searched while our bags were opened and searched.  That has never happened to me before, but then I rarely travel.  We had a nice flight to California and I had a window seat so I could look out on the lights of cities along the way.

It was dark by the time we got to our hotel and I couldn't see the ocean. We could see the lights of Santa Monica pier though.  We passed a series of displays, on Ocean Street near our hotel, of the Nativity.  So when we checked in and unpacked we walked over to see them.  They were put up by local churches and organizations.  They were really funny because the figures of Joseph, Mary  and everyone else were department store mannequins!  The one where Joseph is guiding Mary on a donkey to Bethelem, was funny because Mary had a bob!   But they were still very nice to look at.  When we awoke the next morning, I stepped out on the balcony for a minute to see the ocean for the first time.  I was so in awe I didn't want to go back in.  But we had to get ready to go down for our welcome breakfast and then off to Pasadena to view the float construction.   Our breakfast was so delicious!  I had bacon  and sausage!, scrambled eggs and the best potatoes and peppers that I have ever eaten, along with fresh grapefruit juice and coffee.

I have so much to say about this trip that I am saving the rest for later blogs!  I kept a travel journal, that my friend Wendy gave me before I went to Scotland.  I didn't realize then that I would get another opportunity to write in it so soon. 

Until tomorrow,  TTFN

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hockey Pucks

Even though I am single at this moment in life,  I have not always been so.  I have three delightful children; a brilliant son and two dazzling daughters.  Which brings me to the thought of Christmas!  I know we are past the season,  but the spirit of giving has been instilled in me by my lovely mother.  Mom knew how to keep the season and loved to give gifts at Christmas.  We didn't always have a lot through out the year, but mom always made Christmas a wondrous event.  Thanks Mom, I miss you.
As my mother gave me the gift of giving, I seem to have passed that along to my children.  They seem to be making up for the fact that I have no spouse to ply me with wonderful, amazing, touching gifts at Christmas.  The girls made sure I had plenty of new DVDs to watch (especially if the writer's strike continues and the television programs I like are not on).  The also gave me a surround sound stereo system that I can use on the tv or on the stereo. Imagine my surprise when I saw the big box with my name on it on Christmas morning.
Janet always makes sure I get a pair of christmas socks.  
Now we open our gifts on Christmas Eve, as that is how it always happened at my house when I was a little girl.  I always thought it was because when I was young my dad worked shift work,  but I think maybe it was mostly because my mother couldn't wait any longer to see the looks on our faces!   Well, I selected one of the smaller wrapped boxes from Regena. I carefully unwrapped ( because we recycle Christmas wrap, I mean to say we re-use it from year to year adding a new roll every year) the package and to my surprise ( and my face showed it) inside was a hockey puck!   I must have had a puzzled look on my face, because why would she be giving me her hockey puck? 
Regena had been walking by the north end of the arena while the team was on the ice practicing.  Janet and I were sitting in the first row on the west side as usual.  Well a hockey puck came soaring over the glass just as Regena was walking by and she caught it.  We were so excited when she returned to her seat.  She said," Do you think I should give it back?"  That's my Regena!  Of course, Janet and I both said at the same time " No Way!"  It is a hockey fan's desire to catch a hockey puck.     
So when I opened the gift, Regena said to me, because of the puzzled look on my face, "Mom, its the hockey puck I caught,  I thought it would mean more to you."
    These are the moments in life that don't get any sweeter.  I have the best children, and they have always been that sweet.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Further Adventures of a World Traveller

Ok so I am not really a world traveller, but because I have a wonderful dad, I did get to travel to Scotland!  Regena went to Stirling Scotland to do her junior year abroad.  My dad paid for us both to travel to Scotland to visit her and see some sights.  At first I was terrified of flying over the ocean.  Prior to this trip I had only been out of the US a few times,  visiting Canada.
I felt like my dad had provided me with a once in a lifetime opportunity.  I treasured every moment of the trip, especially getting to spend the time with my dad.  Regena met us at the airport and the fun began. My favorite day of the trip was when we went to Loch Ness for the day. We took a tour bus and our guide was funny and very knowledgeable.  I have put Loch Ness onmy list of the best places on earth. I felt like I was living a fantasy the entire time I was in Scotland. To this day it still doesn't feel real even though I have photos to prove it.

This is the second installment of Blessed Family and Friends.  I have one more exciting, (well to me at least) adventure to record, at a later date  Then I have to get on to all the thoughts that are rambling around in my head!  

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Blessed family and friends

Through the kindness of my family and friends I have been given wonderful opportunities to travel.  It started when I was going through my divorce 7 years ago.  My delightful niece and nephew flew me to Florida with them and took me to Disney World.  It was a difficult time in my life and they helped me through it. Memories that will last a lifetime. My next adventure will be a future post!