I started this blog to share some of the thoughts I have along the journey of life. I love to travel and spend time with my family and friends. A good meal, breaking bread with those I love, gives my life meaning. So does travel. I adore dreaming of sites to visit, not just to check them off on a list. Rather, I consider myself a student of life, traveling as an explorer, to open my mind to all the possibilities the world holds in store for me and for others. I love to travel to discover how different the world is in terms of climate, cultures, politics, terrain, economy, etc. but also to discover how SIMILAR the people are. Despite language barriers, much can be communicated with a smile or gestures. Language is simply a means to communicate, yet there are so very many other ways to communicate. Once when I was in French-speaking Canada, I realized that my 7th grade French class didn’t teach me the word for “straw”. However, when I thought about it, I was able to communicate to the very French-speaking waiter in a very French-speaking restaurant about my need for a “cylinder through which to drink” in my limited French vocabulary. Travel challenges the mind and soul, stretching us to problem solve and form conclusions about all that we experience. THAT is the type of travel I enjoy best. “All’s well that ends well”, as they say………….”Life is Good” as well.
Wondering when cruising will resume? This re-posted article below outlines the latest restart dates/updates of several cruise lines as of May 18, 2021. Looking forward to the cruise industry starting up again. Best wishes for smooth sailing to all!
“Great people are not affected by each puff of wind that blows ill. Like great ships, they sail serenely on, in a calm sea or a great tempest.” -George Washington
Hoping this last year will be only a “puff of wind that blows ill” for all in the travel industry.
Chicago residents were told this year that the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration in-town would be cancelled due to the pandemic. However, the city surprised its residents with a little spontaneity. Even though the annual dyeing of the river green was cancelled, too, residents heard on March 13 that the river would be dyed for St. Patrick’s Day in keeping with the annual tradition after all.
Evidently to turn the river green, two boats use flour sifters to dump an orange vegetable powder into the river. It takes about forty pounds of this environmentally safe powder to turn the river green. When the orange powder hits the river, it turns green for some reason. Both boats ride in the river for about forty-five minutes to mix up the powder in the river, and it stay green for a few days.
Other cities that turn their waters green for St. Patrick’s Day are Tampa, San Antonio, Indianapolis, and Jamestown (New York). Savannah, Georgia TRIED to dye their river one year, but it didn’t work out well, so they dye the water in some of the public fountains in Forsyth Park.
If you are planning on going to any of these places, make sure you check to see if the dying of the green is cancelled due to the pandemic first.
Find a reason to celebrate today, even if you are not Irish. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and may the “luck of the Irish” be with us all this year.
One of my best friends and I have a little saying that helps us to deal with life’s ups and downs from time to time. The saying is that one needs a “little slice of normal” when the chips are down, much like one “needs” a slice of cake from time to time. When one of is is having difficulty with something, such as someone we love in the hospital, an accident, or some other sad and unforeseen event, we go to lunch and have “a little slice of normal.” That “little slice of normal” means something different to each of us, but for my dear friend a “little slice of normal” is a manicure, pedicure or a trip to the beach, no matter what season. For me a “little slice of normal” might be some ice cream and a movie, a cup of herbal tea, or a hike in the woods. That “little slice of normal” represents something that give us peace and is something we often do normally. That “little slice of normal” gives us a sense of perspective that life will go on somehow, as the routine of the “little slice of normal” somehow gives us comfort that some things stay the same. A “little slice of normal” is something that speaks to our soul somehow. It is not an indulgence, but it is rather something ordinary that we frequently do. For some people it might be a run on the beach, and for others it might be a few laps of swimming. For others it might be breaking bread with your family, and for others it might be curling up with a good book in a comfy chair.
Today I am thinking about this same best friend from my youth, who just finished her chemotherapy for breast cancer recently and then had her last radiation treatment yesterday. I can’t celebrate with her in person because of the quarantine associated with flying to where she is, but I just spoke with her on the phone this afternoon. As I suspected, she is out having lunch with her daughter, along with a “little slice of normal” today.
Life somehow goes on……despite the little AND big bumps along the way.
Several countries have said they will allow international travelers who have had the Covid vaccine to visit without quarantine or a negative PCR Covid test. Don’t forget that all air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board a flight to the United States (even on return trips for Americans). See the Conde Nast article below for more information about “open” countries:
Tonight a rare phenomenon happened in the skies above us, about a half hour after sunset here in Florida. It was visible elsewhere, but this is the time that I experienced the “Christmas Star” or the conjugation of Jupiter and Saturn, which appears to the naked eye as one great big bright “star”. The last time this has happened like this was eight hundred years ago. A similar event, “The Star of Bethlehem” is theorized to have happened at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ, although that “star” is theorized to have been the conjugation of Jupiter and Venus at the time.
…”Star of wonder, star of night Star of royal beauty bright Westward leading, still proceeding..”
-from “We Three Kings” by John Henry Hopkins Jr.
While looking up into the sky tonight, I couldn’t help but wonder who the people were who saw the very same thing that I saw tonight. I wondered how they looked, how they dressed, where they lived, and what they thought about. In 1280, in the Middle Ages, I know they were very concerned about disease and were likely thinking about leprosy that very night, as the bubonic plague happened a bit later than that. While they were looking up into the heavens, were they witnessing this beautiful event, thinking it was a brief diversion for that one moment from the things that weighed heavily upon their minds, such as disease and pandemics, like we were? One moment of a sparkling wonder might have been all they needed to refresh their minds, even for a moment together with those they love during their holiday season. One moment of wonder. One moment of joy.
“May your days be merry and bright.”
Fa la la la la, la la la la….
Life is good; find the wonder and joy somewhere in your day today. Carpe diem, friends….
My daughter and I went into a drive through carwash not too long ago, as I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time yet to clean the house this week, never mind my car, and decided it would be a quick little thing to check off my list. We pulled into the car wash and stopped on the designated area, indicated by the red “stop” sign. After all, I’m a rule follower. After a minute or so, the “arm” of the carwash collapsed onto the side of my car and got “stuck” against my car after we heard the loud bang it made against the car, not moving for a minute or so, or at least for what appeared to be an eternity. My daughter and I looked at each other and immediately burst out laughing. The arm of the carwash retracted, went back to the “starting position”, and the car wash stopped with soap ALL OVER my car. We could barely see out the windshield. We immediately laughed a little harder. I decided to drive through the car wash slowly to check my car, then decided it likely would be a good idea to go inside to speak to the clerk. She came out, re-set the car wash, and the car wash worked fine the second time. It was, just “one of those things….”
After we stopped laughing, I immediately realized the parallels to life. Life is truly like driving into an unknown car wash like this at times. We do what is expected and what we need to do, yet we have no control over what happens while inside that car wash. We even pay money to help sway the odds in our favor that the outcome in that car wash is what we expect for that moment. However, every now and again in life something happens, and we don’t get the car wash we expected, or planned on, or needed, etc…It is clear to me that life with all its uncertainties happens as it will, and we most often don’t have any control over the outcome. We do, however, have control over our choices about what to do about it. That is, what we do about that car wash IS well within our control. If we explore our options, we see that we can cry, we can get angry, we can become paralyzed with indecision about what we must do, OR……..we can choose laughter. Laughter truly is the “best medicine”. I chose laughter whenever I can, although at times one has to look hard to find it.
I am happy to report that my car no longer has soap on it, it was not dented, AND we had a GOOD laugh over the whole thing. Someone very dear to me once told me, it is the “end of the story” that really matters, but certainly the middle of the story is where the fun is sometimes. After all, life is far too important to be taken so seriously.
Life is good; choose laughter every time you can. Carpe diem, friends………
My head is spinning today with back to school schedules that fill the lives of most parents this time of year. Seems as though my day is filled with multiple errands in many different directions and trying to remember where to be at what time, as this school year is quite different with my daughter going to school part time in person and part time on-line. Each year, right before school starts, I take out my two year planner to add the dates, times, and things that need to be added to the calendar for the coming school year. This year is the end of my “two years” on the two year calendar, so I need to replace my existing calendar by the end of the year. Through the years, I have come to rely on a certain brand of calendar, as the format is easy to use and there is ample space for me to keep track of the all the things I need to have at a glance (passwords, notes to self, etc…). I also like having a clear vinyl protector with a pocket insert that comes over my planner into which I can stuff appointment cards and flyers from the school and such.
That being said, I have spent WAY too much time trying to find next year’s version of the customary planner/calendar. I know it comes out again in October, but I would prefer to have itnow. I was hoping to find a one year version to hold me over until then. I have been on-line for the PlanAhead Make-It-Bigger calendar/planner with a pretty cover far longer than I need to. I have been in the stores for the PlanAhead Make-It-Bigger calendar/planner with a pretty cover far longer than I need to as well. While at the local chain store today in hopes of finding this planner, I smiled when I heard my late father’s voice in my head as though he were standing next to me. He was a simple man who would never dream of spending so much time on something so trivial as this calendar. My father, King of the colloquial expressions, would simply would have whispered to me in that store, “Any port in a storm, Cat.” Cat was what he called me, and he was right. I decided immediately that the BLACK- WITHOUT- A- PRETTY- DESIGN Plan Ahead Make-It-Bigger calendar/planner without the clear vinyl cover with the pocket would do just fine. In fact, it would be more than fine. I could take the clear vinyl cover off my existing calendar and use it with my new black calendar with great results.
Sometimes in life, especially as we age, we can easily (no, VERY easily) get a bit set in our ways. I know I have become a bit set in my ways in some things for certain. But, change is good. Spending excess and precious time getting something “just right” doesn’t make sense if it isn’t something that really matters in the end. Time is better spent getting something “just right” if it is a project, a craft, a recipe, etc. instead. Getting a silly little calendar “just right” simply isn’t worth the effort. “King Colloquial” would be proud of me today. In fact, I am proud of me today, as I grew in some small way and broadened my horizons a wee bit.
Life is too short to be taken so seriously sometimes. Change is good. Carpe diem, friends……….
I can still hear my wonderful father saying to me time and time again in my head: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” That was him, “King of the Colloquial Expression”, always finding a teachable moment everywhere. A man of few words but words that meant something. He didn’t speak much, of course, unless he had something to say. No idle banter for him, but a pleasant and funny disposition, a kind and loving heart, a warm smile with a sunny laugh, and a man of few words. Life lived well and lived fully.
I think of my Dad today on day three of a week of lavender recipes I am trying. It comes down to the idea of cut the idea of cutting your losses while you are ahead versus you never know until you try. Go the distance; live without wondering what could have happened. Go the distance; risk disappointment but know you tried. I impart these same words to my daughter, “Teen Traveler” and decide without blinking an eye that the proverbial “show must go on”, another quip from my beautiful days with my father before he passed on. Even though we haven’t really cared for the two lavender recipes we tried this week, we will continue in our quest.
Day Three: Lavender pound cake. Pound cake brings to mind simpler, almost more old-fashioned times, as my beautiful mother adored pound cake and served it to me when I was small like her mother did before her. Pound cake, buttery goodness and sweet confection, just like Mom. Throw in a little lavender, and it HAS to be good, right? This time I am going to decrease the amount of lavender I use to see if that makes a difference and pair it with lemon. How could lemon pound cake go wrong with wise words of advice from my father coupled with sweet memories of my mother……
I decided to use my Mother’s old vintage Corningware loaf pan, complete with the cornflower from a lifetime ago filled with less complication, confusion and without Covid. This was either a very good thing to use my Mother’s pan as fond memories of love and comfort surrounded me while I was baking, or…..it was a bad thing because my mother wasn’t much of a baker. In either case, it was fun to take out my Mother’s old pan again if for nothing other than the sake of nostalgia.
Yesterday my track record for yummy lavender recipes was 0 for 2. I waited with excitement as I watched the cake come out of the oven and cool. I used a vanilla confectionary sugar glaze when it was cool enough as the recipe directed.
And I added sprinkles. Of COURSE I added sprinkles, as I had learned years ago from marrying into my husband’s family that sprinkles on our Italian struffali is the ONLY way to go. LOTS and LOTS of sprinkles. My daughter also taught me that life is better, always better, with a little sprinkles on top.
One person who tasted it said it felt like they were eating a scented drawer liner. My daughter said it would be delicious WITHOUT the lavender. I actually liked it, but I would have preferred the recipe to have a little heavier glaze on the top, as it was almost transparent in the recipe, even though I added even more confectionary sugar to thicken it than the recipe called for.
Day three: 1 for 3. Finally a recipe that tastes good (to some of us). I actually think I’m on to something here with the combination of lavender and lemon. Perhaps tomorrow I will try lavender lemonade. You know how it goes…..”if life gives us lemons, we make lemonade!”