Friday, October 23, 2015

Jacob, Jacob

We've had bad luck with our kids — they've all grown up. 
Christopher Morley

Thirty years ago this Sunday, I was terrified. Not only did the natural childbirth labor I thought such a wise choice loom before me, I had to raise a kid once I got it out. I knew nothing about that. I didn't even like kids.

Half of my fears dissipated shortly after those 64 stitches earned while ending that labor began to heal. Since I'm still here apparently raising that kid didn't do me in either.  Tested me a few thousand times, but as that kid, that boy his dad and I named Jacob, celebrates his 30th birthday, I celebrate him with this brief chronicle.

So you were what was in there.
After many attempts, finally took an  experienced and rather gruff nurse to come in, grab my breast, and shove it in your mouth for the two of us to figure out how to keep you in food.
For some reason, Grandma Bernie loved that photo so much she penciled it.
Wasn't long before you threw me over for a singing Care Bear.

Discovered pumpkins were okay companions.

Tried every activity we forced you into even if you were uncertain as to the outcome. "Mom?"

Took boat rides with strangers.
Adopted a steadfast dedication to your clothing and your artistic abilities.
Napped like your old man.
Smiled even if you didn't have any teeth.
Swam in whatever swimming hole I brought you to.
Collected Christmas presents while wearing a Green Bay Packer sweatshirt (before going to the dark side and cheering for the pseudo America's Team.)

Volunteered your time, costumed of course, with your brothers.
And the years went by and are chronicled in all those albums and boxes and more boxes not shown that had you a different mother might be more organized so she might know which ones held photos of just you. Alas... fell in love in high school.
Graduated from college and got one of those rings you had to drink an entire pitcher of beer to get. 
A proud parent moment. First time alcohol ever passed those lips, I am certain.
Got a job, fell even more in love, and got a dog.

Married that lovely high school sweetheart.
Endured yet another costume I provide every Fourth of July.
Continue each day to create an incredible life.

Happy 30th Birthday, Jacob. Don't quite know how it went that fast.
Most proud of you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Moose Hunting -- With Gratitude

Too much work, and no vacation,
Deserves at least a small libation.
So hail! my friends, and raise your glasses,
Work's the curse of the drinking classes.
Oscar Wilde

The best advice I received from my mother-in-law, JoAnn, was to always take a vacation. She advocated that even if little time or money existed, it was important to vacation, every year, no matter what.

Taking JoAnn's words to heart, early in my marriage I started a vacation fund at the local credit union. It began at $25 a paycheck and through the years gained more funds due to better paychecks. I guess one might say I was a young Roadtripper before a middle-aged one. Okay, an old one.

Often that money went to other things -- like a college tuition payment or an IRA deposit. Bills. But I made certain a vacation occurred -- even if just a weekend camping or to visit family which was most likely the case while raising three kids.

I have my ideas on vacating, but getting that husband of mine to do so can be a challenge.  Bob doesn't think vacation. He thinks work. Probably good to have that mix in a couple.

When events at his work this past year prompted him to fore go any plans to celebrate a milestone birthday, I became concerned for his welfare. When I pointed out that being overtired, overworked, and greatly in need of rest and relaxation was not a healthy way to live, his eyes glazed over and I could see just how far gone he was.

After 37 years of marriage, this is when I know I must push harder, to make certain his sanity and well being are tended to.

That's my job. Right?

Lo and behold, after weeks of my suggestions we take a road trip the third week of September to visit family in Colorado and hang out at some of our old haunts (we've lived there a couple times), he presents this idea to me.

"Hey, I was thinking. You want to go up to Colorado the third week of September?"

"Sure. Great idea," I say.

Road Trip

Enticed by cheap airfares, we flew to Denver. My oldest brother, Jon, and my brother-in-law, Frank, picked us up at the airport. They offered us a bed with a brand new mattress, delivered that day.

In the morning, they handed us keys to a big Cadillac and said, "Have a good time."

We decided this would work. We headed to the mountains, passing by the University of Colorado so Bob could remind himself how much he didn't enjoy chemical engineering school.

Boulder Turnpike
CU Engineering building

We chugged through much traffic to Estes Park and escaped over Trail Ridge Road

We did not break down this time.

and the Continental Divide

into Grand Lake

where we met up with a bunch of little kids and Bob's sister, Kim.

Kim and her husband, Jeff,  have a cabin across the street from Rocky Mountain National Park.  Our Cadillac fit perfectly in the driveway.

Besides Bob and me, Kim and Jeff were hosting their two daughters and their families. Eight adults. Four kids comprised of two three-year-olds, a sixteen-month-old and a six-month-old.
Been a while since Bob and I had been around babies. We huddled on the couch and stayed out of the way until we could recall the protocol.

Between being taken for $37 and 9 cents by the three-year-olds in their make-believe store and the mild mayhem that accompanies young babies, we quickly settled into the active environment.  I marveled at the ease and efficiency of the young mothers as they ministered their families.  I recalled having that much vigor at some point in my life. Sort of.

Sleep arrived after burritos smothered in green chili followed by much talk. 

The next morning we were alerted by Oliver, my niece's dog, to the presence of a moose outside the window, which prompted a shuffle for shoes and cameras to get outside.

After much preparation, we gathered the group and hiked to Adams Falls, where my husband, of course, taught his grand nephew and niece how to skip rocks into a quiet and peaceful pond.

After a lunch out with a party of 12, the party of 10 left and we found ourselves alone in the cabin.

'Whew!" my husband said as the carloads drove away. "That was a long three days."

"It was 23 hours," I replied.

"No way," he said.

"Still want grandchildren?"

He pondered that.

"Maybe not four at once."

With the cabin to ourselves, we sat on the front porch and came to the realization that here we were in the middle of no where with a Cadillac and a mountain cabin.  Bingo!

We spent our days taking day trips to Steamboat Springs, Winter Park, and back up into Rocky Mountain National Park. We searched for moose and elk, hiked, ate and drank, and generally did nothing.

Columbine Lake. I walked here at least once a day. Took a photo each day. 

Bison found

Yes, Kim, those are my feet on your coffee table, but my shoes are off and back in the mud room.
Deer sighting.
Headed toward Granby.
Shadow Mountain

We drove through a ranch where Bob was a wrangler for a summer when he was in high school.

Walked a peaceful trail in Rocky Mountain National Park.

They say the Colorado River begins in Grand Lake. This, however, was listed on the map as the N. Colorado River. Small tributary leading in.
 We were most pleased to have arrived at the peak of the changing of the Aspen.

We had a quick glimpse of where we learned to ski at Loveland Basin -- way back in the 70's.

Back in Denver we returned the Cadillac to Jon and Frank and visited the Botanical Gardens, cruised by my old office buildings from my oil biz days, and ate some fine food.

Clinked a few glasses.

By taking in all that family, the beauty and the relaxing, it worked. Bob remembered vacation might not be such a bad thing.

For that, I'm most grateful to Kim and Jeff  - you can rent their impeccably kept home at VRBO
Great location away from all the tourists and close to nature, ski (downhill and cross county) resorts, boating, fishing, and snowmobile trails.

And to Jon and Frank. (I don't think they will let you rent their Cadillac, though.)

Just what the old boy needed. With much gratitude, we thank you.

Enjoyed it Colorado. Was good to recall your beauty.


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