Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Gender Rules

  1. "Look, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you. The right person is still going to think the sun shines out of your ass." —Mac MacGuff in Juno

  2. Tongue in cheek post. Tongue in cheek. 

My husband and I both just returned from vacations. Separate ones. He attended a stag party, as they used to call them. Eighty men gathering for a week of golf in the desert of Nevada and Arizona. Me? A Hen Party, as some people (not me) say. Twenty-five women on a humanitarian trip to Cuba. 

We both came home different than we left. Me, touched by the resiliant Cuban people in a way I'm still trying to understand and a need for my introverted self to recover from the women chatter. Him --  trophy in hand and testosterone exuding like microwaves from his week of manly talk and camaraderie in a male world. Men. 

I certainly do appreciate that we have these opportunities, but I'm always amazed as I watch my husband. And wonder who the hell this person is when he returns from one of these junkets. It doesn't take long to get him back in shape. I usually listen and rather than going on the attack about male chauvinism and other BS, wait for him to meld back into reality, before joking about the stag mentality that accompanies his return. 

A few months ago, I had a long discussion with a friend of mine, who is gay, about gender roles. We had just been with several other women friends and one was speaking of how now that her son is marrying, she's had to give up the key to his house, upon request.  I'd then talked about the differences of being a boy mom as opposed to a girl mom when our children marry. You might know the old sayings about the mother of the groom. 

Wear beige and keep your mouth shut unless to say, "Oh my, what a lovely idea." 

How hard it is as the girl mom can call whenever and often and has more of an easy in. The boy mom must tread lightly on the couple's life. That where having sons is such an incredible joy, it is heartbreak when we must let them go as they approach adulthood. They love us, but if we don't let them go, they will not be able to have a successful relationship with their chosen love. 

My gay friend took issue with this asking if it has to be that way or if in today's world, we can change those gender roles. 


My women's group that I traveled to Cuba with was an eclectic mix of women. Some were moms, some not. Some married. Some never. Some not. Some had stay-at-home mom stints. Some long-term caregivers. Successful careers. 

We were journalists, lawyers, physicians, nurses, teachers, engineers, editors, writers, real estate brokers, social workers, film makers and I don't know all as I never was never able to sit next to all 25 of them at lunch or dinner and hear their stories. 

We were all curious women on an humanitarian adventure to a forbidden land. Which meant the conversations were rich. Discussions of current events, politics, socialism, literacy, poverty, music, dancing, books, children, The future. We learned massive amounts of history, rode in old cars, learned how to salsa dance and make a really good mojito.The essentials while we shared the gifts we brought for the needy people of Cuba. 

Conversation flowed. Never ebbing. Never ending to a point where toward the end, I needed to retreat, as did a couple others of my tribe. Overwhelmed by the depth. Needing time to absorb all that was presented. The chatter eventually too much for this introverted/extrovert. Quiet and contemplation required before diving in again.

Now, I was not privvy to the conversations that went on at my husband's venue. However, having had three brothers and no sisters, three sons and no daughters, I have a pretty good idea as to the depth. My husband said the weather was perfect. He took 2nd place in the Old Geezer flight. My oldest son took first in his. They ate poorly, all the stuff they weren't supposed to eat. Took naps. Some gambled a little. Some a lot. Some not at all. I received thorough descriptions of the golf courses played. The best holes and the worst. You know, all the important stuff. 

I asked what they talked about at dinner or whenever? A puzzled look returned. 

"The usual stuff. You know." 

Yeah. I know. 

I do wish my gay friend, who challenged the gender norms in our discussion, could have been there when this husband of mine, whom she has met several times and likes, came through the door, exhuberant in the waves of testosterone emanating from him. Tell me how you change that! 

In the end, he had his fun. I had my fun. 

We are home. He fixed the garbage disposal. I made dinner. All is well. 

Monday, August 8, 2022


And then they went home.

Julie Sucha Anderson

A few weeks ago, we had an invasion of family. Four of our five adult kids and all four grandchildren. A week of constant activity. 

When they all drove away on Sunday, I poured a drink. It was 10:45 in the morning. With my husband sequestered downstairs taking a golf nap in front of the TV, I sat in my blue chair and listened to my library book while playing some stupid puzzle game on my phone. 

A few hours after that, my husband and I met on the dock. Exhausted. Where I long ago handled three children with organized deft, every day, all day long, it's now much harder at almost 66 to muster the same vigor and strength. 

Even though I love, love, love having my grandchildren and children around, it wears my old ass out. 

I should learn from my neighbors, who have 10 grandchildren and accompanying parents. They only invite them all out for one day--and then they go home. Let it be said that all of theirs live within an hour and a half. A day trip is much more possible. 

They also have a rule where only two grandchildren (all well out of diapers) can come and stay for an extended period of time -- like twenty-four hours. 

Me? Probably wouldn't work. I'm a glutton for gathering. For seeing all of mine sitting at my table. A crazy chase of children, toys strewn about the room, art supplies on the table, water and milk and juice cups misplaced in a colorful array about the cabin. For all of us crammed into the boat for a ride that puts several of them to sleep. 

Like I said. A glutton.

It is quiet here now. After that Sunday, where I cracked that Ranch Water at 10:45 in the morning, Monday brought a small burst of energy. Our upstairs is a big room encompassing the living room, kitchen, dance floor, and dining room. For months I've needed to wash the laminate floor with something more than an occasional swipe. Travel, sleeping here, sleeping there, and more travel have not left an open window for such work. Besides, I've never enjoyed cleaning.

With the floor task complete, I blew the dust from the book shelves and end tables, replacing the numerous knickknacks to their rightful places after sending them to higher heights in escape from curious little hands. 

A return to normal. One where I sit. Although I miss the little bodies squeezed in beside me while reading a book (or playing PBSKids online when a restful repose is necessary) I'm enjoying the quiet. The organized chaos as opposed to the boisterous, liveliness of a houseful of active children. 

When I raised my kids, I gave it my all. They sucked out every brain cell I had. Could be why I'm a more relaxed grandma. Why I can handle the mayhem while it's raging. Also why I'm grateful when it's over, while I yearn for their return.

Respective flags.

Manicures by Bob

Restful Repose

My turn!

This is what you get, BamaChef, for not being here. We missed you. 

Almost one. Little Parks.

Sometimes you just need to sit with Grandpa and observe.

Don't empty the whole bucket at once.

Full boat.


Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Change in the Time of Covid - Year One

I decided today I'd publish a new blog post. Made a pact with myself. Other than writing my three morning pages, my writing life has taken a back seat. I'm currently hooked on a woodpuzzle app. Obsessed with it. I know when I do that, it means I'm on the cusp of something creative.

That creativity is often subjective based on the power behind it. Could translate into something new for dinner. A pattern made in the lake with my float, arms working as oars. Plowing through six unread New Yorker magazines gathering dusk on my ottoman.

Often, something more concrete. Like writing a blog post after almost two years. 


Today, when I opened up my blog after many, many months of not doing so, I saw where I'd made several attempts at posts in the past year and a half.  I came across this draft, marking a year into the pandemic. I'm not certain how I lost track of it--which distraction, grandchild's birth, event, or travel trailer adventure fancied my attention. 

Or if I decided it wasn't worthy. Or too long. Rambling. Sort of like the long days of Covid for many of us. 

Yup. That was it.

Since I'm piddling with another essay, I've decided to post this one written in March 2021. Satisfies my pledge to post a blog today so I can get back to reading one of those New Yorker magazines and work on my floating. 

Greetings, and good health to all.

March 2021

The only man who behaved sensibly was my tailer: he took my measure anew everytime he saw me, whilst all the rest went on with their old measurements and expected them to fit me. 

Bernard Shaw

One year since Covid became a word. An anniversary--welcome or not. I often reflect on anniversary dates, and this one is no different. My curious nature has me wondering about my measurements. How this year changed me.

Adaptation: Even though I can talk to a pool table, I'm an introvert. Never am I bored and often must force myself out of Hermitville. Other than disappointment for the cancellation of several large trips on the calendar, I had little trouble adjusting to the world's shutdown. I didn't have outside work. Cancelled social engagements? Love Zoom. 

My days have a pattern. I awake in a coma, not ready to rock'n'roll. While the first cup of coffee revives my brain, I read a short meditation in a yearly book of wisdom. This year: Celtic wisdom. Last year: Buddist. Year before: Tao. Year before that - my favorite: Mark Nepo and the Book of Awakening.  

On each daily page, I record:

1. Where I am in the world. 

2. If I meditated or not (added that this year, and very challenging as it takes about three seconds before my mind wanders.)

3. Exercise achieved

4. Alcohol consumed

5. Calories ingested

6. Hours of sleep -- I'm not very good at that. Something about Night Hawk and Early Rising Husband Who Makes Lots of Noise.

Sidenote: In those days of Covid, #'s 3 and 4 dominated. #3, if sauntering up and down the street 10 times a day counted as exercise. I lifted a few weights and practiced yoga. Gentle yoga. Lie on the ground yoga. Until that got boring and I purchased harder DVD's. #4 required a necessary recording, as it creeped in on becoming one of those daily activities.

Back to morning rituals. After recording my previous day's activites, I read three new poems, write a don't-pick-up-your-pen stream-of-consciousness-really-shitty poem, followed by three pages of dribble into my journal. I once wrote either a one-page short story or essay each day. Covid begged for brevity -- hence the poem. I ain't no poet so trust me when I say there is nothing worthwhile in those hundreds of stanzas, a topic chosen on a nanosecond notice. 

The news calls next in regard to the developing science on Covid and US/World events. Which means I read a diverse array of newspapers and periodicals so I can distinguish between opinion and reality. People on my street are flush with opinion. I require data. Real data. Data doesn't lie.

Breakfast follows yoga. 

Then there's that book I'm rewriting -- again. That requires a dedicated two hours of staring out the window.

Curbside grocery shopping. Cooking dinner. Toilet cleaning. The maintenance of house stuff like swiping at cobwebs and blowing dust off bookshelves. 

Then comes things I want to learn -- like how to draw and paint. So a daily lesson from a book. I'm an incredible artist and since I don't have to show my work, no one will ever know I'm lying through my teeth. 

Usually one day a week, I don't follow my path. My four-year-old granddaughter spends the day with us. That's a non-thinking day. We do whatever she tells us to do. 

I've not felt the need to clean out closets and drawers. Pretty much everything that needed fixing before Covid still needs fixing. New recipes from the incredible Ina Garten have increased my cooking reprotoire. Following recipes is hard, though. Often I can't find where I put them meaning every night's a crap shoot as to whether a dousing of Cholula is required. 

Admission here: Other than becoming a faithful follower of Ina and some chick named Shiva who leads yoga in White Sands National Park, I did all that other stuff before Covid. I just do it at a slower pace. No rush. No interruptions by having to be somewhere.

The year has not been empty of sorrows and joys. A year of not seeing the son in NYC brought a deep yearning for his embrace. Not to mention worry for his safety in the epicenter of sirens and virus. The loss of my husband's mother during Covid meant we couldn't be with her at her passing. 

Joys included often seeing my other two sons and their families, one nearby and one within a few hours. 

We welcomed a new granddaughter. Meet Ava Gwen. 

Most grateful am I for my partner, who eats whatever I cook. He doesn't have to share the TV screen (we have only one) and knows not to talk to me until after my second cup of coffee. He chats with all the neighbors on his walks and gets the scoop, so I don't have to. We watch the PBS Newshour together and share an adventurous spirit. Which prompted the purchase of that used Airstream camper creating an avenue for exploration in a stagnant travel world. Which also aided greatly in keeping up spirits. 

I don't know if you call that change. Or if I'm told I can't go one way, I'll figure out another route. For in my desires to learn new things, I also like to see new things. The wanderlust something I can't control. 

The Airstream got us out of Dodge and taught us something completely new. Steep learning curve. Sewer hookups. Boondocking. Watewater management. 

Hikes in Big Bend National Park, Minnesota and Wisconsin forests, and a magical day spent in White Sands National Park soothed our weary souls. For even hermits who know how to entertain themselves grow weary.  

Big Bend National Park - Santa Elena Canyon, where the United States kisses Mexico.

Big Bend National Park - The Window

White Sands National Park

Camping was a safe exploration. Have to pee? Pull over and do your business on your own throne. Fix  lunch in your own kitchen. Park your camper more than a six foot length from others. No excuse needed for an unfriendly leer if someone dares an approach.

Of course, there were those who came too close. Like Tony from somewhere in Nevada who drove a huge RV bus with electric bikes that could go 80mph. Tony liked to chat, standing less than six feet away and interrupting my pathetic watercolor lesson on the picnic table. 

"Just tell me to go away if you don't want to talk to me," he said. 

Before I could say, "Go away, Tony," I learned that Tony sold high-end sports cars before he retired. Tony's family raced golf carts, or something like that, in the desert. Tony planned to watch the big Nascar race on Sunday. If not for Covid, he'd be at the race. In all that exhaust and noise. Watching cars go around in a circle. 

Instead he's wasting the life of a reluctant listener.

Not that she has anything against people who watch cars go around in a circle.   

Tony took a gander at my art instruction book, the flower I was supposedly painting. Then just nodded his head at my rendition, which looked sort of like Picasso's girlfriend after Jackson Pollack dumped that first paint can onto a canvas. 

The next day, November 7, I didn't explain to Tony why I was drinking a bottle of champagne in the middle of the afternoon.  

On our travels, we met a couple in Wisconsin who completely redid a 1954 Airstream. Another couple in Big Bend making plans to go all the way to South America in their camper.

A group canoeing the Rio Grande playing their guitars and flutes around their campfire, allowing us to sing along to John Prine songs from our campsite. 

A young family of five on a two-month tour of national parks--the parents working and kids virtually schooling while on the road.

An older couple in the process of selling the sailboat they'd been living on for five years while sailing the seas. 

On these road trips, I continue my daily norms. Morning coffee. Writing. Meditating. Yoga inside the Airstream -- utilitzing the skylight for my arm stretch to achieve Volcano Pose. Walking. Tending my soul.

A year has passed. I'm a week out from full vaccination. What lies ahead? 

I've asked my friends how they've changed this past year. What they do or don't do anymore? What do they see happening when their world opens up? What have they learned about themselves? What's important?

Interesting replies. I'm gathering them, and and hope to write about them. Subjective subject. No one really says yet exactly what they are going to do beyond gathering with dear friends and sharing a long hug. An indication that the change back into the world might be more gradual than the quick retreat we all made last March.

Still figuring it out for myself. My experience is different from those working out of their homes, children underfoot and schooling them. Those who lost their income and careers. Those who live alone and crave the touch of others. Those with elderly parents living with them, rather than in nursing homes. Those who are not well. Those who became ill from the virus. 

The family members of the millions around the world who have died. 

We all have a story. We've all been affected. Even those who think not. Can't go through something like this and think you haven't. 

What has changed for you? What will or will you not do that you used to? What have you discovered about yourself? What's something new you learned to do? 

End Note: Reading this sort of puts a wasp in my panties to write one as to where I am now, two years and four months into the pandemic. Hmmm.

Where are you?

Also, have to show that other grandbaby that blessed us. Meet Parks Conrad Anderson

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

A Visitor in the Midst of a Storm

 Friendship is a sheltering tree. 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In mid-March 2020, I returned from a trip to Mexico City and Troncones, Mexico to find a changing world impacted by an unfamiliar virus. Like everyone else, I stocked my pantry and prepared for the ugly sweep of the virus. I anticipated solitary days of reading, writing, yoga, and fiddling with a mountain of art supplies and having only my husband as entertainment. But that expectation remained on hold. While everyone else sheltered in place, I headed to the airport. I had company coming. 


I wasn’t picking up a family member. Nor someone particularly close to me. Truth be told, I’d never met the person. Her name was Celia and she lived in England. And she’d been my PenPal since 1965.


In spite of the growing infection around the world, Celia’s first trip to America remained in order. She and her husband, Nick, had arrived in America two weeks before. They had toured in California -- driving a rental car down the Pacific Coast Highway, arriving in San Diego to visit a lodger they'd had a few years before. 


As the world changed hourly, I’d checked with them a couple times via text. Seemed the virus trailed behind them down the California coast. With their flights still scheduled, they planned to plod on. I worried they might get trapped in America. Among other thoughts.


I was not nervous to meet her. I couldn't imagine it wouldn't be a fine meeting. Rather, I wasn't certain what might come with them from California -- or what we might give them -- before they could find a way back to England.


During WW2, my father was stationed in England. On the weekends a local woman, Ma Huckle, took in soldiers, fed them home-cooked meals, did their laundry, called them her sons, and offered moments of home, away from the bombings and terrors of the war.


My dad kept a written relationship with Ma Huckle, and her two daughters, after his return to the US. In 1965, Ma Huckle’s granddaughter, Celia, a year older than my eight years, and I became acquainted. We wrote our letters on onionskin paper as it was thin and didn't cost much to airmail across the Atlantic. My stationary was white. Hers was blue. We shared photos. 


I don't recall much of what we said. The past 35 or 40 years our exchanges were only a yearly form Christmas letter, both of us penning a note at the end that we must truly meet one day. 


Now, we were finally doing that -- in the midst of a pandemic. Yet her family had taken care of my dad in a harrowing time. I suppressed my fears and decided that no matter what lay ahead, I would take care of Celia now.


At the airport, only six or seven other cars were parked in the normally bulging short-term garage. The familiar dodge of vehicles while navigating the six-lane racetrack to enter the terminal didn't exist. Not a car or parking lot shuttle in sight. Reminded me of Omega Man, a really bad movie from my youth featuring the last person left on Earth.

Only two airport workers lingered inside by baggage claim. To say it was eerie is an understatement. I kept one foot in front of the other, and paced, trying not to touch anything. Of course, I had to pee.


I had no trouble recognizing Celia as she came down the escalator, and not because only 11 people were on the flight from San Diego.


In a normal time, we might have hugged. We didn't. I elbow bumped with her husband as they quickly gathered their bags. We chatted as I drove them the hour to my house, where my husband and I got them settled, took them for a boat ride, and welcomed them at our table for dinner. 


Beyond the lack of an initial hug, it never entered my mind beyond that to not feel comfortable, to finally have this woman in her 60's, just like me, sitting at my table. A connection of over 55 years. I knew her, so well. I didn't say that, but she did, a day or so later. That we seemed to fit right together.

We spoke of our travels, our children, our current interests and curiosities. We joked about which of our leaders took more time with their hair in the morning. They drank lots of tea. We drank lots of wine.


Rain poured from the sky for the next three days. No letting up. Cold winds. No more boat rides. No warmth from the sun. All the stores and museums and everything we'd planned to share about our Central Texas world -- closed. One afternoon we drove to the LBJ Ranch. The buildings were closed but where, in a brief respite from the rain, we walked by the former president’s grave and the historical posters of the Civil Rights Movement and Lady Bird's quest for a wildflower and litter-free beauty for America.


Longhorn cattle and Herefords grazed only feet from our car as we drove through the ranch. Springtime in Texas. Baby cows. Wildflowers and green, green, green. A peaceful place for a brief afternoon away from whatever lurked in the real world, our newly knit group in our own bubble.


As the world tightened its borders, Celia’s travel agency arranged flights two days early. After a brief car tour to show off the capitol building and Austin's jewel, Barton Springs Pool, we walked along the trail of Town Lake (now known as Lady Bird Lake), before arriving again at the ghostly airport.


We didn't elbow bump a farewell. All of us, my husband and her husband. Celia and me, embraced. We had come full circle in our few days together. Over 55 years of correspondence across an ocean. Not quite the visit any of us ever imagined, but a coming together nonetheless.


Somewhere, in my attic, are Celia’s childhood letters. I'd intended to find them before she came, but life changed for all of us in the days leading up to her arrival. I'd been lolling on that  beach in Troncones, Mexico and when I came home, all hell had broken loose in the world. Putting a well-stocked pantry together seemed more prudent than sorting through childhood boxes not opened in forty years.  


I will find them one of these days as things return to a new normal. Meantime, as a gift, Celia brought me a tin of Dorset tea, a box of Moore biscuits and a jar of England's finest marmalade. Each afternoon since her departure, I’ve made myself a cup of Dorset tea. The biscuits are long gone, as is the marmalade. 


At the end of our Christmas letters this year, I wonder what we’ll write. Maybe I’ll say something like how I can't wait until one day I drink a cup of tea and crunch a biscuit with marmalade in her English garden. Perhaps I’ll even hand her a ribbon-wrapped stack of old letters. 


This essay first appeared in NextTribe online magazine.



Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Stopping by the Woods on a Wisconsin Afternoon

When using a public campground, a tuba placed on your picnic table will keep the campsites on either side vacant. Author Unknown  

My husband and I bought a used Airstream trailer. I’d always kinda, sorta wanted one. I’m almost done writing a book about an Airstream caravan following a famous trail — a middle-aged woman’s coming of age story. 

An Airstream calendar from several years ago hangs in my house, still getting turned to months long past. On another wall hangs a barnwood plank depicting an Airstream hand-painted by my daughter-in-law, Chelsea. In the wall socket is an Airstream night light given to me by other daughter-in-law, Leigh. On the coffee table is a history book of Airstreams, given by my friend, Michelle, who is mad at me because I got one before her.  

So, okay. I really did want one. However, having a real one in our driveway was a little intimidating. The learning curve very high. Where most Airstreams look very small when you see them in RV lots next to the other brands, they do indeed appear tiny. Hook one onto the back of your truck, and, well, it ain’t so damn tiny. 

Walkie Talkies have aided in our backing up, provided the man in the truck takes the directions from —— a woman. And we’ve launched our first long journey. A road trip up north to get out of the oppressing Texas heat. 

Over a week ago, we took off on our first adventure. We’ve discovered covering 350 miles a day is an ideal distance for us — so contrary to our days of knocking out 900 miles. My husband is getting used to driving in the slow lane, now keeping track of how many cars he gets to pass in a day. Banner Day? 5. 

Our first campsites were only for one night so we booked pull through RV parks. Not very exciting. The one in Missouri was a big gravel parking lot with trailers lined up next to one another. Most of the people lived there full-time.  

On the road, it was easy to stop and use the trailer bathroom and make lunch. Didn’t have to go into stores or gas stations. Or eat fast food. Been a little interesting filling up with gas — with a trailer behind us. 

We made our way through Oklahoma, Missouri, and Illinois to visit with family in Wisconsin for a few days. We plan to visit some good friends in northern Minnesota, but right now we’re hanging in a beautiful state park on the Chippewa River in western Wisconsin. 

A little bit of crisp in the air says fall is here. On my bike ride this morning, I stopped to pick up several maple leaves that have already turned orange. I often set my kick stand to take in the beauty of the river and tall trees and the rustling of the leaves in the trees. I miss the large rustling leaves living in Texas. The leaves on most the trees are so small, one can barely hear them swishing against one another. Something I immediately notice when I venture up north. 

An occasional acorn lands on the roof of the trailer. I’m wearing a sweatshirt. I slept with two Mexican blankets covering me last night. 

And this is my new friend. He nudged my leg yesterday. I must be in his parking space.

For those of you yearning for a change of scenery, I am happy to share. 

I want to learn how to forage.

A violinist!

Beautiful and peaceful. Except maybe for me. Forgive me if this post doesn’t look right.  I’m learning how to work on an IPAD. Many, many swear words have accompanied the process of this post. I’m working on the picnic table and the people next to us just packed up and moved to another campsite. Hmmmm. Thinking I don’t need no stinking tuba. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

What to Do in a Pandemic? Of Course, Buy an...

You can avoid having ulcers by adapting to the situation: If you fall in the mud puddle, check your pockets for fish.   Author Unknown

In April, my husband and I began a five-week trip-of-a-lifetime to New Zealand, Australia, and the Cook Islands. Yup. Dream trip come true. The two of us exploring -- from Milford Sound to the Great Barrier Reef, finishing with a weeklong stint in a one-bedroom cottage steps from the lagoon in Raratonga. Floating in the South Pacific. Heaven.

Our dream trip remains a dream. As does all the travel everyone else in the world has planned. Not much excitement for any of us -- except the navigation of life in the time of Covid-19. Due to a dedicated stance on masks, social distancing, and maintaining our "pod," we've been fortunate to escape the illness and loss many have suffered and continue to endure. For us, a long stint stuck in our home has proven to be our adventure.

I'm not one to get bored. I can't recall the last time I was bored. The pandemic hasn't changed that. My unread books pile up on my ToBeRead shelf like always and I'm borrowing audio books from the library, via Overdrive, like normal. (Okay, maybe a little more.)

There are more behind that front line.

Yup -- that front line of books has a back line.

Playing with watercolors and acrylics and practicing patience with my lack of ability while organizing my thoughts?  I haven't even begun to scratch the surface in that venture.

Now and then, I have grandchildren to play with. Makes life easier when you do what a four-year-old tells you to do -- or follow a 17-month-old around the perimeter. 

Of course, there is the online ordering of groceries and the creative cooking. Ina Garten's Instagram entries have certainly added variety to my repertoire of the past 42 years. Continuous watering of the container garden vegetables, since I didn't plant a garden this year, takes up time. (I wasn't supposed to be here for the spring planting and harvest. Right?)

And, one can always clean house. (For me an occasional necessity -- an activity I accomplish with efficiency and speed.) 

But, still, somedays, I get itchy. 

Not bored. Just itchy to be somewhere different.

So itchy, I announced to my husband I was pulling out all our old camping equipment and we were going camping. The tent. The campstove. The coffee pot. The lantern. The clothesline. Everything. We were getting out of Dodge.

My husband shuddered in his chair. "I'm too old to sleep on the ground."

"We'll buy a huge blowup air mattress for your tender body," I snapped. 

Once upon a time, we were big campers. On our honeymoon, we drove from Michigan to the Pacific Coast Highway, camping from Astoria, Oregon to below Big Sur. We didn't have much money in our early years so campouts at Lake Michigan, and, later, while living in Colorado, Utah, and Connecticut, became our vacations and getaways. Our entertainment.

Having all three sons become Eagle Scouts meant we did significant time at campgrounds. Since getting rid of the kids, we've taken to seeing the world. We don't stay in the fanciest of hotels as we only use them for siesta, shower, and sleep.  But much nicer to sleep in a hotel on the Zambezi River than a tent where the crocodiles can have you for a midnight snack.

With those future adventures on hold -- and even road trips curtailed from visiting family or anywhere to get out of the relentless Texas summer heat, camping was the only solution I could come up with to avoid hotels and restaurants. Camping with a river to cool myself.

My husband wasn't on board. While I researched open campsites on the Frio River, he pounded away on his laptop. One morning he said there was something we needed to see in Houston - a three-hour drive away.

Next thing I knew, this happened.

This was not an idea out of the blue. Our plan in our retirement was to purchase a used Airstream -- after we satisfied ourselves with more international travel. The afore-mentioned Oceania areas of the globe followed by South America, Asia, and Spain/Portugal/Morocco. And, and, and...

As long as our bodies and pocketbook held out, we were going for it. No fancy cruises. Rental cars and roadmaps, picnic lunches and guidebooks in hand. The Airstream would come after, when we were older farts traveling the US and Canada, leeching real showers off friends along the way.

Enter the virus. Adaptation. The re-arrangement of the plan. Online shopping to explore grey/black water hoses. And, our first adventure. 60 miles from home at Blanco State Park. Floating down the river. Oilcloth on the picnic table. AC! on a hot August night in a campground. 

I write this post today as my husband and I celebrate 42 years of marriage. Where we had to use our wedding gift money to fund that 6000-mile honeymoon trek, and our VW broke down in Chicago, and my parents towed it home, and lent us a car, and it snowed while we figured out how to put up our new tent in Yellowstone National Park--in the dark -- we are now in a little better position to purchase our used 2014 Airstream. 

Although we're not snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef or watching the glowworms in New Zealand or hiking up to Machu Pichu this year, we are back where we started -- at a campground.

Needs a little decoration.

Poetic, I'd say. 

Now, if this thing could just learn how to back up by itself. 

Hope you're all doing well as we all plod through this, our newest lesson, in perseverance --

and life. 


Related Posts with Thumbnails