Monthly Archives: December 2018

Adventures of Winter Traveling

Once again, we are on the road.  Traveling with the King of All Road Trips are always an adventure.  We had a wonderful Christmas day with our family in St. Louis.  Since we are going to Arizona for our 5 month stay, we went into St. Louis on Christmas Eve because 0 lobbywe had the water turned off and winterized all our systems.  We stayed at a really nice hotel that has great rates on weekends and non-work days.  It is located in the center of a business district and also just blocks away from the courthouse, so during a business week, this place is booming.  

Christmas morning we had a lovely breakfast and then wondered what to do  before our 2:00 pm family get-together.  It was time to take a walk so housekeeping could clean our room before they wanted to go home to IMG_9311celebrate Christmas.  The roads were empty. We walked a couple blocks toward city hall and the local county jail.  There were two fire engines parked with their lights flashing, and firefighters in their turnout gear walking out of the building and getting back into their trucks.  As they started their engines, I waved and told them, “Merry Christmas, and thank you for your service especially working on Christmas.”  They both rang their bells in response.  As we walked up the road, two police cars were pulled up to each other as the patrol officers were chatting.  I decided to cross the street to thank them for their service and to wish them a Merry Christmas.  Dennis grabbed me by the arm and stopped my assent across the street.  He pointed out I would be jaywalking right in front of them!  So, I walked to the intersection, crossed and walked between them to thank them.  They saw what I was doing and assured me they would not have arrested me had I jaywalked over to them!

We continued our walk, and came back to see a family from Boston swimming in the outdoor pool at our hotel.  It was only in the high 40’s, but they said the pool was heated, and very comfortable.  We wished them a Merry Christmas and went back to our room to take a nap and go see our family.  What a lovely, easy, laid back day we had.  We ate, shared gifts, played games with the teenagers (no little kids at this party), and ate some more.  We went back to our hotel to get a good night’s sleep to be road ready the next morning for our trip to Arizona.

Of course, best plans never work in our case.  I had a fitful sleep that night as well as Dennis, so we got up about 4:00 am, got cleaned up and dressed, and was out the door at 4:45 am for Arizona.  I started the driving because I am familiar with St. Louis roads and the best way to get to the interstate from where we were staying.  About 2 hours later, I was way too sleep deprived to drive, so we traded driving.  About 2 hours later, Dennis was also feeling the lack of sleep, so we pulled over in Joplin, Missouri, and took an hour’s nap in the car, enough to energize us both, and off we were again.

As we passed Tulsa, Oklahoma, going towards Oklahoma City, it started raining, and then raining, and then really raining.  For some reason, we both noticed that the airbag light on the dashboard for the passenger airbag was glowing, “Airbag Off.”  Airbag off?  Really? This car has front and side airbags to protect me, and it says that none of them are on.  I googled and didn’t find an answer or solution to the problem.  It is pouring outside, visibility is not good, and I have no protection if we had an accident.  I suggested we pull over, turn off the engine, and see if restarting the car might reactivate the airbag—much like rebooting your computer.  No luck there either.  Next I called my dealership in St. Louis and spoke with the service department.  She put me on hold and came back to say I needed to find the nearest Lexus dealership, and have them check it out because with that light on, I had no airbag protection.

0 carI have paid and wondered why I pay to be able to connect with Lexus for driving directions, etc.,  but yesterday I was grateful that I have done so.  I called into my “Destination Assist” from my car, and told them not only did I need them to download the directions to the closest Lexus dealership, I needed the dealership’s phone number to call them.  Within seconds I had peace of mind that the dealership knew we were on our way, although we were still a 40  minute drive to Oklahoma City.  The rain continued in torrents.  The dealership was right off the highway and so easy to find, especially since we were receiving turn by turn instructions.  The service writer labeled our ticket as “traveling through” so the mechanic would take us immediately so we could get on the road again.  Within 10 minutes, they adjusted a sensor underneath the passenger seat, and we were on our way, with no charge!  As we pulled out of the dealership, the rain was coming down so hard IMG_9319that the sides of the roads were flooded to the bottom of the car.  Fortunately, there was a hotel one block away, and we decided to just shorten our day, and stay in Oklahoma City.

We waited in our room, which was most comfortable, for about an hour to see if the rain let up.  It did a little bit, and we decided to go to an early dinner.  As I was driving back to the hotel, we were passed by fire trucks, and then noticed they pulled into our hotel.  I pulled into a different entrance and parked.  Was IMG_9320our hotel on fire?  There were two fire trucks again with their flashing lights and firefighters in their turnout gear walking around.  One told us it was safe to go inside, that someone had pulled the fire alarm, apparently as a prank.  As we were walking to the stairway because the elevator was still on lock down by the fire department, two police officers walked past us, knocked on a door and asked to enter this room.  I think they found the person who had pulled the alarm—we were told that there is a security camera that is focused on their alarm boxes (good move).  This morning one of the other hotel guests told us she arrived later in the evening and was told the elevator was not currently working, but that the person who pulled the alarm was no longer at the hotel.  So either they were arrested this person or the hotel kicked the offender out, or both.

We were so tired last night that we actually hit the sack at 8:00 pm, and slept until almost 7:00 am.  We are rested, and we are now driving through Texas.  There is evidence along the route of the huge rain storm from yesterday that hit Texas and Oklahoma.  The sun is shining, it is in the low 40’s, but the wind is blowing at 27 mph, which makes it really chilly, and hard to open the car door when we stopped.

With all this crazy weather, I checked my Arizona newspaper app, and they are saying that a cold front is coming through that will bring freezing temperatures though the weekend.  They said how to cover plants, and what to do and not do.  I got kind of 0 yardpanicked.  We have our whole back yard in San Tan Valley, AZ, landscaped, and we will see it in person for the first time some time tomorrow, and now it is going to freeze?  I called our landscape design guy.  I asked if I should hire someone to cover everything.  Well, long story short—no one is available, and when you cover in Arizona, you have to uncover first thing in the morning, because it warms a lot in the day, and you don’t want to cook the flowers.  He thinks we shouldn’t lose anything significant, if we lose at all.  I hope he is correct.  I would like to see my flowers before frost hits them.  He doesn’t know if the the mountain will protect us from the cold, or if it will bring a draft of frigid air.  I really hope we have some flowers and a citrus tree smiling at us when we arrive.

Road trips are always an adventure for us.  This one has definitely proved to be no different.  I wish you could see this car.  It is packed and I mean packed with only room for Dennis and I to sit in the front seats.  The trunk is filled with boxes of dishes, all the photos and artwork from our other home for this home, and I don’t even remember what’s in the back seat, but there is one tiny hole to see out of the rearview mirror.  

I have a wonderful neighbor across the street from our new house who has kept an eye on our home while we were in Missouri.  He parks his work car in our driveway while we are away—did I mention that he is one of the local sheriffs in town?  I have twelve (12) first cousins in the Phoenix area.  I have never moved anywhere where I have instant friends.  I am planning a big party in a few weeks and plan to invite all my friends and family who live in the area.  In three weeks my step son is coming to visit—our first of many visitors I plan to see come to our home.  Can you tell I am really excited on this road trip to get to our destination?

Dennis just bought me a 120W inverter that plugs into the cigarette lighter, and now I can plug in my laptop to charge while driving down the road.  Unfortunately, I will have to wait a bit to post this blog because neither Dennis nor I have service on our phones, so I cannot hook up to his hotspot (on his phone for all of you who have you minds elsewhere), and load this blog onto the internet.  So it will be there for your reading whenever we can connect!

I started this post a few days ago as we were traveling, but due to lack of phone service and extreme weather, I chose to complete this blog once we rolled into our destination.  The adventure continued until we reached our Arizona home yesterday.  As we arrived in Albuquerque Thursday late afternoon, we stopped for a quick dinner because we wanted to drive all the way to Gallup, New Mexico before we stopped for the night.  Our 0 snowgoal was to sleep in Gallup, and then the next morning take I-40 west into Flagstaff, Arizona, and then drop south on I-17 into Phoenix and then on to our home.

Our plans are our plans, and not apparently anyone else’s.  We had a nice quick dinner, got into our car and drove out of Albuquerque (who decided how to spell that town anyway?) and we stopped for gas.  We pulled up in front of a car that was facing ours.  We noticed the owner was pounding off a thick coating of ice that was across the front of his car.  Dennis asked him where he had come from to have all that ice on his car.  He replied he just drove in from Flagstaff and the roads are snow and ice covered.  At that same moment, a friend of mine texted me and said that there was a blizzard warning out for New Mexico along I-40 into Albuquerque.  We were heading right into the blizzard.  As we drove west from the service station, snow began falling—sideways at us.  Visibility was getting tough and we realized we needed to find sleeping accommodations as soon as possible, and not try to get to Gallup.

IMG_9340We found a hotel at one of the many casinos along the interstate.  Our room was very reasonably priced, and the bed was terrible.  I think they don’t want you in bed sleeping—they want you in the casino losing your money!  When we awoke in the morning, there was about 9” of snow outside.  (We had checked the weather before leaving Missouri and along to way, and none of this severe weather was forecasted).  We were studying all alternatives for traveling.  Should we drop down to I-10 and come in from the south?  We could do that if we drove back to Albuquerque, but we were already a 90 mile drive out, and we discovered that the blizzard hit that town hard and they closed I-40 in town.  Also the highway we would need to take to get to I-10 was hit by the blizzard.  

We decided to get in the car and head our original direction and see if we could get 0 clear roadanywhere.  We were on a snow packed road and barely anyone was out yet.  We drove quite a distance, when all of a sudden, the road was clear.  We still had to be careful because it was bitterly cold, and the black ice was a possibility.  We would travel slower and just work our way in.

We arrived in Flagstaff early afternoon, stopped for lunch and then headed south on I-17.  At one point on this highway, the snow was coming down, the road was snow packed, there were many cars and trucks out, and we are going downhill, descending from our high elevation, down to the valley were Phoenix is.  We questioned our route, 0 AZ snowbut we were in the final stretch, and then once again, all of a sudden, the road was clear.  As we drove lowering our elevation, we noticed the temperature rising from the 26 degrees in Flagstaff to mid 50’s as we entered the Phoenix area.  The drive was breathtaking and we were glad we took the routes we had taken.  We arrived at our home in San Tan Valley about 5:30 pm.  It is colder here than usual—there is a 0 cloudscold front that hit all of Arizona, but it is sunny and beautiful.  

I am 70 years old, and I still love new adventures and meeting new people.  I love connecting people who may have things in common with other of my friends and family.  My hip is pretty much in complete working order.  Hiking and walking are on the agenda for a few months.  The weight I gained not being mobile this past year should start falling off as I become more physically active.

I am grateful for a wonderful husband who loves new adventures as much as I do.  I am grateful that he loves meeting all my friends and family.  I am grateful that he is willing to share our home with our friends and family.  He is the best traveling companion and for that I am grateful.

I hope you all had a great Christmas.  As we move toward the new year, let us contemplate on the wonderful blessing we have in our lives.  I know we hit rough spots, but in the end, a grateful heart will make all those seem small compared to all our blessings.

Next week, I’ll be blogging from San Tan Valley, Arizona!  Until then, have a great new year . . . .0 quote

35 Lessons Learned Over 70 Years

IMG_9260This past weekend I turned 70 years old.  I still find that amazing.  Is it amazing because I have lived so many years?  Yeah, that’s part of it, but it is amazing to me because I am still looking for new adventures in life.  I guess I aways thought old people just kind of stopped when they retired.  I did stop working for a paycheck, but I do a lot of things.  The difference is that they are my things that I want to do on my schedule.  Granted, I give myself deadlines, but like today, I didn’t realize it was Thursday because my days have really been jumbled since my surgery since I am not totally back to my usual daily whatever it is I do.  I make Thursday morning my time to post my blog, but not knowing what day it was today, has delayed my posting.  I missed my deadline, and there is no one there to write me up, dock my pay, or just frown at me.  It’s my deadline, and mine only—no punishment involved.  Oh, the joy of retirement!

This year I expected a quiet birthday with my husband.  We have been so busy. I was going to physical therapy three days a week.  We are clearing out the house of anything we can donate to have it as clear as possible, if we sell our home.  We have been making lists of what we want to take to Arizona with us, packing these things, and loading the car.  So, with so much hubbub going on around us, I loved the thought of the two of us going into St. Louis and having a quiet dinner at the restaurant Dennis I had went to on our first date.  After dinner, off to see a movie of my choice and spend the night in a hotel before coming back to mid Missouri.  It was smart that Dennis made a reservation because my restaurant is in an area of town that is very festive around Christmas.  IMG_9259Parking is hard to find, and an empty table is even harder to find.  We got to the restaurant and the host took us to our table.  He pointed to a table that several people were sitting at, and my first thought was that this place is so crowded (which it was) that we are sitting on the end of a long table with a bunch of strangers — until I looked at the “strangers” and realized they were our kids and grandkids there to surprise me.  I loved the surprise and seeing my family together.  The surprise continued into the evening as we said goodbye to all the kids, and then in an effort to drop Dennis’ son at his apartment, they told me to go see my son who lives next door.  I was very reluctant because I figured they had other plans, and I don’t drop in on people unannounced.  It made sense at the time, so I called my son to see if he was home and he told me to come on up to his apartment.  Little did I know everyone had gone there for cake and ice cream—as a second “Surprise!”  I love my kids, and they know I love a good surprise, but how dense can I be that I didn’t figure this out?  It must be from turning 70.

That evening I told my grandkids that I was not really 70 until the next day at 5:12 pm (or was it 5:11 pm?  I may have to look that up sometime).  The next day, between 5:12 pm and 5:15 pm, I received a phone call and a text message from my two teenage grandkids who wanted to wish me a happy 70th now that I was officially 70.  What sweet kids.

So, here I am at 70.  Older and hopefully wiser.  I got thinking today about the lessons I have learned over 70 years.  I came up with only 35 items.  I hope I learned more than one lesson every two years.  Anyway, here is my list — Andrea’s words of wisdom that I came up with off the cuff of what are the things I have discovered in the last 70 years.  Here is my list:

  1. Success is never a straight path.
  2. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
  3. If it feels right, it still might not be.
  4. Finding a future significant other takes a lot of work, and a good way to fact check.
  5. The people you least expect may be the most significant people in your life.
  6. cookLife is far from perfect, so the first time a major setback  happens, don’t let it get you off balance.
  7. Expectations should be realistic.
  8. No one is perfect so give people some slack.
  9. The best cook in the world can still blow a recipe.
  10. Having enough money to pay the bills is good, having an excess to add “things” to one’s life just complicates it.
  11. Stop and take time to observe nature.
  12. The Old Testament, if read to completion,points to everything in the New Testament, and the lessons are  priceless.
  13. Vinegar takes blood out of fabric—who knew?
  14. Everyone feels inadequate at sometime in their life.
  15. It is okay to let go of toxic people.
  16. Every corner of this earth is beautiful in some way.
  17. Everyone learns differently.
  18. Evil is real.
  19. One cannot know how good really is, unless they know what bad is.
  20. One does not have to agree with someone to love them.
  21. If a friendship goes south, keep the door cracked a bit, time may heal and restore the friendship.
  22. Everybody farts, but it is still nice not to do it in public.
  23. Children can be the greatest joy and the greatest heartbreak.
  24. Families can be bigger than genetics.
  25. If you like to sing, then sing, even if it’s not very good.
  26. Walking can save your life.
  27. It takes effort to be a friend.
  28. There should never be a secret family recipe.
  29. Death can come at any age—be prepared.
  30. Cousins should know each other even in adulthood.
  31. Life never takes a pause.
  32. Get the stories from your parents and grandparents, one day it will be too late to ask.
  33. God is real — just like the wind — you can’t see it but you see and feel its effects.
  34. Being retired can cause a person to lose track of days, but then they’re retired, so who cares?
  35. Nothing is better than a hug and “I love you” from a grandchild.

00 Psalm 118

Random Memories of My First Home

christmasLast night I thought about a Christmas photo of me with my oldest sister, Marilyn.  It was the Christmas of 1954.  My husband always wonders how I remember what year something was in my life.  Many times I remember a date because I associate the memory with something of significance in my life or in my world around me.  This one was easy because the photo that was scanned had a date written the back!  Marilyn received a new camera, and I received a Cinderella watch.  I love the television in this photo along with the Christmas tree with tinsel hanging on it.

This photo brought memories back of the first house I lived in.  My dad built the home on the property of his parents’ farm.  Not only did my dad live there, two of his other brothers lived near us, and more would be coming soon.  When my dad built this home, he borrowed my grandfather’s mule, and used it to dig out the foundation of the house.  Shortly after the house was built, the mule died.  My dad said Grandpa always blamed him for killing the mule by overworking it!

3905ElmhurstThis home was the first house my parents owned, and I lived there until I was in 2nd grade.  Now granted, I was very young living there, but I have huge memories of that home.  My grandmother lived next door in the big brick house, and when I was a preschooler, I would walk to her home, and I sat in her kitchen with white tile up the wall 0 cherriesand black and white checkered tiles on the floor.  She would feed me cookies and milk at the small table.  The glass of milk was in a thick old fashion glass, and it was heavy and bulky for my littles hands to to get around, thus needing to use both hands to hold the glass.  There was a cherry tree in her back yard near the kitchen door.  My older sisters who were 4 and 6 years older than me would climb the tree and feast on the cherries.  I stood at the bottom of the tree, too little to climb, and patiently waited as my sisters would occasionally toss me a cherry.

washerIn our little brick home, my mom did the laundry on Mondays.  My sisters were in school, and I would sit on the open basement steps and watch Mom do the laundry in her double tub automatic wash machine,  We played a lot in the basement, which also served as a garage for our family car.  Of course, we played what we knew, so many times my sisters would play Sunday School.  I learned to recite the 23rd Psalm playing Sunday School with my older sisters.

Our home was a two bedroom home, one bath, with a living room, dining room, and kitchen.  I do not have memories where we ate dinner, if it was in the kitchen (which I think Unknownmight have been too small for the five of us), or in the dining room.  A special dinner was when my mom made her famous Sloppy Joes, and we would sit int he living room, eat dinner and watch “Our Miss Brooks” on the tiny television, followed by “The Wonderful World of Disney,”  I was always the happiest when it showed Mickey Mouse cartoons, especially with Donald Duck—I loved Donald Duck.  I IMG_2027have research the title of the original television show, and I can’t find an actual title–it was aired by several networks and the name changed with the networks.  Another all time television favorite of mine, watching on that tiny screen was “The Howdy Doody Show.”  I was a big fan, and even had a Howdy Doody doll, of which I own a replica of since I have a rare photo of me with this doll.

We had a large console radio in the home.  My mother loved listening to Kate Smith sing.  She pretty much put “God Bless America” on the map.  I would open the doors to this large piece of furniture, stand with my back to the radio, an pull the doors slightly closed around me, and sing along, and pretend I was Kate Smith or some famous singer singing along with Frank Sinatra or Bing Crosby.

1 IMG_0001

When I had my appendix removed in 1955, I could not start school that year until I recovered.  My mother went to the school to get the lessons I was missing.  I so distinctly remember the spelling workbook, learning to spell such big words like cat!  While recuperating, I had received a gift of a toy doctor’s bag.  It had a pretend stethoscope, a pretend thermometer, and I am sure a few other “medical” items.  I lined up my dolls all over the living room furniture to play hospital.  (Children play what they know).  I took my stethoscope and listened to all their hearts.  I had one doll that had a hole on her bottom.  She was a doll I could feed water too, and then she would wet her diaper by the gravity method of the water going through her to her bottom!  Like why did I think changing a doll’s diaper would be fun?  It was nothing like changing real baby’s stinking diapers!  Since this was the only doll with the bottom hole, she got a rectal temperature taken just like then did me in the hospital!

I played with a boy named Ralph Oswald.  I don’t remember much about him, and I am amazed that his name popped up into my head.  All I remember is that he lived on Ramona Avenue and his house was bigger than ours.  I went with my mother to that house for a Fuller Brush party.  What an odd random memory to come back to me!

0 mudDid I get into mischief at that house?  You betcha, I did!  In the summer, my mom would fill up a blow up pool in our front yard, and then we had to wait an hour or two for the water to warm up, before we could get in.  I was probably around four or five years old, and my cousin Peggy was at our home, who was two years younger than me.  We were in our swim suits waiting for the water to warm, and we were quite experts at making mud pies.  Do kids even make mud pies anymore?  I realized we had this tiny hill that went from the front yard to the driveway, and if it got muddy, we could slide in the mud down to the driveway.  It was a short distance, but for two little ones, it was perfect.  We slipped and slid down this muddy hill, until my mother walked outside and saw we were mud head to toe.  That ended our swimming privileges.  She dumped the water out of the pool and took us inside to bathe.  I was so disappointed we didn’t get to swim, but I must admit, I still remember the joy of slip sliding in the mud!

0 kids and cookiesI started school living in this house.  There were no buses.  I walked several blocks to get there.  I was a reluctant student.  My mom walked me there when I was in kindergarten.  I recall crying when she left—that lasted about 30 seconds once I saw the fun activities I could do.  In kindergarten we snacked on butter cookies that looked like a flower with a hole in the middle, and juice.  I remember drinking juice, not milk.  We put on a play for our parents—most moms didn’t work back in those days, so we had lots of moms there.  We acted out “Billie Goats Gruff”, you know the story with the troll under the bridge and the little goats afraid to cross until the big one knocked the troll into the water.  We also did hula dancing with grass skirts.  Then the boys came out and danced in the grass skirts also, and we thought it was so funny.  Silly little things I remember!

0 houseWe lived in that house for six years.  My dad had during this time become a building contractor, and had built a subdivision of 1950’s ranch style homes across town, where we moved when I was in the second grade. I didn’t particularly like the new house because the windows were high, and when I first moved there, I had to jump up to see out of my bedroom window.  I moved to a school with a cafeteria, and no longer had to carry my lunch and eat at our desks.  

It is funny how as I started writing about living in this first home, many memories came flooding back.  For as many years as I lived there, there is much that I do not remember.  I was very young, and it’s a been a long time since those days–memories fade.  That is part of the reason I am writing my blog.  I want to document what I remember about my life for my children, grandchildren, and future great grandchildren.  I cherish the memories that my parents and grandparents have put in writing about their lives.

Have you started documenting the memories from your life?  My family doesn’t ask me many questions about my past, but I know that since my parents and grandparents are gone, there are so many more questions I wish I had asked.  One day my family might want to read these memories–if not, I hope you enjoyed them!

Oh Tannenbaum!

Since my hip surgery a month ago, I have just been a bit behind on everything in my life. I decided to share this blog I wrote last year about my Christmas tradition. It feels so different this year because I am not hosting Christmas–we are going to St. Louis to celebrate with our kids there, and then we leave for Arizona the next day. So, no decorations are out in my home for the first time ever. Kind of sad, but just a bit too much to do this year.

Andrea Unsinkable

00 foodI love decorating my Christmas tree. My tree has never been the normal commercial tree everyone seems to have. When my children were small, I hung candy on the tree. Not just candy canes, I had strung gumdrops. They are really cute on a tree, but a huge pain to string. I had lollipops hanging. There was a local candy

12/1976 If you look closely at this tree from 1976, you can see the popcorn & cranberry garland.

store in St. Louis who made perfect beautiful oval lollipops, and their colors were see-through and wrapped in clear cellophane. I taped a ribbon loop to the back of the lollipop, and hung them like an ornament. I also purchased chocolate coins, wrapped in gold foil. For those I used a small needle and threaded through the top of the foil to make the loop to hang. I made sure the foil was…

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