Monday, April 22, 2013

Catching Up

In the time since I last wrote, I have traveled to China, Florida, New England, California and Arizona.  I am falling behind in my blogging because I am so busy!  LOVED China, and will write about it soon.  Bought a Little Guy camper, and will show you that, too!  So much to catch up on.
I'll be back!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

More friend stories

On Facebook I have found more old friends. Facebook can be so much fun, and it can drive me crazy. I love finding an old friend, going through the honeymoon period of madly catching up on the last 40 years of their lives, seeing where they live and if we can meet up sometime. A gal I thought I'd lost forever just popped up on Facebook. She and I were roommates in a dorm run by Mexican nuns in Northern Spain in 1970, but we went our separate ways only a year or two later, and now here she is again. How fun!

I have also made a new friend on Facebook; I joined a group called Plane Crash Survivors, and lo and behold, a woman who was a passenger on the same plane crash as I was in 1973 also joined the group. We avidly wrote for a few months, becoming good friends, and we met during my last trip east. I plan on being friends with her forever.

Another internet "meeting" -- in 1998, I believe, I received an email that was sent to me by mistake. It had arrival times and a request to be picked up at the airport from an international flight, so I replied to the sender that she had accidentally gotten a middle-aged mom in Littleton, Colorado and not the "Hector" she'd written to. I just didn't want her to be stranded at an airport with no Hector there to pick her up. Hector himself wrote back to thank me for helping them avoid an inconvenient mix-up, and we have been writing ever since. (I have permission to use his full name here) Hector McDonnell is an artist whose paintings, thankfully, I adore. Google him to see his work. He is kind and funny and, according to my daughter who actually stayed in his house in N. Ireland, has a great and wondrously infectious laugh. He and I have not yet met in person, but he, like my plane crash friend, will hopefully be in my life forever.

Then there's the story of my favorite teacher, Mr. S. He taught Spanish at Marblehead High School, and he was funny and fun and inspiring. I saw him once or twice in my very early 20s, when I came home from Spain and looked him up at MHS. I remember visiting his classroom once and speaking to his class in Spanish -- those kids were quite fluent, of course, because Mr. S was a great teacher. Then I lost him for more than 35 years, finally finding him through emails and internet searches, the year of my 40th class reunion. He is still a firecracker! We visited him on Cape Cod last summer, and he is coming to Colorado in a couple of weeks. Crazy, this life!

In my latest college life, around 2004, I met a fabulous woman. She was the second-oldest in our Women in Art class (ten years younger than me, the oldest!) and we became fast friends. J is so much fun, so enthusiastic about life! She has a husband who adores her and three amazing daughters! We used to talk about going to New York City to actually the Brooklyn Art Museum to see Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party. Once when we were discussing NY she mentioned a crazy button shop she wanted to take me to. We are both sewers and crafters. As she described the button shop, I remembered a painting Hector had done of that exact button shop that was reprinted in a calendar he'd sent me. I gave the print to J and she immediately framed it, loving the painting and the story of how Hector and I "met." Now J is very sick, fighting for her life, and selfishly, I miss her terribly. Her wonderful family has circled the wagons, so her legions of friends and fans wait to hear, once again through the miracle that is the internet, of how she is feeling and how they are coping. She is constantly in my thoughts.

Friends. My life is so enriched by them; I would be adrift without them. Old friends, new friends, internet friends and friends I haven't met yet -- you are all so very valuable to me! Thank you for being there, you are all so dear.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Old Friends

Last month we went on a cruise to Nassau. "We" are a gang of women who have been friends since we were 1 year old, more or less. One was a late-comer, showing up in our lives around first grade. This cruise was a celebration of our 60th birthdays, which we will all celebrate in 2011. The photo is out of focus, thankfully -- an old Hollywood trick to disguise wrinkles! The waitress who took the photo probably didn't know that, tho.

Two of the gals in the photo are sisters whom we were thrilled to have along. Left front: Jill, Sherrylou, Holly, Sherry (June's sister) and the back row is Kimberly, Leigh (mine) and June. the Magnificent Seven. I don't think we have laughed so hard in forty years. Old friends -- we know each other's mother's maiden names! We can close our eyes and walk all the way through each other's houses, through the attics even! We know exactly what the others' Christmas mornings consisted of. We know our fears and our strengths, and we know exactly where each came from. We can walk through our yards, we can describe the climbing trees. We can see the huge granite rocks we played on by the water, each crevass we jumped, the "horse" rock. We knew all the parents' sleeping styles, from separate bedrooms to double beds to two twins pushed together, to a king. We never really knew what the Dads did, but we knew the moms like they were our own. All but one of the moms is gone now. When we turned 50, we went to visit one of them, rang her bell and then yelled "TRICK OR TREAT!!!" and she said "Oh for god's sake, when are you girls gonna GROW UP!!??" Man it was funny!

Sherrylou was the first to turn 60, which happened on the ship. We had a great party at the table, with party favors and wonderful little gifts for everyone. Remember the toy that was a cardboard guy and you used a magnet to move iron filings around to make a beard, or hair? We had masks and whistles and those blower thingies...we probably looked like fools, but we preferred to believe everyone was envious. There was chocolate from Stowaway Sweets in Marblehead; there were ornaments and bags full of penny candy like when we were little. There was a fabulous journal, each one containing photos and mementos from childhood.

The Magnificent Seven have endured so much in our lives. Divorces, infant death, murder and a disappearance. We have held each other and cried until our hearts would break, and we have laughed until our sides hurt so bad. We all carry baggage, and we all know where that baggage came from. How lucky are we, to have a whole team who knows us and loves us through tragedy and joy. It don' get no bettah.
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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Our Mini Amazing Race

Two photos from our Mini Amazing Race, called the Citychase. These races are held all over the world, sponsored by Tmobile and Blackberry. My friend C and I had an absolute blast! There were about 600 participants, and I was impressed with how the clue sheets were handed out. Instead of making us all line up for a copy, they announced a list of scavenger hunt items we had to bring back in order to receive our clue sheet. Fortunately for us, the start was directly across the street from my sister's condo, so we just zoomed up there and picked up everything we needed! Still, even with that auspicious beginning, we found ourselves falling quickly behind many other teams. Each clue had a time-consuming challenge attached to be completed before moving on to the next. On our very first challenge, C had to accost a total stranger and ask him to kiss her, to exchange shirts with her, and to do a cheer she would teach him, all while I photographed it with a Blackberry loaned to the challengers. Done, and with a VERY willing stranger I might add, upon re-reading the instructions I saw I was supposed to video them, not still photograph them. The stranger was quite game (C is gorgeous!) and did it all a second time while I tried to figure out the stupid Blackberry! It was hilarious. The next challenge was to kayak down the Confluence, over rocks! C had never been in a kayak but we totally rocked it and headed to the next, pictured above on the right. Yes, we had to ride a mechanical bull! C rolled a pair of dice and we had to stay on for as many seconds as she rolled. Lucky for us she rolled a 6; unlucky for me I went first; lucky for C I stayed on for FIVE WHOLE SECONDS!!! I begged the guy to set the speed for Senior Division but he said he couldn't. Fortunately the bull was surrounded by a giant air mattress, so when I fell off I didn't break a hip! Ha ha!!
We didn't finish all ten challenges, but we had a great time and would do it again in a New York minute!!!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pueblo Lake State Park

We just spent two nights camping at Pueblo Lake. As you can see by the photos, it is plains camping; a very far cry from mountain camping! The terrain is almost pure clay, which, when wet, sticks to everything and sucks your feet down into it, making mounting the shell a real challenge. You can see our "private" beach, but a view of the whole lake really doesn't translate well into these tiny photos -- it is HUGE, and the week before Memorial Day almost completely devoid of other boaters! That made this novice sculler very happy, as I always worry about crashing into someone, or being crashed into by someone who can't see my narrow, silver boat.
This was only the second time we'd gone tent camping in probably 15 years. We (actually, I) used to make it all so complicated; trying to be green, I'd bring real plates and cups, and would have to wash dishes after every meal. Burgers, steaks, side dishes -- those, along with the real plates, went by the wayside. Our menu the first night was boneless chicken breasts grilled at home, and a bag of frozen veggies and rice. We put it all in a pot of boiling water to heat it up, (the chicken in a ziplock) and it was delish! (Next time we'll bring a steamer basket and won't have to use so much fuel boiling the water). Of course s'mores for dessert, but instead of the Hershey bar that never melts, we used Nutella -- yum!
Breakfast was equally easy -- bacon cooked at home (who can deal with all that bacon fat when you're camping??!), scrambled eggs, cheese all in a whole wheat wrap. Lunch was sandwiches made with those same wraps (so much easier than packing bread, which always seems to get squished). Fruit for snacks. We went to the marina one afternoon for ice cream.
The tent campsites were deserted except for one other tent. The RV sites had a few more people in them, but were far away from us. The silence at night was profound, and the birds in the morning were too numerous to count! When I woke up at 5 and stuck my head out of the tent, I couldn't believe how beautiful that water was, and was thrilled to get on my shell after so many weeks without rowing. A bit out of shape from winter, I only lasted about 45 minutes. Later in the day, when there was too much wind for rowing, I took the kayak out -- that thing is so stable and so much fun to paddle around in! Where the shell is a shark, the kayak is a flounder, but it gets me where I want to go. No matter what vehicle I choose, on the water is the best place in the world.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I don't pretend to know anything whatsoever about the religions in India. As a matter of fact, I really wish I'd read up on them in order to understand the people better. But a couple of things stood out. Please know that I am only writing about what I experienced -- I am not generalizing about the religions or the religious people themselves.

The Sikhs were the least likely to swarm us or to cheat us (as far as we could tell). They were serene and elegant. Amritsar is their spiritual center, where the Golden Palace is located. In order to enter the grounds, you must remove your shoes, wash your hands and feet, and cover your hair (both men and women). Once inside the temple (after a long wait in line) there were seven or eight maharajis chanting prayers inside a small, beautiful and very hot room. Visitors would simply sit themselves down anywhere (including in line) and start chanting with the maharajis, which was a little disconcerting. One woman was scolded by a guard when her headscarf slipped off.

The Taj Mahal is a Muslim mausoleum, but of course is visited by people of all walks of life. We heard the Muslim call to prayer while we were there, but did not see anyone step out of line to pray. As a matter of fact, there were "line police" specifically there to keep people from mobbing the crypt.

Several times when money was exchanged, whether in a rickshaw, buying bananas at an outdoor market, or paying our hotel bill, we saw the recipient gently waving the money in front of an icon, bowing, and moving his hands in some way, giving thanks for the blessing of having made a sale, I imagine. Many many businesses had incense burning in front of a painting of a god or goddess. Even some rickshaws had a tiny makeshift altar with incense burning!

In McLeod Ganj, where the Dalai Lama resides, was a Buddhist temple where several gods were depicted in statues or paintings. The altars had offerings laid on them, mostly boxes of foods such as Oreos, Ritz crackers, Chips Ahoy. Personally, that detracted a great deal from the solemnity of a religious altar, but being an athiest myself, I simply thought it lacked decorum. Believers would prostrate themselves in front of these altars, so we had to avoid stepping on them as we passed. There was a sign upon entering the temple warning us to watch that our shoes don't get stolen. Hmmmm, how do we do that?