Tag Archives: travel

Tough Decisions

In high school I shared a bedroom with my sister, nearly two years my junior and a general pain in the butt back then (she’s OK now). I’d get up in the morning and she wouldn’t get out of bed. I’d use the bathroom, get dressed and she still wasn’t out of bed. I knew the minute I selected what she would wear, she’d hop out of bed and be dressed in time to go downstairs for a quick breakfast before walking to school. Did I want to tell her what to wear? No way!

I knew that if I went downstairs to breakfast alone, I’d get in trouble for not getting my sister up and out of bed on time for school. She knew that too, which is why she started this charade of making me her wardrobe arbiter so I was damned if I did, damned if I didn’t.

That’s how I feel about COVID-19. This is just one person’s opinion, but I hate that this killer disease was politicized in the USA from the get-go. I did everything right, stayed home, learned to grocery shop online and thanked my delivery people with a good tip and a “thanks for being there.” We took a major hit financially that will, as of next month, begin to ease. We got the vaccine the first day it was available for all. Now, with the new Delta variant, our state is up there in new cases and I wear a mask indoors.

I don’t like that governments lean toward punishing the people who did everything right, who kowtow to and even reward those I call “vacc-idiots.” There are good folks who can’t get the vaccine for health reasons. I’m not talking about you. I’m talking about the so-called “red states” who now have residents hospitalized or in morgues because they think it’s wrong to take the vaccine because Trump won’t like it (he’s vaccinated) or because Biden will get some kind of credit for it.

Ii read of secret rooms in hospitals where Republicans to go get vaccinated so they won’t be shunned by their friends. C’mon people. Get the shots for you, for your family and friends, and for the supermarket checker and mailman who have been so nice to you for years. Get it for your kid’s classmates and teacher.

My husband has to go overseas this month to complete his training so that he can earn a living. With the way things are going with the Delta variant, even vaccinated Americans won’t be welcome in the EU unless things turn around quickly. Our lives, literally and financially, depend on America’s herd immunity before new variants emerge that our vaccinations don’t know about and we have to start this fight all over again.

COVID-19 is one sly bug. It doesn’t care about your politics. I’m for everyone showing a negative test or proof of vaccine to get into work, a store, restaurant or event. Or on public transportation. I won’t take UBER because only their senior office staff is required to be vaccinated, not their drivers. It’s really scary to think that I could get it from an anti-vaxxer who is running around mask-less, be asymptomatic and give it unknowingly to someone without a vaccine, who could die. I don’t want that on my conscience.

Governors who are banning masks, vaccine requirements/”passports” are doing it to get re-elected or in Gov. DeSantis’ case, running for president. To those who won’t get a vaccine, look at who’s telling you not to get one. You can be reasonably sure that they’re vaccinated. Don’t trust people who talk out of both sides of their mouth. Please get vaccinated. You’ll help save us all. Dee


True Grit

Yes, Kim Darby, John Wayne and Glen Campbell. I haven’t researched it but it must have been the breakout film for one of my favorite actors, Robert Duvall. He can also carry a tune.

It was my first time on a plane and first trip to The Big Apple. We went to see True Grit the day it opened on a big screen in Radio City Music Hall. During intermission my sister and I sat in the men’s room “lounge” until I figured out there were all men in there. We were waiting for Dad. Oops.

I saw a bit of it today and remember that trip as if it was yesterday. The big screen was amazing, as are flat screens and we don’t have a big one but do have HD, today.

Two rooms. Overlooking other rooms in a cheap Howard Johnsons near Times Square that was crime central. Three single beds for me, my younger sister, age 8, and brother, age three. He ordered hot chocolate on the plane and took a big gulp. Yes, it was hot so he spewed it all over the place.

It gets better. We lived in a village of 400 people, perhaps 1,000 when college was in session. In NYC my mother was visibly pregnant with my youngest sister. She was taking us on our first subway to see the sights while Dad was working. My brother asked about the “chocolate people” on the subway. Actually, they laughed and gave my mother a seat. We had never seen a Black person and I knew at age ten not to ask. My brother did.

True Grit. Radio City Music Hall. This was 1969. Dad bought my brother, age three, a Brooks Brothers navy suit. We walked by St. Patrick’s Cathedral and my brother told me everyone was looking at him. There were two lesbians 20′ in front of us kissing passionately.

I asked if anyone was staring at them. “No,” he said. “Then why would they be staring at you?”

It was an adventure in all senses, first plane, and True Grit was not age-appropriate for ages ten, eight and three but this trip is remembered and loved. With cheers from Dee.

ps Oh, we’ll have a neighbor joining me and Zoe tonight for a week or so and I’ll need to set up for Zoe’s little “sister,” as they do act like sisters. New dual leash to set up and we tested it last weekend and made modifications in terms of adding binder clips to keep Zoe from taking two thirds of the leash. Our guest has been here several times before so I’ve got the food routine down, if the new dual leash works and I tweak it according to their needs (so they serpentine on a swivel ahead of me, with each other rather than going around me) all will be well. D

pps I usually awaken to a song, in my head. Today it was The Wichita Lineman, thank you Glen Campbell and thanks for True Grit.

With Your Hand

“I’ll walk in the rain by your side, I’ll cling to the warmth of your hand. I’ll do anything to help you understand I love you more than anybody can…”

Your hand took mine out of a lovely silver car 13 years ago. The song is by Peter, Paul and Mary of course. You never let go. We never let go.

Dearest husband and Zoe’s “dogfather,” we love you and hope to see you again soon. Dee


Hosting and Traveling

Yes, I like to think of my husband and I as good hosts. As in life, it’s all about knowing your guests’ needs and how to meet them.

Granted, things have gone crazy on dinner, with one being vegan and another gluten-free and my husband can’t eat anything that swims.

For overnights, we do have a guest room/office and separate bath. But that’s not what this story is about. My husband traveled for business last week, and I made him pack his bag mostly himself (I organized it) as he has not done so for 12 years.

He stole the travel pillow we bought for the dog several years ago. He left it at the hotel. I called the hotel and they found it and charged me to send it back. Then I found out he left his cell phone charger as well.

Tonight, a FedEx package arrived with Zoe’s travel pillow (she’s asleep with it now) and my husband’s iPhone charger. Thank you, Ruth! She is amazing.

Now we spent the weekend finding a replacement pillow, which he left on a plane yesterday and someone stole. Let’s see, three pillows in a week, one returned by FedEx for $25 and an extra $20 phone charger. Solo travel is getting expensive.

The answer is to add to the method. Always put the pillow in your suitcase or if you actually unpacked, into the underwear and sock drawer. Always place the charger in your laptop bag. Honey, you can do it. You usually sweep the room for me, you just don’t bother doing it for yourself because you’re on to the next thing and don’t multi-task.

In my life, will I ever understand the mental processes of a man? Even my husband of over ten years? Probably not. The not multi-tasking thing drives me nuts. He expects me to cook and talk and get him ice for a soda and feed the dog and it’s done. Venus and Mars, I guess. Dogma (one of Zoe’s nicknames) has been lifted to the bed so I should go before she jumps down to find me. She is a herder, after all. Cheers, have a good night. Dee

Postcards and Memories

When I was a wee bairn, I was baptized and my Aunt J and Uncle D held me in their arms. They have been with me for many years, even though Aunt J died a few years ago, as did her sister, my mother.

In 2007 I called my Uncle from Scotland and asked if he wanted me to contact any of his family while we were there. He said his family left in the 1700’s to fight the French but if I walked into a pub and said his name anyone with that name would stand me a pint.

I never took him up on that one. Instead I looked like knew where I was going and after three days living there was stopped by every Japanese tourist asking directions. I just told them to avoid the post office and get postcards and stamps from the local sporting goods store then post them at the PO without standing in line.

People call him Saint D because he’s taken care of his family and so many others. My dear cousin visited him yesterday and he had out a postcard I sent years ago from Scotland. He read it, and remembered. His sons played golf at St. Andrews’ and we got to live around there for a few months.

What do I miss most from Scotland besides my friends? Bagpipers in the streets. I slept better there and the water was right from Loch Lomond and the coldest and best tasting I’ve ever had. Cheese, cheddar of course. Mussels. Salmon.

Oh, dear Uncle you come from a proud and noble heritage. I don’t know how much leeway Salmon has but I saw the sword of William Wallace, the marker at Melrose Abbey for Robert the Bruce and even toured Parliament.

Whilst not really free, the Scots are on their way, peacefully. May you spend your days with family, me included. I thank you for remembering me and the Scottish postcard. With love to family and friends. Dee


Travels With Ghirlandaio

I was first introduced to Domenico Ghirlandaio by Fr. Murphy. Art history in college. This Franciscan priest (R.I.P. Fr. John) made me want to learn, as have others, don’t be jealous Fr. Cap.

Slides were not enough. When I walked up the mountain from Sta. Croce to San Miniato al Monte I saw the chapel. I can’t really see it right now because the glare is bad even through shades but just google Ghirlandiao.

Please do take the time to see Sta. Croce and the Pazzi Chapel, then cross the bridge behind it and make the walk. Stop at the church halfway up and give some money to the lady who takes care of the feral cats there. Make sure she knows the money is for the gatti, or cats, otherwise she’ll be insulted as if you called her a beggar. She used to bring them great trays of pasta from a local restaurant.

Then I went to cooking school in Tuscany for my birthday one year and went to San Gimignano for an afternoon. 18 of us were on a custom bus and we had one hour to see the town. Two of us ran 20 minutes to Sta. Fina, with earlier Ghirlandiao fresci. Spent 20 minutes there then ran back and made it just in time.

If you don’t have the resources for an art tour of Italy right now (I don’t) please check out Tea With Mussolini, a film with Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, and Cher. If you’ve been to Florence or San Gimignano you may even recognize the streets as it was filmed beautifully. Yes, Cher, and brilliant as a newly rich American with a heart of gold.

Take care and think about how art changes lives. Then remember that art was all people had before Guttenberg and reading. Think of your reading skills and your children’s and have them appreciate art as well. There is a reason for all those religious stories in painting and sculpture, no matter what religion you follow of if you follow none at all.

I started with my nephew at age nine and tried two different lessons: Medieval vs Renaissance and the lesson was perspective and realism; and ancient vs modern, Renaissance as opposed to Liechtenstein or Tara Donovan clouds with drinking straws.

All he said to his dad later that evening, after seeing a Gaston Lachaise nude with huge breasts. was that it “was not entirely age-appropriate.” And I kept him out of the room with French nude paintings. Oh, well. I tried. Please do so! Dee




I’m up, the 3 a.m. thing. Hours before we sail off to see my dad I checked up on Top Chef Masters and missed the last episode at Grand Canyon.

Yes, I remember the Grand Canyon from when I was ten. It was the late 1960’s and I knew little of Vietnam or hippies. Dad wore a staid suit and skinny tie (tie clip, too) and had his hair cut really short, and Mom had graduated from matching skirt sets to a yellow pantsuit.

First ever airplane trip, we flew to Phoenix and got a rental car. It had air conditioning, we’d never seen that before and never would. Dad said we had to keep the windows closed or the A/C would never work. It was 112 in the shade and we east coasters were wilting!

Then we got to the southern rim of the Canyon to a cabin with an “air cooling system.” That system consisted of opening the windows on a 112-degree day. It was July 3 and private fireworks went off all night. We all traded beds because we thought another would be cooler.

Then at 6:00 a.m. with no sleep, we stood in line for breakfast while Dad looked over the Canyon and said words like “awesome” and “majestic” and we were just tired, cranky and hot.

Then we drove to Flagstaff without even seeing the Grand Canyon and had A/C in the rooms and a pet raccoon out by the pool. For a ten year-old kid, that was heaven.

I’d love to go back one day with my husband and stay on the north rim and explore a bit.  Then I can say things like awesome and majestic and mean them.

We ended up in San Diego for a conference then drove up the Coast to San Francisco and it ended up being a great experience. Just the Phoenix/Grand Canyon part set us off on a rocky beginning.

As we age not only do the days get shorter, the years do as well. It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen my father and I look forward to our brief visit. Seven hours there today, same back on Sunday and my task board for me and my husband and dog care says one thing for Saturday: relax.

This story just came to me. While you might think it sheds a bad light on my childhood, it does not. The fact that I lived in a microcosm and only learned years later that I missed out on the Summer of Love because I was a sweaty kid in Phoenix is precious.

I did know the body count from Walter Cronkite every evening, and that it was imperative that the college students not know that the college president had been on Oppenheimer’s A-Bomb team.  And I’d give anything to see the home we practically built decades ago, and have my ashes scattered in my Enchanted Forest someday. I guess you could say I had my own 60’s listening to Frank Sinatra, playing the violin and skinnydipping in the pool with my sister at night.

Who cares about communes and magic mushrooms? I certainly didn’t miss out. And my parents brought me to see Frank, Chairman of the Board, at Carnegie Hall in the 80’s. Dee the Geeky Cook

Love, love, love

No, just take a sad song and make it better. Don’t sing anything with the words Mary Jane in it otherwise your grade school School Board will tell your choir director it’s about marijuana.

I’ll get out of my yellow submarine right quick and get down to real work. Hey, I braved lightning and thunder this morning for my husband’s pants!

Hey, Jude, is that Abbey Road? Thanks, mate. I’m on my way to Sir Paul’s, but the band is on the run and Paul is dead. Since 1966. So what am I talking about?

Y’all have a great day! I’m taking the weekend off, I think Eleanor Rigby is coming to stay here and sleep with our dog. She keeps her face in a jar by the door. Tee hee. Dee

So Long, Farewell

Auf Wiederzehn, good bye. That old song from The Sound of Music is choking me up today as I let memorable things go. They’re going to those in need, but in order to live here without a garage or significant storage space, we had to lose them.

And there’s more. Hubby wants his physics notebooks shredded and I’ll wait on that one because I think he’ll want to store that mass of knowledge. I’ve more books and clothing but gave away a lot of duplicate kitchen stuff today (box graters, salad bowls).

As one ages and tries not to hoard, it is painful to see things go that mean something to us. But we just can’t be mobile if these things we haven’t seen for 3-20 years are weighing us down. It’s as simple as shirts that are clean and have been hanging in storage for three years should be given to a legitimate non-profit organization that helps large tall men get a job!

Womens’ clothing is different. Even though I buy classic clothing, stuff I wore 15 years ago is hopelessly out of date and it would cost a fortune to dryclean it to have a non-profit sell it for $2 apiece.

We’re working on it. Trying to make a home of a place that does not and may not ever seem like home. I did get to weigh in on dog-friendly local restaurants, though. The Eatery on Farwell seats us on the patio under an umbrella and immediately brings a bowl of water for our Zoe. They were not given space in the article so I wrote a letter to the editor of the local weekly.

The two framed photos I placed in the hallway should keep my husband from hitting his head on the absurdly low light fixtures and look great as well. Both are from a trip several years ago with his parents, to western NY and Vermont. So I have ancient Concord rootstock (homage to the home of the WCTU) and a lumber mill in Vermont that had the exact work bench my grandfather made (and my Aunt still has) – still the 1700’s structure.

As for our stuff, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye. Dee


Life used to be easy and I could mow someone’s yard, pull weeds or babysit without fear of a lawsuit.

Now people want to do this for me. Our needs are simple, a basic cleaning or walk the dog.

My arthritis has kicked up big time and I can’t clean our shower. But they all have their needs and pick at me for anything that makes it harder for me to hire them than it is to do it myself.

We can’t let you hire another dog-sitter mid-day because it’s on our watch and we’re responsible so we can’t take care of your dog due to our insurance policy.

What? It’s my place, my dog and I have insurance and I hired YOU! This is ridiculous. I’m going elsewhere, already have an appointment early tomorrow.

For now, I pay the bills so I set the rules. No maids or dog walkers tell me what to do with my life. The home is mine, the dog is mine and that’s that.

Snob? No. Arthritis and going out of town for two days just to see my father who is gracefully aging, yes. I miss our mountainous state. Dee