God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Preparing for the Inauguration and a Good Map

Getting ready for the big event is taking a little bit of doing--and, I am realizing, involves unanticipated expenses--probably because I didn't think real hard beyond getting there, having bed and pillow and experiencing the excitement.

Living in San Diego, we don't have a lot of call for winter type clothing--we are not skiiers nor snow bunnies. When we lived in Italy, we did have some things but as that year was record breaking warm, there wasn't much call for winter gear.

Yesterday, in spite of our bad throats, coughs and miserable bodies, we made trips to REI--which we soon realized was costing more than we could justify for 6 days so we left with only handwarmers, which Ken "thinks" will be handy, an ear band for Casey to wear under his knit cap and an ear covering bonnet for me; next was Target which didn't have much that would be useful except gloves for Casey and then, finally, Sport Chalet which worked better. There we bought Casey warmy boots on sale for $20 and cozy mid-weight thermals.

Ken and I bought appropriate footwear last week although I think I will also get a pair of winter wear Ecco to augment the boots--which on their test run resulted in a nasty blister. Now, I need thermal undergarments and heavy duty gloves as cold hands are unbearable.

Although we are still excited about getting 3 of the elusive ceremony tickets, our new Republican congressman was not given the better location for his give aways. We will be in the mall section of the ticketed area--which, I am certain, means that Obama, Aretha and the others will be no more than little dots on the horizon. But, that's OK--we will be there.

If you are going to be there or if you know people who will be, there are two useful sites providing information about the events and planning.

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inauguration Events

This site gives all kinds of information including how to arrive, what to take, routes, etc. You can sign up for e-mail notification of important information.

The City of Washington Inaugural Site

This site provides additional information about both the inauguration and the city.

Additionally, the Washington Post has provided this map of the Capitol Area on inauguration day. It indicates closed metro stops, the parade route, seating , etc. Click on it for a readable view.

So, we are excited--3 weeks from today we will be cold, miserable, stamping our feet, but witnessing history--yeah!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sharing a Boy's Excitement

This is no more than a link to Casey's latest entry. I hope as you watch it, you remember the innocent joy of a child on Christmas morning...and...that you will have reason to smile.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Today my friend Nicoletta sent this picture. It evoked so much longing to be there. This lovely site is "our" vineyard in Greve in Chianti--the place we called home for a year and now return to each summer. But.........in all these times, we have not seen this. How lovely!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


So........we are in the car, Casey in the backseat, driving home from school. I ask my every day questions--"How was school today? Anything interesting?"

Wouldn't you think that by now I would know that is not the way to elicit any meaningful information. And, if one were to take his answers at face value, it would mean that he has never learned anything from kindergarten onward.

But one day last week he did have something to share which he began relating with gusto and excitement until he stopped mid-sentence, thought and then said:

"Well, with your olderness--but I am not saying you're old as that wouldn't be nice--I think you won't understand what this is about. I am not saying your old, though."

Now, how would you interpret this? I think he was being extraordinarily tactful in his 10 year old way and I love "olderness."

So--those readers who are of the olderness years, take heart--we are not elderly!--Yet...

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Wipers Move Too Fast

How many jokes are there about backseat drivers? And..how many of these are unconscionably, blatantly sexist in their maligning of women who,as everyone knows, are the best drivers in the two available categories--male and female.

Our family has its own backseat driver who not only is not female but is not a driver--other than of bumper cars. Somehow at the tender age of 10, Casey has learned all there is about driving, allowing him to supervise each and every minute detail of our time at the wheel--whether the vehicle is automatic or manual. (Since there have been a couple decades since we last raised a ten year old, I need to ask parents of the appropriate age if this is normal.)

As he sits in the back seat, Casey keeps his eye on the speedometer, the steering wheel, passing vehicles of all types, pedestrians, dogs, stop signs and traffic lights--nothing escapes him.

There is a running monologue that goes something like this:

Don't go so fast (this may be when we're at 65 on the freeway as we would never, ever speed!)
Watch out for that dog (who is on a leash, firmly held by its owner and we love dogs.)
Keep your eyes on the road (which is good advice for Ken, but I don't need it.)
Are you sure you're out of neutral? Are you in drive? (as we move forward down the street.)
Shouldn't you put the clutch in and shift to second? (I rue the day I explained clutches to him.)
Push the air-condition button to get the heater. (this morning when it was cold on the way to school.)
Use the auxiliary channel for the IPOD. (How did he know that?)

All of these are true and accurate quotes. With time, I could remember more.

But, today's bit of advice took the prize and inspired this entry which I haven't thought to share before.

It is raining in So Cal this morning--a rare event and our version of bad weather. Actually, there is a storm due later but now it is just wet with drops falling. Sometimes our storms don't materialize so we will wait to see what happens.

But, driving to school this morning there was enough precipitation to use the wipers--which I first had to find as I was driving Ken's BIG car which is very different from my little 1998 Saturn, 5-speed, coupe --with 42,000 miles.

Finally, they were swishing and all was well; I could see and we were safe....when from the backseat came "The wipers are going too fast. You need more drops between them."

Fortunately, the back seat is a far reach and would have required taking my eyes off the road, resulting in another reprimand--which is most certainly not what I want.

So, next time you have your wipers on, remember the advice from the back seat!

Footnote: The rain has come and it is in a fury here. We need waders just to get out on the patio. The wipers will be busy tomorrow--maybe. Or, maybe the sun will be out.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The A-Ha of Discovery

Living with a 10 year old, particularly at my age, is full of hidden surprises and unexpected delights. Casey finds such excitement in finding new things to gush over and share; his pleasure is infectious and brings laughter to the heart.

Several years ago, in the Ecuadoran Andes, we stayed at a colorful old small hotel in Quito. Casey was enthralled with the new fangled black telephone--one where he could put his finger into little holes and turn the dial. It was awhile before we discovered that he was dismaying the antiquated switchboard with calls. Of course, he was quite convinced that we needed to modernize and get such a technologically advanced instrument for our home.

Since then there have been several other "aha" moments for him. Today was a new one and it came on a day when a laugh was important and the freshness of a young boy was a gift.

Today the boxes--and there are many, too many--came down from the rafters--40+ years of accumulated Christmas decorations. It used to be that our house would have done well in a Christmas decorating contest. Now we pick and choose a small assortment of the memories for display. The truth being that the thought of putting it all back into boxes come January is great encouragement to be selective.

For years we have collected ornaments: sleds, toys, santas, wagons, drums, angels and scores of other ornaments. Over time these have been augmented by those from our travels here in the US and in foreign lands. Many have names of our children and, of course, Casey. We treasure the memories in all of these and like the "old fashion" look of our red and green trees.

When we were first married, we had the normal glass balls and lots of tinsels and those old clunky tree lights. Sometimes they were all gold and other times we liked the rainbow effect. But then, we moved on.

Today, as we hung the ornaments--searching for branches strong enough for the heavy horns, Casey wondered if we had ever seen "those tree balls." He thinks they are beautiful and wants them for next year. As with the telephone in Ecuador, he was surprised to learn that they weren't new ideas but that in the "olden" days we had actually had them. So, now, the new "old fashion" is us--another A-Ha moment.