Dec 27, 2015

Will You Make the Choice or Will It be Made For You?

We received a letter from our friends in Oregon with their Christmas letter attached. I always look forward to Beth's missive. Her family is very interesting and she is naturally very proud. Best of all she has a way of telling her story without appearing to brag. That my friends is a trick.

But what interested me the most about her words this year was the message about the positive side of change. See, her world is not perfect. I don't suppose that anyone's is. 

Christmas Party at local golf course.
My Tucson friends are a great source
of joy for me.
Change is the substance that keeps us alive and moving. Without it we would crumble in our chairs.

Aging is not a good time to decide to live in a "forever" house or dig in and refuse to do what is necessary to grease the wheels for ourselves and our families.

In the place where my husband and I live in the winter, change is expected and even inevitable. Even the structures we live in are not permanent in anyway and they symbolize what the future holds. It is the choices we make now that will ease the necessity to face change in the future.

Recently one of our residents moved into an assisted living facility nearby. She is keeping her car but will have meals provided. The apartment allows pets and that is a great comfort for her. She is moving freely without a child demanding that she do it. Oh my goodness, I hope that I have the grace and courage to do what she is doing. 

It is the knowing when the time is right that is so hard. Like a friends mother did, I also want to make that change before someone suggests it to me. (I do not like to be told what to do...that could be a problem!) 

So, to my friends Beth and her beautiful husband Lee I say thank you for sending us a letter with pictures that told about all the change in their family's lives. You are both an inspiration.

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Dec 26, 2015

Happiness At Whose Expense?

Fall 2015...Travel to Napa Valley on our way to Tucson AZ
It seems that everything has a cost. Even the freedom of retirement comes with a price tag. Hopefully, someone in the retirees family is not paying dearly. But that is what happens many, many times.

Restaurant in Rutherford Ca.
One of my commenters said something the other day that made me stop and think about the price paid for being happy. I told about our snowbird lifestyle and how free we were. She said that freedom had so many meanings for her but being free to travel was not something she was going to get to do for a while. She said:
Right now, we are the somewhat caregivers of my elderly parents who reside in a nursing home. My sister didn't want to help so she felt FREE to move 1,000 away.  
One sibling simply left town and did not offer to return so the other sibling could have a month or two of respite. It seems very unfair doesn't it? I don't know the whole story in that particular case but I do know about my own life.

In order for my husband and I to leave Oregon for six months, our children take on the responsibility of checking on our house. At one time our cat lived with my daughter for the winter. She finally told me that the cat needed to learn to travel because my plan was not working for anyone. We did take the cat from then on and it was a lot of fun for us.

Parents are often willing to grasp happiness at the expense of their children. Our story of the cat is just a small taste of what can be done. They will expect support so they can live beyond their means. Or they will expect to move in with their children when they wish or invite themselves for extended stays. The list of Parental Sins are endless as we grow old.

So I am here to ask you, "What would be the price for your total happiness and who will be paying for it...you or someone else?"

It is just a thought.

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Dec 21, 2015

Watching, Waiting and All That Means

We drop into bed exhausted every night. The days fly by because they only get to stay over night for 4 sleeps. The first sleep was after a 37 hour plane ride from Dubai. Safely next to our bed they slept like the babies they are.

We have ridden the bicycle, made a duct tape purse, decorated cookies, played pickleball, taken a walk, eaten out a Wild Wings where I embarrassed them cheering for Green Bay and watched two wonderful movies on Netflix. Plus a lot more. They had a wonderful time but of course they were ready to go when their mom and dad came.

I couldn't explain to you if you have never been around children what it feels like to love them so completely. Even after a scolding they will snuggle close. But best of all everyday begins with the watching. I can see them growing right before my eyes.

The Tanque Verde Resort here in Tucson has hundreds of horses that they use on trail rides and for lessons. We visited yesterday just so the girls could get their "horse fix". They petted horses and named the ones that caught their fancy. And then they climbed a tree and just sat and watched. It was the best they told me. Soon we headed out to eat and then come home to another movie. 

Yes, waiting, watching and learning from children is one of the great joys in my life. I am a happy woman.
Maddie took this picture from her perch in the tree.
Beautiful children at peace and in their element.
When I told them that climbing the tree
was probably against the rule,
they just smiled and relaxed a bit more.
You could tell they were so happy
in that moment.
They taught me that what we have is enough and we should be happy wherever we are perched. What did you learn today? And where did you learn it?

Have a wonderful day. I hope your Holiday Season is shaping up to be as wonderful as mine.

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Dec 19, 2015

What Makes You Happy?

My granddaughters are staying in our tiny park model for 4 nights. We talk a lot about what we like. This morning we discussed my need to buy them clothes because what grandma does not love to buy girls clothes? We worked out how we were going to handle the gifts I bought (that are probably are all wrong and won't fit) them for Christmas. I can be happy and they can be happy.

Last night the conversation turned to our favorite things. We were watching "Call of the Sea" on Netflix and I commented on how beautiful the animation was. "Isn't that the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?" I asked. "It makes me happy."

The youngest answered with an emphatic "NO".
Grandma's Roses
"What was the most beautiful thing you have ever seen Meelie?" I asked.

"The flower in your yard...remember Maddie...Grandma's flower that smelled so good you just wanted to stand and smell it. Then when you got up close, oh my gosh, it was just the most beautiful thing I have ever seen."

Meelie is 8 years old. It was such a wonderful surprise to know that she and her sister loved the rose bush...and it made them happy.

Have a wonderful day.

What makes you happy?

Maddie and Meelie on Grandma's bicycle.

Dec 18, 2015

Would You Enjoy 3rd World Travel?

Up until last Spring my husband and I had always traveled to third world countries. We have been to the Far East a number of times, each trip to a different country. We have stayed in Hong Kong, The Philipines, China, Vietnam and Thailand. Our travels have also taken us to Mexico, Jamaica and The Bahamas. The fact is that each one of these trips was an adventure and a huge learning experience. Those trips are the jewels in our travel crown.
Sue Mae, Sapa, Vietnam. I could not bathe or wash my hair.
I had all my clothes on because it was
very cold. But the discomfort was
 not even noted at the time. I loved
every minute of that trip.
Sidewalk Cafe in Florence The food
was glorious and service outstanding.
The waiters spoke English
But...after taking the trip to Europe last spring, I fell in love with the vacation that lifted me up through art and food and people that could have been my ancestors. The days flew by in a comfortable way I cannot describe. It wasn't about the adventure or bragging rights. It was just about relaxation, beauty, food and laughter. It was an entirely different experience for us.

So, I wonder, "How do you feel about third world travel." If you are thinking that third world travel is for you, you need to realize that that type of travel is all about survival, adventure and even physical endurance. Here are some questions I think you could ask yourself that might help you make a choice:
  1. When you stay in a resort do you stay in the resort because you are afraid to venture out the gate of the hotel? If you do, you are wasting a plane ticket I think. You can stay in a resort near your house and probably have the same experience. When you visit a country whose culture is outside your comfort zone, staying put inside the gates is very tempting. 
  2. Do you always pick a restaurant that serves American food? The tastes of a country is part of every trip. Eating needs to always be part of your research before you travel to a country. If you cannot tolerate spicy or won't put something that might taste strange in your mouth, you are not going to enjoy yourself.
  3. Does it bother you that people don't speak your language? I know people that don't like the sound of a different language or the fact that they cannot understand what is being said. Reading people's expressions and body language does not come easily to them. That can be very upsetting.
  4. Are you excited about learning a few words of Spanish or Thai or Chinese? If you really don't want to put a little effort into your visit then you will appear rude and the native people do not like that. I have even gotten lectures on speaking the native language when I am in a country. I suppose the ugly American stereotype preceded me. I was trying.
  5. Are you a whiner when you are tired? The deal is most vacations are not all about you. If you are miserable that is one thing but to make everyone around you miserable is not good. Travel in a third world country can mean skipped meals and discomfort.
  6. Does air travel and waiting send you into a tail spin? Impatience can be a big problem. I think that if you are going to travel you had better be willing to endure some inconvenience. (I will say it once more: It is not all about you.)
I know we are expected to like travel but many of us don't. Even our snowbird lifestyle requires a lot of flexibility so travel just takes that experience to a whole new level.

It could be that a trip to a European country might be a better choice for you than a developing nation. It is easier in a lot of ways.
  1. European speak English.
  2. I suppose that there are very few cities in Europe that do not have a burger joint somewhere around. 
  3. You don't need to bargain in Europe at all. The price is the price.
  4. You can wander the streets of Florence (Firenze) very easily without a care. All you need is a map. The same holds for Spain and most other cities. Just follow the rules of safety much the same as you would in the city nearest you. Note: Be sure to leave your passport in the hotel and do not carry much cash or all your credit cards. That is the one thing about Europe...the pick pocket business and very good for the gypsies. 
  5. Tour companies are willing to hold your hand and get you all the right food at the right time. They are also very educating and I don't think you can go wrong if you enjoy that sort of thing.
  6. If you want to drive, you can rent a car and travel down highways very like we have here in the United State. We have been in Germany and Spain so I know that driving is not a problem if you are willing to do it.
  7. Rail travel is easy and takes a lot of the stress of travel away while you see the countryside. Besides that, rail travel is a great people watching experience.
  8. The museums are glorious as are the cathedrals. But, if you are not a museum goer, that is ok too. Just people watching can be enough reason to travel. I love that part of every trip.
 Michelangelo's David Accademia Gallery in Florence
But the honest fact is, if you are a whiner or you hate air travel, long car trips or unusual food, you may be a home body. That is just fine. If we were all the same life would be boring. The trick is that you never need to do what everyone else is doing. Do what makes you happy.

So, which would you prefer; a trip to Mexico or a trip to Sweden? It is your choice. How wonderful is that!

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Dec 13, 2015

Nancy Was Our Light


We lost a dear friend. Nancy (right) died unexpectedly yesterday. We will miss her greatly. Our world will not be the same without her in it.

Rest in peace Nan.

Barbara and Earl

Dec 12, 2015

Another Snowbird Reality Check...it is cold!

Arizona Sunset
I am a snowbird that expects warm weather everyday all winter long. But the reality is IT IS VERY COLD HERE in Tucson Arizona today and will be for about a week! I brought some winter clothes with me so I am good. Believe or not we actually follow the weather, ocean currents and other miscellaneous news items. My husband tells me about el nino and el nina. Then I decide what might happen while we are in Arizona.

The REALITY of it all is that, even though we travel south for warm weather and all that means in our life, it can be very cold here in Tucson. We have had cactus freeze solid to the core when it stayed below freezing for 2-3 days. Our palms have been frozen and the fronds turned brown.

Locals don't wear shorts in the winter and those of us that plant beautiful flowers are prepared to cover them and provide some warmth.

It is so much fun to watch the local people get bundled up looking like Eskimos and to hear them talk about lighting their fireplaces. It is very exciting for them.

For us...well we are good. It will pass soon. We hope!

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Dec 8, 2015

Dear Santa....I can explain!

1914 Santa Claus in japan
1914 Santa Claus in japan
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If you are a reader of mine you know that I was born guilty. If a crime is committed in the neighborhood and the police come to  my door, I will confess. Even though I didn't know about the crime and cannot help the police, I am sure that in some way I am responsible. It is just the way I am.

I am not a Catholic so I don't get to confess my sins and even though I say I am sorry a lot, it seems that I alway feel at odds with the world. It is not easy being me.

So...when I saw this sign in the front window of a small rv in my park I knew that I had finally found a solution. Santa could help. The sign said:
Dear Santa, 
I can explain... 
Love, _________________
There you have it. I will send a simple letter to Santa, try to explain why I did what I did and hope. I can trust Santa and I know he is a good guy so he will probably forgive my mistakes. If there is a gift in my stocking, I will know that I am golden for one more year.

Have a wonderful day.

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Dec 3, 2015

Were You Born to be Free?

What does that mean....born to be free? I was walking this morning and I saw a sign in front of one of the park models here in our park. It said, BORN TO BE FREE. It was made out of steel and had one person's name above the slogan. A big motorcycle was parked next to the front door. It made me wonder...what would it be like to be born to be free?
A life with just me and the open road? HMMMM!
I was not born to be free and has never wanted that life. I am an only child and that is bad enough. I am self centered and selfish, love to be waited on and will always sleep in the middle of the bed. I'm not a bad person but I am an only child of older parents. It is not their fault...well not entirely. But to be free of my family or my husband or even my home does not appeal to me. And I never wanted to ride a motorcycle.

In spite of the "only child syndrome" I have always yearned for company and people to care about. Freedom would be very lonely for me I think.

So I struggle to understand what it would be like to come and go with no one to answer too. Would it be nice to get up on my motorcycle and go east until I was tired and then stop for the night or come back home by another route?

One of my daughter's friends teen son stated that he was never going to get married. His mother who was very happily married asked why. 

"Well," he said, "I don't ever want to have to compromise."

Maybe that is what being "free" is all about. There is never any compromises or give and take. Simply put it could be all about the person that lived that life.

What do you think?

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Dec 1, 2015

When We Forget What We Are About....

Amerindians in Mexico
Sometimes what sounds like a very good idea is not. It is as simple as that. We live in a box of sorts and, depending on which way you approach that box, things look and sound different. That is what happen when the man at the grocery called someone on speaking a language he did not understand and was not english. That was the problem...the man's willingness to act on something he did not understand. He forgot that he might be the one speaking a foreign language. (As seen on Facebook)

My husband taught me early on in our marriage that most issues are not simple and I needed to be very careful to get ALL of the information before I opened my mouth. Even what seems very straight forward really isn't.

Take gun control for example. Following one of our awful mass shootings this fall I was spouting off about how ridiculous and wrong it was to allow one person to own so many weapons. "There should be laws limiting gun ownership." I said with great authority.

"How many is too many?" he asked.

See, when something is written into law it...well it becomes a "law". Down in black and white and everyone is expected to obey it. No nuances or exception.

We own many guns. Some inherited from great-grandparents. My husband and his family hunted to feed the family. We have those guns in our house. Then we have the gun my husband bought with his first earnings on the farm for pheasant hunting and another to hunt deer with. We have given one to a grandson that hunts deer.

Yes indeed, we own quite a few guns. And the law would apply to us too. So, the question remains "How many is too many." We all know there are so many questions and not nearly enough answers.

Illegal aliens come up in the conversation often here in Arizona. Doing the right thing while protecting children is a hard issue to address. A knee jerk reaction would tell you that we should deport the parents and keep the children they came across the border to birth. Oh my, think of the chaos that would create.

How about the homeless veterans that line the highways and live under the cactus here. People will say that we need to take care of them first and then the Syrians last. But do any of those people want a homeless camp or drug treatment halfway house in their neighborhood? Do they want to take in the mentally ill or pay the extra taxes to care for them? And where oh where do we draw the line between what people can choose to do and what they can't? And last of all we might ask where are our latest group of refugees living in our country. Is the Syrian or a religious community welcoming them and helping provide for them?

See, there is never an easy answer. So, the next time we hear a strange language being spoken we need to remember that all of us save the Navajo people and others like them are descendants from someone that "spoke a foreign language" back in the day. We are very lucky they were not sent back to their home country.

And speaking Spanish/French/German and English both is being bi-lingual. Actually, it an enviable skill and I wish I could do that.

We need to remember what we as a country are all about. We are a melting pot that has always welcomed the downtrodden and, depending on where you live, the languages we hear on a daily basis are many. I like that. So there you have it. That is what I think.

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I might add that I do not think being an illegal is good and I wish that those people would realize that they need to get in line with those that are trying to enter our country legally. Honest, the law is the law!