Tag Archives: travel

Life Happens

Remember the saying life happens when you’re making other plans?

So true.

I have mentally blogged many times in the past month. So many little life episodes that I have subvocalized as if I had a tiny, invisible stenographer sitting on my shoulder. Alas, I do not, and as our nursing mantra goes: if it’s not written, it’s not done.

A lot has happened.

We had another anniversary, 35 if we go strictly by the calendar. That’s a freakishly long time. I remember seeing a documentary about George Harrison after his death. His wife of 23 years was asked how you make a long marriage. Her answer was striking and it has stayed with me. It’s simple, she said, you don’t get divorced.

So, so true. In 35 years you collect a lot of reasons to get divorced over.

But you also collect, or can collect, many reasons to stay together.

This year we celebrated by going to D. C. I’d always wanted to go, just to soak up the history. The place is so alive, you can inhale the adrenalin. It has a vitality that defies explanation or description. In short, we are going back.

We decided to drive, so that gave us four full days in enclosed proximity. If anything is going to drive you batty in regards to another person that will certainly do it. But the whole trip left us with nothing more than pleasant memories.

Except for one other thing. Within five days of our return my husband was complaining of UTI symptoms. I confess my initial reaction was: Been there, done that. But his being a man meant that his symptoms were far more complicated and unendurable than anything women might go through.

Of course.

We saw a kindly urologist. I’ve rarely run across a doctor so personable and I’ve run into many. Along with giving him some prescriptions, he suggested we buy a couple of books. One, he said, is called How Not to Die by Michael Greger.

I admit I laughed when he mentioned the title. Advice on how not to die seems kind of facetious. Snake oil, anyone? I mean, does anyone live forever? Does anyone want to?

Its subtitle, however, is: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease. And I am nothing if not a sucker for anything that has been scientifically proven. So we shall see what it’s all about when I delve into it, because I know he won’t. He’s symptom-free now so that means it’s all so yesterday.

The book will have to wait its turn, though. Right now I’m knee-deep into the Konmari Method of tidying. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Her initial advice: “Start by discarding, all at once, intensely and completely.” And she advocates keeping only the things that “spark joy.”

Hmm . . . . That reminds me of the woman who said she got rid of 175 pounds all at once.

She got a divorce.

Cherry blossoms

Me among the cherry blossoms

 

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Who Ate the Lampshade?

lampWith what appeared like two uneven eyes set above the ragged edges of its gaping maw, the lampshade peered toward the entrance of the restaurant.

Seeing it, I forgot I was hungry after a long day of shopping in Manhattan and jostling through the city in its underground subways. We were back in Brooklyn, home. Or at least, home to my daughter.

With her guidance, we have sampled many restaurants on our trips to the city. Each restaurant unique in its own way. Each one a culinary adventure. Most places making the most of their tiny share of real estate. This time we stopped at her favorite Japanese place.

While I attempted to decipher what the items on the menu were, I kept stealing glances at the lampshade. It hung over the long center table of the restaurant, smack in the middle of the whole place. Booths lined the wall on one side of the small venue.

We sat in one of the booths across from where the lampshade hung. I wanted a picture of it. I wanted to know what had happened to it. Had someone had too much sake and taken a big bite? And why was it still there? Why hadn’t it been thrown out, replaced to match its two whole companions hanging on either side of it?

The need to decide what I wanted from the unfamiliar menu kept me from taking out my phone to photograph it. That, and the young couple who sat directly beneath it occupying the space of one person on the bench, so close did they sit sharing their food from the bowls in front of them.

In between bites, he would give her gentle kisses. On her cheek, on her forehead. I could see his profile when he turned toward her, his features softened with tenderness. He ate with one hand, his left arm wrapped around her waist, pulling her even closer to him. In return, she smiled at him and bent her head toward him to accept his kisses.

They ate slowly, delicately balancing food on their chopsticks as they laughed, seeming to meld into one another, oblivious to the misshapen light fixture right above. When they finally left, I hurried and took some pictures before anyone else came to sit in their spot. Even though, any new customer would have had the choice of the entire restaurant, as ours was the only other table now occupied.

As I dug into my tempura shrimp and noodles, I wondered why the lampshade intrigued me. Was it because it hung there resolute and unashamed that it was lacking when compared to the other two? Was it because no matter that it was missing a portion of itself, it did not appear deficient or defective?

Or was it because even though it was not “healthy,” it was still capable of doing its job? That it was complete in its incompleteness, still able to diffuse the brightness and shield young lovers from its glaring light.

Peripatetic

At The Met

At The Met

An editing client/friend called me peripatetic. It sounded like a disease so I rushed to my reliable helpmate, my dictionary. Though the sound of the word brought up visions of dyspepsia, it turned out to only mean one who travels a lot.

He called me that after I’d returned from St. Augustine, Florida for the third time this year and found out I was soon to leave for New York City. Again.

Interesting that the word also means “given to walking.” I’d forgotten that I had downloaded a health app onto my phone. While lazing in bed with my feet throbbing from all the city walking one day, I decided to open it to see what it did. Imagine my shock to discover that I’d walked 12,000 steps that day. And climbed twelve floors. (My daughter’s apartment is two steep flights up. And down.)

I was flabbergasted to see how my activity level had spiked tremendously since I’d left home. It had literally gone from sloth to cheetah level. I bored everyone with my new-found information. Look what I can do! In one day. And live to tell about it.

After my excitement died down, I admit I was a little weirded out to know that my phone was tracking me. How rude. But I had asked it to, I suppose. I don’t remember what day that was, but it could have been the day we spent at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I have no words to describe the treasures it holds within. You must see it with your own eyes. We only got to see barely half. We shall continue on our next trip.

Now that I know what that app does, I will use it to my advantage in my battle with RA. It can’t catch me if I don’t stay still. I know I haven’t beaten it, and most likely never will, but at least I win some of the battles. And that’s good enough for me. 12,000 steps, booyah!

How To Be a Better Blogger

Step 1: Blog

Step 2: Blog

Step 3: Blog

Oh, my gosh, I’ve been forgetting to blog!

In truth, I think about it often, but thinking doesn’t get it done.  Before I know it, it’s a week later and the idea flew the coop. And I have so many, ideas that fly the coop.

Right now, I’m flying a desk, trying to keep up with two online classes and two editing projects. They soak up all the extra grey matter. Or is it white matter?

Well, no matter. I will do better. Now that I’m back from actually flying around.

NYC

Downstreet view in Manhattan.

Skyline from Central Park

Skyline from Central Park

A sister yacht while on jazz cruise down the Hudson.

A sister yacht while on jazz cruise down the Hudson.

It was a bit nippy, but a welcome break from tropical heat.

It was a bit nippy, but a welcome break from tropical heat.

Thank you, dear Reader, for the moments you spend with me.

Age of Gratitude

It may appear that right now my cup is half empty. But appearances can be deceiving. Especially when you focus on the negative.

In reality, my cup is at least three-quarters full. I have much to be grateful for.

For starters, my wrists x-ray results: Right wrist normal. Left wrist shows “changes consistent with age.” At first I was like, age? What do you mean age? I’m still in the prime of my life.

But then I calmed down and realized that it’s true. I have aged. Just looking at my fingers tells me how much wear and tear this old body has taken. And it’s good wear and tear that came from caring for my family, caring for my patients, going without sleep, pushing with that last ounce of energy to set up a bed for that new admission, walking mile after mile to make my rounds among all my patients and nurses, driving leagues to cart my kids and their friends to school, to the mall and back. All these actions, done out of love, for people who depended on me.

So, Ok, I accept this diagnosis and I’m proud to have it because that means I’ve lived long enough to make a difference in many people’s lives. And furthermore, I’m lucky that the osteoarthritis chose to settle into my left wrist first and not my right. Who knows, it may never reach for my right wrist, but OA has shown me a kindness. Now when the pain sets in I give thanks.

I also give thanks for being squashed during my mammogram last month. For some reason it was less fun than usual this year. That cold, cold machine and hard, hard plastic up against my ribs left me sore and reddened. Every time the tech said, “You can breathe now,” I wondered how exactly.

But all came back normal, as did my gynecological checkup. The discomfort involved with the mammogram is a small price to pay for one more year’s peace of mind.

I’m thankful that I can enjoy my children and grandchildren. I’m grateful to have them in my life, to know that they are there every single day. I can never, ever be alone because I have them.

I’m grateful to have a man in my life who tries to make me happy every single day. There have been ups and there have been downs along the way. The ups so high and the downs so low that sometimes I think the best word to describe us is cleave.  A word that simultaneously means to cut apart and to bind together.

A few days ago, we returned to St. Augustine, Florida, to explore the ancient city some more, to reach back into the history that reflects our heritage. To spend some couple time alone and to celebrate 34 years together, 34 years! That’s more than half my lifetime, but after all this time things certainly go a lot smoother and are far more relaxing and satisfying. The x-ray results were correct. There are changes consistent with age.

St. Augustine.fl

We requested and got the same corner room we’d had last time. The view was amazing and the sound of the ocean mesmerizing.

 

System Glitches

I went to spend a week with my precious little Carmen. I tried to keep up with my reading while I was gone, hard do to with a two-year-old commanding all your attention, and I went with no illusions of being able to post anything. By the time I got to my room at the end of the day I was pooped and ready to recoup for another twelve-hour day. I took only my tablet with me, which is serviceable for reading but not very user-friendly for writing; it’s gotten slower than molasses. I’ve now replaced it with a new one. This one is Speedy Gonzales compared to the old one.

My laptop is on its way out as well. I hope I didn’t jinx it by typing that. It’s my writing tool and I have no idea what to replace it with. I don’t want to be rushed into anything so I suppose I will have to shop around and make a decision. That way I will be ready when it never comes back from its update, which it’s threatened to do a couple of times but the Geek Squad coaxed it back.

I, on the other hand, managed to come back from my overnight updates every dawn without any coaxing. Come 7 a.m., I was ready to go. There was only one application on my personal hard drive that wasn’t (isn’t) up to par; the one that powers my left wrist. At least I can give thanks it isn’t my left foot.

I’ve learned to compensate for it, though, by instinctively using techniques that spare the full use of my wrist. After all, I’ve had since August to come up with a plan B to circumvent this little glitch in the system.

It did hurt more than usual, at times giving me sharp, continuous, stabbing pains that made me imagine I was reliving a variant of the Psycho shower scene, music and all. I would grit my teeth and groan while grabbing my wrist and pressing down on the swollen part through the brace I wore. Somehow that made it feel better after a bit, or it could have been my imagination still at work.

Poor Carmen would stare at me with her big, hazel eyes and say, “Your arm hurts, ‘huela?” “Yes, baby,” I’d squeak out, pushing on my wrist with all the strength my right hand could muster.

But I remained on weaning doses of Prednisone. Never once was I tempted to increase the dose to give myself a hit, or I should say, an extra hit. In fact, I only took an extra week’s worth with me just in case, which amounted to a mere 25 mg that I never took. But it truly wasn’t all that brave of me to leave the whole bottle behind. My doctor is a phone call away and CVS is ubiquitous.

The week flew by when I measure it by Carmen time. When I measure it by work pending, it moved along at a turtle’s pace. But all good things must and do come to an end. I’m back at my desk and running at full steam. If only my laptop deigns to keep up with me. One thing for sure, there’s no rise of the machines here.

The One Thing I didn’t Pack

st aug garageI was lucky to spend this past weekend in St. Augustine, Florida, this being the year of its 450th anniversary. Right when we got there, we were confronted with how beautiful it all was.

We’d already seen the remarkable ocean view from our room. The sound of the waves hitting the beach was soothing and addictive. We didn’t want to leave the cozy room, but we also wanted to see the city.

So we headed out and our first stop was the Castillo de San Marcos. Built in the late 1600s, it took the Spanish 23 years to build the fort, out of basically solid rock.

I can imagine their determination and their faith prow
in what they were doing so far from home in a place
they called Florida (flowery).

It didn’t take long for the sailor I married to note that the corners of the fort were shaped like the prow of a ship, with even a “figurehead” at the top.

prow2

 

 

 

 

The top of the fort was laid out with cannon after cannon. Some of them carved with intricate designs. I wondered what must have gone through the ancient artisan’s mind while he adorned a killing machine so beautifully. carved

It seemed a shame to have cannons pointed at such a pristine inlet. But I guess that was the point, to keep it serene and beautiful. To keep it theirs, though that did not happen to be the case after all.

inlet

 

 

 

 

Regardless, their attention to detail was amazing, from the curves of their rooms made of solid stone to the sharp, well-defined angles of the outer walls.

fortroom

 

 

And I suppose in testament to their faith, the doors to the chapel were centered within the courtyard, easily accessible to all in a moment of need.

insidect

 

 

 

 

We walked the grounds of this fort knowing that it was very possible one of our very own ancestors had walked here way back when. On impulse, I took a picture of my feet upon those grounds.

feet2

 

 

 

For this trip, I packed my sense of wonder, my imagination and my energy. The one thing I didn’t pack was my RA.

 

 

 

 

And Did You See That Pass?

After my husband spent a wild day and a half in meetings, alternately being patted on the back for a job well done and being pressured into achieving new goals for the coming year and beyond, while I spent that same time snuggled up in a cozy hotel room with all the amenities, we drove to St. Augustine where we had a fantabulous time that ended all too quickly.

And I know this isn’t a sports blog, but we realized we would be lifting off homeward right at Super Bowl kick-off. But we were on JetBlue, with our own individual TVs in front of us. At one point during the second quarter, we had a slightly bumpy ride. I don’t think anyone noticed. There was absolute silence in the cabin, everyone seemingly focused on the screen in front of them, earbuds in place.

We landed right before halftime and left our seats 30 seconds too early, merely to wait in the aisle, and missed Seattle scoring a touchdown. At least that’s what we were told at the baggage carousel. We beat ourselves up over that, then raced to our car, hopped in and listened to the third quarter on the way home.

We got there in time to see the last quarter. And right at the end, after that totally awesome flippety-floppety fumbling catch, we were on the edge of our seats, drinks suspended halfway to our mouths, breath held and then, and then . . .  did you see that pass?????

Whoever called it, and they know who they are, can probably relate to the saying on this T-shirt I ran across on my travels.

tshirtmaya

 

The Word “No”

photo (32)Reading Anne Lamott this morning, one of my favorite writers, I came across something that connected deeply with me: ‘“. . . the word “No” is a complete sentence.”’ (AARP Dec/Jan)

I was going to glance through the magazine and then file it away in the trash can, but as I flipped through its pages I kept tearing some out, to keep, to read later, which I sometimes end up never doing or doing it months later. But her words immediately drew me in.

The gist of what she was saying is that with age comes the power to say “No.” You learn to value yourself and more importantly, your time as well as your capabilities.

When I was younger and torn in different directions, I found myself unable to say no to the extra shift, to the extra committee, to the management position, to driving a gaggle of kids to the mall, to the theater, or to having my house become grand central. There was always some new kid hanging around.

I longed for the days of an empty nest, of retiring, of spending my time reading, writing, or doing nothing at all. Back then it seemed those longed-for days would never arrive, but now those days are here and thanks to RA, I have learned how to say no.

No to the request for a quilt for the Christmas Tai Chi raffle. If there’s anything I love more than quilting it’s giving them away. But I was recovering from an illness and dealing with the stress of the holidays. It had to be no.

No to the short-notice invite from my son to take me to brunch. It was Sunday morning; my husband was out on his road bike. I was cozy in bed reading and tired from a night out. As much as I love spending time with my children, I knew I needed to recoup. It had to be no.

No to housework duties when I feel a flare coming on. This one I especially feel no guilt for. What is that saying, a woman’s work is never done? It sure feels like it and I’ve done enough of it. Now I have to take care of me and enjoy life. So when that feeling hails, I answer by battening down the hatches. I stop. And say no.

Conversely, I have learned how to say yes. Yes to my family taking over some duties for a bit. Yes to my daughter making dinner not quite my way. Yes to my husband vacuuming not quite the way I’d like. Yes to the coffee and bagel that pops up at my bedside the mornings I don’t feel so hot.

And yes to the things I really want to do. Like agreeing to accompany my husband on a business trip and extending it so that we can visit St. Augustine, Florida. I’ve wanted to go there for years, to experience the history of it. He tells me he’s made it his goal to fulfill my bucket list regarding travel, and so we leave in a few hours. It should be crisp and cool and beautiful.

Be a fountain . . .

. . . not a drain.

I had this terrible habit of writing down sayings that stopped me in my tracks and then not noting where I’d gotten them. Thus, I cannot attribute this particular saying, but I know I didn’t write it. And I give thanks to whoever did.

It’s good advice I am trying to follow.

Be a fountain of giving. Giving of my time to my youngest granddaughter. I have moved into her home for a spell. She needs me. I need her. She has astounded me with her vocabulary and her comprehension. At eighteen months old, I expected her to still be more of a baby than a toddler. Well, she’s having none of that. Her development is in fast forward.

Be a fountain of words. My work of course came with me. I even found a piece of luggage called “Office” to lug it all in. An office on wheels. The advertising copy promised it would fit under an airplane seat, but when I tried to stuff it in there, it wouldn’t go. Too tall and too wide.

Then I realized that the compartment under the aisle seat was narrower than the one under the middle and window seats. I had no choice but to stuff it in the overhead compartment. I’m short and the thing was heavy, but the worst part was that it had my laptop in it and I prefer to keep that with me.

We landed in New Orleans with such a bang that it would not have made any difference where my laptop was. It would have shaken, rattled and rolled wherever it was. The flight attendant joked, “Don’t forget to check the seatback for any belongings. In fact, check all over the aircraft for your belongings.” That was funny, but note to self: no more aisle seats.

Be a fountain of love. What else but love could compel me to leave the people I love to come be with the people I love. I will miss my other baby. I gave her extra kisses and hugs the last time I saw her and I lost track of how many I love you’s we shared on the phone before my flight. Her tiny little voice almost made me not want to leave.

Be a fountain of health. My personal pharmacy came with me as well. Have pills will travel. My hands are not happy that I’m not taking Prednisone anymore, the left more than the right, but since I’m right-handed, it’s not that bad.

And it’s really not that bad overall. I expected it to be worse, but I’m glad it’s not. If I keep moving, the rest of my body feels fine. It’s only when I sit too long that I feel stiff, but that might not be RA. That might just be me. One thing I know, having to chase after a toddler will inoculate me against sitting around.

And be a fountain of youth. Of course. I keep telling myself how young I still am. And nowadays, it is young. But I just have to keep reminding myself. Inside, I still feel 20. And outside, I’m glad I’m not. If I could be 20 knowing what I know now, maybe.

Hanging out at South Beach, obviously not missing Na at all!

Hanging out at South Beach, obviously not missing Na at all!

Watching Abuela work and ripping apart her Post-its.

Watching Abuela work and ripping apart her Post-its.