Saturday, December 20, 2014

Adriatic Tour–Romantic Rovinj

P1010017IMG_0273All of this tour was trip of a lifetime, but there are a few places that will stay in my heart.  One of them was Rovinj, Croatia and we were only there a few hours.  I so wanted to spend more time in this special little town.  Spilling out into the Adriatic and surrounded by fishing boats, the old town is filled with small cobbled alleys sometimes leading you to some new interesting location and sometimes ending abruptly.  Little sobes (apartments for rent and oh, so, cute!—Wanda has her eye on the one in the photo right), art galleries, and restaurants line the streets and alleys.  And like a tiered wedding cake, the top (hill-top) is adorned—in this instance with a bell-towered church.

IMG_0271IMG_0269A pleasant cultural and architectural mash-up between Italian and Austrian.  Austrians enjoyed the location as a vacation destination during the Hapsburg rule (pre-World War I) and Italians during their ownership between World Wars. 

Sigh.  Just a few more days, please!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Magic Moment–#21 School Christmas Program

child_angelIn elementary school, we had a very talented music teacher.  I cannot remember her name, but I remember what she accomplished.  All year long we sang, but Christmas was special.  And one song we practiced over and over.  On the big night of the Christmas Program, all of us dressed in satin white, delicate wings attached to our little backs, and a halo perched on our heads.  Standing tall on the auditorium tiered bleachers with all the parents sitting in folding chairs below.  The lights dimmed and we sang with perfection “Fall on your knees. O hear the angels voices.  O night divine.  O night when Christ was born.  O night divine. O Holy Night.”  Our voices filled the big room and echoed off the walls.  Loudly, loudly, and then ending softly with “O Holy Night.” 

The parents immediately stood and clapped loudly.  Not able to contain themselves they rushed forward to claim their children and hug them proudly.  My Mom and Dad were crying and exclaimed they had never heard anything so beautiful.  It was beautiful.  I could feel it.  Only 7 years old and I still remember the moment 53 years later. 

Adriatic Tour–Pula’s Roman Amphitheater

Pula_AmphitheaterThe Pula Amphitheatre located on the coast of Croatia is remarkably intact.  [Photo taken by Adria Hirsch from our tour group.]  It was crowded with tourists the day we visited; but I suspect it is less crowded than the more well-known structures like Rome’s Colosseum .  Visit to the “basement” of the amphitheater where once lions and other exotic animals and gladiators waited before their turn for a battle to the end.  All for the enjoyment of the elite and ordinary civilians--around 20,000 could fill this arena--although I find it hard to understand the watching pleasure as the beasts tear a human apart.  Today’s events include music concerts and film festivals. 

IMG_0263The subterranean level also displays found intact jugs or amphorae some still containing olive oil and wine.  The bottoms rounded to allow rocking in the bottom of the ship.  Think about it—this is close to 2,000 years old.  Hard to wrap your head around, isn’t it?

Throughout the old town (Pula is a big city; the tourist portion is small and very easy to walk) you find more remnants of the Ancient Romans.  Seems every time an “empty” lot is readied for a new building more ruins are found.  Very much a working city, Pula has a grittier and busier feel to it than the places we have visited so far.  Still a beautiful place by the Adriatic. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Adriatic Tour–Motovun, Croatia

When I first read that our tour would include a 2-night stay in a castle, I was excited, but a bit apprehensive.  Never in a castle before; the vision was cold and drafty for sleeping.  Fascinating to view.  Uncomfortable to stay.

motovunhotelmotovunrooftopImagine my surprise when I realize this small hill-top castle (every town on a hill for defensive purposes) in the little place called Motovun included inviting warm rooms with very comfortable beds each with a full en-suite bath (with marble no less).  Our shuttered windows opened outwards (so Romeo and Juliet) to a large courtyard filled with trees and a small restaurant.  Surrounded by the low fortress wall allowing overlooking the valleys and other distant villages balanced on top of the surrounding hills.  In the morning, a thick mist would hang in the valleys making the villages float above the clouds.

motovunowlAll Quiet.  Except a strange “cawk” sounding owl at night and a nearby rooster making sure we did not oversleep in the morning.

motovunstoreOne extremely steep, narrow road leads to our hotel (one road for the whole village, actually!) and the way is lined with little homes and small stores containing truffles, Adriatic Sea salt, and local hand crafts.  All tidy, but with the inevitable eroding of the stone fronts and cobblestone over so much time.  Our bus can only make it part way; so we puff, puff hiking up to our destination.

Note:  Photos courtesy of my new-found tour buddy, Adria Hirsh.  We focused on the same photo opportunities, but she has a better eye and a better camera!  Thank you, Adria!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Adriatic Tour–Lisjak Winery

P1000997P1000991Good people.  Good wine.  Good food.  Set in the wonderful Karst region in Slovenia (you know with all the charming hilltop towns on the Italian border) is the Lisjak Winery owned by Boris Lisjak and his family (photo to the left is Boris and his grandson).  The whole family is involved right down to the grandkids.  And when it is time to harvest the grapes the whole village rallies to pick.  The cabernet sauvignon was so fine I lugged a bottle back home.

IMG_0243P1000988Our tour group stopped at Boris’ winery and vineyards for his excellent wine and home cooked dinner.  Shared in his lovely family home and wine cellars.  By now our tour group members are becoming close friends and we are having a great time especially with a few glasses of vino.  White wine.  Wred Wine (after a few the extra “w” just happens).  Now, every good story has a special recipe and here is the Cabbage Soup we loved with dinner:


Lisjak Cabbage Soup

500 grams of sour cabbage (also known as sauerkraut)

200 grams of potatoes

300 grams of beans

1 onion

1 teaspoon of sweet pepper powder

bay leaf, salt, pepper

In the first pan you should cook sour cabbage, second pan should have salty water and sliced potatoes in it and the third pan beans with bay leaf. Afterwards sautee chopped onions and sweet pepper, add sour cabbage with water in which it was cooked, add cooked and mashed potatoes and brown beans. At the end add the water from the beans to get a thick stew, add salt and pepper. For better taste you can also add a sausage (that you have previously cooked in a separate pan) and then add it after it is cooked for about 5 minutes.

Bon appetite!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Adriatic Tour–The Karst Region

As we leave the Soca River Valley and up over a ridge, we drive into some of the best wine-making area of Slovenia.  The Karst Region.  You can easily see Italy in the distance.  Hilly country-side with a dry Mediterranean climate needed for growing great grapes.  We stopped at one of the hill-top villages named Smartno.  A favorite day trip for our guide, Tina, and her husband on one of their rare days off work and spent together (they are both guides for Rick Steves Tours).  Pictures will do a better job describing this charming place with cute boutique shops.  And no, I am not waiting for an opportune time to take pictures without tourists.  They simply are not there.  Another plus of this particular tour.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Adriatic Tour–Soca/Italian Front and World War I

Tumbling down the slopes of the Julian Alps, the Soca River is milky green-blue color, fast-moving down the mountain and cuts a mean slot canyon through the rock.  Our road follows along the river and passes through small villages.  The active wear company, North Face, filmed on location here.  The ad on Vimeo is worth watching to really get an idea of the spectacular beauty of the area.  This beautiful, gentle valley was the location of some of the worst fighting and conditions during World War I.

WWICemetaryIt is only fitting so near to Veteran’s Day that this blog post describes our visit to the Soca River Valley also known as the Italian Front (part of the Eastern Front) during World War I.  The Julian Alps and the valley have reminders of the war especially the many cemeteries—nicknamed the “Valley of Cemeteries”—thousands of graves dot the hillsides.  One devastating war after another, you would think the human race would remember and learn from our mistakes. 

Ernest Hemingway’s novel, A Farewell To Arms, was set here and tells a story of his time spent as an ambulance driver during World War I.  I had good intentions of reading the book before the trip; but frankly I struggled to get through The Old Man and The Sea, as required reading in school.  Since I have visited, maybe I will give it another go.  The area likes to link to Papa Hemingway, especially the village where we spent the night, Kobarid.  (The village is known by its Italian name, Caporetto, in the novel.)

Kobarid MuseumIn Kobarid we visited the small, but very well-done museum of the Soca Front and World War I.  Pictures of the common people (locals, soldiers, nurses) from all sides of the war.  Their daily lives, the war strategies/weapons, and the casualties and results of the fighting—over one million died.  The museum docent asked that we not take photos of the displays, especially the ones containing pictures of the people.

  Had to stop short of completing the museum tour; just too overwhelmingly horrible.  Medical attention during the war was minimal and the medical advancements we have today for our soldiers were non-existent in the early 1900s.  Those who survived were severely disfigured or suffered internally from chemicals.  Photos showing the injuries were displayed and I can understand why we were asked to refrain from taking pictures.

A learning experience, but a tough pill to swallow.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Adriatic Tour–Julian Alps

IMG_3094IMG_3083Up and over the Alps—the Julian Alps—via the Vrsic Pass and the Soca River Valley.  I have been over my share of mountain passes, but never one with 50 hairpin turns (24 up, then 26 down).  Each one is marked; so there is no denying the count of 50.  And never in a large tour bus.  The bus would turn ever so, s-l-o-w-l-y, around each.

IMG_3074Our first stop at turn #8, included a quick hike up to a little Russian chapel.  A memorial to 10,000 Russian POWs who died building this mountain pass during World War I.  Not killed by gunfire, but rather the elements (cold and avalanche) and illness.  The chapel was built where the final casualty was found.  The wood of the chapel looks like copper.  It had that glow in the lowlight of the forest.  I had to touch it to be sure it was wood.  Beautiful and lovingly maintained.

IMG_3077Next stop at a mountain-top restaurant for some hot chocolate.  Had to chuckle at the sign.  Bikers Welcome.  In the States, a Bikers Welcome sign would indicate a stop for the local Harley motorcycle club.  Here, well you can see for yourself in the photo to the left.  A group of French adventurers!  Only know a bit of French, but a shout out of “Comment Ca Va?! (how’s it going?) to the group brought out the smiles and waving back with the comeback of, “Bien, Merci!” (good, thank-you!)  We saw them buzzing past as we headed down the mountain still waving a happy good-bye.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Adriatic Tour–Ski Jump

SKI JUMPskijumperNever saw a ski jump before this trip.  And I did not expect to see anyone jumping in September (no snow).  Before our tour headed up and over the Julian Alps, we made a quick stop at Planica and watched Olympic hopefuls fly off one of several ski jumps and land gracefully on…..looked like some sort of green PLASTIC!  I held my breath when they ejected from the end of the jump, hanging in the air for the longest time and finally I exhaled when they safely came back to earth.

This is the largest ski jump in the world.  The location is within Slovenia borders but a short walking distance to Italy and Austria.  Another wow.  (Photos courtesy of Russ Ruda.  One of many great guys on our tour.)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Adriatic Tour–Slovenian Quality of Life

There are several more stops made in Slovenia, but before I describe them I would like to remark on the impressive Slovenian lifestyle.  This does not include having a lot of material things, a huge home or having a high income with a lavish lifestyle.  In fact the average income is very low (some of us may consider it poverty level).  But the majority of Slovenes have pretty much the same income—there is not a big disparity between rich and poor.  Their need for a lot of materialistic things does not exist.  There are very few billboards or marketing of any sort.  In fact, I did not see one and we criss-crossed many of the highways and back roads of this tiny country.  (This lack of billboard “junk” on the countryside was so pleasant—the only signage you see is street signs and the name of the village, town or city.  They seem to be standardized throughout the country and have a low-profile appearance.)

IMG_3070The family is the center of their life.  A sense of home and land is very strong.  Homes and land are passed from one generation to the next (all made of stone—lasting hundreds of years).  Most often you will find generations living in one home with each floor dedicated to a young family, another to grandma/grandpa each with separate entries (like a condominium).  Not one home was unkempt.  You will not find rusting vehicles/machinery or trash piles like you so often do in the States.  Almost every yard contains a small garden and window boxes hang on the homes stuffed with flowers.  The Slovenes see the home and surroundings (yes, even common spaces like parks) as an extension of themselves.  And they are spotless.

Relationships with family and friends are tended just as carefully as their environment.  It is common to see the cafés filled with locals of all ages catching up with gossip over a cup of coffee (kava).  On any day of the week.  No one is absorbed watching their smart phone; the focus is on the present company.

I am certainly not an authority on the causes of crime, but in my opinion, this overall sense of belonging, community and pride must contribute to the extremely low crime and non-existent drug use in their country.  The Slovenes are struggling economically, but they seem happy.  They are happy. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Adriatic Tour–Slovenian Honey

For you thrill seekers this stop may be three zzz’s rather three stars, but I really enjoy learning about and sampling local produce.  In this instance, it was honey.  We gave it three thumbs up. 

IMG_3067We stopped in our tour guide’s small village near Lake Bled (will describe Tina, her home and family in a future post—she is amazing) to view an ancient beehive and give some locally produced honey a taste test.  The art of beekeeping was perfected in the mid-1700’s by a Slovenian farmer and Slovenia has been known for their honey ever since.

IMG_3069The beehives look similar to a post office wall of post boxes, but made of wood painted with different colorful medieval style art on each “box”.  Each painted panel helps distinguish each hive.  Honey samples included a floral and a pine base.  Wow.  Extreme flavor in a good way.  Reproductions of the beehive panel art are sold in Lake Bled and Ljubljana, but like a fool I forgot to purchase.  Arggh! 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Adriatic Tour–Lake Bled, Slovenia

Some times the stars line up.  All summer the rains have plagued the Balkan Peninsula, but we arrive, the clouds part and the skies clear.  Yes, it is good to be us!  And we could not be happier with the weather especially for our visit to Lake Bled (pronounced blayd).  Our stop after Ljubljana. 

IMG_3057Against the blue skies the Julian Alps loom large over the crystal clear blue water of the lake.   It just is not enough for this to be a stunningly beautiful lake, but add an island with a Venetian style church (bell tower included).  The usual method to visit the church is by Pletna boats.  Made by hand with a special design passed from father to son.  The family-owned boats have been visiting the island since the 17th century.  We elected to walk 3.5 miles around the lake rather than take a boat to the island.  But one of our tour members took the boat ride and fell in love with the oarsman.  She described his silver-streaked dark, thick wavy hair, tanned craggy face and his stories of generations rowing to the island.  Of course, she said,  “he was impressively fit from all that rowing –all muscle”.  At the end of our tour, she said this was her “wow” moment of the whole trip.  Maybe I should have taken the boat…

IMG_3051Lake Bled also boasts a 1,000 year-old castle high on a cliff overlooking the lake.  The castle is thoughtfully restored both inside and the outdoor courtyard.  Although you can hike to the castle, our tour bus made the stop (thank you for small favors—what a climb!).  With only 28 people (all very fit) on the tour, we could easily climb the narrow stone stairways to enjoy the vistas.

The only downside to our visit to Lake Bled was the lack of time.  I could easily spend a few days here and we were limited to four hours.  Along our walk we saw Tito’s vacation home (open to the public) from a distance and many of the older 19th century villas—simply did not have the time to tour inside (you can send an e-mail from Tito’s personal desk—what a hoot!).  Our walk did include a friendly visit with local artist, Bobi.  His watercolors were extremely affordable and after purchasing one, he quickly painted a shadow painting of himself and me on the back!  I am torn on which side to display.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Adriatic Tour–Ljubljana, Slovenia

Slovenia is a small country (just over 2 million) south of Austria, Italy to the west, and Hungary to the east.  Unknown to most; in fact, when I called the credit card company to let them know I would be traveling to France, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Netherlands, they asked “Is Slovenia a city?”  No.  It is not. 

IMG_0195IMG_0162Our first stop on the trip was the lovely city of Ljubljana in Slovenia.  I am not a fan of cities, but this is one I would gladly return to.  Around 200,000 population, the place feels like a small and quaint village.  The inner city has blocks and blocks closed permanently to cars.  Only allowing pedestrians and bicycles.  The streets are all cobblestone.   A 2,000 year-old (restored beautifully) castle complete with prison/dungeon up on the hill looking out over the city.  The old medieval village surrounds the base of the castle hill, and across the river (multiple pedestrian bridges get you across) the “new” old town has Austrian-style homes built in the 1800’s.  The homes have since been turned into businesses or part of the university.  The alleys are clean and usually lined with potted plants!  Picture on the right is actually the alley behind our small hotel (there are many, many more just like it).

IMG_0160IMG_0140The city is absolutely spotless.  Shopkeepers sweep and scrub in front of their business every morning, locals walking about will pick up any trash they see and toss in the containers, and cheery laundry is hung out to dry.  We are told none of the Slovenes owns a dryer—preferring to save the indoor space, cost and liking the smell of fresh outdoors.   Colorful flowers in window boxes are everywhere.

No where have we encountered a city this crime-free.  Never heard a siren.  The biggest crime is a bicycle theft now and then.  Maybe a pickpocket (we never had a problem).  How relaxing it was to stroll about without fear and simply enjoy the ambiance of an old European town.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Adriatic Tour–Is it Safe?

adr14Before I begin describing my recent trip, maybe I should address the “elephant in the room” or the question everyone seems to ask about this part of Eastern Europe, “Are you sure it is safe to travel there?”  Almost immediately after I announced I would be traveling on the Rick Steve’s Adriatic Tour of Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, I received a lot of messages concerned about the safety of the area.  Although the war occurring after the breakup of Yugoslavia was over 20 years ago, everyone still hears about the atrocities. 

I can tell you that the journey was safe.  In fact, the cities and surrounding areas of Slovenia and Croatia are now safer than most of the United States.   A few pickpockets may appear now and then (we did not encounter any) and fans of the local soccer team may get a little out of hand in Split, but there was/is no violent crime.  You can walk about at 3 a.m. in Ljubljana (city of approximately 200,000) without any fear.  Certainly cannot claim that about Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle—any time of day.

Although we were not in any danger, the tension of the previous war still exists in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  To say the country is struggling politically is a huge understatement.  The schools are segregated between ethnic groups (how can the people get past this if the kids are taught to hate).  Slovenia and Croatia are fairly homogeneous (majority of  Slovenes in Slovenia and Croats in Croatia), but Bosnia and Herzegovina (one country—two names) are divided between Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks. 

I am obviously not a historian or an expert on the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina—all I can go on are the stories told by local people.  And they often brought me to tears.  One young man who had to bury his father on a hillside at night to avoid snipers.  A woman slightly younger than me who had to survive hunger and avoid the bombing in Mostar that went on for years.  It is safe for tourists to visit the ancient city of Mostar and most of this country, but it is a sad place.  The tour only included one night in Bosnia and Herzegovina which emotionally was enough.

Overall, I say you must visit.  It is safe.  It will not stay untarnished long.  The locations are like going back in time.  Looking forward to describing each place and our experiences.  And I believe the elephant is now officially out of room.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Adriatic Tour

My friend, Wanda, and I are back from our three-week Adriatic Tour with Rick Steves Travel (headquartered in Edmonds, Washington, about 40 miles from home).  (Technically, the tour was 14 days, but we added several days before and after.)  This was my first European trip and it did not disappoint.  On the last night of our Rick Steves group gathering, we were asked to share our favorite ‘wow’ moment of the trip.  I have always dreamed of sitting in the quintessential European outdoor café with a glass of wine surrounded by stone buildings built hundreds, if not thousands of years ago.  It happened.  The little cafes exist everywhere and the oldest of the old buildings are everywhere.  It was overwhelming and I sat in awe of the sights every day.

Adriatic_Tour_GroupWe had an energetic, fun group of 28 on the tour.  And our tour guide, Tina, was better than the best.  Several on the tour have been on over a dozen Rick Steves tours and they stated Tina was their best guide ever.  (Picture of our group on the left—Tina is the redhead in the middle.)  Tina asked why I chose this part of Europe for my first experience.  We heard over and over that this part of the world was relatively untouched by visitors, but with all the positives of Europe.  It was exactly as described.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will post experiences we had in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Tina shared with us that visitors around the world have different objectives when traveling, but she said Americans, for the most part, set out to learn and absorb knowledge.  That is exactly what I had in mind for this journey and my understanding of the Balkan Peninsula has broadened significantly.  In fact, in hindsight,  I really knew nothing at all.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Still Painting––Colors of Utah

IMG_0124Still painting with both watercolor and pastels.  Latest watercolor painting should strike a chord with people familiar with trails.  Hikers, you should recognize the painting subject….

(From a reference photograph I took while in Arches National Park.)

Two more days until I leave for my Adriatic Tour of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina (one night in the small ancient town of Mostar).  Will be away from the husband and little dog for three weeks.  Will miss them terribly, but excited to be on a new adventure.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Magic Moment #20–Old Fashioned Entertainment

In our community of retirees and the semi-retired, we engage in some old fashioned fun.  We invite others over for a meal (nothing exotic, just comfort food) and a game of cards.  We laugh.  Exchange stories.  Enjoy each others company. 

cocktailpartyA throwback to the way my parents entertained in the late 1950’s and 1960’s.  My parents’ favorite card game was Bridge with several couples playing at two card tables.  What made an impression on me was they “dressed up” for the occasion in the 1950’s and served cocktails.  Not a beer in a bottle, but a fancy glass with an olive.  That whole mid-century, kinda’ swinging Sinatra-style.  I loved, loved, the dresses the women wore with the full skirt, pinched waist, and usual fitted sleeveless upper.  Heels with a pointed toe and real silk nylons. 

With the 1960’s the look changed to a more casual style.  With the late sixties, it was the adult version of the mini skirt.  But, never sloppy.  The invitees usually included my dad’s co-workers—other teachers and their spouses.  Adults I would see at school, but now here they were at “my house” behaving in a completely different manner (some nights they went home a little tipsy). 

So nice this type of entertainment is making a comeback.  Just sit back and enjoy an inexpensive meal, a couple of drinks and a little competition.  Simple magic in its own right.  Nothing wrong with that.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Magic Moment #19 - A Full Life

I was about to write and apologize for not posting on my blog recently—overcome by current events and a busy schedule.  When I remembered a conversation I had with my mom and sisters a month ago.  One of my sisters remarked that I really did not know what busy was.  At first I was offended, but I realized she was defining busy as a long day filled with “requirements”.   But, oh yes, I was that kind of busy for many years of my life.   After receiving my college degree (which in itself required my time 24/7), I set off to have an ambitious career.  Working long hours, volunteering for special projects and accepting additional assignments.  I was promoted and my salary rose with the increasing responsibilities and eventual advancement into management.  There was very little time at home/leisure and my life was way out of balance. 

This went on for 20+ years until 18 years ago, after a particularly grueling stint of months and months without a single day off from work and 12 to 14-hour days, I looked in the mirror and realized this was not the life I wanted.  I did not have to be “busy”.  My hair was literally falling out from stress.  I developed a irregular heartbeat and I took medication to prevent the pounding from keeping me up at night.  Although others noticed and remarked on my declining health, it wasn’t until someone loaned me the book in 1995, Your Money or Your Life, published in 1992 by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin that the proverbial light went on. 

A few years later I was able to transfer to an individual contributor/staff position.  One that required very little overtime.  Yes, I took a slight cut in pay; but overall the hourly wage was actually higher (my corporation’s management positions did not pay for additional hours worked—most companies do not).  My husband and I downsized to a smaller home and yard (no yard actually, we purchased a townhome), got rid of toys (camper, boat, etc.) that were used very little or no longer used, downsized my wardrobe (no more dry cleaning, no more heels!) and generally downsized everything that needed care and took up space.  I devoted my new found time planning for a retirement—a future when I could do activities that pleased me everyday, all day.  Best of all,  I no longer needed the heart medication.  The retirement planning paid off and we retired at the young age of 55.  I feel better than ever (out of the office/cubicle and in the outdoors again).

I could go on in more detail how I made my life “requirements” much simpler and replaced them with meaningful “to-dos”, but I will leave you with this for now.  You have choices.  Yes, you really do.  My life is no longer “busy”.  My days are very, very full of happy and rewarding activities spent with my husband and friends and just myself.  So, forgive me as I skip a few blog posts--I am enjoying myself with days bursting at the seams with things worth doing.  In the future, I will no longer describe my day as busy, I will say with a smile, my day was full.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Coles–Final Installment

Of course, the Cole family lives on; it is not really “The End”.  My grandfather, Joseph Franklin Cole, was the grandson of Elizabeth Buckingham Cole; and she has been the subject of my series of family history.  My father was Joseph Franklin Cole II.  My brother, Joseph Franklin Cole III.  And finally my nephew, Joseph Franklin Cole IV.  And brother Neil and his two boys, Casey and Mason.

teacupElizabeth Buckingham Cole passed away May 1899.  “Left for the other world,” as my elderly aunt once said.  The strong thread that held the family together for so many years was gone.  She never gave up her aristocratic habits through all the years.  Tea at 4 pm.  Wool clothing for day, silk for Sunday and a fur cape for special occasions.  Never cotton—much too common.  Always full of love and kindness for her husband, children and family back in England.  Missing her home in England, but never allowed to return.

Elizabeth would have most likely led a comfortable life in England if she had forsaken the “Irish Gardener” and the twinkle in his blue-gray eyes.  She went with her heart and experienced the most exciting life. 

And although I no longer have the Cole surname, I have something very special--I inherited my great-great-great grandfather’s blue-gray eyes.  {Smile}

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Annual Mother/Daughters Get-Away - 2014

Once a year my mother and two sisters get away for a weekend to reconnect.  We drink a lot of wine, never cook a meal and do whatever we please.

Last year, we spent the weekend with my sister, Tracy, at her “work” home.  A haunted 100+ years old home in southern Ohio.  Tracy gave us the tour of Ohio green acres and at night we poked fun at her resident ghost, d’Ellie (dead + Ellie).

houseboat_slide0Last weekend, sister Melinda, booked a houseboat located on Lake Union in downtown Seattle (owned by a friend of a friend).  The weather was perfect in the low 80’s and we had use of their small paddleboat.  Our navigational skills were a bit off (The rudder was faulty!  Honest!) 

Absolutely, the best time.

Next year, it is my turn to plan.  Possible choices are Victoria, B.C., or La Conner during the tulip festival, or Port Townsend (Do you think I can talk everyone into experiencing the Steampunk Festival?) or maybe Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.  We’ll see, but anywhere will be just fine.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Magic Moment #18–The Music Plays On

Each moment in my life can be marked by a special song.  I cannot imagine life without music. 

The late 1960’s left the biggest mark.  Jim Morrison.  Jimi Hendrix.  Janis Joplin.  The Beatles early and later.  Then on to the early 1970’s with the Doobie Brothers, Jim Croce, Van Morrison, Eagles and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. 

jimihendrixI had an enormous poster of Jimi Hendrix on my bedroom wall when I was teenager.  His image scared the bee-jeesus out of my brothers and sisters.  “The Wind Cries Mary”, my favorite song. 

My first school dance playing, “Crystal Blue Persuasion”.  The girls hugging the wall on one side of the gym; the boys on the other side.  My heart pounding when “that” boy walked across the gym to ask me to dance.

“Riders on the Storm”.  Playing over and over on my boyfriend’s recording driving back from our vacation at the Kah-Nee-Tah resort.  Jim Morrison of The Doors was the definition of sex.  Good god, I was lost.

The illicit high school beer parties always playing “American Pie” over someone’s car radio. 

One of the nuns at my husband’s church, had a beautiful voice and graciously agreed to sing, Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle” at our wedding.  The church echoed with her song.  Perfection.

My grandmother’s recording of “Careless Love” from her 1930’s band.  The host introducing her as the lead singer…”and now the lovely Mrs. Peggy Hopp”…

Each year brings new music, new singers, an inventive way to play past and present songs.  Jazz.  World of African, Celtic, Asian.  Opera.  Classical.  Folk.  Good ol’ Rock and Roll.

Life is set to song and I love it.  Glorious.

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