Monday, January 13, 2020

Vamos Corillo! (or Let's go, friends!)


Travel is so much more than leaving your home for a different, temporary location.
Travel allows you to experience new locations, foods, weather, lifestyles.
Travel opens your mind, and your heart to the things that make us different yet bring us all together.
 
the beach near Old San Juan
Last Spring, we were lucky enough to take a return trip to the Caribbean and the British Virgin Islands. 
While Rob set up the majority of the trip, I was in charge of setting up the flights. There is no easy way to get to the BVI from the Coast of Illinois. Travel day can either be a 16-hour odyssey or a nice leisurely day with an overnight stop.

Of course, I chose the leisurely day with an overnight stop. (On the way down only. The return was regrettably Odyssey worthy.)

We flew Southwest on this trip, which flies into San Juan, Puerto Rico. The following day we would be taking a much smaller plane to Tortola.

I must admit, initially, I was a little nervous about the stop. Puerto Rico, as well as the whole Caribbean, was still recovering from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. I am always a little tentative when it comes to trying a new location, especially when traveling with friends. The desire to show everyone a good time is strong.

And I have a reputation of booking awesome hotels sight unseen to maintain.

With all that pressure, I typed in ‘hotels in San Juan’ and going by photos alone settled on Villa Herencia in Old San Juan. The photos showed an old-world Latin-style hotel with stucco, brick work, courtyards, mosquito netting and bathtubs on the roof.

Seriously. How can you pass up bathtubs on the roof?
sun bathing, taken literally

We were all a little nervous when our airport taxi driver had to ask directions to the hotel….twice. There was much laughter as a couple of people in the taxi mapped the drive on phones, which gave conflicting routes.

The Bishop's. We drove past them so many times, we felt they were blessing us personally. 

The driver persevered and committed to driving us up and down streets so narrow we were pretty sure they were sidewalks, past breathtaking views of the old fort installation and finally dropping us off in front of a locked door on a blue stone road in the middle of Old San Juan.

Eduardo met us at the door, welcoming us with a booming voice and endearing smile. He gave us a breakfast menu to fill out for the next day then took us to our rooms and left us to explore the premises.

through this hallway...

the courtyard outside our room

This is the moment of truth, when traveling with friends who are relying on your hotel pick to set the tone for the trip.

High ceilings, heavy wood furniture and mosquito netted beds, modern fixtures surrounded by antique mirrors in the bathroom…although the rooms were small, they were absolutely beautiful.
mosquito netting for ambiance only

modern meets antique

a secret behind every door

I retained my Great Booking Mystique.

Given the fact that we had less than twelve hours in Old San Juan, we hit Eduardo up for some suggestions before heading out into the city. He gave us numerous suggestions for dinner, depending on our preference of ‘touristy’ ‘authentic’ ‘quick’ ‘young-vibe’ ‘where he would meet friends’. We settled on a tiny tapas style place Rosa de Triana, complete with stone arches, dark hallways and candles. Mojitos and tostones consumed, we wandered the streets of Old San Juan.
We wrapped up our evening on the patio at Barrachina, sampling flan and dodging unidentified that felt it important to try to bean us in the heads.

I’ll let pictures give you the rest of our tour, but first I have to mention our Villa Herencia breakfast.

On check in we were given a menu to choose from – eggs, fruit, yogurt, toast. Not a huge selection, especially for people who LOVE breakfast. But we figured it would be a good start and we could grab something at the airport.
We woke early, packed our bags and met in the dining room – another high-ceilinged room filled with heavy wood table, and coffee and juice laden buffet. The ladies preparing our food apologized for the delay, only to arrive minutes later with silver trays for each of us.

this is now known as breakfast eduardo

I have never had breakfast served to me on an individual silver tray. I could seriously get use to this.
 
El Morro, a portion of the old fort


the city gate


San Juan Cathedral, Ponce de Leon was being renovated

Forteleza Street 

I have always found old world Latin style beautiful and romantic. I did not expect to leave San Juan with such a strong desire to return. It has become yet another place that I will always hold near and dear.

And to that end, Puerto Rico is once again in need.
Puerto Rico is a United States territory. They do not have the luxury of benefits afforded to the rest of our states. Yes, there is a history behind this. I am not going to enter that discussion. This is not that sort of page.
Rather, I am going to appeal to our humanity. This island country has been hit with multiple earthquakes over the past few weeks. They were still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Maria two years ago.
Below is a list of sites which are aiding Puerto Rico.
If you can, give them a hand now.
And in the future, give Puerto Rico a visit.


American Red Cross

Hispanic Federation

Direct Relief

ChefsForPuertoRico

All Hearts and Hands

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Aaaaayyyyyyy It's a New Year!


Happy New Year!

We survived another holiday season.  Fancy foods have been consumed and subsequently purged from the fridge while the purgee made heart felt promises of NEVER eating half a ham ever again

Gifts have been wrapped, opened, admired and put away while pondering the thought process that brought the giver to think the box of plastic hockey guys would truly be loved by the 61 year old recipient.
the face off
a skirmish resulting in the Yellow Guys goal
and the inevitable fight which broke out after that controversial goal

Loved ones near and far have been hugged and made to promise to visit more often, all the while hoping that the ukulele concerto will truly become a real thing.  
Resolutions have been made. Goals have been set, which is really just a kinder, gentler way to say resolutions.

And now it’s January 5th. And if I don’t get this post up by Tuesday, I will have blown my goals for 2020, one of which is to post here once a week. And being as Jan 7 – which technically is a week from Jan 1 – is Tuesday, I figure I am still good….

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am not great with goal setting.  I don’t like putting them out into the world as I seem to take that as a challenge to see just how quickly I can screw it up. But, as the holiday season one horse open sleighed right over me, I decided it was time to change it up.

Truthfully, I prefer the option of picking a word to represent your plan for the new year. I toyed around with ‘reset’ and ‘reconnect’ but finally – This Morning – settled on Time Out.
Not the sit in the corner and think about what you did Time Out, but more of a last 20 seconds of a football game, there’s no way they can win but maybe if they run the clock out there could be a miracle Time Out.

I can’t quite figure out why I don’t seem to have any free time these days. Time where I don’t HAVE to do anything. Or, more honestly, have time to do the things I really enjoy doing.

I blame my upbringing.

I grew up in a house where you did your chores before doing fun activities. Those activities became the prize for dusting that stupid dining room table with the giant carved legs and cross pieces requiring me to crawl under it and then crack my head as I crawled back out – all the time hoping I hadn’t passed out and missed Johnny Quest.
This philosophy was reinforced by my 5th grade teacher, who noted on my report card that ‘Laura does not use her time wisely’. Apparently, completing my homework and then quietly reading a much more enjoyable book at my desk was not satisfactory. It only reinforced my believe that I needed to always be productive, although at this writing I suddenly realized that perhaps it was more of an insult to her worksheet producing abilities. And now I am picturing her tiny, support hose wearing body hunched over a desk, late into the night, trying to create the ultimate mimeograph sheet of questions set to finally, at last, stump that little Schloz girl…

It isn’t easy to break those habits reinforced nearly daily.

(Don’t get me wrong, my childhood was not a coal mine of constant household chores. I had plenty of time for Barbies and imaginary adventures and getting trapped in trees. And 5th grade was, in reality, pretty fun, except for this teacher’s penchant for spraying the room down with Lysol daily and discussing her varicose veins.)

And that philosophy has served me well throughout my adult life. I have run a tight ship around the house, and I hope, impressed my managers with my great work ethic.

But I have a terrible time doing fun things when I know there is another load of laundry crawling up the wall, or a fine layer of protective dust on the furniture.              
So, to that end, I have made my Word of 2020 – Time Out.

(Fine, it’s two words. Just me, overachieving again.)

And to manage making this a year of Time Out, I needed to set some goals.
Goals such as ‘reading for enjoyment every day’ and the afore mentioned blogging goal.

But the biggest is to just allow myself some TIME.
And it hasn’t been easy.

Into the new year by 5 days, I have managed to read a little each day, however, it took every fiber of my being to stop taking down the Christmas decorations to take a ride up the river for some music and a glass of wine.
a cold day on the Mississippi. the barge is parked. taking a Time Out!

Bluffs along the river road
sunset at the confluence of the Mississippi and the Illinois
And at the end of the day, as I was making pancakes from scratch with the odds and ends of dairy and non-dairy products I had in the fridge as I have yet to grocery shop this weekend, I had to agree, those hours were truly Time well spent.

So I will again wish you a Happy New Year from the Coast of Illinois.
May your New Year be as productive as you need and as fun and exciting as you want!
me and the Bronze Fonze
(while the above pic was from a quick before Christmas wedding trip in Milwaukee, I had to include it because....Aaaaaayyyyyy,,,, it's the Fonze!)

See you next week!!

Sunday, December 15, 2019

I'm Dreaming of a Ice Glazed, Snowy, Wintery Mixed Christmas...


It is early Sunday morning, a week before Christmas, and I am sitting in the kitchen anxiously awaiting the ‘wintery mix’ I have been promised by our Doppler Radar Weather People.
this was taken at the beginning of writing this post
For those of you unfamiliar with weather patterns here on the Coast of Illinois – ‘wintery mix’ is not a delicious chocolate blend but more of a disastrous coating of freezing rain, covered by  about 4 hours of beautiful snow which is then topped with a final coating of sleet. This can occur in no particular order but is ALWAYS topped with that freezing icing of…ice.

It is a Parfait of Precipitation.

Which nearly always occurs on Sunday afternoon leading into Sunday night and concluding on Monday morning about 7 minutes before rush hour.

The threat of this sends ordinarily sane humans into frenzied French toast chefs, leaving grocery stores ransacked of all bread, eggs and milk. Which seems like a ridiculous supply list.

Personally, I opt for popcorn, soda, a nice bottle of cabernet and bologna.

The fact that this particular storm threatens to hit on the next to last weekend before Christmas is just a cruel reminder by Mother Nature that the most important part of the holidays is not the perfect gift but being trapped in the house by six feet of ice…with loved ones ….

However, around here, the most important part of the holiday this year is the addition of Chrome Boy – better known around the Christmas Tree lot as That Tacky Silver Tinsel Tree with Color Wheel which graced many homes back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

Every year Rob tells me about their tinsel tree with color wheel. And every year I cringe and give him my best Charlie Brown ‘Good Grief!’.

But thanks to the artificial intelligence of on-line shopping and the miracle of instant delivery, I managed to find both a small tinsel tree and color wheel for less than the typical ‘retro-vintage’ price.

It was delivered secretly to my parents’ home where I picked it up after work late one night, then hastily put it together before going back to work in order to surprise Rob. 
He was appropriately surprised and excited and now ‘Chrome Boy’ lives in the Tiki basement, decorated with random left over ‘vintage’ style ornaments and topped with Santa Pirate.
Which, in a nutshell, is our decorating style.
Ho Ho Ho!

And why I love seeing other people’s holiday pictures. In our little circle we have the traditional decorators, the elegant decorators and then there’s us, the eclectics.

our more traditional tree
Each is beautiful in its own way and works so well for each individual. There is no way to compare.
Yet, with all the hype of the holiday season, the Hallmark vignettes, the Pinterest suggestions, the emotional blackmail, it’s easy to fall into a psyched out, frenzy of overblown perfection driven crazy.

I have been there.

Every year I visit the land of Holiday Hysteria at some point.

This year it was the day the nose piece broke off my glasses forcing me to work two shifts with crooked bifocals, giving myself a migraine with accompanying nausea and culminating in a day spent walking around the house in my Jackie O prescription sunglasses while waiting for the repair place to call with my newly reattached nose piece. Thanks to the vision disorientation and dizziness I couldn’t do anything but sit on the couch and enjoy the ornaments sitting at the perfect diopter distance away from my stigmatic eyeballs.

This just happened to be the goofy shepherd ornament we made with the kids for Sunday School. I can’t even remember how I managed to sew up 24 of those little bodies to be stuffed and dressed by 24 tiny pairs of hands. They are silly and sweet, and both of our kids love them. And although they weren’t able to help decorate the tree this year, I made sure their favorites still made the cut.

Especially these little shepherds.
pretty sure all shepherds smile like this
And as I sat, trying to focus on just one thing, I remembered the delight in our daughter’s voice when she found the shepherds this year. And the laughter as the kids talked about holidays past.
And those immortal words of Dr. Seuss came to me, as they do every year:

“It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!  Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store…Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more…!” 
How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Whether your holiday is shiny and bright, or quiet and still, may you be surrounded by the people who make your heart swell!

Happy Happy Holidays from the Coast of Illinois
                                        
And ps – We have FLAKES!! The first layer of Wintery Mix is beginning!
note the lovely, sparkly ice crystals
 

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Do You Know What it Means...


in my head, it is always a little foggy...
It was ten years ago this week that I set out on what, in my head, was the most daring adventure I had thus far embarked upon…

You see, it was ten years ago that, despite all the red flags of meeting strangers over the internet (social media was still in its MySpace phase and wasn’t even dubbed social media at this point in time), I was offered the chance to go to New Orleans and meet up with a handful of total strangers.

Well, physically total strangers. 

Yet I knew these people intimately. Well, as intimately as fake names allowed. Most members used nom de pleums. Mine being CyanSKye, my take on Blue Sky. The name came complete with a pin-up girl on a swing and a theme song. 


Blue Skies, of course.


This was the first time my on-line writing group was to meet.

In person. 


About a year prior to this event I wrote on a website known as Writer’s Café. It was fun and exciting and most importantly, it provided feedback to thousands of would be writers. I sort of weaseled my way into one of the groups there – the Vicious Circle. Where, based on the romanticized life of Dorothy Parker and her contemporaries, the organizer of the group hoped to encourage each member to support one another through honest but non-threatening critique.

Within the year our group had grown and split from Writer’s Café to form its own website changing the name to Vicious Writers.

I would come home from late night shifts at work and anxiously log on to to see what had been said about my latest posting. And through those comments, friendships were formed, encouraged by forum topics ranging from grammar tips (run by Smoking Quills) to a story prompt round robin dubbed Sparks Diner (hostessed by MelStevens and MissVish…)


I was a little skeptical but truly wanted to meet these interesting, diverse people.

My husband was a whole lot skeptical and a very good sport, as this meeting was to take place on his FIFTIETH birthday…

But he is ever the indulgent thrill-seeker and with a little discussion over just how crazy these people were liable to be, he decided to come with my sister and me. 


He questioned this choice almost immediately when, while still on the tarmac, my sister and I raised suspicion with our nearly continuous laughter.

My sister and I reassured the flight attendant that we weren’t really mentally unstable. I am pretty sure he slipped the attendant a couple bucks and the plane took off without further issue.


There is something about New Orleans.

The heat, humidity. The history.

The proximity to the Mississippi. 


Our organizer set our ‘conference’ at the Dauphine New Orleans, in the heart of the French Quarter. (Conference is such a strong word…while we did have a businessy meeting of sorts, it was nearly immediately disrupted by Zombie finger puppets and exotic gifts of Timmy Ho’s coffee direct from Canada.)


We had our rooms there as well. Within a few minutes of check-in, we had exuberantly bumped into three other members, also staying there. There was no awkwardness.

There may have been a little awkwardness. But those Zombie finger puppets are great ice-breakers.
writers, on a balcony
And we quickly learned that our on-line personas were more extensions of our writing styles, enough of our true selves had fueled those posts that it was easy to know the person behind those words.  Quillz was a loving as her critiques, JJ as adorable as his hilarious, well thought out jokes. MissVish had an edge, albeit soft, James was as scholarly as he was mischievous. Nazarea was exotic and sweet.

And Damian, our leader, well, he felt like a brother. Generous, irritating and always hogging the bathroom.

(just a quess…)


Post ‘meeting’ we walked through the Quarter to Café Amelie for dinner.

What do you get when you take eight writers and their guests to dinner in a historic restaurant in a romantic city?

You get hours of laughs, threats of NO pictures of people EATING , and a lengthy discussion over why petit fours are called petit fours. (My favorite being that there are four, so it’s easier to share…)
discussing the finer points of semi vs full on colons...
After dinner we walked through the French Quarter and ended at Café DuMonde for coffee and readings and hat exchange. In one of those Who’s on First routines, we managed to blow through an entire order pad, trying to relay our café au lait and beignet orders to the waiter. 


I feel he was probably drunk.

Or at least wishing he was…
this poor guy...
Coffees served the table settled down and each member took a turn reading a portion of their own writing. Not at all awkward…for the other diners…or my husband….

There was a smattering of applause here and there. 
starting with basics, this is a book...
And some rather loud ducks, if I recall….


The weekend moved forward with multiple excursions, alone, or in various groups. We ended our weekend together in the beautiful bar at the Dauphine for a group picture, minus a couple of folks with other obligations. 
just a few, the rest are there in spirit.
We had been to New Orleans once before, as newlyweds. At that time in my life, everything was exciting and momentous. 


This trip, several years post children, job changes, and Katrina, we found a slightly different New Orleans. It felt a little more difficult to find blues and jazz playing in the Quarter, replaced by karaoke and techno dance. 


We never found our first gumbo shack, but we did find Deanie’s, and the most adorable breakfast spot – Annette’s , run by a sweet lady from Morocco who told us her story of escape at the end of WW2. She claimed to be Alex Baldwin’s favorite restaurant, complete with a photo of the two. But she really won my heart by leaving the entire coffee carafe at our table. The restaurant sized carafe…


And through a twist of fate we were on the shore of the Mississippi as the battleship USS New York made her way from the shipyard to NYC to be commissioned. She was built from steel, salvaged from the Trade Towers.


Yet, while the city felt a little different, deep down, New Orleans was the same. The city will always hold a little mystery, a little magic…


That little breakfast spot is no longer open.


Vicious Writers is no longer a group.

Creative differences, relationship changes…all the things that can befall a diverse group of creative styles.

No matter.


I will always feel connected to this group of talented people. They live all over the world, have drifted into and out of my life.

They encouraged me and gave me the confidence to call myself a Writer.



Happy Anniversary to Each and Every Vicious Writer.

Keep writing, my friends.

Blue Skies. Nothing but...


(I'm back! New Laptop! New ideas! See you again soon!)

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Read 'em and Weep


I am writing this on a beautiful Easter Sunday.
So, I am trying to keep my compassion to the forefront.

It's been awhile since I have written about nursing.
While it's my chosen career, I have always hesitated to flaunt the fact. I was not 'called' to this job, but I have found that, over the years, my love of my fellow nurses has become quite fierce.

And once again, our people need defending.

Let's get the facts first:
Washington State has a bill in their senate which would mandate uninterrupted meal and rest periods for nurses.
Senator Maureen Walsh, Republican, gave an argument against this bill stating that in smaller hospitals, the nurses probably play cards for a significant part of their day.

In a way, she wasn't wrong.

From the first day of clinicals, I 'played cards' – those would be the 4x5 file cards on which Care Plans are written. For nursing students, these were a way to learn about each diagnosis, its treatment and then a devised plan of care for each individual patient. We were required to do three of these plans per patient for each clinical day. At first it was only one patient and plan but as our learning advanced it was multiple patients and multiple plans. All needing to be done in the evening before the early morning clinicals, after a day of lectures and study.

I also played 'cards' with those wonderful MedCards. These were smaller 3x5 cards on which were written EVERY medication the above patient was on, the drug's classification, action, side effects and doses.

Today, those plans and medcards are digital.
But so are poker cards so guess I can see how someone might be confused.

Senator Walsh's comment has generated a flurry of memes on social media, all in regards to the Cards nurses play.
We play with CARDizem, NiCARDipine – just two of the CARDiac drugs used to save lives.
My current fav is the black and white of Florence Nightingale dealing black jack circa 1800's...
They are pretty hilarious.
And naturally, someone began complaining asking why, if we were offended, are memes the best way to show it.

It's one of those 'If I don't laugh, I'll cry' situations.

Earlier this week I read a story about a nurse in Louisiana who was attacked by a patient during her job and a week later died, most likely of injuries incurred in that attack.

Does this sound like a person who wants to be known as working in a profession that 'plays cards' for most of the day?

Thankfully, the legal system has determined this a homicide.

I say 'thankfully' as for most of my career we were to look the other way when a patient became physical. The reasoning being, these people are not themselves. And, we are there to help.

But, our world has gotten less reasonable.
And nursing has gotten more and more difficult.
We have gone from 8 hour shifts, covering a 'team' of 8-10 patients with the help of one or two aides, to 10 or 12 hour shifts in a 'primary care' environment of 4 to 6 to 8 patients with only one or two aides on the entire unit.
These patients are sicker, the medications and instrumentation more complicated and the environment more volatile.
And the nursing population is getting older.
We need more people to enter this career.

And how is this going to happen when people like Senator Walsh seems to believe all nurses do is sit around a play cards?

But, now that I think about it, maybe we should adopt her philosophy....

Come one and all, join the ranks of NURSES!
Learn how to start IV's and give medications safely!
Learn how to identify critical cardiac rhythms and treat them before your patient dies!
Learn how to simultaneously care for the guy who just killed a family of four in a drunken car accident, comfort a young woman who has terminal cancer, recover a fresh kidney transplant patient! All while basking in the luxurious spa-like atmosphere of the clean utility room where you quickly grab a granola bar half-way through your 12 hour shift because eating and drinking in patient care areas is not allowed and 'resources' are stretched so that lunch break may not happen.
Find the strength inside yourself to repeat these things daily and still see hope in this world! Because that is the only way its possible to return day after day to a profession that has lost the respect it so well deserves.

Now deal my hand.
I'm ready to place a bet...

My cap. Note the bobby pin rust stain in the center...


(For more of my nursing posts, check out the tab 'It's a Living' at the top of the page.)




Monday, March 11, 2019

Empty Pages


Well, hello again!
It's been a while, I admit.

Only two months worth of Facebook reminders that 'your friends haven't heard from The Coast of Illinois'...

And I had such big plans for writing this year...
Actually, I didn't.
Oh, I have ideas, but the motivation for putting them out into the universe has been lacking. Blame it on too many grey winter days, that pesky thing called 'work' or just plain apathy.
Can't really say.

It is such a strange feeling to stare at an empty page and have so many things swimming around in my head but no real way to get those ideas to travel the distance from grey matter along the great nerve highway to finally land via ink pen or computer at their destination, on the right....

What finally got me here?
This beautiful book.

This is a exquisite example of Yunjin brocade. This type of brocade is over 700 years old and serves as a royal tribute and is of great historical and cultural importance in China. This type of weaving is still done by hand, not with automated machinery. The information card included with the book says it best:
"The Yunjin Brocade is woven with unique ring jacquard card which adopts the silk thread and the cotton thread to record all the information of the pattern designs in the method of keeping records by tying knots in primitive times, and all these informations is passed to the hands of the thread puller on the wooden loom....it is passed down merely by the handicraftsman orally and by the heart memory..."
What a wonderful description – passing down information, through fabric and words and memories.
the inside cover. little pockets! a bookmark! a dragon! the yellow information booklet is at the top of the photo. it is written in Chinese characters with just a few paragraphs in English on the back.
I was given this journal as a thank you from two Chinese nurses who came to visit our medical facility. One of our anesthesiologist dropped the two in my hands one day, asking that I show them around so they could see how our recovery room worked. I love teaching and showing people our facility and these ladies were eager to see how our Western medicine compared to their Eastern version. Except that they spoke little English and I speak NO version of any of the multiple Chinese languages.
We did a lot of broken sentences and hand gestures. There was a lot of 'watch this', followed by discussion between the two and then the woman who spoke most English would ask for clarification.
I handed them off to one of my co-workers, who is from China, hoping at least one of the three would have a dialect in common. She faired slightly better than I did. But in the end, we managed to show them our routine, got them a tour of the ICU when we transferred a patient there, and while they learned about our work, I learned a little about theirs.
The next day they moved on to another area of the hospital but at the end of the week the ladies stopped by to thank us and gave us each one of these beautiul books.
They had no idea what the gift of a journal means to a writer. Especially such a lovely journal.

As something of a 'paper' addict, I was dying to use the journal, but didn't want to just put anything into it. I have multiple notebooks lying around the house, in purses and suitcases with random notes and ideas in each and every one.
I didn't want this particular book to become another purgatory of ideas.
So, it lay taunting me on my desk for nearly a year.

As the New Year and a random, luxurious weekend trip loomed closer, it occurred to me that this would be the perfect time to use this special book.
The bravery of these women, coming to a country so different from their own, to learn from total strangers who they could barely talk to, was not lost on me. Nor was the story of the beautiful brocade on the journal.

It seemed that this book needed to be honored in a tradition of bravery and adventure.
After all, travel is the best way to learn that we are each, hardly different from one another in ways that matter most.

2019 is rather notable for my husband and I. We are planning a return to the British Virgin Islands in May. This trip has been in the works since we left the BVI five years ago after taking sailing lessons there. Lord knows, there will be many stories.
And God willing, there will be many more stories of travels long planned and surprise trips met with a 'why not' attitude.

The first story in this Journal is our visit to The Moorings, a luxurious property in Islamorada, Florida.
It is a nice mix of planning as well as 'why not'.
I'll be sharing it with you in the coming month.

Promise.

Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year, Not a Challenge, Universe...


New Year's Eve.

What a year it has been.
I took a look back at last year's New Year's post...
It seemed that I had 'No Plan' but then decided that the word for 2018 would be 'Impromptu'...

The Universe saw this post and replied...'Challenge accepted....'

2018 went from No Plan to...
Blue has always been my color.
A paint job for the Fixer-Upper boat bottom, and indirect blue highlights...

bringing the Coast of Illinois to the Gold Coast...
A semi-impromptu trip to Chicago with our travel buddies where we went to Wrigley Field for the first time and hijacked a taxi...

Our son, doing his best Gorton's Fisherman impression.
A fantastic, albeit freezing, sailing weekend for Rob's birthday...

It rained. A lot. oh, and the storm drain failed....

yes, mud. 16 inches of flood water, about 37 inches of mud.

ugh. this took two full weekends to clean up.
And we don't live in a flood plain.
A massive flood in our basement where we learned that our friends are indeed great mud shovel-ers. And truly good friends...

And possibly the best...
I may be partial, but could they be any cuter?
An engagement and wedding in eight months. (according to our daughter, why would I want to plan this over a year or more, that is just more time to freak out...)

just a sample of the centerpieces we put together 
It should be noted that the only 'freaking out' was by me, over a late flower delivery and in the end the kids had a beautiful wedding and I now have approximately 7000 yards of ivory tulle, in case anyone is interested.....

I even managed to meet my goal of 'more hiking', by taking a hike the day after Christmas.
One hike.
Which is one more than 2017.
(There will be more on that soon....)

But 2018 is nearly over and 2019 looms large...
There are trips being planned, home upgrades in the works, books to be read and posts to be written.

I have spent a fair amount of time contemplating my plan for 2019 and it looks as though the word of the year will be
Adventure!
(spoken in an Errol Flynn sort of voice)

And the theme will be
Roasted Chicken!
(because healthy eating....)

Take that Universe.
Please don't bombard me with wild chickens...


From the Coast of Illinois to everyone
Have a safe and happy and wonderful New Year!