This Land of Ours (Part 1)

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The two items above (national parks pass and new hiking shoes) have kept me away from my computer and slicing for the last two weeks. Here’s where I’ve been . . .

An open two weeks from work and appointments meant we had some time to head west to visit our son and his family. Instead of zipping out and back, we decided to put that national parks pass to work before our visit. Arches and Zion (both in Utah) were the parks selected for this trip.

Shortly after lunch, we entered Arches, ready to stretch our legs from driving. Incredible rock formations had us speechless as we drove up the switch back road. I cannot imagine the reactions of the early explorers who first laid eyes on this land. These rocks were massive!

Top left is Balanced Rock (total height is 128 feet, rock on top is 55 feet). The top right is Courthouse Towers. Bottom left is Three Gossips close up, then on the right it is in the distance.

Delicate Arch was the first hike. It was listed as challenging. I had my doubts about my ability, but we set off. Halfway into it, I had to give up. It was too steep for me, but I sent my husband on. I slowly made it back to the car. While waiting, I took the map of the hikes and arches and created a plan for the rest of the day and the next morning.

Here are some of the arches .

Top left: Delicate Arch taken by my husband as he fought 50 mph winds. Top right: Landscape Arch, just over 300 feet long, it is the second longest span in the world. Middle right: North Window Arch Bottom left: Turret Arch Bottom right: Double Arch

The Fiery Furnace

A massive wall of rock called The Fiery Furnace is on the left, then turn slightly right and you see the field on the inset picture at the bottom.

Sand Dune Arch

To get to this arch, you have to walk through deep sand and a narrow crevice (pictured on the bottom left).

As we were leaving the park, something caught our attention. We had to turn around to get a closer look. Would you do this? I would not!

Thanks to the zoom on the camera, we could see this ant fellow climbing this rock.

What a fantastic park! I know there were arches we didn’t get to this time, but I bet we will be back. Next week: Zion National Park.

 

Derailed No More

On Friday my post was how the day’s envisioned plans were derailed by a broken tooth. Saturday was the make-up day, but it didn’t start out on easy street.

First, I like to use a smaller cross-body purse when I am wandering about in a large, crowded space. As I was transferring needed items, I could not find my fob for the keyless car. Search one purse, search another purse, pull everything out of searched purses – no fob. I knew it had to be in one of those purses.

I locked the car, then brought my purse out to see if it would unlock. First purse, car stayed locked. Second purse, beep beep – unlocked. Relief! Somehow I missed it (could I have been a little frantic in my search?) I sure didn’t want to replace that item!

Second, I grabbed my camera just in case I wanted to get a picture and needed to zoom in. Thinking ahead, I thought I should replace the battery with one I’d recently charged. Old battery out, newly charged battery in. Wait! It’s not fitting? I can’t close the battery door. Take it out, turn it around, slip it in. Won’t close! Did I break it? I set it aside, maybe time will help. It didn’t. Will I need to get a new camera? Try one more time . . .  Turn it around, peer inside the space, try to match up the contact points. Ahhh! It slid in and the door shut. Problem solved.

Finally, we are in the car, on our way. Five miles down the road I glance at the GPS and it indicates no phone is connected. It should show a phone, there are two in the car. I mention this to my husband. He checks his pocket, no phone. Turn around to retrieve the phone. I know at some point we will be separated at the auto show, the phone will help us find each other.

 

Once again we head down the road. After a rocky start all went well the rest of the day. I only have eighty pages left to read in Turtles All the Way Down. I enjoyed lunch and dinner out. No lantern was purchased, but that’s not a problem. I will continue to look. Yes, we did need that phone to locate each other. Plus, there was one car that caught my eye

Too bright? 🙂

At the Park

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I sit in the shade watching the action and interaction swirling around me. Most of my attention is focused on one almost three-year old girl. I watch her closely as she runs from one area to another. I follow her as she climbs ladders to twisty slides. I try to hear conversations with other children. This almost three-year old girl, Clara, is my granddaughter and I savor every minute I spend with her.

On this day, we are at a park with many options for play. A sand and water table captured her attention. Another girl brought cups and shovels to use with the water and sandy muck. She willingly shares with Clara. I sit back observing the scene around me. Families fill the park. They don’t know that I am watching closely, saving scenes in my memory for a future slice. Surreptitiously, I bring out my phone to snap a few pictures as fodder for my writing.

 

Many nationalities are represented in this park, which explains why I cannot eavesdrop on conversations, as their native language fills the air. I love the multinational world my granddaughter lives in. My nationality and age make me a minority in this park on this day.

A young family catches my attention. They have come prepared. The wife carries a backpack and I surmise she is a fan of Thirty-One Totes. Daddy appears to be new to this type of outing, Mommy explains procedures, often. There is only one child to corral, but Mommy is lucky Daddy came to help today. It is a tag-team effort to keep track of Landon. Landon runs from one area to the next with a parent in hot pursuit. He runs with his body tilted forward. You just know he’s going to take a header, but he doesn’t. Mommy tries to entice him by spreading out all sorts of sand toys (many look to be brand new from Christmas). The promise of a snack, brings Landon closer to the encampment. He grabs the snack and heads for a small house with a table. Mommy squeezes into the house with Landon. She gingerly sweeps the table of the sand piles, as Landon wants to set his snack down. Snack consumed, he bolts from the house. Daddy must run after him, since Mommy takes some time to extract herself from the house. Toys remain scattered in the sand to be retrieved later.

This encounter makes me aware of how unprepared I was for the park. All I brought was a child and my phone. Next time, maybe I will grab a snack and perhaps a few toys for the sand.

Can You Read This?

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

What do you do when you think back over the course of a week, and there doesn’t seem to be one single moment worthy of a slice of life? That is the sad state I find myself in this week.

One possibility is to skip the day. Unfortunately, that is the option I reverted to for several weeks. That is not the way to create a writing life. I need to eliminate that option. Can’t say I won’t use it again, but here I am clicking the keys to share a mini slice.

Another possibility is scroll through photos on my phone. Is there something there to share? Ah, yes, there was something that I saw on Facebook and saved in photo form. Thus creating today’s slice of life.

The brain is certainly interesting! Now, read this and think about if it gets easier the more you read.

figuratively-speaking

Just in case you couldn’t read this:

Figuratively Speaking

This message

serves to prove

how our minds can

do amazing things!

Impressive things!

In the beginning

it was hard but

now, on this line

your mind is

reading it

 automatically

without even

thinking about it,

be proud! Only

certain people can

read this.

Please forward if

can read this.

How did you do?

Thanks photos for giving me something to write about today. 🙂

Eighteen Months

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Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Eighteen months, is that a short amount of time for you or an endless period of time? Eighteen months is a lifetime for one person who entered the world and my heart eighteen months ago.

Living 1,600 miles away from family does not allow for frequent visits. So when an opportunity to babysit this summer for an extended period of time presented itself, I jumped on it.

I’ve spent the last two weeks marveling the knowledge gained in only eighteen months.

She knows:

  • sparkly beads are essential
  • climbing is an adventure
  • arms will catch and hold you
  • laughter is contagious
  • naps revive
  • water is fun
  • food nourishes
  • conversations include hand gestures (even when no one understands your language)
  • songs are to be sung at the highest volume of your voice
  • no fear in trying new things
  • Grandpa and Grandma will cater to your every whim

I can’t wait to find out more about this little one in the years to come!

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Celebrate a Day

celebrate new

A day arrives where nothing is required. No chores to complete. No meals to prepare. Freedom to meander as one pleases. These days are rare, but Friday was such a day.

Destination of the day St. Louis. We did have an agenda of places to visit, but there was no rush to get to any single place. The pace was leisurely.

First on our list was the botanical gardens. An orchid show was the draw, but the mild temperatures took us on a stroll through the gardens first. Although it’s not quite blooming season, we were not disappointed.

Crocuses have popped through the grass.

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A few early blooming trees had bees buzzing in and out of the blossoms.

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Bare tree branches intrigue me with their complicated network of limbs.

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A few more glimpses of nature’s beauty on a lovely March day. The top two are a Star Magnolia. The bud of the Star Magnolia is fuzzy like a pussy willow. The second row has an early crab apple, a contorted Filburt, and Hellebore. Final row: Only a few daffodils were open, more will be blooming in a few weeks. The spiky yellow bloom is Witch Hazel.IMG_1925

After strolling around the outside gardens, we returned inside to view the orchids (that post will come tomorrow).

The next portion of our day involved shopping. I know that does not sound appealing to some, but the stores we visited are not in our city, so we take advantage every time we come to St. Louis. Costco was first on our list. They had several items on sale we needed. Of course we had to try a few of the samples offered. Chocolate gummy bears have never appealed to me, and they still don’t. Jelly bellys left an unpleasant taste which was removed by trying a giant green olive. Surprisingly, we walked out with only the items from our list. Trader Joe’s was next to be visited. Only a few items needed there too.

Finally, it was time for dinner. We had a gift card for a new-to-us restaurant. We had a delightful waiter, who shared his favorites from the menu. Fortunately we were early enough to take part in the price break from happy hour on a glass of wine and an appetizer. Every bite was delicious! I meant to take pictures, but I forgot until the food was mostly consumed. Sorry!

A fantastic Friday filled with flowers, food, and finds doesn’t come along every day, so I celebrate my good fortune on this day.

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

 

Bucket List

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

My bucket list contains dreams that one day I hope to do, or see, or participate in. Two weeks ago I checked off an item.

How many years have I watched the Rose Parade and marveled at the ingenuity and beauty of the floats? All my life would be the answer to that question. I’ve always wanted to attend the Rose Parade. I thought my chances got just a bit better when I married a Californian. However, we were never able to be in California for the New Year. Our schools in Missouri usually started back on January 2. This dream was relegated to the after I retire list.

Then I retired, but the parade was still elusive. The timing was never just right. Then add in the factor of getting tickets to the grandstand and facing massive crowds. It just didn’t seem likely, until my brother-in-law mentioned that they parked the floats along a few streets in Pasadena for the weekend. This sounded like a perfect solution!

We were in California to celebrate my granddaughter’s first birthday and we had a morning free before the party. The weather was sunny but still slightly cool. We headed to Pasadena. No traffic on the freeways until we exited. Slowly we made our way to the streets with the floats, joining hundreds of others. Fortunately, we found a parking place along the street, although it was a bit of a hike it was free.

A dream came true as we wandered the streets marveling at the beauty and clever use of natural materials. Photos don’t do it justice. This was better than watching the parade because I could stand there and take in every detail as long as I wanted. Plus I could see both sides, some had different designs on each side. So if you find yourself in southern California at the new year, I highly recommend taking a stroll to view the floats up close and personal.

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As far as you can see there are people and floats.

Here are a few of the floats and details we saw:

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Love the scales are slices of citrus and the fin has blueberries.

 

 

The animals captivated me!

The animals captivated me!

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Who knew beans and peas could make a turtle?

Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey

A lion's face, a dragon's claw, and a sunflower

A tiger’s face, a dragon’s claw, and a sunflower

 

 

Little Free Libraries

Have you heard of the Passport to Healthy Living? I first read about this in the AARP magazine, then the library announced they were a sponsor too. It intrigued me, it sounded like fun, plus there were prizes too! I stopped by the library and picked up a couple of the passports.

The descriptor inside said, “The Springfield community has a wealth of free resources that can be your passport to healthy living. Using this passport as your guide, you can learn what’s available in the community.”

There are 26 questions/activities and I must complete 13 to be eligible for prizes. The one activity that intrigued me the most was to visit any Little Free Library in town. It gave a website where five libraries were listed. Here was a perfect activity for Kim and me one afternoon.

In the morning we walked the Nature Center (last week’s slice), and after lunch we set out to find all the Little Free Libraries to deliver books. Using the navigation system on Kim’s phone, we were able to find every one. A picture book was left at each library and we both found a book to read we wanted to read.

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Besides finding the Little Free Libraries we completed four more activities in the Passport to Healthy Living book. Only eight more questions to answer before I turn in my book on August 8.

If you want to know about little free libraries, click here. There are instructions for building your own and a map where you can locate any that might be near you.

Creating

My friend arrived for dinner one evening with sly smile and a mischievous glint in her eye. As she is reaching into her purse, she is saying, “I have a present for you and a job.” It is with great apprehension that I take the small brown paper bag from her hands. My mind is swirling, wondering how the gift and the task are related.

I peek into the bag and relief floods through my veins. This is a job I will enjoy. I pull out four strands of beads. She continues to explain how on a recent trip she went to a turquoise mine in Albuquerque. At the end of the tour she was in a room full of beads and the ladies of the tour were snatching up strand after strand of the beads. She goes on to tell me, “I bought you and me a strand, because I knew you could do something with them.”

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I love to play with beads, so this was a challenge I relished, if there were no time constraints put upon me. “No rush,” she tells me. Good, I think because soon my work in schools will be finished and I will have time to play with the style of the necklace.

The next week, the bead store puts out their newsletter with classes listed. My eyes light upon the wire wrapped Tree of Life. That might make the perfect pendant for the turquoise necklace. I did this class several years ago, but cannot remember the process, so this would be a perfect refresher course.

Saturday morning I have my stone and wire ready. There are only two of us in the class, I rejoice in that (lots of personal attention at my point of difficulty). Slowly we create a tree from wire. I brought my iPad to record steps in the process for reference later. Two hours fly by and I have a little bit of work left to finish at home.

Start and end of the project with a few steps along the way.

Start and end of the project with a few steps along the way.

Once the tree is complete, I need to figure out how to arrange the turquoise stones to create the necklace. I string a few beads, add some seed beads. It becomes a dance of the beads as I string, remove, restring, remove, until I am satisfied with the results. I bring my nearly completed necklace to my friend for a length check and approval. She loves the pendant and we decide to lengthen it just a bit.

This necklace has been completed.

This necklace has been completed.

It’s back to the playground of beads for me as I try to find complementing beads to create the next necklace.

Maps or GPS?

I trusted Lola (my GPS system) to get Kim and me to the hotel in Warsaw. She had done a fine job the year before, so I had no reason to doubt her abilities this year. I should have known something was not quite right when I could not locate the place I stopped at for lunch last year. The landscape was familiar, but doesn’t one suburb area look much like another especially when you are not from the area? Finally, we gave up and stopped for lunch. I just knew it would be in the next shopping center down the road, but it wasn’t. We never saw the center from my memory. I should have known, she was leading me down a different path.

We did need to take a small detour because of an accident, but Lola recalculated and put us on a road to Warsaw. We arrived just in time to pick up our registration packets and meet up with friends. Once we were in Warsaw, I had a guide to help me navigate the streets, so Lola was put away.

Saturday was going to be a day of exploration. Kim and I planned on driving north into Amish territory to view garden quilts and devour treats not to be missed (according to the natives of the area). With general directions, we set off to find Das Dutchman Essenhaus for breakfast. No help from Lola was needed. It was after breakfast when we encountered our first quandary.

We were able to locate our first garden quilt in the yard behind the Essenhaus. Of course the grass was drenched in dew, so our shoes were soaked walking to view the garden (no path was available 😦 ).

Bowtie garden at Essenhaus

Bowtie garden at Essenhaus

Now on to the next location, but where were we exactly? This garden was in the middle of a triangle on our map and the roads on the map were not labeled. mapWe plunged ahead looking to find something labeled on the map to give us a reference point. After a stop in a small shop, we were able to locate our second garden.

Waterwheel at Krider Gardens

Waterwheel at Krider Gardens

While studying the garden and our map, a man drove up to take photos of bikers on the trail. We politely asked for help to determine where in the world were we? It was when we mentioned we were seeking the Rise ‘N Roll Bakery, he became friendlier. His eyes lit up knowingly at the treat we were searching for. With his directions, we were on our way to begin our foray into overdosing on sugar.

Cinnamon Caramel donut, their specialty.

Cinnamon Caramel donut, their specialty.

 

Rise ‘N Roll was a hopping place and many donuts were being consumed. If you are in the neighborhood, this is a treat not to miss. I also bought a quart of pickled baby beets. Yum!

Sugar high set in and we were off to find our next quilt. Now that we had a point of reference, we were good for the rest of the morning.

Dutchman's Puzzle at Menno-Hof

Dutchman’s Puzzle at Menno-Hof

Goldie's Basket at Farmstead Inn

Goldie’s Basket at Farmstead Inn

But it was time to start the trek back to Missouri, and long hours in the car were ahead of us. First, we needed lunch and the locals dictated we must go to the Blue Gate for pie. Once again the recommendation was spot on. I enjoyed the seasonal Key Lime, while Kim savored every bite of the German Chocolate pie.

Lola was called into action as we wanted to head for home. Her idea was go to Chicago, then down Illinois to Missouri. I was not so sure of that, so we began to retrace our steps going back to Warsaw. She was not happy and constantly wanted to guide us away from our route. Finally I unplugged her and we broke out the backup map. (In retrospect, I suppose I should have listened to her.)

Once we were back to Warsaw, we gave her another chance. Her route seemed odd. Kim took out her iPad and used the map app. It seemed a better route. We followed the iPad. As I drove, whisperings in my mind began to tickle my memory. This was the route from the previous year. There was the shopping area I had eaten at last year!

Lola, I wonder if you need to retire. My faith in you has been compromised. Kim warned me that you were not always thinking clearly. I think I will have to analyze your route and the app’s route next time I plan to go somewhere.