Saturday, April 17, 2010

Up in the air - or not!

To pack or not to pack: that is the question.
Will volcanic ash in Iceland keep us from flying to Europe on this coming Wednesday?

The planning for the trip began in January. We bit the bullet, took money out of savings, and put it down on the trip of a lifetime to celebrate our retirement. We both felt healthy and well enough to travel and decided that this spring was the right time to take the trip of a lifetime.

Now, we, and so many others worldwide, are keeping our eyes on Eyjafjallajokull. A week ago, I couldn't have even told you were this place was, or how to say it. Ok, I still can't say this multisyllabic word, nor can I spell it, but I do know that this mountain of volcanic ash is creating chaos and disrupting travel all over the world.

Specifically, Jim and I are scheduled to leave Wednesday, April 21, for Frankfurt. From there, we are fly to Vienna where we plan on staying for four days. The centerpiece of the trip is a two-week riverboat excursion across Germany. After departing the riverboat in Amsterdam, I am still hoping to spend the day touring tulip filled gardens before taking a train to Brussels. Our stop in Brussels is planned to last for three days. We then travel on to Paris for the last three days of our trip.

Mother Nature may have other plans. We are hopeful that the air clears soon and that there are no more eruptions. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who are already caught in the chaos this natural disaster has created. We are grateful that no lives have been lost. We also pray for wisdom on the part of the airlines. It is reassuring to be reminded that all in all, no matter what, God is still driving the bus when it comes to travel!

Monday, April 12, 2010


My friend and I meet once a month on Monday nights to write. The two of us form our own little writing group. We begin our writing group by writing about a one word prompt. I always shutter in anticipation to see what word Lynette will come up with for me at our monthly writing time.

A few months ago, she gave me the word: inspiration. By definition, inspiration means: the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, do something creative.

I love inspiration, but can also be led astray by it. I can start down an inspired path and then discover that I have lost the vision that led my down a particular path, or worse yet, I am bored by what once had inspired me.

I mostly find inspiration in the garden. It is there where I create wonderful visions and ideas in my head as I dig and dream. In the garden, when I've had the inspiration to create a vision that I thought would work, I find that I am also forgiving of my failures. I accept that nature may have had other ideas, or perhaps, I did not consider nature's rules when I first created my vision. It is freeing for me to accept that my inspiration was incomplete.

In the garden, I am forgiving for my lack of foresight. Thinking that I have accounted for potential growth, I've planted shrubs or perennials too close to each other or too close to a walkway. When a plant just doesn't work out where I thought it would, I just get a shovel and move things around. Oh, if only life were like this!

Basically, I'm just a dig in the dirt kind of gardener who is led by the vision in my mind. I don't have that freedom in my writing. I wish I could follow that same wild, colorful and unplanned kind of inspiration in my writing that I have found in gardening. Perhaps, it is in the garden that I most able to create voice. I am working on being able to bring that same voice to my writing.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Weekend

Most of our children are scattered all over the state. Two live out of state, and one lives out of the country. This means that holidays take some planning if we want to spend the time together. Since no long term planning had happened this year, we decided to just let Easter slid by with no family get-together until my daughter called last week and asked if she and her sister and her sister's two children could come down for the weekend. "Great," I said. "That way we will be able to spend some time together, celebrate Easter, and celebrate your upcoming birthday."

Before you know it, the plan grew. I decided we needed to invite my husband's three daughters, and his grandchildren down for a wiener roast on Saturday. Once my daughter in Utah heard of the plan, she decided to drive to Colorado with her daughter to join in the family gathering. In no time, the number of guests expected for the weekend grew from four to twenty.

No problem...the girls could all bring a salad for Saturday, and we would grill hamburgers and hot dogs. Since we now would have three birthdays to celebrate, I decided on ordering a cake. My husband insisted that we order red velvet from Sweet Daphne's in Colorado Springs. Since the red velvet is so messy, I suggested we also order cup cakes and cookies from Schuster's Bakery in Pueblo.

Now, that we had the food taken care of, I suggested we buy the Easter candy for the kids and put them into plastic eggs for an egg hunt. So, $75 worth of candy later, we began to fill plastic Easter eggs with candy,and assemble Easter goodie bags for each of the grandchildren. As we worked we realized we had never had a big Easter celebration at our home for the grandchildren. It seems that we were way too busy working to have been able to take the time out to prepare for such an event. While we were working, springtime meant that we were attending proms and baseball games, wrapping up state assessments, grading end of year projects and planning graduation. In other words, we were too wrapped up in working with other people's kids to spend time with our own.

Thankfully, all of that has changed now. The former high school principal pictured below was now able to channel his enthusiasm, excitement and energy into fill filling plastic Easter eggs to be given to his grandchildren! He really got into the entire project.

Sadly, I realized that some of the grandchildren are now in middle school,and that one has already gone off to college. I worried that the older kids would not enjoy hunting for eggs or eating cupcakes topped with plastic Easter rings. I found out just how wrong I was.

Once everyone arrived on Saturday, we began the day by digging into our delicious food.

Then, we announced that it was time for all the kids to go for a walk with Grandpa Jim and Buster. This was our way of giving the adults time to hide the 115 candy filled plastic eggs for the children to find.

Grandpa Jim surrounded by his adoring grandchildren, his dog, and his grand-dog.

Grandpa Jim and the grandchildren and dogs leave for a field trip in the neighborhood.

After the walk, the grandchildren had a blast running around in the backyard finding all of the colorful Easter eggs. Once all were reassembled, it was time for more pictures and for Grandpa Jim to distribute the Easter goodie bags and the cupcakes. After all, Grandpa Jim has a his reputation of "goodie man" to keep up.

How could I have ever thought that middle school kids wouldn't love to hunt for Easter eggs? I learned that no matter how beautiful and mature our young adolescent granddaughters are, they still love candy, cupcakes, and pink Easter bunny rings.

It seems a good time was had by all. Everyone went home with more candy than they collected at Halloween. Great memories of time spent with our wonderful family were carefully filed away by us all. And, now that we are retired, the best part of all was: we didn't have to get up and go to work on Monday morning.