Monday, October 31, 2011

Unfortunately, This Is Not A Costume.

Today is Halloween.  I've never been one who really enjoyed Halloween.  It was fun when the kids were little to see their excitement over getting dressed up and going trick or treating, but even then, it was not my favorite holiday.

This year, I actually had to think about putting together a costume for Halloween.   My main squeeze and I were invited to a costume party that was held last weekend.  We dreaded getting dressed up because it just isn't our thing.  I guess we are just duds in that department.  We could think of absolutely nothing to wear, so, reluctantly, we went to the Halloween Store.  This seasonal store has been a fixture near our mall for several years.  We had never even thought of going there before, but when we were desperate for inspiration, we decided to go see what the place had to offer.

The place is a Halloween fantasy shop for sure.  We could not believe all the costumes, wigs, shoes, accessories, jewelry, and assorted props that were on the shelves.  These costumes are not cheap either.  The average price was at least $40!

Little did we know how much fun we would have looking at all the various Halloween outfits.  I guess we are still kids at heart as we found ourselves joking about the types of outfits and combinations we could come up with.

In the end, I was too cheap to buy anything but a couple of wigs and a pair of glasses.  I didn't have time to sew anything because, as usual, I had waited until the last minute to come up with an idea.  I bought a Marilyn Monroe wig for me and an old bald guy wig and pair of glasses for my hubby.  I was just sure I could come home and fit into my red sexy dress that would make me look like Marilyn.  "It was big on me the last time I wore it," I said to hubby.  (I wore it last in about 1988!)

Unfortunately, my bubble was burst when I got home.  I checked the size first: a size 8.  Thinking it would fit because it really did used to be too big, and still in denial, I tried it on.  It could not be zipped up because there seemed to be at least a four inch gap that the zipper could not accommodate!  I guess I've gained a few pounds since I wore it last.  In the end, I wore my grandmother's old mink stole and wig.  Jim looks a bit like Einstein.

Today, I am not in costume.  I wish I were when I look in the mirror!  I look how I feel: frumpy, old, and tired.

In the past four months, I have lost nearly all of my left eyebrow.  My right eyebrow still has a few hairs left.  My eyebrows suddenly disappeared in June.  As I told my daughter, "I've lost my eyebrows, and I really always kind of liked the ones I had."  Once, very thick, I constantly had to wax or pluck them to keep them in shape.  Now, they are gone.  (Are they gone for good?)

My hairline has receded so much that I think I look like my father more and more everyday.  I can't even get my newly cut bangs to cover up the loss.

I'm tired.   I barely can drag myself around.

Oh and then, there are the heart palpitations and racing heart that I am again dealing with.  These are accompanied with anxiety and near panic attacks.

Does this not scream that I must again be suffering from hypothyroidism?  A year ago, I was finally diagnosed with Hashimoto Disease after being on synthroid for hypothyroidism for years.  A new regime of taking my medication worked for about nine months.  I knew it was no longer working, but sometimes, it takes the doctor a bit longer to decide to change my medication because the blood work says I am the "normal range."  I happen to know where I need to keep the levels to feel right, but that doesn't seem to count for much.

The doctor's office called this morning after I dragged myself into her office last Thursday and said that she had to find out what was wrong with me.  She ordered all kinds of blood work.   Sure enough, I am "out of range" on my TSH.   I need to change my dosage of synthroid.  I also need to go back on iron.  No surprise here!  Hopefully, I will start feeling better.

In the meantime, in order to not scare the little trick or treaters at the door tonight, I will put on my make-up, starting with penciled in eyebrows, and hope they don't think I'm dressed as a frumpy, worn-out, old woman.

Happy Halloween!  Are any of you dressing up this year?  Do you have plans for any parties?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

On The Road with My Husband and His Other Sweetheart

Fall Trip 2011
Upstate New York - From Ithaca to Cooperstown

As the title to this post indicates, my husband brought his other sweetheart along on the trip we took this fall.  He insisted that he was not making the trip without her.  Since the trip was my idea, and since I love to take a road trip, and since I insisted that we could handle traveling unknown territories by taking roads we had never taken before, I had to give in when he insisted that the only way he was going along with my idea was if he could take along his other sweetheart.  

Yes, he has another sweetheart.  "She" is a GPS.  "She" tells my husband what to do, what way to go, when to turn, and even when to make a u-turn, and he listens.  He even talks to her.  He says, "Thanks sweetie."  "Ok, sweetheart, that is what I will do."  "She" is the bane of my existence.  I consider her constant direction giving a nuisance.  Needless to say, he and I do not agree on how one should take a trip.  I think maps work just fine, but since my husband really loves his little sweetheart, and likes to take her on our road trips,  I try to co-exist with her when we are all in the car together.

Somewhere between Ithaca and Cooperstown, my husband and I had to have a little talk.  I called it our "Come to Jesus Talk" about his other sweetheart.  You see, there had been some damage to roads between point A and point B due to flooding.  My husband's other sweetheart didn't seem to understand this situation, but he listened to her anyway.  I, on the other hand, kept consulting the map.  You see, I can read a map.  I am rational.  I can problem solve. I am not programed!  I finally said to my husband, "You must make a choice.  Either you listen to this sweetheart who is beside you with a map in hand, or you listen to the one you program, but you can't listen to both of us.  Make a choice."  

He chose me.  We made it to Cooperstown.  Unfortunately, we had to have this same conversation about his other sweetheart a few other times during the trip.  But, it all worked out.  He and I are still together, and his other sweetheart is somewhere upstairs in a drawer.

The landscapes we saw on this particular day were simply beautiful.  I kept thinking I was viewing scenes I had  admired as a child when I looked through a book we had of lithographs by Currier and Ives.  

We stopped in Bainbridge, New York to take some photos.   For some reason, when I saw this structure in the park in Bainbridge, I thought of my grandfather and how my grandmother described him as looking as if he "just stepped out of a bandbox."  I imagined attending a band concert in the park back in the 1890's.  I loved this cute little park that was surrounded by several churches and a cemetery that dated back to the Revolutionary War.

Unfortunately, we couldn't stop in every little town along our way.  We wanted to reach Cooperstown in time to visit a few attractions in that town before nightfall.

Cooperstown, New York

Cooperstown is really a beautiful little town.  As visitors to this town, we sometimes felt as if we were stepping back in time.  Many of the tree lined, clean swept streets are lined with beautiful Victorian houses.  The shops all seem to close when the National Baseball Hall of Fame closes.  The gas stations are not modernized because the city fathers want to keep things as "they were."  The town seemed to scream, "Americana" to me.  Patriotism and nostalgia are very much on display at every turn in the museums, the shops, the restaurants, and of course, especially at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Our first stop was the Fenimore Art Museum.  I had really looked forward to visiting this museum after reading so much about James Fenimore Cooper in David McCullough's The Greater Journey.  Perhaps because I never taught any American Literature classes when I was teaching, I hadn't thought much about the works of Cooper for many years until I read McCullough's book.  Then, a desire to see the area that inspired all of Cooper's great works was awakened in me.

The Fenimore Art Museum itself was a great disappointment to me.  Most of the walls were blank.  I even took photos, which I decided not to share here, of all the blank walls and the packing crates that were on display in place of piece of art.  It seems we visited between exhibits.  In fact, I had missed by a few weeks an exhibit called, Frida Kahlo:  Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray.  A fan of Frida Kahlo, I would have loved this exhibit and was disappointed to have missed it.  The museum has exhibits of interesting early American art works, and of course an exhibit that featured the portraits and memorabilia of the Cooper family which was quite interesting.

The Fenimore Art Museum as a building is really beautiful.  It is located on the shores of Otsego Lake which was a prime piece of real estate when James Fenimore Cooper's father established Cooperstown. 
I kept wishing I had at least read The Pioneers as background reading before we took our trip.

I hope you enjoy a few of the photos we took as we toured the grounds of the museum.

The back view of the Fenimore Art Museum

Looking toward Otsego Lake from the ground of the Fenimore Art Museum

The Museum viewed from the shore of the lake.

A path that runs along the side of the lake.  Can't you just imagine how it must have been in the days when the Iroquois roamed this area?

Isn't this just an amazing place?

Lake Otsego
Fenimore Art Museum

A lakeside exhibit called, "Otsego: A Meeting Place."

The day we visited the Fenimore Art Museum and drank in the beauty of Lake Otsego was a perfect fall day.  There seemed to be no better way to capture the memories of a bright, colorful, golden day that my hubby and I spent together than to photograph this simple sunflower growing with great splendor along the shores of the beautiful Lake Otsego.

*  A Reading List Suggestion:  William Cooper's Town - Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic.  ~ Alan Taylor  

I am working my way through this Pulitzer Prize winner.  While it is not an entertaining book to read, it is certainly informative about the settlement of this area in the early days of the American frontier.  It is called a work of "biography, social history, and literary analysis."   

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Happy Birthday to My Wonderful Husband

He is a prince of a man.
I know of few who are so kind.
I was blessed to meet him when I was just sixteen.
He is loved, admired, and respected by many.
He is the much loved father and step-father to eight children.
Seventeen children call him Grandpa.
Many in the city respectfully call him Mr. Wessely.
He was a teacher, counselor, and principal to thousands.

My German Prince
Heidleberg Castle, Heidleberg, Germany
The place where his parents married.

I am the woman who is greatly blessed to be his wife.

We've had a wonderful life together.

I am blessed to have him as my companion.
I wrote this poem for him a few years back as anniversary gift.

Masked Lover
Masked lover
Night breathing through a machine - 
Your lifeline.
The sound:  smooth, quiet, regular,
providing a white noise of sorts.
You, my masked lover, are my lifeline - 
solid, strong, masculine, unmovable.
Winter warmth.
Trouble comforter.
Rock of my daily experience.
Anchor for my heart and life.
All these words cannot express
The comfort,
The strength,
The safety,
The provision,
The stability,
That I thank God for
When I embrace 
my lifeline, 
at night.

Happy Birthday, Dear.

Here's to many, many more!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fall Tour to New England - Days One and Two

Some of my favorite memories from when I was a kid, include the times the family gathered around the slide projector for a travelogue presentation after my grandparents or an aunt or uncle returned from a vacation.  My father was especially great when it came to putting together a great slide presentation.  He would carefully organize the slides before the family would gather, popcorn would be popped before the lights were turned out, then we would all be in for a treat as he recounted the latest vacation adventures to those who had gathered.  He was witty, funny, and added a lot of historical information about the places that had been visited.  
Now, families no longer live nearby other family members.  We share our trip photos on facebook, or we recount our adventures on a blog.  So, in the spirit of an old fashioned slide show presentation to family, I will be sharing the vacation that my husband and I took throughout New England via my blog.  

* See source

Planning the Trip

Spontaneity is my preferred mode of attack when it comes to living life.  I think this is because planning for future events is just not an easy thing for me to do.  Once I get my mind set on making a plan, I can usually create a good one that I can follow, but when it comes to planning a trip, I really have a difficult time deciding exactly where I want to go, what I want to see, and where I want to spend the most time.  I guess if I had it my way, my husband and I would get in a car and start driving and see where we end up.

Thankfully, my husband wants a detailed itinerary in place before we take off on a trip that will span two weeks.  Also, thankfully, he does most of the legwork, research, and advanced reservations before we take off into the unknown.  He's good at that.  I'm not.  All he requires from me is a general area of where I want to visit with a few specific spots I don't want to miss.

When it came to time to get serious about the planning, we started at Triple A, my least favorite thing to do.  I generally find their trip picks hard to follow and have found them to be misleading at times, but it is a good place to start.  Then, we found a few big maps of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.  I love this part.  I love looking at maps and trying to find a route that looks interesting, but I also find it a bit overwhelming when I look at maps of areas where I have never been before.

We also skyped with my friend, Dove, who lives in Vermont about just about everything we needed to know about flying into and seeing her part of the world.  Thankfully, she and her husband gave us great advice.

As we planned for our trip, we decided there were certain goals we wanted to make sure we accomplished:

  • Visit Ithaca, New York.  My husband had been there a few years back and he loved the area and wanted to make sure I saw not only Ithaca, but also Cornell University.
  • Visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
  • Spend time in Vermont with our dear friend from high school days, Dove, and her husband, David.  Dove introduced me to my husband when I was only sixteen years old.  You can read a little about Dove here.  Our friendship spans 50 years.  She is a dear, dear friend. 
  • We wanted to see autumn color.  We knew we were visiting before the peak season, but we decided the timing of our visit worked best for us.
  • We wanted to stay in some bed and breakfasts along the way.
  • We wanted to have some good quality family time with my son, his wife, and my grandson who live in the Boston area. 

All of these goals were all accomplished with the trip.

Ithaca, New York

After an exhausting initial day of travel, one where we left Denver at midnight on Sunday, September 18, we arrived in Syracuse, New York in mid-afternoon.  We had a very long layover in JFK.  I think we learned our lesson.  DO NOT, if possible, include a layover in any travel itinerary.  The redeye would not have been so bad if we had flown directly to Syracuse.

We then rented a car in Syracuse and drove to Ithaca.  We reached our bed and breakfast about 5:00 in the evening.  Our vacation had officially begun, and we were very excited.  I gushed over our first bed and breakfast when we drove up.  I loved it on first sight!  My husband had done an awesome job when he found this place on the internet.

Don't you just love this place?  The name of the inn is The Hound & Hare.  If you are ever in the Ithaca area, I recommend you plan on staying in this delightful place.  Situated in Cayuga Heights, a beautiful, wooded and secluded area of Ithaca, very near Cornell University, this B&B had great charm, class, and provided us with the perfect quiet, warm, inviting, and charming place to rest after our long day of travel.  We basically had the run of the place.  We came on the day after homecoming weekend at Cornell, so all the guests for that weekend had gone home by Sunday night.  This meant we could relax without having to visit and interact with other guests.  (We are social people, but we were very tired!)

After we stopped oohing and ahhing over the outside of the house, Jim looked at the email from the innkeeper and read that the key, room assignment, and instructions would be left in a basket on the front door.

We walked in and found this beautiful living area.  Later that evening, I found my husband dozing in one of these chairs.  He didn't take long making himself at home.

Our room, on the second floor, was called The Victoria.  I've included a photo from the website for the bed and breakfast since we forgot to take a photo.  I must say that this room was just perfect for us.  I slept like a baby in its comfy bed.  The bed, the pillows, and the comforter were just perfect.  I literally sank into bed and fell asleep.

Later, I learned that our charming innkeeper was born in this very bedroom!

In the morning, we went downstairs to have a wonderfully prepared breakfast served in great style.

I loved the Franciscan Desert Rose pattern dishes!

Since we were just a little early for breakfast, we were able to take some time to tour the backyard of The Hound & Hare.  A beautiful side patio is shown below.  I took the photo of this patio from the deck just off the dining room.  I couldn't help but think how fun it would be to have a party on that patio.

Below, is the view of the backyard as viewed from the back of deck off of the dining room.  A path next to a nice herb garden can be seen.

This photo shows the back of the house, the deck, the patio, and a part of the herb garden.  The entire property was enclosed by very tall trees.  This added to peaceful, secluded aspect of this wonderful bed and breakfast.

Meet Zeta Sprole, the charming innkeeper of The Hound & Hare.  I truly enjoyed visiting with her.  She was trained as an engineer at Cornell.  She then married a military man and raised a large family.  Eventually, she returned to her childhood home and opened it up as a bed and breakfast after her husband passed away.

Her life is never dull these days.  She has had many visiting professors, alumni of Cornell and even a U. S. Supreme Court justice stay at her inn.

We toured the rest of The Hound & Hare and found every room to be unique and special.  You can take your own tour by clicking on this link.  Each of the four bedrooms is named for one of her daughters.  Evidently, she ran out of bedrooms before she ran out of daughter's names.  She has five daughters.  This gave me another reason to respect her greatly.  I have three daughters, so I can only imagine what it must be like to have five!

Unfortunately, we only planned to spend a late afternoon, evening, one night, and a morning in Ithaca.  We hated to leave this wonderful bed and breakfast in a town I wished I could spend more time exploring.  We only had time for a quick drive through Cornell.  We also ate dinner on the night we arrived in Ithaca at a fabulous Mexican food restaurant called Viva Taqueria.  My sister said we "cracked her up" because we went to New York and picked a Mexican food restaurant for dinner.  Hey, we love Mexican food.  I would go back to this place any time I could.  It was great.

On the day we left Ithaca, we took some time to visit Buttermilk Falls.  Buttermilk Creek flows toward Cayuga Lake and becomes a waterfall as it cascades towards its destination.  The Falls are a part of a much larger park that includes hiking trails, a smaller lake, and even playing fields.

No vacation plan is perfect.  We certainly found that our plan would have been tweaked if we had it all to do over again.  We would have spent more time exploring Ithaca, Cornell, Buttermilk Falls, and we would have spent more time visiting with Zeta at The Hound & Hare.  Maybe we can go back again someday.  We had to leave this beautiful place and more on to our next stop:  Cooperstown.

*Photo from:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Meet Boston

 The following were on my list to get done this fall:
  1. Take a trip to New England to see the autumn leaves and to visit with friends and family.
  2. Get a puppy.

I began my search for a puppy before we left on vacation, but thought it would take at least a month after we got home to find the perfect fit.  Well, that was not the case.  On my husband's first day home, he looked at ads in the newspaper for golden retrieve pups.  He was just doing the preliminary research so we could  get serious about finding our new pet.  It seems that we didn't need to search long.  The very first litter of golden retriever pups that we went to visit had the one that stole our hearts.  (Of course, that was easy.  We love golden retrievers, and who doesn't love a puppy?)

The nice family who owned our new pup's mom had named the one we picked out Titan.  I loved him for his combination of spunk, independence, and sweetness.  He seemed to stand out in the litter of ten.  He won my heart, but I walked away for a few hours to think about it.  Ok, the truth is I had to go directly to the bank to take out the cash to purchase my new little bundle of love.  We also had to go to the pet store to buy a kennel, toys, food, treats, or in other words, to begin to make sure our puppy had everything he might need to be happy.

We also needed to think about naming our addition to the family. Boston was the first name that popped into my mind.  We had just returned from our visit to that wonderful city.  The breeders were originally from Boston.  Boston seemed to be the perfect name for our third golden retriever.

We were heartbroken when we had to put our dear 11 year old Buster down due to a cancer we didn't even know he had just three days after the death of Julie in 2010.  (You can read about  Buster here.)  We missed our dear companion so much for so long, but both of us knew we just weren't ready to get another dog.  We had agreed that Fall 2011 would be a good time to start looking for a dog.

It didn't take us long.  Boston won us over the minute we saw him.  Now, we are training a new puppy.  What were we thinking?  We are spending a lot of time in the yard, a place he already prefers to be, trying to housebreak him.  He has earned an "A" from me in that department.  He is doing nicely.  At night, we are enduring the first few nights of kennel training.  He slept through the night last night.

I forgot how much time a puppy takes, but it is all worth it.  I really don't know how I made it so long without a dog in the house.  We needed new life in this place.  We needed something to look after, to train, to love, to watch grow.  It is hard to be sad with a puppy in the house.  "There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face."  ~Ben Williams

*  My daughter Keicha also added two new puppies to her household recently.  I knew as soon as I saw pictures of her beautiful Sophie, that I too would soon succumb to "puppy love."  You can read about her new addition here.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Testing, One, Two, Three...

I just realized that the blog post I wrote yesterday and posted is not showing up on blog rolls.  I have been gone for two weeks and wonder what is going on.  I will have to check into glitches with blogger and see if others have had this problem.

I'm back from break and trying to catch up on reading all the blogs I missed.  So, blogging friends, if you see this post, please let me know.  I am so confused on why the post I wrote last night and posted shows up on my dashboard but does not appear on the blog roll of others.  Feedback would be appreciated.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Break is Over

No man needs a vacation so much as the person who has just had one.  ~Elbert Hubbard

I find I am really relating to this quote today.  After being away from home for over two weeks, I've spent the day adjusting to life back at the ranch (home).   Anyone who has been away from home for any length of time knows that it takes a while to adjust to the new time zone, unpack the suitcases, wash the dirty clothes, go through stacks of mail, and go through over 500 e-mails.  I am also way behind on reading the blogs I follow.  So, I spent the day easing back into real life.  I don't want to rush into anything too fast because then I will truly need another vacation!

Jim at our first bed and breakfast
Ithaca, New York

My husband and I spent the past few weeks touring much of New England.  We were a bit ahead of peak time for "leaf peeping" in Upstate New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire.  I am happy with our decision to go on our trip when we did.  It fit our schedule, and we saw autumn in her beginning stages without being caught up in the crowds.  We beat the tour buses!  While we were gone, we also spent some wonderful days in the Boston area with my youngest son and his family.

This trip was the first extended vacation we have taken since our nearly month long trip to Europe during the early spring of 2010.  As many of you may know, we had only been home two weeks from that trip when my youngest daughter took her life.  Since that time, I have been dealing with the shock and grief that came from this tragic loss.  I wondered if I could ever leave home for any extended length of time again.  

The good news is that I think this trip was extremely beneficial to me.  It was not an easy trip.  I was ill through much of it, but in the end, I felt healthy mentally, emotionally, and physically.  In fact, in many ways, I believe I turned a corner in my journey through grief while we were in new locales.  Being away from home, away from the place where I have attempted to come to grips the greatest shock and devastation of my life, seemed to help me put some of the shock of Julie's death behind me.  By this, I mean that for the first time since her death, I found that I was no longer floundering in disbelief.  

I needed to leave the past few seasons behind.  This past spring and summer have been very hard on me emotionally and physically.  I was dreading the change of another season even while I was very much in need to see this past summer put behind me.  The summer had been so hot, so dry, so hard on me.  I was ready for a change of climate.  My soul needed some replenishment.

Buttermilk Falls
Ithaca, New York
We began our journey in Ithaca, New York.  The damp, cool weather felt wonderful to me.  As we made our way from Ithaca to Cooperstown, somewhere in the Adirondack Mountains, I saw the first splash of fall colors in the landscape.  I asked my husband to stop so I could photograph the first display of fall flowers and pumpkins that I saw along the road.  

The colors of fall seemed to give my heart new life.  Grouped in a simple display next to this a large autumn gold barn, the yellow, red, pink, and rust colored mums were just garden variety potted plants that can be found in front of any grocery store this time of year, but somehow the colors blended together to form a memory of other autumns in my life. 

Fall is my favorite time of year.  I needed to love it again.  I needed to be introduced slowly to its beauty again so I could appreciate its glory.  Small dabs of eye popping splashes of color seemed to be just the right amount of contrast against the green shades of summer to awaken my love for a season I thought I would never fully enjoy again. I needed to be reminded that "for everything there is a season."  I needed to know that grief also has its seasons.  "There is a time for grief," but there is also   "...  a time for rejoicing."  I needed to learn that one's heart is not forever dead to the beauty of life and nature.  

I will remember these past few weeks as a time of healing for my heart.  I have a new appreciation for health, for friends, for the changing of the seasons, for family, and for my husband.  He has been so generous in the way he has provided wonderful opportunities and experiences for me.  He has spared no expense.  His patience has been beyond measure as I battled through illness throughout the trip.  We survived navigating new roads and routes through country we did not know.  

We had a break from everyday life and along the way found that we still had to deal with life and all that it throws at you.  One never knows what one will encounter on any journey, whether it is across country or through life.  This trip served as a reminder that I am blessed with a dear traveling companion.   For that,  I am extremely grateful. 
Near Stowe, Vermont
Jim & Sally 
in the autumn of their lives