Sunday, December 29, 2013

Home in Style...........

It was a wonderful month, filled with an abundance of family and celebrations.   But all good things must recede into our memories and we need to float down to reality  and get on with the  everyday life of the happily retired.

  So we are home once again........   The journey was filled with pride as I was finally able to fly on the same plane as our son.    Paul has flown with Jon before but not I.     Jon is a First Officer with United (previously Continental before the merger).   Since he was very young, he has wanted to fly.    When he turned 16, he went out to the local small airport to see if he could volunteer to wash airplanes and was immediately offered a job !!   He was ecstatic and his career in aviation began.   From there, he went  on to get a degree and then worked his way up the ladder of aviation.   Despite seeing his father having to weather the Eastern demise, he was not discouraged from seeking a career in this changing industry.      This is a difficult time to try and go stand-by on crowded holiday flights but we took the plunge and with the help of our upgraded status ( traveling with a crew member) we were able to get the last two seats from Newark to Orlando.    He warned me that it would be a bumpy ride ( during which I turn in to a huddling mess of anxiety) but it was not of the scary kind.    And knowing that he was avoiding the "potholes" just for his mother, helped a lot.    Jon is on the right and his landing was smooth and skilled....just like his father's always were.     We wore our pride in our smiles.  

We will miss those two active boys .....  Mason spent the day working on his Lego creation (from a kit) and it was quite masterful.    The lion head with the huge teeth raises and lowers and there are assorted projectile firing mechanisms that periodically take aim at a cat or two.  

We have NO plans to pack a bag anytime soon but that doesn't mean that there aren't exciting plans being made....... Stay tuned.   
And a very Happy and Healthy New Year to you all !!

Thursday, December 26, 2013


As we travel around the globe these days,  we join family in celebrating major events and happy gatherings.    Unfortunately, the resident photographer managed to delete all the graduation pictures except these two.    
 Becca received her Marketing Degree from Colorado State and Kelsey received her Degree the evening before .    The next day, Mike and Jenna held an open house with amazing food and friends and CAKE.  

 Then, leaving beautiful Colorado behind, we headed east to Connecticut to share in the excitement of two delightful boys.    Andy and Mason were all ready to open their Christmas pajamas and begin the wait for Santa.    Two Grandma's and one Granddad were thrilled to be a part of it all.  

 The morning brought laughter and glee and exclamations as Santa showered the family with generosity......and more good food !       We ate and played and read new books and napped and some of us even went for a 7 mile walk in the chilly grey day.    My excuse was an annoying knee once again.   Santa didn't bring a fix for that !    And then, another table filled with prime rib, sea bass and assorted family recipes.  

Today, I came down in the early dawn to find the two deep in concentration on their new iPads.   They are to be used for reading and school work ..... but games will always be their preferred choice.  

We wish you all a joyous New Year and we'll see you when we get back to palm trees and flowers.  

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The best of times........

I have only a few pictures, very casual shots, to share.    In a wise move, the personable minister spoke up at the beginning of the ceremony and said that only the professional photographers would be allowed to use their cameras and they were to remain at the back on the church.     At the end, she encouraged everyone to get out their phones , ipads and cameras and take pics.    These are with my phone.    There were 6 attendants and the dresses were perfect.   And the bride looked radiant in her beautiful billowing gown.   

 The reception was a very joyous celebration......

 Here's my favorite college freshman......
 Do you think the parents and grandparents had enough glassware on the table ?.

 Even cowboys need to rest their feet.

 Mama was filled with pride and emotion.....

 Becca and her special beau Kory...... he's a very tall 1st grade teacher....and a delightful young man and we approve wholeheartedly  !!

We have a few more days at home and then we head WEST AGAIN !!  (We really need to move out there and save on airfare !! )   This time, it's to honor Becca and attend her college graduation from Colorado State.    She will return to Disney in February as an intern....a repeat of last year as a Fairy Godmother.   We are thrilled that she will be nearby once again.
On the 23rd we will head to Connecticut for Christmas with Andy and Mason.    They are getting a beautiful snowfall so we will hope for a white Christmas.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Memories are made of this..........

Because this blog is all about ME, this is the only picture I am posting today.     Yes, we were gone for almost 2 weeks and this is all that I have for the moment.     I made a big mistake when I packed.   I did not take my computer and I did not take my big Canon.    I decided to go light and took my small point and shoot Canon and my mini iPad.   Neither of which were worth a hoot for capturing the wonderful moments we had.    

We left on the 26th of November.   On the 27th was a perfect rehearsal dinner at a lovely Bistro that Mike and Jenna frequent and the french owner made it all very special and delicious.    On Thanksgiving, we were part of a large gathering at "the hostess with the mostest" home of Caroline and Doug.   They manage to make it look so easy in their lovely home.    And it was fun to watch the balloon team from the Fiesta cook 2 turkeys with all the trimmings and drink.    Remind me to share a Sangria made with fresh apple cider, gingerale, brandy and fruit.   
On Friday, we attended the wedding of Kelsey and Nicholas in the beautiful 125 yr old First Methodist Church in Denver.    The service was personal and beautiful.    Then we trekked across the street to the historic Brown Palace.  The pictures will not do it justice....the reception was everything you would want.   The bride radiant, the groom beaming  and the parents proud and happy that it all went off so smoothly.    We danced and ate and mingled and had really good champagne and were among the last to leave the party.    See, we're really not as old as we look !!

The next day, after walking to breakfast a few blocks away on a bright and sunny and warm morning, we all went our separate ways.     Since it was OUR day, we decided to enjoy the quiet and reflect on our 50 years of marriage and 55 years of being a couple.     There is no way to remember it all except that it has been just about perfect (well, most of the time) and we have been so fortunate, so very lucky and so blessed.    We could not ask for a better family.     ....................OK, now I need some tissues..........
Anyway, we walked the Denver streets, marveled at the excellent art museum, learned something about our favorite area at the History museum and finished the day with dinner at the Brown Palace.   

The next morning we headed WEST.....we had plans to come home but we do love the mountains so we went exploring.     And then it snowed, dry powdery deep fluff that made the ski resorts rejoice and put us in awe of Mother Nature's beauty.    But it was also very cold !!   Near zero and altho I had my new coat to keep me warm (read earlier post)  , I had to buy boots.     
And so, this story will continue, with pictures of the wedding and the mountains......We have the pictures in P's computer but having issues with transferring to mine......

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Yes, we have no pictures !    Today, it's just my voice.    I've always thought that the blog needs pictures but I enjoy several that never or rarely have a single one.    And I look forward to the blog updates......however, those blogs may be written by persons with interesting lives or witty ways with words or share thought-provoking ideas .....  This blog does not pretend to have any of those talents and often relies on the beauty of the world to fill the voids.      Anyhow, I wanted to send off a note before we wing our way west in a couple of days.  
We're watching the weather as the storm tracks east and threatens to make the ride a bit bumpy.   Here's hoping the NY airports are OK on Thanksgiving when Jon tries to join us.    The forecast looks precipitation free in Denver for the big weekend.    But, I won't bet the house on it staying that way.  

This week, I've had to go shopping..... I just HAD to !    I went searching for a warmer coat.    I have had one forever, I love it and it works great for traveling.    But, when I managed to retrieve it from the back of the closet,  I realized it looked a bit faded and worn in spots.   Darn,  I really like that coat.    So, I went to Dillard's in Ocala.....they don't carry coats !!!!   I persisted and asked about rain coats or light coats and she said , NO....     Today, I wandered down the Turnpike to Orlando and tried the huge Dillards ...... still NO .....  People , it does get cold in Florida....  what happens if the natives or the transplants need to go NORTH??    So, I trotted (yes, I can still do that) over to Nordstroms and of course, they had coats.    And their usual excellent customer service.     And guess what I found....??   An almost identical copy of my favorite one....with a lining and removable hood and it was on SALE.   Because I was so happy and wanted to show my appreciation, I also found a few other things to add to the shopping bag.     

Today was just a beautiful day.    Highs in the 80's, low humidity and puffy clouds.    This is the weather that the tourists come down here for.....unfortunately, next week is supposed to be chilly and rainy.    

Wishing you all a delicious Thanksgiving with those who are special to you.     

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Life in the slow lane........

I am aware that if you have a blog and don't ever contribute to it, you will lose the 3 followers that you have and then you will be writing it just for yourself.    Which is pretty much why I do it anyhow......but then the ego steps in and wishes for a worldwide audience to share in   these ramblings so I start writing again. 
   I'm still enjoying 'just being home'.....absence does make the heart grow fonder.    
Our "old" friends ,( no offense intended  but we did graduate with Mark so no hiding the age thing), stopped by on their way from the North to their home in the tropics of Naples.   It is very comfortable having them around and catching up on our busy retirement lives.    Annette and I look like we are being absorbed by the is overstuffed and very nap worthy.     (We were showing the photo capabilities of the mini iPad so the quality is lacking) 

I remain ever vigilant for the returning geckos on the lanai but so far, there is only a rare sighting.    However, I did see this brave invader peeking out of the drains to see if the way was clear.

We currently have a noisy crew of guys on our roof, putting in solar heating for the pool   Just another treat for Andy and Mason so they have bathtub temperature pool water when they visit in the winter....otherwise , we heat for days and days trying to get it warm enough.    The payback is several years but it seems a shame to let that Florida gold go to waste. 

This is our last full week at home before we head out again....via air this time.    We're looking forward to the family gathering for Thanksgiving and then THE WEDDING.    And the grandmother and grandfather are now properly attired of us was able to get into a  nice suit from many years ago.......while the other required a shopping trip.    And speaking of the inequality of aging .....   Yesterday, on my morning power walk, I came upon a group of neighbors meeting up for friend says (loudly),   "Sue, your hair is GREY !!   When you left you were BLONDE !! "  I thanked him for reminding me and sharing it with the group.  

And healing thoughts go to my much younger sister who managed to break her foot, requiring pins and fusion.    Maureen will be missed at her hospital where she is a highly respected and excellent Certified Nurse Midwife.   But, here's hoping the down time will be a healthy respite from her very busy life.       Now that she has the time, maybe she'd like  to go to Disney World........on crutches !!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Hi AGAIN.....

I have no news.....nothing to share, no photos of fabulous vistas, no adventures, nothing........ and I don't mind a bit.    Life has returned to the hum of everyday routine among the old people of The Villages.      The roads and golf paths are much too busy .....  the Squares are full every nite with the oldsters dancing and shopping and  eating and proving once again that life is a good thing down here in American's Friendliest Hometown.     The growth has been quite phenomenal since we left ...... entire Villages and Rec Centers and Golf courses have sprung up, extending the boundaries of our Community to distant corners of the counties.    The rumors have it that we'll be able to drive to DisneyWorld in our golf carts !!  The census is now well over 100,000.   Housing prices, after being stagnant for a few years, have gone up significantly.... and still they come.   

   The Villages is developing an entirely new health care model.    In conjunction with USF, they are calling it the "Marcus Welby MD" approach. (it has a more official name as well)   They have brought in Primary Care Physicians from around the country, given them a great salary and perks and set up homey  Health Centers ,  golf cart accessible, and the emphasis is on developing a relationship with your Dr who will not be rushed at appts and works on a salary rather than how many patients can be seen in a day.     So far, the initial reaction seems to be positive and I suspect, that private practitioners will be seeing their patient numbers dropping as this gets going.     We're still undecided if we want to join.     We have been somewhat pleased with our Internist but may make some inquiries into the new program. It's very innovative and I heard that this is being closely watched by the health care industry to see how it does.   
In other news in the aging of us has beautiful greying hair, the other, not so much.   But in the interest of saving hours in her busy days, she has decided to go au natural......   It's a shock everytime I look in the mirror and see this older woman, but I love the freedom and don't miss the blond.....much.  
The extermination system worked and the annoying little creatures are mostly gone from the lanai....they will return but in more manageable numbers.    Meanwhile, with that annoyance gone, another soon filled it's place and we had to have the professionals  come in a persuade the ghost ants to go away.   Apparently, its the season for them and the diligent young ladies also found a large nest of them beside the house , close to the fireplace where they were marching in.     I'm waiting for the next specie to invade and only hope it doesn't slither.   

We have a couple of  weeks before we put on our party clothes and celebrate Nicholas and Kelsey's wedding ....another advantage of being old is that we don't have any role except to look nice (despite the grey) act nice (careful with the wine) and be proud of two wonderful kids.    Stay tuned......

And speaking of proud......  The Villages has a huge population of pickleball players....what started out as a few courts has expanded into a highly organized system, designed to encourage everyone to have fun ... to play with others of your level and do it all safely.    P plays at least 6 days a week for  2-3 hours.....because it's a smaller court and is all doubles play, there isn't as much need to run around the courts...and his skill and cunning overcomes any of his issues with agility.    Yesterday, he went to a rating clinic .... based on a scale of 1-5 he came out as a 3.5 which is tremendous.    (4-5 is Championship level).....  And to think they said he might never walk  !!

Meanwhile, the extra inches from all the Mexican food this summer, seems to be hanging around much too long.   I'm pounding the pavement most mornings but now have developed those annoying shin splints so will have to back off a bit....... the golf game is slowly coming back.  

Busy weeks coming up with guests, travel and celebrations.     I wish I had started the blog FIFTY years ago so we could go back and read all about the good stuff , see the people and places we shared our times with, share the funny and touching memories of babies and toddlers and teens and watch us all grow in so many ways.     But NEVER older as we are always YOUNGER EVERY DAY.  

Friday, October 18, 2013

2000+ vs 400+.........square feet

Ahhhh.....there's nothing like home.    

It's has unlimited water for showers, , it doesn't move, it has a comfortable couch for taking a nap on, it doesn't move, it has great neighbors,  there is a large closet full of clothes and shoes, it doesn't move, there's no angst when something won't work, AND, it doesn't move !! ....     It's good to be here....and I also noticed an interesting thing.    After being gone for 5 months and having senior moments now and then,  I've forgotten some of the things we have.  it's sort of like Christmas when you find something you'd forgotten about.    And, I had to relearn how to operate all the gadgets in  the car....and pay attention to where I was going.   I am delighted to enjoy my art books as if they were new and the pictures on the wall and the flowers and greenery outside.    Probably one of the few benefits of aging and memory .   
And, it seems we have had an explosion of squatters on the lanai....   We've always had the small and quick geckos, anoles, lizards or whatever you like to call them.    They don't really bother me except when the french doors are open and I wonder if they will consider hanging out in the A/C.     While soaking up the views and nice weather, I happened to think that there was some scurrying going on around me.    I started really looking and found them everywhere and in every size....from tiny ones to large..     I pondered my feelings about this and then pondered the kind ways of moving them out and then pondered the not-so-kind ways of moving them out.   Extermination won over my kind feelings.   My solution was to get the old vacuum with the long hose and to suck them up into the disposable bag.   The first attempt, I managed to eliminate 15 or so...I sort of lost count.  (the bag went in the trash)  Yesterday I managed to get only 4....I put a sandwich bag over the end, made it secure with a rubber band and left the death machine out where I can grab it in a minute.    Today I only saw one but decided to wait until I see more.    I know they will continue to come in and try and raise a family, safe from the birds, but I will be vigilant.     I learned that others use brooms, fly swatters and a spritz of alcohol in a spray bottle to stun them.   

We're back on the golf course.    We've played twice and I should have stopped with the first round.   But so far, the knee is cooperating altho I am not taking a full swing so I'm pretty wimpy out there.    He's back on the pickleball courts everyday and we're both sweating with the higher humidity.   Summer seems to have returned with a vengence.  

Today, on the 9th hole, our ladies foursome noticed a beautiful bald eagle circling above.   We were next to a pond and watched as it glided and swooped and dove .    It was a magnificent bird and so close that you could see details of the feathers and talons and beak.     And, I had no camera and the phone was in the golf cart.   I doubt I could have captured anything with the phone anyhow.   There are many  preserves here and the Audubon society recognizes their efforts for promoting open space and protecting the varied wildlife species.   

And now, I'm going to have a bit of wine in a stemmed  GLASS, not plastic..... because this house doesn't MOVE.  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

It's been a perfect summer.........

Early, early Wednesday morning, the crack balloon launch crew began the inflation of Flyer.   
 Lizzie knows her role and probably was dreaming of her Saturday launch on a 777, winging her way to Europe....with her parents.   She had a long list of "must sees".....

 Jenna flew this beautiful morning.....the crew is moving the balloon to a small you can see, there isn't an empty square foot during the Mass Ascension.
 It was a picture perfect morning.....
During the chilly sunrise, we were able to meet up with Pennsylvania and RV friends, Ron and Cay who were part of Adventure Caravans at the Fiesta.   We haven't seen them since Bryce Canyon NP even tho we've both been in Colorado.     Also, my favorite walking partner in The Villages and Newtown, was in ABQ visiting her friend Mary from school days in NY.    We had a good time catching up.    And I took no pictures of our gathering.

The weather forecast for Thursday and Friday was not optimistic for flying or driving a large MH as heavy rain and high winds were predicted.    So, we packed up the box and headed East, 2 days earlier than scheduled.      We had planned on a more leisurely drive but once we were headed downhill and the sun was shining.....we became rather intent on getting home.     We made it back this afternoon.....!!   On Friday we did 500 miles and yesterday, we drove 600+. This may not sound impressive if you were in a car, but going 60mph and being alert to other drivers trying to kill you,  in a MH, that is quite remarkable.   Plus, we both drive and split it pretty equally except thru busy large cities   We spent last night 125 miles from home and got up early to clean the moving house and organize all of our "stuff" for easy unloading.   We're getting pretty good at getting it all into the house in about an hour after arrival.    And then it's moved into storage because it  is a big impediment on our residential streets.  
It's really good to be home.     Freida and John greeted us and we can't wait to catch up with our summers.  
  We're both scheduled to play in our  golf groups on Friday so we'll be busy at the driving range and he will jump back into his pickleball group.    Weather is quite nice, mid 80's and humidity doesn't seem too bad.    It's a good time to visit if you have nothing better to do............
The blog may go a bit quiet now that I have no mountains and aspen and red rock and balloons to share.    But, IF and WHEN I get that hole-in-one, you'll be the first to know.  

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Balloon Shapes

I don't know how many balloons aren't round.....but the creativity seems to be endless.    A company in Brazil  does many of them.     Here are just a couple.    

 The hummingbird is new this year.....

 Several evenings they tether the balloons and have an "evening glow".    It is spectacular, especially if you walk among them.
 This was an accidental picture....I was taking a shot of Flyer off in the distance and managed to capture the baskets of two balloons as they passed overhead.  

It was Nicholas' turn to fly this morning.    If I had used a tripod, it might have been less fuzzy but I was surprised I even captured it from so far away.  
 And this is the awesome Miller chase crew........
 We don't have to go far.....grab some coffee and a front row seat for a view from the front window of the coach for those very early launches.  
Airabelle is probably one of the most popular shapes.    Owned by a local dairy, it is huge.   On all of the shapes, notice how small the gondolas are in comparison to the balloon....this gives you an idea of size.   Last year, she landed on a major road and tied up traffic for a bit.....

Monday, October 7, 2013

Balloon Fiesta , Year II

We left the western slopes of the beautiful San Juan Mountains just before they got a bit of snow and cold (about 6 inches worth) and headed East to the big city of Denver.   Ahhh,  shopping in the massive mall, familiar restaurants and more pickleball with the Parker Picklers.   And family !!   After 2 days among herds of mule deer in Cherry Creek SP (they fear nothing), we headed south on gusty I 25 to Santa Fe .   The next morning we were up early and off to Albuquerque for the a week of color.      
 Last year, before arrival, I suspected that we would see a lot of balloons.   They would go up and they would come down.   But I never had any idea of the splendor and breathtaking beauty of mass ascentions by 554 colorful and creative shapes that delicately float aloft and sometimes, indelicately, come down with a bump !   EVERYONE should see this at least once.  
 In the middle is Flyer with it's Colorado flag theme and piloted by Jon Schmitz and his Miller chase crew of many years.    All four of the grandkids have escaped from school, jobs and college to be here. It is a family tradition.    And we are delighted to be right in the middle of it all.
 The days start early, 5:30 with breakfast in the tents and then off for inflation at their appointed time.    After an hour or so floating along, the Flyer must come down .    It is getting harder and harder to find open space to land and on Sunday, Jon landed in a residential neighborhood where they were greeted with champagne and the delight of the families.   (The balloons are supposed to supply the champagne but this homeowner was happy to provide it !)  
We are "camped" in the Presidential Lot and overlook the gigantic field.   We have electric and water and the trucks come around daily to empty tanks as needed.   We have wonderful views out the front window.    Mike rents an RV and we are side by side.....they sleep in theirs and hang out in ours.   And we eat a lot, both here and in very good , and sometimes unique, dining spots in town.  
The internet is slow so I am only putting in a few pictures at a time.     This is Snow White and the 3 Bees.    She is new this year and the bee family is a  fan favorite.

Next issue will have the  evening glow and fireworks and more balloons.....!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Shades of fall ..........

The sun came out to heighten the glowing color of the aspen and the snow.   It was a beautiful ride.

 Remnants of the Yankee Girl Mine.......

It was a very windy day and this is a mostly in focus  leaf.     Last night and today it has rained and blown and the temperature keeps dropping.    The hardy pickleball players did not let it deter them however.......and now the sun has come out and the mountains are bathed in new layers of white.

  We had planned on heading to Denver today but Vail Pass and Eisenhower Tunnel are getting snow and very cold temps which are NOT conducive to a lumbering 40 ft moving house.    So we will wait a couple of days........and enjoy our views.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Changing seasons......

We moved up the road a bit and now have in-house WIFI.... feels a bit luxurious and decadent.   But this private campground doesn't allow campfires so we're still deciding if it was a good tradeoff.   The stars out here are brilliant and worthy of contemplation amid the pines and crackling fire each night.   But it is a lot colder than when we arrived so maybe our non-crackling electric fireplace will have to suffice.     Interesting note:   Ouray County has an ordinance that limits outside night lighting to 40 watt bulbs....and we haven't been in town at night to see if and how that would be accomplished.   

On Sunday, after we had moved, the skies darkened and torrential rain and even hail came down.   Even pea sized hail sounds like rocks on the MH roof..... This CG is located  a few miles south of Montrose...a nice community of about 20,000.   As you drive further south towards Ouray, you see the San Juan Mountains.   This is an view when we first came to the area a few weeks ago.
 This was the same view after all of the rain................stunning and magnificent.

 This is the land of large ranches .....horses in abundance as well as cows, mostly black and sheep in the higher country.    But occasionally, you find a bit more exotic these yaks.   We've seen another small collection closer to Ouray.    The yarn store in Ouray sells local yak yarn....very soft.  

 But we didn't expect to see this in the same field.  
 We wandered a bit farther up the mountains  and the snow cover seemed even deeper.   We're wondering if some of our trails are now impassable.  
I noticed this sign as we were exploring.....not sure if you can read the first word "DEAD"....The road is actually listed on the map.   All of the area streets have regular city street signs but suspect that this one kept being 'removed' so they gave up and someone made a wooden one.   The original probably graces some realtor's wall.  

P has been playing PB with a group on a regular basis about 4 times a week.    Coincidently , one of the guys retired here from Bethel, CT, which is the next town over from where we lived in Newtown.  Last night, we joined him and his wife for dinner.    She grew up in Newtown, as did her mother so we had a lot of history and commonalities to talk about..     And then, later, another couple popped in and they were from Southbury....the next town north of Newtown!!  Small world and fun to share stories.

Looks like we'll hang around here 'til the end of the week or so and then maybe head back to Denver before going to the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque on the 5th.   Our time on the road is getting shorter and we're beginning to feel the pull of home and friends.