At Home in May 2023
Don and I spent the entire month of May, getting caught up at home... and celebrating here and there.
A May Day surprise (from very special neighbors) was our first little celebration!
Cinco de Mayo
Weather was just right for margaritas and guacamole on Cinco de Mayo.
We added some Mexican carryouts and some mariachi music1
You know it's a relaxed month, when there's time to revolve the morning around the TV, watching Prince Charles become King Charles III!
We didn't get up in the wee morning hours to watch, it live. But we taped the 4-hour event and watched the best parts with breakfast. Served on the Royal Doulton china, of course.
Mother's Day TV
We hadn't intended on eating our pasta in front of the TV on Mother's Day. But by the time we finished FaceTiming with the kids and Zooming with my siblings, the daylight had disappeared.
I still got what I had hoped for... ravioli and chianti (in a champagne flute!) and an Italian movie. My kind of celebrating!
Celebrating with House Projects
New paint always feels good. We got the bathroom and kitchen painted.
After the mirror mishap in April, we were prompted to make some changes.
This is our mirror, shortly after we heard the dramatic shattering from the other room. "Shattering" actually sounds too gentle. The sound was more like an explosion! But no one got hurt. Not even finger cuts, with the 3-hour clean up!
Weeks later, when the workmen carried in the new mirror, I held my breath. But all was good! That's worth celebrating.
Walks & Runs
It was nice to get back to regular exercise in May. Don and I got back into our own walk and run routines.
I love to run early, before the sun's up. But I started getting nervous about hidden obstacles.
There were so many odd discoveries on the sidewalks, in May.
Now I run when there is some light.
The lake behind our house is usually calm and predictable.
But the lake got very active in the month of May
For the first time in 25 years, we spotted a bald eagle from our yard.
He stayed around the lake for just 2 days and then he was gone.
But this pretty guy, left the lake and wandered into our yard and made himself at home.
Luckily, this 9-foot alligator did not invite himself into our yard. But he did live in our lake for about 10 days.
Mostly he stayed in the water
He enjoyed the fountain behind our house. He camped out near our mailbox and near the "Catch & Release" sign.
I took this photo (from the car) on Mother's Day morning. He was facing the same culdesac, that he had visited day before. He seemed to be thinking about exploring again. He actually ended up on someone's porch.
Mother's Day "Rescue"
In the afternoon on Mother's Day, I briefly watched a skilled "Alligator Rescuer" capture the gator.
I only watched for a bit. It was actually kind of sad. But this post is about happy stuff. The happy part is that the gator was relocated, not killed. And hopefully we'll go another 25 years being gator-free in our neighborhood. I didn't realize how stressed I was, until he was moved.
On my birthday in April, I vowed to enjoy and celebrate with more people this year. I tried not to forget that vow, as we entered a new month.
I'm a happy hermit at heart, but I know being with others really does feel good.
Now and then, I have to remind myself what it was like 3 years ago. In May of 2020 we were all pretty isolated, during the first pandemic spring.
So in May 2023, we said cheers with others.
Cheers to the pandemic being pretty much behind us.
Cheers to getting in the pool for the first time in 2023.
And CHEERS to seeing our kids next month! June will not be a quiet, stay at home month.
And Cheers to the new baby ducks on the lake!
So glad we don't have to worry about the ducklings meeting up with the gator! What a good way to end the month!
"Enchanted April" 2023
Birthday & Bon Voyage Zoom
Just like the movie title, April was enchanted! Don and I spent my birthday and much of the month, in Italy! We started celebrating the night before we departed... with these special faces on Zoom!
Our Family Zoom had one interruption. It was an explosive crash, made by our mirror, (9.5ft X 3.5ft) falling off the bathroom wall. Not a fun 3-hour clean up, but the memory is fun-ny now!
Birthday & Easter
The next day we were finally on our way, to enjoy the trip we cancelled during the pandemic. Our trip was scheduled to celebrate Easter and my birthday, in the sweet town of Soriano nel Cimino. First time my birthday landed on Easter, in my 66 years!
I celebrated one other birthday and an Easter, long ago in Italy. Those childhood celebrations were on different days, but I remember them fondly. Don and I toasted to my 2023 Birthday/Easter and to the beginning of our Italy adventure. I wore a mod paisley dress like I might have worn in 1969, when I turned 12 in Florence. I didn't have champagne back then, but I remember being bothered by the rum in my birthday cake!
We did a lot of toasting on our 18-day trip. I also did a lot of camera snapping, which means I've gone overboard with the photos.
Actually, these are all iPhone pics. We packed carryon only and left the old Nikon at home. Cheers to "gallery display" (above) which allows for more photos. Just click image to enlarge.
Places... Starting with Rome
We visited 7 cities/towns. Rome was the first. We arrived on Good Friday and did our best to ignore jet lag. The holidays brought crowds to Rome, but the Vatican area was fairly quiet at dusk.
Standing in St. Peter's Square brought back memories of my family's visit 55 years ago. We lucked out in 1969, with a sighting of Pope Paul VI, inside St. Peter's! No luck for Don and me on this trip, with less than 24 hours in the beautiful city!
Six More Stops
Italy's train system worked well, getting us to 6 other villages and cities. (click to enlarge)
The weather was mostly cool, with mostly blue skies! We were lucky!
We were also lucky with no mishaps or sprains, with all the stair climbing! We knew we'd be climbing lots of hills, especially in the Cinque Terre villages. But we hadn't realized just how many indoor and outdoor staircases we'd be climbing in all the locations.
All the step climbing usually rewarded us with incredible views. The photo above was taken after climbing a spiral staircase inside Vernazza's Doria Castle. A 360 degree view of the sea, village, harbor, terraced hills and distant mountains!
The pics below are just some of my ridiculous collection of stair photos.
When I was a child living in Italy for a short time, I recorded (in a small notebook) the number of steps I climbed in domes and towers. I no longer count steps, but I'm clearly still obsessed with them!
Sometimes all the climbing made us thirsty.
Wine, cappuccino and Aperol Spritzes! We had a lot of those beverages!
And we burned enough calories to make up for all the pasta and bread and gelato!
I lack photos of important foods. Where's the spaghetti and focaccia and lasagna?
Sometimes we enjoyed food, on the go.
Food always tastes better in the fresh air, especially when you're famished from all the walking!
My favorite part of the whole trip was wandering, either early in the morning or off the beaten path.
I'm shown hiking above Vernazza and Don is exploring the overgrown gardens of Palazzo Chigi Albani, in Soriano.
Below are some of my favorite places and fun discoveries.
Even in the most touristy places, we could always find quiet places and views.
People Watching and Meeting
I enjoyed our tourist-free wandering, but I didn't mind the people watching at busier times. Most of the other travelers seemed to be Italian. I loved observing the locals and hearing the Italian language!
Sometimes I just spotted people doing things that made me smile.
We also met some wonderful people. We had some amazing hotel hosts and delightful wait staff. We enjoyed chatting with other travelers now and then. In our Soriano hotel, we befriended a couple from England and ended up joining them for dinner.
Besides people watching, we had some good animal spotting. We saw some sweet kitties here and there. I remember when I was a kid, worrying about the Colosseum Cats, that swarmed the ruins in Rome. The cats we saw all seemed healthy!
While wandering early, in Lucca and Riomaggiore, I had some nice animal surprises, with this horse and seagull.
I took more photos of churches than probably anything else on our Italy trip.
This tiny Gothic beauty, (Santa Maria della Spina) was far from the Leaning Tower crowds, in Pisa. It was sitting between the Arno River and a street, like a miniature cathedral! I wish I could have gone inside.
Exteriors & Interiors
In each city/town, we visited churches.
(click for info)
You didn't need to know the history, (or anything about religion or architecture) to appreciate the flavor of each!
Castles and Palaces
Besides churches, we wandered through a number of castles and palaces.
In most of these, we were the only visitors, which made it easier to imagine living in these amazing structures!
Morning was my favorite time of day. It was quieter and I had more energy.
But as I look back on these photos, I think evening/night was the loveliest!
So we're back home now and April is over. We need to get back to reality, like replacing the demolished mirror. But, I can't get the trip out of my head.
Our Italy trip introduced Don and me to a lot of new places, We finally experienced Cinque Terre! But the trip was also a nostalgic one for me. I spent a lot of time remembering what Italy was like, 55 years ago when I first laid eyes on tile roofs and cobblestone. I've aged a lot, but I'm glad Italy is still so much the way I remember it!
I'm so grateful that Don was enthused about visiting some of my favorite places, from childhood. Going down in Orvieto's well and visiting the 16th century Park of the Monsters was as dreamlike and magical as I remembered.
Climbing is no longer allowed, but Don and I set the camera timer, for a pose with the Giant Mouth!
Best of all, we explored new places together. I took about 2,000 photos and at least I have a handful of the 2 of us together...
... only one of which is a selfie, taken from our hotel in Vernazza!
I'm so thankful we pulled this trip off without health issues or pandemics getting in the way. We came back happy and healthy and so appreciative that our knees and backs cooperated!
Ciao for Now!
Just Texas in March 2023
Don and I didn't leave the state in March.
We did make it about 4 hours from home, though. We spotted a few bluebonnets along the side of the road.
In the good old Texas Hill Country, we saw some redbud trees and some bluebonnets.
We were actually a week too early for a real bluebonnet display. But the drive was nice!
We made it to the cabin for a couple days. These photos are actually from February, when we discovered a broken pipe and had to wipe up the mess with beach towels.
This time we met the plumber and all was fine. Except for that darn palm tree that was suffering after the same freeze, that did a number on our pipes.
Weather was perfect!
The temps were in the low eighties.
By the second night the temps dropped to the 30's and we got to have a fire. Best of both worlds!
It's nice to take our time driving to and from the cabin. I talked Don into a silly detour, so I could lay my eyes on Oatmeal, Texas.
I had hoped to eat some oatmeal in the town. But there's not much left besides the tall "can" and the windmill.
Back in Sugar Land, I had a good reunion with my childhood friend.
Diane lives on the east coast, but was in town for work. Don made us Mexican martinis and we had Texas BBQ.
Then & Now
Diane and I had a lot of fun as kids in Iowa, trick or treating and riding bikes. Sadly, our only photo as kids together, is one with Diane's head covered.
Since Diane moved away after third grade, we've managed a few adult reunions. We always make sure to get some photos. This reunion involved a visit to Houston's Funeral Museum.
The museum is actually amazing and not a bit creepy. We wandered and talked and learned little and had some fun.
I posed on a designated "selfie spot" posing circle... with colorful caskets from Ghana.
Diane removed a "Do Not Touch" sign from an exhibit that celebrated famous animal actors... who have died. The retro TV & TV tray scene, was right out of our childhood. Diane did not touch the exhibit, I promise!
Pearls and Bowtie
You know it was a quiet month, when I have time to spotlight our evening of TV. We watched the Academy Awards with French 75 cocktails and popcorn.
We dressed for the event. (pajama bottoms out of view) and we texted with the kids, since we had all voted on winners. I tied for last place. But we made it through he whole award night without nodding off!
And That's It!
So I'll end this simple post of March with more flowers.
Yep, there's my bear again. A simple month with time to take photos of that Little Bear!
Celebrating in February 2023
So Many Celebrations!
This is mostly what we celebrated in February.
We spent 2 weeks in Oregon. Charlie turned 2!
We celebrated Valentine's Day...
Which also happened to be Charlie's second birthday.
Birthday celebrating lasted through the weekend.
Charlie tested out her new slide before her little friends came over for her Kitty Party.
A few days later, we made sure to fit in a Mardi Gras celebration.
We all enjoyed beads. A few of us enjoyed King Cake and Sazeracs. Actually the cake was awful, but it looked festive.
Family at the Zoo
We celebrated President's Day with a trip to the "Oregon Zoo". It was cold and gray but the zoo was lively.
Charlie enjoyed the fake animals, more than the live ones.
Most of all she enjoyed the people! We managed to have a (logistically tricky) reunion, with 12 relatives who drove many hours for a zoo meet-up! Cheers for a gathering of aunts, uncles, cousins and second cousins!
Portland Art Museum
Another evening was spent celebrating art! Our dear friend Milissa works at the Portland Art Museum and gave us a warm welcome!
Charlie explored the museum in her own special way. She experienced the floor, using all body parts and she tested the acoustics with her voice. Finally a multimedia exhibit captured Charlie's full attention. The music and colors were mesmerizing. Before we left the room she said softly, "Good bye colors. I love you."
We celebrated afterwards at the iconic Jake's Famous Crawfish, which has been around since 1892!
Celebrating an Old Friend
Don and I slipped away, one morning and drove across the Columbia River into Washington. It was cloudy, but we could view Mount Hood on the drive.
We met up with my old college pal and her husband at their home. Claire is the one who introduced Don and me, in 1977!
Lunch and a Hike
After a fun lunch outing we hiked near their home. Don and Michael gabbed...
Claire and I followed behind, reminiscing and laughing. There's never enough time!
Portland's second biggest snowfall ever, hit during our stay. Charlie was more than happy to bundle up and head out.
Charlie did not want to try the sled.
But she was happy to eat some snow!
Celebrating at the Lighthouse!
The day after the big snow, much of Portland was closed down. But Don and I had reservations for a night at the Heceta Lighthouse!
Our 4-wheel drive rental got us to the iconic lighthouse by late afternoon. By evening we were enjoying wine and cheese at the Lighthouse Keeper's House B&B, with my sis and sis-in-law.
Before it got dark, we walked up to the lighthouse. Had it all to ourselves!
The view from our room was stunning.
The 7-course breakfast was scrumptious! It was hard to drive away from the cozy white house!
One Last Stop... Astoria
We had one more day before heading back to Portland. The snowy drive was gorgeous, but closures slowed us down. We arrived in Astoria by 5.
We had dinner at a fun place across the street from The Elliott. Next morning was cold, when we explored the waterfront. Once again... needed more time!
The Portland area had more snow, so the last days of our visit were spent hanging out and being cozy at home. No problem with that!
Saying good-bye to a 2-year old is a lot different than saying good-bye to an infant. Kisses... "Bye Bye Pop Pop. Bye Bye Gramma"
What a special visit. What a memorable February.
Chilly January of 2023
New Year's Day
Don and I celebrated NYE at home, like happy old fogeys. We made a toast with my Great Aunt Mary's old coupe glasses.
We made it until midnight, but I was sipping water by then. So I guess I'm cheating, by opening this 2023 post with this photo!
But I'm not cheating with these pics. I did indeed get up on a foggy New Year's morning and jog.
I rarely take my phone, but I'm glad I had it. The morning was eerie and lovely.
We had a handful of nice days in January. I read by the pool.
I read and ignored the dead ligustrums and oleanders. We had a bad freeze in December! But this is the Happy Blog. The petunias are coming back and I spotted a monarch!
In mid-January, my sister and I flew from TX and OR, to see Dad.
I brought some candy necklaces as a joke, but we 3 ended up wearing them all day. Well, almost all day.
We visited with some of our Springfield relatives.
6 of us are in both photos. Some of us look a little cheerier in the 2023 photo!
Dad & Daughter Time
We had no plans when we arrived. We just spent time catching up. Jennifer fixed Dad's old cabinet door...
I looked through photos with Dad.
It was too cold for picnics on this visit. We ate our meals out, which was nice after so many recent pandemic visits.
On Martin Luther King's birthday, we went to a book store. Something Dad had been wanting to do.
Big Trip to Arkansas
Another thing Dad has wanted to do, is visit Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas. It was 2 hours away and Dad is 94. His walking has become more difficult. I was skeptical.
But we pulled it off, mostly thanks to Jennifer's determination! The best part was that when Dad started getting tired, instead of wanting to leave, he finally gave in and said YES to the wheelchair! A milestone for sure! Suddenly the huge museum and grounds became much more accessible!
Back in Texas, the weather stayed cold. Don and I gathered for a potluck with our international friends. It's always fun catching up after the holidays. So many different traditions and stories, in this group.
On January 22, Don and I celebrated the Lunar New Year. Just Chinese carryouts this year, but they were good! Year of the Rabbit!
Bring on the Circus!
A huge highlight of this month was a last minute adventure to see Cirque Du Soliel.
We've known Lauren since she was 3. We have memories of Lauren, her sister and our young kids, tumbling and clowning around the yard, when we lived in Oklahoma!
Lauren is obviously grown up now and she works for Cirque Du Solieil. She contacted Don and me with some last minute VIP tickets. We were suddenly at the big tent!
What a spectacular evening, from start to finish!
It wasn't the last day of January, but I spent the last few days of the month dreaming of (being younger) and running away with the circus!
Thanks Lauren and thanks Cirque Du Soliel, for making me laugh and squeal like a kid again!
Full House in December 2022
It finally happened! Our family was able to gather together for the first time in our home, in 6 years!
In 2016, there were 6 of us. This year we also had 20-month-old Charlie and Chali's brother, Alex.
Earlier in the month, it was just Don and me. We spent a few days at our cabin.
Just the 2 of us... a couple bears and a handful of decorations. No TV and no interruptions. Just books and puzzles and some neglected cabin chores.
One day, we drove from the cabin to spend the day in Fredericksburg.
Our favorite little Texas-German town was looking extra festive for the holidays.
Fewer Covid Worries
This holiday season felt so much safer, than the 2020 & 2021 holidays.
We didn't exactly attend huge parties, but we enjoyed a few friends and activities, outside the house! No lockdowns or bubbles!
And Finally...12 Days of Christmas!
Six years ago, the kids lived closer and we gathered at the house for a few days.
This year "the kids" came from CA, OR & DC and our celebrating lasted 12 days! We started off with a toast! There were many toast in 12 days!
We gathered around a lot of tables.
It's been many years since we sang the Johnny Appleseed song at the Christmas dinner table. We almost forgot about our funny, "musical" tradition. We never know how the song will end. Sometimes we're in hysterics, with cringeworthy harmonizing. This year we nailed it and grinned.
Everyone pitched in with meal prep and clean up... or food pick up! Sadly no photos of our many breakfast tacos! Don and Scott teamed up on smoked pulled pork for Christmas.
Charlie decorated cookies... well sort of. She discovered on her own that the white paint, tasted really good!
Music & Dancing
There was a lot of music in the house. We had to unearth an old boombox for Christmas CDS. And then we made our own.
The music inspired some fine dance moves!
The weather turned ridiculously cold, but we still got out. Charlie tried out the very trike, that her mom and uncle once rode. (She'd rather push!)
The hot tub didn't get fixed in time... after waiting months for a part. But "some of us" braved a Polar Plunge on Christmas day!
We made sure to plan in a tiki themed night.
It got down to 23 degrees that night, so the theme kept things warm!
Besides Hawaiian shirts and leis, the big fashion moments were mostly made by Charlie.
This girl loves hats and shoes. There were lots of shoes lying around to choose from... near every door!
Christmas Eve Dinner
Our casual group spiffed up a bit for Christmas Eve Dinner, at our fave Rudi Lechner's. Our attire wasn't nearly as curious as some of the staff. Father Christmas, the accordion guy and our Elf Server, dressed for the evening. There were some oddly dressed guests also. A Trump shirt on Christmas Eve!? No photo.
We made some champagne toasts in the festive atmosphere and I grabbed Charlie for a little polka dancing. Usually there's a whole band and a larger dance floor. We made do.
I think Charlie wins the prize for dining fashion though. No one can pull off a dainty barrette in quite the same way. And how about those "hip" beads that her grandmother wore in 4th grade? The glasses complete the look!
It was an odd crowd at Rudi's and a curious vibe. It was a buffet only this year, so that was different.
But the German food was yummy and plentiful. Alex showed us the proper pose, before digging in.
Love and Laughter
Our silly moods (and kisses) followed us home from dinner!
There were lots of signs of affection over the next days.
There were some old critters that needed kisses in the house. Besides kisses, there were...
Hugs and High Fives
There were early morning hugs...
Thank you hugs... leg hugs and of course good bye hugs. No photos of those. Too sad.
There were no covid fist bumps this year. But we did have some high fives.
Charlie was extra cute when her Aunt Emily visited.
Lots of Laughing
Laughing was the best.
My camera only captured a fraction of the laughing moments.
It was Christmas, so there were gifts. But that was hardly the focus. There was definitely some laughing with the White Elephant gifts.
We exchanged some Game Gifts. Don handed out some Kitchen Gadget Gifts, we opened and swapped some Book Gifts... and Chali gave us each personalized handmade Candle Gifts! Lots of themes!
Some gifts were hugged or read or worn right away. Some "paper gifts" were given to avoid suitcase worries later.
Hanging Out Time
All in all the best times, were just hanging out times.
I wish I had some candid couch snoozing photos.
The outside walks started getting warmer.
The air was balmy on a Rothko Chapel outing. Some shorts actually came out of suitcases.
I'm feeling so grateful that we pulled off a Texas Christmas in 2022.
A year ago, the kids cancelled flights and Don and I drove last minute to Oregon. After lots of worry and rush, we had a great time celebrating Charlie's first Xmas, on the west coast.
This year, we hung our stockings in Texas!
There wasn't much sitting still for this little toddler's second Christmas. But Charlie managed to sit and stare at her uncle, for the entire "The Night Before Cajun Christmas", just like last year!
I've gone ridiculously overboard with this post. But that's because we seemed to pack about 100 days into 12. What a wonderful 12 days!
By the last day of December, it was just Don and me. We toasted to an incredible visit and we toasted to the future. Who knows where we'll be at Christmas next year. I'm just so grateful to have had this one!
Mostly at Home in November 2022
I love travel, but sometimes it's nice to stay put. We had a lot of home time in November.
Much of the weather lovely. We enjoyed it and so did our neighborhood critters.
Early in the month, we had midterm elections. Don and I voted one morning, then went to breakfast.
In the afternoon we relaxed outside and refused to fret about the outcome... which wasn't perfect, but better than we feared.
I spent a good part of November, lifting and dragging boxes from closets and underneath beds. A lot of sorting and purging and debating over...STUFF.
Getting 7 rooms (plus hallways) carpeted, requires lots of prep work. Especially when you've lived in a house for nearly a quarter of a century. It was a daunting task, but this is the Happy Blog. I actually laughed a lot, as I went through old stuff. I laughed at the bathtubs as I filled them up!
Luckily the installers moved all the furniture. But only bare furniture. Don's back is still healing, so I was on my own for most of the junk-moving.
I was amused when I saw how they shuffled our furniture from room to room. The old pump organ jammed here, the antique youth bed, jammed there...
I had a heck of a time clearing out shelves, so they could move them. Few people have shelves so oddly packed with goofy displays. I had fun putting it all back.
Even the built in shelf had to be dealt with. But I made some fun discoveries as I pulled out neglected scrapbooks and a few forgotten autographed books! Justice Sandra Day O'Connor...!
Celebrating with People
It was nice to be home for a month, to catch up with a few friends.
Here we are having a good old fashioned potluck with "old friends".
I also enjoyed some "younger friends" at a baby shower. Jessie's little one was born before Thanksgiving!
And I got to enjoy a visit from an even younger, little neighbor friend. I was so glad to have that new carpet, for sitting and looking at books!
I guess I didn't exactly stay put, in November. But I did stay in Texas, when I met up with friends in Fort Worth.
The 4 of us had not been together since the pandemic. We also made a new friend. Larry is the best waiter in all of Fort Worth. Maybe the world!
Quiet & Cozy Thanksgiving
It poured on Thanksgiving. There were even tornado warnings at one point.
This could have been a depressing Thanksgiving, since it was just Don and me. But it was cozy and relaxing and we kept in touch with family, all day!
Family in Oregon
I couldn't have been happier knowing that our West Coast Kids, were having celebrations with 2 of my siblings. Heidi, Jamie and Charlie drove 2 hours from Portlond, to be with my sister and her family.
They sent us updates and photos and we did the same.
Family in Idaho
I was equally thrilled that Scott and Chali were were able to drive from Sacramento to Boise. They spent Thanksgiving with my brother's family.
Again, technology made us feel like we were all spending the holiday together. Our family is so spread out, but so many of us were together!
Turkey for Two
It was just Don and me in Sugar Land, but we were totally content. I pulled out Aunt Mary's old crystal for some sparkling wine. I set the table with Grandma Daw's old china.
Then Don smoked 2 turkey breasts and I tried 2 new recipes. The turkey was amazing. One success and one fail, for me.
I didn't get a photo of the turkey chef, but we have a bit of Don's hand, in our toasting photo!
Weather was gorgeous the day our neighborhood planned to decorate the entrance. It's been many years since Don and I have gotten out and helped.
But there we were, in the sunshine, chatting (and sometimes helping) with neighbors. Some, we haven't seen in years.
In our yard, I wound colored lights around some tree trunks. I had help from a visiting kitty. Then I decorated the porch.
On the last day of November, I put out 11 boxes of donations for charity pick up. All that sorting and purging... Whew! I kept fingers crossed that UPS deliveries wouldn't cause confusion. (That happened once) All was good!
It was a good month! Except for a 2-week ailment, which I wasn't going to mention, because this is a happy blog. But it was my first sickness since the pandemic. I'll put that in for the record. Yay, for getting well and yay for still managing to avoid Covid for nearly 3 years! Yes, a good month!
A Mostly California October!
We were in South Lake Tahoe, when October began.
Our family of 7 grew larger, when we drove to Tahoe City on October 1st and met up with more family.
Cousins and Second Cousins
It was wonderful to be reunited with Don's (NY) sister and her (CA) family for the first time since the pandemic.
We have two very young members in the family now. It was so wonderful to see all these kids (second cousins) together!
We started the month off well. Don and Heidi enjoyed some early birthday celebrating.
The Girls celebrated Halloween early, with spooky socks and a viewing of Hocus Pocus!
Two Weeks Along the Coast
The "kids' departed on the second and Don and I had over 2 weeks of exploring ahead. We enjoyed a little more of Lake Tahoe, before traveling south.
It's hard to decide which ocean view is the best! Big Sur, Santa Barbara, Monterey, Laguna Beach, Oceanside, Newport Beach... All beautiful!
Hotels and Dining
Don and I are always on the lookout for curious hotel and dining adventures. The Madonna Inn (San Luis Obispo) provided the perfect combination.
We purchased pink clothing at Goodwill, in anticipation of our stay at the crazy, over the top, silly, pink hotel!
We squeezed in 4 "Cookbook Adventures" on our coastal road trip!
We found 4 restaurants featured, in our 1950 Ford Motor Co. Cookbook. Then we found 4 waiters who were enthused about posing with our cookbook! Success!
Posing with Statues...
Don and I did more than pose with people. Don posed with a lifeguard statue, in Newport Beach.
I posed with a dog, wearing a bowtie and jacket!
... With Fountains
I guess we just did a lot of posing. Our hotel in Santa Nella, wasn't near the coast, but we found some fountains for photo ops.
Hotel Mission De Oro was one of 6 curious hotels we enjoyed. I can't wait to write these up.
Quiet in October
For the most part, we totally lucked out on weather.
No complaints about crowds either. October travel is the best.
Besides a hotel cat or two, we enjoyed some great bird and animal watching.
The elephant seals were a total surprise, right off the coast highway.
We did see a few familiar faces on our trip.
We reunited with musician Mike Hamilton, when he performed in Newport Beach. It's been 8 years.
Friends in Oceanside
We traveled further south to see our old friends in Oceanside. It's been 40 years since Don and Cliff worked together in California.
It's been nearly 10 years since Rhona and I played tennis or discussed books, in Texas. So great to catch up with old friends after this pandemic!
Back in Sac!
The best way to end a trip is with family again! We spent 2 nights in Sacramento with Scott and Chali... and Willie Nelson!
Scott and Chali know how to dress for a concert! Scott's braids were a hit!
It's been a long time since I've been at a concert for 7 hours! We hung out the next day. I got to spend time with my grand-dog, Lola!
Back in Texas, Don and I celebrated our 43rd anniversary with a night at home. The crazy photo was taken in our sparkly room at Madonna Inn.
Our anniversary celebration was much nicer this year. Last year Don was recovering from his open heart surgery... which he'd had his birthday. Much to celebrate this year!
We only had 7 trick or treaters this year.
But the few who came couldn't have been sweeter or more polite!
A good end to the month!
A Good September - 2022
Starting in New Orleans
The month started off with a spontaneous trip to NOLA.
It's too complicated to explain. There was a converstaion with my bro and SIL and before we knew it, we were headed to Nola for Labor Day Weekend visit.
Most of our time was spent hanging out at the house... with the bulldogs.
There was some good eating and feasting, too!
We burned off some calories with walks.
We spotted bees and nuns, but no gators.
We don't always feel the need to hit the Quarter when we visit New Orleans. But we did a little wandering one evening.
There were crowded areas and quiet spots.
Eventually we made it to our dinner oasis. The Jewel of the South!
This is my kind of New Orleans visit. Family and patio dining!
We had one quick getaway to the cabin in mid September. Our palm tree had been removed, but a deer was standing in its place, when we arrived.
A walk at sunrise offered up a few fun moments.
Family-time in Tahoe
On September 26, Don and I headed for South Lake Tahoe.
We had a night with Scott and Chali at the festive Baseline Hotel.
We stepped it up a notch or two, for the next four days.
We moved to a bigger hotel, with lots of space, then suddenly our group grew to 7!
Heidi, Jamie and Little Charlie arrived and we cozied up for 4 wonderful days!
Hang Out Time
It was an extra treat enjoying some fun restaurant outings.
This was the first time in 3 years, that we 6 adults enjoyed each other outside of our pandemic bubble! Cheers to that!
Yes, we spotted some!
Past trips to Tahoe have been all about the hikes and scenery...
This trip was about enjoying each other.
And what a beautiful place to spend time together!
Fam & Friends! NW in August
Off for Oregon
On August 10, Don and I flew to Portland!
Masks were optional, but we'd heard too many stories. On the day we flew, our son & DIL, were in Thailand, with Covid. :(
This was our main reason for avoiding Covid.
Don and I got in lots of grandparent-practice-time!
Hanging with the Parents
We loved spending time with Charlie's parents!
They've been wonderful parents for 18 months now! Pros!
During our hang out time, I let Charlie teach me some fashion tips.
She worked on her hair... and she worked on her outfits.
She made sure everyone was fashionable for Tiki Time!
This was our first trip to Happy Valley, since Charlie became a walker.
Her feet barely stopped, unless she was in a highchair.
After a few days in OR, it was time to see more family.
When in Idaho... stop at the Potato Museum!
We ate well, while visiting my bro and Sis in Law in Boise.
Chris and Karen cooked a fabulous feast the first night.
We dined at Taj Majal, on the second night.
We were treated like family, by Sohail and Farrah.
We explored some of Boise's parks.
Downtown was incredibly festive after dark!
We traveled a little further out and enjoyed a hike! Hot, but beautiful views!
It was also hot when we wandered the old town of Idaho City! Karen and I had a toast with water... in front of an old saloon.
After Idaho, Don and I were off for Bozeman.
We must have spotted 1,000 buffalo! Or is it bison? I need to learn.
We stayed with dear friends, Christy and Alan, in Bozeman. Lots of catching up!
One day was spent hiking and picnicking.
The scenery was spectacular! The next day we had lunch in the cute town of Livingston. Lots of cool signs in that town!
The best part was relaxing and catching up. Cheers to that!
Don and I spent one night at the Historic Davenport Hotel, on our way back to Oregon.
We practically had the grand lobby to ourselves.
We explored 5 ballrooms! This fine pose was in the Marie Antoinette Ballroom!
We enjoyed a cocktail in the Peacock Lounge...
Then more wandering in the building. Don found this modest woman in the basement, near the swimming pool. A fun hotel for one night!
After returning to OR, I was able to have a day with Milissa. We lunched near her Portland apartment.
Then we shared dinner with the fam, in Happy Valley. Our kids weren't much older than Charlie, when we first met.
Towards the end of our Northwest visit, we traveled further west to the coast. Our hotel in Gearhart had lovely grounds and views.
The weather was perfect for sitting out... and for walking to the nearby beach!
First Beach Trip!
The best part of our whole 2 week trip, was seeing Charlie experience a beach for the first time!
She loved the sand, even more when her shoes came off. And she was not a bit intimidated by cold water!
As I end this month, I'm feeling grateful that our trip went well and we connected with so many... and that covid didn't interfere. This third pandemic summer, was much better than the first!
My ugly wave at the end of this post, is a reminder to also feel grateful for no sprains or broken bones! My first run after returning home, involved a flying fall on the sidewalk. I'm slower healing than when I was a little kid. So very glad I didn't have these ugly scrapes when I was on the trip. They would have interfered with baby holding!