Sunday, July 29, 2012

Frankenfoot--The Finale?

Look what I wore to church today:

Regular shoes! On both feet! At the same time! Cool.

Of course, I sit most of the time at church, playing the organ or the piano. But, it was a very exciting moment when I put these sandals on and realized that my feet weren't swollen and I could, in fact, put on the sandals! So, I wore them to church and I walked just fine, and everything felt excellent.

I discovered at beach camping that walking around in sand is a really theraputic activity for my feet. The sand supports my feet, but, it also moves. I was not hammering my feet against a hard and level surface (like every floor) but, the action of walking around on the shifting sand made every muscle, joint and tendon flex and move and support my body, but also allowed it to be supported. So I was flexing everything, using everything, and there wasn't any pounding involved. It was terrific! I've decided to make myself a sandbox to walk in. I have a big container (with a lid so no one ... KittyCat... gets the wrong idea) and I'll walk in place in it everyday to strengthen my weirdo feet.

Anyway, it was a thrill to wear church-like shoes again (not sneakers) and have my feet actually fit in them and to have walking around feel somewhat normal. Yeah!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

It's Where I'm Meant to Be

I'm meant to be floating in the ocean.

 I'm meant to be on a body board, with the water rolling under me toward the shore.

I'm meant to be riding a wave while my grandchildren (or children) play in the surf.

I'm meant to be dripping wet from salty water with kelp swirling around my ankles.
I realize that I hadn't experienced this until I was an adult, but from that first experience in the Pacific Ocean, I knew that this was my natural environment. I love swimming in the ocean.

Friday, July 27, 2012


This is a blog about a very thoughtful fellow. He is one of my grandchildren, and while we were camping at the beach last week, he showed it in several ways. He is a thinker. One night, as he was heading off to his sleeping bag, and hugging and kissing the adults who were sitting around the campfire, he turned to CoolGuy/Grandpa and noted, "If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have my mom! Thanks!" So dear...

Then, a couple of days later, he went out shopping with his sister and his aunt (who had generously picked them up at home, drove them to the beach, and then took care of them for four days, because their mother -- her sister -- had to work.)  They came home from shopping with their bounty and busily showed off the new flip-flops, and shirts and hats. And then, he pulled out a set of earrings from the bag. "Here Grandma, these are for you. I tried to find flamingo earrings, but we couldn't. So I got you these."

First, I couldn't even remember telling him about my wonderful flamingo earrings that had been stolen years ago. Then, that he would recall that story and be consciously looking for a replacement set (he's only six years old!) was just so dear. I carefully listened as he pointed out the details of the gift.

Look closely at them, and you should be able to realize why he felt these were an excellent substitute for the flamingos. They are beach camping earrings. There are the little campfires in the top center. Then, you see the suns on the bottom right, the sunscreen on the bottom left. See the frogs in the center bottom? Every night as we sat in our chairs and watched the campfire, we listened to the frogs singing in the marsh that edged the bottom of the canyon in which the campsite was located. There are little lanterns on the middle left--just like CoolGuy/Grandpa's lantern that hissed in the center of our dinner table. We weren't much bothered by bees, and their beehive wasn't a feature, but we sure did spend a lot of time with marshmallows (upper left) and graham crackers (upper right.)

In fact, S'mores making and toasting Starburst candies was the main purpose for sitting in front of the campfire in our chairs. We'd eat a melted Starburst (this activity introduced by Auntie) and partially eat a S'mores, but mostly we'd just set marshmallows on fire and watch them puff up into astonishingly large charcoal blobs, and finally, slip off the end of the toasting sticks and land on the hot coals. Don't know why setting things alight in the campfire is so intriguing, but it is. And it is an important part of camping: playing with fire (in a controlled environment.) I vividly remember, as a child, holding my marshmallow toasting stick in the coals until the end of it was glowing (or flaming,) and then waving it in cool patterns through the inky night air in the pasture where our family bonfire dinner had been served.

So, anyway, I just really wanted to share the wonderful gift I was given by a young man who is a thoughtful person, in so many ways. I immediately put the suns in my ears, and wore them the rest of the camping trip. Thanks again!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Too Busy Having Fun

That is why there haven't been any new posts lately! Yes, I've been waaaay too busy having fun. I got back from the east coast visit to the sons, and then worked double-time to finish the final project for my on-line class. Got an A, ta da! Then, I drove up to Utah and picked up three grandchildren. We returned to Las Vegas the next day and commenced "Grandma Camp."  Actually Grandpa was here, too, but since it is initiated by the grandma, I get to name it.

We mostly spend GC eating, swimming, staying up and watching movies, and playing games. Since we live in the Entertainment Capital of the World, ahem...mostly adult entertainment, I know...we also did a few visits to appropriate and fun venues such as the Shark Reef and the Springs Preserve. We had intended to also go to the Tournament of Kings dinner show, but, for the first time since I moved here, I couldn't get tickets on the night I wanted them. Procrastination...bah. However, we did stay in the swimming pool that evening until 9:45 P.M. as a bonus, because it was our last night of GC.

One night, after it got completely dark, we drove out into the desert to look at stars. We took the big air mattress, inflated it, and laid it on the ground and then just gazed at the show overhead. We saw a few shooting stars, and several familiar constellations. Grandpa has an app that you can use for the iPad for star-gazing. You hold it up toward the location in the sky you wish to identify, and the names of the stars, planets and constellations appear on the screen in red letters (so you don't mess up your night vision.) We were doing great, too, till Someone, ahem... said, "I wonder if we'll see any desert animals out there. Night is when they come out. Listen closely--maybe we'll hear a coyote."  Then one of the older cousins gave a little fake coyote howl, and the youngest cousin didn't realize it was a fake coyote howl, and had to climb back into the truck and hide. But, besides that, we actually had a pretty good time looking at stars.

Finally the end of Grandma Camp arrived, and we packed up and drove back up I-15 to their homes. That would be my fifth trip on this highway in a three week time span. Yeah. But, now it almost seems like a shorter drive because I know every inch of it so well. I watched the hay grow, then get cut, then baled, and now they were hauling it. I also saw a lot of amazing fire residue. Between two of my journeys, there was a huge brush fire that closed the interstate, and it was sobering driving along between the blackened swaths of the fire's trail.

Then, after depositing the children with their parents, and sharing our fun adventures, I attended my brother's and sister's reunion at my brother's house. It is so fun to see everyone. There were eight babies born between the 2011 reunion and the 2012 reunion! And four of them that were born within weeks of one another in March and April, were there for us to admire. It is a little disconcerting to realize that now, my sisters and I, are the gray-haired ladies of the oldest generation. I so vividly remember going to reunions with my mother as a child, and, frankly hardly knowing many of the people. But, hey--she had 25 aunts and uncles. But there were so many oldsters there. Now, I are the oldster. 

Then, I got back in the trusty Silverado and drove, one more time, south on I-15, back to the desert. Tomorrow morning: we head even more south! We rented a campground at the beach where we used to live, and some of our kids and the children are rendezvousing there for five days of laying around, digging in the sand, and swimming in the ocean. I'm taking books to read and I intend to lie in the hammock for an hour every day to do so. S'mores and dutch oven potatoes are on the menu. We'll see dolphins and go to the tide pools. I'm really making the most of this summer, as you can tell.

Here are the remaining brothers and sisters. We're still missing Trish...

I'm not really that short, (see below). I must have been standing in a low spot.

However, I am  that chubby...sigh.

We did a lot of this in Grandma Camp.....

We did a lot of this, too.

And we did a lot of this...

And I was informed, one afternoon, that the pool was more fun when Grandpa was there...Well...But, it was true. I mean, Grandma didn't initiate Super Soaker battles. Nor did she teach anyone how to sit on the bottom of the pool, and time how long you could stay down there. She also wasn't the one who tossed you straight up and across the pool from her clasped hands. Boring Grandma...

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Walking Through History

One of the places I visited in my recent trip to the east coast was Boston. It's called "The Cradle of Liberty" for a good reason. When you get there, and come up the stairs of the underground parking lot to the open green space above, it is a thrill to realize that this is the Boston Common. It has always been public land for the citizens to use together. When it was first settled, it was used for grazing livestock. It was also used as a place to give rabble-rousing speeches against the tyranny of the King, and the British soldiers camped there before they marched up to Lexington and Concord to that first battle of the Revolutionary War. It almost makes you shiver a little to stand there.

It is also the site of one of my favorite children's books. How many times did you read Make Way for Ducklings?  Well, Robert McCloskey wrote that book because of an incident that took place at Boston Common, so it is appropriate that they have this bronze statue group here.

The bronze is kept nice and shiny by all the little children who can't resist sitting on the ducks. Or if they can resist, their parents place them on the ducks for the cutest pictures you've ever seen.

After we admired the ducks, we found the visitor's center and started on The Freedom Trail. There are actually bricks placed in the sidewalk (and paint over the pavement) that you can follow and take a walking tour of Boston to all the iconic spots of historical significance. Several of those places are churches. In some, there were famous speeches given, historic acts planned (Boston Tea Party) and in one, the movement for the abolition of slavery in the United States was introduced and promoted.

Here's another monument that, if you've seen the movie Glory,  then you need no explanation. This illustration is familiar and iconic. If you haven't seen this movie, then you simply must watch it.

A Civil War reenactor guy hangs out there daily, so I asked them to pose together for a cool shot. (Yes, he accepts tips.) This honors the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, which was formed entirely of African-American soldiers. It was the first of its kind and many were skeptical. So, you should read about it, and see the movie and then you'll know about this heroic group of men and their leaders.

One highlight of the trail is the wharf where the oldest commissioned Navy warship is tied up. Yes, this ship is still in active duty and is manned by sailors who get chosen during boot camp. Apparently, every few months, someone will show up and ask for voluneers to do a tour of duty aboard Old Ironsides. My sailor said they didn't come during his boot camp experience, or he'd have voluneered in a minute. George Washington was the president when this ship was built. He named it.

 It is a very large ship with rows of cannons along each side, so they can shoot off twenty two cannonballs from each side. There are also guns on the deck, so it can carry fifty weapons.

These are really big cannons. They defeated the HMS Guerriere in the War of 1812, to the shock of the Royal Navy. They had been the biggets, baddest for a long time. The USS Constitution had gone against the Barbary Pirates and defeated them, too, when the Commander in Chief was Thomas Jefferson.

Due to its status as a commissioned vessel, as we got to the end of the tour, and were departing the ship, the Sailor turned, snapped to attention, and gave a salute to those Stars and Stripes waving in the left side of the photo. It was so cool. It was the perfect end of my day walking through history.

Some time, I hope you get a chance to go to Boston and walk The Freedom Trail. I taught fourth graders about these events for several years as part of our social studies curriculum. But, it was a serious thrill for me to walk around and see the Old North Church, the plaque in the sidewalk marking the site of the Boston Massacre, and the home of Paul Revere. It would be a great Independence Day vacation. Happy Fourth of July!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

They Need A Copy Editor

Yesterday, I heard an ad on the radio as I was driving around town. The announcer said, "You don't want to have an accident in your bathroom! Call [our company] for an estimate to install safety bars or a whole new room."  They went on and on about the walk-in tubs designs, and other great features.

But all I could think was:  IF I'M IN THE BATHROOM, IT ISN'T AN ACCIDENT.