The road ends, but the journey continues...

Tag: my hubby (Page 1 of 5)

Family travels MMXX

Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening!

We’re back from our jaunt up to Michigan to visit our middle daughter and son-in-law. In fact, we’ve been there and back since Tuesday*.

But wait – I bet you didn’t even know we were away from our COVID cage nest. Surprise!

After some deliberation, we decided it was a reasonable risk worth pursuing – traveling during a narrow window of reduced regional COVID-19 surges and seasonal transitions**.

We packed up the 2003 Jeep Liberty and drove the 14-16 hrs straight through as we always do because we just like to drive. And because we’re all needy about seeing and being with Family.

Armed with my easy-to-reach ‘COVID’ box filled with sanitizer, wipes, paper towels, half can of precious Lysol Spray, all of our cloth masks plus a 5 pack of disposable gloves and the usual travel food box, duffles, pillows, and blanket, we were set to go. In addition, I carefully packed my Bernina, assorted notions, fabric scraps & batting bits and neatly nested all of that in with everything else.

Hubby secretly recorded us getting ready for our photo pose – notice Jude, the quilt eating kitty, sharing the couch with us

Say what? A sewing machine?

Often when we visit, I pack up Maddy to get a hands-on lesson at Elderly Instruments in Lansing with Neil Woodward but that wasn’t an option this time around due to COVID-19. Instead, I was on a sort of rescue mission – to repair as best as possible the three quilts kitty Jude chewed huge holes into since our last visit.

I’m happy to report that two of those quilts are 100% repaired. The third is ready for handstitching. Michelle is eager to begin repairs once I send her the appropriate fabric in sizes larger than I brought with me.

But of course, this trip was more than the sum of its seams…(groan).

Michelle Lilly Solorio, PhD 2020

We had a delayed in-house (pun intended) Family ‘hooding’ ceremony*** celebration, with Michelle gliding down the stairs of their 100 yr old home (there’s the punny connection) in full PhD regalia to the recorded traditional tune of ‘Pomp & Circumstance’.

We shared time around the Family table, spitting opinions (okay, too graphic for sure) between bites of fantastic food.

Took long walks, a Sunday Drive and spent plenty of time just ‘being’…

…Together…


*We drove off Thursday September 24th and returned on Tuesday September 29th

**Timing is indeed everything as both factors have since dramatically shifted.

***Official University ceremony postponed, now cancelled due to COVID-19.

Pandemic Potpourri #3

I’m finding it very hard to focus on much of anything these days. How about you guys? I really think it’s a COVID-19 shelter-in-place/isolation induced thing – but that irritation is much better than the actual COVID-19 infection itself, so I’m not complaining really. Just noting it.
~~

I’m not a fast food type of gal, but the other day I craved, just craved, a Burger King Whopper and McDonald’s French fries. Hubby obliged by sitting in each of the two respective drive-throughs to indulge my primal need.
Yeah, he’s a keeper.
In keeping with the French Fry Theme, here is a snappy, happy Celtic inspired piece, Danse des Duex Pommes Frites (aka The French Fry Song) by Steve Baughman and performed in duo with Robin Bullock*.
Musical French fries have zero calories, guys, so enjoy!

~~

Speaking of calories.
About 8 weeks into sheltering-in-place, I glimpsed my reflection in the sliding doors entering the grocery store and my Lord! Forget about that masked (wo)man staring back – is that huge-hipped, thunder-thighed lady, me?

Hubby's favorite 'Bridge' Path - sometimes he comes along for the walk & fresh air, too

Hubby’s favorite ‘Bridge’ Path – sometimes he comes along for the walk & fresh air, too


After the Coronavirus took away my meager 45-minute daily workouts on the elliptical at the Y, my regular walks around the block and on the McLeod Path across town took on a more immediate level of importance.
I even do a few planks on my Yoga Mat and shake the house down doing jumping jacks in the kitchen…but admittedly, the Coronavirus has limited my exercise options.
Whilst (I love that British term!) taking a walk around the McLeod Path a few weeks ago, I noticed a pair of ladies beside their respective cars, a proper social distance of 6 feet, jumping rope. These ladies were ladies of a certain build that made me think: if they can do this, I can do this!
 
Mushroom at McLeod Parking lot

Look what greeted me at the nearly empty McLeod Path parking lot last week!


Thus began my search for the perfect jump rope and determination to add jumping rope into my anemic Pandemic exercise routine.
Last week, with my new rope in hand, and a 5 minute ‘Beginner’s Guide to Jumping Rope’ video on my phone, I drove back to the McLeod Path parking lot intent on re-learning how to jump rope.
Yep. Re-learn. Turns out, that ‘double hop’ us kiddos did back in the day is detrimental to progress in the realm of jumping rope for fitness.
For the next 20 minutes, I judiciously went through the preliminary exercises devised to help in redirecting old habits. When I felt ready, I set forth and did a full continuous three minutes of jumping rope.
Three excruciating minutes of jumping rope the ‘correct’ way.
The guy in the video even concedes it’s a biggie challenge to begin again on the jump rope exercise scene. He suggests beginners hold back enthusiasm in advancement by restricting jump rope sessions to 3 per week for the first 4 weeks.
Shin splints, muscle aches and cramps, coordination misfire whips against the body by the jump rope itself – all can add up, hurt and hence discourage continuing on in one’s advancement of jumping rope as a total body workout. Being an older adult, I heeded hubby’s suggestion to ease into my new jump rope routine to 2Xs a week for 4 weeks.
Tuesday this week was my second date with that ole jump rope. In that same parking lot.
The mushroom was long gone, but I managed to do two 5-minute spurts of continuous jumping rope! 10 minutes total. I never in a million years thought I could ‘advance’ so quickly on something so taxing and demanding.
I am not the athletic type.
I was always the last chosen on sports teams back during School Gym days. But my enthusiasm and persistence have always been my redemption. I love hiking, skiing, biking, swimming, diving, volleyball, softball – I’ve just not ever been good enough for ‘teams’!
And now: Here I am, beginning my new COVID-19 jump rope exercise regimen. And succeeding!
Next appointment with my rope? Saturday. Can’t wait.

~~

 *Hubby and I had a date planned to take in Robin’s show at The Isis Music Hall & Kitchen in Asheville, NC on March 29th, 2020 at 6pm. Guess what happened instead? As I re-looked up the concert venue today, lo & behold to my delight and surprise there is a re-scheduled concert set for September 17, 2020 – we’ll see if we can keep that date!

Memorial Day 2020

Please Honor Memorial Day

Find the cost of freedom,
Buried in the ground.
Mother earth will swallow you,
Lay your body down.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

Memorial

I humbly believe this tribute does not take away from the honoring of our Veterans – My Dad, 2 Uncles and Father-in-Law served in WWII, hubby & 2 cousins during Vietnam and various nephews served during and since the Gulf War. My Sister-in-Law, 5 cousins and a niece are essential health-care providers during this war against COVID-19 – thankfully our family has not suffered any casualties.

NYT-front-page-05-24-20-COVID-19

Dance of Joy: Dr. Solorio

Dance of Joy – Our Michelle is now officially Dr. Solorio –

Hubby and I are crazy proud as are all her sibs along with the rest of the Family and of course her Husband (our favorite Son-In-Law)

In the celebratory spirit of myriad Ivoirian individuals who took her into their hearts and homes…this video (used with permission) of a 1st Communion Celebration she attended (notice the 1st communicant in the center of the circle) represents our own inner – Dance of Joy.

LANGUAGE WARS? LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION AND THE IVORIAN POST-CONFLICT TRANSITION
By
Michelle Lilly Solorio

A DISSERTATION

Submitted to
Michigan State University

in partial fulfillment of the requirements
for the degree of

 Education Policy – Doctor of Philosophy

2020
~~~

Dedicated to the parents and teachers in Côte d’Ivoire who shared their lives with me.

Vous m’avez accueilli dans votre vie, donné de votre temps et partagé votre nourriture. Vous m’avez montré le vrai sens de “akwaaba.” Je vous chérirai toujours.

 This dissertation is also dedicated to my husband, David.

Thank you for supporting me through this long endeavor. You are my partner in everything. I love you.
~~~

Snowin' on Raton


One of the things I do on a regular basis is search and discover ‘new’ (to me) music via a myriad of ways…all part of being a working musician – seeking, learning, creating.
A fine example of this occurred recently. As noted in a prior post, CNN’s short video in tribute to David Olney lead me to seek out more of his music. Which lead me to two other seemingly unrelated musicians/composers. I say ‘seemingly’ because I haven’t a clue as to how I arrived at their respective websites/youtube channels/streaming stations but some invisible google-ly algorithm guided me based upon something related to its way of calculating.
I know standard streaming sites routinely offer up an ‘if you like X, then try Y’ approach to new music seekers. However, my pokes and prods seem more organic, focused, personal – with a touch of human (mine) direction in the seeking. In addition, it is not limited to a particular platform.
Anyway, David Olney lead to Gregory Alan Isakov * who lead to Gavin Luke.*
And then I discovered an unexpected related theme – that of home.
David Olney was an itinerant wanderer, Gregory Alan Isakov is a transplanted Boulderite (my hometown) and Gavin Luke is a composer whose style draws deep home yearnings front and center.
Olney’s cover of Snowin’ on Raton** reminds me of all the traveling back and forth between hubby’s and my family homes…driving over Raton Pass in all types of weather from Colorado to New Mexico and back again from New Mexico to Colorado.
Specifically, two significant snow times come to mind.

1977 Cutlass Supreme w T-Tops

1977 Cutlass Supreme w T-Tops, image from google

  1. January 1979. Just a little over 6 months into our newlywed-ness, we packed all our belongings in the smallest sized U-Haul trailer and hitched it onto hubby’s 1977 Burnt Orange Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham (complete with T-tops and other extras). Moving in the winter was dicey but needful as hubby was set to resume studies at NMSU that semester requiring our move from Boulder, CO to Las Cruces, NM to begin our new married-student phase of life. He, as an older student to finish his CS degree on the last of his GI Bill (at that time, NMSU was on the cutting edge as one of the few Universities to offer a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science Program). And me, to forge a more direct relationship with my in-laws in hubby’s hometown while exploring our own new surroundings filled with endless possibilities. On the day of our move, we expertly navigated the increasingly dense low visibility January snow storm conditions. We even managed to slip (pun intended) into the climbing lane as we began the long steep grade over the pass…before CDOT closed I25 behind us. Yep, we were the last vehicle allowed on the road to mount up and over Raton Pass into NM. Suffice it to say, we jackknifed only once on the steady upward climb and managed a controlled descent on the other side of the pass into Raton, NM.
  2. January 1982. After hubby graduated in December and with our firstborn less than 4 weeks old, we packed up that same Cutlass – with more precious cargo this time around. The plan was to move back temporarily to CO to stay with my folks while waiting for more details concerning hubby’s new job at HP in the Silicon Valley to determine exactly where we’d be relocating. Again, a January snowstorm. Again, slipping past the road closure signs as the last vehicle going up and over the pass. Safely strapped into her rear facing car seat, our newborn baby girl who’d been sound asleep for most of the trip opened her eyes with a start and immediately began her screaming cries as we began our ascent. She sensed the tension of our situation – and added to it – all the way up & over Raton Pass. This newborn Mother could not – dared not – pick her up to nurse her back to calm – and was thusly initiated into the lifelong Sturm und Drang slice of what it means to be a Mom.

And those are the snowy times when we drove Raton Pass and where listening to Snowin’ on Raton many years hence intersect – hitting squarely through my heart –
Missing home. Missing our baby daughter.

*will discuss these two in a later post
**composer/lyricist: Townes Van Zandt

Thanksgiving 2019

– A mini spur of the moment gratitude list –

T – Terry, the love of my life.
H – Home. Wherever we alight if we’re together, it’s home.
A – All Creatures Great and Small, the Lord God Loves Them All.
N – (Finding) Neverland – childhood is precious.
K – Kindness. A little goes a long way but why be chintzy?
S – Snow. On Thanksgiving. The best.
G – Grumpy family. It’s okay to get grumpy sometimes, that’s when the Family gets to show you (me) love when you’re (I’m) the grump.
I – Interest/engagement in the world outside (y)our personal realm makes for a fuller life.
V – Vistas. The views from the peak of our Family’s mountain are the ultimate 360-degree surround sound/visual. Thank you Ma & Dad for preserving its wildness.
I – Inspiration. Found in such vistas and meant to be shared via our (he)art.
N – (Mister Rogers’) Neighborhood – childhood is precious.
G – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

— How about you? Please feel free to add to this mini gratitude list below —

The State of Our American Backyard

from cnn: (comments in italics are mine)

“A beloved Northern California festival (Gilroy grows great garlic and is a small town for goodness’ sake), a neighborhood Walmart in Mississippi (who doesn’t go to Walmart?), another Walmart near the US-Mexico border (Cielo Vista Retail/Mall is a major shopping area that even Las Cruceans go to…) and a popular entertainment district (summer evening activities in the heart of the city…should be safe). All four were the scenes of shootings in the last week — events that together left at least 34 people dead and more than 50 wounded.

A week bookended by violence has left residents shaken, frustrated and grieving.”

“A weekend bookended by violence…”

That phrase, that sentence keeps resounding loud and clear in my mind along with the images of the people and places known and unknown to me.
We lived in the Bay area during the 1980s often joking about Gilroy because of the garlic in the way most large metropolises talk about small towns. Hubby is from Las Cruces, NM where we’ve lived at different times in our married life and where the connections with El Paso and Juarez are more profound & active than with Las Cruces’ New Mexican cities to the north. In fact Cielo Vista Mall was the place to go from all around to shop for clothes. And as for the other two places – who doesn’t go to Walmart or enjoy a summer’s evening out?
Who doesn’t go to school or church, temple or mosque for that matter?
Everyday Americans doing everyday things.
Then the loudest voice among ‘experts’ chiding us everyday Americans for not carrying weapons in order to protect ourselves while going out and about doing our everyday activities…(ref. Larry Ward responses to Amna Nawaz interview questions on PBS Newshour)
Lord have mercy.
20 years ago our kiddos sat in their respective classrooms in Boulder County schools (the eldest in high school) during the shock-surprise of Columbine just 34 miles away from us.
Not directly in the line of fire – but definitely in my backyard.
Our backyard. Our American Backyard.
This cannot be our new normal.
Lord have mercy.

st francis quote

from St. Francis of Assisi, prayer

just dropping By to say Hi

Okay-Okay, I’m still on my blogging break, but what say you to a quick hello?

Perhaps a bulleted update will suffice:

2003 Toyota Camry, 400K 12/28/2018

Our 2003 Toyota Camry – 400K 12/28/2018


400K reached at MM 64, I10W on hubby's 64th Birthday

400K reached at mile marker 64, I10W on hubby’s 64th Birthday!

  • Our 2003 Toyota Camry reached 400K on hubby’s 64th birthday at mile marker 64 on I10W about 40 miles south of El Paso, TX while we were driving on our way to CA from SC for the Rose Parade…turns out, that trip also counts as a literal ‘coast-to-coast’ roadtrip. Interesting, eh?
  • The Rose Parade was not as great as last year’s, but still nice to experience in person. Plus, we just like the West Coast better than the East Coast (no offense intended, just personal preference).
  • We switched health insurance companies the beginning of this year. Not only have our monthly premiums and deductibles gone down by an incredible amount, but the procedure that was denied on our old plan yet aggressively deemed as a medical necessity by my doctor is now 100% covered and approved on this new plan. So, I’m slated for my long overdue foot surgery on Tuesday. The worst part about this is that I’ll be unable to continue my meager exercise routine for several weeks and I’m already starting out at my Winter Weight High…mostly due to all those days in the car traveling cross-country. 🙁 The best part is that I probably won’t be aware enough to really care about whatever happens during the State of the Union Address! No, really, the best part is that I’ll be in tip-top shape to take on my normal rigorous hiking routine when we get back to*…Oh, I’m getting ahead of myself here…back to the bullets…
  • On January 21st, around midnight, hubby and I were blessed to see the Super Blood Moon in all it’s glory. It’s not often the skies above our little rental here in FloTown are clear, but that evening was perfect for viewing this spectacular heavenly show.
  • I’ve connected with an artist/layout person who really ‘gets’ my vision for the artwork, packaging and branding of my Swimming with Swans project. This is a major achievement. She is amazing. Bless, you, Rita.  🙂
    (Ma's Uncle) Tran Mawicke poster

    (Ma’s Uncle) Tran Mawicke poster

  • I found a reasonably priced piece of vintage poster art by my Ma’s Uncle Tran Mawicke. My favorite fine art piece of his isn’t for sale, but I’m hopeful one day I’ll snap it up…However, for now this purchase was inspired by the fact that sailboats are one of hubby’s favorite activities after motorcycles. It’s set to arrive just in time for Valentine’s day. Just feels good to have this connection to my past here with us in the present.

~~~~~

 That’s it for now, dear readers. Thank you for allowing me to pop in & say hi during my blogging break. Bye for now.

 *will fill you in on details as we get closer to timing on all of this

Sixty Pho' part two

Back to that postcard…not only did the poster quote aspect of the card resonate with my style sensibilities but it triggered a punny approach in recounting a recent milestone event in my life (as reflected in the post title). Can you guess, yet, what that might be? Hint: keep in mind the correct pronunciation of the word pho’ as the phrase Sixty Pho’ is spoken out loud.
To clarify the timeline, Joe visited Vietnam the beginning of October for about 33 days and I received the Make Pho’ Not War postcard the beginning of December – textbook status quo for overseas snail mail delivery.
By then, we had already seen our son in Chicago two days after he got back to Denver from Vietnam in early November.

Say what?

Yes, it is weird to get ‘after the fact’ stuff in the snail mail.

Now, on with the Sixty Pho’ story…

64 mugs and Alchemy Coffee Beans

‘Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?’


It’s no secret to close family and friends that this is hubby’s and mine 64th birthday year (oh dear, the bunny’s out of the bag and into the blogosphere for sure now). I’ve always wanted to have a Beatles “When I’m 64” birthday celebration when the time came and the time is – AHEM – now. I turned that fateful age in October and hubby will catch up with me after Christmas in December.
I had always thought by now we’d be in our own home again. You know, a place big enough to throw one of our famous family/friend bashes, in this case a 64th Beatles birthday bash.
Joe's birthday July 2018

Joe’s birthday, July 2018 (Michelle, me, Joe)


That was not to be, as finding home is still an elusive yet hopeful work in progress. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, hubby secretly strategized with the kiddos on how to make that bash happen regardless. So, while we all met in Colorado for Joe’s birthday during our time of getting the folks’ house ready to be put on the market (yeah, we find ways to meet regardless of the miles that separate us) a solution broke forth.
Why not meet in Chicago?
Middle child Michelle is only a few hours away in Michigan from Chicago, so she and David could easily meet us there for a weekend jaunt as a break from her PhD thesis presentation prep. (BTW: she is now an official PhD candidate as her thesis was accepted! Yippee!)
Why not meet in Chicago? Hubby and I certainly don’t mind the road trip from South Carolina to anywhere. The mileage all goes towards the goal of reaching 400K at least*, if not all the way back from the Moon at 477,800 miles!
The location seemed logical as many members of the Family still live in the Chicago area, though several of us cousins and the remaining oldsters have moved away for various reasons. Chicago is the origination point of our Family after immigrating into the US from Calabria, Italia in the early 20th century. Hence, us cousins and our respective parental siblings were born and raised there. Indeed, Chicago is still a central hub to most of us.
Planning for our Chicago destination-as-solution to the 64th birthday bash blasted off in earnest. One Chicago cousin helped in finding a great Italian place central to all locals to hold the bash, I nailed the details with the restaurant, Michelle sent out e-vites, and the boys (son and son-in-law) got on with arranging the star set-piece, “When I’m 64,” for tenor sax and oboe.
Those of us who were able to come to the party.

Those of us who were able to come to the party. Except for the end persons, the five of us in the front row are the attending cousins – I’m the only one of them who likes pictures taken, so I’m lucky to have this. (L-R: Pat, Joanne, Dennis, me, Bob)


Anyway all that to say, many of us met up in Chicago – Michelle and David from MI, Joe right after getting back from his trip to Vietnam, and a handful of Chicago cousins and cousin-in-laws for a shared 64th Beatles b-day bash – and – as an excuse to mangia together in early November before the holidays got going full blast. Of course, not everyone could make it, (mostly the lawyers in the Family who had on-going cases in session, out-of-towners, and the oldsters who couldn’t travel the distance) but it was fun.
Joe and David playing the star set-piece

Joe and David playing the star set-piece


 
Gotta make those milestones FUN or else they become more like millstones!
As mentioned before, in keeping with my wishes and the traditions of our slice of the Family**, Joe and David played the star set-piece as opener for the mangia party (would love to post their performance video sometime, but licensing issues especially with high profile ‘covers’ can be legal nightmares – most non-musicians don’t realize this is a real problem – so that’s not happening in today’s post).
 
Instead, this vid will just have to do:
(click here)

As for me and mine, the answer to that question: “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty four?” is a resounding YES! How about for you and yours?

*Odometer alert: as of this writing, we are at 397,963. 🙂

One of many places Dad played back in the day.

The Green Mill in Chicago, one of many places Dad played back in the day.


**As in our musical roots

 
 
 
 
 
 
Michelle, Joe, me, hubby in front of the Green Mill Lounge in Chicago, taking in a show.

Michelle, Joe, me, hubby in front of the Green Mill Lounge in Chicago, taking in a show.


PS – We took in a show at the Green Mill the night before our 64th bash

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