Archive for the ‘Fiftieth Birthday Journey!!’ Category

Out of Excuses

Since my last post four weeks ago was about the Drive Thru Daiquiris in New Orleans, I think a few people wondered if Steve and I just stayed there driving and drinking…. Or if we drove off the road and that was it. Nope. After saying thanks and good-bye to cutie-pie Eric, we returned the rental car and got on the plane to fly home.

Now I’ve been home for the same amount of time as my entire turning-fifty-with-my-girlfriends journey. That went by fast! As soon as I got back, I wanted to wrap up my journey with a cool posting about all I had learned…. But that didn’t happen.

First week back from my journey I indulged in the desire to sleep and to reconnect with my home.

Second week I went to be with my parents after my dad’s surgery.

Third week I had my granddaughter and my niece and nephew for the  weekend. So here we are. First sane, undisturbed Friday and I’m out of excuses.

Being with my girlfriends helped me accept the fact that I work BEST under pressure. I don’t like it. I’ve beaten myself up about it for years. But it’s true. When I was on my trip I would write almost every day. Kim got me started. She didn’t have internet access at her house, so we had to get up and get going to Guglhupf so I could write. Kim would sit there patiently all morning reading her book while I wrote and uploaded photos. She had lots of cool things planned for when I was done, but we couldn’t do any of them until I posted my daily update on my blog. Harrah and Sandy would make little comments like “Are you STILL writing that thing? Aren’t you done yet? I can’t believe how much time that thing takes! We’re leaving in five minutes, you can finish it later.” And other encouraging words. Just enough pressure to keep me focused.

Now I’m back at home, back into my routines, and life is, well… life. Monday through Thursday I am deeply focused on my somewhat stressful job which has a tendency to purge all the creative energy out of my brain cells. By the time Friday, Glorious Friday rolls around, I go through a recovery phase. Sleep in a little, get up and spend an hour reading, then start to think about all the things I want to do to build my coaching practice, do calls when they are scheduled, and… oh yeah… update my blog. The day stretches before me like a luxurious sandy beach…. And before I know it, Friday is over and the update is not written.

I promised Kim I would go this morning and sit in a wi-fi coffee shop. So here I am in Café Azul in downtown Santa Rosa, with a two-hour parking pass, a rented table, and a fantasy that I’m on vacation in Santa Rosa and Kim is sitting across the table patiently reading her book. I miss you, Kimmie!

For the rest of this year, I’ll be unpacking the gifts I gathered on this journey. Right up there wrinkled on the top of the suitcase are two related concepts.
1. how vitally important true friends are and
2. what a difference community can make in our quality of life.

Francis Bacon, in his essay “Of Friendship”, wrote something that seemed harsh. “I have given the rule, where a man cannot fitly play his own part; if he have not a friend, he may quit the stage.” This was after describing all the amazing benefits a true friend brings to one’s life. I wouldn’t tell you to “quit the stage”. But I would say, if you don’t have a friend, go out and get one. My mom used to tell me whenever I was lonely, “If you want to have a friend, you must first BE a friend.” A little truth that has come in handy many times.

So my first new years’ resolution for being fifty is to BE a friend – a true friend…. To stay in touch with my far-away girlfriends…. And to put more effort into cultivating my close-to-home friendships; which brings me to the second gift in my suitcase…

What a difference community can make in our quality of life.

I saw how Kim has invested herself in building community where she lives. She had some close friends there who moved away…. So she joined a “meet-up” group and is rapidly developing a cool little gang of gals that share the common characteristic of getting booted out of the original group for being too independent. Perfect for my one-of-a-kind girlfriend who loves and accepts everyone just as they are while never wavering from being absolutely true to herself.

Harrah is a fish who has found her pond. She’s an artist who is surrounded by other artists. They inspire and support each other, and send each other business. It’s all good.

Sandy thrives in church and has dedicated herself to serving in her new community. She hasn’t been in her new home as long as Harrah and Kim have been in theirs, but she is on the path to building her community.

I confess, I lost my pond. So I’m committed this year to finding it again. Finding the water I can swim in and thrive. I’ve changed and my old pond has changed too. It’s time for a new chapter. My girlfriends have taught me it can be done – at fifty or at any age. And I’m committed to deepening and strengthening my marriage in the process. I’m not running off to find myself and leave my poor husband behind. Interestingly, I read Eat, Pray, Love while on my journey. Loved it, except for the leaving the husband part… but that’s her story, not mine. We’re in this together… whatever that looks like. In whatever ways I grow in this new decade, I’m committed to using it to ENHANCE and serve our marriage and make both our lives better, and you can hold me to that.

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Drive Thru Daiquiris – Seriously

Kim thought I was making this up, so I just HAD to take a picture to prove myself right. Friends

You'd Think It Was a Dairy Queen

had told me that in Louisiana you could get Daiquiris at a drive-through window. I didn’t believe it at first, but sho-nuf…. in the middle of the Bible-Belt, where in some counties you can’t buy wine or liquor on Sunday Mornings between 10:00 and Noon, you can go through a drive-through and order yourself a Bubble-Gum Daiquiri.

It’s a loop hole in the state law. You can have booze in your car as long as it’s in a sealed container. The store can sell it to you as long as the straw is not in the lid. What you do after that is up to you.

There was one on our way to the Rental Car drop off, so we just had to check it out. Steve, being the information gatherer that he is had to go inside to ask questions. We met a nice guy named Eric with a big smile. He answered all of Steve’s questions and let us try different flavors. They were all in brightly colored swirling slush machines behind him.

I chose the “House Special” which is a blend of their three most popular flavors. But of course we just had to go back to the car to buy it. We followed the three-step process that Eric explained.

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See Kim? I just love being right….These places are all over the state.

Friday in New Orleans – The Lower Ninth Ward

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After Steve and I checked out of our hotel, there were just two more stops to make on this fiftieth birthday friend fiesta, as my sister-in-law Tiffin calls it. I looked up a bit of info on-line and got some directions, so we took our rental car and headed a few blocks east across the Industrial Canal to the Ninth Ward, made famous by Hurricane Katrina. The Industrial Canal is a shipping canal connecting the huge Lake Pontchartrain to the Mississippi River. The slide show above starts with three pictures of the new wall that has been built along the canal protecting the Lower Ninth Ward from the canal. The old one collapsed under the storm surge from the hurricane, sending a wall of water, fifteen feet high surging through this already devastatingly poor neighborhood obliterating the homes and killing 200 people.

A Home Across from the Wall

A Home Across From the Wall

After the wall, you see the foundations of some of the homes that are now gone. After that you will see some of the homes that have been damaged, abandoned, or condemned. According to the Wikipedia article, some of those modern new homes are apparently a project of actor Brad Pitt. Notice the stilts and the solar panels.

This area used to be plantation and farm land, a swamp, and a cypress grove. Dredging the canal provided economic opportunities and jobs. But it made the lower ninth vulnerable to flooding, which happened during Hurricane Betsy in 1965. Reminded me of the landfill we have in San Francisco that provides more buildable land…until we have an earthquake. Consider carefully when you mess with Mother Earth.

It was a sobering tour, and I said a prayer for all the families who were so devastated.

Next Post – From the Sobering to the Not-So Sober.

Thursday in New Orleans – The Garden District

Thursday was our one full day in New Orleans. Of course we had to try out the Beignets at the famous Café Du Monde. These, by the way, are delicious. It’s probably a good thing we can’t get them here at home or I would be in trouble. This was followed by a stroll through town checking out galleries. Our favorite was Angela King Gallery . Check out the paintings by Andrew Baird. They’re huge and up close they resemble Jackson Pollock, but step back and the image appears. Very striking. Mostly, we appreciated the tour we received by Ellin Egan, Professional Fine Art Consultant, who patiently gave us an art appreciation class while we cooled off in the A/C. Have I mentioned how hot it was outside?

We also hunted down the CDs from the musicians we had heard on Wednesday night, Dwayne Burns, trumpet and vocals, and Chuck Chaplin, piano.

Next, it was find the street car (which looks like something out of a 1930s movie) and take it to the Garden District for a grueling self-guided walking tour of historic homes…. all of which were spared by Katrina. Built on High Ground they were. After being turned away by the prestigious Commanders Palace Restaurant because Steve was wearing shorts (It’s 110 degrees outside for cryin’ out loud!), we took our macabre mood to Cemetery #1. Ever wonder why all the New Orleans movies show above ground crypts for burial? The water table is so high, the bodies would float. Not good. However, some of these crypts are quite old, with numerous family members enclosed…. And they seem to be falling apart. Also not good. After that cheery visit, we headed back by street car to our hotel to escape the heat and take a nap.

By now, I’m afraid I was becoming quite cranky. I was beginning to feel the change from being with my girlfriends to being with my husband. He’s not a girlfriend. Doesn’t think like one. Doesn’t act like one. Doesn’t read my mind like one. Sigh… Did I mention how hot it was? And that all we

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had had to eat were those Beignets? And then our room had not been cleaned and the maid was still working her way to our room, which meant no nap or shower until she came and left…. Sigh…. I really don’t like myself when I get cranky. I don’t think anyone else likes me either. My dear husband, thank God, still loves me even when I’m cranky. I don’t know why he chooses to, but I’m grateful. I got to apologize, again, and he got to forgive me, again.

We went to dinner at Irene’s which was amazing. If you ever go to New Orleans, eat here. Really. Call ahead and if you’re lucky, you’ll get a reservation. It was a lovely final dinner of our vacation. I wish we could have lingered a bit longer, but we had a date with the blues. Our waiter made sure we got out on time.

Our Blues date was at a place called Snug Harbor. A gallery owner had told us this is the place to go if we really want to hear our music! It’s a bistro, a bar, and a music hall. All in three separate rooms. You pay to go into the music room to hear the music. Yes. They will bring you drinks but they’re not required.

This night it was Spencer Bohren who was playing Steel Lap Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, and Banjo. It was nice. It wasn’t rock your socks off jazz or Creole zydeco music. But it was nice slow blues from a local musician. We enjoyed the show.

We walked back to our hotel. This was our last night before flying home.

Tomorrow – it’s the Ninth Ward and Drive-Thru Daiquiris.

Wednesday in New Orleans – The French Quarter

It has been four days since my last post, and now I’m back home. Steve and I spent two days in New Orleans together. We were pretty busy seeing and doing the whole time, so there was no time to write. Then we had our travel day, and now one day at home recovering. So… here it is. The longer I wait, the more there is to write. WordPress only allows me to display one set of photos per post. So I’ll summarize and break it up into days.

On Wednesday afternoon we checked in to our hotel, took a carriage ride, walked around the French Quarter, and went to Bourbon Street to hear some Jazz. It was HOT and MUGGY. We took loads of photos.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Neither of us had been to New Orleans before, so it was fun to explore the city together. But definitely no time to write.

Next post – Thursday, our one full day in New Orleans.

Y’All Come Back Now, Y’Hear?

I’m heading out this morning with Steve to New Orleans. We’ll be there until Friday when we fly home. So we bid farewell to Sandy and Paul.

Here’s a little pictorial of some of our time together. Later, I’ll put captions.

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Are You Smarter Than A Squirrel?

Just for fun, I must tell you the story of Sandy’s squirrel. Sandy’s Squirrel lives in the trees behind her house.

Sandy and Paul have love to feed the birds, especially the beautiful family of cardinals who come and indulge in the sunflower seeds from their feeder.

However, there is a neighborhood squirrel who also likes to indulge. Paul does not like the squirrel stealing all the birds’ food, so he has taken some action to prevent Mr. Squirrel from dining.

First, he bought a squirrel guard to place on the pole holding the birdfeeders.

Next, he lowered the squirrel guard so the squirrel could not stand on it and reach the bird feeder.

Next he trimmed the branches of the trees around the stand.

After that, he moved the birdfeeder away from the trees.

Finally he cut down the tree closest to the birdfeeder.

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The entire process had provided wonderful entertainment outside the kitchen window.