Gypsy's Travels

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday, Monday.....

Time to leave the cool, crisp to balmy weather of Colorado Springs and return to Texas. Not looking forward to the long drive home, but there is plenty waiting to be done when I arrive.

I have cleaned the room Em shared with me so it is "cleaner than I found it," baked the lemon pie Gunner requested ( I hope there is some left when he gets home), and cleaned up all the scraps from the curtains I embellished. Just family stuff....the stuff memories are made from.

I wonder if I will find any snow on the way home?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Morning

The weatherman promised, well, almost promised, snow by 4 AM. I woke up and checked out the window but, although it was very cold, there was no snowfall in progress. I waited all morning, checking at intervals, but it has begun to warm up from the (about) 32 degrees we saw this morning.

After a gourmet breakfast of sausage and egg crepes provided by Gunner, ABW and I headed to the AF Academy Chapel for Sunday morning service. I have wanted to go for years and was not disappointed today. The cadets are not back from holiday yet, so there were not many people in attendance, mostly visitors. Nevertheless, we got the full treatment. The music with the pipe organ was superb. Sadly, Since there were so few in attendance, I felt that I was the only one singing because the sound was swallowed by the building. I do want to return and hear the music when the chapel is full and the choir is in residence. Oh, how I would love to be here to hear the cadets sing Handel's "Messiah" on Decenber 4th,

The sermon was very good, concise, and to the point; the first advent candle was lighted during the service; and the added bonus was a video as well as slides to make the salient points. I have to admit, I have been dragged kicking and screaming into adding this type technology to my hometown church. I guess it is the wave of the future in a culture where everyone has something with wires hanging on his/her ear, and every conversation is interrupted by a text message. Just call me old-fashioned.

The day is cool and crisp and Gunner is readying the outside of the house for Christmas with Abs' expert help, ABW is still working on her paper, Junior is taking it upon himself to keep all the doors and windows in the house closed, and I am attempting to help Em learn to sew using a pattern. Everyone seems to be headed for success but Andrew and me.

I don't think it is going to snow today.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Think Snow!

Colorado has a reputation - beautiful, mountains, snow.....

All of it is true, just not all of Colorado is the same. I drove through flat plains headed to Colorado Springs. Fortunately, the weather was perfect, and maybe unusual for this time of year. As I neared my destination, snow-capped mountains rose on the horizon promising respite from the hot summer weather that was just beginning to dissipate when I left home.

Gunner, ABW, and family live in military housing on the grounds of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. I packed hiking boots and sweaters, looking forward to the cold weather, snow, and winter fun. ABW had shared the excitement of weeks of snowfall beginning in late August and continuing through November 15th. I was ready!

My dreams melted like powdered snow. We have had gorgeous weather since I arrived! It is bright and sunny, yet cool. Long sleeves are sufficient for this weather and just enough for long walks. One thing I had not counted on is the thinner air. It doesn't really seem that I drove uphill, but I have been informed we are at 6500 feet. I do have to work harder to breathe with exertion in the decreased oxygen.

Even though it has not snowed in 2 weeks, and "everyone" says "it doesn't stick long here," there is an abundance of snow here in the housing area. Of course, my first thought was to make a snowman, but the snow has iced over and become frozen. So we have the best of both worlds - picturesque "snow" and lovely warm weather. There is a slight chance I will see a snowfall on Sunday.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Coming Full Circle

I have almost come full circle, and there are some happy feelings along with the sad.
As a child, I loved Thanksgiving dinner when any number of relatives, unseen the rest of the year, would arrive for the feast. It was an especially good time because all the women did the cleaning up and I got to play. As a young woman, with a family of my own, I was often in charge of the family feast. My sister and I traded the hosting of the day many times, when we lived within driving distance.

Now, I am visiting one of my children and her family. Our Thanksgiving feast yesterday was well within the bounds of traditional, with a few twists that will ensure they set their own traditions as life unfolds. Gunner cooked the whole meal, asking for information along the way. I enjoyed being asked to "put my two cents worth" in, thus ensuring the continuation of our family's traditions.

We feasted on roast turkey, cornbread dressing, giblet gravy, sweet potato pudding, German potato salad, 3 different cranberry concoctions, pea-corn salad, and squash casserole ( provided by a family friend in attendance). Dessert was pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and peanut butter cookies (that sweet friend again).

Dinner was cooked and served, and the dishes were done. I really enjoyed my role as consultant. The circle continues....

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Eve of Thanksgiving Eve

I have always been rather "directionally challenged". Thank goodness the roads run both ways and I can find anything, well almost anything, on my GPS. I was so busy enjoying the drive today that I missed my turn, so I opted for small country road through northern New Mexico (469 off I-40 at Logan, to Hwy 29, on up to I-25). Nice drive, no traffic, the scenery of desolate plains, and ...worst of all....speed limits ranging from 35 to 55 mph. It seemed to take forever and I just knew if I exceeded the limit there would be a policeman lying in wait. No matter that everyone else ignored the speed limit. They are the ones who never get caught,I managed to make up some time on the freeways where the speed limits were often 75 mph..

Finally, the snow-capped mountain range appeared on the horizon. With explicit directions from DD-Ko, I homed in on her residence on the grounds of the Air Force Academy. I only had to show my ID to the security guard at the gate....and let him check the contents of the car. He took one look at the load I was transporting and waved me on through. Probably thought the Beverly Hillbillies were moving in, but it was just another load that included over sized dinosaurs, various collections of rocks, plants entrusted to my care, and various clothes being exchanged by siblings whose children had out-grown them.

The residential area is in a shaded area where previous snow has not melted, but hardened over to form ice. The greetings of my grandchildren were most satisfying. I have a whole week with them before I have to return.

Monday, November 23, 2009

"On the Road Again...."

I headed out this morning for Colorado. Will spend the Thanksgiving holidays with ABW, Gunner, Em, Abs, and Junior. It was a balmy 70+ degrees when I left. It was a good day to work in the garden and my neighbor was busily doing just that. I invited her to continue her labors in my direction, but she declined. "I don't want to trespass," she said with a laugh. Oh well, I will get to it later. Grandchildren come first.

From Austin to Amarillo is a pretty straight shot and the beautiful weather made driving a particular pleasure. The country has fairly sparse, native vegetation, designed to stay alive with small amounts of water. Not enough grass for cattle to graze, but goats fare nicely and I saw herds of them grazing contentedly. Many of the nannies held hope for the next generation. Note to self: check out the festival in Brady, Texas, this summer. I have fond memories of barbecued cabrito from the last visit several years ago.

I always look forward to the various rock formations, many from roadway cross-cuts. The mindless driving gives me an opportunity to speculate on the people who braved the elements to settle the area. This includes some of my ancestors who arrived in the area via covered wagon from Alabama. They tried farming, but most moved on, including my grandfather. Some stayed, turning to cattle raising, but I don't know that any kept the mineral rights. That is unfortunate since underneath the desolation of the land, there was oil.

The sight of the day for me, was the miles and miles of windmills. In this land of wind. that rivals Chicago's "Windy City" title, these huge towers hum with the business of providing "green" energy. Hundreds of them stand on small rises, rotating their three arms. There is no competition on the horizon for these sentinels of energy.
I stopped for lunch at a "Cotton Patch Cafe," intending only to have a light lunch. Instead I had the Monday special, beef tips with rice, steamed veggies, squash casserole, a roll, and iced tea - all for under $10.00. It was a big lunch!

I was having so much fun driving and looking that I forgot to monitor my gas consumption later in the day. When the little gas tank with the nozzle showed up on my viewer, I became a little frantic. The first two stations I pulled in to, did not have diesel. I could feel my anxiety rising, especially when I realized I was in an area that featured bars across all the store windows. Thank goodness for GPS, which allowed me to search for the nearest service station. I could have called to see if they had diesel since all the info was on the screen. Instead, I headed out on fumes and a prayer. My thirsty little car took 20.09 gallons. I can't complain, since I had gone 513 miles on the last tank.

I am safely ensconced in a comfortable room at the Ashmore Inn in Amarillo. I passed on the hospitality hour and opted for cheese, crackers, and an apple in the room for supper. It sounds as if the continental breakfast, which is included, will be more than a roll and coffee. It had better be since there are two boys basketball teams staying here. There are also several jeans-clad people staying, who must belong to the horse-trailers outside. All, however, is quiet on the western front.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Today's Lesson in Frustration

The Frustration List has been extended. Is there no end?

I can't seem to load any photos onto Facebook.
I can't get my photos on to this blog.
I went out to the car this morning feeling very proud of myself for leaving early so I could take care of an errand. The car began beeping, if not frantically, at least insistently, the minute I opened the door. I just knew right away....dead battery.

No problem, I thought, I will take the TR since it needs an outing anyway.

I turned the key in the ignition of the TR and heard a loud THUNK, now it doesn't start.

Woe is me....I am waiting on Roadside Assistance to call and let me know when they can come out. I am not doing my part at the meeting. I just know when things go bad like this, they continue for a while. There must be a "law" for that.... "Murphy's"?

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Gathering

Thirty-seven members of the family gathered to celebrate life. Others arrived later.....


31 March 1922 - 5 November 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

This is Veteran's Day! We owe a debt of appreciation to all veterans, every day, because we live in a free society.

Appreciation is more than just saying "Thank you!", although that is a tangible part of it. Our appreciation should really be in how we conduct ourselves to take care of the country for which so many have fought and died. Do we litter the landscape of this beautiful land? Do we use our resources wisely or squander them? Do we vote? There are many ways we can show appreciation for the legacy of our veterans.

I come from a proud military family and honor them today.....

My Dad - a career military man who joined the Army Air Corps and stayed with the Air Force when it became a separate branch. Served in WWII and Korea.

My Uncle Bob - a U.S. Army Chaplain. Was a POW in WWII

Four of my brothers who served in the military - one in Vietnam.

Brother-in-law - U.S. Army

Son-in-law - One tour in Bosnia, 3 tours in Iraq, and scheduled for Afghanistan this summer.

A heartfelt thanks for the service of all veterans who make it possible for Americans to walk in freedom.
Thank you!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Eleventh Hour

The vigil continues as Mother defies the odds. I have heard it said that whatever you are like in your formative years, you are even more so late in life. Our Mother is a prime example of that. She can only move her left arm, but move it she does, and very effectively.

We resort to modern technology to keep our widespread family up-to-date. Calling each member of our large family every day would be physically and emotionally exhausting. Thank goodness for instant access. One of the grandchildren started a thread of memories. We are all too far flung to gather and share, so we share on the Facebook site where we can still laugh, cry, and support one another.

I remind myself constantly that the fragile shell inhabiting the hospital bed is only a remnant of the mother we knew. Of course, the people caring for her at this time in her life have never known the woman they see every day, as the adventurous, courageous, feisty woman we knew. We have placed a photo by her bed to let them see part of what she was like. It is the passport photo we had taken in preparation for our trip to Okinawa,one young woman surrounded by her seven children. The photo does its job and opens the door for stories as the staff asks questions.

Time is short and our hearts are heavy, but I have faith there is a mansion waiting.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Vigil

None of us ever envisioned this - Mother resting comfortably in a hospice hospital bed. She was always so feisty and determined that seeing her in this situation is almost unfathomable. She was felled by a clot in the brain. We must all meet our end, but this is not the end any of us would have chosen had any of us had a voice in the matter.

Hospice has been around for a long time but I had never had any personal experience with it until now. Everything I have heard about it is true. The staff is wonderful, competent , and caring. They care, not only for the patient, but they care for the family. No deed is too insignificant for them. Settling Mother in, I mentioned that she seemed to like having her left hand out from under the covers. They immediately asked if there were anything else that seemed to make her comfortable. It was a small thing to do, but it was significant in indicating the depth of their attention to detail for her comfort.
The staff understands that she has not been able to hear for years, but they talk to her anyway, to provide reassurance and tell her what they are doing. They explain everything to us as we maintain our bedside vigil, come quickly when called, and provide relief for her whenever it is needed.
We wrestled at great length with the decisions that brought us here, but we are convinced that this is the most natural way for our Mother to continue on the journey that we must all take. The pamphlet hospice gave us says includes these thoughts by Henry Van Dyke:

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails in the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says, "There, she is gone!"
"Gone where?"
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear the load of living freight to her destination port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her. and just at the moment when someone at my side says, "There, she is gone!" There are other eyes, watching the coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout,"Here she comes!"
And that is dying.