Bucket Lists and Alaska

“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”~ Anita Desai

 I have a restless soul and an insatiable curiosity about the world around me. Throughout my life I have had many opportunities to travel and most recently I visited a state that has been on my bucket list for a long time. Let me say I was not disappointed! What state, you ask? Alaska. A good friend recently moved to Anchorage and invited me up for a visit. I jumped at the chance, of course. I have seen pictures, but the reality is so much better. I’m probably going to sound like a travelogue, but bear with me.   🙂

Everywhere I looked there was snow-dusted mountains and jaw dropping views. Did I mention the mountains? Incredible. Not only that, but Cook Inlet plays a big part in the view. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t to fall in love with the area.

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First stop was to the Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria. Who knew you could get such delicious soup at a pizza place? If you are ever in the area you should stop in and check it out.

The second night I was there we met up with Traci Barickman at Orso. Traci is with Century 21 Reality Solutions and found the gorgeous house my friend now calls home. I really enjoyed the restaurant and the company. I have a small confession here – I don’t like seafood. I know, I know…but, in my defense, I don’t eat red meat either. Having said that, I do want to say that even though Orso is well known for its Alaskan seafood, they also had plenty of other things on their menu that made me a very happy camper, including a fabulous dessert. You can never go wrong with Chocolate and Raspberries, right?

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Touring Anchorage at night in a horse-drawn carriage is also an experience not to be missed. Thank goodness for the heavy, warm blanket offered because it was quite chilly. Yes, an understatement- LOL. I had on so many layers I could barely waddle. I was amazed to see people walking around in short sleeves, while I was shivering. The Pacific Northwest does not prepare one for the far north it seems 😉

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I was lucky enough during my stay to see the Matenuska Glacier and a Moose grazing peacefully along side the road.IMG_2908 What also fascinated me was the amount of ice already forming in the rivers. I swear they looked like spilled slushies making their way down the mountains.

The week went by too fast and there is still plenty more to explore in that beautiful state. I hope someday soon to visit again. In the meantime, I can enjoy the pictures my friend sends along with her discoveries about her new home.  That’s almost as good as being there, right?

The Spirit of the Day

Small cheer and great welcome make a merry feast.

~William Shakespeare

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and  many families are making plans to get together.  They will endure long lines at airports or drive miles to spend the day with family just to gather around the dinner table and share a meal.  In some cases, a football game in the backyard or on the television will round out the day.

I’ll let you in on a secret if you promise not to hold it against me – Thanksgiving is lovely, but it isn’t my favorite holiday. I know sacrilegious, right?  Don’t get me wrong,  I enjoy the day.  I just don’t wax poetic over it or spend hours poring over cook books to find the perfect turkey recipe. I don’t even particularly like turkey and I am not much of a carnivore even on the best of days.  The gasp you hear in the background is my son.  He loves everything about Thanksgiving and always has.   🙂   But there you have it.

I do embrace the chance to get together with my fun and quirky family though.  A Norman Rockwell painting we aren’t, but there is always plenty of laughter, odd snippets of conversations to drop in and out of and a rhythm that comes from being – well – family.  Thanksgiving is a time to remind us of what is important and to appreciate all that things that have led us up to this point.  That part I like.  A lot.

Like many people, we have family scattered far and wide.  It is rare we can all be together, but that doesn’t mean those missing are not part of the day.  Memories are shared between those gathered, silly thing recounted and laughed over and no one is safe.  Phone calls are exchanged and beloved voices are heard while everyone is jockeying for their turn to say “Hi”.  It is all part of the traditions of the day with us.  I am sure you have those, too.

So, in the spirit of the day, I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with good food and laughter.  May you embrace those quirky family members and appreciate your friends.  If  you are travelling, may your journey be safe.

Happy Thanksgiving!   🙂

 

 

A Different Path

“Each new day greets us with no rules except for the rules we place on it. Greet this new day with open arms and endless possibility.” 
~ Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free 

Do you ever feel like you are running as fast as you can, but no matter how hard you strive you still aren’t making headway? Between the day job, writing, taking care of the home and family, not to mention a very needy (but adorable) Marmalade kitty  there has been little time of late to even think.  Projects get started and then dropped because something with a higher priority gets in the way.  Before I know it I am gasping for breath and standing among the ruins of good intentions, missed opportunities and days that blur into one another.  You know you have a problem when you can’t remember what you did a week ago, never mind yesterday.

I stepped outside to leave for work and noticed a few leaves starting to change color on my maple tree. It was enough to stop me in my tracks. Not only that, but there was a crispness to the morning that hinted more of the approaching autumn than of summer. There was that slight tug-of-war between seasons in the air.  I was shocked.  Where had the time gone?  It was September already and I barely remembered there being a summer!

I could hear the white-water rapids of my usual day trying to drown out the moment of awareness and drag me ever onward.  The mental list of things I needed to get done clamored for attention.  Usually, I shrug and get in my car and drive to work, my mind firmly fixed on all that needs done.  Not this day. I took a mental step away and took a deep breath.  I recognized how much of life is passing me by and I am the perpetrator of this tragedy.

I didn’t rush to my car, but took the time to stroll and enjoy the brief journey. While driving to work I didn’t blast the radio or fret about deadlines and timelines.  I actually paid attention to the passing scenery on a route I have taken countless times.  There were other trees flirting with the colors of fall, some with only a leaf or two beginning to turn.  They were small splashes of color in an otherwise green expanse.  As the road twisted and turned I noticed the morning mist hovering over the wetlands and twining through the trees with ghostly fingers.  The sun was a pale orb brightening the sky as the pale blue of morning bled into the darker hues of a cloudless day.

Instead of arriving at work already feeling the stress in my neck and shoulders I enjoyed the trek across the parking lot and the varied colors of cars against the dark asphalt.  It was a wonder to get to my desk and realize I had enjoyed the time I spent getting to work.

I won’t lie and say my day was anything less than hectic, but I rode those white-water rapids with far more humor and patience than I usually do and didn’t arrive home with a stress headache.  There is much to be said for stopping to smell the roses on occasion.

The Only Way to Travel

“It is pretty hard to tell what does bring happiness; poverty and wealth have both failed.

            ~Kin Hubbard

I recently had the pleasure of flying first class.  Having made the first leg of my journey in the back of a plane it was an unexpected delight to be bumped to first class for the longest stretch of my flight home.  Let me just say…wow!  From start to finish it was a wonderful experience and one I hope to  repeat in the future.  I am now officially spoiled and I can totally live with that 🙂

I admit I savored everything from the warm, damp towel to freshen up with to dinner served on china with linen napkins.  When offered my choice of dessert I chose ice cream with candied nuts and smiled to myself to have it in a glass bowl.  This was a huge difference from the $9 sandwich I’d bought when seated in the more economical part of the plane.  Okay, fine – the cheap seats.

Of course, every experience can be fodder for writing and this was no exception. The difference between classes could not have been more obvious and I realized I have the perfect opportunity to explore this divide in my current WIP.

Lyra D’Kir has a lot of responsibility resting on her shoulders, but has been surrounded by wealth and privilege her whole life. How is she going to cope when circumstances thrust her into a situation where sleeping on the hard ground and being asked to carry her own weight are temporarily the new normal? Will she rise to the occasion or be defeated by it?

By the same token, how does a former soldier react to the wealth and privilege he finds himself surrounded by?  Burke Wulfric has little sympathy for his latest charge, but can he appreciate the finer things in life or will he be too busy comparing the differences in their lives and circumstances to see beyond the glitz to the real person underneath?

Interesting questions, right?  I guess we will see what happens 🙂

Vacation – Woot!

Vacation used to be a luxury, but in today’s world it has become a necessity.

~Author Unknown

Vacation.  What a lovely word.  It immediately brings to mind sandy beaches, island breezes and relaxation, doesn’t it? Did you hear the big sigh from me?  That is the kind of vacation I would like, but my reality will never make the pages of a travel magazine.

Don’t get me wrong – I am excited to have a week off and the chance to visit my oldest daughter and her family.  I haven’t seen them in…well, forever.  There is a lot to catch up on and grandkids to spoil 🙂  But, let me share what is leading up to boarding a flight out of here and flying across country in two days time.

Let’s start with the day job that graciously allows its employees to have some time away to relax and renew (do you hear the sarcasm here?)  I have a things-that-have-to-be-accomplished-before-I-leave list.  On it are tasks that are job critical and must have all the loose ends tied up before I can escape – um- leave.

Ha!  My day started out bad and disintegrated from there.  Let’s not mention the disagreement with my boss before I even had a cup of coffee, or the disaster everything I touched turned into kind of day.  So much for quickly tying up loose ends.  My things-that-have-to-be-accomplished-before-I-leave list has now turned into a crap-I will-never-get-this-done-in-time sort of list.  With some reprioritizing I might be able to get the most critical of the critical things done.  Yay, me.

Let’s move on to packing.  Sorting through clothes to take is not fun.  That cute shirt I bought at the beginning of summer is a little snug.  It’s too late to regret the stress eating that caused the – ahem- slight weight gain and my much more limited clothing choices.  No problem, I will just have to manage with what I have.  It’s a vacation after all, right?

Writing.  Somewhere in all the chaos that has become my life just lately I have barely had time to keep up with email, never mind work on my WIP.  Double crap.  The 500 words a day I was aiming for is now 1,500 words behind and gaining fast.  Maybe I can sneak some writing time in on my long flight.  Yes, that is the Universe you hear hysterically laughing at me in the background.

Oh, let’s not forget the conversation with my daughter who is taking care of the house while I am away.  It went something like this:

  • Yes, wonderful child-of-mine the flowers need to be watered every day without exception.
  • Don’t touch the paperwork on my table.  I know where everything is and your habit of stuffing things in corner cabinets is not okay.
  • The cat will be unhappy if you do not pet him when he demands it and have his food bowl full at all times.
  •  No, I don’t think my neglected knitting basket would look better hidden behind that big chair.
  • Do not leave my kitchen in a mess.  Clean up after yourself or I will have to hurt you when I get home.  Stop laughing, I’m trying to be serious here….

Luckily for me I don’t have to drive to the airport.  I will have a few blissful moments where I know I have done all that I could before leaving and can now relax and leave the driving in her capable hands.

I’ll worry about getting through the airport when I get there.  After all, I’m on vacation. 🙂