Tag Archives: Travel

Summer’s End

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I always have a song running through my head.  Today’s lyrics were “after the boys of summer have gone.”  Really creative, oh brain of mine!  Tomorrow I return to my job at my wonderful school, and while I am so excited, part of me always feels melancholy about leaving summer behind.

This summer was one of extreme periods of busyness followed by extreme periods of laziness. Hubby and I took vacations to Mexico and then a few weeks later to London and Paris.  After that I visited family in Illinois for a week, and Hubby is currently on business in Atlanta. Preparing for trips takes a lot of energy, as does recouping afterwards.  Between vacations, I facilitated the remodel of our house by Arizona State University where our college-aged children lived for the last seven years (and then sold that house). I’m not sure how I had time to be lazy.  But I did.

I had goals this summer to go the gym daily, yet with my youngest son home from college for the summer, I found myself wanting to stay home to hang out with him, eating grilled cheese sandwiches while watching Games of Thrones, New Girl, and The Ranch. Isn’t it so much more fun to watch tv with friends??  I hope to find my way back to the gym once William and his girlfriend, Katherine, return to Flagstaff in a few weeks, and I don’t regret the five additional pounds around my waist from couch potato-ing with them while eating pizza and french fries.  William is my youngest, and I’m keenly aware of the fact this may be my last summer having one of our kids living at home.

Here are some of the other shows I loved this summer:

Indian Summers is a great drama set in the Himalayas in 1932.  The show focuses on the social politics of the British Empire and the birth of modern India.  If you loved Downton Abbey, you will likely appreciate this PBS mini series which has great acting, dramatic scenery, and beautiful costumes.  Watch it on Amazon Prime.

You can watch Versailles on Netflix.  If you loved The Tudors, this is right up your alley.  I was fortunate to visit the Palace at Versailles a few years ago and found this historically- accurate series to be very interesting, not to mention quite titillating with all of the sexual conquests.  Again, very beautifully filmed and wonderful acting.

I love New Girl.  I rewatched the whole show on Netflix with my kids this summer.  It’s clever and hilarious and awkward, and I love it so much.

Rectify.  OMG.  I can’t seem to talk any of my friends into watching it.  I had no idea there was a fourth season on Netflix, and since it had been so long since I watched the first seasons, I started over from the beginning.  The acting is amazing.  The pacing and tension reminds me of Six Feet Under, but I love Rectify so much more.

I re-watched old favorite movies like The Right Stuff, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, 13 Going on 30, Millers Crossing, and The English Patient.  Okay, I’ll admit I like many different genres, but I love revisiting an old favorite.

This summer may be one of the best I’ve ever had. The angsty words from the Eagle’s Boys of Summer are still playing on repeat in my head, but I’m feeling so hopeful and excited for a fabulous new school year ahead!

Cheers,

Mary

 

 

 

 

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Tighter Than a Tick

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This weekend has been all about tying up loose ends in preparation for our two-week family vacation which begins Tuesday. Each night, trip anxiety has awakened me at 4am. One night I envisioned us with our humongous American suitcases on the Tube and getting one wedged in the door as we tried to exit.  The next night I had a detailed dream in which we showed up to our VRBO flat in London only to find that the family of eight who owned it were expecting to stay there WITH US . . . and vacation with us! The night after that I dreamed that it was time to go to the airport, and I was the only one who hadn’t packed . . . or arranged to have someone take us to the airport . . . or asked someone to take care of our pets.

So basically, Nighttime Me is freaking out, while Daytime Me is happily planning and packing and taking care of bizz. Daytime Me tells Nighttime Me to just chill already: the unexpected parts of travel are typically the best parts. Anything we forgot to pack can be procured upon arrival. I get TWO WHOLE WEEKS with some of my very favorite people! And lucky us, we’re returning to a fabulous town (London)and checking out Scotland for the first time!  I remind myself how fortunate I am.

But I wasn’t believing a word I told myself. I was wound tighter than a tick but then this happened: Yesterday on my way home from the grocery store, I turned on the car radio just as Garrison Keillor was starting his show. He is retiring next week, and it breaks my heart. Prairie Home Companion has been a constant in my life for more than 30 years! Garrison taught me so much about story telling.  His paternal and soothing voice has a calming effect on me, similar to that of a stiff cocktail. I truly think he’s a genius.  He’s the Mark Twain of our era, and I will miss him.

Okay, back to my story: Garrison recited a poem by Mary Oliver, called Wild Geese. He took his time with the words, his sonorous voice drawing out each sentence. I turned up the radio and listened with rapt attention.

Wild Geese

by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Yes, yes, YES!!!  A tear rolled down my face. Then another. It was as if a huge weight had been lifted. This poem spoke to me. It said so loudly:   just be you! You don’t have to be perfect. Just be a part of this world; don’t think you’re so important. Enjoy your world and keep an eye toward nature, for it will show you what to do next.

Smiling through my tears, I drove my car full of groceries through the 110 degree heat toward home. Today I read again Mary Oliver’s poem.  All anxiety is gone.  I’m the luckiest woman in the world to be headed to England and Scotland with my family this week. There’s nothing to worry about. As Ms. Oliver says in her poem, the world will offer itself to my imagination. Our journey will be harsh and exciting, the sun will move across the mountains and rivers . . . and the world will go on.

Cheers,
Mary

Beach Dreams

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Oh Gosh, I almost forgot to announce some really big news: I finally (!!!) published my beach book on Amazon KDP. It is called Beach Dreams: Travel Tips and Stories from Rocky Point, Mexico. It was not easy. I’m quite sure I invented some new curse words during the formatting (crumplefarts!). But now that it’is done, I’m quite proud of my stick-to-it attitude. The writing was the easy party; trying to format my Word document to comply with the Amazon format was excruciating. I do not like to read instructions, yet there I was, watching YouTube webinars walking me through the process. I’m not positive my book is without mistakes, but I can assure you I did my very best to make it as perfect a possible. You can find my book here.

I am at the beach now, so after chatting with a weekend neighbor for an hour, I decided I would share with her my recent accomplishment. She actually bought it and began reading it, which made me very nervous. “It’s just stories about being here, you know, about the dogs and about the sunsets and starry nights. A little bit about the city and how to get here. It’s not going to change your life or anything.”

I fear I am not a good promoter for my work.

The photo of me on my author page was taken in a bistro in Florence, Italy. I realize this is not the ideal photo to accompany a beach book, however, all of the photos taken of me at the beach show WAY TOO MUCH of me since I am usually in a swim suit. I’ll work on that, though I can guarantee you it will not happen this weekend. I’ve been outside reading on the patio for five days, and even though I applied sunscreen, my face is red and chappy from the wind.

I took the sunset photo on the cover of my book with my Samsung 3 phone. I thought the cover turned out very pretty, but I cannot take any credit for Mother’s Nature’s stunning Mexican skies. So far I have sold ten books, which cracks me up because I’m quite certain they were all purchased by kind family members. That’s okay. I’m pleased with myself: I had an idea. I did the work. I finished it. I’m not claiming to be the next Bill Bryson (remember his fabulous A Walk In the Woods?) but you may find it relaxing to make a cup of coffee, find a pet to snuggle with on the couch, open my book on your Kindle, and get whisked away to a lovely day at the beach.

Cheers,
Mary