Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas in California

I am coming to the end of my drive, I think, having arrived in Desert Hot Springs, California.  Staying with my friend Sandy, I am finding this place a bit of a mind game. I see the palm trees, feel the warm sun, gaze at the beautiful sky, but the mountains are in the ocean’s space. I have no place to kayak, improve my beach stoop in search of the perfect shell, or a place to watch the pelicans dive for their delectable fish lunch.
Last week I drove to Fallbrook, CA, the avocado Capital of the world, to spend Christmas with my friend, Donna and her husband, Gerry. Dinner was delicious. Thank you, Donna. Where their house is located, flowers blossom all year. The lavender plants are gorgeous, the roses radiant in color and the flowers along the highway sway in the gentle breeze deliciously scenting. Who could not live in such a beautiful place? 
On Saturday, desperately needing to see and feel water, I drove to Oceanside. It shocked and amazed me how smooched together the beach houses are, you could cook in one neighbor’s kitchen while sitting in the living room of the other. But I got what I wanted, I wadded in the FREEZING Pacific Ocean, saw kayaks, people sitting on the beach, and bodies surfing. Now that's California. This desert thing is not my beloved Taos or Santa Fe, New Mexico; there I expect to find dirt, dust and dry relentless winds, here it's suppose to be green and flowers. This place, like I said, is a mind game. Then again Palm Springs, Palm Desert and the other areas are truly beautiful in their landscaping.
Sunday I went to Temecular for wine tasting. Temecula is bordered by Murrieta, home of the Murrieta Hot Springs, and the Pechanga Indian Reservation where the Pechanga Resort and Casino is located. This is largest casino in the Western United States, and one of the largest in the world. For all you golfers, the golf course at Pechnags is a72 Par, 7,219 yard Arthur Hills designed Championship 18-Hole golf course open to the public. There are7 miles of cart paths and the carts are equipped with a GPS system with course tips and narration by U.S. Ryder Cup Team Captain Corey Pavin.

The Temecula Valley is a Viticultural Area southern  Riverside County, California where over 200 years ago, winemaking made its debut at Mission San Juan Capistrano where the padres being the first wine makers. Today, the tradition of winemaking still exists 18 miles east in Temecula, where mission vineyards were established in 1820. I tasted wine at the Callaway Vineyard, the Founder, Ely Callaway, gained his fame and fortune in the world of golf with his namesake company, Callaway Golf.
Happy New Year
My Dad and I thank you for your donations

Monday, December 21, 2009

Upward and Onward to Flagstaff, Arizona

It took me a while to get started today having spent the last four days living in a hotel putting the finishing touches on the book, selling Hump Jumpers and starting a new Scooter book. Think of this, my car is full of my toys: kayak, scuba gear, golf clubs, skis, and bike.  Also, stuffed inside is my office: computer, printer, office photographic supplies, Hump Jumpers and what clothes might fit.  Consequently, when I spend time at a stop the office gets set up and dismantling is a bugger.
Today I headed to Flagstaff, Arizona, a place I have often thought to be a potential place to live. A college town in the mountains with four season, ski area, water and easy access to California and New Mexico. When I arrive there is snow on the ground, and it is cold!  I have worn my sandals all day and now must walk through the snow and ice to get to my hotel.  BURR!

Trying to find someplace to eat, I happen upon Ruby Tuesday. How lucky can I be, I meet another delightful waitress, Christine.  Christine is a sophomore at Coconine Community College in Flagstaff, and hopes to continue her education next year at the University of Arizona.  The best of luck and good wishes to you my dear.
Listening to the stories of my fund drive, Christine admits her grandfather passed away with Alzheimer’s. It still amazes me the number of people I have met who recount stories of how this disease has touched their mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, close relative or friend.  Some speak of a friend of a friend and tell a heart felt story. I must admit, it is heart wrenching listening to them and learning how their family coped with the situation, some successfully and a few tragically. Thank you, Christine.
Merry Christmas and Happy Travels

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Albuquerque, New Mexico

La Mesa Presbyterian Church

Today I am heading for Albuquerque visiting my friend Trey. Arriving at his house, I excitedly discover I am to help decorate the Christmas trees. Yes, two trees! He has one for the beautiful and treasured ornaments and one for the most bizarre. Trey is the Reverend of La Mesa Presbyterian Church and every year he has a Christmas party for the parishioners of his parish who work for the church. They are asked to bring what they consider the most awful or bizarre ornament and during the Christmas party they vote on the worst, and I will admit, I discovered a fine collect of bizarre ornaments collected over the years.
While in Albuquerque I drop in at the New Mexico Alzheimer’s Association District Office and meet the wonderful people working there.  After giving them an accounting of my trip so far, replenishing my supply of handouts, I am off.  It’s rewarding visiting these offices knowing how far I have driven, I have such a rewarding feeling of accomplishment. 

Albuquerque Christmas and Chili Ristas

FYI −Albuquerque was once an uncharted territory sought after by explorer Francisco Vázquez de Coronado who was in search of what proved to be a highly elusive legend - the Golden Cities of Cíbola, but instead he found vast, beautiful landscapes and a rich Pueblo heritage.

San Felipe De Neri - Oldest Church in Albuquerque has continuously served the community without interruption since 1706. Originally founded and served by the Franciscan Friars, this parish church has been served successfully by the secular clergy of Durango, Mexico since 1817. The Jesuit Fathers and Brothers 1868 and since 1966 has been administered by the secular clergy of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.

New Mexico has 26 Scenic Byways ranging from 4 miles to 600 miles in length passing through an astounding variety of geography and terrain.  There are 19 traditional communities of Native Americas called Pueblos recognized worldwide for their adobe buildings called pueblos and 3 Indian Reservations managed by Native American tribes under the US Department of Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs. On my trip to Farmington tomorrow, I will drive through the Jemez Pueblo, the Sandia Pueblo, the San Felipe, and Navajo Nation

Tomorrow I am off to Farmington, New Mexico traveling past the Jemez Pueblo and into the Navajo Nation.

Happy Travels

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Santa Fe

My time in Santa Fe has been very productive. I have nearly finished the book. It’s amazing when you take on a project, thinking it will only take a bit of time, then all of a sudden a year has gone passed since Joe asked me to write this for him. I have sorted through over 300 pictures, received amazing stories from “Pond People” and now I can see the end. Or so I thought!!

Every afternoon I have been going to the Santa Fe Public Library quietly sitting in the Southwest Historical Room with amazing people doing research on various topics. This room is awe inspiriting. Not knowing the history of the room but curious, I was pleasantly surprised Friday when a group of 3rd graders came prancing into the room and wiggled their way, as only little children can, up to the railing of the second level and their teacher proceeded to tell them the room's history.

The actual library building is the Berardinelli Building, a former city hall designed by John Gaw Meem in 1936, and the Southwest Room houses a rich and extensive collection of New Mexico state history. These adorable children were given a brief history of the room learning that all the furnishings were made by local artist and given to the library as gifts. The lamps, chairs, beautifully carved walls , railings and ceiling all hand crafted.

This I found very interesting. Just as the group was leaving, the teacher informed them , if they chose to enter the Santa Fe’s King or Queen pageant, this is the room where they would study the state’s history, a pageant requirement. Also, they had to speak two languages of the state, fluently.

This is a life size Painted Pony named The Story Teller.  The chair next to the pony is the story teller's chair, and the children sit around on the floor listening to the story being told either from memory or from a book.

Leaving the library yesterday I wandered around Santa Fe and heard music. Following the rhythm, the candles and the crowd, I arrived at The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and the Festival for Our Lady of Guadalupe. These festive dancers, dressed in exquisite garb were celebrating December 12.  According to Mexican tradition, a dark skin virgin appeared to the peasant Juan Diego on December 12th in the year 1531, with the message that a church should be named in her honor. She is known as Our Lady of Guadalupe. The festival is a time for pilgrims to bring gifts and prayers to the Virgin.

Thank you for your time


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Old Monroe, Missouri

Time for me to leave the warmth of Florida, and my friends in Atlanta for today I am heading to Missouri. 

Love to my friends

Marsha, Lisa and Rusty


I have to make Missouri by Saturday because my friends, Mike and Linda Kasevich, have planned my weekend.  Saturday night a family picnic with bonfire and hayride, then  Sunday is my presentation.  All this outdoors and it is November in Missouri.  When I arrived it was 70 degrees, and I could wear my sandals. Hurray for me!

I am now in the flood plains and Tornado Alley!  Welcome to Missouri the “Show Me State” where it is now raining, cold and damp.  It's Wednesday and still raining - this sign is so true seeing the roads and fields flooded.
Fortunate for me, with this weather, Linda has time to proof reading my book, and I am taking the time to finish Life and Times in Island Falls, Aroostook County, Maine and hopefully sending it off to the printers.  Linda claims it is a fun read and the stories everyone submitted add great local flavor. I am so excited and can't wait to see and hold the finished book. 
I have to ask, I thought I knew my geography and where the states were in relation to each other.  Being a tour director, this is something I should know.  Does anyone out know that to get to Missouri from Atlanta you must drive through Kentucky?  I had mapped my route, but when I saw the welcome to Kentucky sign in the dark at seven thirty at night, I was sure I was lost.   I quickly called Anne and Mike, and neither knew Kentucky was on my route.  We quickly discovered, on a dark, rainy, cold night  with no road signs in site, I really needed my stolen GPS. Yes, you do drive through Kentucky and cross both the Mississippi and Missouri River to get to Old Monroe, Missouri.

This weekend is  St. Paul UCC Churches 150th anniversary and I want to move on.  I want to see where I am going, get to warmth, and I want so to find home. But I just might stay for the Ice Cream Social and Thanksgiving Dinner on Saturday.

Happy travels

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dogwood Terrace Assiste Living

Yesterday I gave my Travels' with Sandy Power Point presentation at the Dogwood Terrace Assisted Living Center in Sandy Springs, Georgia.  What a fun time we all had!  With my pictures, I was able to take the residents on a whirl wind tour of America's National Parks.  Starting in Rapid City, South Dakota we visited Mt Rushmore then crossed Wyoming for at stop at Yellowstone's Old Faithful. Traveling on stopping in Salt Lake, Utah, then Arizona for a look at Bryce Canyon. We visited the four corners - Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado and crossed the Continental divide seven times.

We saw elk, a bison and moose!

Today is Nov. 13 and I am off to Old Monroe, Missouri for another presentation and visiting Mike and Linda Kasevich.

Happy Travels

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Florida Sun Shine

Visiting the Senior Centers here in South Florida is amazing. The communities are surrounded by tropical gardens with waterfalls where the residents can walk and listen to the birds singing.  They have the opportunity to stroll outside.,   Being year round outdoor communities, the residents have the opportunity to going outside whenever possible to hear, feel and see nature, while feeling and absorbing the sub-tropic breezes. This daily opportunity, to observe and feel ones surroundings, is vital to life.
I found myself, similar to when I visit my Dad, sitting with the residents.  Listening to their stories I heard the joy in their voices when they shared in their life’s adventure with me.  Our Senior Citizens are walking encyclopedias.  Please, I ask, just listen, and you will hear.

After my visits, I rode my bike to the Blowing Rocks Preserve. This is a magnificent barrier island sanctuary located on Jupiter Island, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon. Blowing Rocks protects a variety of natural habitats, including beach dune, coastal strand, mangrove wetlands, tropical hammock and oak hammock. Its rocky Anastasia limestone shoreline is the largest on the Atlantic coast. During extreme high tides and after winter storms, seas break against the rocks and force plumes of saltwater up to 50 feet skyward, an impressive sight for which the preserve was named.
Just knowing that during the summer months sea turtles nest at night on the northern section of the preserve beach and sometimes can be spotted in the water during the day, I just had to go see.  Arriving just at high tide,it was fantastic, but no sea turtles.

In Juno Beach, I did happen upon a “Florida Powder Day”. With a storm out in the Atlantic someplace causing huge waves, and high winds, the surf boards, wave rides, kite rides . . . any one and anything with a water toy were out. It was so fun just sitting on the beach taking pictures of these adventure seekers. The riders claim this is easy on the shoulders, but tough on the lower back and knees.

This . . . looks like fun!!

Saturday Night I attended the Little Festival in Abacoa ,  What fun.  A festival worthy of the Northend of Boston with its food vendors, fun rides for the young and that young at heart.  His festival’s original vision was to create an experience rich in Italian culture celebrating the contributions of great Italians through food, music, art and tradition. Today it stays dedicated to encouraging the importance of family and community forever mindful of the hardships that their Italian ancestors endured in migrating to this great country.

That was Saturday, today is Sunday.

Today I drive to John MacArthur Park, the only state park in Palm Beach County, nestled on a barrier island, it encompasses 325 acres, which includes a mangrove fringed estuary, and coastal hardwood forests. This is an "island in time" preserving the lush and diverse subtropical coastal habitats that once covered southeast Florida. Visiting here I explored nearly two miles of pristine beach and swam in the clear blue waters of the Atlantic. There are shaded nature trails, a bird and butterfly walk, an estuary and kayaking to Munyon Island was a true understanding of "the Real Florida".

This weekend, that started out on such a positive note ended tragically. I had visited four senior centers here in the Palm Beach area, met very nice people, shared heat warming stories, and discovered “Power Days in South Florida".

Black Mark on my wonderful weekend, someone broke into my trusty SUV and stole my cell phone, the GPS that drove that drove me crazy – he/or they can have that, my eye glasses and the worst of it, my gorgeous sunglasses. They’re both prescription . . . hope they have my quirky vision! And to top it off, my Andrea Borcelli CDs!

The adventure continues - Happy travels

Memory Screening

Do this in memory of my Grandma, and do this because it's
beneficial! More than 50,000 Americans who have memory
concerns or want to have a point of comparison for the future
are expected to take advantage of free, confidential memory
screenings at more than 2,000 community sites nationwide on
November 17. An annual initiative of the Alzheimer's Foundation
of America, National Memory Screening Day is the focal point of
the organization's efforts to promote early detection of memory
problems, including Alzheimer's disease (It is estimated that
missed diagnoses of dementia are greater than 25 percent of the
cases and may be as high as 90 percent). Memory screenings can
reassure the healthy individual, promote successful aging and
can be a first step toward a proper diagnosis if scores
are below normal. Aging baby boomers especially are prime to
take advantage of this free community resource. For more
information visit,

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Oct. 30, 2009

Sometimes there is a reason it takes forever to drive 65 miles. Today I left Atlanta, Georgia with all good intention of making Jacksonville, Florida. I have been told Jacksonville is a fun, energized city. Far enough north, hurricanes are not a real concern, and offers four seasons with mild winters, Jacksonville, if I can ever get there, seems to be close to what I might enjoy.  With its colleges, lots of water, growing population, affordable, mild weather, and friendly people just might be a good possibility. But I didn’t make it today.

Getting on Georgia 400 heading south, it took me close to 4 hours to drive 65 miles. No kidding, 4 hours! Coming out of Atlanta in the midst of a dark dense fog, with drizzly damp muggy rain the traffic was moving at a snail’s pace at 10 – 15 miles an hour! This was worse than driving Route 128 around Boston during rush hour in a snow storm. This reminded me of when I got stuck on the George Washington Bridge at 3 o’clock in the afternoon on a Friday in the rain and I had to go to the bathroom! Talk about bladder control.

But as they say, and I don’t know who they is, but “as they say, there is a reason for everything.” Finally making Macon, usually an hour and a half trip, I pull into a Days Inn and register for the night. Now I won’t say that the receptionist was overly warm or the brightest light bulb in the box, but to her credit, she did steer me in the right direction for Applebee’s.

Arriving at the Applebee’s, I am greeted by the waitress from heaven, Cayla. Cayla reads my mind and brings me a glass of wine served with the brightest smile and a story to tell. When we start to chat, she asks me where I am from and I tell her about my fund raiser, seems her great uncle is suffering from Alzheimer’s, and you could tell from the look in her eyes, it breaks her heart.

I must introduce you to this delightful person. Cayla is a sophomore at Mercer University majoring in math and international studies. Hoping to graduated early, her attention is to go to med school, then focus on medical research for diseases affecting third world countries. Nineteen years old, and her heart is in the right place. I love this part, when she was 13, she followed family tradition and spent a month in Alaska staying with her grandparents and visiting an aunt. Now how cool is that! Last summer she spent time doing mission work in Brazil, and hopes to go to Africa.

This girl is a charmer. Not only is she a straight A college student, she works, tutors high school and college math students, and does mission work. Yes, there is hope in the next generation.

Thank you Calya - you go girl!!

Oct. 21 – 24, 2009

I visited Jasper, Georgia, a city in Pickens County, Georgia with a population of 2,167 at the 2000 census, and county seat of Pickens County. Named after General Andrew Pickens, a Revolutionary War hero who fought the Cherokee in 1760 and 1782, it has the nicknamed "The First Mountain City." Jasper is located 50 miles north of Atlanta, Georgia in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Mount Oglethorpe, the southernmost peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is located in Pickens County, and was the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail from when the trail was completed in 1937 until 1958. In 1958, as a result of over development around Mount Oglethorpe, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail was moved to Springer Mountain. Mount Oglethorpe is considered by some to be a more dramatic mountain than Springer Mountain, but the construction of a gravel logging road on the mountain and the development of a number of pungent chicken farms along the route, contributed to the move.

Jasper, Georgia is also the hometown for my friend, Margo. Margo and I met when we were in high school on a 4-H trip to Washington, DC. She remembers the group from Maine and the group from Georgia became fast friends because no one else could understand our accents. She and I have exchanged post cards, letters and the very important Christmas Cards since first meeting. The last we remember meeting each other was about 15 years ago, and being so close, we decided on a visit. What better time than now.

What a great time we had!! From the minute I arrived to the second I left there was an activity planned. Margo's has a 24 year old son with Fragile X syndrome and he attends the Burnt Mountain Center. BMC offers a comprehensive continuum of services offered in the least restrictive appropriate environment. It is a viable part of the Community and offers services to a variety of Clients who are physically, mentally or socio-economically challenged. Along with these services, there is also entertainment.

Margo and Ryan invited me to the Lion's Club dinner followed with a hayride. After a fun hay ride we visited the goats, chickens and rooster, and a few people purchased green pumpkins. Yes, in this part of Georgia they harvest green pumpkins claiming they turn orange after awhile. In Maine, where I grew up, we harvest orange pumpkins!

Thursday afternoon we decorated the gym where Ryan's center had their Halloween party Friday night. He went as The Bachelor, and gave the red rose to his sweetie. He gave it to me a couple of times, but kept telling me "there just might be someone else!" Story of my life!!

During my visit I was treated to Southern Cooking. Hushpuppies are delicious, especially when jalapenos are added to the batter, and the catfish at Last Catch restaurant was delicious!

Since I was in North Georgia, I wanted to visit Tate, Georgia and see the pink marble house. Margo drove me to where the main quarries of the Georgia Marble Company are located, the second largest stone company in North America. These quarries are internationally known for their marble quality, and have supplied the marble used to build the New York stock Exchange annex, the statue in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C., the National Air and Space Museum, the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art, The Federal Reserve Bank in Cleveland, and the Buckingham Foundation in Chicago.

Thank you Margo and Ryan, I had a great time!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My Sewing Friends Send Me Off

Mary Lou and I met through the American Sewing Guild, and her husband Dick’s imagination came up with the name for my sewing product, the Puts-it.  While staying with Mary Lou, her granddaughter and I package packaged my Hump Jumpers® while Mary Lou tried to figure out a digital camera.Mary Lou is a kitchen gadget collector.  She  has draws full of all kinds of gadgets.  Cooking dinner we end up playing the kitchen gadget “Guess what this is game.”  We take a gadget from one of the many draws, and try to figure out "what the heck it this."  She has to remember, while I guess.  Anyone ever seen a 1940 ice smasher?"

Saturday was a fun day.  I drove to Ipswich, MA for a much over due visit and lunch with my friend Olga, another Sewing Guild sewing friend.   She lives alone, and still drives her car!  Her neighborhood is having a yard sale this weekend, and recruited me to haul items from her basement, and set up shop in the garage because it was time to empty out the basement.  It’s amazing what this elegant lady collected.  We arranged sewing books, kitchen items fit for an antique shop, discovered her sister’s watercolors and paintings, we found items she had forgotten she even had. The biggest surprise was the box of ties: wide ties, narrow pencil ties, bright ones with flowers, and a few we decided no one would have eve worn.  The neighbor sale was Sunday, with great success with gorgeous sunshine.

It’s Sunday and my goal is Ithaca, New York to visit my cousin Kathy, my Dad’s sister’s daughter.  She works in the large animal hospital at Cornell University Veterinary College,  where my Dad graduated. It was while visiting Kathy at Cornell, I wonder into the Feline Library and researched Alzheimer’s in animals.  Yes, animals do get Alzheimer’s and Dementia and Cornell is one of the colleges doing research along with the Baker Institute.


Visiting Kathy is always a treat.  She and I enjoy going through old family albums, figuring who is who, what is where, and reminiscing about the great fun we all use to have.  Kathy is a great one for this, she and Dad use to spend hours going through the old albums.

Our great grandfather Bee invented the flying mail box.  Extending a pole out the second floor window, he hooked a string to his mail box, and using a pulley system the mail box would fly through the air landing where the mailman would insert the mail.  Not only did he pull in his mail, occasionally a neighbor would send up some tobacco.

My great grandfather Bee invented the flying mail box.  Extending a pole out the second floor window, he hooked a string to his mail box, and using a pulley system the mail box would fly through the air landing where the mailman would insert the mail.  Not only did he pull in his mail, occasionally a neighbor would send up some tobacco.
One of the "fun-iest" stops this early morning was coffee with Rick Fiacco at his original 1954 Tastee Freeze stand in Owego, NY. This delightful place will bring back your Tastee Freeze memories, car hop girls, and the jitter-bug while you sip great coffee. While there check out his antiques, and decide if you want to rent one of his ice cream trucks for your next party, or just spend the afternoon playing miniature golf.  Maybe visit the 50's style gas station with an old pump. Remember the phone both college kids tried to jam in 25 or more friends, you'll find it here. The professor in me makes this an A+ coffee stop!

Leaving Kathy in Ithaca and the great coffee in Owego, I hit the road and head for Blandon, Pennsylvania to visit my friend Danny, his wife Beth and daughter Kelly.  This destination takes me over Pennsylvanian's  rolling hills, past scenic rivers, and through coal mining country.

Then it’s off to Alexandria, Virginia and an overnight with my cousin, John.  It was such fun.  To my surprise he had arranged dinner with my cousin Sheila, and his adorable son, Nicholas.  Nicholas is twelve, and programmed my MP3 Player.  Oh, to have a twelve year old to figure those things out!   I am going to name our dinner conservation Traveling Down Memory Lane.  When we were little, all the aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents on my Mom’s side of the family would get together in Windsor, Vermont for a family reunion every summer.

Nana and Grampy lived in such a small house and eighteen bodies slept in the three bedroom house with one bathroom!  Such fun we all had!

Leaving these memories behind I was off to Atlanta.

Happy Travels