sixtiestosixties

I was something in the 60s but now I'm just sixty something.

Giving Thanks

Let’s Talk Turkey

Thanksgiving is upon us once again. I look around, and like many of us, I get enraged at things such as politics, General Betray us  Petraeus, my diminishing retirement account, and the San Diego Chargers. I hear myself grumbling,”What the hell is there to be thankful for?” Then from somewhere a Sunday school voice pops into my head and whispers to me to count my blessings. I know there are many things I have to be thankful for. But the Litany of Thanksgiving is rather obvious and overdone and can make you feel guilty and like an ingrate. I think this year we should all look beyond the usual. Sometimes it really is the little things in life that bring us the most joy and gratitude.

Here are some of the things I am thankful for this Thanksgiving:

1. Chocovine. I mean red wine and chocolate all in one? Can it get any better than this?

2. My son lives in town and has two dogs. Now I don’t have to get one.

3. Despite my gym being closed for repairs for the last 6 weeks my pants still (barely) fit.

4. I am in no way related to the Kardashians.

5. I am still able to lift the turkey in and out of the oven by myself.

6. Skype. My grandchildren live over 7,000 miles away. Yes, that’s 7 thousand miles. Now if the technology gods could just come up with a way to beam them up from ” down under”.

7. Despite our dismal economy and the phenomenon of a generation of workers being forced to hit the reset button over and over my three kids are finally all happily employed at the same time.

8. Blogging. I can actually write and be read without having to have an editor. There are no rejection letters. OK, so there’s no money either but I get to hit “publish” all by myself. That’s POWER!!!

9. I don’t eat Twinkies.

10. The gift of laughter. It is the  simplest and most useful of life skills and I could not survive without it.

Think outside the turkey this year. What are some of the little things you are thankful for?

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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Seasonal Affective Disorder and Growing Fur

I am fighting my annual war of avoiding pseudo hibernation. If you have never pseudo hibernated it involves a lot of sleep, TV and carbs. Wine can also play a part in this but given the length of the evenings this time of year it can be difficult to manage. I hate how short the days are now. I am one of those people who is extremely sensitive to daylight (or lack thereof). I just want to eat, sleep, and grow fur (although I am pretty sure PETA would object to this.) While some people love to go outside and take in the crispness of fall I just go to the refrigerator and take in what’s in the crisper. And since I don’t actually have fur to thicken, my waistline thickens instead. Basically, autumn just makes me hungry. And SAD.

Kicking up the exercise a notch usually helps with this. But to make matters worse, there was a construction “oops” involving water pipes in the building where my gym is located. So far the gym has been closed for a month. (So have the mouths of all the parties involved in this mess. I wonder how many lawyers are going to Disney World on this one? ) I have been unduly upset about this. I had just splurged on a very expensive gym outfit as a motivational tactic to prepare for the challenge of changing the clocks back.  Now I am all dressed up with no place to go. Maybe I’ll wear it to happy hour instead. My friend Michelle (name changed to protect the guilty) told me her butt has fallen two inches as a result of not having access to her favorite exercise machines. I had not even considered my butt!  She made me realize that with the gym closed and all that I eat at this time of year I am in big trouble. So now I have been trying hard to avoid three-way mirrors. Unfortunately, this eliminates shopping, which, like exercise,  I find to be an excellent adjunct therapy  for Seasonal Affective Disorder.

I was taking out the garbage the other night and could hear the musical notes of  “Retreat”  drifting over from the navy base as they were lowering the flag for the evening. I went into shock. It wasn’t even five o’clock! I wanted to scream, “Stop,you can’t do this yet! It’s too early to be getting dark!” I had just been considering hopping on my bike to pedal over to the store for some sour cream to blob onto the giant carb laden potato I was planning to bake for dinner. The bugle made me realized I might be too late. And sour cream had sounded so soothing. Frantically I looked around. The shadows were rolling across the yard just like the fog does. I ran into the house and turned on the outdoor party lights in an attempt to chase away the fast approaching night in what seemed to me should have been late afternoon. All they provided were a few twinkles. My glorious, life sustaining  sunshine was gone.

Sadly, I groped my way into the darkened kitchen and found the light switch. I poured a (big) glass of wine, put the potato in the oven and plopped down on the couch with the remote and a big faux fur throw. I felt defeated. I had lost the day. I know my brain will adjust to this cruel trick of nature. It does every year. In the meantime I will finish off the Halloween candy. Chocolate works wonders.

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Elections and TV Coverage

The public peacekeeper.

Have you noticed that most public places that blare TV at you are no longer tuned to news programs but to ESPN? It’s a matter of security. I feel certain this is to avoid fistfights. It’s an unwritten policy at my gym not to have any news networks tuned in as the owner has had to eject grown men from the premises for throwing punches at each other during a news show. I noticed ESPN was even on in the airports and hotels when I was traveling the last couple of weeks. It is, after all, an election year and the closer it gets to Nov.6 the angrier people are getting. Now there is even arguing about whether given the choice you would vote for Romney’s Irish Setter or Obama’s Portuguese Water Dog. What the hell is wrong with people? Don’t they know both of these breeds are fairly stupid dogs and we would all be better off with a German Shepherd? There’s a clue here.

A far better choice.

ESPN is winning the public space ratings primarily because news stations aren’t really news stations anymore. They are loud, obnoxious mouth pieces for political parties and we all know which ideology controls which stations. It is human nature that people only want to listen to their chosen pack of lies and want nothing to do with the lies of their opposition. We want our lies validated, not challenged. Thus, must of us only want to hear from our chosen “news” station. The thing is, if it were really news the stations would all be reporting pretty much the same “facts”. (Remember Huntley-Brinkley and Walter Cronkite?) Instead, today’s news shows all but incite riots. I personally don’t want to hear any of the political pundits shouting across the airwaves because I think they are all a bunch of asses but it doesn’t take long for ESPN to bore me. (Also,as far as sports go,  I am a Charger fan and just like the politicians they start off the game with big promise then fail to deliver in the end. I’m not sure how much longer my  TV can survive without a shoe going through it.)

On the news shows we have to hear the spin doctors trying  to make a bunch of stupid, immoral, politicians look good.  On ESPN we have to listen to the spin doctors trying to make a bunch of stupid, immoral sports figures look good. Do Americans really swallow this stuff? It scares me to think so. I think most of us would agree that the vast majority of sports stars are majorly sleazy but as long as they win we don’t care. So the sports talk shows provoke fewer fights. Unless of course there is an actual game on in which case public venues are better off turning to the Food Channel because this is obese America and we all like to eat. And we are able to have civil discourse on which fatty, over salted foods are best for the country.

It’s even getting risky to watch the election coverage in the privacy of our own homes. At my house we make sure we are fortified with wine before the debates start. Then we start yelling at the TV. Fortunately for us we are pretty much on the same page politically. Basically, we think they are all morons. But in many homes family members are having intense, ugly battles over this stuff. (Fox News and CNN are probably the real reason Arnold and Maria broke up.) I often wonder how my in-laws would have fared in this political climate if they were still living. My mother-in-law was a die-hard Democrat her whole life and my father-in-law was a staunch Republican. They watched and listened to all the news available in the old days and read two daily papers front to back. They passionately argued politics for 66 years. But they did it with respect and conceded points to each other. Maybe we would all do well to take a page from their book. Until we do I’ll just keep ordering wine by the case.

The candidates? The news team?

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Leaving on a Prop Plane

Just three planes and I”m home!

I just had the joy of flying across the country and back in one of America’s luxurious airliners. I needed to travel to a small airport which has limited service but an abundance of fog. This meant multiple legs on the trip and an extra hour of circling the runway at midnight in a really loud prop jet hoping the fog would lift so as not to have to land 90 miles away and board a bus. This kind of stuff can’t really be helped so although it’s added misery I made up my mind to just grin and bare it.

But we all know air travel could be improved.

I’m not going to run on with the usual gripes about the airlines: the way we are crammed in, the lack of food and drink, and the surliness of so many flight attendants. You know what the problems are. I am used to bringing my own food and plenty of water because I can count on the airlines not to offer me any. Three ounces of water is not sufficient to ward off dehydration on a five and a half hour flight.  I don’t mind bringing my own but I figure they could at least come by with the trash bag. Most of the time I see the attendants sitting in their little service area eating their own lunch. I hate to interrupt them by handing them my trash but there really is no room to keep it in the seat pocket. That space is already taken by my knees.

Neither am I going to say much about the TSA although I can’t understand how you can get through security quicker at LAX than at an airport that has four outbound flights a day. In such a small airport the TSA doesn’t really have much to do so they go through everyone’s luggage right as it’s checked. Helps with the boredom. I really don’t like people perusing my dirty laundry (literally or metaphorically). And I absolutely hate it when I have to stand there and watch. I prefer to be humiliated anonymously. Do I need someone to judge my underwear?

The real problem though, as I see it, is the other travelers. Rudeness rules the day. So does poor hygiene. People are just nasty these days in all possible ways. And animals? I love animals and have sat near dogs many times. They are usually better behaved than their owners. But I draw the line at having to smell cat pee for five hours. The smell of cat pee is exactly why I don’t have a cat. This was the first time I ever saw a cat on a plane and I hope I never have to smell see one again.

And what don’t people get about “a small personal item”? This does not mean a backpack that would be a challenge for a marine to carry. Or one that bounces off the heads of everyone already seated on its’ way down the aisle. And yes, shopping bags count. Not really a carry on?  Yeah, right. It’s packed with more stuff than checked baggage. What useless stuff are all these people buying on vacation? Planes are SMALL folks. Really small. And no one is that special.

Did anyone learn anything on “Watch Mr. Wizard”? If not, here’s a science lesson for you: gas expands at high altitudes. If you have a sealed bag of something like chips or crackers you will notice the bag will blow up full and tight. You can pop it like a balloon. The gas in your stomach expands too. But unlike the sealed bag there is a way out for intestinal gas subjecting all aboard to recycled farts for hours on end. That little air blower over your head doesn’t get any new air once those doors are closed in preparation for take off. So everybody keep on bringing those fast food fries and onions on board so we can all breathe them in both before and after they are consumed. The smells blend in nicely with the germs from all the coughing and sneezing. Best to pack something to hold over your nose and get a flu shot.

Who do the airlines think they are kidding when they say “sit back, relax, and enjoy the trip”? It actually pisses me off to hear that. Just hurry up and come by with the beverage cart. Then I can buy some alcohol to get through the whole ordeal.

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Funeral

Laughing all the way.

” Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.”

~ George Bernard Shaw

Now that I have made it to the other side of a cluster of funerals, I can draw a deep breath, dry my eyes, and see that people plan funerals with the same personal flair they plan any other event in their life. For example, my mother-in-law’s idea of a dinner party was to serve cocktails made of lemonade and cheap whiskey and boil up some meat. I never could understand this bland streak in her as she was a very talented artist and knew how to put verve in a painting. Never the less, she buried her dearly departed husband in a nice shade of beige. His face so matched his jacket I had to do a double take to see if he had been dressed at all. Her plan was to give him the same type of Catholic service she took comfort in her whole life. A mass with the right prayers, the right eulogy, the right decorum… the right rites. Something in perfect control. What she did not plan on was the homeless man who wandered in out of the rain, sat right next to the family, and began to join in the responses and sing off-key. The church funeral committee was flustered. The priest looked nervous. My Alzheimer stricken mother-in-law was terrified. And I was choking back laughter at the whole bizarre scene. Nobody knew what to do with him. I just figured we should let him be. It was a church after all and as they say “WWJD”?

A few months later when my dad died, he had picked out everything and pre-payed his bill. I don’t want to say my dad had no taste but he did have a tendency to gravitate to the tacky side. So when the funeral parlor brought in his casket, in my highly emotional state, I blurted out ,”Look, he blinged out his coffin just like his Cadillacs.” Really, it had way too much detailing. Fortunately, not many people had arrived. This was, after all, retirement Florida and I could have offended a number of people who had gone for the same upgrades on their cars and caskets. And speaking of funerals in Florida, the people come dressed in their golf clothes so they won’t miss their round for the day. You never know, it could be the last one. Some of the gentlemen were wearing the same outlandishly styled plaid pants they wore to my mother’s funeral some 17 years earlier. I wonder what their caskets will look like?

My mother-in-law had been planning her own funeral for years. She had written down all the things she wanted to be buried with as if she were an ancient Egyptian. Her’s was to be a Catholic mass…the higher the better. Her eyes sparkled in spiritual ecstasy when she talked about it. (We did not call her St. Dorothy for nothing). I know she envisioned a church full of mourners. But she outlived everybody. Including the people she knew from church. So what she got was a deacon darting into the funeral parlor to say a few words. Apparently, if you outlive your tithe you don’t warrant a mass. I kept expecting her to jump up and tell us we were all going to hell for treating our beloved mother so badly by not having communion. We were maybe a dozen strong for the actual “mc service”.  We did have a woman show up like she was going to a Victorian funeral. Saint Dot would have approved of her attire. The woman was dressed in black from head to toe including a veiled hat and gloves. Really creepy. She went on and on about how she used to go to my mother-in-law’s art shows. I was thinking, “That’s nice but who the hell are you?”

There have been other humorous moments in the midst of extreme sadness. We snickered at Uncle Pete, who at 96, was buried without his teeth which was appropriate because he wouldn’t wear them when he was alive either. My daughter-in-law’s father, who was a great kidder in his 50 years, found a way to play one last joke. When a snake crawled out of a floral arrangement in the middle of his funeral everybody figured it had to be his doing. And even at my precious nephew’s funeral, who died way too young at 27, we laughed at his antics as they were recounted by his many friends.

So how about you? Have you ever laughed at a funeral? Were people appalled? Or did they laugh with you?

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Customer Service

Do you see a package here?

I’m so glad big companies did away with their outsourced call centers. You know, the ones where we couldn’t understand what anyone was saying. Things are so much better now that nobody at all is working in customer service. At least the automated voice doesn’t hold it against me when I tell her to bite me.

I ordered a replacement water filter for my refrigerator and after being assured it was in stock I chose to pay extra for a quick delivery. When it hadn’t arrived in two and a half weeks I decided I should call the appliance company back and check on my order. I began this ordeal with an attitude of patience because if I spent time doing this I could put off something I wanted to do even less. There was the usual “push 1”, “push 2”, “your call is important to us” bullshit. If they really thought it was that important they would actually pick up my call. Their real strategy is to make you give up and hang up. When I finally got through to someone she assured me that according to the tracking number my water filter had been delivered. Wrong! I know it never landed on my doorstep. I paid for three-day delivery and was watching for it. I know what time the truck comes down our street. I was home that day at the exact time of said delivery. The appliance company told me that since they had received confirmation of the delivery it was up to me to deal with the delivery service.

Next I called the delivery company’s 800 number whose mechanical voice gives you three options, none of which is to report you didn’t get your package. Neither is there an option for speaking to a real person. They did offer a list of local stores with addresses and store hours. This might have helped if I wanted to send something instead of receive something. Then I discovered if I waited around and pushed “1 for more information” I could get a phone number to a local store. I doubted the locals could help me but I figured they would know who could.

So I called one of the local stores and a real woman actually answered the phone! I asked her, in pressurized speech, before she could hang up or put me on hold, how I was supposed to report that I had never received a package that was recorded as delivered when the number you are supposed to call doesn’t allow for that. I concluded she must get this question frequently because she answered in an equally manic voice that if I were to press “0” four or five times at three-second intervals I would get an operator. Then she immediately hung up before I could thank her. Or ask her anything else. No one calling the 800 number could had uncovered this information simply by listening to the menu. Do they actually want customers?

So again, I call the 800 number for the delivery company but this time I am running out of patience because by now an hour has passed and I am beginning to think of all those things I hate to do that I could have gotten done in that time.

Then I found myself in conversation with a machine.

“Press 1 if you…,” the mechanical voice chirped.

“Bite me. I’m pressing 0,” I replied.

“Press 1 if you… ”

“F*** you. I’m pressing 0.

“Press ‘1’ if you…”

“Ha! You think I’m stupid? I’m pressing 0.

And so the conversation went until at last I got a real person. I explained my problem to the man and was then put on hold until I could to talk to “someone who could help me”. While holding I’m wondering what the first man was paid to do if he couldn’t help. At last the lone customer service worker in this multi-billion dollar shipping company cheerfully explained to me that the appliance company I ordered from was the account holder and they would have to initiate the tracer investigation for claim purposes. I bit my tongue until it bled because she was real and obviously overworked  and my mother taught me not to swear at people. Then I dialed back right where I started from.

In the meantime, there is a bright, blinking, annoying warning indicator on my refrigerator lighting up the kitchen at night. And although I have paid for a replacement part I have no idea when or if I’ll ever get it. Anyone want to place any bets?

Could it be here somewhere?

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Yeah! It’s Only Pneumonia!

I haven’t been writing in awhile. I have been sick which really pissed me off at the time because I never get what I call “sick’. I get weird conditions like Bell’s Palsy and Dupuytren’s contracture. I get things attributed to aging like high blood pressure and osteopenia. I trip in potholes and break bones in my feet. I avoid certain foods because I can’t handle them and on rare occasions I’ll get a stomach virus which I’ve decided after watching TV shows like Bar Rescue is more likely food poisoning. But I have not had a cold in over 5 years and the last time I had the flu I was in my 20s. So when I first found out I might have pneumonia I was really shocked. By the time it was confirmed I was grateful.

I was exhausted. My throat was sore, my head hurt and I felt clammy. I was really cranky but I couldn’t even complain because I had completely lost my voice. But I really wasn’t coughing much. So I figured I had a summer cold. I was “sick” like normal people. But when I went back into the gym after two weeks I felt like I had never worked out in my life. I had to take a nap when I finished. When I tried to return to Zumba I experienced chest pains and had to shamefully slink out of class before it was over. I thought I should have recovered. Something wasn’t right and my worry meter started to register.

Fortunately, I had a physical scheduled so I chugged on down to my doctor’s office (OK, I confess I sped down the freeway going for a new record but hey, this is California). I figured if there was something bad going on he’d find it. I was given all kinds of tests in exchange for giving all kinds of fluids. I was scrutinized and poked and prodded. I was scanned visually for skin cancers and digitally for bone density.

By the time I got back home there was a message on my answering machine from my doctor telling me that my chest X-ray showed a spot on my upper right lung, where he casually added, you don’t often see pneumonia. He said that he was a little concerned and wanted me to go have a CT scan. I was not so casual about the whole thing nor only a” little” concerned. I was convinced I had lung cancer and was going to die. Cause, remember, I don’t get the usual kind of sick. And my mother died of lung cancer. And I smoked in my 20s and grew up in a house with parents who puffed away. And I had been having some pain in my shoulder and Dr. Oz said on TV that could be a sign of lung cancer from a tumor pressing on a nerve. And I tend to be  what you might call a catastrophizer. This was more frightening for me than my trip a few years back  to the breast surgeon for a lump.  I was used to lumps and no one in my family had ever had breast cancer. That time I only thought I might be dying. This time I was sure.

I am thrilled to say, it was only pneumonia.So I dodged another bullet. Life does at times feel like a game of Russian roulette which at some point you’re going to lose. But I plan on living another 20 or 30 years and I’m going make them good ones. Anxiety does offer insights.

How have you been feeling?

Mother puffing away too.

Me puffing.

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Numbers

What’s the verdict this year?

Numbers are killing me. They are just getting too big. My age,blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight are all creeping up. The only thing that seems to be going down is my height. Great. Just the number I want to see drop. I’ve been looking into inversion tables. A medieval torture rack might work.

I have a physical next month so I need to start getting ready now. I’m trying to escape taking another medication that can possibly cause dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, loss of sexual function, heart attack, stroke, hallucinations, and/or death. Apparently, any or all of these potential side effects are good alternatives to a deviant number on a lab report. Just ask your doctor and watch him shrug.

I  figure I can shave a few points off my cholesterol if I don’t eat any red meat for a month. I tried this last year and I think it worked. My cholesterol was actually down from the previous year when my appointment came shortly after feasting for three days on my annual pot roast. I’m not the only believer in this pre-physical crash diet. I know a woman who takes on scheduling annual blood work for both her and her husband but she doesn’t tell him about the appointment until a couple of days ahead of time. Meanwhile, she does everything she can for a month to insure she has better numbers than him. And I thought my husband and I were competitive.

I also need to drop five pounds to avoid the evil eye from the nurse who weighs me in. Oh sure, she never says anything but I know what she’s thinking. She doesn’t care that I broke my foot this year and couldn’t walk for three months, or that they changed the schedule at my gym and I lost one of my Zumba days. She doesn’t care that I had a houseful of young people for an entire month who bought every type of American junk food they can’t get when they are at home in Australia. I was stocked with things like Fritos and Butterfingers, two of my personal favorites, which is exactly why I don’t keep them around!  The nurse just doesn’t care about any of my very legitimate reasons. She’s just thinking to herself ,”here’s another patient with a bunch of lame ass excuses for gaining weight.” She can be such a bitch.

I’m happy to say I think my blood pressure will be OK. I already take the medication that makes you pee a lot but I like that one because then my shoes always fit. I don’t want to have to take any of that other stuff though. Before you know it you are so plagued with side effects you don’t even know if there is really anything wrong with you. I’ve found the best way to keep my blood pressure down is to tune out all the political campaign bullshit. Political carping is a really good way to provoke a stroke.

There’s a lot of other numbers on my medical chart that are so cryptic I don’t know what they stand for. Maybe it’s better that way. I’ve already got a lot of work cut out for me. I’ve started by shopping for a new pair of gym pants and finishing off the last of the Fritos.

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Oh Me, Oh My, What a 4th of July!

Does your town do this?

A funny thing happened on the way to the San Diego Big Bay Boom fireworks on the 4th of July. They all went off at once five minutes before the scheduled beginning of the show. The newspapers referred to this as “premature ignition”. I’m not sure how the pyrotechnician feels about this term. Sounds to me like he has a problem and now the whole world knows about it.

Much can go wrong in a day and it can still remain near perfect. Independence Day in Coronado is like that. It’s a day out of a Normal Rockwell painting. Being a Navy town, it’s celebrated with extreme enthusiasm and nothing can really spoil it. The locals decorate more for the 4th than for Christmas and dress proudly (and often outlandishly) in red, white, and blue. Thousands of people cross the bridge to Coronado to participate in the festivities. We invited eight people and a couple of Chihuahuas to add to the fun and moved our cars to the street to reserve parking spaces.

Just for the record, it does rain in California. It rained on our parade. But not enough to dampen the town’s spirit. We still had our bands, horses, canine companions, and lots of military out marching in full regalia. And we had the garbage truck. I’m not sure I get the garbage truck being in the parade but it did have a great big American flag draped across the front. I wondered if it was just trying to get to the other end of town to pick up the dumpsters. You know, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”. Traffic can be a problem here .

Leave the car at home.

I’ve already made plans to make the 4th better next year. I think we should cook dinner instead of lunch so we won’t be in a food coma and miss the afternoon concert. I’ll make more deviled eggs and fewer ribs. I’ll do the “bike around the island” or the fun run or something that doesn’t involve eating and drinking. (Although I suspect some of those bikers had knocked back a few,) And I’m counting on San Diego to get it right with the fireworks.

In the end though, it won’t matter what I do. It will be a great day regardless. It isn’t about the parade, fireworks, or food. It isn’t even about the company. It’s about celebrating the privilege of living in America.

How did you wave your flag?

Sempir fi!

Pearl Harbor survivor and parade official.

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Roadtrips in Unairconditioned Chevys

Family vacations today are over the top. Parents now travel with their children to the Caribbean, ski in Aspen, tour Europe, cruise the world and fly toddlers in first class. Back in the 50s and early 60s we rarely had what people today would classify as a vacation. My family spent the better part of a week driving from New York to West Texas in an unairconditioned Chevy to visit my grandparents. My parents called it “going home”. This was real adventurous compared to the experiences of most of my peers in the northeast. At least I got to see herds of cattle and oil rigs pumping. My husband’s family drove fifty miles and pitched a tent.

Westward Ho!

I actually looked forward to these trips although it is hard to fathom why. The ride itself was tortuous for a child who could never sit still. My older brother got car sick so my mother pumped him full of Dramamine and he slept most of the way. I don’t know why she just didn’t dose me too. It would have been an act of compassion.

We took different routes over the years. None of them were actually good or fast but they did provide the chance to see a great deal of the country. As a child I plugged my nose at the stockyards of Chicago and oil refineries of Louisiana and Texas, crossed the mighty (yucky and muddy) Mississippi peppered with barges, and endured endless amber waves of grain. I got an early introduction to regional dialects and customs. (To my childish surprise colored drinking fountains did not contain colored water.) In the years that followed I would read about the places we passed through and was able to vividly recall how they looked and smelled.

We would start driving before daybreak and with any luck I would doze a little before we stopped later for breakfast. I always ordered pancakes and drowned them in syrup. I took advantage of this treat because we rarely had them at home. After stuffing myself to the point of sickness we would pile back in the car. My brother got more Dramamine and I bounced around and tried not to go crazy after my sugar overload.

There wasn’t much entertainment in the car. No video games or DVD player. Every once in awhile my brother would wake up and we would fight. Occasionally we could pick up a radio station. Rock and Roll was young but my parents preferred their generation’s big bands and crooners. Funny how much I hated it at the time but today I’ll hunt for Sinatra on Sirius in a rental car. Daddy liked country but it was really whiney in those days and thankfully Mother wouldn’t have it. She was a bit sensitive about her rural upbringing. She was fine revealing she was born in Dallas but never said much about those little Texas Electric substations in (almost but not quite) towns she grew up in.

We played the old license plate game. It was a lot more challenging in those days since people didn’t travel as much. For a real thrill there were the Burma Shave signs. We’d actually wake my brother up for those. Do you remember them?  Clever advertising since we can still remember the product. “Many a forest/Used to stand/Where a /Lighted match/Got out of hand./Burma Shave.”

You did say clean rooms didn’t you?

Most days on the road we would stop traveling around three or four in the afternoon. Hopefully, we could find a Holiday Inn close to the interstate. (Yes, there were some interstates in those days but nothing like today.) A Holiday Inn in those days was like the Waldorf-Astoria of the road. They advertised clean rooms (not necessarily a given), a swimming pool and TV. A pool and TV after hours in a hot car with nothing to do was heaven. My brother would wake up since his Dramamine would be wearing off. My parents, who always  traveled with a flask, poured a by then much-needed martini and I would race to the pool and dive in. Somewhere we’d find some dinner then we’d sleep and repeat. Finally after four days or so we’d at long last pull up to my grandparents house. We’d see both sets of grandparents and aunts and uncles. We’d play “Kick the Can” and “Red Rover” with my cousins. For some real excitement we’d swipe a watermelon from the neighbor’s patch and hide until he came running out waving a shotgun. After a few days of this we’d pile back in the Chevy, say our tearful goodbyes, and go back to pancakes and Dramamine until we got back home.

Did you have this much fun on your childhood vacations?

Destination resort.

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