Posted in 2020, Aging, Challenge, kathy70, Quarantine, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing, Yes

Challenge #42 Mission Statement

This challenge comes from a small writing group.  We have a large series of random questions that we answer and share.  The goal is to answer at least one per week.  My personal goal is to do this for one full year.

Question:

Outline a “mission statement” for your life.

My Mission Statement

At one point in my life, when I was in a stable well-paying position,  I joked that I wanted to live long enough to be a “burden on society.”  In my reality, this did become my mission statement.

Part of the reason for this truth is my own fault. I was never a competitive or driven person for most of my life I just rolled with the flow and never needed to make long term plans. For a very brief time in my life things were on an upward trajectory and it looked like I would wind up as a complete and solid person.  Sadly that was not to be.

I grew up in a poor house and never learned the benefits of saving money or developed the tools to be able to do that.  No idea of disposable income versus savings versus retirement.  My grandparents were always retired in my lifetime and money was never talked about, but they seemed to be fine.  My mother did not work outside the home until I was a teen and then it was part-time.  In high school I worked part-time and saved the $100.00 needed to go on my senior class trip and didn’t save for anything after that.

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Junior College after high school didn’t require much money and my job more than paid for all of that.  Within a year I decided to quit school and worked full time, lived at home and only took public transportation.  Had a great wedding on the cheap.  Fast forward three kids and 1 divorce later with no savings or pension on the horizon.

At times I worked 3 jobs just to make ends meet and saving was not a possibility.  The company I was working for was hit bad by the recession and my job was eliminated.  First time ever on unemployement.  Back to college for the third time and I found a great position that I loved but did not pay well.  Then 9/11 happened.  My small pension and 401k were hit very bad and I lost my job again.

At my age it was almost impossible to find a position and wound up working at a big box store for minimum wage and part time only.  So with all this happening close to my retirement my Social Security is tiny and it’s very hard to understand the system.

Help, I really am a “burden to society”.

Posted in 2020, Airplane, Challenge, kathy70, Quarantine, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing, Yes

Challenge # 37 1/2 Continued

This is the 2nd half of my blog about cravings and that was all centered on food cravings, I also have nonfood cravings.  The first that comes to my mind is  solitude.  I don’t think of myself as a writer, I have always thought of myself as a creative person and a craft person.  I like to write when no one is around to distract or disturb.  My crafting is just the opposite, a former Girl Scout leader, Sunday School teacher and room parent I used crafting with all.  I have also over the years taught many crafts in a variety of settings.

For a number of years I have worked directly with the public in telephone sales,  customer service and direct sales.  All of these required one on one contact with the general public, while trying to achieve what they needed along with my companies requirements or quotas.  Some of these positions required a solid seven  to eight hours of customer contact.  That’s a lot of talking!!  Some required a certain volume or dollar quota of calls handled each day.  All I wanted at the end of the day was “no talking.”

To this day, if I have a busy week, I need a day with no requirements.  A day for my writing or reading or watching TV or some solitary craft project.  I can feel myself getting testy or short with others after a little bit.  It does not make me feel lonely or abandoned or isolated if I don’t talk to people for a day, it revitalizes me.  I can also feel this as much as a physical craving for a certain food.

Another thing that I crave is travel both near and far.  This year is going to be tough with all the restrictions.  I have easily agreed  to a trip to a nearby by town I used to live in as a quick diversion to classify as my current travel.  It saddens me to think the I will not travel outside the US at all this year and no idea how soon into next year things will open up.

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Take a look at your schedule or menu or closet or storage and see if you have any cravings that surprise you.

Posted in 2020, 99 words, Germany, humor, kathy70, Quarantine, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing, Yes

Spam Is Not Just For Eating

This is my submission for this week in the 99 word challenge.  This week the prompt was  Monreal Dorf which is the name used by someone trying to enter spam sites in the regular submissions from everyone else. Monreal is the name of a small town in Germany also the name of a soccer player and a line of clothing.  Dorf is the German word for town and is the name of a region in Switzerland.  It’s also a name used by Tim Conway in a comedy bit. 

 

Had she missed the opportunity to go jump in the lake?  Would they ever invite her again?  Living in this hamlet in Germany I knew or was related to all of these people but  removed emotionally.

Could the village you are named for turn on you when you try so hard to compete. The water may have refreshed but I have only submitted 324 versions of our stories. They must understand I only create spam to help. Pandemics may come and go but  our “art” will survive.  Monreal Dorf will revitalize this village when her dreadful spam is known worldwide.

Posted in 2020, kathy70, Quarantine, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing, Yes

is racism now a pissing contest

how did you get here?  how did i get here?  can we be here together?  are we better together?  can we ignore our past? will we ever move forward?  does my like have to become your hate? how can i stop hurting?  is there a way i can help? do you want my help? i want to apologize.  will you ever accept me?  how do we show we are different?  can i just get a good night of sleep?

This is a small corner of my brain right now.  I am not sure I will ever recover from this trauma playing out in the world, I am not sure I should recover or can.  The killer illness was a drop in the bucket of our own manufactured disease.  Thankfully the curtain has been pulled back and some of us are really looking at ourselves.  What the heck is she talking about???

My fervent hope is that we never stop talking about the current events in the world and our part in this.  Sunday Morning had an interview with the grandson of Teddy Roosevelt and he said yes that statue of my grandfather should come down.  Should we cry out over a flawed history that has been spoon fed to all.  I worked with a woman who told me in her high school if you put down on a test that the South lost the war you failed that class.  Should this be allowed to survive or shoved behind the curtain again or ripped out by the roots and tossed on the rubbish heap.  Never. But. Yes.   Can we talk about this, show the flaws, let each voice be heard but not louder than any other.  True explanations not whispers help us.  We must admit that if we have not been on the receiving end, we must have been on the giving end.

This has been a learning time for me, a time of loss, a time of exploration, a time to reprogram my brain.  Like everyone else.  I need to stop the noise in my head, I can’t wait to spend time with people outside my tiny sphere, I am craving travel to new places.  I would love to never hear about how slavery is no longer so let’s just get over it or my families slavery was worse than your families.  My poverty is poorer than your poverty.  One thing that can’t ever be erased is that most forms of racism are based on an external thing that gives no indication of the person inside.  Yes, sometimes it’s not that blatant, but more than any other type it is blatant.  All I have to do is look at your skin or your eyes or your hair or clothing or address or church and my opinion is already formed.  Now is the time for my primal yell to the heavens. Let’s make this stop.  It is time to cut off the head of this monster.

 

Posted in 2020, Aging, Anchorage, Challenge, kathy70, Quarantine, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing, Yes

Challenge# 33 Mountain Climbing

This challenge comes from a small writing group.  We have a large series of random questions that we answer and share.  The group goal is to do at least one per week.

Question:

Have you ever thought about climbing a mountain?  What do you hope to gain by this accomplishment?  If you have climbed one, describe the experience in detail.

Me???  Mountain Climbing???

Never in a million years would I have ever considered climbing a mountain at the top of my list of achievements or goals or bucket list items.  Due to this writing challenge, I think it has just been put on my bucket list.

My mountain of choice is Flattop Mountain just outside of Anchorage, Alaska.  This is one of the most climbed mountains in Alaska.  It is easily a one day event and it is 1.5 miles high and 1350 vertical feet high.  There is a shuttle service that goes from downtown Anchorage to the mountain.  The suggested time is 1 1/2 to 2 hours for the trip up and down the mountain.Flattop-Mountain-Trail-04

When I lived in Anchorage several years ago I was in flabby physical shape.  Working a hard physical job toughened me up and I started walking a bunch more than ever.  Since I came back, off and on I kept with it.  This year I really became more serious about staying in shape and easily walk over 3 miles in a day and do that several times a week.

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A few of the people I worked with took the trip to the mountain with small children and made that hike.  My grandson when he visited there made the trip to the top.  Next trip to Alaska this is first thing added to my schedule.

Only goal is to say I have done it.  I have hiked to the top of some mountains in the Blue Ridge range and the Appalachian range, but never really more than getting off the road and hiking the short distance to the top.  I don’t think they really count for this.

I love a bucket list add on as much as I love something checked off the list.

Posted in 2020, Chicago, kathy70, Quarantine, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing, Yes

Gigantic Leaves

Earlier this year I was able to visit a conservatory before it was closed with everything else that was an open public place.  This is one of the many gems the city of Chicago offers to all and it is free to visit.  Many gloomy days have been spent by students from nearby schools sitting in a quiet space reading in the green welcoming space.  The Lincoln Park Conservatory  has a number of different rooms that house a variety of plants and a lot of quiet seating areas to enjoy.

Once you go through the entry area you are engulfed in a forest of palms and greenery that transports you to a tropical place.  This was where I focused on this current set of photos.  I am not a tall person, five foot nothing is how I usually describe myself so these plants truly tower over me.  My fascination was with the huge leaves on some of these plants.

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In many cases, these leaves were longer than I was tall and I could have easily been completely hidden behind one leaf.  This greenhouse area occasionally has plants that brush the roof towering overhead.  I did not document the names of each plant which are on small signs in the ground by each plant.  I was simply swept away by the leaves.

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Next time, once it is able to reopen, you have a couple of hours to spend consider this as a destination.  My family always included a stop here before we went downtown to look at the Christmas window displays.  Something fun about going from the tropical heat to the usually cold frosty display in the city, this made our standing in front of a window in the cold seem not so cold.  Also a great place to sit in a quiet room filled with plants and read or just absorb the energy.

Posted in 2020, Airplane, Challenge, humor, kathy70, Quarantine, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing, Yes

Challenge #31 Adrenaline Rush?

This challenge comes from a small writing group.  We have a large series of random questions that we answer ans share.  The goal is to answer at least one per week.
(My personal goal in addition to this is to try and complete one each week for one year.)

Question:

What do you do for an adrenaline rush?

scary

My first thought is, I am old, I don’t do adrenaline, so I begin with my research, maybe I do this in another way.  Right now with the Covid 19  lock down all over the world I think most about getting back to travel and think maybe that is my adrenaline rush.  It could be.

What I learned about adrenaline in a nutshell.  It can, decrease the ability to feel pain, increase your strength temporarily and sharpen your mental focus which will allow you to think quickly and form a clear plan of escape.  Not much chance of that, this pandemic has hit all regions of the world. (Sad face here.)

Some adrenaline rush activities to do, commit to achieving a lingering goal by a deadline like hitting a target weight or stop smoking or write a short article once a week for a year.  Bingo.  I had no idea you are my adrenaline rush.

Some other things that are considered an adrenaline rush are not life threatening like being first on the dance floor.  Make a speech in a public forum where you don’t know your audience, sing karaoke at the top of your lungs,  watching a horror movie, bungee jumping or sign up for surfing lessons.

I think today’s lesson is that I am an adrenaline junkie and never knew it.  Yes, on occasion I have done public speaking where I knew no one in the room, far too many times I was the first one on the dance floor with my white girl dancing.  I did  indoor sky diving and zip lining and loved every minute of both.  I have also moved to new places with no safety net and not really an overall plan.  Not a big fan of horror movies and have always proclaimed that I never could be drunk enough to do karaoke singing. So while I have not been in a lot of life threatening situations I do enjoy my short bits of travel, I can hardly wait to get on an airplane again going to a new city or country. My heart rate it increasing just thinking about it.

 

Posted in 2020, Challenge, Chicago, humor, kathy70, Quarantine, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing, Yes

Challenge #30 My Staycation

This challenge comes from a small writing group.  we have a large series of random questions that we answer and share.  The goal is to answer at least one per week.

Question:

Describe your perfect staycation.   Would you want to spend it alone or with someone?

My Staycation

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Most of us have lived the longest and perhaps scariest staycation and are all experts on the process now.  Or maybe not.  In my mind a vacation is mostly going away to some fun or exciting location that you go to every year or have never been to before. So a staycation is not going away and may not be fun.

I love to travel almost anywhere and am pleased with the level of diversity I have managed to get on vacations.  I don’t try to conquer all my fears at the same time or see 12 countries in 3 days, but I have been pretty lucky with some of the opportunities I have had.  Not so much when it comes to staying home,

Unlike the current situation I would not mind a staycation for 1 week.  Since I live near Chicago and it has more than enough to entertain and see, it would be easy to fill the days.  I had a bit of that earlier this year before we had to stay home for an extended time.

I am very good with doing this alone, but would be alright with have an friend or family member join for a day or so.  A trip to the zoo is always high on my list and that was one of my outings this year.  The city is also blessed with 2 conservatories and both are filled with beautiful plants and flowers all year long, that can easily take a day.  Next are museum’s to match almost anything you could want to see.

My choice for the next pandemic would be to be living in some place that is not super cold or super hot.  There were a number of days when it did not seem like a good thing to even go out of the house due to the cold or wet and gloomy.  The tough part was that zoos and museum’s were all closed down as well and we could only see them on virtual tours.  So I guess it really does not matter what the weather is like if I have to stay in for 9000 days. All in all I could easily take my next staycation in Chicago and probably will.

Posted in 2020, Aging, Food, kathy70, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing, Yes

Rice Pudding

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To some of us, this is comfort food like macaroni and cheese or tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich or even the Sunday pot roast.  It takes me back to my childhood and I’m on a family trip.  We stop at a diner for lunch and after my cheeseburger I ask for rice pudding with whipped cream on top.  Not something made at home but relished as we traveled.  Maybe that’s why I love both.

When I looked up rice pudding, I was surprised to find that it is literally served all around the world.  Asia, Latin America, Europe, US, Caribbean, North Africa, Canada are only some of the places it is enjoyed.  Flavors and spices and kinds of rice used vary everywhere.  The liquid used and the kind of sweetener, or not, also vary around the world.

I came across a recipe that seemed fairly easy and most diners no longer carry rice pudding, so why not try.  I am obsessed with arborio rice and have been known to make risotto four times in one week just for myself, so how bad could pudding be with the same rice?

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup of arborio rice
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla or variation of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 2 egg yolks

Pour milk, sugar and vanilla into a mid sized pot and bring to almost a boil.  Rinse off rice and put into small pot of boiling water, boil for 2 minutes then drain and add to milk mixture.  Continue cooking at a simmer for 30 to 35 minutes.  Remove from heat and add butter and egg yolk stirring constantly until fully incorporated.  Pour into a tray to cool off faster.  Serve warm or cool.

It turned out delicious and is now on my menu almost as often as risotto.

Here’s a few variations you may want to try.  Flavors, toppings and spices:  orange, lemon, rosewater, pistachio, almond, raisin, walnut, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon or ginger.  These can be added to the mixture or sprinkled on top.  As a child it was cinnamon and whipped cream on top, today it changes constantly.

 

Posted in 2020, Chicago, kathy70, Quarantine, Travel, Uncategorized, Wisconsin, Writing, Yes

Shedd Aquarium

Two of the aquarium entrances.

J.G. Shedd wanted to give the city of Chicago a gift and wanted it to be the best of all the major cities in Europe and the United States that had aquariums. He donated the money and selected the architects and the project began in the 1920’s for educational and scientific purposes. However he never saw it open as he passed away before the project was complete.

He came to Chicago as a young man from New England and started as a stock boy in the company that would become Marshall Field & Company and became the president of the company.  His business colleagues became the board of directors and carried out his vision for this project. This is now part of the Museum Campus on the Chicago Lakefront and welcomes millions of visitors from all over the world.

The aquarium has grown and evolved over the years to educate and inspire people about conservation and protection of the Earth’s water systems.  Today with the quarantine due to Covid-19, the penguins are helping in advertising reminding us all how to stay safe.

The aquarium houses fish and plants from all over the world in very natural settings.  It also contains information and species from the mid-west as a part of the ongoing educational programs.  The day I visited (before the quarantine) they had exhibits set up where you could touch the back of a sturgeon as they swam in the water. Also another area where you touched a very large starfish.

 

While this was not my first trip here, as in the past, I saw new things and learned more about what the Shedd is doing to educate us about how fragile the natural resources in the world are.  When you visit I hope you leave understanding a little bit more about what we can do to protect the natural world.

This is currently closed to all visitors but they have online resources available to all.  I am only sharing a few photos from this visit and will have more information and photos to follow.  When travel returns this is a great location to add to your list of places to visit for travelers of all ages.