The Prince and The Princess

So, we have been back from our Norway/Denmark vacation for four days.  The cat missed us as evidenced by her constant need to be attached to one of us at all times and if we leave the loft, just to put the trash down the incinerator, when we return she cries the most pathetic cry.  The laundry had to be done, suitcases put away, one personal carry-on item for each of us had to be gone through and items thrown away.  Work looms over us like the anticipation of that pesky eclipse.   Today “don’t look at the sun” was followed by “good luck going back to work tomorrow”.  I resisted the first part and spent much of the day looking at my feet while walking because my oppositional defiant behavior whispers in my ear “look up, look up at the sun” but I resisted.  Tomorrow the first day back to school will be filled with “did you look at the eclipse” and I will say “no, I was ill prepared and feared for my eyesight” and my colleagues will know that I rarely stay up for the last game of the World Series, I haven’t ever watched Downton Abbey and I don’t actually know what “Game of Thrones” is about.  I’m that person that doesn’t follow the crowd.

My FHB and I talk about our trip in glowing terms.  We bask in our memories and process the days and revisit the highlights.  And then there are the comments….real story:

Me: “Good night my Prince of Denmark”

FHB:  Goodnight my Norwegian Princess”

Me: “I think you called me a giant cruise ship”….I’m not feeling the love…

FHB: You are ridiculous

Vacation is over.   Familiarity bred contempt.  A momentary acknowledgement that life goes on, as it should.  We return to our respective corners of our world and responsibilities of our daily lives.  We work so the cat can have her food.  We take in the newspaper, we watch the news we missed while we were away,  instead having focused on glaciers, herring and people watching.  We met people from all over the world.  We dined with a family from Singapore, another family from California, a couple from Australia and a woman with the best fiery attitude from Delhi, India.  We met folks who were there to walk in the footsteps of their ancestral roots.  One elderly gentleman and dairy farmer from Wisconsin, who walked with a cane, and whose every step was clearly painful, travelled with two of his adult children to see the land his parents came from.  He said ” I have wished to see this land for such a long time and now I am here and complete”.  Each traveller had a reason to choose this trip, whether it was to find out more about themselves, or couples like us, who want to see the beauty of the land which will exist long after we are gone.  We could remain present and engaged in making memories.  For as many times as I lifted the camera to capture a picture, there were more times when the camera became a barrier between what I was seeing and what I was taking in. The best pictures were those I took to keep in my mind.  This was not a leisurely paced vacation. We were up at 6 a.m. and our luggage was put outside our door to be retrieved by 6:45.  We were on the bus within the hour and off to see the land and to listen to the stories of the history of Norway and the social culture and conscience of this country.  Much of how they live is based on all people truly having access to what they need (free health care and education) to live a good life.  The rules that the citizens follow make sense and everyone understands the rationale.  It seemed less emotional and more logical.  It seemed as the first cab driver we met when we arrived said to us “It’s going to be an overcast and rainy week ahead.  You will still see all the beauty of Norway and your enjoyment is only dampered by what you control. The weather is certainly not in any of our control. So we choose here to let the 99%  we have no control over not bother us.  ” We took those words to heart and saw past the rain and focused on the slivers of sunshine that teased us on some days.

We came home to the reality of disbelief and upended chaos.  I turn to literature and find the following line from Hamlet  ““Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet

And with those words…I wish you a good night. May the moon stay in orbit of the earth and the sun.

10,000 Words

The physical world has so much beauty. Travel away from our home, our culture and our comfort zone, allows us the opportunity to experience not only the breathtaking parts of our earth, but engages us in a dialogue with strangers who become acquaintances in a short time.  To share the experience of travel with others with a common goal of connecting through beautiful sights, makes a trip filled with depth and breadth on many levels.

Jet lag has been setting in.  We are home safe in the loft.  While we were gone, we were sheltered from the barrage of news from home.  There are a lot of thoughts swirling through my brain about the dichotomy of vacation versus real life.  Re-entry is a bit like getting caught in a storm with little to hang on to but your wits.

My FHB and I had the most spectacular adventures in Norway and Denmark.  So many things to share but for now, we are going to be quiet with our recent memories, to allow them to settle in and unpack them into  our mental files.  A picture is supposedly worth a thousand words.  I thought I would share ten of them to cover the best of what we saw.  Don’t worry, no home  movies will be found on the blog at any time in the near future.

Enjoy your weekend. See you back here on Monday with some details and funny moments.

 

Hei There!

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“To travel is to live”…Hans Christian Anderson

“Once a year go somewhere you’ve never been” …Dalai Lama

August is our travelling month.  This is the time of the year that we don’t necessarily go see anyone we know but rather get to know one another again through an adventure of our choosing, although some adventures choose us!  This year, after some medical ups and downs,  seemed like a great time to set sail, or airplane (not personal but rather commercial) and see what we can see.  About a month ago, or less than that, when I realized that time was approaching school daze, I asked my FHB where he would like to go. The question barely left my lovely lips (his words) and he said “Norway”.  Without missing a beat, I said “absolutely!”.  We had a limited window of opportunity to plan this trip but with a bit of finagling and faith in people who know travel, the plans were made and the itinerary set.  I learned quite a bit about the dynamic of setting a wishlist at the  last minute.  It is somewhat like watching the home renovation/buy a new mansion shows where the host asks the prospective client what they “must have” and then you watch as it unfolds into the what you can afford and what is realistic.  I actually think we were much more reasonable within our time constraints and the plan unfolded.  My only request, was that since Norway was really close to Denmark (about an inch away from Oslo to Copenhagen in my wonderful world atlas), that we could  go and see the Little Mermaid and the Tivoli Gardens.  And so among other places with names I have only seen as I pored over the maps and guidebooks, we will spend a few days in Copenhagen, after we visit the land of Thor Hyerdahl, Sonja Henie, and Roald Amundsen.  We will eat herring ad nauseum.  We will see the sunset later than we have ever experienced and I am told it never truly gets dark, but rather dusky.

I am trying to learn a few words in Norwegian and pack efficiently.  I have a feeling I will be better at one and not so good at the other.  The reality that we have our minds mostly intact, our spirits still strong, and our senses of humor which can carry us through customs and misadventures, makes me aware that there is a lot of world I want to see and now seems like the best time to start.  You can follow me on Instagram @bblueiris13.  I will possibly blog while we are travelling, but if not, please know that I will be back in touch with tales of Scandinavia @thoughtswhilewaitingfortheelevator/wordpress.

Have a great week.  God kveld!

 

 

 

Waiting Room

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Shut your eyes (metaphorically) and imagine hearing several voices…and you are hearing “Joey, I told you to sit down”,  “Brad, you don’t belong there…come over here!”,”Tanya, will you stop…how many times do I have to tell you!”  and other conversations…”So how old is she? She is adorable!”, “How do you get her to sit still..mine is always moving, moving!”.  Any guesses where I am….no I am not at the pediatrician’s office.  I am at the vet, with Paka for her annual exam.  I felt a little strange when the technician said to me “What kind of name is ‘Paka’?  I thought, she probably thinks that I am strange, since my cat’s name (which means cat in Swahili) is not a people name. She asked me if Paka was actually Parker.  Paahka…  that is how it would sound in Massachusetts with the Boston accent.  Go figure.

I love to people watch.  I love to people watch people with their pets.  The veterinarian waiting room is like a incubator for observations of dialogue and behaviors, and many one-sided conversations between the pet parents and their “offspring”.  It’s actually a much friendlier place than my primary care doctor’s waiting room. There’s a lot more eye contact.  I was absolutely fascinated by Brad (who was a pitbull….yeah…Brad the Pit) who couldn’t have cared less about what his mother was asking.  Lily the little white puff barked incessantly and every time her mother told her to quiet down, just barked in response.  It was beyond comical.  When we were finally taken into the exam room, Paka, who I believe was keeping her eyes shut so as to say “I hope this is all a bad dream”, seemed reluctant to come out of her carrying case.  The doctor, who I adore, always asks me the same litany of questions about Paka and her health (any vomiting?), her state of mind (so did she seem angry with you when she rode in the car, and was she particularly vocal?) and inquired whether she seemed bored.  I stated that she vomited when she ate kohlrabi leaves that morning, and that she was rather “indignant” when taken out of her home, and that in fact, she tempers her boredom with periods of long naps and bird watching out the loft windows.  He smiled at me with his amazing smile and seemed happy with my answers.  It’s always the same “dance” but I never mind.

Veterinarians are really special humans who have to develop relationships with both the pet parents and the pets.  They take care of your special friends from cradle to grave. When our twenty year old cat, Lucy, became more and more frail, and it seemed like it was her time to leave us, our vet was compassionate and patient and helped us let her go.  Our family will be forever grateful for his guidance and support.  I baked him cookies.

I am someone who has always loved animals, despite being bitten in the face by a nasty schnauzer named Sonny (Corleone) and scratched by a large gray cat named Molly.  Animals seem to have moved up the ranks from working animals, mousers and beasts of burden, to pampered creatures with people names.  The days of Fluffy and Duke seem behind us, along with people names like Bertha and Ike.  Mittens and King seem so yesterday.  Both my childhood cats were named Charlie (actually Charlie #1 was Charlene but we didn’t know that until the vet confirmed it).  My dog (who came with his name from the rescue, was also Charley (note the ‘Y’).  Personification makes these loving, doting creatures, rise in stature.  There’s a whole industry that is supporting pets. I just saw a television program in which a man was pitching wine for cats.  We have lost our minds for sure.  But when Paka comes and sits next to my FHB and watches television with him (especially the news) we feel comforted that it may be a dog -eat-dog world out there, but it’s a peaceable kingdom in the loft.

Missed Perceptions

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The expression “I was waiting at the airport when my ship came it” comes to mind.  The last Monday in July and I had a lot of places to go and subsequently a lot of time to channel my ADD (maybe ADD-H)  and consider all the things I didn’t do and whether opportunity knocked and I was in the basement and whether it really matters or is part of the big, gigantic plan from the universe.

If you take a good look at the railroad crossing, you will notice the gates(not sure if that is the technical term) are going up or going down. I am sure if you are a train person or have a trained eye (sorry), you can assess whether the train was on it’s way past or had already passed by.  Time is up.  The train had passed and I missed it.  I was looking forward to seeing it rolling along and counting the cars.  By the time I got to the point where I had to stop, I realized that I didn’t actually  know if it was coming or going.  Then, please follow this very circuitous train of thought…. (sorry about the puns …I must have taken an extra Vitamin B obnoxious), did it matter in my life, at that moment and would it matter.  I quickly determined that lots of things may present themselves at any given moment,  but we don’t necessarily avail ourselves of them.  When I was in middle school (which in New York City was called a junior high school) we had choices about which high school we might want to go to.  Several of the magnet high schools required an entrance exam.  I was allowed, by my parents, to take the exam for the High School of Music and Art, not to be confused with the High School for the Performing Arts (of “Fame”).  I applied for the Arts program and I was accepted.  It was not in a good neighborhood in Manhattan and bordered Harlem. It was the 1960s.  Someone was murdered in that neighborhood, shortly after I got the acceptance letter, and that dream was dashed.  My parents worried about the commute and rightfully so, I can say in retrospect and yet, maybe my “destiny” might have taken me on another path.  Oddly enough Paul Stanley of “KISS” would have been a classmate had I attended and then more oddly, Bruce Kulick another short term member of “KISS” was a classmate at the high school I ended up attending.  I didn’t really like the band so I guess it is of little consequence.

Ending up in Massachusetts has hardly been the end of anything.  It was the beginning of finding out what has unfolded after 41 years of moving out of “The City”.  It has all the components of a wonderful story with romances, successful and failed, parenthood,  and grandparenthood.  It encompasses learning what my curiosity about people would lead me to professionally.  It showed me how to move, and move again and then again, and how to pack up memories but discard the ones that I don’t need to dwell on.  It showed me how to forge new friendships, and to let go of others that did not endure.  It’s hardly a  “Tale of Two Cities” though it did have the best and worst of times.  It was about understanding being patient when a train goes by, because it wasn’t my train.

The end of the alone part of my day landed me at the beach at three in the afternoon.  I knew that as I arrived, people were packing up to head on their way.  I waited patiently for the stragglers to leave.  I was alone with the beach and a few seagulls.  I used to get angry at my parents for bringing us to the beach on Long Island late in the day, long after the concession stand closed, and long after the crowds had left.  By the time we got there, we missed the action, but the beach was deserted and it was ours as far as the eye could see.  I think they knew the secret of timing for the right reason.  The beach will be there long after we are gone. Nature, the equilizer, that calms even the most ADD of us.

Solo Mi (translation Only Me)

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Day 36 of my school break.  The summer months are somewhat like gas tanks.  The first half of the summer seems to go at a reasonable pace.  The second part seems much shorter and when you still think you have quite a bit of gas left, the gauge says you are just about at the quarter mark left.  Talking about cars and gas tanks and things to do on school vacation, makes me think that I had not planned to spend two of the days addressing flat-ish tires.  About two weeks ago, my sensor light came on.  Never a good thing. It’s not exactly a hello greeting from my car but rather a “Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!” which means I cannot just go blithely along in my travels.  I am now going to have to do something I am not in the mood to do.   When the sensor comes on, it is letting me know that the air pressure in one of four tires is low.  Just enough info to be annoying, since it doesn’t tell me any more specific information and visually, they all looked just fine to me.  I took the car to a place where air is not free and almost two dollars in coins later, I drove away, hopeful to have solved the problem.  No such luck as the sensor did not reset. In fact it looked brighter and seemed to be smirking at me.  I got my FHB involved and we found a place with  “free air” and filled the tires once again. This time the light stayed off, overnight. The next morning we went to our friendly tire place and lo and behold there was a screw used to hold bridges together in the tire.  We replaced the tire and all seemed well with our world.  A few days ago,  while driving to my office, on  a road that is under construction, that sensor light came on.  I pulled into the parking lot and a different tire seemed to be a bit low on air.  I made a pre-emptive call to the tire place and arranged to bring it in, the next morning.  I got up at the crack of dawn, since I was an “add-on” and drove myself to the tire place and was greeted warmly.  Of course, I saw dollar signs in the service manager’s eyes.  I brought a few books, a newpaper, my phone and watched the Today Show while I waited, and waited.  The technician appeared with a bolt he said was stuck in my tire.  Of course, it was.  Probably came out of the Frankenstein’s monster’s neck.  I think I saw him walking on the road I drove on.  Luckily, it could be plugged (the tire, not the neck).  I don’t drink coffee in tire places. I always think the cups smell like rubber.  That’s just me.

I made an executive decision to take myself to breakfast.  I knew exactly where I wanted to go.  I entered the restaurant which is a little gem in Fairhaven, the town across from New Bedford. The town with my favorite library.  I ordered a couple of Norwegian pancakes, sausages and good coffee. I had taken the window seat at a table pretty much suited for one with a view of the street.  I have had several periods of time in my life when I did things alone. I didn’t have a partner and I liked going to movies on my own, and finding sweet little places to dine, just me, myself and I.  I looked out the window and the morning light shone on a  young golden retriever across the street. He stood expectantly out the gate and gave low woofs to the passersby.  It’s a quiet town and in the early morning, there are a few people on bikes, and some folks walking toward the waterfront.  My food appeared, the coffee cup was refilled, I pulled out my copy of Men Without Women, by Murakami and held it close to me.  I took some breaths, smiled out the window at the dog,  and put a bite of sheer heaven in a pancake in my mouth.  Of the things I must do and the things I should do, this became something I delighted in doing.

“god appetitt”  (Norwegian).

Bee-utiful

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Do you notice the bee’s knees?  That was just an easy pun. Forgive me for I know exactly what I say.  I am not a fan of bees.  In fact, I am allergic to bees. I don’t distinguish between yellow jackets or honey bees or wasps or other garden variety of winged creatures that sting.  I remember my first two stings. The first took place about 39 years ago in October.  A bee was under my bedcovers and when I reached to pull the covers closer, it stuck its stinger into my hand.  Someone said it was probably drowsy and cold and just trying to keep warm.  I say it was an assault with a deadly weapon.  The second time was on a summer day while I was waiting for my sister to come and visit at a house I rented with the kids. I was minding my business and apparently I must have trespassed in a bee zone.  Since that time,  I have always been armed with an Epipen because the world is full of things I am allergic to, and forewarned is forearmed.

I know that bees offer us the path to honey and that they have a very distinguished place in our ecosystem and are very important to the balance in nature.  I also know that there are worries about the fragile balance and that bees are a species that we need to worry about.  I respect them for what they do.  I just am rather afraid of what they might do to me.  It just dawned on me that my name for myself as a grandmother is BeeBee.  This is what the grandgirls call me.  This is how I wish to be referred to.  Seems ironic, doesn’t it.

There are a lot of things in the world that don’t agree with me and result in some pretty significant allergic reactions.  There are a lot of things in the world that I don’t agree with  so there is that balance in nature.  I have learned to be very careful about not putting myself in harms way.  Asking questions about food preparation and reminding friends and family and cooks that I could ruin a great meal if someone slipped me a walnut or an apple or a peach without my knowledge (and the list is rather extensive), makes me feel a bit like a food allergen pariah or a dork.  My mother would often ask me, rather off the cuff  “are you still allergic to ……fill in the blank?”.  It just reinforces my concern that I have to have my own back since unintentionally it could be the end of life as I know it.

My FHB is pretty considerate of my food thing and yet, not that long ago said that he only wished that he could share a glass a wine with me as he does not like to open a bottle and know that it is something only he can drink.  Yes, I have a wine allergy.  Not quite sure what the allergen is, but it may be something called “sulfites”.  New Year’s Eve, 2006,  my FHB went so far as to go to a reputable wine store and ask whether there was something bubbly that we could share to celebrate the new year that was sulfite free.  He brought home something that the wine person touted as being the perfect drink to celebrate.  Within five minutes I took on the look of some type of alien with bulging eyes and red rings.  (I am not trying to discredit or acknowledge that aliens don’t have their place in the world).  However, it was not a good look and my FHB was rather horrified by both my appearance and inability to breath without an antihistimine STAT!  We have both moved on from that dream (nightmare).

There are far worse things than being allergic to an array of foods that I used to love.  It is certainly a romance gone bad.  There is still enough good stuff around for me to enjoy that I don’t want to whine about it.  Did I say wine?

Eat, drink and be wary.