I Survived my Alaska Adventure

Alaskan Adventure 2014 - Page 001Our Alaska Adventure is behind us and we did survive despite blowing my knee out the first day of our Land Tour to Denali.  I’ll delve into that a bit later.

For now I just wanted to pop in and admit that I failed miserably at my goal to write about the trip as we went.  The scenery was just too breathtaking to be in front of a tablet screen instead of taking in the beauty around me.  It was certainly a journey of a lifetime.  And the bonus of visiting our granddaughter in Anchorage was certainly worth the extra expense.  As we rendezvoused with her we  learned our way around Anchorage and the surrounding area.  Now when my husband tunes in to the Alaskan State Troopers, we know exactly where they are talking about.  It makes the show more interesting for me anyway. 

We’ll be sorting through the 4000+ pictures taken and I’ll be writing about our adventures as we sort.  Photos are great memory keepers, but I realize the importance of documenting with words and I’m looking forward to reliving our experiences. 




Let your Dreams Take Flight

FB Timeline Cover - Page 044

On my bucket list is visit all 50 states.  Not sure that I’ll make it to Hawaii, because I don’t think I could sit that long in a plane.  But we have dreamed of traveling to Alaska since we got married.  It is finally becoming a reality now that my husband of 48 years has retired and we actually have the time to do it right.  Plus, we have a granddaughter stationed in Anchorage, so that gave us a bit of a nudge.

I’ve dreamed of sitting out on a balcony on a ship and watching the scenery go by and writing about it as I go.  Well, we’ve booked the balcony and have been upgraded to a larger balcony on the back of the ship, which I understand is a premium place for photography.  My husband has upgraded his camera and has all his lenses packed in a cool backpack.  I didn’t want to lug my heavy laptop , so I’ve purchased a Dell Venue Pro 11 Tablet with a standard keyboard because I don’t think I could deal with the slim plastic ones like the iPad.  (After all I learned to type on an old manual typewriter!)  When the keyboard is attached via magnet to the tablet it looks like a mini laptop yet without it I have the versatility of the tablet.  And the bonus is that it is much easier to type on than I had expected.

We’ve finally reached the point that we can see what the actual weather will be like beginning our trip and it looks promising.   The average temperature in our ports of call is about 58 degrees, but I understand it can get into the 80s or drop to the 40s.  Being so unpredictable  we’ll need two sets of casual cloths–one for warm weather and one for cold, plus dress clothes for dinner and two formal nights. I love that we now have the option of anytime dining.  While I’ve enjoyed getting to know fellow passengers on past cruises with the assigned seating, we wanted the flexibility of doing what we want when we want.  Retirement means no set schedule.

I’m hoping to update my blog frequently, that is, if I have decent internet service–I’ve heard it can be sketchy.  I don’t have any family trees to climb in Alaska, although we are looking forward to visiting our granddaughter and her significant other.  My goal for this trip is to leave scrapbooking behind and concentrate on my writing.  But I’m sure we’ll come home with way too many pictures to put into a book so my work will be cut out for me.  I confess, I am a digital scrapbooking addict, so I’m hoping I don’t go into withdrawals.

Our travel arrangements are confirmed, our toys and clothes are ready and we can’t wait to get started on this new adventure.







Hollyhock Memories

2014 YSGD Samples - Page 031

 It’s the little things that often trigger memories from my past. For me, these hollyhocks my husband planted outside my office window, transport me back to my childhood. My sister and I spent many hours out on our grandparent’s farm southeast of Woodson, Illinois. We didn’t need a lot of toys to entertain us–we had Grandma.

Alongside of the driveway hiding a wire fence around the chicken yard, Grandma planted hollyhocks in an array of pinks and purples, yellows and whites. The steady hum of giant bumble bees kept Pat and I a healthy distance from the flowers, but that never deterred Grandma from harvesting the buds and blooms in various stages of blossoming. As she peeled back the green part (I’m not a botanist) of the bud it revealed what seemed to us like eyes. That became the head of our doll. When she pressed the stem of the blossom into the hole on the bottom of the bud creating a dress or skirt, a hollyhock doll was born.

Imagine the delight of two little girls. We soon began making our own hollyhock dolls. Tiny yellow flowers and leaves of clover became decorations, white clover strung into crowns or necklaces as afternoons melted away. With all the handling these tiny dolls didn’t last long and each day was a new adventure creating a new doll. Tiny wheat shafts became arms and we discovered that by using toothpicks to hold them together we could add hats made from the smaller blooms.

I don’t see hollyhocks around as much as I did when I was a kid and it’s sad that my daughters and granddaughters didn’t have the chance to create and play using just the materials found in the yard or garden and their own imagination. But we hope to rekindle this pastime and look forward to the time when our great granddaughters might come and play with our hollyhocks.


2014 YSGD Samples - Page 018Prepping for our trip to Alaska that is rapidly approaching, my sweet husband came home one night with a huge grin on his face and asked me to guess what he bought. Well now, that could be anything–something for the garden, something for his trains (HO that is)? After a few left field ideas he aimed his iPhone at me and asked if I knew what the picture was. I’m not blind or stupid. “It’s a pair of bikes!”
He thought it would be a great idea to start riding bikes so we could rent them in Alaska. Great idea–except he forgets that I have some physical disabilities and balance issues. I scolded him about buying me a bike without trying it to see if it fit. I wanted an old fashioned wide tire and wide seat bike. He assured me it was both.
After adjusting my seat to the lowest possible setting, I was still unable to touch the ground. By holding onto the front porch railing, I was finally able to mount the bike and take off. Things were going great–I was weaving all over the road because I felt like I was leaning to my right, (the road has a crown) but I continued. We reached the end of our road and he stopped to let cars pass. I had to stop too. So far, so good.
Now, I had to figure out how to take off again. With my feet on the ground the bike was at about a 60 degree angle–not good. But I’m determined–or perhaps stubborn and stupid! I pushed off and overcompensated for the bike leaning to the left and went over right on over. I knew I was going down and put my foot out to break the fall , but down I went right in the middle of the oil bleeding road. Now I had to figure out how to get up off my butt without anything for leverage. My new bionic knee works pretty good, but that right one is useless. Hubby urged me to just pull myself up on the bike and he would steady it. I tried. But while the bike remained upright it also rolled forward and down I went again on my right knee with nothing to break that fall. That one about did me in. I sat there in the middle of the road for what seemed like an eternity strategizing how I would get up.
I convinced Dennis he would have to park the bikes and pull me up. By the time I finally got up on my feet again, the neighbors were coming down the road. The sweet gal next door even drove down in her SUV to give me a ride back, but I needed to walk it out. So I hobbled alongside my bike back home. By then the shock was starting to wear off and I was beginning to feel the throbbing and wish I had just accepted the ride and let Dennis figure out how to get both bikes back home.
Those ice packs I got with my new knee were a blessing and I used them for the next few days. But I’ve traded my bike for the stationary bike at the gym, and I think we’ll be looking for a different mode of transportation to explore Alaska.

Grandma’s Crossword Puzzles




The genealogist in me gets extremely excited when I make a discovery about an ancestor.  The writer in me drives me to write a story about what I found.  The scrapbooker in me thinks in terms of how the pages will appear in my book.  Do you have a story in you about someone you’ve loved?  Here is what I wrote:

Grandma loved her crossword puzzles. I can see her back on the farm at the kitchen table working a puzzle, or in her green chair while Grandpa watched TV. After Grandpa was gone she would sit in her apartment working the crossword puzzles in the paper or in the many books she would pick up at the grocery store. She filled every single space. Even when she was in the nursing home and was losing her sight due to Macular Degeneration, she would sit in her recliner and work the large print crossword puzzles that we’d bring her as she could no longer read the ones in the paper. It was so sad watching her vision melt away to where she could no longer enjoy the things she loved.

She wanted me to have Aunt Dee’s old secretary desk that had been given to her by Passavant Hospital when she was Superintendent. So, when Grandma went in to a nursing home, I brought the desk home. In it I found her bibles, a historical book IN…Jacksonville, Illinois, and her Crossword Puzzle Dictionary. It was held together with several layers of gray duct tape, the spine was broken and pages were loose. Every blank fly sheet was filled with words not in the dictionary that she had found from other sources and were in many crosswords. On the inside front cover she had written a poem.


I’ll be so glad the small boy said when I can be a man.

Drive the tractor, milk the cows

And do things Daddy can.

His Daddy looked out the window where his own father sat in the shade

I wish I was old enough to retire

The old folks have it made.

Grandfather stood by the garden gate

Leaned heavily upon his cane

Wishing he could recall the years

And be a boy again.


I don’t honestly know if this is a poem she wrote or if it was just a favorite poem.  I’ve searched the internet for something similar and found nothing, and I’ve found other poems and stories that she had written, so I choose to believe that she wrote this one.

How I Named my Blog

I’ve been wanting to blog for a long, long time. I’ve even made several attempts to set up a blog. BUT, once it is set up you have to name it. Therein was my problem. What would I name my blog?

I brainstormed. What would I write about? My hobbies seemed to be a good fit. I began to list the things I love to do–scrapbook, dig around in archives, take pictures of tombstones, write, travel, digiscrap, grandkids, genealogy, travel, scrapbook, search for ancestors, learn new things, read, cook, and the list went on. Well, I can’t write about everything, now can I? Well, maybe I can, but I needed to narrow the field and come up with a catchy name for my blog. Every time I thought I was almost there, I’d get distracted by family, pets, housework, etc. So I kept putting it off.

Distraction with a capital “D” seems to be my middle name–especially since a closed head injury created some cognitive deficits. My memory and writing abilities were greatly affected and I had to give up a job that I truly loved. That sent me into a deep, dark depression. (That’s another story!) For now, suffice it to say that I threw myself into these activities so I wouldn’t focus on my disabilities.

Recently, our writers’ group had a speaker that urged us to blog. One of our members brought her son in to address the group and convince us just how easy it was to set up a blog. I was determined. (hum…another “d” word–is there a pattern here)
Like all writers do, I turned to my trusty thesaurus for another word for distraction. There it was–diversion! I then turned to Merriam-Webster :

di•ver•sion Continue reading