Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


Would You Go?

This past weekend was Graham’s 50th high school reunion. I promised to go when he went to my 40th last year in New Jersey and I fully planned on it but a couple of things were obstacles. One by one they fell, and so, we purchased the tickets and the die was cast.  We were on our way to Dallas.

The attitude I had about my own reunion is we really should be over high school pain by now. No one is who they were at age 18.  I had a good time.

My attitude about Graham’s reunion is I could really have fun and I did.IMG_4059

I went up to about 5 or maybe 6 or 7 people (well,  maybe 10) and greeted them enthusiastically. I gushed, calling them by name because of the name tag “Oh XXXX, I haven’t seen you in FOREVER!!!!”   They looked at me, puzzling my name on my tag (without a high school yearbook photo) and 100% slowly said, “I recognize your face but I don’t remember your name.”  It was funny but I let them off the hook after that.DSC_0032

I really did have a good time, though. I searched out people sitting off to the side or maybe with someone else with a photo-less name tag. That clued me in that they were also a “married into” the school family and they, perhaps, were not as gregarious as I am.

I learned a lot: that carrying a handgun in a purse while shopping at the grocery store is necessary-but that person could not answer why. That there is no way small farms can compete with large industrial farms because of the economies of scale-but that person could not address the issues of animals fed hormones and antibiotics so he changed the subject. That there is no reason to expect anyone to give service back to their community-and anyone who thinks it  is a good idea is a commie liberal.

Graham did warn me that most people were ultra conservative there.

I met some of his old friends and I think we made a number of new ones. Two class members that he did not know offered us hospitality and we stayed with them two nights and they drove us to the Saturday event in a 1931 Ford Model A. Very very nice! We hope they will visit here so we can reciprocate. They were terrific!DSC_0025

I met one woman who said she enjoys my blog (thanks Karen!) and one who my husband excitingly told me was the first woman he kissed.  He introduced me to all his friends, male and female.

We headed to Austin the next day to visit Graham’s sister and enjoyed our time with her also. We met a new friend of hers and she told us she appreciated us coming out of our way as the drive was 3.5 hours each way but I told her from Oregon, Dallas and Austin are the same neighborhood.


When I made phone calls to ask people to attend my reunion last year I heard a lot of people say they didn’t have good memories from high school.  Others said they had nothing in common with “those people”. Well, if given a chance to attend, especially if you have moved away and never really see old friends, try to go. As I said before, we are not the same person we were as a teenager.  There have been a lot of living and hopefully learning since then.  You may be surprised who you see and how you feel about them.



Family Ties

We all have them…someone in the family that just does not think the way you do. Nothing, no amount of patient attempt to find a middle ground works when the other person never budges.

Years ago I married a man I had already known for 11 years. His upbringing was considerably different from mine and I suppose we each felt the other a bit “exotic” for those differences. We respected them and enjoyed exploring the concepts each brought to the marriage.

But I have come to realize that I had the pick of the litter. No one else in that family seems to be able to move off their spot to recognize that there are things of value to consider from another viewpoint.

Recently there was a facebook posting from one family member commemorating the loss of her husband, my brother-in-law.  She chose to speak of the pain she still feels as she walks this life without him. People responded with “I’m sorry” and “I miss him too.”

I responded by telling her that this week of his passing, the anniversary of his death, his yahrzeit,  is a big week in my family. It starts with us thinking about him, and then, only a few days later, it is my youngest son’s birthday. The day after that is the yahrzeit of my son’s father (her brother-in-law), and then two days later is my mother’s yahrzeit.

It occurred to me when my husband died (his passing was the first one) that my son might always associate his birthday with sorrow, so I decided we would instead celebrate the life we shared with each of our dear ones who have passed on.  We have always taken some time to light the tradition yahrzeit candle and to speak quietly about the impact each has had in our lives.yahrzeit

My husband took me to meet his brother years before we were married. When we got to his home, we found him under his car, repairing some issue. He slid out, grabbed my arm, gave me a hug and then lead me inside. He washed his hands and then served me iced tea and only then, when we sat at the table talking, did I realize he was blind. His ability to live an active life despite his vision loss taught us that disability is an attitude. He became an even stronger role model later when my husband began to lose his abilities during his fight with brain cancer.

My mom, like many mothers, was a mix of good and not so good issues for me, but on her yahrzeit we focus on the things learned from her. She taught me to notice what needs to be done and not wait for instruction. While this has resulted in the lazy people around me often taking advantage of my effort, it has made me stand out to people who counted. My mom was active in helping others, not focusing on her own woes, in participating and learning and always making an effort to grow and improve.  She and my dad took us camping to travel the United States, and while this later came to bite her when I moved away, she understood that the opportunity for self improvement was something not to be ignored just because of location.

My son’s father was one of the most honest men I have ever met. His ability to be thoughtful and kind translated into lifelong friendships.  His work ethic meant giving the best service he could and he often, as an attorney, charged only a minimal amount over court costs and never earned more than $30,000 a year.  He valued much more than money but solid teaching of right and wrong and always finding the positive. When we married I had two small children and he relished that he could finally be a father, and his joy in the birth of his son was immense. When his cancer was diagnosed less than two years later he swore he would live long enough for his son to remember him and he outlived the 3-5 year prediction and finally passed in his sleep the day after Sam’s 11th birthday.

So when I shared with my sister-in-law that I too had my losses this week and chose to celebrate these loved ones’ impact on me, I was surprised that she ignored my comment., She responded to everyone else who commiserated with her pain, however.

I can see her pathway is much different than mine and so, recognizing it takes all kinds to make this world work, I offer her my love and whatever strength she needs to keep walking her walk.