The Significance of May 30th…

There’s no denying it, I’m a homebody. My house is my sanctuary and I’m pretty content to stay home. A lot. We eat in 90% of the time and that’s usually my decision. I don’t mind meal planning, cooking, baking, cleanup or dishes (except for utensils. Geez I hate washing every stinking piece of silverware). I’m happy at home. I’ve never had a case of wanderlust, although I enjoy visiting new places. Maybe it’s the hotels, restaurants and hours in a car or plane which lend to my dislike of being gone for more than a couple days. I get homesick for my kids, grands, house, bed, bathroom, even my own cooking. Bizarre I know but it’s the way I’m wired.

Now you can see why I can’t stay away for an indefinite time. I miss this goofy bunch…

My first long adult vacation outside my comfort zone was at a resort in Cancun for 8 days in 2012 for Josh and Erica’s destination wedding. (I had vacationed elsewhere, never as far away or as long). What made Cancun immensely enjoyable (besides J & E’s lovely ceremony overlooking the Caribbean) was having most of our immediate family at the same resort. I tried new things like scuba diving, drinking margaritas until my nose and lips were partially paralyzed (it was two, honest 2), shopping for souvenirs, eating different foods. Besides narrowly avoiding slamming my head on several 8 inch nails protruding on the underside of their less than OSHA approved massive dock at the resort there is not one negative I have about that fabulous trip. The rooms were beautiful (ours had the best view), the staff was attentive and polite, the food in several restaurants onsite, above average.

Joshua & Erica, Cancun, 2012…

But I’ve never been bit by the bug to see the world. So why did this stay at home grandma take not one, but 2 trips abroad-2 years in a row? What would possess me when I’d managed to stay state side (besides the wedding) for 65 years with nary a inkling to travel outside the US? Guess that depends on who was asking. It was my daughter Shannon-both times. (She’s got the travel bug). The first trip was 12 days in Italy. Rome, Florence, Assisi and Venice. I literally knew nothing about any of these cities or the popular spots that made them famous. Once we landed and began to tour, it was overwhelming. My mind (and body) just couldn’t keep up. Sistene Chapel, Vatican, Duomo Cathedral (it’s pink, white and green marble) Michelangelo’s David, Priscilla’s catacombs, Saint Francis in Assisi and my top vote getter, The Coliseum. And the few I mentioned were just the tip of the iceberg that our group took in. But the stop I think about most often? Just hold on for a sec.

Venice, 2016…

My trip to France in 2017 (Germany was just a quickie side trip) wasn’t well planned. No tour guide who had you at the train station at 7 am, forking over a ticket, telling me how long the ride was, here’s your breakfast box, then handing me an itinerary 3 pages long. Yup, every second was accounted for. In Paris we had no agenda, so when Shannon said, “we only have 3 days for sightseeing. These are the biggies, take your pick.” I don’t know if I was just more impressed with what France had to offer (in my mind France had never been very impressive) or that we were on our own without direction or supervision. Since I never really wanted to go to France, it came as a pleasant surprise when The Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and Arc de Triomphe impressed me. Much more than I thought they would.

Arc de Triomphe, Paris, 2017…

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not always the most breathtaking, stunning beauty of our world’s land, seas, or structure destinations that stay in our hearts and minds long after we’ve returned to reality after witnessing such impressive places. I think you’re gonna be surprised with my top pick. I am. Please remember I’m not a world traveler, but I don’t think my list is shabby either. Here’s a quick rundown. No one wants to hold down last place but someone’s gotta take one for the team.

Here they are ladies and gentlemen. The Fab Four…

7. Mount Rushmore. It’s big and impressive. I was speechless for a couple minutes which is not an easy feat. During one of our trips some maintenance work was being done and workers were hanging precariously all over the faces. Looked like a nose hair or booger hanging out of George Washington’s nose from where I stood. Worth remembering, right?

The Caribbean at Cancun, 2012…

6. The Caribbean. Only God can make those water colors. Well played God. I was impressed.

Notre Dame, Paris, 2017…

5. Notre Dame. Walking towards it on a gray, rainy morning, I still had to stop for a couple minutes simply to take it all in. Construction started 850 years ago. Unbelievable. The stained glass windows are indescribable.

I’m a hopeless photographer but this is the best picture I’ve ever taken…

4. Eiffel Tower. It’s relatively new compared to most structures in France, built for the 1889 World’s Fair. Aww, just a baby, but I love it. You can see most of Paris from any level, (I only made it up to the first) which is stunning.

Rome’s Coliseum-spectacular, 2016…

3. The Coliseum in Rome. It’s huge, and held more than 60,000 screaming fans back in the day. It makes Notre Dame appear brand new, construction started in 70 AD. Those Romans were certainly fit as a fiddle. I didn’t take out my tape measure but the steps between rows are not of our world. Each step had to be 12-16 inches tall. Not easy climbing up or down. (I had a terrible time deciding if the Coliseum should be #3 or ratchet it up a notch to number 2. My cross to bear).

Niagara Falls, my happy place…

2. Niagara Falls. Absolutely my favorite spot on earth. I’ve been there several times and each time I have a harder time leaving. I’m hooked on the American side. You can almost touch the falls by the Bridal Veil. I’ve watched fish go over the Falls in that clear, mint green water. Breathtaking.

The feeling this wasn’t a tourist stop began at the entrance to the Cemetery…

1. Florence American Cemetery and Memorial, about 8 miles outside of Florence, Italy. After we were dropped off, the vastness of 70 acres, the quiet, solemn beauty, incredible landscaping, reflecting pool, statues, wall plaque, American flag flying proudly. Row after row, after row of white crosses on exquisite green grass immediately brought tears to my eyes. Forty-four hundred of America’s finest fighters buried here, most lost in June of 1944 after Rome was captured. While the natural beauty of the Caribbean and Niagara Falls are mesmerizing, or exploring the Coliseum and Notre Dame are mind boggling in their engineering and workmanship from centuries ago, for me it’s been the most constant reminder of what Memorial Day on the 30th of May’s true meaning is about. Their service and dedication, fighting for the greater good. For us in a foreign country. The ultimate sacrifice. Where would we as a nation be without them?

United States flag in American Cemetery in Florence Italy, 2016…

Memorial Day (originally called Decoration Day) was a way of recognizing and honoring the men and women who died while serving in our military. It started soon after the Civil War and was observed on May 30th each year from 1868 through 1970. In 1971 it became a federal holiday and has been celebrated on the last Monday of May ever since.

This will give you a lump in your throat and bring tears to your eyes…

I’m still puzzled why visiting the American Cemetery in Florence has had such a profound affect on me after 4 years. It’s akin to seeing any the aforementioned natural or man made wonders of the world for the first time-yet totally different. I never truly appreciated the real meaning of Memorial Day until I spent a couple hours at a cemetery in a far away land, weeping and paying respect to our most deserving. That visit has changed my life-for the better…

Thank you for your service…
A memorial wall plaque at the American Cemetery in Florence, Italy…

Days of the week…

I went to France and Germany in 2017. It was an impromptu trip. Who does that? My guess, usually not the person who never had a desire to travel abroad. Shannon was there for about a month while Peyton (13 at the time) toured with group of like-minded talented singers from Blue Lake Fine Arts camp.

Limber Peyton in front of Arc de Triomphe, Paris, 2017…

Shannon was alone in France for a week after Tracey and Landon flew back to the States. She had rented an apartment and car, so when she offered the invite, my only cost was my flight, food and souvenirs. What the heck, I’m in. In fact when I look back, I sincerely wish I’d stayed another 2 days. There wasn’t enough time to do all the things I had on my list (the list just miraculously appeared, The Louvre, Versailles, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, Normandy American Cemetery ) but with 2 days of travel back and forth to enjoy Peyton’s last concert, my sightseeing time was limited. (Note to self: 5 years down the road the cost of staying 2 more days will be negligible but the memories I should have experienced are irreplaceable. Stay the extra 48 hours).

Eiffel Tower, my second favorite spot on earth…

I like calendars. I once did a story about my calendars I’ve kept. They’re kinda like mini-diaries with stuff I jot down, births, deaths, doctor visits, trips, weather oddities like snow showers during May, just snippets of my mundane life. While I was in France I bought an inexpensive calendar for 2018, mostly for the gorgeous monthly pictures of spots I got to see and some that I missed. Did the same thing when I was shopping in Germany. Nice little reminder of my impromptu trip.

The calendar I couldn’t use. And my Eiffel Tower picture is way better, right?

After I’d been home a couple months I found the 2 calendars in a bag in my magazine rack. Tore off the plastic and enjoyed the pictures. Smugness for some, “yeah, I’ve been there, and my pictures of Notre Dame are definitely better than this lame shot in the calendar.” Regrets on other months, “why in the world did I fly back on Saturday? That was nuts. Why didn’t I stay and let Shannon take me to Versailles and Normandy? Dumb, dumb, dumb. I’ll never get that opportunity again. Foolish.”

Saint Francis of Assisi at the Louvre. Mona Lisa is over rated, small and dark…

A couple months later, maybe December I got the calendars out again. I go through each month ahead of time where I jot down the stuff I want to remember for the upcoming year. That’s when I noticed something odd about the calendars from Europe. The days of the week are listed in the wrong order. Or maybe not. Since we read from left to right their weeks started with Monday, ending with Sunday. Our calendar week starts with Sunday and end with Saturday which really doesn’t make much sense when you think about it.

Didn’t get to tour this…

It all started in the Bible. God had this monumental work project to complete. And the sundial was ticking. He let His imagination run wild with saltwater fish. I mean a clown fish wiggling around in an anemone, not many could put that one together. There were lions and tigers and bears, oh my, but also aardvarks, anteaters and zebras. Can you just imagine the fun He had with spots and stripes? He invented clouds and wanted them quite specific, cirrus, cumulus, stratus. Not done in your typical New York minute. The sun, which is indeed life sustaining (thanks for the sun God, you could let it shine more often in Michigan when you get a minute), moon for the whole in & out tide thingy, stars for the constellations, a wide variety of trees, annuals and perennials (for those of us who don’t plant every year because we hate it). He went a bit over the top with bugs, butterflies, bees, flies, cockroaches and dung beetles. I bet He cracked a smile more than once during those frenzied 6 days of creation. But one would have to question His wisdom with the whole mosquito fiasco. (Just keeping it real here God).

Couldn’t help myself. I crack up every time-Sorry…

So 2 things happened recently that have me leaning towards the European way of this calendar business. Remember I illegally latched on to the Sioux Falls mayor’s challenge of walking 100 miles in 100 days, which started on April 20th (a Monday). As I keep track of my weekly mileage, my walk week would end on Sunday night. (Ok, gonna brag. Today is the last day of my fourth week in the challenge and I’ve logged 131 miles of walking).

31 miles this week with a few hours (and laundry) to go…

The second thing is about my music while I walk. It’s old and tiresome, like me. Good music but the same crap day after day, year after year. I just can’t get motivated to check into iTunes and buy some songs. It’s time consuming and spending $1.29 a song takes a huge commitment on my part. Instead I did something that took just as long, but didn’t cost anything. Rearranged most of the songs I already have. Deleted every playlist in my library and started over. Started with my absolute top 25 favorites, allowing only one song from an artist on each list. My goal was a different playlist for each day of the week, and I didn’t want to use shuffle. Thought it would be more fun and better for my head if I tried to memorize (know/anticipate) what song was coming up next. This hasn’t worked very well, I either have too many songs on each list or not enough. One day the last song ended and I assumed it would just start over, but all I got was silence and slower feet. I can’t do anything as I’m walking so I had to stop, get out my phone, start the playlist over. With mace in one hand and my walking stick in the other. No can do.

Saint Denis, holding his own head in front of Notre Dame, 2017…

Who in the world decided our calendar weeks should start with Sunday? It’s more logical to start with Monday, the first day of the work week for most folks? Ending the week with our 2 day weekend of Saturday and Sunday? God didn’t have any issues creating an entire world in a few days did He? Paraphrasing here, “six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work, but the 7th day is the sabbath. In it thou shall not do any work. Almost 70 years old and just figured out Sunday should be the last day of the week on calendars, not the first. Go figure…

May Days…

There are many reasons I look forward to the month of May. The temperatures are (usually) warmer, it gets dark much later in the day. Last weekend was the perfect example. Three days of sunshine with temps in the 60’s and 70’s. Took my morning walk in short sleeves and capris, without a jacket for the first time this year (and we’re well into month 5, ugh. Winter seems to last longer than the other 3 seasons-combined).

Dare to be different…

Gathered my cold weather walking gear, warm cargo pants, winter coat, long johns, Cuddl duds, gloves, scarf and headed downstairs to wash and dry all of it. Folded everything and stored it in one spot ready for the very distant November I don’t even want to think about. Monday morning dawns in the 30’s with a stiff breeze and the windchill in the 20’s. Hauled out all my clean ‘November walking clothes’ which I’ve now worn all week. Midweek days were a bit better, left my gloves home and wore a lighter coat for 2 days, but the forecast had frost/freeze warnings with highs in the low 40’s this weekend. This morning’s temperature registered in at 25. Not exactly a freeze warning but 7 degrees below freezing. May 9th, 25 degrees, add the 9 mph winds and it feels like the mid-teens. Welcome to springtime in Michigan.

Woke up to a brisk temp of 25 this morning. May 9, 2020, brrrr…

I’ve experienced 3 pregnancies during my life resulting in 3 (now adult) children. Firstborn was in December, not a bad time to have a baby, mostly due to my size (cute round little belly) during the summer before she was born. The stuck-in-the-middle-with-you pregnancy concluded in early May, which I’ve determined is the perfect time to bring a new life into the mix.

Winter maternity clothes with Joshua tucked safely inside, early 1975…

First you’re not ‘showing ’til it’s snowing’ and by spring your baby’s here so you don’t have to buy multiple seasons of maternity clothes which we all grow tired of very quickly. Plus the baby’s so tiny, it’s easy to haul him around during the summer. He was often perched on the front bench seat of our car while I drove. How did our kids survive to adulthood? There but by the grace of God go I (with my kids in tow precariously) Second, Joshua was my only baby born on his due date without a lot of fuss. He was my happy, contented thumb sucker.

The May baby, New Vienna, Iowa 1975…

The baby-of-the-family pregnancy signed off in mid-September. No one plans a September baby. No one. I was the size of an 18 wheeler by August. In Iowa. Blistering. Hot. Humid. Iowa. Lugging a 30 pound watermelon right under my sweaty boobs. I thank the good Lord for giving us Adam but May-June or November-December would have been much more appreciated in the year of 1979.

Late August about 3 weeks left to balloon out before Adam’s arrival, 1979…

The beginning of May in my younger years marked the time I was done getting my tan. I’d be as brown as I wanted to get before the first of May. Not a fan of sweating (ever) so I’d lay out in March & April when it was in the mid to upper 50’s in Iowa. To maintain all summer long required an hour a week outside. By January I’d be looking pretty peaked. I know, not good for me, but I loved brown legs.

My mid-30’s, probably watching the Cubs when Harry Carey was on the radio, so I wouldn’t have to listen to him…

On May 5th, 1990, 30 freaking years ago, the Hubs and I stopped smoking-cold turkey-and stuck to it. I’d like to say it was a tough 3 months but who am I kidding? It was one tough year. John chewed gum with such a vengeance the inside of his cheeks looked like ground chuck. I suffered insomnia but we got through it (with the patience and understanding of Job on my part. Duh)

Mother’s Day invitation, elementary school. Mondday, love it, mid 1950’s…

May Day was a huge reason for celebration when I was a kid. Mom and Dad were not big holiday celebrators so I appreciated the ones we did. For some reason Mom enjoyed planning/preparing/delivering May Day baskets, going out of her way to make the day really special. Every year she had clever ideas for the deluge of baskets we’d make together and bring to friends. The trick was not getting ‘caught and kissed’ after you delivered the basket to the front door of a friend, neighbor or teacher’s house. One of my fondest kid memories.

Mother’s Day card from elementary school…

Signed my last name like she wouldn’t know who it was from, hysterical…

The month of May brings Lily’s of the Valley, Tulips, and Lilacs. For the first time in our married life, we’ve planted 3 lilac bushes. White, lilac and darker purple. None have bloomed yet but they have grown and look healthy so I’m hopeful for a few blossoms, maybe this year.

I was learning cursive…

We lived on a lake for 20 plus years. The month of May was baby month for bunnies, birds, deer, ducks and geese. Since we moved 5 years ago I go past a small pond on my walk every morning. Sure enough a few days ago a Canadian goose couple added 4 yellow fuzz balls. (Baby goslings stay yellow and fuzzy about 10 days. After that they resemble their parents, minus girth). They stay pretty close to the edge of the water and are often on the bank as I’m walking past. They scold me every morning for the interruption as they slink back in the water. All the while I’m complimenting their lovely brood and assuring them I mean no harm. “Honk, honk, don’t give me any guff lady, just keep on walking,” they repeat loudly each morning-twice. I really like May babies.

My morning walking friends…

What’s not to like about Mother’s Day in the month of May? From the time I was in elementary school, assuring Mom she was loved and appreciated was one of the top priorities of our teachers. Homemade invitations for a Mother’s Day tea/luncheon took up an afternoon at school. Corny cards with sappy poems were sent home with us on Friday with strict instructions to hide them until Sunday morning, then proudly present it to Mom. I still have several I made for her (she kept everything). This year’s gonna be different because of the keep-your-butt-at-home-safety-precautions, but the Hubs will buy me an ice cream and I’ll probably talk or text with most of my brood.

A Mother’s Day card from a young May kid, early 80’s…

May means Memorial Day. When we lived in Iowa, Memorial weekend meant the kids were finished with school for the summer (not so in Michigan, they don’t get out until mid-June). The end of May means the lilacs are blooming, sometimes peonies and Iris’s. The weekend we as a nation remember, mourn and honor those in the military who made the ultimate sacrifice. But we also remember our loved ones who have passed away. I learned this very early in life when my 12 year old brother was killed when I was 7. Every year Mom, Dad and I would decorate Larry’s grave on Memorial weekend with lilacs, peonies and Iris’s. Our way of acknowledging he was still loved and thought about. Can’t see, think or smell lilacs without thinking about Larry. Yes, the month of May still holds a lot of meaning for me…

Larry, Spitzy and me a couple years before he was killed, 1956…

It’s Mayor Paul from Sioux Falls…

Sioux Falls was the closest big city when I was growing up. My much smaller Iowa town where I was born was southeast of Sioux Falls by about 40 miles. Back in the early 1960’s, Sioux Falls wasn’t even that big, but compared to Rock Valley (population under 2,000) it was a metropolis. Sioux Falls offered the first of many things for this teen, pizza, fast food (McDonald’s), K-Mart, all night truck stop, plus a bustling downtown filled with fancy clothing stores, movie theaters with amazing architecture. The actual “Falls” for which the city was named alone is worth a trip. The pink/red Sioux Quartzite boulders/rocks which allow the waterfall’s 100 foot drop is stunning. Yup, Sioux Falls was the first city I ever loved.

Can you believe the color of those boulders? Stunning in person…

Sioux Falls was also the first city where I committed a crime. Cliff note version: I stole (borrowed really, stole is so harsh) my host’s family car during a slumber party and drove it to the aforementioned all night truck stop with a load of girls egging me on for hamburgers at 2 in the morning. Then drove back, nestled it in it’s rightful parking spot with nary a dent or scratch, minus a half tank of gas. Ok, I was 14 and didn’t have my learner’s permit yet. Details, meh.

Part of the 120 acre park and Falls in Sioux Falls, South Dakota…

Both the Hub’s and I were fascinated with Sioux Falls and tried to move their numerous times during our long checkered marriage (I jest, we’re good people, well basically pretty good), but never managed to call that city home. The closest we came was in the early 70’s when Hubs had a job offer to work at Litton Industries, making microwaves, which were in their infancy. We wanted to take that job so bad. It all came down to money. We were starving working at Zenith in Sioux City. We just couldn’t take a pay cut to go to Litton, so Hubs turned it down. (Ended up moving to eastern Iowa, making toy tractors for a handful of crazy brothers (I kid you not, they were freaking nuts). Looking back it might have been better to take the cut in pay.

This “Falls” and park are quite impressive…

Lived in eastern Iowa, moved back to the northwest part, back to east side of the state, then the biggest jump of all, the move to Michigan in 1987 which we thought would be temporary, yet remain to this day. Didn’t see that one coming. The allure holding us here are our 3 adult children, their spouses, 4 grandchildren and one great grand, thus Iowa no longer has a very strong hold on us, but it remains number one in my heart.

Iowa (and Rock Valley) will always have my heart…

I would dare say during our 30 plus years in Michigan we have gone back to Iowa to visit relatives 60-75 times. I could count on one hand how many of those visits did NOT include a trip to Sioux Falls, and I’d still have a couple fingers leftover. They have a lot to offer. Usually shopping trips because Sioux Falls built a couple of fabulous malls. South Dakota also deals in both Black Hills Gold and turquoise and silver jewelry which I’ve collected over the years, so that was a definite draw. Michigan might have more colleges and professional sports teams than Iowa, but we’ve never given up on the Hawkeyes (closest thing to a pro team as Iowa’s ever gonna get) so we were constantly looking for cool Iowa clothes.

Hawkeye cheerleading outfit for granddaughter Ari years ago…

So I have this special friend from my home town (one of many I’d like to think). Her name is Alma and she’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. (A much, much, much better writer than my nonsense. I’m insanely jealous of her clever style, and her vocabulary is phenomenal). Anyway, I gotta stop on the accolades for Alma or I’ll never get to Paul. Alma had a knee replacement a month before I did last year, so our recovery and progress have been similar. Moving forward with baby steps, hiccups causing a step back now and then.

No we’re way past mayor Pete. This is mayor Paul from Sioux Falls…

Well Alma’s son is the City attorney for Sioux Falls, so he works for the mayor. Now we’re getting somewhere. The mayor is Paul. (Geez, that took long enough). Don’t know Paul, doubt if I’ll ever meet him but I like what I’ve read about him. He’s the same age group as my kids. Side note: Paul’s last name is very familiar to me. When I was a kid, Mom worked at a hatchery in Rock Valley, candling eggs (which involves closely inspecting the eggs. Mom held 4 eggs at a time in a windowless, pitch black room) under a very strong pinpointed light to spot any defects. She worked for a couple of guys, one was named Harold Ten Haken, which happens to be mayor Paul’s last name. I don’t know if they’re related. The name may sound unique but in northwest Iowa it’s quite common (and understated compared to some of the Dutch names).

Looking at a candled egg through a very bright light…

Some of you know I’ve been a pretty consistent walker since 1998. The last 5 years have been injury prone but I’ve rediscovered how much better my life is when I start it off with a walk/music in the morning. After surgery, physical therapy, a fall, more therapy I decided it was time to start walking again “with purpose” as Al Swearengen would say. Bought new shoes, new headphones, developed a new attitude. Got an app to track my steps which has almost been my undoing. Don’t get me wrong, I love it but find it troubling that I’m this competitive-with an inanimate object. The first time I hit 10,000 steps in a day, my pedometer app rewarded me with a periwinkle ticker-tape explosion. “Aww, just for me? You shouldn’t have.”

Very subtle, like I’m not gonna notice the zzzz’s…

But that was just the beginning. The app tracks a lot of data for and about me, most I’m clueless about. Floors, streaks, goals, milestones. But the more I hit the periwinkle daily goal of 10,000 steps (and my ticker tape parade) the more inclined I was to keep going, not break the streak, walking everyday. I have the feeling the person who developed this app has a warped personality. Take my stats for last week. I was plugging right along, hitting my daily goals when Thursday dawned with cold rain and wind. There’s not even a mall open where I could do some laps, but I was desperate, so I snuck into Meijer. (Don’t worry I wore a mask as a disguise, making it much harder to recognize me or breathe, plus it fogged up my glasses constantly. Gotta say, not a big fan of the mask). At the end of the day I had maybe 7,500 steps which shows up in yellow on the app. Next morning I noticed there were 4 tiny z’s in my disappointing slot, acknowledging me as a slacker/sleeper/slug for the day. Nothing like some derogatory implications for inspiration.

Love seeing those blue stacks…

Alma retired after working as an RN in Sioux Falls most of her career so she still has a lot of ties to that city. She reposted a Sioux Falls challenge by mayor Paul. (He’s a fitness nut, does triathlons). His hope that through the Covid pandemic, the folks in his fair city will continue social distancing/common sense but at the same time exercise for their physical and mental health. His challenge is walking 100 miles in 100 days, which started April 20th. It’s on the honor system so Alma posted a selfie when she had reached a certain number of days/miles in a row. I complimented her and asked if you had to be a Sioux Falls resident to participate? (she is not) Could a foreign subject from waaay out east join in the challenge? She gave a hearty, “go for it Denise.”

It’s the fitness guru, mayor Paul with an awesome challenge…

Just when I’m getting this cool daily walking rhythm, a problem niggles in. I don’t know whether to call it my good leg or bad. It’s my left leg which still has the knee I was born with. Started aching all day long, in back, mid-thigh to mid calf. Not debilitating but bothersome, especially if I’ve been “dormant” for an hour or 2, then get up and try to move. Much as I’d like to continue with my frenzied pace, (hahaha) I think I’ve been a bit overzealous. However, now I risk the wrath/sarcasm/bullying issue by pissing off my pedometer app because I’m not hitting 10,000 steps a day.

For now it looks as though mayor Paul is gonna have to compete in his next triathlon (I’m not even quite sure what this event involves) without this great grandma. But I’m hoping to hit my first 100 miles of his 100 miles/100 days challenge way before the end of July. Since I don’t do selfies it’s doubtful he’ll know how many miles I walk before the challenge is over but I’ve started a new album in my pictures so I can keep track of my weekly successes though it’s not gonna total 35 miles a week like the last 2. Gotta be thankful and pleased I’m walking in earnest at all. And I am. Really…

Jimmy…

He arrived on November 13th, 1934, in the middle of the Great Depression. The second child born to Jim & Mag during their marriage. He had a four year old sister named Eleanor who doted on her baby brother. Jim and Mag’s family would continue to grow, adding another 3 boys over the space of a couple decades. Leslie Dale in 1941, Arlyn Carl in 1944 and John Wayne (my Hubs) in 1948. They named their first son James Roger. All of them would carry shortened versions or nicknames through some or most of their adult lives. Elly, Jimmy, Les, Arly and Johnny Wayne. Jimmy and Arly strongly resembled their dad while Elly, Les and John looked like their mom’s side of the family.

The earliest pic I’ve got of Jim, riding his trike with Mag hanging out the clothes, 1939…

It’s kinda weird. I always considered him ‘Jimmy’ when I talked about him, but after Jim Sr. passed away in 1987, Jimmy just sorta morphed into the ‘Jim’ status. He was done being a barkeep and ventured into the field of law enforcement, first as an officer, then as police chief. Jim just sounded older, more professional. You gotta have some street cred, even in a small town like Rock Valley. Now with the Hubs it didn’t take that long. Once he left Rock Valley, he preferred being called John so that’s how coworkers knew him. But Elly, Les and Arly’s names stuck, at least in the family.

Elly 14, Jimmy 10, Les 3, 1944…

I first met him in 1965. He was 30, (twice my age) big, intimidating with dark hair, piercing brown eyes. Business owner but not a place (it was just your small town, neighborhood bar) this teenage girl, who had the strictest parents in town should frequent. Mom and Dad always seemed to know where I was. They kept someone on retainer, trying to keep me on the straight and narrow. Not a chance. Actually I was a highly trained professional at dodging my parents on my last known whereabouts through my teens. I knew all the hiding places in that town.

Is this just the cutest? Jimmy, 8, Elly 13 and unknown gal, 1943…

Jimmy married a quiet gal named Eleanor in the fall of 1960. (I know, what are the chances that your only sister and brand new bride share the same first name? But Jimmy’s Eleanor was never Elly, at least not to me. She was always Eleanor). She had black hair and eyes. I knew her for 25 years and I’ve never met a person like her before or since. Not once in those 25 years did I ever hear her say a negative, derogatory, bad remark, or a sarcastic, unkind, hurtful word about another person. Or swear. Ever. Who goes through life like that? I mean there’s always a character or 2 in your life who drive you crazy just breathing air right? Not to Eleanor. (My friend Char runs a close second in this kindness department). Dang I got enough pent up anger issues to make up for the both of them. And then some.

Eleanor (nicest person in the world) in the late 1970’s at Mag’s house…

During our early years of marriage we rarely socialized with Hubs’ brothers, spouses and kids besides family events but it did happen once in a while. They were older, more established (they had discretionary money-we most definitely did not) Both Jimmy & Les were avid fishermen and frequented the countless lakes of Minnesota during the summer. Lake Ottertail and Battle Lake were favorite spots and we got invited a time or 2, once with Jim and Mag who shared our cabin. (Memorable vacation for me because while the rest of the family fished one day, toddler Shannon and I were preparing our next meal. I struck a match to light the oven and there must have been the tiniest of gas leaks. The force of the explosion pitched us all the way across the cabin. We were unharmed but pretty shook up and deaf for awhile). That could have turned out much more serious, we were lucky.

Shannon on vacation with the 1972 Vega and our dog, Tina, 1973…

I guess Jimmy noticed me first. John (the whole town knew as Johnny Wayne back then) had worked for various farmers for a couple summers and saved enough money to buy a brand new 90 CC Bridgestone motorcycle. Yeah, he was bad to the bone alright. Since we were in the early stages of dating, we spent most of our time tooling around Rock Valley, me planted behind him. Jimmy asked his mom, “who’s that girl on the back of Johnny’s motorcycle?”

Mexico, 2018, Jim, Dee, John, me, Les and MJ. Dental work so my margarita dribbled down my chin…

He was 14 years older than John so they didn’t spend a lot of their free time together when Jimmy was still home. He graduated from high school about 1952 and enlisted in the Marines soon after, making Hubs about 5. Jimmy called his mom once and said he was going to Mexico on leave. “Say, ask Johnny Wayne what he wants me to buy him when I’m in Mexico?” Mag relayed the question and was instructed by the kindergartener to please buy him a burro (ha-ha). Instead, Jimmy mailed his youngest brother a leather jacket with long fringe on the sleeves and a sequined sombrero which the Hubs wore until there was nothing left of either.

The hand raised coyote (King?) that Jimmy brought Johnny, mid ‘50’s…

Jimmy had a black 650 CC Triumph motorcycle which he dearly loved, but it didn’t have an electric starter. You had to use the kick starter. One day Johnny went into the house, walked up to Mag and asked, “Mom did you know that Jimmy named his motorcycle?” “He did? What does he call his motorcycle?” “Well every time he’s trying to go for a ride, he puts his foot on that thing and pushes down as hard and as fast as he can. And it never starts the first time. Jimmy says, bitch! He doesn’t think I can hear him, so he pushes down even harder the next time. Then he drives away really fast. His motorcycle’s name is bitch.”

Whole family at Archie’s in Le Mars. Here is Jim, Arly and Vic about 2008…

My first close encounter with Jimmy after Hubs and I eloped was a few months later. I was hospitalized for an infection of unknown origin for a few days. Jimmy drove to Sioux City (about 60 miles) to visit me. He must have stopped downtown at Younkers first. Talk about an ice breaker. He waltzes into my room and hands me a 2 pound box of my favorite candy, milk chocolate Annaclairs. How did he even know? I was tongue tied and a bit embarrassed. Nineteen year old newlywed wearing an ugly hospital gown and still intimidated by Hubs’ older brother. I’ve never forgotten that sweet gesture for his punk teenage sister-in-law.

The Fab 5, Jim, Arly, John, Elly & Les early 2000’s. Only Les and Hubs are left…

Jimmy and Eleanor had 5 children over the course of their 30 year marriage. Their kids were similarly spaced over 2 decades just like Jim and Mag’s family. We love S P A C I N G. Unfortunately Eleanor got cancer and passed away on New Year’s Day, 1991. Four of the kids were adults and on their own but their youngest son had just started elementary school.

Arly, Jimmy, Les & John. Mag, Jim and Elly, 50th anniversary 1979…

The time during Jim’s tenure (mid-80’s & 90’s) as Rock Valley’s police chief ended up affecting me a lot and I was living 750 miles away. Mom had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a couple rounds of chemo treatments which caused a stroke from which she would never fully recover. Both Mom and Dad were too proud/ashamed/embarrassed to seek help (just a few hours of help a week) for several years. The results were pretty much a disaster. Dad was NOT a caregiver for her physical needs. Yup he was a stand up guy if your soul needed saving but baths, laundry, cooking, cleaning were not on his radar. At all. He and Mom were about the same size, 6 footers with lean builds. (what happened with short, chunky me? Who exactly are my real parents)? When Dad was helping Mom get from one place to another, invariably they’d both end up on the floor, more times than I care to remember. Well RV’s fire and police departments would get the call that the Gerritson’s needed help again. I can’t tell you how many times Jim came to their aid, oftentimes right from his house because he lived a block away.

Mom & Dad before they needed Chief Jim’s help at times…

One time I had flown to help Mom and Dad out for a week, mostly cooking in bulk and freezing meals. But without a car I was stranded. Jimmy offered to drive me to Orange City so I could buy a piece of Blue Delft for my collection. (A tradition when I was in northwest Iowa). I can’t remember the name of the store, wasn’t on Main Street and looked like a dark brown barn. Probably something clever like Wooden Shoe Factory. It was winter and frigid so Jimmy came in the store with me, looking like a bull in a china shop. Eyes bulging at the hundreds of choices which I had to narrow down to one. Shaking his head and muttering, “can you believe the price of this crap? You really gonna pay that?” (In my defense I only bought one or 2 pieces a YEAR). I picked a plate to hang on the wall and yes it was a hundred bucks. He shook his head over that for years!

The plate that caused Jimmy’s disbelief…

In January of 2018, the Hubs and I flew to Arizona for a couple weeks. Our time was limited because our grandson Landon, the basketball phenom was in the middle of his junior season and I couldn’t bear to miss many games. Les and Mary Jane had been wintering in Yuma for several years and Jim and Dee (his wonderful lady friend of 20 years) were driving out for a 2 month stay. This trip was the first time in decades Mag’s 3 boys were vacationing together again. (Brother Arly had passed away in 2012 at age 67). This vacation was a game changer in many respects. The small car we had reserved wasn’t available after we landed so they upgraded us to a minivan with all the bells and whistles. The six of us fit comfortably. We went to the desert, casinos, church breakfasts, flea market. Had margaritas, wine, dips and chips on Les’ fabulous deck every afternoon. Met somewhere almost every night to eat supper together.

John, Les and Jim a couple years ago in Le Mars…

But it was after we got back when I really noticed the change between Jim and John. The phone calls grew more frequent and lengthy, always ending with an, “I love you little brother.” “I love you too Jim.” Reminisced about the baby coyotes, raccoon and fox Jim brought back to his little brother to raise during the 50’s after a hunting trip. Things were just different between them and their chatter was nice to hear during their calls.

Celebrating something around 1951. Elly, Jimmy with toddler Johnny in the background…

Jim hadn’t been feeling well and finally went to the doctor in mid April, 2020. He called John the next day (Saturday) with devastating news. He had been diagnosed with acute leukemia and the doctor had given him days to live. Because of the pandemic they encouraged him to go home because he couldn’t have visitors while in the hospital. He passed away 3 days later. We decided not to travel home because of the federal restrictions at funerals. But when you don’t attend, you really don’t have closure either. What really helped was because Jim was a retired law enforcement there was a city processional led by local patrol cars, county sheriff’s department and the Iowa State Highway Patrol, plus a 7 rifle volley from the veterans. All of this was recorded by the city of Rock Valley and posted on Facebook, which brought tears to our eyes. What a tribute. End of watch Jim. Rest easy. Hone your shuffling techniques and card skills because we got some serious games of pinochle to settle. He was a card shark (with a bit of a temper when he played) which made my seldom wins even sweeter…

The life of Lakey…

Guert Wanningen was born in Negeloo, Gendwingelo, the Netherlands in 1860. Jantje Frantzen was born in Steingherworld, Overijssel, the Netherlands in 1867. Both immigrated to the United States in 1888 (were they on same boat, did they already know each other? I don’t know) and were married later that year after settling in the mostly Dutch community of Sioux Center, Iowa.

Earliest picture of Gerke/Gerrit/Lakey (my grandpa) I have, 1908…

These immigrations were well thought out by former immigrants, now living in the states. After they became established, found housing, jobs and started learning the language, they in turn would sponsor someone else from the Netherlands who was interested in starting a new life in the states. The most recent immigrants were welcomed with open arms, helped with finding work and a place to live. The newbies would offer their profound thanks and bring a small gift they brought over from the old country. Mom talked about these ‘sponsor’s gifts’ often because she had several in her possession. Not from the immigrants themselves but her grandparents who had sponsored several people from the Netherlands over the years. Now I have a couple of those gifts.

A 1924 wedding gift candy dish, a candy dish of Mom’s and sponsor’s gift from the Netherlands, late 1800’s…

Geurt and Jantje had their first child, a daughter named Jantje (pronounced yon-chee, Americanized to Jennie) December 1st, 1889. A son (my grandpa, christened Gerke-Americanized version-Gerrit) followed on January 17, 1896. My Dad, (who would later become Gerrit’s son-in-law, shared my grandpa’s January birthday. Gerrit was 21 years older than my dad-kinda odd). The Wanningen’s lived on a 20 acre farm north of Sioux Center. In 1918 they sold the farm. The Sioux Center Nieuwsblad (local newspaper) posted this snippet of utmost importance: Geurt Wanningen is going to build a large new house. Joe Van Deest will be the carpenter and lumber has already been purchased. (Ha-ha, I love this).

Gerrit, Jantje, Guert and Jennie on the Sioux Center farm in 1910…

Tongues were wagging, heads were shaking about the Wanningen’s new house since there were only 3 of them living there. Geurt and Jantje’s daughter Jennie got married in 1915, then became pregnant and very ill at the same time. She developed cancer in her eye during her pregnancy. Jennie’s husband Paul brought her to the hospital in Sioux City where she had a stillborn baby boy they named Peter. Jennie died the next day at age 28. Jennie and Peter were buried in the coffin together. Tragedy number one for the Wanningen clan.

Jantje (Jennie) Wanningen Van Donge 1916…

Gerrit had adopted the nickname’ Lakey.’ (How he came by this nickname remains a mystery. Perhaps he was a great swimmer. Maybe the name fit because he was around 6′ 5″ and a ‘tall drink of water,’ or he simply wanted something different because Gerrit reminded him too much of his dad’s name)? He still lived at home and was considered a bit different. Awkward, very tall, gangly and often had ‘words’ with his parents, especially his father. He was not particularly good looking (unlike his dad, my great-grandpa Guert who was incredibly handsome) and somewhat unsure of himself. That would all change when Lakey, now 27 fell head-over-heels in love with a young lady named Coba Berghuis in 1923. She was from a large family and a senior in high school.

My stunning grandma Coba’s Senior picture in 1924…

Coba graduated from high school in May of 1924. She immediately headed to Des Moines for 6 weeks of Normal Training to become a teacher. (Six weeks, are you serious? Yes quite). She started her teaching career in September of 1924 and taught for 2 years in West Branch # 8, four miles south and one mile west of Sioux Center. She married my grandpa Lakey on December 6, 1924. Lakey was working for the Sioux Center Phone Company. Coba taught until the end of the school year, May of 1926. She was expecting a baby by the end of the year. She gave birth to my uncle Floyd and my mom Florence on December 13, 1926. Sioux Center Nieuwsblad, December 15, 1926: Mr. and Mrs. G. Wanningen, Jr. were gladden by the birth of twins, a son and a daughter. (This was a big deal in a small town).

How beautiful is this? Coba’s picture during her pregnancy, 1926…

But my grandpa Lakey’s life was about to take a hit from which he would never recover. The introverted guy who came out of his shell after accepting the love and devotion of a beautiful woman he knew was out of his league, retreated once again. When the twins were 2 weeks old, the light of his world was extinguished. Coba died from birth complications (Mom said it was her kidneys). The twins were motherless and grandpa Lakey was heartbroken and bitter.

Lakey in high school around 1914..

Sioux Center Nieuwsblad, December 29, 1926: Mrs. G. Wanningen, Jr died Monday morning on December 27th at age 20 years. Two weeks before she gave birth to twins. She leaves her husband and both babies. Additional, she leaves her parents, three brothers and three sisters. The funeral will be held Thursday, December 30, 1:30 at the house and 2 o’clock at the Second Reformed Church.

Floyd and Florence 1927…

Sioux Center Nieuwsblad, February 2, 1927: Gerrit Wanningen, with his small babies have moved in with his father and mother. Lakey tried, he really did, but his heart was not in raising the two babies who snuffed the life out of his beloved wife. Lakey’s parents, Geurt and Jantje were not young when this second tragedy hit. He was 67, Jantje was 60-raising 2 month old twins. (Their friends and neighbors now however realized that the “large new house” was exactly what the Wanningen’s needed to rear their grandchildren). Coba’s parents pushed hard to raise their new grandchildren, but Lakey’s folks won this round. Since both sets lived in Sioux Center, the Berghuis bunch, who were younger and still had children at home shared many of the duties.

Jantje, Guert, Florence & Floyd in front of the big house, 1930…

Lakey didn’t spend a lot of time with the babies when they were young. He changed jobs and worked in Rock Valley for IPS (Iowa Public Service). He married Mary Arendson in 1933. I think she was widowed and had a couple of kids. Lakey and Mary encouraged Floyd and Florence to join their ‘yours & mine’ family, but the 7 year olds cried constantly for their grandparents and the way of life to which they were accustomed. Soon Lakey brought them back to the large Wanningen house where they would remain. Guert passed away in 1938.

Jennie 25, Guert 55, Gerrit 19, Jantje 48 around 1915…

I have not found any pictures of Lakey with his twins and I have a ton of pictures. I have numerous pictures of the kids during various stages of their young lives with both sets of grandparents, but not one with their dad. Mom truly believed Lakey blamed her and Floyd for the death of their mom. It was just something he couldn’t move past until he was much older. Thus I believe Lakey’s rejection led my Mom to have her own self worth issues her entire life. Vicious cycle.

The bride’s half of the marriage license for Lakey & Coba, December 6, 1924…

Mary passed away after a decade of marriage. Grandpa Lakey showed no interest in seeking female companionship after that. He got his pilot’s license and flew his own plane. Uncle Floyd joined the Navy, Mom got married and moved to Rock Valley, but still went to Sioux Center (15 miles) to visit both grandmas (grandpa Pieter Berghuis died in 1936) and her dad. I guess it was a case of time heals. Lakey became a lineman for Sioux Center Municipal after they bought the system from IPS. Jantje died in August of 1950, right before I was born.

My uncle Floyd after he joined the Navy…

Mom and her dad did get close the last couple years. As a family, we’d drive to Sioux Center to visit him (in his tiny 3 room house) and grandma Berghuis every Sunday afternoon, often bringing him a plate of food and something sweet. Lakey retired in 1955, grandma Berghuis passed away in March of 1958, six months before Larry was killed. I distinctly remember sitting next to grandpa Lakey at Larry’s funeral. His suit coat was wool and scratchy and smelled like moth balls, but I leaned my 7 year old head against his arm anyway during the service.

Lakey by his own plane…

Grandpa Lakey got stomach cancer late in 1959. He was in and out of the hospital several times. Mom spent many hours and days driving back and forth taking care of him before he passed away in August, 1960. I know he felt resentment towards Floyd and Mom for the loss of Coba but he grew to love and appreciate his adult children and they loved him. It was just another notch in the Wanningen/Berghuis/Gerritson family tragedy…

9,273, but who’s counting…

It was one year ago today since I had knee replacement. I was scheduled to have my final check-up this week but that appointment was cancelled because of the virus. It took months to get the appointment with Dr. Carpenter, then another 90 days to get on his surgery schedule. If I had been scheduled for surgery this spring instead of last year, it would have been postponed.

So how’s the leg? Well thanks for asking. It’s doing pretty good. No pain unless I try and bend it farther than it’s willing to go. I still wrap a cold gel pack when I go to bed for a half hour but there’s no swelling or hot spots anymore. My other knee is doing just what Doc C thought it would (it doesn’t have much cartilage either, he asked which one I wanted done first? Such a card). He thought after replacement and therapy my left knee might feel better once I started walking normally. You know when some part of you is causing pain, you compensate for it, which throws everything else off kilter. Now that my gait has returned to something close to normal, that’s exactly what happened. I’m still mindful of lefty, can’t twist or pivot but I haven’t had much pain and hope never, ever to need surgery on that one.

The small gravel section separates my walking path near the pond from the road …

I’ve been an avid walker since 1998, although since we moved to Jackson in mid-2015, walking’s been sporadic. I can visualize how I used to walk. Swinging my arms like a in-a-hurry pendulum, thrusting my momentum forward with nice long strides. Looked like a windup toy soldier. Nary a care in the world and didn’t have to watch the terrain. Who am I kidding? I’ve always been mindful of where I was walking. Since the onset of Meniere’s almost 2 decades ago, my balance has been seriously compromised. I’ve fallen several times over the years, breaking the same elbow-twice. A stone the size of an almond under my shoe can put me on the ground. But I wasn’t fearful/cautious like I am now. I know my age has something to do with that. In 1998 I was 47 and there was much less likelihood of me getting seriously injured if I took a spill. Twenty years ago, I could get lost listening to my music while I walked. Not literally, but I’d look up at the surroundings and be surprised how far I’d gone.

Daffodils looked better before 2 days of snow and wind but they make me smile…

Hurt my left knee walking in 2016 which took a year to heal, then fell hurting the right one which eventually led to surgery. After surgery and therapy I finally started walking again last fall when I took another spill landing on my brand new ceramic knee, slowing my recovery and warranting another round of physical therapy. Oh my word.

Scar looks pretty good at the one year mark…

For Michigan, this was one fantastic winter for those of us who despise snow. (Me-me) Temps weren’t bad and not much of the white crap. Think Hubs used the snowblower 3 times, which in a normal winter could mean 3 times a day, not a season. So I started walking outside again but our streets are just shit. Pot holes larger than where the Titanic rests. These are filled periodically with stinky black pebble stuff by city workers. Those smelly black jellybeans soon find their way everywhere but said pothole. Our large neighborhood has no sidewalks, thus I must walk on the street to get to our relatively new walking/bike path, which is 3 blocks away. But then it’s clear sailing for several miles.

The section at the end of our block is hopeless…

My first goal was a tiny Nazarene church just over a half mile away. The last block before I get there is quite an incline and I was puffing by the time I stopped at their driveway to turn around. On the way is a McDonald’s which has a separate entrance and exit. Walking towards home the first dozen times I noticed the “s l i g h e s t” incline from the entrance surface to the sidewalk. More than once I’d look ahead and think, hope I can make it up this steep slope. I was really in horrible shape.

This was my first goal. Perhaps I should venture inside sometime…

Next I pushed myself to hit the one mile marker before I turned around. During the next few weeks I added an extra quarter mile-twice, so on good days I was walking about 3 miles total. Not every day though. If the weather was bad I stayed home. On days where I was getting groceries, running errands or standing by the stove to cook for awhile, I’d shorten my walk to 1-1/2 or 2 miles. But on days where I wasn’t doing much besides walking (and eating) I went as far as I could. With the speed of slug.

About a half mile from home. What a great walking path…

There’s not much I do on my iPhone or iPad without getting tech advice from my go-to-guru-guy (middle kid Josh who’s now one of the leading statisticians on the Covid stats in the state). There’s about 100 apps on my phone and I use maybe a dozen. Tops. I’m leery, overly cautious, and skeptical. I know deep in my heart every one of those little bastards contain a virus. But being a hip, brave woman of the world, I threw caution to the wind and got an app without Joshua’s 5 minute approval/disbelief speech, his patient sigh, rolling his eyes until only whites are visible or his exasperated “Ma.”

Just past an assisted living facility. Looks like farmland…

Seeking said guru’s approval I texted him with, “guess what? I just googled ‘stopwatch’ and can you believe it, my phone has one already built in?” (Who knew? He sighed) “But I want to know more than how long I’m walking, I wanna know how many steps I’m taking, so I got a pedometer app by myself!” I’m deaf but definitely think I heard him chewing through his lip to keep from responding on the receiving end of the return text. I plunged further into the rabbit hole with, “once the app was installed I thought they sent me an example of how my daily steps total might look. Upon further inspection it seemed to be the actual record of what I’d really walked for a week because I missed a couple days for bad weather. How could my new app possibly know that already?”

My tech guy, Josh…

He summed it up with his usual nonchalance, “mom, your phone already does that for you. You’d be surprised how much stuff they keep track of.” (I found that somewhat creepy) “It’s in health and fitness, in your settings.” Am I the only one who doesn’t pay attention to that never ending list in my settings? I manage about 4 of them. So now I’m tracking how many steps I take a day. On days where I stay in it’s pretty hopeless. Our house is small, I don’t carry my phone around with me as I maneuver this large facility. If becoming deaf has taught me anything, one of the most important is keeping my phone in a specific place. When it’s ringing I have no idea where that sound is coming from. For that reason I put it in a very specific place when I go to a room-and leave it there. Then I know exactly where it is.

My wonderful vegetable stand…

Thursday was unseasonably cold and windy, but since we had snow showers on Wednesday I hadn’t walk and wasn’t eager to miss another day. Out with the wool long johns, scarf, gloves and winter coat. Again. Started my favorite playlist, grabbed my walking stick and away I went. (I don’t see me walking without my stick in the foreseeable future-but I’m ok using it for balance. Hubs informed me I wore a hole through the rubber tip on the end. This shouldn’t please me but it sure did. He’s already replaced it). Walking west was frigid but eventually I warmed up. Got to my 1-1/2 mile mark (the farthest away from home I’ve walked in several years) but did not turn around. There’s an important point that has some relevance here. You’re feeling good, walking fine, but every single step you take further from your house has to be repeated going back. Only difference is you’re already tired. (I have some issues with this but it’s vitally important to remember). I was looking for my next walking milestone. It turned out to be the vegetable stand where I buy cucumbers and tomatoes called Tyluki’s. And I did turn around and start back home but not without a wistful glance towards Sutton’s Road-my next goal.

My pedometer app. Hopeless if I don’t walk. Wonder what floor means?

Turns out Tyluki’s is just over 2 miles from my house, so my walk was 4.2 miles which includes another hill (dear Lord I didn’t need another one). I did some laundry (up and down the stairs several times) and made sure I took my phone with me, resulting in a little celebration on my pedometer app at the end of the day because I hit 10,000 steps. First time in over a decade. Yay me! My walking time is pathetic. Twenty minute mile but I can’t afford another fall either. However I would like to decrease it by a couple minutes per mile sometime this summer. And I’m determined to decrease some of my steps inside the house. My never ending trips to the kitchen cupboards and fridge have really got to stop…