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Now Hear This

25 Jun

I closed down this blog because I felt like people got the wrong impression.  And I’m going to leave “people” very vague here so forgive me for that.  I was writing Trip Ahoy posts to save all the research I did for our trip to Europe.  When our Mom passed away, Kristin and I lost our trip planner.  We lost the woman who had brought places to life for us.  I always attributed this to her being a frustrated History/English teacher.  But I think it’s that there were never enough knowledge for Mom.  The more she learned, the more she wanted to know.

So faced with creating a European trip for me and my now husband, I realized that I was doing it in her honor.  And a bit for Kristin and Dad, too.  We’d been there 20 years ago, all four of us.  When I would see some of the cities on our itinerary, I would be lucky enough to say that I remembered being there, with them.  I lit a candle in Notre Dame and in St Peter’s in Munich for her.  I talked to her and thanked her for everything from the top of the Duomo in Florence.  And in Paris, I forced the Mister into more museums than he’ll ever forgive me for because I couldn’t imagine skipping the magic of seeing that art again, in person.

Before we traveled I did extensive reading in books, on the internet, in magazines and in anything Rick Steves put in print.  I listened to podcasts on French history, rented “Triumph of the Will” from the library and got my hands on as many documentaries and travel shows as the internet would allow.  I listened to music (mostly Edith Piaf and Django Reinhardt, to be honest) from the cultures and sampled their food, which is always a fun task.  I tried to immerse myself in the topic as deeply as I could for two mains reasons: 1) my mom would not be there to know all these things for me and 2) I was mourning her loss.

Trip Ahoy was an obsession I picked up to cope with the loss of our Mom.  Some interpreted it as me being excited about a trip and not giving a hoot about the two people left reeling in Bismarck.  When we lost Mom, Kristin and Dad had to shore each other up.  Dad had advanced Parkinson’s disease which had quickly gotten worse under the strain of watching the love of his life die in their living room.  Kristin had the twin nightmares of mourning her mother while caring for her ill father.  And she did this while she was deep in the bowels of alcoholism.

So while I cannot blame some for assuming that my chirpy banter on this site was completely opposite to that of a caring daughter and sister, I can say that what I was doing was exactly the opposite.  I was keeping myself afloat while I fought with my own demons of depression, anxiety, loss and the physical distance from those who I couldn’t truly help.  I chose not to sound that way on my blog because having that tone here didn’t make anything better.  It still doesn’t.  This is honestly not the kind of post I like to write but I’m tired of worrying how I’m being perceived.  I can only be the person I am and sometimes that person isn’t enough.

Dad is now in the hospital.  His second stay this month.  He has C Diff and colitis.  He had (and may still have) pleurisy, pneumonia and a hematoma on his liver.  He’s fallen in the last week at the nursing home.  A speech therapist had to feed him his meals because he is a choking risk.  None of us would wish this life for anyone they love.  Though his care will be better in the hospital where an IV drip and perhaps a new and better cocktail of antibiotics will help, he’s still not “home”.  And after three surgeries of my own this year, shuttling back and forth every weekend isn’t something that I can really do and that feels like another cruel twist.  That my own body is preventing me from being there for Dad is hard to choke down.  I don’t feel I’m managing it all that well.

Please know, then, that when I start writing chirpy posts about a trip to Britain that may happen in 2015 that I am doing so for two reasons: 1) because it is how I cope and 2) because Dad would want to go.  If you know Doug Sande then you know that nothing brings a smile to his face quite like saying “we were there”.  I’m going, Dad.  And instead of lighting candles I’m going to talk up people in the pubs and I’m going buy souvenirs that will decorate our house.  I will get my picture taken with a Beefeater and I will learn some new swear words. And you will be with me the whole time like I you are with me here.



Sad Pandas Should Eat Tofu

19 Dec

Where have I been?  Well, mostly Minneapolis with a side trip to Boston and a visit home to Bismarck.  Oh, but you meant where have I been since September when I last posted.  That’s a bit longer of an answer but here I go…

‘Round about August I started to feel my depression kicking in.  I spent a lot of time wondering if we should even bother with this trip.  It was a long way to go to feel blue.  And I felt like I was starting to scrape the bottom of my particular barrel.  Then one day I was home and I watched a random documentary about juice fasting (Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead).  I reacted pretty strongly.  When I watch It’s a Wonderful Life I need to hug my loved ones, when I watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead I apparently needed to launch out of the house, buy two books on juicing, buy a cart full of veg and fruit and then head to Target to buy a juicer.

This has very little to do with travel but it has a whole lot to do with my mood which has made me feel like I want to travel again.  I juiced for ten days and felt reallly great afterwards.  Then about four or five weeks later the Mister and I both did another fast (on his encouragement).  The big thing was that between those fasts and since, I’ve stuck to a mostly vegan diet and it’s kind spectactular how much better I’ve been feeling.

So I want to start writing in this blog again because we are going on the trip and I do want to share all of the research and planning I’ve been doing.  I have to remind myself that this blog is more about a scrapbook for me than about anyone else reading it because I worry that I’m boring the pants of y’all.  I really want to look back and have a record of the time leading up to our European adventure because finally making it overseas is something that I’ve been meaning to do for years and I’m proud that I’ve stuck with this.

[Hi, Mom!]

Anyway, I’ll start writing my one post a day starting after the new year.  Until then I hope you are all safe and sound.  Here’s best wishes to you this holiday season whatever it is you’re eating!

Ripping Good

26 Jul

There are a lot of sites that sell travel stuff.  Only it should be called “travel stuff” with the quotes used to indicate that you “could” travel with it.  With such a flexible definition, that grand piano you’ve always wanted in every hotel room just might be possible.

I couldn’t let the item below go unnoticed though.  It goes beyond something that is odd for travel and just falls in the category of odd.  I like to say the name of the product over and over while looking at my reflection seductively in the mirror. 

Discreet Odor Neutralizer Pads

Never be embarrassed by “escaped” gas again!

 We all have our “moments,” so be prepared when they happen! These soft-fabric, odor neutralizer pads absorb any smells that are accidentally released.

Sometimes you just can’t control a gassy stomach…and what may happen as a result. But relax—the pressure’s off when you’re protected with these antimicrobial pads. Just stick to your underwear (even thongs) and go about your day. If you make a slip, don’t worry—the odor is neutralized by the activated carbon layer, and you’re spared the embarrassment. Great for travel, office or anywhere you’re in close quarters!