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Day One:

Baby

The last (and only) time we saw our Great-Grandson, Philip!

We’d been planning to go see our Grandson, his wife and our great-grandson for some time, but each time a date was set, something came up! We weren’t going to let anything stop us this time; we were going to go, “Come Hell or Highwater,” as my father used to say.

Bags were packed, box full of stuff for Phillip and his parents and we were ready to go  . . .  in the rain . . .  (Unplanned event #1) at 4AM on Thursday. . . . with directions printed from Mapquest. (Mistake #1) We bowed our heads, said a prayer for a safe and fun trip, as we usually do, and hit the road, with Linda at the wheel and Jim in charge of the Mapquest document.

Driving in the dark and rain thru York, PA into Maryland, we didn’t need the directions since this is a trip we’ve made often. As we neared Washington D.C. there were several Highway changes and the Mapquest was not clear as to what lane to be in. With traffic picking up and rain beginning to come down harder, we somehow got on an EZ Pass section of highway . . .  not too bad, because you can always pay for that . . . bad, because it was heading west to Dulles Airport, not south towards North Carolina!

We got off at the DWI Airport exit, and it was free, (Blessing #1) got directions on getting back where we belonged and got back on the EZ Pass Highway, not stopping at the unmanned toll booth, (Mistake #2) and not realizing it until we came to a manned toll both! He gave me a slip of paper and told me to call them within two working days and it would cost me $6. If I didn’t call, it would cost me a whole lot more!

We continued on the trip, finding the right highway, battled the rain and traffic and passed from Maryland into Virginia. With the rain still falling, but the traffic thinning, we began to relax and decided to stop at McDonalds for a quick drive-thru bite to eat and continued on our way. . . Until! . . . Linda went to look for something in her purse.

The only problem was (unplanned event #2) it was not in the car! . . . and Linda knew exactly where it was! ON THE FRONT PORCH, RIGHT WHERE SHE PUT IT WHEN SHE LOCKED THE FRONT DOOR! (Mistake #3) At this point we’d been on the road for 5 hours, been lost once, driven in a heavy rain storm and turning around was not an option! Several Phone calls, text messages and Facebook messages later, one neighbor went across the street to check and found it and took it to their home, and another friend picked it up from them and overnighted it to us. (Blessing #2; Mistake #4)

We finally crossed the border into North Carolina, and anyone who has ever driven to the coast of this large state, knows our journey wasn’t even close to over! The good part? The landscape and the photo ops! The bad part? The landscape and photo ops are all on 2 lane roads that wind thru the state!

Finally arriving at our destination was the highlight of our day! We could stand but it took us a few minutes before we could walk because our legs were so stiff! Finally we saw who we had come to see! (blessing #3) The happiest little boy . . . and the busiest little boy! . . . and I don’t think he’s ever met a stranger!

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My good looking Great Grand!

He took to his Daddy’s “Pa” right off the bat, (blessing #4) and they played horsey, just as his father had done so many years ago, and he showed off all his skills with his toys, while his doggies, Gunner and Target, would watch over him or compete with him, wanting Jim to throw a ball or play tug-of-war with another toy!

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Play Horsie, Pa!!

The big grin on his face, and abandonment of his Pa when his father walked in the door told the story! (blessing #5) This kid loves his Daddy, more than his Pa, more than his dogs, and probably (insert unhappy face here) more than his great grandma! Nah! He should love his Mama and Daddy more than anybody! We’ll give him that!

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Stephanie and Grandma went to pick up the take-out Chinese Dinner we had ordered and Pa was amazed at how good it was and how cheap it was (blessing #6) After supper came a bath and an early bedtime for the weary travelers and youngster. It was a long day for two of us and we still had two full days to go!

Day Two:

Somebody was up bright and early and we joined him and his Daddy while Mommy slept in after a night spent with a teething baby.

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Some quality Daddy time for Philip!

He was his usual happy self and a joy to watch having fun with his various toys, dogs and showing off what he could do.

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Phillip showing Pa his “Noise Toy”

This was a stay at home day to play, read, watch a few movies and visit. His great-grandparents had brought him a set of Toddler Musical Instruments and the one he was playing for his Pa was his favorite.

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Phillip especially enjoys his books!!

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, relaxing and enjoying those we came to see.

Linda’s purse was delivered via UPS Overnight Service in the afternoon as expected. (Blessing #7, Lesson #1) It was a blessing that I had my wallet and credit cards, but a Lesson learned since it cost over $80 dollars! That’s 80 as in ~

E – I – G – H – T – Y  * * * D – O – L – L – A – R – S !!!  

The Lesson learned is next time I make a check list before the trip and make sure I have everything. If I don’t have it . . .  make do! (Unless it’s a purse full of credit cards sitting on the front porch, and in that case, have neighbor pick it and keep it until I get home!)

Stephanie made some awesome Fajitas, which Phillip throughly enjoyed as did the rest of us . . .maybe he enjoyed them more, hmmm?

Fajitas

Next Stop . . . .  Bathtub!

 

Day Three:

Today was the Day! The day Phillip would go see Santa for the first time! He wasn’t nearly as excited as we were! He just knew he was going somewhere. Meanwhile, there were those toys! . . . and believe it or not, he turns them upside down, sideways and any other way they go and examines what each part does. He is a very curious child, a kid after his great-grandma’s heart! (and especially that love of books he has!)

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Happy, Active Phillip!

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Phillip “thinks” he needs this to walk. and he really makes time with it!

It was finally time to start getting ready to see Santa! and that meant Phillip’s favorite activity! a Bath!! The bathroom door opens, he hears running water and he makes time getting to the bathroom! Whoo Hoo! a bath!!  Water! Toys!

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This Child looks forward to his baths ~ wet, toys, water! This seems to be a highlight in his day!

But this silly Great-Grandma remembers when it took three people to give somebody a whole lot smaller than this guy a bath!

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Four proud adults ~ three to wash a tiny baby and one to photograph the occasion!!

. . . Then the fun begins! Getting the center of attention ready to go see Santa!

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Distractions help in getting this little guy dressed, especially if it’s his own work bench!

Phillip’s dressed and now it’s Mommy’s turn to get dressed. Meanwhile Phillip and Daddy share father/son time, quietly.

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Learning how to use a cell phone

Family all loaded in the Murano we head to the Base where Santa awaits. Camera’s in everybody’s hand except mine (mistake #5) which was sitting in front of my computer on my desk at home. (Thank goodness, I at least remembered my phone with which to record the ocassion!)

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Just before Phillip tried to remove Santa’s Beard!

After the Santa Visit and a short trip to the Commisary, we headed to a Mongolian BBQ establishment for a great dinner! We all ate the required as much as we can, because we can, including Phillip, before heading home.

Since we wanted to get out early and miss a lot of traffic (HA! HA!) we organized our belongings after Phillip was in bed and Stephanie and Mike were showing signs of fatigue and hit the sack!

Day Four: Final Travel Day

We left early, hugged Mike, thanked him profusely for their hospitality and hit the road, winding once again through the back roads of North Carolina towards the interstate and wishing we could have stayed longer!

The final picture of Phillip came via text with the message “. . . He woke up this morning and kept crawling to the guest bedroom door very confused where Grandma and Grandpa went. . . .”

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If this doesn’t break your heart, nothing will!

Trip home long (but found gas at $1.68 a gallon) (blessing #8) Hit traffic around Washington/Baltimore where the Ravens game had just hit the 95 with all the upset fans because the Ravens lost, but no rain this time!

Happy to see home, but missed our family. Our Christmas present to ourselves, 2015!

Last year we took a trip to California from Lancaster, Pennsylvania and back on Amtrak. I wrote a few blogs about it, but left off the last stretch of the trip that was not quite what we expected from Amtrak. I ended up writing a letter to Amtrak with our concerns and received their answer in the form of a voucher to be used within a year.

Well, the year expires next week and we decided we’d better do something fast! The voucher just about completed the round trip fare for the two of us to NYC, so we decided on that for the day . . .  and the day was August 2, Saturday . . .  the hottest possible day we could choose!. But it was worth it!

The first thing I took a picture of was a wonderful old cemetery (of course) right across from the World Trade Center site. It looks cool and serene, but really wasn’t. It was HOT!

Cemetery

With graves as old as Rachel Colvin’s, (1784) and even older, it’s remarkable how good their condition is.
Rachel

St. Paul’s was only 14 years old when Rachel Colvin was buried, according to the sign on their fence. (I would have taken a picture of the building, but it was all under scaffolding when we were there, and the beauty of the structure cold not be seen.
St. Pauls

Leaving St. Paul’s and heading down the street, we found a cool little park, with food trucks on one side, benches under trees, entertainment in one corner and a neat New York Experience. We opted for the Chicken Tamales for lunch. Best we’ve ever had, masa, chicken cooked with red chiles. Period! Spicy and wonderful.

Trivia for the day. Why Wall Street is named, well, Wall Street!

Wall Street

Could the little redhead get her skirt any shorter?? . . . and, yes it was a skirt!

SkirtThis really, really neat, mirrored sculpture just called out PHOTO OPT! MirrorA   Who needs a Selfie Stick when you have a Mirror???

Mirror2As we walked around the back of it, we saw two of the sweetest, most gorgeous young ladies we’ve ever seen posing and taking pictures of each other.  So we volunteered to take pictures of them together, which they excitedly accepted! We got some beautiful pictures of them for their memories.

About that time, another couple came up and asked me if I’d take their picture for them, and of course, I agreed. I took their picture and started to walk off, when the thought occured to me, why had I not asked somebody to take our picture??? Duh! so I asked one of the girls and she took several for us. This one is our favorite! Red face and all . . . .(somebody should have worn the hat she brought along for the day!!)
Mirror3   The street was alive with activity, as there was a Street Faire going on ~ not just one block closed, but at least 3 full blocks closed. You could buy, food, fruit, clothing, Cell Phone accessories, art, you name, you could buy it. This was an important event. They wouldn’t even let a cement mixer with his load of cement down, until they closed for the day. We talked to him when we came out of Starbucks, and Jim commented that he was leaning in the same position when we had walked down to the Pier. He told us they would tell him when he could deliver his load and he’d been there since 8AM! This was about 1PM.
Street Fair
At the last corner of the Street Faire, as we started to walk up Fulton Street, these neat little tables were occupied by couples, by families and by friends. What a neat concept.
Chairs . . . and this art was on the wall behind them.
WallArt

As we walked up the street, I noticed this and of course, had to stop to read it. What jumped out at me is the fact that had it not been for this spot, Jim and I would probably have never met, since we met at work . . . Southern California Edison Company. We had to pay homage to this spot.
TAEdison Now when I spied this Lexus, I wondered why on earth would somebody do this to a Lexus? Is it in some kind of destruction derby? Is it his way of getting into his garage? Why? This thing is securely bolted to the under carrriage of his car, too!
LexusA . . . and then I walked further and saw he had the same thing bolted on the back as well! Why not on the sides?? Is this guy paranoid? Why put out the money for a Lexus and then bolt stuff onto it? Why even drive it in the city if you’re that paranoid??
LexusB
By that time we’d reached the Subway and headed back to Penn Station.
Question: How many people can you fit into a subway car?
Answer: At least two more.
I thought I was suffocating with one guy yelling in my ear to his friends who were shoved into me. We almost missed our stop and had to push and yell to get off and then we irritated people who were trying to shove their way on ~ with a double baby stroller no less! Ah! New York City! Got to love it. I’d go every time I got a chance, if I could!

Amtrak boarded us 20 minutes early due to Jim’s infirmity and we had the whole train to ourselves. The Red Cap seated us, Praise God, in the Quiet Car, right in the front where Jim had leg room.

Amtrak

. . . and so ended the perfect New York Experience. Absolutely exhausting, but ready to go again. I’d like to start planning for the next one.

Yesterday could have been one of the worst days of our life, if we put all of our energy into anger. Instead, we’re going to let the Company that decimated our backyard handle the situation. A yard that once looked like this:Yard

Now looks like this!

P1090205Our stately, old Walnut tree was in the throes of death. Branches were decaying and falling and we could foresee ourselves having to buy our neighbors home when one of the larger limbs fell thru it. It was time to bid it adieu. We called several Tree Services, listened to the spiel of what they would do and how much it would cost us, and finally decided to go with a service we had used twice in the past. They lined out what they would do, and we told them our stipulations:

  • Our large, full Butterfly Bush was to remain.
  • Neither of our Neighbors yards were to be touched.
  • The Stump was to be as low as possible

Everything else was what we considered common sense, and shouldn’t have to be itemized to the semi-intelligent crew . . . or so it seemed!

When the crew arrived I went out to greet them and went over what we wanted with one of the crew members. He asked if they could remove the arbor since they had a piece of equipment to get in our back yard. I specifically said, NO. It was a heavy, Amish Built item and had been installed securely and I’d rather not have to go through that again! I’ll comment on that later in this post.

I took the man over to the end of the hedge and showed him ONE section of the hedge that could be removed, and the tall bushes separating our neighbor’s yard from ours that could be cut back. He said that would work. I also reiterated my above three concerns.

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The arrow in the picture above is the stump from the only part of the hedge I authorized. You can see the stumps from the other two between the authorized one and end of the hedge. I guess he thought it was a suggestion. The bush I said they could trim is on the right ~ they could have had a nice spot to go through there. We had already measured by the time the crew showed up.

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The only part of our conversation he retained was the part about the Arbor not being removed, and they broke that instead. It is scratched up and now sways back and forth, with the top part electrical taped on to the bottom part. There are gouges and marks on the paint, and the security of the base has been compromised. The Honeysuckle vine looks like . . . well, you can imagine! and the base is broken causing the whole thing to sway back and forth!

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Oh to have the yard we had in 2014. Before the tree took a turn for the worse and when I had a thriving, beautiful Butterfly Bush! Imagine that Bush with a year more of growth! It was beautiful! It’s that bush with the purple flowers right in front of the tree!

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Can you find it today?? Neither can I!

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The Boom was up in the air, a man sawing the limb, getting it into a sling and then dropping the log to the ground. The sling would sway back and forth with the piece of the limb in it until they dropped it . . . right on the Butterfly Bush, as I watched from my Library window . . . weeping silently for it’s demise.

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The tree is gone; the Butterfly Bush is gone and more of my hedge than I wanted gone is missing, but life goes on.

This all happened on Wednesday and we made known our displeasure with the job. The owner of the company sent his right hand man out to check on it on Thursday. He could not believe the mess we had and said he’d make sure the man in charge would be in touch with us!  . . . and he was. He was more than displeased with his crew and promised to make everything right.

Our neighbor behind us pulled up as we were talking in the alley and he went up and introduced himself to our neighbor and said he’d make everything right for him as well ~ and he’ll even cut one of his trees! He wanted to start tomorrow, but Steve our neighbor is Jewish and it’s their Sabbath, and besides, Jim and I are heading to NYC for the day.

. . . First things first, you know.

Birthday

 

This was taken in the front yard of our house in Paauhau. My mother always combined my birthday party with one for my sister, even though our birthdays were two months apart. I recognize the Akioka sisters and my own sister, but do not remember anybody else!

. . .and who was that girl in the coat??

I remember it was a red coat and to this day thought she must be stiffling if the rest of us were in short sleeves!

 

1949, Paauhau, Hawaii:

When I still looked good in a swimming suit. .

When I still looked good in a swimming suit. .

1968, Riverside, California:

Two of the cutest kids ever!!  Mine!

Two of the cutest kids ever!! Mine!

1993, Tehahapi, California:

angel-1

1995, Tehachapi, California:

Hallie ~ just waiting, patiently!

Hallie ~ just waiting, patiently!

Each generation has their Christmas memories. As I reflect on the special people I have shared my memories with, I wish you all

Blessings on this most special of Eves and the creation of special memories of your own on Christmas Day, 2013.

My Map

Each one of those colors represent something different. Each state that has a color represent a state that I have at least stepped in. I’ve either lived in, visited for awhile, spent more than just a night and saw a few sights or just stepped in and kept going. The white ones ~ they’re kinda like my empty coffee cup in a busy restaurant. . . empty for a reason! Ignored, forgotten or overlooked! Something that needs attention.

  • The three GREEN states represent states I have lived in for a period of time. I started my life in Hawaii, lived most of my life in California and my life will probably end in Pennsylvania.
  • The nine BLUE states are the ones I chose to visit, sight-see and repeat those steps! I’ve either had a friend, a member of the family or left a piece of my heart in those states.
  • The AMBER states are ones I’ve visited, did a little sightseeing, spent a couple of days and then hit the road to the next destination. Alaska is the exception. It should fit into the Blue category since Jim and I spent two weeks with my sister and her husband, but the description stated you must have seen “a fair amount of” the State. We would have had to spend years there to satisfy that requirement!
  • and the RED states are those I’ve stepped in, stopped to buy gas and a snack, drove thru and took a picture or two or just satisfied the requirement of  not spending a lot of time or seen a lot of! In some cases, it hasn’t even involved slowing down on the interstate.
  • and the WHITE states are just plain out of the way! Haven’t had a chance to fill those in, hope I can, don’t know if I will kind of States.

The distractions on Facebook can be just that or they can make you slow down and think of how fortunate you are for seeing and experiencing as much as you have. It certainly has done just that for me. It has also given me ideas for future blogs. There is no reason why I can’t write at least one blog for each of those Blue States.  In most instances, I’ve visited the State several times, stayed awhile and didn’t want to leave.

It nice to have goals ~ nicer yet to meet them!

Want to make your own map? Here’s the page to start –

http://www.defocus.net/visitedstates/

I encountered two different women this weekend who really impressed me, for completely different reasons. I know the name of one of them, and although the other will always remain nameless, I will always remember her smile and her act of goodwill.

We were in Philadelphia for the weekend because we were taking a special trip offered by Amtrak to view the Autumn Colors on a route not generally open to Passenger Trains. As we boared a SEPTA train Sunday morning to take us from our hotel by the Airport into the City and the Amtrak Station, Jim scraped his arm on something. He was carrying our heavy overnight bag, and had to climb up several steps with two bad knees. He scraped his arm bad enough that it broke the skin and he started bleeding thru the shirt. I had bandaids on hand, so I doctored the arm, but the shirt sleeve had to be washed.  We had a seven hour train tour ahead of us, and wearing his coat to cover the shirt was not an option and I had to do something! I talked him into taking off the shirt and wearing only his jacket (zipped up) while I washed the sleeve in the restroom sink and dried it under one of those high heat hand dryers.

There were just two hand dryers in that large restroom, and leaning against the wall and warming her hands under one of them was an elderly (or so it seemed) homeless woman. Her cart has next to her and she was dressed in several layers of mismatched clothes She would not make eye contact with me.

When I finished cleaning Jim’s shirt I took the other hand dryer to dry it, offering it to anyone who had washed their hands, but everyone (about 4 people!) shook their head no, took paper towels and left, staring at the two of us using the hand dryers in ways other than the intended. Perhaps they thought I was homeless also. Who knows?

Everybody ignored us except for one woman. She smiled at me and then did something I shall never forget. She reached into her large, rather expensive looking leather bag and pulled out a pair of socks, leaned over and offered them to the homeless woman. One small little gesture. One small gestures that affected two people – the woman who will have clean warm socks, and me.

I say I care, and I do, but I have never given on a one to one basis like this woman did. I give to organizations who give to people. I get a receipt for Income Tax purposes. What is important  I learned on Sunday, is not whether I get credit for my good deeds, but whether my good deeds are going to the individuals who benefit the most from them.

How many of us walk by those less fortunate than we are and think “They should go to a Shelter.” or “Don’t they know there are programs in place for them?”  Why don’t we think “What can I do for that woman who is huddled by the wall?” “Is there some way I can help? Some little way?”

I have decided there is. I will carry socks in my purse from now on. and maybe an extra five dollar bill. Since I don’t know their story (and it doesn’t matter anyway) I really can’t judge them – I can only help them in any little way I can.

Look around you. They are there – they may not be huddled against the wall. They may be sitting on a bus bench or picking up a cigarette butt. They all have a story and they all need to know that maybe, just maybe somebody cares.

I’d like to be that person that touches one person’s life. Wouldn’t you?

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