Around the Driveway

One time

Two times

Three times

Four times

I’m 4 days post op back surgery today. I remember telling a friend a couple of weeks ago that I would be back to normal in a week.

I just knew it.

Boy was I wrong.

I’m doing pretty good. But normal in a week?

I think not.

I walked around the block today and already made it around the driveway 8 times, two different times.

I mostly sit on the ice pack and walk. I’m busy trying to get through Gilmore Girls. When in the world are Luke and Lorelei going to finally get together?

I’m NOT a good sitter and while I walk, I see things I want to do. I know I can’t, but a girl can make a list right?

Our driveway shows a plethora of items I love and can’t wait to get back to.

Steve is repairing some wood rot on the front porch. I’m usually the wood cutter for him.

My ever faithful Duke the Labrador follows me around each and every time. He’s so cute and is a really good boy.

I scheduled camping time for the end of the year. With gas prices being what they are, it looks like we will be staying close to home this summer

Dads favorite blackberry bushes are producing great this year. They got moved to the side yard and little boys love to look every single day for the ripe ones

Every time I circle around the driveway, I see the hands of the ones I love. They were created in 2019 so there are some missing 😍

#266 is getting a mini makeover as soon as I’m cleared to work.

I want to make a mini library book swap in the front yard soon.

My list is increasing. as well as my will to get busy.

Happy Saturday!

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Living In The Crack

I found out late Friday night that Uncle Harless met Jesus.

While I know most people call them James and Dorothy, I’m sorry but that just doesn’t work for me.

My sweet cousin made a call to tell me the news. While I know Uncle Har had been suffering with poor health for a while now, when you hear the news, it’s still a shock. I immediately went to Moms house, which is down the hall and through a door, to share with her the news. She actually grabbed her chest. Uncle Har is her brother in law and I’ve always felt that Aunt Toots and Har were second parents.

My immediate thought was that my Dad met Uncle Harless at heavens gates and welcomed him with a giant bear hug and a “welcome home” brother. Tears of joy filled my eyes while tears of sadness filled my heart thinking of my sweet aunt bearing the sorrow of losing her husband of 73 years. So much of their lives spent together, raising a family and enjoying retirement.

While I spoke with Joy and Toots on Saturday morning we spoke of all the things needed to be done on the first day of her new normal. It will not feel like normal today or for weeks and months to come, maybe never. I shared that I wished I could be there but she was in good hands with Joy because the girl can boss around the best of them.

Aunt T spoke of how the old had to learn how to live a new way.

Joy and I spoke of being of “Medium” age and she mentioned how she and her co-workers call it “living in the crack.”

Huh? What exactly is living in the crack?

She said that it could go either way. You can be living in the crack of fine china or you can be living in the crack of a nasty crack that everyone knows what I’m referring to and doesn’t want to talk about. Somethings you have the ability to choose and sometimes you are dealt what you get.

I’ve always referred to it as living in the dash. The dash between your birthdate and your death date.

Uncle lived his dash to the fullest.

He always loved me. He always made me feel like I was the most important person in the room. I remember his love of electronics. He played a mean game of volleyball and he and dad were very competitive at horseshoes and don’t even get me started on his harmonica. I believe that his playing brought such joy to others but it also gave him great happiness. Harless played for people but he really played for Jesus. He would sit on the platform at church and I would watch him ooze with happiness. Jesus gives us our gifts and talents and Harless used his for good.

Uncle Har always was so anxious to show me his new invention or creation.

The last time we were at their house we rode around in his new golf cart and he was like a little kid showing me all its bells and whistles.

I am so guilty of wanting the next best thing to come instead of relishing in the present. Every time someone leaves us, I want to be better about telling those around me how important they are to me.

How my life is better with them in it.

Not waste a minute on unimportant things and fill my life full of joy and abundance. Not abundance of things but abundance of fun, joy, hard work doing the things I love, visiting places near and far, sitting on the floor and talking to my grand boys and letting them know how much I dearly love them. Sharing with my children the joy they have brought to my life. Listening to my Mom as she relishes in her golden years. Spending time with my guy.

I fail every day but today I think back on how much Uncle James “Harless “ Ratliff meant to me, I’m mad at myself for not telling him more often.

But then I smile because I think he knew.

Heaven is a brighter place today , if that’s possible, with Uncle Harless there.

Give dad a hug from me. Give love to Mammaw and Pappaw and all the aunt uncles and cousins.

Heavens promises are real and one day all the loved ones that I miss today will meet me at the gate.

I’ll be the one with the big smile.

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What I Learned on Vacation

We just returned from a week long vacation with friends. One whole week, everyday with the same people.

For us… worked.

Find people that have the same likes.

Are in the same season of life as you.

While no one has the exact same tastes, our travel partners were easy. We gravitated towards the same foods, the same excursions and most nights, except for one, we were tired at the same time. One evening, they “put the kids to bed” and went to the bar. We ordered room service and watched a movie.

I have been nursing an injury and sometimes I needed to stop and rest. I was so afraid of being a nuisance or the invalid that couldn’t keep up with everyone else. I did not ever feel “less than.” I felt cared for and loved by not only my guy, who is always caring for me but also our traveling friends who were so considerate and understanding of limitations.

Our first day in Providence Rhode Island, Becky was entering the next stop into the Maps. The directions said it was a longer trip than what we were expecting. I double checked the address and my Maps said it was 3 minutes away.

What was wrong??? How could there be such a discrepancy?

Always make sure you put DRIVING into your maps instead of WALKING.

Our last hotel had a Starbucks coffee bar area on every floor. Nice! I decided one morning to hop over to make some coffee. Steve was in the shower. I was still in Jammie’s, no glasses, no bra (TMI) but our room was really close, it was early and I guaranteed myself that no one would be there.

Well I was wrong.

It wasn’t a coffee pot to pour from. It was a dang machine I had to pick the coffee bean, the size cup and all sorts of ridiculousness. I couldn’t see a thing and of course a woman, looking like she had it ALL TOGETHER came to the machine while I’m squinting and tying to figure out what the heck I’m doing.

She also decides to ask me all sorts of questions while we stand there. Me, completely embarrassed by my appearance. Of course she is from Orlando and we are on the same flight the next day.

Always wear a bra to the hotel coffee bar.

Makeup is unwanted and very unnecessary on vacation.

We determined that it didn’t take much to amuse us

Your people at home will miss you.

Little boys and their parents would check in often and send funny pictures. Luke was throwing a tantrum because he wanted to see Nana. He fell asleep on the floor in front of her door. He had been running a fever and we try and protect Nana from little kids germs as much as possible.

My Porch girls met at the old house even when I wasn’t there. That is dedication and the “want” to still be together. I loved it and it made my heart swell.

Today we are home. Amidst loads of laundry, picking up contact lenses, treating the pool for a shade of green it acquired and so many other things that need attention.

The big house welcomed us with all its glory. Little boy hugs, big people greetings of “we missed you.”

No matter where we go or what we do…..home is still my favorite place.

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Our Last Day in New England

We started out this morning with breakfast at the best little restaurant directly across from our hotel.

The Rigby Yard used to be a Train Depot. I might have taken a few inspirations pictures to recreate at home.

We left just in time for a Portland Tour on a 1972 Ferrara pumper. The weather was a little chilly for us Florida people but it was really fun and an informative excursion.

We looked across the street after being let off the fire truck and knew we needed a snack from the Standard Baking Company. Fresh croissants and cookies filled the spot.

Our next stop was the Portland Ferry which took us to Peak island full of vacation homes for the rich!

Our last stop of the day was to Becky’s Diner. It would be a crime to leave Portland without honoring our very own traveling partner Becky O’Connor.

It has a been a fantastic week full of so much fun, laughter and a few surprises.

Next Stop: Home 💙💙💙

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From Bangor to Portland

We left Bangor this morning and headed to the last leg of our adventure.

We stopped at Judy’s for breakfast. We love a good dive. Who knew people drank beer at breakfast….No judging here.

We drove into Portland Maine (which took just over 2 hours).

We stopped into our hotel to see if we could check in early. We GET TO stay at this super bougie hotel. I wonder if my traveling mates will be embarrassed when I ask the hotel desk what color the walls are painted because I MUST know.

Driving in Portland is not the funnest so we set off on foot to explore. We are close to the water and found a piece of the Berlin Wall

Some magnificent boats

While we strolled, we stopped and asked a local artist selling her art where we should eat dinner. Her name was Lisa. As we got to know her, her son called and spoke of how he was so proud of the pot roast he was making.

And so we ate here:

Dimillo’s on the water.

A large boat converted into a restaurant.

It was yummy.

Clam chowder, bacon wrapped scallops, lobster stew, lazy lobster (already cut up) fish and blueberry cobbler were some of the items we enjoyed.

A side sorry:

We had purchased a few souvenirs and wanted to return them to the hotel room prior to dinner. The men took the packages upstairs while Becky and I sat outside on a planter. As we chatted, a gentlemen down the sidewalk from us, stood up, dropped his cellphone and stumbled, almost falling into the road . He is able to gather his balance and starts to stumble again. He loses his balance over and over again and starts to stumble towards where we are sitting. I believe my eyes are very wide by this time. Becky leans over to me and says “hold onto your ………” She realized I don’t have a purse. The man almost falls onto my lap but lands immediately next to me sitting down. We can instantly smell that he has had A LOT to drink. We gather our things and go inside the hotel. Upon leaving the hotel and walking towards where the man was, he had fallen into the planter bed and was asleep. He was breathing Thank God.

When we returned from dinner, he was no longer there but left his indentions

As I sat to write my thought from today, I’m able to look outside and see the prettiest of brick buildings with Ivy growing on it.

It was a lovely day.

Tomorrow will be our last day in Portland.

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The Cog and Ice Cream in New Hampshire

We drove from Quechee Vermont to Mount Washington New Hampshire this morning. It was just a little over two hours.

We rode the Mount Washington Cog Railway. The Cog (train) will take us to the Mount Washington Summit, the highest peak in the Northeast.

The Cog is the first mountain-climbing cog railway in the world. With an average grade of 25% (some sections approach nearly 38%), it’s also the second steepest! Motive power is primarily provided by a fleet of seven powerful biodiesel locomotives, each custom designed, built and maintained on site. It was such a great day. You can read more here if you are interested in the Cog ride.

Look at the name and try not to laugh
See the hiker?
We packed a picnic and ate at the top of the summit
This is the Observatory at the Summit of Mount Washington

We headed to Jackson NH for the evening. We are staying at the Eagle Mountain House and Golf Club.

We ate dinner at an Irish pub and ended the evening with ice cream. It’s funny how 80 degrees in NH might as well be 100 for the New Englanders.

Tomorrow we go to Bangor Maine!

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Glass Blowing, Cheese and Maple Syrup

We drove to Quechee Vermont this morning. It took us about 2 hours from Westborough, Massachusetts.

We visited the Quechee Gorge and had lunch at the Snack Bar. The weather was lovely.

We checked into our picture postcard inspired hotel the Quechee Inn at Marshland Farm. It was original built in the 1700’s by Colonel Joseph and Dorothy Marsh who was also the first Lieutenant Governor.

Glenn and Becky were informed that their room could be visited by Mary, a former person (GHOST!) who lived here.

We drove into the Simon Pierce Flagship Store.

This establishment is fueled by the rushing Ottauquechee. The glass blowing studio is turbine-powered. It was fascinating to watch.

This is the water that is powering the turbine and you can see the Quechee covered bridge in the background

We then decided to visit the Sugarbush Farm. We spoke to the most charming woman who later we found out is the matriarch of the farm. We sampled cheese and maple syrup made completely on this working farm.

Glenn put Ocala on their map!

We had reservations at the restaurant in the hotel.

Strawberry rhubarb margarita.

And berry crisp topped with homemade vanilla bean ice cream

We asked if we could please be rolled to our rooms.

It was a wonderful day!

Tomorrow we leave for New Hampshire

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It Started with a Flat Tire

This morning we met in the hotel lobby to have breakfast and head to our next town.

Steve goes to the parking lot to get the car and returns…..”we have a flat tire.”

Becky proceeds to get on the phone with car rental agency and I am sitting beside her listening. Her voice changes a little with each response I hear.

“You want us to do what? That will absolutely NOT happen.”

“I don’t know if we have a spare. Isn’t that your job?”

We do not have a spare.

“I have absolutely no idea if we have an inflation kit.”

“No I will not send them back outside to look, it’s raining.”

2 1/2 hours later we have a new car and the previous one has been towed away.

We drive one hour to Mystic Connecticut and our first stop is Mystic Pizza. Its the inspired pizza joint showcased in the 1988 movie starring Julia Roberts.

The pizza was outstanding and it was fun to say we’ve now been there.

The weather was a little drizzly and cool but our plans were to visit the Mystic Seaport.

It did not disappoint.

It is the largest working wooden boat shipyard in the US and possibly the world. You can read more here:

It was fascinating.

We watched men restore wooden ships using some of the same techniques and tools used in 1800’s.

This boat is being restored from New York and it was used to rescue 300+ Jews from Denmark during WWII.

This was a church they had moved here from the 1800’s

This was a fire boat from New York.

We were able to go on the Thomas Morgan whaling ship. Obviously the crew were short people.

I however, did not have to duck at all.

Our day in Mystic ended with a snack of cookies and hot chocolate. Yes, Florida friends….hot chocolate.

We drove almost two hours to Westborough Massachusetts and met Kyle and Moshe for dinner. They live 30 away. It was fantastic to spend some time with them.

Tomorrow we head to Vermont!

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Steve almost gave Glenn a Black Eye

In the first hour upon arriving in Rhode Island:

We flew into Providence RI around 10:45AM.

We found our rental car.

Loaded up all the suitcases and while Steve was putting down the hatch, Glenn ducked under his arm and Steve accidentally hit him in the face with his fist.

We have laughed about it all day.

“Watch out for that right hook.”

“Be careful, Steve might hit you.”

Todays was the only day we didn’t have concrete plans. We spoke to the server at our lunch place and she recommended we drive to Newport CT. It was only a 30 minute drive so we were off.

It’s a lovey town situated right on Narragansett Bay. We strolled around admiring the old houses, some dating back to the 1700’s.

We even had a Tiller Firetruck drive right by us!

Never take for granted your friends. And it’s an extra bonus when you can travel together and still like each other afterwards.
37 years and still holding hands 😍

Our hotel is super cool. It looks like it’s been converted from something into a hotel. Lots of concrete (walls, ceiling and floor), exposed venting and pipes.

After dinner we went on a gondola ride along the Providence and Woonasquatucket rivers. Marciano was our gondolier. It was a cool evening on the water and it was fantastic. He spoke of the sights and he even serenaded us.

It was such a good day but as of 9:06PM, we are in for the night while Mom and Dad went to the bar.

Tomorrow we head to Connecticut!

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Smile Anyways

We met in the lobby at 5:30AM to be shuttled to the Orlando airport for a 7:30AM flight to Providence Rhode Island.

It seems like so many people are in a bad mood or just getting by in the way of emotions. Good morning to the shuttle driver resulted in a grunt and “when will the rest of your party be coming?” response.

“They are on their way “ I responded with a smile and a gesture of cheers with my very welcomed coffee cup.

I’ve taken notice since we left home on Tuesday evening that our husbands are both helpers. They both are eager to help with luggage. They are both more than eager to be of assistance and while our shuttle driver wasn’t the friendliest, I assumed she would be grateful for help with putting luggage in and out of the shuttle.

Not so much……smile anyways.

We arrive at the airport, walk to the check in desk and was almost immediately greeted by the clerk with a “what are you doing?” response as we lift our luggage and hand her boarding passes and passports.

We all look at one another, wondering if this was a secret question and we didn’t know the answer.

Checking in our bags?

Going on a trip?

Trying to check in?

We proceeded to hand her our boarding passes and hope for the best.

“Have a great day!”

We smiled and hurried away, hoping she didn’t want anything else.

It’s so obvious that people are either unhappy, full of stress or going through difficult times in their lives.

Currently we are just hoping that our rental car reservation is waiting for us in Providence.

Enjoy this clip from a Seinfeld episode

Sometimes all we can do is smile, be thankful for the exit row a sweet hand to hold.

Smile anyways.

PS for Porch girls:

Southwest Orlando (MCO) Nonstop to Providence RI (PVD)

Avis rental car – Ford Explorer

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