FACEBOOK, and Friends

I have been thinking a lot about friends, past and present.  I consider myself extremely fortunate to have many friends around the country that I look forward to visiting on my Road2Reinvention.  According to Facebook, I have 294 friends.  I know, I know, I should take the Facebook ban challenge and delete FB.  BUT, I like FB.  It allows me to keep up with “friends”, real friends and FB friends (you know who you are), family, former colleagues, and people I don’t really know but they wanted to be my friend.  So, NO I won’t be deleting FB.

Niece Rachel and husband Adam are off Facebook, which I understand, but wish I could enjoy their new Wisconsin life vicariously.  Or is that really stalking?

Yes, FB is very annoying.  For instance, FB just told me John L and I have been friends for 10 year.  No, we were friends long before FB.

My favorite FB story is about my college housemate Lauren.  Since sharing a house in Eugene, Oregon in 1979 we have stayed in touch.  After college Lauren married her high school sweetheart Marc and they moved to Takoma, WA and had two boys.  After my graduation I returned to Anchorage, Alaska.  Lauren and I stayed in touch and would see each other occasionally. 

Fast forward…

Years later, and I don’t remember the exact year, Lauren came to Washington, D.C. for a conference.  The great thing about D.C. is so many friends would come for work, and we could catch-up.  I picked her up at National Airport and on our way back to my Capitol Hill home we started to catch-up, how are the boys doing, etc.  Then the conversation turned to Marc.  “How is Marc?” I asked?  Lauren relied, “you don’t know”.  Great!  I thought she finally left the bum, or he left her.  Nope, he was dead.  Needless to say, I never liked Marc.  He was self-centered and cheated on her repeatedly with young woman at his local theater.  Marc was a legend in his own mind – he was a total shit.  But my dear friend Lauren loved him. 

So how did I miss Marc dying?  Lauren and I have been FB friends for years, so I was surprised I had missed all her postings of his illness and death.  It’s those crazy algorithms that show you stuff you don’t care to see, and how you can miss the death of a friend’s husband.

Of course, I don’t rely on FB for my political education, but I do post as many anti-Trump articles from legitimate news outlets – The Washington Post, New York Times, The Atlantic, the New Yorker, etc.  YES, of course Facebook should ban ALL political advertising.  If Twitter can do it, why not!  I detest Twitter.

Mostly I use FB to keep in touch with far flung friends, Lisa and Dean in TX, Hilary, Robyn, Bruce, Lydia, and other Alaskan pals, former colleagues still working and carrying on the good the fight for economic justice, marriages, kids, birthdays and travels.  Nephew David serving in the US Airforce, his wife and cute kid stationed in Italy.  Former colleagues Jill living in Thailand and working with refugees on the border, and Lindsey in good health raising her darling talented singing daughter in WI.  Both Lindsey and Jill are cancer survirors and it is always a joy to see their healthy smiling faces. 

I don’t look at the ads or buy anything linked to FB.  I make it a point they aren’t making money off me.  Of course, they have my data.  Whatever that means?  I doubt seriously they will be able to convince me to vote for Donald Trump.  I suspect my data demonstrats I am not in their targeted audience of gullible, stupid, unintelligent voters.

So, I won’t be unfriending Facebook in 2020.   

Recently I have been reflecting on many friends I am no longer close to or in contact with.  Some of them are on FB friends, so I can glance at their page.  Does that make me a stalker?   There are a handful of long-lost friends, I know longer see or communicate with, which breaks my heart.  Mostly Alaskan pals who saw me through very tough times, and I thought I could never live without.  As years and miles come between us, I wonder why we aren’t still friends?  Is it miles or somehow my fault?  

Canadian Cathy in Palm Springs winter 2019.

Phyllis Tucson winter 2019

In my travels I have made some great new friends.  My new best friend is Diane from Maine, we met at the local golf course, and are playing together twice a week.  It’s nice to have a pal who wants to play golf.  I only wish I would meet a nice guy on the first tee.  So far I have met some great woman friends Kate (MD), Cathy (Canada), Phyllis (AZ) and now Diane.

But, I think of my lost friend’s I am no longer in contact with, even on Facebook.  I still Love You.  I hope you think of me fondly, once in awhile.  Maybe one day I will end up in your driveway.  Who knows?

 

 

 

Happy NEW YEAR!

This post has been delayed due to the lack of internet access.  RV parks have sporatic internet… But, I am now up and running, so posts will be more timely.

I remember working, but retirement is the very best!  My last permanent address was Washington, D.C. I lived for the congressional recessess – long holiday weeks and August.  In the old days Congress would adjourn by mid-October and not come back until mid-January.  Not anymore, they work right up to Christmas, passing legislation they should have done before May.  When Congress was out of town on “recess” or a “work periods”, we in D.C. enjoyed the peace and quiet.   Don’t misunderstand, I have great admiration for Members of Congress, especially newly elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, they work 7/24.  No kidding! 

Let’s consider what the life of a newly elected member, who lives west of the Mississippi.  They do breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Rotary, Town Halls, Chamber of Commerce, picnics, constituent meetings all weekend, then get on a plane to Washington, D.C. on Monday afternoon so they can be there for votes at 6 p.m.  Monday through Thursday they are in D.C. attending committee meetings, voting, meeting with constituents, and worst of all – Fund Raisers.  70% of their time they are dialing for dollars.  Raising money for their next election.  A newly elected member of congress is the lowest on the totem pole, and more often than not they won’t be back after 2 years.  They come to Washington with the best of intentions.  I applaud them.

I moved to Washington, D.C. in 1999.  Congress was barely functional and going downhill.  The deaths of Senator Ted Kennedy and John McCain was the beginning of the end when the Senate was the diliberative chamber, it looks more and more the the House or Representative.

At the beginning I took it very seriously.  I believed people could make a difference, but I also attended fundraisers breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I even play golf at Pebble Beach with “moderate” Republicans.  But, I came to the conclusion Congress did less damage when they were home in their districts or states.  I never worked in Washington, D.C. when Congress was particularly functional.  Bi partisan, passing legislation on schedule, getting along with one another and not lurching from crisis to crisis. 

I wasn’t a student of congressional procedure. In fact, it always amazed me I became a Legislative Director, believe me I tried to avoid management.  I always considered myself a worker bee. 

My joy about this New Year is the fact I don’t have to go back to work.  Retirement is GRAND, and I recommend it!  I remember after two weeks of quiet and holiday cheer returning to the office was a nightmare.  Trying to get back into the swing of things, meetings, conference calls, getting out of bed in the morning.  Like the WWII song goes, “Oh how I hate to get up in the morning, oh how I would love to remain in bed.”  I was never a morning person, and I remain a night owl today.  But, I don’t have to get up, and believer me I don’t.

I wish for great things in 2020.  Good weather in Florida and improving my golf scores.  The removal of President Trump from office or defeat in the election.  I hope the GOP will come to its senses and put country over party and their own personal ambitions – not likely.  Most of all I wish happiness and renewal to all my friends and former colleagues who are returning to their desks in the New Year and carrying on the good fight.  I will be thinking of you as I walk the beach daily and the sanctuary of the 18 holes.

I send love to my friends and family who lost dear loved ones in 2019.  My two uncles both passed away in 2019, Jim Ackland and Bob Moseley; and, dear friend Mel Sather an special man with an inquisitive mind and a mischievous smile; and, former SEIU colleagues Hector Figueroa and Steve Albrecth, both increibly decent and committed men who cared deeply about working people. 

P.S. I took my first Pickle Ball lesson today.  What a life!

THANKFUL

This year has been especially wonderful, and I am very thankful.

Monday, Mom celebrated her 90th year surrounded by family. Eldest sister Becky (a world class baker) made a 3-layer carrot cake, and we all enjoyed Indian food, especially Mom. lt has become a family ritual to enjoy lamb saag, naan, tandoori etc. with Mom on her birthday, or whenever we reunite in North Carolina.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so I feel the need to share all the things I am thankful for this year, because it has been eventful.

In June, we celebrated weddings.  Rachel (Becky’s daughter) and Adam finally got married after 10+ years together.  Rachel and Adam have lived in different cities and on different continents, demonstrating the true meaning of “distance makes the heart grow fonder”.  However, they did sail from the west coast to Hawaii and back, which demostrates their ability to live in tight quarters.  They were soul mates from first meeting, and we celebrated their marriage on the outer banks of North Carolina.  A fantastic week of ocean, sand and sun.

Not to be outdone, we returned to Cary, NC the following weekend to celebrate the marriage of Rachel’s mother, and eldest sister Becky to Chuck.  Chuck is a marvelous addition to this difficult clan.  He likes football and other sports, we are not a sports family, BUT.  Thankfully for me, he plays golf.  Chuck and I played 18 holes last week, and while my score as 110, I didn’t lose a ball!  Astounding, considering Devil’s Ridge is a monster of a course, and the leaf rule was definitely in play.  Let me just say Chuck is great at finding balls under leaves or in the woods.  It is his course, thankfully.

As I said 2019 has been an exceptional year.  I was in Tucson, AZ and Palm Springs, CA in January and February, celebrating my Medicare Birthday at a Jazz club in Palm Springs surrounded by friends and family: sisters Kerry and Robin, friends: Randle & Jen, Carol & Kevin, Diane & Jon, and Deb.

If you have never experienced Modernism Week in Palm Springs, put it on your bucket list.  President’s day week (mid-February) is the very best time to enjoy the California desert.  Fabulous mid-century house tours, great weather and I am lucky to have lots of friends – especially Alaskan and Canadian snowbirds.  I was also able to get in one round of golf with Canadian friends I met two years earlier.

Returning to AZ on my way back to the east coast for weddings, I spent a week in March with dearest friend Esther recovering from hip replacement.  Esther is my Mom’s best friend from Alaska.  It was Esther and husband Dale who were our very best friends during my father’s decent and final death from alcoholism.  I am grateful to have spent a week with Esther, even if it meant sleeping on a cot in her living room.  Esther is one of a kind, with the most positive outlook on life.  I am happy to report she is walking with a cane at 90+ without pain.  Her surgery was a total success.

I am so very thankful to new friends I have met in campgrounds.  Best of all Phyllis and Chris, and their very special dog Molly.  Walking Maggie gives me the opportunity to meet fellow campers, which is how I met Phyllis.  She was walking Molly and I was walking Maggie, we bonded immediately.  Especially when she said she played golf.  My only disappointment in the coming winter in Florida, is not seeing Phyllis and Chris.  But winter 2021!

After Tucson, I drove to visit Beth north of Austin, TX on her ranch for a couple of days of riding my favorite horse Hope, and swimming in the river.  Thank you Beth!  It was an extraordinary 3 days. I would have stayed longer, but, I had to get to North Carolina for weddings!

After all the weddings I returned to Washington, D.C. for my spring check-in with friends, and former colleagues.  I am most thankful I am not working in the current political environment.  I am breaking all the rules of retirement, drawing on Social Security and pension early and not have the savings recommended – but I would be suicidal if I was still trying to work in Washington, D.C. — more like homicidal.

Thankfully, I have my sister Robin’s house in Westhampton, NY to retreat to for summer.  Everyone should be so fortunate to have a baby sister who is an Executive Producer at Disney.  She’ll be moving to France in 2020 for work there, and I will be holding down the Long Island house for whenever she can fly-in.  It is a very tough life…

Alaskan friends visited: Bruce & Lydia, MaryAnn & Melissa (with salmon and halibut) and Mary.  It was a full summer of good food, walking on the beach and swimming in the pool and ocean.  Robin has a wonderful group of friends she has shared with me, so there are always weekend dinners with Abby & Tom, Fred & Barbara, Randel & Jen. 

Chuck, me, Liz, Kerry, Adam, Rachel, Buzz, Time Suzie, Mom & Erv, Becky.

Tomorrow, I am so happy Liz and Tim will be joining us for Thanksgiving.  They will be flying in Tim’s Mooney, nice to have your own plane!  Becky & Chuck are hosting.  There will be pies!

This year has been exceptional, so very much to be thankful for.  I look forward to arriving on Hutchinson Island, FL in December and spending Christmas with BBF Michelle and the Big D.

 

Let us all give thanks for living in the most amazingly beautiful country, to celebrate friends and family, and beating Trump in 2020.  Please pass the turkey!

ESCAPE FROM NY

After a wonderful summer in the Hamptons, I hooked up Scout and headed southwest.  What is the best way to exit Long Island trailer in tow?  Years ago, Mom and Erv traveled cross country in an RV, after they arrived to visit me in Washington, D.C. their next stop was Robin’s Westhampton, NY home.  I came along for the ride and as we crossed the Verrazzano Bridge onto the Long Island Expressway it occurred to us we should have left the RV parked outside of DC and driven my Chevy Lumina, instead of inflecting the harrowing drive on Erv.  Mom and I thought he might have a heart attack navigating the RV across Brooklyn.  Not an easy drive in a car, so an RV is really crazy.

It has been my desired escape route to go north to Orient Point and take the ferry to New London, CT or west to the Port Jefferson ferry across the Long Island Sound to Bridgeport, CT bypassing New York City and surroundings.   At the last minute I choose and alternate route north of NYC via the Troges Neck Bridge onto the Cross Bronx Expressway – I won’t be doing that again.  When a ferry is available – take the ferry.

Avoiding multi-lane expressways (incorrectly named), because there seems nothing express about them.  I ended up in Pennsylvania with no campground nearby after dark.  I stayed in a Walmart parking lot, something I pledged never to do.

Why I like FACEBOOK

As I traveled west to my campground destination of Blackwater State Park, West Virginia at a truck stop I glanced at Facebook and saw my friend Karen was visiting the Flight 93 Memorial in Stoystown, PA.  The beauty of retirement RV travel is your ability to change or add a destination as you please.  So, two hours out of my way seemed like a good idea, and it was. 

A Common field one day, a field of honor forever

The Memorial is a somber commemorative of 40 souls who fought terrorist on 9/11 and died saving others.  If you are anywhere near this sacred and hallowed ground you should visit, if only to give them respect and acknowledgement they deserve.  I will want to come back for a longer visit.

I needed to press on so as not to arrive at the campground after dark, so onward to Blackwater Falls in Davis, WV, a beautiful drive to see the fall colors. 

Unfortunately, upon arrival and hook-up, my mysterious power problem persisted.  While plugged into 30 AMP, the lights came on, but the outlets and microwave were not functioning.  Instead of staying for 3 days as planned, I packed up and left the following morning for the Airstream dealer in Ashland, VA, 200 miles east.  I was so looking forward to returning to my vagabound life.

Leaving Scout has allowed me to hang with friends Liz and Tim, and Maggie gets to be with her BFF Lola and daily trips to the Congressional Cemetery.  I hope to catch-up with all my working former colleagues in Washington, D.C. while waiting for an Airstream diagnosis.

This morning when I was checking out Facebook, I saw my college housemate Lauren was in D.C. for lobby visits, unfortunately she boarded a flight last night for Tacoma.  Darn!  But other friends know my location and have reached out for visits, so Facebook is a great way to stay in touch, but not a place to make informed political decisions.  I post lots of my political opinions there, but ignore the ads, as we all should.

I am in D.C. for at least a week, so let me know if you want to get together!

SUMMER HAS GONE AND THE LEAVES ARE TURNING

Hard to believe I was swimming in the ocean and pool just a few weeks ago.  The weather has turned cold, rainy and the sky is mostly grey.  Summer 2019 has come to an end and I am planning my departure and route south.  Summer in Westhampton has been full of friends, MaryAnn and Melissa, Tim, Bruce & Lydia, and Mary.  Melissa brought Alaskan salmon and halibut, yum!  These are all friends I met in Alaska and have known going on 30+ years.  There is something about Alaskan friends that last.  Possibly because Alaskans did not have extended family, in the 1960s we were all pioneers in the Last Frontier. 

MaryAnn, Melissa and Mary are all children of village schoolteachers, their parents came to Alaska from the lower 48, and taught in native villages, moving to Anchorage after high school graduation.  What an amazing upbringing to grow up in a native village where your family was the minority race.   Alaskan villages were more like 3rd world countries, far different than what most of us experienced in elementary or secondary school.  They have great stories about village life.  We spent our visit bobbing in the pool, walking on the beach, eating yummy dinners and playing cards.

Summer extended all the way to the end of September, and Abby and I went for our last ocean swim on September 22.  While we bobbed in the waves we laughed that “Indian summer” was no longer the correct term, but we were very glad for indigenous people’s weather that allowed us to swim late into September.

Robin’s house was under construction most of the summer, but the two remodeled bathrooms and replacement of deck is now complete.  Scout has a new bathroom fan, and a new dent.  Backing into Robin’s driveway I was careful to watch the tires and missed seeing the tree branch scraping along the top.   

Parking in Robin’s driveway all summer allows me to pull everything out and sort.  It is amazing how much stuff I can get in a 20’ travel trailer, so purging of clothes and other unused items in addition to a deep cleaning, has been my summer activity for Scout between house guests.

She is now road ready and we will be leaving on October 21, heading to West Virginia to take in the fall colors, and then onto North Carolina for Mom’s 90th Birthday and Thanksgiving. 

Winter 2020 will be spent on Hutchinson Island, FL.  I have rented a lot for the entire winter December 7, 1019 – May 7, 2020.  Hutchinson Island is a barrier island on the Atlantic side, with wonderful walking access to miles of beach.  I hope friends will come and visit Florida this winter.  I plan on making some trips around the state, but will leave Scout parked for most of the time.   Stay tuned.