The year 2011 was full of travels for me now that I'm retired and can come and go as I wish. I'll highlight these trips month by month.
January, part of February, and part of March, were spent for planning when and where I wanted to go, plus getting my taxes in order. I used TurboTax online, for the first time, since my income from multiple sources was more difficult to figure. It was a breeze to do, as I had expected, and I got my Fed and State refunds quickly banked. Isn't it nice when things work well!
Lots of folks take off for warmer climates in the winter months, but I kinda enjoy the snow and cold, especially now that I don't have to drive back and forth to work each day. This year, however, I planned a trip to Florida in February to visit my brother, Mike, and sister-in-law Katha. They have been inviting me for a few years to pay them a visit, so I finally did. I stayed about 9 days and had a wonderful time! We hung out in the sun by the tennis courts, pool, and beach. We traveled north one day to watch the last of the Discovery space launches, very cool, indeed! Another day, we spent going south to partake in an art fair, Katha found a painting for one of the walls in her new, beautiful home. Of course, we ate out for most of our dinners at nearby restaurants which were all fab. Good times do end, so after 9 days in 80 degree temps, I flew back to more snow and cold, to curl up in front of my fireplace to read a good book.
Towards the end of March, I flew to Berkeley, California for a 10 day visit with both of my daughters, Elizabeth and Hilary. I stayed with Elizabeth and her partner, Tracy, for the first half and then moved my stuff over to Hilary's and Young's house for the second half. Of course, I got to see my cute grandsons, Kai and Milo for the whole time, too! Elizabeth took time off from her job as a orthopedic surgeon to entertain me, which was very nice of her and I did love it. After Hilary dropped Kai off at school, she and Milo, would meet up with us for the rest of the day. We took lots of walks to the "dog park" with Stella, flew kites, shopped at IKEA, ate some good lunches, bought and planted flowers and greens in Elizabeth's new planter boxes, and had a wonderful dinner at Chez Panisse. Kai and Milo woke me each morning and jumped on my bed....I loved that!! We played in my bedroom for an hour before going down for breakfast, too! One day, Tracy took leave from her job so we all went to Suzy's and Mike's house for a terrific lunch and lovely chat. They have a beautiful house in Santa Rosa. On our way back to Berkeley, we made a visit to Sonoma to walk around the square and see the ducks. This was something I had done many times when my daughters were much younger and we were staying with their grandma. I met up with a couple of friends from days long ago, also. Linda from Jr. High and Judy from college. We lunched and talked for hours! Once again, good times do end, so back to Michigan I went. Not to snow and cold, but to Spring and flowers.
The remainder of April, May, and most of June, I stayed home to start cleaning up the yard and to plant flowers in my large containers on the deck. After Winter, there is always much to do! As I grow older, all the yard work is getting to be more difficult for me. I'm certain that those of you older than 65 can attest to that statement! I used to work all day long without stopping when I was younger, but now I find myself taking lots more breaks! I still enjoy doing it so have not turned it over to a hired yard crew yet....that day is coming closer.
The end of June and first half of July was spent at my family's cottage on Birch Lake south of Kalamazoo. My Mom and Dad bought it when I was 8 yrs old, so it holds lots of great memories for me and for anyone who has visited us there. We learned to swim and water ski during those very first years. My sister, Kathy, was only 5 or 6 when she first took a small turn around the lake on skis! My Mom stuffed sponges in the footings so her tiny feet wouldn't slip out! It didn't take long before we were all on one ski. I think in later blog posts I'll go into some of the great childhood memories but for now, I must get on with 2011.
My girls, their mates, and my grandsons come back each summer to the lake for about 2 weeks. We all have fun doing the usual lake activities. My daughters have been coming to the cottage since their births, and now my grandsons have too. Milo celebrates a new birthday while there and we all get to eat lots of chocolate cake, his favorite! Kai has learned to fish and swim at Birch Lake, perhaps this next year water ski, too! Elizabeth and Tracy rented a pontoon boat for everyone to take rides around the lake together...that turned out to be a highlight for all! Since July 4th falls during our stay (planned that way), we get to watch the fireworks shot over the lake at night. Mike and Katha live next door, which makes the family gathering even bigger...their children, Brian and Lori, and spouses and grand kids all mingle with my family. If we're lucky, Kathy and Denny, plus their kids and grand kids, come too! "Put another leaf in the dining table and throw some more hamburgers on the grill!" I sure hope everyone will be able to make it in 2012...I've set the date.
|Milo, now 3yrs old|
|Kai with one of his catches|
As soon as I arrived home from the lake, July 15th, I had to get ready for a trip to Loveland/Ft. Collins, CO to celebrate a friend's birthday. That was so much fun!! We hadn't seen each other in over 30 years, but talked like no time had passed. Thanks Mardi, Cathie and David, Lisa, and Jason and Maggie!! It couldn't have been better! I also planned get-togethers with a few dear friends who I knew well from having lived in Loveland for 8 years in the '70's. My cousin, Jane, her husband Michael, and their son, Alex, live in Ft. Collins too. I met up with them one afternoon and talked and sipped raspberry lemonade. Jane has the cutest house and gorgeous garden which she has done mostly by herself. I was sorry it couldn't have been a longer trip.
|Mardi the BD girl with her sister Cathie & Mem|
Once again, home beckoned and the work that goes with it. I did as much as I could/wanted before flying off to NYC for a short vacation with my friend, Judy, the last week of August. When I had seen her in California, she asked if I wanted to meet her there to see some Broadway plays...."of course", I said. We saw War Horse, Memphis, Jersey Boys, and Sister Act, all were terrific! I had found us a great hotel uptown off of Park Ave. for a good price, and it was huge with a kitchenette. We'll be staying there again! We ate well, shopped well, and just plain ol' had a good time. Oh, and did I say, the weather was spectacular?
I had a couple of weeks back at home before flying to Paris, need I say France, in the month of September. I went "solo" which was terrific, because I could do whatever I wanted to do whenever I felt like doing it. That kind of freedom and independence I find very relaxing as well as enjoyable. I arranged almost everything online before departing the states....it is so easy to do now! I located a nice, small hotel near the Louvre just across the river, Seine. I took my breakfast there each morning, then set off on foot to any place I wanted to see that day. I had been to Paris once a long time ago, but it was cold so I traveled mostly by the Metro. This time, I planned to stay above ground, to take in all the beauty of the city. My time there was superb!! I met people to talk to, spoke French in shops when I needed ....they even understood me.... ate good food, drank good wine, saw wonderful exhibits at the many museums, rode buses on some occasions, met the French actor, Gerard Depardieu in a cafe where I stopped for a glass of wine and dinner, and visited a few great rues where the food vendors sell their produce such as rue Cler, and rue Montorgueil. I think I preferred the second one, marche Montorgueil, it is every Thursday and Sunday mornings near the church St. Eustache. Did I say that the weather was very good? Just the right temps for walking (70's) no wind, sunny to partly sunny, and no precipitation. Did I get lucky, or what? I will return! I think I want to go to Aix-en-Provence to live for a month or two....sounds good, n'est-ce pas?
October presented me with more yard work to get ready for the winter months. We had a beautiful Fall, so I loved going out into the yard. Then, when I was inside, I decided to knit some hats for my grandsons. I think doing that, due to the position I was in, produced my back problems. Anyway, I won't ever know for sure, but I couldn't walk without a great deal of pain in the muscle which ran the entire length of my left leg. Ouch! This began suddenly one morning in the first week of November. My local doctor, as well as my daughter, the doctor, prescribed physical therapy with the hopes all will return to normal. It did!
|Milo found the bandaids|
|Kai learning to play chess|
|The skiers........Kai 6yrs old, Milo 3 yrs old|
In December, I continued with the therapy, until it was time to fly to Park City, Utah to spend the Holidays with Hilary, Young, Kai, Milo, and Young's parents. I had such a great time with all of them! Hilary, and family, had just moved there in June, so she showed me around town and the places that Kai and Milo play and go to school. It is a wonderful city for all to live, but especially for children! They have every sport imaginable right at their finger tips. Kai and Milo are becoming great bikers, ice skaters, and snow skiers! I enjoyed making gingerbread houses with the boys, playing with their new dog, Clover, and building Legos. Hilary is a good cook and treated us all to some fantastic meals....thanks Hil! Park City has many good restaurants where we ate some lunches and dinners. Before we knew it, it was time to head to the airport.
2011 had come to an end, but it was surely a winner!
"Happy trails to you, until we meet again..."
|Me meeting Gerard Depardieu in a Paris cafe|