Aging

Sunday

Circa 1976

This year will mark thirty-six years as a Registered Nurse. 
Whoa.
Am I really that old? 
Circa 1980
How lucky I've been. Good parents, a decent education, a great career, food in the refrigerator, a car in the driveway and always surrounded by people who love me. That being said, it's because of these factors that I've been free to direct my life by making choices, especially when faced with situations I can do little to change.
2012

Aging is one of those situations. It's alternative? Death. I don't think so.

I have chosen Betty White to be my role model for aging. She just celebrated her 90th Birthday and remains bright, attractive, articulate, upbeat and funny. Who wouldn't want follow in her aging footsteps?

If I remain lucky, the aging process will continue for me. Good health habits and a positive attitude are all part of my choice to being a happy and healthy 90 year old.

Thirty-four years to go. What will be my next chapter?

Introducing... Miss Violet Nichole Spotswood

Thursday

Violet arrived into our world at 5:15 pm on Tuesday, January 23rd. Here she is at the ripe old age of 1 hour.

Proud parents
Beautiful. Just Beautiful.
Proud Grandfather
Happy.

Violet

Monday

 

We are expecting an addition to our family today.
Her name will be "Violet".

 We have fallen in love with her already.
The Violet

Why better than the lady rose,
Love I this little flower?
Because its fragrant leaves are those
I loved in childhood's hour.

Though many a flower may win my praise,
The Violet has my love;
I did not pass my childish days
In garden or in grove:
My garden was the window seat,
Upon whose edge was set
A little vase, the fair, the sweet,
It was the Violet. 

It was my pleasure and my pride:
How I did watch its growth!
For health and bloom what plans I tried,
And often injured both.
I placed it in the summer shower,
I placed it in the sun;
And ever, at the evening hour,
My work seem'd half undone.

The broad leaves spread, the small buds grew;
How slow they seem'd to be:
At last there came a tinge of blue,
'Twas worth the world to me.


from The Lady's Book of Flowers and Poetry, 1842
by Miss Landon

Adventures in Babysitting

Wednesday

Recently, Mr. Something and I volunteered to babysit our beautiful two-year old grand-daughter, Annslee Mae, on Tuesdays.

Recalling pre-babysitting conversations that included romantic notions such as ..."a time for bonding", "memories that will last a lifetime" and something along the lines of ... "it will be fun", came rushing back.

What were we thinking?

At 0700, the little darling arrives.

Between 0705-0715, you can put money on the fact that any object not bolted down and within toddler-reach will be systematically removed.

0715-0730, the high-pitched and familiar refrain "PUPPY!!!!" is launched, followed by a frantic race to our living room window, where our old dog, Duke, cringes as he is spotted in his backyard.
Note: Should Mr. Something or I not be quick enough to take Little Miss outside to experience all things Duke, we are soon made very aware of her displeasure.

Next, with a mad dash to the TV set, she fervently points and squeals "MOUSE!!!". Thank you Disney Junior for offering tons of Mickey's Clubhouse episodes 'On Demand' but one more round of  "Hot Diggety Dog" will surely push us over the edge.

Grand-parenting.
It's all about keeping the Little Angel safe, fed, clean and happy. 


Nutrition?  
No time to sit. Everything we feed her has got to be portable or she doesn't eat.

Cleanliness? 
What can you do?

Happiness? 
Our attempt to create a "melt-down-free-zone" with a toddler has been futile but we continue to try our best. 

Safety?
Safety doesn't show up on our pie chart because it encompasses 100% of our time with her. 
It deserves a pie chart of its own. 
I did try out a new word on her, yesterday ..."No." 
It worked.
Who knew?
During the initial "honey-moon phase" of babysitting, we were both participating equally throughout her day.

We have since wised-up.

Resorting to taking '"shifts" has helped - a lot. Mr. Something is 'on' from 0700-1000. I take over at 1000. We then pack up Annslee Mae for her 1130 Kindermusic class, (a toddler dance and music class) where we pray her ass will be sufficiently worn out for a well-deserved afternoon nap.


We have yet to be so lucky.

When we get back from Kindermusic, the last half of the day goes pretty much like the first.

By 5pm, Mr. Something and I can be seen lurking at the front window, anticipating the arrival of "MOMMY!". Who I continue to gain more respect for every day.

Spain: Tarifa, Africa, Britain?

Friday

 Tarifa, Spain is located just before you get to Gibraltar, UK
Tarifa's claim to fame? 
  1. It's where The Atlantic Ocean and The Mediterranean Sea meet and is the southern-most point of the entire European Continent


    The road between the Atlantic Ocean and The Mediterranean
    
    Atlantic side of the road
    
    Mediterranean side of the road.

 2.  Africa (Tangier, Morocco) is just 20 miles away - a 30 min ferry-ride.
Tangier, Morocco

3. Gibraltar,UK is about an hour away from Tarifa. 
Who knew?
Gibraltar, UK
The British peninsula of Gibraltar was captured by the Dutch in 1704 and given to Britain "in perpetuity" in 1713.

Spain wants it back. The Queen won't budge. There's around 30,000 residents, 300 pubs and a ton of monkeys. Specifically, 'Gibraltar Barbary Macaques'.

Legend has it that as long as Gibraltar Barbary Macaques exist on Gibraltar, the territory will remain under British rule.

In 1942, the monkey population had dwindled to seven. In an effort to preserve all things British, Winston Churchill ordered that the monkeys be replenished immediately (from Morocco and Algeria). Done.

Spain: Costa de Luz

Wednesday

I'm still recovering from the nervous tic developed as the result of co-piloting during our drive-trip in  Spain. 

We rented a little Peugot from a Spanish rental company named "Sixt" - and recommend them highly - about 50% less expensive than rental car companies we were familiar with (Hertz, Avis etc.). Great car, clean and in good condition.

Fortunately for us, the direction of traffic was just like you would expect in North America and the steering wheel was positioned on the left. No surprises there. Thank you Jesus. The challenge was in getting from Point A to Point B...alive.


Navigating the streets of Seville proved to be a 'tourist challenge', however.

Our concern was winding up on one of those one-laned, cobble-stoned, teensy streets in the city center but trying to find 'Avenida San Franscisco Javier' when it suddenly turns into 'Calle Luis de Morales' near 'Carretera Cortijo de las Castillas' followed by 'Calle Fray Franscisco de Pareja' was just too much for this navigator to deal with.

Adding insult to injury, finding the goddam street signs in Seville was yet another challenge - because there wasn't any. I take that back. Eventually, I did find street signs.

Find the street sign...
Quaint. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm all about 'quaint' but for crying out loud - c'mon.

As if that wasn't enough... there seemed to be little display of caution by Spanish drivers. Weaving in and out of traffic, horns honking, headlights flashing. Or was it just us? My advice to Mr. Something..."Just drive like I would!". He ignored me and for that, I am grateful as we are here to tell the story.

But, in the final analysis, we do not regret stepping out of our comfort-zone by driving in Spain. If we hadn't, we might have missed this...
Cadiz


Tarifa 
More on Tarifa later...If you look closely, you can see Africa behind us.
Ronda

Return to Seville... Our last night in Spain

Paranoid in South America

Anticipating travel to South America was both exciting and scary. Admittedly, reports of muggings, kidnappings and police corruption go...