"" Writer's Wanderings

Friday, December 15, 2017

Cruising The Danube - Getting There

This trip was going to be a challenge from the beginning. We had scheduled a Danube River cruise for just after Thanksgiving but we also had two Caribbean Cruises scheduled to begin just after the river cruise and then we'd have our snowbird season in Key Largo after that. A packing nightmare to say the least. Winter clothes plus warm weather clothes plus dressy clothes for the holiday cruise and added to all of that just regular clothes for our Key Largo time along with the usual odds and ends that we both enjoy having at hand while we're there (Bob's radio for one, my crock pot for another).

We set off to drive to Miami the Sunday after Thanksgiving. We always make it a three day drive with our usual stops in North Carolina and North Florida. Every inch of the car was packed tightly. After one more night in Fort Lauderdale, we drove to Miami and boarded our Austrian Airline flight to Vienna.

The flight from Miami was direct so we had no connections to worry with. The temperature was a sunny 80 degrees as we checked our luggage full of sweaters and winter coats. For once I was able to sleep on the plane and as we were wakened for "breakfast" I felt pretty good. Breakfast was a large muffin that looked more like a small dry cake but the coffee was good.

The plane descended for landing. The closer we got to the ground the more it was obvious we were landing in the middle of heavy snow. I closed my eyes. Miami - 80 degrees and sun. Vienna - 34 degrees and snow. This was crazy.

We collected our luggage and found our way through the subway system to our hotel in the heart of Vienna. The hotel was near a beautiful cathedral and a Christmas market--which was why we were there, to see what the Christmas Markets were like. Luggage deposited in our room which was luckily ready for us, we set out into the cold and now rainy weather to explore.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

For A Woman (Or Man) Your Age

[Another look back at a post from 2005. I'm a little better getting my checkups now. At my age, I have to be.]

My husband's very faithful about getting his yearly checkup with the doctor. I'm not as good. After skipping a couple of years, I decided to bite the bullet and make the appointment. Part of the problem was that the doctor I was really beginning to feel comfortable with moved out of town. (Hope it wasn't because of me.)

I found another doctor much closer to home and covered under our insurance policy (gotta love those insurance agencies). The appointment went well. I gave blood at the lab and signed up for the mammogram and, at the suggestion of the doctor, a bone density test. The bone density is so that we will have a base line to judge whether or not my bones are thinning or I'm just shrinking from drying out in the hot sun (I wish--we have 12" of snow today).

When Bob comes home from the doctor's office, he's usually a little agitated because the doctor uses the phrase, "...for a man your age."

"What is that supposed to mean," he rants. "For a man your age. You just don't want to hear 'for a man your age'."

I generally humor him and soothe the bear in him with some chocolate chip cookies.

So, the other day, I finally get my report on my bone density test and what does it say? "You have normal bone density FOR A WOMAN YOUR AGE."

Where are those chocolate chip cookies?

Monday, December 11, 2017

Remembering My Modern Dance Moment

It will be more than 50 years this June since I graduated from high school. Somewhere in my freshman year (that would have been the first year in high school--before the middle school concept), the Phys Ed. teacher decided to have a unit on modern dance. To this day, I still do not understand what that had to do with my physical education. It should have taken place in a music class--one that I'd never take.

I don't want to appear to brag, but I was good in gym class. I played a good game of basketball, could hit well in softball, and would have loved to have gone on to Olympic training in gymnastics--I even made the cheerleading squad in junior high. I was too shy to make it in high school. And then she threw this modern dance unit at us. We had to pick out a piece of music and interpret it in some kind of physcial movements. Not all of us had dance lessons. I'd had them but that was when I was 4 or 5 years old. Obviously no one saw anything in me then to encourage my mother to continue with them.

There was a piece of music on one of my LPs that sounded like a busy person so I decided to imagine a secretary at work. I bustled around on an excercise mat, did a couple somersaults, squated as though I were sitting at a typerwriter, and, in general, felt like I had made a real fool of myself. I can't remember my grade. I didn't care what it was. I just wanted it over with.

We went to see Movin' Out, the musical, a few years ago. It is Billy Joel's music arranged into a story about coming of age during the 60s-80s. While the musicians sit above the stage in the background, there is a troupe of extremely talented and energetic dancers who, through dance only, portray the action. It didn't take but a minute for me to recognize that there before me, in much better looking costumes than yellow gym suits, was the modern dance unit from my past. There were a few elements of ballet thrown in, but other than that, the physical movements, the gymnastics, the portrayal of anger, grief, etc., through the movements on stage, were right out of that gym class.

So, 50+ years later, I finally get it. I wasn't so far off back then. I should go back and get take a look at that grade. I'm sure it should have been better than it was.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Heroes In Mouse World

[Anticipating another trip to Disney, I thought I would repost this memory from 2005]

We just spent the week visiting the Mouse in Orlando. There were 15 family members on the last leg of the trip aboard the Disney Cruise ship the Wonder. Our niece is one of the entertainment crew members and we were there to support, cajole, and generally let her know she's loved as well as enjoy our granddaughter's first trip to the World and the Wonder.

Throughout the World and the Wonder little girls of all ages are addressed as "princess" and most wear the costumes of Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Sleepting Beauty, etc. They stand in line with their parents (or are carried if they don't walk yet) to garner a signature from the Disney characters. The Princess characters, however, are the main attraction. What little girl doesn't dream of being a princess?

All of this seems a little one sided to me. Where are the male heroes? The ones who rescued all those princesses? Why aren't we promoting them with costumes and signature books? Well upon examination, I realized that most little boys would not dress to look like Peter Pan, Prince Charming, or even Mr. Incredible (that would require tights). Moreover, their fathers would not let them dress that way.

Finally, in my search for heros and heroines, I found they wore costumes made of everyday stuff--jeans, shorts, T-shirts. They were the ones who took a vacation with the family and found themselves exhausted from giving their kids the best time they could in a world of fantasy and dreams. One father commented on the bus to the airport, "It was great. I'm tired. But it was worth it."

And it is.

We watched our child play with his child and become a child again. He exchanged memories with his brother of long-ago vacations as children. Who would have imagined that what we did in the moment to entertain and please them as children would have lasted as fond remembrances of shared experiences? It almost made me feel like a princess again as I walked next to Mr. Incredible (in jeans, not tights).

Thursday, December 07, 2017

The Lone Sneaker

There it was in the middle of four lanes of traffic--the lone sneaker--sitting forlornly on the cold pavement waiting to tell its story. How does one sneaker find itself in the middle of a street separated from its mate?
  • It was tossed out the window as a joke by a passing car full of teens
  • It held on to the roof of the car where someone had rested it while they opened the door and then finally fell off exhausted, bouncing across the asphalt until finally coming to rest against the median strip (the mate fell off earlier)
  • A dog, thinking it great fun to tease his master, ran off with it in his mouth only to become confused by the traffic and dropped his prize in the middle of the street
So many possibilities stream through the mind when you wonder how one lone sneaker can end up in the middle of the street. But wait--perhaps the sneaker chose to sit there and watch life fly by speculating on where all the cars are going.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Musical Sound Bites

[While this was written 12 years ago, the trend has not changed. I still crave holding a hymnal in my hand and seeing notes on a page as well as words. Oh well, the world will move on without me I guess.]

There's a new trend in worship music today. It has moved away from the old hymns and into the realm of what seems like "musical sound bites". They are choruses made up of phrases that for the most part don't tell any story. They are meant to praise or invite God into your life. They don't say a lot about how or why. I'm sure they are meant to be simple but I've never found it easy to read the words on a projection screen and follow someone's voice instead of following musical notes. Even if you don't know how to read music, you would at least know when your voice is supposed to go up or down according to the arrangement of notes on a page.

In today's hurried and media blitzed world we have learned to compartmentalize and extract only that which we think will influence. The sound bite is the tool of the spin doctor. We're told that this is how the new generation receives their information. We used to call something like that Cliffs Notes. The sound bite is even shorter. Can you imagine reducing Moby Dick to a couple of sound bites? Or how about Gone With The Wind? The Bible?

A friend of ours calls the new choruses the 7-11 songs--seven words repeated eleven times. Not too unlike the convenient store chain, we can pop into church and pick up just the needed items and be out in a jiffy rather than shopping through the larger grocery store and seeing what else might satisfy the hunger.
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