"" Writer's Wanderings: 2019

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Act of Love Remembered

[A story from my days as a florist. Love this memory]

Funny how things sometimes just pop into your mind for no apparent reason at all. It happened to me Sunday morning in church. I don't know what triggered the memory chips but I suddenly remembered a customer I used to have when I owned a flower shop.

The gentleman was in his 70s maybe early 80s and was a retired dentist. At first when he came in for what became his weekly visits, he would only choose a small bouquet of flowers or a small arrangement. I imagined he was courting someone. He would say things like, "She likes yellow flowers," or "She'll like the smell of these."

As time went by, some personal information was exchanged. That's how I learned he had been a dentist. It was in March when we were talking that I learned the truth about his lady. It was his wife. We shared a birthday--St. Patrick's Day.

One day he phoned to say he was not going to be able to make it into the store to pick up his flowers. I don't remember the reason. I believe he might have been ill. He asked if we would deliver them. I was excited to think I would finally meet this lady who was so adored she received a weekly bouquet of flowers. When he gave the address, my heart stood still a moment. It was a home for Alzheimer's patients.

The secret out, he said sadly, "She won't know who they are from even with my name on them, but I know she will enjoy them."

There is probably a wonderful love story there but I think Nicholas Sparks may have written one already--The Notebook. I fondly remember the dentist. May God richly bless those whose love goes beyond what life may cruelly hand to them.

Monday, December 30, 2019

The "Safe On A Plane" Movie

Looking back through some of my older posts I found a a memory that made me smile. In 2009, our Florida family came to visit and our grandson was quite taken with his first plane trip.

He was around three and a half and excited to tell me all about the flight when he arrived. He was particularly excited about the movie he saw on the flight.

"Oh," I said, "was it Mickey Mouse or Over the Hedge?"

"No." He shook his head and then beamed his beautiful smile at me. "It was 'Safe on a Plane' movie."

I looked to his mom for help. She explained that he was quite taken with the safety video that was played before takeoff--the one most of us just brush off if we've ever traveled before.

A few weeks later when we flew to Florida for a cruise, we stopped off to visit with the Florida family for a bit. Our grandson was excited to see us and when he realized that we had flown, his first question was, "Did you watch the movie?"

His mother had found the video on YouTube and he had watched it several times on his own at home. Over the years, he has watched many YouTube videos and retained a lot of facts from them. He could probably be a good Jeopardy contestant if he weren't only thirteen years old.

His sister though knows how to cut him down as only a younger sister can."Grandma, he thinks he's smart but he's only YouTuybe smart."

Ah, the smiles that grandchildren bring.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Typing 101

Back in the day--before smart phones, before computers, there was the typewriter. The arrangement of the keys has stayed fairly close to the original from so many years ago even through the evolution of the electric typewriter and then the electronic of computers and smart phones. Strange though that we would grow up learning our alphabet letters and then be faced with a keyboard with all the letters jumbled. Why?

The credit goes to Christopher Latham Sholes for the seemingly haphazard arrangement of letters that first appeared with the invention of the typewriter sometime in the 1870s. The keyboard arrangement was called QWERTY. Look at your keyboard and you'll see that those are the first letters on the top row.

Sholes was a journalist and newspaper publisher. His original typewriter apparently had the letters alphabetically arranged but as he used his invention, he found the keys colliding and sticking as his speed and skill at typing increased. He reordered the keys to make the process of typing easier and more efficient.

Of course in my mind I kind of see the connection between the keyboard and life. Often our lives are like a confusing keyboard of letters. They seem haphazard, often not making a lot of sense when you look at them. But just as a skilled typist can touch the keys to make words, paragraphs, great works of literature, so God's hands on our haphazard lives can bring order, grace and great works of love.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Modern Prodigal, A Fictional Short Story

[I've been cleaning out files again and found this story I wrote in 1997.}

              I stand across from the old white Victorian house. The porch wraps the house with arms of love. I remember Mom reading her devotions sitting on the swing and Dad assembling the tricycle that I raced back and forth with the floorboards rumbling beneath me. What took me away from that security and love?
              Independence and freedom to do as I pleased had lured me. My parents couldn’t do anything right and complaining about them got sympathy from my friends making me feel justified in wanting to leave.
              I wasn’t a bad kid but I resented parental authority. I resented my required attendance at youth group functions. I had accepted Christ as my savior and was baptized with all the other twelve year olds before we entered the youth group. I knew I was “saved”, so what?
              I turned eighteen. “Now you’re an adult,” friends told me. “You get to do what you want, when you want.” The principle sounded great but the restrictions remained. Resentment grew through my senior year in high school.
              When I was encouraged to choose a college, I saw an opportunity for escape. I chose a Christian college miles away from home knowing my parents would agree to it. “After all,” I told them, “God is calling me to this campus.”
              College life became a bore. I skipped classes and chapel. Homework cut into my social life too much. I found myself in danger of flunking out. I certainly didn’t want to go home. Then the idea struck.
              It was time to begin registration for classes for the next semester. If my father paid for the next semester soon enough, I could withdraw and get a refund. It would be a nice nest egg for starting a whole new life and getting the total freedom I sought.
              It was too easy. The money was refunded to me and I was packed and on my way to a new apartment in the city in my own car that sputtered and choked each time I turned it off. I figured once I got set up and was rolling, I would let my family know I was all right. There wouldn’t be anything they could do about it then. After all, I was an adult.
              Job hunting was distasteful and offered nothing of interest that wouldn’t drain my energy for the nightlife I found. My first taste of alcohol was a bitter surprise but soon I could hold my own with the others in my new group of friends. I refused the drugs. I liked my brain the way it was. I’d seen what it did to friends.
              Before long one of the guys claimed me for his own. I felt special and loved in a way that never happened with the guys in high school. It didn’t take long before we were intimate. Harley didn’t want to wear protection because it would take the fun out of it. I hadn’t planned for intercourse so I was unprepared with birth control. I snickered as I remembered the “purity pledge” I’d taken along with the rest of the church teens. Well, when love came along it didn’t matter, I told myself.
              Well, love came along again—for Harley. He left me for the newest arrival in our group. The same day, my landlord cleaned out my room, changed the lock and put everything I owned at the curb. I couldn’t understand it. I was only two months behind on rent. Undaunted, I decided to rough it out in the car until I made some pocket money and I could get a new place.
              A few weeks went by with no income. The money ran out. I found myself in convenient stores grabbing whatever food I could inconspicuously shove in my pockets. I remembered the lasagna Mom made monthly to feed the homeless. I thought about trying to find a church with a food program but decided I wouldn’t lower myself. I had my pride.
              It got colder. The gas in my car ran out and I couldn’t move it for a few days. One morning I returned to my parking spot after foraging in some trash cans behind a restaurant. I had just lost my meager breakfast and needed to lie down. An empty space instead of my car greeted me. Sitting down on the curb I curled my arms around my knees and cried. Why can’t anything go right anymore?
              After my pity part I headed for a place I had reserved as a last resort. Harley had a friend who would take me in. He promised a warm room and the friendship of other girls my age who lived in the same building. He even said there was a guard at the door for security. I should have taken him up on his offer sooner, I thought.
              I arrived at the rundown apartment house and walked up to the big burly goon that was blocking half the door. “I’m here to see Freddie,” I said, my teeth chattering from the cold.
              “Oh yeah? And just who would you be?” He sneered and snorted.
              “I’m a friend of Harley’s and Freddie said if I needed a place to stay, I could crash here.”
              “Well let’s just see.” He grabbed me by the arm and ushered me inside to a dimly lit room that smell of pot and booze. Freddie sat at the desk counting loose bills.
              “Hey!” he said looking up at me. “Look who’s here. Decide to take me up on my offer? Harley told me you were one great lady. I only take in the best.” I shivered involuntarily as he leered at me. Panic welled in my throat. “You realize you have to pass the test to become one of my girls.”
              I shook my head and backed away. What was this?
              “Come on. Make it nice with us and you’ll pass. Then you can start earning your keep.”
              Before I could react the two men pushed off my coat and pulled my sweatshirt over my head. The smell turned my stomach as their bodies closed in.
              “No!” I screamed and tried to run. The back of Big Burly’s hand sent me flying across the room. He landed a few more blows before I black out. I remember waking, feeling cold and hearing sirens before I blacked out again. The pastor of the little church a few blocks from Freddie’s had found me lying in a snowbank covered in blood.
              My hospital stay was short. A miscarriage had produced more blood than the beating. I had been pregnant. Upon discharge, they handed me test results and a list of clinics. I was HIV positive. The pastor met me at the hospital door. We talked about my options and he offered to buy me a bus ticket home. I hesitated. An old Bible story came into my head from nowhere. The prodigal son from the fifteenth chapter of Luke. I let him buy the ticket.
              Now I stand here. Looking at the beautiful warm home full of love. During the bus trip I turned to my heavenly Father and asked his forgiveness. Would my parents forgive too? The prodigal was met halfway down the road. I will have to cross the street and ring the bell. But wait. . .Mom and Dad are on the porch smiling. Their arms are open wide.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

What If Christmas Meant A Little Bit More?

For some reason the commercialism of Christmas has gotten to me this year. Was it because it started at Halloween? Or was it the debate over when Black Friday should start--Thanksgiving Day, the week of, or maybe just Friday? Of course then Black Friday was followed by Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. News programs fretted over the economy. Would the retail stores see a significant growth in sales? What if they didn't? Did it signal an economic crisis?

Then of course as the Thanksgiving turkey was tucked into leftover containers TV, newspapers, magazines and every online source of information began informing the public of the best way to shop, to entertain, to decorate, and on and on. It was tiring to think of all that I wasn't doing or doing right.

And then, tuned into Sirius XM radio to one of the holiday music channels, I heard this quote from Dr. Zeus' The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. It was after the Grinch had done his dirty work and discovered the Whos were celebrating any way.

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?”

This week heralds the celebration of the birth of Christ. He is the major part of Christmas unless you replace him with X. Unfortunately I think too many have replaced him with packages, boxes, and bags. Hmmm. What if Christmas , perhaps, means a little bit more?

"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord." Luke 2:11

Monday, December 23, 2019

Mary's Journey

It's Christmas time. While I rejoice in the birth of Jesus, my thoughts often travel to Mary. As a mom, I wonder what she felt. Did she know all that lie ahead? And then there was that journey to Bethlehem.

Much has been been debated over whether her mode of transportation was a donkey or not. Tradition says it was. Does it really matter? She was nine months pregnant--or at least far enough along to be delivered. Whether by donkey, by camel, or by foot, it was a long journey. Today she wouldn't even be allowed an airplane flight for fear she would deliver mid-air. And would her doctor allow the x-ray security check?

Then they arrived in Bethlehem to find that there was no room left for them. We once ran into that problem when we decided to leave a day early for our trip with the kids to Niagara Falls. It was a four hour drive and we thought we'd drive halfway, find a place to stay and then get an early start the next day. What we didn't know was that there were several festivals between us and Niagara Falls and rooms were booked for miles. We raced a van to the last hotel with a room and lost. We turned around and went halfway home, found a rest stop and slept in the station wagon with the kids that night. And I wasn't pregnant. I can't imagine the dismay of not having a bed to rest in and finding yourself in a stable.

Tired, dusty, worn out and probably without familiar female help to assist in the delivery, Mary's pains began. Her son, the one the angel had promised was from God, would soon be born. What an ending to a long journey. But for Mary, the journey was only just beginning. Her son, God's only son, would become the savior of the world. She would witness it all.

When she packed her bag to begin that journey to Bethlehem, did she know?

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Magic Lights

There have been lots of Christmas light displays advertised and reported on locally--zoos, communities, even private homes. While the zoo lights were tempting, the nights we would have had free were really cold. We don't do well in the cold.

Last year we stopped by Oglebay's light display and enjoyed our stay and the drive through the park full of lights. With the thought of being in a warm car and not having to walk in the cold, we opted to go to the Magic Lights display at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds. We were delighted with our experience.

The cost is $20 for a car if you buy a pass online, $25 at the gate, and we bought our online pass an hour before we decided to go. The display is from 5:30 to 10 PM every night. We didn't want to wait too late to go so we decided to stop along the way to the fairgrounds at Wendy's for chili.

Somehow we passed the main entrance but got turned around and found it. Once we pulled up to the gate, we were asked to proceed with our lights off and invited to stop at Santa's Holiday Village for hot chocolate, games, music and s'mores. Lights off we were on our way.

The drive was well marked and it was a continuous display of lights. Whimsical displays, Christmas ornaments, lighted snowflakes, the 12 Days of Christmas, a nativity and to our surprise, several light displays that were farm equipment.

Our stop at the Santa Village, found a lot of kids bustling about and a small orchestra playing. We did a quick look around and went back out to continue our drive.

All in all it took about 50 minutes to drive slowly through the displays. It was festive too, as we tuned our radio to the suggested station to listen to Christmas music as we drove through.

The display is open until January 4 if you're in the area. It's worth the trip and the time and the cost of the pass.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Gift Ideas For The Readers On Your List

Time is running down. The clock is ticking. Need some more gift ideas? Here are two Christmas themed books that would make a great gift for the reader on your list.

Did you know that you can even gift the Kindle edition?

A Pocketful of Christmas 

When you give the miracle of love will you get double back? A small Pennsylvania town will soon discover if that is true.In Hollitown, Joseph is not looking forward to his first Christmas without his wife. When he discovers that eight year old Keri is hurting as well from missing her father, Joseph find that a pocketful of Christmas can bring joy again into their lives.

Letters From Santa

Chrissie has received a personal letter from Santa every year since she was five years old and lost her first responder father. Though they stopped coming when she turned eighteen, the encouraging letters touch her heart each year as she takes them from her memory box and rereads them. Now as a reporter for a Florida news magazine, she has decided to search out her letter writing Santa but unknown to Chrissie, a romance and a second family await her in Santaland, Minnesota.

Jack Hart meets Chrissie as they board a plane for Minnesota. He hates the idea of going home each year for Christmas because it usually means tension between himself and his father. This trip home though surprises him as he finds Chrissie is a guest at his parents’ farm, a B & B and camp for kids. Christmas becomes a more pleasant time as he grows fond of Chrissie and she helps him to reevaluate his parents’ mission of helping children of first responders.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Under The Mistletoe

When I first saw mistletoe growing in the branches of a tree I mistook it for a big squirrel's nest like we see in our trees at home. I learned that it is a parasitic plant that feeds off of its host tree. It does produce a popular Christmas decoration with quite a tradition.

Mistletoe can be found in several areas of America, Europe, and Australia. Not all species produce the same kind of white berries and leaves that are commonly used in the traditional Christmas decorations though.

Mistletoe was traditionally hung in doorways where a young man could claim a kiss if he caught a girl there. He then removed one of the berries from the plant. When the fruit was gone no more kisses could be claimed.

The original tradition of kissing under the mistletoe is said to have come from a Norse legend whereby a Norse goddess declared mistletoe as a sacred plant to symbolize love rather than death which, as the myth goes, it previously stood for.

Friday, December 13, 2019

The Today Show -- Success! Five Seconds of Fame

[In 2005, I appeared on the Today Show--for five seconds!]

Well, we managed to inch our way to a space behind three women dressed in "I (heart) NY" pajamas and Santa hats. Sure enough Al Roker came out and paused for a moment to look at their attire. Just as he did, the crowd squeezed in around us and any chance of our being on camera faded with three signs thrust in front of our faces.

I was about ready to give up and go get something to warm the icicles forming around my nose and eyebrows. The focus had shifted to the other end of the Plaza where the Eurythmics were performing. As soon as they were done with "Sweet Things are Made of This," the crowd began to thin. I looked at Bob. "Should we tough it out and see if they come over here again or just leave?"

"It's your call," he said bouncing up and down and clapping his hands together to get them warm. We decided to stay until the top of the hour--9 o'clock.

We watched Ann Curry come out to do a promo from a platform near us. She was much prettier in person than on TV and was warm and friendly to the crowd around her even though she was visibly shaking from the cold.

They were preparing to segue to the next song by the Eurythmics when a cameraman stopped in front of me and looked down at the sign that I was beginning to drag now. "Nice sign," he said nodding his head up and down as much as he could with a big camera on his shoulder. He climbed up to the same platform where Ann had been a few minutes before. The Eurythmics began to sing. He pointed the camera at me. I held the sign high and saw the red light come on. It seemed like it was on for an eternity and I watched as the lense zoomed in. Was he taking a close up?

Bob was behind me watching the monitor and suddenly called out, "That's our sign! Hey, you're on!" Just about the time he turned around, the red light went off and our five seconds of fame were over.

Fame is so fleeting...

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Today Show--Five Seconds of Fame

[Back on 2005, we took a trip to NYC for the Macy's Parade. It was a great time and this was one of the highlights.]

Bear with me...I'm still rehashing the wonderful time we had in NYC this past Thanksgiving. It included an early morning--very early and very cold--trip to Rockefeller Center Plaza for the Today Show.

We had searched the nearby drugstores for poster board and markers almost to no avail. Everyone was making signs to hold up for the big parade. We finally found some foam board and a smattering of fine point markers--not the best for filling in lettering on a sign.

Next came the question of what to put on the sign. I was torn between "He Robbins Family! Save some Turkey!" and a "Checkin' Our List" sign. I had seen turkey signs before, so we opted for the List sign. I drew blocks like bullet points for our list and wrote, "The Today Show, Parade, Turkey Dinner, Top of the Rock, Christmas Shopping." Each block except the shopping one was checked. We filled in the Today Show with diagonal bands of color loosely resembling the colors that NBC uses in its trademark. The rest was done in black and dark purple when the black pens began to run out of ink. It took us most of Thanksgiving afternoon, but it was a good time to rest and relax and stay warm after being out in the cold for so long at the parade.

Sign in hand--both hands--fighting the icy wind, we trekked down to Rockefeller Plaza. It was 6 a.m. The show didn't start until 7, but we were already late. The plaza was almost full to capacity with people. Security checked our sign to be sure it wasn't advertising or offensive or, I'm suspecting, political, and we oozed into the middle of the crowd that was facing the far end waiting for the live concert by the Eurythmics.

Once in a while the camera suspended on a boom above the crowd would swing over the top of us and people would go wild cheering and waving signs. Bob noted that the camera wasn't even on yet. I knew I wanted to be in the back of the crowd closer to where the Today personalities would come out to do the weather. There was a lot better chance of being seen there and I certainly didn't want to disappoint my grandkids who were watching or TiVoing.

Carefully, and slowly we inched our way closer to the barriers as people got too cold and gave up--leaving for hot chocolate or coffee. It was getting closer to 8:30, their scheduled appearance time in the Plaza. Would we be close enough by then?

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

It's A Pocketful of Christmas!

It's here! It's available on Amazon! And it's a great quick read for the holidays. A Pocketful Of Christmas is a novella and takes place in a little town in Pennsylvania. Here's the teaser:

When you give the miracle of love will you get double back? A small Pennsylvania town will soon discover if that is true. In Hollitown, Joseph is not looking forward to his first Christmas without his wife. When he discovers that eight year old Keri is hurting as well from missing her father, Joseph finds that a pocketful of Christmas can bring joy again into both their lives.

Uplifting and inspirational, I hope the story will bring joy into the hearts of my readers. I've had it in my pocket for quite some time now.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Christmas Past -- The Purple Stocking

[This is one of my favorite stories from the past when the kids were still little.]

I’m a traditionalist. I live in a traditional style home with comfortable overstuffed furniture. I love to cross stitch and quilt. I decorate with the basic Christmas colors—traditional green and red. At least that’s what I did before my mother asked my adopted six year old daughter what color stocking she wanted for her first Christmas with us.
            My mother had knitted red and green stockings for our older three boys. Now that we had adopted Cheryl and her brother, Don, she was eager to begin theirs. Cheryl made her choice loud and clear—purple!
            “Purple it is,” my mother said with her eyebrow raised to squelch my impending protest. The stocking had to be perfect as far as Cheryl was concerned this would be the first time in her six years that Santa might actually fill it.
            She had hung stockings up in past years, but Santa had never come on that special night to put anything into them. The best Cheryl and five year old Don could expect to receive then was a truck and a doll from their social services case worker. The gifts usually arrived a few days earlier or later. The magic of Christmas Eve was never realized for them.
            Anticipation and anxiety rose as Christmas neared. My twelve year old twins, Rob and Ron, and nine year old Andy could not comprehend that someone had never experienced the frenzied moments of sheer joy they found on Christmas morning tearing through layers of wrappings and boxes to find the treasures and desires of their young hearts.
            Because Christmas fell on a Sunday, we decided to change our calendar and have “Christmas morning” on the 24th instead. That enabled me to enlist our neighborhood Santa in a surprise visit to our home on our Christmas Eve. That night, when Santa rang the doorbell, Cheryl flew to open it.
            “Ho, ho, ho. So here you are,” Santa exclaimed raising his arms in surprise. “I’ve been looking for you for a long time. You and Donny have moved to so many foster homes that I had a hard time tracking you down. But now that you have a ‘forever home,’ I know where you’ll be.”
            “My stocking…purple stocking…hanging on fireplace.” Cheryl found it difficult to put a sentence together in Santa’s presence.
            “Well, you’ll have to go to sleep early tonight so I can bring Rudolph and the gang with my load of toys and fill that purple stocking with surprises.” Santa chuckled.
            “You’re not landing on my roof are you, Santa?” my husband chided.
            “Well, of course. Got to use the chimney. It’s tradition, you know.”
            “Just who’s going to clean up that mess the reindeer leave? I’m not.” Bob folded his arms across his chest.
            “I will! I will! I will!” Cheryl shouted, panic stricken that her new dad might dissuade Santa’s return. Santa ho-ho-hoed and left after reassuring Cheryl that he knew the way back.
            To my amazement, everyone cooperated at bedtime. Cheryl and Don were the first to be tucked in since they were the youngest. Then Andy followed quickly. He figured the sooner to bed—the sooner morning would come.
Our preteen twins, of course, held out to the last. Tradition called for Santa to decorate the tree on Christmas Eve. They watched “Santa” begin his work, but not wanting to be totally disillusioned yet, they went to bed before it was done.
Our Christmas morning arrived early as usual. We had been careful to outline the traditional rules to our youngest and newest children. When we entered the family room, we found all five children sitting side by side, the tree lights on, staring at the stockings now lined up at the base of the fireplace, heavy with goodies. They were dutifully waiting for Mom and Dad to come down for breakfast.
“He did come! He did!” Cheryl exclaimed when we appeared in the doorway. She jumped up and down and pointed to her purple stocking.
“So he did,” I said filling with the same excitement I remembered as a child. “Well, get into your stockings and then we’ll have breakfast before we open the big gifts.”
Following the traditional order for Christmas morning, Cheryl cradled the purple stocking in her arms and joined the circle of siblings in opening the little candies, novelties, and fruit that “Santa” had stuffed in those precious knitted stockings.
After breakfast, Bob poured his traditional second cup of coffee to heighten the anticipation, but the kids nudged him into the family room before he could finish it so they could open gifts.
We always take turns with our gifts so each can appreciate what he has received, and Bob and I can watch each expression. After a few rounds, I noticed that the older boys were not busying themselves with what they had opened. Instead, they were intrigued with their new brother and sister. I noticed Ron brush a tear from his cheek. His face reddened.
“This really is the first Christmas for them, isn’t it?” he remarked. I nodded and smiled.
The rest of the day did not follow our traditional schedule since we had already moved Christmas. We attended Christmas Eve service, as we did every year, but somehow worship was much more meaningful. The celebration of Christ’s birth seemed so much more joyous. I realized the love that had been shared that morning in our family was a part of the love that God had shared with all of us through His son.
Well, traditionalist I still am. Each year I hang the purple stocking in the middle of the red and green ones. After all, traditionally the color of purple indicates royalty, and isn’t that what Christmas is all about? The birth of a King?

Friday, December 06, 2019

Through My Lens -- Castle Noel

Mr. Jingaling

Frosty from Christmas With The Kranks

Cindy Lou's bedroom

The Grinch's dog Max

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Castle Noel -- The Streets of New York

Mark Klaus and his wife Dana have made several trips to New York to secure quite a collection of window displays from stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord and Taylors. In one room set up like a small theater, we watched a movie that showed the tremendous effort it took to box everything and load it into a truck to bring it to Ohio.

I found out later that Klaus had even made a trip when he had to travel prone in a vehicle because of some physical problems he was having. He was determined though to add to his collection. His love of Christmas and wanting to share the memories knows no bounds, I guess.

The series of windows that feature the story of the Nutcracker are amazing. The costuming and details of the characters and the setting are beyond description. Other windows included a fancy glittered shoes display and several deliciously displayed cakes, cookies and candies.

We were gathered into another theater venue and watched a crazy video of Klaus lip syncing "Let It Go" from the frozen movie as he was pictured in many of the places in the museum we had visited. At one point, it snowed in the theater to the delight of young and old--especially since it wasn't cold and it melted quickly.

One of the other amazing places we were led through was a large room where many of the things not yet put into displays were stored including, to my delight, the toy soldiers featured in the Santa Clause 2 movie.

Nearing the two hour mark in our tour, we paused before two huge doors and were told on the other side was the Grand Hall. With a little fanfare, the doors opened automatically and we were ushered into a wondrous huge hall that featured many of the things from the How The Grinch Stole Christmas movie.

The climax of our tour was Santa's mountain at the end of the hall. It was recreated by Klaus from the A Christmas Story movie. And yes, the slide was included. Santa waved to us from the top and we were all separated into families or groups to climb the stairs for a picture with Santa and then to take a trip down the slide. I made my husband and son go first because I knew I would need help getting up after the trip.

I took off my jacket (none are allowed on the slide to avoid metal scratching the sides) and placed it along with my purse between my feet that were tucked into the pocket of the  felt sack that I sat on. With a little scoot, I took off down the slide, screaming all the way. It was a thrill and yes, I felt like a kid again even when they helped me to my feet.

Pictures were available to purchase on our way out from our slide experience. Thankfully, no one bought the one with my mouth wide open as I sped down the red slide.

We explored the gift shop a bit and walked out into a beautiful fall day, feeling good about our trip back through Christmas past and looking forward to Christmas present.

 [For tickets and information go to the Castle Noel website]

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Touring Castle Noel -- Oh The Nostalgia

Our tour of Castle Noel in Medina, Ohio, continued inside after our visit with Cousin Eddie's RV from Christmas Vacation. Our group of twelve squeezed into a small two story foyer area and looked up at a giant clock that displayed animals as it chimed.

We lingered a bit in a long hallway lined with autographed pictures of stars from Christmas movies and artists who performed Christmas music. Once through the hallway, we began to experience the magic of seeing some of the sets used in animated Christmas movies and a few window displays from NYC.

Then it was time to go through the vortex. As the story went, once we passed through the vortex we would be children again, returning to the age of ten. There were two kids with our group and the young boy turned to his mom and said, "But Mom, I'm ten now. What's going to happen to me?"

I'm not sure how his mom explained it but once we had navigated the spinning environment, holding tight to the rails because the tunnel that was spinning put your equilibrium off, he was still ten years old. The rest of us however were transported back to our childhood or at least to remembering the toys we'd given our kids.

Several showcases exhibited all sorts of toys mostly from the sixties and seventies. One showcase held the track for Hot Wheels cars that is exactly like the one (of three) that we have in our toy closet for the grandkids. It was the favorite of the son who was with us. I wondered if he felt ten or just felt old looking at his favorite toy in a museum.

We moved on to see several showcases with costumes from some of the famous Christmas movies. I recognized the robe worn by the ghost of Christmas present and of course the costume worn by Buddy the Elf. I didn't know that there was another costume worn by Buddy though. There was a purple outfit that was worn in a scene that was cut from the movie.

Eventually we came to an area known as the Santa training ground. It looked a bit like being under an over-decorated Christmas tree but in the center of the passageway were two stone walls made to look a bit like a chimney might if cut in half and the middle of it was padded with inflatable red cushions that made it a tight squeeze to get through--like the feeling Santa might have going down the chimney.

Well trained, we were now on our way to the streets of New York to view the Christmas display windows.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Castle Noel - Oh, The Christmas Movie Memorabilia!

It was a nice sunny half hour drive to Medina to our destination, Castle Noel For the last several years I had heard about the museum dedicated to Christmas memorabilia from movies and New York City's famous windows.

Along with our son who was visiting for Thanksgiving, we arrived about ten minutes before our appointed time for the tickets we had purchased ahead of time. We were checked in and signed a disclaimer because there were steps to manage and of course, a trip down an infamous Santa slide. After waiting a few minutes for others in our time slot to arrive, we were led into the first room and given some history of the museum.

Mark Klaus, a nationally renowned artist and sculptor, and his wife Dana have spent quite a bit of time accumulating enough artifacts to fill the museum that covers half a city block. In an article I read, Klaus attributed his interest in all things Christmas to his mother and father, who resembled Clark Griswold in his fervor to decorate at the holidays.

Klaus' talent for sculpting can be seen in the work that is displayed for sale in the gift shop. The Christmas ornaments and figurines he has there are intricately designed. He was commissioned to design the official ornament for the Times Square Millennium Celebration.

By 2002 his reputation allowed him access to those who held the artifacts he was interested in collecting and he began to acquire Christmas movie props and costumes. In 2013, his museum dream was realized as the doors opened to the wonder and delight of the visitors who have come to see his collection and, as the adults are promised, become kids again. Our golden tickets were marked "Youth" because we would feel like a kid again once we were done with the tour.

Once we had learned a little about how the museum came to be from Dana, Klaus' wife, she led us outdoors to one of the best props we had waited to see, Cousin Eddie's RV from the National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation movie starring Chevy Chase. We took the appropriate picture and learned that the RV was actually made of aluminum and fiber glass and the rust on the outside was actually painted on. Thankfully Snots, the dog, was nowhere to be seen and we didn't have to rub his belly.

We followed Dana, our guide, into the next building and another tour guide took over, What awaited us would amaze us on every turn we took.

Friday, November 29, 2019

An Amazing Light Show, Odaiba, Tokyo

What in the world is borderless art, I wondered as we approached the entrance to Teamlab in Odaiba. We had waited all day to go to see it. The lines were so long earlier in the day that we found a few other things to do since it was raining and none of us wanted to stand out in the rain waiting to get in.

The show was worth the wait. The best way to describe it is that there were rooms full of video art that flowed from one room to the other. You were not supposed to follow any particular path as it was said that it all flowed together.

As we went from room to room it was like stepping into a piece of artwork and becoming a part of it. The kids loved the interaction especially in the room that had a slight hill that they could climb and become a part of a "waterfall".

My favorite areas were the rooms with butterflies flying all over the walls and the room with thousands of LED lights strung from the ceiling and flickering in sync to create the effect of being in a waterfall of lights. (Be sure to watch the video below)

I think it was a perfect ending to our last full day in Tokyo with the family. We finished the day with pizza--or at least the Japanese idea of pizza which was nothing like Pizza Hut or even the real pizza of Italy. It was good though and the kids enjoyed it as well.

The morning would find us packing and cleaning out our things from the little house we had stayed in.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Oedo Onsen

A long line out in the rain at the entrance to the Teamlab in Odaiba where we had planned to spend some time made us decide to put that visit off until later and find our way to the Oedo Onsen. An onsen is a Japanese bath usually fed by a hot spring. We had been to one after our Mt. Fuji climb but neither Bob or I had participated in the bath. Why you ask? Because we didn't feel comfortable shedding all clothing and showing off seventy-something year old bodies. I had briefly considered it until I saw a bunch of twenty-somethings running around with nothing on in the dressing room.

This onsen is said to be a favorite of foreigners. I can see why. It is a neat place to just walk around. When you first enter and pay, you choose a yukata from a display on the wall. There are designs for men and women and children. The girls went their way and the boys theirs and we all came back out and regrouped a few minutes later in our yukatas. Thankfully Bob left his jeans on under his as the first thing he did when he sat down was spread his legs. Whew!

We had left our shoes at the entrance in lockers but we left our socks on to walk around. You could have gone barefoot if you wanted.

The inside of the place was huge and was decorated like an old traditional village of sorts only instead of houses, there were booths with carnival type games and lots of places to get drinks and/or food. The center of the largest room had lots of tables with benches and chairs. where you could bring your food and drinks.

We claimed a table and the kids were immediately off to try their luck with the games. The most popular, and I might add the one they were quite practiced at, was a pool of floating plastic balls. The object was to net as many as you could before the thin paper net totally dissolved. Several other booths had games of chance and another that was popular was the ninja stars you could throw at a target. It didn't take long for our table to fill up with rubber balls and other toys and a grand prize of a drone.

The kids and their parents went off to the baths while Bob and I walked around and enjoyed a drink. We were also the guardians of the loot they'd won. When they returned they made another round for all the games. Each time they played their wristband was scanned and a charge was made to our son's account which he would pay when we were done. He laughed and said no matter how much they did he was still saving money over a Disney trip.

It was late afternoon when we decided to see if the line at the Teamlab was shorter. When we got outside, we found it had finally stopped raining. We found there was almost no line so we were excited. This was supposed to be quite an unusual show of artwork that moves from room to room with light displays and. . .well, I'll show you Thursday.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Modern Motor Show in Tokyo

Our original plan was to spend our last day of the kids' fall break at Disney Sea which is an off shoot of Disneyland and features rides and attractions for a little older child/adult. I was interested to see it since I think this is the only one Disney has. Instead of theme parks, it has theme ports, But alas, it was predicted to rain all day and rain it did.

Bob and I grabbed an umbrella and while the kids still slept, we walked over to a very nice grocery store we'd found around the corner the day before. It was pouring rain and when we got to the door, we found that we were too early The store hadn't opened yet. The lady we had spoken with the day before (she spoke very good English) smiled at us, opened the door and told us we had ten minutes to wait. But, she said, come in and wait in the little cafe area.

We watched as the staff quickly prepared all the stations and wiped off counters and display cases. This place was really immaculate. Finally a buzzer sounded and they all took their places as our friend unlocked the door. We went to the donut case and gathered our dozen donuts to take back to the house. They were all the incentive needed to get bodies out of bed.

Our son had done some research and found some alternative activities for us. We started with the Tokyo Motor Show. It was amazing. So many futuristic tech advances. Self driving cars that looked like a fancy limousine only it was more like a capsule than a car with every creature comfort you could imagine that was electronic.
Car charging station.

There was a rescue drone that could carry a person to help with emergencies. And one of my favorites, a charging station for electric cars where you just drive over the top of it and it automatically charges the car. It would be like the new charging stations for phones where you just put it on top of a charging station. 

We watched a model demonstrate another self driving car that had a seat with so many different positions I lost count. I think that one had a TV screen in it as well. The fascinating thing I found was that she looked like a robot the way she was dressed and moved. Was she?

In the middle of all of the techy stuff was an enterprising group taking advantage of the youngsters who were there. They had what was called Miracle Paint for face painting and other surfaces. The paint dries sort of like acrylic but actually more rubbery. It wasn't like the usual face painting materials that wipe off. This you had to pinch and peel off. It was pretty neat. They had also painted flowers on a car as well. I guess if you don't leave it on there too long it would just peel off and not leave a mark.

Our grandson tried out the virtual reality racing they had there just before we decided to seek out some lunch. There was a nice mall right next to where we were and a large food court where we found some delicious rice bowls with chicken. Our afternoon adventure would take us to the Oedo Onsen, a Japanese bath but much more.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...