A [[Not-So-Funny]] Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum

Photo credit to http://www.baystreet.org

Today’s Daily Prompt “Isn’t Your Face Red” encourages us to write about the last time we were embarrassed and how we reacted.  Instantaneously my memory zoomed back to an event that was not the last time I was embarrassed but was one of the most mortifying experiences of my life.   I think it qualifies for this exercise.

Almost the worst part of this experience (and probably why it was so personally embarrassing) is the fact that I was the one who instigated the outing.  I happened to see a commercial for a show coming to the Denver Performance Art Center – “A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum”.  In the commercial people were gushing about how funny the show was, how much they laughed, etc, etc, etc.  I thought to myself “Hey, that sounds like fun, let’s do it!”

Living in the Denver metro area, I’ve often chided myself for not taking  advantage more often of the world-class performance art and museums that are available.  Every time we venture to a show or an outing to a restaurant or event downtown we find ourselves wondering “Why don’t we don’t do this more often?” Since we have a group of friends who enjoy a good time as much as we do, we soon found ourselves on our way to dinner and the show with Dave & Lynn and their two young adult sons as well as Steve & Jeanie.

We could only get two blocks of tickets for four, so Redgie, Steve & Jeanie and I sat on one side of the theater and Dave & Lynn and their boys sat on the other.  And the show began…..

Shall I just say the humor was quite….um….”bawdy”?  You know, the kind that is filled with adultish innuendo and complete with courtesans sporting tassel-tipped nipples???  That’s pretty much all I can remember.

You have to understand….Dave & Lynn by this time were good friends of ours, but they were also my employers.  And Steve was on staff at our church.  I could feel the waves of embarrassment wash over me as the first half of the show plodded on.

To effectively complete this exercise I need to confide that my reaction to this embarrassing situation was to dash to the women’s restroom as soon as the lights came up at intermission! I hid in the farthest stall the whole entire intermission period.  I just knew that as soon as I could muster the courage to exit the restroom I would find the rest of the group waiting in the lobby so that we could leave without watching the second half of the show.  Imagine my surprise when I found them all still in their seats.  Redgie just asked “Where did you go for so long?”

Maybe I mis-judged everyone’s reaction to the show.  I figured Lynn would want to whisk her boys out of there as soon as possible, but every now and then I could hear Dave’s booming laugh across the theater. And Steve just kids me now and then about it, joking that I should not be allowed to orchestrate any more of our group outings.

That is just fine with me.

Photo credit to http://www.baystreet.org

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January Photo Dump

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January 2014:

  • Bone chilling temperatures in Dillon!
  • Redgie joins the Red Hat Society! (not really!)
  • Gorgeous photo of a sunset sky taken by my son
  • Photo tribute to Jenn Van Briesen, gone too soon….
  • Redgie’s sister Tammy & her husband Mark (love them!)
  • A freshly-bathed Bebe (none too happy….)
  • Brady’s new Mazda 3Speed
  • Sparkling winter scene in Summit County

Thoughts on “Time”

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Today I’ve been pondering different names for my new business. The product I am selling is an opportunity for owners of vacation rental properties to get back some of their precious time by allowing me to handle the time-consuming tasks of managing listings and reservations for their property.

I’m a “Vacation Rental Reservation Management” expert, pro, guru, specialist, etc.

So I’ve been thinking about time.

I found some great quotes about time on the Internet:

This one is my favorite!
“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” 
― Henry David Thoreau

“Time is what we want most,but what we use worst.”
― William Penn

“You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.”
― Charles Buxton

“Free time isn’t free. Free time is the most expensive time you have, because nobody pays for it but you.”
― Jarod Kintz, I Should Have Renamed This

“Time is a gift, given to you, given to give you the time you need, the time you need to have the time of your life. ”
― Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

“Time is the most valuable thing that a man can spend.”
― Diogenes Laertius

“Lost time is never found again”
― Benjamin Franklin

“Time is more precious than gold, more precious than diamonds, more precious than oil or any valuable treasures. It is time that we do not have enough of; it is time that causes the war within our hearts, and so we must spend it wisely.”
― Cecelia Ahern, The Gift

“It’s such a shame to waste time. We always think we have so much of it.”
― Mitch Albom, For One More Day

“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”
― Carl Sandburg

“How you spend your time is more important than how you spend your money. Money mistakes can be corrected, but time is gone forever.”
― David Norris

What I find so interesting in thinking about time is the tenses:  Past, Present & Future

Is the past really past if you can only think about it in the present? How much of your present are you willing to spend on the past?

Is the future really future if it only exists in your thoughts at this moment? How much of your present are you willing to spend on the future?

Is “now” the only time that we can really do anything about? If it is, are you doing exactly the right thing with your present?

I think a better description of time would be: Memories, Now & Dreams.

(Photo credit: dujs.dartmouth.edu) 

2013 in Pictures

Last year at the end of each month before I deleted photos from my cell phone I created monthly collages with my favorite photos.  Some months I barely had any photos, while others I had so many that I had to make two collages for those months.  Now that 2013 is over I thought I’d create a post with all of the collages (for posterity’s sake, you know!)

Jan 2013  Feb 2013 Mar 2013


Apr 2013

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An Exhaustive (or exhausting?) Resumé

On the first Saturday of each month we get together with friends for breakfast at Merle’s Restaurant in Littleton.  (Thanks Jan & Vini for starting this tradition!) We usually sit with all of the gals on one end of the table & all of the guys on the other.  I like this arrangement because while I love all of them I really want to talk to my girlfriends and it’s just so much easier than talking over and around the guys.

Sitting at the girl’s end of the table last Saturday were Jan and Jan and Lynn and myself.  (I actually have three girlfriends named Jan and one named Janice, but one Jan couldn’t make it and Janice lives in IL.)  We were talking about all of the different jobs we have had in our lives.  Some of us have had a lot of different jobs and some had jobs that were actually careers.

Lynn did a lot of babysitting while in high school and cleaned houses and worked in the bakery while in college.  (She did all of this without a car…she rode her bike everywhere she went in her small hometown near Sacramento, CA.) She studied nursing in college and worked as an RN ever since graduating from college until she finally quit to help her husband grow their business VRBO.com (which was a good move, since they were able to sell it in 2006 and retire!)

Jan G worked in various roles beginning with helping in her father’s business while in High School and through college & early married years.  She also worked at two Nazarene colleges when living in Oklahoma and later Kansas.  She worked for her church and then began work with the Aurora Public School district before “retiring” from the school district after 25 years to take her current job at VRBO.com/Homeaway.com that allows her to work from home.

In high school Jan R developed film & printed photos for her friends.  After high school she worked for the Federal government with the Department of Defense, Army, Navy, Air Force, and FAA as a secretary. She left the federal government to work for the company that they bought the word processing equipment from and assisted sales with equipment demos & training for customers. She then moved to Dallas as a Customer Support trainer and developed training courses. After that she worked for a while as a technical writer in the telecommunications industry. While doing this job she also worked part-time for VRBO.com editing photos in 2003, and then in 2006 she began working full time for VRBO.com/Homeaway.com.

I was the one who brought up the topic of conversation because I had been musing about all of the past jobs I have held in my life.  (Now that I am retired, I have time for that kind of musing!)  🙂

The Early Years

My first job was working as a waitress at Shoney’s Big Boy restaurant in College Park, MD after graduating from high school.

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This being my very first job, I took it very seriously, even going to the extreme of practicing the correct ordering sequence in my dreams. I loved the hot fudge cake that was one of this restaurant’s signature desserts.  (The hot fudge was thick and gooey!) This job lasted through the summer after my senior year in high school until I left home to attend Liberty Baptist College (which eventually became Liberty University) in Lynchburg, VA.

While in college I worked in the Dining Services area helping in the kitchen and dining hall.

The Altoona, PA years:

After marriage and while my children were young my priority was in being a stay-at-home mom so any job that I took was one that could be worked while my hubby was home with the kids or my neighbor could help with babysitting.  Those years are a blur, but I remember my first job was as a waitress at the Sheraton hotel restaurant  working the breakfast/lunch shift.  I don’t even remember how many years I worked there, but some of the things I remember while working there are:

  • The day that Prince Charles wed Diana.  I was happy that I was working in the patio that day because there was a TV at the bar and we could watch the wedding when we were not busy.
  •  The time that I waited on Conway Twitty and his band.  I was the last early-shift waitstaff on duty so was working on the patio until the first cocktail waitress came on duty and I could leave.  I had taken the orders for the large party, delivered their food & drinks and had already given them their bill when I left for the day. The next day I was shocked to discover that there was no tip waiting for me! It’s possible that the cocktail waitress who was working when that party left pocketed my tip….so I’ll give Conway Twitty the benefit of the doubt.  (Just sayin’……)
  • The de-li-cious home fries they served at breakfast.  I think they used the leftover baked potatoes from dinner the night before and cut them up into cubes, then fried them on the griddle with big chunks of red & green peppers and onions.  Yum! I’ve measured every home fries I’ve eaten since then against these, and haven’t found any that taste as good as I remember the home fries served at the Sheraton.
  • The sad day when my co-worker Connie received news that her college-aged son was found dead in Columbia, South America.  She didn’t even know he had gone there! The death was drug-related, and she was devastated.
  • My co-worker Mark from whom I got one of the recipes that my family has enjoyed ever since – Ravioli Casserole (This recipe is stored on Google Drive, so if you can’t see it and want it contact me and I’ll email it to you!)

Other jobs in Altoona that I’ve held included:

  • Working at “So-Fro Fabrics” in Logan Valley Mall (Altoona, PA) which was fun.  I was doing a lot of sewing at the time so probably spent more money than I made!
  • Working as a bank teller for Mellon Bank.  I loved this job!  (This was when our children were old enough to be in school for the whole day.)  Ours was a small branch with only four or five tellers and one (woman) manager.  Our customers were great!  I remember one day when I was working the drive-through window a customer came through and had a box of kittens on the backseat of his car.  When I asked him about it he said he was on the way to drop them off at the pound.  I convinced him to bring the box of kittens into the lobby and Carol & I each ended up taking a kitten!  Ours was black & white and we named him “Cubby” (because our youngest was in Cubbies in Awanas that year.  We already had a white cat named “Sparky”.  If you’ve ever been involved with Awanas, you know what I mean….Cubby lived to be 20 years old!!)

The Winchester, VA Years

In 1988 we moved from Altoona, PA to Winchester, VA.  Shannon was in fourth grade and Brooks was in first grade.  For the first six months I worked at another Mellon Bank branch as a teller, but I was not happy doing so because it meant I had to leave the house before Shannon & Brooks went to school and they returned home before I did.  Even though their school was just one block away, we were new to the area and I didn’t have neighbors or friends to help supervise the kids.  So after six months we decided to see if we could find something else that would fit our family better.

That is when we interviewed for a position at Hunting Ridge Retreat, a 360 acre retreat center outside of Winchester owned by the First Baptist Church of Winchester.  They were looking for a new “hostess” who would be responsible for planning & preparing all of the meals for the groups that rented the retreat center (mostly church youth groups) and also to prepare a Wednesday evening meal at the church itself for the members who wanted to eat there before the Wednesday evening programs.  This hostess was also responsible for cleaning all of the facilities at the Retreat after each group left & preparing them for the next group to arrive.

I think I got the job mainly because they were impressed with Redgie and his food service knowledge and experience.  I was the actual employee, but running the retreat was a family affair!  As part of my compensation, we got to live on the retreat grounds in the little house at no cost to us.  Those were idyllic years, and I think they would be a good subject for another post, so I’ll save those details for later.  We stayed at Hunting Ridge Retreat for 4.5 years until Redgie was transferred to Dallas, TX with his employer.

The Dallas, TX Years

The only job(s) I held while we lived in Dallas for 2.5 years was housecleaning for about 4 families.  ‘Nuff said!

The Denver, CO Years

We moved to Denver, CO in June of 1996 and live in Parker, CO currently.  While living in CO these are the jobs that I’ve held:

  • I threw newspapers for the Denver Post for about 6 weeks.  I couldn’t take it longer than that.  I had to be at the warehouse between 2:30 – 3:00 a.m. and I just couldn’t get to bed early enough the nights before to get enough rest.  Additionally, there were NO days off unless I arranged for someone to take over my route.  It wore me out.  But I did enjoy the peacefulness of driving through the town when no one else was about (except other newspaper delivery people) and the quiet and the beautiful stars in the night sky.  (There are some strange talk radio shows on at that time of night, though….)

[[NOTE: I’m editing the post on 2/6/14 because I suddenly realized out of the blue that I had forgotten to include a job that I held while living in Denver! I can’t remember how long I did this job, or exactly when, or even the name of the company that employed me!  Growing old with fading memories is the pits….]]

  • For some un-remembered period of time I worked for a retailing company as (what I called myself) the “Candy-girl”.  My job entailed driving around to five or six “King-Soopers” grocery stores around the area and maintaining the bulk-foods sections in those stores…..you know, all of the plastic bins are that hold stuff like trail mix and loose candy? I had to take inventory, order product, clean the bins and fill them up each time I visited the stores.  I went to each store once a week.  (Yes, once a week is how often those bins were cleaned.)  I liked the flexibility of the schedule, and I especially liked the one long drive up into the mountains to the store in a small town called Bergen Park….the view of the Rocky Mountains was breathtaking! But after some time (probably about a year) I decided it was too much wear & tear on my vehicle so I ended my career as the “Candy-girl”.
  • Worked for GapKids in the Park Meadows mall for about 4 years, mostly working one to two nights per week and on Saturday.
  • Worked for HomePlace for about one year until they went out of business.  (I probably spent more money at the store than I took home….it was a store like Bed, Bath & Beyond.)
  • I then worked at home for a company called “Alpine Access” which is a Customer Service Outsource Call Center.  I was assigned to the “My Twin” account and I took calls from customers who wanted to order these custom-made dolls that resembled their children.  I also worked for the Vermont Teddy Bear account for a few weeks before Valentine’s Day…..that was fun!  And I got a free Vermont Teddy bear as a bonus! My most vivid memory of this job was the day that I was supposed to have my initial interview (by phone) was the morning of September 11, 2001.  Our interview was canceled because of the terrible, tragic events of that day.
  • On March 25, 2002 I began the best job I ever had…..working for VRBO.com.  I learned so much about the vacation rental industry and developed my skills in communication and management throughout my tenure but I loved this job because of the culture and people with whom I worked (and the fact that we got to work from home!)  I “bless the day” (inside joke) that Dave & Lynn hired me, and it truly has been a blessing in so many ways.  In 2006 they sold the company to Homeaway, Inc, who then became our employer and I continued with the company until I retired as the U.S. Manager of Email Support in July 2013.Now I’m retired, but we’ll see how long that lasts! After 6 months of blissful leisure time, I think I’m ready to be more productive again!  I’ve already decided to start my own “Listing/Reservation Management” service, putting into practice all of my experience with managing vacation rental properties that I’ve learned over the years of working at VRBO.com.

    We’ll see what the next adventure has in store!

A Military Mom’s Diary – Tiger Cruise!

Tiger Cruise [ty-ger krooze] noun – The Navy’s name for a very special guest cruise program. A Naval ship is permitted to embark relatives and friends of crew members (Tigers), eight years of age or older, for a Tiger Cruise. The cruise provides an opportunity for family and friends to see and participate in our daily shipboard routine.

Yes! I got to participate in a Tiger Cruise! This was an adventure that not many people get to enjoy and I was so excited to have this experience!  (I didn’t know that a Tiger Cruise was on my bucket list,  but I guess it was!  Check!)

As mentioned here on my blog previously, my eldest son is a Navy helicopter pilot who is assigned to the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike group.  In April of last year he deployed to the Middle East.  He was only supposed to be gone for six months…..that is until the situation in Syria happened.  The Nimitz carrier group was on its way home when they were rerouted to the Red Sea in early September as a show of force for the U.S.  This situation delayed their homecoming by months.

But finally on December 3, 2013 the USS Nimitz pulled into Pearl Harbor.  My husband & I had flown to Honolulu the day before and I happened to be in our hotel room when waaaaay out on the horizon we were able to see the Nimitz as it passed (click on the photo for a better view):

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We were soooo excited because we knew that soon we would be reunited with our son, Brooks!

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We got to spend a day and a half enjoying Waikiki and Pearl Harbor with Brooks.  We were privileged to be included in a special Anniversary tour of Pearl Harbor along with some men who were survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  Some of these men have never returned to Pearl Harbor until this year.  I am sure their minds were traveling 72 years in the past and reliving that awful day as we stood on the memorial floor with the wreckage of the USS Arizona just below the water’s surface.  Part of our visit included a “Floral Tribute” ceremony, when we were invited to scatter rose petals on the water in honor of anyone we wished.  Brooks, his father and I dropped petals and said prayers for two of Brooks’ fellow helicopter pilots who were lost in an accident on September 22, 2013.  (View my video tribute to those heroes in this post .)

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We boarded the Nimitz aircraft carrier on December 5, 2013 and pulled out of Pearl Harbor the next morning.  It was so moving to see the respect that all of the military personnel showed as we passed by the USS Arizona Memorial…..manning the rails and holding solemn salutes until the carrier passed the memorial site.

Life on board an aircraft carrier…..what can I say?  Of course it was a lot different for us “Tigers” than for the men & women deployed on board.  Most of the time when we tell people about the Tiger Cruise they ask two questions:

1.  “What were the sleeping arrangements like?”

2.  “Was the food any good?”

Because our “sponsor” (our son Brooks) was an officer, we got to enjoy the accommodations and priveledges enjoyed by the officers.  Tigers whose sponsors were enlisted men or women enjoyed the same accommodations and priveledges of the enlisted ranks.

Our sleeping quarters were more comfortable than I anticipated.  I was quartered in a four-bunk stateroom.  My three roommates were women who were also Tigers.  My husband was quartered in a two-bunk stateroom, and his roommate was an officer with the Wolfpack (my son’s squadron.)  I wish I had taken photos of the room….I can’t believe I didn’t!  But it was divided into two parts:  one room had lockers and desks for two people, and the other room housed the four bunks, lockers and desks for two people and a small sink and mirror.  The mattresses were actually pretty comfortable (but I can say that since I only had to sleep on it for 7 nights….sleeping on them for months might have created a different opinion.)  Once I learned to make sure that my earplugs, water bottle, tissues, cell phone charger, book and lip balm were all within reach once I had climbed up into my top bunk, I was set!!  🙂

The difficult part was learning our way around!  It is like a maze inside of the carrier, with many decks, ladders and hatches up & down and sections.  Luckily they put “No Tigers Allowed” signs on parts of the ship where we were not supposed to go, so that helped us as we were navigating around the ship.  For the first few days the only places I knew how to get to were my room, the closest women’s “head” (bathroom), the “Wolfpack Ready Room” (which is where the pilots are briefed before a mission & de-briefed after a mission and where they generally hang out in-between), and the Ward rooms (dining rooms for the officers.)

The food was pretty good! (Brooks said it was better during Tiger Cruise than it had been all during the deployment, so I guess I’m grateful for that!) In the Ward rooms they had a nice salad bar, a buffet line which usually held a variety of entrees, meats, and side dishes such as vegetable & starches (usually potatoes or rice or mac & cheese). There was also a buffet line in the kitchen where you could get items from the grill or fryer.  The Ward room had a beverage area which offered coffee, hot water for tea, soda and milk.  One item I missed was bread….there was not very much to be had.  But a few less carbs never hurt anyone, right?

One of the things that occupied us for the first few days was to complete a “Tiger Qualification Standards” packet that was comprised of a LOT of questions about the different areas on the ship, their purposes, the people who worked there and their responsibilities.  To help us gain the knowledge we would need to answer the questions there was a series of six tours of the different areas of the ship scheduled throughout each day of the Tiger Cruise.  Brooks, Redgie & I spent a lot of time taking the tours and interviewing the people we met along the way in order to complete our TQS.  When we turned in our completed TQS we received an “official” Tiger Cruise certificate and pin.  🙂

After that experience I decided the place that I would least enjoy working was in the Fuel Pump room (where they constantly are purifying the fuel to standards needed to be used by the jets…..it was stinky down there, and dangerous) and the place where I would most like to work was for the Media department (which was responsible for all on-board movies, publications, photography, videos, social networks, etc.)

We got to tour all kinds of areas of the ship such as:

  • The Foc’sl – responsible for the huge anchoring mechanism including links of anchor chain that weigh 360 pounds each and two anchors (each weighing 30,000 TONS each!)
  • The Medical area which included a Surgery, X-Ray room, Pharmacy, etc.
  • The Hangar Bay where they store all of the aircraft that is not on the flight deck and also included a tour of the Fire Equipment and systems on board the ship
  • The Flight Control tower (“Pri-Fly”)
  • The control room responsible for driving the ship
  • The Flight Ops Center
  • The Brig (2 individual cells that house 1 person apiece and a “General Population” cell that could house up to 15 persons at a time.)
  • The Jet engine shop where they take apart, reconstruct and test the jet engines
  • Fuel Pump Room
  • Media Center
  • Viewed various “Static” displays of different aircraft and demonstrations

Some of the specific activities we participated in were:

  • On Saturday (our first full day at sea) there was an “Air Power Demo” on the flight deck.  The demonstration included all of the different kinds of jets and helicopters that are assigned to the ship.  It was a pretty amazing opportunity to see first hand all of the flight deck operations involved in launching and recovering the jets and helicopters.  Some of the helicopters demonstrated manuevers including dropping bombs into the water & we could see their explosions from where we stood! There was also a super-sonic jet demo that startled me so much I almost dropped my camera!  We had to wear earplugs because it was so loud!
  • On Sunday 12/8/13 at 7 a.m. Redgie and Brooks participated in a 5K “Fun Run” on the flight deck
  • On Tuesday 12/10/13 we watched the “Air Wing Fly Off” when all of the fixed wing planes and jets flew off the carrier to the base at North Island.  They have to be off of the carrier before it docks in San Diego because otherwise they would be stuck on the carrier since it needs to be at sea & in motion in order for the planes to fly off of it.  That is why as soon as we came within flight distance of North Island the Air Wing left.
  • On Wednesday 12/11/13 we watched all of the helicopters of HSM-75 & HSC-6 fly off the carrier to the base at North Island.

The rest of the time we spent mostly in the Wolfpack Ready room.  We watched a couple of movies – Ironically  the movie we watched on 12/7/13 (the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor) was the original  “Final Countdown” movie starring Kirk Douglas.  It was ironic because part of the movie is about the attack on Pearl Harbor and it was filmed on board the USS Nimitz!

The trip culminated when the Nimitz pulled into the port at North Island in San Diego on December 12, 2013.  We could see from our position along the side rails of the aircraft carrier that there was a crowd of family and friends waving signs and American flags and cheering the return of their loved ones.  I have seen scenes like this on TV lots of times but being on the other side of it, standing on deck amongst the brave men & women who had sacrificed so much in service for our country was such a moving experience for me.

I thought of those who leave home on deployment but do not get to return to hear the triumphant strains of our national anthem being played by a band on the pier as the two lost pilots of HSC-6 did, or of their families who instead of being in the crowd down below were at home missing their loved ones.  I said a prayer of gratitude for their sacrifice for our freedom and a prayer of thanks for the safe return of our son, and for the amazing experience that we were so privileged to have on this Tiger Cruise on board the USS Nimitz.

(Click on any of the photos below to view larger images)

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My 2013 Year in Review

The video in this post is of my 2013 year in review (as seen on my Facebook page.) The music is my favorite song of the year: “Give me Jesus” by Fernando Ortega.

As I look back on 2013 I realize it was a year of momentous events sandwiched between ordinary ones. We got to enjoy traveling to some new places (Oahu, HI; Hot Springs AR; Islamorada, FL; Belize City, Belize; Cozumel, Mexico) as well as revisit some places we’ve already been. We celebrated birthdays and our 35th wedding anniversary. We learned what it meant to be parents of a son who was deployed in the Middle East as a Navy pilot, and to experience the joy & relief of his safe return. We spent precious time with old friends and made some new friends along the way. My life took a big turn when I retired in July! At Christmas we enjoyed a Holiday cruise in the Western Caribbean with members of our family whom we have not seen in quite a long time.

All in all, I’d say 2013 was a pretty good year! Here’s to 2014 and the new adventures it will bring!