Day 162 – International Travel

haley.japanHaley left for Japan this afternoon (4/23) until August 30th.  She just got off the plane from South Africa last Friday (4/19)– so four continents in five days – Cape Town to London to LAX to Narita,  I am so proud of her.

The Young Americans, YA’s for short, is an International Outreach program that brings music in to the schools.  Her last tour was 3 months in Scotland, Ireland and England followed by two weeks in Cape Town.  I flew out to spend 36 hours with her before she boarded her flight to Japan.

I got in to Ontario, California at midnight on Sunday, picked up Haley from a friend’s apartment and back to my favorite hotel in SoCal, the Ayres Suites.  I listened to her talk until about 3:30 a.m. and then drifted off for a couple of hours sleep.  I mentioned to her that it was 6:30 a.m. where I had just come from, she reminded me that it was 4 in the afternoon from her last stop…fair enough.

Haley had rehearsal set for 9, so we got up for breakfast and dropped her off.  My job was then laundry and errands for her; a quick meet for lunch; a quick meet near dinner and then I gathered her back up for some additional errands.  We couldn’t quite finish them and so we got up early and hit the stores again.  Then to the airport.  Whew…it goes so fast.

I am so proud of my baby girl, she never ceases to amaze me in her thoughts and deeds.  She has always been a volunteer, never content to just sit on the sidelines and let others lead.  She is the one who likes to make things happen.  I love watching her with her group, this tour she is in charge of costumes, of course she needed a little help since she wasn’t here yet.  As she describes them, Boy Casey and Girl Kacie, took care of getting things rolling, now it’s up to her.  When I went to see her at the dinner break, she was bagging costumes in the warehouse, making an inventory, insuring that there were costumes for everyone.  She looked at me and apologized, “Mom, you didn’t really need to come out here, I thought we’d get more time together.”  Are you crazy??? I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.

Haley, just so you know, the chance to hug you and tell you I love you was enough for me, if we’d only met at the airport for an hour before you went on your way, that would have been enough.  Hmmm….perhaps I need to schedule some additional trips….Josh, Kayla – what do you think?  Love you all.



Day 164 – Nationwide Travel

airplaneCHA-DFW-ONT; LAX-DFW-BMH – I love traveling, obviously.  Most of what I do is by car, or semi, or Jeep.  Today, I’m in airports.  My youngest arrived from South Africa last Friday and I am on my way to spend 24 hours with her before she takes off for Japan.  More on that later.

Airports are my favorite people watching place, and the only place that I feel qualified to be a member of the fashion police.  Now, I’m not dressed particularly well today, my favorite capris, an oversized sweatshirt – but honestly, I just don’t care.  Most of the people in this airport care, it shows in how carefully they have dressed, they just haven’t done it well.  I mean, really, a royal blue Maxi made of stretchy jersey material on a larger woman – nope.  Or what about the man in the khakis, looked great until you see the sleeveless mint green tshirt.  I hate to say, but unless you are on the beach, sleeveless on men just doesn’t work.

I have a girlfriend from my previous work/life that I used to travel with, our favorite part about airports was making up stories about the people we saw.  Generally it was a couple and we made up their life story from how they met to where they were going and why.  We were never brave enough to go ask if it was true, but how fun it was to make it up.

One of my standard tasks before I fly is to clean out my handbag.  I have this awesome Burberry bag that my friends bought me before I retired,  I carry it everywhere.  It is so big, I can put 40 pounds in it easy and still find my stuff.  Generally it has a notebook and pen, my wallet, my sunglass case and a bank bag.  The bank bag carries all the important docs I don’t want to be without, passport, check book, lottery tickets, stamps, that kind of stuff.

Today, when I cleaned out my bag, I realized how mobile we are.  I had lottery tickets from Louisiana and Texas, a bookmark from my favorite used bookstore in Placerville, California; a book I picked up in Moab by a local author; 5 pounds of Mexican pesos (don’t ask me how much they are worth, that’s why I’m still carrying them); postcards I picked up at the Wrecking museum in Chattanooga and numerous other flotsam and jetsam that gets cast in to the bottom of a bag.  I’m wearing sandals I got in Sacramento, sweatshirt from Idaho, blouse from Alabama and a ring from Utah.  I’m very curious to see what is in my daughter’s handbag after four months abroad…do you think she hoards things like her mother?

Day 175 – Field Trip

okcO-K-L-A-H-O-M-A – Oklahoma City….wow, is there ever a bunch of stuff to do here!  Seriously, what a great city to visit as a tourist.  Our first stop was the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.  Before you get any notions that this might not be your kind of place, think again.  There is something here for everyone.  It is a fantastic museum.  Very well done, very modern in a multi-million dollar facility, a beautiful complex.  The exhibits are tasteful and well done, nothing dated about them.  You can visit a turn of the century western town; or stroll through the Western movie gallery.  Personally, I know it sounds silly, but I thought the barbed wire exhibit was awesome.  They have thousands of styles you can see.  The busts, the statues, the exhibits, the gardens, everything was awesome.  I can’t wait to go back again.

Our second stop was the Oklahoma National Memorial and Museum.  April 19, 1995 at 9:01 a.m.; 168 men, women and children lost their lives in the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building on NW Fifth Street in downtown Oklahoma City.  The Memorial is beautifully done, there are 168 empty chairs representing those lost, a reflecting pool between the Gates of Time and the Survivor Tree all in an open area.  Very powerful, very tasteful.  The Museum is one of the most moving I’ve ever been in, it is powerful enough to move you to tears – the only other one I’ve been in with that much power is the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C.  This is a must stop for all.  All of my friends in the area can recall exactly what they were doing when this tragedy happened, that says something, it brings it in to the consciousness of other tragedies of such magnitude.

Our final stop on the field trip was Bricktown.  A revitalized downtown area of red brick buildings where everything happens in OKC.  There are restaurants and bars everywhere, lots of action, lots of fun.  We enjoyed a brew at Bricktown Brewery and then made our way “home” for the night.

I love field trips.

Day 176 – Spring Weather

Lightning-StormEighty-two degrees at 1:45 p.m.; Twenty-nine by midnight.  Brrrrr.  We’ve been in some doozie storms, this one was no exception.  We knew it was coming, had planned our week around it.  Tuesday night would bring a storm, we were going to take Wednesday off and let the place dry out.  So we (that would be Josh) got the course all set on Monday and Tuesday, of course, it turns out he had to re-set it on Thursday because every thing had blown down.

The storm brought lightening, rain, sleet and ice.  Lots of ice, we were iced in to the trailer on Wednesday morning.  The mud at Coppermines is something we are very familiar with, last year’s race saw a storm that coated everything and everyone in the red clay.  This year we are happy the storm is early so there is time to get out of it.

Over the course of the past two years we’ve seen some awesome storms.  Last year in Sayre, Oklahoma, we huddled with our friends in the trailer waiting for the local fire chief to start the siren.  All of us were pretty sure the tornados we were watching were headed our way.  We pre-loaded the Jeep and Big told me I had thirty seconds to grab the cat, or we were leaving her behind.  The tornados turned and touched ground less than 100 miles away – over 140 of them.

The year before, we were in Hannibal, Missouri, a storm cropped up the Sunday night after the event.  We had loaded up and opted to go in to town to our favorite little night spot before calling it a day.  A number of drinks later, my boys were a bit intoxicated, I drove home and got in bed just in time for the storm to start.  As I laid there watching the radar on my phone, I started to worry.  It was a scary storm, we were down in a rock quarry surrounded by rock walls watching the lightening strikes everywhere.  I woke Big up and told him I was worried, he smiled, looked out the window and told me it would all be fine, before falling right back to sleep.  I was really worried that a tornado would touch down and tear the trailer apart, then where would they find our bodies.  As I laid there I had one thought that I just couldn’t shake, “I wonder if I should put panties on?”


Day 181 – Relay for Life, Texas style

rflVernon, Texas, a little place on the Texas-Oklahoma line; not much to do here except hang with our friends.  Tonight I offered to cook dinner, so off to the grocery store we went.  If I can avoid WalMart, I will, so we stopped at United and picked up some grub.  Our clerk was an airy twenty-something with a bad attitude.  It didn’t matter how much I cajoled, she just wanted to go home and sleep, “I mean, it’s like, I have to go to this Relay for Life thing tonight, and it goes all night!” she said, with a roll of her eyes.  My ears perked up…Relay is here, tonight??  I started throwing questions at her…what time, where?  She didn’t know much, but at least I had been tipped off and I could figure out the rest on my own.

I have a home Relay, it’s in Blackfoot, Idaho – since the beginning I have been participating.  It’s the one charity I always support.  The American Cancer Society will find the cure for cancer and I’m going to help them do that.  For the last four years, I have been a “Grand Club” member, I just haven’t been to the Relay event itself for awhile.  One thing I do know is that every Relay is different.  I’ve been to my “local” Relays, Idaho Falls, Blackfoot and Pocatello.  All of them have a similar feel, they are of similar size and enthusiasm.  Last year we stopped by a Relay in Colorado Springs while we were there.  This year, it was the Relay for WilbargerCounty held at the Covered Arena in Vernon.

It’s a small relay, only 14 teams, 175 participants.  To date they have raised over $29,000 with a goal of $40,000.  It’s also an early Relay.  In Idaho, we don’t Relay until the weather turns, and then sometimes it’s still a guess.  But even with a small Relay, you could feel the excitement in the air; they were having fun and doing good work.  We met the chairman and the staff partner and thanked them both for the hard work.  If ever you have wondered how much work goes in to an event, wonder no longer…volunteer to help instead.

It’s that time again to get on the band wagon and help raise some money.  I Relay for my Mom and all of us who have been touched by cancer; whether directly or not, we all have a dog in this fight!  Stand up and help, it’s up to all of us to rid the world of cancer, one dollar at a time if we have to.  To make a secure online donation straight to the American Cancer Society; Donate here

Day 182 – Only Six More Months

Quotes-page-0In just six months I turn the big 5-0.  Yep, time for my 50th birthday, another milestone among many.  I’ve been working hard to prep for that half century mark.  I have taken on more challenges, pushed myself farther, tried new things; but I’ve also been working on letting go of some things.

I have almost 50 years of thoughts and ideas ingrained that are not as healthy as I’d like them to be.  I’ve grown up believing that some people will always support you; that’s not true – instead I believe that you choose your supporters and hold on to them.  I’ve grown up believing that there are limitations to your happiness; that’s not true – instead I believe you choose your happy place, how to be happy.  I’ve grown up believing that there are certain acceptable rules of society, certain ways to live, certain ways to do just about everything; that’s not true either – instead I believe you choose how to live, to your limits, to your expectations.  I’ve grown up believing that there is an inherent good in people and the media and government will share that with you – I’m to the point where I still believe in the good in people, but I will find it myself.

I have chosen a lifestyle, a rambling, wandering, appreciate what you see when you see it lifestyle, and I love it.  In doing that I’ve left behind a lot, things I thought I would miss, but I don’t.  I thought I would carry forward the friendships I had in the same way I had them, you can’t – truly you are out of sight, out of mind.  Instead I’ve made new friends, people not as tied down to the local society.  I thought I would miss having a paycheck, I don’t – instead I have found a way to survive on my intuition and hardwork.  I thought I would miss having “stuff”; I don’t – it is actually very freeing – of time and money – to not have to shop for things.

Probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that life can be lived on my different fronts – you don’t have to choose, but when you do, choose wisely.  Create the life that YOU imagine, even if no one else can see the vision.

At the beginning of this 50th year I set some goals, some I am meeting, some not so much.  That’s okay, it’s my life, I can change the goals as I see fit.  I have 8 new old movies watched; I have 19 new books read; I have 12 new places visited; I have 20 new things tried; if I wasn’t trying to meet some goals …would I have come this far?

With only six months left, I asked some friends on Facebook if I should have a “Birthday Project”  Something that I do for others – I’ve read of people collecting diapers for donations, or shoes – any ideas of what I could do to help others and to celebrate the conclusion of my 50th year?

Day 186 – Remembering Mom

momThirteen years ago today, I lost my mom to cancer.  It was an odd time in my life, my career was hopping, my kids were busy.  Mom and Dad lived just down the street, but it was hard to find time for them too.  I felt guilty all the time because I wasn’t meeting anybodies expectations.

Mom had been sick for a long time, Dad was the primary caregiver and doing the best he could.  She didn’t complain much, but there was a lot she couldn’t do.  My mom had always been fiercely independent and it was weird seeing her bedridden a lot, or in her case, couch-ridden.  My mother loved her living room.

They had bought a house down the street from us after my youngest was born in 1993,  figuring that if they were ever going to be close to their grandkids, they needed to fix the distance.  It was an old house, not well cared for and my mom proceeded to gut the whole thing.  She kept the period pieces, the great windows, the thick baseboards, the coves.  But she removed all the dark woodwork and brightened the kitchen.  My mom was the kind of woman who would sand the baseboards down to a beautiful wood only to repaint them, some would call that a perfectionist.  I would have to agree.

Mom’s living room was painted a butter yellow, she had a plaid couch that she had hunted for for months that had just the right shades of green and yellow in it; a blue chair for sitting in and a couple of other pieces.  The walls had pheasants on them, she could manage to take anything very feminine and include just enough masculine pieces to make my dad comfortable.

About three weeks before mom passed away, she called me at work.  She had fallen off the couch when she heard the doorbell.  Very disoriented, she had fallen on her glasses and mushed them.  Could I please take her to the eye doctor to get them fixed?  I could do that.  It was a very weird afternoon, one of those that you can remember all the details because it was very significant.  In our case, it was the beginning of the end.

Over the course of the week, I worked hard to stop by and see how she was doing, but life kept interfering.  My kids have always been active in lots of activities, it was spring, Kayla had soccer, Haley had girl scouts, Josh was in high school, there was stuff to do.  I dropped in to my folks as often as I could, but I wasn’t able to stay long, just checking in.

The Saturday night before that final Saturday I stopped by just after dusk, the lamp was on in her butter yellow living room and her skin matched the walls.  I gave her a kiss and looked at dad, he didn’t seem to notice anything was wrong.  Mom’s eyesight was giving her fits and she couldn’t see well enough to read her book, I went to the kitchen to grab a Diet Coke and dad followed me.  I asked him about her color, he looked at me surprised.  She had jaundiced right before his eyes, but he hadn’t noticed.  No fault of his, you don’t tend to see changes in people you are with all the time.  On Sunday morning, he took her to the ER in Idaho Falls, they admitted her.

Mom’s cancer was an odd sort; it stemmed from a hereditary disease that she had and grew on the outside of her liver.  It was not liver cancer, but instead a cancer that surrounded her liver and would not let the liver do its’ job, that was why she was jaundiced.  She had many surgeries over the course of her treatment that were designed to cut off the blood supply to the cancer cells, they worked well and were fairly non descript.

By Tuesday, the hospital sent her home on hospice care,  I had to fly to Boise for my job that day.  My sister called, she wanted to know if she should come home.  I answered as honestly as I could.  I don’t know, that has to be your call.  Tracie was home the next day.  Mom spiraled downhill that week.  There were no good days left.  On Friday afternoon, she was lucid and coherent, for about five minutes.  My mom has always been good with one-liners, she threw some out then retreated back in to herself.

On Saturday, we chose to spend the day at the house, Mom, Dad, Tracie and I – my husband had gone out of town; my kids were busy, we were just going to all hang out.  Each of us spent individual time with mom, talking with her quietly.  She couldn’t respond, but it was comforting being able to share things with her.  By mid afternoon the house felt closed in, my daughter had a soccer game, so my sister and I told dad we were taking a break, we would be back after the game.  Hopping in to my mom-mobile, we drove over to the field and hung out, my daughter’s team was all there in their green uniforms, but the other team wasn’t.  How strange, in our league that never happened.  We waited fifteen minutes, then I told my kids I was headed back to grandma’s, I would call them later.

We were back an hour sooner than we had planned to be; mom still on the couch, dad muddling around.  Together we decided it was time for her meds, she hated taking them, so we knew it would be a group effort.  We sat mom up on the couch, I was on the floor in front of her holding her hands; my sister to my right, my dad to my left.  Mom was not cooperative, but then the fight went out of her.  “Wait, wait, wait” I said, “She just left us.”  Her color had changed in an instant, she looked back to normal, peaceful, quiet.  We all sat back, stunned a bit, but thankful we had been there.  April 1, 2000, census day, a beautiful spring Saturday in Idaho.  The day I lost my mom.  Love you.


Day 187 – Easter

easterWhen I had a home, church was a part of it.  I was never an every Sunday kind of girl, but church services offered me a solidity, a comfort, a place to go when my heart hurt.  Being Catholic gives you the opportunity to go anywhere and know exactly what to expect.  I like that, no one needs to show you the ropes if you’ve already spent time there.

My mother was pretty ingrained in her faith, as a child, Easter was about Christ.  I could respect that and continued that over to when I had children.  No elaborate Easter baskets at our house, no Easter bunnies, if we were celebrating, we were celebrating Christ’s resurrection.

I used to spend Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday at services.  Typically, I skipped the Saturday vigil, but I made sure my time was put in.  Now with no home, it is so much harder to celebrate.  Now those days are filled with racers and races and Sunday morning I find myself on the edge of nowhere looking at nature.  I’ve had to change my worship habits.

I still believe, I just find myself without a home church.  No drama, no backbiting, no man-made traditions.  Just me and my “family” in a beautiful place enjoying the views that were created before man.  Easter morning was the snow on the LaSalles; a beautiful red rock garden in front of me; weather in the 70’s with no wind; and my grandson excited for another day.  What a great place to worship what God has created.

Day 188 – Moab

ejs jeepWe’ve spent the week in Moab, Utah…mecca for all things with wheels.  This week is Easter Jeep Safari, so the place if filled with…you guessed it, Jeeps.  Not just any four wheel drive, in this case, it is brand specific, Jeeps are everywhere.  On the trails you can find a few Toyotas, a few purpose built vehicles, but not so many compared to the Jeep.

We have a friend in Moab who has a little spread, a 1600 square foot house with a 2000 square foot shop and lots of yard.  This is where we’ve been parked.  Grandpa’s Garage is the host to many of the industry parties that are going on.  Raceline Wheels, Dana, Spicer, Superlift, Genright…and others, hosting parties right in what is now our backyard.  We are parked at the driveway, so we’re claiming it too.  It’s a great week to talk to anyone you might know in the industry.  Most of these people I’ve known for a while and since I’ve never really been awestruck by people or personalities, I forget to be impressed by them, until someone comes along who is.

Enter my friends from Austin.  They are here to race with us on Saturday so we invited them in to the Raceline party on Thursday night.  A few introductions here and there and all of a sudden, there are smiles as big as the sky in Moab, stars twinkling from eyes, it’s pretty impressive to see.  “I got to meet JT Taylor!”  The look on my face must have said, “so?”  I forget that JT is one of the true American badasses.  He is an OG13; races Baja, races everywhere, there are Youtube videos devoted just to JT.  I know JT because he gives great hugs and has an awesome smile, we’ve eaten tacos together in Ensenada.  In my world he’s another racer boy.  Of course, I love all the racer boys, but I hadn’t identified JT as different from the others.  My friends sure did though.  It was heartwarming to see them meet one of their heroes, someone who put our style of racing on the map.  I need to remember that we all need heroes, thanks JT for the reminder.