Thursday, January 21, 2016

A New Chapter

Who Was He? (written by Georg Wunschl, 1968, age 19)

He did not think of yesterday or tomorrow
He did not dream of the day after he lived
It was the way of a man to be indifferent,
To be sought, not to seek
To be alive was good
To ride far on a day like this,
With the sun shining, the sky cloudless,
And the tall buttes of red rock rising into the blue,
Was to live.

Life as I have known it for the last 46 years has come to end.  My childhood sweetheart, lover, partner, friend and husband as gone on to his reward.  After almost a month sitting by his bedside in the hospital and a memorial service on Sunday I am back now in a house that is crushingly empty.  I automatically set a place for him at the table, save DVR TV programs for him to watch later, wonder what I am making him for dinner.  Now begins a new chapter of my life and for the first time I can't imagine my future.  I am a single, not a couple.  Will my relationships change with all of my couple friends we used to socialize with?  I have a newfound insight for many other women friends who lost their husbands and have become widows.  Did I do enough to help them through this process?  Probably not, and I regret that.

The memorial service was a celebration of his life, attended by over 250 people.  I wanted no sadness, only a chance to convey what a special person he was: kind, listening, caring, always ready to enjoy life.  He would never argue or fight with me, even when I wanted to.  He never said a bad word about anyone and hated gossip.  He called his elderly mother every day at noon, visiting her every Wednesday and together with me every Sunday.  Because he never interrupted and only spoke when he was 100% sure of what he was saying, some people might describe him as "simple", not knowing how deep he really was.  He wrote poetry when he was younger.  I saved all his poems and every scrap of paper we wrote to each other over the years, starting when we wrote notes to each other in high school every day because our parents wouldn't let us see one another.  Rereading those notes now I am touched by how much he loved me.  One takes that for granted after 46 years of marriage.  It brings to mind the song, "Do You Love Me?" from the musical Fiddler on the Roof.

One of his early teenage poems, echoes my feelings exactly now that I don't have him anymore.

What Am I Without You

a baby without a blanket
in the cold
old night of loneliness
a christmas with
no santa
or no snow
the harsh winds blow
i am nothing
i am no one
i have no place to go
i am lonely in a crowd
i'm sad
no, mad
but where am I to go?
i sit down by a bus stop
on a cold
old worn down step
i wave goodbye to people
i say my stop is next
i live for every sunday
sunday never comes
and now
and i fear it will never...

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Glamping in Ludington

Glamping:  "Glamorous Camping"

Our days of roughing it in nature are long gone.  We had many tent camping vacations when we were first married and when our kids were little.  Setting up camp or breaking it down in the rain.  Making a spit out of branches and cooking a rotisserie chicken over a campfire.  Fighting off hoards of mosquitoes with smoke from damp logs.  Trying to sleep on air mattresses that lost air during the night.  On the other hand, getting up at at the crack of dawn and waking my husband and two little boys to watch the golden sunrise at the rim of the Grand Canyon.  Filled with amazement as the sun turned a simple maple tree into the burning bush with a double rainbow behind it.

Nostalgic for the wonder that only spending time in glorious nature can provide, but wanting to do it in comfort, I found a company, Hammond Rentals, that would deliver a 30 foot RV to the state campground, set it up and have it in ready to move-in condition\ for us.  We did have to bring everything we might need, from sheets, blankets, pillows to dishes, pots and pans, plates and tableware.  This is where the "glamping" part comes in:  we had a queen bedroom with a flat screen TV that swiveled from the living area to the bedroom, DVD player, microwave, stove, oven and even a shower.

Michigan is a beautiful state, especially for waterfront vacations.  It borders four great lakes and has over 60,000 inland lakes.  We chose Ludington, on Lake Michigan for this trip, as much for the fantastic beach as for the Silver Lake Sand Dunes nearby. The entire western coast is dotted with little beach towns, each with their own unique lighthouse. The sunsets here, enhanced by a colorful cloud formations, are second to none.

We felt like kids again as we took the Mac Woods dune ride, as the driver raced up and down the dunes, sliding sideways around curves in the sand.  Another side trip was to Ember Elk Ranch in Silver Lake where we could feed the elk by hand and admired their stag, which had a 30 pt rack, totalling 600 inches, which will someday sell for $10,000.  Elk shed and produce a new rack every year.

Last year, in the same park I experienced the thrill of photographing my first American bald eagles.  We spotted them in a tree and my patience was rewarded when they took flight twenty minutes later.

Our friends brought their own RV and had the campsite next to us, so we had the best of both worlds: our privacy and great companionship.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Hot Time in New Orleans

We'd never been to New Orleans and when The Little Mermaid tour, starring our friend Eric Kunze, made a stop there it was the perfect time to visit.  The time of year wasn't ideal.  It was very hot and humid.  But our hotel, the W French Quarter, was set in a lively neighborhood surrounded by shops and homes with balconies overflowing with plants so we didn't have to walk far to enjoy the sights. For longer outings we often used Uber to get around.

The sheer number of "must do" restaurants was overwhelming, one of the main reasons to visit this city. We feasted on crabcakes, gumbo and beignets until we couldn't eat anymore. Our final meal of the trip was one of the best dining experiences of our lives: Emeril's. We had no less than three waitstaff attending to our every need.  Each course was impeccable: oysters, gumbo, pork chop and andouille crusted fish, ending with his famous banana cream pie. Despite his quirky TV persona, I developed a new respect for this chef.

New Orleans is the place to overindulge in alcohol, encouraged by incredibly cheap drinks.  Our hotel's restaurant offered 25 cent martinis ("limit of 3 per person, because 3 is enough").  The city has a dark side as well. Many travel guides will tell you to be careful where you walk at night and to stay on heavily populated streets. Tea rooms offering tarot card readings, voodoo and white-faced witches are common as well as scantily clad strippers outside of clubs.

There has been much restoration since Hurricane Katrina 10 years ago, including the Sanger Theatre, which is where Eric was performing. Every performance of The Little Mermaid played to capacity crowds, enthusiastic audiences which included many little girls eager to see their favorite Disney story. They lined up at the stage door afterward to see Ariel and Prince Eric in person.

Only four nights in New Orleans was hardly enough to scratch the surface of what this city has to offer. We look forward to next time to explore all the places we didn't have time to see.  One place would be the bayou, which we only saw from the plane as we flew home.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Las Vegas 2015

Most people would call us crazy for flying to Vegas in the height of summer.  It was 90 degrees at home and up to 105 there.  In actuality, the heat in Vegas was more bearable because of the low humidity.

But there was a reason for our madness.  Georg was given a four week reprieve from Chemotherapy and that was our time frame.  When I got an amazing offer from Aria, our favorite Vegas hotel, we jumped on the opportunity.  Our room rate was $79 a night, with a $50 resort credit and two free tickets to Cirque de Soleil.  Miraculously, I was able to get our flights free using my British Air Avios miles (and one half the trip was even in first class!)  It seemed all the ducks were in place and we decided to go.  I was a little worried about Georg navigating the airports and so I arranged for wheelchair assistance - a Godsend.

We stayed at the resort the whole four days, getting carryout lobster rolls from Todd English and eating at the Asian restaurant,  Lemongrass,  and the incredible new Michael Mina French restaurant, Bardot, which is sure to become our favorite haunt.  Because we were blessed with such a good deal on our trip, I decided to splurge on a poolside cabana.  It was a luxury to have our own space, stocked fridge, TV, healthy fruit and veggie trays and our own personal waiter. It was fun to experience how the "other half" lives, even if just for a day.