A little peace and quiet, please!

Sometimes you just gotta get away.

We were in Orlando a few days ago for spring break, the destination determined by our son’s tennis team. We deliberately elected not to visit the crowd-magnet attractions such as Disney World, Sea World or Universal Studios. And yet, we could not escape the crowds. Of course I didn’t expect to have the place to myself, but there were times I found myself about ready to run screaming to try and get away from all the people. They were everywhere. The beach was crazy. The parking was challenging. And. The. Traffic. The nearly stand-still lanes of cars creeping along the highways between Clearwater and Orlando made for a stressful and tedious drive.

But finally, on the next-to-last day of our trip, it happened. We got away. We found ourselves on roads with few other cars in sight. Call me crotchety, but I just don’t enjoy listening to screaming children, being run into, being coughed on or having my freshly-pedicured toes stepped on. Crazy, right?

P1080353The answer? Nature. I said before we left that I’d like to see some alligators from a safe distance, and preferably from our car. And we did!

We discovered that outside of Orlando, near the Kennedy Space Center area, are some awesome nature sanctuaries. We spent several hours meandering by car along gravel roads through scenic marshy areas that were full of wildlife – gators, turtles, hundreds of birds, butterflies, and the occasional wild pig.

Several times, we stopped along the road and simply took in the scenery around us. We gaped at the alligators and watched flocks of birds skim across the waters and lift into the sky. We saw interesting foliage and grasses. We took our time – and lots of pictures. It was quiet. Peaceful. Refreshing.

And for this introvert, much fun. 🙂

Do you have a favorite get-away?

Another anniversary. Another gift-giving dilemma!

IMG_3248Thirty five years is a long time. At least it’s a long time to buy someone gifts. My husband and I are celebrating our 35th anniversary today, and I’ve been running around trying to find something meaningful, functional, interesting, desirable (I’d settle for one of those qualities!) as a gift suitable for the occasion.

The fact is, I’m gifted-out. The creative juices in that department have dried up. And he’s pretty short on offering up ideas. He doesn’t need anything. Doesn’t want anything. In fact, he’s all for clearing out cupboards and closets and throwing things away! All of my cool ideas seem to relate to his business, so nix those. They’re business expenses. Tax write-offs. But . . . but . . . it’s our anniversary. Shouldn’t I do something to mark the occasion? I mean, I get flowers, probably a nice piece of jewelry and maybe a little chocolate, too! I’m easy!!! Those things work. Every. Time.

I remember when we used to celebrate, or at least remember, the anniversary of our first date. Of our engagement. Hahaha! Really? These days I’m more than happy to let those things petrify in the past.

Sure, anniversaries are special. And they only come once a year. But, hey, so do birthdays and Christmas and other holidays. Valentine’s Day!?! Are you kidding me? I just bought you a Christmas gift! And once we had kids? Oh, great, throw Father’s Day in there, too. Every year.

Don’t get me wrong. I actually like giving gifts. I usually enjoy the process of finding the perfect present. I like the creative task of wrapping the packages. But the rapid succession of birthday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and anniversary has really taken its toll this year. Today is also our daughter’s birthday, so there’s that. Spring break is next week, so there’s that. Not to mention a few books to write!

People say give experiences instead of gifts. Sure, we’re going out for a nice dinner. We’ll have wine and dessert. On our 25th, we took a trip to Hawaii. But those dream vacations are expensive. They require time off from work, a ton of coordination, details, decisions, etc. Maybe next year.

For now, I’ll just have to hope that the “it’s the thought that counts” sentiment still holds true! I tried! 🙂

Do you have any go-to gifts that always hit the mark?

My Yard as a Battleground

Yep. I am at war. It happens to some degree every year. I plant flowers in my yard and squirrels, rabbits and chipmunks team up to trample them, dig them up, or chow them to the ground.

The first under attack this year is the gorgeous hibiscus on the patio. You never know what will go first. The critters sometimes have different favorites from year to year. The hibiscus have been targets before. But usually it happens at the end of the summer after we’ve at least had a little time to enjoy them and they’ve had a chance to put on some growth. Not this year. I thought I’d purchased decent-sized plants. Yeah, I did. But when branches are constantly gnawed off, they get thin quickly.

I present my case: see the fallen — downed branches, lifeless leaves and stemless flowers. Unfortunately, I have few weapons with which to do battle. A BB guns stands ready beside the patio door. But since any movement alerts the varmints to our presence, that doesn’t do much good. I’ve tried every chemical and trick in the book –– Irish Spring soap, cayenne pepper, human hair, fox urine, etc., etc. These guys are undeterred. In fact, I’m pretty sure they get a good laugh at my expense.

Sigh. So I’m reduced to the ugliest of options. Chicken wire. See for yourself. Isn’t that lovely?! Caged flowers. All the rage. Really.

The ordeal leaves me frustrated, exhausted and envious of the beautiful gardens I see around me. It shouldn’t be this hard to grow a flower or two!

I’d love to hear your garden success stories. Or, if you just want to commiserate, have at it!

Romance at the Grand Canyon

SB2017_020As part of a spring break road trip, my husband and I visited the Grand Canyon last week. I’d done a small plane tour many years ago, but this was the first time for either of us to walk the south rim of the park. Have to say it was pretty incredible. We arrived in late afternoon as the sun was beginning its descent, and the moon was rising. Made for some nice photos.

We stayed overnight in the Village, then went back to the scenic vistas of the south rim the next morning. There were fewer people, and we wandered the path without jockeying for position at the lookout areas.

At one area, a little farther out from the main path, we came upon a young couple enjoying the view, and they asked if we’d take a photo. Lucky them. Their timing was perfect, as my husband is a professional photographer.

Turns out they’d just gotten engaged! And it just happened to be our anniversary. Kind of cosmic. We spent the next several minutes chatting and taking photos. The photos probably won’t be their “official” engagement pictures, but I’m sure they’ll be treasured. Of course, he didn’t take just one. He knew how to place them for the best lighting, and the best composition. And he remembered to have the young woman place her hand where her new engagement ring was front and center. It was a short but fun photo shoot.

I don’t remember their names. We’ll never see them again. But it added to the romance and ambiance of our Grand Canyon experience. This is how memories – and stories – are made. Little snippets. Chance meetings. Unexpected connections. Intertwined with life’s big events.

They don’t know us, but we’re forever part of their story. I love that.

Enhancing your Romantic Getaway!

Whether your getaway-for-two is over Valentine’s Day or not, by land or by sea, you can enhance your romance wherever you go — without spending a fortune. Here are some inexpensive and easy tips: Find a garden. It could be right there at your resort, in a park near your hotel, or part of an […]

via Easy Ways to Enhance Your “Getaway” Romance — I Luv2cruz!

The Year we went with Wacky

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So we’re planning to get a Christmas tree this weekend. We always get a live tree, and almost always end up going on one of the coldest nights of the year. That’s not the plan, as I am a winter weather wimp, but as fate would have it . . . that’s the way it goes. I’m watching the forecast, but whatever, the schedule says it’s this weekend. Because we don’t want to wait too late.

One year, a few years ago, we decided to wait until both kids were home from college before getting the tree. You know, make it a fun family outing.

Well, we did have that, but when we pulled up to our longtime Christmas tree lot, the place was packed up and put away. Gone. Except for . . . this.

One lone deformed tree had been left behind. I mean, this tree made Charlie Brown’s tree look like perfection. At least his was shaped like a tree! This thing looked more like a shrub in need of a serious trimming — something fitting for a Dr. Seuss scene. Sitting in the car in the cold, we considered our options. Go drive around and try to find another lot that was open? I have no idea whether there were any others that still had trees. It didn’t matter, though,  because a kind of poor-baby sympathy began to well up for this pathetic little tree-thing that nobody wanted. Plus, it was free, right?

In the spirit of Christmas, we decided to give the thing a home. So, we loaded it up and took it with us. My husband had to hack and saw on it just to get it into the tree stand. Once inside the living room, there was a definite “now what?” moment. Laugh or cry?! Well, we dressed it up as best we could with our usual ornaments. Had we known this is what we’d end up with for the year, we might have come up with a clever “theme” more fitting of the situation. But time was running out, so we made do.

In the end, we kind of liked our wacky little Seuss bush-tree. It was worth some laughs. And made a fond family memory!

 

Do you have a favorite let’s-make-the-best-of-it holiday story? Do share!