Defusing Despair Paralysis

Today was difficult at my house, as I imagine it was for many. While I’m not a religious person, Easter has always been a time for my family to gather for a big holiday meal and spend some quality time together. That was not possible this year due to the extraordinary circumstances we are all currently living with.

Gratefully, I was able to see my parents briefly yesterday while dropping stuff off at their house. I haven’t seen them in over a month, and the social distancing thing was weird, but it was good to lay my eyes on them and see that they are well.

Today I took some ham, buns, and brownies to Older Son. I hung them on the door, and he opened it when I was six feet away. That was also weird, but it was good to see him. I got to speak with his girlfriend briefly as she was getting off shift at a local convenience store after I got done with Older Son, and it was good to see her as well.

I then took my car through the car wash and cried, and I’ve been weepy all day. I’m not sure why, but it does feel a whole lot like the sort of despair I experienced when I was newly going through divorce. I imagine being mostly furloughed from my job, and being cooped up in the house, listening to the worsening news every day… multiple times a day… has a lot to do with it. Too many unknowns to be able to process.

I want to give Birdie Girl props for giving me a good pep talk today. She’s one of the most can-do people I’ve ever met, and knew just what to say to help me put the despair down. Basically, in the face of adversity, get up and do… control what you can.

So, I got up and did something. Really, I was just puttering in the kitchen, but it beats the Despair Paralysis I was experiencing.

I spied my Grandmother’s recipe box while chopping up a watermelon rind to put in the compost heap, and recalled how much she she enjoyed watermelon pickles. They were never my favorite, but I remember helping her make them. I spent a lot of time with Grandma in her kitchen, as is right and proper.

I don’t often open Grandma’s recipe box, but I did tonight. It was good to have the very concrete experience of picking through her recipes, seeing her handwriting, and remember all the good food we made together from the time I was small.

I never did find her watermelon pickle recipe, but in case you are interested in how they are made, I found one here:

Watermelon Rind Pickles

Here’s hoping you all have treasured touchstones that help you to stay grounded when life goes sideways, and friends who give good pep talks. Blessings all!

Feeling prepared helps.

Good morning Faithful Readers. Today started out great in that I was allowed to sleep until my eyes popped open by themselves. It’s a rare thing, and something I don’t take for granted.

My day started out with a nice text conversation with Birdie Girl, and now I am sitting at Starbucks waiting for my coffee. I generally make the effort to go to local establishments but today I made an odd choice, and now I’m glad I did. This Starbucks has a fireplace, which is one of my favorite things. So, I will sit here and blog next the fireplace while slurping coffee. It’s a good morning.

It’s been quite an eventful few weeks as COVID-19 slowly takes over the world. We are finding out that it didn’t have to be this way, but poor choices were made by governments, and now we are stuck with the consequences.

This, too, shall pass. But it will pass like kidney stones, painfully and not forgotten. It certainly has opened our eyes as to how we can stave these sorts of things off going forward.

After all of the toilet paper and hand sanitizer hoarding hubbub, I have to say that I’m grateful that I had some stocked up in my pantry. That’s about the only thing I have a good supply of, and today is going to be about general cleaning upstairs, and then I need to attack the pantry and figure out what I need to stock up on going forward.

I’ve got some toiletries stocked up, but some I’m running out of, and it’s a good idea to get those things taken care of up front just in case things get dicy later. I don’t mean that I’m stocking up just because of COVID-19, but I’ve long believed in having extras just in case things go south. I learned that the hard way when I got divorced. It was always easier to go shopping in the pantry when the paycheck just too stretched thin.

How do you start stocking a pantry? By a few extra items when they are on sale, or when they are available. It takes awhile, but soon you will have built up a good bunch of staples that will see you through rough times.

The trick is to only buy things that you and your family actual eat or use. Don’t stock up on things nobody likes, unless you can use it for barter later on. Stocking your pantry with useless things is just a waste of money and space.

Now that my boys are grown and gone on with their lives, what I stock in my pantry has changed, and I haven’t done a good job of making that transition. It’s time to get that rearranged and redo my priorities for what we need going forward.

I’ll be writing more about building a pantry going forward, and I will document my progress and post links to some good tutorials. It’s a small thing that can build up to make a large difference. I think harder times are coming, and whatever we all can do to gain some control in our corners of the world will help. Feeling prepared helps.

Wishing you all a relaxing Saturday… Blessing all!

Girl’s Trip Day 4 – home!

We got up early, threw clothes on, packed up and headed downstairs to check out. I managed to grab some shots if the skyline from our room, and someone said, “hey, there’s a dinosaur!”

Well, I’ll be darned, there sure was! Faithful Readers, can you see it?

Downtown Rapid city from above is kind of clunky looking, unless you take special notice of the art in the alley ways. There’s some interesting art if you look close enough. The street corners are populated with statues, and some of them have scarves or hats on them, just in case somebody might need one to stay warm.

While waiting for the valet to bring the van around, we got coffee. Thank goodness the Alex Johnson Hotel has a Starbucks in it!

Having packed the van up with all of our luggage once more, we headed out to Spearfish to pick up Party Girl’s son, Skater Dude from her younger brother’s house. The weather was crappy, and I have to give big props to The Librarian for keeping her cool and getting us to Spearfish safely. It took a little longer because of the snow and slush, but we made it just fine.

Having arrived, we stopped in to visit, and ate some amazing bacon Party Girl’s younger brother fried up. We all gasped and hollered at him for pouring hot grease down the drain. Holy cow… hopefully he doesn’t do that too often, or they will have a big plumbing disaster sometime down the road.

Hugs all around, we collected Skater Dude and hit the road. The bad weather simmered down, and it was smooth sailing on the way to Dickenson.

Three hours later, we dropped Skater Dude off at his apartment, and we went to eat lunch. We managed to find a restaurant called Players, and the food was so good! If you find yourself in Dickenson, make sure stop there for a meal.

The rest of the trip home was pretty mundane. We chatted, and I crocheted. By the time we reached our old home town, it was almost dark. I drove home and made it home by 8pm.

It’s good to be home but I had a really great time, and I’m so glad to have had the time to spend with this very special group of ladies. It was the trip away from work and home I’ve been needing for years.

Word has it that we might be planning a girl’s trip next year for Vegas. One can only hope!

If you can, take the trip, see the countryside, go somewhere new. Most of all, spend time catching up with people who mean the world to you. Life’s too short not to. Blessings all!

Girl’s Trip Day 3 – Wine Tasting in the Hill City area

Day 3 of our Girl’s weekend trip dawned on Party Girl feeling particularly awful for having gone to bed with her hair all smokey from having been in the Cigar Bar the night before. Her head was all clogged up and hurting.

I gave her some of my Mucinex-D, which helps me when my head is all clogged. I told her within and hour or less she’d be feeling better. This is the good stuff you have to ask the pharmacist for, and is what helped me get over a nasty case of pneumonia.

I got in the shower again, to tame down a serious case of bed head from going to bed with wet hair the night before. When I got out, I could hear her talking to her brother on the phone, telling him how sick she felt and that I had given her some Metamucil-D and her head was already feeling better.

Metamucil-D!! ROTFLOL

Needless to say, that became the joke of the day, and will be something we will joke about well into our old age.

Part of the reason for this trip is that three of us have Birthday’s in February and Birdie Girl is celebrating her engagement, and the one birthday that was actually happening during the trip belonged to The Librarian. When she and Birdie Girl came to the room, we got a story from her nobody expected.

The Librarian split off from us and went back to the Cigar Bar with Party Girl’s sister-in-law and some others. They came back to the hotel and went up to The Vertex bar on the roof, just missing me Birdie Girl. So, when she got back to the room she was sharing with Birdie girl, it was very late.

I woke up to go to the bathroom about 2:30-ish, and noticed that The Librarian was rummaging around getting ready for bed. I turned the light on in the bathroom we shared behind her, but still scared the life out of her when I spoke. Poor thing, she got quite a startle. I spoke with her briefly, used the restroom, and went back to bed.

Apparently, she got into the pull out she was sleeping in and froze all night long. We hadn’t realized that there weren’t any blankets on it when we pulled it out. It looked like a made bed as it was and we assumed it was ok. Well, you know what they say about assuming. Lol.

She’d ended up getting up a couple different times in the night to add jackets and other clothing trying to keep warm. It was a super sucky start to her Birthday for sure.

The way she told the story of getting the pants scared off of her, and then freezing to death all night was hilarious. Not only is The Librarian a good sport, but she has a wicked sense of humor and a great story telling ability. Needless to say we made sure she had enough blankets for the next night!

We ate an early lunch at Que Pasa, and then off to the Hill City area for Wine tasting!

At Prairie Berry Winery, I had to stop a minute outside before we went in. The Black Hills of South Dakota are so beautiful, and the air is so fresh. The pictures I posted above just don’t do it justice. If you can, make sure to vacation here. I promise you won’t be disappointed, or bored.

Inside the winery, we got to taste several fabulous wines and do some shopping. The Librarian spied someone getting a giant piece of cake on a board, and ordered one in celebration of our birthdays and Birdie Girl’s engagement. It was called Better Than Everything Cake, and the picture doesn’t do it justice. Locally, we call it Better Than Sex cake, and if you google the recipe, you will find that it is full of sweetened condensed milk and lots of caramel and chocolate. So good!

Having finished off the cake, we got back in the van and headed to the Naked Winery, which is part and parcel of Sick-n-Twisted Brewery.

The decor in this place is something else, and the bathroom has a Marilyn Monroe theme, including the pumps used to hold up the paper towels. I didn’t do any wine tasting here because I’d had enough booze for the trip. It was enough just to sit and chat with the girls in this super cool place, next to a fireplace. Super cozy and comfy!

Once done there, we got back in the van and headed back to Rapid City to find some supper.

It was difficult to find anywhere to eat downtown because most places were closed on Sundays, and we’d been to Que Pasa twice already. We ended up finding Botticelli, and it was fabulous. The food and service here were amazing, and I would go back again for sure. There was so much food, I ended up taking half of my meal to go!

To be honest, I don’t remember much else afterward except getting packed up so we could head home the next day. I can tell you we did remember to turn the heaters on, and make sure that The Librarian was snug and warm this 2nd night at the Alex Johnson Hotel. So ends Day 3 of our fabulous Girl’s Trip to SD…Blessings all!

Girl’s Trip Day 2-Deadwood & Rapid City

Day two of my fabulous Girl’s Trip found us getting coffee and checking out of Cadillac Jack’s, then on to shopping in fabulous Deadwood.

I didn’t realize that Deadwood is as big as it is. It’s an interestingly historic town (read more about that here), but also a very touristy town. There are so many neat little shops to check out and, inevitably, you run into buildings with some historical plaque telling you about things that went on in that building.

Our first stop was, of all places, a basement cigar shop on Main St. I’m not a fan of cigars, but the shop had a cool vibe. Everyone else shopped or had a drink, but I decided to go find the Harley-Davidson shop. The Flirt collects HD t-shirts from different places, so it made a nice souvenir to bring back for him. It also made for a good excuse to get away from the smokey environment.

A little later, we met up and continued shopping. We had lunch at the Sick-n-Twisted Brewing Company. The food was ok but the dark beer I drank, called “Panty Dropper”, was super good. No, I did not drop my panties. I like those well secured, thank you!

Shopping accomplished, we got back in the van, which our favorite Librarian expertly maneuvered into, and back out of, the parking garage. On to Rapid City!

Once in Rapid City, we checked into the historic Alex Johnson Hotel, which is in the heart of the downtown area. Party Girl, who made all of the travel arrangements was able to get a great deal on his usually expensive hotel because we stayed during an off season time. If you get a chance to stay there, do it. You may even see a ghost!

There was a delay getting checked in, because our rooms weren’t ready. So, we met up with Party Girl’s younger brother, and his wife, then went off to eat supper at the most amazing Mexican restaurant called Que’ Pasa. The food there is so good, and I had a margarita that had Serrano peppers in it. The rim of the glass was lined with salt and chili powder. I’m not a big drinker, but this was a mind blowing beverage. How refreshing that it was savory and not sickeningly sweet like a lot of margaritas can be.

What a surprise to have someone else join us! A guy from my home town and his wife ate with us, and it was lovely to have the opportunity to catch up with him. He did some amazing impressions of some of our teachers, and told all kinds of stories that had the whole table busting up. What an amazing time!

After we got done eating we went to a cigar bar called the Tinder Box. I’m not sure what the attraction is to cigar bars for Party Girl, she doesn’t smoke them. The vibe in these places is always really cool, but for those of us who have allergies, it’s not the most fun place to hang out. We were there for about an hour waiting for our reservation time for the big surprise even if the evening… a Speak Easy!

Several blocks of walking back alleys brought us to this door, and we went down to the basement where a code was given. Once the code was accepted, we were seated all around this claw foot bathtub made into a coffee table.

The drinks were so cool, and we passed them around so everyone could taste them. Some of these drinks were made by burning some kind of alcohol in the glass, which was cool. The Librarian ordered one of these, and I managed to get some pictures of the process. It was so dark that it was hard to see, but he used something (maybe salt?) to shake into the glass to make sparks, and then he poured the still flaming alcohol on the floor. Once he tamped out the fire and poured the shaken drink into the glass, The Librarian noted that the floor was still on fire where he poured the flaming alcohol out.

Shortly before the flaming drink show, Party Girl fell asleep. She really hadn’t had that much to drink, but we aren’t spring chickens anymore, and the day before had been a long one. It wasn’t long before her brother and her son, who arrived at that point, posed to have their picture taken with her blissfully napping in her high backed chair. Then a picture was taken with our waiter, and also with a group of ladies who’d been taking a group picture in the corner next to us.

An hour or so later, Party Girl wakes up. We’ve all been drinking and chatting, while she catches up on some much needed sleep. Needless to say we filled her in on all of the things that had gone on while she was checked out, and true to form, she was a good sport about it. Time to go back to the hotel and get checked in.

We had Jack and Jill rooms, which are two rooms joined by a bathroom. The Alex Johnson Hotel is so nice, Faithful Readers. The rooms in this really old hotel have been redone, but all of the historical features have been preserved. The beds are so comfortable, and the staff are amazing. Do stay there if you get the chance.

Once checked in and unpacked, Birdy Girl and I went up to Vertex, on the top floor. This bar is so cool! You can order a drink and sit inside next to windows overlooking the city, or you can sit outside next to the gas fire pits. Party Girl’s younger brother met us there and the three of us sat outside next to one of the fires, and caught up. What a lovely evening.

So ends Day two of our fabulous Girl’s Trip to South Dakota. Blessings all!

Girls Weekend – Day 1: Deadwood, SD

First day of this trip began with a very relaxing trip to my home town, where I met up with my friends. You’ve heard me talk about Birdie Girl, but Party Girl and The Librarian are two new characters to this blog. I have no doubt they will be featured here again.

We were blessed with good weather for this travel day. As you can see, there’s hardly any snow on the ground here in Northwestern ND. Hopefully that won’t mean another summer of drought.

I arrived in town about noon, and was pretty put out to find myself lost in a small town of 250 people. Things had changed so much in the 30+ years since I moved away that I had to call Party Girl to find out where she was. She moved into her Grandparents’ homestead on the edge of town, but all the usual landmarks were gone and the house blended in with all of the other houses on that road. I guess I should go home more often!

We loaded up The Librarian’s 12-passenger van with all of our stuff, and headed south with a stop planned for Dickenson. Getting there took hardly any time at all, as we spent the whole way catching up.

Once in Dickenson, we ate an early supper at the Paragon (great food!) and picked up Party Girl’s middle son, Skater Dude, and proceeded on. Three very short hours later found us in Spearfish, SD at Party Girl’s youngest brother’s house, where dropped off her son. We spent some time there visiting, and then drove on to Deadwood with plans to catch up with them the next day in Spearfish.

We stayed at a hotel/casino combo called Cadillac Jack’s. While it’s a ways from downtown Deadwood, it’s really a great place to stay. This is my second time there as we stopped there on the first leg of the journey on the way to Nevada last fall, and I will probably stay there again. Great place!

After getting settled into the hotel we decided to walk down to where all the bars are down town. Deadwood’s not that big, right?Lol…the wind had come up and we weren’t dressed for as cold as it became. Needless to say, we tapped out and grabbed a taxi.

Finally getting downtown, we stopped into The Silverado, which had a car in the window. Party Girl’s oldest brother won the car last year, but took option of $30k instead. Wow! So, we ordered some drinks and tried our luck at the designated slot machines to see if one of us could get that lucky. As things turned out, none of us won the car but I got lucky and cashed out roughly $140. Yes!!

Moving on from there, we ended up at the No. 10 Saloon, but it was crowded so we went to the bar upstairs and ordered some really awesome martini’s. OMG they were SO good! Of course, we passed them around and we all tasted everyone else’s.

Birdie Girl and The Librarian decided to call it a night and went back to Cadillac Jack’s. Party Girl and I roamed around downtown Deadwood for a few more hours, and she showed me around some of the places she’d been to when her family had lived in the area years ago. We had a few drinks, and I won another $50 (wow, I’m never that lucky!) and then took a taxi back to Cadillac Jack’s.

As luck would have it, we ran into some people Party Girl from the next town over from where we grew up. And sat down to chat with them for a bit. I put another $20 into one of the slot machine’s there and the damn thing at my $20 with out blinking. I think it may have even burped. Well, lucky streak ended… no more gambling for me this trip!

So ends Day 1 of my fabulous Girl’s Trip to South Dakota! Blessings all!

Road trips and time slipping away

Normally, I try to patronize my local coffee shops, but today I thought I would go to Starbucks for a change. As I sit here enjoying the newspaper, and not enjoying my coffee so much (back to my local coffee shops!), I realized that a quarter of the year has blown right by me and we have already steamed right through April. I’m feel as though I need to tighten up my seat belt and put on a helmet. Where are the freaking breaks?!

Actually, I’m of two minds about it. I’m so freaking grateful the snow and cold are gone, and the sun is out longer, it doesn’t bother me to have blown by that part of the 1st three months of the year. And yet, I need to find a way to slow my life down. It’s sliding by fast like a greased pig trying not to get grabbed.

As my Faithful Readers can attest to, I have a long history of talking about needing to get my house in shape, and really needing to thin out my stuff. Years have gone by and so much is still needing to be done.

Maybe it would be alright to stop beating myself up and give myself credit for things that I have managed to get done in the last 6 months, hmmm? Yes.

Speaking of giving credit, I’d like to give a shout out to my sister, Birdie Girl. She has an iron will, and the most amazing drive to power through things that need doing.

I spent Easter weekend helping her and boyfriend move from their farm to the condo in town, and watching her deal with the activity and stress of it all has been quite an inspiration to me. Moving is just the most horrendous task, and she really just powers through it even though she is hurting, exhausted, and having to move on top of working full time. I think I’ll take a page out of her book and power through some of my own icky tasks today, rather that let them overwhelm me.

Speaking of Easter weekend, I drove to where Birdie Girl and her boyfriend live in Canada. Along the way, I stopped at the bar in my home town and visited with some old classmates, which was a lot of fun. The drive to Canada was so calming. I love a good road trip. Even though the weather was a bit gloomy, I love the open road, and it was solitude that was much needed. It was good to visit with Birdie Girl and her sweetie, as well as her pets. They have two Siamese and two boxers, which makes for lots of sloppy kisses and purring. Good stuff for the soul ❤️.

Here’s to road trips, and all of the good friends and cuddly pets waiting for you at your destination. If you haven’t taken a road trip, do it. Life is way too short the way time slips away so quickly. Blessings all!

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