Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday morning in bathrobe and slippers, I will watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with my dear husband and our daughter and son-in-law, sip hot tea and laugh at the errant balloons as they course down the streets of New York City in their famous blustery wintery weather. Later, we will eat dinner, inviting an older single adult who is home alone during the holiday to join us, and then when the afternoon wanes, watch some football or perhaps try to find “The Miracle on 34th Street” – only the original version with Natalie Woods will do. After it is dark, Terra Haute has a little park nearby that will light up with traditional and modern Christmas light displays. We hope to be there when the switch is flipped.

This year I have heard more about an “Attitude of Gratitude”. It is tough times for people and families, but there is a glimmer of promise in keeping a cheerful heart and a smile on one’s face. Perhaps it is a time to count blessings: those little miracles that come in the form of a friendly waved or a small courtesy by a stranger who lets you go before them in the check–out line at your local grocer; a surprise gift of friendship, just a telephone call away or a knock on a forgotten door. Perhaps it is a hug from a stranger.

On our motorcycle ride through New Mexico, we looped down past Shiprock and rode Red Rock Indian Highway 13 toward our destination of Chinle, Arizona and the Canyon De Chelly National Monument. Just over the border in Arizona is the Red Rock Trading Post. It was hot and dusty, typical day in the desert Southwest and our group of eight motorcycles pulled in and parked along the front of a low, plain log building with a covered front porch. Most of the bikers converged upon the air conditioned premises, others sat on wood benches on the porch; I prowled the edge of the parking lot next to the highway, trying to get photographs of the strange and beautiful landscape.

An older Navajo woman got into her car with a young boy and then abruptly she got out. She approached me and we struck up a conversation about her daughter and her daughter’s love of motorcycles. Her son-in-law had been killed in Iraq and they had ridden a bike together. Now, her daughter rides alone on her own bike and she was going down to Durango to have his imprint (picture) put on the front of her bike. For the last two years, her daughter (who has two sons – one in 4th grade and one, a freshman) rides in the “Run for the Wall” event to Washington D. C. She also told me that she helps her daughter with several event motorcycle rides throughout the year. The woman was on her way to work in Farmington, New Mexico and had a long drive with her little grandson, but before we parted, she opened her arms wide and gave me a great big hug!

My dear husband and I hope that you and your family will have a wonderful, thankful holiday this Thanksgiving. By the way, the Run for the Wall Mission Statement is to promote healing among ALL veterans and their families and friends, to call for an accounting of all Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action (POW/MIA), to honor the memory of those Killed in Action (KIA) from all wars, and to support our military personnel all over the world. Check it out at They ride right through Wabaunsee County on Interstate 70 every year! Take care and God bless you and your loved ones! Vicky

Monday, November 9, 2009

This week...

Last summer, our Great Adventure XI – or the Great American Adventure for Vicky and Hal - half the fun was all the wonderful places we visited or saw along the way to our destination and, I must say, trying some of the unusual fare at many delightful restaurants. We know all the good places to eat, even if we’ve never been there before. I call it eating your way across America; I gained a few pounds on vacation this year. Fortunately, a little dieting when we returned home fixed that problem. And I still like pie and ice cream; especially pumpkin pie and vanilla ice cream, a Thanksgiving Holiday favorite.

Every Thanksgiving Holiday is closely associated with food and family. I prefer not to cook such gigantic meals as our lives wane. As we get older, I prefer doing anything else other than cooking. The company of friends and family has become more important than preparing mass quantities of food that is consumed in 30 minutes or less (i.e. Coneheads). Although I have tried several alternatives, our family traditions still remain intact over the years. My daughter prepares basically the same foods for her family that I prepared for past holidays, which is similar to what my mother prepared and my grandmothers prepared.

I have experimented with alternative fare. One year, in 1989, we had Chinese Stir-Fry. It just did not go over very well. Another year, our family ate at one of the finer buffets offered in Topeka, but we were disappointed because we had no leftovers to piece on during the evening. (And no pumpkin pie and vanilla ice cream, either.) That particular dining experience left my dear husband with gastrointestinal distress for two days. He said they were “Bad Yams”. And they were bad yams!

It’s not about food; it is about family and the reason we are here. Our lives are but a breath in time and we should surround ourselves with good memories of family and friends. Sometimes we don’t have the family or friends, but it is possible to be thankful for the gifts that God has given us: a great country, a freedom that no other group of individuals enjoy (A BIG thank you to our Veterans and Troops); plenty of food (even if we don’t have much, we have more than any other nation of peoples); a freedom of choice in what we believe and that we can move about, via motorcycle if we choose, whenever and wherever we wish. My wish to you this Thanksgiving Season is that you are surrounded by your loved ones (or friends) and that you are truly blessed by the maker of all. Happy Thanksgiving (even if it is a little early). Vicky

Monday, November 2, 2009

Eskridge Fall Festival Time!

It was Fall Festival time in Eskridge, Kansas, on Saturday, October 31, 2009, and at 7:30 in the morning, we had to drive “around” Eskridge on our way to Topeka. The Eskridge City Fathers barricaded the street in the downtown area which allowed pedestrians to meander safely among the food stands, craft stalls, and baked-goods tables that lined both sides of main street (Kansas Highway 4). I always thought that was a good idea and it posed only a minimal inconvenience for motorists.

My dear husband and I were not able to attend the Children’s Costume Parade that was in the morning. I understand that the event was well attended and Paul Langley was a delight to the audience. My dear husband and I both had prior engagements, but we returned early in the afternoon to wander through the maze of vendors, visiting friends, admiring the unique costumes of the children and snacking on some our favorite “fair” foods.

Precisely at 2:00 PM, 1st grader Master Coursen sang the National Anthem to officially open the Fall Festival Parade. He was quite exceptional, singing the entire anthem from memory. Then students from the Mission Valley High School performed the duty of Color Guard, marching in front of their police escort (lights on!) through downtown Eskridge followed a two-team, draft horse-drawn wagon carrying Parade Marshall Otis Menfee along with members of his family. Following the wagon were floats representing the Women’s Methodist Union and from several businesses including the “Library Van” decorated by the Pottawatomie/Wabaunsee Regional Library Staff (“starring” several new books). The noisy Fire Engine (sirens on!) was driven by a Volunteer Fireman and, of course, Mayor Cory Lowe driving the Eskridge Lumber “Wagon”.

My dear husband watched as I dashed about grabbing candy thrown during the parade. Later, I played with our neighbor’s new chocolate lab puppy while the young owner raced for the sweet treats along with many other school-aged children. The day was a perfect for watching a parade while eating funnel cake; the temperature was around 72 degrees with the sun shining brightly on the festivities.

In just two, short weeks, the Gateway to the Flint Hills Coalition Pride Boosters sponsors the Wabaunsee County’s 11th Annual Veterans Day Salute in Eskridge on Wednesday, November 11, 2009. The schedule of events begins at 8:30 AM and culminates with a lunch at the Eskridge PRIDE Community Center. Look for the brochures around local businesses! And say “Thank You for Serving” to a veteran this year. As always, God bless you and your family. Vicky