Posted in Friends

My Friends at The Sea

I am so fortunate to have some of the most amazing, beautiful, inspiring friends. Friends that I laugh with, cry with, friends who inspire me with their strength, and friends who make me laugh with their fun perspective of life. Friends who are near by that I see often, and friends who are far away that I rarely see, but the moment we are together we connect as though not a day has passed.
Each year a group of my friends travel to Port Aransas for a retreat on the beach. It is a weekend filled with prayer, laughter, singing, reflection, some tears and lots of hugs. The kind of hugs that fill your heart and soul with strength and joy.
Many of these woman I only see during this weekend, they are like the waves on a beach that roll in and out of my life. We supported each other as young mothers and now share stories of our children’s success as adults. We have been there for one another through graduations, first and last days of school, weddings, sickness and deaths. Never judging always accepting.
A professor of mine once told me that each of us needs a support group in life, a group that we can turn to in times of trouble, companions that you give your strength to when they are faltering. I have been blessed with friends like that, and this group of woman who gather at this yearly beach retreat is one such group.
I thank God for those woman who inspire me daily.
For one of life’s greatest gifts is friendship.
The weekend passed quickly and now I am home again, back to all those mundane things that keep our lives steady, but I know next year I will again have the opportunity to return to the beach and my seashore friends,

Posted in Friends

Peace Love & Pokimania

Everyone is talking about Pokemon Go, some good but a lot of poke-bashing which surprises me.
We all complained when our children became hooked on TV, then chained indoors to controllers and joy sticks. Mesmerized by video screens playing computer generated games, where their only interaction with other humans was the voice on their headsets from fellow “gamers”.
So along comes a game that not only encouraged children and adults to get outside but also encourages them to communicate with other people, in person!
I have stopped and talked with several people out on Pokemon hunts about what they were finding and they were excited to share with me their most recent catches. In front of my hotel last night there was a large group of young people all talking and laughing with music playing in the background. This group that earlier had been strangers had come together drawn by the Pokemon lure in what appeared to be a mini Pokemon Woodstock.
Come on guys, this is actually a great thing in my opinion, in a world of non personal text messaging and never leave the house mentality I love to see people outside talking to one another. Okay maybe it’s not perfect but it’s a step in the right direction. I personally would like to that those who invented this game for getting the world talking again and exploring the outdoors again, even if it for virtual imaginary characters!

Posted in Friends

Finding Deede

In the late 1960’s while living in The Phillipines I was introduced to 2 of the most positive influences in my life.
The Sound of Music and Deede.     The Sound of Music influenced my love of music and theater while Deede taught me how to be a friend.           We had what I considered the perfect, magical childhood, filled with games, imaginary friends, laughter, and of course our favorite thing, acting out every scene in the Sound of Music for anyone who would watch.
When our fathers tours of duty ended we moved to separate parts of the world, but kept in touch for years via mail. Sadly with all of our combined moves we lost touch just before high school.       But she was that friend I could never forget.
One evening I was checking my email and there was a message that my brother had forwarded to me, Deede had found him on the Clark AFB website and asked if he remembered her.       Immediately we started emailing, catching up on the last 40 years of our lives, and making plans for a reunion in New England the following summer.
I was so nervous about meeting in person, what if we had nothing in common and our reunion was awkward filled with a few nostalgic memories, ending with lame excuses of how nice it was to see one another,  with a plastic promise to keep in touch. (Meaning we would send one another generic Christmas cards for a few years before losing touch again.)

Nothing could have been further from the truth. The adult Deede was even more fun and magical then the child Deede. She saw the world through bright, positive eyes. She is one of those people you love to be around, because her world is one that’s filled with infectious joy!     We talked until late into the evening,  it was as if I found a missing part of my soul and we reconnected immediately.
The next day, I went to hear her sing at Roslindale Market, and met her friends, who were all as welcoming and friendly as Deede. That was 4 years ago, we have remained in touch since then. Each year when I visit New England we make time to meet, even if it’s only for dinner. Our husbands get along and my children love her.
I love the grown up Deede just as much if not more then the child Deede.

I have been so fortunate in my life to have so many wonderful, treasured friends, all who have touched my life and made me a better person thanks to who they are.   But I don’t think any of of those friendships could have been possible if it had not been for that magical first childhood friendship with Deede who taught me as a child as well as an adult just how precious the gift of a friend is.

Posted in Friends, Travel

Celebrating Charlotte — Pink Hat Gypsy

It was a scorching hot day in July when we arrived in New Orleans to celebrate Charlotte’s birthday. Charlotte’s husband Rod had rented a large house on Airbnb in the garden district. It was a beautiful house with 6 bedrooms, a huge kitchen living area, and enormous back yard, The house was spotless and fully furnished. It was like being at home in a really nice house.

There were 13 people who had made the trip from San Antonio to celebrate Charlotte’s big day. I had met several of them just once before this occasion. Initially, I was nervous about staying in a house with so many people. Where would we all sleep? Would it be awkward to share the bathrooms? I should have known better then to worry about silly things like that. There was something about the house that made me feel like I was among family, or maybe it was the people who made me feel that way.

On our first night we took the bus down St. Charles street to the world famous Bourbon street. After dinner at Crescent City Brewhouse, we went to the back of St.Louis Cathedral for the beautiful view of Touchdown Jesus, then strolled down Bourbon street to watch the Friday night insanity. We stopped at The Old Opera House to listen to my favorite New Orleans Band, Chicken On The Bone. After a long day of travel, unpacking, and celebration, you would have thought the bus ride home would have been quiet and subdued. But instead, our group was even more energized as they shared stories and told jokes. It was a happy exchange, but not one that was appreciated by our grouchy bus driver. At one point she turned around and threatened to have us all thrown off the bus if we did not settle down. Our loud voices turned to muffled giggles as we looked at one another feeling as though we were back in high school being chastised for having too much fun. But not wanting to make the long walk home we begrudgingly complied. Just like high school!

In the morning, Rod had booked us a bike tour of the city at Bullfrog Bike Tours. We wanted to make sure that everyone in the city knew that it was Charlotte’s birthday so we arrived early to deck out her bike with pinwheels, streamers, a horn and a bubble maker. When our tour guide announced that we would be riding 12 miles I nearly snuck out the door. I was out of shape, and I had a vision of me laying on the pavement 2 miles with my very in shape friends pouring water over me and calling a cab to return me home. But I was surprised to find 12 miles on a bike is not so bad. We started early in the day while the weather was still nice. We had a nice stop for beignets at Morning Call Coffee Stand in the park. We also stopped to assist a jogger who had tripped and was hurt (did I mention there were 3 nurses and a doctor in our group?). The tour went by quickly. We got to see parts of the city I had never seen before plus we all got some great exercise.

That night we went to Mass at St. Louis Cathedral. Rod had arranged for a special blessing and mention of Charlotte during mass. We also were asked to bring up the gifts (all 13 of us). After mass, we had our best meal of the weekend, but we did not go to a restaurant to get it. dinner was steaks cooked by Rod and the guys. We all squeezed around the dinner table, ate our delicious home cooked meal, drank lots of wine, and toasted Charlotte.

Hotels can be nice but being able to share that big beautiful home with this group was even better. No one had to drive, we were able to carry on conversations without worrying about the other hotel guests, and we did not have to wait to get another glass of wine, we just asked someone to pass the bottle.

We spent Sunday exploring the garden district, shopping, and playing pool. We went out for dinner that night at Drago’s Seafood, but the food, service, and ambiance could not compare to the dinner the night before. The worst part of going out to dinner with a large group in New Orleans is that restaurants will not split checks nor take multiple credit cards. I feel that makes dining out very uncomfortable as everyone wants to split things fairly but it can be hard if everyone does not bring enough cash to cover the bill.

When Monday arrived, I was sad to be saying goodbye to my new friends and the beautiful house we had called home for the weekend. I could not believe I had been anxious about spending time with them at the start of our trip. Hotels are great, but for a big group like this a house is so much better. You can cook what you want, go to sleep if you are tired, and you have the time to spend with everyone.

Recently Rod and Charlotte hosted a New Orleans reunion at their beautiful home. Though I had not seen many of the group since we parted ways that last day in New Orleans, we picked right up on our friendship as we played games, ate a delicious etouffee and spent quality time together.
New Orleans is a beautiful city with delicious food, a haunting history, and fun people who know how to party. I look forward to my next trip.