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Monday, March 23, 2015

Viva Las Vegas, and all that

Elvis impersonators on the Strip (not the gal in the middle, the two dudes!)

I just got back from a trip west, which included a stop in Vegas-the site of a mini reunion of the Fairview High School Class of '72.  Weather was perfect and the entire area is one large amusement park! To end the suspense, I gambled $100 at the craps table and walked away with $175. The biggest attraction, however, was not the two Elvis impersonators in the photo above.

Dinner at Bouchon at the Venetian Hotel

It was the time spent with my best friends from high school, Anne (Smith) Hasson, left, and Amy Mellencamp (far right-in photo terms, only).  This is the second reunion I have attended with the duo. We met for the first time in almost 40 years, in 2012,  in Chicago. I missed the reunion in San Francisco and New York City, and wasn't about to miss this year's reunion in Las Vegas!

 Anne retired 5 years ago after teaching 4th grade for 30 years in Portland, Oregon.  Amy is currently a high school principal (Dr. Mellencamp, by the way) in Burlington, Vermont. Anne is a grandmother of two- her son is a firefighter in Portland.  Amy has two children. Her daughter is a successful fundraiser for the Democratic Party in D.C. and her son is in graduate school, having clerked for various member's of Emily's List in D.C.  Anne's husband is retired after a career with 3M, and Amy's husband is working on various business ventures in Vermont.

We had a great time catching up on happenings in Erie, Pa.  (Ann's mom still lives there) and sharing news about our families. We have all lost our fathers, and had many heartfelt discussions about eldercare.  If you haven't reconnected with your high school buddies, I highly recommend that you do so. There is a wonderful shorthand as part of the underlying conversation which is refreshing. These are  friends that know all about  the trouble you had with your sibling, what your parents were REALLY like, when you first fell in love, and, so on.

Each dancer charged us $5 for the photo above

Of course, on the downside, they know all about your D in Algebra and other dark secrets of youth. While  at the airport, we observed a group of college women that were gathering for a pre-wedding blitz with the bride. We stopped by to tell them that they might still be meeting each other almost 43 years hence and they seemed delighted to hear that!

We stayed at the MGM Grand. A wonderful selection made by Anne. The timing was perfect: the Grand was hosting the PAC 12 basketball playoffs and Anne's team from Oregon was there. Duck this and duck that everywhere! Not to mention it was spring break and the hotel pools were crowded with lovely co-eds and eye candy for us all.

More importantly, the Bellagio was the scene of a Doritos commercial and we just missed being in it!

After 3 nights, Anne headed back to Portland and Amy headed east to Burlington. I, on the other hand, extended my vacation by heading to California to visit family for a few more days.

View from our hotel across from Doheney State Park Campground, Dana Point, Ca.

Arriving in Temecula on Sunday, I spent the afternoon at the Mall with 13 year old niece, Kelsey. It was such fun to sponsor a shopping spree and see what would develop. H&M was a popular store for school attire.

Marine Drill Team in San Diego Depot

I didn't see nephew Kacey as he recently entered boot camp as a Marine recruit. At age 18, he was determined to enter on the ground floor of the military establishment and work his way up to officer from there. Graduation is the end of May and our family is anxious to see what assignment he draws next.

 On Monday, Mom and I headed for a short trip to Laguna Beach. My parents retired from Westport, Ct, in 1981,  and moved to LB to be closer to Aunt Alberta (see earlier blogs), Aunt Iola, and Grandmother Blanche (my mom's mom) for 18 years before they moved to be closer to  my brother and family in Temecula.

The ocean breeze hypnotized us and the next thing you know, we were both shopping for condos in nearby Laguna Hills where Alberta, Iola, and friend "Aunt Dottie" lived for many years.

Laguna Hills (formerly Leisure World) was developed in 1964 as the first gated community for 55+ residents. There are 14,000 units and currently 18.000 residents. Average age in 74.  With a 29 hole golf course, stables, 7 clubhouses with 5 swimming pools, over 200 clubs and more, it was intoxicating to consider living just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean in such lovely year round surroundings.

However, the condos are small, with the largest only 1,300 square feet!!!! I tried to imagine reducing living quarters from 3,000 square feet filled to the brim, with a full attic and basement (and I do mean full) plus a 2 1/2 garage with two extra single space garages, 2 Standard Poodles, 1 miniature schnauzer, 2 cats ( who don't like each other yet), one husband, and condensing it all into any one of the  condo's we toured. We felt like we were in  an episode of Househunters.  We loved the first house, tolerated the second, hated the third. My mom was very interested in  the first one, but, it was already sold within 12 hours-at full price! We toured four more options and decided to ponder it for a few more months.

Next on the agenda is to convince Ron, Bob, and Paulette, to spend a few days in the area and check it out with me to see if I'm California Dreaming or I have lost my mind within the first 6 months of retirement! Well, we already know the answer to that, but, to be kind, let's see if it is a temporary condition.

Stay tuned for further adventures.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Vertigo....And Not Hitchcock's Classic Film

I have vertigo, not unlike Jimmy Stewart's vertigo in Alfred Hitchcock's classic film of the same name. While my favorite film by the famous director is North by Northwest, or maybe, Rear Window, I now better understand the scenes from Vertigo. I am loathe to admit that this is an inner ear disturbance that is age-related. When I first heard about vertigo, it seemed like something that would be well suited to a Twilight Zone episode.  Imagine being dizzy and feeling woozy at unpredictable times not related to any over indulgence of alcohol. My first occurrence was on Christmas Eve, then repeated once in January, and now,  again today. If I were still working,  I'd have had to reluctantly call off for today. Being retired, I just told the dogs to chill out with me.

Marilyn was, of course, thrilled that I was staying in one place for once. She is happily snoozing beside me as I write.

Jack simply couldn't believe it! You can see he is amazed that I am actually going to stay home and hang out with him today.

Kate was so happy she was wiggling all over, hence the blurry photo.  However, she agreed to come inside and crash on the sofa in the upstairs library with me.  Lucy is at the vet today being spayed. We decided not to have her declawed and will have to apologize to AllieCat later about that change in plans. I hope there won't be shredded curtains to show for the change of heart.

One of the things I haven't gotten used to yet is being home in the daytime. The light coming through the windows is such a treat. Well, yes, you can see the dust, but, just look at colors in the Swedish glass bowl on the table! Having spent most of the past 30 plus years at work from daylight to dark, I wasn't able to appreciate some great features of daylight in the house.

Here is another example. Most of the time, the stained glass window on our front staircase landing looks dark brown. During the day, however, it shows many colors! By the way, the window is perfectly level, I'm just a bit tilted with the vertigo thing. Sorry about that, don't let it get to you.

Catching up on what I've been doing fiber-wise, here is a  sock I recently finished. Some of you know about  "second sock syndrome" in which the second sock is deemed too boring to do and so, instead, languishes of the needles for months.  I just noticed that this one is too big and I  need to rip out about 2 inches and reknit it.  This will delay the SSS for awhile longer. (Sorry, Mom, you'll still get both socks by Mother's Day).

Perhaps you can see how I am progressing with the needlepoint project I started in November.  The background is almost half finished. The red, green, and blue parts are completed. I haven't started Santa's beard or cuffs, or his face. I'm saving the white background until last-my goal is to get this completed by July. I'm taking it with me to Vegas next week. I can just imagine the looks I'll get in the airport as I tote around a Christmas project. Only other needlepoint folks will understand this seasonal disorder.

Speaking of Christmas projects, I am very excited about my next knitting project. I'm going to make a replica of my childhood stocking!!!!!! Just because I can.

My brother, David, and I, each have personalized stockings, given to us by our Aunt Marj. I don't think she knit these herself.  She was a seamstress of great talent, but, not a knitter. My great grandmother Lee wasn't a knitter, either. She did a lot of crochet and I have several of her shawls. She  was a seamstress by trade, coming over from Sweden at age 16. I digress. This Christmas stocking pattern was first introduced in the November 1945 issue of Woman's Home Companion.

I had intended to use my stocking as a guide and count out each stitch to recreate the pattern. First,  I checked on (This is a very cool site with 4 million member knitters and spinners. If you can't find what you want on Ravalry, it just isn't going to be found at all).  Discovering the info about the pattern,  I went to eBay and bid on the November 1945 issue and voila, it is now mine. True to form,  I didn't read carefully enough-it is only the ad that is in that issue, the pattern booklet needed to be ordered and, of course, it is no longer available. Well, it was still $20.00 well spent.
The pattern, now in public domain, was published and available for free download on Ravelry!

 I know very few of you are as excited about this I am.   I see that my stocking doesn't have the two kids, just the Santa and tree. I'll have to see if my brother's stocking has the kids. Note to self. If this looks familiar to you, maybe you have one of these stockings, too. It is large enough to hold the traditional orange, but pretty small overall. You can't get a doll in there, or, whatever else you might have asked Santa to bring to you.

Ok, enough about that. My next blogpost will come to you from Las Vegas. Next week I'm joining high school friends, Amy Mellencamp (currently living in Burlington, Vermont) and Anne Smith Hasson (currently living in Portland, Oregon) for a 3 night mini reunion of the Fairview High School Class of '72. It is so mini, in fact, that it is just the three of us!  According to the travel guide books, craps and poker are the only games where the gambler has at least a 4% chance of beating the house. All other games are less than 1% in your favor. I can just imagine the roulette wheel paired with my vertigo. I think I better stick to shopping-I know how to find a bargain and that is a better deal, no pun intended!

From there, my plans are to head to Temecula, Ca, to visit family. Mom and I are head down to Laguna Beach for a few days before I fly back home. Just for the record, I am not in any way tired of winter and hope there will still be some snowy days upon my return!