Sunday, April 5, 2020

D is for Disney World

I know a place where dreams are  born...

It's the first Sunday in April,  1958, and through another decade. It's seven o'clock. I know exactly where I am and what I was doing. I am in our den in my family's house in Hartford, CT. My father is sitting in his aqua recliner, my mother is sitting on the couch. They're both probably finishing the Sunday newspapers. I'm in "my"chair. I went to Hebrew school in the morning and the afternoon was spent visiting great aunts and uncles and cousins. Dinner is finished and the kitchen has been cleaned. It's time for Walt Disney, and it's time for D Is for Disney World..

Between the Mickey Mouse Club after school every day and the Sunday night Walt Disney Hour, I was a complete fan of all things and people Disney. I dreamed of going to Disney Land and remember thinking if I could just see Disney Land I could die happy. In retrospect that's an odd thought for a middle schooler, but that was my dream, and if anything Disney taught us, it was that dreams really did come true. 

The stuff of dreams...

For many years it was just a dream. My father got two weeks vacation and we never thought to take trips that included planes. We had great vacations, but they were only as far as we could drive in one week and still have time to drive home in the second week. I didn't feel deprived, because I only knew one family while I was growing up that had been to Disney Land. As most of us remember, life was  very different in the early sixties, and I felt lucky that I could visit my dream place every Sunday night. 

The years went by and like many childish things I put away my dreams of Disney Land. It tumbled far down on my list of places to visit. Air fare grew less expensive, I got a passport, started working and the entire world opened up. 

But my dreams never went away. Finally in 1992 I spent a day at Disney Land Paris and enjoyed it immensely. It was a beautiful summer day, the park wasn't crowded and I had a lot of fun. My travel companion joined me grudgingly, but after a few hours and a number of rides, he agreed we were having a great time. 

Finally, finally I made it to Florida and Disney World in 2013. I loved the parade and lights at night. I loved the pineapple Dole whip and I loved Epcot and meeting the Disney characters.  

My friend, Mary Poppins

What were the places on your dream lists to visit? Besides Disney Land, I hoped to get to London, Paris and the Taj Mahal. It would take decades to visit the places on my dream list. 

Writing these posts has spurred me to start going through the many envelopes of photographs I haven't looked at in years. I've found myself in different haircuts and different hair colors and many different backgrounds. Besides travel pictures there are a number of family events and it's fun to see the small children that my now grown up cousins once were. I've rediscovered several places where we will be traveling in the next month, which includes tomorrows' post. We're off to a far corner of Europe and I hope you will join the Buttercupland delegation for our E destination. 

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care. Much love and wash your hands!  

Saturday, April 4, 2020

C Is for Chicago

We all need Hope 
 Robert Indiana, Hancock Center Plaza, Chicago

We've made our way from Borneo to Chicago for our Blogging from A to Z adventure today. There are a lot of cities I enjoy visiting and Chicago is high on the list. There's fabulous architecture, great food, beautiful water views and one of the finest museums in the world. I've had the good fortune to visit a number of times and would happily return again. 

 The legendary Chicago Theater is in the background.  Built in 1921, it was the first  large movie theater in America and became the prototype for those that followed. 

My favorite place to visit in Chicago is the extraordinary Art Institute.

No trip to Chicago is complete for me without a visit to the Art Institute. Founded in 1879 the collection is both wide and deep. Some of my all time favorite paintings are part of the permanent collection, including Grant Wood's American Gothic and Edward Hopper's Nighthawks. I'd seen both in any number of reproductions and parodies and the thrill of seeing the actual paintings still stands as a great memory of my first visit to Chicago and the Art Institute. I'm feeling a little museum starved these days and I had a good time visiting the museum website. There are a lot of interactive and video features and I'm planning to return in the next few days to visit El Greco online. 

A few people have asked me if I am sad that I may not be able to travel as extensively as I have in the past. Honestly, I didn't think I had more than a few -- if that many -- long, long trips left. My dream is getting to New Zealand, but that is 8,800 miles away. As the years have gone by trips that require multiple airport transfers and long flights have grown less exciting. A trip to Chicago, two hours, no transfers and lots to see and explore, is looking very good. 

We're going to share our Chicago visit with our Pink Saturday friends today. If you're not familiar with the great group of Pink Saturday bloggers, please stop by and say hello. It's always fun, upbeat and enjoyable.   

A quick hint for our destination for tomorrow! We're going to the first place I ever dreamed of visiting. I thought if I got to this magical place my life would be complete. The joys of being seven. 

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care. Much love and wash your hands! 

Friday, April 3, 2020

B Is for Borneo

Sunrise at Mount Kinabalu -- if I remember correctly -- which I did not climb

One of my favorite trips, and one of my trips least documented by photographs, was a trip to Sabah, one of the states of Malaysia. Sabah, in the Northern part of  Borneo, and Sarawak are Malaysian states. They share the island with several Indonesian states and the Sultanate of Brunei. 

Unlike many of my trips, my visit to Borneo was not a long time dream. One of my friends saw an advertisement for a relatively last-minute trip that included a visit to the orangutan sanctuary in Borneo. It was literally, buy one trip and a guest travels for free. It piqued both of our interests and we signed up. Unlike Antarctica, there wasn't a decade of reading, planning and dreaming. Off we went on a trip of 9,142 miles from New York City via Los Angeles to Taiwan to the capital of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu. 

Though the date in the bottom right corner of the photograph is is September 2002, I'm reasonably sure that I went to Borneo in 2000, and I know I definitely wasn't there in 2002. If you remember those long ago days of 2000 we didn't have smart phones with cameras that are really tiny photo labs. I went to Borneo phone-less, armed only with my digital camera. Besides taking a number of very blurry pictures, as demonstrated above, the film-using camera malfunctioned during our visit to the baby orangutan sanctuary. I was heart broken to lose all of my baby orangutan pictures.  

Though most of the photos were lost, what remained from this trip to Borneo was my interest in the orangutans. I was fascinated seeing them in their forest environment and learning how orphaned orangutans are rehabilitated so that they can return to the forest. I also learned that as more and more of Sabah is developed, the future of orangutans is endangered. During my visit I adopted Rosie and more recently I adopted Joyce from International Animal Rescue's Borneo Orangutan Rescue. 

My adopted orangutan, Joyce

My hope for Joyce and her orangutan companions is that they will soon be able 
to leave the sanctuary and return to life with other orangutans in the forest. 

I spent most of today getting through a number of indoor errands. I got to serious kitchen cleaning, bill paying, decluttering and shredding. It was great to cross a number of things off my list. I also spent time sorting through boxes of photographs looking for ideas for blog posts later in the month. We've only just begun our Blogging Around the World from A to Z  challenge. 

As ever, thanks for visiting and take care. Much love and wash your hands! 

Thursday, April 2, 2020

A Is for Antarctica

A is for Antarctica

This is a new first for me. When I've done the A to Z Blogging Challenge in the past it usually takes me until "H" or "I" before I get behind. But this wasn't the case in the weird year of 2020. I fell behind on the first day, which was yesterday. My goal for this challenge is to complete it and to complete it in April. We do get to skip the weekends, so I plan to work one day of this weekend and get back on track with the rest of the bloggers.

We're beginning our 2020 Around the World from A to Z with a visit to Antarctica. My trip to Antarctica was literally a dream come true. For decades I believed only explorers went to Antarctica, and not always with good result. At some point -- maybe 2000  --I started to notice trips to Antarctica, but they were way out of my budget. Way out of my budget! But I put it on my "dream" list and figured it might be just that, a dream. 

Fast forward to 2014 and someone -- I'd love to remember who it was and thank that person -- mentioned that the big cruise lines also did trips to Antarctica, and the cost was significantly less. It wasn't the same as the smaller explorer ships, but I would still see Antarctica, even if I never set foot on one of the glaciers. My dream was becoming closer to reality. It got still closer when I received an email in 2015 letting me know that the trip was half the regular price. I already had plans for the winter of 2016 -- you'll see them in a post to come -- but I tucked the idea into my mind for 2017. Sure enough in December 2016 I saw the opportunity to take my dream trip. Six weeks later I was on the way to Argentina where I would board the ship for Antarctica. 

 Worth the wait 

Some places don't live up to the expectations, but not the case for my trip to Antarctica. What I saw surpassed my expectations. Every scene was a memory I didn't want to forget and a scene of extraordinary beauty. I had loved geography in elementary school and each day was a living geography lesson. 

There were so many memorable moments, but one of the high points was going around Cape Horn and through the Drake Passage, where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet. 

Not my best picture, but I was happy to be sharing my trip with a
 wonderful group of new friends that I met on the ship.  

It was fun to share my dream trip with all of Buttercupland. I'm not quite sure where our Around the World Blogging Adventure will take us next, but I'm leaning to somewhere about as far from Antarctica as we can go. Any guesses where "B" will take us?

I'm doing okay and keeping busy. My Zoom for today was another Weight Watchers group. I've got a bean and kale stew cooking -- lots of vegetable washing and chopping -- in the crockpot and took a nice walk this afternoon. I'm not quite sure what I did for the rest of the day, but it flew by. Is anyone else finding that the days are going quickly, too?

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care. Lots of love and wash your hands!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

April Fool!

Best April Fool's Joke Ever

When I look back at the last month it feels as though we've been living one April Fool's Day joke right after another. Between everything else going on in the world and my general disinterest in playing pranks, my mind was far from thinking of any special plans for the day. But I got my early April Fool's surprise yesterday when I opened my delivery from Imperfect Foods. I know I ordered pears, apples, bread, sweet potatoes, spinach and kale, but I also knew I didn't order an organic pineapple. Yes, that's a big beautiful pineapple on the left side of the box of food. 

In a different time and place I might have gone back to my original order to see what was substituted and gotten in touch with Imperfect, but that's for a another time, long past these difficult days. I'm going to consider the pineapple -- which seems ripe -- a gift from the universe and my best April Fool's surprise ever. 

I had my Zoom Weight Watchers group this morning and so enjoyed seeing my friends and talking about our lives in Manhattan right now. Our topic for the session was managing stress and I appreciated the upbeat and practical suggestions people made. Many people spoke about gratitude and I was grateful for the opportunity to participate in one regular activity on my calendar. What are you grateful for today?  

Now it's time to cut up the pineapple, and get my dinner from the air fryer. I've got roasted carrots, pepper and broccoli tots, so I'm definitely getting my vegetables for the day.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care of yourself. Much love and wash your hands!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Journey of a Thousand Miles Meets a Bump in the Road

Sometimes we come to a bump in the road and we figure out how to go around it. 

It feels like I've lived weeks, if not months, in the last few weeks, which is especially surprising considering I probably haven't been further than a mile from my cozy apartment. But the days are starting to take on some measure of routine. I read newspapers on line, I cook, I chat with friends and attend Zoom sessions, watch television, read and blog. I also continue to walk for exercise, which is a great continuity with my life before Black Swan Days. 

On February 23 I posted about my optimism about walking and accomplishing my goal of walking a thousand miles in 2020. I was about to leave for Arizona, where I expected to walk a lot. I had gotten my spinal diagnosis and my prescription for physical therapy, which I planned to start in early March. Despite a rough 2019 I was getting back on track, literally and figuratively, to more exercise and the walking I so enjoyed. 

What a difference a month makes. I started off March with lots of walking and had my first (and only) physical therapy session. I have no idea when I will have my second session, but fortunately, I have my series of home exercises and mostly, I'm doing them. With a few days when I really stayed put and only walked around the block, I have kept walking for exercise -- and my sanity. I was sure, however, that I would fall short of my goals for my journey of walking 1,000 miles this year. 

Drum roll, please! My trusty Fitbit keeps tracking even when I have lost hope and with today yet to complete, I have walked 94.9 miles for March. My total, again without today's number, is 257.5 miles, which averages out to 85.8 miles a month. This keeps me exactly on pace to walk 1,000 miles this year, barring any unforeseen circumstances. At this point, I take nothing for granted and know that the theme of 2020 is unforeseen circumstances, but I am beyond pleased that there is one healthy goal I have kept up up during this time.    

On a different topic, if anyone would like to "guest blog," please leave a comment or send me an email. I've asked a college friend who keeps bees to share her experience and I'm delighted that Peggy will be making an appearance in Buttercupland. But your contribution doesn't have to be anything especially unusual. If you have a recipe to share, a way you're keeping engaged or a book or movie you've enjoyed, please be in touch.  

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care. Much love and wash your hands.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Pink Blossom Pink Saturday

A few days ago I celebrated Pink Saturday just a block from home

Blossoms are everywhere and the medians on Broadway are especially pretty this year. It may be the saddest spring I can remember, but the blossoms are extraordinary. 

This picture was taken just a block from home. On the right is a food delivery truck -- our lifeline -- and on the left, more beautiful blossoms. 

Looking downtown on Broadway, noon today

Yes, it was cold, wind and rainy this morning, so the weather wasn't conducive to essential errands 
or walking for exercise, but the street wasn't that much emptier than most days.  It was, though, eerily empty for noon on Sunday.  And yes, I was out walking for exercise. I entered no stores, I wore a mask and latex gloves. When I got home I took off my shoes at the door. I then washed the gloves -- in case I had inadvertently touched anything -- and then washed my hands. After that I took off my coat. It's cumbersome, but as the days are going by, it's becoming routine.  

Somewhat to my surprise, the days go by quickly. Today I had a fun Zoom get-together with friends around the country, spent time cooking and watched two episodes of an Australian mystery. I decluttered, made a few phone calls and responded to a lot of text messages. I read newspapers on-line and listened to the Elton John television special while I worked on this post.  How was your Sunday?

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care of yourself. Much love, wash your hands and don't touch your face.