Archives for posts with tag: vacation

DakotaDuring our recent visit to New York, a must-see for our youngest was the Dakota and Strawberry Fields. With bad weather moving in on the Saturday we were there, we decided to make it our first stop.

While dad found a parking spot, mom and daughter hung outside the Dakota for about 15 minutes, soaking up the notion that John Lennon himself had walked these very streets. We watched the doorman point out the spot where Lennon was shot to an inquisitive tourist. Staring down at that spot almost made my daughter cry.

We then headed across the street to see the “Imagine” mosaic. There were a ton of people milling about, each taking turns kneeling, laying or posing in front of the memorial, while a “performer” badly played Beatles songs on his guitar.

When it was our turn, I have to admit, I got emotional watching our little Beatles fan pose by the tiles. We had finally gotten her here. This was her moment. Hubby took this photo of her there sporting her British flag Converse sneakers.

IMG_0693After Strawberry Fields we walked around Central Park for a while, ate a few dirty water dogs, and then headed back to the Dakota, and the car. Hubby took a few more photos of daughter in front of the landmark building, and we walked down W. 72nd Street to our car.

We all got in, and hubby turned on the engine. When the radio kicked in, “Strawberry Fields” was on…not the studio version, but the rare early take. Mouths open, we all looked at each other, dumbfounded at the chance of this happening. Of all the stations that the radio could’ve been tuned to when hubby parked the car, this was the very song that was playing after our excursion to Strawberry Fields.

We pulled up W. 72nd Street, stopped in front of the Dakota, rolled down our windows and blasted the song. I turned to my daughter and said, “It’s as if John is sending you a message–like he knows your here, and knows how you feel.”

It was a goosebumps raising moment, and one that the family will always remember.

Strawberry Fields…Forever.

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Last week we spent 2 days in New York City. There was a lot our family had to accomplish, and on our last night, at the request of my very bookish daughter, we stopped at this charming book store on Columbus.

It was an awful night weather-wise in the city – rainy, windy and cold – so browsing around this cozy, charming bookstore was even more delightful. It was just my daughter and I…hubby and my youngest opted to stay by the car.

In the back of the store there was an old gentleman sitting across from a woman with a little dog. They were chatting…or rather she was talking. As I meandered through the aisles looking the books and the kitschy knick knacks, I could hear her droning on about how her parents raised her the right way…weekends at museums, culture, art, moving on to a second conversation about how WASpy certain neighborhoods were getting.

My daughter had to pee, and I found the bathroom in a little alcove behind where the woman and man were sitting. After she went, I decided to empty my tank as well. When I went to flush the toilet, rather than the water flushing down the toilet, all it did was rise to the rim.

Yikes! Luckily there was a plunger next to the toilet. It’s an old building with old plumbing, so I shrugged and attempted to unclog the toilet. I plunged for a good 2 or 3 minutes, but the water never went down. Oh well, I tried.

I left the bathroom to go tell the man behind the counter when the dog woman said, “I’m going to use the bathroom before I head home.”

Ruh roh.

I turned to her and said, “You might not want to go in there. The toilet is stopped up. I’m going to report it now.”

She looked at me and went into the bathroom anyway. Ok…it’s not like I didn’t warn you. When I went to tell the dude behind the counter, he was helping someone, so I stood waiting, browsing books until I could talk to him.

The woman, holding her little yippy dog, comes out from the bathroom, approaches me and says, “That toilet is really backed up. There is water on the floor and the water is up to the rim.”

I say to her, “I know. I tried my best to plunge it…”

Before I could finish my sentence, she looks down at me and says, “Do you think it was right to clog the toilet like that? Do you think a clogged toilet is a good thing?”

To say I was flabbergasted was an understatement. This pretentious, self-righteous bitch as insinuating that I PURPOSELY clogged the toilet.

I look at her straight in the eye and said, “No, I do not think that a clogged toilet is a ‘good thing.’ It’s an old building. I told you the toilet was clogged.”

She turned and approached the check out counter, placing her purchase down, and says, “I just want to let you know that your toilet is clogged. I can’t conclude with any certainty how it got clogged” – at this point she looks over her shoulder at me, and continues – “I’ve been coming here for years, and rarely have to use the bathroom. I find it disappointing that it was clogged on the rare occasion I needed to use it.”

After she side-eyed me, placing blame at my feet, I gave her the double fuck-you-middle-finger flip off behind her back. I’m pretty sure the employee saw it though.

She continued to complain, saying “it was the end of the day, so it’s understandable,” and he informs her they had been having trouble with the toilet all day. She then picked up her purchase and walked into the cold night.

I was furious. This was one time I wished I we’re a person who can deal with confrontation. I would have liked to have gone up to her, got respectably in her face, and asked her if she had nothing better to do on a Saturday night than to berate a mother from Virginia over a stopped up toilet.

When we were leaving and paying for our purchase, I apologized to the store employee for being the cause of him having to listen to the bitchy dog lady whine about the bathroom. I told him I tried my best to plunge the toilet, and he looked at me and thanked me for trying. This was obviously something privileged, rich-bitch dog lady would never stoop to do.

I’ll tell you one thing though. She is lucky my husband was standing by the car. Had he been there to witness her treatment of me, he would have reduced her to tears in a matter of minutes. It would have been an encounter that would’ve haunted her for years.

She might have felt good about belittling me, but that yippy dog yenta dodged a bullet that night. No, not a bullet…an Italian F-bomb is more like it.

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In late May of 2016, I unknowingly took my last drive down to see my father in Palm Coast, Florida.

We usually head East on I-64 and then hit I-95 for the duration of the 11 hour drive. But this year hubby got the idea for us to take an inland route to try and shave some time off our journey. In retrospect, this wound up being a huge bummer.

First of all, we got lost pretty early on. There was an exchange outside Farmington, VA that we totally missed, and we travelled a good 15 or 20 miles before I figured out something was amiss. We needed to turn around and go back.

But rather than backtrack to the place where we missed the turn, we tried to navigate our way through backroads in an attempt to recoup the time we had lost. And in doing that, we got even more lost.

For me, it wasn’t so much the getting lost that still remains with me today. It was the countryside we got lost in. We passed through several small Virginia towns that at any other time might have seemed quaint or charming.

But in late May of 2016? It was wall to wall trump signs. That entire, miserable trip down to my dad’s was nothing more than a marathon of small, trump-loving country towns. I feel like had we taken our usual route down I-95, I may not have been so assaulted with signs proclaiming support for the lying, orange conman.

And to make matters worse…we took the same way back home.

My dad died shortly after we got back from that trip. So the memory of my last journey to Florida? Yeah, it’s really marred. It’s soiled. It’s tarnished. It is also eerie. My dad hated trump as much as I do. He never got to cast his vote for Hilary.

That endless parade of trump signs? They haunt me. Especially now when the country is spiraling into disaster. It would have killed my dad. Seriously. Had he not died before the election, I think he would have given up by now.

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Recently I was on Martha’s Vineyard, and my sister, with a penchant for apple fritters, insisted we wait in line at Back Door Donuts. It’s a bakery in Oak Bluffs that will sell hot, fried, sugary delights from the back door from 7:00 pm to 1:00 am.

We had taken part in this new island tradition the last time we were up there, but we did it earlier in the evening and sampled the greasy goods while sitting in ocean park during sunset. I was never really impressed – perhaps I’m just not an apple fritter kind of gal.

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This time we went much later in the evening. I think it was closer to 10 pm and the line was enormous. It snaked back and forth along a roped off path; I’d gamble to say that there were at least 100 people in line ahead of us. I think the line for Space Mountain was shorter.

I was already weary after a long night of walking around town, but my husband and kids wanted some hot donuts, so we decided to wait in line with the family. While waiting we perused the menu they had written out by hand on a couple of sheets of poster board. My brother aptly stated “these better be the best donuts on the planet for this long of a wait.”

After waiting in line for at least 45 minutes, we finally went to place our order, only to find out that 75% of the donut varieties on the menu board were sold out. At no time did any bakery employee come out and announce that they were no longer available, or better yet, place a sticky note or a placard saying “SOLD OUT” over that variety on the menu.

Nope, these greedy mothers wanted to you keep waiting in line, KNOWING that you would settle for any donut because like an ass, you had waited in line for an hour.

Typical of Tracy, I was not amused…especially since I didn’t even want a fucking donut. I got the fried dough instead, which wound up being a total disappointment. I got crispy, over-fried strips of dough that more closely resembled bread sticks. My idea of fried dough is like what you would get at an Italian fair…a zeppole. I gave the bag to my sister who had smartly decided to have a few beers while we sheep waited in line.

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I won’t ever waste my time there again. If hubby and my girls want to that’s fine.  I’ll sit in the park watching the gazebo and hearing the waves crash along the Oak Bluffs beach – let someone else wait in line.

20170703_105904I just got back from a week on Martha’s Vineyard. The main reason for going was to spread my father’s ashes around the island. You see, my father is the founder of Martha’s Vineyard for our family. He went up one weekend a million years ago with a college friend, and never wanted to vacation anywhere else.

While he was never able to afford to buy a house on the island, he turned my cousins Bob & Carol on to this summer wonderland, and they own two homes – one rental and a large home that they live in during the summer. For 52 years it has been my summer place, and it felt really good to release dad to the beauty of this island.

We began by releasing some ashes into the water during the ferry ride from Woods Hole to the Vineyard. My husband, in a flash of brilliance, let one of the crew members know we were doing it, and after dad’s ashes swirled into the air, he gave the ferry horn a long, loud blast. It was very cool, and very moving.

20170702_195615We spread more ashes on the beach in Menemsha at sunset. It was a beautiful evening spent on the beach with the family, listening to music, sipping wine and noshing from a picnic spread. I think dad would have loved it.

20170703_114816And of course, we had to leave some of dad on Gay Head. My mom’s ashes are here. It was funny…when we spread the ashes by my mom, my sister had trouble with the container, and it was a very clumsy release. It makes me laugh to think of that now, because I think it’s something my mom would have found amusing.

We also walked further down the beach and around the horn of the cliffs to spread dad among the stones, rocks and ocean. It felt right.

The trip itself was pretty hectic. I’ve never seen the island so crowded….things are definitely changing there. I’m just so pleased that there are pieces of both of my parents on the beaches where we spent so much time growing up. I know how much dad loved this place. I am certain he’s resting peacefully now.

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Charlottesville, VA, the town that I live right outside of and work in, has become somewhat of a racial hot bed in the past few months. You see, we have a few confederate statues in town, and like they did in New Orleans, Charlottesville is having them removed.

Not only are they removing the statues, but they have renamed both parks, which were named after confederate generals. However, the new names they picked really suck. I doubt they’ll stick.

In any case, we had one white supremacist rally last month led by white nationalist Richard Spencer. They showed up burning tiki torches – it was a pretty fucked up thing to happen in our little artsy fartsy fairly liberal college town. The photo below was taken one block from my office…from where I sit now writing this…and it’s a pretty daunting sight. However, because they were burning tiki torches, one spectator said, “the air was heavy with both hatred and citronella.”

http---o.aolcdn.com-hss-storage-midas-81e85007b128e965a97fb7cb321d4def-205265721-Screen+Shot+2017-05-14+at+10.21.14+AM.pngThe following night,  hundreds of Charlottesvillians took back the park in a peaceful candlelit protest. It made me super proud of our community. We don’t take kindly to this hate stuff.  Had I known the counter rally was going on, my girls and I would have been there with candles ablaze.

C_1HJnOXoAE3uMv.jpg-largeSo it turns out the KKK wants to jump on the bandwagon. They have a protest scheduled in the same park on July 8th. My paper, C-VILLE Weekly is running an article on it this week. You know, I sit a few desks in front of the reporter who did the research for the article. It was very interesting to listen to her interview actual KKK members via telephone. It sure beat what was on the radio.

To quote the article (which doesn’t come out until tomorrow or I’d post a link), the reason the KKK is coming to Charlottesville? “We think it’s a shame they’re erasing our Confederate history, our white history,” says Jones. “It’s a spit in our face to take down our monument.”

There are several counter protests scheduled at the same time, and I was bummed I couldn’t be a part of it. See, that very day we were to spend the day in New York City on our way back from Martha’s Vineyard. But it turns out one of the counter protests is happening at the outdoor pavilion my husband works at, so we decided NYC can wait…we want to be a part of what could be historic happenings in our hometown. We want to be among those who stand up and say, “This is not what Charlottesville stands for.”

It’s sure to get National coverage….how often does the KKK raise its ugly head and come out from under the rock to stand up for its twisted beliefs? But I will be careful – my whole family will. To further quote the article…

 “Some members will be wearing robes,” he says, noting that it’s illegal in most states to wear the face-covering hoods. Others will wear black military garb. And many will be packing heat, he says.

And sadly, this protest on July 8th won’t be the end of white supremacist assholes flooding our fair city. There is another rally scheduled for August. Richard Spencer and his Alt-Right cronies are slithering into town with what will likely be hundreds of people to further rally against the removal of these statues.

Uff da…the bars and stars will be all over the place. That alone will make me crazy. But seeing actual robes? Not sure how that is going to make me feel at all.

Stay tuned.

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For my youngest, this is her last week of school before the school breaks for summer. This morning, she turned to me and said, “Momma, it’s my LAST week of school. I just realized I have the whole summer ahead of me.”

And you know what, she’s right. What a delicious time of year that was when you were a kid…those last few days of school before the start of summer vacation. Where you did next to nothing in class other than watch movies and talk with friends. Recess would be 2 hours long.

The summer seemed almost endless. Long days spent at the pool, riding my bike up to the corner store to buy candy or ice cream, afternoons filled with bottles of diet Pepsi and bags of Doritos while watching Match Game.

And then, vacation would come. Like real vacation – packing up the family and heading to Martha’s Vineyard for 2-3 weeks of gloriously good times. We never went to the Jersey Shore growing up. My dad hated it. I don’t think I had ever been to the Jersey shore until I was in college. Who needed it when you could romp in the surf of South Beach.

Every aspect of our trips to the Vineyard were magical. We would always have an early ferry, so we would leave our house in the middle of the night. I remember as a child going to bed that night in giddy anticipation of being woken up at 1 or 2 am, piling into the back of our station wagon fixed up with pillows and blankets, and heading north towards Cape Cod.

Dad would usually stop at the Howard Johnsons at the Mystic Seaport exit, where we would get muffins and hot chocolate. And those next few hours in the car were blissful…the cool night air and the anticipation of the ferry ride that began the official start to vacation.

We are heading up there again this year to spread my father’s ashes. It’s really where he belongs. While this trip will be the highlight of our summer, I’m hoping there are many other trips that my daughters will cherish over the course of those short summer months.

Things like visits to Kings Dominion, hiking and swimming at Blue Hole, and a trip to DC to take part in the Truth March. Yeah, I think the summer of 2017 might turn out okay.

Oh wait…I still have to buy a bathing suit. Groan.

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Yesterday I booked my passage on the Island Home ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. We are going as a family over the July 4th weekend to spread my father’s ashes. While the reason for the trip may be somber, we are going to celebrate the place that, thanks to my father, was our summer vacation spot.

July.

6 1/2 months away and yet I feel like it’s right around the corner. I’ve got just that long to shed some of the lbs. I packed on last year. I’ll admit, compared to 2015, I was really inactive over much of 2016. The time to turn that around is now.

I made a goal of walking at least 30 miles in January, and shy of contracting the flu, I plan on shattering that number by the 31st. It feels good to have set a goal and even better to be sticking to it. I sort of gave up on my walking regime towards the end of last year. It was super hot during the summer, and then I just got lazy once the cooler temps came.

Sticking to a plan, even if it is just walking more, is quite motivational. I’m making other small changes each week that passes, and with any luck, it will raise the gung-ho spirit I need to really put my rear into overdrive.

Cause July really is just around the corner.

In response to the daily prompt word, which was Float

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Around 10 years ago, we were on our yearly family vacation in Palm Coast, Florida visiting my dad. Our beach of choice while we are down there is Flagler Beach, a) because it’s right down the road from his house, and b) because it’s just an awesome beach.

My girls were young, and were playing in the surf under the watchful eye of their dad, and I decided to swim out a little.

A little.

I was treading water and decided it was time to head back in. I start kicking and paddling, and realize I’m not really getting anywhere. Every time I point a toe down to feel the sandy bottom of the ocean floor, all I feel is ocean.

I looked at a dude on his surf board, who was only a few yards away. I thought to myself, “should I ask him for help?” At this point I was very jealous of his floatation device. He could sit there cool as a cucumber, while I was beginning to feel the warm seed of panic growing in my lower belly.

Was I caught in a riptide?

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And then I remembered my father, who always said if you can’t get back to shore, swim parallel to the beach and eventually you’ll be able to make you way in.

For the next 5-10 minutes I floated and swam, floated and swam parallel to the shore, but moving slightly toward the beach with each kick and stroke. And finally, I could touch bottom. I lumbered my way through the surf and onto the beach where I heaved an audible sigh of relief.

I was safe, and I did it on my own. I didn’t need to be rescued by either surfer dude or the lifeguard. I walked back to where we were sitting…I was a good 75 yards down the beach…and plopped into my chair, out of breath. I told my sister and nieces what had happened, but seeing that I was back safe & sound, they didn’t make much of it.

But it had frightened me. I doubt either of my girls would have been able to keep cool and figure their way out of it. Now, I repeatedly tell them the same advice my father gave me every single time we are at the beach, and I encourage them to bring a boogie board with them in the water just in case.

And I watch them very closely…from the beach.

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My family and I leave for our annual Florida vacation in a few days. While I’m looking forward to sunning myself on Flagler Beach and sipping wine in my dad’s pool, I am not looking forward to the 12 hour drive. I am also not happy about having to leave our poor kitty alone for a week, but then, coming home to a super loving pet who is so very thankful that you came back to him is nice.

It sort of takes the sting out of the fact that your vacation is over for another year. There’s been a lot going on in my life over the past few weeks, and here it is in a nutshell;

Good News! My oldest is home for the summer and working as a paid intern at a local radio group in the promotions department. With only two cars in the family, it’s been a bit of a schedule shuffler dropping her off and picking her up from various gigs, but she needs the credits in order to graduate, so ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

I love when she’s home. Our family is complete again.

Bad News: Her ex-roommates are a bunch of inconsiderate tools. When we went to move her out of her quad dorm apartment there was a ton of stuff left in the kitchen and one of the bathrooms. When the RA came to sign off on the stuff we cleaned up, she informed us that all the other girls had “checked out” leaving us to clean up the mess.

Left behind was a very large TV, a microwave, a toaster, a fridge FULL of spoiling food, cabinets FILLED with half eaten food and canned goods, pots, pans, a shower curtain, mops and cleaning supplies, NONE OF WHICH were ours. I had my daughter send them a text calling bullshit, and informing them that ALL OF THEIR STUFF was getting thrown out. They knew she was the last to go and left us with their shit to clean up. What total assholes.

Good News! I sort of got a new job. A local newspaper with an office two miles from my home remembered me from a previous interview and called to see if I was still interested in working for them. It’s only part time, so I worked out a new schedule with my current part-time employer(s). They are very flexible on time, which I love, especially during summer when my youngest daughter has little to do at home.

Bad News: One of my bosses isn’t thrilled about this arrangement, but is willing to see how it plays out. I am reducing my in office hours, and there might be times when they will feel the crunch because in essence I am less of a graphic designer here and more of a fall back receptionist. There are days where I just sit here and sit here with little to do but answer the phones. It’s boring. But I don’t want to just quit because with all my salaries combined, our family might not feel such a financial pinch once all the bills are paid, and that’s a very good thing.

Bad News: My “new” used car began sputtering on my way to work this morning. It was then I realized I was on “E” and spent the next 10 minutes white-knuckled and praying that I would make it to the gas station before it totally conked out. After filling her up, I hopped back in thinking “problem solved!’

Nope.

My car was bucking, shaking, and idling very rough, and I was in a full blown panic because our 30 warranty was up 9 days ago. After dropping my daughter off at her job, I limped the car to the dealership. The sales manager hopped in the car to test it, and the dude who sold us the car reassured me that all would be good.

Good News! Less than 15 minutes later, my car was fixed and at NO CHARGE. How often does that happen??? These guys are the best, and I will use Price Kia in Charlottesville for a long as I live here.

Good News! A bit of bonus good news – had to get new blood work done, my doctor called to say everything was normal. EVERYTHING? That was the best new of all.