Mister Carwash and Other Houstonian Rites of Passage


My car finally arrived after journeying thousands of miles on boat and truck. It desperately needed a bath. 

Over dinner my girlfriend told me about Mister Carwash on Gessner.  It sounded like the perfect Saturday morning plan. She warned me to arrive early because it gets pretty busy and I’m happy I did. Cars were already lined up and it was only a little after 8a.m.

Mister Carwash has over 30 locations, so the nice guy told me, while convincing me to sign up for the monthly car washing service (with the promise I can cancel at any time). No wonder most of the cars here are shiny! 

In Anchorage, cars are dirt encrusted most of the year and no one blinks an eye. Our roads conditions in Alaska are a bit more rough around the edges compared to this bustling Texas city. 


With coffee in hand, I left my car to be vacuumed and washed, wiping away the evidence of the long journey it had just recently traveled. From the comfy waiting room I can watch the cars glide past the wide windows, the hard working employees working their magic. 

I’m impressed!

You have no idea how  happy I am to be reunited with my car. It’s a small chunk falling into place, reminding me how wonderfully blessed I am with this new chapter in my life. I’m so very blessed and grateful for all that God has given me. Good and bad, it’s been a bit of a challenge but through it all I’m treasuring the days as they unfold. 


My mantra for today is “be present”.  

Be present in all the little moments. Even a Carwash. 


Cheers!

❤️

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Finding Time in Lost Hours

“But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.” Khalil Gibran

The last few weeks I’ve spent lost in everyday details of a fairly busy life preparing to move. But to be honest, I have also found myself lost between hours, disconnecting myself from the altogether overwhelming list of “to dos”. Instead, because time is so short with Miss R, I have indulged us both in play and overnight stays whenever I can.

“Will you remember me?” I asked her over the new Moana Lego set just recently erected with her momma’s help. She tilted her head, the way she always does when her young mind puzzles through something. She nods and chirps, “of course.”

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My heart hurts thinking about our soon to be separation.

I think ahead to summer vacation and the promised two weeks when my little family will join me in Texas. The “to dos” come crashing all around me and, instead of the momentary sadness of missing my grandchild,  I focus on all the blessings life has bestowed upon me.

Gratitude swells within me. I have worked towards this move for awhile. For years I have yearned for warmer weather, a fresh start and new opportunities. I am so blessed and so grateful for this next chapter in my life. But, being human, I also recognize the sadness, the profound grief, of this imminent move.

My list of “to dos” is calling me. Guess its time to get busy before I get lost in the hours again.

Cheers!

 

 

 

Running With The Reindeer and Other Fur Rondy Adventures

A little known fact I have learned after living in the Last Frontier for over twenty five years is that when the winter sky is clear and brilliant blue the temperature is frigid. Saturday morning was no exception. The below zero temp rose to single digits as we made our way down to see the ice sculptures.

I explained to Miss R as we got our snow gear on that this was love, because this grandma absolutely hates the cold. Thank goodness this will be my last winter here (but that’s another story for another time). But a promise is a promise and it was time for an adventure! So off we went to explore Fur Rondy.

Snow Sculpture Competition

The snow sculptures are down in the Port of Anchorage across from the ULU Factory. A parking lot was converted to temporarily house the snowy artwork. The chilly temperature and icy cold drew people to the one and only food vendor like flies to honey.

With a hot chocolate and warm apple cider in hand we headed up the hill to the carnival.

Even in the arctic there is fun at the carnival. Miss R, impervious to the cold, was in high spirits as her and her mama went fishing – and won two squishy bears that found a home in my pocket for safe keeping. They now reside on my bookshelf keeping Miss R’s other toys company until she visits again.

A bit frozen (at least I was) we headed for home to warm up before I headed back out to 4th Avenue to meet C.

Running With Reindeer

For ten years folks have had the opportunity to run down 4th Avenue with reindeer. Yes, you too could dress up (or wear nothing at all) and run down frozen streets with a herd of reindeer. I had this new Nikon camera and figured it would be a good time to test it shooting racing, walking and snorting animals and humans alike. To be honest – this little Nikon does an OK job but it doesn’t compare to C’s Cannon and her new lens. But I’m an amateur and will continue to test the waters…you will have to let me know I do.

I’m amazed at the participation from the runners to the audience. The Anchorage streets were packed with people enjoying the festival. Despite the frozen chill in the air you wouldn’t know it by all the happy cheering people. This race, presented by the KWHL 106.5 Morning Show and Fur Rondy, raises funds for Toys for Tots.  By the attendance I’m sure they raised a good sum for a great cause!

Cheers!

How My Mother Saw Me

Going through an old file I stumbled upon my mothers papers, yellow and wrinkled from age. She’s been gone now for over 25 years and I still miss her. The loss of someone you love never goes away, it just becomes apart of you – ghostly memories that resurrect themselves, like now.

Slipping into her pages,  I found this hand written draft she wrote an eon ago about me as a little girl. This is how my mother saw me.

Her words are written below. 

Rene is an eight and one half year old girl of mixed blood – white European heritage – with 1/4 Cherokee, Seminole Indian. She weighs 50lbs, is 3 feet 6 inches tall, she wears a size 1 shoe in girls. She has hazel eyes, chestnut brown hair, a powder of big, brown freckles across her snub nose. Rene’s skin is medium light, tans very quickly and rarely sunburns, it is delicate in texture.

Rene slips from a merry little minx to serious studious Miss in a twinkling and in a minute more shes pouring over a trifle, screaching at her brothers or complaining over some imagined hurt to her vanity. She can sit still for an hour but most often she’s moving restlessly about the small apartment, out in the yard or talking for hours on the telephone.

This morning I asked her how old she was. She replayed eight. A moving insight. Most little girls her age would have said almost nine or eight and one half or eight and a half.

– Crystal Thomas Tuchel

Good Morning Las Vegas!

Day 2


Hello! After my long nap – ok, all night, I was slowly waking up to a beautiful Las Vegas morning. Coffee is the  one and only thing missing in my cozy room.

Just so happens there is a diner downstairs called the Coffee Shop. It’s reminiscent of an old fashion neighborhood 24 hour diner. Think Denny’s or a Village Inn and go back a decade or two. The lady’s uniform consists of a brown dress, apron and comfy walking shoes. She serves up coffee in carafes and plates full of eggs and pancakes and bacon and, I could go on and on but I think you get the picture.

I ordered coffee and an English muffin. I can see your eyebrow raise. The matronly waitress had the same look that said “is that all?” Hey, I’m petite and not a huge eater. I was in search of coffee and a place to slowly wake to the city before I headed outside for a walk down the strip and this, in my very own good opinion, was perfect.

The Venetian

 

The Venetian is across the street from Treasure Island. It houses my favorite bakery, Bouchon. With an order of raspberry beignets and a small cup of coffee yo go, I began the familiar trek towards Bellagio.


Early mornings are absolutely the best time to take in some vitamin D and the scenery without a crush of people.The last few trips I have been blessed with beautiful weather and today was no exception.

 

 

Here’s a 15 second zen moment – don’t forget to breathe….

 

 

Once upon a time ago, like last year, there was a restaurant called Serendipity that sat out front of Caesars. I’ve had several nice brunches there over the years. Today it’s Stripside Cafe & Bar. Whatever the name, there is a great patio area with tables that is a great stop on the way to Bellagio. Take a seat and enjoy some people watching.

But before you do say a prayer at the Brahma Shrine.


I sat down to enjoy my raspberry beignets and breathe in the sunshine. Be prepared to be tickled watching the little birds prance about hunting for treats. Enjoy the comedy.


Bellagio

I love walking through the high end shops on your way into the Bellagio casino. I have a dream that someday I will be able to go shopping here. I’d stop at Fendi for a bag. Then into Tiffany’s for something shiny. And for fun I’d buy a beautiful Chanel jacket and pair it with a silk Hermes scarf. It’s a lovely dream.


But since I’m on a budget I window shop on my way to see my most favorite place in Vegas – The Bellagio’s Conservatory. It’s a stunning display of flowers and art. The theme on display in vibrant color is the Fire Rooster for the Chinese New Year. I wrote a post on this year’s New Year and just let’s say, “bring it on!”


Tip: It is FREE!

 

Valley of Fire State Park

 

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Tip: Get Off The Strip

When we were in New York a few weeks ago I mentioned that we needed to get off the beaten path and do something we had never done before. And we did.

About an hours drive out of Las Vegas sits 40,000 acres of brilliant red sandstone outcrops waiting to be explored – The Valley of Fire. Be prepared to be amazed at nature’s majestic colors.  The park offers visitors hiking trails, picnic areas and even camping opportunities. Go early in the day if you can to catch the sun. By the time we got there it was already nearing sunset and the hills were falling into shadows. But where the sun hit the sandstone it turned into the color of soft sherbet – a feast for the eyes and rest for the soul.

The beauty of being in the natural world was striking after being in the chaos of the city. It reminded me that we are so small compared to the larger world. The vast ocean of painted rock and desert resonated deep in my soul. I breathed it in and let the stress melt away. It was almost better than the massage from the day before.

 

Tip: Day use entrance fee: $10.00 per vehicle. Camping: $20.00 per night + $10.00 for sites with utility hook ups.

 

Lawry’s Prime Rib Dinner

After a full day we dressed for dinner and headed to Lawry’s, a few minutes off the strip that specializes in prime rib. According to the restaurant, doggie bags and valet service originated with Lawry’s…who knew! With a flash of silver carts and spinning salad bowls, a delicious meal appeared and was un-apologetically devoured.

To be perfectly fair, this is not a budget friendly restaurant. In life and in Vegas you sometimes have to splurge a little. This was worth it and A was very happy and that’s all that counts!

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Gilley’s Saloon

Tip: FREE Line Dancing Lessons @7pm

Who loves to country dance?

We missed the free line dancing lessons. Time gets away and it’s hard to fit everything in that we want to do. We got there for the just in time for the live band so we paid the $10 cover charge. No surprise, the cover was worth it.

The band was amazing. Unfortunately I never did find out the name of the band but their performance was exactly what you come to expect from most Las Vegas entertainers – supremely talented. The lead performer was a petite young woman with a giant voice that filled the huge hall.  They seamlessly played a mix of country, tossed in some good old rock and even some pop to keep everyone happy.

Drinks flowed, delivered by beautiful cowgirls dressed in chaps. I’m sure they had every man in that place ordering non stop just to see the pretty cowgirls.

I have to share the one mischievous-late-night-saloon-thingy that A taught me. I’m a very slow learner so we started it at dinner and took half the night before I could repeat the following phrase with out stuttering or just fall out laughing:

Dirty rotten, lying, no good, son of a bitching bastard!

My mother would be so proud…LoL!

If you like good music and the opportunity to dance the night away then Gilley’s Saloon is the place to be.

 

Cheers!

A New Day, A New Month and the Theme is LOVE

It’s All About Love
The days are getting longer. The weather is warming just enough to turn the snow to slush during the day and cold enough at night to turn the streets to ice making for a fun commute in the morning – kind of like ice skating except in cars (not recommended) – and the stores are blooming with pink and red hearts.

Welcome to February!

Love is in the air.

Did you know that for every language there is a word for love? But the meaning of love crosses so many boundaries and morphs depending on who said it, the context it was said in, even the enunciation can change the meaning. There are feelings to consider (so many FEELINGS). There are relationships to consider (commit/don’t commit/somewhere in the middle). Let’s just agree there is a lot to consider to this very simple word L O V E.

Before sitting down to write I popped online researching pages and pages. There is a minefield of information all on the meaning of love. Wow. I encourage you to check it out yourselves. For those of you with a very analytical mind love may not be a riddle easily solved. However, many have tried. My personal favorite happens to be the Greek’s 6 words described here at Yes Magazine.

1. Eros – sexual passion

2. Philia – deep friendship

3. Ludus – playful love

4. Agape – love for everyone

5. Pragma – longstanding love

6. Philautia – love of the self

My Very Personal Opinion:

No matter how you slice or dice it love begins internally with each of us. Love is an ember of warmth that, if nurtured, flares to a glowing fire warming all who nears its presence. Love begins with me. It begins with you. Love connects us. Love grows us. Love excites us. Love is the adventure of a lifetime. Like the Beatles’ song goes “all you need is love”.

Here’s to L O V E!

Cheers!

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