winter in kansas

IMG 8868.JPG

Homework & Interests
The older I get, the less of I love winter.  It’s pretty to see the snow falling or stacking up on the trees, but I don’t love the cold & more than anything I don’t like driving in foul weather.  In this season, I spend more time in Kansas & indoors…sooo not my favorite thing.  My reading ramps up to crazy proportions & if I’m going to get creative & “make stuff”, it’s during this season.

This winter I added some new distractions, which I am enjoying. 

1. Learning Spanish:  after my trip to Mexico last November, I brought the 3 words home with me that I learned to speak & was focused on learning more of the language.  After trying a couple of apps, books, audiobooks, I found the Coffee Break Spanish Podcast & that seems to be a good way for me to learn (so fun because it’s taught by two Scottish people; so I’m learning Spanish with a Scottish accent. Just awesome!) I am also writing down the words & phrases (phonetically). I’m learning just to try to stamp it in my brain a little better.  It’s slow going & I’m listening to the lessons over & over & over, but it’s working.  I know more now than I used to & I can’t wait to travel again & use it.

2. Horology:  I only stumbled upon this hobby because of a singer/song writer I’ve been obsessed with for the past couple of years.  Ed Sheeran, a British born musician, loves horology…the study of the measurements of time, clocks, watches, sundials, etc.  Mostly, he is a collector of watches.  It’s been fascinating to follow this over-the-top hobby & to go from zero knowledge to just the tip of the iceberg.  Learning about these precise & sometimes outrageously expensive time pieces, is interesting but does not make me wish for anything like this for myself.  My taste is simple & eclectic. I just bought a new battery for my 10 year old Timex  (this was the one that was recovered from the bottom of a beautiful Mexican Cenote…oh the memories!). I also own a Mickey Mouse watch, another analog watch with 2 time zones on the face & a beautiful (my most expensive) ‘art’ watch—a really funky watch that’s hard to set, but makes me smile when I wear it (I bought it in a gallery in Florida when Sara first moved there).  My niece was sweet enough to give me her Apple watch, when she upgraded.  I bought a couple of bands for it & went thru the motions of setting it up.  I’ve worn it on multiple walks & hikes & like that it tracks my mileage.  But, my I have found it a bit ‘needy’—it has to be recharged everyday & it’s constantly buzzing, chiming & ringing.  It definitely is not going with me on my travels.  So, even though I don’t wish for fancy, expensive, rare or high tech watches, my ‘study’ of horology has been good…it’s definitely made me look more closely & appreciate the preciseness of the design, the different faces & complications of watches.

3. Rivers…where they begin & end:  I’d started this project last winter, but put it on hold when I went to Florida for the bulk of winter.  This year, I decided, I take the project one state at a time.  So, I’m starting with the state I’m traveling to next.  I’ve plotted out where the rivers start & flow & hopefully that information will help me focus on & understand the rivers I cross when I hike or drive by during my travels.  We take water for granted: wasting it, encouraging misuse of it by antiquated laws, allowing corporations to spread their toxins in it, etc.  I’m still feeling a super-connection with that muddy Colorado I floated down last summer & now yearning for more of that.

Claire & Emma
We’ve missed our grand daughters so much this winter….we haven’t seen them since Christmas.  Claire turned 7 & Emma is now 4.  Claire is very much a Harry Potter fan & chose  to dress as Hermoine for her Halloween costume, so she has a Wizards robe.  One day she asked me if I’d make Emma a Hogwarts robe & gave me all kind of details about where to find the right patch (“order it from Amazon”), how it was lined, I could find instructions on a You Tube video & lastly she told me, “just do the best you can”.  I love doing things for these girls!  I had the robe made (harder to do when you don’t have the sweet little person here to measure) within two days, had ordered the patch & then added a couple of Gryffindor scarves I made & shipped it off.  I hope they have a blast playing Wizards!

My birthday gift to myself:  When I was in Florida to see the girls last December, I had a plan & a template.  I’d read about a business in Denver called The Scarf Studio…where you can create a design & they would print it on a scarf.  So, I printed off the templates before I left & one afternoon, I asked the girls if they’d each make a design for me.  And they did!  I promptly sent it off to the Scarf Studio once I was back at home & anxiously awaited my little treasures.  The studio turn around time was fast, but the Post Office was not.  After the post office held my scarves hostage for three weeks, the studio re-printed the scarves & sent them out again.  This time they were only held in post office hell for 2 weeks, but I got them!  (And then the originals ones arrived 5 1/2 weeks after they’d originally been shipped.) I love wearing them!  I tell myself it’s like wearing a little hug from each of the girls!  PS:  Check out their adorable signatures….love it!

IMG 8807.jpegIMG 8808.jpeg

Frank the Gargoyle
And here’s where I admit I’ve gone a little crazy.  Just like the “Frank the Gargoyle” Facebook page that got me into this nuttiness, my Frank had to endure his own costumes this winter.  But, as it’s now spring & I won’t be back until it’s much much warmer, Frank is now free of any clothes, costumes & craziness.  He’s happy to just be himself!

IMG 8260.jpegIMG 8299.jpeg

Friday Night Cocktails
Danny & I have gone out for years on Friday nights for dinner & some good beer.  We used to go with friends & it was always fun.  But, when 2020 hit it seems everything changed (in more ways than this).  Our friends moved away, staffs changed, prices went up, but mostly we just can’t find good food & atmosphere together.  So, the birth of “Friday Night Cocktails” happened.  Every Friday night since January, we have dinner at home, proceeded & followed by a new cocktail of the week.  While we know a ton about craft beer & own a super impressive collection of beer, but we knew nothing of cocktails, liquors, garnishes, or barware.  And, while this new hobby hasn’t been cheap, it’s been super fun!  I now have an extensive collection of cocktail recipes, garnish tools, random barware I’ve been shopping for from Goodwill stores, my own shaker set & a much much larger selection of alcohol.  I also have created my own rating system for the drinks we try…it’s super scientific—yucky, just ok, yummy & super yummy.  Our last FNC was last week.  We’ll be on hiatus while I’m traveling.  However, I’m intending to do significant cocktail research while I’m gone!

IMG 8853.JPG IMG 8854.JPG

road trip ready…
Well, its the time of year that always gets me excited…time for a road trip!  

I’m ticking off all the boxes…trips to my Doctor, my Dentist & the eye Doctor.  

My 4Runner…(which I call Camper to distinguish from the daily driver which is also a 4Runner) also got some check ups: new back brakes, new tires, a water pump & timing belt, an oil change & new plug for my radiator.

Now both of us need to just be like the Energizer Bunny…just keep going & going & going!  (No problems with either of our health this year!)

My gear list was short this year…I buy good stuff so it doesn’t wear out very fast.  Except for my shoes…I bought 2 new pair of hikers & can’t wait to get my feet on dirt, sand, rock, water & fun!

IMG 8867.JPG

Since my emergency brake can’t be fixed, I also bought a set of chocks for parking on those steep mountainsides;  a BLM camp book; purchased a subscription for the Gaia app -which I haven’t learned to use yet, but I have downloaded all my maps to use when I have no service.

Reads:  I always love reading books about the state I’m traveling to…some history, a cookbook, some fiction or by local authors.  Always a fun way to anticipate your travels.  My reading list for this trip topped out at about 8 or 9 books.

And, then I have spent hours trip planning.  I tend to make it complicated up front, so it’s easy to use & flexible while I’m on the road.  That’s an ongoing project, probably right up until the time I leave.

And packing.  I know alot of people hate this part, but I love it.  I have an over the top-crazy-extensive packing list which makes it easy.

66862146780  1CF1AB1D-D9A5-4DBE-B7E0-10E26CF96AD7.jpeg 66862981403  B921B092-3D94-4E8E-B095-8B270CC15F67.jpeg

A friend of mine from Bike & Beer Wednesday, passed away suddenly a couple of weeks ago.  It was a shock to everyone that knew him & he knew a lot of people. Justin was friends with a diverse group of people.  He was one of the most fun, active & funny guys I’ve ever known.  He was diagnosed with Cancer just 4 weeks before he died; he was 53.  During his funeral party, I saw so many old friends….so many I hadn’t seen in a long time; lots of hugs, tears, laughter & memories.  Covid has kept us all apart, but this tragedy brought us all back together in a very, very sad way.  It’s heartbreaking.

IMG C6538E3C2A56-1.jpeg

Life twists & turns & is in constant change.  As I write this while mourning the death of a friend, our world is at war—causing thousands of unnecessary deaths & horrible destruction; the stock market is the “bear” I’m most worried about; gas prices are up 30%, Covid is settling down for this moment & the day before I leave on this trip, I’m going to attend our super fun St. Patricks Day parade.  Ups & downs; over & over.  At my age, life begins to feel like one big crapshoot…from health, to finances, & relationships.  

I don’t know whose quote this is, but I love it….

“A state of grace is the kind of balance with which you ride the chaos you find around you” 

Take care my friends!   Wweroiweuprou                                                                                                                                                 © Vicki Hill 2024