Category Archives: Adventures

April 28, 2017 – A to Z Challenge – X

I was startled this morn to find out that “The Deeper Meaning of Liff” does not have any words for X.  So I googles weird words that start with X and got a few.  I am not sure how many people read any of this or if they have found it interesting or what but at least for me it has been an exercise in doing quick writes every day and using my imagination.  I never think of myself as being very imaginative but this has been fun and a challenge to myself.  So many challenges in life and this is very minor compared to others.

Although I have a headache I am going to write something short this evening.   I found three words that I thought might be fun to use starting with X.

Short Story – The Xanthippe Woman

After lunch today it was so lovely and warm that a walk in the park before going back to the office was called for.  My mood was high and full of hope for a lovely fall.

The park has dense wooded areas and the trees were starting to change colors.  The weird summer weather must have upset the balance of nature and the xanthophyll had greatly influenced the leaves as they turned this year.  There seemed to be little red there at all.  It would have make a pretty picture.

As I was day dreaming along my way I bumped into a xanthorus woman.   She actually had that shade of red that looked like her head was on fire.  It also appeared that she had no sense of humor because as I said I was sorry she turned on me and started to shout about how rude I was and that I was probably texting and not watching where I was going.  If she had bothered to look she would have seen that there was no phone in my hand or anywhere to be seen.  I looked right in her eyes and told her I had been admiring the colors of the trees and was sorry I had not seen her coming.  Of course she had her phone in her hand and appeared to have been on it at the time of the crash.

She yelled some more and then stormed off.  I thought how sorry I felt for her on this beautiful day in the park with the trees so colorful and the sky so blue.


April 26, 2017. – A to Z Challenge – V

Short Story – The Challenge of a Vollenhave

What a gorgeous morning!  I woke up before 6, worked out, showered, had a lovely breakfast of an energy shake and a bran muffin and then headed out to work.  The endorphins were in great shape since I felt like a million dollars.

The Manhattan streets were busy as usual and at times it was a fight to get across the various streets.  Everyone seemed to be extra hurried this particular morning.  Deciding to slow down and not join the rush I moved out towards the curb and made my legs slow down. Great feeling not to be pushed around by the attitude of others.

My pace made it possible to actually look around and check out everyone, well not all but a general look around.  All of a sudden I heard a voice calling to me.  As I looked  across the street I was John, an old acquaintance waving to me and mouthing that I should stay put and wait for him.  Darn, now this was going to be a predicament.  I was going at a pace to get me to work just on time.  If I wait for him I am going to be late.  What to do?

Since our eyes had met I could not pretend I did not see him.  When I arrived at the corner I waited while he crossed the street.  My business card in my hand at the ready.  He rushed up and tried to give me a big hug and a kiss? That was totally weird.  Alas I took his hand and put my card into it.  I told him I was going to be late for work but if he was going my way he was free to join me other wise he could call me in an hour at work.  He looked disappointed since he was going the other direction.

As he walked away my day began to return to its former state.  The morning was glorious and life was good.

April 25, 2017 – A to Z Challenge – U

Short Story = The Big Day

My brother and his wife had the first baby of the next generation in our family.   It was a sweet little girl named Sarah.  I went to see her at the hospital and she actually had brown curly hair even though she was brand new.  She was adorable.

After they brought the baby home and had some time to get their acts together they invited me over for dinner one evening.  I offered to bring some of the dinner but they said no, they would provide everything.  I was kind of wondering why they would not let me help out.  But after spending some time holding my niece Sarah and enjoying that time with her they asked me a big question.  Would I be Sarah’s God Mother?  I was taken back by this request.  Bobby and I had both been raised in the Catholic Church but neither of us spent a lot of time in church once we grew up. But I agreed because it really was an honor.

They planned to have Sarah baptized in the spring when the weather would be good.    They also had to join the local church and they told me we all had to attend classes before the Church would baptize little Sarah.   I agreed to attend and figured I would just go through the motions.

The classes comprised of four evenings of two hour sessions.  They really wanted to make sure that this baby was going to really be a catholic and not just an exercise in making grandma happy for one day.   I kind of found myself getting into the lessons and thinking a lot about what I was agreeing to.  I would bring her up Catholic if something happened to her parents.   I would support them in bringing her up Catholic.

One night after the class we went out for coffee.  We had been to three weeks of classes at that point.  Bobby and Silvia were joking about the classes and that they had no intention of following through with raising Sarah as a Catholic after the baptism.  I was kind of taken back because I really had begun to understand that you should not do such a thing if you are just doing it to make Grandparents happy.  I held my tongue.

I went home and thought about this so much.  What was I going to do? Bobby was my brother and Sarah my first niece.  The Baptism was planned for a month from now.  The time to talk to them would be difficult.   It had to be done.

The following week I told them we needed to talk and I explained to them how I really understood what the teachers in the classes were talking about.  Why were they doing this if they had no plan to follow through?  They were totally taken off guard with my comments.  They assured me that it would be okay and they were not planning to raise Sarah as an atheist and I should just trust them to do the right thing.   I felt a little better and went on home thinking things would be okay.

I did not want to be an Urchfont and spent so much time during the week thinking about what to do.  It was painful that Sunday morning, going into Church for the first time in years and standing up in front of all those people swearing to do something I was not sure I would ever be asked to do or if asked if I would follow though.

Hopefully that day will never come and I won’t have to find out what I would do. But in the mean time I intended to spend a lot of time with my gorgeous funny little niece.

April 5, 2017 – A to Z Challenge – D

Lovely day today.  The sun was shining and I actually woke up early as I felt the soft warm breeze coming through the window.  Another day of retirement facing me.  This day I decided to get up and take my meds, wait the hour and then head into town to have breakfast at one of the lovely restaurants in town..  I decided on the Sweets and Treats Cafe and to sit out on the patio so I could people watch as I ate.  There were these cute wrought iron tables with matching chairs and table clothes with spring flower patterns on them.  I loved the English Tea cups and the china creamer and sugar pitchers.

I ate an omelette with bacon and a fruit cup and it tasted so yummy. Nothing like perfectly crispy bacon any day.  The strawberries were so crispy and fresh. It seemed like the dew was still on them.  The coffee was delicious and strong and perked me right up.

Since it was so nice I headed out to do some window shopping.  There are so many little shops in our village that it was mid afternoon by the time I wandered towards the park  having stopped for an ice cream and bought a scarf that I don’t need. At that point I was faced with a deventer.  I hate deventers.  Being retired I face them every day and never know what to do.  In this case I decided to close my eyes and turn around three times and then open my eyes.  That would settle the problem.

In spite of dizziness I opened my eyes and headed down a path towards the lake. The sunlight turned the lake into crystals and once sitting on a bench there were beautiful reflections of the trees and flowers edging the lake.  I love the daffodils and there were some late blooming tulips.  I had brought a book with me and I sat on that bench for at least an hour reading and then walked back to the house.

Another lovely day in retirement.


Yesterday’s word was Cadomin (Kad-oh-min) n.  it means – The ingredient in coffee creamer that rises to the surface as scum.

I took some liberty with it because I was thinking creme that should have been thrown out. I don’t use coffee creamer that isn’t real cream or milk.

Thanks Douglas Adams and John Lloyd for giving me this opportunity to challenge myself. I don’t see myself as a good writer but I like to write. It helps me to concentrate on the upcoming day better if I get thoughts out on paper sometime during the day.

In reality it was a cloudy day and I had a fabulous lunch with my  friend Pat. And I treated myself to a wonderful gluten free almond horn at Bountiful Bread in Stuyvesant Plaza


March 25, 2017 – Final Thoughts on our Trip




It was a fabulous trip and have been thinking of the highs and the lows.  So let’s see what comes out as I write my final memories.

Favorite city was Gent/Ghent. It was full of life, interesting things to see, good, delicious food and chocolates, and it was old with great opportunities to imagine what it must have been like hundreds of years ago.

Favorite people – well that has to be a split decision – the people we met in Athens were so full of life and humor and were helpful every step of the way.  I know the guys in front of the restaurants were working but they were also fun and interesting.  Aside from them trying to get us to eat our meal with them we also talked travel, politics, family and other topics.  It was a great way to start our holiday.

Second favorite people would have to be the Laughland cousins in England = all of them.  They are a lively bunch, with great humor and lots of spirit.  The little kids were all warm and friendly which says a lot about their lives. The folks I met for the first time I really enjoyed getting to know and hope I get to see them again.  All in all it was fun times.

And third but not last = Pat and Una Weir.  We have stayed in their apartment three times before I believe making this our fourth visit to them.  They are a lovely family and made us, as always, feel at home and totally welcome there.  They go out of their way for their guests and the feeling is always one of friendship and family.  So I could not talk about favorite people with out including them.

Favorite new food – I think it must be Tzatziki that we ate in Greece.  Not being a brave taster of new foods, in fact totally resistant most of the time to eating anything new, I was proud of myself for trying several Greek items.  The Tzatziki was delicious and I can see myself trying to make it and eating it again.  Oh and I have to add the alcoholic drink Advocaat, it is a creamy yellow, egg nog favoured drink that we had with whipped creme. It is Belgian and if you are there in Gent by the train station there is a little bar restaurant that serves it with a cup of coffee. It was delicious. Those two items were worth the trip.

Favorite archaeological site – Would have to be all the things we saw in Athens. The old Olympic Stadium, the ancient ruins, the Acropolis and all were spectacular.  Yes, we also saw lots of old cathedrals and buildings but I think what we saw in Athens was awesome.

Favorite historical item – In thinking back I believe the Bayeau Tapestry was extraordinary.  It was done at the time of the Battle of Hastings in 1066.  It is 70 meters long and is displayed in all its glory in its own museum.  It tells the story of the rise of William the Conqueror and the battle to maintain his kingdom.  They give you a hand held speaker to take around with you which tells you what is happening and who is shown in each part of the tapestry.  I learned a lot from the experience.  If you are near there don’t miss it.

Favorite Museum – In Dublin we went to the Viking Museum at Christ Church across from our hotel.  I had been there before and it was good and wanted to see it again.  It was equally as interesting the second time around.  Learned that those Norwegians came over looking to be farmers and needing more land to farm. I can see that with all the mountains in Norway.  At the end of the Museum you can go into the Cathedral and tour it which is also very interesting.

Another interesting museum if you can call it that was the Bell Tower in Gent.  I learned how they make those bells so that they ring in a certain tone  and believe me it is not easy or a quick job.  That was fascinating to me so I included it this list.

I don’t know if I should call this the funniest or saddest thing from the trip.  It was an observed event.  One night we were out having a drink and were going to listen to some music.  We had been in this bar before so recognized some of the regulars we had chatted with.  Everyone likes to ask about Trump and our opinions as well as give their own. Did not matter the country or the language.

One fellow there appeared to be on his way to one whale of a hangover and this woman drinking next to him was chatting him up and it was obvious she and her friend knew him.  Her friend just kept rolling her eyes.  But the one chatting with him seemed to be moving in for the kill.  He had his hand on her shoulders and then her back and eventually on her butt.  She seemed to move away a bit but then came back to him again.  I was just sitting back in my spot watching all of this dance of the frustrated lonely old people.  All of a sudden I saw this fellow move his hand the way he had before except this time he went for the Trump move.  She moved pretty quickly back away from him but my mouth was almost on the floor.  I turned to hubby who had also been watching and said something about they have Trumps over here as well who feel free to grab what they want.

Well I figured that her moving down the bar to chat with others meant this whole show was over.. ah the fools we can make of ourselves.   Nope it was not over.  After a bit she returned and was rubbing up against him and whispering things to him.  I was just starring at this point in disbelief.  Then her friend told her to put her coat on and after some more intimate moves she put it on and left.  I think if they had been in between 20 and 40 I might have just thought not a great deal of it but she was heading in my direction age wise and he was maybe my age or older. Hard to tell since the love of the drink can make you look older than you are.  Anyway not an episode I will forget any time soon.

Disappointment – We went to see the play “The Weir” in Dublin and I could not hear or understand the actors very well.  I missed so many of the humorous lines that it was kind of a waste on me. I was disappointed in that since I had been the one who suggested we go see it.

Regrets = My biggest regret is that the trip was not longer.  Several of the places we visited  had so much more to see and a couple more days would have been better.  I am sorry that it had been rainy so I did not get to climb up to Queen Maeve’s Tomb.  Meeting of the Waters had also been on my list of places I wanted to see again and we did not get there.   But I know we could not do everything with the time we had.

Hopes = to win the lottery and just go and spend a whole year or so traveling around to all the places I would like to see before I croak.  And that I don’t lose my mind and forget all of this. Too many fun memories to go and not remember them.

Gratitude for Denis for being the person he is so that the trip was our trip and we both enjoyed our time together with no work, no pressures other than getting a train or plane but the rest of the time we just took our time which made it joyful.

Cutest thing that happened – this goes along with the last paragraph – in Dublin we were walking up O’Connell Street holding hands and this woman walked towards us and we did that little dance you do when one person starts to go right and the other does the same, then you go the other way etc.  We all kind of laughed and stopped and she came up and said how pleased she was to see two people who obviously still love each other and are just enjoying being together.  So glad it showed…


March 18, 2017 – Thoughts on our trip – 3- France

Have to start by saying today was a wonderful day.  Temps in the 50’s and we took a hike in Rock Creek Park in DC and it was delightful.  Being in the woods, walking along a river, climbing hills and walking down them again.  The girls were wonderful and good sports.  We will all sleep well tonight.  The parents are out having a date night which we always try to provide for them when we come down.

So, now thoughts about France. We both enjoyed our visit to France. Going to Normandy was a good thing to do and I think we could have used one more day to see all that I wanted to see or maybe even two.  The hotel we stayed at in Bayeux was lovely and they were very helpful to us.  The one in Rouen on the other hand was not so nice and I would not send anyone else there who speaks English.  Or I would take a refresher course in French before returning there but would not stay at that hotel.  They were rude and the idea that a hotel in a tourist area only has staff that speak French is weird. No where else that we visited on this trip or others have we run into a problem where hotel staff could not assist us and just gave us the “No English” statement.  Not even the staff in the little restaurant for breakfast were helpful.

Seeing just one of the cemeteries from WWII was moving.  The men were so young and there were unmarked graves, they know the soldier was a Brit but they did not find their ID.  I imagine today they should be able to use DNA to figure out who they were.  We did not get to the Juno Beach as I wanted but that was because I was sick to my stomach that morning..  I think more time is needed to deal with and confront feelings as one visits the various sites.  By the time my Aunt Pat arrived in Mid July 1944 the troops had moved on as they were pushing back the German’s pretty quickly at that point.  Things were slower in Belgium and that is where Pat really experienced bombing and large numbers of soldiers coming in quickly from the front either to be fixed up to be sent home or to have their hands held as they died. And some went back to fight another day.

War is not something I have ever had to confront myself and even during the Viet Nam War I did not have close friends that I knew were there.. I might have found out about old classmates much later but not during the actual War.  And I do know if my brother had been drafted I would have taken him to Canada and left him there. No way would I have wanted him over there. It was a useless war and not one that brought about feelings of patriotism.  They were no direct threat to us so why were we fighting them.

But in WWII it was obvious that we needed to be there.  I had two aunts, and one uncle actually over there near or in the battle areas.  Also another Uncle worked with the US on developing treatments for those coming back with what we now call PTSD.  I found some articles he had written about this.  And on my Dad’s side he had cousins who lived in England fighting from the very beginning of the Brits being involved. And some lost their lives.  I never knew any of this but research has opened up those pages of the family history in both World Wars.

France was nice but either we needed longer or a different approach to our visit.  Maybe going their first and then up to Belgium might have helped give a clearer feeling about Pat’s travels. I will never know one way or the other now will I?



March 16, 2017 – thoughts on our trip-1- The Unknown



As we traveled we made many observations about the various places we visited. I am sure everyone does this.  In thinking about that I decided to start with Athens.  Before arriving there I was apprehensive.  A language totally unknown to me, food that as a fussy eater was pretty darn threatening, and stories from the news about strikes and refugee issues raised my anxiety level.  As it turned out none of that caution was necessary.

Athens was delightful.  Of course, we were in a tourist area so that might explain the total sense of safely I felt.  People were so friendly and helpful, the hotel was wonderful and the sights just beyond belief.  Climbing the Acropolis was a wonderful success for me with my crappy lungs which don’t always help me out.  The fact that I could walk the miles I did every day was an other surprise.  Up and down and I still made it.

The food was good and I tried a few new things.  The restaurant experience was just a laugh. The fellows and sometimes owners out in the street telling us why they were the best place to eat and who to avoid and who they did not like. It was like getting dragged into the neighborhood gossip circle that we really had no interest in but it was such a hoot that we enjoyed those chats.  And once in what ever restaurant it was the men coming and sitting with us talking about NY City, politics, and bringing us extra dishes we did not order but they wanted it to try.  Totally enjoyable.

So my first lesson of this trip was to not put expectations on the places we were going to visit and to just enjoy the ambiance and soak in the culture if allowed to.  I think I would like to return to Greece and to visit the coast and some of the other places people told us about.  And to continue to be amazed at the ability of the people hundreds and thousands of years ago to build the buildings they did and be thankful for archeologists who put those hundreds of pieces together again into wonderful sculptures and buildings.  And to maybe find a way to spend more time with locals to learn about the life there of the regular people who live in the city or in a rural area.