Do your knees say no?

Do your knees say no?
What does ice cream have to do with knees? Read on…

 My knees. And how the only way they do not fail me is by providing fodder…

Do your ears hang low, do they wobble to and fro?

It was a warm, sunny evening.

Peacefully sitting in the yard, that obnoxious song blared from the ice cream truck. It rambled up the street, with kids running out their doors, clutching dollar bills, screaming, “STOP!” Decades ago, I was doing the same thing; running, screaming “STOP,” clutching a quarter in my hand. That was back when my knees worked and a quarter bought more than 15 minutes in a parking meter.

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Naked and afraid to eat

Naked and afraid to eat
My sweet hat and sunglasses from Italy will provide me, um, cover…

“Clothes make a man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” – Mark Twain

Well, Mr. Twain, I beg to differ. Little did you know that we’d have naked dating shows, naked real estate shows and naked survival shows. Oh, and naked restaurants. I’m thinking naked people do have a wee bit of influence these days.

Oo la la! France is on my bucket list of travels. Food, wine, fashion and sites –  oui! I am looking forward to seeing more of the country than I saw recently, which was the inside of an airport on a layover.

Naked and afraid to eat…

But, one place I will definitely avoid is the new, all-nude restaurant. (Don’t believe me? Google it. I can’t be responsible for the spam bots, okay? Okay!) Hey, if I plan to drop a boatload of money on clothes in Paris, I want to show them off. Right? I mean, I’m all for themed-restaurants, but who comes up with the idea that people want to eat when they are nude? I’m thinking they aren’t going to be famous for their wings, ya know?

My mind goes places. Places I don’t want it to go… like to pre-teen immaturity when I hear “naked.”

So, please bare with me while I have a little fun.

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Love is a battlefield – midlife style

I have the power…

Love is a battlefield…

So, I am standing in line at Trader Joe’s. As usual, my quick trip yielded a cart and a half of food, water and wine. I think maybe their carts are too small.

Anyways, I am making small talk with one cashier, when another one walks up and starts chatting and bagging my groceries.

The piped-in store music had Pat Benatar’s Love is a Battlefield playing, and of course, a few hours later, it is still on loop in my head.

“I always loved her voice,” said one of the cashiers. “And she’s right – love is a battlefield!”

Me, laughing, responded by saying, “In my world, it’s only a battlefield when it comes to TV remotes and thermostats.”

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Marriage, like travel, is a journey

Marriage is a journey
Marriage is a journey

Marriage, like travel, is a journey. Charting your destination, off you go.

“In life, it’s not where you go, it’s who you travel with.” –  Charles Schulz

On this day, almost three and half decades ago, the two of us became one. Not long after our vows were said, we loaded up my little four-cylinder Mustang and headed west to Arizona, our first move for the Army.

I had zero experience with the military, and that road trip would be the first of many. Leaving on a beautiful fall day, we said our tearful goodbyes to our parents and siblings, and we were on our way.

Our journey had begun.

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Steps, stones and serenity in Positano

Positano
Sunrise in Positano.

“Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” – John Steinbeck, 1953

If you have ever had the opportunity to visit Positano, the words of John Steinbeck ring true. In 1953, Steinbeck wrote an article for Harper’s Bazaar, after he and his wife visited this enchanted, panoramic town. My husband and I spent four days pinching ourselves to see if we were dreaming, or if we truly were in Positano, a town built into the cliffs along Italy’s famously beautiful Amalfi Coast.

Positano
Late afternoon view of Positano.

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The spiritual experience of discovering Italy

When I sat down to write this post, I was outside typing away on my laptop. Something about the blue sky and gentle breeze reminded me of our trip to Italy.

We’ve been back for a few months now, yet my brain is still in vacation mode – or is it European-lifestyle mode?

One thing I noticed was how different life was overseas. Yes, people worked or went to school or handled the mundane daily chores. However, their attitude was so much more relaxed, for a lack of a better description.

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Eating our way through Italy – a feast for body and soul

One of the highlights of our trip was eating our way through Italy. Mama mia, the food was fantastic!

Eating our way through Italy
Pizza signage outside the Pompeii Ruins.

Of our two-and-a-half weeks in the Napoli area, we only had one dinner that was just so-so. The rest of the time, every morsel that came our way was delectable.

Mealtimes in Italy are a much slower-paced than here at home. Dinner is much later in the evening – around 8 p.m. In fact, some restaurants aren’t even open for seating until 7-7:30 p.m. You won’t find hours-long waiting, either. At least that was our experience. It was really nice to eat at a leisurely pace and not feel like we needed to rush through our meal because there are people in line, waiting for a table.

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It rained on our last day in Italy

Piazza - Napoli, Italy
One of many – A piazza in Napoli

It rained on our last day in Italy.

How apropos. As a writer, I am always looking out for metaphors and foreshadowing. So when the skies started to darken in the early afternoon, it seemed about right. My mood was a bit gloomy. After two and a half weeks of perfect weather, our perfect vacation was coming to an end.

A year ago at this time, we were prepping for my husband’s deployment. He’d be gone for about ten months. The third time in ten years he’d be gone for an extended time, but this time around, there would be no mid-tour breaks.

Deployments are always a challenge. But this one, by far, was the hardest. Maybe because we’d never been apart ten straight months. In the almost-34 years since we’e been married, the most we’d ever been apart was six months. A week or two of respite mid-tour provided something to look forward to. But not this time.

Ten months is a long time to be apart. Like other military families, we have come to acknowledge that this is now our way of life – our sacrifice. But you never get used to it. And it never, ever, gets easier.

One grows weary of doing things alone – from eating to attending weddings, graduations, funerals and the like. There is always a “Deployment Disaster,” and this time was no different. A few years ago, we had a pipe break under the basement floor. A smelly, messy repair. This time, our hot water tank blew, and the entire brake system in the car needed to be replaced. And the disasters don’t take into account the emotional toll families go through with illness, injury and deaths.

You live for the phone calls – and yes, we were blessed this time to talk almost daily. I learned a few deployments ago to expand my horizons, and this last time was no different. I returned to college to complete my degree; took a few art classes, and stepped out of my comfort zone a few times more than I planned.

At the end of this deployment, we decided to do something completely different this time around. Since all of our children are adults now, we decided to reintegrate after deployment in a brand-new way. Because school schedules, proms and graduations are now all complete, we had no reason to hang around town during my husband’s leave. Plus, we needed something to look forward to after ten months of stress and crazy schedules.

Cappucino in Italy
Cappucino

A few years ago, hubby spent six weeks on temporary orders in Italy. I’m mature enough to admit that I was jealous, and I often reminded him of my jealousy. Since I was a little girl, I have wanted to go to Italy. I remember eating many delicious dinners at my godparents’ home, so my love of Italian food has been rooted in me for a half-century. In grade school, I was fascinated that Italy looked like a boot. And then years and years of seeing pictures, reading travel blogs and watching documentaries of this magical place just fed my desire to get there.

And get there, we did.

Not only did I want to see Italy, I wanted to experience Italy. The history, the food, the fashion, the culture and the people.

Pompeii Ruins, Italy
Pompeii Ruins

For two and a half weeks, we ate the most amazing food, drank the most incredible wines, enjoyed delicious espressos and cappuccinos, walked the most historic ruins and relaxed by the Mediterranean Sea. Friends that my husband made five years ago welcomed us both with open arms, and shared their country with us.

Napoli Pizza in Italy

It was amazing.

Our entire time in the Naples (Napoli) area was rich with every positive experience I had dreamed of. It was emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally the vacation we both needed.

I can’t count the number of times I prayed and thanked God for the gift He gave my husband and I with our trip.

I can’t count the number of times I have shared our trip with others, and the excitement and peace that I found on that trip is recreated in my soul.

I can’t guarantee that I won’t bore some people to tears with tales of our adventure. I guess that is a risk that you, my cherished reader, will have to take, as I present to you a series of posts on our trip.

I felt broken in 2016. I lost myself in the myriad of problems I faced while my husband was away. Grieving the loss of loved ones; health problems and surgeries of loved ones; loneliness, even though I wasn’t necessarily alone; loss and dismay due to the nastiness brought on by politics. I had a writer’s block that couldn’t be budged, and an anxiety level that could rock me to the core.

And yet, once I boarded the plane with my husband, all of that angst began to melt away. I have never felt more relaxed in my life. I appreciated my faith more – and it had nothing to due with air turbulence or insane driving experiences in a foreign land. I felt rooted; I felt grounded – maybe that’s what the mountains and the sea will do for one’s soul.

In-Flight to Naples, Italy
In-flight to Naples

Over the next few weeks, I will write about all of our experiences and travels in one of the most beautiful regions of the world.

Yes, it rained on our last day in Italy. And when we met up with one of our friends – who is learning English – he apologized that it was raining on our last day in country. “Italy is sad to see us leave,” I said. He smiled, nodded, and replied, “You make a joke that I understand. It is funny.”

Yes, it may have been funny. We were pleased he began to understand our tongue-in-cheek vernacular.  However, the rain mixed in with my tears as we said “arrivederci” to our friends. It wasn’t the weather we wanted for our last day, but for sure, it provided a great metaphor to use, and one that I etched into my heart and my travel journal.

©  2017 – Lynne Cobb

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T’was the Night before the Election

Night before the election
T’was the Night before the Election

T’was the night before the Election and all through the States, people were worried; some tongues spewing hate.

I, in my blue jeans and soft, fuzzy sweater, signed off of Facebook, all for the better.

Was hoping to see pictures of puppies or s’mores; instead I saw memes and fighting and more.

It saddened me deeply to see all this fright; all griping and moaning – who’s wrong and who’s right.

I fondly remember the elections of yore, when voting was really much less of a chore.

When one would draw a curtain and pull down a lever, be on their way, and hope for the better.

No social media to wear me down; Something really bad happened this time around.

Good friends lament that opinions do matter; Yet once shared, they are all feeling battered.

Families have split over political choices; Colleagues argue and raise up their voices.

Mean comments are left on Facebook and Twitter; Hateful and vicious, making us sicker.

It’s hard to believe that folks will part ways; But it seems that is happening a whole lot these days.

To me it’s not worth living under election duress; I like too many people to lose them over this stress.

If we choose who we like by a sign in their yard; Then these next few days may be really hard.

But if we choose who we like because of genuine care, we won’t have the burden of relationship repair. (Honestly these candidates aren’t worth it – I swear!)

But it’s not their fault we’re all so divided; It’s a decision we made when we first started fighting.

Election Day will bring wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth; Then it will be over – and hopefully we’ll sleep.

No matter who wins, our days won’t much change. We’ll eat, and work and manage someway.

If your neighbor votes red or if they vote blue, you still have to live next to them, isn’t that true?

And will you really write off your daughter or son, just because they didn’t “vote for the one?”

At the end of the day, one candidate will win; And in a few years, we will start this nonsense again.

So, let’s be civil and kind and respect each other. Don’t let these candidates come between one another.

Neither are worth it, that’s a fact. They will move forward, but can you go back?

Can you go back to Facebook and try to repair; The friendship you trashed over this insane affair?

Election Day may find winners drinking with glee; And it may find some drinking; drowning their sorrow.

Yet united we stand, because on this we agree: Thank God this election is OVER tomorrow!

© Lynne Cobb – 2016

Have you had enough of the nonsense during this election? Share your story in the comments. And if you like this post, feel free to share using the social share icons below. Thanks for reading! 🙂