"Any arbitrary turn along the way and I would be elsewhere; I would be different." ~ Frances Mayes

After losing 112 pounds in almost a year and a half, I have come to realize how very much I was missing. I may be Late to the Party, but I am doing my best to catch up in my own unique way!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Marco Polo!


Blog Land is so fun!  Playing a game of blog Marco Polo.....come see what it's about here!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

 "The best laid schemes of Mice and Men oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain, For promised joy!" ~ Robert Burns

Yesterday was....well...."the best of times,...the worst of times", to quote Charles Dickens.

On Friday, it had dawned on me that we had not done any hiking since our trip to Hot Springs, NC, last October and I have been itching to hit the trails.  While I can't afford a weekend jaunt to North Carolina (or even to North Georgia, for that matter) there is a great place to hike within about 45 minutes from where I live south of Atlanta.

The Pine Mountain Trail, located within FDR State Park in Pine Mountain, Georgia, is 20 plus miles of well-maintained hiking trails with some great loop trails that a person can hike for a few hours.  Our plans are to eventually hike all the PMT and its loops.  So, on Friday, the urge to hike - anywhere, anyplace -  got to me and off to WallyWorld Ed and I went to buy items for our picnic lunch, Cliff bars, bugspray and sunscreen.  The plan was in motion and our daughter, Gabe, and her two of the Fab 5, Olivia and Carson, accepted our invitation to go with us.  Yippee....Hiking here we come!

Saturday dawned bright, beautiful and HOT!  We loaded the car, swung by and got the "kids" and off we went.  I was STOKED!  Our hiking plans were to start out on the Wolfden Loop of the PMT, a route that would take us by some small waterfalls, beaver dams, and yes, a wolfden location from long ago when there were actual wolves in Georgia.  We left it to be decided if we would go a couple of miles in on the trail and then backtrack for a 4 mile hike OR to do the whole loop trail for a total of 6.7 miles if we felt up to it.  Either way, this trail loop is considered moderate to difficult and we all agreed that we were up for the challenge.

We got to the parking lot at the northeast end of the PMT.  There were several cars already parked at the location, which has concrete picnic tables where we planned to eat our packed lunches.  Just as we were leaving the parking lot area,  a caravan of five cars pulled in.  The trail was going to be busy, it seemed, but afterall, this was Memorial Day weekend and families were out doing family things, just like us.  This group had babies, toddlers, kids, moms and dads and grandparents, too.  It was nice to see others taking advantage of this little jewel of a state park in the middle of Georgia.

So off we went.

Carson, having just turned 8 last week and a new member of the Boy Scouts, took off in the lead.

We walked and walked and walked, up hill, down hill, past the promised waterfalls, over creeks, though soggy areas and dusty, rocky stretches and through some very bad tornado damage, then up a particular long uphill section and we made it to our turning back point.  We had done 1.6 miles.  Now we had to decide whether to backtrack to the parking lot for a total of 3.2 miles or go the entire 6.7 miles for the whole Wolfden Loop trail. Remember that hiking in that environment is not like walking 3 or 6 miles.  It can be strenuous, challenging, can get your heart rate up there.  So we stopped to rest on the rock croppings at the top of that section of trail and assess how we were all feeling.  We all came to the conclusion pretty quickly that we wanted to continue on and complete the entire 6.7 miles.  Yay!  Let's do it!!!!

Feeling good, feeling challenged, feeling in control, feeling I was up to this! I was looking at this as a victory and I marvel that I can do this.  What a difference two years and a 100 pound weight loss can make!  I knew I would probably have some sore muscles in the morning, but sometimes soreness is good!  Yes, that's what I was thinking and feeling at the time, but there are times when our joy is complete and we are at our zenith that life has a way of handing us some reality.  And that is what happened to me.......

I tripped.  Yes, tripped......over a rock.  And fell.  Fell HARD.  Fell hitting my face unto the ground, eyeglasses striking another protruding rock in front of me. Those eyeglasses probably saved me from hitting my eye or brow on that rock.  Fell so hard, more to the left side, left arm trying to catch me, resulting in a huge gouge at the base of my palm.  The brain's recognition that one is falling is second only to the blinding pain as contact between body and ground is made.  In that instant I knew that I had done some serious damage to my mouth and I was expecting to come up spitting out teeth and bone sticking out from my left arm or wrist.  I am hurt and it's not going to be pretty......yes, that what I was thinking in that split second.

Gabriel, who was actually last in line, was the first to make it to me. Then Carson, and Ed and Olivia.  They helped me roll over onto my back and then sit up.  I was spitting blood, but no teeth.  Instead, there was a huge gash that I can feel with my tongue that runs from the corner of my mouth into the interior, where my upper tooth almost ripped through to the outside of my skin.  Yucky, I know, so forgive me.  Gabe got water, poured it into my mouth and I rinsed and rinsed with the cold liquid to try to get the bleeding to stop.  By then the wrist and arm were hurting - hurting badly.  But the good news was that I could move it, even though there was pain when I did, and I could move my fingers.  Ed dug into his hip pack for antiseptic wipes and band-aides to doctor my palm.  Quick-thinking Gabe retrieved some ice from one of the water bottles, wrapped into Ed's clean handkerchief and I pressed it onto the corner of my mouth, which was already swelling and showing signs of bruising.  My legs felt very shaky and I was wondering if I could even make it back to the parking lot.  We had probably walked an additional half mile, making it two miles back to the parking lot. But I had no choice.....it was no decision, really.  We certainly couldn't continue on for another four and a half miles; the best was to turn back and hike the two miles back making it a round trip of four miles. And I would do it without eyeglasses, considering that mine had a severely bent earpiece and one of the lens had fallen out and was badly scratched.

And so, off we went for our return trip, me with shaky legs and all.  It was hot, bloody hot.  There were times I wondered if I would make the next hill, the next slippery creek crossing.  But made it I did.  By that time, the others were starving, as was I, and I managed to get just a little cold watermelon into my mouth, but not much else.  We made the 45 minute drive back, dropped Gabe and the kids off at their house, and then we headed for Urgent Care.

To make a long story short, I stepped out of Urgent Care with a badly sprained arm (not broken, thank God!) and three stitches on the interior of my mouth.

Oh, and some bad bruises on my face and upper left thigh.

But the worst is the injury to my pride and knowing that I took a perfectly wonderful day of hiking and ruined it with my clumsiness, not to mention the remainder of my long weekend will now be spent nursing mouth, arm and elbow, unable to eat solid food, and my whole body feeling like I have been in an auto accident or slammed into a wall by some unseen force.

Such are the ways with "best laid plans."

But do you want to know the strangest thing?  Despite all the soreness and pain, I would rather have on my hiking boots and be back at Pine Mountain on the trail!  The personal challenge is ON - I'm going back in the very near future to knock out that 6.7 mile Wolfden Loop!  Once thrown, the best thing to do is to get back on the horse immediately and that's what I plan to do.  Conquer or die, which yesterday seemed like a distinct possibility in that split second before I hit the ground.  But I didn't.  So, much like General MacArthur, my message to the trail is: "I will return."

Before "The Great Fall" and I don't mean waterfall!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

50 FOLLOWERS REACHED!!!! WooHoo! Chocolate giveaway is CLOSED!

Ok, so I had to "follow" my own blog to get to the magic number of FIFTY!  But at least there are 49 of you out there that are true followers and your names are all going in the hat,  PLUS anyone that has left a comment on the blog EVER, gets extra chances....that's a lot of names!  I have some work to do getting all the names put in, but that darn bag of chocolate is going out to SOMEBODY next week!  I will announce the winner on Tuesday after the holiday weekend is over.  Thanks a million, ladies.  I'll have another goal announcement soon!
P.S.  It just dawned on me that I let my 100th post get by without an announcement! ANOTHER reason to celebrate!

Swap sign-up extended!

Since there are only three of us that have committed to the Inspired Altered Picture and Frame swap so far, I am extending the deadline until Sunday at midnight.  If you want to know what it's all about, check out the link on the right sidebar of the blog!  There's still time to add your name to the swap.....  I'll assign partners on Monday, May 30th!  Come join and have make a new blog friend!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pay It Forward "Awesomeness" - She Picked ME!

I have often stated here on Late to the Party how the world of blogging is unlimited....unlimited in the many people that blog, the diversity of interests and subjects they write about, unlimited in the way you can touch people lives, people with whom you would otherwise have no contact.  I mentioned just a couple of days ago in my "pity party" post that I think I have been flaked on in another swap. Just when you think you have lost hope in the human race, along comes something that restores your belief that there are some pretty darn nice folks out there in blog land.  And Monday was one of those days.

It seems that there is a movement going around blog world called Pay It Forward.  I have seen several versions of this phenomenon and have been very intrigued by the thought.  The rules are pretty simple....if a blogger "pays it forward" to you, then you in turn "pay it forward" to someone else and then they follow suit and so on and so on.

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading a blog called Cozy Blanket written by Debby. Debby's Cozy Blanket blog is a hodgepodge of her life - her grandchildren and family, things that interest her, events big but mostly small, everyday life events - that she journals.  On this particular day that week, she was talking about Pay it Forward and was going to pick someone from the comments on her blog entry.  I commented and she picked ME! A few days later, I was contacted by Debby for my address. On Monday, after my pity fit on Sunday, I arrived home to find a small package waiting for me with the best little surprises!

Here are some pics of what I received:
Such cute, sweet things!

Four adorable bottle cap magnets with vintage graphics. Can't wait to put them on the fridge!

The best smelling little candle and a purse size hand sanitizer!

The cutest little notecards and a hand punched butterfly wrapped with beige twine!
A long notepad with wonderful circle graphic and a sweet little gift tag to top it all off!

Thank you, Debby!  It was so very nice for you to do this for a total stranger!  What a wonderful reminder that there are truly caring people in this world.  Debby and I have since exchanged emails and we have so very much in common.  And I have a new friend out there in BlogLand whom I will keep up with through her wonderful blog and enjoy the happenings in her life.

As for my part of Pay It Forward, look for an announcement in the next few weeks.  I am on the hunt for some small treasures to pass on so I can do a random act of kindness, too.  If any of you have any suggestions that a blogger follower might like to receive, please pass it on!  I am open for any unusual ideas.

I am truly blessed!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Inspirational Altered Picture and Frame Sign-up

Just a little reminder that the swap sign-up ends tomorrow!  If you would like to join, click on the picture on the sidebar to the right.  I would love to have you join us! 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Blackberry Winter Into Summer

Blackberry winter came to the Deep South last week. Blackberry winter is a phrase used mostly in the South which describes a short time period of cold weather - a cold snap, if you will -  just as the blackberries are blooming, generally in May.  I would swear it was the coolest temperatures I can recall this late into spring in all my thirty-plus years in Atlanta,.  Who wears sweaters and jackets in the middle of May in Georgia, for Pete's sake?  But what a difference one day makes!  We went from 60 degree highs to the high 80's in the span of less than 24 hours and by the weekend, we hit the 90's.  It is often said that if you don't like the weather in Atlanta, wait 20 minutes.  It can change that quickly, but I think we have seen the last of the really cooler weather till the fall.

Next weekend is Memorial Day, the unofficial start to the summer, and just a few days away from June.  Last year I expounded on the the loveliness of June in one of my very first blog entries.  I find it amazing that almost a year has come and gone since that early post and June is upon us once more.  I am as enamored with the thought of the rich green of June as much as I was last year at this time.  June and I have a long-standing romantic relationship, never to be ended, I hope.  The pleasures of June are as varied as any month, some so openly blatant and impossible to miss, others subtle and less obvious so that one has to remember to seek them as one would hidden treasure.  Maybe a better analogy is like looking at a hidden object picture puzzle - the objects are scattered among a trove of miscellaneous items and they tend to blend in with all the rest. That is, until you find some specific item you have been searching for and you ponder how you could have missed it for so long.  Such is the nature of June.

The fast approaching encroachment of June on the calendar has caught me quite somewhat off guard this year, due partially, I suspect, to Blackberry winter, until just this weekend.  I was coming out of my garage after the sunset and the evening still had the warmth of the day in it but was easing into the coolness of the night air.  In that moment, I was hit with the most glorious, completely seductive perfume of jasmine.

A couple of years ago, Ed and I planted a very small jasmine plant on the side of the house.  It was a plant that I had always desired to have.  A low-growing juniper bush, part of the original landscaping of the house, had died, and when Ed dug it up, there was a rather ugly, forlorn-looking, empty space at the foundation between the two bedroom windows.  I remember thinking when we unpotted the jasmine, placing it into the hole previously occupied by the juniper, how tiny it looked in comparison with the other shrubs, emphasized even more so by the large metal trellis we secured into the ground at the base of the vine to take advantage of the jasmine's proclivity to entwine and fill in.  Much to my amazement, the little jasmine thrived and is now so robust that it requires cutting back to keep it in check, a chore I have yet to do this spring.  It is something that has just slipped my mind and thankfully so.
 When the air full of heady sweet jasmine perfume hit me the other evening, I took the time to step around the corner of the garage to fully investigate.  The vine is full and thick on the trellis; it's dark green leaves enmeshed so closely together it was hard to make out individual ones in the encroaching darkness.  Highly visible, however, was the bright white of the jasmine blooms.  It reminded me of a summer sky..... white stars luminous in the dark-as-pitch night, the type of sky that makes you take the time to sit outside and look for shooting stars.  I stood there several minutes, breathing in the sweetness of the perfume and the moment.  Not wanting to relinquish the night to the mere mundane of what waited for me indoors, I snipped off a short length of vine with a few jasmine blooms attached and walked inside my house.

Summer, for me, has begun.

Bend low again, night of summer stars.
So near you are, sky of summer stars,
So near, a long-arm man can pick off stars,
Pick off what he wants in the sky bowl,
So near you are, summer stars, 
So near, strumming, strumming,
So lazy and hum-strumming. ~ Carl Sandburg 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Confession Friday on a Sunday......This Too Shall Pass

"Doubt is healthy.  It tests one's convictions."  ~From the movie Haunted

This weekend has been wonderful.  Absolutely wonderful.  But I feel somewhat frustrated...... discouraged..... yes, that's the better word.....DISCOURAGED...discouraged that my weight loss has stalled ...discouraged because I'm not sure how to "do" this business idea.....discouraged that I can't seem to get even 50 followers here on the blog..... discouraged that I can't seem to get anyone to sign up for the swap I posted earlier this week.....discouraged because it seems that only a few people that know and love me read this blog. And if they do, is it only because they do so from a sense of obligation and loyalty? And along with all this comes my "oddball" feeling, which I shall explain further into this.

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart."  ~William Wordsworth

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I write for my own gratification.  It is my outlet and helps keep me sane at certain times.  Asking me to stop writing is like asking me to cut off my own hand!  Something I cannot fathom.  Even if it's just a handful of faithful friends and "fam" that read my ramblings, so be it.

"Don't be discouraged.  It's often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock." ~Author Unknown

 As for the business idea, well, it's just one of a hundred business ideas I have had over the years.  No,  make that hundredS with an "S".  Over and over, I have an idea and then let it go.  I stated in the previous post about lack of funds, which has always been the case.  So I give up, only to see the idea in stores months or years later.  So what makes this time any different?  Not one damn thing......except that I am going to go present my idea to a local store owner next week.  Not so much to try and talk her into letting me place my product in her store, but more so to get her reaction as to the feasibility and marketability of said product.  Not certain of where I go from there or what I do if she is critical or, for that matter, wildly enthusiastic.  I would settle for lukewarm.  Hope for the best and prepare for the worse.......

Oh, I forgot to mention that I think I've been flaked on in another major swap......the second time in the last 3 months.  Not a pleasant experience, I assure you. In all the swaps I have participated, this has never happened to me, although I had heard ugly tales of flaking and flakers.

If this is the norm in swapping even though I have not experienced this until now, then I can certainly understand why no one is signing up for my Inspired Altered Picture and Frame Swap. (Button link is on the right hand side of my blog here.)  Except for my dear friend, Faith.  Faith, it may just be me and you swapping, babe.  And should that be the case, let's do it anyway!  It will still be fun!  But the invitation still stands for anyone else that might be interested.  We would love to have you join us! Sign-up ends Wednesday, May 25th.

 "I have gained and lost the same ten pounds so many times over and over again my cellulite must have déjà vu."  ~Jane Wagner
And the stall in my weight loss?  Well, it is what it is.  My RA meds seem to be interfering somewhat.  I am on a yo-yo.  Back and forth.  This week I have lost about 3.5 pounds so far, but next week when I take my Humira shot, it will probably shoot back up by those 4 pounds and then some.  My solution?   Not quite sure yet.  But a gym membership may be in my very near future. I don't have the money for both Weight Watchers AND a gym.  In the meantime, while I am trying to cope with this problem, I have to make a commitment to ratchet up the walking and exercising, something that I have let dreadfully slip over the past 5 months.  And I know that the exercise increase will help my frame of mind.

I am, and will remain, faithfully committed to my Weight Watchers program no matter what, and that, my friends, is a very good thing.  I've missed a lot of meetings recently, partly because of my schedule, partly because of this funk I'm in.  So I have to make a promise to myself that I will push WW meetings up on my priority list.  I often say that I'm like a drunk with alcohol, such is my relationship with food.  WW is my AA.  "Hello, my name is Pam and I have been fat free for one week."  Or maybe it's my weekly confessional: "Forgive me, Weight Watchers, for I have sinned."  Whichever, along with the exercise commitment, I pledge that I will go to my WW meetings, no matter what.  It keeps me grounded, for sure.  No excuses, no going back.  I REFUSE to go back to the way I was and that, my friends, is half the battle won right there!

"Read, every day, something no one else is reading.  Think, every day, something no one else is thinking.  Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do.  It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity."  ~Christopher Morley

As for the "oddball" syndrome....I realize that sometimes I am hard "to get".  I'm just a little on the eccentric, eclectic side.  I understand that, I do.  I have been that way all my life.  There aren't enough hours in the day for me to do all I want to do, learn all I want to learn, create all the things I can, write all I want to share, laugh all I want to laugh.  My daughters and my sisters have the same "problem", though I would hardly call it that.  Maybe "character trait" is the better term to implement in this case. I often explain this feeling as "being in left field, while everyone else is playing in right field."  It's a feeling of not "fitting in", but with the added dimension of not really wanting to, of not wanting to settle for a mediocre or mundane life, of running the risk of being ostracized. The circumstances of my life make it somewhat limiting but that doesn't mean I can't endeavor to make it as interesting and as fun and as joyful as I possibly can.  And if that makes me a little bit "different", so be it.  So I "get it" when I know that people don't quite know how to take me or how to think of me.  And that's okay........ it's just that at times like this, I feel the difference. But I wouldn't be otherwise.

A "Normal" person is the sort of person that might be designed by a committee.  You know, "Each person puts in a pretty color and it comes out gray."  ~Alan Sherman

Don't worry, I tell myself.  All this, too, shall pass.  And it will, I know that. Confession is good for the soul.  I feel better already.  Pity party over, now to conquer the day..... which includes going to an art show that my 11 year-old granddaughter is taking part in.  I can't wait!  She, too carries, the family trait, and "the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree".  Here's to her "uniqueness" and her creativity and the artist's soul that is in her. All is right in the world......

"Nature made us individuals, as she did the flowers and the pebbles; but we are afraid to be peculiar, and so our society resembles a bag of marbles, or a string of mold candles.  Why should we all dress after the same fashion?  The frost never paints my windows twice alike.  ~Lydia Maria Child

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Creative moods and Swap announcement

Sorry I haven't posted in a while....a long dry spell for me.  It's not that I haven't wanted to write and blog, it's just that I have had a burst of creativity, as in making something, and most of my efforts have been going in that direction.

I am trying to start a new business, albeit small, or at the very least, make some items for my Etsy shop or for Ebay auctions.  All I know is that I want to bring in some "extra moolah" to help our finances.  My problem is I think either really BIG and I don't quite know how to start a business of that magnitude and get it up and running, etc. OR really small because I don't have the time and money (and possibly the stamina) to put in the effort.  Fear of failure is a big hindrance, I admit.  Often times, too many to count, I have thought something was cute, way cool, and that people would go nuts, but it seemed as though not everyone had my taste.  What is so frustrating is that 6 months or two years or even five or ten years later, I see the same idea I had and they are selling like hotcakes, when I could barely sell one!  I am either ahead of the curve or WAY behind it!  Such is life....at least mine.  I think this time I have a winner, but I could be deceiving myself, so I am going to put out some trial balloons and see what the tests show before I get all excited.  I will be posting more on this topic later, so stay tuned for that news!

With that obsession for creating comes a revved up interest in new crafts and ideas, as well as swaps, craft related or otherwise.  I have just signed up for a kitchen towel swap and Tote 'N Note swap.  Swaps are so much fun to join, as long as your swap partner doesn't "flake out", a term that means they don't reciprocate and you never receive the items being swapped.  I've had it happen a couple of times, but for the most part, swaps are great ways to create or buy something inexpensive for a complete stranger who wind up being long-distance friends! I've never hosted a swap, but I've often thought about it, which brings me to my big announcement.....in just a moment....

 While blog hopping the other day in my never-ending quest for new ideas, I came across this wonderful blog called This Art That Makes Me Happy and found this:

Isn't this just lovely?
 Vickie Chrisman is the owner of the blog and she makes such wonderful things.  But her blog is not just about crafting.  She gives us glimpses of her personal life, too.  I would encourage you to spend an afternoon just exploring her site.  Ah, but that's not all Vickie has to offer.  She also has her Etsy shop here.  And that is where I found this:

She sells these frames at her shop, which are quite reasonable.  I just fell in love with these two projects and so I contacted Vickie.  She was gracious enough to respond and give me permission to post these pictures of her work.  I hope you agree that these are lovely and wonderful and inspirational...which brings me back to my announcement.....

Vickie's work has inspired me enough to finally decide to host my own swap here at Late to the Party.  You would be correct if you have, by now, assumed that the swap will be an altered picture inside a pretty frame!  Let's see, what shall we call it?  Hmmmm.....How about the An Inspiration Altered Picture with Frame Swap?  Sounds like a plan to me!

Here's how it will work -  if you want to participate, leave a comment at the end of the post, just make sure I can reach you by email. Or you can email me at mickle1052@yahoo.com  with your name, mailing address, email address, your "style", like whimsical, traditional, Victorian, eclectic, shabby chic, etc., along with your favorite colors and things in nature you like....trees, birds, flowers... or anything that gives you delight and makes you happy.....you get the idea....  Each person will have one partner and I will assign each participant their partner a couple of days after the sign-up ends.  Sign up will begin Today and I will close it on May 25th.  You will create one framed piece and it should be mailed out to your partner by June 17th, which gives everyone two weeks to complete their project and get it into the mail.for delivery.  So why not come join the fun?

Let me note one thing  - please do not, let me repeat, DO NOT join if you do not intend to follow through and have a tendency to "flake out".  It's not fair to the other participants, your partner, or to me as the hostess.  I don't anticipate that happening, as I believe that most bloggers and those that follow our blogs are wonderful, well-intended people and I'm sticking to that belief, so don't let me down, okay?

So let's get to signing up ASAP! Oh, and thanks, Vickie, for letting me use your images and for inspiring me with your wonderful work!

P.S. Still looking for that 50th follower so I can give away some Ghiradelli chocolate!  Just 5 more to go!  Soon, I hope, soon.......

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May Word of the Month - My Gypsy Soul

A new month brings a new Word of the Month!  

But before I say anything else, let me express my thoughts and prayers for the people that have lost so much due to the tornadoes and storms last week.  My husband's stepsister lost her home and car in Tuscaloosa, AL.  More tragic is that her neighbors' baby was killed.  Someone that I know and respect lost his home in North Georgia.  He, his wife and children are all okay, but they, too, have a neighbor who lost a child.  This past weekend I talked to a young woman in Greenville, SC, who formerly lived in Tuscaloosa and she had a friend that was killed. A young man that checked me out of a local store last week had several friends from the University of Alabama that he couldn't get in touch with the day after the tornado and he was worried sick.  Here in the South, it seems everyone knows someone who has been touched by this terrible tragedy. Let's all keep praying and supporting those whose lives will be forever changed and saddened by this course of events.

With that said, let me continue with happier thoughts....

I have taken an unexpected hiatus from the blog due to several factors, but I'm back! Consider yourself warned.........

I've thought a great deal about what this month's word would be.  For a few seconds I considered tying it in with the fantastic news of Osama Bin Laden's death.  The word perseverance came to mind since our troops have never given up in the almost 10 years since the Twin Towers came down.  But that would be too easy, too obvious, and we will get lots of that theme in the days to come.  So I have decided to take a different tack.  Sometimes, in this world of madness, words just need to be lovely and pretty and give us something to reflect on, don't you agree?

Which brings me to Prince William and Kate's wedding.  I know, we have all heard it and watched the coverage till we are sick of it and that's not where this is going.  What it IS leading to, is that with the beautiful spring weather here over the weekend, watching the Royal Wedding in London that was decked out in its finest, talking to my son-in-law and daughter about upcoming vacations and possibly some hiking in the Appalachians has put me in a state of wanderlust. The month of May particularly, in full springtime mode and on the cusp of early summer, lends itself to wanderlust and thinking of exotic places, at least in my world.

Isn't that a terrific word to say outloud?  Wanderlust.  Say it with me...."wanderlust". It isn't just about wanting to travel.  Oh, no, it has an air of something mystical and intriguing, mysterious and beckoning.  The definition of wanderlust is "...a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world...."  I like this one - "a strong, innate desire to rove or travel about".  And that my friends, is what  I have...an "innate" urge to go somewhere, experience something new, explore new horizons. Coming from the German language, it means literally "Wandern"  - to hike - and "Lust" - desire..

But, alas, my wanderlust is unfulfilled.  Other than a trip to Hilton Head this August, which, don't get me wrong, I am looking forward to immensely, I have no plans to scratch my wanderlust itch.  It is the places I haven't been to and have wanted to see that are calling to me today.  For years I have had certain destinations on my "bucket" list.  These are destinations that I don't want to visit for just a few days, but to explore at leisure, as if there were no time schedules or deadlines to adhere to. And recently, as I approach 59 years of age, I am beginning to doubt that I shall ever go to most of them.  Having to work and having limited resources (money) puts a damper on wanderlust

However, does one ever get too old to dream?  I hope not.  It would be a sad day if, at a certain age, all dreams die off and never return, don't you think?  The death of dreams strikes certain words and ideas from your life, your very soul, and that is not a place I can go to in my deepest inner being.

So, you ask, where is it exactly that my wanderlust would lead me?  Ah, that is easy to answer.  Here is a short run-down of destinations that take up my dreams of flight:

1) Ireland:  The Emerald Isle, Erin, place of leprechauns and pubs.  I close my eyes and I am standing in a pub in some small Irish village, a pint of Guiness in my hand and an Irish folk band, complete with penny whistle and bodhran drum, are playing in the corner.  I want to wander the countryside and take side trips to places like Dublin and Waterford, and buy Irish crystal and wool sweaters and scarves.

2) Alaska:  Land of the Midnight Sun, The Last Frontier State.  This is a state of grandeur, glaciers, mountains.  Denali, the highest summit in North America, calls for me to come and hike, not climb, mind you, but just hike in the lower levels.  Once known as Mt. McKinley, Denali (meaning The High One) and its National Park lands are beautiful from all accounts that I have read or heard.  I want to salmon fish, see Kodiak bears and sled dogs, lumberjacks and Yupik Indians, take a day cruise along the coast or on a river to see whales and seals, stay in a cabin. But most of all, I want to talk to the locals to get a sense of the mindset of living in a more challenging environment than that of the lower 48.

3) Vancouver, B.C., Canada:  Host city to the 2010 Winter Olympics, a truly international city.  I hear that it is very impressive as cities go and the setting by the ocean with mountains in the background is gorgeous.  But the absolute main reason I want and need to go to Vancouver is that my baby girl, Lane, and her husband live in the heart of Vancouver near Robson Street.  I think that is sufficient enough reason and experiencing Vancouver would just be icing on the cake, especially considering I haven't seen Lane in three years!

4) Montana/Wyoming:  Yellowstone National Park is the draw, as well as the Grand Tetons National Park.  As in Alaska, the vistas are supposed to be breathtaking.  Let's not forget Old Faithful, the geyser of all geysers.  A stay in one of the historic lodges would be wonderful!  Jackson Hole looks like a must-see, too.

5) Colorado:  I'm a big fan of John Denver.  He sold me on Colorado through his music a long time ago.  The Rockies, as most mountain ranges do, entice me.  I want to see aspen forests, ski lodges, and the overall beauty.  I want to stand on the Continental Divide.  While there, a visit with my nephew in Denver would include some trips to his local watering holes to experience some of his favorite bands.  Party on!

6) Tuscany, Italy:  My oldest sister and her dear husband, who is Italian - 2nd generation American, took a long desired and planned (39 years worth of dreaming) 2 week trip to Italy this past fall.  I am so glad that they got to go!  As for me, Tuscany would be just fine.  Piazzas, small village markets, olive oil and wine production, religious art, small chapels and large churches are just a handful of things I want to experience. I can just see Ed and me sitting in a small sidewalk cafe drinking wine or coffee or eating gelato. 

7) London, England, Scotland and Wales:  Do I really need to explain why?  For all the obvious reasons.

8) Vermont, New Hampshire:  I was fortunate enough about 8 years ago to go to Massachusetts in the fall and visit Salem, Concord, Lexington.  We spent one day driving in Vermont and New Hampshire and it wasn't long enough, I can tell you!  What I really, really want is to go during maple sugaring time and see the tapping of the maple trees, experiencing first hand how maple syrup is made.  That may seem strange to most people, but this has been a life long desire, ever since the second grade when I read "The Little House" books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and her account of sugaring.  One of the main reasons I can't plan this trip is maple sugaring takes place at the end of winter, beginning of spring when the temperatures begin to moderate and the sap rises in the maple trees.  That just happens to coincide with the busiest time of the year at my job as an administrative assistant for two committees at the Georgia House of Representative.  Legislative Session is in full swing at that time each year, which means no vacations during that time frame.  This trip will have to be strictly the stuff of dreams, at least until I retire, if ever.  Sigh....... But every time I eat pancakes I will be there in my imagination!

So there you have my main wanderlust list.  Believe me, these are just a few of the places I want to visit.  In the meantime, I will have my dreams and make my plans.  In my imagination I can wander to no end and satisfy my longings with the placation of "maybe someday" to soothe my gypsy soul.

Do you ever have wanderlust?  Or are you a homebody?  What are your dreams of travel?  Come share where you want to wander off to and why!  I would love to hear from any of you!  Maybe there is a place I have never considered that you can tell me about. 

Bon Voyage and Happy Trails!