“You Can Do Anything You Want to Do”

When I was 29, in 1980…so long ago that Dinosaurs walked the earth…for the first time(but not the last)in my life, life itself decided that it should pick up a 2 by 4 and smack me upside my head. I know…many of your heads are well acquainted with that same 2 by 4.(can I get an ‘Amen’)..and , let’s just say that I did not handle it well…and if not for a friend who has since died I don’t know where I’d be.  But that’s another story.

I was lost..just lost so I went to the hospital to visit the mother of a friend.  I don’t know why…something to do…I was a self-pitying ass at that point… and sat on the floor in her hospital room because her two sisters were visiting…and I told them all about the 2 by 4 and my head and how I didn’t know what I was going to do and …yada yada…and the woman I was there to visit(I remembered this earlier today)looked at me, and with her sisters nodding their assent…said to me…”you’re young, you’re smart…you can do anything you want to do, can’t you.” They were all in their 70’s.. well, I got up off that floor, hugged all three women, straightened my shoulders, walked out that door and have never looked back.

Easy life then?  Hell no!  I’ve made the acquaintance of that damn 2 by 4 more times than I would have liked since then…but each time I remembered what Naki O’Brien said to me…and I got up, dusted myself off and fought the hell back.

I was looking around on the internet tonight because I have let stress get the better of me(temporarily)and found this quote from Maya Angelou…and she says what Naki said…and I remembered..

I may not be 29 anymore(soon to be 65)but I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t gone to see Naki and she hadn’t given me that advice.  You don’t know who you’re going to meet who will tell you the straight shit that you need to hear, especially when you’re on the floor with a black eye from that damn 2 by 4…you just don’t..but I did..and I’m still here…I may no longer be young on paper, but I’m still smart, and I can still damn well do anything I want to do if I put my mind to it.

By the way, I went home that day, enrolled to study Geology, got a book and taught myself Algebra, Trig and Calculus…and beat that 2 by 4.  I’ve been knocked down..but I’ve always gotten back up…and I need to remind myself of that.  I need to remember how I got here.chose2

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So You Want to Go to London….

Is the title of my very first ebook.  It is a guide to getting to and around London the cheap way.  I discuss youth hostels, bus and rail travel, what to wear, how to save on meals and what to see.

You can use this guide to find an inexpensive place to Stay in London, and how to get around without having to rent a car.  I also include information about using the rail system to travel outside of London.

Take a look and tell me what you think!

So You Want to Go to London….

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Hiking, Eating, Drinking and Elking in Banff


Whenever I get ready go on a trip I always have a moment when I think,  “What the hell I am doing?  Why am I leaving my home, my dog, my very comfortable bed and my easy life to do this?  Am I crazy?”  Yes, I always reach this point, and I’m always tempted to say the hell with it all and stay home…but I don’t.  I always go.  But then, I’ve always had this thought when I’ve tried something new-off to college, new job, etc.  I always have a moment of trepidation, a small failure of courage…fear of doing something new-anxiety…but I always …go.

On this last trip the thoughts came to me at 2:30 in the morning on the day I was to fly out to Calgary.  2:30?  Damn straight!  That’s the time I had to get up to be ready for my ride to the Cleveland Airport at 3:30.  Damn terrorists…used to be able to get to the airport…anyway…back to my story.

My friends took me to the airport in pouring rain, the flights were fine, I landed in Calgary, met my hiking friend and went to get the rental car. Hmmmm.   I had arranged a great deal on the car, had called to make sure they took debit cards and was all set…except when we got there, the very nice young woman at the counter told me that Dollar Rental Cars doesn’t take debit cards in Calgary.  How the hell is that a thing???  Seems they have the chip in Canada and …anyway…  We could have used my friend’s credit card but she didn’t bring her driver’s license.  Don’t ask me why.  Ended up it cost us both an extra $100.  I’m still dealing with the rental place, but…nothing will happen.  Ahh well…we got a very nice car from National because they took pity on us and started out across the high plains of the Canadian Shield to Banff National Park.

Flat, flat, flat, cows, flat..grasslands…..jeeeeezus!  Mountains!  Real Mountains!  The Rockies rise straight up out of the Plains…it’s all flat and grasslandy then…mountains!  We “ooooed” and “aaaahed” and missed the turn off to Banff three times.  Lots of trees up there.

We eventually found Banff and did some grocery shopping-surrounded by snow capped mountains and fir trees…miles and miles of fir trees.  Up the Trans Canada Highway we went to Castle Junction and into our hostel-the HI-Castle Mountain Hostel.

It is half way between Banff and Lake Louise, just at a little crossroads-cabins and a small gas station/store across the road.  It’s nestled back a small gravel road from the highway, all quiet with Castle Mountain standing sentinel high above it.  All you heard was birds, the wind in the trees…peaceful, quiet…OMG!!!  What is…???  Seems the train tracks are about 100 yards from the hostel.  Trains go by about 6000 times a day-and night.  You get used to it.  Hey!  for $20 a night…  Most of the time it is quiet there.

There are fourteen beds in each dorm(one male and one female)and a wonderful common room with windows on three sides, a wood stove, cushioned benches…down from a great kitchen.  Took our shoes off, claimed our bunks, marked our food and put it away and headed out to climb Castle Mountain.

The next morning we took the Bow Parkway down the twenty miles to Banff.  Oh yeah, saw animals!  We saw a bear!  Just a black bear, but it was the first one I’ve seen since I was ten!  We saw a herd of mountain goats too.  Never saw another animal on the Bow Parkway-got to be a joke.

Banff is busy!  Very upscale, very crowded, very noisy.  We were so happy we were out in the sticks.

We hiked every day, although I didn’t climb the high passes.  Highest I went was a 1000 foot climb and that was enough!  I really don’t enjoy walking and am so very glad my hiking friend has a new boyfriend to hike with so I don’t have to go with her when I go to England!  I would much rather sail or take train journeys!(or meet my friends for lunch)  But I did the low level hikes then sat and read while I waited for her.  I read a book and half another by a friend of mine.  Good books.  One day…  😉

By the way, I realized yesterday that one of the things I most enjoyed about the hostel was the lack of TV/internet.  In the evenings after supper we would read..so yesterday I turned off my phone, sat on my front porch in the sunlight and read for three hours…and it was nice.

It’s gorgeous in Banff National Park!  I couldn’t take a bad picture!  I loved the Consolation Lakes the best because very few people hike out there and it isn’t a high climb.  It’s just out of the way…and over a shitload of rocks.  I had such a sense of peace there.  I’ll get the picture I took there developed.  Oh, Moraine Lake, Lake Louise, Bow Lake and Peyto Lake are glorious-but we were surrounded by jabbering tourists at all of them.  Give me a less dramatic but peaceful place!  My friend went to the Lake Agnes Tea House and did the Plain of Six Glaciers hike with a group of five people from the hostel. I rested at the hostel.  I include that in my vacations now-take a day for myself and not hike, and I feel better for doing that.banff

They had the best time-the six of them!  Michael, Michelle, Judy, Erin and Aaron and my bud Pam.  The pictures were wonderful.  No, I wasn’t jealous!  I don’t like hiking up that high!

The hikes were grand, the scenery was magnificent, but none of it would have meant as much as it did if it weren’t for the people I met.  That’s what is so wonderful about staying in hostels-the people.  I wasn’t sure about this place, because I’ve only stayed in hostels in the wilds of Scotland, but after the first day it all kicked off.  Judy, Michael, Michelle, all the young German hikers(so many)then Lena at the end just made the trip so very special.  I can see mountains any day, it’s the people who stick with me.  We stayed at the hostel for two weeks, and each few days brought a new group of people to talk to, to laugh with, to share stories with…to enjoy their company.

There were nights around the stove, nights out on the road looking at stars(and  bear), nights at the picnic table drinking Canadian beer and listening to indefatigable young German lads planning to backpack over mountains.  Finding out that three young German women were spending a month in the Rockies before going back to train to be teachers.  Sharing some hints from my thirty-seven years in the classroom.  “Never show fear.”  “Never tell them it’s your first year.”  “You are the adult.”  Finding out that they are from Passau!  I’ve been to Passau!

Judy, who hitch hiked across Europe in 1955 and who has been around the world nine times.  Lady’s got guts!  She’s inspired me to stay in a guest house in Dublin this September!  Alone!  I had planned to travel with a friend, who has had to back out…but with Judy as my inspiration I’ve booked a cottage on the sea, then the guest house.  Quiet woman who, in her 70’s, still hikes.  She has stories to tell.

Michael, who smiles with his heart, who brightens up a room just by being there, and who has hidden depths.   I will meet Michael again.  Come to Ireland Michael!

Michelle, who surprises…who surprises.  And who still surprises.

Beth Ann who goes off backpacking alone-depending on a few days without a shower to create an “aroma” that will keep the bears away.  Last I heard she was headed for Alaska.

My god!  Germans!  They come over in small groups, buy a car, drive around Canada for months, sell the car and either get their visa to work in Canada or go back to become teachers.  Quiet, fast asleep by 11:00, up and out by 8:00…climbing mountains, walking miles, smiling, young…all the Germans!

And finally Lena.  Lena, who is not home yet, and who plans to surprise her mother by getting home a few days early.  We saw her walking down the road to the hostel, and we both remarked at her guts-hitch hiking alone…then she walked into our hostel.  Guts!  Hitch hiking alone across Banff…been in Canada since January, slept on beaches, bussed across the Plains, camped alone.  We gave her tea bags, we helped her set up in her campground, and loved listening to her tell her tales.  She found a campsite by a stream and didn’t want to leave.

Yes, I’ll remember the mountains and the lakes and the bears and Eric the Elk, but mostly I’ll remember the people, and be glad I stayed in the hostel in the woods.

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Bed & Breakfasting Across Wales


My second ebook is a guide to traveling across wales while staying in bed & breakfasts.

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My First Kindle Book

I can’t knit anymore and I hate to just sit and watch TV in the evenings, so I decided to try my hand at writing short Kindle books.

But what to write about?  I thought about writing how to set up a classroom, but, that would be just one book, so I thought about what I could possibly tell others about that would be useful.

Travel.  Travel when no one can go with you.  I can write all sorts of books about that!  So I bought a Kindle book about writing Kindle books and started.  I made the book short and informative..used a template from Open Office, and followed the steps on Kindle Publishing-and published!

Oh, it isn’t perfect!  The formatting didn’t come out how I wanted it to at all.  I do like the cover…Kindle shows you how to make a cover right there…but the links work.

Next time I’ll not use a template and see what happens.  This book is my experimental book.  It can be done!  I think it’s useful, clear and simple.  It was fun to do!

My next book will be; “Bed And Breakfasting Through Wales”.  I like it!

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My First Book!

I wrote this book for those of us on the plus side of forty, who want to travel but don’t have tons of money, or who don’t want to get stuck on a tour bus all day long. This book will help you get to London, tell you what equipment you need, where to stay, how to get around and what to see, all without spending a lot of money. It is based on things I have done myself, after I retired.
This book will guide you through finding inexpensive flights, accommodation in London, how to get into London from the airports, etc. Practical information, useful and simple information. All the links are provided so you can use this to plan your trip. Use it as a starting point, or plan your entire trip from the information I provide. When I retired I decided to travel, but no one would go with me. I was determined to go anyway, so I did! I searched and planned, and made mistakes, so this book is the result of what I learned.
I hope this book encourages you to travel, even if no one will go with you. Don’t let that stop you!
There are sections on flights, hotels and hostels, the Tube, the trains, the buses, what to see, ideas for local food, and how to call home.
If you do read this book and it helps you, please leave a review and let me know how I helped you, or how I could improve the information.


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The Wonders of family

The Kindness of Family

 It is a wonderful thing when your family accepts you, even if they haven’t really known you before or even met you before. And you accept your family, even if you haven’t known them before or even met them before.

 You include them, they include you…even though you are, in so many ways, strangers, because there is a hope implied that, even though you are strangers, there will be a connection, you will expand your circle of friends.

 At least my family does.

 Why is that? Old caveman memories? Tribal memories? “Us against the world” memories? Being Irish? Don’t know.

 But accepting doesn’t mean including…not on the basis of just being family, because once you get to know each other you might not like each other…you might not jive. Including happens when you realize that you are comfortable together…I think. That you can laugh and talk about old times, and begin to want each other in your lives. When that starts to happen, something wonderful starts to happen. Something happens that adds to your life and to theirs.

 Family. And it all started because a friend painted the rooms in her house. Ah, but we can’t forget the quilt! The quilt led to…and why did it lead to the meeting? Perhaps we all were looking to expand our families. I was. I think we all were.

 My cousins in Cornwall invited me to come up for a weekend to see their boys play hockey, so I said yes! There was a time when I would have been anxious and nervous about going for a visit like this. I have not been that way at all with Maureen, Jim and the boys. Not at all. I hope they weren’t nervous about me coming because I try to be the lowest impacting guest I can possibly be.

 I wanted to see Owen and Danny play hockey. I’d never been to a hockey game, knew nothing about it…and only went because they were playing. If they played soccer I’d go to those games…but hockey it is. It’s cold in hockey rinks! But after awhile you don’t care because you get caught up in the action…and are too busy watching to be cold!

 I loved being just a cousin, just part of the family. Just “Cousin Sissy”. I loved that BearPuppy accepted me! I loved Bear hugs and Augie letting me walk him.

 I loved the feeling of love and warmth in Jim and Maureen’s home.

I loved that it is a home and not a house…that it was as it was and not perfect, because it is a home that is well lived in, happily so.

I loved all of us eating together that last night and the boys gathered around their father as they looked at pictures of him at their age.

I loved how they all kidded each other, and how proud the boys were of their father, how they all have followed him onto the ice.

I loved that Owen put the one picture of his father on Facebook…”The Man, The Myth, The Legend.

I loved that Jim has these boys and Maureen around him.

I loved Owen teasing me about the family tree paper in the kitchen.

I love how Owen thinks..how he lives just a bit inside himself…how he watches and knows what is going on.

I loved Jimmy not really wanting to have his picture taken with me, but smiling that wonderfully mustached smile as he stood next to me.

I loved Owen not really at all wanting to be bothered with having his picture taken, but coming out of the locker room anyway because his parents asked him to, and standing there so tall and sweet.

I loved Danny not having to be asked twice to have his picture taken with Meghan and me…flashing that million dollar smile he has and knowing he is adorable.

I love the smile Danny gave me whenever he saw me.

I loved sitting on the couch and watching Danny read the book I brought up, then burying his head at a scene on the tv…all grown up and still shy…letting me cover his ears so he wouldn’t hear what was going on.

I loved talking to Jim about ….everything.

I loved getting to know him now.

I loved Maureen for everything.

For initiating the Girly Cousins Weekend and the Gettysburg trip and this trip.

For cleaning, but leaving her quilting out.

For the trip to the yarn shop and for lunch by the river with oysters, steak and cocktails.

For sharing her family and home with me.

For including me.

 Family is different…family has a bond that makes your heart just that bit warmer when bad days come.

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