Traveling Tiger…

Traveling Tiger…

We traveled home to Iowa from Chicago two days ago.  Tiger, our two year old gray tabby rescue cat, is actually a good little traveler.  We purchased a medium size dog crate that goes right between us in the back seat.  Usually, he whines for a little while, but this time he just settled in for the trip.  I think it helps that he can see us.  I had read that cats get confused and don’t handle change well.  Not true of Tiger.  Like us, he loves both places and, regardless of which direction we are headed, is happy when we get there.

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When we are in our cozy little apartment in Chicago, he loves the wide vintage window sills and we often find him sound asleep in the sun there.  Once, in Iowa, he tried his best to make the jump straight to the windowsill.  We couldn’t help laughing as he slid immediately off the newer, more narrow windowsills.  I think he decided he liked Chicago best right then and there!  😉

We were in Chicago this visit for two and a half weeks and enjoyed it very much – well except for the two nights Doug had to spend in the hospital for Atrial Fib!  Healthcare is excellent in Chicago and he is doing fine now thankfully.

One evening, Doug and I were watching a show on television entitled “The Lion in Your Living Room” about domestic cats like Tiger.  We turned to see him perched with his front legs over the arm of the chair totally engrossed in the show – see the pic below!  He was definitely alert to the sounds of the cats and kittens meowing and did not move until the show was over!  Who knew they could seriously watch television?!

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Tiger loves the wide window sills.  Here he is keeping me company in the kitchen enjoying the sunshine and the birds on the trees just outside the kitchen window!

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Evenings – when we’re home in our Chicago apartment – will find Tiger curled up wherever we are.  I love those green eyes and his intense, watchful expression.  I always say I’m a “dog person” but this is one cat I have come to love.

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At long last…

At long last…

When you haven’t posted on the blog you love for over a year, you have to think you are the only one in cyberspace who will be reading it ever again.  Maybe I will just be talking to myself.  Nevertheless, it is time to share my sweet journey home again…

This past year has been wonderful.  And extremely busy!  I married the love of the last years of my life on May 24, 2015.  For the sweet ceremony held at our home, we were surrounded by children and grandchildren and Doug’s mom.  Afterwards, we had the reception, buffet dinner and dancing at the clubhouse at his mom’s condo celebrating with more family and friends.  For the most part, it was the grandchildren and us dancing – but it was fun.  It was a blessed time and one we will remember for the rest of our lives.

We have spent a lot of time this past year decorating the townhouse.  Doug finished the downstairs with a family room/office, guest bedroom and guest bath.  It added another 850 square feet.  In the future, I will post photographs of what we have done with the townhouse.

This past year has also involved a lot of traveling!  We have been to the Caribbean, Mexico, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, Montana, Holland, Belgium, England, Ireland and Scotland!  The month-long-trip to the United Kingdom, Belgium and Holland was a dream come true.  I knew I would love Scotland and Ireland…and I did.  It felt like home!  I have spent so much time this past year working on family history – mine and Doug’s!  The future holds a trip to Germany where Doug’s ancestors originated.  We look forward to that as well as returning to Scotland and Ireland.  I am getting close to finding Rev. William McGregor’s birthplace and I’d like to see it in person next time!

Below are a few scenes from our month long adventure….the first installment of a few more to come.

Sitting on the top deck of a double decker bus in London.

 

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Doug got up at 6:30 a.m. to capture the stillness of the water in the canals.  By 8:00 a.m. it is crowded!  Brugge, Belgium.

 

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The canals of Brugge, Belgium at 6:30 a.m.!

 

On top of the world of London, England, aboard The London Eye!

 

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DOUG climbed all the way to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London!!!

 

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The semi-circular gray/white building was our hotel in Ghent, Belgium. We asked for a room in the “attic” so that we would have an amazing view of the castle just across the street (out of the pic at right). It was wonderful!

 

Dianne and Doug enjoying the tulips in Holland.

Doug’s grower/exporter friend Piet in Holland entertained us for the day and took us on an up close and personal tour of his part of Holland. The tulips were breathtaking! Thanks, Piet!

 

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To Montana and back…

To Montana and back…

When you spend two long days in an automobile with someone, you get to know them pretty well.  Doug and I left on November 12th for the 1,130 mile journey to Montana for a sweet visit with my firstborn and his precious family.  Over the course of a couple of days, there was a lot of conversation and just as much laughter.  Thankfully, we have like tastes in music and enjoyed it at a volume we could actually hear!  We both sing along with the music and that’s fun.  We also have similar tastes in reading material and we both like mysteries…which made listening to a couple of books on tape enjoyable.  When we took breaks, we were anxious to get back to the mystery to pick up where we left off.  I think that I can honestly say the time and the miles actually flew by.

For the most part, we were blessed with good weather, marvelous scenery and light snow!  The funny photo below was one of several cute “photo ops” at the Wyoming Welcome Center.  I confess the one of me on horseback was funnier but won’t be published!  😉

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Rafting in snowy waters photo op at the terrific Wyoming Welcome Center…

We loved our time with my son and his family.  One day we drove about two hours to the Patagonia Outlet in Dillon, Montana.  Patagonia is expensive but a terrific 40% off sale made their prices look a whole lot better!  It was a beautiful drive with awesome scenery along the way…including several impressive Montana ranches!  On the way, we also made a stop at Montana Wheat Bakery & Deli for lunch and a visit to the bakery & gift shop.  On the evening before we left for the return trip home, Doug treated us all to pizza at the MacKenzie River Pizza Company in downtown Bozeman.  We had such a good time, but all too soon it was time to say goodbye.  I miss them all already!

On the return trip, we took the two-lane road through the Black Hills of South Dakota which made for some beautiful and interesting scenery.  We stopped for a break to check out a very neat place, the Spearfish Canyon Lodge.  It reminded me very much of the lodge in the movie Christmas in Connecticut.  It would be a great place for a winter vacation with all the snowy trails and snow mobiles for rent!  It would also be a great place to meet the family for a fun vacation in the Summer.  It is not far from Mount Rushmore, our next stop on the trip and only 2.5 miles from where the film Dances With Wolves was filmed.

I must be one of the few remaining people on earth who had not seen Mount Rushmore – along with Doug.  It is an inspiring, captivating place.  A place borne in the heart of a dreamer and sculptor.  To say it leaves an impression on you is an understatement.  Seeing it with snow covering the mountains made it extra special I think.  Not to mention the fact that on that bitter cold windy afternoon, we were two of only a handful of people in the entire park.

Enjoy the slide show below of our visit and our journey back home…

A snowy walk in Montana…

 

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Two weeks in the South…

Two weeks in the South…

If you’ve been reading my blogs for any length of time at all, then you know I’m Southern.  I was born in the Delta of Mississippi and grew up in Memphis, Tennessee.  My roots are there.  I fell in love and got married there many years ago.  My children were born there.  I have a long list of family and friends there.  And, yes, I still have a Southern accent…
 
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It was the first day of October and a Wednesday I’d been looking forward to.  I was flying home to the South.  It had been three long years since I had flown into Memphis…and that had been on the sad occasion of my beloved sister Gerry’s funeral after she had lost her courageous battle with ALS.  As the plane circled and descended into Memphis, I picked out a few familiar landmarks:  the winding Mississippi River, the Memphis-Arkansas bridge, the “Pyramid” and LeBonheur Children’s Hospital.  Soon the plane was landing.

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Memphis skyline from the air. (Wikipedia)

Penny and Mike picked me up at the airport and we headed back to their home.  They were headed south to Gulf Shores the following morning for a few days, so this gave us some time together until the following week.  Penny fixed a delicious meal (including one of my favorites – Southern Fried Okra!) and we enjoyed time together before they drove me 45 minutes out to Sharon and Tommy’s home.  I call Sharon “my baby niece” but she’s actually only two and a half years younger than I.  She is my beloved late sister Dot’s only child.  After the death of her father when she was four months old, we all lived together and Sharon and I grew up like sisters.

I had flown with painful “fluid behind my eardrums” diagnosed by my doctor on Monday and once I arrived in Memphis, it proceeded to get much worse.  Unfortunately, I was sick!  My long-time Memphis allergies had hit with a vengeance.   Sadly, I missed my dinner with my dear friends from Lakeside Hospital where I had worked as a Registered Nurse with emotionally disturbed children for ten years.  I hope to make it up to them in the Spring!  Sharon took me to her doctor on Thursday where I got a shot and a CBC which verified it was allergies.  I was a sick puppy nonetheless.  The shot was a big boost and I felt much better the next day.  Sharon and I made it to the luncheon at Grisanti’s with my high school friends I had not seen in so many years!  It was wonderful to see everyone and, somehow, the years just melted away.

Below:  My KHS buddy David and I.  David is the youngest member of our graduating class and I am the next-to-the-youngest member!  We had not seen each other for 51 years!!  He is the same wonderful guy as always.  He has a PhD and is a well-loved professor at a local university!

 

Below:  Kathy is my best friend since the ninth-grade at KHS and I’m amazed to say that’s 55 years!  She is as beautiful as ever!  We see each other after any length of time and just pick right up where we left off.  We had a “sleep-over” one night during my visit and her sweet husband patiently put up with us pretending we were sixteen all over again.  We had the 60’s music playing in the background and reminiscing over days gone by.  Before we knew it, it was 1:00 a.m.!   Her sweet husband Bill treated us to a delicious dinner at Houston’s, a Memphis landmark for the past 31 years.   I enjoyed meeting one of their three sons, a very handsome young man.  I also introduced her and her sweet grandson and granddaughter to ancestry.com and we began a search for their family tree.  Her grandchildren thought that was cool and will be a big help with it!

 Below:  I was so happy to see my cousin, Joy, and fellow KHS graduate at the luncheon as well (although she’s 6 years younger than I).  You can tell by looking at us that we come from the same strong McGregor stock!  Her grandmother was my father’s sister and one of my favorite aunts!  We took one look at one another and marveled at how much we favored one another!

 

I loved my time with Sharon and Tommy.  Sharon is a wonderful cook and made several terrific Southern meals – including delicious homemade meatloaf, her amazing mashed potatoes, Southern vegetables and hot cornbread.  Another night she made delicious homemade chicken noodle soup and salad.  I was getting a bit spoiled!

The following Tuesday, we headed to the “hills” of Mississippi for a visit with my precious sister Eunice and her dear husband Eddie.  We had so much fun with them!  They live on 5 beautiful, treed acres with a barn and a beautiful horse named Cherokee.  Eddie is the “horse whisperer” and can make a horse do anything!  Unfortunately, since his hip replacement, he can no longer ride but still enjoys Cherokee.  Eunice is a great Southern cook and made a delicious dinner of pork chops, mashed potatoes, squash, green beans and hot cornbread.  Sharon made the dessert which was one of my favorites – banana pudding.  Another day, Eddie took us all out to dinner for another Southern feast.  They have a wide front porch all the way across the front of their home and each morning would find us out there sitting in the rockers or porch swing, enjoying our coffee and visiting.  Eddie recently turned 83 but doesn’t look a day over 70 and gets told all the time that he looks like George W. Bush!

While we were there, we all drove to Pontotoc, Mississippi, to visit the cemetery where my parents, grandparents and other ancestors are born.  The old white church has been taken down but, other than that, it looks the same.  I took photos of a lot of the tombstones to use with my family history research.  After the Guinn Cemetery, we drove over to the Springville Cemetery where my maternal grandparents and other maternal ancestors are born.  Again, I took photos for the family history book I intend to finish when I’m snowbound this Iowa winter!

 Below:  my beautiful sister Eunice at Guinn Cemetery.  She is 11 years older than I am.  We are the remaining two of the four McGregor daughters.  I promised her I would be back in the Spring.  We cannot wait so long to see each other again!

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We left Pontotoc and headed for New Albany, Mississippi, where we visited their very neat town square…complete with several quaint antique shops and my favorite bakery:  Sugaree’s!  I can’t begin to describe how delicious everything they bake is!  We bought one slice of their amazing white cake with homemade caramel frosting and two chocolate cupcakes to share four ways!  I would love to have bought the whole caramel cake!  They ship frozen by the way, so check it out.  It’s unbelievable!

On Thursday afternoon, we said a sad goodbye to Eunice and Eddie and headed north to visit my niece Cindy.  We ate dinner out together that night at McAlister’s (although I skipped my favorite sweet tea since it was so late!) and enjoyed our visit and laughter.  Cindy teaches music history at the local college and could easily have been a concert pianist.  She entertained us later with a few numbers which I loved.  I videotaped it but I’m under strict instructions not to share it!  But I will say she’s amazing!

Below:  Cindy, Sharon and I attempted a “selfie” with my iPad (an iPad photo isn’t too flattering) but I think it turned out cute!  

 

On Friday, we drove over to Greenwood, Mississippi, to eat lunch at the Crystal Grill.  I had a Southern vegetable plate with cornbread muffins and a slice of their famous chocolate pie with mile-high-meringue!  It was so good!  After lunch, we trekked around downtown in the rain, enjoying the well-known Mississippi shops.  I purchased a small pottery candle holder and a ceramic cross.  Sharon bought me a beautiful robin egg blue/green ceramic soap dish which I love.  (Thankfully, I made it home safely with everything!).  That night, Cindy prepared a delicious tortilla chicken casserole, fresh green beans and salad.  She had also made a wonderful apple spice cake!

Below:  In the Delta of Mississippi, Greenwood is “the cotton capital of the world”.  We saw field after field of beautiful snow-white cotton.

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On Saturday, we said another sad goodbye and headed back to Memphis…to Penny and Mike’s home.  We enjoyed hanging out together, having a delicious Southern dinner and watching a few favorite shows on television.  Penny and I did some shopping the day before I flew back.  I did manage to get it all in my suitcase and it wasn’t over the limit!  On Wednesday morning, Mike and Penny drove me to the airport – in the midst of Memphis rush hour traffic – but we made it with time to spare.

It was a wonderful two weeks filled with lots of memories and I’m looking forward to returning in the early Spring!

Hello, Montana!

Hello, Montana!

I left Des Moines yesterday morning in a FIERCE Midwest storm – the likes of which I haven’t seen for a while.  I couldn’t find my umbrella, so by the time I had the luggage loaded into the back of my friend Susan’s car (who had kindly offered to drive me to the airport), I looked like I had just stepped out of the shower.  Not to worry though, I dried. Once the plane got up above the clouds and past a few major bumps, it was sunny and smoother flying.  Once we arrived closer to Bozeman, I looked out the window to see a mountaintop so close, I could almost touch it!  The scenery here is magnificent.  Definitely different from Oregon but amazing.  I can see why they call this “Big Sky Country”!  The sky stretched as far as the eye could see over the mountains. I was so happy to see my oldest and his precious family!  The girls have grown so much and are, of course, beautiful!  They love it here and it suits their outdoor, hiking, camping, mountain biking lifestyle beautifully.  Later in the week, we will head to Yellowstone and I will take some pics there.  In the meantime, enjoy a few of their Montana living pics below!

 

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