Monday, July 30, 2012

You CAN go home again!!!

     I grew up in Moline, Illinois and haven't been back for 35 years. After being lovingly badgered by my two best girlfriends, Cheryl and Leslie, I decided to attend my 45th high school reunion. I haven't had a vacation for 13 years and haven't flown since 1997. Needless to say I was a bit anxious about going. My sister, Kathy, came to the rescue once again, offering to go with me. She is a frequent flyer, and knows all the ropes.

                The flight went we are landing in the quaint Moline Airport. They even let me wear my cowboy hat on board, hats being my fetish and my trademark, I just had to bring it.

                                                                                                       My cousin Mary Ann took us to the library so I could sign my books.  What a thrill. 

       There they were, with their own Dewey Decimal numbers, on the shelf right beside Karen Robards and Nora Roberts.
Who could ask for better company, maybe their success will rub off on me.

      Friday night was the meet and greet at the Bierstube, a German beer garden. When I first saw Cheryl and Leslie we started squealing and laughing like 16 year old girls, and we pretty much kept it up for the next two days. There were about 720 kids in my graduating class, but being a "nobody" I didn't know half of them. About 200 showed up for the reunion.

Saturday morning, Mary Ann, Leslie, Kathy and I went bumming around. We went to Lagomarcino's for an amazing lunch, including their famous hot fudge sundaes. This was not a time for counting calories.

Then we swung by the Mighty Mississippi. Now THERE'S a river for you. Even though low because of the drought in Illinois, it is big and muddy and seems so wide you can barely see across to the other side.

There was a beautiful riverboat docked nearby, wish we could have ridden on it, or even on the river taxi. Maybe next time.

Kathy and cousin Mary Ann

      The next stop was Blackhawk State Park. Some of my most cherished memories are of running through the forest near the Rock River, imagining what it was like when the Sauk tribe lived in those very woods as we watched out for poison ivy and poison sumac. The deciduous tree forest is so thick and green and goes on for miles, so different from the pine forests or the sparse gatherings of cotton wood trees in Colorado.

Had fun in the museum chatting with some of the locals.

The three amigas. Kathy,
Mary Ann, & Gini

   Then we grabbed our spoons and had the traditional bowl of  Whitey's ice cream...another taste of heaven. Yes, you know you're home indeed.

     That evening was the big party. Oh boy, a pig roast. Luckily for this vegetarian, there were plenty of side dishes. I've never starved yet. 

What a wonderful evening. We subversively checked out everybody, which was not easy as our name tags were written in  barely discernable fine-line pen, and they did not affix photo's from the year book. It was pretty difficult to recognize anybody. We tried not to be too happy about the gorgeous cheerleaders who now looked chubby and wrinkled.

                                                               Cheryl, Me, Leslie

     I was so proud of Cheryl, she won a prize for being the person attending with the longest military record. She spent 8 years as a National Guard Nurse and is a Captain. Leslie, the brain-trust, won a prize for her good memory regarding the words to the school "fight" song.

     I won an amazing trip down memory lane, and the joy of feeling 16 again for three days. What a wonderful trip.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


      My amazing sister, Kathy, drove us to Estes Park, Colorado on Saturday 6/23/12, to see the Scandinavian Solstice Celebration.

     It is a beautiful area, and the temperature that day was below the 104 degrees raging in Longmont and Berthoud. Sadly a new wild fire broke out up there that very morning, the smoke drifting in the air, one house already on fire with more structures and trees in jeopardy.

       It has been a tragic year for so many people, and much of our precious Colorado landscape. Our hearts go out to those touched by the fires, and our praise and prayers go to the many firefighters, first responders, and folks aiding and sheltering the people and animals in need.

        The festival was in full swing when we arrived, and it was a welcome joyful diversion. 

                The traditional Maypole was already decorated.

      Usually associated with May day rather than midsummer or summer solstice, the symbolism of the maypole has been continuously debated by folklorists for centuries.

     One theory holds that they are a remnant of the Germanic reverence for sacred trees, as there is evidence for various sacred trees and wooden pillars were venerated by the pagans across much of Germanic Europe.  Norse paganism, held that the universe was a world tree, known as Yggdrasil There is therefore speculation that the maypole was in some way a continuance of this tradition.

      The cross-arm may be a latter-day attempt to Christianize the pagan symbol into the semblance of a cross, although not completely successful


    At the Viking Village we saw demonstrations of an ancient horn and drum. Also a wonderful display of Viking tools and crafts material.

              The Norwegian Fjord Horses were also on hand.

        The Norwegian Fjord Horse is one of the world's oldest and purest breeds. It is believed that the original Fjord Horse migrated to Norway and was domesticated over 4,000 years ago. Herds of wild Fjord Horses existed in Norway after the last ice age. Archaeological excavations at Viking burial sites indicate that the Fjord Horse has been selectively bred for at least 2,000 years. They are draft type horses and were used for farming, a tough job traveling up and down the fjords.

                                               These beauties are from the Flying Pig Farm,
                                 Thank you Jeanne for speaking with us and letting us take this photo.

       One of their unique characteristics is that approximately 90% of all Fjord Horses are brown dun in color. The other 10% are either red dun, gray, white or "uls" dun, or yellow dun. The Fjord Horse retains the "wild" dun color of the original horse as well as the primitive markings which include zebra stripes on the legs and a dorsal stripe that runs from the forelock down the neck and back and into the tail. Dark stripes may also be seen over the withers.

                                                                                                  stock photo
        Another unique characteristic of the Fjord Horse is the mane. The center hair of the mane is dark (usually black) while the outer hair is white. The mane is cut short so it will stand erect. It is trimmed in a characteristic crescent shape to emphasize the graceful curve of the neck The white outer hair is then trimmed slightly shorter than the dark inner hair to display the dramatic dark stripe.

     Fjords generally range in size from 13.2 to 14.2 Hands and weigh between 900 and 1200 pounds at maturity, with a few individuals ranging outside these measurements.

               There were lots of booths selling a wide range of tempting items and bright colors seemed to be everywhere in flowers,
                            and lovely Scandinavian pottery.

    Then the day was over and we headed home, munching on roasted sugared almonds, tired , hot, but happy.  A good time was had by all. And on the way out of town, a real treat, several head of elk grazing by the road.