Unplugged

The weather was beautiful today so I decided to go for a walk after work.  I got home, changed clothes and grabbed something quick to eat.  After attempting to find the ear buds that go to my iPod, I gave up and decided to just enjoy the walk without any distractions.  I opened the garage door and walked to the drive way.    Just then a lady and her family were walking by but stopped when they heard my garage door.  She turned to me and said, “Hi, we’re your neighbors.”  I smiled and walked toward her, extending my hand.  She and her husband reiterated how quiet the neighborhood was and to let them know if I ever needed anything.  I couldn’t help but walk away feeling so glad to have chosen this area for my first house. 

For the next 20 minutes or so, I walked around the neighborhood, letting my thoughts wander and just enjoy the time.  I had no phone on me, no music playing in my ears, and simply soaked in nature.  This is definitely something I don’t do enough but want to do more of in the future.  When I go out-of-town, even if it’s just for a few days, I’m guilty of checking my work e-mail from my phone.  This drives my best friend crazy and I hear about it when I return to work.  I’m making a real concerted effort to “let things go” when the work day ends…to not check e-mail.   Granted, I love my job….but life’s too short to be tied to it.   As my boss says, “there are no emergencies in our line of work…”

I intend on making more use of the nice weather…and heck, the exercise can do me good too. 

Sincerely,
Unplugged in Norman

The Town I Love So Well

Ever since I was a little girl, there is a town that has been closely associated with my family.  This town means so much to not only my parents, sisters and myself but also my cousins and extended family.  Sometime earlier this year, my Dad (who is 82) announced that he was up for going to Lake Geneva once again.  The designated travel agent in the family, my middle sister and mother of 5, asked if he was serious.  When he continued to bring up the idea, she decided that was a yes.  Planning a trip that includes Dad is a big deal.  He’s got multiple health issues so getting clearance from his doctor to fly was a must before moving forward. Once he gave the okay, we booked our flights.   Months passed by, dates were chosen and we began to make plans.  Fast forward to July 15th.  11 people arrived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at various times.  I arrived a few hours after everyone else.  I was thrilled that I’d be able to look forward to take in the drive, enjoy the scenery of farms and all that comes with the Midwest.  The drive only took about 45 minutes.  When the town of Lake Geneva began to come into view, I couldn’t help but smile.  “Finally” I thought.  I pulled up to the hotel, grabbed my bag and waited for my sister to meet me so I could get into one of the side entrances.  I wasn’t there 5 minutes when I heard a voice call my name and I turned around to see my cousin wheeling a luggage cart toward the door.  He was just one of about 20 cousins I saw in the mere 4 days we were there.  I made my way to my sister’s room where there was already a crowd…and that was just the 11 of us from Oklahoma and Texas.  I sat down to eat but before I could take my first bite, in walked about 7 more cousins.  I laughed and thought, “Here we go…” The list of cousins and family members on my Dad’s side is long.  I knew we’d be seeing them during our stay…just didn’t expect to see the bulk of them on the first night.  As hungry as I was, I loved being surrounded by the chaos that comes with our family. 

For whatever reason, we only booked our stay from Sunday-Friday.  Instead of dwelling on why we didn’t reserve our rooms for longer, we simply made the most of the stay.  We ate, shopped, and just relaxed.  As we tend to do each time, we took a boat ride around the lake.  This year, we took The Mailboat.  This is the vehicle to which residents who own homes on the lake receive their mail, hence the marine delivery.  I urge you to check it out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-9UoDF25xg

My sisters and I enjoy seeing my Mom grin from ear to ear every time she takes the boat ride.  She has taken it so many times now that she’ll get this funny look on her face if she thinks the commentator has forgotten some pertinent fact.  Along this boat ride, you will see homes that belong to some of the wealthiest families from Chicago and across the country including the Wrigley’s (who own the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley gum) as well as the Maytag family.  Check out some of the digs:

What, doesn’t everyone have a private dock?

Yea, but where will the guests stay?

On a whim during dinner one night, my sister called a photographer that has taken pictures of our family a few times before in Lake Geneva.  She left her a message asking if she was by any chance free to take a group photo once again.  Fortunately Carol was available and two days later, we were all gathered around The Riviera. When she got there, she was greeted by about 25 of us.  She even got tears in her eyes upon seeing how much my nephews and niece had grown.  It was pretty sweet.  The background of boats and water was perfect and created such lasting memories for the whole gang of us. 

My middle sister and I are rarely seen without our cameras, especially with family around and on vacation.  So when my nephews, niece, brother-in-law and cousins rented Sea Doos, we were there to greet them, armed with our cameras to capture the moment of absolute giddiness.  My brother-in-law looked like he was a kid, I loved seeing that. 

Jay on the Sea Doo

 

Friday came all too quickly and it was time to pack up and head back home.  I left the earliest out of the group and oh man was it hard to leave Lake Geneva.  Just like Phil Coulter reflects on his hometown of Derry in Northern Ireland in The Town I Loved So Well, the town means that much to us.  Many years ago, we used to own a condo in Lake Geneva.  As soon as school was out in the summer, we would pack up the suburban and head north.  We stayed there all summer, returning to Texas only a few days before school started again.  In the winter, we flew up to Chicago, visited family and then made the 2 hour drive north.  Because of this, we got to see and experience snow at a young age and became quite close with our cousins.  We love the small town feel, the ice cream parlors, the way it relaxes all of us and simply put…the memories.  During this last visit, my middle sister Kathy got that look in her eye when we passed real estate listings.  I could tell what she was thinking because it’s the same thing we’re all wondering.  She said, “Gosh, I wonder what it would take to own a condo or suite like the one we are staying in now…” I couldn’t help but laugh because we tend to get that itch every time we visit.  This is truly the one place all of us would move in a heartbeat.  Lake Geneva is definitely the town we will always love so well. I urge everyone to visit.  As is the motto, “It’s always been the place…”