Microadventure #104 – Hiking in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with new friends

Occoneechee Mountain Fall Colors Hike

My very first Microadventure for my 2022 Project was a hike on Myakkahatchee Trail in North Port, Florida. Now, here it is, over 100 Microadventures later and I’m writing about a similar experience, this time in North Carolina, on another hike with a chee-ending name: Occoneechee,

Walking and hiking has been a wonderful “happy” habit of mine for the past few years, since I gave up running (and a full time job!)

I’m just amazed at how many parks and trails there are everywhere! And here in North Carolina at this time of year, the trees are especially gorgeous.

Hiking and walking are a wonderful way to make new friends when you’re in a new location, as I am these days.

The Carborro Parks and Recreation has a “Golden Trails” program and I was able to tag along as Naturalist Kate Finlayson led us with facts about the trees, birds, and all things nature! For example, Kate described how you could tell the difference between different types of oak trees based on the bark. I hadn’t even known there were different types of oak trees at all! I loved seeing Kate’s passion for nature and her excitement when teaching us.

Pumpkin Loop Trail with Meetup Group

I also discovered a Meetup Group for Women (55+) Walkers. This is a very active Meetup group and it’s been fun to find like-minded ladies to hang out with while I’m here in Chapel Hill.

The Pumpkin Loop Trail is in the same Forest that’s right in Matt & Stella’s neighborhood so a short drive to get to the trailhead.

Eno River Trail Hike with Meetup

Another hike I went on with this group was in Eno River State Park. I’ve taken so many pictures on every hike I’ve been on and they all are beautiful. Each has its own unique charm, whether that be a river or creek, moss-covered tree bark, or a scene that looks like an artistic masterpiece.

But the hikes I’m describing here add an extra special ingredient: People! Already, a few of these like-minded walkers have met up with me for lunch or an activity. I’ll only be here for a few more weeks, but I’ll be back for visits, and it’s fun to make some new friends during this short chapter of my life while I’m visiting Matt & Stella.

Nature, sunshine, exercise, beauty and new friends – a recipe for happiness!

Microadventure #103: Asheville and Black Mountain with Matt & Stella

The Blue Ridge Parkway – Another stamp for my National Park Passport

Since I’ve been in North Carolina, I feel like I’ve been on vacation – I really have no responsibilities. But this past week, Matt and Stella took vacation, too, and the three of us visited Black Mountain and Asheville, North Carolina.

Stella’s an expert at planning fun vacations and is always so thoughtful in everything from picking out podcasts that we’d all enjoy to listen to on the road to finding the perfect Airbnbs and restaurants.

Pretty Airbnb house that we stayed at in Black Mountain, N.C.

The Airbnb house that they had found for us was big and beautiful and my upstairs room was very comfortable! There were plenty of decks and outdoor seating and a very comfortable chaise lounge and loft area where we played games in the evenings.

Purple swing and gazebo

The owners of this home clearly liked purple (my favorite color!) and I was happy to see purple influence in the dish-ware, decor, and even this outdoor purple swing.

On the first day after we arrived, while Stella worked from the Airbnb, Matt and I went on a DIY walking tour of Asheville.

Stop on Ashville walking tour

Matt was the guide and the tour was like a scavenger hunt as we found the different markers, buildings, and statues along the way, telling us about the history of Asheville.

I, of course, liked to be part of the scene, whenever possible.

I thought this tour was fun and informative and I was impressed that it was all free (especially after learning how expensive tickets were to see the Biltmore! Tickets at Christmas start at $99! No thank you!)

Every morning we would start the day with coffee shop pastries – a tradition we were doing on Sundays, but I was happy to see it extend to vacation days.

This was usually followed by a trail walk with the dogs, Mochi and Choco. One morning, while Matt & Stella went for a training run, I was in charge of watching my grand-dogs. So cute!

On our second day, Stella finished up her work early enough that the three of us were able to visit the Asheville Pinball Museum for an all-you-can-play pinball experience.

Pinball Museum in Ashville, NC

Playing pinball was very nostalgic for me because my family used to own a pinball machine. I’d spent many hours as a kid playing on our machine and many of the machines in the museum were similar. My brother, Chris, owned a few pinball machines of his own, and had won some pinball competitions. Chris died over 25 years ago, but, of course, the afternoon brought back a lot of memories.

And, even though I really don’t think it has anything to do with skill, I was especially pleased that I was able to beat Matt and Stella when we were all competing. (There are so few games that I ever beat them at.)

We all were a little less mindful of our usual healthy eating habits and indulged in some sweet treats. Matt brought their toaster-oven in order to make us his cookies toped with toasted marshmallow.

Matt makes us an evening treat!

On our final day, Matt made a little detour to take me on part of the Blue Ridge Parkway which would give me another stamp in my National Parks Passport book. We also stopped to do a short trail walk with the dogs.

Trail walk off the Blue Ridge Parkway

While this was a beautiful walk, we agreed that it was similar to the Carolina North Forest trails that are right in Matt and Stella’s neighborhood!

Matt reiterated what he’s said before – there’s no real need to go on vacation any more, since he lives in such a beautiful spot!

I know they really took this trip for me! They knew I’d love Black Mountain and Asheville and they were right!

Microadventure #102: Centreville, VA with Scotty

Me and Scotty on a walking trail in his Centreville neighborhood

For the past 5 years or so, my adult children all lived in Colorado and monthly get-togethers for birthdays or holidays were the norm. However, in the past year, both my sons moved to other parts of the country.. Matt (and Stella) to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Scotty to Centreville, Virginia (near Washington DC.)

Centreville is a 4.5 hour drive from Chapel Hill, so while I’m visiting Matt & Stella’s, I wanted to also make a trip up to see Scotty’s new place. I decided to do this over the Veterans Day long weekend before the days were too cold.

Veterans Day Free Food Hunt

Scotty, a Guardian in the newest military branch, the Space Force, has Veterans Day privileges to the many establishments offering free food and other goodies to Veterans. Scotty views this as what I’ll describe as a Veterans version of a Trick-or-Treat event.

Scotty, with his collection of “treats” from Veterans Day

I guess he typically does this with friends from work and assures me he’s not alone in this tradition. Personally, since Scotty is an engineer and has never been deployed, his job doesn’t seem particularly deserving of all the “Thank you for your service” respect that he gets from the general public.

I also don’t like him taking advantage of the generosity of businesses to collect a bunch of free food.. However, I’m sure this frugal gaming nature of collecting “free stuff” probably originated from my parenting habits. After my divorce, when I was always worried about money, I did gamify everything from grocery shopping to vacationing, looking for ways to be as cheap as possible, and Scotty very happily played along. I’ve reminded him since he’s been a well-employed adult that it’s no longer necessary to be ultra-frugal. He reminds me of his generosity in sharing his free stuff with me, to which I roll my eyes.

In any case, I resisted my instincts to criticize this tradition.. after all, he’s having fun, its harmless, he’s not breaking any laws and apparently he’s not alone in celebrating Veterans Day this way. And, yes, I get to share in the collected loot. To his credit, Scotty paid my full-price meal when we went to dinner at BJ’s Brewhouse.

Scotty gets free Veterans Day Meal at BJs Brewery in Centreville, VA


I also give credit for Scotty indulging me in my own traditions that he may have been internally rolling his eyes about – walking at least 10K steps every day.

On Veteran’s Day it was very rainy, yet in between fast food stops, I wanted to walk. Amazingly, there was the perfect trail, the George Snyder Trail, which we stumbled upon, right behind one of our stops!

Walking in the rain on the George Snyder Trail in Fairfax, VA

We both had umbrellas, and even though at times the rain was coming down fast, it wasn’t too cold. The blanket of leaves that covered the ground, along with the still colorful trees and the rain made this walk unique and memorable.

There also was a long, scenic trail right in Scotty’s neighborhood that he took me on when I first arrived, knowing how much I enjoyed walking in new places.

The Cub Run East Trail in Scotty’s Centreville, VA Neighborhood

Scotty’s house and neighborhood

I actually loved walking in Scotty’s neighborhood, too. One family had gotten a head start on the Christmas season and had enough Christmas decorations to rival Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

Heavily decorated house for Christmas

Even I (a lover of seasonal decorations) thought that this was “too much” and preferred the more simplistic decor of the houses that still had their Halloween decorations out.

My vote for best house decor in Scotty’s neighborhood

I was impressed that Scotty would be able to afford a house in a Washington DC suburb in this pretty Colonial neighborhood. He got a good loan (another perk for Veterans) and rents out rooms in order to help with the mortgage. In fact, while I was there, I helped him get his newly finished basement room set up for Airbnb rental.

Scotty’s house in Centreville, VA
I love this front door that has a “speak-easy” style window. That’s a great feature for Halloween!
This outdoor patio with skylights is one of my favorite areas of Scotty’s house

Hanging out

I really love my relationship with Scotty. Typically, I’m hosting him at my house where we have our traditions of playing games, watching movies, or eating favorite meals. It was fun to have the roles reversed.. still doing the same things, but this time with Scotty as the host, and me as the visitor.

He cooked the meals (or “provided” them on Veterans Day), picked the movie Coraline for us to watch (finding movies we both want to watch can present a challenge!) and helped me play Magic: The Gathering a game from his youth that he’d challenged me to learn.

Scotty teaching me how to play Magic: the Gathering.

Scotty’s the “baby” of the family, but he is 28 years old, and it was fun to see him in the adult role of home-owner and host. Though I’d seen him in this role for the few years he’d lived in Colorado Springs, it was more common for him to come to my house than for me to go to his when he lived in Colorado.

I’d initially been sad about my kids continuing to move further from my big empty nest, but this month I’ve seen that their moves have given me a new opportunity. Now I get to experience visits to their “nests” and see their lives through a different lens.

All three of my kids lead very successful, independent lives – something every parent dreams of. I’m so proud of each of them. I feel very grateful that in the past month, I’ve gotten to spend quality time with each of them. Even though it’s been a little difficult for me to “let go” and fully embrace the empty nest stage of life, I see now that I can still enjoy special times with my kids, including this memorable Veterans Day Weekend at Scotty’s in Centreville!

Microadventure #101: Jump Rope Spectacular with Ranya

One of my favorite types of Microadventures is the type where I get to experience something that I didn’t even know existed! 

I knew about jump roping, of course, but I had no idea that jump roping had evolved into so much more than the simple jump roping games I’d played in second grade. 

Ranya, who I’d reconnected with last week at her Halloween Party, had invited me to this unique event.  Her daughter competes with the Bouncing Bulldogs and Ranya said the school was hosting an International Jump Rope Spectacular the following weekend.

As advertised on their site: “International Jump Rope Spectacular takes place annually on the first Saturday evening in November.  Top jumpers from around the world perform on one floor in front of hundreds of sport enthusiasts.  This one-night-only event also brings in leaders from various fields such as fashion, culture and education to truly show the power and dynamics of what jump rope can do to inspire young people to be their best.” 

I’d met a new friend, Skip, on Friday and asked if he’d be interested in joining me (after all his name is “Skip”!) It turns out his daughter had also been part of a jump rope team and he happily accepted my invitation.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but we both agreed that anything with “Spectacular” in the title, was bound to be something worth viewing.

The show didn’t disappoint.

From the beginning, there were high-energy vibes as the kids performed what looked like “Jump Rope Dancing.” (I’m sure there must be more official names for the various dances, stunts, and competitions they all performed throughout the show.)

The kids were world class, not only entertaining us with their dancing, strength, and flexibility, but with their talent and speed in competitions. At times the ropes were rotating so fast, they seemed invisible.

Kids from Korea, Germany, and France joined the Chapel Hill Team as they jumped, flipped, and bounced through the gym.

When I told Ranya that I wanted to blog about the event and experience, she was all for it! It was obvious that Ranya had a huge respect and admiration of the coaches, the team, the sport, and the Bouncing Bulldogs

“It’s about much more than jump roping,” she said.

She talked about how the experienced kids help and mentor the newer team members. They learn about teamwork and gain leadership and coaching skills as they progress.

I was curious about the history of the sport, wondering how long it had been around and what types of competitions there were. It looks like competitions include both speed and freestyle events that are about presentation and entertainment.

I’m guessing it won’t be long before we’ll be seeing jump roping events at the Olympics! And I bet when that happens there will be someone from the Bouncing Bulldogs of Chapel Hill on the US Team – maybe even Ranya’s daughter. But whether or not they make it to the Olympics, I feel so lucky to have been able to witness such a spectacular performance!

Microadventure #100: Chapel Hill, North Carolina with Matt & Stella

Walking in Matt & Stella’s neighborhood in Chapel Hill, NC

This is not a typical Microadventure, but more of an ongoing major adventure. I just finished Week 1 of an 8-week stay with Matt & Stella, my son and daughter-in-law.

I get what you’re probably thinking: “8 weeks? That’s probably 7 weeks too long for a Mom to be living with her son and his wife!”

Yeah, that may be true for most people, but I have some pretty incredible kids.

Stella has insisted that they are very flexible and that I’m welcome for as long as I want to stay. And though it has only been 1 week and they may very well get tired of my extended visit, I can say with certainty that I’m loving every minute.


I arrived on the night of October 29th, and the first thing we did was go to the Halloween Party of my friend, Ranya, who also lives in Chapel Hill. I’d met Ranya in January, 2020, in Costa Rica while I was in the Conversa Spanish Immersion class.

Sushi, Soy Sauce, and Wasabi win Most Creative Group Costume!

It was so thoughtful of Ranya to invite us all to her very cool Halloween Party. There were so many creative costumes and decorations. We very unexpectedly won a bottle of wine for “best creative group costume!” (This has been a season for me winning stuff with very little effort on my part.)

The Halloween fun continued on the 31rst at Matt and Stella’s house where they’d set up a projector to create special effects out their front window for the trick-or-treaters. They had a cool backdrop that made their house look like a haunted house from the front door and Matt and Stella were both dressed as unicorns.

Projected Halloween spooks created a cool effect for outdoor trick-or-treaters
Matt’s peeking out the front door with his unicorn costume
Magical creatures live in this magical neighborhood!

Stella loaned me a dragon costume so I could join in the fun.

There were a few sets of trick-or-treaters, but unfortunately it was a rainy night. I was disappointed that more of the neighbors didn’t get to see how creative and cool their house was, but at least I was there to experience it!

Fall Colors and the Magical Neighborhood

Matt and Stella live in a forested area that is filled with magnificent tall trees, full of colorful Fall beauty.

Every day I’ve been snapping so many pictures, in total awe of the gorgeous scenery. It’s as though we’re walking through a Thomas Kincaid art gallery.

Taking the dogs on a walk through the neighborhood

The neighborhood is full of incredible, well-kept houses, decorated for Halloween. Matt and Stella have raved about how friendly everyone is, complete with support, community, and frequent block parties.

Their neighbohood backs right up to the Carolina North Forest where I found a Nature Observation Trail on my first morning of exploration.

Nature Observation Trail in Carolina North Forest

Round-trip from Matt and Stella’s front door through the Nature Observation Trail turned out to be almost exactly 10,000 steps! What an excellent way to get in my morning exercise!

Hanging out in the Sun Room

When I’m not out walking or exploring, my favorite place to be hanging out in Matt and Stella’s house is their spacious sun room. This is where I’m sitting now, as I write this post. It’s interesting to see for myself how much nature and beautiful surroundings impacts my mood and happiness!

The Meals

Stella is an excellent cook and every evening she’s made us delicious, healthy, colorful meals.

Butternut squash and goat cheese salad
Pasta with veggies and shrimp
Catfish with broccoli and cauliflower

Matt, too, often helps with the meal prep and has made crepes and pumpkin-spiced coffee for breakfast. Tonight was catfish with broccoli and cauliflower with a glass of Vinoh Verde wine. I feel like I’m staying at a 5-star resort!

Daily Life with Matt and Stella

Though they don’t plan to have children, Matt and Stella are the loving “parents” to two adorable little dogs, Choco and Mochi.

Choco after her bath
Mochi, always with an adorable expression

The two little dogs are super-cute and cuddly. Matt and Stella take them on frequent walks and when I’m around, I love joining, too. It’s not unusual to spot deer in the neighborhood, but even if we don’t, the little dogs keep us entertained by playing with the acorns or jumping through the leaves.

Playing Wingspan

We also are a family of gamers, so one night they introduced me to the game Wingspan. We also play Heardle every morning (a musical spin-off of Wordle) and the other night, Matt patiently helped step me through a Magic, the Gathering tutorial.

Whether it’s going to the grocery store or a coffee shop, I always enjoy the spirited conversation with these two. They’re both PhDs and brilliant critical thinkers, always learning and ready to debate and discuss everything and anything!

How fun that my 100th Microadventure of the year is not an ordinary microadventure, but the opportunity to spend this 2-month chapter of my life with Matt and Stella in their’s.

Microadventure #99: Arvada Trick or Trot with the Tidds

Pizzas do well at the Arvada Trick or Trot!

This Microadventure made me very happy! My daughter, Megan, invited me to run this Arvada 5K with her family in costume. Running in costume is my specialty! In 2014, I ran a race every month in a different costume!

I gave up running about 4 years ago because of back problems, but I figured I could make an exception for a family 5K. I ran slowly. (This was entirely due to wanting to protect my back, of course! It had nothing to do with my fitness level!) Still, I managed to snag second place for the Women’s Over 60 category. And Diego scored first place for the Boys 13-18 so we both got medals. What an unexpected surprise and very exciting!

This proves my theory that competition is so much more fun when there are very few competitive competitors.

The Tidds win best group costume!

Not only did Diego and I win medals for running, but the whole Tidd family won for best group costume. They were a Food Buffet, with Megan as a sushi roll, Reneya a burrito, Diego, a pizza, and Chris, spaghetti and meatballs. They are always super-creative with their costumes.

The whole event was so much fun. The weather was absolutely perfect and there were plenty of games, food, and decorated pumpkins.

Diego voting for Best Decorated Pumpkin
Pancake Breakfast! Yum!

All-in-all this experience brought me such joy! I’d thought my days of running races were over, but, not only did I get to run another race, I was able to do it with family. I’m so grateful that we are all healthy enough to run, to celebrate, and to share in the excitement of a successful race!

Microadventure #98: The Buckhorn Exchange with Michael, Adam, and Becca

Becca, Michael, and me at the front entrance of The Buckhorn Exchange

I give Michael Bolé (of Santa School Microadventure fame) credit for suggesting this meat-eater’s dream of a Microadventure. The Buckhorn Exchange, Denver’s oldest restaurant, is a restaurant, museum, and tourist attraction all rolled up into one.

If you’re a fan of the Old West, you probably already have this place on your radar or maybe you’re a regular patron.

Buffalo Bill Look-alike Contest Winners

Me? I know nothing about cowboys, the Wild West, or guns, but I’m always all in for new unique experiences.

The one piece of trivia I do know about Western celebrity is that Buffalo Bill Cody was born on February 26. He and I share a birthday. (I once went to a party where you were supposed to dress like someone famous who has the same birthday as you.) It was no surprise then that the annual Buffalo Bill Look-alike contest was held in the end of February on our birthday weekend. (I haven’t competed in that… yet!)

There were over 500 taxidermy heads mounted throughout the restaurant – even a two-headed calf! (Should I add “freaky” to the list of adjectives that would describe this place? Definitely a bit of a “Ripley’s Believe it or Not! flavor.)

When we were brought to our table we were told a bunch of historical facts about Wild West celebrities in history and Presidents who had eaten at this fascinating establishment. The gun case held guns owned by famous celebrities of the Wild West including one by Annie Oakley.

Annie Oakley’s gun

OK, enough Western trivia. Let’s get to the food, shall we?

The menu had a long list of exotic meats. You could choose from elk, bison, and a variety of other steaks.

For appetizers, even rattlesnake was offered, but we opted to go with the Rocky Mountain Oysters. Even I know that these are “bull testicles” but when they’re all breaded up and prepared they taste a lot like fried chicken without the chicken in my opinion.

Rocky Mountain Oysters at the Buckhorn Exchange

These were served with the requisite puns about balls and sacks. The wait staff was impeccable with their delivery. (At this moment, I can’t remember any of their one-liners but let’s add stand-up comedy to the entertainment provided at this one-of-a-kind establishment.)

We each got healthy portions of our meats of choice. I ordered the Elk and Cornish Game Hen with mashed potatoes. We did a bit of food sampling of each others’ picks and in the end, I had leftovers that lasted me for 2 more nights.

Overall, this excursion gets many points for originality! Kudos to Michael for coming up with yet another unique Microadventure and Colorado treasure!

Microadventure #97: San Francisco Bay Area with Jackster

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Jack (who I affectionately call, “Jackster”) and I have been friends since both living in H Building of the Tercero Dorms at UC Davis!

For the past few years, whenever I visit Mom in Sacramento, I try to combine it with a quick trip down to the Bay Area to visit Jackster.

Sausalito, CA

Jackster picked me up from the Emeryville Amtrak station and we drove down the coast to beautiful Sausalito!

We walked the iconic streets and stopped to eat at the Barrel House Tavern on the waterfront. This is undoubtedly has made it to the #1 Spot of “Best Restaurant in Sausalito” travel articles.

We ordered up some fancy appetizers and had an outdoor table so we could enjoy the view and catch up in style.

Jackster with his sister, “Pammy”

We headed from there to downtown San Francisco where there was a double-70th-birthday party in the works for Jack’s cousin and her husband! This party was like a wedding! The birthday couple owned an Indian restaurant and there was an abundance of yummy dishes, desserts, and drinks!

But best of all, there were lots of happy people! Jackster introduced me to his sister, “Pammy” (I resisted calling her “Pamster,” follow the tradition that Jackster and I have established of adding “ster” to names.).

Jack has often spoken of Pam over the years, so I was happy to finally get to meet her in person. She (along with the rest of his family) were so friendly and welcoming. I felt so lucky and honored to have had that opportunity to be part of such a celebration!

Happy Breakfast

The next morning, “Cafe Jackster” served a delicious breakfast, complete with grits! There was even fruit and yogurt on the side. This meal brought me even more joy than those fancy appetizers we’d had at the Barrel House Tavern!

Jackster was just full of surprises, with the next one being the car that we would be taking for our excursions: A restored 1957 Volkswagen Beetle!

I have to admit, it was crazy to be driving in a car with absolutely no modern-day gadgets! Cars without a line of software? How do they operate? It almost looked like a toy car!

Luckily, Jack is a talented driver and knows how to operate old cars!

Sea Lion Spotting!

We stopped at a place along the Pacific Coast (Maybe JV Fitzgerald Marine Reserve?) and spotted a sea lion on the rocks!

But the highlight of the day was our excursion to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park!

The trees and scenery here were incredible.

Such a fun weekend and it was so thoughtful of Jack to plan so many unexpected surprises! I have a lot to be grateful for.. especially for my wonderful friend, Jackster.

Microadventure #96: Sacramento Zoo with David

David is a super-docent at the Sacramento Zoo

David is one of those rare people who started as a virtual friend and became a friend in real life! We “met” first on a site called “gather.com” before Facebook or Instagram were popular. Gather.com was a site for people who liked to write or post pictures.

I wrote this about David in a blog post back in 2010:

I got to know my friend, David, because he sent in a donation when I was fundraising for Leukemia. I only knew him as a “virtual” friend from a social networking site, but he has been one of the most generous and supportive friends I’ve ever had. It’s those kind of people who I admire beyond words.

I discovered that David lived in Sacramento so we’d met up in person on one of my family visits. In the past few years, I’d noticed that David had been posting incredible pictures of animals at the Sacramento Zoo. One of his many talents is that he’s an amazing photographer!

On my recent visit to Sacramento, I asked David if I could visit him at the zoo. In typical “David style” he took the day off of work and gave me a detailed very informative tour! I thought he’d be volunteering and I’d just be able to see him in passing, but instead, I got what amounted to a VIP pass with the best guide ever!

David knows how gaga I am about flamingos. Even though the flamingos were in quarantine because of an avian flu epidemic, David was tell me a bunch of fun facts about flamingos in this little video:

David is just a wealth of knowledge about all the animals! Never have I had such an informative and fun tour! What a treat! It’s clear that David has such a passion and love of the animals and the Sacramento Zoo. His energy was contagious.

I took a lot of pictures and was impressed with all the anecdotes and fun tidbits of information about the different animal species. When we were looking at the giraffes, David pointed out a pregnant giraffe and pointed out the difference between the coats in the male and female giraffes.

My favorite giraffe, however, is in this picture he posted for Halloween on Facebook!

The Zebra is very interested in this giraffe!

Microadventure #95: Visiting my childhood home in Sacramento with Mom & Neal

At “home” in Sacramento with Mom

I’m way behind on blogging about my Microadventures, but this is an important one! I typically take a trip to Sacramento to visit my Mom at least once a year. She and her parter, Philip, are in their late 80’s and live in the house that I grew up in (starting in 1972 when I was in 6th grade.)

Even though Mom would prefer to stay home than go out on some kind of excursion, I consider myself very lucky to be able to spend time with her in our home that holds so many memories.

Mom and Philip both recently gave up driving and I’m so proud of them for doing that. They both resisted initially and I know that it’s very difficult to be dependent on others. One of the purposes of my visit this time was to try and help make sure they were getting all the help they needed. Philip also had a fall and broke one of his vertebrae so he was getting some physical therapy and was having some mobility challenges.

I’m happy to note that even when I was out there, he was tootling around with his walker. He’s continued to improve and he and Mom are walking regularly in the neighborhood now.

Luckily, my brother, Neal, lives relatively close by and regularly helps Mom and Philip with the house and rides. He also was able to find a wonderful woman who comes regularly and gives Mom and Philip rides to the store and doctor’s appointments.

While I was out visiting, I even went out swing dancing with Neal! This is something I’ve done enough times with Neal that I’m getting to know his swing dance friends, which is very fun.

Swing Dancing with my brother, Neal, is always something I look forward to when I visit Sacramento

I also visited our long-time family friend, Dee, who is almost 90! I blogged about her being in hospice over a year ago. The woman is invincible!

I have my fears about aging and the grief I’ll feel when I lose people I love. However, I’ve learned that it’s more important than ever to savor the time I do have with the people I love. Seeing how Mom and Dee handle aging with such grace inspires me. I’m so glad to have these role models to remind me of the beauty of living life fully at every age.