Scotland – So far, So Very Good – Photo Essay

So far, our vacation has been spectacular. We started in Glasgow and drove to Edinburgh. I only drove the wrong way once, but immediately rode over the median, much to the amusement of Scottish onlookers. Oopsy!

Since we are already up in Inverness and Nessie is waiting for us to take a peek, I will take you on a photo journey of only a few of the places we have visited in the last few days.

Dalhousie Castle

We stayed in Dalhousie Castle for two nights.  With spectacular history and equally fine appointments, I was ready to move in.

Ready to move into Dalhousie Castle

We took a tour of the Rosslyn Church of Da Vinci Code fame. Legend has it, when the Roman Catholic Church tried to disband the Knights Templar, they hid their treasure somewhere in the church. The tour guide told us of a paver which holds much of the building’s energy. The man is stepping on it in the photo. Not expecting much, I stepped on the stone. A chill traveled up my legs as I broke out in a sweat much to the excitement of the elderly docent. Continue reading

One Way to Prepare for the UK

Prepare to drive on the wrong side of the road in the UK

I will travel far and wide in Europe this summer and will drive during part of the trip.

No big deal, right? I drive all the time. But I’ve never driven in the UK where they drive on the wrong side of the road. Whoa.

Why am I freaking out?

It always takes me a while to get used to doing something new. Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a spazz. My tennis coach used to take my arm and move it through the motion of every new stroke. When I tried Zumba, I was shamed by the elderly ladies dancing the Samba for the first time.

Don’t get me started on my left-hand. I never know what it’s doing. Just last night, it held a key and I forgot about it.

“Where’s the key?” asked my husband, Danny.

“I don’t know, ” I said. Then I looked at my totally lame left-hand. “Ha! Here it is!”

The first time I ever drove, my dad sat in the passenger seat while we crossed the street to the humongous school parking lot. Only one car parked in the lot that Saturday afternoon. I had tons of room in which to take my maiden voyage in our Buick. I took long, slow practice turns around the lot. That one car frightened me. I closed my eyes to mere slits and cringed every time I drove past. At one point, I pointed our station wagon in its direction and drove at ramming speed. Continue reading

Threats and Warnings – What Would You Do?

So destiny has packed our bags and my husband, Danny, and I will travel to five European countries during the month of June. One of them is England. I had thought it perfect timing that Blogger’s Bash 2017 would be held in London while we traveled from Scotland to France. We made our reservations near Victoria Station and are ready to go. I can’t wait to meet my blogging friends from the UK.

Then the unthinkable happened in Manchester. Prime Minister Theresa May raised the terrorist threat flag from severe to critical adding “an attack is imminent.” She called for police presence on the streets and help from the military. Not exactly the relaxing trip I’d planned.

We stopped in NYC on our way to Europe a few weeks before 9/11. My son, Kelly, wanted to see the World Trade Center, so we taxied down to the financial district. You never know. (I’m behind the camera.)

world trade center 2001

Why so much hatred in the world? Of all concerts, why Ariana Grande? She is queen of the tweens. So many little girls attended. Why would killing little girls be a terrorist’s goal? I imagine a horrific, hellish afterlife where they suffer for eternity. That line of thought ends with me hating them. That’s not the answer. Hate begets hate. Somehow or other, things have got to settle down. We all need to peace the hell out.

World leaders tweeted strong defensive strategies like stopping ISIS before their routine attacks undermine and dismantle the government. That didn’t sit well with me. I’m not a defense kind of gal. I loved the Pope’s message: “Dialogue allows us to plan for a future in common. Through dialogue we build peace, taking care of everyone.” That’s playing offense.

Every day security ramps up. Some British tourist attractions are closed. Worries have extended to France, Belgium and Germany. Great.

It’s no big deal to hunker down in Scotland. I am an Outlander super fan and could find tons of activities to keep me busy. But I visualize terrorists hidden in gloomy alleys who watch my cowardly reaction. Continue reading

Notorious Colorado Weather – A Photo Essay

Colorado weather is notorious for its unpredictability, but I’ve never seen anything like the superstorm that arrived this week. 2017 has been a year of the unpredictable, with the death of my brother and ceiling cave-in. I keep looking for that silver lining. It’s in my nature.

A week ago, I worried about how I would get “everything” done before floor refinishers and painters take over the house for the month of June. Part of my long list included planting annuals. Not only a couple of pots placed on tables, but at least eleven urns and four window boxes. That’s a lot of plant material.

radient flower box

Usually, I check out all of the garden centers before buying in order to save money. This year, I’m under a time crunch, so I was tempted to buy everything at one place. I vibed out and couldn’t motivate. After fighting the crowds over the warm Mother’s Day weekend, I only bought geraniums on Monday. Then I looked at the five day forecast and couldn’t believe my eyes. Tiny flakes of snow were predicted to arrive on Thursday night. I figured the snow would melt before waking.

The beginning of the storm rolled in several days early with huge hail in the form of golf ball-sized snowballs on Monday. It reminded me of a scene from The Day After Tomorrow. I’d never seen anything like it. You’ll have to trust me since they melted before I could take a picture. Thunderstorms rolled through the next two days.

Thursday, 8:30 AM:

After I blogged my Twin Peaks post, I looked up from my computer to the kitchen window. “It’s snowing!” I sprang from my chair and stared at the giant quarter-sized flakes. I figured it was a fluke and it would soon turn to rain.

9:00 AM:

It’s still snowing. Large puddles are forming on my lawn. A great day for ducks. Maybe you can see the duck in this video. Continue reading

Are You Going to Watch Twin Peaks?

TwinPeaks_openingshotcreditsWith the first eerie guitar picks of the Twin Peaks theme song in 1990, the mood was set for a show that would put creepy on a whole new level. After the violent murder of Laura Palmer rocked a small town in Washington, quirky Special Agent Dale Cooper entered the scene to investigate. His love of cherry pie and “Damn good coffee,” contrasted with disturbing characters like the Log Lady and grieving Leland Palmer, strange settings, and townspeople who carried secrets like bags of groceries from the Bargain Market. The audience knew right away that evil lurked. I was hooked.

The supernatural elements of Cooper’s dreams really topped off the show. Riddles in poetic prose, a giant who told him, “The owls aren’t what they seem,” and a little person who spoke in reverse kept me awake for several nights at a time. When we find out Bob is a demon who possesses humans, the killer could be anyone.

Director David Lynch used strange color combinations, sound, music and odd characters to provoke fear by presenting the audience with the unexpected and macabre. Even the most mundane moments took on a sinister quality like when Donna delivers Meals on Wheels to shut-ins. Not knowing where the killer lurked, the audience expected the murderer to spring out at anytime. Lynch didn’t rely on gore or horror in general to scare us. Rather it was tightly wound suspense of the strange scenes that kept his loyal fans glued.

I bought the soundtrack and listened to it over and over again. But it was The Diary of Laura Palmer, which revealed what the show could not. With the description of brutal torture, mutilation, and more clues about Palmer’s tormentor, I realized how dark Twin Peaks really was.

When I discovered Lynch would revive the Twin Peaks series after twenty-five years, I was more than excited. But television has changed a lot since the 90’s. Gory scenes have become mainstream and violent shows like American Horror Story have become popular. I cringe at people getting getting hacked up, preferring old-fashioned psychological tightening of nerve-endings to get my heart racing. Continue reading

A Gym Where Nobody Knows My Name

Chances are, you’ve been a member of a gym or fitness club sometime in your life. You probably made some friends and they helped motivate you to work out. What do you do when you burn out even though everyone knows your name?

My gym experience started in an auspicious way. I snuck into Vic Tanny – the first fitness chain in the US – a few times with a friend to use the hot tub for my notorious knee injury in the 80’s. One day, I got busted. I threw up my hands and signed up. Best thing I ever did. I’ve continued to belong to fitness clubs ever since. I joined the last one to meet others from my neighborhood. I played competitive tennis as a member until diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer and subsequent double boobectomies in 2013, but it was a partial knee replacement a year later that really slowed me down. I tried physical therapy, fitness classes, and yoga, but nothing made the impact I needed to get back into fighting shape.

Typical day in 2016:

“Come on, let’s go to class,” I said to myself.

“But I’m in the middle of writing,” myself countered.

“You’re always writing,” I said.

“In a minute.” I adjusted my focus back on the computer and another day passed.

In January, I set reasonable goals for myself. All are within my own control. Priority #1 is to become fit and strong once again. How would I accomplish my goals if I couldn’t motivate? After being a member for sixteen years, I needed a change.

My kids are members of 24 Hour Fitness, so I checked it out. I looked forward to a gym where nobody knows my name. It would be fun to start fresh and meet new people. Maybe I’d learn something new.

During a three day trial, I checked out a few classes including yoga. The gym filled with Boulderites. I rolled out my mat between a middle-aged woman who had a lot of plastic surgery and a cross-dresser complete with blond wig. I had found my people!

My membership came with a free hour of personal training. After a wicked session with TRX, (straps used by Navy Seals when stationed on ships), free weights, and dead lifts, my muscles groaned. But it felt good to wake up with sore muscles. I hadn’t considered weight training, but remembered hearing how it strengthens bone. My anti-cancer medication, Anastrozole, obliterates estrogen which is what my cancer ate, but also dissolves bone. I don’t want to become shrinky dinky because of skeletal fractures. That would not be good, at all. I’m short enough at 5’4″.

With the help of Brian, the fitness manager, and Sam, a personal trainer, I am officially locked and loaded with sessions bought through a package. Soon, they’ll set me loose to train on my own. Oh, wow… That’s coming up soon. Scheduling me for gym time started a new habit. Endorphin addiction will keep me going.

In the meantime, I’m learning all kinds of torture chamber methods to wake up my minuscule muscles. I trained today and can feel them crying out for mercy. They are total wimps and woosies.

“Pipe down,” I said to my whiny muscles, “You need to be exercised. It’s good for you! We can try new adventures again knowing that I won’t hurt myself because of your puniness.”

“All right. You don’t have to yell.”

I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, two people know my name at my new gym and that’s A-okay.

Clowning around at 24 Hour Fitness

Do you belong to a gym? Do people know your name? Are you a gym rat or a occasional user? I’m striving for the rat category.

When Destiny Packs Your Bags

ducks in a row

Doesn’t it always seem when you get your proverbial ducklings to trot single file, Destiny senses your achievement and watches like a lurking bully? Just as you hit your stride it jumps from the bushes and scatters them. Yup. Big D loves to mess with us. We can’t predict what life has in store for us, EVER!

“You think you’re in control of things? Ha!” says Big D, “You crack me up, Susie Lindau.” Destiny always has other plans in order to teach us life lessons.

This was the year I wanted to hunker down to finish projects, enter contests and get into super shape. Most important to me was to start a regular routine to balance my life and accomplish more in less time. Destiny buckled over it laughed so hard.

When my brother, Joe, died in March, shock pulled more than five weeks from my stellar equation to reach 2017’s goals. During that time I shelved most of my writing, but made some positive changes. I write in a gratitude journal every night and refocused my goals after finally learning about the fragility of life. You’d think breast cancer would have taught me that.

Destiny crosses its arms and shakes its head.

But Destiny also taught me to take opportunities presented NOW. I won’t wait for a better time in the future. You never know what’s ahead. Since adventure’s my thing, I decided I wanted to travel a lot more, but I wasn’t sure how I would balance that with hunkering down. I figured once things settled down after the funeral, I could get a ton done and plan an adventure sometime next fall. Ha! In hindsight, Destiny and I both share a laugh over that naive thought.

My husband and I returned home between Joe’s death and the funeral and discovered water pouring through the ceiling of our house from my demon washing machine. I took it as a cosmic joke and cliché moment about how life goes on and most of the setbacks are fixable. I figured we would patch up the ceiling and move on.

“Gotcha, Destiny.” I clucked my tongue and winked.

Big D shook its head. It had other plans.

So we’ve been inundated with workers since March 14th. Driers, contractors, drywallers, painters and soon the wood floors will be redone. My routine has been blown to hell. Instead, I carve out a few hours each day while workers come and go.

Then we heard from our insurance company. Are you sitting down? Because the water leaked out of the room into the hall, ALL of the wood floors on our first floor will be refinished along with my son’s room. The furniture has to be moved out. I threw up my hands and shook my fist at the Destiny. “Quit screwing with us, Destiny!”

My stomach has been knotted while waiting to get back to a normal life.

Then I discovered we need to move out of the house for almost THREE WEEKS! Another setback. We planned to drive to Breckenridge and stay at our second home. That’s cool, I guess.

One night, we picked up where we left off with Outlander. I had been so inspired when we started watching the historical fantasy about a woman who travels back in time to the 1740’s. My 100% Irish dad shocked us a few years ago when he said he had a Scottish grandmother. I did some research and she immigrated to America from the Melville Castle area. I wondered if my love for fish tropical in tanks and of the edible variety had anything to do with a connection to Herman?

“Wait a minute,” I said to my husband, Danny, after turning off a gruesome episode where a duke becomes headless, “See if there’s anything available in Scotland!” We bought a dinky timeshare unit in a lodge at the bottom of Peak 7 in Breck to use the amenities and park our car. We always forget to trade it and are about to lose two weeks.

After Danny researched availability, he came out of his office, smiling. “There’s a place in Dailly, Scotland.”

“What?” my eyebrows rose to my hairline and I took a look at his computer. We couldn’t find a trade in the US. It must be destiny.

A small smile curled in the corners of The Big D’s mouth as it peered over my shoulder.

That weekend, I caught up with a few blogs before skiing. Sacha Black announced the Bloggers Bash in London. One of our goals is to travel around and meet my virtual friends. “We could meet my friends!” I said.

I bought two tickets to the Bash and Danny booked our stay in Scotland for a week. We still needed to book the second week.

Why don’t we go to Paris the second week?”

“Really?”

“We can go anywhere, but that’s your favorite place, right?”

I would let it sink in over the weekend.

I attended the Pikes Peak Writers Conference and had several mind blown moments thanks to Donald Maass and several other knowledgeable writers. Between classes, I spoke to my son, Kelly. “If you want to visit me this quarter, you should come out next weekend,” he said. “I have to work hard the last few weeks of school.” He’s attending Icon Collective Music Production School in Burbank. He graduates in June.

I LOVE visiting Kelly in California, but I would come home late Sunday evening and would have to repack to fly out again. Thing is, my mom comes for a ten day visit over Mother’s Day. Would I ever have time to do revisions after those mind blown moments? I remembered my new thoughts about opportunity and booked flights for early Friday morning. With the pressure of a trip, I wrote a brand new, much better first chapter and revised the second. Maybe cramming in writing between workers coming to the house was a good thing.

Monday morning I checked AirBnB’s in Paris surprised at how many lovely apartments near the heart of Paris only cost around $100 per night. I made a list of favorites. Then I noticed the walls in the Parisian apartment photos. I needed to pick a color for the bathroom that had been damaged. Most of the French rooms depicted neutrals in gray, taupe and tans. We have a very French house and I was sick of the green paint in the bathroom.

I drove to the paint store and picked out a few colors, then asked the decorator, “Is gray still a popular color?”

“It is,” she said, brown curls bouncing as she walked toward me from her desk.

“I was thinking about warm gray,” I said. “Something with a little brown in it.”

She pulled a few colors from a new line of paint. They all looked pretty much alike. When I returned home with a fist full of paint chips, I selected a taupey color called “Quicksand” and called the painter.

Destiny chuckled in the background.

I didn’t pay attention to its giggle.

Another cosmic joke came the next day. The house filled with painters. They spent the day painting the guest bedroom and the adjacent back sink area and bathroom.

After they left, I checked out the rooms. “Are you kidding me???” The walls were a light shade of green. It made the tumbled marble tile look pink. I screamed. “No!” Then I checked the code for the paint on the chip against the can. Exactly the same. How? How?

I figured this had to happen to other people and spoke the contractor. Nope. This NEVER happens.

At this rate, workers will be around for a while. I predict a lot of travel in my future. Quit scattering my ducks, Destiny!

Related posts:

A Cosmic Joke After Trauma

I Celebrated a Birthday, but Failed to Save a Life

When Death Sits on My Face

My Demon Washing Machine is Haunted