Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Mile High Return

Unfortunately, three of our five grandchildren live in Colorado. Of course, they wouldn’t have it any other way and they’re probably never moving to Minnesota. So to see them Sharon and I have to jump on a plane and fly to the mile high city. It’s been an ever-evolving process with them getting older with each visit.

Over the years, our trips have evolved and changed as the kids have grown and developed their own set of interests and daily activities. The LaComb household has morphed from its earlier years of daily naps, playground time, and early sports ventures into traveling teams, advanced gymnastics and one of the top soccer teams for her age category in the state.

My, how things have changed. There used to be naps in the afternoon or at least some periods of quiet time. Not anymore. The kids and their parents are throttled up and moving every hour of the day. As the ‘grandparents,’ Sharon and I just follow directions, traipse along and ask what is happening in the next hour. I probably have sat on the sidelines of every major soccer and lacrosse field in the greater Denver metropolitan area.

There is no longer time to venture north to visit boulder; a loss for me. We haven’t been back to our old familiar stomping grounds lately. But it’s been replaced by Saturday morning garage sales, Starbucks coffee nearby, cooking and art classes at home.

Then there is always plenty of fresh air on the sidelines of innumerable sporting events including gymnastics, soccer, swimming competition, lacrosse and the occasional triathlon for all three kids.

Since our ‘dress up dinner’ was such as success with the Minnesota grandchildren this summer, Sharon decided to do the same in Denver.

We went to ‘Brio,’ an upscale Italian Mediterranean cuisine restaurant nearby. That meant a sport coat and suspenders for Spencer, fancy new dresses for Maya and Samantha and a hairdo for Sammi that made her look ten years older (at least in the eyes of her ‘papa’).

Dress up dinners are  always a great way to teach the children about table manners, ordering food, asking questions of the waiter and behaving properly as young children should in that setting. Unfortunately all five grandchildren have taken to the fancy restaurant settings, interesting foods and refined environment which can only hint of the foodie adventures ahead for all of them. They must have gotten that quality from their Nana. It certainly didn’t come from Papa.

Brian showed us his data center. No photos were allowed but sufficient to say it was a large room with more computer power than most of us could comprehend.

A couple of years ago, Sharon began introducing cooking classes as well as art classes to all of the grandkids. They took to the various painting techniques like children to recess. This time around Sharon only had time for teaching several new painting techniques to the kids. They used gauze and string along with alcohol ink and acrylics to create some interesting masterpieces.

It’s been fascinating to watch the LaComb family change and evolve as the grandchildren get older. As the grandparents, Sharon and I have become the sideline cheerleaders, morning coffee companions, ‘treasure seekers’ at garage sales and drivers for a lot of sporting events. (It must been universal, there are seldom if ever games close together or at the same time.) That means carpooling, separate trips and the necessary logistics that would make UPS proud. It’s all part and parcel for a trip for mile high adventures.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Sense of Purpose

I have a dear friend who has been around for almost forty years. She probably doesn’t remember that when we first met she had just gotten a divorce, was starting a new job and was pondering her next step in life. We both worked at KTCA, the local public television station in town. Over time, she got remarried, had a beautiful daughter and rose in the ranks of fund-raising at the station. When I left in 1993, she was the only person I kept in contact with afterwards.

While I focused on my video production business and real estate investments, she continued growing in her career at the station. We would have lunch every couple of months and talk ‘station talk,’ and events in our lives. She became my sounding board for all things political, female and personal growth. A part of every conversation always seemed to end with ‘what to do when we would eventually retire.’ Like I said, we had a lot of history together.

I retired first and morphed into writing on a full time basis. Elise retired several years later, moved to Arizona and began her own ‘new’ career in the beauty business. Elise has long felt that older women are given the short shift when it comes to beauty tips. As always, the industry has focused on a younger audience and filled its advertisements with rail thin waifs who don’t look like anyone we might meet on the street. Elise felt there was a vastly under-served market she would like to reach with her beauty tips.

She was right and she has been very well received by that demographic. I’m guessing their husbands, partners and significant others aren’t complaining either. It’s been fun to watch Elise grow in her new career.

Of course, there were plenty of stumbles along the way as she grew her new business. She started with part-time work with Clinic, gave classes in community education, made lots of contacts and kept trying to find her niche where her talents met the needs of her clients. She had to learn how to build her own web site, create YouTube videos and online classes. It was hard and difficult and always challenging. But she had a secret that kept her going. Distilled down to its essential elements, she had a ‘sense of purpose’ and a reason to keep plugging along.

I’ve seen that same ‘sense of purpose’ in other friends who have found a whole new life after a lifetime of ‘working.’ Charlotte was a fellow teacher at Sharon’s college, who upon retirement has expanded her talent on stage and screen.

She’s been heavily involved with the local Twin Cities Film Festival  www.twincitiesfilmfest.org for a long time and acted in both plays and movies for many years. She was one of the founding members of both the Rosemount Area Arts Council (RAAC) and the Second Act Players (SAP) and serves on both boards.

She was my lead actress in my first two plays ‘Riot at Sage Corner’ and ‘Club 210.’ This summer she not only acted in my third play at the Steeple Center ‘The Last Sentinel’ she was also my director. Now she’s advising me on another venture of writing my first musical.

As Charlotte told me a long time ago:  “I taught to pay the bills and acted to feed my soul.” I got it. She had that sense of purpose long before she acted in her first play, choreographed her first dance, and directed her first play.

The common denominator with these two women is their sense of purpose. It’s their reason for getting out of bed each morning and facing many hours of hard labor with no guarantee of remuneration other than the knowledge that they are doing exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives.

I have a casual coffee acquaintance whose specialty is rebuilding old Jaguar sports cars and racing them at the local track. Another coastal acquaintance teaches writing classes, edits newsletters for several senior groups he’s involved with and used to sing barbershop harmony in his spare time.

A fellow writer of mine started the Anchorage Writers Guild, regularly does author signings at Barnes and Noble, and is program chair for the Palm Springs Writers Guild. Another retired teacher like Sharon gives investment advice and has written two books on investing in retirement. His focus has been on fellow teachers.

All of these folks and plenty more that I know have shaken off the shackles of retirement and rejected the old axiom that now is the time to slow down and take it easy. They’ve found a sense of purpose, a new reason for being and a rejection of the traditional model for retirement. I’m guessing they don’t give a rat’s derriere what others of their tribe think of their daily activities. They’re doing what they want to do, how they want to do it and having a great, sometimes tough time doing it. Their sense of purpose is the only motivator they need.

Do yourself a favor and check out my friend Elise’s website. It’s called Boomer and Beauty with a focus on the beauty of older women. It’s a niche market to be sure but one that has a lot of interested participants.  The link to her website is http://emjahns.wixsite.com/mysite

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Hawaiian Holiday

The island of Kauai is the furthest of the Hawaiian island chain from the U.S. mainland and one of the most tropical. It is also the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands.

With an area of 562 square miles, it is the fourth largest of these islands and the 21st largest island in the United States. Known as the “Garden Isle”, Kauai lies 105 miles northwest of Oahu. It is less populated and less touristy than many of the other Hawaiian Islands.

There is only one main road that circles most of the island. Traffic jams in the more populated parts of the island are legendary. It’s a different life style, a different culture and very expensive. Not to identify myself as one with Midwestern tastes BUT… When my son and I went out for coffee at a nearby resort (upscale I will admit) he had a medium chai, I had a coffee and we had two pastries. Total bill $28.95 and she was expecting a tip for pressing the spout button.

The trip came as a surprise invitation from our son and daughter-in-law to stay with them for a week in Hawaii.

They had rented a home on the North Shore of the island so Maya, our eldest granddaughter, could earn her diving certificate and be able to scuba dive anywhere in the world.

We arrived early and stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn for several days.

The hotel / resort was situated by a wonderful inlet. Protected by huge boulders, it provided the perfect spot to wade and wonder about the beauty surrounding us.

The beaches on the north end of the island were more protected from the strong waves and sometimes treacherous Pacific currents. We went beach combing with the twins while Brian, Maya and their instructor dove deep off shore. A monk seal shimmied on shore and did some sun bathing. But we were distracted by the incredibly lush green mountainsides that spilled out into the blue turquoise ocean.

Of course, we had to find the local craft beer pub in town

Family time was relaxed. There was plenty of time card games, coloring for adults, pool time and hustling pool.

The obligatory luau didn’t disappoint and entertained the kids.

Cliffside dining at a fancy restaurant came with a double rainbow which we were told was almost a daily occurrence.

Waimea Canyon (the Grand Canyon of the Pacific) on the south end of the island is famous for its spectacular views. It didn’t disappoint.

Aloha... until we see you again.