Travel Tuesdays – S1E9 – one poem & a few quotes.

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The Road Not Taken

Written by: Robert Frost
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood, 
And sorry I could not travel both 
And be one traveler, long I stood 
And looked down one as far as I could 
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 

Then took the other, as just as fair, 
And having perhaps the better claim 
Because it was grassy and wanted wear; 
Though as for that, the passing there 
Had worn them really about the same, 

And both that morning equally lay 
In leaves no step had trodden black. 
Oh, I marked the first for another day! 
Yet knowing how way leads on to way 
I doubted if I should ever come back. 

I shall be telling this with a sigh 
Somewhere ages and ages hence: 
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, 
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference.

1. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain

2. “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St.  Augustine

3. “There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

4. “The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead  of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson


Federal Holidays aka Sale Days

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009I found this interesting information regarding federal holidays on Wikipedia -“For constitutional reasons, the United States does not have national holidays in the sense that most other nations do, i.e. days on which all businesses are closed by law and employees have a day off. Pursuant to the Tenth Amendment, the U.S. federal government only has constitutional jurisdiction to establish holidays for itself, for certain federally chartered and regulated businesses (such as federal banks), and for the District of Columbia; and pursuant to the First Amendment, neither federal, state nor local government can require any business (other than those mentioned) or individual to observe any holiday. Otherwise, constitutional authority to create public holidays is a power reserved to the states. Most states also allow local jurisdictions (cities, villages, etc.) to establish their own local holidays. As of 2012, there are eleven federal holidays in the United States, ten annual holidays and one quadrennial holiday (Inauguration Day). Pursuant to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968 (effective 1971), official holidays are observed on a Monday, except for New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. All current federal holidays have also been made public holidays in all 50 states. States are not bound to observe the holidays on the same dates as the federal holidays but they are free to do as they will.”

The ten annual federal holidays are: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King’s Birthday, George Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day. And do you know what they all have in common? There are sale days in conjunction with each and every one. And for some reason this Memorial Day that is really bugging me. Maybe it is because young men and women are still dying in war. Maybe it is because I was at a National Veteran’s Cemetery recently and saw all the graves. Or maybe it is because I can personally name a couple of those who gave their lives in the past year. Remembering with parades, ceremonies even family barbeques seems appropriate but sale days?!?!

As I look at the list of Federal Holidays, I think maybe Labor Day would be a good holiday to have a sale connected to it but not the others. I wonder maybe retailers could have sales on other days and leave the federal holidays for remembering and respecting the ideals and sacrifices of those the federal holiday was established for. I guess my fear is that some day September 11 will be made a Federal Holiday and we will have sales with taglines like “special deals between 9am-11pm”. And we will have forgotten what happened on that day just as many may have forgotten what Memorial Day is all about.

Thank you to all who have laid down your lives for my freedoms. May God continue to comfort your families. God bless America.

Travel Tuesdays – S1E8 – Oklahoma

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I was born in Oxford, England but from age 2 – 5 years I lived in Norman, OK. My dad had met my mom while he was stationed in England during the Korean War. They would marry. I would be born and then we would move to Norman, Oklahoma so my dad could finish his education at the University of Oklahoma. My brother and sister were born in Norman, Oklahoma. My grandparents lived there until their deaths. Whenever I spell Oklahoma, the song “O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A, Oklahoma” runs through my mind. My earliest childhood memory is being lowered into a tornado shelter. I remember being held in my dad’s arms and being passed to someone else standing lower down. I can almost feel their hands around my rib cage. I remember people sitting on benches around the edge of the “room.” Some years later when I described that memory to my folks, they confirmed that what I was remembering was being passed into a tornado shelter.

My heart aches for the people of Oklahoma who were affected by the recent tornados. My prayers have been for their safety and their recovery. My friend and pastor shared a prayer on his Facebook page from a Jewish believer. It is a beautiful prayer that rings so true with my heart that I wanted to share it with you.

“A Prayer for Oklahoma…May 20, 2013
By Abby Jacobson, Emanuel Synagogue, Oklahoma City, OK

Lord our God, we stood before You just a week ago to receive the Ten Statements of Your Torah. We stood, as though with our ancestors, and listened to the Torah reader chant descriptions of the smoking mountain, the thunderous rumbling, and the long-awaited voice of God.

This afternoon, the people of central Oklahoma did not stand to hear the voice of God. We sat, we paced, and we huddled. We listened to the voice of the meteorologists and watched as dark clouds swirled together over a cone of destruction. The rain fell upward, not down, and the thunderous roar of the swirling winds carried, and we saw the awesome power of God. This was not Shavuot—the Feast of Weeks that marked our days of freedom. This was minutes that seemed like years and trapped us into watching the same images of destruction.

Merciful God, a great and powerful windstorm has passed, and it has torn apart the buildings and shattered the rocks before You. You told Elijah, the prophet, that You were not in the windstorm. Please, then, be in the still, small voices of the children crying out to be found. Be in the voices of the rescuers calling out for survivors. Be in the cries of those who are lost and of those who have lost.

May it be Your will that those who are missing be found alive and be cared for well, and may the people of central Oklahoma find strength in You and in one another as we rebuild what we can.”

Travel Tuesdays – S1E7

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Today for the first time in a very long time I picked someone up at the international arrivals area of Newark Airport. To be honest I don’t think I ever picked someone up there before. When we had family visit from Great Britain when I was a kid, they flew into JFK. I was trying to remember when was the last time I ventured into the international arrival area of any airport. As I pondered that I realized it was a few years ago at JFK when my daughter Meghan returned from Ireland – I think. Meghan was my world traveler. During her high school and college days, she took full advantage of the travel/study aboard concept. She visited Italy (twice), France, Germany, Ghana, Ireland (twice), England and Scotland as well as a couple of trips to St Thomas. A few years ago when there were no trips scheduled outside of the continental United States, she had commented “this is the first time since 2002 that I haven’t left the US!” So I have a vague memory of watching and waiting to see Meghan at JFK but I can’t tell you where she had been. I do know it is always good when your child has traveled safely home and you are hugging them and waiting to hear all the details of the trip.

Today I was at Newark Airport to pick up my aunt and uncle. I found my way to the international arrivals area but I wasn’t really sure if I was in the right place. I wasn’t sure this was the only place my aunt and uncle would be able to exit immigration and customs. An occasional flight attendant or pilot would walk out of the customs area, wheeling their suitcase, looking very professional. But there weren’t very many travelers exiting. I decided to take a seat and wait. I am grateful there were rows of bench type chairs. As I headed to a chair, a man was heading to the same chair. There was a funny moment as we realized we were both “aiming for the same place”. I changed my direction to seat a row ahead of my original destination and said “I won’t fight you for it. I will just sit here instead.” We both chuckled and sat down and I asked “Do you know if this is the only exit?”. He was hoping it was because he had been waiting for over an hour for his friend/family from Amsterdam. He inquired where was the flight I was waiting for from and I said “Manchester, England.” This lead to him sharing the story of being in England in 1955 as a young service man. I shared the story of my folks meeting in England just a few years before. He told the story of an English woman who was so very kind to him and his friend. He said she was about 25 years older than he was. He was just 19 years old and his English wasn’t good because he is from Puerto Rico. The woman’s name was Molly and she watched out for him and his friend. She took them to church. He laughed as he said she tried to “keep us out of trouble.” He would travel back to England through the years to see her. She would leave her house to him and his friend when she died because she had no family. It was an amazing story. After awhile I would see my aunt and uncle approaching, I said “take care.”. He extended his hand to shake mine and said “My name is Walter.” I said “My name is Ann. It was lovely talking to you.” Walter said “God bless you”. What a delightful encounter.

“Happy” Mother’s Day


This past week the “ads” for Mother’s Day have been relentless. Every time I heard or saw an ad for teddy bears, flowers and jewelry, I thought of the women who this Mother’s Day will be hard. I thought of my cousins who are experiencing the first Mother’s Day without their mom. I thought of my friends who have lost their mothers this past year. I thought of the mommies of the children killed in Newtown and Boston. I thought of the moms of those who have died while serving our country. I thought of the young women trying to have children and it isn’t “happening.” I thought of the moms of children with serious illnesses. I thought of the children with moms with serious illnesses. And then I said a prayer. A prayer that they would find peace. A prayer that they could remember the hugs and love without too much pain. A prayer that they would know that there is a Heavenly Father that loves them, their children and their moms.

Yesterday I had a lovely day out with friends. We are women who became friends because of our September 11 connection. One of my friends lost her only child on September 11. Another lost her youngest son on September 11. Still another lost her mom very recently. I was struck by it isn’t as simple as “making it through the first Mother’s Day since…” Mother’s Day will always be hard. So I pray that the good memories will outweigh the bad. That the loss will not overwhelm them. That there is someone around them to give a hug, a smile or an ear to listen. I pray that I can be that person to those I know.

I am blessed and stressed that both my mum and mother-in-law are still alive. It is a challenge walking through these days but I wouldn’t trade it. Happy Mother’s Day to Mum Clark and Mom Van Hine. I love you 🙂

Since I have aways worked with children, my daughters were accustom to “sharing me” whether it was at the studio, church or summer camp. There were times it was difficult for them to wait for me to be just their mom. They would even say “Miss Ann” when I didn’t respond to “MOM”. I would tell my girls that there are many children who call me “Miss Ann” but there are only two children in the whole world who call me “Mom”. I am very blessed.

Traveling Tuesdays – S1E6 – try something new

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In 2005, when my youngest daughter, Meghan, was graduating from high school, I wanted to do something special for her graduation and maybe incorporate that something special into “our family vacation.” We (Emily, Meghan and I) had tried to establish a “new kind” of family vacation after Bruce’s death. Our family vacations with Bruce had always been very special times. We didn’t have a lot of money but we did some great trips on the cheap. We had wonderful experiences and made priceless memories.

So I asked my soon to be high school graduate “what would be your dream vacation?”. Meghan thought about and said “a dude ranch”. So I started planning a family vacation to a dude ranch. I investigated on-line and found the perfect place in Shell, Wyoming. In further discussion we decided to invite my very good friend, Carol, and her daughter, Jenna. The reasoning was that “mom needed someone to hang out with.” I asked Carol if she and Jenna would like to join us. I would finance the place, she would just have to pay their airfare and she said “yes”. Meghan was in shock. She never thought her “Auntie Carol” would say “yes”. I never doubted that Carol would say yes.

We purchased our cowboy boots, our cowboy hats, our long sleeve shirts and our gloves. We purchased our airline tickets and packed our bags. We flew into Billings, Montana. I checked Montana off of my states to visit list. We spent the night in Billings and on Sunday drove to Shell, WY. The scenery was beautiful – wide open spaces, nothing, I mean nothing for miles and miles. Town signs announcing population 12 or 26. Amazing. The ranch was beautiful. The accommodations were great, the food was gourmet and the people who ran it were so gracious and kind. And I would visit there again but not to ride horses.

This was a real working cattle ranch. They weren’t moving cattle around to give you something to do. They were moving cattle because that’s what they do. We had to help get the horses ready, then ride all day and truly move cattle. And I never laughed so hard in my entire laugh. It makes me laugh to think about it. The first day the wrangler had us ride around the ring so he could determine our riding skills. Meghan and Emily had taken riding lessons when they were younger. Carol had ridden as a child. Jenna was very athletic. So they all did well. And my riding skills were zero or lower. Did I mention I am afraid of horses? Well, maybe not afraid but definitely not comfortable with them. Horses are big and they can run fast and I am a chicken. As I rode around the ring, the wrangler commented “you wait and see by the end of the week, she will be good at this.” And my “family” commented “probably not!!!” The wrangler tried me on a new horse everyday. My first horse’s name was Cheetah but I kept calling him Cheyenne. Cheetah didn’t sound like a horse to me. Meghan would just shake her head. When I would see the baby cattle, I would think they are so cute I am never eating beef again. But when the bull would stand across the path and the cattle won’t move pass him, I would think give me a steak. Cattle are not very bright. They are noisy and it is hard to move them around.

By mid afternoon on our first full day of riding, I asked the wranglers if they could just throw my body across the horse like you see the movies. The head wrangler said “remember I told you not to believe anything cowboys do in movies.” Oh, my!!! I hurt in places, I didn’t know you could hurt. I was really, really bad at horseback riding and herding cattle. But you know what I did it and I will never do it again but I tried. And I have used parts of this story to encourage many a child to “try something new” because you have nothing to lose. You may have a great experience and find something new you enjoy doing or you may never do that again but at least you tried. Or you may just get to spend time with people you love and laugh harder than you had laughed in a long time. this is where we went. They have a very professionally done video.

update on “duh email” post

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After I wrote a duh email?? from National September 11 Memorial post, I replied to the email I had received from the memorial and I also send my reply to the family passes email address and the FDNY family assistance unit as an FYI. Today I received the following email from the memorial:

Dear Ann,
I’m writing to follow up on your email to us regarding the post-visit message which you received. Thank you very much for reaching out and for bringing this matter to our attention. We apologize that you received the message since it was intended for our general public visitors, not 9/11 family members. We are working to rectify the situation so other family members do not have the same experience.

Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or if there is anything I can help you with in the future.


My reply:

Dear —–,

Thank you very much for your quick reply to my email. I didn’t think it was intended for family members. So glad to hear you will be rectifying the situation. We have actually met. The very first time I visited the memorial was on a Monday evening in September 2011. I had been at a Tribute Center Docent council meeting and myself, another family member and a few other people showed up around 7:30. The person at the desk said we would have to wait while she found someone to escort us on because it was late. You were sitting in the family area and said you would escort us on. I appreciated that gesture. Again thank you for that gesture and for acting promptly on this matter.


Wanted to share the Memorial’s reply and also share that emails sometimes make us faceless but we are more closely connected than we realize. In September of 2011, —-(not fair for me to name person) had given me her business card and I wrote an old fashion paper thank you note. Today I was reminded that mistakes happen and we have a choice how we respond.