An adventure in Galena

Who: Sandy, Jane, and Alice
What: Girl’s weekend
Where: Galena, Illinois
Why: Giggles, gossip, good times, a bit of the grape and the occasional shot of whiskey (for medicinal purposes only).
When: November 8th–November 11, 2018

Galena is a charming old town that was once the largest steamboat hub on the Mississippi River north of St. Louis, Missouri. It was the home of Ulysses S. Grant and eight other Civil War generals. Today, the city, on the banks of the Galena River, is a tourist destination known for its history, architecture, and resorts.

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My friend Jane has lived there for over twenty years. Her Welsh husband Andy is the city’s chief engineer. He surely has many duties but to me, the most impressive is deciding when the floodgates are to be closed.
River rising? Andy saves the day by preventing a deluge.

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In the spring Andy will retire. He and Jane plan to sell their 1830’s era house on the steepest street ever and move to Wales.

Sandy and I reasoned it might be some time before we see Jane again, unless we visit Wales as we did for her wedding twenty-one years ago.
A group of American ladies descended on Llandudno, Wales, wearing our “country club casual” frocks. One Welsh guest dubbed us the “fancy ladies.”

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Andy’s home was at the top of the Orme, the limestone headland soaring above the seaside resort of Llandudno, Wales.

This past May Sandy and I made plans to fly into Chicago O’Hare, meet there, then puddle jump to the Dubuque, Iowa airport.

O’Hare is crowded, teeming with harried passengers. No eye contact, no smiles.

Until you get into line with travelers to Dubuque!

The burly guy behind us wanted to know our story. The man across the aisle had us laughing. The lady in the mysterious black hat and dark glasses said something that made Sandy guffaw. Me, deaf as a post, didn’t hear it. I asked Sandy. She said, “I didn’t hear it either. But Black Hat laughed so I figured I should too.” In a few years, I won’t be the only one wearing hearing aids.

We flew in a small aircraft up for half an hour, then back down for half an hour, landing at the tiny Dubuque airport. Sandy commented the terminal looks like a library.

Jane met us, drove us over the hilly landscape, up her steep street, then onto her perpendicular driveway. We had to lug our suitcases along nine towering steps to get to the side door. She must have taken sympathy on us.  She has never taken us to the side door before. Generally, Jane likes to torture Sandy and me by forcing us to trudge another the long staircase to her front door.

Years ago, when I was actually in fairly good shape, the walk from town to Jane’s front door nearly killed me. I’ve been pretty sedentary for the last few years.  Therefore, since our August move to a twenty-ninth floor condo,  I’ve been preparing for the painful hike up her steep hill.

Each day I trudge from our twenty-ninth floor apartment up the stairs to the thirty-fourth floor. I stand at the top of the staircase, panting.  Then I exit the stairwell and wait for the elevator to take me home to twenty-nine.

Yes, I should trudge the stairs back to twenty-nine. No, I don’t.

I was pretty proud of my stair-climbing routine until I learned our neighbor Mark–the over achiever–hikes up from one to twenty-nine and back down again twice a day.

Thursday evening we had an easy trek downhill to Main Street to eat dinner at Cannova’s Italian Restaurant. Gluten-free white pizza for me. Yum. So much for the low carb diet.

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My big after dinner worry was trudging back up vertical Dodge Street. Fortunately, those daily trips to thirty-four paid off. I didn’t expire on the frozen pavement.

Thursday night, while we were sleeping, Jane had several Etsy sales.  She has a very successful shop–GladysGlover.
During her years as an Etsy shop owner, she’s had over 3,000 sales. Including selling a brass corgi door knocker to Stephen King and ceramic knife rests to Sophia Vergara!  Pretty neat to imagine author Stephen King reading Jane’s amusing descriptions of “miscellaneous fripperies”.

Friday morning Jane bundled her sold treasures for shipping and headed to the Post Office.  It was a balmy 19 degrees in Galena. Why should Sandy and I get dressed, go out, and freeze? We were still in our PJ’s at three-thirty when, on an arctic blast, Jane blew in the front entry.

Other weekend adventures? Dinner at the historic Desoto House Hotel, a thrilling field trip to Piggly Wiggly, latte’s at Books a Million, candy at Barbara Jane’s chocolate shop, and dinner with a magic show at Amelia’s.

Our flights out were on Sunday.   That morning we crossed the mighty Mississippi from Illinois to Iowa and dropped Sandy off for her 11 a.m. departure.

Then Jane and I drove to River Light’s, a charming independent bookstore.  Low and behold it was their holiday open house. Food! Mimosa’s! Free gifts with purchase!  I scored a box of tacky Christmas sweater notecards complete with dozens of ugly stickers for DIY designs.

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I’ve read that book, You are a Badass. I’m using the positive thinking tips to manifest a lottery win.
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Here are the tacky sweater notes, plus I bought a book of punny post cards and a box of fancy stationery.

After book shopping we crossed quiet Dubuque Main Street and had Mexican food for lunch. Chicken fajitas, me.  Shrimp Enchilada, Jane.  My flight was scheduled for late afternoon. I suggested she drop me at the airport and go on her merry way. Surely she’d had enough of me?

My thinking was I’d go through security, find a seat and await my plane. In my experience security means shoes off, long lines, and rubber glove wearing TSA agents digging through the carry-on.

Here is what the Dubuque Airport looks like at 4:30 on a Sunday afternoon.

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Jane was kind enough to keep me company until security finally opened their gates.  I made it through and was lucky enough to find an empty chair.

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I pulled out paper and pen and spent the next hour happily doing the “morning pages” I had ignored for the past fun days.  No one bothered me.

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My flight landed at the Tampa airport about 10:30 at night.  Jim and Bronson were there to greet me.  It was wonderful to have visited my buddies. And equally wonderful to see my little family again.  Slept like a log in our 29th floor home, aka The Perch.

 

The War of Art

Counting down the hours until Thanksgiving. The only part I still haven’t figured out is how long and at what temperature to roast an eighteen-pound unstuffed turkey. I’ve thrown the question onto my FB page, and hope someone will have good advice.

Meanwhile here is the latest excellent book I’ve read on how to get the heck out of my way and succeed.

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The author, Steven Pressfield, maintains most of us wrestle with resistance when tackling projects that require a long-term commitment.

In my case, there are two endeavors to which I am devoted.
This blog and my new Etsy shop.

So far I only have ten items listed in my store. I’m determined to fill it to the brim over time. This book gave me exactly the kick in the fanny I needed.

Pressfield included a favorite Goethe quotation of mine:

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”

I have a sterling silver pendant engraved with those words. It was a gift from Cynthia, the lovely woman I used to work for. She gave me a shot at product design when nothing in my set of skills would predict success.

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I have the necklace hanging on the light over my drawing table.  I read it just before I begin working each day.  I also say a prayer to my muse.  Another Pressfield suggestion.

Then I get to work.  Which I am off to do right now.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Other somewhat related blog posts:

I used to ask, “Why me?” Now I say, “Why NOT me!”

Travel to China

Guided Meditation and the Law of Attraction

I’ve been using youtube for my daily meditation. I find it’s easier to relax deeply when listening to a gentle voice, music, and instructions.  I take out one hearing aid and put the computer right next to my other ear.

Lying on our bed and breathing. It’s delicious the state of relaxation I tumble into.

Think positive, Live positive.

My blog posts will be more infrequent because I am busy creating images for my new Etsy shop.  So far I have a pig, kitten, and cow.  They are all decked out in ribbons and straw hats.

I spend my days’ coloring and smiling at the silly critters flowing out of my colored pencils.

My field of dreams.  Build it and they will come.  And when they come 50% of the money I make I plan to donate to causes important to me.  The other 50%?  Who knows.

 

Reinvention

I’m recreating myself.  In anticipation of the sixty-sixth birthday, I’m opening a new Etsy shop. My former Etsy store was named Beatrice Bee Vintage. It was fun, I sold a bunch of junk and shipped all over the planet.

Then it kinda’ dried up and the magic disappeared.

Recently I thought, “What do people spend stupid money on?” The answer, pets, and babies.

I considered doing custom pet portraits. Then, after Saturday’s meditation, it came to me to create whimsical artwork for nursery walls.

No need to inventory anything. I’ll just do the pictures, save on the computer and print on demand. I called my friend, Richie to discuss printing–what type of home printer does a decent job. The one we now own churns out anemic color copies. Richie owns a print business. His color printer cost over $800,000. I scratched my head, thought about it and decided not to get one of those.

Yesterday I colored my first baby animal. An elephant. I’ll post its picture with a cute girlie hat on her head and name her Emma. I’ll repost without the hat and Emma becomes Ethan. Print out at 8″ by 10″, slide into an 11″ by 14″ matte and mail it off. The purchaser can then buy a ready-made frame.

The competition on Etsy is stiff. One lady opened her shop in 2016 and has already had over 10,000 sales. It will be tricky to get my work noticed. I don’t plan to open until I have about twenty decent images.

The picture below I did some years back. The little pea in the pram was artwork for a baby shower invitation. The mother of that baby boy has since had two more boys. It was fun coloring and planning that party.

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Now, off to color a piglet. Penelope and Payton Pig. I’ll write a little back story for each image. Maybe include it with the purchase. This Etsy shop is an infant. Lots to think about.

 

Somewhat related blog posts:

What I Like About Me

It’s Never Too Late: 10 Writers & Artists That Were Late Bloomers

I used to ask, “Why me?” Now I say, “Why NOT me!”