Road Warrior Women

There’s nothing quite like taking a road trip with a friend. I love to hit the road and explore. I guess all those trips that we made with three little boys between Ohio and Manitoba didn’t quite get me my fill of the open road. Those trips are entirely another story.

Photo Credit:

Over the past few years, I have had a consistent road trip partner. Rhonda (pictured with the “What a Jackass” scarf in Silky Sass) and I have shared a number of wonderful road trips.

Our first real trip was not meant for sight-seeing or vacationing. My son, Eric, was coming back to the Fort Drum, New York after a year-long US Army deployment to Bagram AiB, Afghanistan. Rod and Eric had worked the phones and internet during his last few weeks of deployment, and the result was an Ford F250 diesel pick-up truck that he purchased and would be driving while at Fort Drum. That truck had to make it from Buford, Georgia to upstate New York. I had to be at Fort Drum when he arrived back on American soil. It made sense to me that if the truck and I both had to get to Watertown, NY, we might as well go together.

Ready to hit the road in the F-250

I needed someone to share the drive with me and Rhonda was willing for the adventure. An adventure it was. You can read all about it on the final few pages of The Charm.

There could be no other trip that would match the drama and excitement that we had on our way to Fort Drum, but we keep on trying! Our junkets have taken us to Savannah, Southern Pines, Blowing Rock and DC. Somehow, we are always able to find a little adventure each time.

Rhonda makes the perfect travel buddy. Last fall, we experimented and invited Cece and Karla to join us for an overnight trip to Blowing Rock, North Carolina. We needed to test them out to see if they could hang with us. So – a one night drive into the mountains, with a stay at a slightly creepy but wonderfully nostalgic motel, followed by a drive down a southern portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway was a perfect audition. They passed. Barely.

I’m in the process of planning a few more road trips – possibly one to Manitoba this summer and a return visit to Washington, DC. There’s just something wonderful about the open road and a friend or two that make for finding some adventure.

Four Road Warriors



The Charm’s Birthday!!

I will need to add another birthday to my list of those that I try to remember. On October 16, 2014 at approximately 3:45 p.m., The Charm was officially born!

It has been a long and arduous labour (Canadian spelling there) and delivery. Earlier this week, I posted a photo and comment on Facebook that said, “I just found out that The Charm will be ready on Thursday – just in time to take some home to Manitoba for my Mom and family.” Though I had it on good authority – from Mike at Atlanta Book Printing – that the book was printed and would need a few days for bindery, and that it would be ready for me to pick up before I left, I didn’t realize just what a close call he had in mind.

I am going HOME! My niece, and the daughter of my brother, Rob and his wife, Cathy, is getting married this weekend and we are all going home to be witness to the happy day! I really mean ALL. Of course Rob and Cathy will be in attendance, as well as my mother, Marion; my sisters, Lois, Linda and Jennifer and Jennifer’s husband, Don. Not done, though! Each of Moms grandchildren will also be there: Linda’s sons Allan, Paul and Reid; my sons, Ian, Andrew and Eric; and Jennifer’s daughters, Judy, Kate and Vicki will all be in attendance to see their cousin, Jackie walk down the aisle.

I had set my departure time from Atlanta as the arrival time for The Charm. Mike had, too, and he sent me regular updates on the progress over the week. I needed to leave the house at 4:00 to fight Atlanta traffic and make my flight. I wanted to have picked up the books prior to leaving the house. Things didn’t work out that way. Mike advised me at about 2:00 that the books would be ready at 4:00. NO! NO! I didn’t have time to make a stop in Duluth after 4:00! I called and did a little begging. I couldn’t pick up all the copies today – but if he had a dozen or so, could they be ready at 3:45?Box of The Charm

They made that happen, and long, frantic story short, I made a quick detour off my path to the airport and picked up a box of 22 copies. I hugged Mike and Donna at Atlanta Book Printing and told him that I was so thrilled that because of his efforts, I could give the very first book to my Mom. I know it doesn’t really matter, but it DOES really matter.

For a short time, I thought I might just check the whole box as luggage. During a brief Ford to Ford call with Rod, who voiced his concern about possible damage to my precious cargo, I decided that I would put as many books into the bag that I had brought along for just that purpose and carry them on board with me.

The Charm in boxThe bag would easily have held all 22 copies, but I kept in mind that I would be schlepping through Minneapolis airport with the bag later in the day, and maybe I would save a little shoulder pain. I’m so happy that I did. That bag was getting a little heavy by the time I made it to gate B-5 in Atlanta.

I sit here at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport with a black, quilted  bag on the floor next to me, anxious to board the first of two flights that will land me at home.

Rod asked me if I had brought along a book to read and I regretted that I had not – other than the ones that fill this bag! I’ve read it a few times before, though. Actually, I don’t need a book to entertain me. I’ll just write. Maybe another one is in me!


Want a copy? If you live closeby, just let me know. If you don’t – watch here to buy online soon!The Charm on plane

First Days of School

Every year since I was five years old, I’ve either gone back or sent children off to the first days of school. I’ve gone back to school each year as a parent volunteer, a student, a teacher, or a psychologist. Way back in the day, the first day of school always fell on the Tuesday following Labor Day.


This is Lorne School Credit:

And, way back then, the first two years that I went to school were at Lorne School, in the Rural Municipality of Pembina in southern Manitoba. The first year that I attended was my “beginner” year – not kindergarten. I could attend for a few days each week. The following year, I began grade one there, along with my brother Rob (grade 8) and my sisters: Lois (grade 6), Linda (grade 5) and Judy (grade 4); all of us under the masterful tutelege of Miss Popkes. We all spent our days in one large school room and sat in desks arranged in rows with the two grade one students (Dougie and me) in the first desks of the row furthest to the right of the room. Second grade sat behind us, third grade in the row to our left, and so on to the eighth graders who occupied the desks at the back of the row furthest to the left.



At the front of the room was Miss Popkes’ desk, behind which was a large slate blackboard. Another blackboard spanned the wall to the right of my desk, while the entire easterly facing wall on the left was filled with windows. Miss Popkes would prepare the blackboard with rows of five exact lines drawn with a chalk holder. Upon these, she would craft the most beautiful, measured handwriting – lessons for all the grade levels to copy and learn. The manuscript print was drawn on the board on the west of the room where we younger students would stand and practice our letters – there on the board for all to see.



Miss Popkes taught all eight grades simultaneously. Arithmetic, reading, writing, science and social studies were all included.  The youngest of us would read from Dick and Jane. We would practice adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing in our notebooks. Sometimes, Miss Popkeys would make arithmetic practice sheets for us using the Gestetner. We would work the purple numbered problems on the slightly damp sheets that emitted the scent of ink and copy fluid – the aroma of school and knowledge.

My School Scrapbook

My School Scrapbook

We would collect leaves from trees, flatten them under heavy books and paste them into scrapbooks. We would trace and draw those leaves on facing pages, and thereby learn about science. Miss Popkes would roll down a map of the Dominion of Canada or of the World, and we would learn the names of the provinces, and of places abroad. That was Social Studies. On some days, Mrs. Norma Ching would come by and play the old upright piano that occupied the the south west corner of the room. We would all sing along, and thus, had our lessons in music.

My early attempts at writing!

My early attempts at writing!

Twice daily, Miss Popkes sent all sixteen of us out for our luxuriously long recesses and once again for lunch hour. We were largely unsupervised during those outdoor times, but we all got along – playing tag or Prisoner’s Base, soccer or softball. In the winter time, we would build snow houses and tunnels. We would return to our desks and our lessons when Miss Popkes would stand on the doorstep and ring the bell.

We were there, at Lorne School, learning our lessons every weekday from September to the end of June. Unless, of course, the snow was too deep or the cold too bitter to travel the mile from our house to Lorne.

IMG_2943We spent our days there with Miss Popkes, our brothers and sisters and our closest neighbors reading, writing, calculating, playing. We were learning all the while.

Some would say that we have made great advancements in education since the time of places like Lorne School. Have we? I wonder. I’m not quite sure that we have.




I live my life to the rhythm of bells.

Growing up on the prairies of southern Manitoba, the school bell at Lorne School, the one-room schoolhouse I attended with my brother and three of my sisters, was the type that is seen only in nostalgic pictures representing “Back to School” sales and was rung by the one teacher assigned to teach all sixteen of the students from grades one to eight.



Back then, we had one telephone in the home that all eight of us shared. Our phone number was 313 R 22. The 313 notated the “party line” that we were on, and the R 22 stood for Ring: 2 long, 2 short. Truly. If the telephone rang, we would have to wait to be sure that it rang our particular pattern before all we children could run over each other in an attempt to be the first to grab the receiver! Our calls were always short and to the point, since any one of two or three neighbors might need to use our shared line of communication.


The Necessary Evil Credit:

The necessary evil rings me awake in the morning. At work, chimes ping every 50 minutes or so, marking the beginning of the day, times for students to move from one classroom to another, and time to go home.

My cell phone jingles and jangles in a diversity of tones that are designated to an assortment of means of communication. The friendly whistle alerts me to the receipt of a text message. A strumming guitar lets me know that one of the boys are calling. When I hear “Bad to the Bone“, I know that Rod is calling.  My phone made some random noise a few days ago while Ian was here. He asked what that tone was for and I told him that I had no earthly idea! The racket that sounds like a submarine ping is reserved for callers that I don’t know. I usually allow those to remain submerged.

When Rod or the boys call, I try my best to answer. However, it just seems to work out that if I’m upstairs and my phone rings, the phone is downstairs. When I’m downstairs and my phone rings, the phone is in the car. When I’m in the car and my phone rings, I can’t find the phone while I drive. On March 2nd of this year, Andrew tweeted: “@loried2 WORST phone answerer 5 years and running. #cancelyourservice.” I offer no apology.

Our phone looked a lot like this! Credit:

Our phone looked a lot like this!

I used to be much more enthusiastic about receiving a telephone call. It meant that someone was thinking about me. It meant that I could engage in a conversation. These days, I get most all of the social interaction that I need in the course of a day at work. When I really think about it, I get annoyed that someone out there – anywhere out there – can make a bell ring inside the privacy and confines of my home, which causes me to stop what I was doing and take a particular action! I feel a little like one of Pavlov’s dog.

There are a few bells that I really enjoy – like the one that I am hearing right that tells me that my dinner is ready to eat! Gotta go! 🙂







A Very Long Road Trip

Dear Friends, Family and Followers –

Whew! That was one very long road trip! It stretched across the continent from Atlanta, through 7 states and 2 countries, and ended in Morden, Manitoba, Canada. The Jeep faithfully travelled through the Appalaichan Mountains of western Tennessee, the rolling hills of Missouri and Iowa, and across the lake lands of Minnesota and the vast prairies of North Dakota and southern Manitoba, each landscape displaying its own particular beauty.

There was plenty of time for seeing the sights! Along the way, I came up with some thoughts on motor travel:

Billboards for “Flying J”, “Quik Trip”, “Exxon”, “Quiznos”, and zipline courses come in very handy when playing the alphabet game.


quik tripquiznoflying j

It is best not to wear mascara when putting in long hours behind the wheel so that you can rub your eyes with abandon!

Saturday morning radio in Minnesota and North Dakota is a treasure trove for those interested in game and fish topics.

It might be nice if a Global Positioning System would allow you to check off towns from a list as you zoom by.

If at all possible, try to avoid Interstate 94 West from Minneapolis to Albertville. It is the WORST stretch of pavement out there!

If you are searching for a radio station and you find one in the middle of an advertising block, you can guess what the station’s format will be based on the advertisers.

Avoid eating spicy chicken strips or wings if you don’t plan to make frequent pit stops.

It would be really helpful if there was a lane on highways devoted to those 65 and older. I know that they think they are going fast, and so the “Slower traffic keep right” rule does not apply. Fact is – they are slower traffic. Their dedicated lane would be on the far right.

Maybe car manufacturers could pay a little more attention to the driver’s seat – make it a little more like a recliner so that you can comfortably tilt back. How about a built in massage function on the seat and the back?

Do not walk on any lawn or turf areas in Manitoba. Unless, of course, you enjoy being swarmed by mosquitoes.

Happy Travels!