Getting Personal #147: “The winter is coming, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Dolomites, Italy” (Reblogged)

I love sharing Just Wunderlust’s photos often. No matter what photo it is, each one evokes emotion or some sort of connection. Sometimes, seeing these photos spark a daydream, or even a potential writing prompt.

Seeing this photo today made me think of several things, aside from the obvious, “Oh, wow, that’s absolutely gorgeous!”

I started thinking of the road that leads to this area. The characters that live there, both real and fictional. It reminded me a little bit of Beauty and the Beast, but my imagination ran a little wild earlier today. I love it when that happens, especially when everyday life and the normal routine can become so repetitive and dull.

The fog looks so ominous around the beautiful mountains, kissed by early snow.

What are their winters like?

Do tourists come?

Do the children enjoy the snow, the winter?

I’m sure it’s cold, but undoubtedly beautiful.

Italy is such a beautiful country, from what I’ve heard. I hope to be able to visit, someday.

As the fall weather is finally starting to settle in, here in southeastern Virginia, I’m enjoying the crisp air, the changing of the leaves, and the coming holidays. We’ll blink and Thanksgiving will be here in a flash. But, I do love one good snow every year – It turns the whole world white and beautiful!

What’s your favorite season? Why do you love it?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Just Wunderlust

The winter is coming, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Dolomites, Italy

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Getting Personal #136: “Sunflower Sunset, Dreamland, Kentucky” (Reblogged)

I love sunflowers. They make me happy! They’re not my favorite flower, but seeing photos of them make me think of sunshine, birds chirping, quiet, and peace. And I love sunsets, too.

Seeing this post also made me think of the TV show Smallville, which Al and I are currently binge-watching on Hulu. It’s one of the shows that Al grew up watching. Plus, it lasted an entire decade, from 2001-2011. It’s been funny to catch certain cultural references, and reminisce about the technology, hairstyles, glasses, and more.

The show is set in Kansas, and this is in Kentucky, but it makes me think of farms, country living, and more.

What’s your favorite flower?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Just Wunderlust

Sunflower Sunset, Dreamland, Kentucky

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Getting Personal #131: “Spiral Staircase, Law Library, Munich, Germany” (Reblogged)

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you have had a good day so far. It’s almost the weekend!

As I prepare for my own busy weekend, and the end of July next week (It’s not possible!), I wanted to share this post from Just Wunderlust. Spiral staircases are, in my opinion, some of the most beautiful and mesmerizing pieces of architecture. And, this photo is from a law library? Swoon!

Have a great weekend! And make sure pick up a book. I’m working my way through my first-ever ARC!!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Just Wunderlust

Jada Cook
Spiral Staircase, Law Library, Munich, Germany

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Adventure Time: Norfolk, VA Edition (Round 5 – Norfolk Tides Baseball Game)

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Image Credit: Ticketmaster

The Norfolk Tides are our home baseball team!

The Tides’ home, Harbor Park, opened on April 14, 1993. This year is it’s 25th anniversary!

The Tides are a minor league team in the Triple-A International League. Prior to 2007, the Tides were affiliated with the New York Mets for 38 years. For the last 11 years, the Tides have been a farm team for the Baltimore Orioles. Harbor Park can hold 11,856 people!

The long-time mascot is Rip Tide. He’s hilarious!

Image Credit: Wikipedia

And, yes, he has a baseball for a nose.

Not too long ago, the Tides changed their color scheme to green, black, orange, gray, and sea foam, and added a seahorse mascot.

For more information, check out this link: Norfolk Tides


On Tuesday night, we enjoyed a night of good food, a few drinks, great conversation, and the game with several of Al’s work colleagues, and the law firm that his company has on retainer. The law firm has one of the boxes at the park, and they offer tickets to any employees who are interested around once a year. Al scored an extra ticket, and asked if I wanted to go!

I can’t remember the last time I went to a Tides game. I think it was with Al, and I know we weren’t in a box! I felt super fancy.

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This was the Tides’ long-standing image/marketing. Image Credit: SevenVenues

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An aerial view of Harbor Park, which sits next to the Elizabeth River. Image Credit: The Virginian-Pilot

We left the game in the eighth inning, mainly because we knew the traffic would be bad once the game ended. The score was 3-2, with the Tides leading, when we left. I checked the final score yesterday, and that’s where the score remained! Go, Tides!


Do you follow baseball?

What are some of your favorite summer pastimes?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Adventure Time: Blacksburg, VA Edition (P.E.O. Virginia State Convention 2018)

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This is my first-ever P.E.O. State Convention post!

What is P.E.O.?

  • From P.E.O. International: P.E.O. is a philanthropic organization where women CELEBRATE the advancement of women; EDUCATE women through scholarships, grants, awards, loans, and stewardship of Cottey College and MOTIVATE women to achieve their highest aspirations.
  • Motto: Women helping women reach for the stars
  • There are 230,000 members throughout the United States and Canada
  • More information: https://www.peointernational.org/

This was at least my fourth Virginia State Convention. I have been to Convention in Roanoke, at least twice in Richmond, and this year was in Blacksburg, at The Inn at Virginia Tech.

I was one of two delegates. Each chapter – There are 76 chapters in Virginia – are asked to send at least two delegates to Convention every year. I was thrilled to be a delegate with Darcy, a newly-initiated sister into our chapter. We are from Chapter L, based in Norfolk.

Convention was held from June 1-3, 2018. Come along for the ride!


Friday, June 1st

Darcy and I left my house around 8:30 a.m. for the long drive. It was roughly 440 miles from Hampton Roads. I wanted to make sure we got there before 4:30 p.m., where I was supposed to be in rehearsal for one of the convention workshops.

Thankfully, we didn’t have a lot of traffic. We arrived around 2:00 p.m., and the hotel was already buzzing with activity! We checked in, and then went toward Virginia Tech’s campus in search of food, and to stretch our legs.

We discovered downtown Blacksburg, and we stopped at Bottom of the Stairs (BOTS, for short). They weren’t busy, and the food was delicious!

My Slider Trio – Chicken, pulled pork, and their “veggie BBQ,” which was pulled jackfruit. Yummy!

After our early dinner, we took a Lyft back to The Inn. My workshop rehearsal was successful, and we were able to relax for a bit before the evening activities began.

I was part of the Friday night membership workshop, which was stylized as a live radio show from “WPEO.” It was a blast! I was “selected” as a Region 3 contestant, where I was a panelist with Ibani, a sister from Chapter AS in Richmond.

The Convention theme was “Catch The Waves To Better Futures.” Our outgoing President, Sherry Arendt, lives right on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, so she brought “the ocean to the Alleghenies.”

After our evening workshops, Darcy and I spent several hours with the Franc 7’s group. Franc Rhodes was one of the seven founding sisters in 1869, and she was the youngest of the group. So, Franc 7’s are the women who are under 40-years-old. We had 21 Franc 7’s present during Convention, which was awesome! We pushed couches and chairs together, and enjoyed a nice, productive, unscripted conversation. Darcy and I hit the hay around 11:00 p.m.


Saturday, June 2nd

Saturday is easily the busiest and longest day. Breakfast usually starts around 7:00 a.m., and the day ends with the Saturday Night Banquet at 10:00 p.m.!

The P.E.O. flower is the marguerite, a flower much like a daisy. When I saw this dress for sale in the Darby’s Dresses Facebook group, I knew I had to have it!

One of the highlights of Convention is honoring our Golden Girls – Women who are celebrating 50 years of membership in P.E.O.! We had one sister that we celebrated this year – Our current chapter president, Jeanne Brody. She was initiated into a New Jersey chapter in 1968.

The handmade gold centerpieces!

The Golden Girls luncheon was fabulous. Ethel Muter, the State Organizer, did an amazing job with the presentation. In addition to displaying the 29 Golden Girls, their photos, and fun facts, she also did a ton of research on things happening during these ladies’ initiation dates in 1968!

One of Sherry’s challenges for the past year was using our special sand castle bucket for collecting spare change and fundraising ideas. All 76 chapters decorated their buckets, and proudly displayed them for all to see!

$2,000 in one fundraiser!

On Saturday afternoon, there were a few hours between the end of the day’s Convention business and the Saturday Night Banquet. Darcy and I walked around campus, and enjoyed the Duck Pond area.

On Saturday night, there’s a great banquet. There are project speakers who thank the P.E.O. chapter or chapters that helped nominate or sponsor them, and all of them are incredibly inspirational and humble.

We had dinner, and then an awesome trio played beach music. Imagine around 200 women dancing for two hours!


There are six International projects:

The state / Commonwealth of Virginia has two state projects:

Convention also has what’s called a “Projects Room,” where attendees can learn more about the projects, and see the recipients from the last year.


Sunday, June 3rd

I wanted to get as many photos as I could!

The sign outside the Projects Room.

The photos below showcase our seven founders, who started P.E.O. at Iowa Wesleyan College on January 21, 1869.

P.E.O. is celebrating its sesquicentennial – 150th anniversary – in 2019!

The year 2019 is also a P.E.O. International Convention year – So the 150th celebration will be held where it all began – Des Moines, Iowa. I’m already saving my money for next September!

I love this handmade quilt that showcases all 76 chapters, and where they are in Virginia.

Sunday morning is always a whirlwind. There are just a few hours to finish the Convention business, install the new State Officers, and say goodbye!

P.E.O. also takes time to remember sisters who have died, or passed on to “Chapter Eternal” every year. This year was particularly emotional. There were 69 sisters who passed away, including two Past State Presidents (PSPs).

Tragically, one of those deaths was the accidental death of Liz Jackson, who was the sitting State Secretary. I met her when my church was host to one of the Reciprocity Rallies (Reciprocity is a group of chapters based on geographic location – There are many throughout the state) in September 2017. Sadly, she fell off a balcony in February 2018, and never recovered.

After the Time of Remembrance, Convention business was concluded for the weekend. The new State Officers were installed. Our new State President is Rhesa Janice, from Chpater AZ, Herndon.

The 70th Annual Virginia State Convention will be held in Richmond, Virginia in 2019. The year 2019 will be an exciting one for P.E.O.!

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Rhesa’s theme is “Value The Past, Vision The Future.”


I hope you enjoyed my post about P.E.O. and the annual Virginia State Convention!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #126: Movies That Are Inspiring My Travels

Travel - Adventure in You

Image Credit: Adventure in You

I love Paige Wunder’s blog, For The Love of Wanderlust. Check her out!

I was inspired to write this post by Paige’s recent post:


Chicago, Illinois – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

As a kid, I visited Chicago a couple of times, since my Aunt Nancy, Uncle Larry, and cousin Missy lived in nearby Gurnee, Illinois, for years.

However, I’ve never been back to visit as an adult. I’d love to visit the Art Institute of Chicago, Wrigley Field, and Willis Tower.

Other movies filmed / set in Chicago:

  • The Blues Brothers (1980)
  • Risky Business (1983)
  • The Breakfast Club (1985)
  • Adventures in Babysitting (1987)
  • Backdraft (1991)
  • The Fugitive (1993)
  • Never Been Kissed (1999)
  • On the Line (2001)
  • The Incredibles (2004)
  • The Incredibles 2 (2018)

Mountain Lake Hotel near Pembroke, Virginia – Dirty Dancing (1987)

I’ve had the opportunity to stay at the Mountain Lake Hotel twice. Longwood’s S.E.A.L. organization has held their annual Leadership Conference there several times, and I was able to go as both a participant and a workshop presenter. If you ever get the chance, it’s such a beautiful area!

I would also like to eventually visit Lake Lure, North Carolina, where the rest of filming took place.

Other movies filmed / set in western Virginia and/or western North Carolina:

  • Shenandoah (1965)
  • Firestarter (1984)
  • Bull Durham (1988)
  • The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
  • Richie Rich (1994)
  • Patch Adams (1998)
  • Big Stone Gap (2014)

New York City – Ghost (1990)

I’m a bit biased, since I was born in Manhattan. Plus, there are so many movies that have been set in or filmed in the Big Apple. Oodles of them!

It was so hard to pick one movie that makes me think of New York. But, Ghost is one of my favorites. I still remember the very first time I watched it – With my mom.

If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out. It’s dramatic, it’s a love story, and it’s also very funny.

I can’t wait to show Al the Big Apple for the very first time this fall!

Other movies filmed / set in New York City:

  • Rear Window (1954)
  • North by Northwest (1959)
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
  • The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
  • The Great Gatsby (1974)
  • Saturday Night Fever (1977)
  • Superman (1978)
  • Ghostbusters (1984)
  • The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)
  • Romancing the Stone (1984)
  • Big (1988)
  • Coming to America (1988)
  • When Harry Met Sally… (1989)
  • Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
  • Quiz Show (1994)
  • Men in Black (1997)
  • You’ve Got Mail (1998)
  • The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (2000)
  • Finding Forrester (2000)
  • Catch Me If You Can (2002)
  • The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
  • National Treasure (2004)
  • Night at the Museum (2006)
  • Enchanted (2007)
  • WALL-E (2008)
  • Julie & Julia (2009)
  • Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009)
  • American Hustle (2013)
  • The Great Gatsby (2013)
  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
  • Whiplash (2014)
  • The Big Short (2015)
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
  • Ghostbusters (2016)
  • Sully (2016)
  • The Secret Life of Pets (2016)

New Orleans, Louisiana – The Pelican Brief (1993)

This is one of my favorite John Grisham book-to-movie adaptations. Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington are a great pair, and it’s a gripping thriller.

Roberts’ character is a law student at Tulane University, and seeing the variety of locations they used for filming is one of several reasons why I want to visit New Orleans.

Other movies filmed / set in New Orleans:

  • Gone With The Wind (1939)
  • A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
  • Live and Let Die (1973)
  • All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989)
  • JFK (1991)
  • The Client (1994)
  • Interview with the Vampire (1994)
  • Ruby Bridges (1998)
  • The Haunted Mansion (2003)
  • The Princess and the Frog (2009)

Beaufort, South Carolina – Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump is one of my all-time favorite movies. I’ve watched it at least 20 times.

I’ve only been to South Carolina once on a trip – To Charleston, for a family friend’s funeral, when I was 12. I’d love to go back as an adult.

Just the antebellum architecture and gorgeous old oak trees is enough to lure me there.

Other movies filmed / set in South Carolina:

  • The Big Chill (1983)
  • Glory (1989)
  • The Prince of Tides (1991)
  • G.I. Jane (1997)
  • Radio (2003)
  • The Notebook (2004)
  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)
  • The Secret Life of Bees (2008)

British Columbia, Canada – Juno (2007)

I had the opportunity to visit parts of British Columbia while on a trip to Seattle and the San Juan Islands with my parents in the summer of 1998. I saw parts of Victoria, and Buchart Gardens. However, I’d love to go back and explore more.

Other movies filmed / set in British Columbia:

  • Jumanji (1995)
  • Double Jeopardy (1999)
  • Lake Placid (1999)
  • Agent Cody Banks (2003)
  • I, Robot (2004)
  • Miracle (2004)
  • Saved! (2004)
  • Fantastic Four (2005)
  • Shooter (2007)
  • Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)
  • Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014)
  • Tomorrowland (2015)
  • Star Trek Beyond (2016)

Greece – Mamma Mia! (2008)

Mamma Mia! has become one of my favorite musicals. I need to see it on Broadway! Until then, I can’t wait to see the sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, with my mom when it comes out in theaters in July.

Other movies filmed / set in Greece:

  • The Big Blue (1988)
  • Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001)
  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)
  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (2008)
  • Before Midnight (2013)
  • Jason Bourne (2016)

Boston, Massachusetts – Spotlight (2015)

It’s a tough subject – Child sex abuse within the Catholic Church – but Spotlight is one of those movies that I’ve seen multiple times. Maybe it’s the journalist in me?

I’ve always wanted to visit Boston. It’s one of those historic cities that I haven’t had a chance to see. In addition, I’d love to explore New England as a whole. But, Boston is a good place to start.

Other movies filmed / set in Boston:

  • The Firm (1993)
  • With Honors (1994)
  • Good Will Hunting (1997)
  • A Civil Action (1998)
  • The Boondock Saints (1999)
  • Legally Blonde (2001)
  • The Departed (2006)
  • The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (2009)
  • The Proposal (2009)
  • Ted (2012)
  • Ted 2 (2015)

This was a really fun post to write!

What about you? Do you have movies that have inspired you, or are inspiring you, to travel? Let me know in the comments!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Adventure Time: Florida Edition (Round 3 – Richard Madan’s Celebration of Life & Family Trip)

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Mom, me, and Uncle Richard, on my wedding day, November 2015. Image Credit: Stellar Exposures

It’s a funny thing sometimes, your conscience.

Saturday, April 7th, was my Uncle Richard’s 68th birthday. It was a busy Saturday, but this little voice in my head kept reminding me to call him for his birthday. Between a successful blood drive and going out to dinner with our friends Casey and Beth, that voice kept at it. I had a wonderful 20-minute conversation with my uncle that night. I could almost hear his smile in his voice.

Little did I know, that would be the last time I would hear him speak.

The following Tuesday, April 10th, my parents called after Al and I finished dinner. I could tell my dad was hesitating about something, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Finally, the words that always signal bad news to me came out of his mouth: “Are you sitting down?”

My uncle had been in a car accident, near his house in Miami, Florida. Immediately after the accident, he was found unconscious in his SUV. Thankfully, medical personnel got him to the nearest hospital in time to save his life.

It was a flurry of activity that week. Mom flew down on Sunday, April 15th. My dad drove 17 hours straight from Monday night into Tuesday morning. They started organizing his house while visiting the hospital daily. Originally, there was hope of rehabilitation, and eventual discharge to some sort of assisted living facility.

But, the stroke was worse than everyone had thought. More moderate to severe. He wasn’t speaking, or eating. My mom made some of the most gut-wrenching decisions in terms of aggressive treatment and resuscitation. Thankfully, my dad was there by her side.

We knew things were near the end when he was transferred to an excellent hospice unit of another medical center. At five minutes to midnight, on Wednesday, April 25th, he passed away peacefully.

I had the opportunity to attend his Celebration of Life, and help spread his ashes. I took a full week off of work, and I’m so glad that I did.


Thursday, May 17th

I was very fortunate to find a seat on the same American Airlines flight as a friend from church. Her wonderful husband drove both of us to the airport. Aside from some unruly thunderstorms, it was an uneventful flight, direct from Norfolk to Miami. This was my first time on a plane in nearly three years!

After an adventure getting the rental car, my parents met us at Kathy’s hotel in Coconut Grove. My parents took me back to Richard’s house in Miami, where I saw first-hand the fruits of their labor. In the four weeks they had been living there, they cleaned everything out, painted everything, and deep cleaned the carpet. They hand-scrubbed half of the back deck, and were preparing to cut a big branch of the beautiful mango tree that was hanging over the deck. We picked at least 100 mangoes! I was very impressed with their work.

For dinner, we went out to Il Bambino, a wonderful Italian restaurant nearby. They spent several hours with Shirley and Bill, dear friends of my grandparents. They’ve been married for 65 years!


Friday, May 18th

The Celebration of Life was scheduled for Friday evening at Plymouth Congregational Church, and there was a lot to do before then. This is the church where my mom and uncle grew up. I have many memories of this amazing church since I was a kid.

Our friends Debbie and Lucy flew down from Virginia on Friday morning, and they stayed at one of the church guest houses. Plymouth is a sprawling church campus – 17 buildings on more than 11 acres of beautiful, lush, tropical land!

Kathy was wonderful – Between Mom, Dad, her, and me, we loaded multiple food trays from Publix into the rented Kia van and my uncle’s Durango SUV in the afternoon. We had plenty of time to get everything set up at the church before the celebration was scheduled to begin.

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The entrance table.

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I helped buy the guest book. I thought it was fitting that we had several Pan Am pens for people to use.

These photos are just some of the memorabilia from National Airlines and Pan Am. Richard was hired as a flight attendant by National Airlines in 1973. National merged with Pan Am in 1980. Richard flew with Pan Am until the company’s demise in 1991. He also worked as an instructor and trainer.

There were amazing letters from passengers, too, complimenting Richard on his professionalism, service, and more!

We had 50 people come to the celebration, which exceeded our expectations. We laughed more than we cried. Mom spoke. I spoke, telling the story of my conscience telling me to make that phone call. A dear friend from Plymouth, Dickie, echoed my words and implored everyone to “make that call.”

Richard’s best friend, Michael, an Episcopal priest, shared stories of their 45-year friendship. We could tell that Richard’s death has affected Michael greatly, since Michael called my uncle every night and they talked for an hour. Every night. For years. Now, he can’t make those calls any more.

A few flight attendant friends also spoke, but most of the evening was very much a beautiful, non-alcoholic wake. I was so happy to see so many friends, and to catch up with them and learn more about their lives. We sent everyone home with food, and by 11:00 p.m., we were beyond ready for bed!


Saturday, May 19th

Saturday started early. In preparation to sell Richard’s house, the wonderful real estate agent (who happens to be married to Plymouth’s amazing associate pastor) asked that one of the big branches of the backyard mango tree be cut down.

No problem!

I got to use power tools, and work with my dad and our good friend, Tim. Tim was a business associate of my grandfather’s and Richard for years. Tim’s kids, Timmy and Megan, grew up with me. Tim’s wife, Nancy, told me that whenever they told Timmy and Megan that we were coming to visit, they would get so excited. One of the best area restaurants is The Big Cheese Miami, and Timmy and Megan knew that when the Strickers were coming to visit, that meant a trip to The Big Cheese for everyone!

This was part of the branch that hung right over the deck. Not great appeal to potential homebuyers. It had to go!

That’s Tim, using the special mango picker. We also picked a bunch with pruners, and by hand!

We filled this crate, and two other big boxes, full of mangoes. My dad printed signs for the boxes, imploring people in the neighborhood to come and take mangoes!

The branch is gone! We set up the patio furniture, too, which I hosed down.

You can see where we cut several huge branches, in the left of the picture.

All clean!

After working in the backyard, Mom and I showered. We met Kathy, Debbie, and Lucy at Plymouth. We drove over to Terri’s gorgeous condo in Coral Gables, where she was hosting us for lunch.

The beautiful tropical plants surrounding the entrance.

Terri and Walter’s condo is on the 15th floor, and the elevator stops at their place. Such opulence! A few steps in, there are gorgeous floor-to-ceiling windows that give a panoramic view of Miami, Key Biscayne, and more.

The most beautiful orchids – They were everywhere!

Lunch was delicious, and it was so nice for my mom to have some “girl time.” I think Terri was pleased to host, and we learned more about her, too. She and my mom have been friends since third grade. Terri’s mom was Richard’s 5th and 6th grade teacher, and my grandmother was the “room mom,” so naturally, their families became friends. Terri was also a flight attendant with Richard for several years.

After lunch, we went back to Plymouth to spread Richard’s ashes. Plymouth has a beautiful memorial garden, with nameplates of those who have passed on. My grandfather, Norman Madan, and grandmother, Grace Madan, have nameplates already. Richard’s will be added soon. It was overcast, but wonderful words were spoken by Michael, and Moira McGuinn, one of the church’s amazing associate pastors. Mom, Dad, Michael, Moira, and I all took turns spreading his ashes in the garden.

As we were concluding the ceremony, I heard an airplane flying overhead. Perfect symbolism, in my opinion.

After we finished, we showed Kathy, Debbie, and Lucy the church and the grounds. It’s such an impressive place. Here’s some photos.

We went back to the house, where Mom and Dad met with the real estate agent. While that was happening, the rest of us packed our rented Chevy Tahoe full of the remaining items that needed to come home to Virginia. Kathy is an expert packer, so we had the job done in just a few hours.

By then, we were famished. I called The Big Cheese for takeout, and Dad drove me to pick it up. We did family style. All I cared about were their amazing garlic knots, but the rest of the food was divine.


Sunday, May 20th

Mom, Dad, and I left Miami around 10:00 a.m. We headed toward Seminole, on the west coast of Florida, to see my Grandpa Stricker. He’s 92 and doing great! I was so happy to get to see him, since I was woefully overdue for a visit.

I was happy to help Mom and Dad with the driving. Along the way, we stopped for lunch in Port Charlotte, Florida, to visit with our dear friends Rick and Kyle Watts. Rick and Kyle were Mom and Dad’s neighbors in Virginia Beach before I came along, and we’ve kept in touch all these years. They are currently taking care of Kyle’s mom, and Kyle herself has been keeping a close eye on Rick. He got a new heart via transplant in February, and overall, he’s doing great! It was so nice to see them – It had been too long.

We got to Grandpa’s in the early evening. We had leftovers from previous meals. Mom and I both showered, and turned in early. I got almost 12 hours of sleep!

Before Mom and I went to bed, she noticed this amazing male angina bird outside the window. Unlike other birds, they don’t produce oil to help dry their wings. So, when they get wet, they perch in a tree and spread their wings to help them dry out. We stood at the windows and watched this guy for nearly 30 minutes!


Monday, May 21st

We had coffee early, but knew Grandpa wanted to take us to breakfast. There’s an awesome hole-in-the-wall place near his house called Suzie Q’s Diner. Amazing food!!

This was my delicious breakfast – Their special spinach, mushroom, and Swiss omelet. Complete with hash browns and sourdough toast. Mmmmm!

After breakfast, Dad and I cruised around, seeing how much Seminole has changed in the last few years. The old Seminole Mall that we shopped at and the Cinemas 8 we went to in the summers is long gone – Now replaced by the hip and trendy Seminole City Center. There’s everything anybody could want there – Shops, restaurants, a LA Fitness gym, an upscale movie theater, and more. Very impressive.

We had lunch at home, but went out to dinner at the local Applebee’s. After dinner, we came home and vegged. We watched Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, and an episode of Antiques Roadshow before I turned in for the night.


Tuesday, May 22nd

We got up at 4:15 a.m. – My usual!

We were on the road about an hour later, preparing for the long haul drive home. I’m glad I decided to drive back with Mom and Dad. I was able to help out with driving both vehicles. Plus, I spent some quality time with both of them.

We stopped once in every state – Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. It all worked out. It was just a long marathon, 14 hours of driving.

Mom and Dad dropped me off at home around 7:00 p.m. – It was a nice end to a great trip.


I’m sad that my uncle passed away, but I’m grateful for my parents. I’m grateful that they’re both retired and were able to travel when they did. They spent 38 days together in a 940-square foot house – A true test to their 36-year marriage! They were a great team. There’s still more work to be done, but they accomplished quite a long list in the five weeks that they spent together in Miami. A true roller coaster of emotions.

I’m grateful that my work provides such generous PTO. I’m grateful that my colleagues were so understanding, and they appreciate the importance of family. I’m glad that I was able to spend the time off with my family, and seeing many wonderful friends.

Hold your family and friends close. Time is precious. Time is valuable.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂