Where am I going next? Christmas Markets on the Rhine!

Well, it’s official. My next trip is a Christmas Markets on the Rhine river cruise. Why another Christmas Markets trip? Why NOT! I’m a certified Christmas-aholic and love to experience what other countries do.

I’ve been getting the travel bug lately and somehow this Rhine river cruise was calling me. My last two big trips were Egypt, Jordan and Turkey. All fabulous experiences, but I need something a little more western this time. It was just too easy to pick up the phone and call – first Amawaterways, since they were my first river cruise experience. Nothing, other than over Christmas. Nope, sorry, no can do! Then a call to Grand Circle and, bingo, I got one starting with the pre-cruise on 11/24 in Brussels for 3 nights that includes Bruges, then Antwerp and Delft on the way to the River Concerto in Amsterdam on 11/27 where we embark for an 11 night cruise up the Rhine.

Being me, I’m adding extra days and flying nonstop LAX-Amsterdam on KLM’s Economy Plus – more legroom! This gives me a chance to spend some time in Amsterdam, seeing museums, windmills and going to Utrecht to visit my cousin, Mike. And of course I’m doing the post-cruise extension in Basel and will probably head back into Alsace to visit Colmar on one of the 3 days there. And my flight home is on an Air France Airbus 380 in Premium Economy on the upper deck. I wasn’t expecting the newest jumbo jet – how cool is that? It all fell together so easily.

I love planning trips!!!

Here’s a shot I took in Vienna at their big Christkindlemarkt by the Rathaus.

Vienna's Rathaus and Christkindlemarkt. The lights are gorgeous.

Where to go next? Morocco or back to Turkey?







Hmmmmm, which one? My last big trip was Turkey and I was left wanting lots more. I mean LOTS! But Morocco is also calling. I don’t know! Once the reverse mortgage goes through I’ll decide.

The Sound of Music, after all these years!

After falling in love with the Sound of Music movie the year it opened (you do the math!), I am finally going to be doing the musical next month playing Sister Berthe, the stern (aka mean) nun. It has been a dream of mine to be in the show. My Fair Lady was my first show EVER and now finally this dream show has fallen into my lap.

A friend recommended me to play the Mother Abbess, but I do not have the vocal chops to hit the high notes in Climb Ev’ry Mountain! My friend is playing Captain von Trapp. We first met as cast members in Amadeus in 2008 and reconnected on Facebook recently. I am so grateful he thought of me! It is a great big humungous adventure for me to be back on stage singing! Never thought that would every happen again…

OK, the show is a children’s musical theatre production and gives kids a chance to perform, but they bring in adults for the adult roles. Hence, an opportunity opened up!!

I’ve been searching for my autograph book from 1966 with the autographs of the SOM7 kids from the first anniversary show at the Fox Wilshire in Los Angeles. I was sure it was in my desk. Rats! But there’s more memorabilia around to be found, including 8×10 stills, original movie poster and program.

This 2008 photo is from the cemetery that inspired the set of the cemetery at the end of SOM.
These are the catacombs in the side of the mountain.

Where did the travel bug come from?

Where did I get this travel bug? It’s not a disease, for crying out loud! Simple. I went to visit family in Ohio the summer before starting high school, they took me to see “The Sound of Music” and I fell in love with everything about the movie. I wanted to visit Salzburg, learn German, sing, act and have Julie Andrews as a step mother! Yes, I had a real mother, but Julie seemed much nicer and more fun…. It was the crux of my young life – this movie really set me on the path of acting and was the seed of my passion for travel.

I drove my cousins nuts playing the soundtrack multiple times a day and singing all the songs constantly. “My Fair Lady” and “Camelot” were also new discoveries for me. To put it bluntly, I fell in love with musical theater. Am I still as passionate about musicals? Kind of. The obsession is gone, but the love is there.

Yes, of course I made it to Salzburg. Both in 1978 and in 2008. These pictures are from my last Salzburg visit in December 2008 on the Christmas Markets Danube River Cruise. And I learned German, too. Singing, acting, yes. Julie, no, she never was my stepmother.

Here we are, Salzburg! I think a photo of a SOM tour poster is an appropriate start.

There goes our group through the statues, all in SOM.



Parkinson’s is an insidious disease. My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1992 after a fall while traveling in France on one of his great trips through Elderhostel (now Road Scholar). I watched him deal with Parkinson’s with dignity until his death in 2005. Dad did well handling the physical decline the first few years. The medications kept the symptoms in check and he was still able to travel and play bridge – two of his big passions.

In October 2001 he fell in the middle of night and broke his femur at the ball joint and had to have a partial hip replacement. After that he was in a nursing home, I mean “convalescent hospital”, for about six weeks. During that time he thought he was a trip and wanted a souvenir! That was the beginning of the dementia associated with Parkinson’s.

A couple of months earlier, he rear-ended someone on the way home from playing bridge because he thought the light was green. Thankfully, he decided to stop driving! His car was totaled anyway and the payout on an ’85 Toyota Camry was almost nothing. He drove my ’92 Camry until I got home from North Dakota, where I’d been visiting my cousin for a couple of weeks. We then bought a 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe – I wanted a car that was up higher and would be easier for him to get into. Little did I know how soon that would be so important! The only mistake was that I didn’t get the leather seats, which are easier to slide on.

Dad made a good recovery once he was at home, but the dementia was a problem that continued. Often he would ask my why I invited people over and didn’t tell him or why people were smoking in the house. Hmmm, not me. I didn’t invite them, Dad, you must have! The smoking hallucinations were frequent. I often wondered if that was because he quit smoking on 1984 after being a 2 pack a day since he was in high school.

But Parkinson’s is a progressive disease and it was no different for Dad. My life became an adventure of doctor’s appointments, emergency room trips, more time in nursing homes and figuring out how to get him up after each fall. I don’t recommend being in the same room when your father is being examined by a urologist! TMI!

My cousin Nancy and I often are on the same life track. During this time she was caring for her mother after she had a series of strokes. Aunt Lucie passed away in November 2004 at the age of 90. Nancy and I spend many hours comparing notes and supporting each other through this journey. We both had middle of the night bedding to change, fractured pelvis’ and other fun times. My mother Dora (Lucie’s sister) and her father both passed away in 1984 within months of each.

Luckily I got Dad into respite care for a week and then used frequent flyer miles to go back to North Dakota for Lucie’s funeral. It was important to be there for me. My Kitty Witty was Lucie’s cat and I brought her home with me since Nancy wasn’t sure what to do with her. I knew deep inside that it probably would not be long before Dad passed away.

Over the next few months, Dad experienced a very steep decline. The falls grew more and more frequent, his ability to play bridge was almost non-existent and he became very frail. By the end of July he was staying awake most of the night, chatting away to himself. I was exhausted and was afraid I would have to put him into a nursing home in the near future! Every time he went into one, he would completely disassociate and not really know where or who he was!

I arranged for him to go into respite care for a week. A week in a nursing home, yuk! But, it was necessary for my sanity and to get some sleep. Before he went in, he reminded me that if anything happened, he didn’t want anything done. Nothing, nada, zip. He had also asked me (several times) to please shoot him and put him out of his misery. Yeah, Dad, if I did, I’d to go to jail. Sorry, I understand you’re ready to go home, but, please, not by my hand!

At the end of the week, he stood up in a locked wheelchair and it flipped back and he hit his head, hard. I got a call Saturday morning from Earlwood and had to head off to the emergency room, armed with his Health Care Directive. He seemed to understand that I was there when I arrived, I assured him I would make sure his wishes would be honored and then it was a matter of waiting, but he never regained consciousness. After two transfers by ambulance, he ended up in transitional care at Little Company of Mary for the next few days. He was given nothing, nada, zip, as he wished, and passed quietly Wednesday evening. He was 5 weeks shy of his 82nd birthday. It was what he wanted.

I am grateful that I was able to be of service and to help my father at the end of his life. He was a good man and a great father. I was very lucky.


December Photo a Day - Day 13 - FamilyYup - that's my family  in 1952.

I’m alive!

This past week I had a little adventure on google when I searched for myself and found a very funny link. Somehow my information was transferred from imdb.com to http://www.isxdead.com. The biggest joke is that according to them I am 21 years old and an A/B list celebrity! Wow!!!

The funniest thing to me is that 448 people voted that I’m dead and 1582 voted that I’m alive! Not sure I know that many people…. Do these folks really have that much time on their hands??