Happy Trails

Happy trails to you, at Honeywell you’re through,
Happy trails to you, bid Honeywell adieu.
Who cares about the work if you’re retired?
No more will you get calls that keep you wired!
Happy trails to you, Honeywell adieu!

Picture about a dozen folks gatheredDSCN8155 trimmed in D’Amico and Sons, our favorite restaurant, singing lustily to the old Roy Rogers tune. My husband, Rich, is the one riding off into the sunset. It was the evening of his last day of work, heading into retirement after over 28 years with the company. Surrounded by family and a few close friends, he had a broad grin on his face.

DSCN8171 trimmedIt was a fitting celebration, with old memories, silly gifts, roasts and toasts. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to write a “little poem,” my favorite way to deliver a tribute. Okay, so it was 132 lines long. But there was a lot to cover in 28 years. Rich trotted out some memorabilia of his own, including his performance appraisals from 12 years ago. The kids got a kick out of reading the sections on “where you can improve.”

DSCN8184 trimmedOur daughter, Karen, came through with her cake-decorating prowess. This time it was literally a “trail” cake, with a winding path around the outside of the cake, and a toy bike for Rich to ride away. Not only was it pretty, but it tasted delicious – spice cake with raspberry filling. Mmmm. After much admiration, it was rapidly consumed. I was so glad I had delegated that job to her!

With the festivities over, we are now entering a new era – retirement together. For now that will include plenty of time on the trails. With two long distance bike trips totaling 2,500 total miles, we have plenty to keep us occupied. One is our Upper Mississippi River Tour, coming up in just over two weeks. The other is the what Rich is calling his “long belated college graduation trip” in the Maritime provinces of Canada. That’s the biggie, at about 2,000 miles over two months later in the summer. Happy Trails indeed!IMG_9884 trimmed

This takes the cake

I’ve been outdone. But I loved it! It’s clear that my daughter has inherited many of my traits, including my perfectionist tendencies. We are both extremely organized, creators of lists extraordinaire, highly energetic and productive, and love coffee. So it should not surprise me that she took my themed birthday cake tradition to another level.

For our granddaughter’s first birthday, Karen decided on a rainbow theme. We arrived at the family party to find streamers, birthday banner, and hats in all colors of the rainbow. I knew she’d spent all week preparing the cake – each night after teaching school she ticked off one more step in completing the cake. And the night before the big birthday, I was informed not to expect any email responses as she IMG_0546would be “offline” decorating the cake.

So it was with great anticipation that I sought my first glimpse of the cake. True to form, it was artfully decorated. A classic layer cake with pristine decorator frosting, it was adorned with a rainbow made up of M&Ms – very colorful and of course, perfect. We were also informed that it was 100% from scratch. Yes, very impressive.

We admired it all evening, through dinner, IMG_9643opening presents, and blowing out the single candle. It seemed a shame to cut into it. Little did we know that was the denouement! The pretty outside was merely window dressing for the rainbow of colors inside. Cutting through the frosting exposed no less than six layers, each a vivid and different color, naturally arrayed in rainbow order.

The ooohs and aaaahs were audible, and there was a tangible aura of awe throughout the room. Karen beamed in response, the kudos well deserved. Her piece de resistance was a smash hit.

IMG_9659Mya, the birthday girl, may not have entirely appreciated the aesthetics, but she did enjoy the sweet flavors. And she wore it well.

I admit to stabs of nostalgia, as my own family members have gravitated away from cake in favor of other favorite desserts on their birthdays. I haven’t made a theme cake in a long time. But if I do, I’ll know where to get help.

Life Comes Full Circle

All families have their own way of doing things.  It needn’t be formal traditions, simply the everyday activities, customs and favorite pastimes that make up the uniqueness of family life.  We are no exception.  But when we were raising our young family, little did we realize how those customs would become embedded in the lives of our children, and that we were laying the groundwork for future generations.

Now that we have grandchildren, we are seeing our children delight in revitalizing those family activities.  Suddenly, old toys take on new lives, perhaps enjoyed the most by their original owners the second time around.  The huge bubble maker came out again recently.  It still works as well as it did before, and brings the same smiles.

Each of our children had a “playak” at the cabin.  They provided hours of fun, going beyond a simple floating boat to becoming pirate ships and swimming platforms.  For now, they have been renamed “yellow boat.”

Birthdays meant picking a theme for the party, and then creating a shape cake to complement the decorations.  We had great fun planning and decorating them together.  Not only has my daughter carried on that custom, but has shown great prowess in her designs!

I think one of my favorites is a true tradition.  When my father was baptized, someone hand made his baptismal gown, complete with tucks, lace and a matching under garment.  I and my sisters all wore the gown, as did all of my children.  98 years later, it is now on its fourth generation.

What a joy to watch the great circle of life, and see just what family customs have been treasured enough to repeat.