20 Ways to Entertain Yourself that Don’t Require Screen Time

With the upcoming ban on using laptops and tablets on flights to the US from 56 routes, I’ve heard many laments and questions about how to pass the time on long flights.

In a online group, I saw the question posed, “What do I do with my 4-year old on our 12-hour flight?”

Keeping young children busy on a long flight is a real challenge for parents. Back in the Dark Ages, pre-computer days, when I used to fly with Phillip, I always went shopping ahead of time. In the carry-on, I packed his favorite snacks, books both familiar and new, and a special grab bag of never-before-seen (or played with) items that I’d bought especially for the trip. Little items picked up at the dollar store could entertain my hyperactive child for a long time.

Adulting

Adulting is so tedious. And I find myself with so many “adult” things on my To-Do list.

There’s paying the car insurance that is due on March 12. Thanks to an encounter with a motorcyclist that was driving in the bicycle lane, my auto insurance is now $300/year more expensive than last year.

It wasn’t even my fault. How did I know that he was going to try to dash around me in the bike lane just as I was attempting to make a right-hand turn out of a traffic jam?

Road Trippin’

Last week, I left Albuquerque to visit Texas and Oklahoma.

Instead of driving from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City, I had decided to fly to Dallas, rent a car, and go from there.

I spent one night in Dallas, where I met up with an old friend or, as we agreed sounded better, a friend I’ve known for a long time. We worked together years ago when I’d first graduated from college. She treated me to dinner and we enjoyed gabbing, catching up for several hours.

The Courage Litter

Almost five years ago, a video randomly showed up on my Facebook page. In it was a litter of newborn puppies from a nonprofit called Warrior Canine Connection. There were six of them, and they were called “Holly’s Half Dozen.”

I got hooked, watching those little Golden Retriever fluff balls. I watched the day that their names were chosen: Lucy, Grace, Ruby, Abby, Levi, and Penny. The WCC staff pulled the names out of bowl, from names suggested by their fans, the “Extreme Puppy Watchers.”

Feelin’ Groovy

As a life-long learner, I enjoy being a scholar. Here in Albuquerque, the University of New Mexico offers continuing education classes in the summer, fall, and spring. I always look through their catalogue to see what’s available.

By trial and error, I’ve discovered that I do better with classes that are shorter, that only run for a few weeks or even are one-timers, like the UNM Writers’ Conference “From Start to Sales.” It’s an annual day-long seminar for writers.

Revisiting Re-Entry

It’s snowing here. Ever so lightly, but snowing. The sun’s trying to peek through, but the clouds are winning. I’m watching the fat flakes fall as I eat lentil soup, bought at the deli over on Nostrand. I will miss being able to walk a couple of blocks to the deli. And the grocery, the bagel place, the bank, the health food shop, the nail salon, the hipster coffee shop.

Next week, I’m going back to the Land of Enchantment, where it’s sunny 280+ days per year and you have to drive everywhere. I might call it a trade-off…if I were a sun-lover.

The Best Problem in the World

I have the best problem in the world. What’s good about it? I have many, many friends.

So what’s the problem? They’re scattered to the four winds.

Last week, I read an article about how difficult it is to say goodbye to friends. The article was referring to the life of an expat who was preparing for a move to a new location. The author was concerned about “losing friends” in the move.

Year of the Book

“A beautiful sight. We’re happy tonight. Walking in a winter wonderland.” Love that song.

The reality, not so much, but it’s the price I’m paying for staying in New York through January.

I’m working on another book. For me, it’s back to the scene of the crime. I started this damn book…ahem, this work of art…eleven years ago when I was living here. It was my first book baby and I was overly protective of it.

8 Lessons Phillip Taught Me

As we say goodbye to 2016, I ponder what to write about.

Do I talk about a year that I’d rather forget? For me, 2016 can be summed up in one word–difficult. Nothing could have prepared me for the death of my son last May.

Do I concentrate on looking forward? For the first time in many years, I don’t have “plans” for the new year. I have some ideas and goals, but there’s no strategy for accomplishing them. And there are no travel plans. Yet.

Technically, I’m traveling now. I’m sitting in a brownstone in Brooklyn, NY. I spent Christmas with my BFF and Fran, my former student, who was visiting from Chile. Travel makes for interesting connections.

Mission: Parka

unnamed-4On Thursday, I will be winging my way to New York for Christmas. I’ll be joined there by Francisca, the young lady from Chile who was a student in one of my original English classes there.

Here in Albuquerque today, it was 61º and sunny. I went out wearing a light jacket and a scarf and discovered that I didn’t need either of them.

In New York, it’s 31º and snowing at the moment. Last week, I started thinking about packing for the trip. The winter coat that I have here is a long, black, dressy wool coat. It doesn’t button all the way up. It’s heavy. Hard to pack. Cumbersome to wear on a plane. Not as warm as I will need for freezing temperatures.

I survived winters in Chile wearing a wool “car” coat. I withstood last winter in Edinburgh, Scotland, wearing a short puffy “down” coat with a hood, a parka.