Freak Alley is place to be in Boise

If you are lucky enough to explore Boise, you have to check out Freak Alley.  What surely used to be an ugly alley in downtown Boise has been creatively reimagined into an outside gallery that will stun you with the level of street art on display.freak alley

Billed as the “largest outdoor gallery in the Northwest”, Freak Alley began in 2002 as an artistic expression and grew into a multi-faceted lane showcasing superior talent that will blow you away.

I love Boise and the diversity found here whether in the art, the food (check out the Basque paella on Wednesday and Fridays at noon), and the spirits of all kinds from wine to craft beer to tasty cocktails.  We love our second home here and look forward to spending more time in Boise this summer.


Xtreme Holiday Xtravaganza Rocked!

Experiencing the Boise music scene at the Xtreme Holiday Xtravaganza hosted by Curtis Stigers at the Egyptian Theater was an eye opener.  Who knew there was so much local talent in little old Boise??  Now in it’s 11th year, this musical holiday journey featured Curtis, who is an amazing talent I was unaware of until lately, and loads of other Boise solo artists and groups. Not a bad note in the bunch and lots of moments that just made you smile.   It was sold out both nights and now I can see why.  WOW.stigers-2

This fundraiser benefits Interfaith Sanctuary Housing Services that supports the homeless in Boise.  I got to meet Dan Ault, Shelter Director, in the lobby while on a break and promised my future support.  How can you not?  We volunteer every Sunday in Seattle when we are home to feed 300+ homeless at Shared Breakfast.  For those of us blessed with so much, helping others with life’s basics of food and shelter seems to be the least we can do.  Stigers’ rendition of “Burden” by Foy Vance was so relevant and gave me goose bumps.  Foy is one of my favorite artists that we just got to see in Seattle at the Columbia City Theater, a small venue that won’t hold the crowd for Foy’s next concert swing as he gains in popularity.  Go see Foy if you get a chance.  Oh, and Curtis, please come to Seattle soon and allow us to enjoy a full evening of your music.  The Moore or The Paramount would be ideal venues for your big voice.  Please.


Curtis sings Burden with back-up from many talent Boise artists


From an Irish band that I will have to check out soon at the local downtown Ha’ Penny Bridge Pub to Pengilly’s Saloon which seems like “the” place for local artists, we need to challenge ourselves to explore all this great Boise talent.  Trooping up to the stage, The Divas of Boise, a group of talented female singers/musicians started by Rocci Johnson in the mid-90s to showcase their skills and lend a helping hand in the Boise Community, brought it with big voices and loads of talent.

Silly us.  We have never fully explored the Boise music scene when visiting our home here because we are usually so busy with babysitting the lovely Miss Mia or doing home renovations.  Busy, busy but finding time to listen to great music is essential to a happy life, at least for me.

Lucky for us, Eilen Jewell who lives in our North End neighborhood was on the stage with her husband rocking out with some other local musicians.  I would love to see Eilen give a concert in this spacious theater.  The last time we saw her we were packed into the Tractor Tavern in Seattle.  Her heartfelt tunes and excellent band make for a fun evening but I would prefer not to stand the whole time.  Yes, I’m getting a tad older and like simple creature comforts like a  comfy padded seat.


Eilen Jewell and friends rocking it out.  She’s AWESOME!


Curtis and his cohorts did a great job balancing the request for support with music and frivolity.  Even in bleeding red Idaho, the liberal taunts of Trump were woven into the evening and it felt good to be among fellow people with brains who could laugh and cry together at the state of our country.  The 3+ hour show went by quickly and raised a lot of money for those in need.  On a cold and wintery evening, we felt the holiday spirit loud and clear.  Happy holidays to all and to all a good night!


I. Miss. Thom.

Being married to your best friend is a wonderful thing.  The only problem with that is when your partner is gone, your soul feels incomplete.  Days are an empty vacuum without your sidekick accompanying you to take on life’s adventures.  Damn I’m lonely.  I.  Miss. Thom.

He’s been in Boise now for several weeks working on much-needed home renovations to a house we own.  While we did just hire someone to do the heavy lifting, Thom is doing much of the work himself.  It will be awesome when it’s done but, for now, we must live apart.  I am just finishing up working a second assignment at work in addition to my day job so my life in Seattle has been super busy no doubt.  Yet, when I started feeling sick this week I immediately started to panic.  Who will take care of me?  James is still living at home and has been a huge help with the daily walking of dogs but he can only do so much.  I need my Thom.

Drinking my morning coffee, going to the gym, watching endless political news, eating, shopping, cuddling with the pups-it all seems blah without Thom.  Married for 28 years, some couples by now would have formed tight friendships with others of their own gender and not rely on their partner so much but Thom and I are so happy with just being with each other that we haven’t really felt a need for that extended group of friends.  Quite frankly, we would really just prefer to be with each other.  I appreciate and like other people don’t get me wrong but Thom is just the funniest, smartest, kindest person I’ve ever met and I enjoy his company so much.  He’s hilarious and makes me laugh every day of my life.  Now, he gets to crack up Mia too!

Mia and her GiGi taking a walk in Boise before getting ice cream.


And it’s not enough that Thom isn’t here and I’m lonely but I’m also terrifically jealous that he gets to be in Boise with our family, babysitting Mia when he’s not working on the house.  Yes, my daughter will miss her daddy and Mia will miss her GiGi when he has to leave and come back to me.  Oh, if we could just live in Boise full time!  Dream. Unfortunately the jobs there just don’t compare to Seattle and supporting my family means that this NaiNai needs to stay the course.   I will look forward to the holidays spent with the entire clan in Boise and many wonderful memories to be made.


Thom’s scary costume for Trunk and Treat event in Boise where people decorate their car trunks and kids go around the parking lot to Trick or Treat.  Must be a Boise thing.


An Afternoon with Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem showed up in Boise, Idaho on Monday afternoon.  Amazing.  Sadly, there aren’t a lot of Dems who are courageous enough to live a Blue life in a Red state so the crowd to see her was small.  It’s hard and it’s discouraging to fight the tidal wave of Red.  We did it for 14 years in Coeur d’Alene and while there are more Dems in Boise, especially in the North End where we have a house, Dems are still a major minority.   For the few who showed up yesterday, they were treated to an intimate hour with an awesome woman who has and always will make a difference.wp_20161017_15_49_19_rich-2

As Mayor Dave Bieter, a Dem, announced to the audience when introducing Gloria, we were all in a “safe place” for the next hour spent together surrounded by Hillary election signs.  Let’s enjoy it.  “How many of you have been in a room where you were the only Democrat?”  Hands up EVERYWHERE.  Just as I have often been the only women in meetings at work, you learn how to snap to the norm of being the outsider and understanding no one will listen to your ideas.  Just the way it is.  You never give up and you keep working hard.  That’s what Hillary does and I respect her for it.

Gloria spoke of the election and how Hillary is the most qualified candidate there ever was or probably will be but, since she is a woman, she has always had to justify her desire to do good work and aspire to be a First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State and now President.  A man with ambition like that would be regaled as a strong leader, the woman a pushy bitch.  Not fair but true.  As far as her views on Trump, he is “a con man and not a successful business man” as he would like to boast and have everyone believe.  Gloria comes from NYC and has seen his shenanigans up close and personal.  She knows.wp_20161017_15_54_45_rich

When I asked her how we would need to heal as a country after Trump has brought out the violent, racist rhetoric that has frightened us all, she gave an interesting reply.  The people supporting Trump are revealing their truth about themselves so we can have the opportunity to address the real underlying problems–their feeling of white entitlement and living in the past waiting for jobs vs. proactively preparing for the jobs of the future.   Gloria quoted Gandhi, “The truth is revealing itself.”  Those well-paying but hazardous coal mining and logging jobs aren’t coming back to Ohio and Pennsylvania and Idaho.  We need to train those workers to take on new roles and spur the economy.  Let’s not lie to them that once Trump makes America great again that he can restore those jobs.  He can’t and he won’t.  Period.

Gloria reminded us that Trump doesn’t represent the majority of the people and has always had a hard time polling above 40%.  We can’t give him power to speak for the people of this country.  We can’t let hate trump love and kindness and real conversation about what we need to do to further our America that is already pretty damn awesome.  Thom and I often reflect that if more people had passports and travelled widely that there would be a deeper appreciation for how great America already is.  Once you have seen the pollution in China or seen how hard the citizens of Hanoi work to just eat and have a roof over their heads, you can thank God that we have laws and regulations here that keeps Americans safe to breathe the air, eat the food and work in a healthy environment.  We are blessed and our government system, while not perfect, protects it’s citizens.

When asked by a former Bernie supporter how to vote in this election, she encouraged him, as a lifelong socialist herself, to follow Bernie’s lead and support Clinton.  Bernie did what he felt he had to do and was successful in raising important issues like college debt. Together, he and Hillary have found a compromise with a real chance of working to reduce debt for those in need.  That’s Hillary’s strength and why she will be a good President.  She understands mediation and finding a middle ground to get shit done.  God love her and let’s get out the vote to make sure that a President Trump never happens in his or our lifetime.  I’m.  With.  Her.  wp_20161017_15_27_22_rich

3 Chicks in Chicago

Girl’s Weekend!  My sister Becky along with our best friend since grade school, Patti aka Trish, and I took on Chicago this weekend for a glorious girl’s only experience which featured food, fun, music and, of course, wine.  Oh. Yeah.  WP_20160604_19_17_07_Rich (2)

We have been best friends for 45 years believe it or not.  I know, how can that be???  We all look so young!  From swimming at our neighbor’s pool every day in the summers to sneaking smokes in the field between our houses, we have been through life’s challenges and celebrations-divorce, death, weddings, births, businesses, etc. with lots of tears and laughter along the way.  I truly don’t know what I would do without these great women in my life.

After meeting up in our amazing suite at the Warwick Hotel on the Magnificent Mile complete with complimentary champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, we headed out for a walk by the waterfront, enjoying the blue sky and warm temps and then through historic Astor Park where the multi-million $ brownstones are to-die-for gorgeous.  Next on the agenda was a late dinner at Volare.  Even with reservations, the place was packed and it took awhile to get our table and food.  A HUGE appletini for Patti and wine for me eased the hunger pains but then the food arrived and LOTS of it–mushroom risotto, caprese salad, minestrone, pasta–all to share and sample.  YUM.

Becky and I are the “walkers” with matching FitBits so we got up early leaving Patti to her beloved sleep and took off for a walk by the river from bridge to bridge.  Satisfied that we were well on our way to 10,000 steps, we pried Patti out of bed with the temptation of a Saturday brunch at a neighborhood café where we sat outside until the rain began but not before a courteous street dude walked right up to us, declared, “Charlie’s Angels” and walked away.  You betcha!

It proceeded to mist on us as we ventured out of the downtown core to the Hyde Park Art Fair.  I have no artistic skill whatsoever so am in complete awe of the interesting creations that the artists were showing.  I saw an interesting cross necklace made out of antique silverware (only $35!) and pounced on it to purchase.  Patti and Becky also wanted one so they are going to order online at:  Silverware Artistry.  Later we hit the Magnificent Mile and shopped till we dropped at Nordstrom’s (and the Rack), Anthro, Victoria’s Secret and Banana Republic.  All my favorite stores and the stars were aligned for us all to find stuff we loved to take home.  New Kate Spade shoes.  Check.  New Anthro white jacket.  Done.  Ring at 50% off.  On my finger.

Nothing says “Girls Weekend” like a concert by awesome artists so, lucky us, got to go see Sean McConnell and Kris Allen at City Winery on Saturday night.  I’ve seen Sean play in Seattle, opening for Griffin House at Columbia City Theater and, believe me, he is destined for greatness.  His new album comes out July 2nd and he is touring as the headliner in the fall, coming to Columbia City in Seattle on August 19th and Neurolox in Boise on 9/3.  Go see him before he blows up and is playing at huge arenas.  Seriously, if you like rich lyrics and soulful tones, you will enjoy Sean’s music.  Plus, I modeled my new hairstyle after his-seriously.  I told him that story after his performance when Becky and I talked with him so she could buy his CD.  He laughed.

Next up was Kris Allen and his band who got the crowd engaged, singing and clapping.  Thom and I saw him just last week in Seattle at The Triple Door and he was equally entertaining.  Singing by himself or with the group, Kris is a true talent that I have enjoyed since he was on American Idol.  He is a hard worker with a brilliant voice.  I hope he gains a wider audience and enjoys great success.  WP_20160604_22_04_53_Pro (2)

After a lovely evening with wine, great food and wonderful music, we once again got a quick Uber (I’ve even made Becky an Uber lover!) and off to the hotel for some rest.  The next morning Becky and I again wandered the neighborhood, walking to the lakeshore to get in our 10,000 steps.  Then, it was off to the train to South Bend to see Mom.  These 3 chicks had quite the time in Chicago and we vowed to make this a yearly event!  Cheers!IMG_8119 (2)


Adventures in Boise!

From discovering an innovative wine bar to shopping downtown boutiques to walking the Greenbelt and more, our weekend in Boise could not have been better.  I love my Seattle but, for a small town, Boise has it all even for urban-loving adventurers like Thom and I.  Where to begin?  With wine, of course!

Bodovino in downtown has an innovative concept for a wine tasting experience that I had never seen before and, you know, I DO get around.  You load up cash onto a chip card and then insert loaded card into a bank of wine bottles hooked up to spouts so you can pay for a taste ($1-3), a half glass ($4-6) or a full glass ($6+) of over 140+ varieties of wine.  Damn, what a great idea!  Hannah and I enjoyed a lazy Friday afternoon sampling the wares.  They even have tasty food if you’re hungry.  We shared a “Frenchy” flat bread with apples, brie, bacon and honey with a salad.  They are opening a branch at the Meridian Mall but they REALLY need to come to Seattle! 

After finding the best wine bar in Boise, we decided the next morning to check out The District, a coffeehouse with not only strong caffeine but cozy atmosphere and friendly baristas.  Score!  Of course, first we checked out the farmer’s market that happens every Saturday downtown.  From lemon squares the size of my head to veggies/flowers to crafts, the downtown streets are blocked off for hordes of shoppers.  I found a $5 Scrabble tile ring that I just love.  We also discovered a hat and accessory shop, Crazy Neighbor, on Grove St., where Thom got the perfect porkpie-style hat he has been wanting to get for so long.  They also had great necklaces, scarves and bowties.  My kind of store!  I love exploring new areas of town-this one is in the Linen District.

But after wine, coffee and shopping, it was time to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and great outdoors so on Sunday we walked from downtown to the Anne Frank memorial by the Library! and onto the Greenbelt by the Boise River.  Our Fitbits needed to hit 10,000 steps before we stopped so off we went.  Not only did we enjoy the water views but the trail took us right by the outside of the Boise Zoo where we were able to catch two giraffes out and about.  What a great way to end our fun adventures in Boise!Boise zoo


Musical May

Thom and I treated ourselves to fantastic musical experiences in May by a wide variety of talented artists, emerging and exiting, that ranged from The Who to Griffin House to Billy Joel to Kris Allen to Jewel to Marie Miller to Gavin DeGraw.  WOW.  As my mom remarked, “Boy, you get around!”  Yes, we surely do and enjoying every  lyrical moment of it.

I truly appreciate how hard these artists’ lives are travelling from city to city, leaving behind family and their homes to sing their hearts out for us.  Of course, The Who and Billy Joel may be flying around in style but the majority of musicians are probably packed onto rented buses, staying at Arbnb and eating fast food.  Tough way to make a living.

Coolest concert moment for me was seeing parents trying to get their kids to buy into the classic music of The Who that shaped a generation or two.  Yes, these dudes were OLD but still had clear voices and energy to play for hours.  Good for them and better for us!  While everyone knows of Billy Joel, I hadn’t played or heard his music for years.  As he played hit after hit on his piano, memories in my life that were linked with his tunes all came flooding back to me.  He is quite the showman and even strapped on a guitar for a few songs.  So much talent!  With an opening act as strong as Gavin DeGraw, who was amazing, it was quite the concert.   Splurging to share a VIP suite, Thom’s biggest delight was the designer lotion in the bathrooms.  Appreciate everything, expect nothing!

Swinging from 30,000+ in Safeco Field for Billy to 100+ The Triple Door, Marie Miller, opening act for Kris Allen, shared with us how she was a late fill-in to sing for the Pope on his US tour last year.  She was asked to share her “6 foot 2” song that she felt was rather shallow for such a dignitary but, hey, it was the biggest crowd she had sung for so she went with it and got to sing one other, “You’re Not Alone” that actually had a stronger message.  Check her out-great young talent.  Kris Allen, American Idol winner, is back with a new album and much improved stage performance with a killer band too.  I’m so excited to see him again next weekend with my sister and best friend in Chicago at City Winery.  Yes, I do get around, Mom!

One of the most special evenings was sharing favorite indie artist, Griffin House, with my daughter in Boise at the beautiful Egyptian Theater.  She actually first turned me on to his music and then Thom and I were able to see him play in NYC and Seattle and now Boise.  No, I’m not a stalker-just a music fan!  Griffin and his guitar and soulful original songs make for a great evening of music appreciation.  Then Jewel came on by herself and two guitars and shared her emotional journey from homeless teen to just separated 40 year old mother trying to make a musical comeback.  She has the best voice we’ve ever heard.  I don’t usually buy concert apparel but felt compelled to support Jewel and bought matching “Only Kindness Matters” sweatshirts for Hannah and I.  And really, ain’t that the truth!  If only our politicians would heed this important message.  But that’s another story.

A Night of Cocktail Exploration


After searching through Yelp for the craftiest cocktail place in downtown Boise, I decided to give the Press & Pony a try.  Aided by my daughter and hubby as the designated driver, we passed through the velvet curtained entryway into a small speakeasy environment with a copper-topped bar and tin-tiled ceiling.  Score-atmosphere galore where the bartenders were knowledgeable and downright hardcore in their stance to serve only the most unique craft cocktails to their customers.

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Absinthe anyone? Press & Pony has atmosphere galore plus well crafted cocktails in downtown Boise, Idaho.

Of course, after reviewing the menu of cocktails (no food here-serious drinking only), I interviewed the bartenders on their most popular drinks and ingredients.  Boy did I get an earful of passionate discourse on the ingredients needed to create cocktail masterpieces.  Settling on the classic Old Fashioned to try first, it did not disappoint.  Eric the Bartender proclaimed their Old Fashioned to be the best in Boise and with the essence of lemon and orange mixed with simple syrup, bourbon and 8 dashes of two types of bitters served in a classic old fashioned tumbler with a big ass ice cube, the better not to melt and dilute the drink I was told, I contently sat back to sip and enjoy this masterpiece of alcohol.  As I brought my nose to the glass, the lemon and orange oils diffused the smell of booze and lightened the bourbon taste.  Delightful!

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House-made tonics and sodas delight even the non-alcoholic sippers
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Shots and Classic Cocktails with complex ingredients

Next up on the cocktail tasting menu for me was the Corpse Reviver No. 2 that combined gin, lillet blanc, Cointreau, lemon juice and an absinthe rinse for good measure.  The name alone compelled me to give it a try plus I had never tried absinthe so the Corpse Reviver was perfect!  Shaken not stirred, it arrived in a short goblet with tiny floats of ice on top.  Delicious with a kick!  Eric pointed out that absinthe is 53 proof and not to be trifled with.  As Hannah put it so aptly when she tasted her Dark + Stormy (dark rum+ginger beer+lime juice) cocktail, “Oh Jesus!” 

In asking Eric about the focused assortment of their liquors behind the bar, he expressed disdain for the standard popular brands like Maker’s Mark and Jack Daniels-not even available at their establishment, thank you very much.  As he put it, if customers come in and ask for vodka or “regular” drinks like Jack & coke, he directs them to the “douche kiddie bars” down the street where it’s all about cheap booze vs. refined cocktails.  Tell us how you really feel, Eric.  I like a bartender with principles.

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Absinthe anyone? Press & Pony has atmosphere galore plus well crafted cocktails in downtown Boise, Idaho.

Next up on the cocktail research tour, we met up with our friend Ryan H. and walked quickly on this single digit frigid night to the Red Feather Lounge, a more mainstream alcohol emporium but with a late night happy hour (yes, we were out that late believe it or not) so we could enjoy hot beignets with warm butterscotch dipping sauce with our cocktails.  Paired with a “Fever of the Mad” (Extra Dry Gin, Herbsaint Pastis,  Fresh Lemon, Fee Bros. Peach Bitters, and Egg Whites) the beignets soaked up all the alcohol just fine.  I had wanted to try a drink featuring egg whites as this is a hot trend now.  The Fever was light, frothy and a perfect way to end a night of intensive cocktail research.  Taking the Red Feather motto to heart, “A bar without bitters is like a kitchen without spice.”, it’s back to Seattle today to continue the research at Canon, one of the top cocktails bars in the nation.  Watch out!

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Absinthe anyone? Press & Pony has atmosphere galore plus well crafted cocktails in downtown Boise, Idaho.

Boise Charm-Home for the Holidays

Mia and I taking a walk near our cottage in Boise

While we are lucky most of the year to enjoy our beautiful place in Seattle overlooking the water, when we come home for the holidays to our house in Boise, we get to revel in family time and experience the rolling foothills, bitter cold (brrrrr!) and snow.  Seriously, I brought warm clothes but you can’t dress in enough layers to cope with this frozen tundra crap.  And, while Thom is squiring us around town in our cool red Kia that we keep here, the squirrel community has already declined, with more surely to meet their early demise, as seemingly endless supplies of the squirrel population have some freaky death wish to run right in front of our car ALL THE TIME!  In speaking with David Sedaris at his recent Seattle talk at Benroya Hall, we explained our daughter lived in Boise, Idaho, to which he reacted by saying something to the effect that the squirrels were stalking him when he visited Boise and seriously, WTF!  Yep, the squirrels here are plentiful and crazy but Thom may have a personal hand in changing that status.  David, you’ll be safe to return to Boise soon to give an inspiring reading.

Braving the cold at the Bowls fundraiser-Thom & I, James & Hannah and Mia
Braving the cold at the Bowls fundraiser-Thom & I, James & Hannah and Mia

The day after Thanksgiving, we bundled up to go to the Idaho Food Bank’s fundraiser, Bowls, that is a tradition for many Boise families.  People throughout the year decorate bowls and donate them for this event where you spend $10 to buy a bowl and then get soup donated from local restaurants.  Last year, with temps in the 40’s, it was lovely and we lingered, eating our soup outside.  This year, we quickly bought bowls, snagged some soup and ran home to eat.  Still, we participated and all proceeds went to a worthy charity, that raised $39,000 last year at this event. Here’s hoping they exceeded that this year!

Our cute little cottage

Our social life in Boise differs greatly from Seattle because we are Mia-focused here, soaking up the cutest darling in the world while we can.  To say she is the most intelligent, beautiful child would be a vast understatement.  She loves to dance and play hide and seek with her Gi Gi and Nai Nai.  Mostly on-the-go, sometimes she will consent to sit down to color or read a story.  Before the cold wave hit, we enjoyed the park by our house, creeping and crawling through and under tunnels, going up hills and swinging endlessly.

We rent our cottage in Boise most of the year to short term VRBO clients and it’s so popular we had to book it out to use ourselves while we are here in December. Close to the trails and Hyde Park social scene, I can actually walk to the local office here and work remote.  With only 800 sq ft, it is a bit small if we moved here full time in the future so we are dreaming of an extension that would allow us to have a family room, modern bathroom and fireplace.  I know that clawfoot bathtubs seem romantic and vintage but they are a royal pain to climb in and out of.  Death by clawfoot tub-it could happen.  Give me a multi-head walk in shower…please!  I have to admit I’ve never stepped into the basement where the w/d is located, down a steep set of fold down stairs so that will have to be addressed too in a remodel–no crawling down into creepy space to do laundry for me.  Thom, at this point, is calling me out that I rarely do the laundry and, while that is very true, there may be a time when I have to so plan we must for that rare scenario.

Mia and I enjoying the park
Mia and I enjoying the park

While we don’t have the urban walks, night clubs, professional sports teams and frequent concert opportunities like we do in Seattle, we did enjoy going to a Boise State basketball game last week that they won handily and plan on trying out a jazz club soon.  I found an indie bookstore that was just enchanting in downtown Boise, which is a vibrant place full of shops and restaurants.  They even have a vinyl store that, thankfully, Thom has yet to check out.  The biggest difference is that with the frigid temps, it discourages the long walks that we love so much.  Definitely have to be a gym rat here to stay in shape indoors in the long winter months.  Oh well, you adjust and, while we might not love the weather, we do love our family and they are the first priority come snow or rain.  So, it’s happy holidays, Boise-style, which means enjoying the Idaho Potato Drop (from a crane downtown) to celebrate New Year’s Eve.  Yes, really.  When in Idaho….

Boise to Beijing-The Journey Begins

Good bye blue skies and fresh air!  Hello grey, chunk-filled air that causes me to cough..hard.  So long family and friends!  Hello insane work schedule though I love what I do.  Tomorrow I will make the long, long journey from Boise, Idaho to Beijing, China.  Leaving behind my new granddaughter Mia and my lovely family including my husband, who will stay to oversee the purchase of our new home here in Boise, our retreat from China but primarily a vacation rental till we expatriate.  Though I have been busy working from Boise to get ready for my big project in China, I have been blessed to at least be able to see the baby and family every night.  We take a walk around the neighborhood-the whole crazy crew:  Baby Mia, Hannah & Mike, Thom and I plus the crazy canine duo pulling us along, Izaak and Ollie, plus Det. Stabler, the only cat I know who goes for walks too. Now, I really don’t favor cats, being a dog person, but I will acknowledge that Det. Stabler is an unusually loyal and smart cat.  Not that I ever want to support a cat again.  Ever.  I prefer dogs who love you always and never give attitude.

Thom enjoying some puppy love from our Izaak.  I miss him so much!
Thom enjoying some puppy love from our Izaak. I miss him so much!
Det. Stabler coming along for the walk sans leash
Det. Stabler coming along for the walk sans leash

For the next month or two, I will be all alone in Beijing working hard.  More days in a hotel than I want to think about, not that it is a bad hotel but I miss being home.  Our Ayi Pink probably thinks we bailed on her.  I wonder what she does all day in the apartment with really nothing to do except dust the ever present dirt that is spewing out of the vents and hopefully watering our plants so they are not all dead by the time we return.  The wave pool with sandy beach will be open for the summer by the time I return to Shanghai in late June.  I’ve been watching the feral cats use this sandy beach as their own private litter box all winter while working out in the gym overlooking it.  Wonder if they’ll clean up all the cat poop before the season starts?  Oh, right, I live in China.  Note to self–wear shoes in sand.

What do I miss from Shanghai?  I miss the daily adventures walking the streets with Thom.  Experiencing the unusual and crazy life in China.  I don’t miss the pollution AT ALL.  My lung scare is still top of mind and I don’t look forward to wearing my mask more to protect myself but I will because I value living and breathing.  My CT scan showed lung damage caused by remote exposure to TB but thank God, I was tested and it’s not active TB. Did I get “exposed” to TB in China.  Yep.  Damn Subways.  Oh well.

Three generations enjoying lunch on a sunny, clear day in Boise.
Three generations enjoying lunch on a sunny, clear day in Boise.

Packing today was an experience in futility.  Due to the lure of low, low prices in the U.S., I may have overdone the shopping a bit. Well, maybe more like 20 or 30 pounds worth. Don’t judge me–the top size in China is a small 4 so I loaded up on the generous US sizing to help my self confidence.  Now, I am forced to make my son bring over some of my clothes when he comes.  Sorry dude but you’re Momma’s mule!  (He doesn’t ever read my blog so I’m safe)  He’ll come over with Thom at the first of July with an extra bag or two to have adventures all summer exploring the China that I’m too afraid to see.  Yes, until you live outside the U.S. you never consider that your travel plans will be heavily influenced by the reality of “are there are toilets or not?”  In pretty much all of rural China, it’s a definite “NOT”.  No toilets, no go -just my policy.  Men can go anywhere, anytime–females are challenged in that regard especially if you don’t like to squat by the side of the road.  So, Thom and James will take the trains here and there and see lots of crazy shit I am sure.  I will stay home and work where there are heated TOTO toilets close by–my new office is AMAZING!

So, on my last day in lovely Boise, we went to a great lunch, sat outside on the patio and soaked in the clean air.  I will never, ever take for granted the simple things in life like being able to drink a margarita on the rocks with no worries that the “rocks” will be made of toxic water that will induce projectile vomiting.  Ahhhhh….I will miss those little things….Beijing, watch out, here I come!