Hipsters, Yuppies, Millennials, and Baby Boomers? (Oh, My!)

Day 7: June 4, 2017 – Road Trip/Novel Writing Insights

And the Pool Halls Shall Unite Us All

Let me state it here and now. There is no generational divide in a pool hall. Whether you’re a pool player or the partner who is watching the pool player – everything is equal in a billiard parlor. Of course, this statement presumes that the people shooting are of equal skill. And they were last night at Scafiddi’s on Milwaukee’s popular lower east side near the trendy Brady St. After dragging my husband Mike across the country from California just so I could be inspired by actually living in the neighborhood where I grew up, we decided our walkabout last night should include a stop at Scaffidi’s Hideout so Mike could shoot pool. Scaffidi’s is a “new” addition to the lower east side – “new” as of 1971, ten years after my mom and dad and I had moved away from the east side to the south side in ‘61.

Scaffidi’s Hideout

So Mike and I took a warm walk down to Scaffidi’s Hideout on Kane and Humboldt, winding around streets whose names were as familiar to me as my own.  (The 94-degree heat in June in Milwaukee was not as familiar to me; however, but we soldiered on.) 

I don’t think Mike ever has any expectations when entering a new bar to shoot pool.  He just wants a beer and a chance to knock around some balls.  But usually, after a time, someone will lay down a quarter which I’ve come to understand is a desire to play a game or two with him.  And always I’m impressed by the young people who do.

Nate (left) Sam (pool cue)

Nate and Sam

This night was no exception.  Two young handsome 30 year-olds were waiting for a table and watching Mike. I love it when there are two people who have come together.  That way Mike gets to shoot pool with one– and I get to talk to the other one who is waiting to play the winner. Sometimes the guy who’s waiting just wants to watch without talking, and other times he (or sometimes she) is sweet enough and polite enough to indulge a chatty woman who has to dye her gray hair brown every few weeks. Nate was one of those open-minded, open-hearted kinds of guys. He started our conversation telling me how he could see that Mike knew what he was doing.  “You just know from the way a player holds the cue and how he moves around the table.” I think Nate knew that would make me proud. As we talked I found out that his partner, Sam, who was playing Mike was going to be married in a few weeks to a school psychologist (my favorite kind of person, having seen school psychologists in action over so many years, working with deaf students I’ve had.)  When I had a chance to talk to Sam I learned that he worked for Eaton in Milwaukee and had traveled all over the United States growing up.

And so, the evening wore on. I asked Nate if the group that hangs out on Brady St.is made up of Millenials or Yuppies, Gen-Xers, or what.  He explained that the lines between these groups are extremely blurred and it’s hard to define exactly who’s who.  (With Baby Boomers, it’s not so difficult; although I must say, we have former Hippies, want-to-have-been Hippies, and the never wanted-to-be, among our group of aging faces.)

After the guys were all “played out” and Nate was just getting warmed-up with the karaoke group that was gathering in the front of Scaffidi’s at 11 o’clock, we said goodbye and walked away.  As we trudged back in the heat to the old apartment where I grew up, I was hoping I might have said something this evening that may have been useful to these young men. (Being useful at this age is the best thing you want to be.) Whether or not that was the case, there is one thing I do know for certain: this evening directly affected the novel I came to Milwaukee to write!  Unequivocally I now know that the male character in “If Not for War” is definitely going to know how to shoot a mean game of pool. He might even have a conversation with a 70-year-old couple who come walking into a bar like Scaffidi’s. And I know for sure my female protagonist is going to smile at him as she watches the scene.

Best Thing To See On A Road Trip

Day Five: 2017 Novel Writing Road Trip Insights: June 2, 2017

What’s the best thing to see on your road trip?  Of course, we all know the answer.  The best thing to see on a road trip is friends!  (Note: this includes family members, especially if you have the kind of family like Mike’s and mine.)

So with that in mind, stifling any latent urges to veer off to Cawker, KS and take a look at the World’s Largest Ball of Twine, we kept zipping along east on I-70 yesterday (June 1st) and headed straight to our friends’ house in Overland Park, KS.








We’ve been friends with Carol and Gale since we first met them several years ago as they spent their winter at Newport Dunes RV Resort in Newport Beach, CA. Each season they visited, Carol and I would take walks around the Back Bay with my little dog Scooter, and Gale would play his banjo around our campfires. During one visit, we all went to see my daughter, Bethany Therese, performing in an Improv contest up in Hollywood.  (When friends support your children, it’s something more than special.)

A few summers ago, on a road trip similar to this one, we visited Carol and Gale in their home in Kansas when we still had our little Scooter. Scooter was always welcome at Carol and Gale’s because he and Carol had a very special bond.

As usual, this year’s visit at Carol and Gale’s place was like stopping at an oasis of homey-ness in the middle of a desert worth of stays at hotels and motels. Being in their home is like being in one of those gift shops where you want to stay all day. There is just so much to see – Carol’s own paintings on the walls, Gale’s instruments in the basement – his banjo, ukulele,  keyboard, and his brand new slide guitar – Carol’s garden with roses and hostas and hydrangeas and lilies, winding around stepping stones that Gale laid lovingly down. There’s the family room with tasteful collections perched on top of dark wooden ceiling beams – tiny green glass bottles, figurines each with special meaning to Carol and Gale – those kinds of homey things.  And then there’s my favorite room of the house, their sun room, a glass enclosed transition from the inside to outside with a lovely patio table and comfy patio chairs – wooden seagulls in the corner – perfect. Whenever we visit, we sit and talk like we’ve never had time apart.

There’s so much more to tell – the story of the orphan squirrel, Charlie, who adopted Gale, the mansions of Mission Hills, Carol’s insights to help me with my novel, how Gale in a blink of an eye, washed the front of our Prius before we started back on the road…but I’m typing this in the car and we have to get to Milwaukee by 1:00, so we’ll save some Carol and Gale stories for later.

Here’s wishing all of you the time to take a happy road trip and so many friends along the way that you’ll drive right past that old ball of twine in Cawker, KS.

Mars, Egypt, Motel 6…and Us

Day Four: 2017 Novel Writing Road Trip Insights
Imagine a game like this: A hat is filled with cards. Written on each card is a random proper noun. You are instructed to reach in and pull out 3 cards. You must then use your cards to write a story about the nouns you picked. Here are the words you pulled out: Mars, Egypt, and
Motel 6.

“What?” you say to yourself.  “I can’t make up a story with those three seemingly unconnected words!  It would sound like a preposterous piece of fiction.”  But sometimes truth truly is stranger than fiction as we found out yesterday, May 31, when checking out of Motel 6 in Green River, Utah
This is how universe decided to put these 3 words together. Just as I was emptying the previous night’s melted ice from our little red Coleman cooler onto the grass, I noticed a canopy under which stood a whole slew of handsome young men. When you’re 72 years old,  people don’t think badly of you if you approach a group of 20-somethings, any one of whom could theoretically be your grandchild.  (Age does have its privileges).  So that’s just what I did.  I walked up and asked this impressive group if they were having some kind of sale, knowing full well that this didn’t seem like a sale.
One by one, the smiley guys standing before me took turns explaining that the object I was looking at was a prototype of a Mars Rover they designed for the “University Rover Challenge”.sponsored by the Mars Society. The competition would be held the next day at the Mars Desert Research Station in Hanksville, Utah. Teams from all over the world will be attending from June 1-3, 2017.  Their team, the Pharaohs, composed of mechanical, electrical, design, and software engineering students, are from the Military Technical College in Cairo, Egypt.

As Mike approached, the talk shifted to the rover itself – the tire design, the strips of gym shoes that were glued on for better traction and so on. I continued asking more personal questions while being struck by clear eyes that shone with intelligence – perhaps brilliance, I surmised. But over and above any of that, there was a warmth that radiated from each of these young men – their excitement to show a stranger their project – their pride at being part of this group. Maybe it was the serendipity of it all – the unexpected confluence of unlikely circumstances – a Mars Rover in the parking lot outside a Motel 6 – respectful, generous, open-hearted young men across the world who took the time to talk to two lone strangers under unexpected circumstances. Maybe it was that serendipity that ignited an intuitive sense that I had just touched something of future greatness. It was an honor.

Click here for a list of participating world teams

Road Trip 2017: Day Two

dog on road trip

First of all, this posting to our 2017 Novel Writing/Road Trip Insight diary is not from day one, but day two! (When taking a road trip, it’s important to remember that it wouldn’t be a road trip if things didn’t go a little wacky.) That’s what a road trip or any adventure is all about – how you respond when things go wrong.  (Come to think of it, maybe that’s what life is all about.) So our whole site “went dark” on the exact day we took off with a sign on each side of our car blatantly advertising this blog!  That means that the whole intent of this trip will be posted on day three (or not).

Having a sign on our car saying “Smile” is not exactly comfortable for me.  It’s far too authorcar with blogging signitarian for my style.  If I saw that sign, I’d probably think, “Don’t tell me when to smile”, but I tend to be a little more oppositional than most.  AND people do smile when they see our sign – especially this year. I think it might be because the whole world is trying to compensate for the name-calling – the meanness – that has surfaced during the past year. It’s like people are trying to prove we’re better than that.  I like to think that maybe it’s in response to the heroic act on May 27th by two bystanders at the Metro Transit station in Portland who gave up their lives defending the hate speech directed at two young women, one wearing a hijab. “No greater love…”
So here’s to joy whatever the reason and a warm “Hello” to the young woman in the Mini-Cooper passing us and smiling at our sign car in Mesquite, NV  and the young couple in black Dodge 4 x 4 as we parked in front of the Black Bear Diner in St. George, Utah.
…more later and happy trails to you.

The Woman in the Turquoise Bandanna

We’ve all experienced it – that feeling when you’re traveling in a strange town, and you meet someone with a connection to something familiar.  I don’t know the name for it.  It’s serendipitous when it happens, yes, but what is the feeling? Maybe there’s word for it in a different language.  I don’t know.

The best I can describe it right now is the “unexpected joy of connection”. That’s how I felt when I started talking to the woman in a turquoise bandanna and her husband sitting in front of the Chart Room Restaurant in Crescent City, CA waiting for a table. Mike was inside putting his name on the list.  I don’t often start a conversation with people in recent years. When I was young, I used to strike up conversations with everyone I met, but now Mike is usually the one much better at that than I am. But I struck up a conversation with this woman.  Maybe it was the turquoise bandanna she wore that made her seem so accessible. It’s lucky I wasn’t wearing my own favorite green or red scarf that I like to fold in a triangle and tie under my hair in the back. I would have worried that the people in the restaurant Continue reading The Woman in the Turquoise Bandanna

Our First Drive-by Smile

imageInterrupting the sequence of this blog (STAY TUNED FOR “The Woman in the Turquoise Bandanna) to bring you late, breaking news.  We received our first drive-by smile about an hour ago on US 101 north of Cloverdale.  How sweet!  The girl in the car waved at our “Smile, blogging on wheels!” sign.  Here’s to you, sweet young girl.

Bear Camp Road: “Not Even God Can Find Me”


I always loved the song “They Call the Wind Mariah” made popular in the 50s by Frankie Laine. I hadn’t thought about it for many years, but on July 23, 2016, on top of a mountain in the Klamath Mountain Range, the lyrics leapt right out of their cobwebs in the back of my brain, jumped up to the front, fired some old neurons, and I could almost hear Frankie Laine’s voice:

And now I’m lost; so awful lost;
Not even God can find me.

f you take the “Road Not Taken” as Frost speaks of in his infamous poem, be sure it isn’t a one lane path winding up and down and ‘round and ‘round through a mountain. (Chubby Checker’s twist is not how you want a road to move). Also make sure it isn’t the Bear Camp Road that climbs 4,600 ft traversing the Klamath Mountain Range. Wikipedia describes it thus: “a paved, one-lane road with…  Full Article

Hold On…More to Come

Adventures are happening faster than I can blog! Here are some quick pictures from this morning in Grants Pass. This afternoon we arrived in Crescent City where it’s wonderfully cool and on the ocean! Tonight I hope to post “The Road We Shouldn’t Have Taken” (or some title close to that.) Hello to everyone we’ve met along our way. Stay tuned. [metaslider id=1136]

Lots of Lhasa

Oliver and Scooter – Little Lhasa’s Meeting at the Motelbra

When most people see our little Scooter, they ask if he’s a Shih tzu, and I tell them he’s part Shih tzu and part Lhasa.  Yesterday morning, Oliver’s owner asked if Scooter was a Lhasa because Oliver is, and they sure do look as if they could be brothers.  (I believe Lhasas are taller than the Shih tzu breed and their noses are longer.)  So this woman saw the Lhasa in Scooter because of her experience – which brings me to a point she told me in our brief conversation about her other experience.  Oliver’s owner just happened to have been the Regional Sales Manager, if I understood correctly, for the entire Northwest Region of the telephone company.  I believe she said AT & T.  (We were both in a hurry to get back on the road, so I’m a bit sketchy about the details.)  She apparently retired young and is simply living life, enjoying her grandchildren, helping relatives move, doing whatever she might love to do at this stage of her life.

“Hmm, I wonder?” Oliver and Scooter contemplating the question.

When I processed that information later as we drove out of Centralia towards Salem, I realized that this conversation had gone straight into the box in my head called, “Re’gret City” (accent on the first syllable).  I’m not sad I have this area in my brain reserved for keeping track of all the regrets of my life.  I keep “Regret City” there because I love the quote: “Maybe the sole purpose of my existence is to be a warning to others.” That’s not a bad thing. Great inventions of the world, great plays, great philosophical and scientific thoughts have been based on improving on the mistakes others have documented. So I’m documenting this observation:

Being a Sales Manager or anyone in charge of a number of people takes pluck and courage.  It takes the ability to look someone in the eye and say “no”.  It takes the stamina to endure the stress of perhaps not being liked or the stress of weighty decisions.  It takes the ability to think more about the welfare of others than of your own.

I know for a fact that I simply am not able to manage anyone; it’s not in my DNA or in my upbringing. (Sometimes the ability to manage other people or endure the stress of decision making is in conflict with our other gifts.) But the lesson for those of you like me who stand by and let the world chisel pieces from your soul is to take baby steps out of your comfort zone and be brave enough to confront issues head-on and not walk away.  You don’t have to do it everyday of your life. You don’t have to do it every year, or even every ten years. But wouldn’t It would be nice if, at the very least, you could do it once! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could look back on your life when someone asks you to think of a time when you were really assertive, that you would have at least one image of you taking control of an issue that matters with dignity, assurance, and effectiveness?  If you have already created that moment, inspire us with your story in the comment section.

It’s Fun to Answer a “Why”

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Does it seem like lately there are a lot of “why’s” in your life hanging about in unanswered suspension?  Finding answers to the littler “why’s” you encounter can give you a sense of unity and connection to it all.
I know exactly why, out of all the booth’s at the farmer’s market in Chehalis, WA Continue reading It’s Fun to Answer a “Why”

Carrie and the Flowers

dog on road tripgeraniumsLet’s get back to Thursday, July 14th. (Who says a blog has to be organized, in sequence, timely, or any one of those characteristics that is foreign to so many of us?) I could write about our cute, cozy cabin at Bozeman Hot Springs Campground or the little stream that runs through the camp, or the hot springs that is a unique campground feature, but I want to cabins at Bozeman's Hot Springs Camproundwrite about Carrie and the flowers.
Anyone who knows me, knows about my fascination with the Strong Campbell Interest Test (presently called the Strong Interest Inventory). This is a highly respected test used by career counselors to help individuals find their life’s work. As it was explained to me eons ago when I was in my 20’s, the test was based on a unique concept. The hypothesis, as I understand it, was that people who are drawn to certain careers, have similar personal interests. Let’s say you’re interested in Continue reading Carrie and the Flowers

Candy Blasingame – Remember that Name

candy blasingamedog on road trip




So we’re setting up our little tent at Jellystone Campground in Missoula Montana, right?  I know, I know. We said no more tenting, but it was getting late and all the hotels were booked because of “The Biggest Bike Travel Celebration Since Bikecentenniel in ’76.” (We really should check these things out beforehand.) But $30 is a sweet price to pay on the road, plus we just invested in a brand new air mattress and pump, so the dye was cast, and we decided to give tenting a second chance.
Never to be known to roll into a campsite earlier than about 8:00 pm, we were among the last to check in to the cute Yogi Bear Jellystone Lodge. We got our little tent up in the dry camping area (no water or electricity – just some nice rock-less ground), and were just about to put air in the mattress when we remembered the pump needed 4 D-cell batteries. We
raced off to the store in town, but on our way out, we waved to the woman in the tent next to us. (She had gotten her tent up in about 10 min. and was now sitting in a camping chair leisurely reading a book on her tablet.)
When we zoomed back from the store with our batteries and were racing against the setting sun, the woman next to us, having noticed our “BloggingOnWheels” sign on our car, had gone to our website and now asked about it. (This was the first person who had seen our sign and had actually Continue reading Candy Blasingame – Remember that Name

Modern Day Pioneers

Bozeman Hot Springs Campgrounddog on road tripThey would be the last to call themselves pioneers; but I would.  We met Nick and Jean at breakfast in the lodge at Bozeman Hot Springs Campground.  They were sitting at the table behind us, and as happens over free sausage and pancakes in a lodge that reminds you of your summer camp, people become talkative, and we struck up a conversation. “We’re from Minnesota,” Jean added to her introduction. We’re from Minnesota,” Mike and I chimed in together. (If we had been talking longer before our declaration of our place of origin, we could have guessed where each other was from by the similarity in our accents).

Jean’s hooded jacket had the logo of the Minnesota Deer Hunter Association, and we quickly learned that both Nick and Jean were avid Continue reading Modern Day Pioneers

Maybe It Was Her Hat

dog on road tripHow does it happen that you can meet some people, talk to them for less than 5 minutes, and you know that you could be life-long friends? DeannaThat’s how it was with DeAnna. She had this really cool hat and was taking off some gloves when she approached to tell us that no dogs are allowed on the lush green grass at the Dwyer Junction Rest Area near Laramie Peak, WY. (Scooter had decided he needed to simply lay down on this cool green carpet. He failed to read the sign saying “No Dogs on the Lawn” and so did we!)  Maybe it was DeAnna’s hat and her rolled up jeans that made her so approachable.  When you think about it, a person has a lot of choices for hats when working out in the sun. You can wear a visor hat or a floppy garden hat or a hat like DeAnna wore. I think it was the wide brim of the khaki hat and the loose strings that suggested an Indiana Jones kind of charm.  Her rolled up jeans, while having a practical purpose, really spoke more to her obvious youthful spirit. As we started talking, I asked if she Continue reading Maybe It Was Her Hat

You Could Spend Your Life on Canyon Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico

dog on road tripThere should be towering Cathedral doors at the entrance of Canyon Road Artist quarters, and you should have to whisper in reverence when walking around the Pueblo style buildings that house the artists’ eclectic works. We had visited here two years ago, and we knew then we had to come back.

David McGary Sculpture

David McGary

Instead of Cathedral doors, at the entrance of Canyon Road are the life-size poignant and stunning bronze sculptures by David McGary. The emotional intensity of McGary’s Native American sculptures provoke questions not only of the psychology of Native people, but psychology of each of us.  McGary captures moments of nobility, pride, courage, endurance, determination – all cast in bronze to be viewed not as fleeting emotions, but frozen in forged metal to be admired and emulated.

Owner of Caffe Greco – Michael Lerner

We knew we were at the same place we had been on our last visit because we Continue reading You Could Spend Your Life on Canyon Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Hang On, Santa Fe Post Coming

dog on road tripBlogging on wheels with a dog would be easy for a Cirque du Solei performer – not so much for this writer.  So hang on for pictures of yesterday’s visit to Santa Fe and a chat with the affable artist David Jonason and with the 80 year old owner of Cafe Greco , Michael Lerner..  As soon as Scooter’s nap is over, we’ll be on it 🙂  Cheers from Billie on the road somewhere in Wyoming.

The Toasted Owl – Flagstaff

  • waitressnameAspeThe Lovely Aspen and our Breakfast

dog on road tripIt was late ’69, early 1970 when I saw Flagstaff for the first time.  I’ll never forget it.  It was dusk and the sun was setting in a purple haze behind the mountain.  I was in the car and remember that the view actually took my breath away.ToastedOwl2I always knew Flagstaff had a quaint looking downtown area, and yesterday we found it in the historic district.  That’s were we came across a unique restaurant, not only for the food, but for the decor. Initially, it was the colored umbrellas outside that drew us in to “The Toasted Owl” on 12 S. Mikes Pike. I hadn’t realized that this was a vegan restaurant nor that every table in the cafe is a different vintage type table which, according to my husband Mike, are all for sale. This restaurant is teeming with owls, not real ones, of course, but every kind of owl-themed art you can think of. (It’s always charming when you have a theme). Apparently people come to the restaurant not only for the food, but to buy these antique owl objects.(A bubbly blonde waitress came over to get a embroidered crewel Continue reading The Toasted Owl – Flagstaff

For Sale, Road Trip Tent, Used Once!

dog on road tripIt wouldn’t have been our dog Scooter in tentso bad. The weather in Flagstaff was great last night – probably 60 or so.  The rate for the tent site was only $25, and the people at the Woody Mountain Campground and RV Park could not have been more genuinely friendly.  (The woman checking us in was closing at 7:00 pm when we came zooming in, but stayed open to make Mike a huge ham sandwich in the Woody Mountain little campground store !)
Woody Mountain Campground
So it might have all worked out if it hadn’t been for the air mattress! It was the leak that did us in (mostly) – that and crawling in and out of the tent on bodies that never kept up with Yoga lessons – well, let’s face it, on bodies that never actually took a Yoga lesson.

But in spite of the leaking mattress and crawling around, we were working it out.  We decided to put our comfy comforter on top of the air mattress which was about 1/4 filled and to sleep on the comforter.That should cushion the rocks, we reasoned. We had two small “throws” to put on top of us. By 1:30 though, the air mattress was 0% filled, and even though Mike seemed to be sleeping ok, I hadn’t been that lucky. Finally, I gave up on wrestling with the rocks and for control of Continue reading For Sale, Road Trip Tent, Used Once!

Among the Worst Phrases in the English Language

Hobson State Beach
Hobson State Beach

Among one of dog on road tripthe worst phrases in the English language is the phrase, “The course has been taken”.  While that phrase may serve us well and give us comfort after a rocket has been launched or in the middle of a haircut, in situations where there is still the option of turning back or changing courses, we probably should seriously consider doing so. Never being one to hesitate changing my mind about anything, we have changed our course. After going up the amazingly beautiful Pacific Coast, stopping at Hobson State Beach in Seacliff, CA and having supper in the quaint beachside town of Carpentaria, we were going to head up to Seatle.  However:  news flash – hotel rooms have

Billie in Big Bear
Billie in Big Bear
Hobson Beach, Ventura, CA
Hobson Beach, Ventura, CA

skyrocketed in price since our last road trip two years ago (almost double) and we decided tenting in Big Bear might be the answer. (more about finding a campsite in Big Bear in the next blog).

So the lesson of this blog is simply: instead of deciding that the “course has been taken” and you have to stoically stick to it, consider instead the Chinese proverb: “He who continues to travelon the wrong road, is truly unwise.” (or something like that). See you next posting.