Time Away: Reset II

Time Away: Reset II

Over the years, I have known many of my friends to take time away from their families. Mind you, this isn’t, and not meant to be, an extended break. Most of it consists of a day or a weekend; some might possibly take a week. The time spent away might be a trip required for work, to attend an educational conference, to visit extended family or friends, or even to take a trip with girlfriends. Admittedly, I have not taken much of this time. I felt my priority was with my family and for much of the last 24 years they are who I have spent time with, whether that be time at home or time away. I also realize I had the luxury to make that decision, without the pressures of a profession requiring me to take the time away from home. Thus, I am acknowledging that some of my friends might have to spend time away from home, out-of-town, because they are required to do so by their professional obligations.  In other words, it might not be their choice and I am certainly not insinuating that their families are not their priority. It is, as the saying goes, “just the way it is!”

However, those obligations are not what this post is about.  This post is about choosing to spend a small amount of time away from your spouse and children to recharge or reset, as I have been calling it, so that you can come home re-energized ready to be the best possible version of yourself, not only for yourself, but also for them.


Prior to last night, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve taken such time.

One was last spring (2017) when my sister visited the Twin Cities for a conference. I went up to spend two days with her. Her son, my nephew, got appendicitis and she rushed home by plane to be with him, thus cutting our visit a day short. This was understandable but did not quell my disappointment, or hers. Our trip through IKEA was spent in a fog as she wondered and worried about his status, and I kept a veiled concern about both of them.

Another time I took for myself was last fall, as I went home to visit my aging parents. This was time not only for me, but I time I took for both myself and them. Four days were spent in what I call “The House of Insomnia” as none of us slept.  Out of politeness and being good hosts, they had rotated beds for me, each sleeping in a place they were not accustomed to, and sought relief with the pressured speech of Fox News easily spreading through the walls at 1:30 a.m.. Let’s just say, without starting a political discussion, that I do not watch Fox News and even if I did, it would not be at 1:30 in the morning! I do not regret this time I spent with my parents last fall, however. Despite the tiredness that sleeplessness brings, I will do it again. But, I do not expect to be “reset” from the time away.


I spoke at an international level gardening conference in 2015. This entailed two nights away, in another state. I drove alone through torrential rains to get to Council Bluffs, Iowa and spoke for an hour and a half to an audience about gardening with children. Time away, yes. Relaxing, and a time to “reset”? No.


My eldest son has been out of the house for five years. He lives about four hours away. A few years ago, we started planning mother-son weekends where I would travel to meet him at his school and we would attend a concert or theater event together. This time away was definitely something I have cherished as it has provided some special memories for the two of us, as did a trip with him to the Netherlands two years ago.

The Peace Palace, Den Haag, The Netherlands, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2016

But, until last night, I really have not gone away with a girlfriend for any length of time.  My sister – yes. My oldest son – yes. My husband – yes. I’ve also had numerous coffee dates and lunch dates with my friends over the years. But, time away, no. So when I was juried into an art gallery three hours from my home and required to be at an artist’s reception on Friday night, I jumped at the chance to take a friend with me.

My friend was pleased to be asked and gladly travelled with me to support the promotion of my hobby. We found the hotel, went to the three-hour artist reception, had a few snacks with some chilled wine, milled around and chatted with other artists, and left happy to find a place for dinner when it ended.  Our day was filled with easy camaraderie and conversation. It made the trip so enjoyable to be with someone who is non-judgmental and intelligent. Both tired from our travel, the hotel stay was needed and provided a more extended chance to enjoy each other’s company.  We took our time this morning, chatting over breakfast and deciding which way to head home. Even though the GPS did not route us the way we desired, the trip was fun and time passed quickly.

Again, for the second time in two weeks, I felt reset.  I honestly feel like I now know the benefit of some time away from your immediate family.  Even as brief as this 24 hour trip was, it was a time that was refreshing for me.  I will not hesitate to do it again.  A huge thank you to my friend who made the trip so enjoyable.



The Beginning of the End

The Beginning of the End

Upon Arrival

Why was I so nervous? I was here, finally! He was there, right in the other room, talking. Talking? But, who was he talking to? We were in the apartment alone.  He was never in the habit of talking to himself, at least he wasn’t when I last saw him. That was over a year ago, so maybe he had developed a new habit. I know change does that to people, especially when they are far from home.

I lingered near the bathroom door before I washed up to see if I could make out any of his words. I am being ridiculous, I told myself. Calm down. Maybe he is just talking to a friend.  Damn!  I could not hear any of the words clearly.  I thought I heard “she” and “leave”.  Really?  I just was not sure. I wish it had not been so long between our last visit and this one. I began to feel dizzy. It must be the jet lag. I know I am tired. I do not think straight when I have not had enough sleep.  Still…..

Uncharted Territory

I don’t know his friends anymore. As I said, it had been a year since we had been together. The letters had come regularly.  I had planned this visit at his request. He wanted me to come here, all the way to Japan from New York, to see him.  Still, who could he be talking to? I just arrived!

Oh, God! Japan! I am in Japan! It still amazed me to realize I had travelled by myself on a plane, flying for the first time, all the way to Japan to see my boyfriend. Love is strong. But, if I think too much I have to realize I am a little scared! Here I am, only 18, just finished with my first year in college. But, now he is on the phone with someone else. Who? What is going on?

I walked out of the bathroom, just as he hung up. Guilt. Was that guilt on his face?

“Who were you talking to?”  I asked.

“No one” he responded, and looked away. “Let’s go to the canteen and get some dinner.”

Listen to Your Gut

“Okay”, I said, following him out of the apartment. I am tired, I thought. I have been traveling for almost 22 hours to get here from New York. Give this a chance. We have not been together in a very a long time. Still. I had a sense of something not being right. Was it intuition? A sixth sense? Deja vu? Or perhaps, dread?

Little Known Fact Series #1: The Wisconsin Connection to the Niagara Escarpment.

Little Known Fact Series #1: The Wisconsin Connection to the Niagara Escarpment.

Today, I introduce a new series. It will join my Enrichment Posts, Have you Ever? and  Silent Sundays as a recurring themed post on my blog. This series will be called the Little Known Fact Series.

A few days ago I drove across the northern part of Wisconsin from our cabin to an art gallery in a town called Amery. Our cabin is in the north-central part of the state, while Amery is on the north-western part of the state. My husband’s smart phone GPS guided me on the way. While traversing our State, Keith Urban’s throaty singing and guitar skills on his older CD – Golden Road – kept me occupied. It is a beloved CD and I alway enjoy listening to it while I travel on the open road.

Beautiful Wisconsin

Wisconsin is beautiful. Growing up in New York State, I never imagined living here. It was as foreign to me as Russia!  But, having lived here for almost 20 years now, I really have a hard time thinking about living anywhere else. Don’t get me wrong, New York State has its beautiful areas as well – the Adirondack Mountains, the Finger Lakes, the Southern Tier – where I first went to college, New York City with all its culture, lights and excitement, the varied architecture found in the great City of Buffalo,  the mansions of George Eastman, and the lilacs blooming in May in Highland Park in Rochester or Strong Memorial Hospital, The Strong Museum, and the University of Rochester all cannot be beat in my opinion.

I’ve also lived and or worked in Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania and there are great attributes to those places as well. But, Wisconsin has won my heart. The diversity of landscape from the Bluffs and Coulees in the Driftless Region, unaffected by the last push of the receding glaciers during our most recent ice age, to the flat open prairie you find just up the road and a county over in Trempealeau where you can easily imagine hearty pioneers hunkering down during our harsh winters, or wildflowers covering acres and acres of land, and finally to the edge of the Great Muddy – with views that never cease to inspire awe. And, those descriptions just cover the part of the state where I live. One does not have to go far in Wisconsin to find a shoreline, either of river or stream, or even a Great Lake or two (Michigan and Superior). The quaintness of Door County is a constant tourist draw as is the heritage and history found in some of our largest cities, such as Madison and Milwaukee.

But, would you believe that there is a geographic wonder that connects where I came from and where I am?! There is! While living as newly weds in the Buffalo area, we made frequent trips to Niagara Falls. It was always enjoyable to spend an afternoon in the falls – either on the Canadian or U.S. side of the Niagara River. Some visits were more satisfying that others, of course, but the power of the water flowing over the gorge never ceased to amaze one upon sight! In The Falls, as any local Western New Yorker might call it, white water roars past and a lightest touch of a fine mist covers your skin, all while you stand by viewing water falls that were once considered a place one must see in the course of a lifetime.

Niagara Falls as viewed from the Canadian side, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2008

The Little Known Fact

The commonality rests within this place! The Niagara Escarpment is a little known 1,000 – mile cliff that runs from East Central Wisconsin to the great gorge yielding Falls in Canada and New York State.  Or, maybe the Escarpment runs from the Niagara River Gorge to the Door County Peninsula and into central Wisconsin! It goes both ways!  Not surprisingly, like the Driftless area of Wisconsin, the Niagara Escarpment was influenced during the last glacial advancement.  It was then that the escarpment was exposed and also then that the glaciers did not reach the driftless region – leaving such a topography that one can with a striking resemblance!

So, no wonder I love Wisconsin, there is much to remind me here of my roots! German heritage, impressive bodies of water, and the Niagara Escarpment and all the topographical wonders that come with it!  Who knew?! I am so glad I know this now!

As as far as the connection to the lyrics in that Keith Urban song, I think Wisconsin has some of the prettiest country from Niagara Falls to the Door County Peninsula. (Don’t worry if you don’t get this – true Keith Urban fans will understand!)

For more on this topic, you can consult the following resources:


http://escarpmentnetwork.org/ (cool map included)




While taking a hiatus over the Forth of July Holiday, I thought I would provide some links to past blog posts for your reading enjoyment.

On Reading

The Gift of a Book – August 15, 2017

Searching For a Book – March 27, 2018

On Writing

What Do You Want Me to Write About? February 2018

Writing About Nothing – February 2018

Not Writer’s Block But… October 2017

Gray: A Color Poem, April 2017

On Travel

Drinks of Bermuda, December 1, 2017

Back To Western New York: The First Few Hours, November 2017

Sugar Cane Ditch Tubing on Kauai, January 2018

A Dutch Licorice Treat, March 3, 2018

Christmas Morning on Haleakala Volcano, December 24, 2017

On Monarchs

Monarch Activities in August, August 31, 2017

Monarch Migration Update, May 2018

Monarch Count, August 2018

Monarch Conservation Activities: Inspiring Youth


Look for more on:

On Giftedness

Trying to Be Funny

On Education



A Fun Trip Memory

A Fun Trip Memory

Cinderella’s Castle, Magic Kingdom, WDW, Florida, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2010

“Who are you again?”

My three-year old asked my sister-in-law while sitting on her lap on a ferry at Walt Disney World ushering them from the Animal Kingdom to Epcot Center in the early evening. It was a mild October night and they were off to meet my husband and oldest child who were already in the Disney Park that was the designated destination that night. I was back at the hotel with our youngest – who had the croup. He was just over a year old.

Naturally, the other people on the ferry stared at my sister-in-law who was holding a child that asked who she was! Was this a case of abduction? Why didn’t this child know who he was with on the ferry?

Well, firstly, you need to realize this WAS a three-year old. Three year olds are pretty concrete and smart ones ask an awful lot of questions. Secondly, my sister-in-law lived in Buffalo, New York and met us in Florida for this trip. We live in Wisconsin.  She was (and still is) our most constant visitor, but still, weekly visits with her nephews were something that just did not happen in our family. To top it all off, our three year old had mistakenly called her “Grandma Mary” during a prior visit, and the nickname stuck – even though he had two “real” grandmas. So, Aunt Mary was often referred to, and reacted to, the Grandma Mary nickname.  Thus, some confusion ensued when he went with Aunt Mary on the ferry to meet his Dad and brother while I stayed back at the hotel.  On this trip, we had started to correct him and tell him that this was Aunt Mary not Grandma Mary. We think that what he was really asking her was, are you Grandma Mary or Aunt Mary? But, when the strangers on the ferry heard, “Who are you?” I am sure it piqued some well deserved concern and curiosity.

Upon the ferry’s arrival at dockside in Epcot, my husband was waiting and was greeted with an excited, “Daddy!” as my sister-in-law and three-year old exited the boat. Still, to this day, she can recount the relieved faces in the crowd that had over heard the concerning remark of “who are you again?” while traveling on the ferry.

This story has been a family favorite for years.

Today, it is appropriate to share as this same pair of traveller’s – my sister-in-law and former three-year old son, who is now 18 years old – are traveling together once again.  Their travels will be farther and more exciting than a mere twenty-minute ferry-boat ride as they will jet across the ocean to visit a foreign country – a place of his choosing – as her graduation gift to him.  I am sure he will not ask, “Who are you again?” but, instead be comfortable in his conversation with his beloved Aunt who has been a constant presence in his life – even if he was not quite sure what to call her when he was three!

Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge: Place in the World

Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge: Place in the World

My place in the world is with my Family surrounded by Nature!

Where ever that place happens to be:

IMG_1162 (1)

Looking at a late April Snowstorm against a blue sky from our Wisconsin Home (2018),

HorseshoeBayBeach Bermuda17wm

in Bermuda on Horseshoe Bay Beach at Dusk with the love of my life’s hand on my shoulder looking at a dusky sunset, pink sand beach, and turquoise waters in late summer – just as we have looked at this same view three times before (1987, 2007, 2017),


in a school garden while kids are in class, the caretaker of beauty and knowledge  awaits on this path (2018),


looking down at a beach from above on a narrow, muddied jungle path, a view holds the dangerous waters and those who dare to swim but might not last (2013).

on the many Florida beaches over the years we visited as one, collecting memories as well as the shells we all saved for none

hearing the roar of waterfalls be it Niagara, Kauai, Buffalo Creek, or Angel Falls (RMNP). Water connects our place in the world (1985, 1986, 1990, 2004, 2010, 2013). I’ve realized through looking back,


from a spot in my yard to a Great Lake I once knew,


a cabin I love built in the woods where the wild loons call. Yes, I’ve realized today,


there is a place in this world, a place for us all. Favorite, I have none, with my family I’ll stay, traveling to store memories all along the way. This life’s been a good one, great in fact, I am at home where I go as long as that is where my family’s at.


So, whether it’s a stay in D.C. or the Nederlands far, a trip to Jersey over that world-famous bridge, the sunrise on Haleakala or to hear the wild La Jolla sea lions call, the place doesn’t matter for I find awe in them all. As long as my family is with me, I know I belong.


This is my contribution for the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Place in the World. This post’s format was inspired by the blog Streaming Through America and their response to this same photo challenge! You really should check it out. Thanks!

Today: Snow Storm on The Great River Road

Today: Snow Storm on The Great River Road

Today was the day I had scheduled to drive down The Great River Road, or State Highway 35, to deliver my handcrafted jewelry to an art gallery to which I consign it for the tourist season. I had told them on Monday that if the weather was bad, I would have to reschedule, as there was an impending storm.  But, as you never can tell with the weather, I waited until this morning to figure out if I would go or not. The gallery manager was fine with that decision.  Well, by 7 a.m. this morning, nothing was going on. We lost some partly sunny skies to a solid gray over-cast but other than that nothing seemed imminent. After a quick check of the local radar, I decided to go. By 8:45 I was nearing the stretch of 35 that heads out to more rural towns south of where I live.  The sky had decidedly darken and looked ominous – almost like a winter sky. Driving was fine; the roads were dry and clear. The Mississippi River channels were open, with the ice that usually blocks the flow during the winter, now completely gone. I spied a few bald eagles, many ducks, and even a squadron of American White Pelicans hunkered down in a shallow pool, barricaded off by a knoll from the eastern channel of the river. Unfortunately, there was not a safe place to pull of to snap a photo of these interesting and large birds.

About ten miles out from the end of my destination, it started to snow. Actually, it was sleet. Here we go. The storm was moving northward. By the time I reached McGregor Iowa, which is a small town that sits right on the edge of The Great Muddy, the roads had turned white and crunchy.  I was glad I had arrived but was slightly worried about the return trip home.

The gallery managers were happy to see me, but slightly surprised as well. I said, “I guess I should have called you before I started out to check and see what was going on here with the weather.”

“That would not have helped,” one replied, we had sun this morning!

We quickly ran through my inventory, double checking the numbers and prices against the form I had filled in less than 12 hours previously. There is no cell service in this town, at least for my carrier, so I had planned to stop at a local burger joint to use their WiFi and have lunch before heading back, north.  Well, the burger joint was closed – under re-construction. So, it was suggested that I stay right in McGregor and have lunch there – right across the street from the gallery. Great little spot – The McGregor Cafe – I have eaten there a number of times and it always seems like a treat. Today, was no different. But, no WiFi. I had been mis-informed. I ate my sandwich and watched the snow come down gently.

Soon, it was time for my trip home. As soon as I got back onto the road that runs adjacent to the river, I knew it was going to take me longer than usual to get home. My first shocker was a barge on the river that I barely noticed because the air was so dense with snow. What a gorgeous photo it would have made, to picture that barge, no more than a few hundred feet away from the edge of the road, gliding gently through the open water with snow flakes in the air. But, alas, again there was not where to stop and safely park to take a photograph.

As I drove across the bridges the separate Iowa from Wisconsin, I knew that this was going to be an interesting two hours. No plows, snow accumulating, ice under the snow, and of course, some people going too fast. I was not far out onto highway 35 that runs next to the base of some bluffs on one side and the river on the other when I realized I could not see the river at all!  Luckily, it seem that everyone was driving carefully, a tractor-trailer stayed far behind me, even though I was only going 38 in a 55 mph zone. Every time the car accelerated past 40 mph, it swerved due to losing grip on the icy road. I backed of on the gas pedal every time. More than once I was thankful to have grown up in Western New York, where one was met with this weather and these road conditions more than once each winter. I knew I was a capable winter driver – even in my little sedan. I just had to stay alert, keep in the grooves the cars before me made, have my lights on,  and stay well back of anyone in front of me. It was going fine until 30 minutes in, the tractor trailer sped up and passed me – in a NO PASSING ZONE – splashing muck, snow, ice and water all over my windshield in amounts that prevented me from seeing – ANYTHING!  You can be sure I had some expletives for that guy!

After that, he stayed within sight of me all the way back to our home county – probably another  50 to 60 miles. I wasn’t sure of his purpose in passing – he nearly pushed me off the road with his actions! There was one more time that I was fearful on the drive and that was when my car slid on the road for no apparent reason – just an icy spot – icy enough that at 38 mph, I fish-tailed!  And, the car behind me, fishtailed, too!  Oops! And, so did that silly tractor trailer! It was icy!

Yup, there you have it! On April 18th in Wisconsin and Upper Iowa we had a snow storm. It wasn’t so great.