I am not quite ready for this!


My daughter called from school: “Mom? They want me to take my driving test tomorrow.”

My baby! My littlest one who celebrated her Sweet Sixteen not quite a month ago. My stomach did a lurch. “We’d better go practice today after school.”

We had spent six weeks last fall getting up before dawn so that she could attend her Driver’s Ed classes. Funny how it was never hard for her to get up on those mornings! Driving lessons took her through increasingly complex situations until she was driving through town in rush-hour traffic. But test anxiety hit and she failed her first test.

As promised, we drove down to Kalispell and she did a wonderful job handling the traffic. We found a quiet side street to practice parallel parking. This did not go so well – in fact, to be polite, it was a disaster. After three miserable attempts she was in tears. “But I followed all the points perfectly” she cried, listing them, and I had to agree. I tried to laugh it off : “You’re getting all the bad tries out of the way today so you’ll be perfect tomorrow!” But all I got in return was one of those teenage vampire daughter looks, the kind that I remember being rather good at myself several decades ago.

We went around the corner. Another attempt. Another disaster. More tears, accompanied by pounding on the steering wheel. (You have to know her to know how startlingly unlike her this display of frustration was.) Finally she flung open the car door, got out and announced “I’m done. You’re driving.” I knew better than to disagree, and we headed off to Costco where we sat dismally in the little eating area having what turned out to be supper. “Do you want to drive home?” Another vampire daughter look. I drove us home, and wondered how long she would have to wait before she could take her test for the third time.

The next morning she was back to her usual sunny disposition, but all day l day I fretted: I’ve let her down badly – we should have practiced this so much more, but I thought we’d have longer. The time of her test came. “Good luck, thinking of u,” I texted, but my phone remained silent.

Finally, a little chirp signaled a response: “I did my parallel parking perfectly” it read. “Woo hoo!” I replied with relief, pride and a little disbelief.

I met her at the school. As she walked towards me her face was all smiles. She thrust the test paper in front of me “91 percent!” She exclaimed triumphantly, “and a 5 out of 5 for the parallel parking!”

Fortunately I have her to myself a little longer, for the Montana Graduated License requires her to get 50 hours of driving with a parent before obtaining her full license. But I know those precious hours will slip away too  quickly. She is already negotiating terms for sharing the minivan with me, and I’ve seen her eyeing the spot where her brother used to park, empty since he left for college. I know I have to let my baby spread her wings, but I am not quite ready for this. Not yet!


Living at the end of the line


The alarm woke us at 3.30 this morning – Bob was leaving on the early flight and I was driving him to the airport.

The early flight. Not the 6 a.m. departure or the 7 a.m., but the early flight. That’s what it’s like when you live at the end of the line. People leave and people arrive but nobody transits. You leave on the early flight or the afternoon flight, you arrive on the afternoon flight or the late flight. The plane spends the night here and the next morning it takes you to Seattle or Minneapolis or Salt Lake City where you transfer to a flight to your destination. If you are flying to the east coast, the time change means the early flight is your only choice.

There are compensations to having a small airport, of course. For a start, we can drive there in 20 minutes – that’s about as long as the shuttle bus ride from some far-flung satellite parking lots in major cities – and park just a minute’s walk from the terminal. The line for a turbo-prop or a 737 is a lot shorter than the line for a jumbo, and the ladies at the check-in are real nice – no “city attitude” here. TSA has signs to remind you not to pack your bear spray, and the entertaining security video is pretty low-key. Going through security I’ve had the helpful suggestion that I could either leave a prohibited item with the lady at the gift shop to pick up on my return, or just run it back to the car (parked so conveniently) and still have plenty of time to come through the line again. The little café makes breakfast and sandwiches to order, and serves espresso along with regular coffee.

The waiting area at the gate is usually fairly social – there’s almost always someone you know traveling on the same flight (three this morning, Bob informed me) and on the short walk to the plane you can pop your carry-on onto the à la carte instead of having to manipulate it into the overcrowded overhead bin. When you return, around midnight if you’re on the late flight, the walk to retrieve your checked bags is a comfortable distance to stretch your legs after the flight, and the wait is never very long – giving you just enough time to greet others on your flight who you may have missed at the connecting airport.

After dropping Bob off at the airport this morning I drove home, made myself a cup of coffee, and from my kitchen window I watched the lights of his plane as it ascended into the not-quite-dawn sky. Next Sunday, when he returns, I’ll check the internet to see when his plane has taken off from Seattle – that will give me a comfortable amount of time to head off to meet him. He’s coming in on the afternoon flight.



This was the Alpenglow on the mountains to the east this evening. Yes, the east. This is where I watched the sun rise this morning.

I love facing east here. We get beautiful sunrises, and in the evenings we get the soft Alpenglow. No, we don’t get the sunsets, but in the summer we can eat out on our deck without the sun glaring into our eyes, and we don’t get the extreme heat of the summer afternoons. All the folks on the other side of the ridge, who face west, have put blinds on their windows because of the summer afternoon sun.

I love the soft hues of the Alpenglow that turns the snow mauve and lilac and pink and blue; I’ve seen the Alpenglow in summer where the valley looks as though it is on fire.

I never, ever get tired of looking at my view!

Where will the nutcrackers go?


I’ve just about finished putting away the Christmas ornaments.

And once again this year I wonder where they will go next December. Will the nutcrackers still line up on the family room mantelpiece, will the tree stand in the big bay window overlooking the valley, and will the stockings hang on the stair rail? Or will we – hopefully – have to find new places for them?

You see, our house is for sale. It has been for sale for over a year. It has been a wonderful family home, but now the birds are beginning to fly the nest (one gone, one still at home), and we parents are thinking more and more about snowbirds instead.

It is time to “downsize” as they say.

The little house in the California desert is getting fixed up (oh boy – another story!), and we have a lot on which to build the summer house – when this is sold (watch this blog!)

Now, we just need somebody to buy our house.

The Gates of Heaven

The Gates of Heaven

We have the most beautiful sunrises in our valley. This one was earlier this week.

One morning a few years ago, the day after someone I knew had died, I caught a particularly beautiful sunrise. As I watched the golden shafts of light stream down over the valley, the words “Open the Vaults of Heaven” (from Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s musical “Whistle Down the Wind”) kept playing over and over in my mind, and it seemed to me that the glorious sunrise was indeed the Gates of Heaven opening to receive my friend.

That image stays with me, and whenever I see a beautiful sunrise, like the one in my picture, I still think of  it as the Gates of Heaven.

Fat Free Half-and-Half

Fat -Free Half and Half

I was at the store yesterday and picked up some half-and-half. It wasn’t until I got it out of the fridge this morning that I saw it was FAT FREE.

Really? FAT FREE half-and-half?

Whatever is the point of that?

I mean – isn’t that some kind of oxymoron?!

(Oh – and round here we call it “haff and harf”. But that’s a story for another time.)

Why Uddza? What’s in a name?

The card read “Congratulations and Best Wishes to you and Udza”.

My new husband was confused.

Finally he realized that the well-wisher was referring to me!

It was something I’d long ago become used to. My parents blessed me with a Gaelic name that is difficult to hear, spell or pronounce, and “Udza” was the latest, and to this day one of the more spectacular, massacres of it.

Now, when I started to think of a witty and succinct title for my blog, it didn’t take long to realize, as doubtless many of you have also realized, that all of the witty and succinct blog titles I came up with had been claimed long ago.

I began to despair.

Goodness, I thought to myself, I should have started this at the start of the millenium, while there were still nifty titles to be had!

Then I remembered “Udza”. Cautiously I typed it into Google. Up came a page full of references to USDA, but NO UDZA!  Aha! I did a triumphant little wiggle in my chair.

But wait. What, I wondered, of those poor unfortunates who Googled USDA and accidently found themselves on Udza, reading about “life, love, laughter … and tea”? One the one hand this could drive up my readership numbers, but on the other, the USDA might not find it very amusing, and one does not want to risk upsetting a government department.

So I played around with a few variations, and “Uddza” was born.

Welcome to my small corner of the blogosphere. I’m looking forward to meeting you.