Prince and princess and the pea.

On Friday morning the alarms went off and C and I laid in bed, staring at the ceiling fan.

“Ugh,” I said.
“I know what you mean,” he replied.
“We need a new mattress.  Like, tout suite.”
“Let’s shop tonight.”

And that was that.  The Ethan Allen wonder mattress that Chris has had since he graduated from Colorado State ages ago officially bit the dust.  It was squished.  Ready for the mattress refurbishing happy hunting grounds.  We were ready to bid it farewell.

After work we got in the car and headed up to what I like to think of as Mattress Row, though I’m probably the only one who thinks that.  Denver is LOADED with mattress stores and there are lots of Mattress Row-type places.  That’s because mattress manufacturing is big here.  As we learned later that evening, “Denver is a foam town.  Mattresses nowadays use lots of foam.”  Ah.  Well, that explains it.

We stopped at Denver Mattress first, thinking we could then swing by Mattress King, Mattress Factory Outlet and then Sealy Factory Direct (which consists of an open garage door with a few flag buntings and a “deep discount” sign out front.)  Once I saw it, I really wanted to go to Sealy Factory Direct first, but C urged me to stick with the plan.

We walked into Denver Mattress and we were greeted by Andrew, who showed us three different mattresses.  We told him we wanted firm, but not too firm, queen-sized, comfortable, made in America.  Easy, easy, easy.

There was one mattress in particular we loved and Andrew made up a file for us so we could be on our way to continue shopping around.

As we walked out the double doors back to the parking lot we both stopped and looked at each other and remembered how we felt that morning.

“Let’s go get it,” we said.  And we turned around and went back inside and purchased the mattress for delivery on Sunday.

It was a smart decision because Friday night and Saturday night we cursed the apres-undergrad mattress.  Knowing that we had our new, shiny, foam-y mattress coming, made our current mattress seemed worse than ever.

Today came around and tonight we’ll sleep on the new firm-but-not-too-firm-queen-sized-made-in-Denver-mattress.  It came with two memory foam contour pillows for extra comfort and this morning, we decided to top it off with a trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond for some as-seen-on-TV contour memory foam leg pillows.

Yes.  We are officially entering a time in our lives when we need to be COMFORTABLE in bed.  In fact, you can even soup-up the particular mattress we purchased by adding a package to make the whole thing fully adjustable — the mattress will raise your head or your feet or both if you want to be folded like a hot dog in a bun.   Yes, we BRIEFLY considered adding that package.

Sign us up for The Clapper next.

Sweet dreams to us tonight.


Lewis Lent nightmare.

On Monday morning I was perusing the Albany Times Union, as I do a few times a week so I can catch up on what’s happening in my old neck of the woods.

This headline caught my attention and made my blood run cold.  Lewis Lent linked to the death of another child.  His name gives me shivers.


I was just about 10 years old when things started going a bit haywire in my rainbows-and-butterfly world.  Sara Anne Wood from Frankfort, New York, was missing.  This was after another child, Jimmy Bernardo, of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, had gone missing and was found dead in upstate New York a few years before.

We basically lived right in between Franklin and Pittsfield.  And when kids went missing, it was big news.  While one child may have been a fluke, two children got people seriously concerned.  There was a standard school photo of Jimmy that flashed on the TV screen night after night and a photo of Sara Anne in her cheer-leading outfit in the newspaper, one pom-pom up in the air.  There was worry that these two events were connected.

I loved my after school freedom.  We had a trail behind our neighborhood that went over the Kill (Dutch for river) and my friends and I would routinely ride bikes back there and sit by the water and talk–spring, fall, winter…whenever.  We’d play in the woods in the evenings after getting off the bus and then walk to the gas station across from our neighborhood to buy penny candy.  Our bus route was mobbed with kids in the afternoons and early mornings–many with no parents home to send them off or pick them up–many with parents waiting on front porches.

When Sara Anne Wood went missing in 1993, it frightened my mother.  She told us later she was scared out of her mind for us and the other neighborhood kids.  Many a conversation with other stay-at-home moms in the neighborhood, after the bus was gone and a second cup of coffee was poured while dinner sat marinating, revolved around how to protect children.  What could they do besides lock us inside?

We noticed bits of my mom’s fear.  Normally, she wouldn’t have batted an eyelash at us walking the less than half mile from the bus stop home.  But after Sara Anne was missing, she’d be mysteriously “taking a walk” and happen to meet us at the stop as the bus came around the corner.  Other times, she’d be, “on her way to the market” and pick us up in the car from the stop.  Other moms from the neighborhood who had been trusting their kids to be latch-key were taking afternoons off from work so they could be home.  The neighborhood got…quiet.  Mom needed help with dinner.  Mom bought a movie we could watch as a family.  We were going out for pizza.  We were meeting Dad in Albany.

This lasted a while.  Days turned into months then years and Sara Anne wasn’t found.

To this day, my mother is convinced Lent was driving his truck around our block and up and down the streets of Kinderhook and Valatie, just waiting for the perfect opportunity to snatch a child.  More and more, I know she is right.

These rural pockets of life in the Hudson Valley and Berkshires and Northern New York are an ideal place to raise children to respect nature and nurture families.  But they are also the perfect place to be caught alone at dusk or even in broad daylight because there is an air of trust.  We have volunteer firefighters and Rotary clubs and charity pancake dinners when families fall on hard times.  We are all neighbors.  The same people have lived for generations on their family land.  Back doors are left unlocked and car keys remain in the ignition.

Lent was caught a few years after Sara Anne Wood vanished.  A little girl my age, Rebecca Savarese, was walking to her middle school in Pittsfield when Lent tried to lure her into his vehicle.  A quick thinker, as the story goes, she feigned being hurt and then wriggled out of her backpack, grabbed by Lent, and ran to seek help.  She had a good description of the truck and he was caught, with her backpack in the cab.

Lent admitted to Jimmy Bernardo’s torture and murder as well as the killing of Sara Anne Wood.  Authorities are absolutely convinced he’s responsible for many more missing children than he’s admitted and believe he had accomplices.

Sara Anne Wood’s body was never recovered, though Lent did lead police to a desolate area of the Adirondack park years ago.  He had them dig in the woods in freezing cold weather for weeks before he told them it was all a prank and that he’d never tell them where her body was.  Lent will never leave jail and is already serving a life sentence.  He keeps himself in the news every few years by making a statement like he made Monday.  He admitted to killing then 16-year-old James Lusher in 1992 and told investigators his body was dumped in a pond in Becket, Massachusetts.  Now, dive team police in two states are searching the pond for any remains.

I often wonder how Chris and I will parent when it comes to looking out for our children’s safety.  Chris grew up differently than I did – as a latch-key child of a single mother who was working full time.  He often talks of running with a gang of neighborhood kids after school, causing a ruckus in the blocks surrounding his house, all harmless fun.  But he also talks about sometimes being scared after school, alone in the house before his mom came home when it was dark outside.  We want our children to have the freedom of unlocked doors and friendly neighbors.  We don’t want them to be unnecessarily frightened.  But what is the best medium?  Where can we strike it in the middle – a healthy fear followed up by the notion that most people are good and kind?

Desert love. [the second of two road trips two days apart]

Hello again, Granny Stroh!

There was some uncertainty around Granny visiting Denver for July 4th.  She was going to come up, then she wasn’t.  And when she ended up getting a cortisone shot in her ankle and canceling her trip, C and I said to each other, “To the car!!!  Let’s drive to Green Valley.”

Here’s the thing.  Chris made the trip from Denver to Green Valley a million times as a kid.  Sometimes,  a few times a summer.  He’s very familiar with the way the road twists and what to find in Hatch, New Mexico (green chilis on everything – of course).  So, Chris doesn’t think this trip is too bad.  Drive 1,000 miles?  No biggie!

We left after work on Wednesday and arrived in Santa Fe five hours later.  Luckily, we have wonderful friends, Greg and Alice, who live there with their two little boys.  We had a great time hanging with them for an hour before midnight and another hour in the morning over eggs and bacon.  Wonderful, perfect hosts.  We’re excited to see them again when they come up to Colorado in August.

Our first stop on our way to Arizona after Santa Fe was Hatch.  We stopped at a fantastic place, The Valley Cafe, for green chilis.  Delish!

A few more stops on the way, including a pull off the highway to see The Thing – an Arizona roadside attraction that’s preceded in both directions with loads of billboards and signs.  ”The Thing – what is it?” “The Thing – Mystery of the Desert”  ”$1 to see The Thing.”

So of course, we had to check it out.  Chris had seen it before, but not in years.  The last time Chris saw The Thing it only cost 75 cents admission.

I won’t tell you what The Thing is, but I will tell you it’s worth a dollar.  Especially for the mystery and leg stretch.  You’ll have a lot to talk about with your road trip buddies after you see it.

We made it into Green Valley right after Granny finished playing bridge with her friends in the afternoon.

On Friday morning we went to Madera Canyon for a hike that ended up not being much of a hike at all.  It was blazing hot.  We spent more time observing a skink eat a small egg than actually walking the trail.

The rest of our days in Green Valley were relaxing and quiet.  We all told stories and read and ate and ran errands.  We went down to Tubac to look at pottery and Mexican imports for inspiration.  It was lovely to hang with Granny!

The trip home was long and hot and I was wishing very much Chris could drop me off in Albuquerque so I could get on a plane and fly up to Denver to avoid the last six hours in the car.

Some shots on our way out of the desert…

IMG_2529 AZ2

The Land of Big Sky.

Ah, Montana.  It didn’t disappoint.


I’ve always dreamed of a trip to Big Sky Country–well, since moving to Denver, at least.  I think often of the Tetons and Yellowstone and wide open spaces.

So when the opportunity came up to join Chris, Ludi and Amy and a few of their friends on a fly fishing trip a few weeks ago near Cascade, Montana, I jumped at the chance.  Chris drove up with Ludi and Amy on Tuesday and I flew up to join him late Thursday night.

Just like any trip with Ludi and Amy, an adventure ensued for those three on their drive up toward Great Falls.  A large screw in one of the car’s tires (which was towing a UHaul with fishing gear) ended up becoming a bigger deal than just changing the tire.  Helena, Montana, had little in the way of services to fix the issue in one or two days.  And so the crew ended up renting another UHaul pick-up truck, which they used to tow the UHaul trailer for a few days (stock in UHaul anyone?)  As Ludi so appropriately put it, “You know, at least we weren’t chased by an elephant.”  He’s very good at putting things in perspective.

On Friday, Chris and I stayed at the rented cabin while the rest of the group went off to fish different parts of the river.  We took a long hike down some abandoned railroad tracks in the morning with the dogs.  It was lovely – hot, but lovely.


Montana3 IMG_2405

*Can you spot the doe under the trestle in this photo?

When we arrived back from the hike we made some lunch and I plopped a lawn chair in the rushing river and settled in with my latest novel, Frances and Bernard (read it!)  I promptly dropped the book in the river when I went to put my feet up (sorry, Denver Public Library!)


Chris put on his wading outfit and fished for HOURS.

Montana5He is into it.  And looks the part, right?

The next day we went with the rest of the group to another part of the Missouri.  I started my next book, the new Jeanette Walls, The Silver Star (meh is my complete review) and took the helm while Chris and Bill fished.  It was another blue sky, hot day.


IMG_2438Lots of moo-ing cattle were taking a dip near the boat put-in.  Quite the busy scene!


We drove home on Sunday.  By the time we got to the border of Wyoming, I was praying for teleportation to be invented.

Overall?  Simply stunning.  Montana rocks.

Car travel weekends.

Chris and I have nearly bisected the United States into West and East over the past week — in cars.  We are pretty excited to sleep in our bed and eat out of our fridge.


Living in Denver has really helped me understand the meaning of the great American road trip.  Apparently, lots of kids grew up this way — climbing into the station wagon and driving to destinations like grandma’s house or The Grand Canyon or Wally World.

Last Sunday, we drove from Cascade, Montana, to Denver (14 hours).  On Wednesday evening, we drove from Denver to Santa Fe, New Mexico (5 hours) and the next morning from Santa Fe to Green Valley, Arizona (10 hours).  Then yesterday, we drove back.  All in one day.  It was hot.  I was carsick.  We forgot to load podcasts.

Let me just say that the farthest my family EVER went in a car together was to Myrtle Beach to visit friends for Thanksgiving.  We only did it once.  Our grandma lived fifteen minutes from our front door and who on earth cares about The Grand Canyon when there’s CAPE COD two hours away?  We flew to Disney World.  According to my dad, on our way to Myrtle Beach we stopped overnight in Roanoke at a Holiday Inn.  Twelve hours in a car?  No thank you, we said.  We are from the Northeast and any more than three hours on the open road is much too much.  We do not care for open road.

As the story goes (and I remember it all pretty clearly), the day before we left for Myrtle Beach I broke my arm on the playground at school and had to shower with a plastic bag masking-taped over my huge cast.  I’m sure this put me in a bad mood and I in turn put Michael in a bad mood and we bickered the entire way to South Carolina in the back seat each time my mom took breaks from reading Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims to us.

Map2Anyway.  That’s what C and I have been up to–driving about the western United States, North to South and South to North.  More on our travels in posts this week.  I’ll break down just exactly why we were where we were and why driving to and fro Mile High seemed to be a better idea than flying.

Hi me, it’s me.

Ever leave yourself messages on your work voice mail so you won’t forget a certain task or some brilliant idea you’ve come up with while you’re in the middle of something else?

I do this from time to time and I did it just last week.

But what happens when I hear my own voice mail clicking on — which is my intention (it would be unnerving if someone else answered my desk phone) — is that I’m unable to force myself out of leaving-a-message-for-someone-else-zone and leave a message complete with a greeting and closing.

After I heard my voice mail finish with the tone last week, I immediately said, “Hi Bridget, it’s Bridget!”  And then proceeded to leave an intricate message of why I needed to add something to the agenda for a meeting I was hosting today.  It actually was a pretty stellar idea, but I had to smile about it when I got back and pressed “1″ to hear it.  At the end of the message I was leaving for myself I said, “I hope when you get this, you’re having an awesome afternoon.  Love your dress!”

Maybe it isn’t the most bizarre thing in the world.  When your day is full of a lot of dreaded messages from customers or reminders from management, wouldn’t it be kind of great getting a message from yourself saying, “Lady…you look awesome!  Keep your chin up!”?

I highly recommend.