Category Archives: Home=Florida

My time at home between New Zealand and the US road trip.


noun [af-ter-gloh] 
the pleasant remembrance of a past experience, glory, etc. 

I am so unbelievably thankful that I got a week off to meet my niece and see the rest of my family during the busiest time at the saloon (seriously, thank you, Marcia and Amy!) I couldn’t have enjoyed it any more than I did. Baby Hannah is as precious as she is tiny. Toddler Jack was so fun, repeating everything and going a mile a minute, sometimes stopping long enough for Auntie Bethie to kiss his sweet little cheeks while he giggled. 

I was not looking forward to the airport crowds on the 26th. Who does?? The fun is over. The cookies are gone. Work is looming. And you have to be surrounded by hundreds of people feeling the same way. 

But here I am, on the first flight of my trip, thinking back to multiple sweet stories from the Tampa airport. 

After a few Christmas greetings, the lady at the check-in desk told me about her dad being stationed in Idaho and loving it. We discussed the 17° weather compared to the current 77° and she laughed as she said, “You can have Idaho all to yourself, sweetheart.” 

A woman who looked to be in her nineties was greeted by a man who looked to be in his twenties before going through security. He lifted her bag up for her as he said, “Please let me know if I can help you in any way.”

My coffee and I sat down next to a ten-ish-year-old girl and her dad. She was writing a song for her uncle. “I have fourteen lines written! I’ll take this part here out,” she pointed to her notebook as her dad read and smiled. 

“I hope he likes it!” she beamed to her dad. 

“He’ll love it, honey.”  

I thought about three-week-old Hannah writing a song for her uncle Spanky one day and my heart grew three sizes.

The gate seemed to only have enough chairs for 30% of us, so we squished in, sat on the floor, and leaned against our luggage. A stunning blonde was on the phone with her mom, speaking about four decibels too loudly. Normally, I’d be thinking, ‘just go walk around and chat and don’t make us all listen to your conversation.’ But this sweet girl was in love. She was telling her mom every detail of Christmas with her boyfriend’s family. She could not possibly control her volume as she said, “AND MOM, WAIT UNTIL YOU HEAR THIS PART!!!” I looked up from my phone and saw others smirking, listening along and perhaps remembering when they felt that much excitement about love. 

Maybe we are all basking in the afterglow of the holidays. Maybe as we wait to take off and are staring into space, we’re all thinking about eating BLT’s with our grandmothers, decorating sugar cookies with our fathers, losing in rummy with our brothers, shopping with our sisters, watching cheesy Hallmark movies with our mothers, losing track of time and closing down the bar with precious friends, or reminiscing about the ones we’ve loved so deeply and lost too soon.

Sometimes we don’t get to go home for Christmas and we have to muddle through somehow. This year, I’m so thankful I got to cuddle through somehow instead. It was a sweet, sweet trip, all the way through to the 26th.


[muhvoo r-neen, –vawr-, –vohr-]

noun, Irish English.

  1. darling; dear.

Since I can remember, my grandpa has called me “Precious” and I’ve always loved it. He has this voice like the owner of the Beast in Sandlot, otherwise known as James Earl Jones. It’s hymnic and deep and soothing. He’s strong and handy and smart. When he had a stroke two and a half years ago and lost his short term memory, he did not call me Beth anymore, but Precious stuck and I knew deep down he knew me. I may not have been Grandpa’s mavoureen, but I will always be his Precious.

My dear grandpa passed away on Friday night. I feel so lucky to have had him around for thirty years of my life…because my grandpa George was extraordinary. He climbed trees with us, he sat around campfires and dreamed with us, he challenged us and was a teacher at heart, always asking us specific questions about hummingbirds or pelicans and expecting us to look up the answers in our Encyclopedias.

He loved the Lord. This brings tears to my eyes; he was crazily faithful. He wanted all of his kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids to know the joy that his Savior brought to him. He succeeded in this. Though we may not all be conservative Republicans, by gosh, we know the joy of the Lord. Thank you, Grandpa. It’s unlike any other joy I’ve ever experienced.

He loved my mavourneen of a grandma with all he had for sixty-three years. Sixty-three years. Whoa.

My grandpa was the kind of person that neighborhood dogs flocked to. If that doesn’t say much about his character, I don’t know what does. Pal would’ve loved him.

George Grady Hardin, Sr. was about family, laughter, nature, travel, books, and Florida Gator football. And those little Hershey dark chocolate almond nuggets. What a life he led.


He helped raise my dad, who is the most selfless and caring man I’ve ever known. My grandfather left his mark on all of his thirteen grandkids and six great-grandkids. He was well-respected. He had a servant’s heart. He wanted me to find a man so badly. He talked about it endlessly after his stroke, when we’d sit in the rocking chairs for hours and repeat our conversations. I will cherish this time together but to be honest, Grandpa, it’s partly your fault I haven’t found the right one. You are a lot to live up to.

hoi polloi.

[hoi puhloi]

plural noun

  1. the common people; the masses (often preceded by the).

Sometimes it’s nice to embrace being one of the hoi polloi. It’s easier at times to just blend in, to put your earphones in and keep quiet while in an airport or on a plane.

Flying is full of ups and downs. For me, not just geographically but emotionally, too, especially if I’m leaving my nephew and his cheeks. I love Idaho and its open space and its mountains and its people. I hate how far it is from my sweet family. The plane engine starts to hum and I start to over evaluate my current story.

The flight attendant’s voice in shockingly loud on the intercom. My face involuntarily cringes. She pauses at inappropriate times, like she’s reading a script she’s never seen before.
“Closest usable exit might be located <<pause>> behind you…We’ll be dimming the cabin lights for take <<pause>> off.”

I take a sip of the free lukewarm coffee. Van Morrison’s “Someone Like You” shuffles on my “Sunset” playlist. The sun is exceedingly bright and the glare is almost too much to take, but I can’t look away. My heart is soaring just like the warm plane. I open my air vent.

The man next to me leaves his biscuit cookie on the seat between us. I think he’s giving it to me because I inhaled mine as if I hadn’t overeaten for two weeks in Florida.

I nap on and off, on and off for hours and hours. I’m one of the hoi polloi. I’ve avoided all eye contact because I’m not in a small talk kind of mood. I nap for another hour. I open a book. At the first signs of life from his row mate, the man next to me looks my way and I can see his lips moving. Hoi polloi destruction. I remove one earphone. He speaks in the most charming Irish accent. He is talking about the biscuit cookie. We both know I want it. He says, “I ate before I boarded the plane. American portions, wow!”

We chat easily, both taking breaks to check the status of the sun. He’s a captivating fella. After hearing each other’s cliffnote stories, he looks me in the eyes and says, “You should walk the Camino.”
I say, “Okay,” and mean it. My cousins, Jill and CJ, spoke of this plan years ago.
We exchange email addresses and I believe we’ll see each other again. I hope the trail is sprinkled with biscuit cookies. I’m not just one of the masses today. I’m Gerard’s friend. I’m a girl that will one day walk El Camino de Santiago.


[wofuh l-stom-perz]

Plural noun

  1. ankle boots with ridged soles, used especially for hiking.

I feel very lucky to now have many people in my life who will strap on their wafflestompers and go on an adventure with me and my polar bear. About halfway through the hike, they start brainstorming about what they want for brunch. Waffles hopefully. Some place where breakfast is served all day. With endless coffee. We’ll fit in while we eat our waffles in our wafflestompers and hiking apparel because we live in the mountains of Central Idaho.

For a couple years, I only wore big leather wafflestompers whilst in elementary school in Florida. I loved to dress like a hiker and daydream of mountains and trees. I tied a flannel jacket around my waist, knowing I’d never have to use it in the 99 degree weather. I loved growing up in Florida and playing ball and being near the beach. But I feel like I can breathe deeply out here in Idaho. The fact that I can jump in Sangria Kia and turn left to hike in the Pioneer Mountains, turn right to explore my favorite Boulder Mountains, or run up the mountain in my backyard (part of the Smoky Mountains), is overwhelming and refreshing. The wide open spaces are so good for the soul. And the calves. My waterproof wafflestompers have practical use. Sometimes I wear them even if I don’t have a hike planned, because you never know.



IMG_20160415_125234 (1)







  1. preferring or thriving at low temperatures.

When talking about plans for tomorrow, I said to a friend, “Oh tomorrow afternoon will be 24 degrees, so that’s not bad.”

He said, “Imagine if your Florida friends heard you say that.”

“Ha! Good point. And I really mean it, 24 isn’t bad.”

Am I cryophilic Idahoan? Nah. I wouldn’t say I necessarily prefer or thrive in the low temperatures. But skate skiing in the sunshine on a brisk day is invigorating. Sometimes I hope it will be too cold to go out, so I don’t feel guilty to sit by the fire and write and read. Today is one of those days, a break from pretending to be cryophilic. The low is -6. Which is 30 degrees below “not bad.”

So I’ve decided to take my rambly notes from the saloon and around town and put them in the computer, like an active participant in 2016. There have not been many nights in my five months here that I haven’t jotted and scribbled about quirky customers, new friends, or unusual circumstances.


Most seem to be about the regulars. It makes me smile to think half of my closest friends here are the older gentlemen that come to the bar every single day. They have lived lives full of impressive work and crazy experiences that I can’t wait to hear about.

For one fella, I move the stools around so his is the softest one next to the backrest. Another brings appetizers like homemade elk sausage or bacon wrapped shrimp. I hate shrimp, but I put a huge one in my mouth and give an enthusiastic thumbs up. The guy on the end greets me with a “Good evening young lady/kiddo/little one.” Sometimes they bring in Trivial Pursuit cards and between the six of them and the bartenders, they successfully pursue the pursuit.

One has given me fly fishing and downhill skiing lessons. He refers to the saloon as his “office.” When I see him around town, he says, “See you at the office, Elizabeth Anne?” One gives excellent book recommendations and is an expert on Hemingway. Another was on the Olympic luge racing team in 1964. He has an extensive hat collection and I think he is getting used to sharing stories about each one with me. Last night, he had one on I’ve never seen before and other customers prevented me from hearing the back story. I have to get to the bottom of it tonight. He also brings in coins and old photos and I gawk and he beams.

I care about them deeply. I feel like I’ve found my way into a family of sorts, one glued together with Bombay Sapphire and Stella. Just another day at the office.



verb (used without object), Slang.

  1. to be extraordinarily pleased; especially, to be bursting with pride, as over one’s family.


I think this photo says it all, but I do have to kvell a bit tonight. My twin brother had a baby (hadababyitsaboy…remember that brilliant commercial? John didn’t make a collect call to let us know about Jack, we got to meet him that amazing day in June.) Now he’s seven months old and as you can see, he’s a face full of cheeks and perfection. His eyes are bright blue like the Idaho sky in Autumn. His laughter makes every inhabitant and visitor in my parent’s house stop in their tracks and laugh along. Some grab for their phones to take videos. Others hold their hearts as if they might burst out of their chests.

I’ve been home for a week to celebrate Christmas in January. The other day, my dad and I were sitting on the couch. We were sitting in silence for a bit and then he looked over at me and said, “He’s amazing, isn’t he?” I knew he was talking about Jack and he knew I was going to agree. We beamed, shared stories, and kvelled like proud Grandpas and Aunties do.



1. utter nonsense.
2. worthless frills.
The moving process can be refreshing. Getting rid of all the excess that I’ve accumulated over the years makes me feel lighter. So the past few nights, I’ve been going through the flumadiddle. I have trolls made out of pine cones by my alumna friend in Ireland. I have neatly folded notes from middle school and letters from ex-boyfriends that are now married. Buttons to jackets that were left in New Zealand. Blue Jay stickers. Planners from 2005 full of events like “sledding” and “hurricane party” and “paper due for Yael”. A Starbucks menu written in Greek from my week in Thessaloniki. Books that my Grandma Doris made notes in like “Very good!” Corks from bottles of wine with special people. Crispy and frail leaves from my first Fall in North Carolina. Some of it is flumadiddle, but some is so full of worth to me that I cannot put in the throw away pile.
The real flumadiddle doused in nonsense was the letter to myself that I wrote eleven years ago. The writing alone was so elementary and naive yet dramatic and I was instantly annoyed. I began regretting each note I sent to people when I was younger. I had big dreams. I followed through with going to Mars Hill College. And after that, none of them have come true. Do I wish I had a husband with a few blonde kids and an equally blonde dog named MacGyver to come home to after my day of teaching the youth of America? No. Am I glad I’m leaving for Idaho on Sunday to learn how to ski and sit by fires and meet new people and do whatever I want? Yes. Did I keep the flumadiddle letter and will I be sad/confused/annoyed when I look back at it next time I move? Absolutely.