Tuesday, September 29, 2015

my ultimate, tested packing list

As we were preparing to go to Spain I pulled out my old packing list, and reviewed all the forums with packing tips, and carefully planned my clothes and personal items so that they would fit into a very, very small roller bag and a modest size backpack.  I know from experience that with good planning I can keep my clothing to a minimum but this time I really wanted to test my limits.  And I still took too much.  But I also kept track of everything I used and now have refined the ultimate packing list.  This trip was almost four weeks and we were on the go with no more than three nights in any location and often only one night so it made the laundry issue important.

1 - super Eddie Bauer travel adventure shirt - dark blue.  Washes like a champ and dries overnight in even the most damp conditions

1 - long sleeved shirt - I used a tee shirt and I only wore it twice.  Next time I'd find an Eddie Bauer long sleeve travel adventure shirt and then I could also roll up the sleeves.

1 - lightweight cardigan sweater -light grey  I carried this around all the time and wore it everyday at some point.

1 - heavy cotton tunic sweater. - periwinkle blue.   This one was big enough that I could wear it over both my shirt and my cardigan sweater, which I sometimes did when we had cold rainy evenings

1 - Columbia lightweight vest - NOT polarfleece. Dark grey  It was awesome.  I could wear it with everything and the extra layer was perfect

1 - pashmina scarf - bright blue.  I kept it folded into a ziplock bag and carried it in my purse at all times  I could pull it out as needed for an extra layer.

1 - camisole - for an extra under layer

2 - bras

3 underwear - I found some microfiber from Jockey that easily dried overnight

3 socks  - bamboo/rayon and dried overnight

2 pair black pants - one was a nice Eileen Fisher pair of casually dressy  pull on pants with a drawstring and could be dressed up if needed;  one was a pair of Eddie Bauer adventure pants that I lived in.  They also had the bottom tabs so you wanted you could turn them into crops or capri pants but I never did. Both were quick dry but I only washed the Eileen Fisher pair..  

1 - belt.  I didn't use it but was just about ready to when we headed for home.  As the pants start to sag it's nice to have the belt to hold them up.

1 - nice scarf that could be used with the two sweaters as dressier outfits;  and 2 pair of earrings.   I didn't use any of this but these are small items that could be needed in a dressier situation.

1 pair comfortable lace-up shoes with heavier sole for walking

1 pair comfortable slip-on shoes with heavy sole for walking

1 pair comfortable sandals.  Only used these a couple of times but in different weather might have used them more

1 nice rain jacket.  I found one at Costco and it was wonderful, except not waterproof!  Oh well, it was also the remnant of a tropical storm and raining torrents so I can't entirely blame it.  And it did roll up into a nice little pocket so it packed easily and maybe once I put some Scotchguard on it.....

1 rain/sun hat.  I had one that did double duty and we weren't in an area where I needed a sun hat so it worked.  If I was in a hot sunny area I would buy a disposable straw hat on arrival and then dump it on my way home.

I even have my list of personal and make-up items so I can pare down when I pack next time,  And my important list of laundry items (clothes pins, parachute cord, etc) since my packing requires that you do laundry every two days.    

My goal next time is to fit in my modest size backpack and I think I can do it!

This is a picture of me at the end of our trip in the blue shirt that I wore all but two days of the trip and it still looks good.  Also the grey sweater that was always tied around my shoulders.  Oh, and the grey vest.  And my black cross-body bag that was wonderful and held just enough and not too much and had lots of pockets so nothing could get lost in it.  I should write a testimonial for the Eddie Bauer shirt. And the funny thing is after wearing it for over 3 weeks I still like it!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

always wear clean underwear and leave a tidy house

I know everyone's mother taught them to wear clean underwear "because what if you were in an accident and had to go to the hospital."  And I know that we all thought "clean underwear would be the least of my worries at that point."  But my mother took it a step further, "Make sure the house is clean because what if you were dead and someone had to come into the house."  So, as part of my preparations for a month in Spain, I am frantically cleaning house.  Not that I think I'll end up dead but it is as natural a part of getting ready to go as packing a suitcase.  My friends think I'm kind of nuts, but it does give me something to do besides second guess all of my selections of clothing to pack.  

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Friday, July 24, 2015

Some days I feel cursed

I think that all appliances are out to get me.  I'm beginning to take it personally.  Not just the appliances that I own and are in my own house but every appliance, everywhere.  Like on our trip to Spain where I was soooooo looking forward to an opportunity to do laundry at the apartment we rented half-way through our trip.  Tried to do a load, washer was broken.  And my father's dishwasher which was a nightmare to get installed and once it was finally installed and working suddenly had water backing into it from the sink.  And MY dishwasher which due to an earthquake a few years ago is just ever so slightly not straight in the cabinet and takes a special technique to get the door to close.  And my refrigerator which sounds like an airplane taking off when the compressor is running and the vegetable bins are so cold everything freezes but the milk on the shelf spoils.  And now my upstairs condo neighbor, and my good friend, has an air conditioner that is leaking into my condo.  And they are on their way to Hawaii and I have to make the arrangements and sit around waiting on the repairman to get it fixed while I am on my vacation at the beach.    Curses!

Thursday, July 02, 2015


Life is good here.  Summer means long evenings on the back porch, meals made of whatever can be concocted from what's in the refrigerator, and a general laziness that suits my nature.  Projects get postponed until winter when we will have to be stuck in the house (at which point they get postponed again because wouldn't summer be a much better time to do all this work?)

Last week was wonderful, and dreadful.  The Supreme Court decisions confirmed that in the end, it will all be fine.  But the horrible shooting in the Charleston church and now re-fighting the Civil War is so depressing.  As are the comments about heritage of the Confederate flag and the 1-man, 1-woman comments about gay marriage from some of my friends.  I keep breathing deep and reminding myself that they are far more likely to to change their minds if I lead them by example than if I scold them.  Lots of deep breathing involved.

My daughter and her partner have started a new adventure in Cleveland where they have both landed spectacular jobs!  My daughter is a research scientist at Cleveland Clinic and the Learner College of Medicine, and her partner is with the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.  At least when we are old and sick we will have good resources for medical care!  They found a perfect apartment (although it is so small they had to carefully read the Mari Kondo book on the Magic of Tidying Up!) and it is in a neighborhood they are beginning to love.  Walk to coffee, walk to restaurants and bars, a beautiful city park at the the end of the street, and 2 miles from work!   They are finally settling in for the long term as these are "real" jobs and they are planning to make Cleveland their home.

Son and dear girlfriend are on a good path.  She is still looking for a permanent job but he now has a job that can support both of them until she finds a job in her field.  He travels all the time for work - they told him it would be a least 50% travel and this first year he anticipates more like 80% - and then has regattas every weekend.  Lovely girlfriend is also traveling with her current job so they only occasionally find that they are both at home at the same time.  They are in tune with one another, and both grew up in households where you learned to be independent so this works for them.

I'm looking forward to a couple of weeks at the beach and then 3+ weeks in Spain.  I can tell my father is a bit concerned about my schedule as he keeps asking me when I am leaving and how long I'll be gone.  He has a perfectly good memory so I think it is his way of expressing concern that I'm going to be gone "too long".  He will be fine while I'm gone as he has his girlfriend and his activities to keep him busy, and he'll be on vacation one of the weeks I'm in Spain.  He will not, however, have someone available to fix the TV remote when he screws it up so that is probably his biggest worry.

My flowers in the front of the house look like crap.  I plant stuff and then half of it dies, then I try to fill in with things and half of them die.  Add to that the fact that I have no good idea of what to plant and the heights listed on the plant tags and how tall they actually get are apparently totally unrelated measurements.  Two plants, both said 12-18 inches tall on the tag, one plant is now at least 3 feet tall and the other one is about 6-8 inches tall.  I'm giving into the randomness finally and if you stand on the sidewalk in front of the house and squint it looks ok,   And if you happen to know what kind of flower this is, please let me know.

Help!  What kind of flower is this?  (and please excuse the bird shit on the wall.)

Monday, June 01, 2015

Busy busy

I have had a whirlwind couple of weeks which have been just delightful!   Over Memorial Day weekend we went to Providence to attend the Master's graduation of "the lovely Sarah", our son's girlfriend.  It was a full weekend of celebration and parties.  Friday night dinner, Saturday night cookout, Sunday graduation and multiple parties, and then Monday was a lazy day to recover.  We were invited to spend the entire weekend with Sarah's father at his home in Onset, a wonderful place on the water where we could appreciate the full New England coast experience.  What a wonderful treat!

Home for less than 24 hours and I had a "ladies slumber party" at the home of a friend.  These are friends who do not live close enough for lunch so we try to make some time to see each other a couple of times a year.  This time we gathered at the home that had the pool so we sat and enjoyed the good weather, had an elegant lunch at a fancy restaurant and caught up with each other's lives. Two nights there and then back home where I got ready for....

..... the retirement party for a very close friend.  It was a wonderful celebration where all the family and friends attended and we had tons of food and wonderful weather for lots of outside seating and a real tribute to his career..

Now I'm getting ready to leave for two weeks at the beach to recover but I just sent invites for a party at the beach since we are having trouble fitting in separate dinners with friends when we come down. So the invite went out for our small group and I've started to plan the menu;  Barbecue sandwiches, corn salad, potato salad, cole slaw (because who in their right mind would eat a BBQ sandwich without cole slaw on it?), chips/dip, beer, wine, soda and some signature punch (lemon based?), and cookies for dessert.  Easy peasy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

no good deed goes unpunished

We have always been very generous in letting family and friends use our condo at the beach.  I like to have people there so if something goes wrong I'll know right away and not when I arrive to find that all the food in the fridge has rotted.  But occasionally that comes back to bite you.  This past spring break an extended family member (very extended) asked to use the condo for a family spring break trip.  I said "Certainly, Have a great time."  Mom, Dad, and three kids.  So teenage girl kid is angry one day and jerks her bathing suit off the little trellis I have on the porch for drying wet suits and towels and although the trellis is attached to the wall she manages to angrily pull it so hard is comes away from the wall and pushes a hole in the screen.  A small hole but a hole nonetheless.  And I do not want to live with a hole in my screen.  So they offer to pay for the repair.   I'm certain that they had no idea that the repair would be a major event and $240.  It's a big deal because the electric hurricane shutters had to be removed and reinstalled to be able to pull the screens.  I made the arrangements for the screen repair and while my dad was visiting the condo the repair got done.

Now, I think everything is good until I get the phone call from my dad this morning.  One of the shutters on the porch closed as usual but on the other one the motor runs but the shutter does not close.  I said "Don't worry about it.  I'll call the man who repaired the screen to see if maybe it got off the track when he was working."  This is the best case scenario because if the shutter is actually broken it is illegal for them to repair it as no longer meets building code and I'll have to have it replaced with new shutters that meet current code .  The hole in the screen then will cost me about $10,000.

Hopefully my repair person can go to the condo tomorrow to look it over.  Luckily I do trust him to be honest in his assessment.  I've used him for lots of jobs and he's always been very good and had fair prices for his work.  But because he is so honest I know that if it is actually broken he won't break the law and go ahead and fix it.  He doesn't do new installs of shutters so it isn't any incentive for him to not tell the truth to sell me new shutters.  At this point all I can do is shudder when I think about it.