Monday, December 28, 2015

Note to self

Do not attempt to speak Spanish after just completing a French lesson.  You will be rendered totally mute and speak a gibberish that is not understandable in any language.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

note to self

Explain to husband the difference between seedless and seeded grapes.  Argh.

the annual Noche Buena update

Around 40 people are attending.  I have 17 pounds of boneless pork loin in the oven, 160 meatballs simmering, a billion Christmas cookies and guava pasteries.  Still to do are plantains and rice.

Then final set up of cheese, crackers, nuts, grapes, chex mix, candies, etc.  Then ice and drinks.

Oh, what have I forgotten?  Oh yes, I asked my husband to vacuum the stairs and clean the downstairs bathroom.  So I still have to do that since he just finished his nap and then left to go with the girls to get some lunch at their favorite local fast food place and to run their errands with them. The girls forgot that their assignment was to pick up some additional trays and an extra rice cooker from my friend Margie so I'll run down the street to get those.   And he purchased the yuca at the restaurant this morning instead of at the last minute like I had asked so I have to figure out how to reheat it along with everything else that has to be in the oven.

Feliz Navidad.

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.
You gotta love it when you call your 93 year old father on the phone while he is on vacation and he tells you he just got a pedicure and that "they did a pretty good job."  Now I'm off to get my mani/pedi so I can keep up.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

While reading the Washington Post this morning  (Dear commencement speakers of 2015: You look fabulous!) I had a revelation on the fundamental difference between what makes a conservative and what makes a liberal. This article referenced two books,  "The World is Waiting For You:  Graduation Speeches to Live By From Activists, Writers, and Visionaries" and "Remembering Who We Are:  A Treasure of Conservative Commencement Addresses."  This pretty much sums it up - Liberals see the possibilities while conservatives are afraid of losing what they have.  Looking forward vs looking backward.

It plays out even in the workplace.  I remember clearly a large and very risky project we were undertaking.  One of the other management team members would talk to me asking "What if we fail?"  and I kept replying "What if we succeed? "  And he was never really convinced.  And he changed jobs and left the project.  And we succeeded to great acclaim!

We need to reframe this fundamental difference somehow so that the conservatives are less afraid of loss and failure and more able to see the possibilities.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The list

  • Monday, May 18 - Pharmacy @ 9 am, commissary  - buy COFFEE!
  • Tuesday, May 19 - LaV to Walter Reed
  • Wednesday, May 20 - Get stuff ready for Providence trip - Gift for Sarah, and hostess gift for her dad.  Maybe my latest shipment of wine for him?    Yes.   Daddy arrives back from Florida.  do laundry, etc.  mani/pedi, library
  • Thursday, May 21 - Groceries, etc for Daddy.  mow lawn, pick up dry cleaning, tailor
  • Friday, May 22 - Drive to Providence
  • Weekend FUN!
  • Tuesday, May, 26 - Drive home
  • Wednesday, May 27 - Daddy groceries, etc. Mow lawn,  Laundry, etc.   Pack and go to Judy's for house party.  Take wine and cheese etc.  Don't forget blowup bed and sheets, blankets and bathing suit!.  Call for shuttle for June 3.
  • Thursday, May 28 - Party with friends.  Fancy lunch.  Sleep over
  • Friday, May 29 -  Opthalmalogist appointment 8:15 am!   Stop back by Judy's to get my stuff.
  • Saturday, May 30 - Pool opens!  
  • Sunday, May 31 - Daddy breakfast
  • Monday, June 1 - Clean house, daddy shopping, etc
  • Tuesday, June 2 - NOTHING PLANNED!  Get ready to leave for Florida.  MOW LAWN
  • Wednesday, June 3 - Cocoa Beach!

Monday, May 11, 2015

My Mother's Day gift was a visit from my son.  He has a new job as a sales representative for a marine hardware wholesale company and his territory at its very southern reaches includes the D.C. area.  He had sales calls set up in Annapolis for this week so he arrived Saturday for a visit.  He had no idea that it was Mother's Day when he arranged this but he gets my credit anyway.  We had a nice quick visit and it is such a treat to my father to have him around.  They are both sailors and talk for hours about stuff that I do not understand.  My son is so lovingly patient with my father and treats all these conversations as though they are the most important things in the world.
Grandson and Grandfather  at Washington Sailing Marina - Two sailors talking sailing

Monday, May 04, 2015

Take a deep breath. Let it go.

I'm not sure how to characterize my weekend.  Maybe just to say I am enjoying the silence of Monday.  My good friend arrived Friday and we enjoyed many hours of chatting and catching up on children and families and reminiscences of periods of our life together.  Or maybe best to say I listened to her talk about her children and her family and her life, current and past.   She remembers every slight, every perceived insult, every bad thing that ever happened to her.  She constantly makes herself relive the pain and revive old grievances.  It is exhausting and painful for her and exhausting for me.  

We have been friends for 40 years and I imagine I, too, have insulted or offended her at some time or other but apparently I can be forgiven but I have never seen anyone hold on to so much hurt.  So many times this weekend I want to hold her hands and say "Take a deep breath.  Now, let it go."  The most important thing I have learned in my 60+ years is that you just have to 'let it go'.  If not, the only person who suffers is you.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

A dear friend is visiting me this weekend.  Well, not actually visiting me, but staying with me while she attends a Viennese Waltz extravaganza.  She lived in DC for many, many years - actually her whole working life - so she doesn't need the grand tour of the city or to be entertained which is nice. My conundrum for this visit is that she has become a vegan.  She never had any vegetarian or vegan tendencies until she visited her adult daughter a few years ago.  The daughter has been vegan for a long, long time. It started as an attention getting step when she wanted to make her mother crazy but she continued long past her mother caring what she ate.

I figured I could provide vegan meals while she is here as many things are vegetable based and I can just leave off the meat course.  So, the menu is:  Friday night - Spaghetti Squash Primavera (excellent!  I'll just leave the cheese topping off the casserole); Saturday breakfast - fruit, bagels, cereal with not-real milk); Saturday night - black beans and rice (have in the freezer from Noche Buena) with plantains and salad.  Snacks are corn chips, salsa, guacamole, hummus, celery, etc.

When researching for my menus I realized that 1) many vegan/vegetarian things are "pretend" meat products, and 2) almond milk is an ecological disaster. The more I thought about the vegan movement the less I could appreciate someone adopting this life choice.  I could far more, and do support efforts for humane treatment of animals but, let's face it, they are food.  Animals eat animals, just try offering a lion a kale salad.  And turns out chickens fed a totally vegetarian diet will peck one another to death because of lack of essential nutrients.  And don't get me started on almond milk.  It takes 23 gallons of water to produce a glass of almond milk!  and one glass of almond milk has minimal protein so it doesn't even have good nutritional value.  Just drink a glass of water and you and the earth would be better off.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

New level to my yoga practice today.  Breath and body totally in synchrony.  Namaste.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Nicest thing ever said to me - that I am a "truly good person".  Love my friends.  This is my highest honor.  Namaste.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Still at the beach.     We've had windy weather but managed a couple of long walks on the beach, some lunches with good friends, and a successful shopping day.  We also spent considerable time glued to the he TV watching it snow in the north.  My son in Providence, RI made it through the storm and and he and his lovely girlfriend did turns shoveling to keep ahead of the snow accumulation at their condo.  I hope the other residents of their building appreciate their work.  I keep checking to see if Ellen has checked in from the Cape. Ellen, if you read this, please let us know how you fared.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

I keep having to remind myself that today is NOT Sunday

It feels like Sunday although why I can't really explain, especially since I'm at the beach and each day is unscheduled and interchangeable.  I arrived over a week ago and have made it to the beach only three times. My husband was here for the first week so we did other things, including a fun trip in his plane to St. Petersburg, Fl to the Dali Museum.  I enjoyed the trip and the museum - it had an interesting special exhibit where they had Dali and Picasso hung side by side - and the surprise was I ran into a friend from Virginia! She was in Tampa helping a grandchild with her first baby and had made the quick side trip to the museum.

Since he left I've done lunch, visited with friends, walked on the beach, read books and worked on knitting this cross between a shawl and a shrug - an interesting pattern but I may run out of yarn!  Day before yesterday my very good friend (my almost a sister) called and made hints about coming to the beach so she will be arriving tomorrow morning.  It's forecast to be cold - 60's - but sunny but we'll find lots to do.  I want spend one non-beach day at a local museum that is having a Frida Kahlo photo exhibit - "Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray, an exhibition of photographic portraits of Frida Kahlo, provides an intimate look at Mexico’s most prolific and well-known female artist."  I'd like to see her work but this will have to do.

I thought I'd be a bit sad at losing my "alone time" but I think that this past few days has been enough and I'm recharged again to deal with more people. As an introvert who acts like an extrovert finding my recharge time is sometimes difficult.  I think that is why I value the beach so very much.

So, maybe if I start my Saturday chores I'll get myself back on the calendar.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Am I a pushover or is this just my way of redistributing wealth?

I live in a suburban neighborhood where the neighborhood kids don't bother to mow lawns, rake leaves, or shovel snow.  Their parents all have "people" for that so we don't rely on the kids for any of our jobs.  I usually do my own work, except for raking leaves which for some reason I just hate,  as I like the exercise and being outside.  My husband rakes, cleans gutters, and does general lawn clean up.  I mow and shovel snow. 

Occasionally I get a knock at the door and it is someone looking for work.  We live in a very ethnically and economically diverse neighborhood so I get people of all languages coming to my door.  Usually, through a series of limited English and lots of pointing we reach an agreement on what I want done. Usually what I want done is nothing that I even considered until the knock at the door but I want to encourage and help anyone that has the initiative to get out and find work.  In the few cases where I turn someone down I feel bad about and try to figure out what I should have done.

Today we had our first snowfall - just an inch or two.  I was just getting ready to go outside and shovel when there came a knock at the door.  A middle aged African American man with a giant coal shovel looking for work.  I first said no, I didn't need anyone to clear the walks and driveway.  Then I realized that he wouldn't be out here if he didn't need the money and I asked him what he would charge to do the walk and the driveway.  He responded that he would accept whatever I paid.  I offered $25 and he got to work. 

My husband will be both annoyed and happy when he gets home.  Annoyed that I had someone do a job that he or I could have done, and happy that he doesn't have to do it.  I would actually have enjoyed the bit of work but I also wanted to let this man earn some money.  It's a puzzle for me each time this happens.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Holiday wrap-up

Everything is now put away and I only have left to throw out all the stale cookies (my husband somehow thinks he will eat them so keeps protecting them from the garbage can).  It went by way to fast and lasted way too long.  Isn't  that how it is with lots of grand events?

Son and lovely girlfriend spent Christmas with us.  We missed having our daughter with us but it is also nice to have them one at a time occasionally.  Lovely girlfriend really is lovely - beautiful and nice and you can tell cares so much for our son.  I hope to spend many more events with her.

The holidays started with Noche Buena where we had a nice small crowd, around 20-25, so it was easier for me to talk to people instead of just be the master of ceremonies.  We had some new folks this year which really added to the event.  It's always funny that our Noche Buena party is looked forward to by so many of our Jewish friends!  And it love it when people meet new people and find they have so much in common. This year it was two artist friends who discovered one another and common interests.  (and I love saying "artist friends" as I have no artistic talent but these people both make their living as artists - one in mixed media and the other in jewelry and gold design.)

Next morning was Christmas which was the traditional unwrap gifts, eat breakfast, fix dinner, etc, a family time that was actually pretty low stress.  Christmas dinner is always a problem as I'm tired of cooking and servings etc and get totally stressed about getting dinner on the table.  This year I fixed boliche (cuban pot roast) which made my husband happy, but I served it with mashed potatoes and green beans, which made my father happy.  A win-win!  and boliche is so easy.  You just season it, brown the eye of round, and pop it in a pot with wine, tomato sauce and bay leaves, and let it slowly simmer.  I'm keeping that as my new Christmas tradition.

Son and lovely girlfriend spent the 26th seeing some of his favorite parts of our area, places that were special to him that he wanted to share.  A family dinner that night and then they were off to a party and they left the next morning.  The visit was too short but just the right length of time.

For New Year's Eve we attended a beautiful wedding downtown.  Actually the wedding ceremony was tasteless and awful (more like a comedy roast than dedicating your life to someone) but the venue was spectacular and the food was a total WIN!  Definitely gets the prize for best appetizers - tuna tartar, baby lamb chops, individual shrimp cocktails, etc.  We danced and ate and had a wonderful time. The view from the reception was quintessential Washington.   Yes, that is the White House with the Washington Monument just behind it.

Now we've put it all away and I'm looking forward to three weeks at the beach.  Things on my to-do list for 2015 include more yoga, more exercise, and cleaning out my linen closets. We'll see how it goes. 

Happy New Year everyone.