Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Look-Back

When I look back on 2016, I am amazed, thankful, and yes, a bit exhausted, at all we did and accomplished. Here's a quick rundown:

January - Kicked the New Year off with an RV rally in San Diego county, attended the Palm Springs Film Festival, traveled to Costa Rica to attend Spanish immersion school

February - Continued my time in Costa Rica, went RV'ing at the beach upon returning, then down to San Diego to see our granddaughter, and her mama and papa, upon my return,

March - Attended a Jewish Film Festival in Palm Springs, hosted bloggers from Canada we'd followed for years, returned to San Diego to visit our dear granddaughter.

April - Went backpacking on Catalina Island with friends, left for a six week trip to Europe, starting with a week in Amsterdam.

May - Continued our six week trip in Europe by boarding the River Voyager in Cologne, which would carry us through Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Romania. What an amazing trip it turned out to be!

June - Headed to San Diego to see our granddaughter immediately upon our return. Spent a week in Mammoth doing a half marathon and backpacking (the backpacking portion was aborted, sadly, when the altitude became a problem), left for Alexandria, Virginia to help our granddaughter and her mama and papa with their military relocation.

July - Spent the first week in Alexandria, Virginia helping to settle everyone into their new home, including some sightseeing in nearby Washington D.C., then a family trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

August - Backpacking in Sequoia National Forest with our backpacking group, then hunkered down to oversee the addition of a front yard patio to our home. Once completed, realized we'd be spending lots and lots of time on it for the foreseeable future because we ended up loving our new space so much.

September - A week of beach RV'ing, then a three week trip to Minnesota and Virginia to backpack across Isle Royale National Park, tour the Superior Lake shoreline, then visit our granddaughter in her new home.

October - Four weeks of traveling through Portugal and Spain, with a day trip to Morocco squeezed in midway.

November - A week RV'ing along the Central California coastline and wine country, a birthday cruise for my dad to the Caribbean, followed by Thanksgiving with the family in Dad's adopted home state of Texas.

December - Had new hardwood floors laid, then flew to Virginia to celebrate Christmas with our granddaughter.

End result: We spent 202 days traveling in 2016, leaving us pretty exhausted at year end. As glorious as it all was, and it really was, it has left us wanting to stay both closer to both home and to our now-East Coast granddaughter in 2017. Plus, we have a long list of home improvement projects queued and ready to go beginning in mid-January. Once those are done in late March - newly re-landscaped backyard, more new hardwood flooring, new carpeting, new bathroom vanity, new office - we are looking forward to simply enjoying our beautiful updated home, plus doing a whole lot more entertaining than our travel schedule has permitted the last few years.

I have some personal goals as well, which I'll post about tomorrow.

Plans and Goals for Today
Walk 8 miles
Lunch at Corner Bakery using BOGO coupon we received.
Clean microwave
Nap (so I can stay awake till midnight later on!) 
Read 30 pages of Huckleberry Finn (Book club read)
Relax with tea and new January edition of Sunset while, hopefully, predicted rain arrives.
Attend up-the-street New Years Eve party.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Random Thoughts

Well, that was brief wasn't it? My excuse is that shortly after creating this blog we left on a series of trips that didn't stop until just this past weekend. So, now that those are behind us, I'm ready to try this again . . .

We are in the midst of home remodeling upheaval, and I'm feeling at loose ends as a result of not having a quiet, scenic place to land. Only when we are in the midst of having something done to the house, do I realize how much my normally-lovely home means to me. I love keeping it tidy, caring for my display items, looking for interesting art to hang, changing out the decor, and prepping for entertaining, particular at this time of year. Not being able to do those things creates a sense of having no place to land, a very uncomfortable thing for me to deal with. The good news, however, is that the bulk of the work will be completed by next weekend, at which point I will have a gorgeous new marble tile entry and equally gorgeous new wood floors throught the rest of the home's common living areas and hallways, including the kitchen. Re-nesting is something I much enjoy, so next weekend is going to be great, and involve a good amount of celebratory wine I'm quite sure.

What I'm . . . 

Reading:  Breath, Eyes, Memory, by Edwidge Danticat, a Book Club read rather than something I'd select on my own. Ms. Danticat has a beautiful, authentic voice as she writes about her native Haiti, but the book is not without flaws. Still, I have enjoyed reading it, and look forward to what is sure to be a robust discussion at our meeting tomorrow night.

Watching: Spectre, the lastest James Bond release. Entirely predictable, with the expected car chases, in-the-air chases and breathless females, but still entertaining enough to keep me awake for it's long 2 1/2 hours of run time. Although I'd have been irked if we'd had to pay to see such relative drivle, I did not mind watching it for free.

Cooking/Baking: I made a gorgeous, fragrant vegetable tangine stew for dinner last night, which I'm looking forward to enjoying again shortly for lunch. And after sitting overnight in the refridgerator, I'm thinking it's going to even better today.

Fearing: The growing cold sensitivity around one of my molars. Worried yet another root canal is in my future . . .

Happy About: Mia, our granddaughter now being old enough to Skype with us on her own on Mama's iPhone. This morning Mia 'carried' us through the house as we asked her about her various toys and activities. Watching her struggle to turn the phone in the correct direction to show us things in her world was precious and priceless. She cried when it came time to say goodbye, which we see as being both bad and good. :-(

Happy I Accomplished: Painting the 1/4" rounds for our upcoming flooring project. By ignoring the monotony of painting out over 100 ft of the stuff, it will prevent the much harder job of painting it after installation. Or not, and living with the slight color differential between it's original stark white and the softer Swiss Coffee white of our current baseboards until we get around to having the bottom level of our home repainted.

Looking Forward To: Having the flooring completed! Just a few more days to go . . .

Thankful For: Having the financial ability to create a beautiful home in which to reside.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Musings

Now retired five years, I'm interested, intent, determined,  to live each day in as full a state of consciousness as possible. To me, at this moment at least, that means striving to do those things that are good for me, those things that make me content, happy, joyful, and to lessen or eliminate those things that leave me feeling wasteful, empty, blah. For sure my life in retirement has continued to grow richer with each passing year, but it has also delivered its fair share of challenges. I look forward to blogging here about my thoughts, my successes, my failures and the lessons, hopefully, learned as a result.

Today started with coffee for two on our just-completed front yard patio. Living in perpetually thirsty Southern California, front yard patios have recently become 'a thing' as people search for ways to reduce their water-reliant front lawns. In our case, as a result of spending so many weeks and months exploring the world since retiring, we craved open space, and our backyard, with it's 7-foot high view-blocking walls, did not deliver anything remotely close to that. Our front yard did, however, and so we took the plunge and had our own front yard patio constructed. Our new patio faces out onto a small open green space that is fronted by some trees that host a variety of interesting critters on a regular basis - squirrel, raccoon, dove, hawk, owl and opossum (my least favorite of the bunch). And although our patio's three foot high brick wall affords us a nice level of privacy, it's still very easy to look out over our neighborhood and have spontaneous chit-chats with nearby neighbors that are out walking or on their way back from our HOA swimming pool. It's been fabulous, and we are outside on it religiously each evening.


Reading:  Two books by Gretchen Rubin; The Happiness Project*, which is actually a re-read, and Better Than Before. Because I'm smack in the middle of peri-menopause, I've been re-reading the Energy chapter in The Happiness Project over the last few days, which has been a good reminder of the importance of daily exercise in maintaining energy. I started working out at age 20, and my cardio fitness is something I counted on throughout my 20's, 30's and 40's. Now, in my early 50's, I can feel that my energy has ebbed, and that my recoveries from long workouts are longer. This has really been a paradigm shift. And even though I'm only one chapter in, Ms. Rubin's newly released, Better Than Before, has already given me a couple of  'aha' moments about why certain habits stick, while I struggle with others, primarily getting to the gym when working out outside isn't an option, and my years-long quest to reduce my refined sugar consumption.

*And the inspiration title for this blog. The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closet, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun has had a lasting and profoundly positive impact on life since first reading it in 2010, the year before I retired.

Watching: The documentary UnBranded, which we viewed in part at this year's Banff International Mountain Film Festival World Tour. So beautifully filmed, so poignant and inspiring, UnBranded has just recently come to Netflix streaming. We watched the first half last night and are looking forward to watching the second half tonight.

Cooking/Baking: I have a rack of baby back pork ribs slow cooking in the oven, with a quick finish on the BBQ still to come. And there is a bowl of Scripps Chocolate Chip-Oatmeal Cookie dough chilling in the refrigerator. In order to make them desirable for my husband, but not myself (see refined sugar elimination quest above!) I left out the impossible-to-resist chocolate chips and instead used dried cranberries and macadamia nuts.

Happy About: An unexpected Skype session with Mia, our adorable 22-month old granddaughter on whom the sun rises and sets. Since we'd already Skype'd with Mia and her mama twice this week, we didn't expect to hear from them today but we were thrilled to see her smiling little face in the computer screen.

Happy I Accomplished: Six weeks in a row of training hikes for our September backpack across Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior. Over the course of the six weeks I've gradually increased the weight in my backpack from a starting weight of 17 pounds to yesterday's 27 pounds. I actually expect to carry about 32 pounds during the backpack, but because it will/should be evenly distributed versus the horribly undistributed dumbells I toss in the bottom of my bag for these training hikes, I shouldn't notice the increase significantly. And although I've been in desperate need of a nap after each of our training hikes, I'm much more comfortable now with the weight I'm carrying.

Looking Forward To: Four days of RVing at our favorite Orange County campground, Crystal Cove Moro. We have tickets to attend the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach, and a jazz festival in Newport Beach during our stay. We'll also be looking for some artwork to purchase for our newly spruced up family room in artsy Laguna Beach, and we'll be dining at Sapphire Laguna prior to attending the Pageant. Sapphire Laguna is the third restaurant we are visiting in a fun new pursuit we decided to do after seeing a Gayot listing of the Top 10 Restaurants in Orange County. Number one was the glorious Splashes, located smack dab on top of a piece of Laguna Beach's magnificent coastline, and number two was The Ranch in Anaheim which serves the most delicious steaks we've ever, ever tasted.

Thankful For: My loving and patient husband of 34 years. We have recently begun a weekly affirmation of our relationship during which we share moments over the course of the prior week where we felt distant or upset, or conversely very loving and/or loved. This has been momentous in helping us to remain lovingly connected to each other on a day to day basis, and our marriage has been enriched tenfold since we started this ritual.