Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 and 2021 Goals

 A year ago I posted the following goals for 2020: 

  • Keep moving, go to the gym at least 5 times per week, start keeping a gym / activity log (I haven't done that in close to 20 years.) 
  • Take a two week trip to Ireland, Wales and London in early March.  
  • Read 50 books
  • Daily Blog 
  • Add 5,000 photographs to the archive 
  • Continue to build a life outside of the office. 
So how did I do? 
2020 was a year of unexpected changes, kind of complicated. 
  • Going to the gym, and the gym activity log was kept for the first couple of months, then we went to Ireland, Wales and London for 16 days, and returned to the gyms being closed.  Hmm, I shifted directions to my nearly daily walks in the marsh along the Potomac river.  Weather permitting, I walk nearly 2-miles every morning. I did drop the log - it is here in the keyboard drawer on my desk.   
  • The trip to Ireland, Wales and London in early March went off, not exactly as planned, but it was a wonderful experience. I am so glad we did what we did, when we did it, we even had dinner with John of Going Gently.  
  • I finished 28 books, instead of 50.  For years my primary reading time was an hour plus, five days a week on the subway train going to and from the office, and frequent long airline flights.  I have only been on the trains once since the end of February.  I am actually pleased at having finished 28 books, considering the changes in routine. 
  • Daily Blog - mission accomplished once again, I have missed one day in 6 years.  
  • I added about 8,791 photos the archive this year, far exceeding the goal of 5,000 
  • "Continue to build a life outside of the office." I had no idea how much of my life I would spend outside of the office this year, or is it that I am always in the office now that I am working in my bedroom? Working from home, has given me a good handle on post work life.  My daily walks - with the camera in hand, I have had three recipes published this year (I see a cooking blog in the post employment era.) I can much more easily see life after the office, most likely three years from now.  

 Goals for 2021
  • Read 24 books, two a month is a healthy goal. 
  • Continue 45 minutes to an hour per day of physical activity.  Restart the daily activity log, what gets measured gets done. 
  • Blog daily. 
  • Add another 5,000 photos to the archive. 
  • Start to learn to identify birds, flowers and trees.  
  • Reach out to at least one friend per week, even if just to say Hi! 
  • Develop my storytelling - putting a lifetime of adventures into words. 
For the first time in years, there are no travel expectations on my list.  I would love to travel, I miss it as much as Maddie misses sex, well maybe not that much, but I long to travel, when is it safe to do so.  In the cold of winter, I think of warm Florida sunshine and seeing family and friends.  I am coming along well on figuring out life beyond the office, I have some work left to do before I stop working, but I can see the finish line.  

Do you have any plans for the coming year?  

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Way We Were Wednesday - Early 1960's

 In about 1960 my grandparents bought a tiny house, in the fishing village of Istachatta Florida (Google it) to spend winters in. I think this was taken in 1962 or 1963. That is my oldest brother on the porch, with my sister who is almost 2 years older than I am.  The white car was my father's, the blue car was my grandfathers.  When my grandfather replaced the blue car, my father bought the blue one, it is the car we drove to Arizona twice.  

The first little house in Florida, didn't have an indoor bathroom when they bought it, the bathroom was installed just before we visited that winter.  

Did your family have a vacation home?

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Reading List 2020

Here is what I finished in 2020.  As will be explained in my next post, my normal reading time was turned on its head this year.  One other thing that has happened, is I have started reading more print books.  Food books are better in print. 
  1. The Kitchen House, Kathleen Grissom 
  2.  Walden, Henry David Thoreau 
  3. The Truth, Michael Palin
  4. Never Turn Your Back on and Angus Cow, Dr Jan Pol 
  5. The Great Book of Ireland, Bill O'Neill
  6. Cross Creek, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
  7. The Untethered Soul, Michael Singer
  8. The House on the Irish Hillside, Felicity, Hayes-McCoy 
  9. In Foreign Fields: How Not To Move To France, Susie Kelly
  10. First Time We Saw Paris, Neal Atherton
  11. A Year off, Alexandria and David Brown
  12. The Bluffers Guide to Philosophy, T.V. Morris
  13. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
  14. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo
  15. More Ketchup than Salsa, Joe Cawley
  16. The Reluctant Expat: Part Three, Alan Laycock 
  17. Get the Picture, Dan Richards 
  18. 100 Plants that almost changed the World, Chris Beardshaw 
  19. Drinking French, David Lebovitz
  20. Wildflowers of the Atlantic Southeast, Laura Cotterman, D. Waitt, A. Weakley
  21. Pirates of the Chesapeake Bay, James Goodall
  22. Do Not Go Gentle - Go to Paris, Gail Shilling
  23. Undue Influence and Vulnerable Adults, Sandra Glazer et al (work related, very-very good.) 
  24. Get Out of your Own Way, Dave Hollis 
  25. How To Cook The Victorian Way with Mrs. Croncombe, Annie Gray and Andrew Hann
  26. Pieometry, Lauren Ko (more design than pie)
  27. Winter Warmers, by Narrowboat Chefs, Magi and Ryan Duncan 
  28. Oh Cook! 60 Easy Recipes Any Idiot Can Make, James May 

Monday, December 28, 2020

YouTube Monday - The Queen's advice on wearing a crown

Perhaps there are other Queens who will offer suggestions in the comments on wearing a crown.  At least once, when you are in London, I encourage you to go to the Tower and see the crown jewels.  It is a nice little collection.  Crowns are always a thoughtful holiday gift.  

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Sunday Five: 2020

 Well I have to admit, 2020 was not what any of us expected, yet there has to be something good in here.  Let me ask? 

  1. What was the biggest surprise of 2020? 
  2. What brought you good luck in 2020? 
  3. Name one positive thing you experienced in 2020? 
  4. What did you do in 2020, that you never thought you would be able to do? 
  5. What made you laugh in 2020?
My answers:

  1. What was the biggest surprise of 2020? My office converting to telework literally overnight. 
  2. What brought you good luck in 2020?  Patience and perseverance. 
  3. Name one positive thing you experienced in 2020? Renewing my love of walking in the woods. 
  4. What did you do in 2020, that you never thought you would be able to do? Voted for an openly Gay man for a national office. 
  5. What made you laugh in 2020? Mrs. Browns Boys on YouTube. 
Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Fast Away The Old Year Passess,

Happy Boxing Day, to those who observe.  We did a Boxing Day Brunch several years in Lexington, got us out of the usual loop of we'd love to come to your party but we have three invitations for that evening.  

There is a line in an old Christmas carol, Fast away the old year passes, for me 2020 has flown by.  It seems like just yesterday I was setting goals for the year, planning a trip, then returning to a world that was changing rapidly.  It is like I have hardly moved since mid-March, and yet I have.  

So many changes, a year that flew by.  Soon we will be able to say, that looking back everything is in 2020 hindsight. 

Presidential Inauguration day is January 20, 2021, abbreviated in the USA, 1/20/21, the most anticipated palindrome in American history. 

I expect another year will Zoom by, filled with Zoom meetings.  

Fast year, or slow year for you?  



Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas Everyone

 Wishing each and everyone of you a very Merry Christmas.  This season finds us apart, yet united in caring for one another.  For many of us, being apart, is the greatest expression of caring this year.  

This season has many meanings and traditions for many people.  Some deeply tied to faith, others steeped in winter festivities (or summer festivities in the southern hemisphere.) Practice whatever fills your heart.  Be thankful for what we have, mourn the losses of the year. Remember, just as the sun rises each morning, we are given new chance, new opportunities, the new year will be upon us in a week. 

Take care, stay safe, stay well, 


David & J & Travel 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

On the Eve With Panda Claus

We are as ready for Christmas as we can be.  Panda Claus has his hat on ready to deliver to all the good little cubs and bears. He is so huggable. He does double duty as summer clause, spending the summer in the back seat of the convertible.  He likes going for slow rides with the top down.  

I will cook something special, and we'll snuggle down for a long winters nap, if there are reindeer hooves on the roof, they will be a dozen floors above us. Santa better wear a facemask in the elevator, or the neighbors will call security and complain.  

A comment I made on a blog recently brought memories of the year we went to Paris for Christmas.  The reason we went, is complicated, I was upset with my mother.  But the experience was wonderful.  The highlight was out pouting a French Maitre de, and getting seated for Christmas dinner at Altitude 95 on the Eiffel Tower for Christmas dinner, without a reservation.  He didn't say no, and I just stood there and waited until someone seated us. Memories are often the best part of the adventure, for the memories last longer than the adventure.  

Wishing all of you, a peaceful and love filled Christmas.     

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The Way We Were Wednesday - Christmas Memories

This would have been my second christmas, my sister says the doll was mine.  My father loved the aluminum Christmas free, no lights and no needles.  My mother wanted lights, and electric lights on a metal tree were not recommended.  I have at least one of the ornaments from that tree.  When we were cleaning out Dad's house after he died, I grabbed a little santa figurine out of the glass cabinet in the dining room.  I thought it was something my mother had picked up after they retired to Florida.  Then I scanned this slide, and sitting there on the front corner of the TV, is the santa figurine.  Connections across a lifetime.   

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Holiday Baking

When All else fails, post about food.  Here is a cranberry cake I dreamed up.  The cranberries create flavor bombs in the cake. It makes a great coffee of dessert cake. 

Cranberry Cake 

Ingredients grouped as you will add them:

4 ounces salted or unsalted butter (room temperature will work best)
1 ½ cups granulated sugar 

4 large eggs 

2 cups all purpose flour 
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
1 ½ teaspoons Saigon Cinnamon 
½  teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg (about ½ a nutmeg)
½ teaspoon ground cloves 

2 fluid ounces orange liquor 
12-16 ounce bag of fresh or frozen whole cranberries
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Coat liberally with non-stick baking spray, a 9-inch tube or Bundt pan.   

Measure and stir together the dry ingredients; flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside. 

Cream together butter, and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (3 to 5 minutes you really can’t overdo this.)  Add the eggs and beat until light a fluffy.  Beating the mixture with the eggs incorporates air into the mixture, making the cake less dense. This will take 5 minutes or so, you will notice a significant change in color and texture.  

Stir in the dry ingredients by hand taking care to not over mix. 

Carefully by hand fold in the cranberries and nuts. 

Transfer to prepared tube pan. 

Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes, until a cake tester or wood skewer comes out clean. 

Invert on cooling rack and remove the cake from the pan.  

Could be dusted with powdered sugar or glazed if desired.  

Cool 2-3 hours before slicing. Store in an airtight container for 2-3 days.  

Use fresh whole cranberries.  Cranberries freeze well. If using frozen, thaw under running water, shake dry before folding in. 

Monday, December 21, 2020

My Music Monday - Angels From The...

Merry Christmas, Happy Christmas, Happy Holidays, relax and enjoy the beauty and peace of the season.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

The Sunday Five - What Do You Want - What Do You Not Want

The Sunday Five - What Do You Want - What Do You Not Want me to write about.  Believe it or not, I have been blog planning for 2021.  It is that time of the year.  So let me ask:

  1. Should I continue the Sunday Five? 
  2. Should I continue My Music Monday?
  3. Should I continue The Way We Were Wednesdays? 
  4. Should I do more food and baking posts? 
  5. How would you feel about a random travel photo and short memory (I have about 50,000 photos to select from at random)? 
This one is for your answers, so I will refrain from leading by example, please share your answers in the comments.  

Saturday, December 19, 2020

If We Could Understand The Animals

 One morning recently I was watching a pair of bald eagles, one was perched in the top of a tree, the other one was fishing, then flew up an perched in the tree near the mate.  And the two of them proceeded to talk with one another.  Loudly, I was probably 500 feet away and I could easily hear them.  

I wonder what they were saying to one another? Was it kind? Was it affection? Was it disappointment? Or anger? I wonder if they wish they could understand us?  

Friday, December 18, 2020

A Dark and Dismal Exploration

As part of my annual evaluation at work, we are asked to set goals, one of which is a work related personal development goal.  Last year my development goal was to learn basic video editing, and I did, it has come in handy (audio editing also, audio is easier to edit.) This year I thought about what I was weak at, pulling out a calculator to check the math on a spreadsheet with messed up formulas I couldn't figure out how to fix, and I put down, complete basic training on Excel.  

I recently had a day I didn't have anything on my calendar, and frankly I didn't feel like working but I wanted to bill the hours, so I went down the dark hole that is exploring Excel. The cheerful virtual trainer chiped, "of course every formula starts with an "=" sign!" WHY, if all formulas or functions start that way, why do we need to put it in everytime? You need to be a math geek to have a clue, this is not an accounting program, it is an engineering project. The only reason anyone uses this nightmare is no one else has come up with a decent alternative, there is no other rational explanation. There I feel better for having said that. 

Oh well, I have completed module 1 of the 2 modules I set the goal of completing.  I will force myself through the other one sometime in the next ten days.  It will help me understand why finance people drink martinis at lunch (or for lunch.) 

Are you an Excel expert? 

Thursday, December 17, 2020


Only 9 years ago, Zoom-Zoom was Mazda's sales slogan in the USA for a few months.  I bought one of the cars in the "If it is not worth driving, it is not worth building - Zoom-Zoom era."  In 2020 Zoom took on an entire new meaning, being the massively used video meeting platform.  I have been using Google video chat for over a dozen years.  When we were working 500 miles apart, we used it almost everyday to spend quality time together when we were apart.  So I took to Zoom like a duck to water.  

Zoom has a virtual background option.  My desk at home, is in the end of my bedroom, as I point out there is an unmade bed over my right shoulder, and art supplies over my left shoulder, as soon as I discovered the virtual background option I started using it.  It allows you to upload your own images.  It is a little tricky to find, on the virtual background popup, there is a "+" sign, click that and follow the prompts.  I change my background image at least once a week.  The photo above was last week.  

I use a headset for sound, the boom microphone gives a little better sound and the headphones hide my hair, that has not been cut in about 10 months.  I have a circular broadcast light, an overstock deal of the day on Amazon, that I use as needed.  The computer is connected to the WiFi box with an ethernet cable.  If I am on a platform that does not have a virtual background I have a pop-up green screen backdrop that I can open up, it is blue on the opposite side, I did two full days of training with the blue background propped up against the easel behind my chair.

With all of that, life is just zooming along.  Not a skill I expected to perfect in 2020, but 2020 was the year of the unexpected.  

Are you a Zoom user?   

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The Way We Were Wednesday - My First Christmas

 I was born in August, this would have been when I was less than a year old.  I don't see a cable release, and this was before cameras with self timers, I suspect my Aunt Edith took the picture.  She was good. When my father upgraded to an Argus c3, he gave her his first 35mm camera.  I bet it is still in the house in Florida.  I have vague memories of the sofa with the square arms, there was a green one that followed it.  

Did I grow into the ears? 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020


 Looking back at a couple of last week's posts, on politics and the economy, I was a bit of a Debbie-Downer. I was feeling a lot off for a few days, it has been a shitty year in some ways, and it all gets too me sometimes. I am pretty good at faking that everything is okay, until my ability to believe my own delusions reaches its limit.  The office keeps reminding us to take care of our physical and mental health.  I am fortunate that I seldom get down, and I have never been in the dark hole of clinical depression, but there are times when I have to take steps to move myself to a happier place. 

For me, an important part of that process, is admitting to myself that I am feeling off, and sharing with at least one other person that I am feeling low.  I am often able to identify what is bothering me.  This year, isolation, a loser that refuses to admit he lost, people that are sick and dying from COVID, recognizing racism is still a problem, not being able to travel - you know the same thing that is driving a lot of us to the edge.  A good laugh helps me, I spent a couple of hours watching the Graham  Norton show on YouTube one evening.  Cooking and baking helps, I just pulled a cranberry walnut tart out of the oven.  My blogging buddies help.  

Unfortunately for my dear readers, blogging goes on no matter how I feel. I have only missed one day in six years.  I can only post so far ahead when I am feeling strong, so you get a few when I am not. 

What do I want for Christmas, to see the door hit Trump and 2020 in the ass on the way out of the door.  


Monday, December 14, 2020

My Music Monday -Rollin Christmas

Something a little different and kind of fun this week.  And it is short, less than a minute 

Sunday, December 13, 2020

The Sunday Five - How Modern Are We?

 One of the first things I do every morning, is put my watch back on. If I don't it runs down and stops.  This got me to thinking, hence this weeks Sunday five. 

  1. Do you wear a watch, and if so, digital, electric, or mechanical? 
  2. Do you carry a smartphone, and if so do you turn it off at night? 
  3. Have you lived in a home, that didn't have electric lights when it was built? 
  4. Have you owned a television that didn't have a remote control? 
  5. Tell us about your first email account? 
My answers: 

  1. Do you wear a watch, and if so, digital, electric, or mechanical? I wear a mechanical watch, a Seiko copy of a famous Swiss self "perpetual" movement in a slick modern case.  I love the miniature machine. 
  2. Do you carry a smartphone, and if so do you turn it off at night? Yes, and I turn mine off every night, in fact I don't turn it on every day.  
  3. Have you lived in a home, that didn't have electric lights when it was built? I have not, my parents did, in fact my mother didn't have electricity at home until she was a teenager.  
  4. Have you owned a television that didn't have a remote control? Yes, I can remember the first TV I bought with a remote control in 1982. 
  5. Tell us about your first email account? When I started Law School the University assigned me an email account, followed shortly by a personal account (fall of 1996.) 
Please share your answers in the comments.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Rambles on Housing

There has been a moratorium on evictions in the US for much of this year.  It didn't relieve people of the obligation to pay rent, it merely closed the courts to eviction proceedings.  The bills have added up, for an estimated 1,000,000 families.  The moratorium is due to end January 1st. The courts are bracing for an avalanche of filings.  

There are calls to "cancel the rent," but doing that is beyond the power of the government, unless the rent is owed to the government.  Most of it is owed to people.  I know a couple of people who are dependent on collecting the rent to pay their bills.  They have their life savings invested in rental property, the rent paid on that is their income.  Forgiving the rent, would be taking away their income.  Some of it is owed to corporations,  and partnerships, and those are funded by private capital, in other words people's life savings.  If Congress wants to deal with this, Congress needs to step up and make the landlords whole. As it is, much of the arrears will never be collected, resulting a meaningful loss of income for people who invested their life savings in owning rental property. 

Well that ramble is a bit of a downer.  I wish I had easy answers, sometimes there are no easy answers.  

How do you respond to calls to "cancel the rent" or "cancel the student loan debt"? 

Friday, December 11, 2020

Get Out and Move

 My doctors recommendation last year, was to keep doing what I was doing, but do more of it.  Kick-it-up a notch.  What was I doing, walking nearly every day for 30 minutes.  For a couple of months, I increased my treadmill time, then the gyms closed down, and even when the gyms reopened, I didn't feel safe returning.  After a few days closed up at home I started getting out for a walk.  At first here on the hilltop, and things close to home.  That grew boring, so I moved on.   I have tried a few places, and have settled into a daily walk in a national wildlife refuge near home.  My average walk is about 2 miles, and takes me 45 minutes to an hour. It is my alone time, my thinking time, my fresh air and sunshine time.  

From my late 20's through my early 40's, I was a runner.  I miss running, and my running days are past.  And I am okay with that.  I am very glad that I was a runner before digital music players and smartphones.  I ran, as I walk, without headphones, with the thoughts in my head and the sounds around me as accompaniment.  

I realize not everyone can walk for an hour.  As long as you are able to get out and move, move the way you can.  The longer we stay active, the longer we will be able to.

Besides, you never know what you might see or hear.  

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Politics - and other rambles

I spent a few minutes looking back at my blog posts from four years ago.  My, but I was rude the third party voters who elected he-who-must-not-be-named (HWMNBN.)  I didn't need to go back and ask them how they felt about the outsider as President.  Pretty much anyone with common sense has cringed through this administration.  

It is obvious HWMNBN, didn't heed my advice.  He didn't get rid of Giuliani.  He surrounded himself with family and sycophants who reinforced what he wanted to hear.  He deepened the swamp, rather than draining it (Ivanka was recently deposed by the DC Attorney General's office for funneling public funding for inauguration events to family operated hotels, charging three times market rates for space.)   

I underestimated the depth of his racism, his running on the Wall should have alerted me to that. 

I didn't vote for him.  But I naively had some hope that he might set politics aside and do something productive.  Instead he spent nearly 1/4 of his term playing golf, and hours sending mindless tweets.  Interestingly he is threatening to veto the defense spending bill, unless it repeals liability protections for social media providers for the content posted by users.  That would make Facebook and Twitter responsible for damages for false or misleading content posted by users on their platforms- at least half of the garbage that HWMNBN posted on Twitter over the past few years.  Without that shield from liability, they would have to ban his accounts to keep from going bankrupt.  

His rants increasingly sound like the ravings of a madman.   

I have some hope for sanity starting January 20th.  Joe is a kind man, a man of integrity.  When he was Vice President he was the lunch speaker at a conference I attended.  He spoke of volunteering at legal aid.  That experience changes people.  (Been there, done that, my soul has the scars to prove it.) I am thrilled with Kamala Harris. She is young, she is bright, she is multiracial, she is a no nonsense for prosecutor, who also understands working, family, and the value of education.  She has my vote for 47.  

There is so much work to do, so many mistakes to undo, I hope the new administration if ready for the challenge. 

Sorry for the ramble, sometimes I just need to talk, 

I thought about not posting this.  I think there are a lot of us that are growing tired of faking it, that everything is or will be okay.  Things are a bit of a mess. 

Take care of yourself, stay safe, stay well.  


Wednesday, December 09, 2020

The Way We Wednesday - Yearbook Geek


In high school, I was a yearbook geek.  I spent three years as a staff photographer on the yearbook team.  It had some nice perks, getting to go out and take add photos, getting into the occasional football game or school event.  I enjoyed it.  I have the books I contributed to.  The individual photos are not credited, but I can identify some of the one's I took.  Interestingly one of the photos Michigan yearbook, was taken in my bedroom in Florida.  

I continue to be a yearbook geek.  Back in 2011 we spent a week in Normandy, and I wanted to share the photos with a couple of people so I went online and created a book.  I have done several since then, my 2020 yearbook has been printed and is on it's way.  There are several services that do this.  I have used Shutterfly.  The interfaces can be a little bit of a pain, especially if you only use them once a year or so.  But you get the hang of it.  The books are a little expensive, a couple of times a year they have a half price sale.  

Were you, or are you a yearbook geek?

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Land, Labor, Capital, and Entrepreneurial Ability

Way back when I first started at University, I took an introduction to business class.  The class was taught by a successful local hotelier. His message, if we didn't remember anything else from the class was that the four sources of wealth are Land, Labor, Capital and Entrepreneurial Ability.  If you could remember that, and define them, you passed the midterm exam.  

Land, I own a home - actually owning real estate has generated about 25% of our net worth.  Labor, I have long worked and continue to do so. Capital, we have savings and retirement savings that earn income and grow.  Entrepreneurial ability, my work really does not fit this category, I am paid a salary, the same amount win or lose.  In my younger life, I had a few small (really micro) businesses, and my current work restricts what I could do, but I am a content creator.  The blog is content, Google provides free hosting, so that Google has content.  Google offers to place adds, generating more revenue for Google, with a share of that going to the content creator.  

In a moment of reviewing the four principles I learned all those decades ago, I signed up for adsense a few years ago.  I actually don't remember how long ago, 4-5 years ago.  I haven't gotten rich on adsense, I recently received my second payment, about $105, bringing my lifetime earnings from my blog(s) to just under $210. But it is something, in exchange for the content I create. I seldom think about visits or hits when I create content, in the spirit of entrepreneurship I should.  The blog is more a labor of love, and my contribution to an online community of friends. The friends have been the biggest payoff, the little bit of income is fun money. 

So, yes I know there are ads on my blog.  Yes, I know the ads are sometimes annoying.  No I am not getting rich from them, but there is some small reward.  

If Blogger hosts your blog, on the content creation page is a link for adsense, it is not hard to sign up.  I don't know if or how to invite ads on blogs hosted outside of Blogger, but I would guess there is a way.  This is not a sponsored post, I know a few bloggers that occasionally are paid extra to  write about products or services.  Some of them clearly mark sponsored posts as such, some don't.  I have never been asked to write a sponsored post, hint to the airlines - I can be bought with first class upgrades on transAtlantic flights.  

Have you ever considered including ads on your blog?   

Monday, December 07, 2020

My Music Monday - It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Okay, I admit it, I like upbeat music, something bright, and sweet, and sappy.  And this is a glorious time of the year for it, some might say the most wonderful time of the year. 

Sunday, December 06, 2020

The Sunday Five - A Moment With Santa Sheep

Reports are saying that Santa is struggling to stay safe at the Mall or Department store this year.  We have deputized the sheep to listen to your wish list.  So tell us:

1: What do you want santa to bring you for yourself this year? 

2: For your community? 

3: For your country? 

4: For the world? 

5: For all of the good little sheep and lambs? 

My Answers:

1: What do you want santa to bring you for yourself this year? Another year of relatively good health. 

2: For your community? An effective vaccine. 

3: For your country? Sane leadership. 

4: For the world? Peace and good will. 

5: For all of the good little sheep and lambs? Fluffiness 

Please share your answers in the comments, feel free to be creative, to dream big. (Yes, you can ask for a pony.) 


Saturday, December 05, 2020

The Daily Eagle

 Last weekend, Thanksgiving weekend brought a lot of first time visitors, some local, some from out of town, down the Dyke Marsh, my nearby swamp walk, the place I go for my daily eagle. I had an opportunity to talk at a safe social distance with masks on with a few visitors.  I pointed out a distant bald eagle to one person, I thought she was going to cry.  She said, she had never seen a bald eagle in the wild before.  

There are two or three breeding pairs of bald eagles within a mile or so of river front.  I have located two nests, I am sure there are more.  On average I see an eagle about 80% of the time.  It took a while to learn how to spot them, often at a great distance, and where they tend to roost.  Rarer is seeing one in flight, my guess is about 1 in 25 times I see and eagle, one takes flight.  I have noticed two ways they perch, in the upright position like they are above, they may take flight, but they may also perch there for an hour or more.  If they are more horizontal, and pacing on the branch, in my experience they are much more likely to take flight. 

When I first walked up, there was one on the tree above, they are about 100 feet from their nest.  I turned to take look at something on the beach (yes there is a small beach), turned back and there were two in the tree.  

I have to admit that I look for my daily eagle on every walk.

What do you look for everyday? 

Friday, December 04, 2020

Simple Pleasures

 I lived in the semi-tropics for about 20 years, then in the mid 1990's moved with the lower midwest, a part of the country where deciduous trees drop their leaves in the winter. There are trees in the semi-tropics that shed leaves, but not many,  most trees in Florida shed leaves and immediately replace them. When I went to Law School at the University of Louisville, behind the law school between the school of social work and the Speed Museum of Art, was is square lined with oak and maple trees. The first fall I was there, the trees turned color, and seemed to drop most of their leaves overnight, leaving the grassy square carpeted in freshly fallen leaves.  In a break between classes, on a brilliant sunny autumn afternoon, I walked across the middle of the square, kicking the leaves with every long sweeping step.  I smiled for days.  Thinking about it brings a smile to my face. The simple pleasures. 

What memory of a simple pleasure brings a smile to your face.  

Thursday, December 03, 2020

Gift Guide

 Dr. Spo, the dear, recently posted what to buy for the man who has everything.  I will admit I am often hard to buy for.  If I really want it, and I think we can afford it, I buy it. We have already been through a major purge of things when we consolidated to one house. And let's face it 2020 has been a strange year, so here are my thoughts for a socially distanced weird year.  

  • Memberships at a local museum, garden, or historic site. Our local cultural organizations are struggling this year with closures and could really use the extra income, and maybe the recipient will get out and experience the local adventures.  
  • Contact time.  More than anything else, many people crave contact time with family and friends. We can do this in a socially distanced world. Send a card or handwritten note once a week, commit to a weekly call, or Facetime, or Zoom call.  
  • Their time, commit to doing something that frees the person up.  Baby sit, dog sit, cat sit - so the person can have some time alone without worrying about their loved one.
  • Organize delivery from their favorite local restaurants.  Free the person from cooking and cleaning, and help the local restaurants stay in business.  
When will your shopping be done this year? 

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

The Way We Were Wednesday - Before My Time

 This is my oldest brother, probably 6 or 7 years before I was born.  The first house my parents had, in the Detroit suburbs.  I have at least one of the ornaments on that tree.  Can you imagine that rocking horse passing toy safety standards today? 

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Baa - Baa

If I won the PowerBall lottery, and had more money than I could ever reasonably spend, I'd buy a farm.  I grew up on a funny farm, there are times when I would like to spend time in the country.   I'd have hire a farmer, there just simply are things I can't physically do, and farming is very physical work.  And I'd keep a flock of sheep.  Big fluffy sheep.  Maybe build a plant to process wool, and spin it for knitters and other needle crafters.  We fell in love with sheep when we spent a week with friends in Yorkshire a good number of years ago.  

If you had a farm, what would be the first herd you would buy? 


Monday, November 30, 2020

My Music Monday - A Holly Jolly Christmas

It is that time of the year, when I can indulge in Christmas music, for a month.  The perpetual green of holly reminds me of the hope of the return of spring, of the brightness of the future. 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Sunday Five - A Nice Day Out

 A couple of weeks ago I took a couple of extra days off, a little at home break, from working at home.  Part of that weekend, was a few nice getaways, diversions, little adventures. 

  1. Where is your favorite place to go spend time in a garden? 
  2. Where is your favorite place to spend time in nature? 
  3. What is the best "people watching" place near you? 
  4. The photo above is George Washington's front porch, what would you ask him if he was sitting there today? 
  5. Do you prefer paper maps, GPS, or just wandering? 
My answers: 

  1. Where is your favorite place to go spend time in a garden? The formal gardens at Mt Vernon. 
  2. Where is your favorite place to spend time in nature? Dyke Marsh along the Potomac river near home. 
  3. What is the best "people watching" place near you? King Street in Old Town. 
  4. The photo above is George Washington's front porch, what would you ask him if he was sitting there today? How to we rid our country of a tyrant? 
  5. Do you prefer paper maps, GPS, or just wandering? I am a big GPS fan. 
Please share your answers in the comments.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Bloom Where You Are Planted

One of my annoying habits, is quoting trite sayings, like "it will all be okay", "good things come to those who wait" and "bloom where you are planted." I was counting the other day, I have lived in 14 places in my life. If the moves were evenly spread I would have moved every 4.42 years. The moves are not evenly spread, most of them were in the first 25 years of my life.  

Looking back at it, I didn't adjust easily to a few of the moves.  I was one of the annoying yankees who spent the first few years in Florida saying things like, "that is not how we did back north," or "I wish I could find "X" we always had it when I was back north."  The mother of a friend of mine, regularly pointed out that there are northbound lanes in I-75 and I-95 and I was free to leave anytime I wanted to. Eventually I learned to love the place, I still get a twinge of "home" when I see images of downtown Orlando or Winter Park.  

There are things I need to do to feel at home. 

  • Find a good grocery store.  I want a store that takes quality, cleanliness and service seriously.   
  • Find a place to walk.  This took me a few years here in Virginia, if I ever move again, I will remember that it needs to be something I start looking for immediately.  It gives me a connection to place. 
  • Find a garden to visit.  It can be fussy and formal, or informal, or a nice mix.  But it needs to be cultivated, planned.  For me here, this is Mt. Vernon. 
  • Find a museum.  One of the challenges in Lexington, was that the city lacks a real museum.  There is a small gallery at the University, that has no parking, but no real museum. One of several things that I LOVED about the University of Louisville was a great art museum on campus.  The DC area is loaded with museums. 
  • Find a gym.  I know this year gyms are largely closed, but gyms have been a part of my life for over half of my life.  It would be better if the Condo gym was better equipped and had an average age less than dead.  There is a private gym nearby, when it becomes safe to go back to the gym, I may join. 
  • Find a nice relaxing drive.  For me here, this is out to Mt Vernon and back. In Lexington, it was down to the Kentucky River or out to Midway and back. In Orlando, it was a magic stretch of road between Winter Springs and Oviedo, or the back road from Leu Gardens to Rollins.  
  • Find a place to go boutique strolling.  In Orlando, this was Park Avenue in Winter Park, here it is King Street in old town Alexandria.  In Lexington- it was go to Park Avenue in Winter Park.  
One of my dreams in retirement is to go places and rent an apartment for a month or two and live like a local.  France, Italy, Spain, Wales, England there are lots of options.  In living like a local, I will try to check off the list above of things that connect me to the community.

What connects you to a place?   

Friday, November 27, 2020

Retail Therapy

 I worked in retail for 9 months one year.  We had moved from Florida to Kentucky - J had started his work at the University, I had a year to go before I could start graduate school, I needed something to do, and some income.  The first place that hired me was the ladies shoe department in a massive department store.  It was an experience that changed my life in weird ways.  

I guess I had always been a bit of a shopper, with a day out shopping in the city being a major event when I was growing up on the farm.  When I settled in, in Orlando, shopping became a hobby, and something I would do if I was feeling stressed or overworked (and there was a lot of that.) 

My time in retail taught me a few lessons.  NEVER pay full retail.  Everything goes on sale sooner or later, but on sale is not what you want, clearance is what you want.  Even better clearance on sale.  I need to be selective and shop out of season, but there are some real bargains to be had.  

I remember working retail in the holiday season. I showed up at 5:30 AM for the store opening the day after Thanksgiving, we opened at 6:00 AM, there were people waiting outside the doors, it was the only time security had to let staff in, and keep people out (if you know what door it is, most department stores have an unlocked door about 18 hours a day.) The sales were really not that great.  We brought in a lot of cheap merchandize, to sell cheap during the holidays.  Cheap goods, cheap, are not a good value.  

I will say, that everyone should work retail at some point in their life.  It gives you an understanding as a consumer of what to look for in value. It is also a lesson in how to treat those who are there, underpaid, trying to help you find whatever you are looking for.  A hint, treat them well, and ask, they will tell you what the bargains are.  

Have you ever worked retail?  

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving

 Today in the United States today is Thanksgiving Day.  With roots in traditional harvest festivals, Thanksgiving can be an opportunity to celebrate the bounty of the year gone by.  

2020 has been an unusual year.  I have a list of things to be thankful for. 

I am thankful that we had a mild winter, with little snow making life easier for me. 

I am very thankful that our major adventure for the year was March 1-16th in Ireland, it was fun, pretty, and the people were delightful.  I am so glad we did it when we did it, and to the place we went.  If we had been a day later returning home, things would have been much more complicated.  If we had gone to Spain (the other place I seriously looked at) instead of Ireland, things would have been much more complicated. We were lucky on that one.  

I am thankful that I have a job, that I can do mostly from home.  That I have not missed a days pay, and really most of what was planned for the year, has happened, even if in a somewhat modified format.  

I am thankful that I have discovered the joys of my daily walk in the swamp, looking for my daily Eagle(s.) The gym has mostly been closed this year, and being outside has helped me develop a deeper connection to the place that I live.  

I am thankful for the outcome of the election.  For voters who cared deeply and showed up in record numbers to vote.  

This year has challenged us.  We have been confronted with a lot of what is wrong with our society.  There have been health challenges, and yes I know someone who lost his father to COVID.  We have a lot of work to do. 

So what are we doing today?  What we usually do.  The two of us, at home, I will cook a special meal, we will relax and be thankful.  

What are you thankful for today? 


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The Way We Were Wednesday - Weddings

I have not been to a lot of weddings. The first would have been my Aunt Edith, I was about 5 and ring bearer- I was cute.  Someplace I still have the little satin pillow the rings were on.  I remember going to a wedding as a very young child- a great-uncle's son- in a Catholic Church in Detroit.  As I recall we left the reception early, my mother couldn't bear the thought of four children at a reception.  Then my sister's (both of hers 35 years apart.) My first one. One of my Ex's sisters. My second - the one that worked. 

There is something I like about two people making a public commitment to love one another.  I think most people go a lot over the top in clothing and locations and food and booze.  

I enjoy bumping into people taking wedding photos in public places.  I have never crashed a wedding, but I have come close.  The photo above was taken a few years ago in Rome.  

Have you been to a lot of weddings or few?  

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Evolving Workplace

 Uncle Johnny, actually my great uncle, my father's mother's brother, was an old school executive.  His specialty was sorting out heavy manufacturing.  Late in his career, his last job, he was sent to a foundry in northeast Ohio to fix quality control and production issues.  His first day there he summoned all of the managers to his office for a meeting at 2:00 in the afternoon.  The men in suits all arrived, coffee cups in hand and sat around the conference table in his office. (Of course they were all men.) He looked at them and simply said, "I didn't know I had scheduled this for the time of your afternoon coffee break, I will be back in 15 minutes when your break is over."  That was his way of setting a very formal workplace structure.  A workplace that is not family friendly, starting with all men at the table. 

Today there are more women at the table, though still not in proportion to the population in most every field. Bringing your coffee cup to a meeting is acceptable, we are seeing fewer suits.  But still the most common reason we hear for women leaving the workplace, is caregiving.  

Along comes the global pandemic, and home is the new office.  We had a board meeting recently.  On Zoom of course.  We had a parent with a six-month old, a parent directing a 7 year old on remote schooling, someone taking care of a very elderly cat, and someone house-training a puppy.  And you know what, the business of the business carried on.  There was ooo!ing and Ahhing! at the baby and the puppy, and people saying "go ahead a take a minute" for the home teaching, and everyone seems to like a dog (who it turns out was camera shy.) Uncle Johnny would have been aghast, but caregiving is a part of life.  

Is this a glimpse of the evolving workplace of the future, more blending of home and work?  Being more family and caregiver friendly?  I like it. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

My Music Monday - The lion sleeps tonight

Well the photo above is not a jungle, but a lion would find it safe here.  I love the music on this,  

Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Sunday Five - Days When We Are Stumped


I am stumped, I can't think of a theme for this week's Sunday Five.  I am searching for inspiration, hoping for insight from the muses. Hmm, there is the theme, what do you do when you need inspiration. 

  1. Do you write down ideas when you think of them? 
  2. What music, TV, books, on online source, inspires you? 
  3. Is there a book that inspires you to write? 
  4. Do you write it, and then have second thoughts and not post?
  5. When do you do your best writing? 

My Answers: 

  1. Do you write down ideas when you think of them? Not often enough, 
  2. What music, TV, books, on online source, inspires you? Music sometimes does it for me. 
  3. Is there a book that inspires you to write? I have a couple of books of ideas, that I sometimes turn to such as, "Do One Thing Every Day That Makes You Happy". 
  4. Do you write it, and then have second thoughts and not post? Once in a while, once this year, I posted something, thought better of it and took it down. 
  5. When do you do your best writing? Usually Saturday or Sunday morning.  
Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, November 21, 2020


 I have never owned a boat, but I have dreamed about it.  I love being out on the water.  I have found memories growing up of time on Uncle Dick's boat, very distant memories of Great-Uncle LeRoy's cabin cruiser (sold when I was probably 7 or 8.) 

During my prosperous years in Florida, years when it would have been easy to own a boat, and with lots of water around, my then spouse couldn't swim and objected to the idea of a boat.  In Kentucky there was a lack of navigable water around, really only the Kentucky River and the sections of that near us, had dams and locks that were no longer functional, restricting you to a relatively short and narrow section of river.  

My daily walks along the Potomac bring back dreams of a boat.  Either a very small one, or a very large one.  The river is broad, but only deep in the middle, a very small boat opens the possibility of exploring the shallows.  Oh, and it has to be a power boat.  I want it to go where I point it to go when I point it that way.  Sailing looks like the most frustrating thing for me, having to go one way to tack back to get where you wanted to go.  

For you, would it be a power boat or a sailboat, or no boat at all?