Saturday, December 31, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post: New Year's Eve - Year in Review

 2022 is nearly over, so what have I done? 

I traveled more than I thought I would.  The trip to Iceland in May, was a bit of a wild-hair idea of mine, and it was absolutely amazing. Our independent style fit it well, and also fit the emerging changes in public health. I will admit I was relieved when we cleared the COVID tests to return to the USA. A requirement that went away a month or so later.   

Seeing Mitchell in New York was fun, and then again in Spain in December.  I decided back in June that I wanted to do a major trip in the fall, actually what I said when we came home from Iceland was I want do something like this every six months until I retire, I need to do so to maintain my tenuous grip on sanity. Spain was amazing, and will feed my blog for weeks. I am already thinking of an adventure in late spring - I need to clear up a couple of things on my calendar and get something booked.  

The trip to Michigan in July was unscheduled, when my sister messaged me that Pete was going downhill fast, I knew I needed to do that trip. I am so glad I did, he needed someone to talk with, I had a chance to spend time with him and my sister while he was still having good hours. 

The fall conference season signalled a return to in-person, the road trip in September was planned, then I added on Boston and Montreal.  For a travel blog, I actually had some travel to talk about. 

My first year as director at work, was a challenge.  The administrative side takes more time and energy than I expected. There were a few times when I questioned if it was worth it.  My first time doing staff evaluations, brought drama that was unexpected.  I have a style of relying on people to know their job and to do their job.  This I have learned is a mistake.  My trust has been betrayed.  But I don't want to lose faith in people. It is nice being back in the office a couple of days a week most weeks. I have enjoyed returning to my commute. I have enjoyed the soapbox.  How much longer?  

At home we did succeed in the last major remodeling project, getting the kitchen done, and in a surprise at the end of the year, bought the garage parking space we had been leasing for years. Our nest is feathered, and as I told the person handling the garage space transfer, this is terminal, we expect to die living here. It will take a few months to rebuild the excess in my bank account - but hoping to be able to buy a parking space was one of the reasons my account had a silly cash balance in it. 

All in all, 2022 was a good year. Despite the stock market, we have done okay financially.  Our health has been good.  J had an event a year ago, and underwent a ton of tests this year, that all came back to say, there is nothing new, just take care of the things he knows he needs to take care of.  My health remained static for the year.  I need to walk more and be more careful with what I eat.  Those are within my control.  We are settled and happy.  Congress even decided to protect our marriage.  

This evening we will settle in with a nibbles and a bottle of bubbly, and wonder why Anderson Cooper doesn't push Andy Cohen off the stage.  My family tradition, have money in your hand as the New Year begins for prosperity in the coming year.  

Wishing You and Yours A Very Happy and Healthy New Year! 

Friday, December 30, 2022

Fabulous Friday - Reading List 2022

Each year I keep a running list of the books I have read. Part of it is keeping score, I set a goal of how many books I will read (about one a week.) I am a little behind my goal for the year.  I have an excuse, we were gone for a couple of weeks in December, a time that yielded little reading time.  And I dove into a biography that proved slow to read, to the point that I almost gave up, but every few chapters I find pages filled with wisdom and history. I am always surprised by some of the books I have read.  And wonder about those I have missed.  I have a friend in Oklahoma who has a 5,000 sq. ft. barn converted to a library.  My Kindle will be 10 years old just after the first of the year, I am wearing away the case where my fingers turn the pages.  I love it, it is a part of me, it show the love and use that it has endured.  
  1. Four Thousand Weeks, Oliver Burkeman
  2. Silverview, John le Carre
  3. Patient or Pawn, Jo Kline (did a book review.) 
  4. Casket Chronicles, T.A. Walters (strangely funny)
  5. Trauma Informed Law, Marjorie Florestal
  6. Niksen, Embracing the Dutch Art of Doing Nothing, Olga Mecking
  7. The Poop Diaries, Abby Ross
  8. A Little Book About Trauma Informed Workplaces, Nathan Gerbrandt et al
  9. Every Tool's A Hammer, Adam Savage
  10. Private Collections, Janet Wurtzburger 
  11. The Smithsonian Castle and the Seneca Quarry, Garrett Peck 
  12. Lives Bound Together, Susan Schoelwer (slavery at Mt Vernon) 
  13. Search for a Whisky Bothy, Ralphy (good, he has a YouTube channel) 
  14. Rome and Rhetoric, Garry Wells 
  15. Stop Overthinking, Nick Trenton 
  16. Take Your Selfie Seriously, Sorelle Armore (don't bother reading)
  17. The Fran Lebowitz Reader, Fran Lebowitz
  18.  Black, White and the Grey, Mashima Bailey and John Morisano
  19. And Excellent Vintage, Craig Briggs
  20. You are Nothing, Hugleikur Dagsson
  21. Playing with Myself, Randy Rainbow
  22. Whisky, Aeneas MacDonald and Ian Buxton
  23. Plenty, Hannah Howard 
  24. The History of Photography in 50 Cameras, Michael Pritchard 
  25. Rebellious Aging, Margaret Nash
  26. The Eight Paradoxes of Great Leadership, Tim Elmore
  27. Happy-Go-Lucky, David Sedaris (He could write fast food menus and I would buy them and read them) 
  28. Spain, the Essential Guide of Customs and Culture, Marian Meaney
  29. the Musician says, Benedetta LoBalbo 
  30. How Minds Change, David McRaney (worth the read) 
  31. 75+ Team Building Activities, Christopher Littlefield 
  32. A Perfect Score, Craig and Kathryn Hall
  33. 12 Steps to Changing Yourself and the World an Abolitionists Handbook, Patrisse Cullors (Good book, I gave away my copy to someone who will really get a lot out of it.) 
  34. Life is Short and So is this Book, Peter Atkins
  35. Walk by My Side; A solo Journey to Santiago, John Camando
  36. 50 States 500 Great Drives
  37. Going Gently, David Nobbs
  38. Leading the Unleadable, Alan Willett (work related) 
  39. The book of Delights, Ross Gay
  40. Can You Make This Thing Go Any Faster, Jeremy Clarkson
  41. Greenlights, Matthew McConaughey (slightly crazy) 
  42. Talking to Crazy, Mark Goulston (work related) 
  43. Better with Age, Alan Castel
  44. The World According to Kalen, Kalen Cooper (fun but not really worth it.) 
  45. The Art of Quiet Influence, Jocelyn Davis
  46. The Headland, Neil Theasby (Yorkshire Pudding) (Really worth reading.) 
  47. Surrender, Bono (this one was great in points, and endless in others.) 
  48. This Chair Rocks, Ashton Applewhite 

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Thursday Ramble - Goals

Travel and I visiting the Ale-Hop cow in Malaga, thanks to Mitchell for the photo.  

It is time for my annual review of goals.  A year ago I set the following:  

Goals for 2022
  • Read 50 books - it looks like 48 finished this year, the list posts tomorrow.  
  • Blog daily - accomplished 
  • Try to remodel / replace the kitchen - accomplished 
  • Reach out to at least 2 friends per month - accomplished 
  • Ten Hotel Nights, - smashed it with 34 nights 
  • Get back to walking 45 minutes or more, 5 or more times per week.  - Failed, more like 2 days per week. I can make excuses, but excuses are like assholes, we all have one and most of them smell. 
  • Tell my sweet bear I love him, at least twice a day - accomplished 
  • Pause at least once per day, to think about what is making me happy today  - probably 75% accomplished - a few tough days this year when I failed to follow my own advice. 
There were a couple of these I didn't think I would make, we struggled with the kitchen to find a contractor and get appliances but in the end we made it.  I doubted the travel goal, then we just started going - work travel and personal travel.  I have travel plans and dreams for 2023 if public health holds.  

Goals for 2023: 
  • Read 50 books, this is becoming a standard for me. 
  • 30 hotel nights. 
  • At least 6 time zones, maybe 12. 
  • Walk 45 minutes at least 3 times a week. 
  • Blog Daily - it is a habit - an addiction. 
  • Tell my sweet bear I love him, at least twice a day. 
  • Meet at least two bloggers in person (I have this planned, unless something changes our plans.)
  • Clean my closet out.
  • Spend a couple of hours a week taking photographs. 
  • Finalize retirement plans. 
We will see this time next year how I do.  

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

The W's of Wednesday - the last of 2022

Where have I been? I have been home for a week, and don't return to the office until next Tuesday.  I have worked a bit, but also taken some down time.  Relaxing, thinking, dreaming, sleeping, and a little shopping.  

What have I been up to? Taking stock of the year, thinking about life, avoiding an identity crisis, wondering that the next adventures will be. 

What have I been eating/cooking? Beef, I bought a whole beef tenderloin for Christmas dinner.  I cut it into a nice roast, some steaks and some stew meat.  

Who have I been talking to? Doc Spo, my middle brother, my sister, and my sweet bear.  

What have I been dreaming about?  Italy - itching for an adventure, California - much more to explore, driving slowly across the country - there is just a lot of out there out there, Arizona - on tap for January. 

What else is planned?  I have a convention in New Orleans in early February, reservations have been made.  There will be a bit of work, and a bit of free time. But no real plans beyond work.  I am going solo.  

How is the computer?  Big Mac is doing just fine.  He found the external hard drive and resumed time capsule back ups.  One unintended victim, is a 10 year old large format photo printer, I lost the print driver, and Canon no longer supports this model.  I use it so little, I can hardly justify the cost of another one.  

What has the weather been like? COLD! Lows of about 10 degrees a couple of nights, days when I really don't leave the house.  It should warm up nicely by the weekend. 

What am I waiting to arrive?  I used Shutterfly to do a book on the trip to Spain, it should be here around New Years.  The cost has gone up, the quality is okay, not super great, but they are easy to use.  I have used them for a decade.  

What have I read?  A book on Polaroid.  In college I took an art class using Polaroid cameras - The Art of The Instant Image.  I still have one, I should use it.  Film packs are available, if rather expensive.  There is a new battery for the camera bouncing around my desktop, it rolled out when I took Big Mac to the Apple hospital.  

Who deserve an atta-boy?  The geniuses at the Apple Store.  They knew the magic buttons to push, they had all of the needed cables, I was in and out in a little over an hour.  They were honest about what the issue was.  And No Charge.  I hope Big Mac lasts a few more years, they don't make this size anymore.  I like em big. 

Where am I headed?  The grocery store, probably Trader Joe's. 

What are we planning?  An eve of New Years Eve, neighborhood LGBTQ drop in for nibbles and dinks party.  Jay has taken on organizing happy hours for LGBTQ residents in our Condo community, this is our first time opening our doors.  

What other good news?  The kitchen contractor replaced the missing and damaged cabinet doors and made a few adjustments.  One door took 3 months to come in.  I was getting close to making myself very difficult.  I am a trained complainer. I know where their showroom is, and what the busiest day is for them.  They have asked the counter top supplier to come look into a finish issue.  

What are my plans for the coming year? My goals will post soon, my reading list for 2022, I will start the 2023 reading list.  I may morph Mondays into something new. Music and YouTube, but what else? Beyond that I will keep the same themes, Travel Tuesday, Ws, Thursday Rambles, Fun/fabulous/foodie Fridays, Saturday Morning Post, Sunday Five. The Sunday Five has become one of my most popular posts.  I will keep coming up with questions to learn more about you, while revealing little bits of me. 

Wishing you a restful week! 


Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Travel Tuesday: 41 Photos from Madrid

There are so many great photos from Spain, perhaps I will break them into groups and post on Tuesdays for the next month or so.  These were all taken during our two days in Madrid.  


Monday, December 26, 2022

YouTube Monday: Sheep singing Jingle Bells

There are two competing flocks in our house, Penguins and Sheep.  Fortunately both get along well with the other.  Next to my chair are 6 very large sheep and one very tall penguin (Stan.) The love of sheep is a direct result of travel, we spent a week in Yorkshire one summer with a sheep meadow in the back yard, and we met a flock in person at the Wenslydale Creamery.  Such warm fuzzy friends.  Enjoy the video!

Sunday, December 25, 2022

The Sunday Five: Merry Christmas

 Merry Christmas 2022!
1: Are you happy? 
2: Have you told someone you love them today? 
3: Are you thankful for what you have? 
4: Are you taking time for yourself today?
5: Now Go Relax and Enjoy the Holiday! 

My Answers: 

1: Are you happy?  YES
2: Have you told someone you love them today? Yes, everyday! 
3: Are you thankful for what you have? Yes
4: Are you taking time for yourself today? Yes
5: Now Go Relax and Enjoy the Holiday! Time for a nap. 

Please share your answers in the comments, or just say Hi, and then go enjoy! 

Saturday, December 24, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post: Christmas Weekend Edition

The Mac crisis has been survived.  My photo archive lost it's filing structure, everything, nearly 70,000 photos are now back in  chronological order, in folders by year and month. That will change how I search for old photos.  But thanks to cloud back-ups everything appears to be intact.  Just organized differently.  And the once overflowing hard drive now is 95% empty.  Big-Mac has still not found my external hard drive.  Oh and blogger has lost spell-check. I didn't realize how dependent I am on my home computer, until it wasn't working for a few days.  

We are as ready for Christmas as we are going to be.  No pressure, no expectations, just relax and have fun.  My office has two four day weekends back to back. 

Having just returned from a major adventure, it will be a low key holiday.  The two of us, some favorite foods, some relaxation.  

I knew I would return to a bit of intense work, and I was thrown a few curve balls, a report I thought I was done with that I was asked to add several pages to, a couple of things that others should have handled that I had to do, and a contract that I relied on others to send the proper instructions for, that was messed up and had to be returned for changes because the instructions that were sent were wrong. I need to find the strength to survive another year of this silliness.  

So enough of David-downer.  

Merry Christmas to you and yours.  There are competing holidays at this time of the year, the thing they call have in common is Hope, Love, Sharing, Being Good to Ourselves and Others.  Acknowledging that we lucky and should share the Joy. Be good to one another, but most important be good to yourself.  I most often close emails with Take Care, and I mean it, take care of yourself.  If you don't,  no one will, and if you don't you won't be here for us to LOVE.  

I look forward to decades more of knowing all of you, of sharing our lives in the real and virtual worlds.  


Friday, December 23, 2022

Fabulous Friday: Pompidou Center Malaga

We visited several museums on the trip to Spain.  Some more famous than other, all filled with wonders.  The one that hands down stands out as my fabulous favorite is the Pompidou Center in Malaga.  It is all modern or contemporary art.  There were two large exhibits, one on the passage of time that I will feature over time, the other was a collection from the permanent collection that included the play with shadow and light that is above.  The most amazing part of this, is it is entirely created by small nails driven into plywood, then the light shining across it casts the spell on the viewer.  In a way it is the humblest of materials, wood, solid color paint, and finishing nails - and yet I found the effect to be fascinating. I would take this in a heartbeat over the dark and moody Goya's in the Prado.   


Thursday, December 22, 2022

Thursday Ramble: Changes

I have lost track of how many trips I have made across the pond, at least a dozen, I really didn't keep track.  I should have.  I have a hotel journal starting in 2005, I should have started a travel journal back in about 1990, the first time I set out on a great adventure as an adult.  

I am changed by the experiences.  Sometimes is big ways, sometimes in small way, travel opens massive doors to the world and to understanding myself. 

When I travel, I get to the basics of what is important to me.  Why do I have two closets overflowing with clothes when I can live happily out of one 28 inch roller bag for two weeks?  What I pack, is what I find comfortable.  If I don't feel comfortable wearing things - it is time to clean out my closet.  I take a basic computer with me when I travel, small, light weight, inexpensive.  I rely on it for my connection to the world.  It is important. The first few days we were trying to eat on a "normal schedule" then we settled into eating when we were hungry.  The shift in time zones, results in a shift in sleep patterns.  I was surprised this time that I settled into a 9 or 10 hour sleep cycle, not the 8 to 9 I think of as normal.  Maybe I need to accommodate more sleep at home.  

The more I travel, and the fuller the condo gets, the less stuff I buy.  You can go into any tourist town, and buy the same made in a distant factory stuff, all that changes is in the name and maybe the shape, tourist junk.  I find that I try to buy a small ceramic bowl, from a local artist, something that contains the earth, the colors, and the talents of the place.  

In traveling I find that other places have some of the same problems as home. And I find that other places don't have many of the same problems as home. Much of the world has much better passenger train service than my home.  In some places they put up signs warning pedestrians to watch out for the dog-shit on the walkways, in other places the pride of place is so high - public places are so clean.  This changes my thinking in many ways, we can do better, many-but-not-all do.  

Travel changes us as people.  It changes who we are, how we think.  Our traveling changes the places we visit.  It changes how we are understood. Travel opens big doors, for people, to change in little ways and big ways.  

Oh I have started to ramble and get circular.  Time to call it quits for this week.  

The highlight of this week? We bought a parking space in the garage at the condo. Don't ask how much.