Sunday, December 31, 2023

Auld Lang Syne (from the Global Burns Night 2023)

The Years Just Fly By! 

Sunday Five: End of the Year, Beginning of the Year 5

1: What was the farthest away from home you traveled in 2023? 

2: How many time zones were you in in 2023? 

3: What are your plans for New Years? 

4: How far from home will you travel in 2024? 

5: Will you travel more in 2024 or less, than 2023? 

My answers: 

1: What was the farthest away from home you traveled in 2023? Geyser in Iceland.

2: How many time zones were you in in 2023? 8

3: What are your plans for New Years? Stay home nice and quiet

4: How far from home will you travel in 2024? Barcelona about 4,000 miles.  

5: Will you travel more in 2024 or less, than 2023? More

Please share your answers in the comments.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

The Saturday Morning Post: Reflections on the year past and the year ahead 6

I have to say, I have struggled a bit with finding a topic for this last Saturday of 2023.  I have written a couple of drafts that are in the draft folder, to be edited, or deleted later.  

2023 was in many ways a good year, but not without challenges.  

The first week after New Year, a new person joined the team at the office.  We work on a national perspective, and few people do, so generally there is a period of adjustment for newbies.  Beth bridged that gap in record time, and within a very short time was providing technical assistance from a national perspective.  

In late January I spoke at a conference in Tucson Arizona, adding on a few days in Phoenix, lunch with Doc Spo, and a wander in the gardens with Sharon from Phoenix Daily Photo, and a bucket list item for me a day at the Barrett Jackson Collector Car Auction.   

In February we ventured to Cleveland for Jay's family picnic.  It was great to see so many wonderful family members. 

In late April we splurged on seats in first class and spent a week in Iceland.  The weather altered our plans, leaving us with sights left to return and see, but also opened opportunities for experiences like the Blue Lagoon (when will it re-open or did we catch it in the last year?) 

Work dominated my time, and my plans for retiring was a shadow over that work. A lot of work went into transition planning. I have redone the office budget so many times, so many ways.  I will not miss office budgets.   

Fall brought a busy travel and conference schedule. I did a driving trip to Pennsylvania, including meeting Maddie for dinner.  Then Omaha to co-teach with Beth - she was the counterbalance to my clowning around and storytelling.  Then Chicago, and a side trip to see my sister, nephew and his wife.  It was a lot of travel in three short weeks.  In many ways a nice way to wrap up work travel. 

Presentations and training have been my favorite part of this job, and I kept doing those down to mid-December.  And now I am coasting in neutral, taking time off waiting for the last day of work. 

What will 2024 hold for me?  

I have four trips on the books, starting with meeting bloggers in NYC for lunch, and ending with a grand circle tour of the great lakes in September.  There are a couple of bucket list items in the travel plans.  

I will need to adjust to not having work dominate my life and my time. I have an irrational fear of waking up on a Monday morning in January and saying "what the hell do I do now?"  There is some writing I will do (I started to say, want to do, but if I am going to get it done, I need to say, I will do it.) There are always books that need to be read. 

By mid January Foodie Fridays will come back.  I love to cook, and with more flexible time, I should be able to come up with a post a week of "Cooking with Travel", or eating out.  I have a concept for a book about how to relax and enjoy cooking, that I can try out in my Foodie Friday posts.  

Some people fail miserably at working.  I have done okay.  In many ways I ended up with the job I dreamed of decades ago. A nice office, in a real city, a transit commute, someone paying me to do work I found rewarding.  Some people succeed at retirement, some fail miserably at retirement.  This time next year, let's see how I have done.   

Friday, December 29, 2023

Fabulous Friday: Reading List for 2023 7

  1. A Rosie Life in Italy 4, Rosie Maleady (easy read - not memorable)
  2. Toujours La France, Jannie Narsh (easy read - not memorable)
  3. the Long Way Home, Timothy A. Herwig (written by a friend, a journey of self discovery and recovery.)
  4. A Vineyard in Tuscany, Fernc Mate (fun and funny)
  5. Representing People with Dementia, Elizabeth Kelley (Professional read, lots of important information.) 
  6. 101 Tough Conversations to Have With Employees, Paul Falcone - very HR focused 
  7. Ford County Stories, John Grisham - he could write about paint drying and make it worth reading.
  8. Kept: An American House Husband in Paris, Gregory Buford - fun and funny 
  9. Out of the Maze, Spencer Johnson - a follow up to Who Moved My Cheese. 
  10. The Culture Question, Randy Grieser et al - I am done reading about work for a while
  11. As Fast As You Can: How I biked across the US, Matt Kovacic - he is nuts
  12. Saving Time, Jenny Odell - terrible book - mostly a political rant
  13. Reading to Reading: A bicycle journey around the world, Tim Millikin
  14. The Best Strangers in the World, Ari Shapiro
  15. How Y'all Doing, Leslie Jordan 
  16. Epistemology: A beginners Guide, Robert Martin
  17. Sorry I am Late, I didn't want to come, Jessica Pan
  18. I shouldn't Even Be Doing This, Bob Newhart
  19. At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream, Wade Rouse, 
  20. After Elias, Eddy Boudal Tan
  21. The Secret Life of Groceries, Benjamin Lorr
  22. Life, Death, and Whisky, Ralfy Mitchell 
  23. Twelve Hours to Del Mar, Inkjockey (A friend wrote a chapter in this book.) 
  24. Spiced, America's Test Kitchen 
  25. The Book of Charlie, David Von Drehie
  26. Lips on Unfamiliar Skin, Inkjocky (anthology for short fiction) 
  27. Thinking 101, Woo-kyoung Abn
  28. Never Give Up, Tom Brokaw
  29. 40 Frenchie Foodie Stories, Paris Connolly
  30. 30-Second Philosophies, Barry Loewer et al
  31. Is Life to Long, By Shahar Madjar
  32. Essays After Eighty, by Donald Hall - may be the book of the year. 
  33. Pageboy, Elliot Page
  34. Diddly Squat, Jeremy Clarkson
  35. Baking Yesteryear, B. Dylan Hollis (great book.) 
  36. The Measure of Our Age, M.T. Connolly (work focussed) 
  37. American Ramble, Neil King
  38. Diddly Squat - Till the Cows Come Home, Jeremy Clarkson
  39. Founding Gardeners, Andrea Wulk (excellent history, detailed research
  40. Steeple Chasing, Peter Ross 
  41. On Belonging, Kim Samuel (TGIF = thank god it is finished) 
  42. The Mechanic, Marc Elvis Priestley
  43. University of Nowhere, C.M. Hanna 
  44. A Salty Piece of Land, Jimmy Buffett
  45. By The Seat of My Pants, Dean Smith
  46. Build the Life you Want, arthur Brooks and Oprah Winfrey
  47. Live Long and . . . , William Shatner and David Fisher
  48. The Creative Act, Rick Rubin (Inspirational, after reading it on Kindle, I bought a print copy to be able to look at again.) 
  49. Sheep Theory, Greg Frisbee
  50. Once to Every Pilot, Frank Hawks
  51.  A Month in the Country, J.L. Carr
  52. The Constant Traveller, Mary-Jane Houlton
  53. Food Americana, David Page
  54. Travels with Charlie, John Steinbeck (A journey around the United States by a master of writing.) 
  55. Round Here and Over Yonder, Trae Crowder and Corey Forrester
  56. The Woman in Me, Britney Spears (Surprisingly coherent.) 
  57. Wilderness Essays, John Muir (TGIF) 
  58. For the People, For the Country, John Ragosta
  59. Scoring the Keeper, Hayden Hall (The nerd scores the jock.) 
  60. Diddly Squat: Pigs Might Fly, Jeremy Clarkson (a collection of his newspaper columns.) 
  61. The Color of Law, Richard Rothstein (Racism in America - shocking at how late in our history the law empowered discrimination.) 
  62. Landscape Photography on Location, Thomas Heaton
  63. The Good Enough Job, Simone Stolzoff
  64. Abroad in Japan, Chris Broad
  65. You Are and Author: So Write Your Book Already, Matt Rudnitsky
  66. The Shipping News, E. Annie Proulx
  67. Stupid Things I Won't Do When I get Old, Steven Petrow

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Thursday Ramble: The Year In Review : Goals 2023 and 2024 8

We seldom leave home on an adventure and not know where we are going. Yet many of us start the year, without knowing where we are going.  New Year's resolutions are doomed, because all too often they are unrealistic, yes I would like to lose 100 pounds, but realistically unless I get really sick, that is very unlikely to happen.  I can dream all I want about winning the lottery, but odds are I am more likely to be killed by a cow than I am to win the Powerball lottery.  

So I set goals.  Realistic goals, lists of things I believe I will accomplish in the next year, things that for the most part are well within my ability to do. And I check in to see how I am doing. And at the end of the year I look back over the year to see how I have done.  It is my road map for the adventure.  

I set the following goals for 2023, how did I do. 

Goals for 2023: 
  • Read 50 books, this is becoming a standard for me. 67 Passed this one by a surprising margin. 
  • 30 hotel nights. 40 nights. (I have a hotel log going back over 20 years.) 
  • At least 6 time zones, maybe 12. Mountain time to Iceland, 8 time zones. I didn't make it to Hawaii - something we were trying to work out a year ago. 
  • Walk 45 minutes at least 3 times a week. Far surpassed this one, 60 minutes 5 times a week. 
  • Blog Daily - it is a habit - an addiction. I haven't missed a day.
  • Tell my sweet bear I love him, at least twice a day. Mission accomplished. 
  • Meet at least two bloggers in person (I had this planned.) Three, Sharon, Spo, and Maddie.  
  • Clean my closet out.  Total failure.  Still on the list to do when I run out of excuses. 
  • Spend a couple of hours a week taking photographs. Yes, lots of great photos this year. 
  • Finalize retirement plans. January 5th, is just around the corner, and the pension checks have already started. 
So what are my goals for 2024? 
  • Read 50 books. 
  • Visit my local library.
  • Meet 3 or more bloggers in person. 
  • Hotel nights?  I am expecting 40-50 based on what is already planned. One really long trip - it adds up in a hurry. 
  • Blog Daily - yes - though there will be a pause on comments for a few days.
  • A week or more of digital disconnect - I have a trip planned that will be internet free for at least 7 days. We will see how that goes. 
  • 45 minutes or more of movement, 5 or more days per week. 
  • Check one or more items off of the bucket list. 
  • Go to two or more condo events monthly (when I am home.) 
  • Go out to lunch at least once a week. 
  • Experience one new art. 
2024 will be a year of changes, I have three trips booked, two more in the planning stages. It will be a terrifying year, of joy.  A year from now we will see how I have done. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

My World of Wonders, aka the Wednesday Ws last one for 2023 9

Where have I been?  The grocery store - a couple of times, the farmers market, the gym, out for a drive, home. Home a lot. 

Where have I not been?  The office, I will go in soon to clear things out. 

Who have I talked to?  My Sweet Bear, Spo, my Sister, Jay's brother Ed, 

What surprised me?  A text message from someone who worked for AARP years ago, reaching out to say Hi!  She retired and moved to Palm Springs a couple of years ago.  

What have I failed at? Cooking a "country ham" it ended up dry and salty, and generally not very good. Maybe I can rescue some of it in a soup. 

When will I get around to planning travel? Soon, I keep telling myself soon.  

What was my greatest revelation this week?  As I coast toward retirement, I am thinking about what I do next, all of the big and little projects that the future might hold.  And it hit me, palm to forehead, maybe what I really need to do, is take a couple of months off before I think about what's next. Oh, and I am going to need to find new ways of keeping track of what day it is.  

What did I fix for Christmas dinner?  Roast Beef Tenderloin, roast potatoes and parsnips, brussel sprouts, Yorkshires (that fell flat), and beef - onion - mushroom gravy.  

Who deserves a slap? The office is intruding into my time off. If they keep that up I am going to quit or something.  

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Monday, December 25, 2023

Merry Christmas Monday 11

 Merry Christmas 
to All Of You!

May the end of the year holidays bring happiness, joy, and peace to you, yours, and the world. 
Thank you all for following along on my adventures. 

Love to All of You! 
DG, Sweet Bear, and Travel 

Sunday, December 24, 2023

'Twas the night before Christmas...

Merry Christmas to All

Sunday Five: End of the Year Contemplations 12

 A dear friend and former blogger, posted this on FB as a solstice posting. 

1: What was unknown to you a year ago? 

2: What is the most important lesson you have learned in the past year? 

3: What would like to accomplish in the next year? 

4: What do you need to learn to be more confident? 

5: Where do you go to find time for reflection? 

My Answers 

1: What was unknown to you a year ago? That there was a health insurance benefit with an old pension plan. 

2: What is the most important lesson you have learned in the past year? To let the next generation lead boldly. 

3: What would like to accomplish in the next year?  A successful transition to retirement. 

4: What do you need to learn to be more confident? How to be more involved in my community. 

5: Where do you go to find time for reflection? Long walks alone with no music or interruptions. 

Please share your answers in the comments, don't over think it, write the first thing that comes to mind. 

Saturday, December 23, 2023

The Saturday Morning Post: Rest Ye Merry Gentlepersons 13

Maybe Santa has heard one to many Christmas carols, "all he wants for Christmas" is a nice rest. The season can be fatiguing.  Many of us feel obligations, and strains at this time of the year, when what we really want is a quiet day and some rest.  

About 20 years ago, I had enough of family pressures, cracked one year, and booked a week in Paris over Christmas.  It was gave us a reason to not feel obligated to be here or there.  We spent the time we wanted the way we wanted. I was a little concerned that my parents would be upset, instead they bragged to their friends that I was in Paris for Christmas.  We had Christmas dinner on the Eiffel Tower.  

Since then, we have done a better job of being where we want to be, with those we want to be with.  Still I find myself fatigued by all of it.  I did wait until well into December before switching my background music to Christmas music, and banned Mariah Carey from my feed. I am hoping that my enthusiasm for the holidays will grow in retirement.  

My wish for you, is that you spend the holiday season doing what you want to do.  Find time to rest and be good to yourself.  "Rest Ye Merry Gentlepersons." 


Friday, December 22, 2023

Fabulous Friday: Location, location, location. 14


This is likely at top 10 photo for the year. 

We go the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts 6 or 7 times a year to hear the National Symphony Orchestra.  We usually have seats on the second tier, front row, as near to the stage as we can get.  One time we had a box overlooking the stage, it was fun- the acoustics were not the best.  

A few weeks ago, there was an email with a discount on unsold seats for a performance we didn't have tickets for.  J looked and the front row, center seats were available, and at a price just slightly more than we usually pay for two floors up and on the side.  Why not? 

The first half featured a piano, we were literally sitting under the piano. The second half the piano was moved out and the strings were moved up to the edge of the stage. We could only see the first couple of rows, I had no view of Oboe Boy.   

Location, location, location, it does make a difference. We could hear what parts of the music was being played on each violin, or cello.  We could see sweat dripping from the guest conductor, and see his eye contact with key musicians at critical points. 

It was amazing.  I could hear why people pay a premium for a lesser view.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

The Thursday Ramble: Camels and other thoughts 15

In colonial times, George Washington paid to have a camel as a holiday novelty at Mt. Vernon, the tradition continues.  The Camels' name is Aladdin.  The guy who runs the camel rental service, is the son-in-law of the real estate broker who helped me find the Condo 14 years ago. The Camel wrangler is also a talented carpenter, he replaced all of the interior doors in the condo shortly after I moved in.  

Today is my last scheduled regular day of work, remote work at that.  Tomorrow Change of plans, today I start holiday break, and using up paid administrative leave, also known as paid sick leave. Looking at my plan I realized I had more time to use up, or leave behind. I am planning to work a few hours next week, about 4 hours, and about 3 hours the following week, then my last day, January 5th, has to be a work day, I will go in, do my exit briefings, turn in my keys and laptop, delete my office account off of my phone 😃, take my team out to lunch, and come home.  So starts the next chapter of my life, but really it starts tomorrow with a day off. 

Too late to change my mind now.  

A beloved blogger mentioned in a post one day, that he didn't want to practice his profession today, or maybe anymore.  I emailed him.  I can identify.  I have felt that feeling.  Usually it is when there is a lot of weight of the job, or when I am feeling unqualified, or when things are just going wrong no matter what I do.  Usually something will happen, I make a difference in someone's life, the problem goes quietly away, and I regain the love of the job.  The more frequently that feeling arisess, the more I know I need to make a change.  I have worked with too many people over the years that quit working, and kept showing up on the job, kept drawing the salary.  

It was a feeling I had when my mid-life crisis hit.  I was in my early 30's, in a miserable relationship, trying to do a job, in a place that I didn't understand, at a time that was difficult.  I dreaded going in each morning, and one day I just called the boss and said, "I need some serious time off, like three or four months, considered it leaving, or a leave of absence but I need a change." I walked away from what up until then had been the best job I had ever had. I signed up for four classes that semester, ended the failed relationship, met the love of my life, and started the happiest half of my life. It was time for change, and I knew it.  

I am not at that point now.  But it is time, before I get there.  

SMILE, it is someone's else's show next year.  

The cover of the card I will leave behind for my successor.  

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

My World of Wonders, aka The Wednesday W's December 20 2023 16

Where have I been?  The office four days in the past week, usually only twice a week.  The farmers market.  A few long walks, including a couple of walks across the City.  A little shopping.  The gym. 

Who have I met?  It was a busy week, the office year end party was last Thursday, my last one, the team in the office. Lots and Lots of people. 

What bloggers have I reached out to? Spo, John, Maddie, and Mitchel. 

What milestones this past week?  My being here in DC was made possible by funding for a national support program for civil legal aid for adults age 60 and older.  An important part of that was training.  I did the last webinar in that series I will do as a funded member of the project.  It was closing the circle.  I submitted my last directors column for our Journal.  In many ways today is my last regular work day, I have a couple of partial days scheduled, my last full day, is my last day and will end after lunch. 

What am I thankful for this week?  Crossing the one-million page views mark on this blog.  

What am I planning? Christmas dinner, a relaxing few days. 

When will my shopping be finished?  Last week. 

What is the image above?  The Woodrow Wilson Bridge across the Potomac River at Alexandria, from Jones Point Park, in the fog. Sometime in the past couple of weeks I was home, looked out and saw that great fog and went out for an hour's walk.  We call it the troll park, because tolls live under the bridges. We were married at the lighthouse in the park. 

Who have a heard from? My middle brother called, the package I sent for Christmas arrived, though it was delivered to a neighbor who was nice enough to call and let him know they had it.  I hadn't heard from him in a while.  

Who deserves a big THANK YOU? All of the delivery people working the holidays, lots of long hours, and complicated addresses, for never enough money. 

What am I reading? "Abroad in Japan" by Chris Broad, an English YouTuber living in Japan.  If you watch his videos, and read the book you can hear his voice in the text.  He has been doing a series about travel in northern Japan, makes me want to go.  

What do I need to do in the next week? Retrieve personal belongings from the office. I have an extra computer there, and books, and a sculpture, and a few momentos.  Should I leave the dice from the Flamingo Cassino behind? 

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Travel Tuesday: last December 17

Last December we were in Spain for 12 days, we will be back for a few days next Spring.