30 December 2013


I've been spending a lot of time in Annapolis lately. I live between DC, Baltimore and Annapolis. I like the eastern part of the triangle best. I don't actually know that it's a triangle. When I go to DC I take the Metro, unless it's to the outskirts, like the National Arboritum or Union Market. I don't know my way around Baltimore very well, but I'm comfortable driving there with my GPS app. Annapolis, I know. Well, I know what I know which I thought was a lot, but I'm constantly discovering more and more and liking it even better. It's been especially beautiful decorated for Christmas. Today I walked over the Spa Creek bridge. The reflections in the creek immediately caught my eye.

I've caught some pretty good reflections in my own neighborhood.

Still, I like the ones around bodies of water the best.


Besides walking around, I've done some fun things. My brother had some people over to his house on Thursday night and it was really great to be there. I brought bourbon meatballs and an apple almond cheesecake. I went to see a parade in Annapolis on Friday, and was situated near the start of it, which made it short and sweet. No waiting for the different participants to catch up. It started with the Clydesdale horses. SO majestic. Then the marching bands, old fire trucks, etc. It was a pretty short parade. I went to a gathering at my friend Nancy's house afterward. I brought another cheesecake (white chocolate raspberry that thankfully Emily finished off so I didn't). Again, a great bunch of people were there. The last picture was taken from my friend's dock. I love that red and white sailboat.

I spent most of yesterday watching the first 6 episodes of Breaking Bad. OMG! I'm hooked. I can't wait to see the next episode. Previously, I had only watched the next to the last episode of the series when I visited Ken and Karen in October. I know it's headed down, down, down.

And that's what I have to say on this next-to-the-last eve of 2013.

26 December 2013

Just a note

I'm surprising myself by writing again. Actually, Betty, I wanted to show you I could. I'm having such a relaxing day today. I only walked Sparky as far as the mailbox. I watched a movie in the morning. I showered and gave myself a pedicure. I'm doing laundry, but that's an easy task when the laundry room is 15 feet from my recliner. I've been re-reading a favorite book, Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. Life is good. I'm going to a party in a few hours. I made bourbon meatballs on Tuesday and an apple almond cheesecake yesterday. I can't wait to eat them :) and have a relaxing evening with friends. 

25 December 2013

Seeing Red

Christmas past

Christmas present

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Happy holidays. My friends, my family...I love you. 

And Starbucks too!

22 December 2013

A rewarding day

I just got in from walking Sparky. How in the world can it be 61° at 9 PM in Maryland on the first day of winter? It feels like spring. I'll take this reprieve with nary a complaint. The cold weather will return.

This is a house around the corner from my cul-de-sac. I call it The Monstrocity, year round. It's very well-lit for Christmas, don't you think? It's so over-the-top that I kind of like it. Hee hee.

I had a wonderfully relaxing Sunday morning; something I don't usually get to/allow myself to experience. I got into wrapping mode around noon, while listening to Christmas music, and completed all I had to do. Unfortunately, there's no tree to put the gifts under. I'll blame it on Sparky. He gets into every single thing. Of course he also gives me a good excuse for not having to put up a tree. It's not that I'm bah-humbug. It's just that, as everyone knows, it's a hard job to do all by yourself and it becomes a job instead of a joy. I look forward to the day I'll have my Christmas house again. All decked-out. My Christmas will be very low-key (notice all the hyphen's? what's with that?) this year. I'll go to The Annapolitan to attend the Christmas Eve luncheon with my parents. I'll have my daughter with me for the first part of Christmas Day. That's our tradition; she goes to her dad's in the afternoon. I'm not concerned with the rest of the day... I always find a way to fill a day. I have some fun plans for the few days after Christmas. Looking forward to that.

I went to my gym in the late afternoon today. It was almost empty. I had a question about the treadmill, and one of the trainers was nice enough to help me.  He also had me work out on some of the equipment I should be using. He killed me! I wish it wasn't so darn expensive to have a personal trainer at this gym. I would love to have a program set up for me. I'll just have to go when it's really slow, like on a late Sunday afternoon, and ask for help like I did today. I walked a mile on these stairs. I liked it.

I swam a mile. I have to play mind games with myself while I do it. I swim 6 sets of six laps. It takes me almost an hour to do it. It's hard, but oh-so rewarding when it's over. Right at the moment I'm being reminded. I'm feeling the reward. Soon I'm going to put IcyHot on it.

16 December 2013

Happy (Monday)

It's Monday morning and I'm sitting at City Dock Coffee with my favorite beverage...caramel latte, extra shot, extra hot. It's so nice to hang out a a place other than Starbucks. I still miss my Border's. 17 years of it being my place. Anyone else miss it? I've never been a Barnes and Noble person. Maybe if it were more convenient. I'm all about convenience.

I've been sick, but carrying-on. Not much of a voice, and I have a nasty cough like I've never had before. I had a brief fever on Thursday night. I hope I'm on the waning side of this thing. I know so many people who are sick. I haven't had to miss any work, thank goodness.

I went to see A Longwood Christmas at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA on Wednesday with a friend. I bought a membership and it was my third trip there this year. I have always wanted to be there for their holiday display. If you live anywhere within driving distance, you should definitely go. It's about a 2-hour drive for me. The 4-acre Conservatory was transformed into a wonderland. Poinsettias in every color grown there. I can't even begin to describe it. So many trees were lit on the grounds. 500,000 lights! The landscape was snow-laden and the sky was crystal-clear.

4,500 apples floating in 4" of water arranged in a tapestry. 

Karen and I. The theme this year is fruit.

Saturday was our salon party at Pam's house. Our first one without Mason. He would have been so proud of Pam. We toasted with a shot of Grand Marnier in his honor. It's been 10 months since he died. He is very much alive to me.

Some of us 'girls'. Pam is second to the right. Vicky, my 'sister' who has worked at Mason's just a little longer than me is to my right. All of us are thick as thieves and family.

My new 'friend' Peter came to the party with me. He was well-recieved i.e., approved-of. He enjoyed meeting my work family. I look a little pregnant in my shirt. Not.

Peter cracked my safe for me. I lost the key a while ago. I'll be making a trip to the bank tomorrow :-)

I met 5 friends from one of the Meetup groups I belong to yesterday. The first stop was Fadò's Pub in Annapolis. I thought it was a hole-in-the-wall place. It was huge and gorgeous inside. There was an Irish Band playing when we first arrived. Then a cover band that played a lot of Led Zepplin. On a Sunday afternoon! We walked from there to Maryland Hall to see a performance of The Nutcracker. I remember not being really crazy about The Nutcracker, but wanted to see it because it's such a classic holiday thing to do. I tried my best to stay in the moment. The dancing was outstanding. So fascinating to see the ballerinas dancing en pointe. Beautiful. I wonder if they, like the Chinese women of old with their bound feet, wind up crippled later in life?

And here I am, back to today hanging out at a coffee shop. I'm in downtown Annapolis. I plan to shop/browse the stores on Main Street. I went to the mall last week and it was not any fun at all! Hard to find a parking spot. Lines in all the stores. I didn't have the patience to even buy gift cards. I bought Emily a new iPhone at BestBuy and there was one complication after another. I drove home in gridlocked traffic. I was not my usual happy self. I was happy to find I had a fever when I got home. Happy because it helped explain my gloomy outlook. Today I'll shop local.

Time to get moving. Happy Monday!

10 December 2013

Embracing what is

If today were summer, I would have spent the whole day outside. Seasons are good, Cheryl. I must remember that. This is inside season. Books and TV and reading and cooking, and coffee shops and time on the couch under a blanket. See...I'm embracing it. Last winter I welcomed the sight of bare tree limbs against a blue sky. I'm not sure what will light my fire this year.

It snowed today for the second time this week. It was beautiful. I stayed home from work because I had a light schedule. I walked Sparky a few half-miles. I'm fortunate he likes the snow.

One reason to appreciate winter. Nature.

Sparky blends right in.

Snow-covered gumballs.

I spent a good part of the day cleaning out kitchen drawers. Some have not been cleaned in a decade. It was frustrating and fulfilling. I have many more to go. My good friend Kit once asked me what my goals were. I told her to clean out my basement. Clearly she meant something deeper than that. I was being serious. I would be so happy to clean out all my closets and drawers and my basement this year.

My mood lifted today when I said enough to the cleaning and went walking. I walked Sparky a half mile then crated him and walked another 2 miles. I only have 25 miles left to reach my goal. I'll tell you what it is when I'm there. I came back feeling revived and happy. Remember when we were kids and our mothers made us stay outside? Who knew then what good fresh air does for the soul.

I've been going to the gym on a regular basis. Yesterday was the first day I used the treadmill. Boring! I had my music on, and read the closed-captioning on the TV's (The Real Wifes of Somewhere and CNN), but it was still boring. I plan to download a audiobook. I also plan to walk outside all winter, weather permitting. I've been swimming everytime I go to the pool, then using the sauna. I'm really happy I 'joined'.

Last night my book club meeting was at my house. A great time was had by all. We were five people short. Thirteen of us together makes for quite a rowdy bunch. 

Time to put this tired girl to bed. I'm working half a day tomorrow and then going with a friend to Kennett Square, PA to The Longwood Gardens Christmas, something I've always wanted to experience.

Till the next time....

07 December 2013

Ho Ho Ho'ing

Crazy how time flies. I reread my last post to make sure I don't repeat anything in this one. How could it go from Monday to Saturday in the blink of an eye? 

I've spent hours today reading my book club book, And The Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. It started off very slow. I spoke to a few people who read it who told me they didn't like how new characters were constantly introduced. How everything was tidily wrapped up in the end. It didn't encourage me to read. I finally devoted time with the book this week and was intrigued with the story. Now I'm frantically trying to finish it. I'm taking this break to write. The thing is that we have a winter advisory starting tomorrow morning (Sunday) and ending Monday morning. Snow, sleet and freezing rain. I doubt very, very much that our book club meeting will happen, at my house, but what if it does? I'm too far into the book to have the ending revealed without finishing. I still have 150 pages to go. Oh, what a dilemna. I'm tired of reading.

I have all the ingredients to make mushroom soup, and I bought good bread at Wegman's. If it turns out to be an alone day tomorrow I'll cook and read and catch up on my TV shows. I've even thought of making Christmas cards, if I can remember how. Making cards was a hobby I never thought I'd give up. I look at my old work and wonder how I ever did it. It's like it was another me. I might plagiarize myself! 

Sparky has been driving me crazy all night with his barking, and frankly, I haven't felt like getting up to chastise him. He's finally setttled down with his stuffed dog. Thankfully!

I think he's bored from being in his crate all day. When I get home from work I take him out, but I don't walk him because it's dark. I made an exception tonight and ran with him around the block. BTW, somthing startled him and he's barking by the front windows now. *&%#^!!!

The only decorations I have up this year are on my mantle. Me, who is known for her Christmas house. Part of it is Sparky, who gets into everything he can reach. Another part is the time involved. And my not having a Christmas party again. Maybe next year? I do have lights up outside.

My salon work party is next Saturday. It will be bittersweet without Mason. In our hearts, he will be there. I've been asked to bring my 'famous' bourbon meatballs (thanks for the recipe Kathy!). I'm going to Longwood Gardens on the 11th in Kennett Square, PA for their Christmas exhibition. I've always wanted to go. I'll be attending a performance of The Nutcracker on the 15th with friends from a Meetup group I belong to. I don't have plans for Christmas, yet. I'm going to an after-Christmas party on the 26th. I'm also going to a Christmas parade in Annapolis on the 27th including a get-together with friends afterward. Good times ahead. My house might not be decorated, but I think I'll be doing a lot of Ho Ho Ho'ing.

Life is Good!

02 December 2013

Catchin' Up

Hi again,
I can't let too many days to go by without writing, because I'm back and to really be present you need to be present. Writing helps me remember my life, because time flies. I woke up around 4:30 this morning and couldn't fall back asleep. Finally I decided to get out of bed and read my book club book and write here. That was an hour ago. I've been on Facebook instead.

I've gone to my gym 3X so far, swimming every time. Swimming is as close to meditating as I get (so far). I swim 36 laps/1 mile. It's 50 minutes of constant motion (breast stroke). The first third is an effort. The second I'm anticipating how close I am to the third. The last is instintive. I've been spending a few minutes in the hot tub afterward, then 10 minutes (if I can stand it) in the sauna. When I leave the gym after showering, etc, I feel transformed. I last went on Thanksgiving day and had the pool to myself. I decided not to shower afterward and do it at home. I decided I needed a Starbucks. I'm glad I didn't run into anyone I knew in my uncombed, chlorined, half-dried hair. 

I spent the night before Thanksgiving at my brother's with a few of his friends. We had an array of Chinese food for dinner, and did a lot of cooking and socializing and relaxing. There were 20 of us for dinner. Here's a few pictures:

My brother's family + 1

Emily and one of her favorite cousins (she has a lot!)

Like mother, like daughter

Part II of the dating game. I met another guy online, Bill. I liked him. Smart, worldly, well-spoken, fit, funny and adventurous. He was a real foodie and loved to dine out. We went out about five times, and had a great time, everytime. After our last great date, and texts that night saying what a wonderful time we each had, I never heard from him again. I sent a few texts. One funny email. One last email saying I thought he was a better man than to just disappear like he did. It shall remain a mystery. I know he's still alive because a friend is on the same dating site and can browse 'invisibily', and he's still logging on. I have moved on.

I went hiking on Friday with a new friend :) He's the shadow! That's his dog with Sparky.

I hosted Hanukkah at my house on Saturday night. There were 10 of us. It was relaxed. The food was great, especially the brisket (if I do say so myself). I love to entertain and bring people together (plus it's a great way to get my house clean). It was so nice to have my parents here. They were pretty funny. My dad is really quiet. My mother told the story (not nice) that my dad says her father paid him to marry her. My dad, from his quiet spot on the couch, said, 'not enough'. We all know my mother was the prize.

Sister Lisa, my brother and his daughter Hannah.

Mom and Emily and Sparky

A sweet picture of Barbara and my dad

I better sign off for now. I haven't read my book (it's become a monkey on my back) and I need to walk. Forty six miles till I reach my goal. I'm ready to enjoy the last day of my 5-day vacation. As always, it will be a very full day. 

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