Thursday, December 26, 2013
Thursday, December 19, 2013
|Christmas at our home in Las Vegas in the mid-90's.|
Thursday, December 12, 2013
This is not an indictment of anyone's personal practices - just an observation that we may be becoming more and more removed from certain types of activities that used to be part of our daily lives, responsibilities, and small personal joys. Sure, things change over the years. But it strikes me that we are constantly undergoing meaningful cultural change. And it's not all good. Aren't we more than a bit spoiled?
I admit that I never changed the oil on my own car, but today, when you can have it done in 20 minutes for 30 dollars - why would you do it yourself? Someone else can deal with the environmental requirements for disposing of the old oil, while you have a Starbucks.
Internet shopping and gift wrap services have eliminated the need to wrap a lot of presents. But I make sure I buy wrapping paper and bows to make some gifts extra-special for the recipient. It wouldn't seem like Christmas otherwise.
Last year, I got a long, newsy handwritten letter from a friend. It was tucked into a Christmas card. I recognized it for what it was, a true gift from the heart.
Many, many conveniences are available for a price. They help us save time, but usually at a price. Sometimes the payment comes from your wallet. Sometimes the price is a loss of connectivity to things that matter. However you do what you do; please make sure you are staying dialed in to life.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
The Fitbit Force, at it's most basic function, is a watch and pedometer. But it goes further than that, estimating calories burned, flights of stairs climbed, and identifying "very active" periods. The free software (for desktop and smartphone), syncs your wristband with your desktop computer and your smartphone. You can set goals for yourself and your Fitbit will message you when you are approaching your goal, awarding badges when you achieve certain benchmarks.
|(Partial) Tracking Screen|
Another feature of the Force is a "Sleep Mode" that tracks your movements during sleep and reports on your "sleep efficiency". It's fascinating to see how many times a night I was restless or awake. It seems pretty accurate, although if you wake up and are very still, it can't tell you are awake. But if you get out of bed it knows, since you have taken steps. When you toss and turn, it tracks that as restless time. Quality of sleep is closely associated with general wellness, so I find this to be a welcome feature.
|My Sleep Record from Last Night|
If you're all in, there is a wireless scale (Aria) that interfaces with Fitbit, which tracks progress on weight loss. We have the scale, but I'm not ready to get on it quite yet... Soon.
I'm really happy with my new gadget, and if it motivates me to move a little more every day, it was worth the $129. See www.fitbit.com for more information. Ron bought mine at Best Buy, but you can purchase directly from Fitbit or on amazon.com.
This is not a paid endorsement. Just feedback from a friendly gadget freak.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
I am thankful that today is one of a handful of Pancake Holidays in our household. It was a good way to start the day.
|The great debate: Sausage |
vs. Bread Stuffing
I am thankful for the food traditions gained from the Baileys, including Sausage and Rice Stuffing, and Oyster Casserole.
I am thankful for favorite recipes contributed by friends, including Dave Byerly's Cranberry Chutney.
I am thankful for the bounty of information on the Internet, which today is providing the means for me to make Ruth Chris' version of Sweet Potato Casserole.
I am thankful for shortcuts, like the Stouffer's Spinach Souffle that I bought.
I am thankful for Ron's skills as a home chef. He's doing so much of the work today - including the manhandling of the turkey. And he made Cranberry Syrup, for what will be an awesome holiday martini.
Enjoy the day! I am eating up the Facebook posts that give me the flavor of your Thanksgiving, and help bring you closer than the actual miles that separate us.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Thursday, November 14, 2013
What is comfort food to you? We all have our own definition. Some of my favorites are things Mom served the family for years...meatloaf, tuna noodle casserole, and creamed tuna on toast. But I have an additional set of comfort foods that are all ethnic. The paternal side of my family is 100% Greek. My Yiayia (grandmother) was a REALLY good cook, and some of the things she made became my comfort foods.
The difficulty is that my Yiayia is long gone. She didn't write down her recipes. Now I roam the earth searching for happiness in the form of truly good Greek food.
Fortunately, I have some good recipes that dirty every pan in the kitchen, but yield good results. And I have some favorite Greek restaurants too. They include Molyvos on 7th Avenue in NYC, and Melanthios or the Parthenon in Chicago. But I keep looking...
Last night we tried Greekfest in Phoenix, and were disappointed. Several things were overcooked, and the seasonings were off base. But the owner had just made fresh kourambiethes (a Greek version of something you might know as wedding cookies). So my consulation was to take a bag of those back to the hotel for dessert. Not as good as Yiayia's, but comparisons rarely measure up.
Comfort food elicits groans of glee and memories of happy, loving times. Don't we all pursue those feelings? I'm always on the prowl.
P.S. This blog entry was written on my cell phone at the airport. I apologize for any errors caused by big fingers on itty bitty keys.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
We have the luxury of appliances that do most of our work for us. In the 1950's and early 60's Mom wasn't exactly down by the stream beating our dirty clothing on rocks, but with four children, it was a true and constant chore to keep clothes and dishes clean. In the early years, Mom had a clothes washer, but no dryer. There was a clothesline in the back yard. I have no idea how Mom kept up with it, with four small children underfoot.
There was no internet shopping. Instead, shopping excursions were a family affair.
We didn't download books - we went to the library almost every Saturday.
Remember the days before cash machines? If you needed cash, you went to the bank during business hours.
Cell phones hadn't been invented. Kids had curfews and came home when the street lights came on, or in response to shouted summons from the back door.
There were no movies on demand. We had a black and white TV with about 3 channels, and we all watched it together.
Designer clothes for kids? Harumph. Special outfits were made by Mom on her own sewing machine.
No video games. We read books, played Monopoly, skated on the sidewalk, and played dress-ups.
Gentlemen always had a clean, pressed handkerchief handy. We kids would iron them for Dad.
I could go on, but this sort of thing has been done to death and passed around via email and on Facebook. Every once in a while, it doesn't hurt to put things into perspective a bit. Right now, I'm going to enjoy a little "Retro Housekeeping". In other words, I'll be washing and drying the dishes by hand.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
We are fortunate to live only about an hour and a half drive from Sedona, and come here a few times a year. Hiking, biking, sight-seeing, shopping, and golf are the attractions. Sedona is a small town, with a full-time population of only about 11,000. However, 3.5 million visitors annually come from all over the world to see the luminous towering red rock sandstone formations in and around Sedona. Some seek the fabled healing powers of the energy fields among the rocks.
Yesterday we came to Sedona with a few other couples, to play golf, dine, and play more golf. The Sedona Golf Resort at the Hilton Sedona has a beautiful course with challenging greens. The course whipped me, but I was repeatedly pacified by the stunning views from every tee box and fairway. It's difficult to stay self-focused or frustrated for long when so clearly dwarfed by the majestic display around you. "Darn, I missed my putt, but LOOK AT THAT!"
Last night we dined at Dal and Di Luca, a standout Italian restaurant. This morning we'll complete our visit by playing golf at Oak Creek Country Club. Back to the more sedate beauty of Prescott tonight. It's nice to have such an appealing getaway available so close to home.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Thursday, October 17, 2013
We're staying on the southern coast of Maine, in Ogunquit. Our small inn is a historic home that has been updated and expanded. Part of the charm of this area of the country is found in eschewing chains for local, owner-operated businesses.
Fall is beautful everywhere but, like the foliage, seems intensified here. Ogunquit has a distinct crispness in the air, accompanied by the scent of wood-burning fireplaces in use. Leaves already carpet the grass after floating from trees. They crunch satisfyingly under our feet by the granite-lined curbs.
Homes and businesses are decorated for Halloween and fall, with pumpkins, scarecrows, hay bales, spider webs, ghosts, and goblins. Visitors and residents stroll down the sidewalks in bright sweaters. They've given up sandals for boots.
Yesterday we savored clam chowder on a cool and cloudy day. Dinner last night was lobster pizza, served on an enclosed patio with heat lamps. In our not-too-distant future, I foresee tasting a seasonal brew of some sort. Everything is enhanced by the sea air, spiced with the pungent smell of fallen leaves.
Locals can call us leaf peepers if they will, but we know that being here now is about so much more.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Our class was the first graduating class in a brand new school. The Class of '73 never had to be underclassmen, as we started there in the fall of 1973 as 10th graders, with 8th and 9th graders in the school. For the next 3 years, we grew up together...8th, 9th, and 10th graders, then 9th, 10th, 11th graders, etc. We had a graduation class of approximately 300 students.
I was active in some sports - managing the boys soccer team one year (and practicing with them), playing basketball, and running track. But my first love was music. I was in Chorus and Madrigal classes, and also took Music Theory. During High School, I decided to pursue a music degree in college.
We had a close-knit group of good friends that hung out before classes started around the card catalog in the library. I didn't have a high school boyfriend, and wasn't a cheerleader... In other words, I was never one of the "cool girls". But I had fun with my friends, was a good student, excelled in choral endeavors, and cheered on my friends on the football and track teams.
|Steve Waterman, Gail Hughes, Scott Clifford, |
Me, and Mo Hughes
Upon graduation, most of us were ready to move on and see what else life had to offer. But I remember several tearful group goodbyes as, one-by-one our friends went on to college or other adventures. Some are still friends today, via occasional personal encounters, emails, Christmas cards, or Facebook. I treasure these shared memories I have with you.
Happy Reunion! Raise a glass to me - I'll be thinking about you.
Thursday, October 3, 2013
I've already changed the bedding from summer weight to heavier linens. Next, I'll deal with putting summer clothes and shoes away until Spring. The boxes of Fall/Winter clothes have been breeched to retrieve a sweater or two. And I freely confess to having made a few internet purchases - boots and LL Bean tops in warm colors. The snuggly throws have made their way to the sofa.
Next, I have two projects in mind. The entry table is going to get a rustic coating of paint on the top, and a small chest of drawers purchased is going to be spray-painted a decorative color for the bedroom. Nesting...nesting.
Last night, Ron made a lovely lobster pie - a sure sign of Fall. A pot of chili for a day of football can't be far behind. And I have an irrefutable urge to bake cookies, which I hardly ever do!
A few trees in Prescott are starting to change color, but our days are still warm and inviting. We have a tee time for 10:20 this morning. We can't ignore it though - Fall is in the air!
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Thursday, September 19, 2013
This time of year there is a welcome bit of chill to the air in the early morning and late evening. It will become very warm later in the day, and we are luxuriating in these last days of summer. The air will cool as we sip cocktails on the new patio and watch the moonrise. Last night we were bathed in the late night brightness of a full moon. I had a shawl on my shoulders, sitting contentedly by a fire.
Golf is one way we make sure we spend time outside. The views are breathtaking. Talking Rock's course is as beautiful as I've ever seen it right now, after several weeks of rainy weather. The fairways look like green carpet, and even the desert grasses are green. Blooming flowers are everywhere - you might guess it's Spring again.
It's a great time to visit with friends in the evening around one of the club's fire pits, or to enjoy the view from the Granite Mountain patio during Happy Hour.
At home, we invite the outdoors in as much as possible. They'll be less opportunity as the days shorten and our mild fall turns into winter. For now, we are enjoying our indoor / outdoor life in Prescott.
*Check out Spice Traveler online at: http://spicetravelerprescott.com/
Thursday, September 12, 2013
I call him "Hammy".
Quiet and unassuming,
with an air of gravitas.
Keen black eyes that never waver.
Beguiling pink nose and toes.
Hammy has a sense of humor.
His ways make me smile.
Always accepting of my mood.
He has dried my tears
while nestled under my chin.
A kiss on the jowl
is all he seems to need.
My furry, soft little buddy.
So patient and constant is Hammy.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
Now I think about many things. How life will play out as I age, who my real friends are and why, the best ways to build a comfortable nest, how to balance fun with more specific constructive pursuits, and how to be better.
We all have weaknesses and ways in which we disappoint ourselves. Perhaps we find what we think are valid reasons to stop developing emotionally. I want to try to be a better me. It's not easy.
I write to explore my feelings and find clarity in our little corner of existence. My success on that score is inconsistent. Optimistic, I'm going to keep trying.
Like me / don't like me. Know me / don't know me. Those that matter to me will make their own decisions, and I am very comfortable with that. I'm just me, but I'm only getting better.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
"Normal" here is a good stress-free night of sleep, langorous mornings with coffee, some golf, a little housework, perhaps an errand, and an evening relaxing at home or with friends. I'm used to this rhythm. It's good for me. I stay busy, but in the ways I want to be busy - not according to anyone else's schedule or priorities.
|Patio project almost complete!|
Change is in the air... A shifting of seasons and a move back to normalcy. My arms are wide open.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Thursday, August 15, 2013
As the angry fog clears, eventually we are able to see things a little differently. It's better to let the venom dissipate. Things usually work out as they should. It's hard to see, but the truth is there somewhere.
Poisonous people may harm others, but they usually are destructive to no one more than themselves. Left to their own devices, they attract misery. It's best not to engage, but to retreat. You can watch from afar, although you may very well lose interest. That's probably healthiest.
So we count our blessings and look forward to when it will become clear that the ways things are unfolding is actually better for us than what we had planned. I have faith.
Thursday, August 8, 2013
I'm out of practice, doing this sort of work. Attending meetings, juggling spreadsheets, fielding email, answering and returning phone calls...it's stressing me out, and I'm exhausted. I know, I volunteered for this gig. All I need to do is remind myself why we are doing this, and get back to work. The end result will be worth whatever it took to get there.
This is an education in volunteer work. Next time it may be someone else's turn to take the wheel.
For anyone who would like to donate $19 for our 19, here's an easy way to do it. We would be very grateful.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
As a child, you expected to have friends, and stumbled upon little buddies as a normal part of life. We would take our rubber ball out into the street to play kickball, a bunch of other little kids appeared, and you made friends. It just happened. You were drawn to certain other students at school, and all of a sudden you had "peeps" on the playground. I sang in chorus and made friends with others chorus nerds. It was easy. My college friends continue to hold treasured places in my hearts, because that's where we really grew up, together.
As young professionals, making new friends became a little more complicated. Yes, work yielded some new acquaintances and friends, because we spent so much time there. We had to start being more cognizant of romantic relationships among our peers - trying not to make anyone jealous, or sending out the wrong signals. We became more transient, relocating because of our careers, leaving friends behind (geographically), and building a new life. Once committed to a spouse, our world revolved around each other more than friends.
So many distractions are out of play now. It's simply a lovely surprise to make friends when you are middle-aged. It is, perhaps, the greatest unexpected joy we have discovered early in our retired life. In our 50's, we are not as competitive in our friendships. We don't worry about hanging out with the popular kids. My girlfriends laugh if we show up in the same golf outfit. It doesn't matter if we conform with anyone else's idea of how we should look, or who we should be. It's pretty cool that people like us for who we are. At this point, we're unlikely to change much.
The passage of time and the goodness of life colors our enjoyment of each other in a soft light. Occasionally we are faced with reminders of how fragile life can be. The laughter, smiles, hugs, play, jokes, and closeness follow us from day to day, comfortable knowing that we are part of something warm, and bigger than we are alone.
Thank you, Friends.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
I'm currently working with a small, can-do group of people to raise funds for the families of the 19 Hotshots that worked out of Prescott. To date, we have raised $130,000 to help those who lost so much rebuild their lives. Talking Rock is providing the location and resources we need to make this a reality, and to insure that the donations are not eroded by expenses. They didn't have to do this, and we are very grateful.
Many members have been extremely generous with their contributions, as have businesses with close or distant ties to Prescott. Private, individual donations range from $19 (for the 19) to a high of $10,000. Corporate sponsorships from $1,000 to as much as $15,000 have been received. Some people have valid, personal reasons not to contribute through Talking Rock and we certainly accept that.
What's hard to accept are those who use their misguided opinions and belly-aching as reasons not to give:
This is NOT a marketing campaign by Talking Rock. It's a grass-roots effort by members, supported by Talking Rock.
It's not our place to decide how it's "fair" to disperse funds raised to the families of the Hotshots. The Firefighters Association is in the best position to do that.
If some of the families become "rich" from fund-raising efforts, so be it. Money cannot replace what they lost, but it may make their lives easier going forward.
Give or don't give. Do or Don't. But don't hide behind your bogus justifications or get in our way.
P.S. If you would like to donate, you can do so on-line via http://www.crowdrise.com/granitemountainhotsh. Every little bit helps. Thank you.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Our club is working hard, putting together a fundraiser for the families of the fallen. I've been somewhat consumed with this project, attending meetings, working on documentation, checking texts, email and voice mails, and thinking a lot about what we are trying to accomplish. The goal is to raise $250,000. In the first week, we have commitments totaling almost $45,000.
In the wake of this feeling of loss, I've mostly been running around like an idiot. Finding Peace in my mind has been difficult. My thoughts are discombobulated, and I am not very focused. This realization caused me to think about what in my life brings me Peace. It's time to focus more on these things, to settle my anxious soul and clear my mind.
Thursday, July 4, 2013
As a community, we are coming together to express our love and provide support for the families of the fallen and the people in nearby Yarnell and Peeples Valley who have lost their homes. We all want to help and to take care of our own. We owe the "Prescott 19" no less than this.
Of course, the media highlights the best and the worst of us in the aftermath of this event. Westboro Baptist Church is praising God for the Arizona Wildfire that killed 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots, and claims that our heroes are currently in Hell pleading for Westboro to come and picket their funerals because, supposedly...God hates fags. WTF?? Make no mistake, Westboro is proof that Evil exists in our world - mingling with Heroes and Angels.
The false church of Westboro Baptist is one of evil and cowardice. If their screwed up disciples show their faces in Prescott, our citizens will block the Evil with the Love we are sharing to overcome this tragedy. Heaven vs. Hell.
|Granite Mountain Hotshots in Yarnell.|
It was painful to hear that erratic wind gusts generated by the sudden monsoon rains we celebrated in Prescott on Sunday were what consumed the Hotshots on the hills in Yarnell. We needed that rain, and we needed our firefighters. For our little taste of Heaven, the Hotshots paid in hellish conditions they could not overcome.
We were miraculously saved in Williamson Valley, and thankfully enjoy our little slice of Heaven. Yarnell and Peeples Valley suffered awful destruction.
Heaven: 5, Hell: 5. I guess we'll be going to overtime. My money's on Heaven.
Thursday, June 27, 2013
It's been a busy week. Rehearsals for our upcoming Sweet Adelines concert are taking up a minimum of 6 hours a week (2 rehearsals of 3 hours each + practice at home). We have also been consumed with preparation for our patio construction project. Tomorrow, we hope for final approval. That would mean that work and all the ensuing chaos starts early next week. I just scheduled installation of some rain gutters, which may happen in the midst of the patio project. Yesterday - house cleaning and food prep. Had our quarterly consultation with our financial advisor at 8am this morning, which is probably what threw me off in the first place.
Summer is in full swing here at Talking Rock, and that means our golf and social schedule is busy, busy, busy. In the midst of all this activity, we had the stress of the Doce wildland fire that came within about 5 miles of our home. Let's see, "Golf or evacuation, which will it be?"
So, you see, I'm a bit tired and discombobulated. It's been one of those weeks when I don't know what day it is and can't keep track of my calendar events or to-do list. I think doing laundry is about my speed today.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Beautiful Granite Mountain is on fire, as well as thousands of acres of Prescott National Forest that surround it. Fifty foot flames are scuttling across boulders and cliffs, consuming the Ponderosa Pines and Junipers, and making waste of the chaparral. The rugged green landscape is blackened. It's sickening. And the winds of destruction are literally blowing in our direction.
Photo by: Michael Chow/The Republic
Did we have an emergency plan? No... But we quickly put one together. We might have to leave the house on fairly short notice, taking only what we can pack into our Subaru. We approached the awful choices to be made by breaking things into categories:
. Cell phones/charger.
. Small backpack of clothing, and one sturdy pair of shoes. (Dammit, I'm taking those cute and impractical new jeans from Chicos that I haven't even had a chance to wear.)
. Prescription medications.
. Eyeglasses/Contact lenses.
. Basic toiletries.
. Birth and Marriage certificates.
. Receipts for household furniture and goods (in case we have to file an insurance claim).
. Lease for Chicago condo.
. PC tower with hard drive. (Important files have been backed up on a separate device.)
Thursday, June 13, 2013
John Haropulos was a WWII veteran, who saw action on Okinawa. He didn't talk about it much, but I sensed that it shaped his appreciation of home and family. Dad grew up in Chicago, and I learned to share his love of the city - cheering for the Bears and the Cubs, going to Northwestern University where Dad studied Electrical Engineering, and eventually living about a mile from where he and his family lived (on Belmont).
After the war, Dad and Mom eloped in 1950, and shortly thereafter he finished his college degree at the University of New Hampshire. They lived in New York City less than a year, before Dad obtained a government job in the DC area. Three daughters (I'm #2) and a son were all raised in suburban Maryland. All of us got good public school educations and the opportunity to go to college.
Dad was an impressive figure. I used to describe him to friends as "6 foot 2 with a mustache". We were taught to think in a disciplined way and to use our brains to figure things out. (In fact it was demanded of us.)
I'm thankful that we were able to finance a trip to Hawaii for Mom and Dad in the 80's. Dad had a chance to show Mom where he was stationed at the end of the war. Hilton came through and upgraded them into a suite with a view of Diamondhead. I also fondly remember the trip Ron and I took with them to Arizona to see the Cubs in Spring Training.
Dad taught me how to throw and catch a football and a baseball, and how to swing a golf club. He paid for summer camp, swimming, hula, and piano lessons. He yelled at me when I did something stupid, and comforted me when I skinned a knee. We played wiffle ball in the back yard. Saturday nights, he grilled burgers or steaks. We all piled into a car for summer vacations, and Dad drove us to New Hampshire. When he got tired, he would sing silly songs. I remember him pulling over to the side of the road to pick wildflowers flowers for Mom. We loved it when Dad would play old 78 records and he and Mom would dance in the living room. Dad mowed the lawn, fixed the car, and built things. At the end of the day, he would often come upstairs to tuck us in at night and check the bed for creepy-crawlies. When Ron and I married in 1991, Dad placed our wedding crowns on our heads, and danced at our reception. He was the best father I can imagine.
So as Father's Day approaches, the best thing my old friends could say to me is, "I remember your father". Otherwise, a hug would be good.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. The dry air sucks moisture from us. We have to constantly replenish it by drinking water. Don't drive away to run errands without drinking water in your car. If you have car trouble, exposure can be life-threatening.
Moisturize. Our skin, hair, and nails need heavy-duty protection or we will all dry up and blow away.
Water is precious, and we don't take it for granted. During the summer monsoons, we love to sit on the patio and marvel at the rain and smell the fragrant air.
Open-toed slippers are recommended so no scorpions can hide in the toes. Scorpion bites can be very serious, even on extremities. Have a professional service treat the outside foundation of your home to create a defensive barrier against creepy crawlies.
Splurge on pedicures. We live the summer in sandals (including golf sandals).
It's impossible to keep up with the dusting. Between the dust and the wind - it's just everywhere. Hopefully, you're not allergic to dust.
We share our habitat with critters. Bunnies and hummingbirds are charming. Javelina and coyotes are also prevalent. Remember that javelina are practically blind. Don't get too close (especially if they have babies), and they won't feel threatened. They may trample your garden and eat your flowers. And they are very stinky. Coyotes have plenty of food here. Like javelina, they are mostly out at night. They'll occasionally wake you with their howling, but otherwise don't bother humans.
Some of these facts of life about desert living may sound unappealing. To us, the beauty, the outdoor living, and the stark and gentle displays of nature have won our hearts forever. Every sunset over the mountains is a gift. Every patio gathering with friends is a new blessing. Every raindrop is a miracle. Every clear, fresh morning is a rebirth.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Some of my favorites that cause mental time travel:
GOOD VIBRATIONS by the Beach Boys: This was my first record - a 45. It brings me back to our house in Forbes Street in Rockville, MD in 1966. I was in 6th grade.
SMOKE ON THE WATER by Deep Purple: This is the song that caused a stampede onto the dance floor at my senior prom in 1973.
COULD IT BE I'M FALLING IN LOVE by the Spinners: I fell in love for the first time to this song, ice skating at night on Northwestern's campus in Evanston, IL in 1973.
YOU COULD HAVE BEEN WITH ME by Sheena Easton: Always brings me back to the early days of my forever romance with Ron (circa 1983) in Dallas. The stereo is cranked up and we're wearing headphones and lying on the floor next to each other.
MARINA DEL REY by George Strait: Ron bought me my first CD player and George's first "best of" album when I lived in my townhouse (my first home of my own) in Coppell, TX in 1987. I had the most comfortable mauve velour sofa. It's OK, it was the 80's.
ONLY WANNA BE WITH YOU by Hootie and the Blowfish: When I hear this or any other song from Cracked Rear View, it's 1996 and I'm floating in the pool at our house in Las Vegas.
CLARITY by John Mayer: The first song on one of the playlists on my iPod will always remind me of cocktail hour in the front room of our condo in Chicago (2008-2012), relaxing and enjoying the view of the neighborhood.
It's important to me to keep discovering and listening to new artists and musical releases. We need tunes to weave together our memories, and I'm not done with my life story.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
|Spa will be obscured by landscaping on the east (left) edge |
of the back of the house, away from the "bad " neighbors.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Mom’s home in Manchester, New Hampshire is also my home. The knotty pine paneling, the jays cawing in the trees, and the tiny, homey kitchen – all Home. Mom’s grandfather, parents, and brother built the house with love, and it oozes from every seam. I’m always happy there.
Ron’s family recently sold the farm and home place in Melvin, Illinois. We haven’t been back since. It felt like Home and an emotional touchstone for years. There are generations of history there, and so many memories of family gatherings. It was hard to let go. The feeling of home-ness in Melvin will fade over time, because we don’t belong there any longer.
Everyone should have at least one place to call Home. If you have more, you are blessed.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
I'm not an expert - but there are a few really important basics users should understand before getting too involved with Facebook and it's allure:
- LOCK DOWN PRIVACY SETTINGS: Click on the lock icon on the blue task bar at the top of the Facebook screen. "Who can see my stuff?" should be set to "Friends". Unless you are a public figure courting a following, the Public should not be able to see your Facebook postings.
- SECURE BROWSING: Click on the little wheel icon on the blue task bar at the top of the Facebook screen. Select "Account Settings". Now, in the column on the left, select "Security" and activate secure browsing. You will see that your URL now begins with "https" instead of "http". Activating this feature greatly reduces the possibility that your Facebook account will be hacked.
- CONTROL WHO CAN CONTACT YOU: Facebook facilitates other Facebook users sending you private messages and/or inviting you to connect as a Friend. Click on the lock icon, and then "Who can contact me?" I have mine set to "Basic filtering", but you can be more restrictive by selecting "Strict filtering". Only my Friends can see my email and telephone number. "Who can send me friend requests?" can be set to "Everyone" or "Friends of Friends". I have mine set to Everyone, which has allowed some long lost friends to find and contact me. You can always ignore a Friend Request and even block an undesirable person if you receive stray, random requests from strangers. It happens; don't freak out.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
That was my Facebook post yesterday. I hate being "there". But it's a place you have to go when you are switching our winter clothes for summer, and cleaning your closet. Invariably, you find things that have been hiding, are stored in the wrong place, or just waiting patiently to be hauled off to Goodwill. This is tedious, time-consuming work - but the results are worth the effort. It would be embarrassing to tell you how many times I've gone into my closet to see how great it looks now. I'm pretty proud of myself.
Yesterday I chatted with a dear friend who shared his disappointment over an inconsiderate action by his spouse. He's fuming and hurt, but hasn't yet told his other half that he's angry. I understand that. You don't want to make too much of something that might blow over. You don't want to be a nag, and stir things up and cause a fuss. But you have to say something. Sometimes you must make a mess to make it better. Letting things fester only makes them worse. My advice to my friend was to get his frustration out in the open and clear it up.
Procrastination is in my genes. To be fair, it's my Haropulos genes. If I can put off something unpleasant, I'll put it off until the last possible second. This has made me a Master of Crisis Management. It's not that I'm proud of it - it's just the way I am. But as I get older...I have less tolerance for the unsettled feeling fomented by unresolved messes. Everything should have its place. Harmony shall reign. It makes me happy and allows me to sleep well at night.
Stir things up and tackle a little mess today. Then take a nap. You'll feel great.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
I'm sure the President's statement was meant to convey confidence and provide some semblance of comfort, but it fell flat with me. There is no "why" to discover. Whoever did this despicable deed hates the United States and wants to threaten our collective way of life, our freedom. They want us to suffer. The perpetrators are godless, evil, sub-human creatures, who murdered and maimed innocent people. I believe the authorities will find them, and they will be punished and (in the President's words) "feel the full weight of justice". But the truth is that our civilized Justice system won't allow the punishment to be gruesome enough to fully fit the crime.
I am haunted by this picture of 8-year old victim Martin Richard; a mere child who understood humanity:
Those who choose to do harm will always find a way - guns, bombs, hatchets, ice picks, knives - we can't do away with all the implements that can be used in evil ways. The "why" is beyond reason. Let's pray for Evil to be conquered (in this case, preferably in an Old Testament kind of way involving impressive fire and brimstone) while we protect our loved ones as well as we can. Let's live our lives in a way that allows Faith and Grace to overcome.