Retirement is a week filled with Saturdays and Sundays interrupted only occasionally by a holiday.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Happy New Years!

Yes...I am still here in BlogLand and my one and only resolution for 2009 is to spend a heck of a lot more time doing what I love to do...blogging and reading posts. I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe New Year's celebration and I will visit you all very, very soon.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I Guess The Car Was Jealous

Waaaaa...! Here it is Monday morning and Rick and I are sitting at home waiting for the tow truck to arrive. Yesterday we got into the car to go to our friend Judy's housewarming party and, when Rick turn the ignition on, there was a terrible whine coming from under the hood. He pulled the car out of the driveway, drove around the block and, every time he turned the wheel, the sound changed. Oh, oh...sounds like power steering problems to us. So back into the driveway he drove.

I called the Auto Club this morning and it's a 2 hour wait for a tow because we are having our first major rainstorm of the season. I've already called the car repair place and they are waiting for us to come in. I'm sure they're seeing dollar signs aplenty...lucky them at Christmas time. Oh well, first it was the house and its new garbage it's the car. Damn!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Music of the Season

'Tis the season...Rick, our friend Judy and I attended a fun, free holiday organ concert at the Nethercutt Museum last night. The Nethercutt family owns the Merle Norman Cosmetics company and created this wonderful place where they display the many treasures they have collected through the years. Guests tour free of charge.

The museum is especially known for its large collection of antique automobiles. Rick and I have toured the museum before and this area is definitely Rick's favorite. Here's just a sampling of the cars on display.

The Nethercutts also own and display a world-class collection of automated mechanical instruments including musical repeat striking watches, Swiss bird boxes, cylinder and disc music boxes, and grand pianos. The "grande dame" is their 5,000-piped Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ.

Last night's concert featured 21 year-old organist Mark Herman who treated the audience to a wonderful selection of holiday music, showtunes, vintage songs and a few of his own compositions on the Wurlitzer organ and on one of the museum's prized pianos. I have to say that the three of us were amongst the youngest in the audience which makes me wonder how many more years the museum will offer these free concerts. It's sad to think that this terrific music will someday fall victim to the changing tastes of the world's audience. Oh well...I'm just happy we had the opportunity to enjoy Mark's performance and the wonderful music.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gifts for the House

Why is it that household expenditures always seem necessary around the holidays? It never fails that something goes wrong around this time of the year requiring money leaving our pockets. It's no fun going out to the home center trying to buy gadgets and other "stuff" for the house when I could be out amongst the throngs shopping for gifts.

Today Rick and I will be going to a few home centers to look for a new ceiling fan, a new bathroom light fixture and a few other small items for the house. It's a long story but basically the new garbage disposer installed at the beginning of the week requires that we have an electrician come out to change the electrical do-dad beneath the kitchen sink. What can I say...we have a very old house. Since that will take all of a few minutes for an expert to do, we figure we might as well have Mr. Electrician do some of the other work we've been talking about.

While I'm sure Mr. Electrician will appreciate the work and the money that comes with it, Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner will not be so happy to write that check. It's like buying tires for a car...they're a necessity but what fun are they?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Just Catching Up...Again

It's hard to believe that I haven't been around BlogLand since Thanksgiving. Actually, I have been lurking about...reading new posts by my blogging buddies but I just haven't felt like posting or commenting. So trust me...I have been keeping up with things even if you didn't see me.

One of the reasons for my absence was a general feeling of punkiness. I kept feeling like I was coming down with something...achy muscles, sore throat, headache. The symptoms kept coming and going from one day to the next and I never knew how I was going to feel when I got up each morning. I'm still not feeling 100% and I continue to have trouble sleeping a reasonable number of hours each night but I'm trying to go about my business now and ignore how I feel.

Despite my general feeling of malaise, I've managed to do some holiday shopping so I don't feel too frantic or panicked. Our family and friends have decided to do away with gifts for the adults and just concentrate on the kids. That's made this season much less stressful although I'm still trying to figure out a few gifts for people. Most of my shopping has been for my Mom and she will be getting lots of clothing and other necessities. I've been trying to take advantage of all the sales and coupons and I have to admit I've gotten some amazing bargains.

Today I actually started wrapping some gifts so I don't fall too far behind. I had to wait for the plumber to come to replace a leaking old garbage disposer so it was the perfect time to sit down with wrapping paper, scissors, ribbon and tape. I managed this year to remember to label all the boxes so I know which is for whom when it's time to get ready to exchange gifts.

I've been visiting lots of blogs to see how everyone is decorating their homes for the holidays and I've seen some incredibly elaborate scenes. It puts us to shame so don't expect photos of a beautifully appointed house and tree from me. decorations for us this year except for stringing all the beautiful Christmas cards we receive from family and friends. For us it will be a lowkey holiday season. How about you?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Count Our Blessings

To you and your family...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Another Birthday...And It's Not Mine

Today is my sister Lynn's birthday. I will be a gracious sibling and not reveal her age but I will admit that she is my baby sister. So on this very special occasion, let me wish her a very "Happy Birthday" with many more to come!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Blood and Fog

This has been a very long day. It started very early this morning...yes, 5:00AM is definitely early...when Rick and I got up to get ready to play golf. Let me tell you, there's nothing that wakes up a brain more than to see a splotch of blood on your pillow.

At first I thought it might be a bloody nose (I can't even remember the last time I had one of those) since the humidity has been almost non-existent in our neck of the woods. Wrong! I stared in the mirror to see a streak of blood starting from a little red speck below my eye and across my cheek. I've had this little red dot for months and months and I meant to ask the doctor about it when I had my physical early this summer but we got so caught up in my high blood pressure readings that I totally forgot. Now this red dot has suddenly decided to bleed and I know that's never a good thing.

After washing my face and getting ready, off we drove to the beach for our round of golf. The sun was shining and the temperature was mild as we teed off on hole #1. Somewhere on our way to hole #2, the fog rolled in, the sun disappeared and the temperatures dropped at least 15 degrees. Yep...definitely my kind of weather but definitely not Rick's. Not being able to see the group ahead of us or the flag on the green certainly made for some adventurous golf. I loved it...Rick whined. The sun finally made a return engagement around hole #14 and then it got warm...Rick loved it, I whined. We're not exactly the most compatible couple when it comes to weather.

Anyway, we stopped for lunch after golf and then we came home, unloaded the car and relaxed. You'll be happy to know that I actually called our HMO and made an appointment with my doctor to have her look at that little red dot on my cheek. With the Thanksgiving holiday next week and my suddenly busy schedule, I don't get to see her for 2 weeks but the dot has been with me for months and months and I'm thinking, at this point, what's another few weeks?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Update

With a bad case of cabin fever, I decided to venture out today to do a little shopping. To avoid the really awful air quality, I headed west over the hills to a brighter and less affected community. On my way back I could see the smoke from the northern fire which is now approximately 40% contained. I took out my camera phone (yes, I know I shouldn't be shooting photos while driving) and took these photos to demonstrate the current state of things.

The weather forecast indicates an end to the "red flag" warnings sometime tonight or tomorrow and that will hopefully make fighting the various SoCal fires easier for the firefighters. Here's hoping...

Southern California Danger Time

I hate this time of the year here in Southern California. Our weather just screams "fire season"...high winds and temperatures accompanied by low humidity. Here it is mid-November and the trees are moving sideways and the temperatures are into the 90's.

First it was the devastating fire Thursday night in Montecito with the loss of 100+ homes. Then Friday evening, I opened the bedroom window as we were getting ready for bed and had to close it a few minutes later due to the smell of smoke. Oh, oh...we knew something wasn't right but everything seemed OK when I stepped outside so to bed we went. Then, sometime in the middle of the night, my computer battery backup alarm kept going off in the den. Finally at 4:30AM, I got up, went into the den and turned on the TV. Sure enough, there were scenes of a terrible fire in the hills north of us and in the area near where last month's fire burned.

Thankfully we live in the "flatlands" so our home was never in danger. Still the smoke was nasty and we tried to stay in the house with the windows shut all day long. The TV was on and we were greeted later in the day with images from another fire which began in an adjacent county to the southwest and which has now spread to a second county to the south.

Hundreds of mobile homes and houses have been destroyed and my heart goes out to the families who will come back to their neighborhoods to see the utter devastation. In one mobile home park alone, more than 500 homes were destroyed and many of the residents are senior citizens who will have to face the loss of their prized possessions, the daunting task of dealing with insurance companies and the difficult decision of what to do next...move or rebuild. All the victims and the heroic firefighters who are putting their lives on the line continue in our thoughts and prayers during this horrendous battle.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Roll of the Dice

Yeah...I'm a winner! Last night my friend Sherry and I went over to Judy's home for a fun-filled evening of bunco. Judy has belonged to her monthly bunco group for many years and each member chooses a month to play host. This year, a few members were unable to attend so Sherry and I filled in as substitutes.

If you've never played bunco, it's basically a dice-rolling game requiring absolutely no skill which probably explains why I had so many buncos (you have to read the rules to understand what that all means.) Claudia and I had a roll-off of the dice to determine which one of us would win one of the prizes since we both had the most buncos. And even though Claudia almost always goes home a winner, this time I actually came out ahead! Thanks Judy for a great evening.

Sadly, I came home last night to find out a devastating fire was raging in the town of Montecito...a beautiful area of expensive homes just south of Santa Barbara. We are having terrible winds at the moment and this wind-driven fire has burned 100 homes and 5400 acres so far. The winds have died down this morning and hopefully that will give the firefighters a chance to get a handle on the flames and embers before the winds pick up again later today. The victims and firefighters are in my prayers as they deal with the devastation and continuing threat.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Just Catching Up

Here it is nearly a week after the election and I'm just now getting back to blogging. I watched the news today as our current President and First Lady graciously welcomed our President-Elect and the future First Lady to the White House. I can only imagine what emotions must have gone through the future President's mind as he entered the Oval Office for the very first time. Soon he will be spending a great deal of time sitting in that grand room making decisions that will hopefully pull our country out of this current quagmire. Will it happen overnight? Not a chance. But I'm hoping we can all find a way to join together to make it happen as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile Rick and I are doing our best to help stimulate the economy. Our friends, while on a Panama Canal cruise in late October, booked us on a 14-day Baltic cruise. Right now there are 5 of us scheduled to sail next June and I am already counting the days, hours, minutes, seconds. Can't you tell? Just look at the new countdown clock on my sidebar and you can count right along with me.

I went to my HMO ophthamologist last month and was still ambivalent about having cataract surgery on my right eye. Then I went to our optometrist's office last week and had a chat with him about the surgery. He was very encouraging about having the surgery and now I'm thinking it would be really nice to have good vision while on our cruise. With the holidays coming up, I think I will wait to make the final decision until after the first of the year.

Not much else is happening. Lynn and I are still dealing with Mom's blood pressure issues and I will be taking her to two doctor appointments scheduled for later this month plus a panel of labs which need to be done.

I'm sure there's more to report but I just can't think of things right now. I know I've been tagged with an award/meme by blogging friend Patti and I promise to get to it soon. Until then...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Starting the Week

Tsk, tsk...I've been a bad girl. This morning I received an email from my HMO doctor reminding me that I am a month overdue for my 14 hour fasting cholesterol blood test. Oops.

I'm ready for tomorrow though. I've finally completed filling out my sample ballot so I know which dots to blacken when I get into the polling booth in the morning. Anticipating long lines, Rick and I are taking water bottles, some reading material and we're even putting two portable 3-legged sports chairs in the trunk of our car just in case the wait turns out to be hours.

I hope everyone who is eligible to vote tomorrow has already or will cast their ballot for their chosen candidate. I don't care which candidate or side of a ballot issue you are on. Each and every eligible American citizen should is your right; it is your responsibility.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Plural Puzzle Poetry

I hope everyone is enjoying this last weekend before Election Day. I don't know about you but Tuesday can't come soon enough for me. My brain seems to have finally reached maximum overload with all the last minute campaigning and associated materials being sent our way and I just can't seem to think of anything interesting or creative to say so I thought I'd share this little poem a friend sent me the other day. It has absolutely nothing at all to do with politics but it did make me smile and, these days, I think a little humor is what we really need. Here goes...


We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Eye to Eye

Yesterday was my annual appointment with my ophthalmologist...oh goody. The good news is that both eyes seem to be healthy although the vision in my right eye continues to deteriorate. The doctor keeps referring to the problem as a "cataract" but it's not the usual cloudy problems associated with a typical one. Basically, the lens is a sac of protein and apparently my sac is changing and not for the better.

Anyway, it's still up to me to decide when to have the intraocular lens replacement surgery and I'm not ready. As long as I can see to drive, read, watch TV, blog and all the other necessities, my quality of life in terms of vision is just fine so why mess with things?

Now I've made appointments for the two of us to see our optometrist who usually takes care of the glasses/contact lens end of vision. Because of the problems with my right eye, I gave up wearing contacts a few years ago. Now I want to see if there is a way to somehow get myself back into them. Part of it is vanity but part of it is also the fact that wearing contacts offers a much better peripheral view. Stay tuned...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Blather Continues

Can it possibly be true that this is my 300th post? And remarkably, I will celebrate my 3rd blogoversary in a few short weeks on November 13th.

I've loved blogging...even when I've taken blog vacations to let my mind rejuvenate. And "yes" sometimes it seems like a chore to come up with something to write about. Still..I continue to love making new friends and getting to know everyone here in BlogLand so onward to post 400.

On another note...

Rick and I went to a semi-annual golf show yesterday. Rick goes to look at new products while I go to shop. One of the local golf stores has a section of the building where they sell much of their discounted clubs, bags, balls, accessories, clothing, shoes. Oh, Yep, what can I say...I now have two new pair of golf shoes in our golf gear closet. And "yes" I just had to buy them. After all, they were my size in a narrow width and they were my favorite golf and white. And here they are:

Pretty nifty, don't you think?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Great Halloween Debate

Ack! It's only 9 days until Halloween and we still haven't bought our bags of candy. Of course, it's been only a week or so since I threw out the 2 unopened bags left over from last year.

Every year Rick and I argue over the number of bags to buy. He insists on buying at least 4 big variety bags from the our favorite BBW (Big Box Warehouse) which is, quite frankly, ridiculous since we don't get scads of trick-or-treaters. Of course, Rick insists on giving out handfuls of candy bars to each and every child which then makes him a hero in their eyes. Me? I think 2 or 3 tiny candy bars per child is perfectly fine but will he listen to me? Hah!

So I'm thinking maybe a little input from my fellow bloggers might settle our Halloween dispute.

Question of the Day
How much candy do you hand out to each trick-or-treater who comes to your door on Halloween night?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Another Busy Week

It seems I'm always thinking about posting something new when things just divert my attention. What can I say...focus is not one of my strengths.

The week started out with two wildfires which were within our view. Thanks to the amazing efforts of firefighters from across California, both were finally contained mid-week and now we are just holding our breaths hoping the hot, dry weather we are having will not stir up any embers causing a restart.

Then yesterday I took Mom to the doctor's for what I thought would be just a normal uneventful checkup. Wrong! It turns out she's having some cardiac issues which required us to hike on over to the Cardiology Department for an EKG. Thankfully the problems are not life-threatening and so they have adjusted her medication in hopes it will help return things to an acceptable level. Days like this remind me that, at 87 years old, every day we have with Mom is a gift and we need to enjoy them while we can.

Hopefully, the rest of the week and weekend will be less stressful and allow me some time to get my thoughts together for a little blogging and a little commenting. Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

If It Ain't Broke...

So here's the prologue to my story. I was raised by very frugal parents. What can I say...I'm frugal too. I was taught that one does not discard household items and appliances until they no longer work. Yep...they have to be "dead," most sincerely "dead." Trust me, we were the last family on the block to buy a color TV because our old B&W just wouldn't die.

Anyway, Rick and I went off to C*stco yesterday to look at new digital TVs. Mind you, we have 2 perfectly good, older 27" TVs (one in the living room, one in our bedroom) plus one fairly new digital 20" TV in our den. For some time now, Rick has been lusting after a 56" TV for our little tiny living room. Why he thinks we need such a big flat-screen television is beyond me but I'm guessing it's a "boy thing." Anyway, I've humored him these past several months allowing him to drag me to numerous audio/video specialty stores while at the same time reminding him that our current TVs work just fine.

So, off we went yesterday to what I commonly refer to as the "$199 Dollar Store" just to look. I knew I was safe because Rick's been talking about a new generation of 55"-56" TVs which aren't supposed to be released for sale until later this year. I should have known better.

Remember I said we also had a perfectly good, reliable 27" bedroom TV. Well, you can forget that now. Before I knew it, we had a brand-new 32"digital TV (ostensibly for the bedroom) on a flat-bed cart being wheeled to the cash register and I was writing the check.

The TV is still in the box 24 hours later. I think I've finally convinced Rick to temporarily set-up this new TV in the living room where he can enjoy his new toy since we hardly ever watch TV in the bedroom except for the 10:00PM local news. There's this little part of me that hopes he'll get so accustomed to watching this 32" television in the living room that he'll forget about that 56" monstrosity he's lusting after. Sure...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Power of Four Meme

I was tagged by Lynne at Lynne's Little Corner of the World for this little meme today and I thought I'd give it a whirl.

What you are supposed to do is copy/paste my post, remove my answers and type in yours and then tag four people in your lists! Don't forget to change my answers to the questions with those of your own.

Four places I go over and over
* Starbucks
* T.J. Maxx
* Costco (AKA the $199 store in our house)

Four people who e-mail me regularly
* My sister Lynn
* My cousin Ina
* My friend Judy
* My friend Sherry

Four of my favorite places to eat
* Our local Argentine restaurant
* Our local Mexican restaurant
* Any one of several really good Italian restaurants
* StoneFire Grill which has the best salads

Four places you'd rather be
* The British Isles
* Vancouver (never been, can't wait to go)
* Anywhere there's a beautiful waterfall
* On a cruise ship sailing just about anywhere

Four TV shows I could watch over and over
* Law & Order
* Law & Order Criminal Intent
* Law & Order Special Victims Unit (notice a theme here)
* The Closer (I just love Kyra Sedgwick's character)

Four people I'm tagging
* Patti @ Late Bloomer Boomer
* Rosemary @ Rosemary's Attic
* Renee @ fefyfomanna

Have fun!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Slow Cooker Conundrum remember that slow cooker I bought months and months ago? Well, except for a trip to our friends' home with turkey chili (which Rick made) for the Super Bowl, it has remained lonely and unused shoved to the back of a kitchen cabinet.

With the weather supposedly turning cooler this weekend, my desire to start cooking using the crockpot has suddenly resurrected itself. So this week I managed to find not one, not two but three (count 'em) slow cooker cookbooks while I was out and about. Two of the three were actually on sale at 70% off so, of course, they just had to come home with me.

And, of course, Rick had a word or two to say about these new cookbooks. "Yes"...I do have a bookshelf filled with cookbooks that have spines still unbroken. And "Yes" I've made several promises to use the slow cooker only to bail out at the last moment so I can hardly fault him for his snide comments. Still...a little show of confidence from him would have been nice.

So I stood up and declared that I would cook Friday's dinner using the crockpot. And here it is Friday and the slow cooker is still sitting silently in the cupboard. I am making progress, however. I've opened all three books and have searched through the numerous chicken recipes looking for the perfect healthy dish. I've found a few that look interesting and now I need to have Rick pick the one that sounds the best to him. Then I will go to the market, buy all the ingredients and finally drag the crockpot out, wash it thoroughly and then set to work.

When? Stay tuned...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Random Wednesday Thoughts

* Here it is October 1st and it was a sweltering 104 degrees. By Saturday the temperature is supposed to reach a "high" of 72 degrees with the possibility of showers. Welcome to the wacky world of Southern California weather!

* Yesterday my friend Sherry and I went to our monthly lunch with several of the ladies we once worked with at the library. A few of them still work there and it's always so much fun to listen to their library horror stories and realize that those of us who are retired no longer have to put up with all the craziness and agony.

* I took Mom to the YMCA Arthritis Aquatics class this morning. It's been three months since we went last and there were lots of hugs as everyone was glad and relieved to see us. When you have participants who are in their eighties (that would be Mom...not me), you get nervous when one of them doesn't show up.

* I'm sitting here watching cable news listening to pundits talk about the Senate vote on the re-vamped economic bailout package (oops, I mean "rescue" package.) To be honest...I'm not sure why all this fascinates me but it does. I've forbidden myself from looking at our retirement investments knowing that it will probably freak me out. I keep telling myself that, as long as we don't need to dip into these funds, we will be just fine because everything is cyclical and things will eventually turn around. my Pollyanna.

* Tomorrow Judy and I are going shopping...or should I say "returning." During our last shopping spree, we both overdid it big time and now our buyer's remorse has kicked in and we have items we need to take back. What can I say...we seem to have this problem whenever we get together.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Errant Golf Shoes and Mosquitoes

Home sweet home. We arrived home yesterday, unpacked, read our mail, did loads of laundry and now I need another vacation. Whew!!!

All in all, it was a wonderful week away from home. As always, I'd been very meticulous about creating a packing list, doing last minute chores and getting the car packed so we could leave on time. And halfway to Santa Cruz, my mind suddenly replayed all that planning and I realized I didn't remember loading into the car the bag which had my 2 pairs of golf shoes and boxes of golf balls. Not a good way to start a golfing vacation. Anyway, we stopped at a well-known golf course near the highway and, lo and behold, they had exactly one pair of women's golf shoes in a narrow width and wouldn't you know it was in my size. Talk about the golfing gods looking down on me.

We arrived in Santa Cruz, checked into our hotel and then spent the rest of Friday and Saturday wandering around the area. We've been doing this trip annually for a number of years so there's very little we haven't seen. Still...we managed to find a new restaurant for breakfast (thanks to my sister Lynn's recommendation) and had a great day in Capitola wandering in and out of the quaint little shops and walking along the beachfront road.

Sunday was the annual "Friends & Family Golf Tournament" and I made the decision not to play. Still...I had a great time as I rode around the golf course with Michael, Karen and Sue whom I've played with before. They are fun golfing companions and we chatted and joked as they played great golf while I watched. Rick was in a threesome following us and here he is (the little orange speck) teeing off on the #5 hole.

Monday we left Santa Cruz and played golf in the town of Aptos before heading down to Cambria. That was my first round of golf on our vacation and I have to say I played really well... for me. I guess watching Karen and Sue the day before really helped me find my swing and tempo. Oh...and the new golf shoes fit like a charm.

Our time in Cambria was wonderful. We stayed in a quaint motel along Moonstone Beach Drive and walked along the beachfront boardwalk. I did venture down to the sand and, for the first time in years, I actually put my toes into the Pacific Ocean.

On Tuesday we visited Hearst Castle and it was the perfect day. I managed to take some photos inside the magnificent home as well as photos of the incredible outdoor and indoor pools.

We also visited the Elephant Seal viewing area along the coast just north of San Simeon and it was fascinating to watch these huge creatures sunning themselves on the beach and romping in the water.

Wednesday we headed for Pismo Beach but stopped off in Morro Bay to play a round of golf at the golf course in the State Park. What a fun experience. The fog was incredibly thick and never lifted the entire time so we saw very little of the ocean and bay...and the golf course. It was like playing in the dark, unable to see more than a few yards in front of us. We played with a father and son who were great fun and the four of us did our best not to hit anyone in front of us with our golf balls.

We arrived in Pismo Beach, settled into our hotel and then went to a fabulous well-known restaurant in the town of Nipomo for dinner. Jocko's is known for its meat and so Rick and I each had steak...something we almost never do since we've generally given up meat for health reasons. can you go to a steak restaurant and then order chicken???

Thursday was yet another round of golf at one of the nearby courses and I was exhausted so I only played 9 holes. The course meandered through a development of large homes and wasn't nearly as interesting as the courses we played earlier in the week. And to top it off, I became the food source for a large colony of mosquitoes. I have bites all over the back of my legs, ankles and wrists and I'd forgotten how miserable it can be. We have very few mosquitoes here in Southern California so it never dawned on me to bring bug repellent on our trip. I know the itching will disappear in a few days but, until then, I'm not a happy golfer!!!

So now we're home and back to our normal routine. We're already talking about planning our next golfing vacation and I want to go back up to Cambria in December to visit Hearst Castle when it's decorated for Christmas. Stay tuned...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Which Way to the First Tee?

Our bags are packed; we're ready to go...

Bright and early tomorrow morning, Rick and I will be leaving for our golfing extravaganza in Central California. First stop is Santa Cruz, followed by Cambria and then Pismo Beach. We'll be back next Friday.

The only non-golfing plan at the moment is a visit to Hearst Castle (San Simeon) which was the home of newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst. I will do my best to squeeze in a few other sightseeing detours although we've been making this trip every September for several years now so we've seen practically everything between Los Angeles and Santa Cruz. Still...I'm sure there are a few off-the-beaten path sights we've yet to discover.

I am taking Silver Wonder (my laptop) with me so I will try and post while we're away. I'm also taking my camera so hopefully I'll have lots of photos to share when we get back. I'm not sure if I'll be able to keep up with your blogs but I'll do my best to stop by and visit while we're on the road. I hope everyone has a wonderful week.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What Map Skills???

I've always prided myself on my ability to read a map. I can still remember learning how to navigate using a map when I was in elementary school. Whenever we've taken road trips, I've always been the one to plot our route and to make sure we've been on course to our destination.

In some respects, mapping online sites such as Mapquest and Google Maps have taken much of the fun out of planning our trips. Yes, I admit that I use these sites to find directions to destinations around town and when we travel. Even so, I always make sure we have a map in our car to follow along when we're traveling to places we've never been before. What can I say...I'm a map junkie.

So why did I not put a stop to it when Rick started talking about buying a portable GPS unit for the car? Several of our friends now have units and I think Rick was feeling a little left out and behind-the-times. He's been doing his usual in-depth research on the different units and features and I figured it would be months and months before he would decide which one to actually buy.

Anyway, we mentioned our interest in GPS units to my cousin Ina when we had dinner with her two weekends ago. She has a unit and she was telling us how wonderfully convenient it is. Then last Thursday, she sent me an e-mail with the news that she'd been given a new one and that she was generously donating her older one to us. We met for dinner on Saturday and Rick and I are now the proud owners of a portable GPS device.

Here's the surprising part...I've been having waaaay too much fun with it. Since Rick is a technophobe at heart, I've been playing with the unit trying to figure out all the cool features and I think I have it down pat. I've already programmed some of the hotels we're staying at on our fast approaching golf vacation as "Favorites" and I've checked the "Points of Interest" feature to make sure the golf courses we're playing are included. Oh boy!

Of course, you can be sure that I will still take along those old-fashioned things called "maps." What can I say...I'm still a 20th Century girl living in a 21st Century world.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Not Always A Loser

You lose some; you win some. On Monday, I took my mom and my cousin Ina up to the casino at one of the tribal reservations. Mom loves to play the slot machines (the penny ones) even though they now seem overwhelming to her. Mom always wins and this time she walked away with $40 while Ina ended up a whole $1 ahead. Me? As usual, I ended up losing only a few dollars which for me is pretty darn good.

Then on Tuesday I was informed by Lynne over at Lynne's Little Corner of the World that I'd won her very generous book giveaway. So now I will be the happy recipient of a Debbie Macomber book which I will comfortably read while sitting on my brand new loveseat in my still-a-work-in progress den. Thanks Lynne!

Speaking of my den, I know I promised photos but since the book nook is not done yet, I hope you'll be satisfied with a photo I took of the loveseat while Rick and I were in the furniture store a few weeks ago. It fits perfectly in the den and I've already initiated it by sitting on it to read and watch TV and the all-important napping.

Not much else is happening. Today Rick and I went out for our weekly golf game. Sigh... Let's just say that today was not one of my best efforts. This is all very discouraging because we are leaving the end of next week for a weeklong golfing vacation in Central California. The first round of golf will actually be in an annual family and friends golf tournament which always causes me great consternation and fear. Although the people we play with are all very nice, there is a certain amount of competitiveness amongst the men and women and it makes for a very stressful round of golf. Yes, I know I should ignore the psychological torment and have a good time but I just can't seem to get over caring what these people think of my game. Oh well, we have one more practice round before we leave and maybe I will miraculously find the perfect swing somewhere on the golf course. To steal a mantra from my sister Lynn, "breathe in, breathe out."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Labor Day Weekend Fun

Although the Labor Day weekend began with the traumatic theft of Rick's beloved watch on Friday, the weekend itself turned out to be quite happy.

Saturday we basically took it easy but Sunday turned out to be a blast! We went to our friends' home for a family and friends BBQ. Joey's grandparents (now to be known as Grandpa B and Grandma J) hosted the party for their 4 children and respective spouses along with 2-year-old Joey and 2-week-old Kaitlyn. In addition, Grandma J's two sisters were there as well as another couple who have been longtime friends. The food was wonderful (steaks and ahi tuna, assorted salads, corn on the cob, desserts) and Joey kept us entertained with the little plastic rolling golf cart with clubs and golfballs that Rick and I bought him. Poor Kaitlyn...she got passed around from female arms to female arms although I have to give us all credit for our restraint and cooperation. We managed to remain civilized and shared the joy of holding the little angel.

Yesterday, Rick went to the YMCA for a workout while I went to the market to pick up dinner items. Then I suddenly had the urge to visit one of the nearby furniture stores looking for the elusive loveseat for the den/computer room. So, how long have I been looking for a loveseat? I admit it...years and years. And what happened yesterday? I sat in four loveseats (this one's too soft, this one's too deep) when suddenly I got to the fifth one, sat down and shrieked "this one's just right!" Yes, ladies and gentlemen...I did my very own version of "Goldilocks and the Five Loveseats." Out came the credit card and, before I knew it, I was scheduling delivery for this coming Thursday. Yes...I promise to post photos once it's here and in place.

So what am I doing this morning? I've truthfully been using our den as a storage/junk room (along with the computer and TV) and so I've been moving boxes and "stuff" into the garage and other parts of the house. Then it's off to lunch with my retired friend Sherry. I am so excited. Soon I will have my own little retreat where I can relax and get started on the piles and piles of books I have waiting for me. Ahhh...

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Combination Lock Users Beware

Here's a scary followup to the theft of Rick's money and watch on Friday. It should be particularly unnerving to all the parents out there who send their kids off to school each year with combination locks for their school and gym lockers.

Yesterday, Rick went to the YMCA (the scene of the crime) to do his normal workout and the very nice young man at the reception desk (whom we'd spoken to on Friday after the theft) immediately came over to speak with him. Apparently, this young man went home on Friday absolutely believing Rick's contention that his locker had been securely locked during the theft. This young man decided to help Rick figure out how someone could breach the combination lock that had been used. Leave it to the expertise and inquisitive nature of young people. Sure enough, this young man found hundreds of websites detailing various ways to crack the combination of these much-used locks. Yikes!

What makes this all seem so surreal is that, after the theft, Rick and I went to W*lm*rt to buy a brand new lock to replace the breached one. When we got home and opened the packaging, lo and behold, we discovered that the new combination was exactly the same as the one he'd been using for three years. Now...what is the likelihood that, with all the locks out there in the world to purchase, we would find one that had the same combination as a 3-year-old lock??? So now we are wondering whether this lock manufacturer uses only just a few combinations and that the thief simply tried combinations until he found the right one.

In some ways, Rick feels a bit better knowing that it is absolutely possible he did not fail to lock the locker securely before going off to work out and that the thief had used a devious method to gain entry. scary is it to be reminded that, while the Internet provides an incredible amount of worthwhile information, it can also be used by criminals to commit evil acts against innocent victims?

Friday, August 29, 2008

There Is No Safe Haven

This has been a tough day for Rick. He went to our YMCA this morning for his usual 3 hour workout. When he went into the locker room at the end of his workout, he discovered that someone had entered his locker; $130 was missing from his wallet; and his very valuable Breitling watch was gone. He was devastated...not only at the loss of his beloved watch but also at the thought that a community institution such as the YMCA is not the safe and secure place one would hope or expect it to be.

How did the thief manage to gain access to the locker? Rick is not sure although our guess is that either someone was surrepticiously watching him use his combination or the lock hadn't been latched properly. either case, Rick knows that, most likely, he is at fault for not being more security conscious and that only makes him feel more responsible and imperfect.

He reported the theft to the YMCA staff and then went immediately home to cancel all his credit cards since he knows that at least one of his cards was removed from its slot and replaced backwards. His concern is that his card numbers were compromised and could potentially be used by the thief to make purchases online or by phone. Then he went to our local police station to make a formal police report.

Neither of us believe in our hearts that the thief will ever be caught or that the watch will be recovered. We know that, in the grand scheme of things, this crime is miniscule compared to the violent and major crimes that go on in this city every day. Rick keeps trying to remind himself that the money and his watch are simply "things" and that nothing is more important than his safety and his well-being which thankfully remain intact.

I think what is saddest for us is that this crime took place at a YMCA where they strive so hard to impart their "6 Pillars of Character" (trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship) to people who walk through the door. Apparently someone at our YMCA just hasn't gotten the message.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Who Exactly Am I?

For some time now, I have been thinking about changing my blog identity. When I became the "Erstwhile Librarian" almost three years ago, I'd been retired only two years and was working part-time as a staff trainer for the library. Images of me sitting at the reference desk or walking through the library stacks with patrons still permeated my dreams...and nightmares.

How things have changed. On Tuesday, my friend Sherry and I stopped by our former library on our way to lunch with our also-retired friends. Walking through the front doors of the library where I'd spent so much of my professional life was an entirely different experience. I knew practically no one at the Circulation Desk and most of the librarians were strangers to me. I passed by the office where I once spent so much of my time and felt not one pang of sadness or even recognition. It was as if all those years of library experience had simply vanished from my life's resume.

So now I am thinking that it is time to change my blog title. I've been sitting in front of my computer trying out new blog names and URLs. So many of my creative choices have already been taken so I am still trying to find one that will carry me through the years to come. And this exercise has made me sit down and think about who I really am now and how I want others to view me. This self-analyzing stuff is really hard...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Who Said Retirement Would Be Boring?

Whew...I'm in the middle of another busy, busy week. Yesterday I spent the day with Mom; today it's lunch with some of my also-retired library friends; tomorrow it's golf with Rick and some friends; Thursday it's a morning dentist apppointment and then the movies with Rick; Friday it's a fun day with another retired friend. I promise never to complain again that retirement is anything but stimulating.

With all these activities, I've been pretty negligent about my health. I haven't been to the YMCA for several weeks (except for my tap dance class) and I really do need to set some time aside to go and do some cardio and weight work. And then all the lunchs with friends and Mom have put a kaboosh on my diet. I've been trying to stick to salads with lo-cal dressings and I have managed to stay away from french fries and other salty dishes but I can't say the scale has been very cooperative. Sigh...

On another note, Rick and I were pleasantly surprised to see New Dad, New Mom and Kaitlyn at church Saturday evening. At 6-days old, she was as cute as can be and so well behaved...not a peep out of her during the entire mass. We've been invited to Joey and Kaitlyn's grandparents' home for a BBQ on Sunday and we are so looking forward to seeing the two young cousins together. Get those cameras ready!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I Should Have Stopped After 9

Today Rick and I played our first round of golf together in 5 weeks...since my orthopedic boot ordeal. Although we've been to the driving range a few times, I've been a little nervous about how my swing and fairly new clubs would work once the boot came off.

We've been playing this summer at a course near the beach since I absolutely melt when it gets hot. We try and play early in the morning when there's a nice fog bank to keeps things cool. Today was not that kind of day although the breeze did keep things from getting blazing hot. did I do? My front 9 was the absolute best golf I've ever played. I shot a 47 and hit my driver, woods and irons extremely well. Even my putting, which has always been the bane of my game, was outstanding and I made some incredible putts. Geez...I even chipped in from off the green on one hole. that was the front 9. Apparently, a whole different person showed up to play the back 9. I couldn't seem to make my swing work and suddenly balls were veering off to the left, to the right, dribbling along the grass. Sigh... Let's just say I had an 11 on one hole and a 9 on another. My back 9 score was 22 shots more than my front 9...a whopping 69.

Now every golfer will tell you that their very first goal, when learning to play, is to shoot under 100. If I'd only played as well on the back as I did on the front, I would have shot a 94! Instead, my score was a disappointing 116. But the good news is that my game is coming along and, somewhere out there, is my very first round under 100. We did make a tee time for next week after our round was over and you just never know...

Monday, August 18, 2008

In Her Own Time

Yesterday now seems like one long blur as our entire day was spent at the hospital awaiting the birth of our friends' first grandaughter. Rick and I arrived at the hospital at 9:40AM followed shortly by the anticipating grandparents and great-aunts. We spent the morning and early afternoon in and out of the soon-to-be-parents' room. Then it was time to get down to business so we took our places in the labor and delivery waiting room. And we waited and waited and waited. Rick's contact lens began to bother him big time so he left for home around 8:30pm. The rest of us hung in there until the happy end.

I won't go into all the details but let's just say we were extremely relieved when one of the nurses finally made a rocking-the-baby motion with her arms, sometime around midnight, to let us know that, yes indeed, Baby Girl had arrived. I guess it's the hospital's rule that only the new dad can make the announcement to the waiting family so we had another long wait before New Dad came out with the joyous news. Baby Kaitlyn was born at 11:10PM weighing in at 6lbs 15oz and 20 inches long. We finally got to see the new bundle of joy around 1:00AM and she indeed is one beautiful little girl.

So now Rick's grandgodson Joey has a new baby cousin and Kaitlyn is one very lucky little girl to join this incredibly loving, warm and close-knit family.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Our Version of "A Baby Story"

When we got home from church this evening there was a message on our answering machine to call our friends B and J. To recap...B and J are really close friends and their #2 daughter is Rick's goddaughter and her 2-year-old son Joey is Rick's grandgodson.

Since their #3 daughter is due with her first child in 10 days, I was pretty sure the call had something to do with it. Sure enough...when I called I found out their daughter is in the hospital and the doctor will be inducing labor.

When Joey was born two years ago, we had to make a beeline run up to Northern California to be there for his birth. This time things are much more convenient. The hospital is only a few miles from our home which means that we can drive at a much safer speed to get there when it's time. Joey's Grandma has promised she will call us when she gets the call from her daughter or son-in-law that true labor has started. I've instructed her to call us no matter what time of day or night so this may be an interesting rest of the weekend.

We are hoping all goes well and I will let you know when Baby Girl arrives.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

It's been a busy week so far. On Monday, I spent the day with my sister Lynn, Mom and the kids. Maybe it's me but, whenever I spend the day with my niece and nephew, I come home exhausted. I guess it's because, having never had children myself, I'm just not used to the level of activity and noise kids produce. I did complete one task that I've been promising my niece I'd do for her. I taught her how to make (and eat) chocolate chip cookie dough. For some reason, she has always been fascinated with my story of how I made it through graduate school by studying with a friend while eating uncooked cookie dough and now Elle knows what it tastes like. Mission accomplished.

Tuesday was a Mom day and, as usual, I took her out for lunch and then to her Fall Prevention class. Next week is her 8th and final class where the seniors will be re-tested and then gather for a little potluck goodbye party. I'm in a quandry as to what to bring. The class starts at 2:00PM and I need something that can sit in a hot car (in a cooler if necessary) while we go to lunch first. Any ideas (and recipes) would be greatly appreciated.

Yesterday was very busy. Rick and I went to the YMCA in the morning where I tested my newly healed foot on the treadmill, followed by some work on the weight machines and then part of an Aqautics class. Then he and I went out for lunch and to a golf store to buy him some more golf balls.

In the afternoon, we attended the funeral of a 59-year-old friend who passed away after a long courageous battle against cancer. Craig was a runner, writer, a true Renaissance man, and the nicest, gentlest man I've ever known and we (his friends and family) will miss him greatly. He is now the third friend who has passed away after the discovery of a melanoma and I urge everyone to make sure that all family members (particularly youngsters) take great care to protect themselves from the sun.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Unveiling

Yippee! I went to the Podiatrist yesterday and I am now boot-free. Of course I have to be careful with the foot, not to re-injure it, and I need to work on restoring the flexibility I lost while it was basically immobile for the past four weeks but I am so happy to finally be able to wear shoes on both feet.

There's no way I can describe the look on his face or the heavy sigh when I asked Doc if I could take a tap dance class. But after a few moments of composing himself, he did say I could try it and see what happens. He made me promise that, if I felt the slightest pain or discomfort, I would stop immediately.

So off I went last night to my tap dance class. I made sure I had lots of padding in my new tap shoes but the bottom of both feet did bother me during class so I was good and sat out some of the more ballistic dance steps. I had a great time and I'm hoping that, over time, my feet will be more cooperative and let me make it through the whole routine. Shuffle, shuffle, stomp!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Erstwhile Yet Again

Some of you may remember my little staff trainer job with my former Library Department. To refresh anyone's memory, I was asked to come back in late 2005 from retirement to help train staff, on a part-time basis, in the use of the Library's computer system. I worked fairly consistently during the first several months but then slowly my hours dropped and I've worked only occasionally over the past year or so.

Well, today I finally went in and signed my release papers and turned in my ID and building entry cards. I'm done. The Library now has a new computer system, fully trained new trainers and staff and I am an anachronism. So it was time to let go. Am I sad? Absolutely not! I've found that the longer I've been away from the Library, the less I identify with my role as librarian. Now it's the "erstwhile" part which seems to define who and what I am.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Catching Up...

It was a busy weekend for me and this is the first free time I've had to post. My once mundane life has suddenly taken a turn and now it seems there are things to do every day...and that's just the way I like it.

Let's see...Saturday I went to a baby shower for Rick's god-daughter's sister who is due near the end of August. Just to refresh your memories, that would make the honoree's mother my good friend "Joey's Grandmother." Yes...I know it's all very confusing. And, now that Joey will have a new baby girl cousin soon, I'm thinking I need to rename his Grandma since she will now be the grandmother of not one but two.

On Sunday morning, Rick and I went for our monthly golf lessons. Surprisingly, I hit the ball really well with the orthopedic boot protecting my right foot. Hmmm...maybe all I need to do is put spikes on the bottom of the boot and try a round of golf.

In the late afternoon, Rick and I met another couple and their nephew and we all went to the theater. We saw a really funny troupe of performers whom we've seen in other productions. They normally satirize works of Shakespeare, turning his plays into hilarious musicals, but this time they took and twisted Lewis Carroll's "Alice Through the Looking Glass." It was a truly wild and funny evening.

Today was my much awaited return visit to the doctor for a blood pressure check after a month of watching my diet and taking the new medication dosage. Sigh... She and her nurse took a total of three readings during the exam and each one was worse than the last. Now Rick has to take my pressure at home every day so I can chart the results for several weeks and then drop them off at the doctor's office so she can decide whether to change my medications again. The good thing is I'm expecting that the Podiatrist on Thursday will tell me to get rid of the boot and then I can begin the next step in my health rehab...exercise!!!

Finally, tonight we went over to Joey's grandparents' home and then out to dinner with them. Rick hadn't seen his grand-godson on this visit and we wanted to make sure Rick had the chance to see him before he and his mom (Rick's god-daughter) leave later this week for their home in Northern California. It's hard to believe that Joey has just turned two (where has the time gone?) He proudly recited his ABC's and numbers 1-10 for us and Rick was the hit of the evening with his oh-so-very talented ability to make authentic pig noises. Joey roared with laughter and now I'm thinking Rick will forever be the "Pigman" in Joey's mind...oink, oink.

Tomorrow it's lunch with Mom followed by her Fall Prevention Class. See...I told you my days are now filled with "stuff" to do.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Shuffle, Shuffle, Stomp

I have a little secret. Ever since I retired four years ago, I've wanted to do two new things in my life...learn to play the drums and tap dance. I've talked about both activities over and over but just never found the time or energy or will to do anything about them.

So a few weeks ago I was at my YMCA when I noticed a sign announcing a new class starting on July 31st..."Tap Dance for Adults." My heart skipped a few beats as I suddenly saw an opportunity I just couldn't miss...until I looked down and realized I was standing on a "damaged" foot sporting a big black walking boot. Damn!

So what did I do? I immediately went home, turned on my computer, searched my favorite shoe buying website and ordered tap shoes (in a narrow width). They arrived, they fit and they are sitting on the floor of my den.

Last night was the first class so I went over to the YMCA and explained my predicament to the instructor before class. She suggested I sit in on the class and assured me she'd let me into the already full class once my foot healed.

I purposely left my tap shoes at home fearing I might suddenly decide to throw off my boot, put my shoes on and join in. It's a good thing I did! The class was incredibly fun and the students were all ages...from teens to seniors. Some admitted to taking tap classes when they were young while others were first-timers.

So yesterday I learned some of the fundamentals of tap while sitting on the sidelines. Oh wait...I guess you could say I took a "Chair Tap Dance" class because there I was sitting in a chair moving my feet (boot and all) just like all the rest of the students learning the various tap steps and dance routines.

I go to the Podiatrist next Thursday and I'm expecting he'll tell me that my foot is healed and I can stop wearing the boot. I'm sure he'll urge me to wear really supportive shoes and go easy on my foot for a while. So what do you think he'll say when I tell him I'm planning to take a tap dance class that night?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Whole Lotta Shakin'

I knew it had been too quiet lately...quiet on the earthquake front. When you live in Southern California, you come to expect a little temblor once in a while. And today was that "while."

Mom and I were sitting in my car at a red light this morning when suddenly the car began to rock and roll. At first, I thought maybe my engine had decided to sputter badly but then I looked at the car in front of us (which was doing the same "dance") and realized we were having an earthquake.

I immediately turned on the radio to a local news station and, sure enough, they reported that we indeed had just had a 5.4 quake centered nearly 70 miles from where we were. I was pretty amazed at the intensity of the rolling considering the distance from the epicenter but I guess I shouldn't be surprised. We've had other quakes some distance away and have felt them too.

I don't think you ever become totally blaise about earthquakes but I think I've learned to take them in stride. The first earthquake I ever experience was the 1971 Sylmar quake (2 years after arriving in L.A.) which was pretty intense (particularly since we were living on the 3rd floor of an apartment building only 10-15 miles from the epicenter). I still, to this day, remember the rattling sound of the bathroom door which was right next to my bed.

Then there was the 1994 Northridge quake which was "just around the corner" from my house. Although our house itself was not damaged, many of our possessions (including Rick's running trophies) were smashed on the floor and our exterior block walls came a 'tumbling down.

Thankfully, today's quake caused very little damage (even near the epicenter) and that's a good thing. I think all the shaking did was rattle a few nerves and remind us, once again, how important it is to be prepared for when the "Big One" comes.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mamma Movie

Rick and I went to the movies yesterday on another one of our weekly dates. This time I got to choose and so I decided on Mamma Mia. I know it's been described as a "chick flick" so I gave him every opportunity to pick something else...he declined so off we went.

We usually go to a movie which has been in release for several weeks so there are very few in the audience. Although we were the first into the theater, the place began to fill and, by the time the movie started, there were actually 40 people in the audience. And, "yes" it's definitely a "chick" flick. How do I know this? Because, of the 40 movie-goers, exactly 4 were men. That's right...10%...which means that 90% were women (see, I can do math).

I know the film hasn't gotten the best of reviews but, from the reaction of the audience, it was a winner to them. Women were simultaneously singing on screen and in the audience and I think everyone would have gotten up out of their seats to dance if given the included.

Was it a great movie? No. Was it a fun summertime bet!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Damn...It's Only July!

So I'm sure you're wondering why I have a jack-o'-lantern graphic in today's post. After all, Halloween is still three months away.

Well, yesterday I was in a local store when I turned the corner only to find myself facing shelves and shelves of Halloween decorations. That's right...Halloween "stuff." I'm sorry but did the store manager rip too many months off the calendar that must be hanging on her office wall??? Did she forget to look at the date on the front page of her morning newspaper?

I can understand all the back-to-school supplies and clothing which are now displayed in every store. School here begins in late August-early September and moms need that much time to get everything their kids will need. But honestly...Halloween in July?

Then, to add insult to injury, I had the television on this morning and found myself watching a Monk re-run with a Halloween theme.'s still only July for goodness sakes!!!

Yes, I understand businesses are now run by youngsters pretending to be adults. And I understand my middle-aged self no longer fits into the demographic they're trying to attract. But still...someday they will be my age and realize that time is already moving far too fast. The one thing they won't need is corporate America helping to rush them (and us) along.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Most Perfect Weekend

Rick and I are home now after enjoying a wonderful weekend in Laguna Beach. Our friends Joe and Sue were kind enough to ask us to accompany them to the Pageant of the Masters which is an incredible 90 minute art experience which is held in conjunction with the summer-long Festival of Arts. We've always wanted to go and so we were thrilled when Sue invited us, not only to the Festival and Pageant, but also to stay at her brother's incredible hillside home.

We arrived early Saturday morning and marveled at the wonderful home and its views of the Pacific Ocean. We stayed in the home's "mother-in-law" suite which consisted of a living room, dining area, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom all beautifully furnished. We even had our own little balcony with a wonderful view of the ocean.

The four of us went out for breakfast and then took a backstage tour of the Pageant. From there, we walked a few blocks to the Sawdust Festival. This arts and crafts fair is also held in Laguna Beach during the summer and provides booths for less "formal" artists and crafts people to sell their creations. We wandered around looking at all the beautiful things and Rick was sweet enough to buy me a pair of beautiful silver earrings. Although I'm still in my black walking boot, there was no way I was going to miss any of it and so I trudged along, stopping to sit when I needed a break. Thankfully, the weather was overcast so it was much cooler than in previous years (at least that's what Sue told us) and it made my life a heck of a lot easier.

After our shopping extravaganza, we headed back to the house for a little R&R. Then it was off to a local beachfront restaurant for dinner where we ate out on the patio watching the waves.

After dinner, we walked over to the Festival of Arts where artists display and sell their work. We wandered around and did find an oil painting we liked but not at the $6500 purchase price.

Then it was time for the Pageant to start so we entered the outdoor theater and took our seats to watch the show.

It's really hard to describe exactly what the Pageant is all about. It's basically 90 minutes of "living pictures" which are exact art re-creations of classical and contemporary works (paintings and sculpture) with real people posing to look exactly like their counterparts in the original pieces. It is truly amazing to watch these performers hold difficult poses for 90 seconds to 2 minutes in intricate costumes and makeup.

This morning the four of us went out for breakfast and then Rick and I bid "adieu" to our friends and got on the road and headed home. This was definitely a memory-making weekend and we're already talking about ordering tickets when they become available for next year's Pageant.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Back In My Own Bed

I've been away from BlogLand for the past few days thanks to my house-sitting, Mom-sitting, dog-sitting, kitties-sitting, foreign exchange students-sitting time at my sister's home while they were off camping this weekend.

I've done this every July now for a few years but this time they added my niece's two new kitties plus the two foreign exchange students they have been hosting for a few weeks. Actually, Yulia (from Russia) and Surya (from Indonesia) spent most of the weekend in San Francisco but I picked them up at the meeting point Sunday evening and then got them ready on Monday to be picked up for their morning English class/afternoon Santa Barbara excursion. Surya left for home Monday evening and Yulia will be here for another few days and then leave for home late Sunday. I know it's been a great experience not only for these two fine young people but also for my niece and nephew who have had an opportunity to learn something about life in other countries.

On another note...I've been trudging along with my black walking boot counting the weeks until I can get rid of it. Besides being difficult to find a shoe for my left foot that is the same height as the boot on my right, it's been really hot and humid here in Southern California and my leg feels like it's in an oven. The good news is that I tested the injured area this morning and the pain seems to have disappeared. Yeah!!! So now I'm thinking maybe I won't need to wear the boot for the entire four weeks. I think I'll give it another week and then call the podiatrist and plead my case. I can be pretty convincing when I need to be.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Blame It On Mom (and Dad Too)

It's never a good thing when your doctor's nurse leaves a voice mail message on your cell phone less than 24 hours after you've done your lab me. Rick and I were playing golf with friends yesterday morning (OK...I spent most of the holes sitting in the golf cart nursing my still-hurting foot) and, when we were done, I checked my phone and retrieved the message which basically said "call me back ASAP." So I did and that's when I got hit with the bad news. My LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) number was way off the charts! Yikes! So now my doctor has switched me to a more effective cholesterol-lowering medication and, of course, I have to watch my diet and do that evil thing called "exercise." Then I have to re-test in three months. Can you hear me sighing...?

So now I'm even more depressed than I was on Monday when I was told my blood pressure numbers were too high. You have to understand...yes, I haven't been exercising like I should...I admit it. But except for a sudden yen for salty crunchy snacks (which probably explains the rise in blood pressure), my diet has always been a low fat, low cholesterol one. When I look at the list of foods to avoid, I'm already avoiding most, if not all, of them. All some people need to do is cut out all the bad food and their cholesterol numbers come down dramatically. Not mine! Geez, I lost 40 pounds nine years ago after my original high cholesterol, high blood pressure diagnosis and my bad lab numbers did not budge...not one point! The doctor's reasoning was simple...blame Mom and Dad for my lousy genetic makeup.

So I guess that means I need to do it with a combination of my more potent drugs AND exercise. Oh wait! My foot problem is causing excrutiating pain when I simply walk. How am I going to add cardio exercises to my life when I can't put even the slightest pressure on my foot without pain? I guess that's a question the podiatrist is going to have to answer when I see him this morning. Lucky man.

Update: Well I'm back from the podiatrist appointment and the good news is that the Xrays indicate no stress fracture. The bad news is that the diagnosis remains undefined. He and I both assume it's some kind of soft tissue injury so he gave me a cortisone shot to reduce the inflammation and then put me in one of those heavy black orthopedic boots which I need to wear for 4 weeks (count 'em...4) until I have my next appointment with him. This will not be a fun month and it means golf and all the cardio exercises I was planning to start need to be put on hold. Damn!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I Wanna Cup of Coffee

It's morning and normally I would be seated at our kitchen table with Hubby; we'd be reading the newspaper; and both of us would be sipping our deliciously smooth cups of coffee. Instead, I'm sitting in the den, writing this post and trying desperately to avoid the wonderful aroma of just-brewed java coming from our kitchen. Why am I depriving myself of my favorite morning drink? I'm fasting.

My doctor appointment yesterday went pretty much as expected particularly since I hadn't done any lab tests yet so she couldn't scold me too much. She did the normal physical exam and we discussed the questions on my list. My foot problem remains unresolved so she's referring me to Podiatry where hopefully I will get some answers and relief. My blood pressure numbers were depressingly high so she's increased one of my medications...damn. And she scheduled me for a battery of lab surprise there.

So now I've been fasting for nearly 14 hours. When I'm done posting this, I'll throw on some clothes and drive to the lab to have vials and vials of blood drawn. Then I'll race on over to the closest St*rb*cks where I will order my usual vente latte and savor each and every drop. Then maybe this headache I have will finally go away.

Monday, July 7, 2008

What's Up Doc?

I've been dreading today for three weeks now. Why? Today I have a doctor's appointment and, since it's been 3 years since I last saw her, I'm guessing she's going to read me the riot act about ignoring my health. And I have no excuse...I have been ignoring things. I guess I've been subscribing to that very wrong philosophy that "ignorance is bliss."

So today is the day I will face the truth. I've been sitting at the kitchen table this morning making a long list of the various questions I have for the doctor. I'm sure she will discuss in great detail my hypertension, high cholesterol, weight issues and a variety of other conditions that come with middle-age so those aren't even on my list. My questions are more individualized and specific to my quirky body.

It doesn't help that I'm going to be walking into the exam room limping dramatically. I've had a terrible pain in my right foot now for a few months and it only seems to have gotten worse. Had I not had this appointment scheduled, I might have asked Hubby to take me to Urgent Care this weekend which tells you the amount of pain I'm now having. Yes, I've been playing golf. Yes, I've been out shopping. Yes, I've been trying to ignore it but that time has long passed.

My appointment today is a "physical" which means that my time with the doctor will be longer than usual and, considering my already known conditions, the length of my questions list and my very sore foot, it's a good thing. I have a feeling I'm going to need every minute I'm entitled to.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day

Happy 4th of July! I hope everyone enjoys the usual festivities of the day...parades, BBQs, picnics, beach parties, fireworks. We're going to our friends' annual BBQ this evening. Their home is on a hill and each year their backyard gives us a view of not one but three (yes, 3) fireworks displays put on by their city, the nearby community and the big amusement park in the area. So have a wonderful time today and remember to stay safe.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Balance Anyone?

Today I took my mom to her first "Balance and Gait" class presented by our HMO's Physical Therapy department. The purpose of the class is to help seniors prevent falls by developing better balance and it is held once a week for 8 one-hour sessions. The class has 8 students all of whom qualify for Medicare and I'm guessing my mom is close to the oldest (if not the oldest) member.

Anyway, today's session consisted of an introduction to the class, a demonstration of the 3 exercises each student is expected to do on a daily basis as homework, and then a series of timed tests which are used to evaluate each student's starting physical capabilities. These tests included:
  • Standing up from a seated position, then sitting down and then repeating the action as many times as possible in a 30 second period
  • Standing up from a seated position, walking as fast as possible for 8 feet and then turning around and sitting back down as fast as possible
  • Marching for a 2 minute time period and counting the number of steps taken
  • Standing still with arms crossed against the chest, feet together and eyes closed for 30 seconds without losing balance
Well, let me tell mom's performance was surprisingly good considering her age. Yes...she does have balance problems when she walks yet she was able to complete most of these tests well within the expected results for someone her age. The only one she had any real problems with was the "standing still with eyes closed" test. She did lose her balance on that one and had to grab on to the rail next to her. Still...I tried that one myself and I can tell you that it's not as easy as it sounds. Hmmm...maybe it's a good thing I'm going to take her to each session and sit in with her.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

"Cool" Art

I was sitting at the kitchen table this morning drinking my coffee and reading the newspaper when I looked up at our refrigerator. At least, I think it's a refrigerator and I think it's white in color. It's hard to tell when all you see are notes and receipts and business cards and all sorts of odd shaped papers attached by magnets to the three visible sides...not to mention the erasable monthly calendar obsuring most of the freezer door.

I can't remember the last time either of us culled through all this refrigerator "art" to see what was outdated and needed removal. I guess I'll add that little chore to my long "To Do" list. And where do you think I keep that list? You've got it...on the refrigerator!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Can You Hear Me Now?

It's been in the news but, in case you missed it, California is set to become a "hands-free driving" state on July 1st. That means that adults will no longer be able to hold and talk on their cell phones while driving their cars. Juvenile drivers will be prohibited from having any cell phone conversations...hands-free included.

Needless to say, there's been a run on Bluetooth equipment lately. Everywhere I've gone in the past few weeks, I've seen more and more people seemingly talking to themselves with little black rectangles attached to their ears. Not too long ago, I took my mom to lunch and two men were walking to their cars with headsets on. Suddenly Mom pointed to them and asked me if they were aliens. Believe me...she had a big smile on her face so I knew she was just joking but they did look like castoffs from a Star Trek episode.

So with July 1st just around the corner, I finally dragged our headsets out from the closet. I don't use my cellphone in the car very often but I know there may be times when I might so I want to be prepared. Our cell phones are a year old and we did buy Bluetooth equipment for them at the time but we never did anything about them.

So last night I ripped open the plastic packaging and charged both headsets. Then I took out the tiny instruction manual (I swear I needed a magnifying glass to read the darn thing) so I could figure out how to sync the phones with the headsets. Next I set about learning how to operate in a hands-free world and, after a few miscues, I finally managed to turn on the headset, make a call, and then turn off the headset (without accidently re-dialing my sister for the umpteenth time.) Once I was successful, it was time for me to show Rick how to use his phone and headset (thank goodness we have the same model of phone).

So this afternoon, there I was in Costco talking to Lynn on my headset. I can only imagine what I looked like to the other shoppers. Oh wait...I know...I was just another alien communicating with her species.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Good, the Sad, the Necessary

I'm having a little trouble focusing the dear ol' brain so I thought I'd just ramble about this week's things that were and things that will be.

In another quest to recapture our early dating years together, Rick and I decided to spend another afternoon at the movies yesterday. This time Rick's choice was Iron Man and, although I knew the film had gotten pretty good reviews, I wasn't particularly anxious to see it. Still...going to the movies in this awful Southern California heat wave seemed like a good idea so off we went. Truthfully, I did enjoy the movie. Oh, it wasn't anything deep or thought provoking but it did provide two hours of rollicking good fun so for me it was a success.

Today was yet another day on the golf course for us. Rick was kind enough to make our tee time at a course near the beach so we were able to escape the heat. To be honest...I actually had a really good time. No, I didn't have a stellar performance (I think I lost 3 balls along the way) but I did have a few good shots and I'm feeling more confident with my new clubs. Best of putting has improved big time with my new putter and that's always a good thing!

I don't have any plans for the next few days but on Saturday Rick and I will be attending our friend's brother's memorial service. Dave was 54 years old and died a week after suffering a debilitating stroke. It's frightening to think that someone so young can die so suddenly. Sadly, we will miss the Saturday funeral of someone Rick has known since elementary school who also died this week...this time from cancer.

These deaths plus the recent death of Tim Russert have really made me face my own mortality. And it has also made me realize that ignoring my own health issues has got to stop. To this end, I actually sat down yesterday and made a much overdue appointment for a physical with my doctor. It's scheduled for the first week in July and now I'm sitting here trying to figure out how to lose some weight and lower my cholesterol before facing her. I'm sure she'll have lots to say about my current condition and I'm ready to hear it. It's time I get serious and take control...I want to have lots and lots of years on the golf course with Rick.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

From Bay to Ocean

We're back from our long wedding weekend in Coronado. In case you're not familiar with Coronado, it's a peninsula just across from San Diego. People always think of it as an island because you take a trip over the famous Coronado Bridge to get there but, trust me, it's really a peninsula. It's a quaint beach town as well as home to a naval installation which means, along with the thousands of tourists roaming the streets, you'll see lots and lots of military personnel on the streets and in the restaurants. And, of course, its claim to fame is the historic Del Coronado Hotel.

No...we did not stay at the "Del." Instead, we stayed at a hotel directly across the street from it as did many of the wedding party and guests. The centerpiece of our hotel was the "Mansion" which was the former home of an early 20th Century California sugar magnate. Sadly, we didn't stay in the Mansion with its cute bed-and-breakfast type rooms. Instead, our room was in the modern section of the hotel but we did have a bay view room. Here is what it looked like from our balcony.

Like much of Southern California, the weather was unseasonably warm and uncomfortably humid. Since the town is small, we left our car in the hotel's parking lot and walked everywhere. We spent our time seeing the sights in town, discovering excellent restaurants and visiting with our friends and their families. The wedding was Saturday evening at the local community center with a beautiful view of the bay. It wasn't too far so we walked from our hotel as did the members of the wedding party and many of the guests. Thankfully, the outdoor ceremony was short and then we all moved into the reception room to enjoy a wonderful dinner, lots of dancing and cool air conditioning.

So...what did I finally wear? The weather made me decide to wear my newest black dress which was thankfully sleeveless. I know "black" is not the usual color for wedding wear but, here in California, it has become quite acceptable to wear it and so I did as did many of the guests and even the mother-of-the-bride. Here is a photo of my dress and "no" that's not me wearing it!

This will probably be the last wedding for a very long time since all of our friends' children are now married. But that doesn't mean the celebrating is over. In August, there's a baby shower on the calendar and I'm guessing there will be lots more of those in my future.