Sunday’s Blooms – May 29, 2016

 

In Michigan, we’ve had summer like temps but little to no rain. As a result, the garden is growing quickly, everyday yielding new blooms. This morning I was thrilled to see even more blooms in the garden, including my Dwarf Korean Lilac.

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Much to my surprise, under the lilac bush, I found two of the feral kittens born about seven weeks ago on our porch.  I imagine that the fragrance of the lilacs is relaxing for them.

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Clematis, one of three varieties I have around the garden
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This first of many Clematis blossoms to come
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The first of my poppies!

Lots of shades of purple and yellow abound.

As I strolled around this morning, I found several “volunteers” that I didn’t plant but am happy to see all the same.  My rule is, if it’s growing in a crack but it’s a flower, vegetable or herb – leave it be!

59 Candles, 59 Things – part fifty & end of this series

As I finish up the final two entries in this series, I’d like to thank those of you who’ve followed along. Your interest and comments on 59 Candles, 59 Things has been so appreciated and it’s made me happy to share it with you.  It’s reminded me that there are many things to be grateful for every day and that life provides moments large and small that offer happiness.  

Fifty eighth thing: The next thing that makes me happy will come as no surprise – retirement!  A few months ago, I passed the two year mark of my retirement and it has gone fast.  I knew I’d enjoy it but never would have expected to have accomplished so many things that I’d wanted to do nor would I have guessed how busy I would be.  The biggest bonus is getting to hang out with Spence every day.  That time together is a gift and something I longed for when I was working full-time. I’ve picked up new hobbies, traveled, read tons of books, tended my garden and cooked my way through these last two years. There is still much more to come (God willing) and I look forward to embracing every moment and smelling all the roses!

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Fifty ninth thing: For the final entry in this series, I’m choosing to be happy about getting older – and here’s 10 reasons why:

  1. I’ve recently marked my 60th birthday and 60 is the new 50!
  2. I have everything I need (and more)
  3. I’m pretty darn healthy and am taking steps to be healthier.
  4. I’m happily married.
  5. I can and do travel frequently.
  6. I’m able to garden vigorously.
  7. I still dance – mostly in the kitchen.
  8. I have many interests and hobbies that I’m exploring.
  9. I can snuggle with the cats in my pj’s till noon if I want.
  10. My alarm clock rarely is set.

Okay, I’m sure you were expecting something more profound in that list or for the final post for this series.  But truly, getting older does make me happy.  I’m wiser now but still feel like a kid most days.  Yeah, there are aches and pains, surgical scars and a pacemaker that I’ve picked up along the way but I’m still here.

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Still here, even if I’m a bit crispy.

Thank you for following this series, I’ve had a blast blogging about these things that make me happy! 

 

 

59 Candles, 59 Things – part thirty eight

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“Hey kids, you’re as old as you feel!”

Forty sixth thing: For this entry in my series, I’m celebrating getting older.

What???” I imagine that someone in the blogosphere is saying.  Stay with me.

I’ll turn 60 in May.  I’m pretty sure that whatever I thought that age would feel like, it’s not at all what I expected. My mindset, likes and energy are better than when I was in my thirties.  I’m blessed with good health and a sense of fun, a love of dance and travel, getting to hang out with Spence everyday. I’m constantly learning and exploring new interests

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I frequently break into dance…..

Getting older for me has been enlightening. I worry less about what others think about me and am not so hard on myself.  For example – earlier this year I signed up for a guitar class. Unaware that being left-handed would be a “challenge” with a right-handed guitar (which had been gifted to me) as well as my surgically repaired right shoulder, I was certain I could do it. I attended 3 classes and practiced each day. It was dismal, painful, awkward.  Though it had been a bucket-list item for me, it was clear that it wasn’t meant to be and I quit!

As a child, my Dad used to say “no one likes a quitter” and that was good advice for a kid.

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A time-out isn’t so bad….

The freedom to let myself off the hook with guitar lessons in favor of not aggravating my shoulder and accepting that it wasn’t fun was part of my journey.

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Better a unicorn than a guitar player for Spence’s Girl!

Here’s to embracing my inner child and celebrating the aging process!

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Hence the reason I married an older man!
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Hilarious!

For more in the “59 Candles, 59 Things” series, click on “59 Things in Categories.

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On friendships

You know how sometimes you have to ask yourself that question, really honestly, about your relationship with somebody?
“Does this friendship make sense?”
Maybe it made sense once, but it doesn’t now?
Maybe one of you has changed too much?
Maybe one of you hasn’t changed enough?
It’s a tricky question. But an important one. Our lives are short and who we share our time and energy with matters.

By Author Elizabeth Gilbert

Funny when you see a quote that just speaks to you. My yoga/life coach Jules and I recently discussed these very questions. I’ve always been blessed with wonderful friendships. Retirement has brought about changes I expected and new experiences I couldn’t have imagined. With more time to spend with Spence, I’ve also taken my passion for travel, cooking, writing, gardening, photography to new heights. I’ve rediscovered my love of reading. I decided to try yoga and meditation and ended up embracing those practices into my daily life. As a result of those studies, I’ve grown in a spiritual direction.  I’m busy but focused.

Back to friendships. Jules and I discussed the natural attrition that happens over time. Ever wise, Jules made these statements that resonated with me. To paraphrase, “Warrior, (her nickname for me) you are on a new path. Friends may follow you and others, on their path, may no longer recognize you. Don’t step off your path or feel guilty about going your own way. Know that not every friend is meant to be in your life forever.”

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We all follow our own path…….

This presented an opportunity for introspection. Accept that we all change. Whether by mutual interests, proximity or just organically, we meet people who become friends. Some stay awhile, play their part in your life and drift away. Still others are long lasting and even when you don’t see them often, you pick up where you left off.

So for all those friends who’ve been a part of my life, I thank you. If we’ve lost touch, I wish you well and remember you fondly.

And enjoy whichever path you choose. Namaste.

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Passionate about Food

A gift from my life-long BFF that adorns my kitchen!
A gift from my life-long BFF that adorns my kitchen!

I’m a foodie and proud of it.  There are those who live to eat or eat to live. I’m in that first group.  There’s something that nourishes my soul when I’m preparing a meal, the creative process, the aromas.  Then savoring that meal – bliss. There’s a joy that I get from reading cookbooks, food magazines and an obsession for the Food Network that hasn’t diminished over time. I’ve always photographed food that I’ve prepared. I do the same at restaurants and have filled many travel journals with detailed descriptions of what Spence and I’ve eaten as we’ve traversed the globe.  When still working (ironically I worked with foodies) time between customers was filled with talk of food, recipes exchanged, restaurants recommended, what we wanted to have for lunch that day.  It was through a co-worker that I learned of Pinterest which further fuels my passion; I have no less than 10 specific food boards. Since retiring, I’m making more things from scratch as I have that luxury of time.  And though my first from-scratch batch of gnocchi wasn’t perfect (but darn good) with my potato ricer spewing potatoes all over the kitchen, I won’t be deterred.  And I’ll learn to make crepes and tamales within this first year of retirement, my to-do list knows no bounds. Stay tuned for more recipes and stories of my foodie ways…..

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Tonight we say goodbye to Jon Stewart & The Daily Show

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I awoke this morning with a feeling of sadness. After 16 years, Jon Stewart will do his last Daily Show this evening. I don’t begrudge him retiring, don’t get me wrong. I retired last year and love it. He has certainly earned this time to rest, relax and enjoy his family.

But Spence and I and countless others will miss him terribly.

Jon Stewart has been the touchstone for our news and politics for years. What makes him so popular is his honest, candid, unfiltered and ultimately humorous take on events and politicos. What makes him a true gem is that he isn’t politically correct but shines a comic light on the most sensitive topics without being mean-spirited, causing us to reflect profoundly. He holds people accountable – politicians both domestic and international, corporate bigwigs, financial pundits and others who are in the news – and isn’t above calling them out. We don’t always agree with his perspective, but always respect that he makes us think. We never find him offensive, rather…. refreshing. He feels like a guy you’d like to have drinks with and hope it turns into dinner.

During his tenure on The Daily Show, numerous comedic talents were discovered, among them:

  • Steve Carell
  • Stephen Colbert
  • Rob Corddry
  • Ed Helms
  • Jason Jones
  • Rob Riggle
  • Samantha Bee

And though his career was established before The Daily Show, who can forget the outrageously bombastic Lewis Black and his Daily Show segments “Back in Black?”

Okay, now I’m getting teared up. (sigh)

Thank you Jon Stewart, for every moment you’ve given us. You are brilliant; we won’t know another like you.

Pictures courtesy of Pinterest search

Settling Mom – Part One or “On Shopping”

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Blanche says it best.
Just following instructions!
Just following instructions! And helping the economy…

With Mom’s recent move back to Michigan (see Moving Mom series in this blog), the need for shopping has reached a new dimension.  Was it just a week ago that we were arriving home from the road trip from Florida to Michigan?

Mom left most of her furniture in Florida as requested by the buyers of her home.  Good for them and less to contend with for her. Now starts the tricky part – from two bedroom house with large lanai to one bedroom apartment with a “pie” (think alcove making more of a great room). Where to place her sofa, love-seat, computer, desk, TV and then what to buy?  The first day we set out was cold with a steady rain. What we found out immediately?  Mom LOVES the heated seats in my Tucson.

We started by checking consignment stores for a small but contemporary drop leaf table, large living room table for her ginormous lamp and if possible a “statement ” piece, (something really striking).  Less likely would be finding the right dresser and matching nightstand in consignment. A bed she will buy brand new and she’s already on task for that.  She located the bedding online she fell in love with and it’s making it’s in transit, even as I write this.

The first shop we visited yielded a single treasure (the “statement piece”)  but felt almost too easy. Mom wasn’t ready to “pull the trigger” – not just yet.  But we were both struck by it’s uniqueness. As days ensued, visiting numerous stores not finding anything else that compared to it, we kept talking about it. We even agreed on where to place it, clearly it left an impression on us.  Tomorrow we’ll go back, praying that it’s still there in that huge warehouse hopefully undiscovered and waiting for Mom.

Yesterday was another day of furniture shopping – in the snow (seriously – welcome back to Michigan Mom!) We’ve had no luck finding tables in consignment.  At a major retail furniture chain, we’d spotted a table that could work (later on Amazon I found something better which she’s since ordered) but did find a matching dresser and nightstand that she likes.  However, there’s at least one other furniture retailer that we’ve yet to visit making sure we’ve checked their selection. Decision – paused for now.

When not shopping this week, we’ve been moving in those things from the truckload Spence drove back in February, items we crammed into Mom’s car and a number of items from the POD which was delivered Thursday. (Sister, brother-in-law, nephew and a buddy unloading the remainder of the POD today as Spence and I are off to the wedding of dear friends)

Got her new phones, a LAN line, high speed internet and HD cable set up, pairing her Kindle to her new home network.  She looked so happy sitting on the apartment floor able to check emails on her own computer for the first time in nearly two weeks, seeing her HD TV with a picture – knowing both had arrived intact.  (other than the missing power cord to the printer which is bound to show up – a casualty of the hectic last boxes packed)

If you enjoyed this piece, stay tuned as there’s more to come on Settling Mom, including (fingers crossed) our consignment find….with pictures to follow.

Procrastination – or the 30 year filing project

This is a true story.

I began living on my own at 19, taking a wrong turn into an ill-conceived first marriage at 21 (including 2 moves) followed by a blessed divorce at 24. From the time I left the marital apartment, I was a bit of a vagabond, moving no less than 6 times in the next 4 years. The only good thing about perpetual moving is 1) I didn’t have as much stuff and 2) every time I packed, I purged what wasn’t needed. I remember my young self watching my ex-husband carting away my collection of record albums (that was painful), my griddle (the man once called and asked me “how much water do you use to boil hamburger?” Seriously, I came home to evidence that he’d boiled hamburger) and numerous other things that were mine prior to our brief union. I remember sitting on my dining room table, clutching my two cats, Snooks and Bandit thinking “take it all, it’s just stuff”. But I digress. Fast forward to the autumn of my 28th year. From a one bedroom apartment, I moved into the house I’ve called home for thirty years. Three bedrooms, large kitchen, pantry and…….a basement. I remember a thought running through my head “however will I fill these cupboards?” followed by the thought of “haha, you’re a funny and pretty blonde”.

Needless to say, I found that filling cupboards and closets took little time and by the time Spence moved in 7 years later and added his belongings, well you get it. Over time I found that I had a lot of “junk drawers” and a sense of clutter hidden just out of sight in closets, cupboards and particularly….the basement.

Reasons for procrastination, look familiar?
Reasons for procrastination, look familiar?

Back to the subject of filing. I’m not going to say that I’ve never filed anything. I have taken it upon myself, on a cold or rainy day off to drag up a bag or box of paperwork that I’d put in a “good place” in the basement and sort through it. (usually around tax season) For every pound of paperwork that I combed through, 75% of it went into the recycle bin or shredder. Even then I still kept a lot of “stuff” that I’d never need but felt compelled to create a folder for nonetheless.  I continued to accumulate more filing than a working gal would ever get to, especially when there were so many other things I’d prefer to do. And it was out of sight though not quite out of mind. I coddled myself into thinking, “when I retire, that’ll be one of the first things I’ll tackle.”

My Rationalization
My Rationalization

I retired on 2/28/14 departing almost immediately for a few weeks in Florida to “clear my over-filled head and embrace my new normal”. If you’ve read my blog, you know that since then I’ve been having a grand time, experiencing new things, traveling and living the dream with Spence. In short, the thought of tackling “the filing”, while in the back of my brain, just wasn’t a priority.

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In other words, don’t beat yourself up for living your life. You’re entitled to some fun!

Enter the phase I’ll call “focus and inspiration”. Since April of 2014, I’ve discovered the joys of yoga and meditation which have created a sense of “focus”. It took till 10/31, but as I’d promised I started my blog. I mention yoga, meditation and the blog because I’ve successfully committed to making them a part of my everyday life, while still having lots of fun and adventures. Those three things have created “focus”.

“Inspiration” to get organized came from my mom. At 81 and in good health, she returned to Florida (after a summer in Michigan), decided to sell her home and move to Michigan to be closer to my sister and I. She met with a realtor before the holidays and began the process of getting her home ready to show by January. It went on the market and sold almost immediately. Downsizing to an apartment, she was now faced with what she’ll keep and what must go. This has resulted in numerous emails as she’s given “right of first refusal” to my sister and I on those things she’s parting with. With every email, a spark was lit in me. Realizing the enormous favor she is doing for us by moving on “her terms” and sorting through things that under different circumstances we would be overwhelmed by, I knew that could no longer put off the inevitable. The time had come to put my house “in order”.

In fairness, during the beautiful Michigan Spring, Summer and Fall, I adore gardening and Spence physically cannot do much to help me there. It is a full time job, though in retirement I don’t have to cram it into the rare day off when the weather cooperates. Seduced by sun, fresh air, my hands in the dirt, creating a symphony of chaotic loveliness, frankly – I wanted to be outside after the winter, not in the basement contending with filing.

Fast forward to early January. Armed with purpose and Christmas behind me, I made a commitment. The time was NOW.  I started dragging up the bags and boxes, sifting through years of paperwork. Every single day. (okay, almost every single day) In fairness I should mention that I pay the bills; it’s “my domain”. Spence occasionally gives me something to file but though he’s been retired pretty much since I’ve known him, I’m too much of a control freak to hand over the sorting and filing of our important paperwork. He’s fine with that but in retrospect, perhaps I should have considered delegating it? Woulda, shoulda, coulda……

As of yesterday, I brought up and sorted through the last box of filing. Hurrah! In years past, if I’d pitch 75%, I’m now at 90-95%. Everything had to be evaluated – “shred it or recycle it”?  I remarked to Spence, “should I die first, you have no idea what a favor I’ve done for you”. His reply, “if you die first, I’ll leave it for whoever comes in after I’m dead”. If you knew him, you’d know truer words were never spoken.

That said, this new-found commitment to organization has become like a drug to me. If I open a drawer, closet or cupboard that hasn’t yet been tackled, I stop and clean it out. I’ve made tremendous progress and found a few treasures – a black velvet bag full of quarters (really? when did I start saving quarters in a little bag? Still, kind of cool) an entire checkbook that had gone missing a year ago, my replacement Amazon credit card that I knew I’d received in 12/2014 but which had “disappeared” and my player’s club card from the casino that Spence and I frequent every month, a recent loss to a cluttered drawer.

For the focus and inspiration that kicked in to “get ‘er done”, I’m grateful. It only took the looming deadline of my first year in retirement to do what I’d promised myself for years. And it feels great.

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Goodbye to every piece of paper that I have “set free”.

Next project, after moving mom and the arrival of spring weather, is the much-needed organization of the garage. No more excuses and for that project, I will enlist Spence.

Halotherapy, the Salt Room Experience

“Halotherapy is widely used in Europe as an all-natural, drug-free therapy that complements traditional medical treatment for a variety of respiratory and skin conditions, such as asthma, allergies, bronchitis, sinusitis, common colds, congestion, sleep disorders and more.”  from Salinas Salt Room Spa

The Salt Room in Rochester Michigan
The Salt Room in Rochester Michigan and yes, the floor is all salt, as are the ceilings and walls.

I first heard about the salt room from my yoga guru, Jules. I was intrigued and thought “I’d like to do that”.  Then the holidays came and went as did my intent to follow through.  Enter my lifelong BFF who has been instrumental in my post-retirement exploration of new experiences.  She texted me suggesting a date to do it, had found a Groupon coupon and set the appointment for our Girl’s Day Out.  Game on!

Intrigued and not sure what to expect, we helped ourselves to a complimentary cup of tea, took off our shoes and were quietly ushered into “the Salt Room”.  With six comfy, ivory leather recliners, we took our seats along with a mother and daughter who joined us in the room.  The lighting was subtle, the atmosphere – ethereal.  Shortly after the doors were closed, soft music started.  My BFF suggested we use the time to meditate, which was perfect.  The room was a bit cool but soft blankets were provided.  As I meditated, I breathed deeply, using the mindful breathing I’ve been taught in yoga.  Our session was 45 minutes in length and we left feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

Prior to this day, I owned a lovely Himalayan Salt Lamp. (from Isabella.com)  When heated by the 15 watt bulb, the salt rocks emit negative ions, adding healthier air and beauty.

My lovely salt lamp. Both the
My lovely salt lamp. Both the “bowl” and the rocks are salt.

In the days since my visit, I also bought a Himalayan Salt votive holder.

I even did some searching an found a Himalayan Salt Inhaler which was delivered an hour ago!

And in my new enthusiasm for Himalayan Sea Salt, I’m even using it in my cooking.

Lest you think I'm making this up....
Lest you think I’m making this up…