Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Birthday

Today is my birthday.  I'm not going to say which birthday, so if you really, REALLY want to know, you'll have to email me.

I'm in NYC today.  My local Realtor's association charters a bus to NYC every year on the 1st Wed in Dec.  The bus leaves at 6:30am and returns at 10pm, so you've got an entire day to do whatever you want in the Big Apple.  I've haven't done this trip before but decided to go ahead and do it since it was my birthday.  

Some of my Realtor and mortgage friends and I have tickets to the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall.  If you've never seen this show, you should add it to your bucket list.  I saw it 20+ years ago and was amazed by the sheer mechanics of all the set changes, stage changes, costume changes, animals, etc.  "Spectacular" is definitely not an over-statement.

I'm not sure what else I'll do but in NYC there's definitely no shortage of interesting things to see and places to go.  Even regular buildings and stores will be dressed for Christmas and will be even more beautiful than usual.  Maybe I'll wander through Central Park, see the Christmas tree and ice skaters at Rockafeller Center, and for sure I'll have some good food.  

More details to follow.


Monday, December 05, 2016

Busy weekend

Wow, what a full weekend!

It actually started on Fri evening, as I left work early and met up with 2 friends to sing Christmas carols (in costume) at a charity event.  I love Christmas music so it was fun, and I saw lots of friends.
Rick, Magnolia Applebottom, and me in our caroling costumes
Then I met up with Spouse & Steven for a late dinner.

Sat I worked until 3:30, then ran home to change clothes and get Big Ella lined up for the Christmas parade.
While this parade is always popular, this was probably the best-attended I can imagine.  I've never seen so many people crowded into our fair little hamlet.  No doubt the moderately cool temperature and the absence of rain were contributing factors.  I saw lots of friends and even several clients as I inched down the main street.  After the parade, Spouse, Steven & I had a quick dinner and then I headed to perform in the holiday Legends Show as Elton John.  I got home about 11:45pm and after talking to Spouse, we decided to begin making some of the food that night for our party the following day, so we didn't get to bed until shortly after 1am.

Sun morning we met Steven for breakfast, picked up a cake, and then returned home to prepare for our annual Christmas tree trimming party.  Spouse picked the menu this year:
  • Greek-style beef sliders with hummus and tzatziki
  • Pork sliders with hot mango chutney
  • Curried chicken salad sliders with cranberries, apple, and pecans
  • Homemade potato salad
  • Homemade bowtie pasta salad
  • Peppermint bark dip with cookies
  • Coconut layer cake
The holiday table, before the 2 salads were added

We made everything ourselves except the cake and it all turned out great.  We had 16 friends who joined us for food and hanging the ornaments on the tree.  Since it was only in the 40s out we were able to have a fire in the fireplace which, along with the Christmas music, added some nice ambience to the evening.  We had a great time and the tree looks gorgeous!

When the last guests left Spouse & I packed up the left-overs, emptied the trash and collapsed on the sofa with the dogs.  They did really well with the house full of people and activity!  Even Walter who usually teases people with his cuteness but doesn't let them touch him, allowed some people to pet him last evening... a Christmas miracle!  The boys were exhausted and both were asleep within minutes of settling in on our laps.  We watched the season finale of 'WestWorld' and went to bed.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Thanks for giving

Yesterday I participated in Giving Tuesday.  What's that?? you might ask.

"Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.  (I saw several posts on Facebook reminding me of this.)  Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving."  This is from the official website.

I always like to give locally so the help remains in my community, so on Giving Tuesday I gave donations to my local SPCA and to a local Veterans Service Dog Initiative.  Our precious Marvin came from the SPCA, which rescues, cares for and places abandoned and surrendered pets.  The Service Dog Initiative procures and trains dogs to be companion/service animals for veterans with PTSD.  I felt that both were worthy recipients of my help.

As I do every year, I also donated shelf-stable food and household items to local organizations.  I don't bring this up because I want recognition or praise, or because I'm rich.  Far from it.  I bring this up because much of this kind of giving/help can be done anonymously, and because I'm not rich.  But even a few dollars given by many people can change a person or animal's life.

Whether on Giving Tuesday or on any other day of the year, I challenge you to seek out ways to give a little so you can help make a big impact.  You'll be glad you do!  And when you do, please share your experience with others in order to inspire a domino effect of giving, making your community and the world better, 1 dollar or 1 can of food at a time.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving weekend recap

Overall it was a very nice holiday weekend.

Spouse & I took the dogs with us Thurs morning and drove to Spouse's sister's house, arriving just before noon.  Both of our nephews were home from college so we were happy to spend some time with them.  Shortly thereafter the boys went to pick up their grandmother and I went to pick up my aunt Mary.  Eventually our niece showed up with her daughter and boyfriend so we could eat.  We had a beautiful and delicious turkey, dressing, sweet potato shuffle, corn casserole, macaroni & cheese, peas, corn, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, biscuits, and roasted brussel sprouts & butternut squash.  For dessert we had pumpkin pie, brownies, apple cake, hummingbird cake (my all-time favorite) and assorted chocolates.  Everything was tasty and we all ate too much.  We had lots of fun talking, laughing, and catching up on everyone's lives.
Spouse's sister and her granddaughter Gabby

Me and my aunt Mary, making silly faces

Spouse's mom with her great granddaughter

Our brother-in-law Eric (armed and dangerous) and our nephew Eric

Our nephew David fighting off a food coma

Our niece's boyfriend Randy
We stayed overnight there and had a leisurely breakfast while talking about Christmas plans.  We left at 12:30 and arrived back home about 3:00.  Spouse took a nap while I watched a little TV, then we met up with Steven & Thad for dinner.

Sat I went to work until 1:00, then headed to the memorial service for our friend Karen.  (This is the 3rd memorial service I've attended within the last 3 months.)  I met Karen in VA at the church we used to attend.  She & Marty joined just as we were about to move away.  I later discovered that they moved to the same town here in DE and that we were neighbors.  The service took place on the beach, which sounds lovely on paper.  In reality though, it was very windy and about 50 degrees so everyone was freezing by the time it ended 30 minutes later.  Then there was a nice reception at a local venue.  It was really nice to see so many friends from the church come to the memorial service, and I enjoyed chatting with many I hadn't see in several years.  Among those friends who'd come from the church were our good friends Ron & James.  We'd arranged in advance to have dinner with them after the service and for them to stay overnight at our home.  This gave us a great opportunity to visit and catch up with them.

Sun morning the 4 of us had breakfast and Ron & James headed back to VA.  Spouse & I relaxed for a little while, then got the Christmas tree assembled, lit, and strung with the silver beads.  
The ornaments will be added next Sun during our tree trimming party.  I also put up the wreaths on the exterior doors.  
Throughout this coming week after work we'll continue with the interior decorations.  Hopefully we'll have it done before the weekend since we'll need time on Sat & Sun to make the food we'll be serving at the tree trimming party.  We ended the evening by having an easy dinner out with Steven & Thad and then watching 2 episodes of WestWorld.  Anyone else watching that show?  I love it!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving

This morning Spouse & I took the dogs with us and drove to Spouse's sister's house for Thanksgiving.  I'm looking forward to not just a terrific meal, but 2 days off work and some relaxation time with the family.  We'll head home sometime on Fri, when we're ready.

I hope all you readers take a moment to stop and be thankful of the goodness in your lives, and plan to bring goodness into the lives of others, however and whenever you can.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Tired but grateful

This is how I'm feeling today.

Last week was SO BUSY at work!  I had showings with different clients every day.  Even though I was supposed to be off on Thurs I wound up working pretty much the whole day anyway.  And although I'm typically off on Sun, I worked yesterday because our team had 2 people on vacation and a 3rd person who'd requested the weekend off.  As of yesterday I've worked 7 days in a row, and by the time we close for Thanksgiving I will have worked 10 days in a row.

But I'm thankful to have a job I enjoy, and am happy that although this is typically a slow time of year, its been busy for me.  Remember, I'm a real estate agent so I don't get paid unless I go to settlement, so I'm happy for all the business.

On Fri I had 3 closings, and earlier in the week I'd gotten 2 homes under contract.  I'm grateful to be busy at a time that's typically slow, but I'm also tired.  I'm getting sufficient sleep, so I think I'm mentally tired.  Hopefully Thanksgiving Day and Friday will be restful days spent with the family.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Flashback Friday

Yes, that's me on the right.  Circa 1987 or 1988, I think.  I was about 23 or 24.

We were 'dressed up' for a Manhattan Transfer concert.  

Apparently the 'Miami Vice' look was big then.  Or maybe the 'Department Store mannequin pose' look, in my case.

Good times!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

High hopes update

A faithful reader Calvin asked for an update on my earlier post about a home in the historic district of our little town that was undergoing a renovation.

This is what the home looked like before:

This is what it looked like during the renovation, once the rotten 1st floor was removed:

And while the interior may/many not be complete, the exterior looks like its just about done:
You can kind of see on the left side that they added a large addition onto the back of the home as well as rebuilding the main level of the original home.  This project has been going on since the early spring.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Send off

Sat was the memorial service for Spouse's brother Frank, who passed away a few weeks ago after a long battle with cancer.

Frank's longtime friend Liz offered to arrange for the service, burial of Frank's ashes, and luncheon at a small historic church the two of them occasionally attended out in 'the country' in southern MD.  She ran the details by the family for approval.

The GPS said it should take us 2 hours and 53 minutes to get there, so I rounded it up to 3 hours and then added an additional 1/2 hour so we wouldn't be rushed, and could stop for a bathroom break if necessary.  We left on time and it was a beautiful, sunny autumn day; perfect for a road trip.

But just a few miles before we were to exit the highway, we came upon a sea of brake lights.  In the distance we saw the flashing lights of a tow truck.  Accidents on the highways are commonplace for the metro DC area.  But it soon became apparent that the traffic back-up extended beyond the accident.  As we inched along we began to see orange traffic cones and a variable message sign ahead.

Great... road work.  The 3-lane highway was being squeezed into 1 lane.  I looked at the estimated arrival time on the GPS as it kept getting later and later.  "Good think I added that extra 1/2 hour" I thought to myself.  Unfortunately, the traffic inched along for nearly 3 miles before we could get off the highway and we'd used up nearly all of our extra time.  The service was to start at 1:00 and the GPS estimated our arrival at 12:56.

I was really afraid we were going to be late, but we finally got there and got seated before the service began.  It lasted about 20 minutes, with readings, songs, and remembrances.  Afterward we walked outside to the cemetery for a prayer before the urn was to be interred, then we walked around back to the parish hall for the luncheon.

Frank's 3 brothers and 1 sister were there, along with their spouses and children, and Frank's mother.  Several friends from the neighborhood in which Frank grew up were also there, some of whom had known him for 40 years.  Our dear friends Kerry & Hugh came too, which was very sweet of them, and my aunt Mary who spends all the holidays with us also came.  We all agreed that Frank would have been pleased with this 'send off'.

The only photo I took was of this photo collage which was set up in the parish hall during the luncheon.
I wish I'd thought to take other photos since the family was all there together. 

Afterward the family all collected at Spouse's sister Mary's house and visited for a few hours.  Spouse & I got home at 12:30am.

Friday, November 11, 2016

This is why we grieve

I'm not sure where this came from.  A friend emailed it to me and said he'd received it via email from a neighbor.  I'd be more than happy to give the author credit if I knew who it was who managed to put words to my feelings.

This is why we grieve

I don’t think you understand us right now.

I think you think this is about politics. 

I think you believe this is all just sour grapes; the crocodile tears of the losing locker room with the scoreboard going against us at the buzzer.


I can only tell you that you’re wrong. This is not about losing an election. This isn’t about not winning a contest. This is about two very different ways of seeing the world.

Hillary supporters believe in a diverse America; one where religion or skin color or sexual orientation or place of birth aren’t liabilities or deficiencies or moral defects. Her campaign was one of inclusion and connection and interdependency. It was about building bridges and breaking ceilings. It was about going high. 

Trump supporters believe in a very selective America; one that is largely white and straight and Christian, and the voting verified this. Donald Trump has never made any assertions otherwise. He ran a campaign of fear and exclusion and isolation—and that’s the vision of the world those who voted for him have endorsed.

They have aligned with the wall-builder and the professed p*ssy-grabber, and they have co-signed his body of work, regardless of the reasons they give for their vote:

Every horrible thing Donald Trump ever said about women or Muslims or people of color has now been validated.
Every profanity-laced press conference and every call to bully protestors and every ignorant diatribe has been endorsed.
Every piece of anti-LGBTQ legislation Mike Pence has championed has been signed-off on.

Half of our country has declared these things acceptable, noble, American. 

This is the disconnect and the source of our grief today. It isn’t a political defeat that we’re lamenting, it’s a defeat for Humanity.

We’re not angry that our candidate lost. We’re angry because our candidate’s losing means this country will be less safe, less kind, and less available to a huge segment of its population, and that’s just the truth.

Those who have always felt vulnerable are now left more so. Those whose voices have been silenced will be further quieted. Those who always felt marginalized will be pushed further to the periphery. Those who feared they were seen as inferior now have confirmation in actual percentages.

Those things have essentially been campaign promises of Donald Trump, and so many of our fellow citizens have said this is what they want too.  

This has never been about politics.
This is not about one candidate over the other.
It’s not about one’s ideas over another’s.
It is not blue vs. red.
It’s not her emails vs. his bad language.
It’s not her dishonesty vs. his indecency.

It’s about overt racism and hostility toward minorities.
It’s about religion being weaponized.
It’s about crassness and vulgarity and disregard for women.
It’s about a barricaded, militarized, bully nation.
It’s about an unapologetic, open-faced ugliness.

And it is not only that these things have been ratified by our nation that grieve us; all this hatred, fear, racism, bigotry, and intolerance—it’s knowing that these things have been amen-ed by our neighbors, our families, our friends, those we work with and worship alongside. That is the most horrific thing of all. We now know how close this is.

It feels like living in enemy territory being here now, and there’s no way around that. We wake up today in a home we no longer recognize. We are grieving the loss of a place we used to love but no longer do. This may be America today but it is not the America we believe in or recognize or want.

This is not about a difference of political opinion, as that’s far too small to mourn over. It’s about a fundamental difference in how we view the worth of all people—not just those who look or talk or think or vote the way we do.

Grief always laments what might have been, the future we were robbed of, the tomorrow that we won’t get to see, and that is what we walk through today. As a nation we had an opportunity to affirm the beauty of our diversity this day, to choose ideas over sound bytes, to let everyone know they had a place at the table, to be the beacon of goodness and decency we imagine that we are—and we said no.

The Scriptures say that weeping endures for a night but joy comes in the morning. We can’t see that dawn coming any time soon.

And this is why we grieve.

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

Update:  A reader provided me with the author, John Pavlovitz.  His original post is HERE.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Election Day

Spouse & I happily did our civic duty this morning and voted before going to work.

While I know that people in more heavily populated areas often have to wait in line (sometimes for hours) to vote, we live in a less populated area where there is typically no lines.  Most of the time we walk in the door, show our ID, vote, and are outside in under 5 minutes.  This morning there was just a bit of a wait, so it took about 8 minutes.

After work we'll be taking some food and going to Steven & Thad's house to watch the election returns.  Steven is making some food too, and a few other friends like Joe P will likely stop in for a bite and to chat.  

I'm looking forward to an exciting evening and (hopefully) a win for Hillary!

Friday, November 04, 2016

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween

Sat night I went to the Halloween costume party at the Blue Moon.  Spouse had no interest in dressing up as usual, so I let him off the hook by saying I didn't mind if he wanted to stay home.

Hopefully I don't need to tell you who I dressed up as:
"Mother Darling, I really do feel that this is the best costume for the day."


If you click on the photo above you may be able to tell that my skirt is upside down, with the belted waistband near my knees, the the hem is safety pinned at my waist.  I patted myself on the back for this detail which I felt added authenticity.
 
I had a really good time at the party!  My friends Rick & Lisa were there:
Little Edie, Pimp Daddy, and Foxy Brown
There were lots of clever and elaborate costumes and make-up:
Roxy as a Disney movie character and Jeremy as the Snow Queen
Brian & Damien - check out that make-up!
My friend Clay as Divine!
Some unknown party guest in a cute Boy George costume
Little Edie in the house!
Little Edie with a bearded hooker who'd been in a car accident
An unintended consequence of my costume was that I was unable to go to the bathroom the entire time I was dressed up.  You see, the skirt was safety pinned to my turtle neck, so I couldn't let the skirt down without unpinning it.  I tried to pull the skirt up, but due to its belted waist, it wouldn't go above my thighs, and there was no room for my hands to go up under the skirt to pull down the stockings.  So, I had to 'hold it' until I got home.