Cuba and other tidbits

The last time I wrote was January 7th.  You know that feeling you get when you haven’t spoken with a friend for a very long time and there is so much to say you simply can’t cram it in?  So instead of attempting to communicate, you mumble, “I’m fine.  All good.  How about you?”

That’s how I’m feeling now.  So here I go with a brief, probably tedious, synopsis of my life since I gave away my shrunken wool.

We got our car back from the repair shop.  Nearly all the damage done by the 200 pound wild boar is behind us.  Only problems remaining are cruise control, backup and front sensors don’t work, and the back seat seatbelts are still frozen. We need those fixed before company comes in April.  We are plopping friends into our car and sending them on their merry way.  They will need seat belts in the event the boar has suicidal family members romping the streets of St. Petersburg.

I visited the chiropractor several times,  Bronson went to the vet, Jim has been back and forth to the VA (more about that in a future post), our windows were cleaned, and I started going to two new doctors.

Doc’s Outside the Box.  They combine both Western and Eastern modalities.  I am now taking boatloads of supplements each day, recording my food intake and drinking a “delicious” green beverage each morning for breakfast.  It involves ice, almond milk, pink salt, coconut oil, a bit of stevia to mask the flavor, and three scoops of mystery powders.  This concoction is whipped through the blender until it’s a thick monkey vomit green smoothie.  Yum Yum.  You’re envying me right now, aren’t you?

Plus our friends got a puppy, so we get to experience the puppy joy without actually having to train it.  It’s a bit like being grandparents–teach it to be bad then send it home.  Her name is Saylor.

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I saw this in the local liquor store–that was exciting.

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And we got an “I miss you” letter from our cute former neighbor, Erika. She hoped to shame us into moving back to the  ‘burbs.  It didn’t work but the letter made me smile.

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A real highlight of the past two months was a cruise to, among other places, Havana.  That was interesting.  Here are a few photos.  We always like to take a photo of the room before we trash it.

Below, the lady in the upper left picture was a store clerk.  She was vexed we were taking so much time choosing Jim’s Havana T-Shirt. Plus we were short on cash. The stores only accept cash. We ran out. The ATM’s do not respond to US debit cards.

It might not have been a bad thing running out of money….saved us from bringing home a bunch of souvenirs.  You know, those impulsive buys we all make on vacation and later think, “What was I smokin’ when I decided I needed THIS?”

Everywhere are old cars chugging along.  Some have been turned into taxi-cabs. Lots of the residents dress up in native costumes and heckle tourists to have their photos taken, for a fee.

One tourist in our group attempted to sneak a picture of a tall 1950’s costume-clad man.  He (the native, not the tourist) was wearing a fedora, bow tie, striped silk vest, and a white linen suit.  He wasn’t fooled by the attempt and immediately following the “click” of the camera, held out his fedora and demanded, in no uncertain terms, “PAY ME.”  The tourist did.

There are feral cats and snoozing dogs in every courtyard.  Jim stepped in a caca pile.

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Our tour of Old Havana was led by a nice Cuban guy named Juan.  He spoke great English.  I think. But I don’t have great hearing so possibly I’m wrong.  At one point I asked him about all the dogs and cats.  “Are these pets?”

He replied, “Cubans don’t like cats as pets.  They like ducks.”

Ducks?  The only ducks I ever saw that were kinda’ pet like are the ones living at the Peabody Hotel.  They were made famous by the children’s book “Make Way for Ducklings.”    We once witnessed them waddle-march from the elevator, splash in the large restaurant fountain, then toddle back to the elevator.  Those ducks reside on the roof of the hotel.  They are retired after several months at which point they go to live on a farm.  My fluffy aqua colored chick, given to me by the Easter Bunny when I was five, went to “live on a farm” too.  Possibly with a bunch of retired Peabody ducks.

The pet duck scenario had been planted in my brain.  I spent at least half an hour mulling over how one would care for a pet duck.  Do you buy a small turtle wading pool and allow it to spend its days swimming in tight little circles?   Do you walk it on a leash or with a harness?  Can you litter train a duck?  I once had a client with a pet bunny.  The bunny was an adorable black and white floppy eared miniature.   It was litter trained.  So maybe ducks can be too.

After pondering this, and missing a large portion of the tour, I finally approached Juan and inquired, “About these ducks.  How does one care for a pet duck?”

“What ducks?”

“The pet ducks.  You said Cubans like pet ducks.”

He waited for a beat then replied, “I said DOGS.”

Wow!  That was half an hour spent working through a non-existent problem.

Other thrilling stuff has happened since January 7th too.  But I’ll save those adventures for my next scintillating blog post.

Go forth and get a duck.

Wooly Bully

I’ve had fun with my purse making project.  It’s been an interesting creative outlet and learning experience.  I used felted wool to construct my one-of-a-kind weirdly wondrous little bags.  The bags were then embellished with vintage buttons and baubles.

Felting is a process of boiling wool so it won’t ravel or fray.   To felt my wool I loaded it into old pillowcases tied tight with string.  The fabric needed to be contained so the wooly bits don’t end up ruining the washing machine.  It was a mad scientist procedure. A cute yellow cashmere vest would go into the laundry a size 8, and come out wee-teeny enough to fit an American Girl doll.

I spent hours combing eBay for $1 merino vests, angora sweaters, and mohair scarves.  I’d be thrilled if I ran across something unique like a leopard cashmere cardigan or bright blue argyle pullover. Friends and family donated old woolens to the cause.  My sister sent her cool 1969 brown, orange and white ski sweater. Likely she could have eBayed that for some serious money.  In gratitude, I made her a purse.

Neighbors dug through their button boxes and gifted me with fabulous vintage buttons, all sorts of old cufflinks and tie tacks, and fancy collars and trim.  Those I won’t give up.  I love them.  Collecting them is a hobby of sorts.  It gives me an excuse to visit antique and collectible stores.  Below is a snippet of the hundreds of fasteners and frills I’ve gathered.

Since downsizing I haven’t had any interest in sewing.  Friends suggested I wait a full year before liquidating my materials.  We’ve only been here four months. But suddenly 2019 felt like the right time to move on to other imaginative projects.

All the fabric used for production was taking up much-needed closet space.  I reckoned it was time to get the wool out of the guest room wardrobe.  Our only designated storage area is a 2nd floor 36″ by 48″ wire cage.  We live on 29th floor.  We have to travel down 26 floors to just get to our miniscule coop.  (And yes, I have the math right.  There is no floor 13.)   Allowing stuff I was finished using to monopolize an entire closet didn’t make sense.  The Wooly Bully needed to go.

But what to do with all my wool?

I didn’t want to shove it down the trash chute.  It seemed wasteful to dump it.  It may seem like a pile of rejects to the casual observer, but to me, it was creative gold.

I was lamenting how to dispense of it when Terry, our fabulous painter, suggested I post it “Free” on Craigslist.

My posting read

“Free to a Good (or merely mediocre) Home”

I didn’t hold out much hope anyone would be interested in a huge pile of scrap fabric. I was amazed when, right away, I got an email from a local named Virginia. She asked 1) Is the material still available?  2) If so, what is your address?

I gave her the info and–poof— Virginia disappeared into cyberspace.  Maybe my home was too long a drive from hers?  Perhaps the neighborhood scared her?  Possibly Virginia realized even for free it was still just a mountain of shrunken cashmere coats and lumpy fisherman sweaters, chopped into remnants.

Next, I got an email from Michelle.  She asked two things.  1) Is the material still available?  2) If so, what is your address?

Yes!  Still available.

Michelle promised to send her sister Susan over the following morning to take away my treasure.

I shoved it all into giant lawn and leaf bags.  (Why we moved those bags to our condo is a mystery, since we no longer need to fuss with either lawns or leaves.)  These photos represent a small portion of my inventory.

The next morning at 9 a.m. sister Susan arrived in her small Toyota Corolla.  Riding shotgun was Woodrow the black lab, aka Woody.  Woody had eaten the better part of her center console, and both pleather front seats, revealing foam rubber beneath. For the record,  he didn’t appear a bit guilty.

While Woody dined on the car, Susan and I managed to fill her small trunk with the enormous bags.  I asked what Michelle had in mind for the wool.  It turns out Michelle does arts and crafts with children at a local homeless shelter.  Hooray.  My cherished wool will be well and creatively used.

I got an email the following afternoon from a delighted Michelle.  She thanked me profusely and said the first project planned is to make “Valentine Monsters”.   I’ve no idea what a Valentine Monster is, but I’m sure those homeless kids creatures will be made of soft, cozy, colorful felted cashmere.


I’ve started this post several times.  I first began when our Christmas experience was fresh in my mind and then again after New Year’s Eve.  I finally figured out why I couldn’t get going.  I was looking to find “funny”.  But our Christmas 2018 experience wasn’t funny.  It was frightening.

It started out fine.  The kids, Mo, Stephen, and Tate, arrived from Chicago on Saturday the 22nd.  Sunday we piled into the car and drove three hours across the state to Port St. Lucie.  Stephen’s parents recently moved there. They sold their Garden City, New York home and are now in Florida permanently.

If you’ve never driven across Florida I will fill you in on the sights.  Ugly.  Nothing but palm trees, orange groves, cows.  And more cows.  Mostly black.  Occasionally brown.  I have a friend, JR, who owns cows.  He could have identified them.  To me, they were simply black and brown.

Tate slept for three hours.  I read.  Mo, in spite of being in the back seat, didn’t puke.  It was a fine uneventful trip.  Palm trees, orange groves, cows, sleeping baby, no puke.

When we got to Port St. Lucie we were greeted by Stephen’s family.  Parents John and Jane.  Sister Kelly, her husband, and three children. We dined on pizza, watched the kids play, then to went to our hotel.

Christmas Eve day we climbed into cars again, this time for the hour drive to Palm Beach.  Stephens eldest sister and her family have a home there.  Palm Beach is where the ugly ends.

Stephen drove us by Mar-a-Lago and past lots of fancy mansions attempting to hide behind tall hedges.

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Hung around with Christine and her family for a short while then back to Port St. Lucie and Christmas Eve dinner.  Delicious beef tenderloin.  Christmas day more great food, lots of gifts, watched the little boys tool up and down the street on bright green scooters while the older girls made batches of slime.

By now you are wondering, “What is frightening about any of this?  Other than the slime and ghastly proximity to Mar-a-Lago.”

Here’s what.  We didn’t start driving home until after sunset.  Three hours.  Tate didn’t sleep because he’d had a long nap.  I didn’t read because it was dark.  Mo didn’t puke because we got lucky.  Yay that.

Stephen was at the wheel. We were on the back roads because things were slow going on the bigger highway.  We saw nothing.  No palm trees, no cows, no orange groves.  Only rarely did we see another car.

Suddenly BANG!  The car filled with smoke, Mo and I were tossed forward against our seat belts, Tate burst into tears, and the guys slammed into airbags.

We’d hit something.  I assumed it was a deer.  Stephen managed to pull the car well off the roadway, Jim turned on the emergency flashers, Mo climbed out with her shrieking child and rocked him in the tall weeds.  My brain immediately screamed, “rattlers and gators and crocs–Oh My!”

Stephen figured out our location and called 911.  The guys assessed the damage and we all settled back into the car to wait for help.  The nearest gas station was thirty miles away.  Would we need to be towed?  We couldn’t use our seatbelts. They freeze when airbags deploy.  I didn’t know that.  We later learned that police will yank on them following a burst airbag accident.  If the belts move they can tell you weren’t wearing them and issue (too-bad-so-sad-about-your-accident) tickets.

As we waited, discussing our options, a white pickup truck passed slowly,  then pulled over in front of us.  My first thought was, “Yay, Good Samaritan.”  That thought was immediately followed by, “Oh No–this is FLORIDA!”  Half the population of this state is toting handguns.  The other half carries Colt Automatic machine guns.  Our “good samaritan” could turn out to be whacked out Christmas killer.

We learned he had hit the “deer” shortly after we did.  The “deer” turned out to be a giant female wild boar.*  She was either pregnant or recently had babies.  He noticed her full udders as he dragged her off the road.  Once he saw we were all okay he left the scene.

     *upon completing this post, Jim read it.  He pointed out that boars are male. Sows are female.  He’s such a show-off know-it-all:  doing crossword puzzles in ink, making three-syllable words in Scrabble and now this.  Knowing wild pig information.

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While waiting for the policeman we had a pow-wow.   Should we attempt to drive home without wearing seat belts?  Mo and Stephen are of the generation that never rode belt-free.  And, after all, belts and bags had just saved our lives.  Did we want to risk another hour on the road without them?  Possibly Ms. Wild Boar’s mate was at large and angry, hoping to avenge his wife’s murder.

I told Jim we would settle the discussion democratically–we’d vote.  The kids and I voted for towing.  Jim, not so much, but he accepted our point of view.

At long last, a cop arrived.  If he yanked on our seatbelts I don’t remember.  What was decided is that he would follow us to the county line to be sure the car was safely driveable.

Once we reached Pinella’s county Jim asked for another vote.  All of us agreed to head for home.  We arrived here at 1 a.m.  Alive, well, exhausted and very grateful no one was hurt.

Except for the pig and the car.

But Floridian pigs are an expendable nuisance.  And cars can be repaired.

Fortunately, we live within walking distance of everything.  Plus our generous neighbors loaned us their cute convertible.

So all is well that ends well.

In case you ever have a similar experience, here is what to expect your automobile to look like.

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We met the tow truck across the street in a parking lot.  It was too enormous to go into our parking garage.

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Windy City

Nope, not Chicago.  Right here in Saint Petersburg, on the 29th floor, I watched as our furniture danced along the balcony.  I raced out there, attempted to grab the chair on the corner and I darn near blew over the railing.  I shrieked, turned on my heel and bounded back inside.

This furniture is heavy.  I am heavy.  We were at risk out there.  Meanwhile, as the wind screams past our floor to ceiling windows my husband, the gifted sleeper that he is, snoozes blissfully.  Little does he know his wife, clutching a cast aluminum swivel chair, almost blasted into the Tampa Bay.


That giant bowl weighs 512 pounds.  Right now it’s filled with ballpoint pens (Jim uses them for his daily crossword) and rainwater.  Pens and rainwater are swirling violently, counterclockwise.   On whitecaps.

Exciting in a terrifying way.



As I have mentioned I love cute stationery and writing letters.  Sending postcards lights me up.  Applying stamps, dropping notes in the mailbox, picturing the happy recipients–it all makes me smile.

Recently I was yakking with buddy Karen on the phone.  She commented that she had gotten my newsy note.  I glowed, waiting for her praise.

But NOOOO.  She laughed and said, “You have the WORST ever handwriting.  I plan to send you a tablet like the kids use in elementary school.   You know, the lined stuff that shows how tall to make uppercase letters and how short to do lower case.  And you need to close your d’s, b’s, a’s—well, pretty much all your words are too sloppy to read.”

So I sent her another note.

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War Paint

I began wearing makeup in tenth grade.  Each morning I would carry my white leatherette cosmetics case to the Formica kitchen table.  While Mom made my breakfast, I’d sit in the northern light and apply a little eyeliner, brown shadow and mascara.  When my “artwork” was complete my mother often commented, “You should sign your chin!”

Once my boyfriend insisted there was no way I needed makeup.  Our following date I met him at the door barefaced.  He suggested I hurry back upstairs and put on some eyes.

All told I have over fifty years of coloring a face on the front of my head every morning.  Then at night scrubbing it off thinking, “There go ten minutes of my life, right down the drain.”

My sister Marilyn knows I adore new makeup.  This past birthday she sent me a big Sephora box filled with TEN new mascaras!  The one I’m now using is the smallest pale pink tube.  Its name is “Better than Sex” mascara.  (It is good, but that claim might be aggrandizing.)



My current routine is to sit in the second bedroom at my work table.  The table is situated in a huge window. It’s masochistic to greet each day looking at my sixty-seven-year-old mug in a magnifying mirror.  But it’s what I do. My war paint is hidden in two decorative wooden boxes.

Here follow the nine steps to make my face:

  1. Sunscreen.  Marilyn gave me a new tinted one. I like it.
  2. Cover up.  Under the eyes.  By the ancient nose.  On my eyelids.
  3. Neutrogena Foundation.  I have to use all fragrance-free products and my old face likes this one best.
  4. Blush.  Again, Neutrogena.
  5. Lancome Blond Eyebrow pencil. Unless my brow dye is still intact.  It is currently quite intact because I recently dyed the brows.  After painting on the dye I got busy and forgot to wipe it off.  My normally see-through brows ended up the color of Michelle Obama’s.  A great look on Michelle.  On me?  Not so much.
  6. Urban Decay pencil eyeliner.  The color varies.
  7. Eyeshadow in several shades.
  8. Next, smudge the eyeliner and shadow with a small brush.
  9. Then time for mascara.  Before all the other paint was applied I shoved my mascara tube into my bra so it’s all warm and easy to apply.  Weird?  Yes.  But I read that tip while at the doctor’s office perusing Style Magazine.  It works.
  10. Last of all, lipstick.  Lately, I’m liking No 7 Moisture Drench by Boots.   But I have zero brand loyalty about lipstick.






Note the lottery tickets on the right-hand side of this photo.  For my next glorious manifestation, I intend to win the lottery.  I began buying tickets about a month ago. My budget is $4 a week. So far I’ve won back $5.  But it’s just a matter of time before the giant windfall, folks!  The power of positive thinking is a thing of beauty.

When the win happens I’ll be sure to blog about it!  Meanwhile, time to settle my wide backside into a chair and read this.  Jane, my brilliant published author friend gave me this book.  Maybe some of the magic will rub off on me.20181203_153901.jpg





Loving Sixty Seven

Yup.  Another year older and I had a great “all-about-me” day.

The first thing that happens on birthdays is I go looking for the three cards my husband hides in plain sight. Always three.  This year they were: One) next to my toothbrush.  Two: On top of the computer.  Three) Next to our coffee pot.

That coffee pot deserves a blog post all by itself.  It’s a fancy stainless steel contraption that does everything but babysit.   A gift to us from our friend, neighbor, realtor Lynda after she sold our house.  I love our coffee pot.  I love Lynda too.  But I digress. Back to the birthday.

I held onto the cards until Jim crawled out of the feathers.  My husband is a gifted sleeper.  I envy that.  We always open them together.  He buys fancy expensive cards.  Me, I shop the Dollar Tree.


While waiting for Sleepy to get up, I began my birthday carbohydrate fest.  Breakfast.  A Gluten-free English muffin smeared with copious amounts of Philadelphia cream cheese.  I toasted it all dark and crunchy and delicious.  Lunch was a repeat of breakfast.  Snack was a repeat of lunch.  It was divine.

Then there was my present!  Copic Markers.   I’ve never used Copic markers and have signed up for a class this week.  The class is within walking distance at a darling art supply store named WhimSoDoodle.  It’s dangerous having art supplies a block away.  I’m constantly buying things I don’t need with money I don’t have.  It’s an illness.

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Then the phone calls began pouring in.  I get lots of calls and cards because years ago, at the end of October, I would send out notices–“Only thirty shopping days left!”  I no longer have to do that.  The people are conditioned.  It’s grand.

Several of the calls are predictable.  Karen always mocks me for being old.  Richie calls to tell me November is NOT my month, it’s his.  Which is wrong.  He gets the nineteenth.  I get all the other days.  The kids call and that lights me up.  Aunt Peggy.  Bunches of other buddies.  Or they text.  Joyous!

Then a very happy surprise.  Elton John got an ear infection.  What does that have to do with me?  Well, Rusty and Lynda were to go to an Elton John concert on November 28th, aka “Alice Day.”  The concert was canceled so they drove to Saint Petersburg.  They brought flowers and wine and joined us for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Gratzzi, also within walking distance.  I can see their black and white awning from our balcony.



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Because I hadn’t had enough carbs for one day I chose risotto.  Delicious.  Lynda and I happily split a bottle of red wine.  For dessert, the waiters brought me tiramisu with a candle.  I made a wish, blew it out and know, for sure, that wish will come true.

Have you ever made tiramisu?  I tried one year for Richie’s birthday.  Ended up serving it in bowls and calling it tiramisoup.  I’ve had my fair share of cooking fails.  One dinner party I left the baked potatoes in the oven for so long by the time I served them all that was left was the skin.  They guys used them as baseball gloves to pass the dinner rolls.  The following day they hauled those shriveled brown shells along to the golf course and teed their balls up on them.  My cooking has improved since I made friends with Ina Garten.

After dinner, we toddled home where Lynda and I opened another bottle of red.  That one we didn’t finish.

The birthday continued into yesterday when Charki and Doug asked us to stop over.  They had a gift for me.  She knows I’m all about positive thinking, saying “Yes” to the Universe.

Here is what I got.


I just learned more cards are coming my way.  Amy sent theirs early, priority mail only to learn they ended up in Massachusets.  She is disappointed, but I feel like it gives me something to look forward to.

Now, the excitement continues for another year.  My goal, to get serious about writing.  Classes are twice a week, also within walking distance.

Sixty-seven is terrific so far.





An adventure in Galena

Who: Sandy, Jane, and Alice
What: Girl’s weekend
Where: Galena, Illinois
Why: Giggles, gossip, good times, a bit of the grape, and the occasional shot of whiskey (for medicinal purposes only).
When: November 8th–November 11, 2018

Galena is a charming old town that was once the largest steamboat hub on the Mississippi River north of St. Louis, Missouri. It was the home of Ulysses S. Grant and eight other Civil War generals. Today, the city, on the banks of the Galena River, is a tourist destination known for its history, architecture, and resorts.

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My friend Jane has lived there for over twenty years. Her Welsh husband Andy is the city’s chief engineer. He surely has many duties but to me, the most impressive is deciding when the floodgates are to be closed.
River rising? Andy saves the day by preventing a deluge.

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In the spring Andy will retire. He and Jane plan to sell their 1830’s era house on the steepest street ever and move to Wales.

Sandy and I reasoned it might be some time before we see Jane again unless we visit Wales as we did for her wedding twenty-one years ago.
A group of American ladies descended on Llandudno, Wales, wearing our “country club casual” frocks. One Welsh guest dubbed us the “fancy ladies.”

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Andy’s home was at the top of the Orme, the limestone headland soaring above the seaside resort of Llandudno, Wales.

This past May Sandy and I made plans to fly into Chicago O’Hare, meet there, then puddle jump to the Dubuque, Iowa airport.

O’Hare is crowded, teeming with harried passengers. No eye contact, no smiles.

Until you get into line with travelers to Dubuque!

The burly guy behind us wanted to know our story. The man across the aisle had us laughing. The lady in the mysterious black hat and dark glasses said something that made Sandy guffaw. Me, deaf as a post, didn’t hear it. I asked Sandy. She said, “I didn’t hear it either. But Black Hat laughed so I figured I should too.” In a few years, I won’t be the only one wearing hearing aids.

We flew in a small aircraft up for half an hour, then back down for half an hour, landing at the tiny Dubuque airport. Sandy commented the terminal looks like a library.

Jane met us, drove us over the hilly landscape, up her steep street, then onto her perpendicular driveway. We had to lug our suitcases along nine towering steps to get to the side door. She must have taken sympathy on us.  She has never taken us to the side door before. Generally, Jane likes to torture Sandy and me by forcing us to trudge another long staircase to her front door.

Years ago, when I was actually in fairly good shape, the walk from town to Jane’s front door nearly killed me. I’ve been pretty sedentary for the last few years.  Therefore, since our August move to a twenty-ninth floor condo,  I’ve been preparing for the painful hike up her steep hill.

Each day I trudge from our twenty-ninth floor apartment up the stairs to the thirty-fourth floor. I stand at the top of the staircase, panting.  Then I exit the stairwell and wait for the elevator to take me home to twenty-nine.

Yes, I should trudge the stairs back to twenty-nine. No, I don’t.

I was pretty proud of my stair-climbing routine until I learned our neighbor Mark–the overachiever–hikes up from one to twenty-nine and back down again twice a day.

Thursday evening we had an easy trek downhill to Main Street to eat dinner at Cannova’s Italian Restaurant. Gluten-free white pizza for me. Yum. So much for the low carb diet.

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My big after dinner worry was trudging back up vertical Dodge Street. Fortunately, those daily trips to thirty-four paid off. I didn’t expire on the frozen pavement.

Thursday night, while we were sleeping, Jane had several Etsy sales.  She has a very successful shop–GladysGlover.
During her years as an Etsy shop owner, she’s had over 3,000 sales. Including selling a brass corgi door knocker to Stephen King and ceramic knife rests to Sophia Vergara!  Pretty neat to imagine author Stephen King reading Jane’s amusing descriptions of “miscellaneous fripperies”.

Friday morning Jane bundled her sold treasures for shipping and headed to the Post Office.  It was a balmy 19 degrees in Galena. Why should Sandy and I get dressed, go out, and freeze? We were still in our PJ’s at three-thirty when, on an arctic blast, Jane blew in the front entry.

Other weekend adventures? Dinner at the historic Desoto House Hotel, a thrilling field trip to Piggly Wiggly, latte’s at Books a Million, candy at Barbara Jane’s chocolate shop, and dinner with a magic show at Amelia’s.

Our flights out were on Sunday.   That morning we crossed the mighty Mississippi from Illinois to Iowa and dropped Sandy off for her 11 a.m. departure.

Then Jane and I drove to River Light’s, a charming independent bookstore.  Low and behold it was their holiday open house. Food! Mimosa’s! Free gifts with purchase!  I scored a box of tacky Christmas sweater notecards complete with dozens of ugly stickers for DIY designs.

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I’ve read that book, You are a Badass. I’m using the positive thinking tips to manifest a lottery win.
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Here are the tacky sweater notes, plus I bought a book of punny postcards and a box of fancy stationery.

After book shopping we crossed quiet Dubuque Main Street and had Mexican food for lunch. Chicken fajitas, me.  Shrimp Enchilada, Jane.  My flight was scheduled for late afternoon. I suggested she drop me at the airport and go on her merry way. Surely she’d had enough of me?

My thinking was I’d go through security, find a seat, and await my plane. In my experience security means shoes off, long lines, and rubber glove wearing TSA agents digging through the carry-on.

Here is what the Dubuque Airport looks like at 4:30 on a Sunday afternoon.

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Jane was kind enough to keep me company until security finally opened their gates.  I made it through and was lucky enough to find an empty chair.

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I pulled out paper and pen and spent the next hour happily doing the “morning pages” I had ignored for the past fun days.  No one bothered me.

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My flight landed at the Tampa airport at about 10:30 at night.  Jim and Bronson were there to greet me.  It was wonderful to have visited my buddies. And equally wonderful to see my little family again.  Slept like a log in our 29th floor home, aka The Perch.


Finally, my peds got cured.

Yesterday I got my first pedicure in months.  We were so busy all summer with moving that fingernails and toenails fell by the wayside.

I took a “before” photo.  After I sent it from phone to computer and saw it enlarged I decided it’s too horrifying to include here.  Just trust me, my toes needed help.  I haven’t worn sandals since early May.  It was imperative to keep these dogs under wraps.

The Woodhouse  day spa just opened across the street. While walking Bronson in closed toe shoes (Me not him.  He goes barefoot) we stuck our heads in to see if anyone would have time to take on my sad tootsies.

The answer was “sure”.  I took Bdog home again, dug out a pair of sandals, and headed back to the spa.  The place is quite elegant.  They recently had a splashy open house complete with piles of appetizers and oceans of wine.  Many people from our building were there.  We were all gifted with a card for ten percent off all future products and services.

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My pedicurist was named Meimee.  While she struggled to restore order to foot chaos, I sat and wrote several pages in the red Mead notebook I take to writer’s workshop.

My morning pages–as suggested by Julia Cameron– have their own Mead notebooks. I’m on my third.  The first was aqua.  The second was yellow.  The present black one is nearly full.  Next will be kelly green, then purple and then I get to buy six more spiral notebooks on Amazon Prime.  Yay! The little things in life, eh?

I almost didn’t bother going to class.  Saturday Market was yesterday.  We went early to get the farm fresh eggs before they sold out. If you haven’t purchased extremely fresh eggs I recommend it.  They are divine.

The class began at 10.  Did I really want to bother showering and manifesting a face in only half an hour?

Jim reminded me how much I’d relished it the week before, so I pulled my act together, put on my closed toe shoes and went to school.

I was a couple of minutes late.  The group was asking each other questions to sort out what they had in common.  Supposedly this is a helpful exercise in character building.  Bob-group leader and all together fun guy-asked me several things.  First, “Where are you from?”

“Delaware.”  No common ground there.

Second, “What’s your favorite food?”

“Cream Cheese.  Out of the package.  Eaten with a fork.” Everyone laughed.  Weird since cream cheese really is feast from the God’s.  I never did hear Bob’s favorite food.  But I noticed he ate a Starbucks cookie during the workshop.

At the end of class we did a ten minute timed writing.  Our hands were not to pause.  It was freeing.  I decided to repeat the exercise and continue writing all through my pedicure.  Which, given the miserable state of my feet, would last more than a mere ten minutes.

As I wrote and Meimee worked I spent the time manifesting the three million dollar lottery win I have planned.  I’ve budgeted $16 a month for tickets, invested as follows: One two dollar ticket weekly on Mega Millions and two one dollar tickets weekly on Florida lotto.

So far I’ve only played twice.

I didn’t win last week.  Which was good because Florida Lotto was only up to 2.5 million. It is rolled over to 3 million now. I’m buying all the tickets from mom and pop places so they’ll win money too.  Ain’t I generous?

I have my winnings earmarked.  Fifty percent will go to two causes near and dear to  my heart.  Another percentage, not yet decided, will be pledged to NPR.  The lion’s share will go to our four kids.  The remainder will be for us.

I know Jim will want to use lots of it for travel.  Since I loathe flying we’ll splurge on Business or First class tickets.

I will invest a bunch in buying stamps and thick fancy stationery.  I’ll purchase a self driving car so when we take our long road trips I don’t have to gasp and stomp on the imaginary brake when Jim follows too closely.

Another thing I’ll do is eat all the cream cheese I want then go get liposuction to remove the inevitable fat wads.  I can’t get a facelift because my daughter, the critical care nurse, tells me at my “advanced age” (ouch) the time spent under anesthesia would be dangerous.

Meimee finally inquired what I was writing.  I told her I have a blog and was working out what to blog about next.  She shared that she’s writing her life story.

I then put down my pen and asked her to share that with me. I learned her grandfather was a General in the Chinese Army during the revolution.  When China became communist he moved his family to Taiwan.  Once Meimee was three Grandpa and Grandma took her to America.  Mom stayed behind.  Meimee goes to Taiwan every few years to see her.

I found myself wishing my hearing was better.  Between the bubbling water and her slight accent I missed a few answers to my questions.  Everyone has a book in them, don’t they?

Here is what Meimee created!

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Yes, I have the tiniest toenails on the planet.

Now, I have to go manifest a crab boil at Lynda and Rusty’s house.  She recently  had us for one and it was delicious.  She said, “Don’t tell Mama we did this while she was out of town. She will be mad to have missed it.”

Erika, aka Mama, was picking apples in Connecticut.  Naturally, I sent Mama a postcard and tattled.  Now Mama is recovering from a knee replacement at Lynda’s home.  I’m pretty certain a crab boil would be exactly what the doctor would order for  speedy recovery.  And Lynda, I’ll supply the crab, shrimp, sausage.  You just cook it all up in a pan.  Yay for manifesting great things!

Now all you good and gentle readers–go forth and prosper.

Writing Workshop

I took my first writing class yesterday.  It was called Writing for Self Discovery.  I felt so shy.  I was nervous to read my stuff out loud.  I was reminded about a book I had read earlier–Stephen Pressfield’s The War of Art.  In it, he talks about the difference between an amateur and a professional.   An amateur gives in to fear.  A pro pushes through the fear.

I have to turn professional.  I have to keep putting one word in front of another, day after day, year after year.  I’m almost sixty-seven.  I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a kid.  But fear of writing badly stopped me.

Of course, my early writing will be bad.  My early paintings were downright embarrassing.  I still shudder when I recall the barn Lynn commissioned me to paint for her parents.  But I kept painting.  And the muscles got stronger.

I will keep writing and expect to eventually get better.

The writing teacher, Maureen, writes poetry.  I don’t  “get” poetry.  I think I’m too literal for poetry.  If I were a poet I’d have to make all the lines rhyme.

Every morning I force myself to write three pages, as recommended by Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist’s Way.  Some days I can barely think of anything to write.  So I just start rhyming.  Don’t do it.  It becomes a sickness.  I have a friend, Herb, who used to read signs backwards.  He warned me NEVER to start doing that or I wouldn’t be able to stop.  I texted him about my rhyming sickness.

Here is what he texted back to me.

“I thguoht id ekat eht emit ot ekam siht egassem emyhr.  I deen ot ees a esrun ot kaerb em fo siht esruc.”

Three pages, with a fountain pen.  When I begin to write about all the things I’m grateful for the writing flows and I can go on for even four or more pages.

Blah blah blahing away.  I never go back to reread my morning pages.  I started this practice in June.  At that time we were still living in our Palm Harbor home.  Then the summer of condo happened.  Now we live in a high rise.  I can walk to the library.  And to my writing classes.

I haven’t felt like sewing at all since the move.  I will keep my wool for a year.  If I haven’t begun making purses again by next September, the bins get taken out of the closet.  We need all the storage space we can find.Screen Shot 2018-10-01 at 2.08.51 PM.png

Somewhat related blog posts:

The Artist’s Way

Adventures with wool continue.

I manifested a condominium​!