cocktail hour on the mossy patio

Sunday, August 30:  I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve invited you over for a cocktail hour.  I’m so happy to see you!  It’s taken me a long while to get settled in back home here in Virginia.  Please come in and help yourself to a drink. I have some Bud Light Lime, which Mike calls a fake beer but I find cool and refreshing in the summer heat, and some Montes Cabernet Sauvignon.  If you prefer a cool glass of white wine, I have some La Granja verdejo viura, a Spanish wine I picked up at Trader Joe’s.  Though the weather’s warm (88 F today), we haven’t had humidity all week, so it’s quite pleasant outside this evening.  We’ll have a seat on my patio, covered in moss as it as, as there really is nowhere else to sit outside.

me on the moss-covered patio
me on the moss-covered patio

Our house here in Oakton is rather a mess, so I apologize.  Our kitchen and deck badly need replacing, and we’ll be embarking on a major construction project soon to redo the kitchen, possibly knocking down the wall between our family room and kitchen.  We’ll also tear down the deck and replace it with a screened-in porch, and change our laundry room into a mudroom/pantry/laundry room.  Because of this, the only good place I have for us to sit outdoors is on our patio, which is also in a state of disrepair and is covered in that moss.  It’s Virginia, after all, a state prone to damp summers and wild foliage growth, so the moss taking over our patio isn’t a total surprise.

Mike suggested I have the cocktail hour on the patio, and he quipped, “Unlike our mossy patio, no moss will grow on this rolling stone” (meaning me).  He is endlessly patient with me and my restlessness and my wanderings. I don’t know why he puts up with it; maybe he enjoys having a break from me after going on 27 years of marriage (with a 7 year break ending in 2013). 🙂  Anyway, he’s joining us tonight, so you can ask him yourself!

Please, tell me all about you.  Have you been enjoying the last bits of summer?  Have you traveled to exotic lands or had a staycation?  Have you gone to any outdoor concerts or plays?  Have you seen your children off to conquer new challenges?  Have you been on any retreats?  Have you seen any good movies or read any page-turners?  Have you eaten at any good restaurants or cooked anything wonderful at home?  Have you harvested fresh vegetables from your garden?  Have you been to the beach, or gone swimming in a lake?  Have you been exercising and eating healthy? Have you been on any shopping sprees?

The one thing I have done most religiously since I returned home is to exercise every day.  I started out walking every day for 3 miles.  I’ve only missed two days since I returned home, so I’m quite proud of myself.  I gained 7 pounds when I was in China, and I was already heavier than I would have liked BEFORE I left for China.  Thus, I have been keeping track of my calories and exercise on my fitness pal, and so far I’ve lost the 7 pounds I gained in China and am working on losing more. Here’s a chart of my weight loss, which mistakenly states that I started at 150 lbs.  My actual weight when I returned from China and California (where I went a little crazy with American food!) was 152.2.  As of today, I’m at 144.8.  I’m really hoping to stick it out and get down to 135!!

Slowly but surely chipping away!
Slowly but surely chipping away!

A couple of weeks ago, I started going to Oak Marr RECenter twice a week to work out with weights.  Last week, I started going to a Zumba class.  I’m so hopelessly uncoordinated, but it’s a great workout and lots of fun! I sweat like crazy for an hour, so it must be doing some good.  I don’t feel so bad about being uncoordinated as there are a bunch of Korean and Japanese ladies in the class who seem almost as uncoordinated as I am.  I’m not going to let it bother me that I can’t get the steps right; I’m just going to enjoy it and poke fun at myself for my hopeless inability to keep up!

While I was in China, I had set up an appointment with a GI for August 3 because I had been so sick in China all year. However, as soon as I got home, all my stomach problems mysteriously disappeared. Hmm.  Since the appointment had already been set up, I went in to see the doctor anyway.  He was baffled as to why I had come in, and he told me to keep eating healthy and exercising and I would probably continue to feel fine.

I helped Alex, my oldest son, move to Richmond at the end of July.  He’s now attending Virginia Commonwealth University, where he hopes to get a degree in Exercise Science.  His sister, Sarah, already lives in Richmond and should finally finish her degree in English at the end of the fall semester.  Here is Alex’s new house and him in his room with his sister. Sorry the pictures are a little blurry, but my camera has been acting up.  I will need to be looking for a new camera sometime soon, possibly by my birthday on October 25. This will be my 60th.  Ouch. 🙂

Alex's new abode in Richmond
Alex’s new abode in Richmond
Alex's room
Alex’s room
Sarah and Alex in his new room
Sarah and Alex in his new room

Other than exercising, I’ve been working on a 5-hour free grammar course (more like 10+ hours!) and a pre-task for the course I’m taking beginning September 21 at Teaching House, which runs the University of Cambridge CELTA (the Certificate in English Language Teaching), the most widely accepted TESOL program in the world.  It’s a month-long highly intensive course. I think I won’t have a life during that month, or in the coming weeks, as I prepare for the course.

I was surprised on Thursday, August 6, to get a text message from one of my Chinese students, Christine.  She wrote that she was on a train from New York to Washington with her mother and they hoped to take me out to dinner in Washington.  It turned out that Mike and I trekked downtown and took Christine and her mother to the Lincoln Restaurant.  Christine’s English is not bad, and her mother could understand and speak limited English.  When the server tried to explain the complex dishes, such a far stretch from Chinese dishes, Christine said immediately that all she wanted was meat.  She ordered the plate of BBQ ribs, and we had to demonstrate how she should eat them! The plate was almost as big as she is.  Neither she nor her mother had any interest in the small plates Mike and I ordered: Ricotta gnocchi, Shrimp & Grits, and the Pennsylvania Chicken Pot Pie.  When the waitress put the Shishito Pepper Hush Puppies on the table, Christine asked tentatively: “Is that dog meat?” We were taken aback momentarily by her misunderstanding of the word “puppies,” and we all got quite a laugh out of it. 🙂

Christine, me, and her mom, Li
Christine, me, and her mom, Li
Li, Christine and Mike
Li, Christine and Mike
Me with Mike
Me with Mike

Our dinner with Christine was on Friday, August 7, and on Sunday, the 9th, Mike and I went downtown to Arena Stage to see the emotionally moving musical, Dear Evan Hansen. The play explores how far we’ll go to fulfill our need for connection.  According to the playbill: “In our social media world where ‘friend’ is now a verb, and we only share the highlights of our life, what happens when we reveal our true thoughts and feelings?”  The sets were wonderfully done, with columns displaying Tweets and Facebook posts and rotating sets of Evan’s bedroom and the living room of a family whose son committed suicide.  The opening number of the play brought tears to my eyes, as I know how isolating our digitally connected society is for young people, and frankly, for all of us.  It was a phenomenal performance.

The following weekend, August 14-16, I went to Richmond to have dinner with Sarah and Alex at a Greek restaurant called Stella’s and then drove from there to Monterey in southwestern Virginia, where I attended a women’s mid-life retreat organized by Annette of Beauty Along the Road. I stayed two nights at the Laurel Point Bed & Breakfast, a lovely place overlooking the mountains in Monterey.

Before attending the workshop, we were asked to take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths quiz on the University of Pennsylvania: Authentic Happiness Questionnaire Center.  It seems anyone can take this quiz, so you might try it yourself.  I found after taking the quiz that these were my top five strengths:

  1. Curiosity and interest in the world
  2. Love of learning
  3. Appreciation of beauty and excellence
  4. Fairness, Equity and Justice
  5. Humor and playfulness

We did a lot of interesting activities on the retreat, including making a timeline collage of our lives.  Here’s mine:

My timeline collage
My timeline collage

We also brainstormed as a group the issues women face in mid-life; we wrote a letter to someone who we feel has held us down in our lives and then we burned that letter; we did individual brainstorms in answer to the question: Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? We also visualized what our life what will be like in 5 years and then we created a plan of action for the next year to achieve that goal.

To make ourselves accountable, we were asked to declare our intention. My intention is to have my novel published in one year, by August 16, 2016.  Here are the steps with a timeline to reach that goal:

  1. Research agents at the library and online and from books I like.
  2. Find at least 10 agents by August 31 and note what each agent requires: query letter, synopsis, number of pages/word count, format of 1st 50 pages or first 3 chapters.
  3. Finalize my query letter by September 20.
  4. Write my synopsis by October 31.
  5. Send out whatever is required to 10 agents by November 30.
  6. Repeat the process and find 10 more agents.  Sent next 10 queries to agents by January 31, 2016.
  7. Continue to repeat this process.
  8. If I can’t get anywhere, look into self-publishing.

Next we had to list the obstacles we might encounter.  Mine are:

  1. My word count is 107,000 and most agents won’t look at a novel over 100,000 words.
  2. My query letter needs work.
  3. I haven’t written a synopsis.
  4. I may need to edit the novel again.
  5. Procrastination.
  6. Lack of knowledge of the proper steps to take.

We also had to list some allies who might be able to help us achieve our goals.

At the end of the retreat, we each took a seat in a special chair while everyone said words about us that were recorded by a group member.  Here are the kind words that people said about me.  I was humbled and flattered by the whole process and will keep these words with me to look at whenever I get discouraged.

The final wrap-up
The final wrap-up

The retreat was a wonderful experience.  I learned a lot about myself and the issues other women are struggling with.  I hope I can stay on track with my big goal despite the time commitment of my upcoming CELTA course. I’ll be reflecting often on what I learned at that retreat. I highly recommend it for other women in the area.

Other than my constant exercising, household chores, de-cluttering, moving my kids out and onward, and attending the retreat, I’ve also seen some interesting movies in theaters, including A Borrowed Identity, Trainwreck, Samba, The End of the Tour, Phoenix, Ricki and the Flash, and Mr. Holmes. You can see I’ve been busy making up for the time I lost in China! I’ve also watched the last season of Last Tango in Halifax and have gotten involved in the Danish political series, Borgen. I’ve also been watching some of the series Rectify.

As for books, I’ve read I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum and Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen, both of which I loved!  I’m now reading A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, which I’m also enjoying immensely. 🙂

I’ve eaten at Lebanese Taverna, Cafesano (Italian), Saba’ Yemeni Restaurant and Guapo’s (Mexican).  I’ve been shopping for healthy foods at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods and trying to eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and watching my portion sizes. Other than an occasional treat of cheese and chili rellenos, I’ve been pretty self-disciplined!

Most of my friends know how I love to shop. I’ve been on a few shopping sprees mostly to buy various types of jeans and some cute tops, and even a kimono wrap thingy. I hardly wore jeans at all in Oman or China because it was just too hot, and I realized I didn’t have any that fit me.  So, yes, I’ve done a little shopping and I’ve probably gone a bit overboard.  Here’s me at some of my recent weights and wearing some of my cute purchases.  I do love fashion, but it sure helps if you’re tall and thin, neither of which I am!

As for reverse culture shock, I haven’t experienced it as much this time as the first two times I returned home from abroad. The main reason is that I’ve let go of all expectations.  I don’t expect any friends to contact me, and slowly but surely, I’ll make an effort to contact those people I’d like to see. I find myself weaning out my list of friends each time I return as I don’t feel like bothering to contact people who never make any effort with me.   After all, what’s the point?  There are people I love and care for: people who don’t judge me and people who make me laugh and people with whom I have a shared history; those people will continue to be part of my life.  As for anyone new I meet, I’ll be happy to share my life with them if they’re interested in doing so!

I’m so happy that you joined me tonight for cocktail hour on the mossy patio. I hope you feel relaxed, even though you had to listen to a lot from me!  I can’t wait to hear about what you’ve been up to; hopefully it’s something that has brought you laughter, peace, tranquility, and even adventure.  I’ll try to have a cocktail hour more frequently, so we don’t have quite so much to catch up on.  Please, do come back and join me again!

Hugs to each of you! 🙂




33 thoughts on “cocktail hour on the mossy patio

  1. I hope I’m not too late, and there is still a little something left for me to drink. If not, I’ll be happy with a cup of coffee. It’s great to catch up with all your news, sitting on your patio which looks lovely to me. You’ve been very busy – I don’t know how you manage to fit it all in! My summer break is almost over and I have spent most of it with family members, which has been great. I visited my mum for a week then brought her back home with me for a further two weeks. Then we went away and stayed with family in Cornwall for a week before returning home to host my sister and her family for a week! They have just left, so it’s all back to normal for me now – laundry, shopping, gardening, work…

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Elaine. I’m so glad you could come. We have plenty to drink, no worry. I have been very busy but things slowed down a bit for me this week. You must remember that all my activity took place over a 6 week period, so it’s not as busy as it may have seemed. I’m glad you got to spend much of your summer holiday with family. That’s wonderful and I’m sure you had a lot of fun. I’m glad you got to visit your mum and then bring her back with you. You certainly had a good long visit. The time in Cornwall sounds lovely too, as well as having your sister visit. So have you started back at school? I hope you enjoy your fall! 🙂

      1. Even considering it was 6 weeks, I still think you did a lot! The schools here started back last week, but I’ve not been in yet, although the work will come in soon I think once teachers start going on training courses etc and the school needs cover for them.

      2. Thanks, Elaine. I do try to keep busy, but I also waste a lot of time just like anyone else! So you are a substitute teacher, then? I didn’t realize that. What ages do you teach? 🙂

      3. Yes, I am a substitute teacher (or supply teacher, as we call them here) who often ends up with long contracts, or sometimes ‘real’ class teacher status for a year! I like it that way, though. This year I don’t plan to take any on any long term cover work. I teach 5 – 11 year olds, but most of my work is in a school which is for 7 – 11 year olds.

  2. It’s so nice to read hear all your news. You sound more like your old self, pre China, Cathy and that’s great. I’m pleased to hear that you are going to take up the challenge of publishing your novel again. I really enjoyed the chapters I read.

    I went on a retreat too, to the Bunya Mountains about 95 minutes drive from home, with a group of ladies who share a common passion for quilt making, stitching and crafting. We spent the weekend laughing, eating delicious healthy meals, chatting about all sorts of topics and of course, stitching like crazy. It was a fabulous weekend. We had the log fire going all weekend, there were kangaroos grazing on the hills around the house and I started the hand quilting on a new quilt. It was perfect.

    1. I hope to really go full force on the novel publishing (or self-publishing, whichever it has to be) as soon as I finish my course on October 16. I will be focusing all my energy on that and house projects after that.

      Your retreat sounds lovely. I don’t know anything about the Bunya Mountains, but I’m sure it was lovely. I used to be a quilter, but not any longer; as a matter of fact I got rid of all the fabric I had purchased over the years before I left for Oman in 2011. Too bad I couldn’t have sent it all to you. Laughing and eating healthy and delicious meals and chatting and stitching all sound like a perfect getaway. I’d love to see some pictures of the retreat and your quilts. Have you done a post about it all that I’ve missed?

      1. I am looking forward to seeing your novel published soon Cathy.

        It was probably better that you didn’t send my your fabric. I have enough in my sewing room to open my own shop!

        I haven’t yet written a post about the Bunya Mountains but I do intend to in the future. I have written about my quilts before, in this photo challenge post. These are all hand quilted.

      2. I now have my first list of agents. Each requires something different, so I will start sending the novel off after my class ends in mid-October.

        It’s funny, when I looked at your quilting post, I realized I had seen it before and commented on it as well! I love your quilts! So pretty. 🙂

  3. Well Cathy, what a busy bee you have been! Whilst I admire your energy, at the same time it makes me feel somewhat tired and infocussed!

    Your description of the weather in your part of the world rings a bell with me. I have just had someone in to clear the ivy on the front of my house and do some trimming of the trees and shrubs in my garden, which is somewhat small and had got a bit overwhelmed with vegetation. This was not without its problems as not only did he prune a shrub I had not asked him to do, and which had taken ages to grow to a decent size given it’s in the shade, but also in clearing an unwanted tree he managed to dislodge a highly prickly burglar proof shrub which is now spread all over the back garden! I am covered in scratches having tried and failed to move it! He’s supposed to be coming over tomorrow to clear it. It’s hard to be cross with him because he’s 76 years old, cheap and highly entertaining but really …

    It’s been a poor summer in the UK and I have had problems with both my tomatoes and cucumbers which are in the yard. The allotment on the other hand has been fairly productive – blueberries and gooseberries being particularly abundant. Incidentally, a yard in the UK is at the back of the house, usually walled and with a paved or hard surface of some sort. A garden is everything else! An allotment is a rented piece of ground set by, usually by the local authority, for cultivation in urban areas. I am minded of the quotation that Americans and Brits are two nations divided by a common language! I play word games with my daughter who is based in the States, and what with strollers v puchshairs, sidewalks v pavements , diapers v nappies etc I find myself constantly working with a dual vocabulary.

    Thanks for the drink. I’ll pass on the fake beer but the glass of white was very acceptable.

    1. Hi Vee, it’s so nice that you decided to drop by for my cocktail hour. My busyness has made me tired as well, so you’ll be happy to know things have slowed down for me as of this week. I’m too tired to keep up this pace.

      Oh dear, your yard work dilemmas seem rather frustrating and daunting, especially the spread of that prickly bush. I hope you’re not covered in scratches still! I can’t believe your gardener (or lawn worker) is 76 and still going strong though. I guess it’s hard to get too angry at a 76 year old chap who is doing all that hard work!

      Thanks for defining an allotment and yard and a garden in British terms. You’re right, so much in our languages is different; I’m always feeling baffled when I read my British friends’ blogs! I’m sorry your tomatoes and cucumbers didn’t do so well this summer. I hope you have some friends who can provide you with some treats from their allotments (or is it gardens – I admit I’m still a little confused!!). Thanks so much for coming by for a visit, Vee. Hope to see you again soon. 🙂

  4. Soooo happy to join you on the patio for cocktail hour again!! I have so missed these posts!!! I am excited by your outline for your future goal of getting that novel published! As an impatiently-waiting purchaser of said novel, I intend to ensure that you stick to it and I will be checking up on your re: these goals and their deadlines!!! Hahaha!

    Trader Joe’s is a fantasy for Canadians desperate to get one to set up shop on this side of the border! Sounds like you have made up for lost time indeed regarding getting some healthy food in you! NO surprise your tummy is happy again!!

    I have started my new job (well I am in my fourth week already!!) and I love it! 9-5 is way better than it is cracked up to be and I am enjoying the normal life at home immensely! I am also working on losing weight and this job is keeping me so busy I am either too late home or too tired for boredom snacking which is a good thing!

    No grand adventures beyond a day trip to a tiny beach resort on Lake Erie called Port Dover. What I expected, a lovely little town with a beach that is busy with tourists and locals alike. Alas I went there with only five dollars in my pocket, which as sad as I could not cash my pay check in time before I left to take advantage of the great arts festival they had there where I had planned to do some Christmas shopping! Maybe next year!

    Not much else new, but I will take note of those wines … Spanish white wine….. never thought of that!! As it is about 100 degrees F here right now, that would be great to have outside on the porch this evening, as long as it is suitably chilled and poured into a frosty glass!!

    Cannot wait for the next missive from the mossy patio!! It is lovely and I hope you keep us informed with before and after photos re: the home renovations!!!

    With a big hug from up north!!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoy my cocktail hours, Mona Lisa. I really wish they were real cocktail hours, in real time and place. I’d really love to gather with all of you in person. Maybe it will happen one day!

      Thanks for holding me accountable on my novel publishing goals. I’ve already missed one deadline of finding 10 agents by August 31. Because of my computer debacles this week, I’m still only at 6. So I need to get busy on it this week coming up.

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying your new job and that you think it’s helping you in your weight loss quest. It is awfully hard to find time for exercising while working; I’m worried about that once my class begins.

      I think the white wine is a good thing in summer because it’s chilled and it helps us cool down on these hot days.

      We’re in the process of talking to contractors now, but I think it will be a lot slower process than I hoped it would be! I really wanted it all done before Christmas, but I fear that is not to be.

      I told Mike about your movie Enlightenment Guaranteed and we tried to get it on Netflix, but they don’t have it. Then I looked on Amazon and it was $67 for a used copy!! I sure wish I could show it to him. I wonder if it would cost much to send it to me and I could send it back. I would hate to put you to much trouble, but if you feel like bothering, we would love to see it (me for the second time!).

      I’m sorry we didn’t get to chat today. I guess you must have been busy. Hopefully soon. 🙂 Have a good week!

      1. I would be happy to send you the DVD!! Send me your address by IM or email and I would be happy to do this for you!! It was a wonderful movie! So surprised at the cost on Amazon! It would be cheaper to get it from I think!! But I will gladly send it to you!!!! Yes, I am sorry about not calling, I just got carried away with the bread and the baking and the day just got away from me. Let me know if you are free today or next weekend. I would love to know how your CELTA preparations are coming along and if you got all your photos back. For these reasons you are also forgiven for not getting all your book agents together. xxxxx

      2. I can’t wait to get those DVDs! I’ve been telling Mike about Enlightenment Guaranteed and he is excited to see it! By the way, I did get my book agents together. They’re all on a spread sheet with their different requirements. As soon as my course is over, I’ll be starting to send off the novel. 🙂

      3. I’ve sent the novel out to 8 agents with no interest so far. I need to focus on it again, possibly changing up my query letter. Some require a synopsis, which I haven’t yet written. I’m going to get to work on it again soon. I got sidetracked by that real estate licensing course, which I’m not going to do after all! 🙂

      4. OH!! That is a huge step! Yes, a synopsis is good!! The one you wrote to tell me about the novel in the first place had me ready to run to the bookstore with money in hand it was so exciting!!! I wish I still had it!!

        I did not know you were considering a real estate career!! What made you decide against it? It does seem to be a good option for many people, women especially. What interested you first of all and what then turned you off? I could never do that, as I am too much of a hard seller gushing about this and that potential as tha is what I see. I got my place for a song because it was so filthy and full of dirty old carpets and furniture from the dump and the walls were dirty and everything old. We knew there were “good bones” and once we cleaned it and put in a new kitchen and bath it was terrific and now I have new windows. Sadly I had a terrible issue with moths thanks to a “green” dry claner and a prayer rug that somehow came back with a colony of moths, which caused me to lose everything re every piece of furniture, many of my textiles and all my wool hand made sweaters from my former mother in law. Now it is like a kennel for cats without any bad smell with one loveseat, an old dining set from my folks, two TVs and 3000 books. That is it for furniture, oh and my treadmill. It used to be soooo nice, all amazing rugs from Iran, leather furniture, sheepskins all over, tons of artwork on the walls, African this, Buddhist that, amazing. Not now.Oh well, it is just stuff. But I have taken your lead on the KonMari AND GOT RID OF 6 shopping bags full of clothes on the weekend!! Wow!!!

        Now about that synopsis….!!! Get to it asap!!!!! 😀

        Your biggest fan!! xxx

      5. Hey there! Writing the synopsis is a big hurdle for me because the story is so complex and convoluted that it makes it difficult to cover it in one page! I already wrote a query letter that kind of sums it up without giving too much away. I like it when agents ask for the query and the first 3 chapters; I think that shows the most. However, I’ve gotten no bites yet, after sending the book out to 10 agents.

        I took the Real Estate course in January and passed the class test in early February; then I passed the Virginia State and National test at the end of February. There is over a $1,000 initial investment and then about $3,000 of expenses/per year to start out and I’m just not sure I want to do it. I can’t see myself as a salesperson; I’m just the opposite of you. I hate selling things and I’m not at all pushy! Plus I’d rather focus on my book, starting a new memoir and I’m even considering starting some kind of travel business. It would all be a slow process; of course I always keep in my mind the possibility of going abroad to teach again. Even though I don’t care about teaching English language. I’d rather be teaching some course on writing (writing a blog, writing a travel memoir, etc) to adults, or a “live like a local” travel experience. It would also take a big investment of time and money. I’m much more interested in those two things than in real estate! So I haven’t told any of the brokers yes or no; I’m still sitting on the fence. My inclination is not to do it; however, considering my options, I continue to hang on to the idea. I’m so confused!! 🙂

        I’m sorry about your issues with moths in your condo; also I’m sure the cats are a challenge. I cleaned out my clothes and am now working on books; we have so many but have gotten rid of 10 boxes so far. Still have more to do!

        I’m going to get busy on writing my synopsis today. It may take me all week, but I hope to have it done by the end of the week. We have the closing on our refinance today; the refinance is to do our renovation which is slowly getting underway. We’re making decisions every day! Slowly but surely moving forward. 🙂

        Thanks again for your words of encouragement. 🙂

      6. Dr. Seuss had 27 rejections before he was published! I am wondering why you don’t invest in the qualifications a travel guide might need …. if there are any….? The real estate is a way to make good money and for sure you can “play the game” if you have to. Commissions in your area must be pretty substantial. Why not give it a year, bank all your earnings and see if it can subsidize your true goals? I am not a salesperson at all, in fact there is nothing I would hate more, but I can sure push my friends as I see the greatness in them they often do not see in themselves and then I can push push push! I used to be good at making my own dreams come true, but I had to really modify them after my accident as I guess it all came to easy the way I got into the UN even though it took me 20 years. Oh well, don’t give up, keep sending out those letters. You can get 1000 “no’s” – all you need is a single “YES” after all!!!

        Have a terrific weekend!! I am excited to read about your renovations, it is time for a visit to your patio with a nice glass of rose wine, no? Big hug!

      7. And one day we will have a cocktail hour for real, somewhere in the USA! Too bad the closest point of entry for me is Niagara Falls! xx

      8. One day! I would love to meet up and see Washington DC with you! One of these days I will take a bus trip for a few days maybe and we can meet instead of me taking their tours! I would not want to impose otherwise!! But thank you for the invitation!!!!! I sadly can never reciprocate with my six cats – what was I thinking?? They are exhausting! The original three I had for ten years was enough as they are very well behaved and never wreched anything or damaged anything but the Omani cats ….good grief what a mess and all my (very few) nice pieces mugs and wine glasses are all smashed to bits. I drink out of Mason canning jars now and have ugly mugs I don’t like from Value Village now. *sigh*. I would be embarassed to have anyone stay at my place now that is for sure.


  5. Cathy – you are like the energizer bunny, I do admire your activity level! Thank you so much for your kind words about the women’s midlife retreat. I am so glad you got so much out of it. If any of your readers would like to find out more about this retreat, they can go to the Facebook page More to Come and read more. If you “like” the page you’ll get updates on future retreats that are in the planning stages already.

    1. Thanks for admiring my energy level, Annette, but keep in mind that this activity was done over a 6-week period, not in one week! I loved the mid-life retreat. I’ll head over the Facebook page now! It would be nice if you could get some more people to attend your future retreats!

  6. I’m sorry I’m so late to join you – I’d like to say I’ve been busy, but I think it more accurate to say I’ve been moving slowly – lazily, truth be told. I’ll have a glass of the cabernet, thank you – I agree with Mike’s assessment of your beer. I much prefer a stout, a porter, or an IPA.
    Your summer has been much busier than mine – I did enjoy a couple of weeks with my offspring, but I’m sure you’ve read my posts about that already. You spoke of gaining weight in China – I’ve been spending far too much of my time on my bottom this summer and I’ve put on girth around the mid-section. Distressing because my jeans no longer fit the way I want them to. I keep talking to myself about exercise (ugh!) but so far have not convinced myself that I really need to do this. I do need to get outside and do some fall cleanup – we have freezing night temps in the forecast for later this week – so perhaps that will help. A little.
    Our fall bird visitors are coming through and the leaves are beginning to turn, so I know the season is on its way. That’s fine – I just hope it hangs around for a long time. I’m ready for fall, but not for winter.
    Congratulations on setting goals! Hang in there – where there’s a will, there’s a way.
    I’ve enjoyed the wine and our visit, but really need to get going now. I’m looking forward to the next time.

    1. Don’t worry about being late to join, Carol. As you can see, I’m quite late in responding myself. It is summer, after all, and it is a lazy time for all of us. I can certainly understand moving slowly at this time of year. We do have some stout beers this time around, as I see you share Mike’s taste in beer.

      I have been gaining weight in the bottom half of my body too. I think that comes from sitting too much and just getting older! I don’t know why my middle part is like a barrel these days; it’s very frustrating. I understand perfectly the jeans not fitting any more; I have the same problem and have had to buy all new jeans and pants since I returned. Even if I lose weight, it doesn’t seem to drop from those areas!

      Getting out in the yard to do work will certainly help. I think just moving in general, instead of sitting, is a good thing. I can’t wait for fall; I love the cool air and the fall colors so much! I even prefer winter to summer.

      Thanks for the congratulations about my goals. I’m great at setting goals, just not always so great at meeting them! Oh well, at least I aim for something and even if I come up short, at least I usually make some progress.

      I hope you’ve enjoyed your Labor Day weekend. One more day and then it’s back to the regular routines. Thanks so much for coming by! It was great to catch up. 🙂

  7. Lovely to join you on your mossy patio and you look so slim and healthy, my word I’m not surprised the weight has been dropping off with all the activities. Actually 152 lbs (which I couldn’t visualise) but it translates to 69kg which is not too bad.
    I have been having just a very low key winter (actually it is more like UK summer!!!) as it is the first time we have been home for this long since 2010. We have now been home nearly 5 months and enjoying the novelty of sleeping in our own beds. So it has been gardening, get togethers with friends and family, occasional outings and buying a car. Both Jack and I are back into drawing and painting as we joined an art group which sparked our creative juices. But all that is to change as next week we head south to house sit for nearly 3 weeks then over to NZ to my sons wedding, then back here and down to Sydney for another 6 week house sit and that will bring us to 2016. How time flies…

    Good to get together again. Hugs back to you…

    1. I’m so glad you could join us on the patio for cocktail hour, Pauline. And thanks for your nice compliments about my weight, although I still do have more pounds to lose! I think since I’m rather short (5’5″ or 65 cm), 152 lbs doesn’t look good on me; and my pants are all too tight, which I don’t like at all!

      I’m glad you’ve been having a low key winter and that you’ve been enjoying the novelty of staying at home for a change. All of your activities sound enjoyable: gardening, getting together with friends, and of course buying the car. That art group sounds especially fun. Going on to your house-sitting gigs sounds like another wonderful adventure, and I’ll look forward to coming along vicariously! Congratulations on your son’s wedding. How excited you must be!

      Thanks so much for dropping by. Hope to visit with you again soon. 🙂

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