the monthly cocktail hour (whether we need it or not): may edition

Sunday, May 15: Welcome to my disheveled home for my monthly cocktail hour.  I know, I can hear your protests already: But, Cathy, you haven’t been having your cocktail hour on a monthly basis!  Your last one was in December! Admittedly you’re right.  You all have probably figured out by now that my consistency is questionable.  I originally intended to do them weekly, then it dropped to bi-weekly, and now I’m lucky to have one on an every 5-month basis!  So, I’m going to stick my neck out and say it’s my intention to have one every month, around the middle of each month.  I’ll even write it on my calendar to be sure it will be a priority.  I really do miss hearing from all of you in a deeper, more open way; of course a sip or two of alcohol helps us to put down our walls and loosen our tongues!

Please, come in and have a drink.  I’m afraid things are a bit of mess here in my house as our renovation is in full swing and we have no access to the kitchen or the screened-in porch or deck.  I hope you don’t mind doing a lot of mingling as there aren’t many places to sit.  We have lots of wine of both colors, Bud Light Lime (what Mike calls my fake beer), and some New Belgian Fat Tire.  I’ve also got the makings for a dirty martini, which some people have told me I should try: Vodka, olives and some olive juice.  For the people who like to socialize on the straight, I have Coke and Diet Coke Vanilla, and some  peach-pear flavored La Croix sparkling water.

Have you been enjoying the spring? Have you gone on any fun excursions?  Have you started planning your summer travels to exotic lands or will you be having a staycation?    Have you gone to any outdoor concerts, plays, or book signings? Have you seen your children off to conquer new challenges? Have you reconnected with old friends? Have you accomplished any goals?  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 planted flowers and vegetables?  Have you been exercising and eating healthy? Have you been on any shopping sprees?

The weather here has been mostly miserable all spring, with rain and clouds nearly every day; when it’s not raining, like today, it’s cold and windy.  I can’t believe the swimming pools will be opening in less than two weeks.  It doesn’t seem at all like summer is right around the corner.  I know the rain is good for us, but I find it quite depressing when it never lets up.

You all know about my fun excursion to Philadelphia and then my later trip to Dallas and Oklahoma City for my friend Rosie’s wedding.  Though I haven’t finished blogging about them yet, I will soon.

We were originally planning to go to Prague and Budapest in late May for our holiday, but since we’re in the midst of our renovation and it won’t be done until mid- to late-June, we had to forego our May plans.  Instead, Mike chose to take our holiday in late August because of his work schedule.  We decided against joining the hordes of tourists on mainland Europe in August and opted to go to Iceland from August 13-25.

Mike and I ventured to into D.C. on the evening of April 20 to attend Bill Geroux’s book talk and signing at Politics and Prose Bookstore, one of the District’s longstanding independently owned bookstores.  He wrote Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler’s U-boats, just released on April 19. I was married to Bill from 1979-1986, and Sarah is our daughter. We actually lived in Mathews County, Virginia, where his book is set, for a year soon after we returned from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in 1984. Sarah was a tiny baby at that time.  Bill has been a journalist for much of his career, working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch and later for Maersk, the largest container-shipping company in the world.  Ever since we met, he’s longed to write a book, and now he’s done it, to great acclaim.  I’m very excited for him.

Before going to see Bill, Mike and I enjoyed drinks and pizza at Comet Ping Pong.  Though we asked Bill to join us, he was tied up with his publicist.  I enjoyed my wine with a pizza called The Smoky: Smoky Mushrooms, Smoky Mozzarella,
Smoky Bacon, melted onions, garlic.

I’ve still been trying to walk 3 miles every day; sometimes I also go to the gym to lift weights.  Oh, how I hate the gym!  With all the rain, I’ve been to the gym more than I care to. My eating habits have been atrocious, so of course I’m not losing any weight and my belly seems to be getting bigger by the day.  I sure hate some aspects of aging.

a walk around Lake Thoreau
a walk around Lake Thoreau

As for goals, I have too many of them, and most of them never get accomplished.  I’ve been considering starting a travel retreat business for fit solo travelers between the ages of 55-75.  I started reading Start Your Own Business: The Only Startup Book You’ll Ever Need by Entrepreneur and I’ve been slowly but surely working through the worksheets.  Last week I wrote a mission statement!  That was fun. I’m still a long way from solidifying my ideas.  Right now I’m just trying things on for size.

Azaleas
Azaleas

I’ve also been continuing to send out my novel, but I rarely get any response from the agents I’m contacting.  I’m not giving up yet.  I finally wrote a synopsis, still probably too long, but that was a great accomplishment as I’ve been putting it off for about 3 years!

gardens along the walk
gardens along the walk

As for books, I finished reading The Blue Between Sky and Water, the first novel I’ve read that tells the devastating consequences of the formation of the State of Israel on the Palestinians.  I also finished the Pulitzer-prize winning novel All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr that takes place during WWII France and Germany.   I enjoyed both books immensely; I also learned a lot from reading them.  I’m now reading Bill’s book, Mathews Men, as well as the novel, The Heart of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Phillipp Sendker.  It takes place in Burma, and since I traveled there in 2015, I find it engrossing.

Lake Thoreau condos
Lake Thoreau condos

I’m a real movie buff and I often find myself sitting in Cinema Arts Theatre for Senior Wednesdays ($5 admission for seniors!).  I’ve recently seen A Hologram for the King, set in Saudi Arabia (but of course filmed elsewhere), The Meddler, Mother’s Day, Eye in the Sky, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, My Golden Days, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Mustang and Hello, My Name is Doris.  Lately, I seem to find most movies just mildly entertaining, nothing to get excited about.  I enjoyed Mustang and Eye in the Sky, but also Hologram for the King because, having lived in Oman for two years, it brought back some interesting memories.

a walk along Lake Thoreau
a walk along Lake Thoreau

Because of our renovation, we’ve found ourselves sampling more restaurants than normal, probably accounting for my inability to lose weight.  Of course during my travels to Philadelphia, Dallas, Oklahoma City and several trips to Richmond, I’ve eaten at a lot of great restaurants.

Another day at Lake Audubon
Another day at Lake Audubon

I’ve been attending the “Commitment” Seminar Series of the Landmark Forum and am exploring what I say I’m committed to and, by looking at my actions, what I’m really committed to.  I’m also learning a lot about the character I play in life.  It’s an interesting journey, that’s for sure. 🙂

One nice thing for me is that I’ve reconnected with an old friend in our neighborhood, Beatrice.  I’ve seen her a number of times for lunch and walks; she and her husband had us over for dinner last week.  She always makes me laugh, so I’m thankful to have her in my life again. 🙂

It’s really disorienting but also interesting living through a renovation.   I have contractors in the house sometimes before I’m even out of bed; they arrive at 7 a.m. and sometimes before. They leave promptly by 3:30.  There’s never been a day when no one has shown up. Sometimes it’s just the foreman Morgan and his carpenter, Ron.  Other times the trade guys are here, Al the electrician and his son, the plumbing guy (name unknown).  This week it’s the drywall guys and on Sunday, the roofing guys came, much to our neighbors’ dismay. Next week, I think it will be the flooring guys, and then cabinet installation should begin.  Keeping fingers crossed on that. 🙂

The regulars, especially Morgan, Ron and the electricians, are the nicest guys imaginable; I’ve never seen workers having so much fun at their jobs.  There’s a lot of pounding going on constantly, as well as a boom box blaring, most regularly Dire Straits’ “Brothers in Arms,” Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” and most recently “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel, apropos considering there is a lot of sledgehammering going on. 🙂 Last week, I heard Depeche Mode singing “Enjoy the Silence:”

Words like violence
Break the silence
Come crashing in
Into my little world

That pretty much describes my life right now.  I can tell you there’s not much silence around my house lately.  Though I love these guys, I’m so happy each day at 3:30 when they leave and silence settles over the house.

So far, they’ve demolished the kitchen & deck, cut out the wall between the kitchen and family room and built a knee wall, framed the pantry and the laundry room, wired the whole area, installed the plumbing, replaced the water-damaged roof, built the sub-floor in the laundry room, insulated all the walls, and now are doing the drywall. They have almost finished the screened porch but haven’t started the deck.  What a long and involved process!

Click on any picture to see a full-sized slide show.

On Mother’s Day, none of my children were here, but Mike took me out for a special treat at Green Pig Bistro in Arlington.  We figured we’d see them on May 14 for Sarah’s graduation, so there was no need for them to drive to northern Virginia.

me at Green Pig Bistro for Mother's Day
me at Green Pig Bistro for Mother’s Day
Mike at Green Pig Bistro
Mike at Green Pig Bistro

We enjoyed mimosas with the most delicious meals: for me, shrimp, andouille grits and poached egg; for Mike, scallops on cauliflower puree with brussels sprouts.

After our brunch, Mike wanted to go by Arlington National Cemetery to see his mom’s headstone.  Shirley’s headstone is shared with Mike’s dad’s, but Mike hadn’t seen the engraving.  Arlington National Cemetery honors those who have served our nation, usually in the military, by providing a place of serenity for survivors. The 624 acres of rolling green hills are dotted with trees that are hundreds of years old.  Mike’s parents are buried here because Mike’s dad was a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army and served in WWII.

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery

While at the cemetery, we thought we’d drop by to visit John Ryan Dennison’s grave.  Ryan was my friend Rosie’s son-in-law who died in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006 at the age of 24. We sadly didn’t come prepared with flowers.  A father and mother were sitting on a blanket at a nearby grave celebrating their son’s May 8 birthday; he died also in 2006. She told us proudly that her son, unlike many young men who join the military these days for the college benefits, chose to join the military to fight after 9/11.  He wanted to be in the thick of the action and so the mother is proud of him for his service.  She has a bunch of flowers with her, and she gives us one to put on Ryan’s grave and another for Shirley’s.  What a special encounter.

For those of you who might have missed it, my daughter Sarah graduated from VCU this past Saturday.  I wrote a post about it here.

Thanks so much for joining for my cocktail hour.  I hope you’ll fill me in on what’s going on with you in the comments below.  If you prefer to write your own post with accompanying pictures for the cocktail hour, please feel free to do so and put a link here so we can read your post.  I look forward to hearing more about what’s going on in your lives.

Thanks for coming!  Drive safely and have a great week! 🙂

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20 thoughts on “the monthly cocktail hour (whether we need it or not): may edition

  1. Wonderful that you finally found the time and energy for this posting!! The slideshow of the renovations was amazing – I am really impressed with how neat and tidy your contractors are! Wow! You are lucky to have such a great team working so quickly and being prompt with their work!

    I forgot to ask you about the Landmark series again!! I looked it up in Canada and the nearest ones are held in Toronto and they are ALL FULL!! I could not get to TO anyway, or afford it, They are clearly very powerful and popular!! You are benefitting so much from these seminars, I wonder if you would like to post a blog about this and about how you are benefitting!? I have never met anyone to takes to heart what she sets out to learn or benefit from, whether it is the KonMarie system, starting your own business, REAL ESTATE BUSINESS!!!! or a new destination!!

    And now I see Iceland is on your agenda!! Wowowowowowowowow! That is going to be a fantastic blog I cannot wait!!!

    OK well you know all my news, I am so thrilled to find out yours re the renovations and your trips to the cemetary, etc., and the new places you and Mike are exploring together when he does not feel like firing up the BBQ!!

    Take care and yes please, once a month is more like it, five months was way too long to wait to share a drink and a chat!

    Lisa

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed this post, Mona Lisa. Yes, our contractors are very neat and orderly. I have to credit our foreman, Morgan, with a job that is proceeding along smoothly.

      As for Landmark Forum, I may post about it sometime, but I’m not sure about its long-term effect. I had seen great changes in Adam, but now he’s fallen back to his old ways. Very discouraging. So maybe it’s impossible to change a person’s nature in the end.

      I cannot wait to go to Iceland. I need to get busy booking accommodations and planning our itinerary as we plan to drive around the Ring Road.

      It was great to chat with you by phone last Sunday. I’m glad all is well. Make sure you stop by here “on your way” to Oklahoma. (haha, of course we’re nowhere close to OK!). I’ll try to be more regular with my cocktail hours. Maybe next time it will be on my screened-in porch. 🙂

  2. I’ve been waiting for the next cocktail hour to come along. How exciting to read all your news and what a thrill to have a trip to Iceland to look forward to! Fantastic. You will have more wonderful things to tell us after that, Cathy!

    All is well in the ET household. We spent an amazing two weeks in Hawaii in January – the first week was with the wonderful Marsha and her husband and friends, and the second week we were in Honolulu with some friends from Omaha. At Easter we had a great week at the Gold Coast, here in Queensland, with some friends and in June we are going on a cruise up to the Great Barrier Reef with the same friends. I’m looking forward to it very much, as we’ve never been on an ocean going cruise.

    Then, later in the year, we’re going to the UK to visit our daughter who’s there on a 2 year working visa. So many wonderful things to look forward to.

    1. Yes, Carol, I’m so excited about our trip to Iceland. We’ve booked our flights and our rental car, but I need to get busy planning our itinerary and booking accommodation around the Ring Road.

      Your time in Hawaii sounds like it was wonderful; I have to go back and check out your blogs about your trip. I’ve caught some here and there, but I’ve missed a lot too. It’s nice you got to visit friends while there. The Gold Coast sounds good and your trip on the Great Barrier Reef sounds very exciting! Can’t wait to hear about all of it. And then UK on top of it all. You’re having a very exciting year indeed! Lucky you. 🙂

  3. Wow that was some blog. Lucky you’re not in Lisbon this summer because it’s truly packed with tourists and a Canadian visitor here yesterday said he had to queue for 45 minutes at Rossio Station, to buy his ticket to Sintra. I would go back home I think. Some beautiful gardens there, Kat

    1. I love Sintra, Dai. I could live there! I’m sure Europe is always packed in summer; that’s why we originally wanted to go in May before tourist season ramped up. Now it seems we’ll be going to Iceland. I’m looking forward to that, although it could be crowded too!

  4. 5 months worth of catch up, Cathy! By the time I got to the bottom I’ve forgotten where we started out. 🙂 But it’s nice to have you so chatty and sounding positive about life. I’d struggle to live with that renovation. However nice the guys are, banging and bumping and chaos are my worst enemies. But you’ll have a super duper home when it’s finished. 🙂
    Nothing about the realtor business so I guess you kicked that out. And I hope Adam’s still coping?
    As usual at this stage of the year I’m full of airy fairy travel plans that probably won’t happen. I did notice that I’m in the right age group for your retreat though. 🙂 🙂 Happy days, Cathy. Look after yourself!

    1. Well, not quite 5 months, Jo, as I wrote a lot of other posts since my last cocktail hour and really only had to catch up from April 20. Things are going well here, but I am so ready to get the renovation finished. You see I’m going to Iceland in August!! I can’t wait. Believe me, I can relate to the “airy fairy travel plans!” I am always scheming and trying to come up with some way to travel somewhere. Mike’s job limits his ability to travel; I would go by myself but I have no job and no money and though he might consider paying for me to do so, I don’t want to ask. I want to figure out a way to do it myself. You are definitely the right age group for my retreat, and actually, I have so many ideas, some of which include you and your Portuguese walks! (haha — I laugh but I’m serious!)

      I still have the option on the realty business, but I will need to get either an active license (sign with a brokerage and pay lots of fees) or an inactive license within one year from when I passed the exam (mid-Feb), so I still have the option open. I have plenty of time, but I keep hoping something else will come up to keep me from doing it!

      Happy days right back at you, Jo, and keep yourself healthy and fit and always smiling. 🙂 xxx

      1. Yes, I saw Iceland in the comments. Something to look forward to. And based on what you’ve said, one day I expect you’ll turn up in Portugal, Cathy. 🙂 🙂 Hugs darlin!

  5. I love your cocktail hours! I’m a little late joining in this time, sorry, but if there is some chilled white wine left then a small glass of that would be nice please. It’s great to catch up with all your news, and the chats with the other cocktail-hour guests. I enjoyed seeing the photos of how the renovations are coming on – it’s going to be wonderful when it is all finished. A cocktail hour on the new porch is going to be cause for celebration. I think your idea for trips for older single people sound excellent and something I would be eligible for. I think that is a gap in the market just waiting to be filled. I’ll be interested in your trip to Iceland. I have been there twice, for long weekends both times, and only saw a small part of the island. I thought it was a fascinating place.
    Things are much the same as usual here in the Indecisive household consisting mainly of work and visits to my mother. Our big trip of the year was at the end of January when we went to San Francisco and then drove down the Pacific Coast Highway ending in San Diego but with a stop off for a conference in Los Angeles for 4 days. We have a couple of short trips planned for the next few months but that’s it. Mr Decisive and I often have lots of airy-fairy holiday ideas, but we just never have the time to do them, or struggle to prioritise them so do nothing!
    Have a good weekend and I am looking forward to your next cocktail hour already.

    1. Thanks so much for joining the cocktail hour, Elaine. I’m so glad to have you whether late or not! Have a glass of white wine and let’s mingle. I don’t seem to have many guests this time; I guess I might if I were a little more regular about hosting! I really hope by the next gathering in mid-June, I will have my porch and we can mingle out there. That is, assuming the weather is nice, which it certainly hasn’t been lately!

      I really would love to get my travel retreat business going, but of course I have never started a business before so I feel very unsure of myself. I do think there is a call for this kind of thing. As for Iceland, I’m very excited. We’ll be driving around the Ring Road so I’m hoping to see some very dramatic landscapes.

      I’m glad things are normal for you in the Indecisive household. I’ll take normal, especially b/c of some struggles we’re having with our son. I hope your mother is well. I’m so happy to hear you made it to the USA and took a drive down the Pacific Coast Highway. San Francisco has always been one of my favorite US cities. I know all about the airy-fairy holidays; believe me, I’m always dreaming of new destinations but don’t have the money to do any of them as long as I’m not working.

      Have a great weekend, Elaine, and thanks so much for dropping by for cocktails. See you next month! 🙂

  6. Cathy, I love your cocktail hour! Great idea – and what a wonderful look into what you’ve been doing. As a veteran of many home renovations, my heart goes out to you. And I see you’re heading to Iceland in August. You’ll love it, and I can’t wait to see your pics. 🙂

    BTW, you may have noticed that things have been quiet at Gallivance. Our travels have been (temporarily) suspended because I blew out my knee and recently had to have total knee replacement surgery. Not fun, but I’m working hard on recovery. We haven’t forgotten about our friends and want things to get back to normal. James and I are looking forward to catching up with you and finding out what you’ve been up to. In the meantime, thanks for continuing to follow along.

    All the best, Terri

    1. Hi Terri, I’m so glad you dropped in for my cocktail hour. I’m sorry I somehow missed this comment, so what a surprise to find it now. 🙂 As for our renovation, I’m really getting to the end of my patience with it, but now it appears the end date is the week after July 4. I thought it was to be done by mid- to late-June, so that was a disappointing revelation! I will be so ready for our trip to Iceland!

      I’m so sorry about your knee replacement surgery. Did you have both knees replaced at the same time? I had a partial knee replacement just on my right knee, and I know how long it takes to get back to normal from just one partial joint, so I can imagine it will take you awhile to be back to normal. I’m sure it must be frustrating, but hang in there, and keep doing your physical therapy. You’ll be traveling again in no time. 🙂 Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

  7. It’s nice to nice read abut your updates, Cathy. And Iceland sounds like a dream! I look forward to reading about that and seeing your pictures. Xx

  8. Cathy, I have to say, you exhaust me! I’m sure I’m not the first person to say that, but I hasten to add that I think it’s great you have energy and enthusiasm to spare. Great introductory/invitation paragraphs! And reno description, too – what a big one! It must be unsettling but it will be worth it when you have the deck, won’t it? I laughed when I saw the photo of you in the blue & white Anthro blouse – I just bought that one (lucky it was on sale!)! So funny! Looks very good on you. I commiserate with you on the aging and weight issues. When one is working more than full time and regularly stressed out, it only adds to the problem. I’ll be happy to retire one of these years! 😉 As for my summer plans, looks like it will be day trips, and maybe a two night one, locally. This part of the world has very, very beautiful summers, so it doesn’t make sense to leave now. We’ve had a lot of rainy, cool weather too, but at least it lengthens the flowers’ bloom time. And pretty weather will be all the sweeter when it does arrive, right? Good luck with the book and the ideas for the travel business – I think that could work -I really do!

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Lynn, about my energy and enthusiasm. I wish I had those all the time, but I think it just looks like I do when I write stuff all together at one time!

      That is so funny that you have that same Anthro blouse! I got mine at 20% off, not quite as good as sale, but still not too horrible. You’ll have to post a picture of you wearing it! 🙂

      It’s nice if you have great weather in a place to just stay there during that season. Our summers on the East Coast are so hot and humid, I’m always looking to go somewhere cooler. I never like venturing too far from home in the fall though, as our falls are gorgeous. Your day trips and two-night trips will be fun, especially if you have good weather.

      Thanks so much for the good luck wishes with my dreams. I just need to stay focused and motivated and actually take action, not easy with no one to hold me accountable. Enjoy your weekend, Lynn, and thanks so much for dropping by. 🙂

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