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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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! 🙂