the june cocktail hour: the screened-in porch edition :-)

Sunday, June 19:  Happy Father’s Day and welcome to the first cocktail hour on our finished screened-in porch.  I’m so glad to see you again!  It’s a warm but beautiful day today, so please come in and have a seat on our new porch furniture.  You can help me break it in.   What can I get you to drink?  I have some chilled white wines, a Spanish Rioja, some Shock Top Belgian White, and the makings for dirty martinis.  I also have a bottle of Chambourcin from Hiddencroft Vineyards, one of our many Virginia wineries.  I’ll tell you more about our visit to this winery later.

I do have to warn you that Mike is a little confused tonight.  He made our dirty martinis with olive OIL instead of olive JUICE.  You know how olive oil floats to the top of the glass, in a thin band of gold?  That’s what you’ll see if you order a dirty martini. 🙂  I wish I had some martini glasses, as they’d look a lot more elegant than these squat drink glasses.

me in our new screened-in porch - Welcome! :-)
me in our new screened-in porch – Welcome! 🙂

Have you been enjoying the early summer? 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 or wine tours? 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?

I may have told you I got a Canon EOS Rebel SL-1 for Christmas.  It took me a while to even open up the packaging and take the camera out, but finally, on May 19, I took it out to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens to test it out.  I’d already taken a few pictures here and there, and I felt that the pictures were not as sharply focused as the pictures from my Olympus PEN.  I wasn’t sure if my eyesight was getting worse or the camera just wasn’t focusing properly, so I was dragging my feet about doing something to correct the problem.  I finally talked with the help desk at Canon, and the person there told me to test it out using two different lenses.  I have a telephoto lens and a regular lens, and I tested them both.  The pictures below are my first extended test with the camera.  I still have to say I’m not very happy with the sharpness of the photos, especially compared to my Olympus.  I think I’m going to send it back to Canon to see what can be done.  It wasn’t a cheap camera, and now it makes me depressed every time I use it because I know the pictures will be inferior.


The reason I even got a new camera was because my Olympus lens kept self-adjusting and readjusting, and I thought it was hopelessly broken.  But I also went online with Olympus and sent my lens to them, and now it works better.  The whole camera is quite worn out from my years of travel and photography since 2010, when I bought it in Korea.  But it still takes the best pictures.  I wish now I’d bought a new Olympus rather than the Canon.

little dainties
little dainties

I find it so annoying these days that all our local camera shops have gone out of business.  Much the same as local bookstores.  This is the result of all of us buying everything from or online through different websites. Even when we started looking for furniture for our house, it was hard to find showrooms where you could actually go sit on the furniture, or see it in person. I don’t want to order furniture online without trying it out or without seeing the quality of the product in person.


It used to be you could take your camera to the local camera shop and explain to the person what was wrong with it, and even demonstrate the problem.  Now we have to wrap the camera in bubble wrap and send it via UPS to the camera company.  Everything has become less personal.  I really hate the way commerce is becoming these days.

man vs. nature
man vs. nature

We had rain nearly every day from the end of April until late May.  It was cold and grey, a long depressing spell.  Finally, the rainy season stopped and we went right into the heat and humidity of summer.  Since then, the weather has moderated, and we’ve had some gorgeous days, in the mid- to low-70s (F), with nice breezes and low humidity.  I’ve tried to get out as often as possible.

log cabin at Meadowlark
log cabin at Meadowlark

On top of the relentless period of rain, we have been feeling quite depressed about our youngest son, Adam (23).  We thought we were helping him to get on his feet by getting an apartment for him in Richmond.  He was supposed to get a job and start taking over the rent payments, with us contributing less and less over time.  Since we co-signed his lease, and he made no effort to get or keep a job, we were stuck making the payments.  He has decided he doesn’t want to work in life, he wants to “trust in the universe” to provide for him.  His vision of living in a society without a need for money works only if you live in a commune, but even then, he would have to do some kind of work to contribute to the commune.  I believe he would consider most work as “not the kind of work he wants to do.”  Apparently he wants to do no work at all!

white flowers
white flowers

He insisted he wanted to take an entrepreneurship course online, which we decided to help him with, in the interest of furthering his education and helping him to start his own business.  After attending only one session, he dropped the course; thus we lost around $3,000.  When he came up to northern Virginia to inform us of this, I was furious.  I said, “We’re done!”  I am so tired of him taking advantage of us, and now Mike and I have informed him we are no longer contributing to him financially.  So far he doesn’t seem to mind this, as banks are sending him credit card offers right and left.  He doesn’t even live in our house any more, but I get credit card offers from major banks addressed to him at least three times a week.  I promptly tear them up and toss them in the trash, but of course I’m sure he’s getting the same offers at his apartment in Richmond.  Whereas he once told us he had maxed out all of his credit cards, he now suddenly has available credit again. We have warned him continually about getting himself in over his head with debt, but he never listens to anything we have to say.  Of course, I’m having a little trouble feeling sorry for these credit card companies who have about as much chance getting paid back as getting nectar from a stone.  How on earth do they justify sending so many credit card offers to someone with no verifiable source of income?

Adam has possession but not ownership of a 2004 Toyota Sienna van.  We have already told him when his lease expires, he cannot live with us.  If we let him live with us, then he gets exactly what he wants, a free ride!  So, we figured he could live with the homeless people in Richmond (he says he’s befriended many of them!) and sleep in the van.  Well, voila, just last week, the van broke down and now needs a whole new engine, at the cost of about $3,500.  We thought we might be able to sell the van and help him pay down some of his debts, but now we can’t even do that.

sculpture at Meadowlark
sculpture at Meadowlark

Apparently, when Adam’s lease expires on July 8, he’s considering flying to Vancouver (I assume paying for this flight and expenses with his credit card), where he will meet up with “like-minded people” at some retreat and try to “make a go of it.”  We reiterated that we are not contributing to him financially, and he seems to not care at all.  We have now finally realized that all our good intentions regarding our son, who we love dearly, have only hurt him and made him feel entitled and unappreciative.  He has made one bad decision after another, in an unending chain.  We have now decided that we need to let go.  He’s an adult now and though we’ve tried to give him advice and provide him with every opportunity, he is not of a mind to appreciate any of it.

Since making this decision, I feel a burden has lifted.  Though it horrifies me to think of him starving or being homeless, there is really nothing we can do, and we just have to let him suffer the consequences of his bad choices. If he does go to Vancouver, at least he won’t be right under our noses, and maybe we can put him on the sidelines of our minds.  We’re both trying to create the possibility that this is a phase, that he will grow out of it, that he will eventually get his life together.  We at least hope for this outcome.  Ultimately, we have no control.  And I’m tired of having his situation ruin my emotions.

But wait.  The Adam situation changes by the moment.  Just tonight, he called to wish his dad a happy Father’s Day and said he’s now considering renting a cheap room from a friend he knows in Richmond because he enjoys some of the camaraderie with his brother in Richmond and lately has been participating in a hand-balancing class there.  What?? He says he doesn’t want any money from us and is thinking of working a couple of days a week at the place where Alex works.  Oh my gosh!  He is all over the place.  Mike says he’s decided: Expect anything and everything, and expect the unexpected!

Why on earth are we worrying about him and torturing ourselves when he seems not to have a care in the world about himself??

In letting go of Adam, we’re trying to focus on ourselves and our lives.  We’ve spent the last couple of weeks planning our trip to Iceland (August 13-25), booking our flights, a rental car, and all of our accommodation around the Ring Road.  We’ve gone to a number of outdoor concerts. We’ve gotten together with friends.


On one sunny Wednesday at the end of May, we went to Kalypso’s Sports Tavern, a nice outdoor restaurant on Lake Anne.  It was packed with people who had been cooped up inside for well over a month, but we enjoyed our dinner and wine, despite having the worst waitress on the planet.

On the last Friday in May, Mike and I went to the Herndon Town Center for Friday Night Live! The band, The Reagan Years, recreated the sounds of the 1980s. We enjoyed the music with beers and Lime-a-ritas.  It was Memorial Day weekend and one of the first sunny weekends in ages, so it was totally packed with people!

Saturday turned out to be a stunning day, so Mike suggested we go visit a couple of wineries in the western part of the state.  We first stopped at Hiddencroft Vineyards.  The tasting room is in a circa 1830s farmhouse with two tasting counters; it has a view of the backyard, Dutchman’s Creek and a period kitchen building.  A large deck seats 44 guests under colorful umbrellas, and has an open view of the vineyard.  Behind the deck, a large patio and massive fire pit provide additional seating and warm ambiance in cool weather.

Hiddencroft Vineyards
Hiddencroft Vineyards
Mike at Hiddencroft Vineyards
Mike at Hiddencroft Vineyards
Me at Hiddencroft Vineyards
Me at Hiddencroft Vineyards
pretty and fragrant tree
pretty and fragrant tree
Hiddencroft Vineyards
Hiddencroft Vineyards

Of course, having wine in the middle of the day made me pretty sleepy, but that didn’t stop us from going to another winery, Creek’s Edge Winery.  This is a larger winery than Hiddencroft, situated on 11 acres of rolling hills. The building is an Amish structure, in the tradition of raised barns.

Creek's Edge Winery
Creek’s Edge Winery
inside the silo at Creek's Edge Winery
inside the silo at Creek’s Edge Winery

At this winery we sit at a table with two young people wearing shirts that say: DiVine Wine Tours of Virginia.  We ask them about their company, and they tell us they drive groups of about 10 people to wineries for the day, so the participants can enjoy drinking wine without driving.  The company focuses on the educational aspects of wine.  According to their website, they “offer unique experiences and insight into the business, the grapes, the process, and other interesting facts that the wineries love to share with new as well as experienced wine enthusiasts. Some stops will include behind the scenes tours, some include food pairings, some will have historical stories that will really grab your attention and still some simply have stunning views.”  I ask them a bunch of questions about the job, and they said they are hiring and take down my name.  I was contacted by the hiring person, but we still haven’t actually met.  I thought it might be a fun “occasional” job, but we’ll see if it ever comes to fruition.

On Tuesday, June 7, I met an old friend Layne, in Winchester, Virginia to see the Alphonse Mucha: Master of Art Nouveau exhibit at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley.  I’ll write more about our meeting later.  Layne is interested in social entrepreneurship and has lived a number of years in Chang Mai, Thailand, and is now living in western Australia.  As an expat, she understands me and my expat experience.  It’s great to meet up with someone from my “tribe,” someone who shares an affinity for the expat life and travel.

I’ve been trying my best to be healthy, but it’s been awfully hard without having a normal kitchen in my house. The month of rain also put a damper on my 3-mile daily walks.  My current addiction to Creamy Dill Lentil Chips dipped in Whole Foods Jarlsberg Cheese Dip doesn’t help my plight.  It’s no surprise that I have now gained back almost all the weight I lost since I returned home from China last July. 😦  I can’t wait until my kitchen is back together and I can start drinking smoothies again and eating more healthy foods.

Below are some views along one of my walks around Lake Newport in Reston.

Since Mike works Monday through Friday, often until 6:30 at night, I don’t see much of him.  As I don’t have a job, I find myself getting lonely.  I have applied for a number of jobs here in the U.S. all to no avail.  Though I’m fully qualified for the jobs, or even overqualified, I never even get a call to come in for an interview.  Because of this, I’ve started applying to teach abroad again, mostly in Morocco, but though I’m way overqualified, I never get any response.  I can’t help but think it’s because of my age, which they can tell by looking at the year I graduated from college.  In many cases I have to send my birth date! I’ve even talked to some friends in Oman about returning there, but I haven’t applied because I was hoping to go somewhere different.  Of course, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar offer the highest pay.  The jobs in Morocco, Poland and Turkey, where I would actually love to live, have the lowest pay. I was contacted by a Polish school but the pay was only $500 a month + free accommodation.  I didn’t even want to pursue it because if I lived in Europe, I’d certainly want to travel and I’d never be able to afford it on that salary!

Meanwhile, I’ve been sending my novel out to agents and getting no response whatsoever.  I consider myself lucky to get a rejection letter.  I also follow a blog about publishing and self-publishing, and in one of the blogger’s posts, she said, “Any time I see a book that opens with a funeral, a death, a hospital scene, I cringe. This is going to sound cruel, but we really just don’t care. If we have not been introduced to the characters who are clinging to life or recently deceased? We have nothing emotionally vested and so sections like these are just tedious.”

Oh dear!  I found this so discouraging, as my book starts with a funeral, and, since I read this, I’ve been paralyzed wondering if I need to write the book all over again!  I’ve been so disheartened, I haven’t sent it out in weeks.  Luckily, I had someone at the Landmark Forum volunteer to read it, a young Russian woman.  She read it and liked it a lot, and told me she was hooked by the funeral scene, so she encouraged me not to change it. The main thing she didn’t like was the number of sex scenes!  I didn’t think I had that many, but I’ll have to look it over again. 🙂

To break up the work week, Mike and I often go somewhere for dinner; on Wednesday night, June 8, we went back to Lake Anne to eat dinner at another outdoor restaurant, Cafe Montmartre.  We had a lovely evening, sharing a half carafe of red wine and a fairly decent but not stellar meal.  I love eating outside at Lake Anne Plaza because it’s less crowded than the more trendy Reston Town Center.  Despite Lake Anne’s Soviet-era architecture, it is still a lovely spot for an outdoor dining experience. 🙂

On Thursday-Friday, June 9-10, I went by myself to Philadelphia to explore four gardens: Shofuso Japanese Garden, Chanticleer, Longwood Gardens and Winterthur.  I’ll write more about that trip later.  While I was in Philadelphia, our contractor Morgan sent me a picture of our finished laundry room.  Hooray!  At least we don’t have to drive back and forth to my sister-in-law’s house in Vienna 20 minutes each way to do laundry.  The color of the laundry room is Sherwin-Williams “Coral Reef,” and I was at first a little shocked by the color as the faux painter who’s doing our kitchen/family room suggested I use a satin finish, which is much brighter than the flat finish I used to test the color.  Though I was shocked at first, I’ve now come to love it.  It makes me smile every time I go in there. 🙂

Our laundry room: Sherwin-Williams Coral Reef
Our laundry room: Sherwin-Williams Coral Reef

I finished reading The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker and I really enjoyed it.  This was a fairly quick read about an enduring love story set in Burma. Because I spent two weeks in what is now called Myanmar, I wanted to read a story set there. I enjoyed the story of Julia, who goes in search of her father after he mysteriously vanished one day from her life. After finding a love letter to a woman in Burma, Julia goes in search of him. There she meets U Ba, a man who has a story to tell Julia about her father.

I’m reading an engrossing book now, Hummingbird House by Patricia Henley.  The main character Kate is a midwife who comes face to face with the horrors of war in Nicaragua and Guatemala.  I’m almost finished it and am really enjoying it.

As for movies, I’ve seen a lot of movies since we last met: A Bigger Splash, The Man Who Knew Infinity, Love & Friendship (confusing), The Lobster (bizarre and disturbing), The Idol (about an Arab singer from Gaza on an Arab Idol Show in Cairo), Dark Horse, Me Before You, and finally, Maggie’s Plan.  The best of this bunch were The Man Who Knew Infinity, The Idol, and Me Before You.  The others I thought were mediocre.

The Lobster took place in some not so distant future and people had to be coupled or they would be turned into animals.  What was so disturbing was the truth of it.  People in societies all over the world are expected to be part of a couple or they are outliers and often ostracized.  I found this during my 7-year separation from Mike.  In China, in Oman, all over Asia, in Turkey, and even in the U.S., I’ve found people who actually felt sorry for me because I was alone.  I HATED that attitude!  I enjoyed traveling alone and often living alone, and I resented that people saw me as less than whole because I was single.

On the Saturday evening after I returned home from my solo trip to Philadelphia, Mike and I checked out an Indian restaurant at a nondescript little strip mall along the way to our favorite movie theatre, Cinema Arts Theatre.  We were surprised when we went inside Curry Mantra to find the most colorfully decorated restaurant. The outside was nothing special, believe me!  In the hallway from the bathroom to the restaurant, I found the color of my laundry room!  I was so excited.  After dinner, we went to see the documentary Dark Horse, which was interesting, although I was expecting it to be a regular movie, not a documentary. 🙂

Having dinner at Curry Mantra
Having dinner at Curry Mantra

The following Sunday morning, Mike and I took a 5-mile walk around Burke Lake.  I always complain because though it’s a nice walk, it isn’t very photogenic. 🙂

Burke Lake
Burke Lake
the edge of Burke Lake
the edge of Burke Lake

This past Friday night, June 17, we met our friends Karen and Michael, along with Carlos who works with Mike, at Friday Night Live! to listen to Burnt Sienna.  The five-piece band hails from Philadelphia; they’re young and full of energy.  They have a great stage presence and play music from every era.  Also unusual for a band, they have three excellent singers who take turns performing.  All are equally talented.  We’ve already put on our calendar to see this band in Arlington on August 5.

While at this concert, I went with Karen to the food kiosks where I ran into the Principal Broker at Keller-Williams Realty, the one who taught the real estate class I took in January.  I passed both the class test and the state and national exam on the first attempt, something that is apparently rare. However, I still haven’t decided whether I want to sell real estate or not.  My first inclination is NOT to do it.  When I ran into this broker, he said, “Why haven’t you gotten your license yet? I admit, I’ve been stalking you because I knew you passed the test! I keep looking at the list of new licensees and your name isn’t there.  Why haven’t you gotten it?” I said, “I’m just not sure I want to do it!”  He told me if I decide to do it, to please contact him, no matter how long it takes.   Well, of course, I must make some decision within a year of passing the test — by mid-February of 2017.  I’ve kind of decided that if I can’t get a job here or abroad by the fall, maybe I’ll try it out after all!

Our renovation is proceeding nicely.  The cabinets are in, and as of this week, the counter tops have been installed.  I was in Richmond, helping my older son Alex find a new apartment, as his lease expires on July 31.  While I was there, the contractor sent me pictures of the new counter tops.  Because of the way the light was shining on the white island counter top, I thought, Oh my god, it’s so bright!  It’s actually a white marble-looking quartz counter top.  The perimeter of the kitchen has black counter tops with beige veins in it. Since I returned home from Richmond, the island counter top has been covered in cardboard because the floors are being sanded and finished.  So I actually haven’t yet seen it in person.

The screened-in porch was finished this week, and our furniture was delivered, so we can now sit out there for cocktails!  The electrical work hasn’t been finished out there yet, so we don’t have the fan or lights, but those should come this week or next week.  Our contractor tells us we should be in the kitchen by the end of this coming week.  However, we won’t be able to move our family room furniture back in because the faux painter is coming on June 29-30.

Last night, we went to Eastwind Restaurant, our favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Fairfax.  I love this restaurant and the Vietnamese owner, Dong. He always greets us warmly when we come in and I can’t help but think it’s because I’ve been to his home country and we can talk easily about his home and Asia. Tonight he gave me this hat as a gift; his son recently visited Vietnam and brought it back. Dong has been in the USA since he was 17 (1979) and has only been home once. He is the nicest man imaginable and seeing him again made me miss Asia. (My legs look especially short here because Mike is tall and looking down on us short people!)

me with Dong, the owner of Eastwind
me with Dong, the owner of Eastwind

Dong said he’s been here 37 years so he considers this his home now. His parents are dead and he has a big Vietnamese community here, so he doesn’t really miss his home country. He was one of the boat people who escaped Vietnam during the war, from home to Hong Kong to LA to Washington with the the help of Catholic Charities.

Ok, enough about me.  I know I’ve been very chatty this evening.  Now, please tell me all about you!  I love to hear what you’re up to.  Please share if you’ve read any good books or seen any good movies or concerts or have experienced any exotic travel destinations.  What do you have in the pipeline for the summer?  Please, do tell all!  And please, please, I beg you, share with me if you have any problems with your adult children. I feel like I’m the only one in the world with challenging children!! 🙂

23 thoughts on “the june cocktail hour: the screened-in porch edition :-)

  1. Your life is so full! How wonderful! I hope things work out with your son. Maybe the universe will provide in some manner or another. It usually does, although not always the way we like. Your screened-in porch is quite lovely and I’m enjoying helping you break it in. I think your photos are lovely, and I’m not sure I see the problem, but I know what it’s like to switch cameras and not be too excited about the new one. Believe it or not, I miss my old Kodak which I think took better pictures than my Canon Rebel.

    Thank you for the dirty martini. The olive oil was a little odd, but it was still tasty. Martini glasses are overrated and easy to break. I know this from experience. lol!

    1. Thanks, Robin. I guess when I do the cocktail hour only once a month, my life does seem full. If I did it on a weekly basis, it might not seem so!

      Adam has utmost faith that the universe will somehow provide for him; I guess so far the universe has been US, and we have provided for him too many times. When we’re not providing, we’ll see how the universe provides! Somehow I do see him as a survivor, and I hope he’ll come out the other end a better and more responsible person.

      I’m loving our screened in porch and will love my kitchen when it’s complete! I’m so excited that we’re almost at the end of it, although we have so many other things still to do like landscaping, painting, getting furniture, etc.

      So you have the Canon Rebel too? Is it the same model as mine? I really do think I’m going to send it back to Canon to see if they can make any adjustments. Though these pictures aren’t bad, I went to Philadelphia to visit gardens two weeks ago, and one day I used my Olympus and one day the Canon. I am really disappointed in the Canon pictures compared to the Olympus.

      That olive oil was very odd indeed and I guess Mike has learned his lesson and will remember next time to be careful! Maybe some heavy duty plastic martini glasses would be the answer to the breakable martini glasses. Happy summer! 🙂

      Thanks so much for dropping by, Robin. 🙂

  2. tough love has got to be one of the hardest things in the world, but hang in there. Anything else would be enabling. Your porch is lovely, the perfect place for a glass of wine. Your kitchen is going to be wonderful when it’s done. As to being bored, find a hobby, take a class, start another writing project. Volunteer somewhere. I’ve just enrolled in an online alcohol ink painting class, which should be fun. It starts July 2, but is a go at your own pace, which I like. Kat will be here in ten days, and I’m excited. Gep, we don’t know yet.

    1. It is going to be a very hard stretch ahead of us with Adam, Carol, but we have no choice but to step back at this time and to let him suffer the consequences of his decisions. It will be hard to watch, but we’re hoping he will wake up sooner rather than later. We do love him so much, of course, but obviously loving and enabling has not worked.

      Thanks so much about the renovation. I’m really loving how it’s coming together, and our whole experience with our contractor couldn’t have been better.

      I’m not really bored per se, but more lonely just because I don’t have any good friends sharing a common cause with whom I can relate. I have considered volunteering, but as I’m still too young to be officially “retired,” I really want to work (for money) while I still can. I want to be able to pay for my travels. And living and teaching abroad gives me the greatest satisfaction, as well as challenges. I’m going to try until the fall comes and if nothing happens, then I guess my teaching abroad years will be over. Then I’ll possibly do the real estate sales, or just volunteer.

      Your class on alcohol ink painting sounds interesting. I don’t even know what that is, so I hope you’ll show us examples of your work. It sounds like fun. I know you’re really excited about Kat coming home. Isn’t Gep in Ecuador now? I hope you’ll see him too. Thanks for coming to the cocktail hour. 🙂

  3. Wow, that is some blog, Kat. If I was wondering what you’ve been up to, I’m not any more. My life is totally boring compared to yours.

    ‘Worst waitress on the planet’ That really made me laugh here.

    I’m glad you’ve let go of Adam. Life is all about choices and we have to learn to make wise choices. In my life I never had anybody to bail me out so I had to get smart very fast, or die. I chose to get smart instead.

    1. Yes, I’ve left nothing to the imagination, have I, Dai? I don’t know that your life is any more boring than mine; mine can be pretty boring for very long stretches.

      That poor waitress at that restaurant didn’t have a clue what she was doing and many customers were upset because she was messing up everything. I wonder if she kept her job past that night!

      I say I’ve let go of Adam, and right now I feel like I have, but I don’t feel that so much when I wake up in the middle of the night, which I do often. Choosing to get smart is vital, and as everything else we’ve done has not helped, we have to step back and let him fall.

  4. The best thing you can do for Adam is let go and allow him to make his own choices and live with the consequences. I know that’s easier said than done but hang in there, Cathy. Your new rooms look beautiful – worth the wait.

    1. I know that now, Carol. It took us getting burned one too many times to finally figure out that we can no longer support his harebrained schemes. He’s just going to have to experience life’s ups and downs with no safety net from us.

      Thanks so much about the renovation. It is coming together nicely and I think I’m really going to love it! 🙂

    1. I love the promise of summer, Otto, but I get tired of the hot and humid dog days once they’ve been around for a while. We’ve been enjoying it so far, but the heat is now slowing us down considerably. 🙂

  5. Wow, you have been busy! Your house looks lovely, all the parts you’ve shown even the half-finished ones. I hope for all your sakes your son can sort his life out.

    1. It has been a busy month, Anabel. I’m ready for our renovation to be finished; at least the bulk of it should be done by tomorrow afternoon and we should have our kitchen back.

      I hope and pray that Adam gets his life together. He doesn’t even give a thought to how much angst he’s causing us. We have to try to let go. 🙂

  6. Adam aside, it’s all looking pretty rosy to me, Cathy. 🙂 And I think he’s still young. Some people grow up slower than others. I’m probably just too soft. James is still a long way from financial independence. Hoping for a good outcome for you all.
    Apart from that it’s all cocktails, eating and new furniture 🙂 🙂 Do you detect a hint of jealousy here? I love the porch furniture (lovely shot of you 🙂 ) and that coral colour is fun.
    I hope things are working out well for you and Mike. If nothing else, maybe the troubles with Adam have brought you two closer together. You’ve reminded me that I need to get organised with my travels/ lack of for the rest of this year. Apart from a week in Tavira next month I’ve nothing happening.
    Well, can’t stay chatting all night… the blog calls 🙂 🙂 Take care, honey bun!

    1. Thanks, Jo. Yes, things are good in our lives right now, other than Adam. I hope you’re right in that he’s just young and trying to find his way. I definitely don’t like the direction he’s going; it’s frightening. As far as not being financially independent, we’d be happy to continue to help him financially if he showed a dedicated attempt to help himself by looking for a job and then actually sticking with it. If he were working and just not able to make ends meet, we’d be happy to step in and help. But with someone who’s so infuriatingly determined NOT to have a job working for anyone else and NOT to even stick to starting his own business, and also equally determined NOT to get a college education, despite our willingness to provide that, there really is nothing else we can do. We’re not going to support his desires to do nothing!! How do you deal with someone so hard-headed? This is our last resort. I guess he just needs to feel the full brunt of not having any financial support at all. But those blasted banks and their endless supply of credit cards may take a while to catch up to him, so it may be a slow lesson.

      All the eating out has been fun, but also not slimming at all, and I notice my waist keeps expanding. I look forward to having our kitchen back, hopefully tomorrow, and starting to eat healthy again.

      At first I was shocked by my coral laundry room, but now I love it! It really makes me smile. We have a faux painter coming in to do the kitchen/family room next week, so I can’t wait to see the final color. (It will be a yellow color.) I hope it will look good. 🙂

      I think it’s true that our troubles with Adam have brought Mike and I closer. We have to be united in dealing with him. It’s tough, but at least we can support each other through it.

      I hope you come up with some travel plans soon, although going back and forth from home to Poland to Tavira all sounds pretty good to me! 🙂 Have a great weekend, Jo! Hugs. xxx

  7. Such a lot going on! Your renovations look lovely, and your porch is the perfect place for this cocktail hour (a chilled white wine for me please). Parenting is the toughest job of all, isn’t it, and no-one gives us any training for it. You thought you were doing the right thing by supporting and loving Adam (isn’t that what parents are supposed to do?), but perhaps this new tough love is going to be the way forward. He is an adult now and should be spreading his wings and moving on to make his own life. You have to think of yourselves too, as all the worry over him can not have been good for you. I hope everything works out well in the end.

    1. It seems like it’s been a busy month, Elaine. But I’ve enjoyed it for the most part. Make yourself comfortable on our new couch and enjoy your chilled wine. 🙂 I’m happy with our renovations, and hopefully the bulk of them will be complete by tomorrow! I can’t wait! As for parenting, I think we should all have classes in parenting as part of our education. None of us have a clue, do we? All the love and support we’ve given Adam haven’t done anything to help and in fact are creating someone impossible to deal with. We really are working on letting go, in every sense of the word, and though we will always love him, we can’t have this constant burden of worry hanging over us indefinitely. Thanks for your good wishes. 🙂

      1. Thank you – the wine was chilled to perfection and the new sofa very comfy. 🙂 You will never know, with Adam, if things would have worked out differently if you hadn’t offered him so much support. He may well have been very similar regardless of what you did/didn’t do for him. All you can do is think that you tried your very best, for all the right reasons, and move on and leave him to it. It will be hard to do, but it sounds like you are ready for the challenge.

  8. I am a couple of weeks late to the party!! But I did enjoy being able to read so much from you and your responses to your commenters.

    What is a faux painter by the way??

    The kitchen floor, dark wood, with white and marble looks stunning! There is nothing like new floors and a coat of paint, never mind a glorious new kitchen to become acquainted with to lift your spirits! I love renovating my tiny kitchen with my dad, as he did all the plumbing and electrics and everything but install the kitchen as that came with the price tag. We were both 30 years younger my dad would have been very successful house flippers, as he could do all the hard stuff and I could do all the painting, stripping, varnishing, etc., which we did once and it was a great bonding time for us. Then I moved to Geneva and his arthritis in his hands made it almost impossible to continue to do this though he did my current kitchen and bath despite terrible pain in his hands, which are almost locked into a fist now the bones are so calcified it is sad. He does what he can around their summer house and he helps my mother water our community garden plot while my mom does the tending to the plants, once a week, and I do it the rest of the week.

    Yes, you are lucky to have Mike with you and how you both worked together to make it work after your separation. My ex husband never made any effort as nothing was his fault and when things were not to his liking he just threatened divorce. Too bad he did not initiate it because I had to pay for it down the road, without his involvement as we did not know where he was and so I got my divorce in absentia of him.

    Working in a family law practice office now, you cannot imagine or perhaps you can, the costs involved with two bitter, angry and resentful partners making the process as difficult as possible. Forget “conscious uncoupling” crap, it is all out war between the parties most of the time.

    I wish some of the nice men we are helping against uncooperative and vindictive wives would look my way but the more I look in the mirror, the more I see how very old I have become and how much I have changed in appearance. The 50 pounds I gained after my accident do not seem to want to come off whether I eat healthy, with carbs, without carbs, exercise and walk 20 km a week on average, drink or not drink. It is so disheartening. I see my doctor next week to see if he has completed my disability pension paperwork, and to discuss a few things like some experimental treatments to help me with my depression as the opioids which do work are so regulated now, you never get what you need and after a while they do nothing for you. I am thank God allergic to most of the standard medications for what ails me, If I lose my pension, I am screwed the rest of my life, as that means my old age pension will be affected, too.

    This getting old…. how did we get here? Inside we are brighter, more intelligent, more capable and more dependable, but I read an article about how so many university students cheat on their exams or get marks they don’t deserve so that the professor can keep teaching the class (I was a TA at university where the average was 16 % on the mid-term exam! I was forced to pass all the students by my professor even though only 3 students legitmately passed the FILM course she was teaching. It was shocking, but the point is, THESE are the younger people who get jobs now, C level students getting into B level HR screening positions while with our backgrounds, we are A level candidates, which means we won’t get hired.

    Where’s my drink?! Hahaha! I will have a very cold beer with lots of ice please! Thank you!!

    The heat and humidity is returning today, your July 4th!! Happy Indepence Day!!! Ours was on Friday, July 1, 2016.

    Any news back from your job searches?? Warwick says they have a devil of a time keeping instructors as the conditions are so bad in Saudi, male instructors where he works of course, but I cannot find out from Linda Sue how she is coping in Saudi as she rarely has any internet.

    I keep seeing jobs I would like to apply for but for now I am going to see what happens with my pension as I do not want to ask my boss for a raise next month when my one year is behind me, but rather an extra week off in holidays, which he will like better as that won’t cost him anything. That is if I get the pension, if not, I will have to ask for a raise,

    EAch month I have been slowly making the major purchases I want to make sure I have while I have the pension, the Vitamix blender, a new guitar, new Le Crueset cookware, and this month, professionally fitted brassieres!

    I also finally got my copy of the KonMari book on audio, which I play over and over again so that it all sinks in. I had a three day long weekend and KonMaried my kitchen, and within 30 minutes, I had almost two shopping carts full of old dishes, appliances, plastic containers, God knows what, tons of stuff I bought in Japan 25 years ago which I now can let go of because they no longer bring me job. 50 cookbooks went as well, and it was not hard to do that at all! I cleaned up my spice cupboard and all that is left is my pantry but I tell you Cathy, when I took those boxes and the 50 books out of the kitchen, I literally felt a weight lift from me, just like in the book. A few boxes go to my sister but inow my shelves are not bare but you can sure see the back of them and some like the one over the fridge and below the sink left they actually are bare. What a feeling!!! I am not going in order as for me clothes will be done last, so next week I have four days off in a row and I will do my bathroom, the cat’s room, the closets and everything except papers and books. I may do clothes next weekend or bathroom, not sure, because you do have to be in the mood but I don’t want it to take six months. This is already the second huge purge since I returned from Oman, when I had about 10 shopping carts (the huge Costco kinds) and lots of funiture go.

    Listening to book on audio really allows you to immerse yourself in the practice and I want it in my DNA before my time with the book expires as I have it from the library on loan.

    Whew! I am writing a lot, too! But I know you will read this and not post it which is what I want.

    Are you finally in the house now completely? Is the work done now, as you wrote this two weeks ago almost. I think it is a lovely project to have worked on together. Are you planning to sell the house once you have finished all your renovations?

    I guess that depends on whether or not you get a job.

    You know there are jobs in the legal business like I have which pay okay and are nice places to work. Have you though of looking into an administration job? I would think there are no shortages of law offices where you are so near to washington?

    What do you think of Brexit?? What do you think of your Republican nominee for President? Both options are unpalatable in so many ways, it is very sad. Donald has no grip on world events or what to do beyond the superficial, and world leaders will have their hands full dealing with him.

    Well, my summer holidays will be a few more days in July and August but I am looking forward to the 25th which is when my mother and father and I go to the Toronto Zoo for the day, where we have never been, It is a bus trip and my birthday present from them and I insisted they go. I want to see The Secret Life of Pets with them, too.

    Other than that, to Kon Mari my home (finish) and keep on top of my garden. I am really enjoying that immensely. I met a lady sitting next to the gardens reading when she came up and asked a few questions. AFter about 15 minutes, I realized I knew her as about 30+ years ago, when my parents and I went to Acapulco for 8 weeks every winter (was I the luckiest kid in high school or what?) she and her husband, also German like my folks and all their friends who went down there every year, had come along and she and I had really gotten along well though I was in high school and she was married with two small children. Then we talked for 2 hours, and of course, I did what I always and always regret right after, I overshared way too much. I wish I could put a zipper on my mouth because I realized I have no friends here at all in Canada, really, not a single person I can call for coffee or for a beer, and that is sad. When you are older you need to have some sort of social life and I have absolutely none.

    The sad thing is that I like to be alone, but that will not be any help when I need help and there will be no one to help me. Thank God there is no Alzheimers or dementia in either side of my family at all, other than age related in the 80s normal memory loss, but no dementa or alzheimers thank God. My 108 year old grandmother did not lose her memory of who we were until after 106 but once her batteries got warmed up she was fine until a few weeks before she died, she did not even look up at us or try to connect as she always wanted to take your hand even though she could barely talk, once she recongnized you that was it. I am glad I am always looking to leave Canada once my folks are no longer around, but since everyone lives so long in my family, that may not be an option for me as I will not have enough to retire somewhere else. And I most certainly will not go online to find a man.

    You know what is funny, three times in the past year I have had a weak moment and filled out all the painstaking questionnaires on three sites. One of them was in the UK and I could look for men in Geneva even. Yet each time, my profile either disappeared or my password would not be accepted and when I browsed for myself I was not there. I took this as a sign that I could get into trouble so now I have make it a rule to never look online for companionship, though everyone is doing here in Canada at every age.

    The only mistakes I have made in my life where when I was either in a relationship,or I thought I was, or because I thought some man would be impressed. How pathetic is that for an otherwise intelligent woman? I did not know how to be a good friend to my girlfriends when it was easy to make friends, unlike now at this age, being single and childless and grandchildless. I paid a high price for losing a lot of very dear people in my life. I had one highschool friend left who came to visit here where her dad still lives every year and she always visited me, too, but the last time she brought her latest man with her, they met online, and he was not very impressed with me, and all my friend cared about was waiting for her two daughters to have children so she could be a grandmother. That was all she was looking forward to with her like minded man, who was a teacher for terminally ill children in hospital. She ran a day care. But since that meeting two years ago she has never contacted me again. Perhaps her dad died, but she would have been here for the funeral, but I think it was me, and she is just not on my wavelength or me hers anymore. That was my last friend.

    But it is what it is, none of us know how we got here though every choice we made in the past is the answer to that question.

    Did Adam leave for Vancouver? Funny, my sister when she was that age, she also went to Vancouver (on our side of the border of course) and had she stayed there, we would have been a much better family. But something bad happened to her when she was 18 which she has never told anyone about, but it fucked her up so badly and she has been a problem ever since, jealous, demanding, insulting,. All we wanted was for her to go away again and when she to Europe she worked for the US military and then the WHO in Geneva and she helped me get my job and my life there. When she went home it was over some loser man in Toronto she met online as she had never had a boyfriend and was a virgin at 47 and wanted to take care of that. Loser central, got her spend all her savings and then dumped her and married someone else a week after he got rid of her. Same thing happened with a cop in Reno she met online who could not get back to his estranged wife fast enough once he got rid of my sister who had flown down to meet him.

    She is a miserable bully approaching 60 and really the only reason I won’t leave is because I do not want to leave my wonderful gentle parents in her manipulative hands. She would be the kind to get them sign money over to her or steal it and feel she deserved it, she is soooooo different from me. I hate her and would never have contact with her where it not for my parents. They deserve better than my ungrateful sister and better than me, as I am not always as good a child as I wish I was. But I try and the garden is a great place for us to work on that.

    WEll, I better go for now, sorry I have not been commenting but I had to finish my pension appliaction which took months, and today I am finishing the first course of my French 1 of 6 courses I need to become accredited. The courses are crap, set up on Moodle and as there are no courses in the summer, I am thinking of taking a course to become an online course facilitator. That may be valuable should I not get my pension and I have to earn money again apart from my current job. That is what I will investigate today after I finish up here. I have to practice reading the French final assignment as it has to have an oral and written component and I finished that part. Then I will collect the notes and my mistakes and see how I did. Mostly pronoun placement but I did not try that hard in this level 1 course.

    I hope you are having a terrific Independence Day, with lots of friends and cheer and music and fireworks tonight! And nice food!!! Look forward to the photos taken on the Olympus (I always preferred their cameras too, as they only used metal parts throughout the camera – no plastic – in the past, not sure now).

    Thanks again for the cold beer, cannot wait for the next installment.

    And ps. I love books that start with a funeral!!!! Almost every single best selling mystery does !! As did every espisode of Law and Order and Silent Witness and Prime Suspect and every other brilliant adaptation of a book!!!! That person was just lazy and should not be in that position she is in, why is that that the most unqualified people are in the best jobs???

    So not fair! Anyway, have a good day and hello to Mike!!!!!

  9. Odd. I thought I had commented on this post, but obviously I read it and then it was too late to comment. I am always doing that at the moment. Busy in the house or garden and then on the computer far too late at night! Anyway I loved catching up with you and seeing your lovely kitchen almost ready ( it must be finished by now so I hope you have another cocktail hour and show us around the house ). I feel your pain about Adam. I had a horrid time with my eldest boy (I think I wrote about it in an email to you when we first met) and had to basically disown him. It was so hard and I still wonder at times what else I could have done. He’s a grand lad now. Works tremendously hard and has a lovely new family. When we chatted last year he said that he just had to go that one step too far, which got him in to so much trouble. So sometimes it is just the way it is Cathy. As for credit cards – my middle boy got into a helluva mess with them, which I ended up easing him out of. The banks don’t care. They just keep on charging the interest on the loan which then makes it almost impossible to pay back. I hope Adam learns some sense before it is too late on that score!

    Anyway, it must be time for the July edition. Get those drinks ready and maybe we could have some nibbles too? Oh, and you might want to remove MonaLisa’s comment (above) – interesting as it is, I’m not sure she expected it to be so public – I do empathise with her. I too have no friends other than the OH. Occasionally a chat with a good female friend to ‘set the worlds to right’ is needed. Oh, well, no good moaning… at least I have some terrific online buddies to let off steam and have a giggle with 😀

    1. I’m like that too, Jude. Sometimes I lie in bed reading emails and blog entries on my phone. I think I’ll comment later when I’m up and on the computer, but I never get around to it. Sigh.

      Our kitchen is all done now and it looks beautiful so I’ll look forward to posting pics on my next cocktail hour. Soon I hope. 🙂 It never ends though… Now we’re getting ready to carpet and paint our basement and are setting up a “man cave” for Mike down there. He bought a big TV so he can watch sports down there. I don’t care about sports, so I’m happy he’ll finally have his own space so I don’t have to listen to the TV.

      I’m going to have to go back and search for your emails about your eldest son. I’m sure I have them saved as I rarely ever get rid of personal emails. It’s funny, you may have told me about him and until I was actually dealing with the same problem myself, it didn’t stick in my mind. I’m sorry you had to resort to disowning him, but believe me, for us, anything is possible. I can understand any kind of action to deal with tough situations. I’ve heard of a local realtor here in Oakton; she’s very successful in her business, but I heard she called the police on her son. Another friend I know had his son sent to jail! In our case, it’s more about financial matters; we have no choice but to cut Adam off financially as he refuses to work and has taken advantage of us financially; we’ve both had enough. He’s now in Vancouver and we haven’t heard from him since July 5 or so. I just hope he’s okay and is working things out on his own.

      I will write up the July cocktail hour soon. As for Mona Lisa’s comment, I usually leave them up unless she specifically asks me to remove them. She says I can remove them if I want, but I think her comments are interesting parts of a larger conversation we’re having and I like to leave them up if possible. As for close friends, I don’t have many myself, except for Mike, but I do try to make some efforts from time to time to reconnect with people I’ve lost touch with. Recently I reconnected with an old friend, Beatrice, who I had lost touch with for years, even though she lives right down the road from me. I’m so happy to have her in my life again as she always makes me laugh. I can always use laughter in my life. 🙂 I do depend a lot on my friends from abroad and online friends, more so than I should. I think connection is essential for our happiness, but it seems so hard to find in today’s world. Thanks so much for your wonderful sharing. 🙂

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