the july cocktail hour: the renovation wrap-up edition

Sunday, July 17:  Here it is, time for our “dog days of July” cocktail hour. Welcome! I’m so happy to see you again.  Please come in and I’ll mix you up a drink.  We can sit on the screened-in porch, but in today’s 91 degree (F) heat, even with the ceiling fan stirring the air, we might prefer to move inside.  Our kitchen and family room renovation is done, but I must apologize that our counter stools for the kitchen island haven’t arrived.  We’ll just have to sit on couches or chairs or, better yet, just mingle.

You’ll be happy to know that my repertoire of drinks is improving daily.  Mike told our contractors, who have given us a two-year warranty on our home improvements, that he would like a warranty on his wife.  He fears he will have an alcoholic on his hands in two years’ time as I’m always trying new drink concoctions to enjoy on our screened-in porch.  My inspiration comes from my friend Beatrice, who swears by mixed drinks on ice during the hot summer months.  You know I’ve always been a wine and beer drinker, but I’m learning to enjoy a good cocktail.  Besides my recent foray into dirty martinis, Beatrice has introduced me to the Moscow Mule (vodka, lime juice and ginger beer), which is usually served in a copper mug.  I don’t have any copper mugs, but I did get some colorful cocktail glasses.  I’ve also tried Beatrice’s favorite, the Cosmopolitan, or Cosmo, although she never told me about the Triple Sec. My daughter Sarah, who has worked for a long time as a bartender/waitress, would be proud!

I’m dying to know what you’ve been up to in the last month. Have you been enjoying your summer? Have you been on vacation or explored new areas close to home? Have you seen your children off to conquer new challenges? Have you reconnected with old friends or made any new ones? Have you indulged yourself with daydreams? Have you changed jobs?  Have you seen any good movies or read any page-turners?  Have you eaten at any good restaurants or cooked anything wonderful at home?  How’s your garden?

It seems I haven’t done much but to make endless decisions on our renovation.  We had a couple of mishaps and two of my children have gone on some adventures, although I haven’t been anywhere myself. Our trip to Iceland is coming up on August 13; we’ve booked our flight, rental car and accommodation, and I’m slowly working my way through the guidebook.

My daughter Sarah went on a trip to Puerto Rico for a week with some girlfriends at the end of June.  I’ve talked with her by phone, but I haven’t made it down to Richmond to catch up with her about her trip or to see her new house. Hopefully, I’ll be visiting her within the next two weeks.

As of June 21, this is what our renovation looked like.

The bulk of our renovation was finished up on Friday, June 24, so we were able to move back into our kitchen.  Some of the electrical work needed to be finished up after the electrician returned from vacation on July 4, but at least we were now able to cook!

I completed the Landmark Advanced Course on three long days 10:00 a.m. to midnight on June 24, 25, 26, and then a Tuesday night.  It was tough going, but many parts of it were very eye-opening and inspirational.  One of the things we had to do was to write in stream-of-consciousness style for about 10 minutes straight about some problem we have in our life.  Then we sat knee-to-knee with another participant and read aloud what we had written, over and over, until we were told to stop.  The story I wrote was about my inability to find a decent job, and my story is quite extensive.  As a matter of fact, most of you have probably read about it many times on my blog!  After reading it multiple times, it became embarrassing, and ludicrous!  What a story I’ve been telling myself for all these years. I hope I can create a new story and put an end to that old story, although I imagine I will still pull that old story out when it suits me.

During the Saturday session of the Landmark Forum, I got a text from Mike asking me to call him when I could.  I ducked out and called to find out he’d been in a bad bicycle crash right in our neighborhood and had just spent three hours in the emergency room.  He admits he was being quite cocky in taking a sharp turn, and when he had to alter the turn because a car pulled up, he went sliding out on a patch of gravel.  He shredded his whole left side, leg and arm, with a huge gouge scooped out of his left forearm.  He also suffered a mild concussion.  I’ve had to help him change his bandages twice a day for the last two and a half weeks.  Finally the wounds have started to heal, but it’s been tough on him because he hasn’t been able to swim or bike, his two favorite activities.

After the Landmark Advanced Course, I was feeling inspired and decided to host my whole family here at my house for my dad’s 86th birthday on the weekend of September 17.  I’ve told my sister in California, who hates to fly, that come hell or high water, I would get her here, even if it means I have to fly out there and then drive across the country with her.  Most everyone in my family has committed to this event, except for Adam.  This event will now preclude me getting any kind of teaching job abroad as most semesters begin in early September.

Our contractors had painted a pale yellow base coat on the kitchen and family room walls; this base coat was in preparation for a decorative art painter, Sarah Zehala, we hired to stipple a rich yellow color on the walls. She was here two days, on June 29-30.  I was highly pleased with the results!  We’ve had a lot of compliments from friends, family and the contractors, who came back on July 5 to finish all the electrical work.  I’m hiring Sarah to come back to do our dining room (which I’m changing from a formal dining room to a farmhouse dining area – since our kitchen has no table) and our foyer.

As of June 29, her paint job was about halfway done:

Kitchen almost faux painted
Kitchen almost faux painted

As of June 30, the painting was finished and we moved some of our furniture back in:

Family with some furniture in after painting
Family with some furniture in after painting
Famil room looking into the kitchen
Family room looking into the kitchen
Family room faux-painted
Family room faux-painted

Mike was supposed to go to Detroit for a wedding on Friday, July 1, but his flight was cancelled.  I was glad he didn’t go because he was able to accompany me to my friend Beatrice’s cocktail party that night.  It was fun to catch up with people I hadn’t seen in years, and although I swore I wasn’t going to talk about Adam, of course I did, because, as is the case at every gathering in northern Virginia, people always ask about the children.

On Saturday night, I was making some nachos in our new oven.  This was the first time we used the oven.  I had the broiler on and though most ovens have a high and low broil, we couldn’t figure out how to put it on low.  I had the rack at the topmost setting.  I put the wedge-cut corn tortillas in a pan on the top rack for two minutes and then took them out and turned them over.  When I put them back in for two more minutes, I suddenly noticed that they were on fire!  We should have just turned off the oven and kept the door closed, but Mike picked up the pan with a pot holder and carried it out to the screened porch and through the screen door, with the flames leaping viciously.  He then tossed it face down on the ground beneath the deck and ran around trying to put out the fire on the grass!

Oh my gosh!  How horrible it would have been to have just done this whole renovation and then caught our house on fire!

On Sunday night, we figured we were safer NOT cooking at home, so we went out for Mexican food at Chevys Fresh Mex and to see the movie about Thomas Wolfe, Genius.  Lately, I get so impatient with movies.  I enjoyed the movie but it just went on too long.  I remember a time when I’d be so engrossed in a movie,  I wished it would never end.  I haven’t felt that way about any movie I’ve seen recently.

We never do much on July 4 as it’s my least favorite holiday.  I don’t enjoy fireworks and I hate the heat, so we usually keep it low-key and cook something on the grill.  Mike’s sister Barbara came over and we cooked hamburgers and potato salad and sat on the screened porch as it rained all around us.  I loved the cool air and the sound of the rain, so unusual for an Independence Day holiday.

I had lunch one day with an old friend of mine, Sarah, at Sakoon Thai.  It was great to catch up with her after not seeing her for a couple of years.  I went another day to see The Music of Strangers with Yo-Yo Ma and other musicians with whom he collaborated on the Silk Road Project.  It’s funny, but as I listened to Yo-Yo Ma talk in the movie, I realized he was using some of the Landmark Forum language and I remembered that Landmark has Yo-Yo Ma in some of its advertising films. I wonder if he was inspired to do the Silk Road Project after attending the Landmark Forum?

As of July 6, most of our lights and electrical were finished.

As of July 6
As of July 6
As of July 6
As of July 6
Pendant lights as of July 6
Pendant lights as of July 6

For several months, we had a big date looming ahead of us, July 7.  Adam’s lease on his apartment in Richmond expired on this date.  We co-signed the 6-month lease with the understanding that he would get a job and start contributing to his own support.  He never stepped up to the plate to get a job; in fact, he has insisted continuously that he’s never going to work full-time. He doesn’t want to work for anyone else and he can’t seem to get it together to start his own business, despite our attempts to help him. We were forced to give notice that we would not renew the lease. We’ve also told him he cannot live with us.  He always talks about being homeless as if it’s some kind of romantic thing and has often talked about wanting to give up all his possessions and live “off the grid.” We figured this would be as good a time as any to let him feel the consequences of his irresponsible decisions and his fantasy-land beliefs.

To top off this bad situation, the mini-van he’s been driving broke down a couple of weeks before his apartment lease was up.  Since he thinks it’s so romantic to be homeless, we figured he could just live in the van, much like in the movie, The Lady in the Van.  We decided to go ahead and replace the engine in the van, because we can still get some use out of it and can sell it eventually for a slight profit. However, Adam informed us he didn’t want the van.  A few days before his lease expired, he informed us he was buying a one-way ticket to Vancouver to attend a retreat, International Tribe Design.  Between the airplane ticket and the retreat cost of $1,900, he must be getting himself deeper into debt. He’s been living off of credit cards that the banks foolishly gave him; we have no idea how much debt he’s gotten himself into. The van still wasn’t fixed, so he counted on his brother to help him move out of his apartment.  Then he loaded some boxes into Alex’s car and said he would drive up to our house, drop the boxes and then go to the airport.  We got a message that he hadn’t had time to stop by our house, so he just left Alex’s car at the airport.  Luckily he texted us which garage and spot the car was in, and Alex had to come up later with his girlfriend and the key to retrieve the car from the airport.

On July 9, I put up the curtains in the family room.

me putting up the curtains in the family room
me putting up the curtains in the family room

Alex and Ariana came up on July 10, picked up his car from the airport, dropped Adam’s boxes in our garage, and shared a Thai dinner with us at Kob Kun Fine Thai Cuisine in Oakton. It’s always so nice to spend time with our oldest son, who has a girlfriend, is going to university, working a job, and saving money.

Adam’s International Tribe Design retreat sounded fascinating but it ended on July 11 and we haven’t heard a word from him since. Of course, we’re worried about him, but he doesn’t seem to want our help now and needs to figure things out on his own.

Mike and I went out for Japanese sushi at Yoko Sushi in Oakton on Saturday after Adam took off, and we enjoyed hot Sake and cold beer with our meal.  It was fun to go out without having a movie obligation after, as we could just enjoy our drinks and conversation without being rushed.  We’re trying hard not to let thoughts of Adam paralyze us; we’re working on letting go.  He’s going to need to go through whatever he needs to in order to either get his life together or fall hard.

I have applied for numerous teaching jobs in Morocco, but I haven’t heard anything back.  I also have applied for several jobs here in the U.S.; I applied for one in April as a front desk receptionist at an Urgent Care; it’s operated through the big hospital system in northern Virginia, INOVA. I applied for this position, only requiring a high school education, because a friend of mine told me about it and encouraged me to apply.  This friend had told me that the hours were flexible and you could work part-time. However, I had been told by the hiring manager that INOVA had frozen hiring for the position.

On the weekend after Adam left, I was considering what I could do in the fall since no jobs were panning out and since I’ve now planned that big family reunion for my dad’s birthday.  I talked to Mike about doing the The Camino de Santiago: The French Way.  I was feeling very gung-ho about it, and Mike was supportive of the idea. I wrote to a Scottish company to see what the cost might be.  The itinerary they gave me was for 53 days at about 5,040 pounds, or $6,650!  Ouch.  I think I either need to consider a shorter version, or plan it myself for a later time.

Alex gave me a plan to start upping my walk distances by a mile each week, so I walked 4 miles/day last week.  Next week, I’m supposed to go 5 miles/day.  Feeling very excited about committing to the Camino, on Monday morning, July 11, I got an email from the woman at INOVA saying they’d like to interview me for the job at the Tyson’s Corner Urgent Care.  The interview was set up for Friday, the 15th.  Of course, if I got the job, I wouldn’t walk the Camino.

On July 13, we had a small bistro table and some chairs delivered for our porch.

bistro table and chairs
bistro table and chairs

On July 14, we had a coffee table delivered for our living room.  It took me two days to assemble it!

coffee table assembled - check!
coffee table assembled – check!

I went to the INOVA interview on Friday and it turns out there was quite a misunderstanding about the hours.  The job is not flexible at all, and is full-time.  It is five nights a week from 3 pm – 8:30 pm (and often later) and then every other weekend, all day.  So basically I would have to work 12 days in a row, have two days off, work 12 days, ad infinitum.  That wasn’t what I was looking for at all!  Now, I might go back to thinking about the Camino. 🙂

Yesterday, the decorative painter Sarah came by to look at our paint projects for the dining room and foyer.  Then Mike and I went to Vienna Floors to look at carpet as we need to paint and re-carpet the basement, which has taken quite a beating over the years.  Mike is in the process of creating his own man-cave down there, with his desk and a TV so he can do his paperwork and watch sports at the same time.

Last night, we went for Mexican at  Cyclone Anaya’s Mexican Kitchen at the Mosaic District, a very upscale area in Fairfax.  We watched the movie Captain Fantastic.  I couldn’t help but think of Adam and his dream to live off the grid; the fictional father in the movie lives in the wilderness in the Pacific Northwest and forces a strict regimen – a rigorous physical and intellectual education – on his six children.  Like the father, Adam is extremely well-read, deep thinking, philosophical, and physically fit.  Sadly, he also has some of the emotional instability that the mother in the fictional family had; she committed suicide.  I am waiting to see what happens down the road to my gifted and idealistic son.

While we were at the Mosaic District, the area was swarming with young people on their phones.  All seemed to be absorbed in the new Pokémon GO app!  It was insane!  I thought if some aliens arrived on our planet, they would wonder what on earth was going on here.

As of today, this is what our house looks like.

family room
family room
family room
family room
family room looking into kitchen
family room looking into kitchen
laundry room
laundry room
kitchen near door to screened porch looking into family room
kitchen near door to screened porch looking into family room
island in kitchen
island in kitchen
looking from the family room to kitchen
looking from the family room to kitchen
kitchen island
kitchen island
screened porch
screened porch
small deck for grilling
small deck for grilling

I’m so happy our renovation is finished, although we’re still doing some cosmetic things in the months ahead (basement, dining room and foyer – carpet and paint).

Once again, enough about me and enough about my struggles with my children and our renovation. I apologize for my chattiness.  Please, do tell me about you!  I’d love to hear what you’re up to.  Please share anything and everything. What do you have in the pipeline for the summer?  Please, do tell all!  🙂


52 thoughts on “the july cocktail hour: the renovation wrap-up edition

    1. I’m glad we have our house back too, Annette! Feel free to visit if you ever come up this way. Now I’m not so embarrassed to have visitors! Mike is healing, is back to walking and swimming and I’m sure he’ll be back to biking soon. 🙂

  1. Cathy, your home is beautiful and worth all the waiting. I love your porch area. Sorry to hear about Mike’s accident. I hope he’s on the mend now. Maybe you weren’t meant to have that job, because the Camino is calling.
    In the last month, we’ve had our two week winter school vacation and we enjoyed a week long cruise to the Great Barrier Reef and far north Queensland. We went with good friends and had so much fun. The second week of holidays I just stayed home and pottered around, doing some writing, gardening, baking and crafting. All is well here.

    1. Thanks so much, Carol. I’m really glad the renovation part is over and we can start enjoying it. Mike is on the mend now, thank goodness, and is starting to swim and walk now. It won’t be long before he’s biking again, I’m sure.

      The Camino is calling, but I don’t think I can do it this fall, as I really don’t feel quite prepared.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed your cruise to the Great Barrier Reef and far north Queensland. I’ve read some of your posts, but not all. Hopefully I can get to more of them soon. Staying at home writing, gardening, baking and crafting sounds fun as well. I’m so glad you’re enjoying your winter school vacation. 🙂

      1. I’m using three weeks Long Service Leave so I will have the last three weeks of Term Three added on to the two weeks of our Spring vacation. That’s how I get another holiday so soon. 🙂 We are visiting our daughter who has been living in Manchester since November 2014 on a two year working visa, and also going to Dorset, Cornwall, the Lakes District and Yorkshire. Looking forward to it very much.

  2. You lead such a busy life I can’t see where a full-time job can possibly fit in! Maybe a nice 9-5 one so you can still go out for dinner and movies – it has been years since I went to the movies, I usually wait until they come on to TV unless there is something I really want to see. Your renovation looks lovely – nice and warm and welcoming, but such a BIG range cooker for the two of you. You will have to hold lots of dinner parties 🙂 And the colour of your laundry room is similar to what I painted a north-facing (cold) bathroom a long time ago, it certainly woke you up in the morning! Apparently orange stimulates the appetite so perhaps you should have had that colour in the kitchen. Only problem now is that the rest of the house is going to look dull and need refreshing. Once you start Cathy, there is no stopping…. oh, and I hope you have news from Adam soon, difficult not to worry when they are not in touch, and that Mike is feeling much better after his accident. You will both be glad to get away and enjoy Iceland together! Not much longer. And since you are into making cocktails I’ll have a Margarita please with salt rim. You did say you have triple sec….?

    1. I know, Jude, I don’t really want a full-time job and that’s why this job, in theory, appealed to me; I was told it was flexible and part-time! I certainly don’t want to work so much that I only get off 4 days a month! As for going out to movies, I’m starting to enjoy it less and less, especially when I can lie on my couch in my pajamas and watch them and be much more comfortable! They seem to drag on forever, and are not that interesting, these days.

      When you mention the range cooker, do you mean that or the island, which is just a seating and work area? It is the same size range we’ve always had. Hmmm. 🙂 As for the island, we made it big enough to put 4 counter stools around for when the kids or friends visit.

      You’re so right that once you do one area of the house, the rest really needs refreshing. That’s why we’re painting the dining room and foyer and redoing the basement. All of the rest looks so shabby in comparison! It is like a domino effect, isn’t it?

      I hope we do hear from Adam soon. It’s funny, even though Mike and I see his vulnerabilities and his inner turmoil, his brother and sister, who see him more than we do in Richmond, seem to think he’s fine, just young, and they have hope he’ll figure things out. We don’t feel nearly as hopeful as they do, but we’re trying to keep up some amount of hope anyway. It’s hard not to worry, and often I think of the most awful things that could be happening to him, and I can’t get them out of my mind, and then I start a full-fledged panic attack. But all the things I imagine might not be happening at all, so I’m worrying myself sick for nothing, as far as I know. Letting go is key, and we’re trying to do that as best we can.

      I don’t have Triple Sec, but I guess I have to get some to make a true Cosmo. I haven’t made Margaritas yet, at least not lately, so that will be my next adventure. There is nothing better than a cold margarita with salt on the rim!

      Mike has gotten out for a swim and a couple of walks; slowly, slowly, he’s recovering.

      By the way, I read over part II of your early email to me, but I didn’t see details about your struggle with your son. I can’t seem to find Part I, but I think that was earlier in your life anyway. 🙂

      Have a good Monday, Jude! 🙂

  3. I’m happy for you that your renovation is done – it all looks very nice.

    Both of my kids are here now – Kat came in the end of June, Gep two weeks later. I cannot believe they only have about a week left here – wherever does time go anyway? I’m enjoying our time together, most of which is very quiet. We do plan to venture out tomorrow to run some errands and have a late lunch out. Kat has requested some meals of types of food she did not get in Korea and will not get in Thailand. Otherwise, she’s been doing the cooking at home, and I am not objecting.


    1. Thanks, Carol. I’m happy it’s done now and we can just enjoy it. Wow, I can’t believe Kat and Gep just got there and now only have a week left. The time does go quickly, doesn’t it? I’m so happy that you’re having a nice and quiet time. I’m also glad you’re enjoying Kat’s cooking. It’s always nice to have someone else do the cooking! Have a great week, enjoy the rest of the time with your kids, and thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  4. Your reno is so bright and airy and I love all the colors you chose. What a relief for you that its finally finished!
    I’m sure your son Adam is OK. You know how fast bad news travels, so if you haven’t heard from him he must be OK.

    What a shame that the job didn’t work out. I’ve never heard of a receptionist position requiring so many hours!
    I didn’t know you were going to Iceland. Should be lovely in August.

    1. Thanks so much, Rosie! I am really relieved it’s over and we’re able to enjoy it now.

      I really like your logic that you’re sure Adam is okay. “You know how fast bad news travels, so if you haven’t heard from him he must be OK.” I’m going to pass that on to Mike. I’m sure he’ll find it encouraging!

      As for the job, I guess I should have checked with the hiring lady right away when I expressed interest in the job instead of relying on what my friend told me. Assuming anything is always bad practice.

      I can’t wait for Iceland. I’m looking forward to cooler climes. 🙂

  5. Hi there!! Thank you again for the great birthday texts yesterday! They made my day! Thank you!

    I did not feel good on this birthday, 56, as I am really having a hard time with aging and it has hit me very badly how unfair life is here for women who have the nerve to keep breathing after they turn 40. I decided as I am KonMari-ing my home, I was doing the same to myself, and perhaps I need to step up to the plate more. The world will not change for me, which leaves me with two options, to continue as I am, to age badly and angrily, or to change my life fairly radically in terms of how I think of it and of myself. My weight number one, my health a close second.

    I am realizing that enjoying a glass of wine by myself as automatic entitlement every evening or every few days or on the weekend actually does not sit all that well with me anymore. Neither do a lot of foods I have also automatically been putting into the fridge and pantry. I actually do not feel good after eating them and certainly the enjoyment factor is no longer there. So why do I keep buying them and preparing them the same way?

    Getting stuff out of the kitchen to the tune of two giant Costco sized shopping carts this past weekend was a huge start, though I already filled 23 shopping cats when I came back from Oman. And yet while I feel the difference, as I had the Mari Kondo book on audio looping for three weeks on my phone so I would internatlize it completely, you don’t really see it as what was behind the cupboard doors is what has changed. I do have a fair number of empty shelves and cedrtainly I can see the back of every cupboard. What struck me is all the Japanese stuff I had kept for 25 years, stuff I had been given that I did not even like! What a pleasure it was to let them all go. I am sure you found a fair bit of stuff from your travels that had to find new accommodations though you are far more strict that I am to start with when it comes to shopping I think, though I am not as bad as I was.

    However, once I was able to let that stuff go, I did feel a sense of relief as I am still in “komodo” mode, of odds and ends and this and that from all over the house.

    Yesterday I did the bathroom, scrubbing the tiles from top to bottom, washing all the collected sea shells, and reorganizing the under sink and over sink cupboards, so they are zoned and a lot of makeup and stuff was discarded finally, though I had been using up stuff for a while as I replaced all the old stuff with vegan versions and cruelty free versions a while ago, and so there was not too much stock piled, but it felt good to know what was there, and to be able to see it, that is the difference. She said all containers need to be clear so you know what you have at all times.

    This weekend I would like to get started on clothes or papers, not both, as she says, though with my 3000 books I was thinking of taking one book off each shelf and putting them in a shopping cart and see what I would feel, as I do like books as decoration and I do reread old favourites and feel joy when I look at a lot of them. But not all, that is for sure. There is lots of work to be done and shelves to be freed up. I put 50 cookbooks downstairs (that was the second time I did that!) and one person took the whole lot, again, within hours. That felt great! And I am still not done with the 20 cookbooks I have left.

    I know you have a much easier time with books and clothing than I do.

    This is only part of my plan as I do need to seriously change my eating habits and not just zone out and eat what is familiar and what I have always made. My body is clearly not enjoying a lot of these foods and my boobs are now almost as big as they were before they were cut off and this makes me the most depressed of all. I was not told they would grow back!

    I am so glad you have a holiday to plan with Mike, and once you return from Iceland, I do hope you will both do the Camino. I cannot believe when I had so much time and money on my hands I had not heard of it or I would not have gone to Africa, I would have done that instead for a year, but whatever, that is past. The Camino is a magical thing and the fact that you both could do it together is like a dream to me. I cannot imagine having anyone to do things with, unless I am able to pay for it (though of course if we did the PCH for a week or so I would pay for EVERYTHING as you would have to do all the driving!!!! What a dream for me!!!!!!).

    I have never been to Florida and I was looking at taking the bus from Toronto to Miami, which a changeover in NYC. That bus also stops in Richmond, VA! From Miami I would like to visit Orlando of course for the theme parks, but mostly I want to see the Florida Keys and find a small motel for a week along the way on one of the smaller keys and just disappear into some writing.

    But not as long as I am working of course.

    I am glad you completed the Landmark course and that it made a difference. Is that like “The Course in Miracles” that was so popular in the 2000s? I have been asked to look into becoming a Montessori certified teacher and moving to Ottawa where my friend wants to open a school in a few years. Being loathe to teach children of course I was hesitant, but further research is proving that these methods are shown to be helping people with Alzheimers, and that is what is making me seriously consider it. I don’t want to move but I live in one of the most youth-driven, ageist cities in Canada because it is our silicon valley town, where you are old at 30. Ottawa is like Geneva, civil servants with money who can spend money on their family. I will have finished my French certification by then which is a big deal in Ottawa, but I will also be 60, same as my friend, in 4 years’ time. But we will see, the certification is not that expensive and perhaps I can carve a niche for myself with the Alzheimer’s Society and the nursing homes if this proves to be something that gets better known.

    Of course that is not my first choice, but this age thing is so desperately difficult to come to terms with, and so I have to start with one thing at a time, and that is my eating habits and exercise habits which have to undergo drastic alteration.

    BTW your home looks AMAZING, so cheerful and refreshed and colourful and full of light! I think this is a great metaphor for your marriage! How happy I am for you that you are not on your own, Mike is an amazing man, I am so sorry though that he hurt himself biking but thank God it was not worse!!

    Well, I could write another ten pages but I had better let you go, have a mixed drink for me, a mojito if you feel up to the task!! They taste amazing and way too delicious to stop after just one! But now that I no longer sleep through the night and am up at 6 no matter what thanks to my Zachary cat alarm system, I find that alcohol is making those few hours less restful.

    So not fair that youth is wasted on the young, and as Michael Cain said in Youth, I’m old and I don’t know how I got here.

    One last thing, the Viggo MOrtensen movies sounds good but I will see Star Trek this weekend, the only movie I would pay for pretty much, for pure escapism. My sister rented that Doris movie with Sally Field where she plays a kook who goes after a young guy at work or something like that, silly and then stupid after ten minutes, and that was that. I also do not feel engaged in movies, though Netflix has some terrific shows, like The Killing which was incredible, then I watched Dr. Foster, about a woman whose husband cheats on her, just a ten hour arch one season only. On PBS I have gotten into The Tunnel, which like The Killing is based on a SWedish or Danish show which was called The Bridge and is also on Netflix. The Killing was mesmerizing, but sometimes I am tired of serial killings and want to find something a bit more like Downton Abbey!!

    Anyway, better get back to work, not much on my desk today but I have to look busy at least!

    So excited for you about Iceland, and I am proud of you that you seem to really be able to see Adam as an adult who must make his own choices and suffer the consequences without you picking up the pieces, though I know it is still very hard to not step in and rescue him. The banks will catch up with him one of these days, and his credit rating will be shot and he will find out later in life what his irresponsibility will cost him. Or perhaps not. He made land on his feet out West as there are tons of like minded people there where the weather makes it possible to live in a tee pee ina commune if that is what you want to do. Send love and light and then let go, that is what I tell myself when I need to stop caring for people more than they care about themselves. Not that there are many of those in my life anymore thank God. Just me I have to worry about, and there is enough work there for a lifetime off effort! Hahaha!

    Sending you a big hug!! Yes, a weekend in Toronto would be great fun, but make sure you plan it around an event taking place in Toronto, or a concert or some festival, as by itself it is just a place to walk around. There are tons of sites with lists of activities and events and these often come with hotel deals you could never get otherwise! I will come to see you!! No worries there!!! How lovely to just think about showing you around a city I am only myself getting to know!

    Big hugs for you, take care Mike, and congratulations on getting your renovations done in such a short amout of time in the middle of summer!! I do not think this is normally the case!!! Miss you and looking forward to a phone chat soon!!!


    1. You’re welcome for the birthday texts, even though they were a little belated! I know how you feel about aging. I keep seeing my middle get larger and larger despite walking 3 miles every day and being pretty fit. My friend Martha tells me you lose weight in the kitchen and you get fit in the gym; I know I still have many bad eating habits, especially where alcohol and salty snacks, especially cheese, are concerned. I have a real weakness for those, as you know. 🙂 And I agree, after my breast reduction in 2006, mine have grown back too. It’s very frustrating!!

      I’m so glad you’re moving forward on your KonMari-ing; I can tell it feels really freeing! It does to me too. When you see the pictures of our renovation, that really is how it looks now. The whole area used to be so cluttered. I could probably get rid of a lot more too, but we seem to be stuck on papers now. I find this really tedious.

      Mike and I are going together to Iceland, but if I did the Camino, I would have to do it alone. Until he retires in about 5 more years, he cannot possibly take off that much time from work. So if I did it, I’d have to do it on my own.

      Maybe one of these days, we will have to drive the PCH!

      A motel in the Florida Keys sounds perfect. You should do it. I’ve been to Orlando and have no interest in those Disney parks, but you would love the Keys. If you’re going to stop in Richmond, you should definitely let me know!

      I think the Montessori thing sounds fascinating so you should certainly pursue it, especially with old people. Ottowa is one of my favorite cities in Canada, so I think you’d love living there. 🙂

      I like Michael Caine’s line: I’m old and I don’t know how I got here. Yes! How did we get here??

      Have fun seeing Star Trek. I’m not a space movie fan, but I know people who are real fans and they love that kind of stuff. As for Captain Fantastic, it was interesting in the way I could see Adam in him, minus the survivalist abilities. We’ve been watching a light TV series called Cuckoo, which also reminds me of him. As for the Sally Field movie, it was pretty ridiculous, but I still sat through the whole thing. Ugh.

      I haven’t heard of The Killing or Dr. Foster, so I’ll have to look them up. We’ve been watching Longmire (about a sheriff out west – Wyoming??), the Jewel in the Crown, The Affair, and a Danish TV series called Rita. I just added The Killing and Doctor Foster so I can check them out.

      It’s not necessary that I come to Toronto for a festival, as I like the more quiet activity of just walking around a place. I’ll have to fit it in sometime. Or wait till you move to Ottowa!

      Thanks again for your involved comment and for sharing so much of yourself. I wish all my readers would do such! 🙂 Enjoy the rest of your week.

      1. Thanks so much for this post. It is nice to have someone to commiserate with regarding this horror called aging. Body parts no longer where you last saw them, muscles and joints you did not know you had demanding pain relief, escaping tonalities you cannot control or predict, skin textures once familiar are suddenly foreign, and faces which do not reflect all that youthfulness still inside with fewer and fewer opportunities for escape. Ugh. The way Sally Field played the “kooky” spinster type was such a caricature I am not sure how you could stand it for two hours. That option to reduce ourselves to that disguise to be accepted as the in-house eccentric would not be possible anymore. As long as there are interns in HR offices who are set the task of screening job applicants, when it is the most experienced who should be looking at the skills people can bring to the table, not the checklist the interns are given. It is all so unfair. We used to tease my gran who always sayd “Folks, don’t get old” but we know now what she meant and we are no longer laughing, except that she pronounced the “L” in “foLks” that was funny and still is a happy memory. But we though because she never took care of herself and because she was falling apart physically was what she meant, but really I know now that was secondary. She was always very young at heart, the kind of person people remembered 25 years later after only meeting her once because she was so much fun and so kind and generous to everyone, and I think because her body broke down that she became an alcoholic because the life she was forced to lead was that of a young person trapped in an old person’s body. She was so unhappy. Now I understand her so much better. When I went to the zoo with my folks, I made my mom take her walker which she needed because of the heat and humidity (we have the same weather as you do this summer!) and the waiting around, and she looked so old with that thing. Thank God neither one of us need it for day to day. But I know you understand that while we may be fitter than our parents and grandparents when they were out age, you and I are all too painfully aware of the options which are no longer available to us because of our age. We know we can do things ten times better than people half our age, but who will give us the chance? Science does all it can to keep us living longer and healthier lives, but yet employers still do not get the message that we make the best employees because we are no longer young which mans we are not the ones to take off attracted by shiny objects, boyfriends, pregnancies, travel, or a higher wage down the road, at a moment’s notice. Why keep us around if there is nothign for us to do?

        I am so blessed Cathy that if I am going to be stuck here, I am still luckier than most. My disability pension status, thank you free national health care of course for that, is the only flea in the ointment but that will be resolved one way or another in a few months. No trips to Inle lake or Iceland with that money, but yes, trips to Toronto and even perhaps the PCH one day would be.
        Toronto is a nice city to explore so if you come do your research so we can get around on public transport if need be. I have lived in Ottawa bffore when I did my post grad CTESL at Carleton University there. What did you do there??? I did not you had been there, only to Montreal. That is another city along with Quebec City, where I would like to go, as it is like old France in QC, very much preserved and no one speaks English there. Anyway, I did not see the Trek movie yet, it is only Trek that I like, no other SciFi stuff and certainly not Star Wars, I was never a fan of that. What are you reading? I am reading an old favourite again, Hanif Kureishi “The Buddha of Suburbia” which I read when I lived in Japan. I may revisit more of the books I read then as I was a voracious reader there as that was before cable and satellite TV and well before the Internet. Have you given any serious thought about Westlake university in Japan? I would go back there if I did not have so many cats if I had the chance. Let me know! Now I have to read your next blog which I have been saving! Remember you do not need to reply to all my comments!!!!!! Take care, any news from Hawaii??? I bet Adam is on a real adventure as long as his credit cards hold out….. I would love to have his freedom without his debt. BTW Dr. Foster is only 6 episodes, but The Killing is 4 seasons of suspense. It took me a few tries to get into it, but I loved the damaged female lead and her quirky male partner (both detectives – of course I loved the guy as he is from Sweden in real life what’s not to love???). That’s all for now, by for now, I have two hours to find something to watch before it is time to go and visit the garden and see if there is something edible yet!!! xxx big hug, xxxx change is coming I am sure for you and I don’t just mean Iceland!!!! xxx

      2. Hi there. I just now edited out the parts of your comment that you didn’t want in here. As I said in another comment, you might want to email me directly with more private comments, as whatever you write on here appears immediately to the public.

        You and I have commiserated about the aging thing, but of course there is nothing to be done about the inevitable curse of it all except to try to enjoy and accept the process as best we can. It’s hard though, as I want to resist it all, kicking and screaming, until the end!

        As for Ottawa, I only visited there for a short time with my first husband, Bill, while we were on a 3-month trip around North America. I’ve never yet been to Montreal, only to Quebec. Never to Toronto either. I just liked Ottawa because it was so clean and the architecture was interesting. Honestly, we didn’t spend much time there, but I did like what little I saw.

        I just finished reading Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder, and I loved it. It’s really a modern day version of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. As for Japan, you apply through Westgate, which is a recruiter for universities in Japan. I haven’t applied there yet, although I do think about doing so.

        We’ve heard twice from Adam in Hawaii and so far, he’s loving his life there. I still have no idea how he’s paying his credit cards, but it’s not ours to worry about as we never co-signed on those and they are not our obligation. We have no plans to bail him out. So, we’ll see what happens.

  6. You must be so happy that the renovations are done and you have your kitchen back. Love your screened in porch. It looks really great, and I’d love to sit there and try out a few of your cocktails. I do hope that your son comes to his senses. It must be such a worry, as no parent wants their child to become a street person. Sending positive thoughts to you and your family. You seem to have so much going on in your life at the moment, Cathy. I hope it all works out for you. We had all our new kitchen appliances arrive a couple of days ago.The rest of the cabinets arrived at the end of last week too, and hubby is busy putting them all together. When all that’s done, we have to get someone in to measure for the granite, so my kitchen is still a few weeks away. We’re hoping to go back to South Africa for a few weeks at the end of September, and come back via England to visit my MiL who will be 103 next month. We’ll just have to finish the house when we get back, as there is still the wood flooring to put down in the living area, and all the painting to do. How exciting to be going to Iceland next month! It seems to be a very popular destination at the moment. Enjoy. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Sylvia. I’m so happy with the results of the renovation. I’m hosting a big family reunion/birthday party for my 86-year-old dad on September 17, so we’re also trying to freshen up some of the other parts of the house for a big crowd, including, I hope, my sister from California. Today is the perfect day to sit on the screened porch as it seems pretty cool out there this morning. We had a beautiful day yesterday too, but it looks like a heat wave is coming at us this weekend and next week. I doubt I’ll be using it much then!

      We got a call from Adam on Tuesday night and he’s now in Maui working on a banana plantation and soon to be working at a hostel in exchange for a room. At least right now he seems happy and safe and we’re trying to hope good things for him. We have to keep letting go; it certainly is easier when he’s on the other side of the world! Of course, all his escaping isn’t going to help his financial situation as the banks will catch up with him eventually, no matter where he goes.

      Your kitchen sounds like it’s progressing quite nicely if you’re only a couple of weeks away from measuring for granite. The flooring and painting won’t take long; depending on the kind of flooring, the longest part is waiting for the stain to dry. Unless you’re having that pre-stained wood put in.

      Your trips to South Africa and England sound like fun. I can’t believe how much longevity you have in your family, with your mother-in-law turning 103. Didn’t your mother live to over 100 too?

      I can’t believe Iceland is coming up in just a little over 3 weeks. There isn’t much left to prepare except to read the guidebook at this point. I keep filing away Instagram pictures for inspiration! I can’t wait for an adventure! Have a great weekend. 🙂

      1. The floors are engineered hardwood in light oak, and don’t need staining, which is great. Of course with hubby doing all the work himself, it’s not going to be a quick job, as he’s such a perfectionist. I must just be patient. 🙂

  7. I dipped back in at the right time to catch up on what’s happening in your life! Sorry to hear about your son, but I think you made the right decision to let him go.

    The house looks wonderful – very warm and inviting.

    It’s too bad about not finding a job – I don’t know why it’s become so hard to find one, but it is, especially for older women.

    I’m still working. I have no desire to be in front of a computer after all day at work, so lately my hobby is cooking. I’m back on my Paleo diet again. I’m feeling better, but no weight loss yet.


    1. So happy that you dropped by, Nancy! It’s been a long time. I’m glad you’re well.

      We got a call from Adam on Tuesday night and he’s now in Maui working on a banana plantation and soon to be working at a hostel in exchange for a room. At least right now he seems happy and safe and we’re trying to hope good things for him. We have to keep letting go; it certainly is easier when he’s on the other side of the world! Thanks for your compliment on our house. We’re very pleased with the result. 🙂

      There is a lot of ageism, especially in northern Virginia and Washington, and I am trying to figure out something else to do where I have control of my destiny. Like my own business, for example. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoy cooking. I do too, and especially now that I actually have some space to cook! The Paleo diet is supposed to be quite good; I should try the same because I am stuck at the same weight so all my walking and trying to “eat healthy” isn’t working. I’m at least happy that you’re feeling better! Thanks again for coming by to visit, Nancy! 🙂

  8. That was thoroughly interesting and well written, Kat. Maybe this is a dumb question but why didn’t you plaster over the bricks in the family room ? Did you do it after you took the picture ?

    Another thing I noticed, Kat, was that the curtains are missing. Maybe I am getting it wrong but did you put the curtain over the top of the windows instead of the sides ?

    Seems like you are having hot weather there. Here it’s been awful with temperatures up to 39c. I’m envious of the monsoon rain in Kathmandu right now. I’m thinking of going to spend a few weeks with the family in Kathmandu very soon but I’ve decided not to announce my arrival. They’d have a hell of a surprise.

    When I was in Japan, we usually had hot sake followed by ice cold beer too. The beer with the meals. I wouldn’t mind a visit to Japan but I think my priority must be Nepal right now.

    Love your house but please post another picture with the fireplace after finishing.

    Kat, if I had a place like that, I’d never want to go anywhere else.

    1. Hi Dai. Thanks for your compliment about the post. As for the bricks in the family room, they have been there since we bought the house in 1994, and I guess we’ve just gotten used to them. Our focus in the renovation was the kitchen/laundry room and screened porch; the only thing we meant to do in the family room was to knock out the half-wall between it and the kitchen. We didn’t intend to do anything else in the family room, as the project was quite costly already, but because of the wall knock-out, we ended up having to paint and re-floor the room. It’s a domino effect doing a renovation; as soon as you do one thing, it seems something else needs doing. As for the curtains, I guess a better word is window treatments. They’re done like this quite often, just for decoration, as we have accordion blinds under them for privacy. We had a realtor come in before we did the renovation, and she said young people these days are not putting up any window treatments or curtains in their new homes at all!

      We’re in the midst of a long spell of hot weather, with temps around 32C, not as hot as what you have there in Lisbon. Is it humid there too, or dry? I can deal with dry heat but I hate the humidity and Virginia summers are always damp.

      I think surprising the family in Kathmandu would be fantastic! When do you think you will go? It will be nice to be in the midst of a monsoon after the hot weather in Lisbon. For that same reason, I’m looking forward to our trip to Iceland, where it will hopefully be nice and cool.

      As for the sake and beer, my sister in Los Angeles introduced me to the practice of taking a sip of hot sake following by a sip of cold beer. I’ve brought that practice home with me, and I have to say I like it quite a lot! 🙂

      We do have a nice house now; it almost feels like a new home. We plan to sell it when Mike retires in about 5 years; no one would have bought it in the shape it was in. We had neglected it for years, especially during the 7 years of our separation. Now we’re playing catch-up. It’s still not to the level of some of our neighbors who have added huge additions, especially the house right behind us which used to be the same size as ours but is now about 2/3 larger! And though our house is large by many standards, in northern Virginia, a suburb of Washington, we’re one of the more medium sized houses, surrounded by what a lot of what people call “McMansions.”

      Keep cool! Can’t wait to read about your trip to Kathmandu. 🙂

  9. Wow! What a chic looking home! 🙂 Even though you tried your best to burn it down 😦 Things seem to be falling into place, Cathy. I certainly hope so. It won’t be for the want of trying. 🙂 Poor Mike- is he back in one piece now?

    1. Thanks, Jo. It’s nice to have it all done and to have peace and quiet in my house. Mike is healing nicely and has gone on a couple of bike rides just this week. He’s not about to let his accident scare him! 🙂

  10. Sorry, I’m late to the party again! The results of your renovations and building work look marvellous – you should be very pleased with yourselves. It must be great to have the place back and be able to use it now that all the work is finished.
    Since your last cocktail hour I have been busy with work, but also we were away for a week in Ireland at a wedding. I’ve not known a wedding to have so many aspects to the celebrations, and to involve so much drinking! We managed to fit in a little sight seeing too, but not as much as we had hoped because the weather was dull and misty for the first half of our stay. We are going away for the weekend next weekend with some friends, camping, so we have that to get organised for. It is the school summer break here now, so I won’t be doing any teaching, but I have plenty of other things to be getting on with.
    Sorry to hear about Mike’s cycling accident – I hope he will soon be back to full fitness.

    1. No matter that you’re late, Elaine. I’m late in responding myself. Thank you so much about the renovations. We’re very happy with them, and very happy they’re over!

      Your week away in Ireland sounds lovely, especially for a wedding. I don’t know if I could handle the drinking at a wedding these days; a cocktail or two is all I can handle. Too bad about the dull and misty weather that kept you from sightseeing. Did you go on your camping trip yet, or is it this coming weekend?

      As for Mike, he’s back to normal now and has gone out on a couple of bike rides. Now the heat is too much for biking, or for much of anything else. I still try to go on my daily walks, but I must do it early or it’s too miserable. Have fun camping and enjoying your summer break! 🙂

      1. Our camping trip is coming up this weekend, and I am starting to get things gathered together in readiness for it.
        I couldn’t have handled all that drinking, either, a
        at the wedding – maybe soft drinks, but even then I find it hard to consume a lot of liquid of any kind! We bowed out early each evening and left the young folks to it.
        Our weather is back to normal temperatures for this time of year, but we have just had a week of very hot, sticky times and the thought of going out to walk (never mind a bike ride) was too much to contemplate unless it was very early, or the evening. I’m glad Mike is back to normal now, and hasn’t been put off riding.

  11. HI there, I messed up the names again, Alex for Adam! BTW please if you do post my last long comment, please take out the part about my job, the examples of what I do and about the other lawyer. There is some colourful language in there and it is not for sharing! I keep foregetting you post my long posts, but I doubt your readers are reading what I write! But please just in case, please delete that whole section! Thank you and apologies again on the names of your sons! Thank you also re the invitation re Richmond and the advice on the Keys. I do appreciate that!!!!!!!! xxxx

    1. Okay. By the way, just so you know, whenever you post a comment on my blog, it appears to the public right away, whether I’ve seen it or not. I might suggest that if you want to write something private, you could send it to me in an email. Because for instance, this weekend, I was gone for 5 days without a computer and wasn’t able to edit or delete any parts of your comments. I still haven’t done so, but hopefully I can do it this morning. Hope you had a good weekend! 🙂

      1. Thanks for this timely advice! I do not even know if I have your private email address..!! Mine is if you want send me a blank message so I can write this way. I thought you had to approve all posts all this time!!! Not sure anyone would read through my great epistular comments though but you never know. Thanks for letting me know!!!

        Well!! Only 3 days to Iceland!! And if your temperatures are anything like ours…. it is 39C here today, this is Nizwa weather, with the humidity of Muscat almost, minus the lovely coastline of course.
        Any last minute things to do before your trip? Wow so exciting!! I cannot imagine!!! Any chance of a quick cocktail hour before you go??

        What if anything is Adam doing in Hawaii?? I suppose he can crash on the beach there, though I doubt that is allowed. What a place to crash land, though I would never want to go anywhere without money ever again.

        Well I was going to write something more personal but won’t now and will await your email address.

        Thanks!!!! Photos are awesome but I can tell you have probably had your fill of Buddhas for a while!


      2. I don’t think I’ll ever have my fill of Buddhas! I love them. 🙂 I’ll send you an email, but you have emailed me before so I’m surprised you don’t have it. It’s just as hot here in Virginia as it is there; absolutely miserable! I hate this summer weather.

        By the way, I am in the midst of writing a cocktail hour that I’ll post before I go; it will give you the answer to all your questions. Please feel free to send me more personal comments in the email I’ll send! Enjoy the rest of your summer. I can’t wait to get to Iceland. I just watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which really put me in an adventurous spirit. 🙂

      3. HI again! I see I did reply to your August Cocktail Hour, no reply as yet but I have all the time in the world to wait and see if you find anything in it worth responding to!!!! Where did that entire summer disappear to?? The weather is still hot here, but I hope you are not experiencing any flooding especially with the new renovations!!!!!!


      4. Thanks, I still haven’t replied to your long reply on my post! We’ve had a very hot week here in Virginia, but luckily no flooding here. Our house renovations are wrapping up today. We’re having landscapers tidy up our yard, which was so disheveled looking, and I have a faux painter painting our foyer. Thank goodness after today, I’ll have no more contractors in our house! 🙂

      5. Hi there!! I am late commenting on the comments or on the Iceland blog! The weather is now cool here though the days are still rather astonishingly warm and sunny for this time of year! Today feels more like a spring day than an autumn day, but at least it feels like a season as we usually go straight from high summer to freezing cold temperatures in less than a week it seems lately!

        My mother had heart surgery and while she took her time waking up and the surgery went very well, she is not a good patient, not doing her exercises, and not doing much of anything apart from lay in her hospital bed! We worry she is getting a bit too comfy which has been worrisome and taken me away from my reading of much of anything let alone have the time I so enjoy with your blogs and nice cup of coffee or a glass of wine!

        Speaking of which, I think now that the renovations are completed, time for a photo spread with some before and after photos in a cocktail hour!!!!!

        Hope your weather is more manageable and good for walking. My mother is not doing so well because I think she was not in good shape physically before the surgery. She looks 100 years old and I have been up nights worrying about my own health if I don’t work harder to lose weight and get fit. Talk about a wake up call for everyone! No time like the present to get moving and eating better! Just wish I had a landscape like we see in these photos to encourage us to get moving more outside!!!! My town is so boring for walking.


      6. I’m glad you’re having cool weather now. We are too, thank goodness, but today and for the next 3 days, rain is in the forecast. 😦

        I’m so glad your mother made it through her heart surgery, although I’m sure you were worried when it took her so long to wake up. I really hope she will get motivated to do her exercises and start getting mobile, otherwise, she could really regret it. Maybe the two of you could motivate each other!

        I do need to do a cocktail hour although I am now so over that renovation, I hate to even think about what we went through. We did have my dad’s birthday party/family reunion on September 16-19, so I was glad to have all that done before the crowds convened here.

        I’ve now gotten back to walking (+ a Pilates class which I just started two weeks ago), but today while I was out, after 2 miles, the skies opened up and I got drenched. At least I can keep up with the Pilates class, which is indoors, but that’s not an aerobic workout.

        It’s hard to keep motivated when the weather gets really bad, but I definitely enjoy it when the skies are crisp and cool. I’m still not losing any weight after gaining so much being sick from walking pneumonia. I’m so glad I’m over that. I am ready to get back into some kind of shape. Exercise isn’t as much a problem for me as eating is! 🙂

      7. Thanks for your kind thoughts! I understand re the renovations! How was the reunion?? And how was the writing class??? Perhaps you can write a more comprehensive cocktail hour blog on that??

      8. The reunion was a lot of fun. We played a rip-roaring game of Charades where we laughed a lot! The writing class is good in that it gives me a deadline each week; I’m writing about a chapter a week, although I should be doing more! The teacher is okay, but not great however. I will try to do a cocktail hour soon. I know I’m behind! 🙂

      9. This writing course is for you to recognize what works and more importantly, what does not for when you lead your own classes. You cannot feel bad writing a chapter a week, that is a LOT. You are writing blogs don’t forget, and that counts!!!!! One of your writing workshops will be on writing blogs and so you are producing and creating all the time don’t forget that!!!!!

      10. I’m learning a lot by taking this course, Mona Lisa. I agree, I can see what I would do differently if I were teaching it. I hope one day I can conduct these kinds of workshops, but I feel like it would certainly help if I could get something published first. 🙂

      11. I know you do, but are you still submitting your short stories as well as your novel? Spreading out your chances a bit? How about entering contests? I am sure there are online journals which will publish you which are reputable! I think your blog, with its huge number of regular committed followers would certainly qualify you to lead a workshop on that aspect of writing and you could test the waters what people would be willing to pay for a seminar. You know WordPress inside out!!!! Start with a workshop on travel blogs and cocktail hours! You would be amazing!!!!

      12. My mother will not be motivated by anyone that is the problem. She is a hypochondriac much of the time and in hospital well she is just at the centre of the medical universe and I think she is scared to leave though her best friend and neighbour is a nurse and would look after her at home. My poor dad is hostage to my mother’s health, and my dad is bursting with vitality and great health and he is very fit. And he eats responsibly, all unlike my poor mama. I have been kept awake thinking if I don’t smarten up with the portion size, that is the real issue, then I will wind up like her one day, though I am extremely motivated when I am sick. When I got sent home with the MS symptoms from Oman in a wheelchair I bloody well had to relearn to walk again and I despite the agonizing pain my legs were in for months and months, I spent hours a day on my treadmill, walking with the walker then a cane outside, and during the night because laying down was agony, I was on my feet doing physio exercises and walking in place type stuff until I practically collapsed from exhaustion, and now I walk normally though I cannot really run despite all that, AND I walk 8 km each working to day to work and back (4 km each way)! I think like my dad’s side of the family, but my body unfortunately comes straight from my mother’s side. You will do awesome at the Pilates class I am sure! I looked up in Oakton for some Nordic pole walking groups but sadly there are none in your area that advertise there ( I think it is).

        Knowing you, I am sure it is just a matter of dogged determination and cooler weather that will get you back in shape again!!!!!! I think you look great in the photos by the way, I love them!!!!

        We seem to share your weather now, too, here!! It was 20C and very warm today, but the nights are really showing their autumn colours as are the trees and soon it will be time to make sure my heating system works!!!!
        One more entry to read and I will be all caught up!!! I have missed there!!!


      13. I’m sorry to hear about your mother and her health. It’s vital as we age to keep up with exercise and healthy eating; we’ve both seen what happens when people don’t take care of themselves – our parents are prime examples. At least you’re out walking every day, and even if you don’t lose weight, you’re keeping strong and vital by doing that. I’m so sore from the Pilates class, so I know it’s doing some good in making me stronger and it’s working some muscles that obviously don’t get used enough otherwise.

        I really love the fall, although I’m a little sick of this week of rain. I think sunny and cool days are ahead beginning Sunday. I am happiest for sure in the fall, although I dread seeing the outcome of this fall’s presidential campaign. It’s hanging like a big black cloud over my head. It’s the nastiest I’ve witnessed in this country since the 1968 campaign when I was too young to vote but heard my father ranting about it. Happy weekend! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Otto, for your kind words. I have been enjoying our summer; I especially loved our trip to Iceland; we just returned home yesterday. It will stay with me for a long time! 🙂 Enjoy your summer (the few remaining days) too! 🙂

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