the december cocktail hour: letting go & moving forward

Thursday, December 28: It’s time for our December cocktail hour, so please, come in out of the cold and get cozy.  Though Christmas is behind us, I can still offer up some holiday cheer, possibly a classic eggnog (will it be bourbon or rum?), a cranberry mimosa, a pomegranate Moscow mule, or just some red wine. For those of you who don’t drink, I have sodas and seltzer water of various flavors.

You may wonder why I’m even serving alcohol in my house.  Maybe you’re even wondering if our alcoholic has been miraculously cured. No, because once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.  It’s just that I’m slowly but surely learning that I must live my life as I see fit, that I cannot fix another person or make them into what I want them to be.  I’m trying hard to let go and let live, and simply to move forward, one day at a time, asking for help from my “higher power.”  Someone recently told me something wise: I have my higher power (however I choose to define that power).  My son has his own higher power, and I’M NOT IT.  Even though I like to think I can see clearly how to fix his problems, I have to let go and let him make his own decisions, even if they’re detrimental. Mainly, I need to work on myself, and figure out what I can change and what I can’t.  What I can change is myself, and what I can’t change is everyone else.

I hope December has been good to you so far. Have you read any good books, seen any good movies, binge-watched any television series? Have you been to the theater or to a concert? Have you had any winter getaways? Have you encountered any new songs?  Have you dreamed any dreams? Have you had any massages? Gone to any exotic restaurants, cooked any new dishes? Have you embarked on any new endeavors?  Have you been drinking enough water?

Over Thanksgiving, my daughter encouraged me to add an app to my phone to calculate how much water I should drink every day; it helps keep track of how much I actually drink. It’s called Plant Nanny, and I’m happy to say, I’ve been drinking more water than ever because of it. Normally, I have been drinking about one tall glass of water a day, mainly because I never get naturally thirsty, so I never think about it.  I also don’t like to drink water because when I do, I’m always running to the bathroom!  But now, since Thanksgiving, I’ve been doing pretty well.  I don’t always drink the 6 large containers a day I’m supposed to, but I usually get to five, a big improvement. 🙂

The Plant Nanny app

I’ve been keeping track of area hikes organized by the Mid-Atlantic Hiking Group. I ended up joining a 7.7 mile hike around Burke Lake on Saturday, December 2 with a fun group.  I met a lady named Susan who has walked the Camino de Santiago. She belongs to a group called the American Pilgrims on the Camino – Mid-Atlantic Chapter.  She told me about an event scheduled for Saturday, the 9th: a hike followed by a wine-tasting.  I was thrilled to learn about this group and am now on their mailing list.  The group is for anyone who has ever done the Camino or who wants to do the Camino.

Burke Lake
Burke Lake

Susan is the lady in the green jacket. Sadly, it turned out the Camino group hike on the 9th was cancelled because of snow and, since that was the group’s last event of the year, I’ll have to wait until they start meeting again in 2018.

The Mid-Atlantic Hiking Group at Burke Lake

On Sunday, the 3rd, Mike and I went to a special showing of a Belgian movie called Sum of Histories.  It was being shown on this one Sunday as a pilot to see if American audiences would like it.  The director and producer hope to release it in the U.S. next year. The director talked to the audience about the movie after we watched it. I loved it.  It was about two professors who figured out how to send emails back in time.  Rather than attempting to change big historical events, they send an email to alter what happened to one of the professor’s wives; she had been paralyzed by an accident as a child and he wanted to change what happened to her so she would live a normal life. It shows the domino effect that changes in the past have on the present and future, and how messing with the past can have unforeseen consequences.

Thursday, December 7 was Adam’s 25th birthday, and though we’d hardly seen him since our big altercation the previous week, I asked him if he’d eat his favorite fruit pizza if I made it.  He said he would, so Mike and I took him out to dinner at Artie’s and then presented him with the fruit pizza.  This has been his favorite treat since I started making it when he was a child.  It has a sugar cookie dough crust topped with whipped cream & sugar, and various fruits, including strawberries, raspberries, bananas, crushed pineapple, and blueberries.

When he ordered a beer at dinner, I didn’t flinch.  I’m no longer going to comment or even act like I notice when he drinks. I realize now it doesn’t help for me to try to control him, but I can remove myself if a situation gets uncomfortable for me.  It was fine, and we all actually had a nice time together.

Adam and his fruit pizza

I continued taking my 3 mile walks.  Scenes below are from a walk around Lake Newport and Lake Anne in Reston.  I call it my two lakes walk.  You can see it’s getting pretty drab and gloomy here these days.

Lake Newport, Reston
grasses at Lake Newport
Lake Newport
Fall leaves at Lake Anne

When we had a snowfall on December 9, I took a walk around the neighborhood and found a little snow on the bushes.

bits of snow in the neighborhood

On another late afternoon walk, I found a beautiful sunset.  I love the spindly silhouettes of winter trees against the pink-tinged sky.

From December 12-14, I went on a solo mini-escape to Cape May, New Jersey.  It was about a 4-hour drive.  I think I must have picked the most miserable days of the year to go.  It was about 33F degrees, near 0C, and fiercely blustery.  The wind assaulted me with a vengeance as I walked around the town and on a trail at Cape May Point State Park.  It didn’t let up at night, where I stayed on the third floor of the Pink Cottage, but groaned and hissed and sent the house swaying, shutters banging, all night.  I was freezing with the small wall heating unit in the room, insufficient heat for this kind of weather.  The second night, I luckily found a space heater in the closet, which helped. I loved this little getaway, as I always enjoy a solo road trip. 🙂  I’ll write more about this trip in January.

The Merry Widow at Cape May

My hike around Cape May Point State Park was wonderful and invigorating, but my fingers, toes and cheeks were stinging in the icy wind.

Cape May Point State Park
Cape May Point State Park
sea grasses at Cape May Point State Park

On December 17, as we approached the winter solstice, I took another walk through the woods.  It had become more drab and gloomy than it was in early December.  That same evening, Mike and I went to see the Swiss movie, The Divine Order, about a young housewife who organizes the women in her small town to petition for the right to vote. We enjoyed it.

At least there were some glorious sunsets.

sunset in my neighborhood

We’ve still been watching Longmire, Easy, A Place to Call Home, Curb Your Enthusiasm and the Ken Burns documentary on The Vietnam War, all of which we are enjoying.

I finished three books in December: (1) Call it Wonder: an odyssey of love, sex, spirit and travel, by Kate Evans (I met Kate virtually after I left China and she went to China to teach at SCIC, the same college where I taught); (2) The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner; and (3) Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett. I enjoyed all three of them; you can read my reviews on Goodreads, hopefully by clicking on the links.

Finally, we celebrated Christmas.  On Christmas Eve, we went for a fabulous dinner and gift exchange at my sister-in-law’s house, which, as always, was beautifully decorated.

We should be better at taking pictures of the whole family on Christmas, but all we managed to get was a picture of Mike and me.

Mike and me on Christmas Eve

On Christmas Day, we opened gifts, ate my traditional Christmas brunch, and then played Rummikub, a game we found under the tree from Santa.  We had a wonderful day all around.

our Christmas tree

On Wednesday, December 27, Mike and I took off on a road trip (10 hour drive) to Nashville, Tennessee.  I’ll have to write more about this trip in 2018.

Alex, our oldest son, is taking off on December 30 to start a new phase of his life in Denver, Colorado.  He has a friend there with whom he’ll share an apartment, and he already has a job lined up.  I’ll be sad not to see him as much, but I hope it will be a good move for him, a fresh start.

In the meantime, I wish you all a Happy New Year and I’ll see you again in twenty-eighteen. 🙂


24 thoughts on “the december cocktail hour: letting go & moving forward

  1. Here’s a up date on Spencer. The best I know is that he has what is called Peritonitis. He had a operation to correct diverticulitis and it seems all went bad from there. He had a infection that leaked into the surrounding tissue and has spread into his system. The doctors are working like mad to catch it and solve it. Looks like it’ll be a long road ahead.

    1. Hi Ron, Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. We were traveling and just returned home. I’m so sorry that Spencer is suffering. I really hope things have improved since you wrote this. All my prayers to Spencer, you and your family. Please keep me posted. Give Spencer lots of hugs for me. Where is he? Is he close by?

      1. He’s in the hospital in Boulder Colorado.
        The doctors say, he’ll make a recovery, but it will take some time. May be a year before complete recovery.

      2. A year!? I can’t believe it. Will he have to remain in the hospital during that time? I’m sure you wish you were closer to him. Please, give him my best. I’ll keep him in my prayers. Take care; I’m sending love to all of you, Ron.

  2. A cranberry mimosa sounds delightful right now, although I do like a home-made eggnog. My mother used to make her own and it was delicious, I think she used sherry. Glad you had a lovely Christmas Cathy, it can be a very stressful period and may be one reason why I’m not much of a fan. Too many bad memories associated with this time of year. I’m very happy for Alex and his new job and location, I wish him well. And you have another place too visit too! I hope things are easier with Adam and he is in a good place. Hard to let go, I know, but tough love and all that…

    I loved the series ‘A place to call home’ as I am such an Australiaphile! And we have been watching a documentary about the Vietnam War too, not sure if it is the same one as you are watching, but it is riveting. Of course I was very young when the war started and only really aware of it towards the end of the sixties. I met up with some draft dodgers from California in 1972, young men who after finishing college were heading to India. Watching all the footage of the deaths on both sides, I am left wondering why some nations still think war is the answer to problems. Heartbreaking.

    Much to look forward to with your trips; the Cape May houses look amazing and that beautiful blue sky too! And also your road-trip with Mike. Keep your pecker up Cathy, and all the best for 2018 to you and your family xx

    1. A cranberry mimosa it is, Jude. I’ll have one right along with you. Cheers! I hope you enjoyed all the holidays.

      I told Mike that if we had one altercation during Christmas this year, that I would simply not do Christmas next year. Luckily, we made it through, although I’d just as soon give up the celebrations and all the associated work. Alex made it to Colorado by New Year’s Eve; I think he’s supposed to start his new job tomorrow. This will be the first time he’s ventured out so far away from home; when he lived in Richmond, only a two-hour drive, he came often to visit. I hope he finds himself and is happy there.

      I’m still in the midst of “A Place to Call Home,” although Regina infuriates me so much, I almost want to tune out! I love the Vietnam series we’re watching, ten 1-1/2 hour episodes by Ken Burns; I’m learning so much I never knew, especially how the American people were so misled by our government.

      You’re right, war never seems to solve problems, and I’m so afraid our so-called president will get us into one to distract from the ongoing Russia investigation. I still hate him with a passion and am appalled that so many Americans still support him. Even 38% approval is too high, in my book.

      We loved our road trip to Nashville, and I loved my Cape May getaway. Looks like I’m home for a while; I hope to drive to the Four Corners area (dropping by Denver to see Alex) in April, and then there’s the Camino in the fall (I hope!).

      All the best to you and your family in 2018, Jude. One of these days, we’re going to meet! 🙂

  3. So many wonderful pictures! I think my favourite is the houses at Lake Newport with all the trees reflected. I’m glad bridges are being rebuilt with Adam, and interested to hear about Alex’s move to Denver – we thought it was a lovely city when we visited last year. We’ve had a busy month too so my December Gallivanting post will probably be well into January! All the best to you and yours for 2018.

    1. Thanks for your nice words about the pictures here, Anabel. We are trying our best to take one day at a time with Adam, and to generally give him space and let go. We can’t fix him, although for some bizarre reason, I used to think we could! I am also interested to hear about Alex’s move to Richmond; he drove there in two days, and arrived on New Year’s Eve. I think he’s supposed to start his new job tomorrow. I’m hoping the best for him.

      Can’t wait to read your December Gallivanting post! Happy New Year, Anabel. 🙂

  4. Cranberry mimosa please. I don’t know what that is exactly but it sounds wonderful. Glad you had a good Christmas and that you got to spend your son’s birthday with him. The fruit pizza looks amazing. And I think the hiking group sounds like a lot of fun! I hope you connect with them next year. Happy New Year to you all, may 2018 be the best year ever for each of you.

    1. Cranberry mimosas have lime, sugar, cranberry juice and champagne, so here’s one for you, Dawn! That fruit pizza is delicious and very decadent; Adam’s birthday wouldn’t be special without it. He really adores it; I’ve been making if for him since he was about six years old! I’m really looking forward to joining up with the hiking group again soon, but right now it is so cold I have no great urge to get outdoors to walk. Soon, though, I need to force myself out.

      Happy New Year to you, Dawn, and thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  5. I’ll have the egg nog please. Don’t mind which. 🙂 🙂 It’s great that you’ve met up with that walking group, Cathy. Useful tips, and who knows- maybe someone to share the walkiiing with? Jude still thinks I should join you, for at least part of the way, but I’m very reluctant to commit to anything next year, until we sort out our move, and by then it will be too late. And anyway- I’m getting to be an old codger. 🙂 Sounds like you’ve got plenty going on, Cathy. We’re off to Norfolk to spend New Year with 2 of my Polish cousins and their families. Christmas was very different this year- back to playing with Lego and Scalextric while James cooked, and Lauren assisted- so we may as well have a different New Year too. Not sure that I can keep up with Polish drinking habits and an all night session, but fireworks on New Year’s Day will be lovely. If my head doesn’t hurt too much. 🙂 Wishing you all you wish yourself, as Mam would have put it, darlin! A healthy, happy 2018 🙂 Thanks for the drink!

    1. Egg nog it is for you, Jo! I really look forward to walking with that hiking group and learning more about the Camino from veteran pilgrims. Well, it would be great if you did join me, even for part of the walk, Jo; I haven’t yet plotted everything out, or committed in any way, so once I do, I’ll know more and I’ll let you know. I will likely start planning it over the next several months.

      When will your move take place?

      I’m glad you had a great Christmas (even if different – sometimes different is good!) and hope your New Year went well too. Happy 2018, Jo! 🙂

      1. Just back from visiting Polish family in Norfolk, and we managed to squeeze in a coffee with an old friend on the way home. 🙂 🙂

        Not sure exactly when the move will be, Cathy. Some time after Mick retires in July, depending on sale of this house, etc.

  6. As always, your life is filled with lots of different experiences, Cathy. I loved seeing the fruit pizza – I have had a recipe for one for many, many years, but never actually made one. That Camino group sounds like fun – too bad they are so far away. I’ll be on a Camino adventure next spring myself and have to pick up my walking exercise – a bit unrealistic in the kind of super cold weather we’ve had recently (think wind and cold ala Cape May, just colder. One morning this past week it was 0 F (-16 C)!

    1. You should definitely try that fruit pizza, Annette. I only make it once a year, but we demolish it in no time flat when I make it.

      I’ll be excited to hear about your Camino experience. When do you plan to go? I need to get out walking too, but it is freezing right now. Maybe in a week, all will be more tolerable. Good luck preparing. Let us know of any helpful hints that you discover. Happy 2018!! 🙂

  7. In regards to Spencer, as it looks, he should be in the hospital for several more weeks, then to re-hab for awhile then on his own. Full recovery and back to normal health may take up to a year. He also had a blood clot in his lung and they caught it before it got worse.
    As it looks this all is because of Dr. / Hospital error. Still need all the info to make a final decision on that.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that all this was because of a doctor or hospital error. It’s bad enough when people get sick, but when the people who are supposed to make them well end up causing more damage, that’s a real problem. I hope he recovers fully and more quickly than expected. Take care, Ron.

  8. Pleased to hear your Christmas went well Cathy. Mine was one of the best for a long time. Everyone came here and the grandkids are all into their teens so it was fun. What an interesting year you have planned I’ll enjoy following along in your virtual backpack… Lovely set of photos I particularly like the lake with all the reflections.

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