Up to Speed

What do you do when you procrastinate?  

I have a friend who works on spreadsheets. My youngest sister cleans. Me, I bake. I have a batch of almond-flour chocolate-chip cookies in the oven as I write. 

So much has happened, I hardly know where to begin. My posts have been sporadic, but I feel up-to-speed now, and I have a new computer to boot. 

I hope it’s true that learning new things is good for our brains, because I am transitioning from PC to Mac… and it’s a little like learning a new language. On the plus-side, my sweetie is pretty fluent in Mac. And I think my iPhone and iPad experiences have helped me. 

Just like all of my years of baking have made the transition to wheat-free recipes easier for me. I mean, look at these gorgeous cookies!

 

I made the PC-to-Mac transition because I was ready to get back to work on the book I began writing before my strokes. However, my computer lacked both the drive and the memory for the necessary updates. I can sympathize.  Encouraged by friends to make the switch, I stalled – afraid of something new and different, of failure…

 But, after weeks and weeks of mulling it over, when I found what I wanted for 25% less than in the Apple store… I was finally inspired to dive in. 

My exquisitely packaged MacBook sat on my desk for more than a week before I was brave enough to even open it. Gosh, I’m really embarrassed to admit that. 

But, here I am, writing you today on my Mac. And wait, there’s more! I also signed-up for an English grammar class taught online through MIT!
I’m excited, and nervous: I think it will be a fun way to get more comfortable with my computer, yet nervous because I chose to be graded, knowing it would make me more diligent. I’ll keep reminding myself of how much I love adventure.

Speaking of which, we sold our motor-home last month. We both have mixed feelings since it was such a wonderful part of our lives. We had a blast, and we have lots and lots of photos to remind us of our wonderful trips. The best part of all is that the people who bought it are the nicest couple ever! We are so happy for them.

A week later, we traded-in our faithful pick-up truck that was now too road-weary, and needed repairs. This seems to be a recurring theme today. LOL!  After joking about Corvettes and Mustangs, we now drive a mid-sized SUV that’s got all of the modern technology anyone could want. Maybe more than anyone wants, truth be told.

It’s sleek, has a couple of nifty features that I find incredibly helpful, it’s gas-efficient, and has a net for my yoga mat and blanket. What more could you want from a vehicle?

All-in-all, things are feeling steadier these days, a perfect environment to flourish in. And who knows what adventure is awaiting us just around the corner, right?

XO Donna


Bare Necessities

Our Mexican Riviera vacation didn’t go quite as I had planned, but you’ve heard the old saying, “You want to hear God laugh, just tell her your plans!”

The trip was easy; the flight is a little over 2 hours from Austin to Cancun. Our pick-up at the airport went much better than usual, too – no wandering around looking for a driver who should be looking for us. We found our ride quickly in the melee, and we were the only passengers in a brand-spankin’ new Chevy Suburban… I felt a bit like a celebrity, tinted windows and all.

We arrived at the hotel with plenty of time to unpack, change clothes and meet our friends for dinner. It is such a delight to be with friends for vacation, isn’t it?  Have you noticed how easy it is to pick-up right where you left off, as if you’d just seen each other a few weeks ago, rather than a whole year ago!

Lesson #1: Like fine wine, friendships grow richer and more special with time.

The next day dawned bright and sunny. We had each reserved a poolside lounge, so we donned swimsuits, dropped our towels, sunscreens, and books on them, and headed to the breakfast buffet. What a day: lounging, chatting, reading, and being waited on the whole time! I even managed to pry myself off of the lounge and make it to the gym to work out! Dinner was especially wonderful because our friends from Montana, whose flight had been scrubbed the day before, had finally arrived. Dinner that night was a dressy affair, and the gang – all 10 of us – were there!

Everything was heavenly… until it wasn’t.

I woke with a torturous stomach ache at 2:30 a.m. I was curled into fetal position praying it would pass, and trying not to whimper and wake my fiancé. It didn’t pass… For the first time in 30+ years, I had gotten the dreaded “turista.”  I’d never heard of anyone getting sick here… lucky me.

For the next 60 hours I never left my room. The first day was wretched, but by evening I was able to relax. And like Greta Garbo, I wanted to be alone. Please dear, get me some ginger ale… and then Go. Have. Fun.

I slept most of the second day, and that night I was finally able to enjoy some fruit and pot of mint tea. The view out my window was great, day and night. My sweetie kept checking-in with well-wishes from our friends, and I kept thanking him, then shooing him away again to enjoy himself..

Lesson #2 – Even though I was sick on my vacation, I was still on vacation.

I didn’t feel like I was missing anything, or my trip was ruined. It wasn’t what I would have wished for, but it was what it was. I practiced “Being Here Now.” (RIP dearest Ram Das). And, did I mention that the view was great?

 

The next day I felt well enough to join everyone again. A sunrise stroll before breakfast let me dip my toes in the Caribbean. A swim in the pool and lots of lounging, and I felt ready for our final dinner together before everyone began leaving the next day.

That is when I learned the last lesson of the trip.

Lesson #3 – When packing for a vacation, pack everything you think you’ll need. Come back later and remove about half of what’s in your suitcase!

I thought I needed lots of options, but too many options = too many decisions, and that = stress. Especially when I have to drag my baggage, literally, through airports.

I brought too many clothes, shoes, books, toiletries, make-up and hair goop. I could barely lift my little carry-on.  What I wore: two jersey dresses, one bathing suit, two sarongs, tights, a tank top and sneakers, a pair of heels, a baseball cap, and flip flops.

The truth is that everything I really needed, other than a few bare necessities, I carried with me in my heart!

Thank you all for being here and reading and commenting. I appreciate you! Happy Holidays and a Healthy, Loving and Abundant New Year.

XO Donna

 

 

 


Walking on Sunshine

I studied with a wise business mentor who always said, “If you’re on time… you’re late.” 

It was a great way to drive home the necessity of being early, and made more of an impression than my mother’s, “The early bird catches the worm.” 

I’ve certainly never wanted to catch worms, have you? However, having all of my ducks-in-a-row is a wildlife metaphor I can subscribe to. So much less stress-inducing than a last-minute mad dash to get everything done! Both my mentor and Mom would be proud of me this year, I’m ready way ahead of schedule.

Just like Santa, I made a list and I’ve been checking things off as I go.

This year I had my heart set on creating my own holiday cards using a photo from our travels. I asked my friend, Maria, (who teaches creativity workshops ) how best to do this. She said that she’s had success with Walgreens personalized cards before, and she was right. I unleashed my inner-artist by uploading a special photo, choosing a design template and a card stock, then even created envelopes with our return address printed on them. They were ready 24-hours later, and with a 50% discount coupon I found online, they were very reasonably priced.

Since it all seemed too easy – I worried whether they’d be worthy of being mailed out? I’m happy to say they are!  I’m addressing them today, and tomorrow they will be dashing through the snow. 

They had to be ready, because Thursday morning we leave for our much-anticipated Christmas gift to ourselves – five nights at a quiet little resort we love on the beach in Mexico. 

There have been days when I wondered if I was actually going to make it… 

For two weeks I’ve been organizing my clothes and now they are stacked on my dresser with care.  They only need to be fitted into a carry-on, along with the small arsenal of health & beauty products a woman of our age requires.

Speaking of products, I visited a friend’s shop last month for a Consuela sale. I needed a makeup bag that could stylishly survive a leak or spill while traveling. I found the perfect one: it’s roomy and lined with sparkly spill-proof vinyl that reminds me of my aunt’s 1950s Formica table-top. Made in Mexico, with lots of styles and designs, her website is consuelastyle.com 

Sunshine, delicious food that I didn’t cook, (meaning no dishes for my sweetie to wash) and a pool surrounded with palm trees. What more could anyone want? 

Since you asked, the highlight of the trip is that we are meeting four other couples there. We are all of a certain age, and have had enough life-experiences that we don’t take friendships, or precious time spent together, for granted.

I feel like a kid, excitedly counting the months, then the weeks, and now it’s down to counting the days till we all are officially on vacation.

XO Donna


Got the Blues

Before we left Texas, I’d harvested a bunch of the red fruit (tunas) of prickly pear cactus where we were camping. I’d made prickly pear juice quite a learning curve, with quite a few sticky (ouch!) issues.  And I had another bag full of tunas thinking I’d do it again, using my new wisdom, and make thick syrup to give as gifts for swirls in Margaritas.

Passing through Santa Fe, we were invited to return for Mad-Stock, a Woodstock themed celebration of music, peace and love. I decided I’d make tie-dye shirts for the guys our of the prickly pear juice! Both said they didn’t mind wearing hot pink… what a washout!!!  After all my work; cooking them in the hot juice for an hour, then letting them sit overnight in plastic bags, when I untied them they were gorgeous. When I washed them, this color faded completely away.

Now, you know full well that if I spilled any on a good white blouse, it never would have come out!

I was even more determined now, and after looking through Pinterest, I decided to try again, this time using an old friend from the 70’s…  RIT dye in a lovely Indigo Blue.
I used some of my old tying techniques (I used to love doing tie-dyes in pretty patterns, but simple, beautiful colors) incorporating tying stones into the folds, simple pleat-and-band, and Japanese Shibori folding and resistance techniques.

I followed RIT’s instructions TO THE LETTER, and when I pulled them from the dye bath (done in a 3-gallon bucket in my kitchen sink) I was over-the-Moon thrilled! Indigo blue! Shibori folds! Gorgeous circles with marigold-like patterns within!

Still following instructions carefully, I washed and dried them, and what I pulled from the dryer 40 minutes later was a pale imitation of what I had put into the dryer.  My well-defined lines of indigo and white had become a soft cream and denim blue design. Sigh. I went to bed that night feeling like a failure…

Turns out the failure was in RIT’s isstructions, for when I looked online there were completely different guidelines than on the box. Had i known, I would have gladly taken all the extra time they were proposing. I hoped the guys would still wear them.

The next morning when I awoke, the first thing I saw on my FB feed was this post by a friend, Lynn – “Failure is an event, not a character flaw.”  That changed my mind, what I did failed, but now I know where to pick-up next time. This was entirely too much fun, too relaxing, and too fulfilling to quit. I’m not ready to take orders yet, but I see a lot of Blue in my future!

 

XO DONNA




Where the Wild Things Are

Looking out at the lake, I see my reflection in the window as I write… and to quote my dear departed friend, Nancy, “I look like the wrath of God!”
Even though I took the time to blow my hair dry this morning, the winds have been blowing steadily at 20+ mph, something no amount of styling product can endure.

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I’ve Been Everywhere

To me, learning new things is the best part of travel. I usually plan a trip down to the most minute detail… but this time, for the first time, I left room for lots of other things to happen, and great things did!

71BB1856-40BA-467F-906F-29C0B90230C0I couldn’t find an RV “resort” in Jackson, MS, but there was a state park on the route and the price was good, or should I say, cheap? As we drove deep into the park along swampy ponds, we both got a little nervous. Things were getting closer, smaller, more jungle-like… were we going to be able to fit? As we slowly, slowly snaked our way in, we began to wonder why we even wanted to.

“If I hear banjos, we’re outta here,” my sweetie mumbled.

Having already unhooked the truck, we decided to see the Capital and the State Supreme Court buildings. Then we drove to the Fondren Neighborhood where parts of the movie “The Help” was filmed. Being sure to return before dark, I got to see my first alligator. The realization that there were alligators in that lake made me almost faint!  I couldn’t wait to leave in the morning.

A572B947-758C-4CEC-929E-5E85B9FE0150We headed to Florence, AL, hoping to have work done on our coach. Since there was a five-week wait at the Tiffin factory, that didn’t happen, but we did get to tour a Frank Lloyd Wright house, which was very close to our RV park (above) on the banks of the spectacular Tennessee River. We’ve always wanted to see one. I loved it, he didn’t like the small rooms. But the exterior, wow!

8764E0B5-7F97-4470-9C24-1C568BA02A96From there we went to Nashville, TN, and what a revelation! While Austin, where we live, is supposed to be the “coolest” city around, I disagree. Nashville is everything Austin could have grown-up to be, if we’d had leadership with that kind of vision. There are so many ways to get around Nashville that traffic isn’t the horrific experience we are used to at home… everything moved easily here. 218F7482-7209-4203-9E39-C5963F01AD3C

Staying at a spectacular park SE of town on Percy Priest Lake, we had our first taste of autumn, and the pleasant surprise of running into friends we’d made back in Natchez! We were excited to sit in their sleek Airstream and visit with them again. EC1206ED-32F3-4378-80CA-9B6DB404C9F2

We’d planned to visit with our dear friend Juliet, also a motorcycle rider. She came out to the lake to see our “casa,” one afternoon, and then we met her in East Nashville, where she lives, for a fabulous Sunday brunch at Marche. Having also eaten at Biscuit Love, I contend that we had our two best meals of the trip in Nashville!

From Nashville, we originally planned to go to Chattanooga… but headed to Memphis instead. Everyone told us to see The Ducks at The Peabody Hotel, which we thought was kind of corny… but we planned a whole day around it: lunch at a bbq joint, then explore the town, planning to be at the hotel by 4:00 to have a cocktail and see the ducks perform.

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Lunch was good, more so for the people-watching than the old rooster I’d been served. Afterwards, my sweetie suggested going to “the museum” across the street to see why tour buses were bringing people there. We saw a sign… The Lorraine Motel. It rang a bell, but it wasn’t until we got closer that I realized why:

We were facing the balcony where Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had stood and shared his dream. Where he had died. I felt my heart break all over again, and I stood and wept.

B0B5FBF1-9692-4E50-B668-96106BCB49B1The next day, we ate at Beauty Shop Lunch, in the Cooper-Young neighborhood. An actual beauty salon with dryers, booths, and sinks that is now a chic cafe, how could I NOT go there? Priscilla Presley used to get her hair done here!

Getting to see the ducks at the beautiful old Peabody Hotel, the riverfront along the Mississippi, with its trolleys, and the MLK Memorial Park I’m so glad we visited Memphis. And to think, we had originally planned to skip it!

Our final stop was Little Rock, AR, and the RV park is right downtown, on the beautiful Arkansas River. It’s nestled between two pedestrian bridges, and blocks from their trolley system. The closest bridge leads to The Clinton Presidential Library. 2AFDC78F-3D8B-4B9F-B80C-C84A984093B0

The riverfront is beautiful. The city is small, elegant, and there seemed to be lots of cultural things to do other than just bars and music. However, the very best thing, in our opinion, is the fact that the Clinton Pedestrian Bridge lights up each night! We saw LED lights on it during our walk, but were disappointed when it never lit-up before we went to bed. 50221EEA-36C3-422A-B39A-19571DC1D900

One sleepless night, I peeked out of our living-room shade and to my amazement, there was a light-show on the bridge! Even though it was 2:30 a.m. I woke my better-half up… we were both as excited as kids at Christmas. What a great finale for a wonderful trip!

XO Donna

 


How’s That Sound?

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One of the things I rarely talk about in my blogs is my health… because I think there are more interesting things to talk about: great food, the fascinating people I know and get to meet, and all of the wonderful places there are to see and learn about.

But, without good health, none of this would be possible for me. Or for any of us. Read More


Bicycling Through Santa Fe

 

I know how to find my way to a few places here in Santa Fe, especially my favorites, but there is an intimacy that occurs when you ride through side-streets and alleys and arrive at a place from a different direction than the street they reside on, and their main entrance. It’s like getting to see behind the scenes. Read More