Christmas Countdown

22 Dec

Two days till Christmas Eve… and an intimate family dinner. Three days till Christmas, and a raucous pot-luck supper filled with games, good cheer, and friends old and new.

44D52D36-52BD-4380-8A6B-30A0917ACBEBI love the tradition of sharing the foods associated with these holidays. When we were children, as a way to decorate the tree, and probably keep my sisters and me occupied, we used to string popcorn and cranberries to use as a garland on our tree. It took a few days to accomplish, but we enjoyed the time spent with our Mom, having her undivided attention while eating a piece of popcorn for every one we strung!

Feeling sentimental, I did it again for the first time in years, and adorned my tiny tree. Now, all is right with the world.

I wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season, and a Healthy, Prosperous, New Year!  Remember… the very best gift you can give, is that of your time and your attention.

XO Donna

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Oh, Christmas Tree

8 Dec

Somebody, somewhere out in the cosmos, is watching me and laughing their derrière off.  I bought three tubes (of ten each) of teeny-tiny little bows which are the perfect size for the tiny tree which will sit on our dashboard.

But these bows have become my nemesis – I’ve already decided the whole shootin’ match is going in the trash AFTER the holidays, if it doesn’t all find its way there in the next hour or so!

I got the little strands of battery-operated lights on the tree in just one try. But, the bows… the problem is two-fold; first, my hands are dry from the weather. Second; we’ve all used stick-on bows where you peel a backing off and apply perfect bows to a package, right?  These are exactly the same, but tiny: the backing is only 1/2 an inch by 1/2 an inch.

 

It’s as if these things were really made by tiny little elves in the North Pole, rather than in a factory somewhere in China to be sold to unsuspecting fools who think they are adorable, and buy them.

 

As a final insult, the bows don’t want to adhere to the branches I am fastidiously applying them to.  I searched around for the scotch tape, found it, and now I am tearing off little-bitty pieces to stick to the back of the sticky bits, and it seems to be working.

Only time will tell.

I am now out of the mood to try and finagle a way to hang holiday lights in here, so I ask for some help and we settle for arranging them on the dash, where after all of this effort, only the few people on the walking trail will ever see them. But we will see them, and you will too. My tiny Christmas tree does make the place merry and bright!

As if to reward me for my perseverance, there are snowflakes blowing around outside my windshield here in central Texas. Everyone is delighted and posting photos on Facebook, since this is such a rare event.

I’m hoping your holiday decorating is merry, fun-filled, and goes exactly as planned!

XO Donna

Happy Thanksgiving

22 Nov

I want to wish you all a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!

I have things I am especially thankful for this year and getting to write, and having all of you reading my writing, is way up there on the list!

I invite you over to this week’s posts at DamnedGypsy.com and at 1010ParkPlace.com

Enjoy your friends, family, food and everything else you can think of to be grateful for.

XO Donna

I’ve Been Everywhere

10 Nov

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

 

Stuck in Paradise

29 Sep

I’ve felt stuck for almost two weeks now. In the 20 months since I’ve retired I have published a book. I’ve downsized and moved twice. And I’ve taken two month-long trips. Busy, busy, busy. Right now I need to be here in Austin, TX to help my son for a while, and this feeling has set in. It’s been a personality challenge my whole life: if I am not going somewhere, or doing something, (or making plans to go somewhere and do something) I feel stuck.

Another downside of that trait, is that when I don’t stay busy, I tend to stall out and have a hard time getting motivated again. Does this ever happen to you?

I was discussing this with my sweetie the other day, and he was flabbergasted. “How can you feel stuck? You have your writing. You’re busy with your son. You have a couple of projects you wanted to do. And, look around, it’s like a resort here… it’s got a nice walking path, there’s great roads to ride the bikes on, a gym, a beautiful pool, a hot tub, horse-shoes, and even a putting green.”

“But yet, I feel stuck, even in the middle Paradise. I realize this is a very nice problem to have in light of all the terrible things going on in the world at the moment.
“Don’t discount or dismiss your problems,” my therapist always told me, so I will follow her advice, stay with my feelings, and find a way to get through this.

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Here are some steps I know I can take to get UNSTUCK whenever I find myself feeling stymied:

DEFINE THE PROBLEM: get a timer and some paper. Across the top write “Problem.” Set a timer for 15, 20, or 30 minutes and just start writing everything that comes to mind about this problem, allowing anything that comes up. It often isn’t what I thought it was, after all.

DEVELOP A PLAN: Next, write “Actions” across the paper. 15, 20, or 30 minutes again, and I brainstorm all of the actions I can take. Let your imagination run wild. You never know what will appear when you are distracted by your ‘race against the clock.’

DO SOMETHING: Review this list for an actionable first step. If none jumps out, go for a walk. Movement usually begets movement. When I come back to the page, I pick a couple of ideas and put them in an order I am willing to do them. Putting a date next to them so I have either a deadline, or a timeline, works to keep me in motion.

Trust that this will benefit our growth… even if you don’t see how yet, and be grateful for the good that will surely follow. All because you took that first step!

XO Donna

How’s That Sound?

14 Sep

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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. Continue reading

Bicycling Through Santa Fe

30 Aug

 

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. Continue reading