Sunday, May 29, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend 2016

This weekend marks the beginning of summer and the end of another fast-moving month.  May has been very busy, like everyone came out of the doldrums of winter all at once!  This weekend, though, doesn't reflect that. Yesterday and today have been dark and rainy as a storm passes through.  So far, it has been steady, moderate rain, unlike what happened a week or so ago. Over the last two or three years we have had occasional rain storms like that shown in the photo.  Inches of water filled the yard, and it was still pouring, fast and furious. Thankfully, it stopped before coming into the sun room.  

Since Eileen's visit, I have been keeping an "activity calendar" for myself as I did for her visit.  It's quite surprising how much is going on in the area once it's compiled!  I would often read of coming events and, before I knew it, they had already happened.  Now, I just make a note of them and, when time and interest permits, I can take advantage of them.  There always seems to be something happening.  Most recently, Rhonda and I went to Fiesta de Mayo in Shelter Cove.....lots of good food, great Latin music, and fun people watching.  When we arrived, the crowd was sparse; but, by the time we left at 4PM, it was packed.  It went on until 10PM and I can imagine that the music and dancing got better as the evening progressed!

Elaine and I went to Port Royal to see "Daddy's Dyin' - Whose Got the Will?  It was by the same group that did "The Great American Trailer Park Musical", which was hilarious!  We figured this would be as well since the advertising stated:

  • Adult language
  • Extremely colorful swearing and language occurs frequently and throughout show
  • Drugs/alcohol referenced. Beer is consumed
  • Sexual references used
It was set in the 80's in Texas, so you can imagine the dysfunctional-family hilarity that ensued.

Most recently, Chris and I went to a fair put on by the Chamber of Commerce entitled Re-imagining Life after 50.  It was informative and enjoyable, ending with tasty munchies and wine.  It also gave is time to catch up a bit, which I really enjoyed.

May has also been a good month for local Democrats.Our Drinking/Living Liberally group joined with two other Democrat groups to have a Purple Rain night (at our usual DL location). Prince music was played and the political connection was that to go from a red state to a blue state, you have to go through purple!!  Maybe a far stretch (especially for SC!), but it was lots of fun.  We had a large crowd and it was great to see people that I usually see in other settings.  

Liberal Ladies of the Lowcountry had their usual monthly meeting, as well as a 5 year anniversary cocktail party.  It was at the beach house in Port Royal Plantation ( where we used to live), overlooking the water on a beautiful afternoon.  My take-away from that was that I discovered that a neighbor is a democrat!  We see each other frequently when we walk our dogs in the morning.  As we spotted each other at the party, I said, "Bogie's mom!" and she said, "Rosie's mom"!  We then introduced ourselves - we knew our dogs' names, but we hadn't introduced ourselves!  Now our morning chats are much more lively!, They have also attended Drinking Liberally!  Anyway, the anniversary party was great and the entertainment were these young ladies shown below.  I saw them several years ago when they performed at Bloom and was impressed by their demeanor and talent.  Even at that time (the younger was only 7!), they were very composed and professional.  After their program, they circulated around the room and spoke to everyone, which the residents loved.  They do those performances as practice and as community service.  They are just delightful and, needless to say, their mother is also quite impressive also.

You can see them as they appeared on the afternoon of the cocktail party (and doing a Michael Jackson tune) HERE.  This is the video I wanted to include but couldn't get it to work, though I was happy to find the one above on YouTube.  I love that they are in their frilly, formal dress and , what appears to be, flip-flops!  My kind of girls!

With all the socializing, I have managed to get a little done around the house, the primary thing being closet cleaning!  I couldn't face doing it all at once so I broke it down into about 5 steps.  What you see here is Step 1 - Everything on the floor of ONE closet!!  From this you can see that I could never have tackled the whole thing at once.....just too much crap.  After two car loads to the thrift shop, it looks much better.  All coat hangers are hanging backward, so next time I go through, I can get rid of even more. I'm really getting into the swing of "lightening up" and I hope to continue the process.

I continue to experiment with my magic/Instant Pot.  Today I have yogurt on the make and it's very experimental.....first time trying it, making it with vanilla almond milk instead of  dairy, etc. So, it will be very interesting to see how/if it turns out. I've also found a slicer/dicer that actually works the way they are all advertised to work....but don't!  It's German made and it works because the blades are SHARP.  Knowing that and following all precautions, yesterday I lopped off the side of my right ring finger (and part of the nail). It happened so fast that it didn't hurt, but it took forever to stop bleeding.  It is now well bandaged and makes typing a challenge.

I'm going to leave you with some love from sassy, sweet  Rosie, as she is lying on my back cushion, overseeing this whole operation.  She is such a character and adds laughter and love to each day. 

This is just.......

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Eileen's Visit

It's taken me a while, but here I am again.  I wanted to do a slideshow of Eileen's visit and have only now gotten around to it.  I knew if I did a post first I'd never do the slideshow.  Anyway, we had a great visit and it was wonderful to see her. Rosie fell in love with her right away and totally deserted me!  She followed Eileen like her shadow.  By the time Eileen arrived, I had a list of options to fill our time.  Many of the things we did were new to me, as well as Eileen; so, it was like a vacation for me also.  The great part was that we did everything at a comfortable pace, which I found totally enjoyable.

Eileen arrived on Thursday around noontime.  We had time to relax and catch up a bit before going to the local Farmer's Market. It's supposed to be one of the best in the state.  We took the new bus service, which was nice and breezy. We had a nice walk-around, stopping for a glass of wine and a listen to the resident singer.

  • Friday - a day of shopping and lunch at Chipotle, which was my first time there.
  • Saturday - wine bottling.  I had hoped to have it ready, but things were delayed due to Brent's illness.  Eileen jumped right in and it was fun sharing the experience.
    • We did a quick walk through of The Taste of Bluffton fair.  It was crowded and windy, so we opted for lunch at Fat Patties.  From there we went to Palmetto Bluff, where they were preparing for a huge, elaborate wedding.  I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall of the event.
  • Sunday - a nice, long walk on Pinckney Island, where we saw lots of birds.  Unfortunately, they do not show up well on the photos, but they were fun to see in real time.  
    • In the afternoon we went to a free concert by the Stardust Orchestra at Lowcountry Presbyterian Church.  It was big band kind of music, but very well done.  
    • More shopping at Stein Mart before calling it a day.
  • Monday - a good day for the beach, so we explored Mitchelville Beach, something I had not previously done. Mitchelville was the first self-governed freedmen's town in America. There are interesting informational signs about the settlement, as well as a cabin like those of the day.  The wonderful part was that the beach was practically deserted.  It is not a good beach for swimming, but it was perfect for what we were doing - sunbathing, looking for shark's teeth (no luck!), walking and reading.  It was a wonderful afternoon.
  • Tuesday - another day of shopping/browsing.
  • Wednesday - a day of talking politics and eating out.  Eileen went with me to lunch with my Progressive Ladies' group AND Drinking Liberally in the evening.  I don't think anyone was surprised when she told us how crazy the rest of the world thinks we are.  No contest!!
  • Thursday - a day in Beaufort, again doing something I had never done.  We went to Port Royal and walked the Cypress Wetlands trail.  It's a well designed, short walk through the natural wetlands.  The birds were a little easier to see here, and there were lots of turtles, but we only saw one small gator.  From there we walked into Port Royal township, stopping at Moondoggies for lunch. From there we continue to the Sands, which is a long boardwalk with a 3-level viewing tower.  All in all, a lot of walking, but good.
  • Friday - a late lunch at the Boathouse for Eileen to have some shrimp before leaving the Lowcountry.
  • Saturday - it all came to and end.  We were at the airport by 10am and EIleen was off on the second let of her 3-part journey.

Needless to say, in the midst of everything we did, there was lots of catching up and reminiscing.  I hope Eileen enjoyed it as much as I did, and I'm eager to hear about the other parts of her trip.  

In the meantime, I've been trying to get back to some type of constructive routine.......I became too accustomed to vacationing!!  Rosie has adjusted to only having me around and misses the excitement of having a captive audience. Our weather has been beautiful and I'm partially successful at developing a walking routine.  Eileen introduced me to several good mystery writers and I've been reading more.....And there's always the political circus!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Preparing for Eileen's Visit

This is a short update before I pick up Eileen tomorrow morning around 11AM.  I'm so excited that she's coming and her visit has set in motion a hive of activity.  At this very moment, I have soup simmering on the stove, laundry going and I'm doing this!  Her visit motivated me to clean out my mother's closet and dresser.  All was donated to a local thrift show and a clean closet awaits Eileen.  In an effort to make my garage APPEAR tidy, I took about an hour to load my car with anything that could be discarded without thought.  The car was totally full!!  The only problem was that when I took it to the dump, I came back with this chair!  It's a funky color, but it's a very sturdy chair and in very good condition.....and I love the back!  I'm not sure why someone would take it to the dump and not donate it to a thrift shop.  Oh, well!

I did promise Eileen that we would not be attending any Trump rallies, but I do hope to take her to Drinking Liberally and our Progressive Ladies' Group.  She may be totally overdosed with politics but I think my friends will be interested in knowing how foreigners see us and our politics.

I fully intended to have wine prepared for Eileen's visit, but we were late getting it started due to the owner having Swine Flu.  He was really touch-and-go for a long time.  He has just last week been released home with nurse and therapist, and his wife thinks that is really too optimistic, that rehab would be better.  Anyway, I won't be bottling until this Saturday and I'll recruit Eileen to help.  I think she'll enjoy seeing their setup and will enjoy the bottling, which is the fun part.  It is a far cry from Saudi days, but it always reminds me of making wine there.

An of course, I've been scouring newspapers, magazines and web sites for things to keep us busy while Eileen's here.  There are at least two items on the list of things I've been wanting to do but haven't gotten around to doing, and we can always repeat anything that was a favorite from previous visits.

In the midst of all the preparation for Eileen's visit, I was also able to meet Cheryl, her Mom, and Nancy are our favorite Subway at the corner of I-95 and Hwy 278.  It never dawned on me to take photos, but it was Ann's 94th birthday and Cheryl posted this photo once they reached their destination.  I was happy to  be able to wish her a Happy Birthday in person and to share a little time with all of them.

One thing that will not be listed here are all of the things I did NOT get done before Eileen's removing pollen from everything outside; but, that's the great thing about friends coming.......they won't mind!  We have too much catching up to do!   Will keep you posted as time permits.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Stream of Consciousness...

A whole month has passed and I don't know where the time goes - and how I manage to accomplish so little!   My biggest time waster is MSNBC, to which I have an addiction.  This political season is downright frightening.  As soon as you think it has gotten as bad as it will, the Repugnants reach yet another new low!  The frightening thing is the number of people cheering and supporting this behavior.  I actually didn't watch their debate before this last one, but there was so much s*^t flying that I was suckered in again.  It would be nice to think that all voters watch all debates, both Dem and Rep, as the difference is striking - but I doubt that's the case.  The Repugs are making us (Dems) look extremely sane, informed, and well mannered. I'll be glad when it's all over - I think (I'm hoping)!

To reinforce my values and do my civic duty, I went to see Bill when he was here campaigning for Hillary.  They are both amazing people when it comes to how much they know and how they can articulate it ('Splainer-in-Chief!).  He spoke for about an hour.  About 30 minutes in, a Benghazi protester interrupted him.  The President asked to answer his question, but obviously he didn't want that - he just kept going until he was removed by the police.  As soon as he was out, his female friend started up.  Once they were both removed, Bill addressed the Benghazi event and the numerous committees that have investigated it.  Does anyone really think that if there was anything to prosecute that the Repugs would not already have done it!  Anyway, when it was over and I was walking back to my car, a "lady" driving down the street rolled down her window and shouted, "You're supporting a rapist!"  Welcome to Repugland - South Carolina!

This weekend, as a diversion, I'm binge watching House of Cards in preparation for the beginning of the next season.  It seems like light entertainment compared to current politics!  I am only able to do this because I finally broke down and bought a Smart-TV.  I can now stream Netflix and others.  The picture is also crystal clear.  I had an involved story to tell you about it all, but the short version is that I spent twice as much as I intended, it took three days to install it and get it functioning correctly, none of my old equipment works with the new stuff.....but I can stream Netflix!!!

"Don't declare war of Congress, Mr. President".
"I'm not, I'm declaring war on atrophy"....(aside: "But these days, who can tell the difference?)

---Netflix, House of Cards

Couldn't resist that one!

My other activities include:
  • Liberal Ladies of the Lowcountry
  • Primary Watch at Fat Patties
  • Drinking Liberally
  • Progressive Luncheon at Mellow Mushroom
  • Reconnecting via Facebook with a high school friend, who was also my college roommate.  Turns out she's a liberal, too!  So good to be in touch again and many years to catch up on.
  • Enjoying some  nice weather - all this week should be in the 70's
  • Clearing the road out our back gate of beer cans and bottles.  I kept seeing all this stuff by the roadside when Rosie and I were out for our walk, si I took a few minutes and collected all the cans and bottles.
  • Feeding Georgie, the feral cat, who misses Zorro
  • Puppy Class 2 with Rosie
  • Tax info to CPA way earlier than usual!
  • Reading (Living the Secular Life (Zuckerman) and Between the World and Me (Coates)
  • Making wine with Chris for Eileen's visit - can't wait!

I did have a funny thing happen on Valentine's Day.  Rosie was looking out the front window and barking, which I ignored as she barks at anything moving.  Later when I walked by, I notice this pretty gift bag by the front door.  I immediately thought, "Oh, one of my neighbors has remembered me on Valentine's Day!  How nice!"  You can imagine my surprise when I opened it to find that it was for Rosie!!  It was this cute little stuffed bear from Grady, one of her boyfriends in the neighborhood.  The note said:
       To Rosie
       Be My Valentine
       Love, Grady
       Phone number
       Call Me!

That was so cute and I got a good laugh out of it.  Unfortunately the little bear lasted about 20 minutes - ear chewed off, stuffing pulled out and squeaky box destroyed!

On a sad note, one of my friends at Drinking Liberally lost her husband to cancer a few weeks ago.  He was a gentle, charming man.  They had not been to DL in a while and when I was Christmas shopping, I stopped in her place of work to say hello.  That's when I learned how bad it was.  I've kept in touch with her and had her over for dinner on Monday.  Life is so difficult and it takes so little to help someone else.  I hope I've been a support to her - at least gotten her out of the house.  Then, when Chris and I were ready to make wine, I emailed Jane at The Vintner's Club, as I usually do, only to be told that Brent, her husband, had been in hospital for 10 days with Swine Flu!!  It is really touch-and-go!  He's been in the hospital for two weeks, totally sedated (is that an induced coma?), on a ventalator, etc. and has opened his eyes only once!  He is a gentle, big bear of a man and it is so hard to imagine this.  Needless to say, I've offered to help in any way I can, but that seems so little at a time like this.

On a less sad note, I will leave you with this short clip, titled Rosie Singing, Accompanied with Squeaky Toy.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

My Birthday Break

I'm home and pretty well caught up after a fun visit with Jan.  It didn't go without some excitement.  You may recall that I was flying out of Charleston as it was a direct flight at a very good price.  It didn't leave until 6PM, which gave me plenty of time to get to Charleston.  I was there well advance of the flight and was so relaxed that I texted Jan, telling her that the day had come together so well that I feared I'd forgotten something!   We were all assembled waiting to board the plane when they announced that the flight was cancelled!  We were all shocked as there were no indications that anything was wrong.  It was brought about by an extreme family emergency of a crew member, which everyone assumed to be the Captain or Co-captain.  At the same time, they announced that they would put us up for the night, provide food vouchers, provide transportation, put us on an 8AM flight the next day, and give us a $400 voucher for a future flight!!  It took them a little while to organize it, but they were so forthcoming that the passengers remained calm and cooperative, which was good.  We stayed at a Hilton Garden Inn near the airport that had its own restaurant, so once we were situated we could have dinner and hit the sack.  I didn't rest well that night but was up early to get the 8AM flight, which went off without a hitch.  

Jan met me at the airport around 11AM Seattle time and we spent the rest of the day catching up and settling in. The next day we had lunch at Stateside, which was the best food I've had in a long time.  It was Vietnamese cuisine but a caliber above most restaurants.  The flavors were so subtle, but distinct....delicious.  Seattle is a great city for food, especially vegetarian. So, through the week we enjoyed some very tasty food at restaurants like the Golden Beetle, Luc's, Bai Pai, and Poppy's.  We got a kick out of ordering pizza one night.  Jan ordered on-line.  We were notified when the pizza was ready and on-line we could track the pizza traveling from the Flying Squirrel to Jan's door.  There was a photo of the delivery person (Laura)....what a hoot!  I came home wanting to try Stir-frtied Eggplant, Muhamara, and several others, but knowing my skills could in no way reproduce the Vietnamese food of Stateside.

While it rained a lot, it never rained heavily. We did have three very mild, sunny afternoons, one of which we spent in Woodenville for wine tasting.  We had lunch on Sunday with Jan's friend, Mary Ellen, who was delightful. We then went to a Pulitzer Prize winning play titled Disgraced, which was powerful.  On one dark day we even managed a quiet, restful afternoon at home and, needless to say, there was lots of political venting all along the way.  

There were two "people moments" that I really enjoyed.  One occurred at the Airfield tasting room.  When we entered, the small bar was pretty well occupied by four younger women.  As we were putting our coats and bags on a table, one of the girls called to us to come on to the bar, they would make room.  It turned out be a very congenial group.  Two girls were friends who met in the military.  One was from Seattle but now working in Philadelphia (I think), but next year she would be stationed at Ft. Bragg, NC.  The other couple was a gay (married) couple.  It was an unusual combination of nice people, which is always enjoyable.

The second one was on my flight home. I had an aisle seat with empty seats beside me.  Across the aisle were two young men. The man by the window fell asleep right away and slept through most of the flight.  The young man on the aisle talked to  me almost the whole flight.  They were on their way to Charleston after visiting their father in Alaska.  He was in Special Operations in the military, which may or may not be true but he certainly looked like he could be!  He owns a landscape business in Charleston and also consults with the army, which takes him back to Iraq and Afghanistan. He told me about his parents unusual relationship and how close they were as a family and of his faltering relationship with his wife.  We talked everything from travel to pets - he even showed me pictures of his dog before I showed pictures of Rosie!!  It was totally enjoyable and made the flight seem much shorter.  In both instances, it was nice to be treated like a (still) viable person as opposed to an old (invisible) woman.  Everyone we met was welcoming and nice, but it was a pleasant surprise to be treated so well by younger people.

I'm sure I'm forgetting things (such as movies we saw, etc) but it was all enjoyable and Jan was a very gracious hostess.  It's always fun to spend time with friends from Aramco days.  I came home feeling relaxed and invigorated.  It was also a relief to see that Rosie seemed to do better staying at home than boarding someplace.  When I greeted her, she had her ears back and tail down, but with 15 minutes she was playing with her squeaky toys, chasing balls, and being her energetic self..  When David came by the next day to return my keys and garage door opener, she started jumping and yapping when she saw him, making me feel that he had treated her well.  

Our weather has been fantastic with several days being sunny and in the mid-70s.  Azaleas and roses are trying to bloom, which means nature is as confused as we are. My neighbor was out the other day power washing his driveway in shorts with no shoes or shirt!  I haven't quite gone that far but it has been warm for this time of year.  

Now I'm looking forward to spending time with another Aramco friend.  Eileen is planning to visit in early April, which gives me plenty of time to look for things to do and put down some wine. I'm excited to see her and I'm sure we won't run out of things to do.

And finally.......

Friday, January 15, 2016

Well into A New Year - 2016!

Well, today is a dark rainy day, with rain coming down at a constant, steady pace - a day perfect for doing something like updating this blog.  There isn't a lot to report, other than the fact that I'm thankful the holidays are behind us.  I had very little enthusiasm and just trudged through them.  Though I enjoy seeing most of my Christmas items, it seems like a lot of effort just for me.  I'm not sure how I'll approach the holidays next year....and we all know how fast they will roll around again!

To add to the gloom of the day, I received an email this morning that one of our feral kitties, Zorro, had to be euthanized.  I noticed on Wednesday that he ate very little, which was not at all like him.  The next day I received a call from Joe asking whether or not he had been eating over the last few days.  I told him that Zorro had eaten very little on Wed. and that he had a matted eye, which he let me clean.  When Joe went to feel him yesterday, he ate nothing.  He let Joe pet him but then went back to the weeds and just lay down.  At that point, Joe took him to his vet and blood work revealed that he had leukemia.  His red blood count was 11, with normal being above 40!  I knew, by his not eating, that he wasn't feeling well, but I wasn't expecting anything so devastating.  Putting him to sleep was really the only and the kindest thing to do, but we certainly will miss him.  We saw him go from a skittish, alpha-male kitty (with Georgie) to a loving friend to us all, even Georgie.  I'm sure George will miss him as much as we will......very sad!

I did finally make it to North Carolina for three days after Christmas.  Laney had planned to have some of the cousins for lunch on my second day there, but she got sick and we cancelled. In addition to that, it rained the whole time I was there!  While Laney and Julious were stuck at home waiting to hear whether or not the doctor could see her, I ran a few errands in town and visited Mama's friends (Ruth and Edna, who are in the same nursing home) and neighbor (Mr. Rob).  It seemed to make their day, and it certainly made mine.  It was so good to see them.  Laney couldn't see the doctor until 9:45 the following day; so, when they left for the doctor, I left for home.  It was earlier than I expected to leave, but it's a good thing I did - traffic on I-95 was horrendous, as bad as I've ever seen it.  It was good to finally get home in one piece!

While I was away, Rosie stayed at the home of my pet sitter.  They had an older Great Dane, whom I figured would be pretty mellow, and two children who were out of school; so I figured Rosie would be well occupied and tended.  When Kristin brought Rosie home, she mentioned that Rosie was very hesitant when she picked her up Monday morning (a few hours after I left for NC).  She asked if Rosie had a history of abuse because she cowered a lot.  She does cower sometimes, for no reason that I'm aware of, except that possibly it is because she is a small dog and everything larger may seem threatening.  Anyway, for the first week she was home, I did notice a difference - she did seem more subdued.  Also, the first time I left her in her crate, as I went out the door, she cried.  I broke my heart!  I waited to see if she would stop, and she did.....and that hasn't happened since.  So, I don't know what brought all of that on unless it's separation anxiety.  As I'm preparing to visit Jan in Seattle, I have arranged for my friend David to stay here and look after Rosie.  I'm  not 100% confident about it and am hoping all goes well.  Rosie does like David and he likes her.  He works from home and will have to go home for that, but I'm hoping he can keep Rosie company and pretty much on her routine.  If it works, I'm also hoping they will become great friends so he won't mind looking after her from time to time.  We'll just have to see.

Speaking of visiting Jan, I'm beginning to get excited about the trip and looking forward to getting away.  I'll be flying out of Charleston, which is a two hour drive away; but, it's a direct flight!  And the price was right - $279!!  I'm looking forward to being in the land of Progressives and already, this early in the political campaign season, I need a pep talk, some assurance that Trump can't possibly become President - not that any of the others are much better!  How can people be attracted to that much hatefulness and negativity?  Can anyone tell me one thing they are FOR?  I can give you a laundry list of things they are against, but what good do they want to do for our people and country??  Jan, get ready!!!

That's about it for me except for the usual lunch with the ladies, political groups, zentangle with Ana, etc.  I hope everyone has gotten 2016 off to a good start and that it will be kind to all of us.  Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas 2015 is Here!

I wasn't expecting to be able to post again, but my trip to NC fizzled and I seem to be ahead of the game!  Rosie and I took off early, as planned, but things didn't go well.  I "cut through the woods" (Southern for taking local secondary roads) to I-95, not realizing there was a detour.  Before we had gone very far, Rosie began to pant/hassle.  I really couldn't stop until we got to Ridgeland, where I did stop, took her for a short walk, rearranged things a bit, and took off again.  We hadn't gone far when she started panting again.  I knew she couldn't do that for hours, so I turned around and came home.  I called Laney and explained what had happened and she understood.  The pet sitter couldn't keep her until  after Christmas, so I'm going to go up on Dec. 28-30.  I was very concerned for Rosie and disappointed that it happened, but I think I can get her more comfortable with traveling.  The dog trainer said to put her in a plastic crate where she can't see as much and to take her on long rides to get her accustomed to it. Dramamine might her, but that would be the last resort.  So, I haven't given up hope.  I never thought that would happen as she loves to ride locally, but then we never get over 45MPH!  Going at 70 on unpredictable roads is a completely different thing, even for me.

 Since we didn't go to NC, we did get to attend Rosie's last Puppy 1 class, which she completed satisfactorily.  You will notice all of the other puppies were BIG puppies and of a breed that is accustomed to taking commands from it's master.  Rosie would often be given concessions due to "a breed issue", which I eventually took to mean that she is stubborn and un-trainable!!  Abby, the dog trainer, said that "sit", the very first command we were to learn, was a hard one for Dachshunds and Dachshund mixes to learn; however, Rosie has it down pat.  She does have her little quirks though - she is much better at a side sit than my asking her to sit right in front of me.  She also responds better if I cam crouched down, closer to her level, than standing tall.  She will pick and choose when to respond to "focus".  If she is really interested in something (usually a smell) and I try to focus her, she will purposefully raise her nose and turn her head when I put the treat to her nose!  Both Dachshunds and Chihuahuas are supposed to be stubborn and she does have her moments, but I can identify with that so I understand.  She is a real joy to have around.

In the fervor of the holiday season, I began the most time consuming, least
productive project you can imagine - scanning all of my photos and storing them on a storage disk!  You can't imagine how many photos I have!  I bought a photo scanner about 3 years ago and this is the first time it has been taken out of the box, and it is definitely worth the money. This will be a long-term project and I've set it up on the laptop in front of the TV so I can scan photos as I watch TV at night.  I couldn't imagine doing this on a regular scanner. The box of photos to the right (1983 - Spain, Portugal and Morocco) had almost 600 photos.  Believe me, not all of my photos are as well organized as this box!  Not only are these filed, many photos had info written on the back!  So, I took the time to label seemed the right thing to do!  Most of my others don't even include the date and I'm the world's worst at remembering when things happened, so most of the others will be less labor intensive.  Anyway, what I expected to be a mind-numbing, thankless job has really been pretty enjoyable.  I was reminded that I've camped in Death Valley and canoe-ed down part of the Colorado River, that I've actually seen (from afar!) in person the Queen and Prince Phillip (and the Britannia), King Juan Carlos and the Queen of Spain, as well as both Bill and say nothing of so many beautiful places in the world.  It is almost like reliving the past and remembering many wonderful experiences and people, which takes the tediousness out of the task......and I haven't even gotten to Abqaiq yet!!  

Yesterday was my day to spread Christmas cheer by delivering my vino to friends.  It was lots of fun and everyone seemed surprised and pleased, especially when they saw the label.  I hope they feel the same after they've actually tasted the wine!  

Today, Christmas Eve, should be about 80F (sun-room door is open, fan is on!) and the sun is shining....what more can we ask!  As I dithered around the house this morning I listened to On Point on PBS where people called in with their favorite Christmas stories and it was wonderful.  The stories ran the gamut - funny, heartwarming, heartbreaking, tender, sad, meaningful, unforgettable.  My thought was that I'd like to hear something like this every Christmas - maybe every day!  It was a wonderful array of human experience.  As that was winding up, I got a short email from Ann with a listening recommendation from Katie - Ludovico Einaudi - Islands.  He's a very handsome, talented pianist and I'm listening to him as I write.  Thank you, Katie.  So, what could be a sad, maudlin Christmas is shaping up to be peaceful and nice.....just by going with the flow. I do have invitations from friends for Christmas lunch, drinks in the afternoon, etc.  I will go with the flow on that, too, and do what feels right at the time.

On this Christmas Eve, I'm thinking of friends and family and counting my blessings that I have you in my life.  You make Christmas happen year-round for me!  Thank you so much. Merry Christmas and many blessings in the New Year! 
Love to all.

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