Monday, April 29, 2019

Week 17: Basement Window Wells

Wow! These weeks are really passing by quickly! It's already time for my weekly 'demo'!  Since time is short, we're gonna skip the commentary today and just post some photos along with my "What Worked Well" and "What Could Be Better" sections.

This week's goal? Number 42 from my 60 until 60 list:

Clean my basement window wells

The finished product

Yuk! Had to clean bottom of well with a couple of carcasses.

Before picture. Look how rusty and gross this looks!

Love that I was able to fill the bottom of the well with blue cellophane and painted rocks

What worked well

  • Was thrilled to find these Biggies Window Well Scenes. I didn't even know this type of product existed and I'd been looking at replacing the entire window wells to the tune of multi-thousands of dollars. Instead a scene only cost about $100!
  • Very excited that the finished product looks so dramatically different and cool!
  • Easy for me to do by myself! (Typically anything I attempt that requires any kind of artistic, crafty, or handy-man kind of skills turns out badly, so this was really an experiment that turned out very successfully!)
  • I've been noticing what 'brings me joy' (Marie Kondo speak) and what does not. The gross, rusty window wells brought me the opposite of joy (disgust?), but now I love looking at the new scene.
  • I'd found these old painted rocks and blue cellophane in my basement and wasn't sure if I should keep them. This was the perfect use for them!
What could be better

  • I only did one of my window wells so I have 3 others in my basement that still are bringing me disgust. Now that I know how well this turned out, I will plan on doing the other 3, but I still have some decisions to make before working on those.
  • I still need to get a window well cover (one that's clear so light will come in) to keep gunk and weather from ruining the pretty look.
  • It was gross, gross, gross, to have to clean and throw away the dead carcasses. I think they were bunnies..  And it made me sad that little animals died by falling into my wells.
I don't want to end this post on the dead-bunny note, so I'll just end in saying I'm very happy about how this week's goal turned out!  One more step in beautifying my home! Yay!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Week 16: Poetry

I was going to make this whole blog post into an epic poem, but...  I'm not that advanced yet in my poetry skills. I do however feel good about checking off goal #19 from my list of sixty:

Learn more about poetry and write a poem

Most of this week I was enjoying a vacation in Florida and brought along an old "How to Write Poetry" book.  I reviewed that and quite a few Websites and other resources and also dabbled in reading and writing a variety of poems in different styles throughout the week.

In my browsing, I serendipitously stumbled across a poetry contest for an Acrostic poem and I submitted an entry!
Here's my entry for a FRIEND (first letter of each line spells out the word, FRIEND):

Flirtatious, perhaps, regardless of gender
Ready to play, a willing weekender
Intimate with all of our (few!) imperfections
Endearing to them(?), no need for corrections
Never a judge, but wisely a guide
Dependably present with love to provide
What worked well about this goal:

* I love word play, writing, and poetry.  Since I've been writing professionally (IT geeky stuff), I've gotten away from creative writing, and I miss it. It felt good to spend some time and write for fun.
* I found this list of beautiful words. (Note: "Serendipity, one of my favorite words, is on the list. If you notice I overuse this word, you now understand why.)
* I dug up a lot of my old poems from the past.. it's motivated me to add to that collection.
* I subscribed to Family Fun Poems and hope their newsletters and prompts will keep me writing.
* I found this list of 12 poems to memorize (added to my 'backlog' as a future goal).
* It was fun to find a contest to enter that gave me an easy prompt for an acrostic.  (I'd written an acrostic poem for my friend Craig Dunham when he turned 50 in 2010, and it was a nice memory.)

What could have been better:

* Like any of my 'learning goals,' it's always hard to consider them 'done.'  The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know and I want to learn more. There's always that feeling of recognizing that I will never have the time to become as proficient as I'd like, because there are just too many other things I want to learn.  But it's a start..  

In poetic summary:

Learning poetry

I want to learn it all
But before I walk, I need to crawl
OK, then.. Start small

First attempt haiku
Simple and systematic
A humble success

Venture on to lyrical verses
Flowered with eloquent words and sounds
Onomatopoeia with evocative prose
Poetry has no bounds

The world is full of endless wonders
And words that fill my head
I wish that I could write with brilliance
But this I’ll do instead

Try not to do it all
There is no protocol
It’s OK to start small

Monday, April 15, 2019

Week 15: Snowbird plan

Where's the perfect snowbird spot? I've been pondering that question for years, waiting for retirement when I could escape the Colorado cold in the winter and spend my days basking in the sun, preferably close to beautiful beaches, hiking spots, and a welcoming culture.

Even though I'm not sure if I want to retire fully quite yet, I've been getting more serious about researching and exploring snowbird locations..  goal 30 on my 60 until 60 list.

I wrote about 'Dating' San Antonio as a potential snowbird spot last Fall and since then have spent time in a lot of warm-weather states, searching for that perfect spot.

I came to the conclusion that, just like dating, maybe it would be better to get to know a place before 'committing.'  Yes, whether it comes to jobs, dating, or picking a snowbird spot, I'm finding I may be a bit commitment-phobic at this stage of life. There's so much to try, to do, to explore, to see...

Having freedom from any commitments is amazing! On the other hand, it can also feel a little lonely. When it comes to my snowbird spot, I would like to find a place that I will eventually go back to every winter. In keeping with the whole dating analogy, I might not want to be "married" to a spot, but I at least would like to be in a "serious relationship."

I loved visiting my sister in Southern California and narrowed down that I wanted to be in a location near the beach but it had to be affordable.  Unfortunately, that probably knocks California off of my list. Still, since I'm from California and have a lot of family and friends there, I plan to have the occasional "fling." (So glad that places have no baggage or hangups about commitment!)

When I went to Florida at the end of February, I "fell in love." I'm back in Orlando this week and took advantage of another day at Epcot to see their annual garden show and thought, once again: Yes! I could 'marry' this place! Flowers everywhere and beaches both to the east and the west! Florida is on my short list. I'm headed to Sarasota as I'm writing this to check out one of the most popular retirement destinations.

However, there are a lot of International choices that I'm also considering. This weekend I was able to learn a lot more about the different options at the International Living Retirement Overseas Bootcamp.

The conference was lots of fun! Very informative and exciting since there are so many options for people like me who want to escape the cold! (Ironically, I was freezing from the air conditioning in the windowless conference rooms all weekend..  Mental Note #1: Even in the warmest of spots, it's good to have a sweater at all times!  Mental Note #2: I never want to go back to working all day in windowless, air-conditioned offices.)

But other than the 'cold air', the conference was very exciting! It was almost like getting onto an online dating site and finding out there are all kinds of attractive people (places!) out there with plenty to offer! Who wants to commit when there are so many other options?  And here I was just ready to marry Florida!  (Actually, when we were going through the different country presentations, they even referred to it as 'speed dating'!)

Of course, one of the best parts of the conference was meeting other like-minded people. Here's a picture of me with the two people I got to know most, Rick and Mike. The first night of the conference was a session just for singles, which was awesome. It made me wish there were some sort of network just for 'single snowbirds' where we could meet up at some of these beautiful spots. I know the expat communities are known for their friendliness, but I've been thinking a lot about some of the considerations of being a single snowbird.  I may even write another book or start another blog, vlog or podcast: Single Snowbird! Another fun thing to think about!

After learning about all the pros and cons of several different countries, Costa Rica and Mexico top my list as affordable warm weather countries. There are very large expat communities in both, lots of direct flights from the US, and I've always wanted to become fluent in Spanish (and French and Italian... but Spanish first.)

So Florida, Costa Rica, and Mexico have all made it on my short list.  Next winter I'm looking forward to 'dating' each of these places and getting to know some of their cities more intimately!

What worked well

* Loved exploring California, Las Vegas, and Florida this winter.
* International Living Conference was very informative about International options
* Excited that there are so many affordable warm-weather beach locations
* Good to come to the conclusion that I don't need to pick one snowbird spot
* Excited to think about exploring Florida, Costa Rica and Mexico
* Fun that there are so many active expat communities and the ability to learn from them with social media
* Nice that I got to know some new friends from the conference

What could be better

* I'm still undecided about work which will make a big difference in what I'm able to do next winter. It's hard to have a very definitive 'snowbird plan' when I'm not sure what I'll be able to afford or whether or not I'll be working.
* Even though the conference had one session for singles and one for snowbirds, it was mostly relevant for those who were seriously considering relocating permanently.  It would be nice if there was a distribution list, forum, or facebook page specifically for 'single snowbirds.'  Maybe I'll create one!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

10 Brilliant Things about "Every Brilliant Thing"

"#761 Deciding you're not too old to climb trees"
That was my line in "Every Brilliant Thing" last Saturday night at the Vintage Theater.

Though I'm tempted to make that count as "having a part in a play".. number 23 on my own 60 until 60 list, that will be a last resort measure.

The play was described this way in the Goldstar ad I got in my email box:

"1. Ice cream. 2. Kung fu movies. 3. Burning things. 4. Laughing so hard you shoot milk out of your nose. 5. Construction cranes. In Duncan MacMillan’s Every Brilliant Thing, a young boy attempts to ease his mother’s depression by creating a list of all the best things in the world. As the list grows with him into adulthood, he learns the deep significance tracking things worth living for has had on his own life. This heartwarming play made waves on HBO in 2017. Now, it makes its regional premiere at Aurora’s Vintage Theatre. See this heartwarming exploration of depression and the lengths we’ll go to for those we love."

Well, making lists is right up my alley! I've been inspired by 1000 Awesome Things and make lists every week in my journal of the good and the not-so-good. The good list is always much longer than the not-so-good. It's become second nature to notice all those quotidian moments (Note: The word, 'quotidian' is on my 'things that make me happy list'!)

Even though I'm tempted to share a long, long list of quotidian moments that have made me happy just this week, I'll try to stay on topic here, and give you a list of 10 brilliant things, just about the play!

1. Going to the play alone, so I could fart in the car. (It turned out, I was really gassy that night!)
2. Even though the play was listed as 'sold out' on Goldstar, when I called the theater, they said it wasn't really sold out... just the Goldstar discount tickets were sold out.
3. The ticket agent offering to give me the ticket at half-price ($16 instead of $32!)
4. That the Vintage Theater was this cute, small, theater so really easy to see and hear everything!
5. Having a part! "761. Deciding you're not too old to climb trees!" (I had GREAT delivery! What an actress!)
6. The awesome acting by John Ashton
7. Audience participation - the vet, the father, the school counselor, and the love interest - pulled in to adlib with no rehearsals.. and the endearing results from the shy, the bold, and the talented
8. The feeling you get from a drama that makes you both laugh and cry.
9. A play that deals with the difficult and tragic topic of suicide and mental illness, reminding us of our own vulnerabilities, while at the same time, reminding us of the simple joys of every day life.
10. The invitation to add our own brilliant thing to this board:

Yes, I really loved the play. It wasn't a "Happily Ever After" fairy tale (I love those, too), but one that dealt with the very deep topics of death, depression, love, and life.  I almost didn't go to this play because, despite my attempts to find someone to go with me, no one was available. It was in Aurora (quite a distance) and I don't like driving at night.

I could have gotten all mopey...  poor, poor me... no one to go with...  (I have had that little pity party before) but I'm happy to report, going alone didn't phase me a bit! In fact, it was first on my list of brilliant things..  'cause, ya know, sometimes it's just better to be alone!

Monday, April 08, 2019

Week 14: Organize Books

This week the goal from my 60 until 60 list that I accomplished was:

#46. Sell, give-away, throwaway and organize what’s left of my books

Inspired by the Marie Kondo craze, I've been in quite the "declutter" mode lately.  My natural personality leans more towards "hoarder" so decluttering is not easy for me, especially when it comes to books! I love books! I was the nerdy kid who went to the library at recess! I could SO relate to Belle's excitement when the Beast presented her with access to that gigantic book-filled library. 

I, of course, also love bookstores and when I visited the Last Bookstore in LA with my sister in January, I realized that maybe it would be OK to keep most of my old books, as long as they 'brought me joy' (as Marie Kondo recommends.)  Yes, I know I can get them digitally, and many of the non-fiction are out-of-date, but since I'm not down-sizing, and, in fact, would like to make part of my basement space into a library, I decided it would be OK for now to keep most of my books.

Satisfied with this decision, I thought it would be an easy task to simply organize them! Wrong! I have bookshelves in almost every room and two big bookshelves in my basement.  This adds up to hundreds of books on 3 different floors of my house.

I will spare you the blow-by-blow account of my many trips up and down stairs lugging books throughout my house to get them all in their 'correct' spots, but let me tell you, it's been quite the workout!  I originally put ALL kids books on the shelves of the room where my grandchildren sleep when they visit.   Then realizing, that was too many books to fit on the shelves in that room, I moved all the non-fiction kids books (including many books about magic, mazes, math, puzzles, pranks, optical illusions, origami, crafts, art, and probably every kids' 'Klutz' book there is) back to the basement.

I also separated out my adult fiction and non-fiction books, putting together the books of similar categories (travel, languages, relationships, self-help, work-related, writing,  humor, holidays etc. etc.) I have a shelf full of my son's (very heavy) textbooks from medical school (those will get sold eventually, either by him or by me.)

Finally, I have a shelf for the "special" books..  the ones that were created by my kids or are heirlooms, handed down, photo-books, and, of course, my original "Laptop Dancer Diaries" from my book release party complete with autographs and well-wishes from friends.

What worked well:
* I was reminded of a lot of books that I want to re-read or browse through again! 

* I made sure all my 'heirloom books' were in the same area so they won't get lost or accidentally given away.

* I was able to pass a small stack of books to my daughter's family, including a C++ book that she specifically asked for! (It had been in my 'donate' stack, so I felt lucky that I still had it!)

* I came up with a small stack of books that I was OK parting with (including Bill Cosby's, "Parenthood!")

* I found a book from my childhood I remembered with fondness: 365 Bedtime Stories

* I still haven't lost my enjoyment of books that give you 365 of something..  

* I felt good about being able to share my favorite travel books and classics in the room I'm now renting out as an AirBnB room

What could have been better

* It would have been better if I'd sold any text books.
* There are too many old books that aren't really bringing me 'joy' that I'll probably never pick up and are just taking up space.  But, at least I 'staged' them in the basement, so I'll easily be able to donate or give those away when the time is right.