Thursday, October 28, 2021

Poker Night


Vegas Themed Poker Party

Last night I hosted my first "in-person" party since the pandemic began! Yay! It wasn't a full-blown "Carpe Diem" party where I invite everyone (and end up having way more no-shows than party-goers). Instead this was limited to people who were interested in playing poker. Being Halloween-season, added with my obsessive compulsive costume collection disorder, I encouraged Vegas-themed costumes.  The women were "all in." The men were a little less enthusiastic about the suggestion, but eventually were game.

While hosting a poker party may not seem like much of a stretch goal, in all honesty, hosting any kind of party is one of my hidden insecurities.  Most people would be surprised by this, since I've hosted so many parties and events (mostly virtual parties since Covid), yet still.. for some reason, I always stress about it.

I even stress when planning family get-togethers, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, these days! Between all the challenges of Covid, politics, world events, and past hurt feelings, it's really hard to get back to the care-free pre-Covid good-ol'-days when all I was stressing about was the menu.

As I learned from examining the anxiety I felt from stage fright, most people care more about your mood than they do about the food you serve, the state of your house, or your decorations and costumes.  The best thing to do is to enjoy yourself and your guests.  And that's exactly what I did!

What worked well

* The food. I made a very easy crock-pot sweet potato chili and even though I said it was optional, everyone brought a lot of other delicious goodies!  All the food was binge-worthy, but Tina's apple pie undoubtedly got the most raves. That pie is ready to win awards! I think Tina needs to open up a new pie bakery!

* The diversity of players. One of my "stresses" about parties is having people who don't know each other mix with one another and worrying they might feel guarded. In this case, we had a variety of skill-levels when it came to poker and so we did a couple of practice hands up front. There was a $10 buy-in, so not a lot of risk, and it turns out Mary, who was one of the relative newbies, came in 2nd place winning $25!  It was also good to see my new housemate, Tom, join in, even though he was new.  We ended up having 8 players - 4 women and 4 men!

* The costumes. As I said, I'm a costume freak, and it just so turned out that I had this Alice-in-Wonderland sexy cocktail girl costume adorned with playing-card symbols in my stash.  Totally in theme!  It seemed a bit age-inappropriate, but, hey, when has that ever stopped me? (My taste is usually more Elementary-School Fairy Princess like costumes, so at least I'm moving up to the High-School-Slutty costume genre.)

As for the guests, I was so impressed and excited to see the creativity and cool dress-up props that others had.  Adam brought a carved cane from Sri Lanka! - not to mention his half tuxedo. Tom's unique jacket (a thrift-store treasure!) could've passed for either pimp or high-roller. Mary and Tina both had super-pretty party dresses. Even though I know men don't like to dress up, we women don't get nearly enough chances to wear our fancies, so..  I want to have more fancy dress-up parties!

* Poker! I love games. Games are especially fun when you find other people who love the same games. Poker is this great mix of strategy and luck. I used to play off-and-on with some friends (including some of those who were there last night) but this was the first time I'd played in years, and I remembered how much I loved it. I came in 4th out of 8, so.. not bad.  I'd been studying up a little bit and had had a couple of coaching sessions with Chris (who lives in Bali now, so couldn't come).  Now that I have a small taste of betting strategies, I want to keep learning and practicing! 

What could have been better

* People who couldn't make it.  There were a few maybes: John (my 2nd housemate), Cathy (who we'd all looked forward to seeing in her slinky costume), and Larry (who I was looking forward to meeting!). We missed them this time, but I hope we'll see them next time!

* The Pace?  Even though I listed the diversity of skills as a "what worked well," it might have been tough for the people who were learning.  The game may have been too fast for them or too slow for the very experienced.  Still, we ended up finishing up right between 9pm and 10pm which was my goal since it was a weeknight, so..  hopefully, the pace was OK for everyone. 

What's next?

* Once I get home from my snowbird adventures, I hope to host a monthly poker night! In the mean time, I plan to continue practicing, maybe finding some online tutorials or ways to practice. I think I'll add it to my Bucket List to play in Vegas!

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Fall Colors and Friends

Usually by this time of year, we've had an early snowfall here in Superior, Colorado. Not this year. I think (knock on wood) that we'll make it through October being able to enjoy these gorgeous, colorful trees.

I haven't been doing as much blogging lately and I'd like to get back to a daily blog post like I was doing in August.  I've noticed that my mood has been more melancholy than usual, maybe because the shorter days, the drop in temperature,  and my broken heater!

However, one of the highlights of the month has been enjoying a daily walk and relishing the beautiful trees right here in my own neighborhood! A couple of years ago, I went to New England to see the iconic fall foliage, but what I saw this month was just as spectacular.

On most days, I happily get my 10K+ steps walking through my neighborhood, but at least once a week, I find a new place to walk with one of my friends. I get double benefits of beautiful Fall scenery along with the conversation with a friend!

Cathy and I enjoying a walk in her Louisville neighborhood

Glenn and I hitting up South Mesa Trail

Becky and I in Broomfield - playing frisbee putt-putt golf

Bonnie and I this morning in Superior

On that picture from this morning with Bonnie, I was amazed at how clear and bright the photo looked without any filters!  Now the days gotten cloudy and overcast, so I'm happy we got a 2-hour walk in first thing this morning.

It's weird how much weather can affect my mood.  I know that darkness and cold is no big deal..  it's not like it's anything personal..  yet, still, it absolutely makes a difference! Maybe I do have that SAD disease (which in itself seems pathetic and sad.  I mean.. just put a sweater on, right??)

Anyway, even though the colder days have been bringing me down a bit, I am very much looking forward to the start of my snowbird adventures! I'll be heading to Playa del Carmen on November 2nd! 

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Fall Girlfriend Getaway

The last few days I've been enjoying a girlfriend getaway up at my friend, Jill's, beautiful home in the Red Feather Lakes area, a couple of hours northwest of my house.  What a treat!  Cathy and I drove up together and spent luxurious days, hiking, eating, drinking, talking, and enjoying each other's company!  I feel so grateful for my generous and loving friends!

Wrap around porches and lovely views

Jill and Cathy in this spacious sunshiny retreat

Getting my 10,000 steps in new beautiful surroundings!

Every meal was a feast with friends

Short hike around scenic Dowdy Lake

Cathy (my mentor!) and I (the newbie) giving Jill a little ukulele concert 

Tarot Readings!

Cow Crossing

Gnomes were plentiful on Elf Lane

Even a flamingo among this pink gnome section

The gnome villages went on and on with wooded beauty in the background

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Home From Louisiana

In my last post, I wrote about my deployment to Louisiana. I had one day in Houma (pronounced “Home-a”), immediately got sick, and ended up in New Orleans, isolating while waiting for results from a Covid Test.

When the results came up negative for Covid (Yay!) I was put to work on the night shift (7pm-7am) at a New Orleans shelter for the remainder of my deployment.

This experience brought up a range of emotions..  It was much harder work than I’d imagined it would be and I’m still exhausted. I’m also inspired by the resilience and resourcefulness of the people of Louisiana as well as the compassion and generosity of so many Red Cross volunteers.

My favorite part of this experience was making friends with the “clients” at the shelter. (I love that they’re called “clients” and not “victims”).

I ask myself whether or not this experience made me “happy”..  After all, my “Carpe Diem” mission has been all about optimizing happiness and minimizing stress.  There was a lot of stress, hardship, and frustration at things that I have no control over.  But there also was happiness I felt and I’ll highlight some of those happy moments below.

Happy Moments:

  • Exploring the streets of New Orleans and Woldenberg Park which was walking distance from my hotel.

  • Getting a pep talk from Malcolm Woldenberg
  • My new friends who I met at the shelter, especially Teddy, who spent hours in the middle of the night playing cards and talking with me.

  • Hearing the stories of life on the bayou. I couldn’t really understand the thick Cajun accents, but saw the pride in the faces of the people describing their lives and families.

  • The Mississippi River

Is that an alligator?

  • Making friends with the volunteers and hearing all their stories and experiences about past deployments.

My Night Shift Partner, "Guy"

  • Being called “Baby Girl” by the clients (those southerners and their endearments!)

  • Seeing the clients care for one another, checking up especially on those who were sick or needed help with wheelchairs.

  • Colorful shoes in the streets of New Orleans

  • Having dinner with one of my “Houmie” friends, Tracy, when she came up to New Orleans on her day off.

  • Getting a text from Teddy today, thanking me for my friendship.

Like most challenges, the harder it is while you’re going through it, the more proud you feel when it's over. And each day got easier as I got to know the people and the routine.

Mostly, I feel gratitude for all I’ve been blessed with. I’ll never take a warm, comfortable bed for granted again.