Friday, February 16, 2018

Palm Springs, here we come!

Today we arrive in Palm Springs!
I likely won't post until we return due to all the fun we'll be having!

Thanks for checking in here, and I'll share some photos once we're home.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentines Day


Today is Valentines Day.  The day for lovers.  The day couples celebrate their coupleness.

Sorry single people.  Its not you... its us.

While some people view Valentines Day cynically, as a day for restaurants and florists to jack up their prices and for stores to overflow their isles with boxes of chocolates and stuffed animals, I still look at Valentines Day as a purist would.  I like to reflect on the night Spouse & I met, our first few dates, and our bond which has grown stronger during our 21+ years together.

I usually like to send beautiful cut flowers to Spouse's office, have boxed chocolates waiting for him at home, and eat a nice meal together at home.  

But this year will be a little different.  Spouse took off work today in order to pick out and pack his clothes and other stuff for our trip, so he won't be at work to get the flowers.  And even if he were there, he'd only get to enjoy seeing them for 1 day before we leave on a week's vacation, so it would be almost a total waste. So no flowers today.

We don't typically go out to dinner on Valentines Day because restaurants are crowded and prices are high.  We won't go tonight either, as I will be packing and getting ready to be away.  Instead, we'll make a HelloFresh meal and spend an evening at home together.

But we'll still confess our love and undying affection to one another, without balloons or flowers or fancy restaurant dinners.  Because at the end of the day, its just us.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Business

If you're a realtor and you want to boost your business, plan a vacation.

It never fails.  Whenever I'm planning to be away for a while, my clients come crawling out of the woodwork.  Its like I've put out some invisible sonar signal that says "Call Mark now".  

This week is no exception.  The fact that this coming weekend is a 3-day weekend (Presidents Day) may be a factor.

2 clients with whom I've been working want to come this weekend to look at homes.  I've had to get assistance from colleagues so these clients can tour the homes they've been reviewing online, and hopefully 1 or both of them will want to buy.

Today I got a call from a new client who wants to look at a specific property on Sun.  I've had to get a 3rd colleague to help this person.  But since I've never met or really worked with this person, I decided to simply 'give' this potential buyer to my colleague.

And its not like I won't be working at all while I'm gone.  My personal and work emails come on my iPhone and I'll have to check them and respond to time-sensitive things a couple times each day to keep things moving.

So the next time my business is a little slow, I'm going to plan a quick trip and then just wait for the phone to start ringing.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Monday, February 05, 2018

He told me so

Spouse has a new kitchen gadget:
This is a countertop convection oven that came with 2 racks, 2 cookie sheets, a roasting pan, and a cookbook.  And the most important feature according to Spouse is that it will accommodate a 9" X 13" baking dish, something most countertop ovens can't do.

But the real reason for sharing this is to come full circle with what happened back in early December when our regular kitchen oven wouldn't heat up the day before our tree trimming party.

You see, Spouse had seen this very oven on a shopping TV channel in November and wanted it right then.  I vetoed the purchase, telling him it was an unnecessary duplication of what we already have.  He argued that it would be a nice back up, just in case.  I rolled my eyes and said "If the our regular oven stops working, we'll just call a repairman and get it fixed."

So, of course, when the regular oven broke right when we needed it the most, as we were preparing food for 20+ people, Spouse did NOT overlook the opportunity to say "I told you so".

So then, a couple weeks ago when this oven was being featured again on the shopping TV channel, before Spouse could open his mouth I told him "Order the damn oven already!"

It arrived while I was home and he was not, so I removed it from the box and set it up on the counter for him to 'discover' when he got home.  He was unusually excited about it which gave me a kick.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Tip

Last Dec while performing as Elton John in the Holiday Legends show, I received a very different tip.  It was 20 British pounds.
 I don't know if the generous patron gave it to me by mistake or if he was looking for a way to dispose of the foreign currency, because I didn't know what I'd been given until after the show.

A quick Google search told me it was worth about $26 US dollars, which is a very generous tip!

I tried to convert it to US dollars at a local bank.  They asked if I had an account there, to which I answered no.  I was told they could only exchange the currency if I was an account holder, and that my bank would do it for me.

The only problem is that I don't have a local bank.  The nearest branch of my bank (excluding ATMs) is an hour away in a different state.  I do all my banking online; bill paying, check depositing, balance transferring - all online.

You see, I've had the same checking account since I was in high school more than 35 years ago.  My bank has merged with others and changed names several times over the years, but the thing that hasn't changed is my wonderful account number, which has repetitive digits that are very easy to remember, and my account origination date in 1981.  In addition to the convenience of my easily memorable account number, on many occasions I've thought that if I ever got into a pinch and needed something from my bank, they might look at my account origination date in 1981 and say to themselves "Hey, this guy's loyalty deserves a break".  I have yet to ever need that break, but I feel prepared to ask for it should that change.

But I sure as hell wasn't going to drive 2 hours round trip to exchange the currency!  

So I got my friend Steven to do it for me.  I knew he had a local bank and, sure enough, they exchanged the 20 British Pounds for $25.98 with no question.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Back to the 70s

The other day I saw this in the parking lot of a grocery store:
I laughed out loud and wondered if I'd suddenly been transported back to the 70s.

For those of you who weren't alive in the 70s, this message was seen on lots of vans in the 1970s that had shag carpet and a mattress in the back.  The "ride" is in reference to hitchhiking.

What's a hitchhiking?  Something else that's been on the decline since the 1970s.

Monday, January 29, 2018

DC Auto Show

Yesterday Spouse & I went to the Washington Auto Show with our friends Rick & Nick.  All things considered we had a good time and enjoyed seeing all the new models.

Well, most of the new models.  I say 'most' because Mercedes Benz, Cadillac, and Porche were did not attend or have models to see, which was disappointing.

Rolls Royce was there with this stunning car:
 Bentley had several models, including their new SUV (on the right):
We were also disappointed by the fact that only 1 auto manufacturer had a concept vehicle on display:
It used to be that many manufacturers showed their concept vehicles, influences of which often found their way into watered-down models several years later.  Not this year.

One of the most impressive displays was from Land Rover. 
Sure, their convertible SUV Evoque above is cool, but it was their off-road track experience was awesome.  They had a track with dirt hills where experienced drivers took passengers for a ride, often on 2 or 3 wheels, to demonstrate the engineering.  It was really cool.

So while the show had some disappointments, the 4 of us had a good time and were glad to have gone.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Body & brain


If this study is correct, Spouse will live forever and I'll keep my full mental faculties in tact. 

Go figure.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Permanency

I really enjoyed our Christmas decorations this year.  They really were beautiful and brought me quite a bit of enjoyment.  In fact, I enjoyed them so much that I convinced Spouse to keep them up longer than he wanted to.  Since I had this past weekend off work, we agreed to do it then. We started with the outdoor lights, then the Christmas tree, and then the inside decor.  It took both of us 5 hours to disassemble everything, pack it all up, and put it away, so 10 man hours all together.  It was worth it.

Despite its lack of permanency, the holiday decor was still beautiful.  This theme was echoed to me on Sun when I went to the theatre to see "Call Me By Your Name".  I should probably warn of possible 'spoilers', but if you know anything at all about the movie then what I'm going to share isn't really a 'spoiler'.  In the film Oliver is a graduate student spending 6 weeks as an intern for a professor at his family's summer home.  The professor's 17 year old son Elio develops an attraction to Oliver who eventually gives in to Elio's desire.  (All of that is shown or insinuated in the trailer below.)
At the end of the film, just after Oliver's departure, the professor delivers a tender, loving soliloquy to Elio about feelings and permanency.  

He tells Elio that he is very lucky to have had such a special friendship, perhaps more, with Oliver.  He says that many people do not experience something that beautiful their entire lives.  And while he is now feeling the pain of loss, he should not try to repress or blank it out.  He tells Elio that it is better to feel than to not feel.  Only by feeling something wonderful can you also understand the feeling of pain.  He cautions Elio never to choose feeling nothing over feeling pain.  The fact that something wonderful ends does not negate it being wonderful.  Its non-permanency does not make it a failure.

I found this to be a profound declaration; one that I've struggled to verbalize over the years.  

Those of us who have been in relationships that didn't end up being permanent can still remember the good times in those relationships.  No doubt we laughed, loved, and learned in those relationships. But because they weren't permanent, the world has a way of considering them "failed relationships" which is just not true.  We have still experienced something wonderful even if it wasn't permanent, regardless of whether its end was by choice or by circumstances.

I believe this a key to not regretting the past.  We are not failures and our relationships were not failed as long as we know there was goodness, fun, or something positive experienced.  

In my case my 1st relationship (if you want to call it that) was not balanced.  I was more smitten and willing to move-heaven-and-earth than him, which was not his fault.  But we had some good times, and its end was by circumstances.  But what I learned was that a long distance relationship was not for me.  I needed someone who'd be physically present the majority of the time.

In my 2nd relationship I wanted to be 'out and proud' and strive for greater authenticity, but he was satisfied living a quiet and inconspicuous life.  I felt I just couldn't compromise, and he felt he didn't want to, so it ended by choice.  But we had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs!  I learned much about life and about myself.  It was a time of huge personal growth for me.  What I took away from this relationship was that I now knew who I wanted to become and what I would accept and not accept from a partner.

Neither of these were 'failed relationships' because they weren't permanent.  I have memories of wonderfulness experienced in both of these relationships, and both were stepping stones on my path.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Winter Getaway

For several years now we've gone on a vacation in Jan or Feb.  Its great to escape the cold at home by going somewhere warm and tropical.  Also, since I'm a real estate agent in a summer resort area, its not practical for me to take a vacation in the summertime when most people do.  I'm too busy at work then, so a winter getaway is perfect for us.

In past years we've gone on 2 cruises (both to islands in the Caribbean) and twice we've gone to Puerto Vallarta, which I love so much.  This year it was a toss up between returning to Puerto Vallarta or trying something new by going to Palm Springs, CA.

We decided on Palm Springs, and our good friends the Newlyweds (who live in Portland< OR) will meet us there.  We've been intrigued for years by Palm Springs mostly because of its mid-century modern aesthetic. Several noted mid-century modern architects designed homes in Palm Springs in the late 50s and early 60s like David Wexler, Bill Cody, and Richard Neutra.  
William Krisel is credited with designing the iconic butterfly roof homes (above) built all over Palm Springs.  Their roof lines were likened to a butterfly in flight.

Palm Springs was called the "playground of the stars".  Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Jack Benny, George Hamilton, Rock Hudson, and Dinah Shore all owned homes there.

More recently lovers of architecture and home furnishings have embraced the unique look of mid-century modern which is on full display during the Modernism Week celebration.  We'll be there during Modernism Week and look forward to enjoying some of the tours and activities.

And since we'll need a car to get from the airport and get around town, I've reserved a convertible.  I mean, when you're staying in a city that looks so cool, why not contribute to the coolness by slipping around town topless!

We've rented a mid-century home with a pool, hot tub and firepit so when we're not touring the town or soaking up the local culture, we'll be soaking up some sun and catching up with our old friends poolside.  While it won't be as warm as Puerto Vallarta, the pool is heated so there's that.

As an added bonus, we have 3 friends/couples who live in the Palm Springs suburbs so we'll likely get an opportunity to see them while we're in town.

It should be a great trip, both because of our interest in Palm Springs and Modernism Week, and because of spending time with our friends.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

I need your help!

We recently purchased one of those talking scales.  When I stepped on it the scale said "One person at a time, please".

Gulp.

But I'm at a loss right now and could really use some help from my friends here in the blogosphere.

I'm looking for rapid weight loss suggestions which do NOT include exercise or dramatically changing my diet. 

That's right... I want to lose 10 lbs (plus or minus) in a very short amount of time (like yesterday), and do not want to exercise or dramatically change my diet. 

I've read that exercise alone doesn't make you lose weight, so that's all I need to know about exercise.  Plus I know from past experience it can make you sweat.  I'm not really 'into' sweating. 

Now, I am willing to change my diet a little bit, but not dramatically.  So no Atkins, Weight Watchers, or NutriSystems.  That's just too much!

I'm considering a few options, but since I have no experience with them, I'm not sure which is best:
  • wiring my jaw shut.  This is probably the least invasive, but knowing me, I'd probably find a delicious, highly caloric milkshake to which I'd become addicted and end up losing no weight at all.  Plus, cosmos can also be sucked threw a straw.  Not daintily, but it can be done.
  • medically induced coma.  This one is tricky in that, by virtue of being in a coma, it precludes me from working for the length of the coma.  Since I'm a realtor, there's no paid medical leave or vacation.  When I don't work, I don't get paid.  And for it to do me any good, I'm thinking the coma would need to be at least a solid 2 weeks.  Maybe 3.
  • stomach stapling surgery.  This one is pretty invasive too, being that it requires surgery and recovery.  Plus I know there is the potential to stretch your stomach back out after the surgery, so this is probably my least favorite option at this time.  Oh, and I hate hospitals too.
  • Weight loss pills (both FDA and non-FDA approved).  I'm not sure of the efficasy of weight loss pills or appetite suppressants since I really don't over-eat out of hunger.  I over-eat out of loving the taste of delicious food, so suppressing my hunger may not work.
  • cleanses.  I had a colleague years ago who would do various cleanses to detoxify his body and lose weight.  But he was like 26 years old, and when you're that young, almost anything you do to lose weight works.  I'm not sure I can drink gallons liquids unless they taste like a cosmo, OR unless there's an iron-clad guarantee.
So, if any of you dear readers has any insight on these options, or any other options I have considered, please DO speak up.  I'm all ears!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Crazy weather

It was literally 1 week ago today that schools were closed, the State government (where Spouse works) was closed, and my real estate company was closed, because of a winter storm that blanketed the area in snow.  Temperatures were in the single digits and low teens, which is highly unusual for us.

Yet yesterday, it was practically a different world!
But I ain't complainin'!!

As you can imagine, there was a whole lot of melting going on yesterday.  But it was great to be out and about and not even need a coat or jacket.  I saw several people wearing shorts and even saw someone driving their convertible with the top down!

Today its not quite as warm, but still in the low 60s with intermittent showers.  You can best believe there's a whole lotta meltin' goin' on!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Belated blogiversary

I completely forgot to celebrate my recent blogiversary.  
On 12/28 my blog turned 13 years old!  There have been times (mostly prior to Facebook) where I've spent more time writing really thoughtful posts, and then there have been times where I have 'phoned it in', but I've always striven to keep this blog going.  Not because I think anyone's depending on me to write, or that anything I have to say has much meaning to anyone.  Really, most the stuff I write is little more than entertainment (if that) to others.  But I have on several occasions used my blog to determine when things happened in my life.  If for no other reason I'll continue to keep it going for that.  Hopefully readers will also enjoy it.

Speaking of my blog, you many have noticed there was no New Years resolutions post from me.  Typically I'm a big believer in writing down my intentions for the new year, and making sure they are measureable so I know when I've completed them.  But for whatever reason, this year I just couldn't think of anything new.  The things I want to do/change/improve are really the same as I've written about before.  I should go back to my new years resolutions posts and celebrate the ones I accomplished, AND make a new list of those I haven't.  THAT could be my new years resolutions for 2018!

Monday, January 08, 2018

Long Lost Family

My new OBSESSION is the TV show "Long Lost Family" on TLC.  Hosts Chris Jacobs and Lisa Joyner (pictured) both of whom are both adopted and have been reunited with their birth mothers, use public records and DNA samples to help reconnect family members.  While most are searching for birth parents or children years after adoption, some are searching for relatives separated for other reasons.

I saw a preview for the show and decided to watch an episode on demand and was immediately hooked.  I was happy to find there were 9 episodes in the 1st season, and 18 episodes in the 2nd season.  Having been at home for most of the last 4 days due to the snow, I binge-watched many of the episodes.

Oh.  My.  God.

First, its absolutely amazing to see the research paths Chris and Lisa use when investigating informational leads.  Hospital birth records, marriage records, high school year books, obituaries, and websites like Ancestry.com.  Second, the reunions they are able to accomplish are so real and touching!  I have yet to make it through a full episode without tearing up.  And its not staged, sappy stuff either.  Its actual footage of the reunions, which are so healing to the long lost family members.

Anybody else watching this show?  If not, you should be!

Friday, January 05, 2018

Snow days

Earlier this week the huge storm everyone had been talking about developed and positioned itself so that we were in the blizzard track.

It began snowing Wed night around 10pm and by the time we went to bed at midnight everything was covered in a blanket of white.  Since the temperature has been below freezing for a week the snow didn't melt as it typically does.  The light and fluffy snow fell gently, as the wind gusts had not yet arrived.

Thurs is my regular day off and Spouse's office closed so we were both home for a snow day.  By mid-morning the wind was really gusting.  Poor Marvin & Walter didn't want to go outside.  They hate the wind, even if its warm outside, so it was extra offensive to them to have the gusty wind and temperature around 13 degrees.  So we decided to take them out onto the screened porch to do their business, since it was partially shielded from the wind.  This technique was somewhat successful.  

The wind created crazy drifts.  Check out the drift outside the screened porch which was easily 3 feet high.  
There was another drift INSIDE the screened porch near the opposite corner which was nearly as tall.  This photo shows how crazily the wind affected the snow.
Notice how the left side of the driveway and even the grass have NO snow on them, yet there were drifts nearby that were easily 3 feet high.  Wild!

We stayed in the house and watched movies all day, with brief breaks for food.  Marvin & Walter took great advantage of the electric space heater we had on while watching TV.
But most of the time they looked like this:


Knowing the storm was coming we'd stocked up on comfort foods, so we had grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup, Poptarts, and chicken pot pies.  We also cooked our Hello Fresh meals.

Both mine & Spouse's companies closed the offices today as well so we had another snow day at home.  We watched more movies in the morning but after lunch I did brave the frigid temperature to do some shoveling.  This photo shows the height of the drift between my car and the convertible.  Notice its taller than the shovel.
The nice thing about the wind is that it eliminated the need to clean off the cars.  The snow was light and fluffy so it wasn't back-breaking to shovel, but there was a LOT of it to move to get my car out to the street.
The street was "plowed" if you want to call it that.  We didn't see the plow since it came while we were sleeping, but it appears that a pick-up truck with a blade on the front made 1 pass and that was it.  The street is still very dicey now.  But at least its passable.

Typically when we get snow here it doesn't stick to the ground because the ground isn't cold enough.  That was not the case this time, as we'd been below freezing for several days in a row, also not typical.  And usually the temperature warms up the next day after a snowfall so it melts quickly.  That, too, isn't happening this time, as our temperatures aren't supposed to get above freezing until maybe Mon.  But I'm not complaining.  The snow is really beautiful and since we have had 2 days at home together with our dogs, comfy and cozy in our home, its been really nice.