Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Years Eve

Tonight we are meeting friends at Dos Locos for a late dinner (8:30).  I'm guessing that will be the extent of our New Years Eve celebrating since we were not invited to any parties this year.  But we will be with our friends and eating good food, so it will be fun.  Perhaps when we get home we'll watch Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin banter back and forth until midnight.

A common New Years Eve custom (in the US at least) is to make New Years resolutions.  Many people find New Year's resolutions to be worthless, since most are not resolutions at all, but rather, wishful intentions that are forgotten within a week. Here are the top 10 most frequent New Year's resolutions:
  1. Diet
  2. Quit smoking
  3. Exercise
  4. Quit drinking
  5. Quit procrastinating
  6. Save money
  7. Go to church
  8. Wake up early
  9. Quit cursing
  10. Read the newspaper
I, on the other hand, like to make a few resolutions each year that I really work to achieve. For any chance at success one's resolutions must be realistic and measurable.  How else will you know for sure that you've accomplished them?

"Diet" is not a good resolution because there is no way to measure it.  If you loose 1 lb have you accomplished your resolution?  Technically, perhaps but "Loose 15 lbs" is a better resolution because its realistic and measurable.   

"Stop procrastinating" is not a good resolution, as there is no real way to measure whether or not you've done this.  Being more specific such as "do laundry every Sunday" or "clean the fridge on the 1st of each month" are examples of how you will stop procrastinating that you can measure.

"Save money" is not specific enough.  If you want to have $5K more in your savings account, make that your resolution.  If you want to go to Hawaii on vacation and you think it will cost you $5K, your resolution should be "Save $5K for Hawaii vacation".

One year my resolution was to entertain on a regular basis. Spouse & I picked a weekend in every month and invited friends over for dinner both Fri and Sat nights. The dinners were often simple but we had a LOT of fun. 

Another year my resolution was to sort, throw away, organize and file several bags/boxes of paperwork (ie: bank statements, paystubs, real estate documents, insurance documents, etc.) before April 15 when tax filings were due. What a relief it was to finally accomplish this!

So while you wait for the clock to strike midnight tonight and you ring in the new year with a toast, give some thought to a few realistic, measurable, new years resolutions and then work to accomplish them.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Visit with the Newlyweds

After spending Tues-Thurs with our blood-related family, yesterday we drove back to the DC area to spend a few hours with some of our chosen family:  Michael & Jamie, also known as the Newlyweds.  (I refer to them as the Newlyweds because we attended their wedding in Sept of 2005 in MA, the 1st state to enact marriage equality, and called them the Newlyweds on my blog.  It just stuck.)
They live in Portland, OR but were on the east coast visiting family for the holidays and yesterday was pretty much the only day we could see them.  Since they were flying home immediately after our visit, we chose to meet them in Arlington, near the airport.  What better place to linger over a wonderful meal than Cantina Mexicana (also known as The Taco House)?!?!

The drive back to DC was terrible.  It rained the entire way, sometimes rather hard, and visibility wasn't very good.  In some places where the highway wasn't graded properly there were puddles of water on the road.  Some drivers acted as if it were a bright, sunny day and zoomed down the highway.  We saw 4 multi-vehicle accidents in the span of about 25 miles.

But the tense drive was worth it because we got to spend time with our very close friends.  They are like the brothers we always wanted, in sharp contrast to the brothers Spouse actually has.  Although the Newlyweds are 14 years younger than us, they are mature and settled, so we have always gotten along extremely well.  When both couples lived in Arlington we hung out a lot.  We spent a week with them in Puerto Vallarta in Feb 2013 and had a blast.

We talked about changes with their work/jobs, recent travels, upcoming travels, and the possibility of meeting them in Vancouver BC in July.  We talked about all 4 of us having recently spent time with family, family drama, real estate investments, pets, and future hopes and dreams.  I was amazed how quickly the time passed when I saw that we'd been eating and talking for 3 hours already.

After reluctantly saying goodbye, we both headed home; them via a 6 hour plane ride and us via a 2 1/2 hour car ride.  It was a wonderful visit.

Friday, December 27, 2013


Tomorrow, Sat the 28th is my 9th blogiversary! 

Its hard to believe that I've been doing this for 9 years.  Although I've been posting daily Mon-Fri for the last few years, I didn't always do that. If you'd like to read the post where I introduced myself and Joe here on this blog, click here.

I sincerely appreciate all who return to my blog to read, laugh, and share in the comments.  I've had the pleasure of meeting some of you in person due to this blog so it has definitely been worth the effort to try and find new and interesting things to write about and share.

Now, on to the next 9 years!!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Greeting cards have all been sent
The Christmas rush is through
But I still have one wish to make
A special one for you

Merry Christmas, Darling...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas plans

Last night Spouse & I arrived at his mom's house at 9:30.  I was nervous how Marvin would get along with Spouse's mom's dog since Marvin didn't get along well with his brother's dog at Thanksgiving.  After a bit of desensitization Marvin tolerated being around Romeo, a 5 month old puppy who wanted nothing more than to play.

This morning I drove out to my cousin Nez's house to spend the day with her and her husband.  I was very happily surprised to find my aunt Rosie there!  I haven't seen her in a few years and she had some rather serious health issues earlier this summer, so it was really good to see her feeling/doing well again.  We had a very relaxed, easy visit talking and laughing.

Very shortly Spouse & I are heading over to his sister's house for Christmas eve and his mom's birthday.  We'll have food, his mom will open her birthday presents, and we'll have birthday cake... all on Christmas eve!

Tomorrow we'll hang out at his mom's house in the morning, then I'll pick up my aunt Mary and we'll all go back over to Spouse's sister's house for Christmas dinner and exchanging gifts.

On Thurs we will meet up with Kerry & Hugh, Kelly, George, and Lisa for our traditional Christmas luncheon which consists of pizza and hippie rolls.  (A hippie roll is an Italian sausage sliced in half length-wise with sauted onions and green peppers, wrapped in pizza dough and baked to a golden brown... delicious!)  Afterward we'll drop Spouse's mom off at her house, pick up Marvin and our luggage, and head on home.  

We'll see quite a few friends and family during our 3-day visit for Christmas!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Paris observations

Spouse & I enjoyed our trip to Paris very much.  In addition to seeing/visiting so many beautiful places, I also did quite a bit of people-watching.  Below are my observations about Parisians:

  1. They all wear scarves.  Every single one of them.  We tried to find a Parisian NOT wearing a scarf but couldn't do it.  Parisians love scarves.  That is a fact.
  2. They wear uber-fashionable coats.  While riding the subway and walking the streets I noticed that no one was wearing a 'basic' coat.  Everyone's coat was stylish, detailed, almost unique.  I didn't see a single person wearing a coat that looked like it came from a chain retail store.
  3. They have embraced the skinny-leg pant Everyone under the age of 60 was wearing skinny-leg jeans or pants.  Straight and gay; man and woman.
  4. Men shave once every 10-14 days.  While some men had full-on beards and a few were clean-shaven, the vast majority of Parisian men had scruffy facial hair that appeared to be several days' worth of growth. 
  5. They like good leather shoes.  As much as Parisians walk, I was surprised at how few people I saw wearing sneakers/athletic shoes.  The majority of men and women were wearing nice-looking leather shoes, even with jeans.  Many of these had an exaggerated pointy toe which I liked.
  6. They're not mean to Americans.  We were treated nicely by everyone we can into contact with in Paris.  At one point early in the trip I thought the waitress might not like us because she wouldn't bring us our check.  After finishing our meal we waited and waited for her to drop off our check.  But I later learned that was because we hadn't asked for the check.
  7. Parisian men look like metrosexuals, at least to Americans.  Several times I saw good-looking, well-groomed, stylishly-dressed men and perceived them to be gay, only to then witness their girlfriend/wife sit on their lap, lean over and kiss them, or hold their hand.
  8. They are weight/height appropriate.  We did not see many overweight people at all.  99% of the Parisians we saw appeared to be healthy, perhaps due to all the walking and/or the smaller size of the meals.
Disclaimer:  These are my observations and are not based on any scientific data or studies.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas cards

I was off work yesterday and since it was the 15th of Dec (10 days til Christmas), I decided to make use of the time off to work on my Christmas cards.

I've written before about how I enjoy sending holiday cards, that I hand-address the envelopes and why, and that I have a tradition of listening to Christmas CDs and drinking eggnog while I write the cards.  To my routine I've also added the application of tasteful Christmas stickers on the back of the envelopes.

While I enjoy the act/process very much, I must admit that it is time-consuming.  Yesterday I spent about 6 hours working on my cards, and I got through about 3/4 of them.  But it felt good to place 100 cards in the mailbox for pick-up.  Now I've only got about 25 cards left to write, and I will likely finish them tonight.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Paris places visited

Since it was my 1st time in Paris, I wanted to see as much of the city as I possibly could.  The best way (in my opinion) of doing this is to utilize the Hop-on/Hop-off bus.

There are a few of them in Paris, but we were told L'Open was the best, and coincidentally that is the one Spouse's travel agent booked for us.  They have 4 different routes and we had time to go on 3 of the 4.  You are given earbuds so you can plug into the commentary (available in several languages) as the bus drives by and/or stops at landmarks and places of note.  I found the commentary to be quite interesting and informative.  Spouse & I always sat on the upper level as close to the front as possible for the best views.  I would certainly recommend L'Open Hop-on/Hop-off bus to others who want to see a lot of places in a short amount of time.

Places we visited:
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Louvre
  • Champs Elysees
  • Notre Dame
  • Eiffel Tower
  • Pompidou Centre
  • Jardin du Luxembourg
  • Pont Neuf
  • Place de Vosges
  • Sainte-Chapelle
  • Paris Flea Market
  • Montparnasse Tower
Descriptions of many of these places can be found HERE.  We did not "tour" all of these places, as we only had 3 days in Paris.  Many we visited on the bus or on foot.  

When not using the tour bus, we used the metro/subway.  It was very convenient, inexpensive, and ran frequently.  You take the metro nearly everywhere.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Honey or vinegar

Surely you've heard the saying "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar".  The point is that you have a greater chance of persuading someone to do something if you are polite and complimentary rather than confrontational.  Its all about the presentation.

This old saying came to mind when I saw this new, sexy ad called "Knowing", which advocates HIV testing and knowing your status.  Unlike the old HIV testing ads which were clinical, 'matter of fact', and maybe evoked a little fear of not knowing, this ad takes a very humanistic approach to HIV testing, in my opinion.

I have a feeling this type of ad will be much more effective than the old, clinical style ads.  What do you think??

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Back in the USA

As Linda Ronstadt sings in the video above, I'm back in the USA.  Our plane arrived at 3pm ET yesterday, and Spouse's brother picked us up at the airport shortly thereafter.  We visited with his mom for a little while, then drove home to DE, arriving shortly after 7pm.

Paris was fabulous!  Rather than trying to share photos, stories, places visited, and observations all in 1 post, I'm going to split up those into a couple posts over the next several days.  Between the time difference, the way travel always make you feel tired, and the fact that I spent the entire day today in continuing education classes, I'm tired and am going to bed early.  In just a few minutes, as a matter of fact.  More to come!

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Leavin' on a jet plane

Today is the day!

This morning we're driving from DE to Spouse's mom's house in northern VA.  Spouse's brother will pick us up there and drive us to the airport this afternoon.  We're planning to be inside the terminal 2 hours prior to the scheduled departure time since this is an international flight.  Our flight leaves at 5:20pm and we arrive in Paris at 6:55am the next morning.

The logistics of travel make me nervous; getting to the airport with sufficient time, allowing for traffic jams, security, checking in, etc.  I have no fear of flying and really couldn't care less if I'm served a 'snack' or not, or if I have an empty seat next to me or not.  The flying part doesn't bother me.  The logistics are what make me nervous.

My brain tells me there's nothing accomplished by worrying about things over which I have no control, so I will do my best to allow extra ground travel time and arrive early.  Those are the things I can control.

Bon voyage!!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013


Instead of staying home and getting ready for our trip, last night we joined several friends for dinner and then I drove Big Ella in the Christmas Parade.  Fun!!!

We leave for Paris tomorrow and as of this writing, I have yet to pack a stitch of clothes.  In fact, I don't even know what I'm bringing, which is not like me.

The reason for this is because I'm very unsure what to bring.  I've been watching the weather and have a good idea of what the temps will be like, but we will be outdoors a lot (walking, riding the hop on/hop off bus, etc) so I know I will need warmer clothes than I would wear if I were at home.

Then there's the whole suitcase situation.  We got new luggage so we both have new airline-compliant carry-ons to stuff, plus you're allowed 1 additional 'personal item' (ie: purse, briefcase, etc.) but when you're packing winter clothes, you can fill up a carry-on bag very quickly.  Packing for a summer trip is so much easier because the clothes take up just 1/2 the space.

I know better than to think I will be able to bring a different outfit for each day, or that I will have day outfit and an evening outfit each day.  I think I will try to pack a few mix-n-match clothing items so that everything coordinates with everything, colorwise.  I think layers will be important, so I can put on or take off a sweater if I'm too cool or too warm.  I will be lucky to fit 1 evening outfit, which I'll wear Sat night for my birthday dinner. 

We've also purchased those 'travel size' toiletry items in the past, since the regular size items aren't permitted in carry-ons.  If we don't find them for this trip, we may just buy regular size items once we get to Paris, and just throw them away when packing to come home.

The house-sitter/dog-sitter is confirmed, the credit card company has been notified of our travel, and our tablets are charged and loaded with e-books and movies, so all of that is done.  Now I've just got to decide what to pack and cross my fingers that I can get it all in my carry-on and 'personal item'.

Monday, December 02, 2013


This is to let you all know that Spouse & I are no longer in a civil union.

We're married now!

A few weeks back Spouse got a call from someone in the benefits dept where he works (for the State) who told him that we could get a refund of some additional taxes paid since I am on his insurance if we were married.  

We had a civil union in 2012 when that became available to us, and I went on his insurance then.  This year full marriage became available (on the State level) but we did nothing about it.  We had the option to convert our civil union license to a marriage license, and if we did nothing, it would automatically convert in July 2014, so we felt no rush to convert it until we got the call from the benefits lady.

So we went to the courthouse, showed our civil union license, paid the $50 fee, and got our marriage license, all within 10 minutes.  There were no photos taken, no vows exchanged, no witnesses standing up for us.  It was rather anti-climactic.  Afterward we went to lunch and then Spouse went back to work.

An option given to us was how we were to be identified on the marriage license:  Party A and Party B, or Groom and Groom.  Without consulting Spouse who was sitting right next to me I exclaimed "Groom and Groom!"

Up to this point I always referred to Spouse as my partner.  But now that we are legally married I've decided to refer to him as my husband.  

For years I resisted using the word husband around straight people because I didn't want them to assume that I was the "wife".  You know how some straight people wonder 'which one of you is the man and which is the woman', a ridiculous question never asked of me, but I imagine still present in some people's minds.  But since same sex marriage has been in the news so much in the last few years I'm hoping that my use of the term husband will no longer illicit such thoughts, and whether it does or does not, I no longer care.  I am happy to refer to him as my husband.  

After 17 1/2 years I think I've earned the right.