Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Love In A Slot Canyon

My step-sister, Melissa, is a Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Personal Trainer, Sports Massage Therapist, Certified Health Coach, and Behavior Change Specialist.  She works with a lot of competitive athletes but also with kids and other clients seeking one-on-one training and massage. In addition to all of that, she's written articles for several health and wellness publications.

She is the owner of Raise The Bar Wellness.

Last year she had the opportunity to travel through France for a month to work as part of the health support staff for a cycling team in the Tour de France.  She was what's called a soigneur - in cycling, that's a person who gives training, massages, and other assistance to a team, especially during a race.

She recently posted the following words with the photo above, on her Instagram account. I think it's spectacular.  Have a read:

Life itself wants us to expand

It is always seeking our soft places

Pushing us there to see if we will stretch

Or break and become new

It seeks our hard places too

The walls we built when we didn't know we were building them

Life itself comes across like a monster

With gnashing teeth and long nails


But once we make friends with it

We realize

That sometimes love

Breaks us down

To build us up better

I could not love myself the way I do today

If I had not broken open dozens of times

I could not love my kids, my partner, this world

The way I do

If I had not fallen to my knees so many times

And begged life

To give me something better

Now isn't that fantastic?

She is so inspiring.  And wise.  Thoughtful and insightful.  Her words have the power to evoke deep emotion.  She says things out loud that most people keep inside.  She pulls feelings out of the deepest spots of your mind and heart.  And she makes people feel as if it's okay for them to have those feelings.

In addition to words like these that she writes, I love that she has such a dedication to physical fitness - for herself, her children, other children, friends, clients, etc.  She provided me with some really great exercises for back and sciatica pain that helped.  And when I watch her videos I REALLY want (in my head) to get off my ass and do exercise-like things. 

I can't always complete that thought with action, but I think it's building.  I've never been one to do, enjoy, or look forward to physical exertion so it's a big stretch to think I'll ever be anywhere near her fitness level. That's just crazy thinking.  But if I can reach just one planck length of her fitness level, I'd rule the world.

The closest I've ever come to daily physical activity of any significant level was my six-mile-a-day walking average in Europe, during a vacation in 2018.  That was over the top. Six miles a day! I can't believe I even did that. I was in Europe for a month and when I got home I weighed 13 pounds less.  Even after eating cheese and croissants and lattes and decadent breakfasts and dessert every night.  I was shocked!  I guess there is something to that exercise stuff.  

So I will just keep reading her words and watching her videos and maybe someday, like my grandfather used to say, if enough shit hits the fan, some is bound to stick.  

Friday, September 02, 2022

Loving The 'Gram

I lose
hours on Instagram.  Not all at once, but certainly over the course of days.  Some days, it'll be an hour before I realize in deep in the rabbit hole.  There's just SO MUCH stuff to look at, it's easy to get sucked in.  Here are ten accounts I follow that are currently my favorites.

Liliya Rakh 
She is the Founder and Director of Sauvage Group, the largest fashion luxury chain in Kazakhstan.  Yes, Kazakhstan.  There's just something about her I like - her hair (which she really pulls off) is her most striking feature, but the fact that she's tall and slim really sets off the clothing she wears.  I don't love all the looks she models, but I do like a lot of them. 

Carlo and Sarah
He's Italian, she's American.  They're young.  In love.  Married now.  They met at his family's beach club in Italy, a place she'd been going with her family for years because her Nonna lives in a nearby town.  Her nonna and other family members had been friends with his family for years. He was a handsome Italian lifeguard.  He learned English just to ask her on a date and even then, they used Google Translate to communicate.  They were separated during the pandemic and eventually married in Italy, but without her family because of Covid. They're having a second wedding this year in the U.S.  Here's a Q & A about them.  They're in their early twenties and a great couple.  I LOVE him.  His accent, his Italian, his laugh, and how he is still learning English.  They crack me up regularly.

Daily Bird Pics
I love birds.  I bird watch at home.  I have three bird apps on my phone - Merlin Bird ID, the Audubon Bird Guide, and Peterson Field Guides Birds of North America.  I take pictures of birds.  And I follow multiple bird accounts on Instagram.  Sometimes you'll seem the same photo on each account, but there are so many amazing, gorgeous, phenomenal birds to look at, who cares?  Here are some others I follow:  Birds On Earth, Best Bird Pictures, and Birds.Nature.

Effin' Birds
Speaking of birds  - this is a different kind of bird account.  I'm convinced its creator, Aaron Reynolds, and I, were separated at birth.  He's effin' hilarious.

Travel and Leisure
Nothing describes my likes better than travel and leisure.  I like all the ideas I get from their posts and because of them, I am continually adding new locations to my "must visit" list.

For The Love Of Old Houses
I definitely need more money.  Because there are houses out there that need to be purchased.  I want to live everywhere!  No doubt in my mind one of these places will give you pause and say to yourself, hmmm, maybe it's time to moveCirca Houses, Cheap Old Houses, Old Houses Under $50K, and Cheap Italian Dream Homes are others you might want to check out.

Mühendis Tube
Some of the coolest stuff I've seen online.  I don't know how they get half of these videos, but I'm glad they do.  It's awesome.  The account is Turkish - Mühendis means Engineer.

Cats of Instagram
Because I'm not allowed to have a cat.  That makes me sad.  This account makes me happy.  This one is kind of great also.

My Texas House
I love her decor - color palette and style.  I want this house and everything in it.  I just don't want it in Texas.  The style of this house is a very close second.  But again, don't love the location - I can barely handle the heat of Tucson, I'd never survive in blazing hot Buckeye, Arizona.

Mateo Zielonka
Because I love pasta and hope to someday make more of it, I follow Mateo because as a chef, author of "The Pasta Man", and maker of drool-worthy (and Instagram-worthy) dishes, he inspires me and makes my eyes happy.  You can find his website here.

I have many more Instagram sites that I love.  I'll do another post in the future about them.  In the meantime, check these out and let me know what you think.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2021:  Sorry, no post on this day.
2020:  Sorry, no post on this day.
2019:  Sorry, no post on this day.
Amazing In One Pot
2017: Note To Self: Shut Phone Off Before Bed
2016: Where You Live When You Love What You Do
2015: The Best Snark On Screen
2014: The Only One Working Today
2013: Only The Lonely
2012: Tunnel Of Love
2011: A Stinking Welcome
2010: The Star Of The Spinning Centerpiece
2009: My Nizzl Fa Shizzl
2008: When You’re Smiling
2007: I’ve Been Everywhere Sunday
2006: Decision Dilemma
2005: Alaska Later!

Friday, August 05, 2022

A Roadstar Shows How Business Casual Is Done

It's really official now.  We have a Roadstar in the family.

Last month, at an awards banquet in Orlando, Florida, Ed was handed his Roadstar award, on stage, in a room full of his peers.  He was smiling from ear-to-ear.   

At the 3-day event, there were past inductees in addition to the new inductees who were there to be recognized at the Saturday night awards ceremony banquet. 

On the first day of the event, at check-in, Ed received his name tag with ribbons indicating his past status as a one million miler, and the new inductee ribbon for the Roadstar award he'd be receiving.

Landstar flew us from Tucson to Orlando and put us up in the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort for the three days of the event.  They fed us (a LOT), entertained us with a special appearance by Jamie Clarke, acclaimed adventurer, explorer, author, and entrepreneur, and tried to kill us by giving us free passes to ICON Park, an "entertainment destination".

I joke about them trying to kill us.  I only say that because it was nine-billion degrees with 152% humidity - not the most ideal conditions for a day at an outside entertainment destination. 

We went on The Wheel (their giant 400-foot Ferris wheel), visited Madame Tussaud's wax museum, and then popped into the Sea Life Aquarium. 
Ed with Johnny Depp at the wax museum

What I found to be a VERY pleasant surprise was that the Ferris wheel's gondola car was not only air-conditioned, but it had a digital jukebox of sorts where you could choose your own music to serenade you during the 20-minute ride.  Nice, but I was still happy to get into an air-conditioned Uber to take me back to the air-conditioned resort.

The resort was TREMENDOUS. A 255-acre property with 1,501 guestrooms.  The walk from our room to the conference rooms was at least one-half of a mile.  Between meals and meetings, we made that hike several times a day.  The resort actually rents scooters for people to get around.  I wish I had gotten one of those.  I was envious every time someone zipped past me.

This photo is from the resort website showing two of the four swimming pools on the property.  We spent one of our days lounging by the pool with fruity drinks.  I haven't been in a pool in ages - it was so relaxing.  I think the 
piña colada might have had something to do with that.
They did an eighties-themed dinner for the first night we were there and many of the attendees - including our CEO and his wife - dressed up in their best eighties garb.  He was sporting parachute pants and high-top sneakers and she looked like a typical Jersey girl in her Madonna-esque outfit complete with fishnet stockings.  The music was great - so many songs I hadn't heard in years.  Everyone had a lot of fun.

Before the event, they asked all the Roadstars to wear the jacket they were given and a shirt of their choice to take their headshots.  I put Ed in his white shirt and figured we'd put the tie and jacket on, then he'd just switch out of that and just wear the shirt and shorts to the meeting.  But we didn't have time to go back to the room to change so Ed wound up wearing his shirt and tie, along with his shorts and flip-flops to the Roadstar Welcome meeting.

He was a hit!  Gregg Nelson, the Vice President of Operations at Landstar, called Ed out at the meeting and made a big fuss about how he was dressed.  "Now that's how you dress for a meeting!" 

He asked Ed to stand up and then said, "That's Resort Casual."  That was the first of many comments Ed got as he walked the halls.  One guy said, "Business on top, party on bottom, huh?"  and Ed replied, "It's called a Business Mullet."

Whatever it was called, I thought he looked very handsome.  
Overall, we had a really nice weekend.  We added a day on either side of the three days the company paid for and we upgraded our flight to First Class so we could comfortably travel from Arizona to Florida.  It was a nice little perk. 

Now we're home trying to stay out of the blazing hot summer heat of Tucson.  It hasn't been easy since we're doing a lot of caretaking for our parents lately.  Which, of course, requires us to leave the house.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Delicioso Since 1969

I've written about it in the past, and now I'm doing it again.  One of my favorite restaurants in Tucson in La Parrilla Suiza, a place I've been dining at for over 30 years.  It's my first stop for Mexican food and when we're home we eat there a few times a month.

We've been home for a few weeks now and have already made several visits to La Parrilla, as we call it.

If you're ever in town, you really should try it.

Order Number 17, my favorite.   

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2021: Monsoon Afternoon
2020: The Day Began With A Burst
2019: Sorry, no post on this day
2018: Sin In The Distance
2017: Often, The Trees Speak To Us
2016: How I'm Feeling Lately
2015: Ed Goes With The Flow
2014: Big Coin Was A Big Hit
2013: Painting The Serengeti
2012: Why Fig Newtons Will Always Be On My Shopping List
2011: Losing The Wallet At Your Convenience
2010: Bridge Over Troubled Roadway
2009: If Only The Streets Were Truly Paved With Gold
2008: She Reigns Supreme
2007: A Match Made In Heaven
2006: Proof
2005: Caped Crusaders

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

A Rare Bird On The Boardwalk

Earlier this month we had a few days off in Virginia Beach so one night we hit our favorite steakhouse in the area, Aberdeen Barn, and the next day walked the boardwalk in Virginia Beach. 

I hate walking but there were lots of benches to stop, rest, and people watch - that's my favorite part.  The weather was nice - not too hot - and although it was a weekday, there were still enough people out to make the people watching interesting.  

We found parking for the tractor one block from the beach and at the end of our walk, had some seafood at Chix on the Beach, which was recommended by a local.

While people watching on the boardwalk, I spied a handsome Roadstar.  I took him home.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Rotating High Above The Emerald City
2020: Sorry, no post for this day.
019: Sorry, no post for this day.
2018: It's A Slow Day, Norm
2017: Pizza On The Q
2016: DQ Cat 
2015: Happy Father's Day!
2014: WARNING: Very Low Flying Aircraft
2013: Stop. Look. Read.
2012: You Won’t Miss Me Coming On This Bike
2011: An Extra Large Bargain
2010: Maybe You Can Learn A Little Something From A Few Truck Drivers
2009: The Fathers In Our Lives, Our Fathers Who Art In Heaven And The Father Of Our Country
2008: Who The Hell Left The Pool Float In The Sea Of Tranquility??
2007: Lure Me In
2006: Sometimes The Reasons NOT To Have Children Are So Very Clear
2005: U-Ta-Dah!!

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Hallway From Hell

We're supposed to fly to Portland, Oregon next month.  The airport is under construction.  They have cute signs lining the areas you have to walk (not visible here) trying to keep you in good spirits as you trek thirty miles from one area to another dragging your luggage.  It's positively horrid.

I am not looking forward to this hallway.  In fact, I think I officially hate this airport.  I'll weigh in again after they finish construction, but right now they're at the very bottom of my "things I like" list.  

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A Grand Old Visit
2020: Now You See It, Now You Don't
2019: Green Sticks Everywhere
2018: Designated Office Space
2017: Desert Garden In Bloom
2016: Agile Cat
2015: Future Steak
2014: What Should Have Been Paul's Place
2013: At The Drop Of A Hat
2012: Passing Up A Little Afternoon Delight
2011: Annnnnnd…It’s Back On!
2010: Rise Early. Work Hard. Strike Oil.
2009: It’s All Connected To The Pigskin
2008: The Sorriest Team Drivers You’ve Ever Seen
2007: Ooooooo, A Contest!
2006: Modern Convenience
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Approaching The Missile Range

This is the San Augustin Pass rest area on US-70 heading east from Las Cruces towards White Sands.  This was an early morning shot just as the sun was coming up.  The photo really doesn't do justice to the vast distance you can actually see when you're standing at the top of this hill.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2021: It's Baby Season!
2020: Fanned Out Cables
2019: Three Years Later...
2018: A Spring Moment
2017: In The Heart Of Amish Country
2016: A Spark Of Male Bonding
2015: A-MAZ-ING
2014: Ghosts Of Retail
2013: Orange Is The Devil
2012: Sixteen Hundred Miles Makes All The Difference
2011: In Need Of Some Color
2010: 122 Years And Counting
2009: Sixteen Days Old
2008: Racism Comes With A Convenient Handle
2007: Evening Tide
2006: Glittering Pasties And Swinging Tassles
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005! 

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Taking A Ship To See A Queen

This is the view through our windshield as we drove off the ferry into Victoria - the capital city of British Columbia, located on Vancouver Island in Canada.  The crossing was just 90 minutes from Port Angeles, Washington in the United States.  The ferry drops you right into downtown Victoria - and as you drive onto the main drag, you pass the beautiful parliament building, which is graced with a statue of Queen Victoria herself right in front of it.

There was one other semi truck on the ferry with us.  He was a few vehicles ahead of us.  We were one of the last vehicles off.  I know it's no big deal for people who take these ferries all the time, but I love when we get to take our truck on a ferry!  It's a bit more exciting than our everyday travel.

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Dignity Of Earth And Sky
2020: When Life Gives You Lemons
2019: Istanbul Cobble
2018: Circulating The Morning Air In The Lonestar State
2017: It's The Real OLD Thing
2016: Stopping In Style
2015: Patiently Waiting
2014: Find Out Where You Can Dine With Giraffes
2013: Sputtering With Excitement
2012: Water May Not Be The Only Liquid Nourishing These Flowers
2011: Nappy Time
2010: Dick. Not A Dick. Which One Are You?
2009: First The Poultry, Now This
2008: California Moon
2007: Ryno And Rob
2006: Living The Dream
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn't start until May 2005!

Saturday, February 19, 2022

A Hail Mary, Lucky Horseshoes, And Some Really Good Trip Planning Are All That's Needed


Parking is a serious problem for truckers.  And it has been for years.  People want the items trucks bring, but they don't seem to want us parking anywhere near them.  NIMBYs, the whole lot of them.    

Even when we pre-plan our trip and have an idea where we’ll be stopping for the night, it doesn’t always work out. I’m the night driver of our team. And for some reason, I always seem to get lucky. My friend claims I have a golden horseshoe up my ass. Which, looking at the arc of my life, may be very, very true.  But not everyone has one.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t run into snags. Sometimes you plan to shut down at a particular truck stop for the night but you get there and it’s full. Sometimes you know there’s a rest area coming up but you get there and it’s closed. These are real-life everyday problems. I always leave myself extra time and never run my clock out. You don't even know the panic that sets in when you're watching your time run out and you're still driving to try to find a spot. One time I literally coasted into a parking lot with almost no time to spare.  Those were a few white-knuckle seconds, let me tell you.

As you can see in the photo - taken on Interstate-95 Northbound in St. Augustine, Florida - the “No Parking” signs are abundant. There must have been 40 signs there, on the outbound ramp of the rest area. The company we are leased to does not allow parking on ramps so we never have and never will do it, but lots of companies let their drivers park wherever they can find a spot.  When you see trucks parked on the shoulder of the highway, or on the ramps of exits or rest areas, you can bet your last dollar it's because they can't find an appropriate or safe place to park. 

The 2019 Jason’s Law Report found that 98% of truck drivers regularly experience problems finding safe parking.  The report is named after Jason Rivenburg, a driver who was robbed and murdered when he parked in an abandoned gas station in South Carolina.  He was the father of a two-year-old at the time, and his wife gave birth to twins just thirteen days after he was killed.  An absolute tragedy.  

It's a problem everywhere - in the northeast, California (which I think is the very worst), Atlanta, Chicago, most large cities.  But even in places where we have to pick up and deliver.  Some of these companies, which have plenty of parking at their facilities, don't even allow us to park there when waiting to load or unload.  They want their freight, they want it ASAP, yet they make things difficult for the drivers. 

In addition to the lack of parking, I personally have a problem with other vehicles using truck parking spots - like RVs, cars towing little trailers. Or a pickup truck that shouldn't be in the truck parking area at all.  I think they should all go to Walmart parking lots, where they are allowed and most often, we aren’t. We have to adhere to federally mandated Hours of Service. They don’t. When our time is up, it’s up. We need that spot. We are the ones who need safe, secure, available parking.

Truckers will never stop talking about the issues we face on a daily basis.  I just hope someone, somewhere, is listening.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

UPDATE:  This week, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg discussed the lack of safe truck parking.  I like Buttigieg.  And I'll like him even more if he's actually the one who finally does something about the parking situation.  Knowing who and what he's up against, I won't hold my breath.

But I will keep my butt cheeks squeezed tight - there's no way I'm letting that golden horseshoe slip out.  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Beautiful Freak Of Nature
2020: Sorry, no post on this day.
2019: Ring The Bell For Tips
2018: Snacks & Bar
2017: So This Happened Today
2016: Agrarian
2015: Tied Off
2014: Seek And Ye Shall Find
2013: Frantically Trying To Get Back To Indonesia
2012: I’d Like Some Snow For Dessert
2011: Getting A Little Carried Away
2010: On A Need To Know Basis
2009: Something Has Gone Terribly Wrong
2008: Flying Into The Sun
2007: Riding The Rails
2006: Keeping Me Quiet With A Chocolate Snap
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Campo Wind

A windmill in the parking lot of the Golden Acorn Casino in Campo, California.  Some people aren't so thrilled about the proposed addition of more wind turbines in the area.  Oh, well.  This is what progress and energy independence looks like.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
 ~ ~ ~ ~
2019: Rock Solid Saint
2018: Rainforest Adventures
2017: Low Ceiling In The Desert
2016: An Original Recycler
2015: There's A Black Hole In The Desert (With Truck Parking)
2014: Strength In Numbers
2013: Woman Cannot Live On Bread Alone
2012: Why Milk Is ALWAYS At The Top Of My Shopping List
2011: Fun For Sale
2010: Dublin Is Incredibly Corny
2009: Welcome To Snowhio
2008: When Big Hair And Denim Were King
2007: Open 24 Hours
2006: Lucky One Eye
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Friday, December 31, 2021

Change Often In 2022

The Grand Canyon, May 2021

So let's see....what newsworthy items did 2021 open with?

Oh yeah, that's right - an insurrection at the Capitol.  What a way to start the year!  Exciting, no?

But then the year ended with the death of Betty White on December 31st, just seventeen days shy of her 100th birthday.  How's that for Pandemic Year Two bullshit?

We lost quite a few other celebrities - some who I won't miss and who should have gone sooner.  I didn't realize until I saw that article, but among the people who died in 2021 was Jessica McClintock.  Remember that floral, floaty, lacy, puffy-sleeved romantic Gunne Sax dress we all wanted for prom, special occasions, and weddings?  She was behind that.  I know many people have no idea who she was, but she was a big deal in the eighties.  Go ahead and pull out prom pictures from that time.  She was there.  

We worked quite a bit that first month, just a lot of driving and sleeping, as there were lots of team loads for us.  We eventually made it home by the end of the month just in time for my yearly mammogram and several trips to our favorite taco joint.  I guess the work in January made up for the time we were off in February.  That's trucking for you. 

March was busy, April we were home again - found out Ed had been chosen to be a Landstar Roadstar, got our vaccines (finally!), and had some work done on the truck. We went back to work until the end of August and then we were off again until the end of the year. 

Ed, in his Landstar Roadstar Award jacket

1. What did you do in 2021 that you’d never done before?
The most out-of-my-comfort-zone thing that stands out?  Going camping in the Grand Canyon.  Me.  Camping.  When my friends saw my post on Instagram they called, texted, and wrote - "Who are you?" and "You?  Camping??"   

Have you ever met me?
  And if you haven't, have you read this blog?  I don't camp.  I don't even like to be outdoors.  Sitting around the backyard with friends is about as "outside" as I can tolerate. 

Let's see...what else did I do?  Well, since I got my rock painting supplies for Christmas last year, I painted a few rocks. 

I celebrated a four-year wedding anniversary.
208 weeks of bliss.

I flew on an airplane wearing a face mask.  Very odd being covered up every minute of the trip - I felt like a bank robber that couldn't breathe.    

My in-laws moved in with us for 6 weeks (more on that later). 

I went to a Cantaloupe Festival in Fallon, Nevada.  Mostly against my will.

Farm equipment at the Cantaloupe Festival in Fallon, NV

I visited The Silos in Waco, Texas, after having watched Chip and JoJo fixing up houses for years on TV. 

I discovered I was misdiagnosed with a life-threatening illness, after having gone for a second and third opinion.

I went to the top of the Space Needle in Seattle - something I didn't even do when I lived there.

And I made Tomato Jam, which was deeeelicious!

My delicious Tomato Jam

2. Did you keep your New Year’s Resolutions, and will you make more for next year? 
No and no.  I did once again resolve to diet and exercise and I did once again, fail miserably.  I'm just not into it.  Just not.  I find no joy being outside unless the weather is at or below 65 degrees (which is almost never in Tucson), my neighborhood is so ugly that going for a bike ride to look at dirt and cactus is not any kind of motivation, and hiking?  Up a hill?  On purpose?  No. I can't even say I'd hike up a hill if I were being chased by a bear.  I'd probably just give up and let him maul me.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My cousin and her new husband had a baby boy - Gianni Luis - in November. Half Italian, half Mexican, 100% gorgeous!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My Tucson bestie’s mom died at the beginning of the year. She was devastated and has been having a very hard time with the loss.
The Magnolia Silos in Waco, TX

5. What countries did you visit?

Nada. Nunca. Absolutely none. And I’m getting really upset about it. I’m actually craving Europe. Can one crave a continent?

6. What would you like to have in 2022 that you lacked in 2021? 
Follow through.  I'd like to actually follow through, to the end, many of the things I start.  I've always had many balls in the air, and I kinda like it.  And I don't feel bad when I abandon something.  But I do realize that sometimes things I WANT can only be obtained by following through.  So, I'm going to try to get on that.

7. What dates from 2021 will remain etched in your memory, and why?
January 6 - Insurrection Day. I could not BELIEVE what I was seeing. What a disappointing day for the people of our country to have resorted to that kind of behavior. Absolutely unacceptable.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Moving Ed's parents from New Mexico to Arizona.  It was quite the undertaking.

Ed's dad had a TIA at the end of June so he went out in July and August to see his dad, each visit for a week.  Then, at the end of August, we decided to go get them and have them stay with us for a while, just to be able to spend some time with them and keep an eye on his dad.  Instead, we wound up packing their ENTIRE house in four days, got a realtor, got a landscaper, had a yard sale, donated things to Goodwill, and then eventually got on the road.  Between the four of us, we moved a U-Haul truck, an RV, two cars, a trailer, a golf cart, and two dogs, out of Carlsbad to Tucson. In one week.
Ed's dad, looking cool on the trip from New Mexico to Arizona.

We moved all of their stuff - from their 1,700 square foot house - into our family room.  It was JAM PACKED with boxes, furniture, appliances.  Just tons of STUFF.  His parents are 80 and 87, so there was NO WAY they were going to be able to handle any of this on their own.  

They stayed with us for about six weeks while we looked for a place for them to live and we found a lovely Independent Living facility for them just 4 miles from our house.  We went through all of their things and had them decide what they were keeping and what they'd be giving away because the apartment they were moving into was only 600 square feet with a small storage area.
The in-laws' new living room.

We set up their entire apartment - mixing old furniture with new - hung their pictures on the walls, set up their cabinets, bathroom, pantry, etc., and then moved them in.  We didn't want them to do a thing.  We wanted them to feel comfortable and be free of stress.

So for months, we were completely consumed.  I did ALL their medical stuff - set up appointments, filled out new patient paperwork with medical histories (holy shit - that's a lot of information when you're dealing with people who have lived 80 and 87 years!), and we both took them to their appointments.  We showed them where everything was.  Got them comfortable in the town and the immediate area in which they'd be doing most of their shopping and medical stuff.  We even took the dogs to the groomers!  

So I think successfully getting my in-laws settled in Tucson, has been my (and Ed's) biggest achievement for the year.  It's worked out so well and I'm so happy they're happy!

9. What was your biggest failure?
I must have had a pretty decent year because I can't recall any failures.  

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I had debilitating back pain that kept me out of work for a month - it’s a recurring pain from a crash I was in and I never know when it’s going to hit. I couldn’t move, stand or sit comfortably, sleep without waking, or even take a deep breath without sharp pain.
Me, shattered by a filter.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

This lipstick and foundation from KIKO Milano (the #1 cosmetic brand in Italy), this coat, and these twinkle lights.  

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
The citizens in the country who stepped up and wore masks, got vaccinated, got boosted, and continue to practice behavior that shows they care about themselves and others.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? 
Those who refuse to get vaccinated. It’s selfish, disrespectful to friends and family, and irresponsible. Do you want to be a citizen of this country? Do you like living here? Then you should do everything in your power to make sure the people you live with and among are safe from harm.  It's your responsibility as a citizen to contribute to the success of this country, whether you like it or not.

14. Where did most of your money go? 
Bills, retirement, Verizon.  

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The All-Clad cookware my friends handed down to me.  They didn’t have a use for them anymore and thought I would appreciate the quality and make good use of them.  Hells, yeah, I will!  If you know, you know - this collection includes hundreds of dollars worth of pots and pans.  I can't think of a better hand-me-down.  Thanks, M & G…I love them!  
All-Clad Pots from M & G

16. What song will always remind you of 2021?
I couldn’t name a song from 2021 if you had a gun to my head. But, there were two songs in the series “Emily in Paris” that I absolutely loved: Mon Soleil and Dynamite.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?
Happy, fat, and breaking even.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Bake bread. Generally, I don't think it’s worth the effort when you can buy an artisan boule loaf for $7, but nothing really beats fresh-baked bread with butter.
                                                          This guy brings me flowers - don't argue with this guy.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Argue with my husband. I really have to learn to keep my mouth shut. Every little thing annoys me so I just have to learn to let things go. “Not argue with my husband” might have to go into the number two slot as a new year’s resolution.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
A small gathering of family and friends. Only six of us. Since we still have some vaccination hold-outs, I couldn’t include everyone this year. Such a shame. But I still cooked as if they were in attendance.  We had very non-traditional Christmas food:  

Christmas Eve, we made Brisket, scalloped potatoes that were TO DIE FOR, candied yams (my MIL’s request), corn niblets, baked beans, cucumber salad, and coleslaw. I made my Aunt Ronni’s famous rice pudding for dessert.

On Christmas Day I made chicken cutlets (my mother’s request), mashed potatoes, roasted carrots, and sautéed broccoli. Simple. Chocolate cake, cheesecake, and leftover rice pudding for dessert. Now you can understand why I’m always “fat” in question number seventeen.
This year's very pared-down Christmas table

21. Did you fall in love in 2021?

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Hands down, Yellowstone. If you are not watching this show, I don't even want to know you.  I cannot get enough of this show.  The hour flies by and always leaves me wanting more.

In addition to Yellowstone, because I guess I have to balance out the rugged cowboys and the badass force of nature that is Beth, my other favorite is This Is Us.  I absolutely love this show.  I love the writing, the characters, the feelings I have when I watch it.  Sadly, this season is the last one.  I'm preparing to cry a lot and be emotionally devastated by the time it's over.  I fear I may not recover.  I need to immediately start looking for a show to take its place.  Any suggestions?
Storm in South Tucson

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Well, I’m going to quote my nephew’s girlfriend with the answer she gave to my question, “So, how do you like your job?”

She said, thoughtfully and gracefully, “Well….I am grateful for the experience, but I hate people.”

I agree 100%. People are horrible.

24. What was the best book you read?
I didn't read at all this year - mostly listened to podcasts.  Oh!  And guess what?  There's a Yellowstone podcast!  Yes!!  I should probably do another "favorite podcasts" post since I've started to listen to so many new ones.  Yeah, that's an idea.  Look for it in 2022.  

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Probably BTS (a Korean boy band) because of their song Dynamite, the one I heard in the Emily in Paris show. I knew of BTS, I just never really knew any of their music. Now I do.

From the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum in Seattle, WA

26. What did you want and get?
Well, I finally got a pedicure after going all of 2020 without one! And Ed bought me an Italian language learning app to go along with the free ones I already practice on.  I can read and say sentences now.  Pretty cool.   

27. What did you want and not get?
I really wanted side diamonds for my engagement ring but it just didn't happen - mostly because I can't decide on the shape I want (baguette? trillion? oval?).  I'm still combing Instagram for ideas.  Damn being an indecisive Libra!

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
I watch so many movies it's hard to make a choice.  And it's hard to remember what I even watched!  The two that stand out right now as ones I liked - The Starling and 12 Mighty Orphans.  

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

My 54th birthday was spent in Elko, Nevada. We were on the road. It was less than exciting.  But I did get a few trinkets from Ed that he picked up in the truck stop - a tiny etch-a-sketch and mini Lite-Brite.  Then, once we got back home, Ed ordered the Cheeses of The World collection from Murray's Cheese in New York City.  So delish.
My quote of a quote in Real Simple magazine.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Writing something.  Like a book.  Or a compilation of short stories.  Or poetry.  Or even more blog posts.  I was a total slug and thought about writing, but didn't.  I did have a quote I like published in Real Simple magazine (see photo above).  That was kinda cool.  But I didn't write it.  So, yeah, I should probably start.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2021?
I did a lot of leggings and tee-shirts in 2021, and I even ventured away from my signature black into wearing some crazy colored leggings (see photo below).  I also liked floaty dresses and capri leggings with ballerinas.  I'm considering paring down my closet this year to maybe ten outfits.  I always wear the same thing anyway so really,  I only need about five outfits in regular rotation.  
My cool tropical leggings.

32. What kept you sane?
Genetics.  I come from a very sane line of Italians, believe it or not.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Stanley Tucci.  I think I've always loved him but I really enjoyed him in the CNN special, "Stanley Tucci: Searching For Italy".  He's handsome, classy, charismatic, Italian.  You can even get the recipes for the meals he ate in each episode.  Check them out here - the Spaghetti alla Nerano is on the top of my list.  I can't wait for the second season!

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Voting rights.  I'm sick over the ways politicians are making it harder, not easier, for people to vote.  And the others I'm always very passionate about - healthcare, immigration, and equality (race/gender/etc).
New York-style bagels in Tucson.

35. Who did you miss?
My best friend. She's in Nashville and I haven’t spent quality time with her in YEARS. I need a girls' weekend, just her and I, to talk about old times and laugh until the wee hours of the morning. 

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Since I rarely left the house, meeting new people was challenging.  I can't say I met anyone that stands out as a "best new person".  Maybe next year. 

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2021.
Always be prepared.  I can't say I necessarily learned that life lesson in 2021, but there was a very important event I was part of where preparation meant everything.  I'm a nerd.  I make notes, I document in detail, I take pictures, I remember who I spoke to, I put dates on things.  I'm always prepared.  And it usually pays off.  Yay for me!
A tree in our yard.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. 

"Life is dynamite"

It comes from the BTS song I discovered this year - Dynamite:  

'Cause I-I-I'm in the stars tonight
So watch me bring the fire and set the night alight
Shoes on, get up in the morn'
Cup of milk, let's rock and roll
King Kong, kick the drum, rolling on like a Rolling Stone
Sing song when I'm walking home
Jump up to the top, LeBron
Ding dong, call me on my phone
Ice tea and a game of ping pong, huh
This is getting heavy
Can you hear the bass boom? I'm ready (woo hoo)
Life is sweet as honey
Yeah, this beat cha-ching like money, huh
Disco overload, I'm into that, I'm good to go
I'm diamond, you know I glow up
Hey, so let's go
'Cause I-I-I'm in the stars tonight
So watch me bring the fire and set the night alight (hey)
Shining through the city with a little funk and soul
So I'ma light it up like dynamite, whoa oh oh
Bring a friend, join the crowd
Whoever wanna come along
Word up, talk the talk
Just move like we off the wall
Day or night, the sky's alight
So we dance to the break of dawn
Ladies and gentlemen, I got the medicine
So you should keep ya eyes on the ball, huh
This is getting heavy
Can you hear the bass boom? I'm ready (woo hoo)
Life is sweet as honey
Yeah, this beat cha-ching like money
Disco overload, I'm into that, I'm good to go
I'm diamond, you know I glow up
Let's go
'Cause I-I-I'm in the stars tonight
So watch me bring the fire and set the night alight (hey)
Shining through the city with a little funk and soul
So I'ma light it up like dynamite, whoa oh oh
Dy-na-na-na, na-na, na-na-na, na-na-na, life is dynamite
Dy-na-na-na, na-na, na-na-na, na-na-na, life is dynamite
Shining through the city with a little funk and soul
So I'ma light it up like dynamite, whoa oh oh
Dy-na-na-na, na-na, na-na, ayy
Dy-na-na-na, na-na, na-na, ayy
Dy-na-na-na, na-na, na-na, ayy
Light it up like dynamite
Dy-na-na-na, na-na, na-na, ayy
Dy-na-na-na, na-na, na-na, ayy
Dy-na-na-na, na-na, na-na, ayy
Light it up like dynamite
'Cause I-I-I'm in the stars tonight
So watch me bring the fire and set the night alight
Shining through the city with a little funk and soul
So I'ma light it up like dynamite (this is ah)
'Cause I-I-I'm in the stars tonight
So watch me bring the fire and set the night alight (alight, oh)
Shining through the city with a little funk and soul
So I'ma light it up like dynamite, whoa (light it up like dynamite)
Dy-na-na-na, na-na, na-na-na, na-na-na, life is dynamite
Dy-na-na-na, na-na, na-na-na, na-na-na, life is dynamite
Shining through the city with a little funk and soul
So I'ma light it up like dynamite, whoa oh oh

And my slogan for the New Year...

Change often.

Winston Churchill (who I know nothing about) said, "To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often."  I am not afraid of change and I like the idea of perfection, although I know it's impossible to achieve.  But I think getting as close to your version of perfect is a good goal.  So, change often.  

Downtown Port Huron in Michigan.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2019: How 2019 Fell Through The Cracks
2018: Galloping Into 2019
2017: 2017 Saw A Snowstorm, A Penitentiary, And A Wedding
2016: 2016 Has Ended And It's Time To Breathe Again
2015: The Sun Sets On 2015
2014: Thanks, 2014. For Everything.
2013: I Am Gonna OWN You, 2014!
2012: Wrapping Up A Year Of Making My Own Sunshine
2011: Later, 2011!
2010: That’s A Wrap!
2009: Out With The Old
2008: Another Year, Another 365 Days
2007: All Good Things Come To An End
2006: The Symphony Of A Thousand Saws
2005: Suicidal Firewood