Thursday, November 29, 2012

I'm in Delaware!

I thought my walking program could use a little livening up so I've decided to walk across the USA!  Web-walk, that is.  Webwalking is a way of taking a virtual walk across the States, marking on a map where you would be if you were actually walking it.  Check it out at:

So we are starting out from Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware.  This area, on the ocean, is known for its fishing, military defense and recreation.
I'll keep you posted as I hit milestones along the way.  Feel free to come walk with me, even if just for part of the way!

Photo from

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Summer Trip ~ Washington D.C. at last!

Our Nation's Capitol!
Our final summer vacation destination was Washington D.C.  The weather cooled slightly, making it possible for us to walk and enjoy seeing the remarkable museums and monuments.  We stayed at the Embassy Suites in Chevy Chase and the subway to downtown D.C. was right across the street.  One of the smart things we did was get the hop on, hop off passes for the tour bus.  If nothing else, it provided us with transportation (and a few minutes to rest) between spots, but the first time we rode it we were also able to get our bearings on where everything was located and how far apart sites really were.  Here are a few of the hundreds of pictures we took.
The Jefferson Monument was one of my favorite places. 
 I have such an admiration for what he accomplished.
Thomas Jefferson.

The Lincoln Memorial has square sides, rather than the round shape of Jefferson's Monument.
Looking down the mall from Lincoln's Memorial.

The size of Lincoln is breathtaking.
We walked down the mall from Lincoln's Memorial to the WW II Memorial.  
With all my heart I wish my dad could have seen this in his liftetime.  I was moved to tears 
by the love and respect for our WW II vets that this memorial represents.

My dad served at Peleliu.  He shared his stories of the war in the autobiography he wrote in 
the last few years.  It was incredibly moving to see Peleliu represented at the memorial.

Remembering my Dad's brother, Bill, who was killed in WW II....
So many stars, representing those who died in the war, and I couldn't even get them all in.
Washington's Monument was closed to the public due to the earthquake they had.
The Newseum was a fascinating look at our world through the eyes of journalism.

We could have spent an entire day in the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum.

We had arranged for a private tour of the Capitol on our last day there through Congressman Sam Farr's office.  We took an underground tunnel from the Congressman's office building to the Capitol.  I can't even describe the history and the beauty of what we saw, we saw so much, and our tour guide (an intern) was full of interesting details.
As a member of the DAR I couldn't skip seeing the DAR Headquarters while there!  This is their library, full of geneology records.  You can't see the beautiful sky lights in this photo.
The National Cathedral

Not included among all these photos were our visits to the Spy Museum, the Natural History Museum (another one we could have spent a full day in -- it's fabulous), and last but not least -- the National Archives where we got to see the original Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and Constitution.

It was one fabulous vacation and I feel so fortunate to have been able to spend such quality time with my daughters and see all of these fantastic sites.  And now our summer vacation 2012 is a very sweet, beloved memory.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Summer Trip ~ Jamestown to Mount Vernon

 Replica of the Jamestown Settlement
With the long lapse of time between posts, you have probably forgotten that I was actually trying to map out our summer vacation to the east coast and had made it as far as Williamsburg, Virginia.  My daughters and I started in Raleigh, North Carolina, drove to Corolla where we spent a week with my sisters and their families at a beach house, and then drove our rental car up to Williamsburg.

We enjoyed an afternoon exploring historic Williamsburg and by evening welcomed the air conditioned comforts of our hotel there.  The next morning we got up early and went down the road to Jamestown.  There is the "real" Jamestown, which we saw briefly.  The real Jamestown is referred to as "Jamestown Rediscovery Archaeological Project" which is where they are excavating artifacts from the original 1607 James Fort.  However, we spent most of our time at the "Jamestown Settlement Victory Center."   There you will find an interesting (thankfully air conditioned) museum and re-created colonists' fort, Powhatan village, and replicas of the three ships that sailed from England to Jamestown in 1607.  As I stood looking out over the water front, I couldn't help but marvel at the courage of those who actually sailed in the real ships across the mighty ocean and saw this land for the first time.
 Replica of one of the three ships that sailed.
Colonists' Gardens

Craftsman at Work

I've heard of a turkey-in-the-straw, but not a rooster-in-the-bed.
Powhatan Village Dwellings

I was astounded by the amount of history surrounding us, wishing I could bring that sense of time and place to the west coast for our schools to impress upon the hearts of our students.  Williamsburg and Jamestown are definitely worth seeing!

Suitcases in the trunk, we said goodbye to Jamestown and headed north to Mount Vernon.  History buffs that we are, we were eager to continue our historical trek.  We arrived at Washington's home in the late afternoon, again greeted by a fabulous museum.
Mount Vernon - Washington's Home
The Gardens surrounding Mount Vernon

Statues of Washington's Family Greet Guests in the Museum.
A stained glass mural depicts scenes from Washington's life.

A young George Washington.

George Washington becomes our first president.
After a full day of sightseeing, we drove the last few miles to Washington D.C., turned in our car rental and took a cab to to our hotel where we would stay for the next few days, taking in the sights of our nation's capitol!  Stay tuned for the last leg of the trip.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Life Organized

My heart goes out to those who have struggled to put their lives back together after Hurricane Sandy blew through.  I can't imagine losing everything as so many of them did.  We do not have hurricanes on the west coast and the weather is tame for the most part.  But we do live in earthquake country and are told that it would be wise to be prepared for a few days of survival in the event of a major earthquake.

Over the years, I have put emergency supplies together in anticipation of "the big one," but my habit of rotating water, making sure we don't dip into supplies, and updating contact info has become increasingly lax.

Recently I started following a terrific blog called  It's dedicated to home organization and I love the author's tools, tips and challenges to tackle the art of a more orderly life.  Starting December 8th she is doing an 8 week program on Emergency Preparedness.   If you want to join in, just click on the Emergency Preparedness box below and follow the instructions on her blog:

As usual, I'm a day late and a dollar short, in this case on joining in her Home Organization 101 weekly challenges.  After all, I'm still trying to finish up the telling of our summer vacation on the east coast, and I think I left off with the letter E on my Encyclopedia of Moi!  I do finish what I start -- it just takes me awhile sometimes!  So here I am on week 13 of her project, jumping in to join the current week's challenge-- the master closet!  There is only one week left and I'm hoping she starts over for those of us who missed the first round.  If not, I'll have to loop back around to week 1 on my own.
The master closet sounds rather scarey, but if I'm going to dig through it, I better do it now before it is full of Christmas gifts and wrappings this coming month.  Onward, charge!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving Week

It has been a wonderful Thanksgiving week. My girls were home off and on, overlapping.  We baked pumpkin pie and pumpkin rolls, using family recipes.  My mom was known for her perfect pie crust and pies, and to our delight we were able to duplicate her efforts.  We had turkey and all our favorite side dishes.  It was quite simply...  something to be thankful for!

As the weekend rolls into its final day, I look at my daughters and think how blessed I am to have them in my life. They have turned into thoughtful, kind, intelligent young women.  I talked to both of my sisters on Thanksgiving Day and was reminded of how fortunate we are that we are not a family that feuds, but a family that knows that life is too short to let our differences of opinion over shadow the strength of our love, a family that cares about each other.

And now we move into the Christmas season!  We put up the tree and decorated it with our special ornaments.  The stockings are hung by the chimney with care.

Happy Holidays!

I Hate Windows 8!

Someone referred to it as "dueling desktops."  Well said. 
Windows 8 has a "start" screen with big bold icons featuring more than enough of your favorite programs and some you would never want (including several commercial ones which I promptly deleted).  Not only is it visually overwhelming, but the icons are so large that you have to scroll from left to right to see them all -- an extra movement I could do without.

Then you still have your normal desktop with the smaller icons that we are all accustomed to from Windows 7 and before.  Ah, all the comforts of home!   You don't have to scroll to the side to see things, you are not blinded by the bright colors.  Much more of a "Table of Contents" approach!
Windows 8 probably works okay with touch screens, but as I scroll down the right side scroll bar of pages, I inevitably touch one of the "sensitive" areas on the screen that suddenly make the "charms" pop up, including a large date and tine block that covers 1/8th of my screen.

When I'm working on my desktop, I'm fine.  I have "pinned" my favorite programs to the bottom so I can toggle between my email and my word documents.  But it never fails -- just when I'm hitting my stride with transferring data from emails to documents, I accidentally hit one of the charms and the screen  switches to the big old START screen again. 

Extra steps, extra strokes.  Return to desktop, return to email....  I KNOW I'm using far more strokes with this blasted program than with Windows 7.

As it turns out, my daughter was quick to point out that my left click button is not working properly.  I have had this laptop for under two weeks so guess where I'm going tomorrow?  I will see if they will allow me to trade it in for a laptop with good old Windows 7 while I'm at it.  Now that would be a true lucky charm!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It's a Girl Thing!

 Sweet Treats > Anti-Bac Hand Soaps > Shop now.

What could be better than a girls' day out weekend with my daughters!  They drove home Friday night and we watched TV and indulged in Ben and Jerry's ice cream and talked and laughed and talked some more!  There is nothing like waking up lazily on Saturday, spending the morning in our pj's -- catching up on laundry and House Hunter's International and savoring Ash's delicious French Toast.  Then it was off to Monterey -- first stop Target for practical things like light bulbs and a computer mouse, until Ash squealed, "Hey, those are my favorite kind of gloves," and Lys started trying on hats.  Not so practical, but their Christmas wish lists have been started. Lunch at Island Burger at Del Monte Center was next - their Hawaiian burgers, dripping with teriyaki sauce and loaded with pineapple, are fabulous!  (As you can see, food seemed to have a big part in our weekend.)

Then it was time for Bath and Body Works so we could stock up on all the delicious winter hand soaps and moisturizers.  It's a girl thing, but we love those pump soap dispensers and they smell so pretty.

Macy's was the next stop where our intention was simply window-shopping and getting ideas for Christmas.  But then we discovered they were having a fantastic sale on handbags --  we had a contest for whose bag looked the rattiest and decided that all three of us really needed new ones!  So each one of us walked out with a new purse.  We were so happy with our choices -- a red (looks pink here but it's a dark red) leather bag with a leather ruffle on it for Ash, a black hobo bag with a studded bow on it for Lys, and a sleek black bag with just the right combo of pockets and right length strap for me!
Red by Marc Ecko Handbag, Dusk Till Dawn Ruffled Hobo Bag Red By Marc Ecko Handbag, Bownanza Hobo

Evening rolled in and we ended up at the movie theater to watch the suspenseful "Argo" movie -- very good -- and then drove home to 70's rock and roll blaring through the car speakers.

They had to go back home Sunday morning -- and I miss them already!  Thanksgiving is just around the corner!

My Laptop's Last Hurrah

Well, I knew it was only a matter of time -- my Acer laptop computer died last night.  We definitely got our money's worth out of it.  It once belonged to Lys during her high school days and I adopted it when she upgraded for her college work.  Keys were beginning to stick, it was slo-o-o-w-w-ing way down in its response time, and then last night, it cranked out its final hurrahs. As much as I hate spending money on it, a laptop is a necessity for me.  I have a nonprofit to run, serve on a couple committees, plus do some private speech therapy -- all of these require computer-generated records.   Yes, I do have my desk top PC upstairs, but I confess to being spoiled by being able to sit on my comfy couch, dog at my side, and favorite TV shows in the background while I play around on the computer.  So I stopped by Staples after work today and am now the proud owner of an HP Envy with Beats audio (not that I'll actually use that much).

It has Windows 8 and this seems to take getting used to.  (I'm never crazy about changes like this.)
Windows 8 vs Windows 7: 8 ways it's different

The reviews say this new Start screen results in much quicker access to the programs you want.  But honestly I keep hitting the "charms" when I don't mean to -- I'm sure I'll improve with practice.

So while it wasn't planned ~ Merry Christmas to me!

Friday, November 2, 2012

November Has Arrived!

Fall is here!  I love that feeling....  The crisp chill that greets me when I open the door in the morning.  The cold in my lungs when I take my early power-walk.  The pale fog hovering over rooftops until it burns off mid-day. And while we don't sport as many trees with leaves aglow as the streets on the east coast, we do relish the few golds, oranges and reds we see on each block. I love pulling into my driveway after work and getting a whiff of a fire burning in a neighbor's fireplace -- eager to lay my own fire. And it's truly satisfying to snuggle up under an afghan with my pets and a book before bed.

Autumn Fires
by Robert Louis Stevenson

In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!

Happy November!