Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Last Night and Day One

Early yesterday evening we headed a few blocks in the direction shown as the last rays of the sun bounced off the downtown skyline. We grabbed a drink in the lounge of a club we belong to and waited for our guests for drinks and dinner. I got this shot looking back at the sunset with our building and the new, taller Independent silhouetted in the beautiful colors.
We had drinks. We had apps. We had dinner and acted festively.
That's my picture of the husband and our guests.

This morning was slothful.

I made some computer backups and checked a flash drive with stuff for my CPA to deal with right away in the tax season stuff. I worked the NY Times puzzles and read some newspapers. I drank coffee. Don't I always. I did a few financial things, wrote a few checks. I did an invoice for my husband.

I should have done so much more. But I didn't. We went to a little get together with ham and cornbread and black-eyed peas. I didn't drink the champagne on offer. (Fact is I didn't drink all day. I did eat too much.) We stopped at our local, independent bookstore on the way home. They were having a 20 percent off sale, but for once we couldn't find any books we couldn't live without.

We watched mindless TV and I ate too much, snacking on this and that. I read newspapers. Well, it's a holiday. Tomorrow is also a day. I'll accomplish things, I'll exercise. Or not.

Monday, December 31, 2018

It's Almost Over

A few hours until 2019. One more posting day for Holidailies. Soon the (mostly) bendable posable collection of Christmas figures will be packed away. The leaf for the dining room table (expanded for the puzzle) will be returned to its tucked in position. I've already stuck the unsent holiday cards in the closet. I sent 94 and got 50 according to my records. I will be tossing some I received in the trash or recycling. I'll save a few beauties to put out again next year. The tiny tree and its tiny ornaments and tiny fake packages will be packed away. Ditto the Nutcracker figures.
Will I ever drag this stuff out again? One doesn't know what will happen in the next 300 plus days.

I got up on this last day of 2018 and drank a bunch of coffee. I had to fool around with the satellite TV box because it had crashed or something. It finally came back to life. It hadn't recorded a Showtime show we wanted to watch completely so I spent a few minutes figuring out how to get Showtime on the Roku. Technology overwhelms me these days! Yes, I was 'in the business.' But I've been retired for 16 years. We watched the show we wanted to see which aired yesterday and I worked the NY Times puzzles. FFP sauteed some chicken and we made chicken tacos. I tidied up a little in the kitchen. I took pictures of all the Christmas decor. It's funny how many pictures we take now that it's digital. And how many are on our phones these days.

I made a card for my tennis buddy who will be 88 years old this week. Yep. Eight-eight. I need to do something for her birthday. Think I'll take some bagels to the courts on Thursday. I usually organize a luncheon. I've been too lazy to do it this year. If I were going to make a resolution this year, it would be that I wouldn't take anything too seriously. It's all motion. Goals realized are not much more important at the end of the day than goals abandoned. Clean things get dirty. Things break and wear out. We pass, too.

Tonight we will have dinner and get home hours before the new year. We will probably doze in our chairs reading all those 'year-in-review' lists in the papers. Tomorrow I'll check in with the blog. Holidailies will end. And, maybe my blogging will end for now. Or forever.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Going Through the Motions

There is something about this holiday gap between Christmas and the New Year that always makes me feel lost. On Christmas Day, I drank two Bloody Marys. Started drinking early, too. I actually don't think I had another drink, but one can't be sure this many days later.

Anyway, I feel lost. Yesterday, I went through my regular routine. I was up a little late (7:30). I had coffee and did the puzzles in The New York Times. (It was Saturday and I conquered them all so that took a while.) I turned the TV on because it's cold outside and I use it to warm up the room. Haven't had the heat on all winter! Put it on BBC News. I read the rest of the Arts section that I found interesting and then almost finished looking at yesterday's papers, save the front page of the NY Times. I got interested in a couple of stories in it and have yet to finish.

We walked across the footbridge to Trader Joe's because I wanted salad for lunch. (I'd already had a taco that FFP got from the Farmer's Market Taco Deli stand.) I didn't have any 'green stuff.' We get a mixture of kale, spinach, and chard called Power to the Greens. Came home with a Fuji apple, a birthday card for my nephew-in-law, some cheese sticks that I'm going to add to the appetizer plate for tonight, a fake chicken in orange sauce frozen thing FFP wanted to try, chicken tenders (actual chicken) for a dish he's going to make tomorrow night, a small baguette, a microwavable Indian Tikka veggie thing I wanted to try, some olive tapenade (for the apps for last night) and five Lemon Luna bars (why five I don't know, FFP added to cart). And, of course, the greens. The total was only $24.94. The bill always seems cheap at Trader Joe's!

I made a salad. The greens, some chopped apple, some broccoli, some raisins, some carrots, shredded cheese, green onions, and Greek Feta dressing. I read a little bit of today's The Wall Street Journal while eating. I put away the food I'd drug out.

Then I sat at my computer. Pondering cash flow to pay my bills, my 'to do' lists and where we stood after the wild week on Wall Street.

I decided I deserved to sit in my chair and read, perhaps to doze.

Around 4p.m. I put together some appetizers for the event last night. I ended up with a lot of choices for what to include and how to combine it. Some endive topped with olive tapenade or Boursin cheese, some celery with pimento cheese, little toasts with paté and a sliver of gherkin, and zucchini topped with Boursin. Something like that. Challenge was figuring out how to get them in something we could walk across the lake on foot with. I managed it and we made it there. We had dinner with food brought by the other couples (much tastier and better thought out), drank wine, watched a show of singers giving tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong backed by a number of musicians from the local scene plus a bunch of the Austin Symphony.

Today was cold and rainy. I got out for my lunch with some girlfriends. We chattered about growing old and our various challenges. I ate fried avocado eggs benedict. Which somehow sounded better than it was. I didn't do anything constructive all day. FFP wanted to go out to the restaurant down the street (Fixe Southern House) for dinner. I had a couple of Manhattans with some gumbo and fried chicken and kale salad.

Sloth isn't becoming, but I do it so well. I would make resolutions to do better in 2019, but why? I wouldn't keep them. If I need resolutions, I only need to look back.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Schedule

On Christmas Eve we scheduled a meal with a friend in the evening. I'd been suffering from allergies and I hadn't put it on the calendar but, in the back of my mind, I knew that Albert & Gage would perform at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar at noon. (This is an event with sale booths showing art and gifts, booze for sale and bands performing constantly.) We decided to go. That's fun to just do something impulsively even though the timing has been in your head all season. We've gone to hear this band at this time for several years. An impulsive tradition?

What if I didn't have a schedule? What if I didn't invite people over or agree to go to events or buy tickets or make dates for meals? When I see a blank day on the calendar, I breathe a sigh of relief. I see myself getting things done. I see myself getting organized. I see myself getting rid of magazines and newspapers because I've read them.

Yesterday wasn't blank. We had a lunch date. Also appearing on the calendar was a haircut. Not for me, but for the husband. It was on our calendar. He also put a sticky note on the back of our door where he'd see it when he got his coffee and oatmeal. Because it was at 9a.m. and he didn't want to forget it if he got up a little late and didn't look at the calendar! We also tentatively decided to go shopping after lunch for the ingredients for apps for an event we were invited to tomorrow. (And accepted, obviously.) It's one of those musical events with bistro seating where people can bring food and buy booze. The music is that of Ella and Louis. (If you have to ask, you aren't a jazz fan.) We did go in the afternoon to Whole Foods. Bought endive, zucchini, smoked gouda pimento cheese, country paté, nice olives, and little crispy toasts from which, adding some crackers and Bousin style cheese and maybe some salami that we have on hand will make some random apps to take to the party tonight.

Not having any commitments? What would that look like? Of course, there are always things hanging over my head on the real calendar or the one in my head. Tax duties, make quarterly payment, pay bills. What if someone else did that for me?

Most days I keep to a bit of a routine in the morning. I get up, make coffee, check our computers, extract the Arts section from The New York Times, look at Facebook memories, try to work the puzzles in the Times, all while watching CNBC if it's a day the stock markets are open. If there's time, I read the articles that interest me in the Arts section. (Or sections on Friday.) A twist on Sundays is that the puzzles are in the Times Magazine so I make a couple of copies of the page with the Ken-Ken and crossword so that FFP (the husband) can read the magazine when he gets up if he likes. If it's a tennis day, I don't always get the puzzles done before time to drive to the tennis courts.

I guess these routines give a hint to how I would spend the day if I didn't schedule things and if, by some magic, someone else completely took care of my bills and taxes and such. Maybe I'd do more than work puzzles, play tennis, read. Maybe I'd take even more random serendipitous walks. (We do that a lot now, but I've been staying inside a lot due to allergies and such.) Maybe I'd get back to doing some gym time.  Maybe I'd write. Not just blog but write short stories, essays, and books. Maybe I'd take up computer programming again. Maybe I'd learn Python and advanced WEB development.

Fact is: I could do any or all of the things on my calendar and fulfill my (admittedly not so difficult) duties to finances and bill paying and also add the writing, learning, more walking, more reading and exercise I talk about.

Just got to start on it. Once I start something, I almost never finish! But I do make progress.

Yesterday, I did read. I did carefully go over some tax stuff I have to deal with immediately at the new year. (Info for forms the CPA will do for mortgages we own and Quickbooks copies for her for our business and its tax forms for income, Federal Unemployment and such.) I watched mindless British crime drama. I watched a couple of Jeopardy episodes. And news.

So just start doing those other things. The ones that aren't scheduled and that involve learning and creating and exercise and not taxes and accounting (and housekeeping!).

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Last Haircut

This tree has a weird assortment of stuff on it. It was in a shop on 2nd Street methinks.

My apartment is still decorated. After all, we have one and only one guest during this time period and she is coming tonight. We are watching 'Giant' and eating barbacoa tacos and drinking bourbon. Well, maybe wine.



Anyway, I'm going to shower shortly and go get my last haircut from Jane the Barber who has been cutting my hair for twenty-five years or so. She is retiring. Which is only fitting since she's a couple of years older than I am. I will find a new person to cut my hair. Hopefully, I will find a closer place. Maybe one that I can walk to. Jane was only about a mile from my old house. Then she moved further north and I moved downtown. It's now an 8.5-mile car trip. I have gotten appointments at times of the day when the traffic wouldn't be too bad, but closer would be better. I'm considering a friend who is a stylist and is 3.5 miles away. But there are walkable barber shops and stylists downtown. I can walk to my dentist. I can walk to doctors and clinics (although I never go to doctors if I can help it). I have to drive a few miles to the Optometry place I go to once a year. But it's only about four miles away. Is my world getting smaller? Yep. I hate to drive places. I do drive myself about five miles (each way) to play tennis. We make bigger car trips, of course, and even road trips, but in the husband's car and with him driving usually.

I quit typing here and went about my life.

Yep. I have a short haircut. The last one from Jane the Barber. I'm not much on style and grooming. I like my wash and go haircut although I've always liked it in between the cut she gives (too short on top) and the shaggy, in-need-of-a-haircut mess I usually have before I get another. Sigh.

I didn't post this yesterday. We tidied the apartment in a desultory way. We had our friend over to watch 'Giant' and eat tacos. (We included barbacoa as a choice as I said above. Does anyone know the movie?) We drank some wine she brought. I was in bed earlier than usual and now I'm up a little earlier than usual. I woke up worrying about my end of the year obligations to the tax man. And, also, for some reason what those giant, fat disks with movies on them were called. The ones as big as an LP but thicker. Laser disks, it came to me later. Oh, the failed technology. (And, why was I thinking about that?)

And so it goes. As my dad used to say: "There's always something to take the joy out of life."

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Boxing Day

I guess I should box up these guys and send them back to storage. That's not what boxing day is all about. And I'm also not doing that yet. We haven't had a single person over while the decorations have been out. We have one friend coming over tomorrow. I'm going to leave it all up so someone sees it in person (and not just my friends in cyberspace).

A bit of depression has set in. Boxing day is about giving to the less fortunate? Or the elites casting stuff off to their workers? Well, I'm definitely very lucky. We can weather the stock market faltering. We have some income, no debt. But we've already given (or at least placed on credit cards) our giving for the year. (And to continue to not have debt I have to pay those off shortly.) It's not the stock market's decline or the state of the world that gets to me. It's just all these ridiculous tax forms and such. And, oh, by the way, be sure to send in your quarterly payment to the IRS by January 15. Are those guys even there to acknowledge it? I usually do it online and presume that will work.

My annual meet-up with girlfriends has been thrown into disarray. The organizer can't make it. This is the frequent status of this particular get-together. Oh. Well. Finally, it's moved to Sunday at a new venue, but one we've been to as a group many times.

We are going to a Boxing Day party tonight. It is a great group of people, young and old. Many talented creative types. At the home of a stellar cook with a master chef son-in-law. That will be fun.

I need to do some tidying and cleaning before the friend comes over tomorrow night. I'm just going to hit the high points and hide the mess. I have all this time, but how do I spend it? Reading. Mostly papers. (Although I'm quite a way through a small book I bought myself for Christmas.) We also listened to a lot of music yesterday. And drank Bloody Marys. Leading to a nap or two, maybe. We watched a bunch of Brit Crime drama, too.

I'm just rambling today. I'm going to keep doing that. Today. Maybe past the Holidailies end. (January 1.) It's helpful, somehow. I've also been reading other people's entries. I used to really rely on that. But now there is also Facebook to allow you to see other people's travels, troubles, etc.

I failed to post this before the day was out. I had to shower. I had to go to a party. There was quite an impressive thunderstorm (although we missed the worst of it going and coming to the party). The party was great. Good food. Booze. Multiple generations of friends.

Spent the rest of the evening watching Brit Crime and getting alerts about lightning on my phone. Which I really didn't need because I could see and hear a lot of the storm. Fell asleep with my book with the rain still coming down. It was an unusual storm for winter.

So I'll post this. Maybe I'll do a few more of these before Holidailies is over. Will I reach beyond that? Maybe not. There are all those tax forms....

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

All is Merry and Calm

We are here, surrounded by books and Christmas figures. Since early this morning we've been listening to Christmas jazz on radio stations over the Internet. I've finished numerous cups of coffee. I put up the last cards we got before Christmas and checked my database. I sent 94 cards and received 45. (From people. I don't count businesses and non-profits.) Didn't send to all families I received from. Didn't receive from all I sent (obviously). I've read a bunch of today's newspapers. And prior days, too.

I didn't buy a single gift save bottles of wine taken to hosts of parties. Unless you count the books I 'let' my husband (FFP) buy. (I also got a couple in this exchange. And I bought myself a French page a day calendar from Amazon.) I used to buy scores of gifts, from the ridiculous to the (maybe) sublime. And wrap or package them. I miss it a little. But not much. I got a couple of packages from my niece in Colorado. One had gourmet cheese, crackers, and sausage. One had a puzzle and some homemade macaroons. (My favorite cookie.) She said she got the puzzle secondhand although it was still shrink wrapped. (I like that. My family has, in the past, had secondhand or homemade Christmas. It was fun.)

We've had a relaxing day. I worked puzzles in the papers. We ate brunch: banana 'pancakes' (they are actually just bananas and eggs mixed up and grilled) with maple syrup, chicken sausage, and Bloody Marys. I didn't fall asleep after the alcohol but FFP did.

All day I checked my phone for text messages or Facebook posts...me and lots of other people marking the holiday with current or vintage pictures of Christmas celebrations. My niece sent texts of pictures of her boys and their gift exchange.

I can already feel the month-end, quarter-end and year-end tasks hanging low over my head. Taxes make this time of year have a bit of a cloud.

We have a few more holiday events. A Boxing Day party tomorrow. We are having a friend who has never seen the movie 'Giant' over on Thursday to watch it and it's iconic Christmas scene. I'm meeting girlfriends for our annual holiday get-together this Friday. On Saturday we are going to a Holiday Pops concert. New Year's Eve is an early dinner at a club with a couple of girlfriends then home to avoid late revelers.

And so it goes. I try to enjoy the time to read and think. But things hang over my head. Must do a bit of straightening and dusting and vacuuming before having that friend over, too.