Thursday, February 28, 2008

Am I Beginning My New Normal?

Right now, I don't think life is ever going to get back to normal for me. I just have to accept the change. I've been dealing with the bank regarding the boat loan and obsessed with how I'm going to pay it off and what I'm suppose to do with the darn thing. The title doesn't even have my name right!

Park Service gave me three weeks to get it out of Flamingo but that's not going to happen, the buyer pulled out and I need to find someone fast (the boat's pictured, any buyers???). The next loan payment is due in a week or two along with the insurance. Also learned I need to pay a $400 pet deposit for the cat plus my monthly rent increases. Oh, and a $14.95 oil change turned into $600 with other things needing to be repaired on my Saturn. My nice little tax refund (and then some) is gone.

In my quest to get back to normal, I attended a couple of green guide classes this week. I'm trying to get back to writing and had to ask for an extension for one of the sites I contribute to. (and I had some really great ideas before this all happened.) Am looking forward to getting back to the gym, not sure when that's going to happen.

So bare with me as I adjust to my new normal.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Getting Back to Normal

Thanks so much to everyone who's reached out during Peter's passing. I'm still shocked and find it hard to believe he's gone.

I'll follow up accordingly, I'm just overwhelmed right now (well, suppose being overwhelmed isn't anything new) trying to catch up on what I've missed, keeping pace with the present and planning for the future.

Now more than ever, I'm going to be working hard on my blogs and writing. But explanations are for another time.

So, in a quest in getting back to normal...

My parents are in town. Check out my Tallahassee blog to see what we've been doing.

Did anyone see the lunar eclipse last week? I poked my head into the cool Tallahassee evening and really wished I had a decent camera. Pictured is the lame image I snapped.

While reading my friend Julie Pecenco 's blog, I was delighted to see the fabulous images she captured in her post called "La Bella Luna." Go check her out.

Wishing everyone an uneventful week.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Escape to Ireland, Let Me Tell You Why

March is around the corner, which reminds me of Ireland. A few years ago, I was able to tie a business trip to London with a weekend getaway to Dublin over St. Patrick’s Day. I've returned to Ireland since and I’m elated my cousin will be traveling to Dublin next March with his school marching band to perform in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Hope he asks me about Dublin hotels because I could give him and his group some great advice on where to stay.

I love Ireland’s capital city (Dublin, if you're geographically challenged) because the people are incredibly friendly and welcoming. All the way from the front desk clerks of my Dublin hotels to the cabbies. Mind you, I could hardly understand a single word the Dublin taxi drivers spoke because they speak so quickly, but I could tell they were friendly. An Irishman explained to me the Irish’s strong connection to their American cousins and love of Americans and all things American.

Dublin’s a fabulous walking city and although I got lost one day (in the rain), I was able to find my way back to my Dublin hotel while finding all sorts of neat sculptures, stopping at a pub or two for a pint of Guinness and shop for Irish wool items. Of course, had to see the Book of Kells at Trinity College. Incredible.

Ireland’s not just for St. Patrick’s Day, it’s a wonderful destination to visit year-round. My friend ZeldaMae and her cousin took on the Republic of Ireland last year, driving the countryside. They had booked some Ireland hotels in advance but played it by ear when itineraries were flexible.

ZeldaMae spent some time in Cork and told me how it’s the European Capital of Culture (I looked that up and she’s right, earning that designation in 2005). Watching her budget, she was able to select from many of the Cork hotels to fit her needs. There are many cultural activities happening in Cork including:

Midsummer Festival (mid-June to mid-July): A celebration of theater, music, art and all things cultural throughout the city.
Film Festival (early October): Showcases the best of Ireland’s filmmakers and features Irish and international films.
Jazz Festival (last weekend in October): One of Europe’s largest jazz festivals.

After checking out of one of the Cork hotels, ZeldaMae headed over to Ireland’s west coast and the County Galway and Galway city. The seaside city is known as the “city of the tribes.” Between the early 1400s up until the mid-1600s, 14 families ruled the land. There’s loads of history embedded in this part of Ireland and some of the sights highlight the very best of Galway’s history:
Medieval Town with Arts and Heritage Centre: founded in the 13th century, is the only walled town in Ireland with the walls still intact.
Kirwan's Lane: one of Galway’s last remaining late Medieval lanes.
Portumna Castle: built before 1618 by Richard Burke, 4th Earl of Clanricarde.

While there are many activities to enjoy, there are just as many fine Galway hotels to recharge after a day of exploration.

So what Irish city is on my radar to visit? Northern Ireland’s Belfast. The British and Irish cultures meld together. The city is at peace and is coming together rather than being torn apart. It has that edgy, raw character I love in a destination. Belfast hotels, restaurants, clubs and shops are welcoming more and more tourists daily. This Northern Ireland capital has character rivaling its Dublin twin, yet, is a bit more affordable. Belfast hotels fitting everyone’s taste and budget are readily available.

My friends at CheaperThanHotels.co.uk make finding Ireland hotels easy. Stay in posh accommodations with the chance at seeing U2’s Bono in one of the Dublin hotels. Get lost in culture while recharging at one of the Cork hotels. Embrace Medieval history yet retreat in modern comforts in one of Galways hotels. Or, live on the edge and visit Belfast before your friends do. See an evolution of a city while resting in one of the Belfast hotels.

[Note: Photos are from my 2004 trip to Dublin]

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What a Long, Strange Weekend It's Been

I haven't thought about emailing, blogging or writing this week (I've been Twittering). I have loads to catch up on but dealing with Peter's death (my ex) has been emotionally draining. It's just not his untimely death but the tying of loose ends we had together.

I'm emotionally exhausted and hope to be back to blogging and emailing tomorrow. We'll see. I'm meeting with an attorney tomorrow.

The brightness to all this is connecting with old friends and creating new friendships. I'm sharing a photo from our wedding in 1998 which shows some friends and family. It's one of my favorites. Peter's the one with the Mickey Mouse vest.

More to come later this week. I need some sleep.

Monday, February 11, 2008

I Had No Idea How Many Tears I'd Shed

In an earlier post, I mentioned how I found mementos from my marriage. This included a funny note from Peter, my now ex-husband, from when we first dated. I can't remember song lyrics so I make them up as I go along. When we first went out the song "Calendar Girl" was playing on the radio. I sang along and improvised the lyrics.

"February, you're my little apple pie."

Of course, those aren't the lyrics but it became a joke between us. I found a note this weekend which read, "it's February and it's apple pie month." It's tucked in a plastic container he once gave me - which housed a Dutch apple pie.

Yes, I still have this silly stuff. Even though we're divorced, it's too precious to throw away.

I also looked at several photos of him and us together. There were good times.

I didn't sleep well last night, not sure what it was. My mind kept racing.

Overwhelmed with work today, my caller ID indicated my friend barb was calling, but it wasn't with good news.

I felt sick to my stomach and broke down in tears when I heard, "Peter's dead."

It's been an emotional roller coaster of a day. Long story short, he's on life support and it doesn't look good.

I'm the ex-wife and sometimes, not a good one. I feel guilty about that. I feel guilty about a lot of things. Peter's too young to die. People in their 40s are suppose to wake up each day and enjoy life. They're not suppose to die.

I'm not sure what I'm suppose to be feeling now. I'm not sure where I fit into this whole scenario. I feel helpless. I have a headache. I have an ugly zit on my nose and from all the crying, the foundation covering it washed away. I'm grieving. I feel a part of me has died.

But is their hope? Is he going to find strength and regain consciousness?

I'm grateful for my family and friends who've been there for me. Thank you.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Reminiscing and It Feels So Good

This weekend I vowed to tackle my mess of apartment. I just don't understand it. I'm gone for two weeks and come back to find every room is a train wreck. True, I get lazy when I have back-to-back trips and have a mess to come home to. Since my parents will be here at the end of the month, I needed to start organizing.

While sorting through the most ignored room, the guest bedroom, I came across so much from my past. I'm not quite sure what to do with them - the wedding album, photos from the wedding shower in the Everglades (man, was I "round" then) and monogrammed wedding gifts.

I just kept them in their respective containers and kept sifting through things. While discovering I have about 100 conference bags (anyone need a bag??? I have backpacks, briefcases and cotton bags perfect for grocery shopping), I found my membership packet to the Hillary Rodham Clinton Fan Club. It's from 1995! Makes me wonder when Clinton dropped Rodham - was it when she became a New York senator?

And then I received a nice blog comment from the artist Joyce Moore with Locady Leaves. Her comment made me recall my S2S2007 trip (to the Northwest Coast) last spring although, I remember that trip daily, thanks to her. One of the few souvenirs I purchased was this fabulous cement leaf in Mossyrock, Washington. It's in my living room so I see it daily.

Moore takes imprints of actual leaves so the pieces of art really look like leaves (they're a bit heavier though). The one I purchased is about the length of my hand but she also has larger pieces. If you want one, drop her a line at Locadyleaves@yahoo.com for prices, etc. Or, if you'll be in Mossyrock, the DeGoede Bulb Farm sells these fabulous treasures (at least they did during my 2007 visit!).

I rounded the weekend out with baking heart-shaped brownies for the office. I found these Reynolds Fun Shapes heart cups at the local Dollar Tree and had two boxes of brownie mix (buy one get one a month ago) so decided to put them to good use. The Valentine's bags were found at the Dollar Tree, too. Popped the extras in the freezer. Will be good for brownie sundaes my parents visit.

After three days off, I'm getting mentally prepared for the week. Have a good one!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Blast from the Past: New York's Naked Cowboy

I'm working on an article and was sifting through my photo library to see if I have an image fitting the content. In doing so, I came across one of my favorite photos taken in New York City in May 2005. I was happy to find it because I thought I lost it when my last PC crashed.

I love this photo not only because it has the Naked Cowboy but it's quintessential New York. Naked Cowboy, Broadway musical in the back, busy street corner with street vendors, tourists enchanted by the Cowboy and NYC residents unphased by him.

Hope you enjoy the view as much as I do.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Message to My Friends: You Can No Longer Live in Cool Places

I've been bitten by wanderlust and just don't know how to cure it. Maybe it's not meant to be cured. Travel is my drug, my passion. Exploration keeps me going. Have a good global network of friends makes traveling easy and while I love you, my friends, here's a message. No one else can move and live in a cool place because it means I'll WANT to come visit!

While Paula and Keith, the Can-Am Couple, are spending the winter in Belize and summer in Greece, my friend Jon's in Micronesia and friend barb (lowercase "B" is intentional) is retiring and moving to Mexico this spring. And, Death Valley is suppose to have an incredible flower bloom this spring. My friend Shep has a room waiting for me!

These are all places I want to visit but frankly, I don't have the time (nor funds) to visit everyone. I know visiting isn't mandatory but I WANT to visit, play and experience.

At least I got to see my friend Madge during a recent business trip to Texas. She's pictured here, getting ready to introduce me (I gave a talk about my Afghanistan trip) to her circle of friends.

Oh, alright. If I can't convince anyone from not moving, I'll have to live vicariously through blogs. And barb, you better get a blog set up because you're an engaging and entertaining writer.

ABA in Virginia Beach: Stealing Hugs from Tony Orlando

I was in Virginia Beach this past week attending the American Bus Association (ABA) Marketplace. It's probably one of my favorite organizations because everyone is friendly, welcoming and business gets done.

While there's a good amount of work (eventually I'll post about one of my favorite speakers during the event), there's fabulous fun.

During lunch on Tuesday, the folks of Branson, MO sponsored a musical extravaganza giving us a taste of what's coming on board this season. I have to admit, my perception of Branson is country and that doesn't do it for me. Boy, was I surprised with what the destination offers.

Carrie Tillis (Pam Tillis' younger sister) was the bubbly MC and performances included the Twelve Irish Tenors, Roy Rogers, Jr. & the High Riders, The Comets (as in, Bill Haley. BTW - these guys can still shake, rattle and roll) and many other talented performers. (Llamas were paraded through the Virginia Beach Convention Center ballroom, too.)

Tony Orlando (minus Dawn) was the final performer and he had attendees dancing in the aisles and women swooning. After his set, which included "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" and "Knock Three Times," the entire lineup performed a final song.

I was pumped for the afternoon and heading back to the educational sessions, I ran into some of the talent. A few others (all women) waited to see if Tony Orlando was coming out and sure enough, out he came.

What a wonderful person. He took the time to pose with the handful of us who waited for him even though he was due in a press conference.

So here I am with Mr. Tony Orlando (carrying the fab bag from Grandma and my bling-luggage tag from my sister Liz).

Stay tuned for more from my trip!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

With Love from Virginia Beach

Made it to Virginia Beach without incident. Had lunch at a local spot - food was great, service was so-so, registered for the converntion then wandered along the boardwalk and beach.

The Neptune Sculpture is mighty impressive, the photo doesn't do it any justice.

I love the no profanity signs and they're real. I'm told the profanity from the night club scene (I imagine primarily in the summer as it's pretty quiet now) was a bit outta control, hence, the rules.

Love it!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Guess Who's Blogging Now? The TSA!

I was shocked to see the TSA now has a blog, it's called "Evolution of Security." After quickly perusing it, though, I've decided it's pretty cool. The TSA bloggers have personality and seem fun. And, they're suppose to be REAL TSA employees. I know. Who would have thunk one could write (and mean it) "TSA" and "fun" in the same sentence. They've got to have some thick skin, too. Some comments are nasty and I'm sure the nastiest have been deleted. Check out my overview of the TSA blog here and let me know your thoughts about TSA's blog.