Friday, July 25, 2014

Made My Way to San Jose

After two flights, two cab rides and three thousand miles I made my way to San Jose and #BlogHer14. I'm happily settled into my hotel, where I was welcomed by free Wi-Fi and a tray of cupcakes, definitely a blogger dream come true.

Let the fun begin!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Not on the Way to San Jose

My flight to Blogher '14 was scheduled for 6:29 tonight. I was going to leave for the airport around three and was I was feeling reasonably organized. I'd figured out what to pack and was ninety per cent packed. I'd sorted toiletries, taken out the trash and cancelled the newspaper. I still had to sort out my tote bag and take a shower. Not bad, with two hours until I needed to leave for the airport. I decided to check in to my flight online and when I did, I found the ominous note, "Your flight is cancelled."

I shed a few tears for a few minutes while I was on hold to speak to someone at JetBlue. There were severe weather warnings -- I can hear the thunder now -- and if I hadn't checked the status I would have gotten an email ten minutes later. Luckily I called before the notification went out and got a seat going via Boston tomorrow afternoon. I had a direct flight, with an aisle seat today, and tomorrow I first fly east to change planes to fly west, but I am still scheduled to be in San Jose for BlogHer '14. I will miss the Sangria reception, the panel on maternal health around the world which sounded so interesting and the opening night festivities. But in light of all that is going on with flying and cancelled flights I am grateful to have a scheduled flight one day later. I couldn't help but smile when I thought of my post yesterday and learning to go where the wind takes me, literally.

One thing I hadn't accomplished was getting a manicure. My plan was to get one in San Jose tomorrow morning, but since there won't be a tomorrow morning in San Jose I walked over to the nearest nail salon. Generally I choose one of the colors on the far right for my fingernails, but being open to change I had my nails painted light blue, something I have never done before. I'm not sure I'll do it again, but they do look nice and it is a fun change.

Our incomparable blogger buddy, Marie of "The English Kitchen" has been nominated as a finalist in a recipe contest at The Tuscany Now blog. This link will take you directly to the page and with one quick click, you can help our friend win a trip to Tuscany. You will also find great recipes. Marie's recipe is "The English Kitchen Pasta Dish." In truth in journalism I haven't made this dish, but I have made other recipes that Marie has featured on her blog and they are the best. The best! I'd suggest you vote early and often, but in this case just one vote per person.

Here's hoping for sunny skies tomorrow and good weather for flying. I'll do a very quick post when I arrive in San Jose, scheduled for 9:19 p.m. Pacific time.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care. To sunny skies, literally and figuratively. 

Lucky Thirteen

The Big R -- Retirement Reflections, Thirteen Months Later

A little over thirteen months ago I signed my last time sheet, completed piles of paperwork and cleaned out my office. That was my prelude to completing forty years of working full-time. I approached retirement as I had approached everything else in my life, with lots of planning. I've always been a planner and my approach to retiring consisted of lots of plans. I reviewed my finances weekly, signed up for social and volunteer activities and thought I knew exactly how I would be spending my time. I didn't take into account whim, chance or how one step in a different direction can change things. 

Fortunately my financial review was accurate, but no matter how worthwhile, I didn't find the volunteer activities I'd chosen engaging. That is still a work in progress. I had also hoped to become more fit, but breaking my foot in September derailed that plan temporarily. I'm not completely where I had been, but I am getting around much better. 

There was one area where I completely followed my heart and that was writing. I knew I wanted to write more and that activity has completely engaged me. Two columns for Manilla -- alas, now out of business -- and a number of Litfuse book reviews, plus hundreds of blog posts later, I now think of myself as a writer and I am loving it. This time last year I hadn't heard of Manilla or Litfuse and they became a big part of 2014.

I've long kept a list of places I'd hoped to travel to and diverged from the list almost immediately after retirement by planning my trip to England, Iceland, Norway and Ireland. Dublin was high on the list, but the other places weren't near the top. I'm glad I diverged from my plans and lists and followed whim and my heart to find adventures I couldn't have imagined when I booked the trip. 

I've learned a few things. I've learned to follow whim and diverge from my plans without regret. I've learned that I get half as much done as I thought I would do, but that I'm having twice the fun. I've learned, too, that it's a good trade. I've learned and relearned that despite all the plans I can make my ship of life doesn't always go in the direction I'm steering. The winds have brought me to places that weren't on my map and I'm grateful for the new horizons I've discovered. It's been a lucky, lucky thirteen for me and I am excited for the new horizons I'm yet to find.  

A toast to new horizons

Friday, July 18, 2014

Ode to the Olive Foodie Friday

Sometimes we go 3,000 miles across the Atlantic to Norway or across the millenia to the beginning of time for the inspiration for a blog post. But sometimes inspiration is just ten blocks away. Yesterday I went thousands of miles and centuries for inspiration for the post and today's post was inspired by a quick stop at Zabar's, my favorite food store, literally just down the street.

I read the post I wrote about Zabar's in April and realized I didn't mention the olive section at all. It's next to the door and usually I'm stepping past it on my way to the cheese or coffee sections. In fact if you had asked me any day before this Tuesday about my liking for olives I would have told you that they weren't a particular favorite food. For no reason I can think of I stopped at the olives. Perhaps it was because I had no special errand to do at Zabar's and I wasn't in a rush. Perhaps it was because it was a rainy day and the store wasn't crowded. Perhaps... I became enamored of the olive assortment and read the descriptions. I decided to buy a small container of the Moroccan mix, an assortment of green and black olives in a lemon and oil marinade.

Like most Americans who grew up in the 1950's the only olives that I made acquaintance with were small, green and had pimentos stuffed inside. We rarely had them in our refrigerator and I never developed a taste for the them. I learned to like broccoli and whole wheat bread, which I didn't especially like growing up, but not olives. But the olives I bought on Tuesday were different. They had a wonderful flavor and as a fan of all things lemon, I was delighted in the taste. I was won over and all it took was a rainy day and a few minutes browsing.

Here's a toast to the olive, and a toast to the foods I think I don't like. This older dog learned a new trick and I am happy to proudly state that I am now an olive eater.

Though most of the time the news in the world seems very grim, but sometimes there are rays of bright light. There was a burst of joyous news in Vermont yesterday. Born yesterday -- I can't resist using the phrase -- was the beautiful Nora, daughter of Julia and Tom, niece of my goddaughter, Jess and granddaughter to my dear friend, K. From her pictures Nora is a complete snuggle bunny and I can't wait to meet her. Let the spoiling begin. I already have a lamb for her that I bought in Ireland, but I think a Madeline doll needs to go with it to Vermont.

We've got glorious summer weather in New York and I am enjoying these sunny days without humidity. They are so rare and so appreciated.

As ever, thanks for visiting. I hope your days are bright and sunny, too. Wishes for a great weekend. 

When the World was Pristine

Let's go back in time, far, far back in time. We'll pick one spot on the globe, Norway, and trace our way back to the world when it was pristine and still. Are you ready to join me?

 We begin at the end of June 2014 at the beautiful Geirangerfjord. We know we are still in our present time from the modern ships that sit in the harbor.  

We quickly go back two centuries to the 1880s. We are waiting for our sea captain husband to come home.This is Old Bergen, a fascinating village of Nineteenth Century wooden houses and shops in Bergen, Norway.   

The centuries are now going fast and we are in the Thirteenth Century in Haakon's Hall. Norway's first complete set of laws was drawn up here. 

Time is moving faster and faster back and in a blink we are now at the beginning of time, when the world was pristine and quiet. 

There was only sky and sea and the fall of water... 

...When the World Was Pristine

I'm joining Castles, Crowns and Cottages for a fabulous tour around Europe. We're going to have a wonderful time and you're invited. Please join this blog travel adventure. I've just discovered Castles, Crowns and Cottages and it's a beautiful blog to visit. 

Thanks for going back to the beginning of time with me. Today has been a sorrowful day and I'm thankful to step back to a time when the world was pristine and still. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Happy Birthday, Madeline

One of my all-time favorite friends is celebrating her Seventy-fifth birthday and I couldn't miss the party.

So I zipped over to the New-York Historical Society to wish Madeline a very happy birthday. I was happy to find that she is looking better than ever.

And as, Cole Porter would say, "What a swell party this is." I loved seeing my buddy Madeline again, her dog, Genevieve, her friends at the "old house in Paris," and Miss Clavel, who cared for them all. Alas, no photographs were permitted and I had to content myself with the picture above and two others from the gift shop. 

I read a lot as a child and Madeline was one of my all-time favorite book friends. I developed an affection for Paris early on, which I thought came solely from seeing the movie, "Gigi" in fourth or fifth grade. But after seeing the exhibit yesterday I think reading about Madeline had something to do with creating a very young Francophile, too. Not surprisingly, I had a great affection for Babar, as well.

The museum has a beautiful gift shop and I had to be restrained from buying lots of Madeline items. 

 These sweet Madeline dolls were at the top of my list. I had a tough time resisting Genevieve in her own carrying bag, too.

 What little girl wouldn't love a pair of Madeline pajamas!

The show goes on until October 19 and if you are anywhere close, it's well worth a trip. The museum itself is well worth a visit. I especially enjoyed a film about the history of New York City, with the most beautiful photography.

I'm wending through my list of errands. I got my hair cut and colored this morning and spent most of the afternoon clearing out email. My inbox is like a garden. If I don't keep up, the weeds have choked the flowers. I didn't keep up during vacation and there were a lot of weeds. 

As always, thanks for visiting and take good care!

Monday, July 14, 2014

California, Here I Come, Again

In 2011 I used the same blog post title, minus the word "Again" to write about my first time attending BlogHer. BlogHer11 was in San Diego and this year we will be in San Jose. Now I am a veteran -- this will be my fourth conference -- and I am going back to California. I've got my business cards ready, with my twitter handle on them this time @buttercup10024. I've already downloaded the app for my phone and I'm figuring out what to pack. My thought is comfortable, but cute. If this year follows tradition there will be a lot of picture taking.

One of the speakers is Kerry Washington and I am excited to hear her. But I've found what draws me back is the recharge I get for blogging. It's been hard to get back into the swing of blogging. I've been away. The weather is nice and I am not as interested in sitting in front of a computer when I can be out and about. I should be exercising, decluttering, working on a novel, etc. All those thoughts fade away when I enter the world of BlogHer.

I also love the fun stuff. Meeting some of my favorite celebrities....

Love my buddy, the Doughboy... (2013)

...and my buddy, the Lorax. (2012)

I enjoy meeting bloggers I might not otherwise have the opportunity to meet in BlogLand and at this point also look forward to seeing familiar faces. There are moments I do get overwhelmed. Sometimes the discussion is running a little fast and I feel that my little blog doesn't have a place with all the talk of sponsors, monetization and syndication. But I take a breath and remember that the race is not always given to the swift. I also remember why I continue to blog, both for the pleasure of writing and for the great friends I've met.

Please let me know if any of the Citizens of Buttercupland will be in San Jose next week. I'd love to meet you!

On the home front...I'm totally unpacked and I'm even doing a little decluttering. I shredded some papers from the trip and filed others away. One of my goals is not to be overwhelmed by things I bring back from BookExpo, vacation and BlogHer and this week is the time to catch up. 

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care!