Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My Best Advice...So Far: Part One

In less than six months, I will be 45 years old. As a rule, I’m not one to get all freaked out about age milestones. I’ve known people that will purposefully ensure some other major life event occurs at one of these milestones in order to distract them from reaching it. I’m not judging them; I just ain’t one of ‘em! Ok, so I DID quit my job and run off to Italy for six weeks about this time five years ago, but, it was NOT because 40 was looming. It’s a heck of a lot easier to say “40” in Italian than “39”, let me assure you!
I ended up passing my 40th birthday with a group of wonderful girlfriends later that year when I was back in California. It was a very special night out (although I rarely see any of them now; life moves on to its different stages for all of us).
So, in general, I tend to subscribe to the philosophy that birthdays should be embraced and celebrated; after all, it means one more year that you’ve “made it”; you’re still alive to see another year approach. Not that I always am pleased about the physical changes such years bring; who is? But, like just about anything else, if you’re smart enough, you adjust so that they don’t torture you, but, rather, you can enjoy the positive things about getting older.
Although I know enough to know I don’t know everything, I’ve certainly picked up on some things over the years. Many of these lessons have come from the proverbial school of hard knocks; some are bits of wisdom and advice I’ve been granted by family and friends. So, for you, my readers, this is what I’ve got to share with y’all.

Feel Your Emotions
“You have to have emptiness before it can be filled. You have to exhale before you can inhale.” (Tom Yeomans)
This is probably obvious, but, believe me; sometimes we don’t let ourselves REALLY feel what is going on in us, around us, to those we love. Yeah, it can hurt, but, the “good” stuff sure can bring some damn profound joy.

Hold Onto Those You Love…But Let Go Of Those Who Won’t Hold Back
“And remember my sentimental friend. A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” (from the movie The Wizard of Oz)
This was a tough one for me to learn but, there really are some people in our lives that, for whatever reason, choose not to be in our lives any longer. Imagine that. I’m not saying forget them, but, let them go. Focus your love and gratitude on those that are still there.

Laugh At Yourself…Never Lose Your Sense of Humor
"Imagination was given to man to compensate for what he is not, and a sense of humor to console him for what he is." (Francis Bacon)
This one is REALLY important. A sound, hearty, tears to your eyes laugh can work wonders. Even better if you can laugh at yourself and hold onto that sense of humor. Plus, no one likes to be around someone who constantly feels sorry for themselves and takes themselves (and everything else) way too seriously.

Don’t Apologize For Who You Are
“If you put a small value on yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price.” (Anonymous)
Don’t get this confused with apologizing for something you’ve DONE. Of course, we all screw up from time to time; hurt people, do a bad thing. When this occurs, you must suck up and take responsibility for you actions. What I mean here is; at this point in your life, you are who you are. You’ve done some great things, you’ve done some stupid things, but, chances are, you’ve tried to do the right things most of the time. Have confidence in yourself.

Always Find Something To Challenge Yourself With
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” (Will Rogers)
This is probably up there in the “duh” category, but, as soon as you stop growing, you die.

Travel To Other Countries
“The voyage of discovery lies not in finding new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” (Marcel Proust)
I personally believe that an individual can never really know themselves until they are put into situations that are completely foreign to them. Not only that, but, how can one emphasize with others who struggle in our own country for being foreign-born if they don’t ever see it from that perspective? There are so many lessons to learn from being in and functioning in a different country from one’s own.
Mrs. B

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Me and Luis

Huh, you say?
Actually, this is an update on the restaurant experience we had at Cilantro's while we were in Puerto Vallarta.
I'd previously written that we absolutely loved the restaurant; the ambiance, the drinks, the food, the service; all of it.
When I went to post my review on Trip Advisor, I noticed that someone else had also posted a review (actually, there were two other reviews but one was in Spanish so I couldn't really decipher it). The one I COULD read was not complimentary at all; it seemed they had a terrible experience; they thought the drinks were watered down, the food mediocre and the prices way too high.
And, they reported, a day or so after the visited Cilantro's, they discovered that their debit card number had been compromised and "someone" had run around Puerto Vallarta merrily charging up a storm.
Well, frankly, I thought "sour grapes" because they'd also been pulled over by the police and had to pay a bribe to keep their car from being towed.
Fast forward a few weeks. I happened to be moving Bookmarks around on my computer and decided to check the balance on one of our credit cards. The one we used at Cilantro's.
Guess what? There were two separate charges in Puerto Vallarta at some car repair place totaling over $1,400 US. AND, the charges were made AFTER our visit to Cilantro's; in fact, they were made AFTER we left Mexico.
I immediately called the credit card company to report the fraud, cancel the card, and bitch at them for not flagging these charges (before we left, I called them to alert them to the fact we'd be using the credit card in Mexico; I gave them the dates we'd be there; they should have noticed this and denied the charges).
Of course, we're not liable for the charges, but, still, it was rather a disappointing end to our memories of Cilantro's.
I stewed about it for a few days and decided to look them up on the web and see if they had a site where I could contact them and complain.
Almost immediately, I received a reply from someone who said he was the owner. He apologized profusely and expressed concern (for his business) and confusion (how could this happen if they didn't have our actual card).
I enlightened him as to how these scam artists operate (all they need is the number and the expiration date, usually, to make a counterfeit card with their name instead of ours). He wrote back asking if I'd tell him where the charges were made. He told me he planned on going to those places armed with pictures of his employees to find out who the culprit was. He also told me he was going to put in hidden cameras in his restaurant.
During these few email conversations, he told me his name was Luis, he was the owner, and he was really mad because this was his business, his livelihood. His English isn't perfect, but, I can understand him enough to get his drift.
I wished him luck and told him that we really did enjoy our visit to his restaurant. He said if we ever were back in Puerto Vallarta, come on over and dinner would be on him.
Regardless of who paid, would I go there again? I think so; and I think I'd tell others to go as well for the dining experience.
Just pay in cash.
Mrs. B

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mirror Mirror

Ok, guys, this entry is for the gals as (with the possible exception of my brother Doc), most men won't get this.
Yesterday I was sitting in the chair at the salon getting my hair done. Frankly, this whole procedure falls into the category of "If my man ever saw me like this, I think I'd die (or he would)!" Be that as it may, there I sat with bag on head, looking at myself in the huge mirror on the wall that faced me.
I have to admit, I didn't look all that hot. And, it wasn't just the bag on my head or the very attractive (and heavy) black rubber robe I had over me to keep the hair goop off my clothes.
Some mirrors just don't flatter me. Well, actually, it's probably more the lighting than the mirror (unless we're talking about one of those fun house mirrors where everyone looks like a two-ton Tessie).
It's hard to describe, but in some mirrors in certain light, I just look horrid. It is like I can see every single bad nuance about my face and body; you know, wrinkles, dimples, scars, furrows; all of that.
So, as I was sitting there yesterday, I got to thinking about other mirrors and which ones are "safe" mirrors, which are "steer clear from" mirrors and which are "I look FAB" mirrors (not as many as these, alas).
One of the obvious "steer clear from" mirrors is any mirror in a dressing room. You'd think if department stores/clothing stores and the likes ambition was to sell clothes to women, they'd try harder to make sure that the women were flattered by their reflection in the mirror. I've been in some dressing rooms where I looked so awful in the mirror, that, I got too depressed to even try on the clothes I'd taken in and simply left. One notable exception is Nordstroms. Of course, they know how to treat people there (and you pay for it, too).
Another "steer clear from" is any mirror in a doctor or dentist office. UGH.
I have "safe" mirror (which means, basically, not hot but not terrible; probably better known as "reality") in our bathroom that can turn into a "I look FAB" mirror simply if I turn off the light. Ha ha, NO, I didn't mean because I can no longer see myself; what I meant was if it is daylight and the light is on, I look "so so", but, if I turn the light off, I look pretty damn good. I guess this means I look better in natural light.
This might be true because, hands down, one of the best mirrors I've ever seen myself in is in the bathrooms at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. I kid you not! Every time I see myself in those mirrors, I cheer up. There is usually a lot of natural light in there (although once it gets dark outside and the lights come on, the mirror moves into the "safe" category).
Right before a ball game, the announcer always says, "Hey, Bulls fans! Have you visited the cleanest bathrooms in the Triangle?" Maybe he should add to this, "Hey, ladies! Are you feeling fat and ugly? Visit our bathrooms where we have the most flattering mirrors in the Triangle!"
Whenever I think of mirrors and women, I am reminded of two things. One is that, as she aged, the extremely vain Elizabeth I ordered all mirrors in her palaces to be either taken down or covered. It is said that she never looked at herself in a mirror again after that. Hey, not a bad strategy; out of sight, out of mind.
The other is from the movie "Titanic"; the character Rose, in her old age, is pleased to receive back some of the articles she'd lost when the Titanic sank. One of these items was a lovely and ornate silver hand mirror. She exclaims as she's admiring the back of it, "Oh, this looks just like I did the last time I saw it!" As she turns it over and looks into the mirror she adds, "The reflection has changed somewhat, however" as she puts it aside.
For a very long time, I had a habit of stopping and looking at myself in any mirror (or mirrored surface) I came across. This both greatly amused and irritated my family and friends (except, perhaps, Doc, who was more than likely fighting me for mirror space).
I've noticed that I tend to avoid mirrors now (other than when it is necessary to "check my look"; which brings to mind a lyric from a Bruce Springsteen song, "I check my look in the mirror, wanna change my hair, my clothes, my face!") I suppose I know what I look like by now and, frankly, as long as I don't have spinach stuck in my teeth or have my lipstick smeared all over my face in true Joker style, it doesn't much matter.
Except at Durham Bulls games, where, every few innings, you'll find me in the bathroom admiring myself in the mirror.
Nah, seriously, it's only because I gotta pee!
Mrs. B

Friday, July 25, 2008

Yes, She is STILL a Harlot!

Well, not really, of course (sort of hard to be a harlot when your equipment is gone), but, she still lays around like a little tart.

Note to Grandpa and Grandma B; see Hedge Hog?

Mrs. B

Random Thoughts for a Friday Morning

I've found myself getting up earlier and earlier in the mornings these days. I'm not sure if it's general "excitement" over the upcoming reunion/thinking about all the things I need to do (although the list is dwindling day by day) OR musing over my new business opportunity. In any case, no more lolly-gagging around in bed for Mrs. B!
Our reunion theme; Grandpa and Grandma's Wedding Picture

My reunion co-planner, Cindy (and her family) arrive today! We've been planning this since February; six months. Wow, it's finally here!

The photographer who will be taking pictures at the reunion came over (with his assistant/wife) Tuesday to do a "dry-run". I think we'll all be pleased with the outcome and also we'll have some fun during the session.

The dry cleaner did not return one of my dress shirts. Since I don't have that many any longer, I'd best go back there and get them to track it down! I'm gonna need it now!

Speaking of which, oh darn, it seems as though I will have to go shopping for a few things now that I'm going back to work. Gotta be careful not to spend more moolah than I'll be earning!

Mr. B is not thrilled about the idea of me getting another Blackberry. Well, I might not have to since he upped our cell phone plan to something like a ca-zillion minutes a month and unlimited texting. Still, texting on this dumb cell phone of mine is one serious pain in the ass.

We've had to put the bark collar back on Lucy. She's not a happy camper right now.

I spent the better part of yesterday mopping the tile floor. Even though I've got it down to a science now (three buckets of water placed strategically around the floor), it's still a major pain. After it dried, I let Lucy back into the house. It was sort of hot outside, so, she plopped down onto the tile to chill. I turned around to look at her and saw a huge pile of water on the floor near her head. "Stop drooling on my floor!" I shrieked at her, knowing the instant it came out of my mouth that I sounded like a total moron.

We watched 10,000 BC the other night. Dumb, dumb, dumb movie. I have "The Other Boleyn Girl" for us to watch; I've seen it (with mom and dad in FL last February) but figured Mr. B might want to watch it since he likes "The Tudors". I can watch anything to do with Henry VIII or his wives or his children time and time again; even if I sometimes get irritated if what I'm watching is not historically accurate. For instance, although it is said that Henry VIII was, in his youth, strikingly handsome (unlike how most people imagine him; fat, bald, pouty and gouty), I doubt he was, in reality, anywhere near as handsome as either Eric Bana ("The Other Boleyn Girl") or Jonathan Rhys Meyers ("The Tudors").

I'm off soon for my "day of beauty"; time to spiff up the hair and other things.

Will it rain, will it not rain? Right now, it's overcast but that doesn't mean a damn thing. The only reason I care; should I shut the windows? Put Lucy out or leave her in? Etc.

Ok, gotta run!

Mrs. B

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What's UP With Her?

Lucy, that is.
Lately, she's been a real pain in the you know what; in essence, not minding as well as she usually does (in general) and then doing a few very naughty things in particular.
The other day, we (Lucy and I) were doing some work in the backyard. As we've come to do, we sometimes open up the garage door and go back and forth from the front to the back of the house. Lucy typically hangs out in the side yard but will venture into the garage on occasion. She hardly ever goes out to the front as she has been taught she has to be told it is okay.
I went into the garage and opened the garage door so I could go water the plants on the porch. As we were standing there waiting for the door to open, I saw the feet of one of our neighbors, Steve, his dog, Dino and a baby stroller. I had an instant thought of "Oh dear" and reached to grab Lucy but I was too late. She'd already darted past me and had run down the driveway towards them before I moved an inch.
I followed after her, saying in my best "alpha" voice, "Lucy! Stop! No!" but, she ignored me and proceeded to jump up onto Dino, growling and snarling as she did so.
As I approached her, she backed off and had that look in her eye that she was contemplating running off, but, she didn't; Steve got her collar and passed her off to me as I apologized profusely. He shrugged it off; he later told me that if he had a nickel for every time Dino jumped on another dog he'd be rich.
Still, I was mortified and, frankly, pretty damn pissed off at Lucy for jumping on Dino, certainly, but more so for not obeying yours truly.
Then, yesterday, someone from Budget Blinds came to look at our blind (which, by the way, turned out to just be "stuck"). There were two guys and they showed up a good twenty minutes before they were supposed to. I had PLANNED on putting Lucy out in the yard so I didn't have to deal with her while they were here. Mr. B and I had already discussed that, until we can get her behavior under control, we simply won't let her interact with people she doesn't know how to behave around. In fact, we're going to be taking her back to "class" soon.
Anyway, the guys kept ringing the doorbell, impatient, I guess. So, I left Lucy in the house and went to answer the door. This was a mistake, I should have made them wait and put her out because once I opened the door, she came running into the dining room ("OFF the floor!") and as we all three walked back into the family room, she started to jump up on one of the guys who luckily just ignored her. Again, she basically ignored my commands and started "kissing up" to the other guy, who was petting her and trying to keep her on the ground.
Again, I was embarrassed and angry. After they left, Lucy and I had a little "conversation" about what she'd just done.
Last night, we had the photographers for the reunion over. This time, we put her out in the yard before we even let them into the house. Then, when we all went outside, Mr. B put her on her leash and made her stay close to him. After awhile, she calmed down, but, we left her outside when we went in and she sat by the door making awful pathetic "Poor me, pity me" whimpers.
So, anyway; as I said, Lucy's going back to school (as I write this, I am reminded of a Spinal Tap song entitled "Bitch School" which, although had another sort of bitch in mind, seems appropriate here!) It's pretty obvious that she needs more work on her discipline/manners. WHY this is occurring, I'm not really sure. Could it be she's not getting enough walks (it's hot; I don't tend to walk her as much)? Is it because she's feeling more comfortable living here now and she's Queen B now that Clyde is no longer with us? Is it because she sometimes sleeps on the bed now?
I'm not sure but we've gotta get it nailed because she's driving me freaking nuts.
And, she has lost many of her privileges now. No more will she EVER be allowed off leash unless she's in the backyard. We will NOT let her sniff other dogs on leash (this on the advice of her new instructor) since she can't behave (she does "ok" with dogs off leash, at least Brook and Fritz).
I also decided to send her to Uncle Chuck's (the kennel) the day we have our big family reunion here. I just don't want to deal with Lucy jumping all over everyone/having to constantly keep an eye on her.
So, we'll see! BTW, anyone out there with dogs, I'd welcome your input on what may be causing this change in behavior. Yeah, I know, most of it is probably OUR fault!
Mrs. B

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dilly: Part Two

Last we left our intrepid heroine, she'd been enticed to drive an hour and twenty minutes away to meet with Dave and others.
This I did last Wednesday. We won't discuss my freaking out at one point and thinking I'd gone past the exit (a call to Mr. B calmed me down and assured me that I had not). Heck, I HATE to be late and late I was because we'd underestimated the time it would take me to get there. Fortunately, Dave's a laid-back sort of guy and I was able to contact and tell him I was running late.
Ok, anyway.
I get to the company (the building(s) are still under construction, including the lobby area, so they have a temporary lobby set up on the side). Sitting inside the door to welcome me was a security guard. He took my license, asked who I was seeing, asked when my "interview" was (it was originally at 10 but it was now 10:30) so I said, "10:30!" to which he replied, "Well, good, you're right on time! They are sticklers for that around here!"
But, like I said, I was meeting Dave to catch-up and discuss this as a possibility; it's not like my career was hanging in the balance here!
So, Dave comes and gets me (it's been 18 years since last I saw him; suffice it to say, we both look a bit different but still recognizable to one another!) He takes me up to his office area (essentially a huge bull pen set up). I meet a few folks and some of them went into a conference room with me and Dave to chat.
The bottom line is, this is a start-up type situation, there is TONS to do in the HR area, and they need help. I was initially concerned about one guy who came in to talk to me because he seemed so hyper (I refer to him as "Hyper Dude") and seemed to think my butt was going to be in a chair at the facility full time starting yesterday. Obviously, this is NOT what I am interested in at all! I am interested in doing some of the projects but I want to know WHICH ones (not the long laundry list of what they would like to have done) and then see how it goes.
Anyway, Dave and the recruiter and I went to lunch. Dave told me not to worry about Hyper Dude; he'd only been there three weeks and was, in general, in severe freak out mode at the moment. We chatted more about what needed to be done, the sort of arrangements we could work within, etc.
I left and drove home, thinking all the way that this "could" work; if only I could get a few things nailed down (not the least being an agreement that I could limit the amount of time I have to drive down there; a 3 hour round trip commute is not the best use of my time OR their money).
Mr. B and I have discussed this at length over the past few days. We agreed I'd contact Dave with some observations and then my requirements (for, after all, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by being up front and honest). I did this yesterday, and, in essence, he's agreed to my requirements. The only thing that's left to be done is a) set up our business (which Mr. B is doing) and b) finalize payments terms.
Assuming this all pans out, I'll be starting my new consulting job the week of August 11th; the deal is I'll go down to their facility one day a week. I'll work on projects there and also at home as needed. Thank God for all of the technological advancements (and I just may have to go out and reinvest in a Crack-Berry; oh, how I've missed my little friend!)
Dave continues to tell me they'll be real flexible and work within my schedule/how much I want to do, so, this isn't going to be a full time gig by any stretch of the imagination.
So, I'm excited! Mr. B and I had been talking about the fact that, perhaps I needed to do "something"; not really for the money (but, boy howdy, that'll be nice) but, well, just to stay involved, be active; give me something to do other than push a vacuum, wipe out my sink and walk Lucy. How lucky am I that it is turning out to be something I really enjoy doing, have experience in, and know where to get resources? And, to do it (for the most part) at home on my own terms?
Not to mention (and this is very important), this time around, I have the encouragement and support of a loving spouse (who will also be a Partner in our business). Not only has he helped me to see that, yes, I CAN do this, he knows a lot about the ins and outs of the business side AND I know will be patient as we both adapt to some pretty big changes in our home environment/life style. As he pointed out to me, this WON'T be like when I was single working 12+ hours per day and then having to do "everything" else at home myself NOR will it be like when I was married to The Rat Bastard who was so jealous of my career that he belittled me ("You're job is so easy, anyone could do it, don't think so highly of yourself, etc.") at every juncture that he could.
Yeah, I've also (recently) signed on to be on the Board of Directors for the Durham Symphony and this, too, will take up some of my time.
But, I suppose 5 years is long enough to sit around "processing" my life and "cooking".
Stick a fork in me; I'm done with that and ready for what's next!
Mrs. B

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Dilly of a Dilemma: Rejoin the Rat Race?

Well, life just keeps on happening. As I alleged to in one of my entries last week, somewhat out of the blue, I've received a proposition to do consulting work and it's been a dilly of a dilemma opening my mind up to it. No, not because it's awful, simply because I've been "retired" for almost five years (come 1 August) and the thought of jumping back into the rat race, even a subdued version of one, is cause for extreme and thoughtful consideration. The things this has brought up are enough to keep me busy blogging on for days. Except, of course, if I do this, I won't likely have much time to blog anymore!
So, a few details. A quick summary; hopefully (NOT!) A few years ago, I gave my resume to a guy I was playing softball with who worked at the company my brother works at. He was trying to convince me to do some stuff for him, but, it was too soon; I'd just arrived in Durham, was in the process of adjusting to my new life, and wasn't interested in adding confusion to it. Not to mention, I'd just met Mr. B and things were going wonderfully in that department (obviously). About six months later, a guy who used to work at the company I worked at for 17 years (but I'd never met him because he'd left the company early into my stint there) calls me. Turns out he was doing work with the guy from my brother's company and ended up with my resume; saw my name (he knew my Father) and the fact I'd worked in HR at that company for 17 years. He's a recruiter, and recruiters are ALWAYS working their networks. Well, there wasn't much then I was interested in since Mr. B and I were leaving to go get married in a week plus I had so much going on that summer with our wedding celebration, our honeymoon, etc. Who wanted to think about work? Not me.
A year after that, he calls me again, this time with an offer to help out the AICPA (who was relocating their headquarters from NJ to NC). This time I was intrigued enough to go chat with their HR head; a very nice woman. However, despite what I thought was a great interview and a good connection with her, she never called me again. So much for that, said my ego.
Then, we had this house built, moved, and so on and so forth.
So, here we are, June of 2008. Guess who calls? Yep, our friendly recruiter. Now he's working for a company (as a contractor) about an hour and twenty minutes from my house. He wanted to know if I was interested in jumping in with both feet, ramping up quickly (even the lingo makes me dizzy) and doing some recruiting. I told him politely, in two words, "Hell no". Recruiting? Yuck. That's right up there with writing AAP plans, in my book, or Six Sigma. Blech.
He says, "Well, do you remember so and so? He's now the HR guy here and I'll float your name past him and see if there might be some project work available in the areas you're interested in". Ok, fine; being that I was off to Puerto Vallarta the following week, I figured this would go the way of the other "opportunities".
Last week, I opened up my email to find an email from "So and So"; okay, I'll call him by his real first name, Dave. When I joined the company that I worked at for 17 years (damn, it's hard to be cagey on Blogs; but, the "innocent" must be protected), he was fairly high up in the HR organization; he may have been an HRD. Anyway, not too long after I was hired, he left. Throughout the course of one job I held not too much later, he came back and helped us with outplacement activities. BTW, for those of you who have benefited from my resume writing expertise and know of my belief that resumes should be as short as possible, you have Dave to thank for that!
Anyway, his email was interesting; he told me about all sorts of project work at his new company, that they could use me in a consultant role and be very flexible, etc., etc. And, better yet, the majority of what they require now is in the compensation area! My own particular favorite HR speciality. And, project work? Whee! I love projects!
So, I was enticed enough to go down and meet with him last Wednesday.
And, this is getting way too long so I'll finish it up tomorrow (or soon).
Mrs. B

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Very Strange and Somewhat Disturbing Dream

From time to time, I have a dream which is so vivid and has so much detail (that I can actually recall it long after I wake) that it just sticks with me. I had one of those early this morning; this one was also strange and, probably because it was strange, a bit disturbing. Or, maybe what is disturbing is that stuff like this actually comes out of my brain.
Anyway, the dream.
For whatever reason, I was in the process of renting an apartment or condo. Apparently, I'd rented it "sight unseen" from the complex that I used to own a condo in Torrance (that was where it was "supposed to be, anyway; the complex in my dream wasn't at all like where I used to live).
So, I arrive at the complex, park in the underground parking (this was like where I used to live) and took the elevator up to "the office" to get my key. The girl in the office handed me a piece of paper to sign, which I did; then, she gave me a copy of the paper and the key. Off I went, back to the elevator, to take it to the third floor.
Oh, by the way, I had Lucy with me; she was on her leash, and she kept pulling on the leash so I had to keep correcting her.
So, we get into the elevator and hold it for two other people (men) to get in. They get off on the 2nd floor. Up we go.
We get off the elevator and I start looking for the apartment/condo #322. Also unlike where I really used to live, all of the units were in exterior hallways (not enclosed). As I was wandering around looking for #322, I got a sense that the place wasn't exactly as safe and secure as I'd like it to be. It seemed that the side of the building I was on faced a deserted park or empty lot with a run-down fence around it and trash blowing all over. Thankfully, we turned a corner and where #322 was, the view was a bit better.
The entrance to the units were unusual; huge, tall doors (which made me feel like a shrunken Alice from "Alice in Wonderland". I approached #322 and pushed on the door as it wasn't completely latched. Not a good sign. Well, as we walked through the door, I realized we were in sort of an entryway; a smallish patio with a bit of a scraggly looking garden. I approached the door to the unit; again, it was very tall, looming up over me. I went to use the key, but, again, the door was not locked.
I opened it, walked in and was immediately struck with the sense that something was not right. First of all, there was a TV on and there was furniture in the apartment. I wondered to myself; "Did I rent a furnished apartment?" I started to roam around the apartment and kept discovering more and more signs that the place was not vacant; such as, I opened the refrigerator to find it full of food, I walked into the master bedroom to see an unmade bed, etc. But, no one was there. Well, it felt really wrong to me, so, Lucy and skedaddled out of there, pronto.
As we exited the first door, I looked up at the number and saw that it was #329. Oops!
So, off we went again in search of #322. I was feeling a bit better; at least I just made a mistake and gone into the wrong place; certainly, MY unit would be just fine.
We found #322 at last. In front of its exterior door (the same set up as #329 with the monstrous door leading into a small patio/garden) were several presents scattered about the ground. I looked down and saw that they were all for me. There was also a "For Rent" sign in the front window of the unit. Good, good, good.
Inside the patio/garden, it was still and quiet. I noticed there was a small table in the corner and on it were a pair of gardening gloves and a small trowel. Hmmm. Perhaps the former tenant left these items behind? I hoped that was all it was.
I used the key to unlock the door into the unit. I pushed open the door and Lucy and I walked in. We stopped just beyond the entry, looking about. We were standing on the edge of a very large room, which appeared, for the most part, to be a kitchen, except for that there was a toilet in the middle of the room.
Peri (one of my best friends, who all of a sudden had popped into the situation and was standing at my left shoulder) said, "Well, they could have at least put it in the CORNER of the room!" I was pretty aghast by the toilet (but wasn't overly perturbed by the fact that Peri had just appeared out of nowhere) but I was even more disturbed by the fact that the white tile floor had pink clowns painted on each and every tile.
As with #329, it soon became obvious that this unit also was not vacant. The three of us wandered around in search of the master bedroom, the second bedroom being nothing more than a large alcove/window seat that had a child's daybed in it. Finally, we reached a set of stairs that went both up and down. Looking up, we saw a small loft only large enough for the air mattress that was stuffed into it. The sheets on the air mattress were rumpled, as if someone had recently been in them.
Peri pointed down to the lower level (as I was asking myself, "What the hell is a basement doing in a 3rd level apartment?") and said, "Looks like that's where the master bedroom is". I looked down and it was dark and dank and scary looking.
"There isn't any way in hell that I am sleeping down THERE!" I said, already knowing I was not going to be renting #322 anymore than I was going to rent #329.
We sat down on the stairs; Lucy literally climbed into my lap and started to lick me and try to "hug" me. I said, "Lucy, what's gotten into you? Stop it!"
Peri said, "Aw, she just loves you, that's all".
I went over and picked up a huge pile of newspapers and started carrying them somewhere, probably to a recycling bin. As I was carrying them, I realized they were REALLY heavy; much more so than they should have been. As I walked, Nigel fell out of the heap of papers. I looked down at him, surprised, and said, "Hey, Nige!" He was freaked out and scared; I was trying to be careful not to freak him out anymore so that I could approach him and scoop him up, which I finally managed to do.
And then I woke up.
Upon waking, I told Mr. B my dream. I said, "Why would I dream about tile with clowns painted on them?" to which he replied, "What was a TOILET doing in the middle of the room?"
So, yeah; it is so weird what our brains think up. Weirder still is WHY? I don't think the dream books I have say anything about pink clowns painted on tile or your beloved (but dead) cat falling out of a heap of newspapers!
I suppose if you allow them to be so, dreams can be really entertaining and thought-provoking; even creepy and scary; sort of like watching a Stanley Kubric movie.
Mrs. B

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Bucket List

We watched this move last night; pretty decent (hard to go wrong with Jack and Morgan in the lead roles; by the way, if there is a movie (or another movie) made about Nelson Mandela, Morgan Freeman is an obvious shoe-in for the part since they even look alike).
Anyway. The movie was good; didn't end the way I thought it would (always interesting when that happens) and, it brought up in my mind the obvious question; "What would be on MY bucket list if I only had, oh, six months to a year before I kicked the bucket AND I was in "good enough" health to do it?"
In the movie, money was no object. That's not realistic (hello, movie!) but, just assuming money wasn't a HUGE obstacle, what would be on YOUR bucket list?
Take the poll to pick one answer, although, for most of us, there would be more than one.
Mrs. B

Friday, July 18, 2008

Squeaky Wheel: Needs Grease

That's yours truly.
The other day, I realized the cord on one of our blinds is not working. Meaning, I can turn the blinds one way, but, not the other. Mr. B looked at it and decided it had something to do with the cord mechanism and didn't really want to mess with it.
I called Budget Blinds, which is where we purchased the blinds from (also the blinds/shutters in our townhouse, so, they've received a goodly amount of business from us over the years).
Our blinds are under a limited lifetime warranty (as long as we and the blinds are in the house; the warranty is void if we sell the house/move the blinds to another house). I looked at the warranty and it appeared this sort of thing was covered.
Well, when I talked to the office manager, she informed me that it is covered, but, I'd be charged a $65 service fee. Say what? How do you figure the repair is covered but we have to pay someone to come out and do it? Not to mention, the original blind (installed) wasn't much over $65.
So, I pushed back on her and she said she'd only charge me $49. I was thinking, "This isn't a negotiation, I don't want to pay anything!" What I told her was I thought it was ridiculous that we had a blind that was under warranty but that we had to pay for someone to come fix it. I told her that there were always Budget Blind trucks in our neighborhood (new development); it wouldn't be a huge deal for one of them to stop over and check it out. I mean, I am pretty sure we're talking a five minute job here.
Well, she wouldn't back down so I told her "Forget it!" and hung up.
But, I got to thinking about it; it just ain't right!
This morning I logged on to Budget Blinds Internet site and found a complaint form. I filled it out; pretty much bomb blasting the whole inane thing. I also told them that we'd had our freezer serviced this week (under warranty); THEY didn't charge us for the guy to come out to the house; so, what good is their warranty, anyway?
I went on to say if this didn't get resolved to my satisfaction, I'd make sure I never bought another blind from them AND would get the word out to others that they do a "bait and switch" with the warranty.
That, apparently, got their attention. Maybe an hour after I sent the form off, I got a phone call from the manager of the store I'd used (not the same person I'd talked to on the phone yesterday, I might add).
He went on and on and on and on about how they would provide "free" service calls for one year, but, after that, they had to stop because, with a lifetime warranty, they'd go out of business. Well, maybe you should have thought about THAT before you used the word "lifetime", buddy!
Anyway, the bottom line is, he agreed to send someone out at no charge. But not after I had to listen to his stories of woe (he should be thankful he has so much business, so, why is he bitching about making service calls that can't really cost as much as he was saying they do?) and that the person that had sold us the blinds in the first place obviously did not fully disclose what the warranty meant. Well, he didn't, but, that is sort of beside the point since the warranty itself doesn't say anything about being charged after one year if something goes wrong.
Oh well.
Squeak, squeak, grease, grease!
Mrs. B

Thursday, July 17, 2008

WHO'S Been Sleeping in MY Grave?

Despite being really busy, I just gotta blog about this!
So, someone Mr. B knows MIL (that is Mother-In-Law) died last Friday. She was 78, ill with cancer, and not in good shape at all (obviously).
She was well known in the community; we went to her viewing and there were lines of folks waiting to "see" her. Yeah, open casket (amazing what those funeral directors can do; we heard she hadn't been looking too "good" when she passed).
Anyway, Mr. B told me that she was going to be buried the following day (in a family plot that already contained her husband and his parents). Earlier in THAT day (Monday), her daughter received a phone call from the cemetery with a problem.
When they went to dig mom's grave, they found someone else already there. The other three coffins were there, too. So, who's buried in her spot?
The thing is, the cemetery had absolutely no idea. They did not have any record of anyone else being buried there. So, it's a mystery dead person.
What I found really bizarre is, rather than just move out the hitch hiking body, they required the daughter to sign papers authorizing the cemetery to move her father and grandparents (and the headstone) to ANOTHER location in the cemetery!
Turns out that they are not able to exhume (to find out who this party crasher is) the body OR move the coffin without either a signed agreement from next of kin (difficult as they have no idea in hell who this person is) OR a court order, which, obviously, would take longer than they had.
So, this opens up all sorts of questions and concerns. I mean, HOW could someone be buried there and a) no one knows who it is and b) WHY were they buried in the wrong place in the first place? Is it someone that has a tombstone nearby and the grave digger had an awful sense of direction? Didn't the mystery body have anyone attend its funeral and say, "Hey, wait, this isn't where they are supposed to go!"
Well, anyway; not something the daughter really needed to be dealing with in her time of grief, but, I suppose, it'll make for an entertaining story when enough time has passed.
Mrs. B

Monday, July 14, 2008

Been Busy; Blogging Has Gone Bust!

Oh, I always have stuff to write about; I constantly think of topics for my Blog and I keep an on-going list so, if for whatever reason I cannot think of a topic, I can refer to it.

Alas, I've been a bit busier than usual since we returned from vacation. I'm surprised I was able to blog about our trip as soon as I did.

What's going on in our household/in my life? Well, it's primarily the final push for our big family reunion that will be held in Durham July 31st-August 4th (with the "official" reunion being held at the B's house on the 2nd). Along with my cousin's wife, Cindy, and a lot of help from Analee and Leann, we've been at this since February! Yeah, February, and it's finally coming to fruition. To say that we are excited is an understatement!

But, along with the excitement comes the need to prepare, prepare, prepare. This means, clean, clean, clean; get all of those little nagging chores done that have remained undone (mostly stuff for Mr. B to do), etc.

But, he finished the frame for the swing yesterday! And, we finally found a wrought iron pub height table to go with the chairs I've had for years and years!

Mr. B and his completed project!

Mr. B and Lucy (she's not so sure about this swing; she kept trying to attack our feet while we were in motion!)
New pub table

And, I must start thinking about getting everything cooked/prepared ready to consume on the 2nd! We hit BJs on Saturday to get the majority of "the goods"; still more to buy, though.

In addition to this, I was asked to join the Board of Directors for the local symphony. I agreed, and I'm now their secretary. I had my first Board meeting Thursday night; it was extremely interesting but a lot is going on and I have a lot to learn! This involvement will take up more of my time than perhaps I originally banked on, but, from what everyone has told me, it'll be an enriching experience.

And, there's more, but, I'll hold on blogging about that until later this week.

So, you may not see me out in Blog land as frequently as I used to be.

Such is life; turn, turn turn.

Mrs. B

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Puerto Vallarta: The Bad and The Buggy

Funny how, the more of a distant memory your vacation becomes, the less you can think of to complain about! Sort of like a twist on that adage, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder!"

Actually, there really were only a "few" things that I'd put under "the bad"; unfortunately, they WERE pretty bad (at least they seemed so at the time). But, for those of you who may ever go to Villa del Palmar in Puerto Vallarta (or, just to Puerto Vallarta), I owe it to you to let ya know!

The Rooms
Although they were not dirty by any stretch of the imagination, the rooms were not the best (and I can say "rooms" since we ended up in two of them!) I don't know; the best way to put it is they were "tired" looking; dated, "frayed around their edges". The furniture was banged up, light fixtures didn't work or work well, the lighting in the bathroom was simply awful (in one room, the vanity lights on the mirror didn't work), the mirrors in the bathrooms were chipped and scratched, and, if you looked up at the ceiling in the bathroom, you'd see a bunch of loose ceiling tiles and a lot of mold. So, the overall condition was just sorta "blah".

Also, we didn't really care for the layout of the room. Our unit in Cabo is great; you walk in, there is a large kitchen, dining room and living room which leads out to the lanai. There is also a full bath off the kitchen. To the right of the dining room is the door to the master bedroom which is huge; has its own lanai and another full bathroom (including a Jacuzzi tab and double vanity sinks). This one bedroom units at Villa del Palmar leave a lot to be desired. First off, they are small. The kitchen is more of a galley kitchen, there is only one bathroom (single vanity) and the master bedroom (which does not have the bathroom in it) is located near the front door, which means it gets all the noise from the hallways and it obviously does not have its own lanai.

Finally, although we understand the maids are not responsible for washing dishes and cleaning out the kitchen sink or coffee pot or anything like that (it IS a timeshare, after all), you'd think they'd at least leave dish soap and paper towels in the room!

A Few of the Other Guests
In our first room, we had to deal with loud, noisy kids (late teens/early twenties) who were staying a room or so away. They'd come home late at night/early in the morning yelling and screaming and pounding on doors and slamming doors, talking loudly out in the hallway, etc. Thankfully, they checked out the 3rd morning we were there (I was primed to call security on them AND we ended up moving to the other room, anyway, due to the chain-smoking dudes next door.

, this is not a rant against smokers, but, honestly, I don't think these dudes ever stopped smoking. Plus, they were definitely smoking IN their room, which was a big no-no. We walked out of our room one morning while their door was open...UGH. And, then, every morning, afternoon and evening, we were treated to their constant cigarette smoke wafting over from their lanai to ours. Finally, we had enough and requested to be moved to another room which ended up being far, far away from them. I suppose, in a way, we have them to thank for being switched to what turned out to be a better room in the long run.

At our 2nd room, our neighbors were much more tolerable. The worst thing we had to put up with from them was their children running around excitedly and slamming doors. But, the parents were friendly; the night before we left, they leaned over the wall from their lanai to ours with beer in hand and said "Salute!"

Constant Timeshare, Restaurant and Activity Come-Ons
From pretty much the moment we arrived, we were hit with a barrage of what I refer to as "Timeshare Vampires" or "Timeshare Ghouls" pestering us to take them up on a variety of "free" offers just for sitting through a timeshare presentation. And, the folks at our own resort were no different, even though we already own! It's the same in Cabo, so, I can't really lay it all as a "bad" for our vacation to Puerto Vallarta, but, I will say that it did seem worse to me in Puerto Vallarta.

For starters, we got caught by two different Timeshare Vampires on our way out of the airport. Both of them were standing under a sign that had several resorts on it, including ours. So, although we know to steer clear in Cabo and sail on past, we got a bit confused by the signs and thought we were supposed to speak to them about our transportation. Well, of course not, silly people! On both occasions, they out and out lied to us, telling us our transportation to the resort would not leave for 50 minutes. Then, on to the spiel. I was fairly rude to the first guy and he, in turn, got a bit belligerent with me. I didn't even listen to the second guy, not really; finally, Mr. B told him I had to find a bathroom so we left (and kept the map he gave us which actually turned out to be a good one of the area). Of course, the moment we escaped, we found our transportation waiting for us.

At the resort, we got the high pressure pitch to attend a "Member Meeting". We got suckered into this in Cabo last year so knew exactly what it REALLY was; a presentation in hopes that you will either upgrade your unit size or your season. We said no about ten times before she let it go.

And, throughout our stay in general, wherever we went, there were either Timeshare Ghouls or other people constantly yakking at you as you walked by them. The mall, Wal-Mart, the Malecon, outside our resort, etc. About the only place we didn't run into someone trying to sell us something was in the taxi cabs or on the bus!

Both of Us Getting Sick
This is probably an obvious "bad" but I thought about putting it under "buggy"! Ok, yeah, Mr. B started to feel under the weather Saturday morning. The type of under the weather the requires one to stay close to a bathroom. Then, it "hit" me Sunday morning; at first I thought it was "too much tequila" but, no; it lingered. And lingered. And lingered. Although we eventually felt better, it never quite went away (and, frankly, poor Mr. B felt bad enough to go to the doctor this past Monday to get some antibiotics). Me, I'm "hanging tough" (for now).

Anyway, we've thought a lot about what it could have been that made us both ill. And, perhaps it wasn't even the same thing/happened at the same time. We've narrowed it down to either something we both ate at La Dolce Vita (and Italian restaurant we hit on the Malecon Friday afternoon); this because Mr. B got ill Friday night/early Saturday. Or, perhaps it was the ice melting in our drinks. We'll we will likely never know (unless it doesn't go away and we have to have tests done or something).

Suffice it to say, it certainly put a damper on the middle of our vacation, and, as a result, we really didn't get out to see and do as much as we would have otherwise. Thank God the pool area was so nice, but, after we both got sick, we played it safe and only ordered beer or made drinks in our room with ice made from purified water.

The Dampness
It was very humid it Puerto Vallarta. I mean, HUMID. I've already mentioned Mr. B almost melting on the bus, that was due primarily to the humidity. Combined with the constantly running A/Cs (and the condensation from them), this meant EVERYTHING on or around us always felt damp and limp. It took bathing suits forever to dry, even hanging on a clothes line in the bathroom. The books we were reading, the journal I was writing in, the tour guides, maps, etc. all had clingy damp limp pages. After a while, I just felt slimy!

Prime Rib Night at the Resort
We never would have done this had we been feeling better, but, we both thought perhaps some good old fashioned protein was what the doctor would order. Plus, neither one of us wanted to venture too far away from the resort Sunday night.

First off, it was pretty expensive for prime rib, potato, and spinach ($28; for another $10, we could have received salad OR soup, coffee OR tea (yeah, who drinks coffee or tea at dinner at a freaking RESORT?) and dessert. We didn't want all of that, so we stuck to the $28. Per person, I might add).

So, I ordered my meat medium rare (I usually order my steaks rare but I didn't want to take a chance of getting even sicker). Well, I should have ordered it rare and maybe it would have come back medium. What I got was pretty much medium well. Barely any pink. It had decent enough flavor at first, but, after about 1/3 of it (and it started to cool off), it tasted dry and dusty. Mr. B said his was "better". The spinach was ok except they'd cooked it with a ton of diced bacon which made me leery. Get this; I ordered mashed potatoes and they were INSTANT! Yeah, I remember that taste from my starving student college days! Mr. B got a baked potato, which was a small Yukon gold. He said it tasted pretty good, but, it was tiny!

On top of this, it took FOREVER to get the food. Wasn't this prime rib night? Shouldn't they have been more prepared? It wasn't as if the restaurant was overly crowded, either. And, hell, they made instant mashed potatoes; that takes, like, 3 minutes! They brought us a complimentary dessert because we'd had to wait so long, but, it was some frozen Sarah Lee tart thing; the best thing about that was the ice cream served along with it.

Finally, one of the other guests had a small baby with her that started shrieking and screaming at the top of its lungs. After about 20 minutes of this, she finally got up and took him out.

So, yeah, definitely a "bad" experience for which we got to fork out $56 (plus money for drinks that were not that great, either).

The Bugs
Ok, this SHOULD go under "the buggy" but, since it's the only entry I have for that now (having assigned getting sick and the Timeshare Vampires "bugging" us to "the bad"), I'll put it here and wrap this up in two posts!

Yeah, bugs. Everywhere. Mostly flies, which are my all-time least favorite bug (even over bees and spiders). Well, these were nasty flies that I'm pretty sure were also biting us (them or perhaps a smaller cousin). The flies were the worst during meal times; it seemed we just couldn't escape them. One particular gross out moment I recall was seeing one fly crawl down inside my orange juice glass and "taste" the juice. Suffice it to say, I let him have it!

Well, this seems like a lot of "bad" but, spread out over 7 days, it really isn't. Plus, I DID focus only on "the good" in my last post!

Bottom line; would we ever go back to Puerto Vallarta? Yeah, there is a chance that we might BUT, we would definitely stay at their other resort, which is supposedly newer, more upscale and has a better beach. The only drawback is that it is further away from "town", but, hey, with transportation being so cheap (and our tendency to send a lot of time at the resort, anyway), that might not be all bad.

Our next "big" vacation is to a Lawrence Welk resort in Escondido, California (near San Diego) at the end of October. I'm already starting the planning process!

Mrs. B

Monday, July 7, 2008

Puerto Vallarta: The Good

Mr. B at Cilantro's, definitely a "good"!

We'll start with the good first because, generally, it was more of a good trip than a bad or buggy one!

We had zero trouble with any of our four flights. I mean, none. Considering how much has been in the news of late about flight delays, crowded flights, lost luggage, added expenses, etc., I was fully prepared for some glitch. Niente! Now, some of this could have been attributed to the fact we traveled Wednesday-Wednesday, thus avoiding a lot of "families". Yeah, the planes were still crowded, but, there were some empty seats here and there.

Service at the Resort
The service at the resort was top-notch. What I mean is, we were treated well all the way around. All of the resort's employees were friendly with a "can-do" attitude. We had a few problems with our room(s) (see "the bad"); but, when called upon, the maintenance and house keeping crew were there very quickly to help us out. When we requested to change our room, there was zero issue with doing so. We interacted most frequently with the waiters/cocktail servers; all of them were fantastic. The waiters at the pool have obviously learned to be amusing and entertaining and flattering and to keep track of what you like to drink and to keep 'em coming!

Drinks and Food
The alcoholic drinks at the resort were really potent. Maybe that would be "bad" for some, not so for us. Hey, we're on vacation, after all; and, if you are going to pay for a drink, it should be a worthy one. I'd read a lot of reviews prior to our trip about the resort were people where complaining about "watered down drinks" and "expensive beer". Well, our drinks packed a powerful punch. For instance, we had two margaritas the afternoon we checked in. Afterwards, we walked down the street to a grocery store. Let's just say the walk and the journey inside the store/mall was a bit foggy for yours truly. And, every single day there was a two for one happy hour out by the pool followed by a two for one happy hour a hop, skip and a jump beyond the pool at the sport's bar the following hour. So, I don't know what folks were bitching about, frankly. Most of the food we ate at the resort was just fine, too (with one exception, which you'll see under "the bad"). We really loved the refried beans at the resort! Funny, huh?

Also excellent were a few of the restaurants we managed to get to: The Cheeky Monkey (cheap beer and a great view of the Malecon), Mr. Cream Pancakes and Waffles (in the Marina; this was a life-saver Sunday morning when we were craving non-Mexican breakfast food), Pipi's (FANTASTIC custom-order table-made (and free) guacamole plus HUGE margaritas) and Cilantro's (romantic, gourmet and not overly expensive; especially enjoyable if you like cilantro but not mandatory).

Note: I've posted/am posting reviews of the resort and some of the restaurants we ate at on my Trip Advisor site which you can access under "Mrs. B's Stuff" on my Blog.

Finally, we were incredibly close to a major grocery store, Soriana (about a 2 block walk from our resort). We were able to load up at a reasonable expense on staples for our room; coffee creamer, juice, paper towels (they never provide these for some reason), beer, wine, tequila, snack foods, bread, cheese, etc.) They have a huge bakery in the store where you could go every day if you wanted and pick out fresh pastries, muffins, cakes, rolls, etc., for something like 30 cents each.

It was a cinch getting around Puerto Vallarta using either the bus or the taxis. Since this resort is in town, everything is fairly close by so the fares were not bad at all. There was a bus stop to the right of the entrance to the hotel. We took the bus one day down to the Malecon area (boardwalk). It was really easy to do, but, unfortunately, it was bloody hot and humid that day and Mr. B almost melted in front of my eyes. So, we didn't ride the bus again, but, had it been cooler, we would have for sure, since it was $1.10 round trip per person! Fares for taxi rides to the Malecon and points beyond ran about $5-$6 one way; to the Marina about $8 and to the airport the same. Very, very reasonable.

Ok, we didn't do a lot of this (we really didn't need anything) but, I have to admit, there were likely some great bargains to be had if we'd chosen to get down and dirty at the flea markets and some of the other stores. Mr. B DID manage to find a few more than decent deals on cigars. I bought a very pretty beach dress from one of the hawkers near the resort for $20; I could have bought two for $30, had I been of the mind to.

We spent a lot of time laying out at the pool/in the pool talking, reading, working crossword puzzles, swimming, drinking, eating, playing games, people watching (although there was definitely not as much people drama on this trip as we've observed on others) and simply relaxing. The pool area was kept up very well and the water was lusciously warm. Oh, and they had a fun pool slide, too (which we actually went down a time or two, mostly, though, it was amusing to watch everyone else go down!) We also spent a far amount of time out on our lanais (in particular, once we got moved away from chain-smoking dudes). We really like to sit out, smoke a cigar (but not CHAIN-SMOKE, ha ha) read, sip a glass of wine, play cards, talk, and watch all the people down at the pool.

The Italians have a saying, "Il dolce far niente" (there ya go, Father!) that means "The sweetness of doing nothing". I must say that, for the most part, Mr. B and I are really good living up to this when we are on vacation (and we did so this go-around).
For two people that are busy, busy busy all the time (albeit in different ways), this is a very pleasant pastime, especially getting to do it TOGETHER and at the SAME TIME! For me, this saying could extend to "The sweetness of THINKING nothing"; probably much more apt since my brain runs on full throttle the majority of the time.

Mrs. B