Tuesday, July 31, 2018

July Balanced Life Goals - Update

It is time to update the monthly goals, again!

As I've explained before, when I do my monthly balanced life goals, I picture a wheel with several spokes, each spoke representing an aspect of my life that is important to me.  Taken together, I like to think that they make a well-balanced life.  Ideally, each spoke is of equal length and the arcs drawn between the spokes are equally rounded to make a perfectly circular rim around the wheel, without any bump-outs or indents.  A well-balanced wheel results in a smoother ride; a wonky wheel results in a bumpy ride.  This month, I included the ratings for each category.

These, then, are my goals and current ratings for July; the numbers in the brackets reflect my satisfaction ratings for each category, at the start of the month in black and at the end of the month in blue:

Spiritual (8)(8):  The goal is to live a spiritually meaningful life.
- Continue with daily prayers and gratitude; focus on being positive - On-going; prayers are being said, daily; I've been listing 5 things I am grateful for, daily; and I made an effort to be positive, although I might have slipped up once or twice! 

- Take time for meditation - at some point during my day, pause long enough to consciously meditate for 5 minutes; 10 if possible - Still a bit hit and miss, unless I count the time I say my prayers.

- Cultivate non-attachment - focus on letting go of attachment to material possessions - well, I gave away some of my personal possessions I had at the office!

- Attend the monthly rosary prayer gathering - Attended the prayer gathering on 7/15 and gave a ride to my cousin P and friends R and F to the prayer gathering.

I am keeping the rating the same, because there were a couple of items I didn't accomplish.

Environment (5)(8):  The goal is a clean, tidy, uncluttered house and a well-maintained garden.
- Focus on decluttering and maintaining cleaned areas - get 20 bags of donations out of the house by the end of the month!  I've kept up with the regular cleaning - dusting, vacuuming, mopping, etc., although I wasn't very successful at keeping surfaces decluttered and clear!  I also didn't get any donations out of the house.

- Deep clean my bedroom - It is the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see at night; it should be a place of calm restoration! - Didn't deep clean the bedroom.

- Maintain (water 2x per week; weed) - The garden segment got a BIG boost because I was able to get my eucalyptus tree trimmed!  One task that was on my to do list for years got accomplished!  Have been keeping up with the watering, etc. (as indicated by my water bill!)

- Scatter some seeds and see if they will grow! - Too hot!  Everything is scorched!

Although I didn't accomplish several things around the house, I increased my satisfaction rating because of the tree trimming that was accomplished!  Getting that tree trimmed had been on my list of things to do for years!  I might consider splitting this category into two, in August.

Daughter (10)(10):  The goal is to continue to have a close relationship with her (without being over-protective!)
- Daily texts, phone calls, emails, and video chatting - On-going.

- Look forward to her visits (2) in July - over the 4th of July weekend and, again, towards the end of July - she was here for the Anime Expo convention at the beginning of the month and spent just over a week at home from 7/20 to 7/29.  Although she worked from home during that week, we had fun during her visit, attending two weddings, going shopping, and just spending time together.

Be supportive of her enthusiasm for the upcoming Anime Exposition by sewing part of a costume, by giving her rides to the event and back, etc. - Sewed an apron and a tail for her costumes; dropped her off and picked her up, etc.

There isn't any other possible rating!  My daughter is definitely a 10 as far as I am concerned!  

Family & Friends (8)(9.5):  The goal is to keep in touch with various family members and friends.
- Wish friends A and R on their birthdays - called and wished them both

- Go out to lunch with friend R - did so on 7/14

- Attend cousin V's son's wedding - did so on 7/21; daughter and I rode to the wedding with my cousin and her daughter and we stayed the night at a hotel and had family bonding time!

- Attend another friend R's daughter's wedding - did so on 7/28, and helped my friend box up wedding cakes for her daughter's wedding, earlier in the month, after the prayer gathering.  Again, rode to the event with my cousin and her daughter.

- Regular phone calls and emails - There were many phone calls (sister, cousins, aunts, friends) and some emails and texts, throughout the month.

- Will be seeing several members of the family and friends at the various family gatherings this month - Did so; in addition, cousin V and her husband visited me to borrow the oil lamp and daughter and I visited Aunt C and took her some soup.

- Weekly calls with neighbor T/have coffee with her one day - spoke with her several times and she came over, one day, although we didn't have coffee together; besides, her willingness to have her tree trimmed spurred me to get my tree trimmed, too!

This was a very good month for family and friends.  I realize the rating can't be maintained, but that's OK, too.

Community (8)(8):  The goal is to become more involved in my community.
- Continue to participate in the blogging community - Have been reading and commenting on blogs; I am very appreciative of everyone taking time to comment on my posts and have done my best to reply to each comment.

Career (9)(10):  The goal is to continue to work while planning for retirement.
- Complete as many assignments as I can in the next 3 weeks and bring the others to a good pausing point - Did so!  
- Clean up my work space and files - Done
- Continue to work on retirement related stuff - put in my last day at the office on 7/20; will be on vacation for the next two months!

Looking back on my career - all 37 years of it - I feel very happy at what I was able to accomplish.  One of the steps in the Buddhist way of life, which we call the Middle Path, which is also known as the Noble Eight-fold Path, is "Right Livelihood".  It is the 5th of the 8 steps and is often defined as earning a living in a manner that doesn't hurt or harm other beings.  I know I engaged in a Right Livelihood by advocating for environmental considerations in the various projects I worked on.  

Finances (9)(8):  The goal is financial security.
- Continue budgeting and spending mindfully, with purpose - On-going; this was a rather spendy month, with two weddings, my share of the hotel room payment, tree trimmers, car registration renewal, manicures, etc.  Some of it (like the car registration renewal) had been budgeted for; the rest wasn't, but the funds were there and I didn't spend anything that I couldn't afford, so it was all good. 

- Make an appointment with financial planner - Done (scheduled for 8/6)

- Make final decisions about pension options - Will be done after meeting with the financial planner

I chose to go with a lower month-end rating simply because I spent so much money this month!  It certainly wasn't my usual frugal month, although, as I mentioned earlier, it wasn't anything I couldn't afford and the funds were there.  But, I guess it is OK to splurge from time to time!    

Health & Well Being (6)(5):  The goal is good health.
- Attend the appointments with my various medical doctors - 2 scheduled for July, so far, with maybe 2 more to be scheduled upon authorization approval!  - Saw primary care physician assistant 7/13; blood pressure and sugar levels were OK, but weight had gone up and she wasn't happy about that.  She had me do some blood tests to check A1C (sugar) levels, kidney functions, and other stuff (calcium, iron, etc.)  Follow up appointment made for August 17; I had to reschedule the 2nd appointment for August 2, as there was a scheduling conflict with something at work.

- Call and make dental appointments! - Didn't accomplish

Continue to monitor blood pressure, sugar levels, and weight - On-going

- Continue to focus on a healthier diet, drinking enough water (8x 8oz), exercising regularly (walk for 30 minutes during the work week), and getting sufficient sleep - Hah!

- Focus on accomplishments and staying positive - I did receive my mammogram results which said everything was normal, so that is something that is positive!  Other than that, I am positive that my accomplishments in this segment need improvement!

I am not very happy about this segment and I have reduced my satisfaction rating to reflect that.  It would have come down even more, except for the fact that I received a good mammogram report and I am trying to be positive!  So, I will simply say that there is much room for improvement!

Time Management (4)(5):  The goal is having enough time to do all what I want to do!
- Procrastinate less - I went ahead and scheduled my tree to be trimmed right away, when my neighbor had her tree trimmed!  (Never mind the fact that I had procrastinated on getting it done for at least 3 or 4 years!  We are focusing on staying positive, here!)

-  When I called for an appointment to have my car serviced and the person at the other end said she could schedule me for the next day, I asked if there was an appointment available for that afternoon and, when she said yes, opted for that!

- I was ready with a gift card and greeting card in good time for the 2nd wedding (never mind the last minute rushing around for the 1st wedding - stay focused on the positive, Bless!)  

- I submitted my mileage verification and renewed my car registration well before the due dates!

- Implement routines and schedules - Work in progress!  There should be more opportunity for this in August!

Once again, the tree trimming helped to bump this up!  

Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies/Me-Time (7)(8):  The goal is to relax doing something I enjoy doing for the pleasure of it.
- Set aside 30 minutes a day to do something relaxing, such as reading books  blogs, or doing a craft - done; I've spent more than 30 minutes a day reading blogs, which I love doing; I've spent at least 15 additional minutes a day, reading, doing crossword puzzles, playing online games (Solitaire, Sudoku, etc.);  I've taken several afternoon naps, which have been very relaxing;  I spent a couple of hours sewing daughter's costumes at the beginning of the month; spent several days sewing a sari blouse towards the middle of the month (although I am not sure if I can consider that as "relaxing" because I was working without a pattern!); and had a manicure after several years (although it wasn't quite as relaxing as it could have been, because I was cutting it fine when it came to time on that particular day and that was stressful!)

So, there we have it!  The July balanced life goals in review!  Some segments went up, some went down:

Updated July Balanced Life Wheel
The thicker red line (it is supposed to be purple, but shows more red than purple in the picture) is the month-end review.  The environment spoke has improved a lot (due to the tree trimming), family and friends also improved, as did career, time management, and leisure.  But, financial and health went down.  So, the wheel is still a bit wonky!  Wonder what August will look like!

How was your July month in review?  Is anyone joining me in doing a balance wheel in August?

Car Service on Monday

Today, I woke up a little after 10:00 a.m. (after going to sleep at 4:30 a.m.).  After I replied to blog comments and commented on a couple of other blogs, I reviewed my up coming appointments for August.  So far, I have four medical appointments, on 8/2, 8/15, 8/17, and 8/22 (for endoscopy/colonoscopy) and one appointment with my financial planner, on 8/6, and I need to make a dental appointment and an appointment to hand in my retirement papers before the end of the month!

Then, I called and made an appointment to take my car in for a service at 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon.  After that, I rinsed the dishes and loaded the dishwasher and washed a few other items by hand, swept the bathroom, and took a shower. 

The car service took 1 1/4 hours.  I waited in the waiting room.  It was nicely air conditioned there, with a TV, free bottled water, and coffee; I helped myself to a bottle of water and did some crossword puzzles and watched a little TV while I waited.  They said that everything was fine with the car, which was good to hear.

On the way back, I stopped at the smaller Armenian store (near my dentist's office) and bought a loaf of bread ($1.50).  I debated going in to the dentist's office to book an appointment to have my teeth cleaned, but I was getting hungry by then (it was around 4:30 p.m. and I hadn't eaten anything other than some almonds I had taken with me to snack on at the waiting room) and I just wanted to go home.  I decided I will call the dental clinic and book an appointment over the phone, instead.

Came home, ate some of the bread for a late lunch, and had a cup of tea.  Daughter called to tell me she really enjoyed today's statistics workshop.  She had the opportunity to network with another participant who is from the US Dept. of Agriculture and went out to lunch with some of the others.  There are just 7 participants, she said, so plenty of individualized attention.  She mentioned that she might like to pursue a PhD in Bio-Statistics; we'll see if she still feels that way at the end of the week and take it from there.   

Then, I ran the dishwasher and did 2 loads of laundry.  I also took the trash cans to the curb. I stepped outside with the trash just in time to see my nextdoor neighbor park his huge truck in a manner that blocked my driveway by a good couple of feet and two of their dogs (the two white chihuahuas, not the bigger German shepherd) in my front yard!  I just stood there and watched.  As he got out and saw me watching him, he greeted me, made a big show of checking out if he was blocking the drive way, yelled at his dogs, pulled out, and drove off to find another parking spot, down the block!  A woman came out of the house next door (not the lady of the house), called the dogs, and then, proceeded to sit on my other neighbor's half wall in the front and have a phone conversation with someone while I brought out my trash cans and put them, one (trash bin) on one side of my driveway and the other two (yard waste and recycling bins) on the other side, vacated by the too-big truck.   I didn't say anything to the woman sitting on the wall.  

Later, daughter and I video chatted for a bit and I brushed Dancer.  

Today, I am grateful for:
- Getting the car serviced and being told that everything was fine
- An air conditioned room in which to wait while the car was being worked on
- My neighbor moved his truck without any problem
- Appliances like dishwashers and washing machines
- Freshly baked bread

Monday's To Do List:
- Do the dishes/run dishwasher - DONE
- Call to schedule a maintenance service for the car (maintenance required light has come one) - DONE
- Do a load or two of laundry - DONE
- Do some paperwork (pay bills, etc.)
- Take the trash cans to the curb - DONE
- Cook the ground beef
- Grocery shop for bread - DONE

Oops!  I completely forgot to cook the ground beef!  And I didn't do the paperwork.

Tuesday's To Do List:
- Put away the laundry
- Empty the dishwasher
- Paperwork/pay bills
- Cook the ground beef
- Bring in the trash cans
- Water the house plants
- Renew the car registration

How was your Monday?  What have you planned for Tuesday?

Monday, July 30, 2018

Sunday: Daughter Goes Back

I woke up at 9:00 a.m., this morning, when the alarm went off, fed the cats, refilled the outside cats' water bowl, turned off the porch lights, etc.  I had planned to get up and cook the salmon steaks so daughter could take some back with her.  But I felt very tired, after yesterday's wedding, so, I went back to sleep and slept until 10:30 a.m., when daughter came for a cuddle.  By the time I had coffee, got dressed, and had my Sunday morning chat with my neighbor T who called, it was already past 11:00 a.m. and too late to cook the fish.

Daughter finished packing the last bits, which included the food I gave her to take back - the last of the rotisserie chicken, half of the fruits and vegetable I bought on Friday, the rest of the mung beans I had cooked, etc.  I put the cooked food in containers and put the containers in gallon sized zippered bags.  She is able to take food like that, in her carry on luggage, without any problems.

I dropped daughter off at the airport at noon and came home.  She called to let me know when she boarded the plane, when she landed at Oakland airport, and, again, when she reached her apartment (she has an hour-long subway ride from the airport to Berkeley, and then, she walks the mile or so from the subway station to her apartment).  She said she planned to unpack and do a load of laundry and get ready for next week.  She has a course of Statistics seminars and work shops to attend, at UC-Berkeley, next week, 8:30 to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.  She says she's excited about it and is looking forward to it!

I spent the afternoon writing the wedding blog post.  One of my cousins sent me some pictures she had taken at the wedding, and we texted back and forth about it.  Later, after trying the tea cousin P had given me, I called her to thank her, again, for the ride, to ask after her daughter's feet (she said they were OK), and to tell her that I tried the tea and it was good.  She brought up the subject of the wedding and we discussed it a bit more!

By the way, daughter says she is unable to upload the videos she took of the wedding dancers without uploading them to YouTube, first, and we don't want to do that.  Does anyone know of another way to upload videos from a cell phone to a blog post?

Later in the evening, once it had cooled off a bit, I watered the front garden with the garden hose and the back yard with the sprinklers.  I might need to cut back a bit on my watering, though!  I received my water and electric (and other municipal services, such as sewer and trash collection) bill, earlier in the week, and it showed that I had gone over my Tier 1 limit of 16 hundred cubic feet (hcf) of water during the billing period (two months: 5/17/18 - 7/18/18) and used another 2 hcf of Tier 2 water.  Tier 1 water is billed at the rate of $6.23/hcf; Tier 2 water is billed at the rate of $8.35/hcf.  My water bill is $116.43.  The electricity portion was $52.64 and I had used 283 kiloWatt-hours of the 1,000 kWh of the Tier 1 electricity that I am allowed; I have never gone over my Tier 1 electricity.  Sewer charges came to another $26.55 and the solid waste removal fees came to $74.03.  The combined total of my bill for water, electricity, sewer and solid waste amounted to $269.65; I allocate $150/month in my budget for this combined bill (or $300 for the 2-months billing period), so I am under budget.  However, I had gone over the Tier 1 water allocation.

About a day after I received my water/electric bill, I received a call from someone, claiming to call on behalf of the Department of Water and Power, doing an energy audit, stating they showed me in the Tier 2 category and asking about my electricity usage.  I knew the call was not from the Department of Water and Power, itself, but one of the many companies looking to sell various products designed to help with energy conservation.  Their first question was, "Do you use over 1,000 kWh of electricity?" and my answer to that would be a "No, I used a little more than one quarter of that amount".  Because my Tier 2 usage was in water and not electricity, I declined to participate, said, "No, thank you", and hung up.

I already do many of the things we are urged to do to conserve water.  The only way I could conserve additional water usage is by watering my garden even less than I currently do.  As it is, I have no lawn in the front and I've planted succulents and other drought tolerant plants.  This is the middle of summer and I live in one of the hotter areas of the city; we've had no rain since the end of May and we are not likely to get any rain until the rainy season starts again in October.  I expect my water usage to go up a bit in the summer, and, as long as we are not in a drought and under mandatory water restrictions, I think it is OK to do so.  However, I shall try to keep below my 16 hcf for the rest of the summer (in winter, my allocation is reduced to 13 hcf, or is it 11?  I can't remember, without looking it up.)

After I watered the garden, I called friend R and chatted with her for a bit.  Then, I finally cooked the fish!  I had some of it for dinner, but I will freeze the rest.

Still later, I video chatted with daughter. 

Monday's To Do List:
- Do the dishes/run dishwasher
- Call to schedule a maintenance service for the car (maintenance required light has come one)
- Do a load or two of laundry
- Do some paperwork (pay bills, etc.)
- Take the trash cans to the curb
- Cook the ground beef
- Grocery shop for bread

How was your Sunday?  What are some of the ways in which you conserve water?

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Wedding on Saturday

Saturday morning, we decided not to run any of the errands we had planned (go to the auto club and DMV) and just relax.  We didn't want a repeat of the previous Saturday and running late!  I will go to the auto club during the week and daughter will go to the DMV, on her own, next Saturday.

I also didn't cook the salmon steaks, either!  I will cook them later, and probably freeze them.

Instead, daughter and I relaxed and took it easy in the morning.  Cousin P called and came over with some tea bags she wanted me to try; a different brand of tea than what I have been buying, but Sri Lankan tea, nevertheless.  She said her daughter (who was driving us to the wedding and back) wanted to leave by 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon, to go to the wedding, and I said that was fine with us.  She called back, a little later, to give me some news about a family friend's health (his wife and his mother-in-law had both informed me about it, a couple of weeks ago, so I had known about it) and I confirmed that we were leaving at 3:30 p.m. 

After lunch, I ironed the sari blouses and daughter and I started to get dressed.  This time, I dressed in my sari, first, and then, dressed daughter in hers.  We chose to wear the same saris we wore to last week's wedding.  They are our newest saris and both daughter and I agreed that we hadn't paid $150 per sari to wear them just once!  It couldn't be helped that the weddings were held, practically, back to back!  If any of the other wedding guests (there were family and friends who were at both weddings) recognized the fact that we wore the same saris to both events, they didn't say anything about it to our faces, other than comment on the fact that we wore saris, again (the majority of them had worn dresses to this wedding). 

I was also complimented on my hair being worn in a bun.  I used to often wear my hair in a bun when I had long hair.  It's still not quite long enough for anything other than a tiny little knob on top, but I had bought a doughnut shaped sponge form to help with putting my hair up in a bun (from the dollar store).   You put your hair in a pony tail, then, pull the pony tail through the middle of the doughnut shaped sponge, and roll it down while distributing the hair around it and pin it in place.  I am not able to do it, myself, but my daughter was able to make the bun for me.  As I told me daughter, I felt more like my usual self, on Saturday, with my hair up in a bun, for the first time since my treatments started and I lost my hair.

Then, I did daughter's hair for her, with half of her hair in a bun, with the rest of her hair cascading down in ringlet curls.  Well, at least, that was the idea - in reality, her hair is very thick and unruly, with waves and curls of its own, and my curling iron is old and not powerful enough, so the ringlet curls didn't come out as intended!   It didn't help that we were just a bit rushed at that point.  It was 3 o'clock, by then, and cousin had called to say they were leaving their house!  When my cousin said her daughter wanted to leave by 3:30 p.m., I had understood it to mean that we were leaving at 3:30 p.m.  So, in my mind, I still had 30 minutes more to do daughter's hair, etc.  But, when cousin called at 3:00 p.m. to say they were leaving the house, I realized I had misunderstood her!  I was still curling daughter's hair when cousin and her daughter pulled up in front of my house!  But, we didn't keep them waiting, this time!  I unplugged the curling iron and we were out of the house in less than two minutes!  Daughter was pleased with what I had been able to achieve with her hair, so all was good. 

We arrived at the wedding venue in good time, just as the cocktail hour started.  Unfortunately, what this meant was one hour of standing, as there were only a couple of chairs in the whole room and they were occupied!  I had worn flats since I can't wear any high heels, but, even so, standing for one hour is a bit much for me!  My daughter had worn high heels, but she claimed she was OK in them.  At 5:00 p.m., the room where the ceremony was being held opened and we were able to sit down.  My cousin's daughter said we should have left at 3:30 p.m. and got there at 4:30 p.m., instead, so we didn't have to stand for so long; I didn't say anything, but thought to myself that, yes, that would have been better as that was when I thought we were going to leave!  LOL.

They had what amounted to two wedding ceremonies as they tried to incorporate both Sri Lankan (bride) and Jewish (groom) customs.  At one end of the room, there was a dais known as a "poruwa" in Sri Lanka, where traditional Sri Lankan marriage ceremonies take place.  In Sri Lanka, the poruwa ceremony is traditionally performed at Buddhist weddings, with Christians/Catholics preferring to have a traditional Church wedding.  However, over here, more and more ex-pats are considering the poruwa ceremony to be more of a cultural thing, with adaptations being made, as necessary.  In a Sri Lankan Buddhist wedding, for example, part of the poruwa ceremony would include the singing of what are known as "jaya mangala gatha" which invoke the special qualities of the Buddha to bring blessings on the newly married couple.  But, since the bride is Catholic, they omitted that step of the poruwa ceremony.  However, the music they played when the bride was led to the poruwa, preceded by dancers, was a Buddhist hymn, known as "Dhanno Budunge", which I found to be amusing.  Daughter and I looked at each other, as it was a song she learned at Sunday school at the temple and used to sing at various temple celebrations! 

My daughter took videos of the traditional drummers and dancers that led the bride and groom to the poruwa; she will upload them to the blog for me, she said, when she has a chance to do so. 

The poruwa ceremony was conducted by the bride's maternal uncle.  The groom's parents stood by his side of the structure and her bride's parents stood by her side of the structure.  As part of the ceremony, the groom was handed seven betel leaves, one by one, and he handed them to the bride, who then, placed  them on the ground - betel leaves represent blessings, and later, the bride and groom will offer more betel leaves to their parents and bow low to them to be blessed by their parents.  The groom was also  handed a gold necklace to be placed around the bride's neck (a symbolic gesture of providing for her; in a traditional marriage, the bride's family would have provided the bride with a dowry).   Then, the bride's maternal uncle, who was officiating this part of the ceremony, tied the fingers of the bride and groom with a gold thread to symbolize unity and poured water over the tied hands, using a brass water pot known as a "kendiya". 

These two brass kendi are what I have at home and, as my daughter was quick to point out, are similar to the one that was used in the ceremony:


Later, the groom handed a white cloth to the bride's mother in gratitude for raising her.  Traditionally, it is a bolt of white cloth (which, according to my mother, at least, was originally supposed to have been used on the marriage bed as proof of the bride's virginity, but I only have my mother's word for it!)  At this particular wedding, however, the white cloth the groom handed his new mother-in-law was the tallit, or Jewish prayer shawl, that had been given to him at his Bar Mitzvah.  I loved how they found ways to personalize the customs. 

A plate of milk rice (or "kiri bath") had been prepared, before hand, and this plate was offered to bride by her mother and the new couple fed each other a piece.  Then, the groom's brother broke a coconut, in front of the poruwa, as a symbol of prosperity and plenty.  At the conclusion of the poruwa ceremony, the couple lit the brass oil lamp.

Then, they walked down the length of the room to the other end, where a Chuppah had been set up.  Midway, between the two structures (poruwa and Chuppah), a unity candle had been set up.  The groom's mother and the bride's mother each lit a candle and the bridal couple took those candles to light their unity candle.  Then, they proceeded to the Chuppah, where a rabbi conducted the Jewish wedding ceremony, which, at Saturday's ceremony, consisted of the Ketubah, which is a marriage contract, written in Hebrew, the Kiddushin or blessings of the betrothal  where blessings were said over the cup of wine that was shared and a second blessing over the marriage.  This was followed by the Nisuin, which consisted of the Sheva Brachet or Seven Blessings.  The couple's friends wrote blessings centered around the theme of each traditional blessing and read them during this part of the ceremony.  A second glass of wine was shared at this time and the couple exchanged wedding rings.  At the conclusion of the Jewish wedding ceremony, the groom broke a glass by stepping on it and all present cheered, "Mazel Tov!"  After that, the couple withdrew to a private room for Yichud or seclusion, to spend their first moments together as a couple.

Obviously, I am not as familiar with Jewish wedding ceremonies as I am with Sri Lankan wedding ceremonies, but the guests were provided with programs that explained the steps of each ceremony, which was very helpful. 

The rest of us, walked downstairs to the lobby area of the hotel where the wedding took place, for refreshments, which consisted of Sri Lankan "short eats" such as vegetable sandwiches (fillings of carrots and beets between three slices of bread and cut into small triangles), fish "cutlets" (fish and mashed potatoes made into small balls, dipped in beaten egg, breaded, and deep fried); chicken patties (were made of pastry dough rounds, filled with a spicy mixture of ground chicken, folded over and baked), and "Chinese Rolls" (small pancakes, with a ground beef filling, breaded and deep fried).  The bar was also set up in this lobby area (daughter and I had sodas, since we don't drink alcohol).   The refreshments were very welcome (it was around 6:00 p.m., by then), but it meant standing, once more, for another hour before the banquet hall was opened! 

I love how these weddings are planned and organized, etc., but, I don't like all this standing around in between proceedings!  Yes, I know it is supposed to give us time to mingle and "meet and greet", etc., but, my goodness, our feet were hurting!  In fact, my cousin's daughter's heels were hurting her so much, that she left the reception to go home to change her shoes!  She was gone for a little over an hour and a half.  By the time she came back, we were already seated in the banquet room, but still waiting for our table number to be called to go up to the buffet.

There was a live band at the reception and dancing.  My favorite dance was when they danced the Horah.  It seemed like such a joyous dance, to me. 

We didn't stay too long at the reception.  Unlike at my cousin's son's wedding, when we waited until the end and helped to clean up!  We left shortly after dinner, just as they were serving the wedding cake (the one that was cut by the bride and groom, not the love cake that we helped to wrap and box!  Those boxes were placed at the tables, at each guest's place setting.  I brought my box home with me.  Stamped on one side of the box, is a posy of flowers, with the couple's names underneath, and a saying, "A sweet ending to a new beginning" in a circle around it. 

The boxed wedding cake
Inside the box, there was a piece of love cake and a bag of candy coated almonds.

We got home around 11:15 p.m.  I had worn comfortable shoes, but my feet were swollen, from all that standing around, I suppose.  I sat with them elevated on some cushions and daughter and I talked for a bit and then, she packed her suitcase.  She was sad about having to leave, again.  We stayed up till after 2:00 a.m., just talking and cuddling. 

Saturday's To Do List:
- Go to the auto club and DMV in the morning, to see about daughter's driver's license renewal, my car registration renewal, and to hand in the mileage verification prior to my auto insurance renewal - POSTPONED
- Cook the salmon steaks - POSTPONED
- Write out the wedding card - DONE
- Iron the sari blouses - DONE
- Do daughter's hair for her - DONE
- Get dressed and go to my friend's daughter's wedding (we will ride with cousin P and her daughter) - DONE

On Saturday, I was grateful for:
- Being able to attend my friend's older daughter's wedding (I was unable to attend her younger daughter's wedding as I was having my chemo treatments at the time and my doctors didn't want me to go to any large gathering, because of my compromised immune system).
- My cousin and her daughter giving my daughter and me a ride to the event and back, again.
- Cousin's daughter was able to go home and change her shoes for a more comfortable pair!
- My daughter isn't fussy and was pleased with what I was able to do with her hair, even if I wasn't quite satisfied with my efforts.
- Meeting some old friends I haven't seen in awhile at the wedding.

How was your Saturday?  Have you attended any weddings where cultures and religions are mixed and new traditions are created?

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Friday: July Grocery Shopping Week 4, Part 2 and a Family Visit

Enjoyed sleeping in, this morning!  Woke up at 9:00 a.m., but went back to sleep and slept till 10:00 a.m.!

I emptied the dishwasher while I was waiting for the water and milk for my coffee to heat up.  Daughter had conference calls, so I tried not to make any noise while doing a few small tasks - putting away laundry,tidying the dining table, sorting through the box containing my sewing supplies, etc.  My daughter had bought me a small plastic crafts supplies organizer box; it's meant for beads and things, I believe.  I tried to use it for my reels of thread, but the bigger reels are too big for it.  I was able to fit in some of the smaller reels of thread, however, so now, it is easier to see what colors of thread I have, etc.

I inherited a large plastic shoe box of assorted reels of thread when my mother died.  She used to buy different colors of thread when they used to go on sale, often for just $.10 or $.20 each.  I have been using that thread for various sewing projects where the thread color didn't really matter, including my various scrap quilts - I'd just put in one reel of any color thread and sew with it until the thread finished!  In the 12 years since her death, I've only bought white and black thread, and daughter bought one reel of red thread for one of her costumes, I believe.  I still have a few reels of thread from my mother's thread collection!

I have been missing my mother a lot, this week.  I don't know why, though, as it isn't her birth or death anniversary.  Last Friday was my father's death anniversary, but it has been 55 years since his death and I don't really grieve for him anymore.  I did choose the anniversary of his death as my last day at work, though, and that's how I picked that particular date.

I had put mung beans to soak, last night, and I boiled them for brunch, today.

Today, I didn't take an afternoon nap.  Instead, I went grocery shopping in the afternoon.  I went to the Armenian store:

July 27 Groceries
I purchased:
1+ lb. ground beef (15% fat) @$2.99/lb. = $3.35
1 1/2 lb. salmon steaks (3 steaks) @$4.99/lb = $7.46
1 packet cashews @$8.99/lb = $3.82
Broccoli crown @$.49/lb = $.66
Tomatoes @ $.99/lb = $1.26
Serrano chilies @ $.69/lb = $.10
Onions @$.20/lb = $.43
Green beans @ $.99/lb = $.86
Zucchini @$.39/lb = $.57
Mediterranean Cucumber @$.99/lb = $1.45
Red Grapes @ $.99/lb = $2.02
6 oz. raspberries = $.99
Peaches @$.59/lb = $1.33
Total = $24.30

7/27 Receipt

July Grocery Budget = $100 - $3.78 over-spent in June = $96.22
Spent to date = $27.21 + $6.49 + $3.42  + $43.22 + $24.30 = $104.64
Balance left in July grocery budget = $96.22 - $104.64 = - $8.42

I went over budget by $8.42, but that is OK.  Some of what I bought will be given to daughter to take back with her.  I will carry over the amount overspent to August. 

After I came home and put away the groceries, I had a cup of tea and scrubbed the bath tub.  Then, it was time for friend M to attend to the garden.  He trimmed the curry leaf tree a bit (one branch was going over the wall to the neighbor's back yard) and cut the grass at the back.

I also called the doctor's office and made an appointment for the endoscopy/colonoscopy.  That will take place later in August.  Daughter was able to book a flight home, so she'll be with me when I undergo the procedures.

Then, I called my cousin N, and her mother, Aunt C called me back to say cousin had not been feeling well, earlier in the week.  So, I decided to make some chicken and vegetable soup to take over to them, and I made some egg salad, too, since Aunt C likes my egg salad.  I used the carcass from the rotisserie chicken to make the chicken broth and I added carrots, potatoes, onions, celery, tomatoes, and green beans to the soup.  Daughter and I included the loaf of bread we bought yesterday, to the soup and egg salad and took them over to aunt and cousin.  Cousin was feeling better,   We visited with them for an hour or so and came home.  Aunt had already called and left a message to say that the soup was delicious! 

Today, I am grateful for:
- I was able to visit aunt C and cousin N
- Cousin was feeling better
- I was able to make soup and egg salad to take to them
- I was able to get the grocery shopping done
- I was able to organize the sewing box

Today was a somewhat busy and productive day.  It was a little cooler, too, with the highs of only 99F.

Saturday's To Do List:
- Go to the auto club and DMV in the morning, to see about daughter's driver's license renewal, my car registration renewal, and to hand in the mileage verification prior to my auto insurance renewal
- Cook the salmon steaks
- Write out the wedding card
- Iron the sari blouses
- Do daughter's hair for her
- Get dressed and go to my friend's daughter's wedding (we will ride with cousin P and her daughter)

How was your Friday?  Have you finished grocery shopping for July?  Were you able to keep to your budget?  What have you planned for Saturday?

Friday, July 27, 2018

Still Relaxing on Thursday

Today, I slept in a little longer and didn't get up until 9:30 a.m.  Daughter informed me that her 11:00 a.m. conference call had been moved forward to 10:00 a.m., so, I took my cup of coffee and laptop to the living room, and left her alone in the family room to do the conference call.  Her call lasted about one hour and, afterwards, I made us Indian-style cream of wheat (uppuma) for breakfast.

Lunch was a salad with some of the rotisserie chicken breast.  I had one of the walnut rolls for dessert. 

In the afternoon, I moved to the bedroom (the living room window faces west and gets hot in the afternoon; nice in the winter, but not so nice in the summer), read for a bit, and took a nap! 

I had a cup of tea afterwards and then, daughter and I went shopping!  First, we went back to the discount clothing store so she could exchange two items.  After that, we went to the dollar store and I bought a card and some bananas ($.49/lb = $.73).  Then, we went to the grocery store adjoining the dollar store and bought an Amazon gift card (to give as a wedding gift), a bottle of shampoo, and a loaf of sandwich bread ($1.29).

After we came home, we prepared dinner.  We tried the box of frozen sesame chicken for dinner and the consensus is, we preferred the General Tso's chicken to the sesame chicken.  After dinner, I ran the dishwasher and did a few items by hand.  I also tidied away the fabric leftover from sewing the sari blouse.   There's enough of the gold lame fabric to sew another blouse, so I might make one for daughter, at a later date.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Being able to sleep in
- Afternoon naps
- The convenience of gift cards
- The convenience of frozen foods
- Daughter's company

I am not making a to do list for tomorrow, but, I would like to go to the Armenian grocery store to buy some fresh produce.  They are having broccoli for $.49/lb., again, spinach for 3 bunches for $1.00, zucchini for $.39/lb, and peaches for $.59/lb.  I could then send some of it back with daughter when she leaves on Sunday.

How was your Thursday?  What are your plans for Friday?

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Improvised Butter Dish and Step-Grandmother's Tea Sets

One of my friends asked, in her comment on yesterday's post, if I had bought a replacement butter dish (since I broke my previous butter dish a couple of weeks ago).  The answer is, no, not yet!  I looked in the dollar store when I was there, last, but didn't see any butter dishes, either glass or plastic.  My friend had sent me a link, earlier, to a break-resistant butter dish, but I hadn't purchased one, yet.  Instead, what I've done is improvised a butter dish, using a saucer and a glass dish I already had:

Improvised Butter Dish
The saucer is one from a tea set that had belonged to my step-father's mother, the glass dish is from a set of dessert bowls that was a gift from an aunt, one Christmas.

Butter Dish

The saucer has a Japanese scene, with Mount Fuji towards the upper center:

Painted Saucer

On the underside, there is a crown with "Hand Painted" written below:

I haven't been able to identify this mark

At one time, there used to be a set of six, but now, I am down to just two cups.  Both cups and their saucers sit on my kitchen counter, as I use them for my evening tea, along with cups from my Royal Albert Old Country Roses set.  The cups are eggshell thin and have gold rims, so I wash them by hand.  The saucers have gold rims, too, but they are mostly washed off! 

Cup and Saucer from the Set

The cups hold a secret, inside, as there is a raised design of a geisha in the bottom:

Raised Design of Geisha

But that is not the real secret!  The real secret is revealed when you hold the cup up to the light, for that is when the painting of the geisha is revealed!

Painting of Geisha
The remainder of the set is stored and displayed in the china cabinet - the tea pot, sugar bowl (minus its lid, which broke), creamer, six side plates (we used to refer to them as "cheese plates", but that's not a term I've heard used here) and three saucers since I am using the other three for my tea cups and butter dish!

The Rest of the Set

This tea set is one of two that I have which belonged to my step-father's mother.  The other set is a little more complete in that there are seven teacups (originally, it had been a set of 12):

The other tea set
I use the saucers and side plates from this set for my almsgivings, to serve the cut fruits and candies, etc.  They, too, are very delicate with gold trim and need to be washed by hand.

We kept these tea sets with relatives when we left Sri Lanka and brought them back with us on a later visit.  I carried them in my hand luggage, and I swear, that bag got heavier and heavier as I walked the corridors of Heathrow airport with them!  LOL.  And I got to do it twice, too, because we stayed overnight at a hotel, en route.   So, carried them once through the airport to the hotel and again, from the hotel back to the airport!  

I suppose I will eventually buy another butter dish.  In the meantime, I am quite happy with my improvised butter dish, mainly because I am using what I have, without spending money to buy something else.  I've plenty of extra saucers and glass bowls if these break.  The glass bowl is small enough for me to lift it without a knob from which to hold it.  But, I could glue a knob to the top of the glass bowl, it I come across one.

What do you think of my improvised butter dish?  Yes, it isn't shaped like a regular butter dish, but it works (the bowl is large enough not to touch the sides of the stick of butter).  How likely are you to improvise something using what you have instead of running out to buy a replacement?  

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Wednesday:Midway through the First Week

I am loving being able to stay up as long as I like without the worry of having to wake up at 7:00 a.m. to go to the office!  It was past 3:30 a.m., when I went to bed, last night/early this morning, and then, I stayed up reading for another half an hour or so!  Then, I woke up at 9:00 a.m., without any alarms being set, so that seems to be my natural waking up time.

I opened those windows I could open (some of the windows have screens that are torn, or don't have any screens at all, so I don't open them in order to prevent flies and other insects from coming in and a certain Dancer from going out!) and the front door (there is a metal security door, so keeping the wooden door open is OK) to air and cool off the house.  Then, I had a cup of coffee, responded to blog comments, and checked my work emails, just in case, and cleared my in-box; I'll be doing that every couple of days until I retire and my work email account will be closed.

Cousin P called and came over to visit and she brought me the two extra pieces of boxed wedding cake cousin V had sent through her.  We chatted for a bit and, as she was leaving, she asked me to let her know if I plan to go to the Sri Lankan store, as she'd like to go with me.  I will need to go one of these days to buy more of my favorite tea from them.  I opened one box of 100 tea bags, recently, and there are 2 more boxes in the pantry; I usually drink one cup of tea each evening, and, when daughter is home, she will have a cup of tea with me, so a 100-count box will last me a good three months.  But, this tea is not always in stock, so I like to stock up on them, when I can.

After she left, I changed the sheets on my bed, swept the living room, dining area, kitchen, hallway, and my bathroom (didn't want to vacuum and disturb my daughter), and set up the big brass lamp in its usual spot between the fireplace and the bookcase in the living room.

The oil lamp at the wedding, just before being lit by the bride and groom
Then, it was time to go for a shower, to cool off!  Later, I did a load of laundry and had the last of the Thai fried rice leftovers for brunch.

Daughter had a video conference call in the afternoon, and I retreated to the bedroom to keep out of her way.  I read a bit and was just settling down for a nap when she came in and turned on the room air conditioner for me, ignoring my protests that I was fine without it!  But, I must admit, I had a good nap in the cool bedroom.

After my nap, I warmed up the last two waffles from yesterday's brunch and shared them with daughter for tea.  Then, I washed the blanket from my bed.  This blanket has seen better days, but it'll do for now.  However, I might turn it into the batting for an everyday/utility quilt, using fabric I have in the stash.

Later in the evening, daughter and I went shopping.  We went to our favorite discount clothing store and daughter, who is looking for Fall clothes, purchased 11 items - tops, skirts, leggings, sweatshirts, and a couple of dresses, all for a total of $48.50.  After we came home, she tried them on and we will go back to exchange two of them, tomorrow.  I looked to see if there was a white, short sleeved blouse for me, but I didn't find anything I liked.  I will keep looking. 

Today, I am grateful for:
- The window a/c unit in my bedroom
- Afternoon naps
- Discount clothes shopping
- Getting a few things done while it is still cool in the morning
- A nice visit with cousin

How was your day?  Did you accomplish what you wanted to do, today?

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

On the Second Day (Tuesday)

I took it easy!  Woke up at 9:00 a.m. (after going to sleep at 3:00 a.m.), without an alarm.  Had a cup of coffee, opened the windows and front door to get some cooler morning air into the house, replied to blog comments, etc.  Then, at 10:00 a.m., dressed and went out to bring in the trash cans and water the front garden.  In the future, if I decide to water the front garden in the morning, I must remember to do it before 9:00 a.m., because, by 10:00 a.m., just about the entire garden was in the full sun and it was too hot!  Or, at the very least, I must wear my big sun hat!

I made waffles for brunch.  For dinner, I cooked fresh rice and sauteed another zucchini and daughter prepared one of the boxes of frozen chicken we had bought, yesterday, the General Tso's chicken, which was very good!  The other one is a sesame chicken, but we haven't tried it, yet.

Today, I did two loads of laundry and hung them up to dry.  The first load was put away, the second load is still drying.  I handwashed our sari blouses; daughter's blouse, especially, is heavily embroidered with beads, which might have got damaged if it had been washed in the washing machine.

I called my cousin V and told her that her son's wedding had gone off very well and her attention to details really showed.  She said her husband's family had been displeased with the seating arrangements (apparently, they felt they weren't seated close enough to the main table)!  Oops!  This is why I tell my daughter to elope whenever she gets married!  LOL!

In the afternoon, when it was too hot to do anything, I read a book and took a nap!  Later, I was having tea when my neighbor T called to ask if I was satisfied with the tree trimmers.  We chatted for a bit and then, I called both cousin P and friend R to check on them.  I also replied to my friend's email. 

This week, I am giving myself permission to just relax and be on vacation mode.  The deep cleaning and organizing, etc., that I want to do can wait until next week.  Besides, it is just too hot to do anything!  Tomorrow, I might turn on the air conditioner in my bedroom (the window unit was put in place on Friday, but, so far, I haven't turned it on) and try to do some cleaning, in there. 

Today, I am grateful for:
- A relaxed day
- Being able to water the front garden in the morning
- Afternoon naps
- Daughter helping to prepare the dinner
- Phone calls with family and friends

How was your Tuesday?  Is it hot where you are?  If so, how are you coping with the heat?

July Grocery Shopping: Week 4

Yesterday, daughter and I went grocery shopping in the evening.  We went to a store that advertises itself as having "warehouse prices without membership fees".  I used to shop there before I got my Costco membership and I've been shopping there after I allowed my Costco membership to lapse and decided not to renew it, as I felt I didn't buy enough items at Costco to make it worth my membership fee of $55/year.

Since my daughter put away the groceries for me, I don't have a picture of the items to share.  But, I bought:

1 jar instant coffee, 16 oz (supposed to make 240 cups of coffee) = $8.99
1 bottle salad dressing = $1.50
1 box frozen sesame chicken = $4.99
1 box frozen barbecue chicken = $4.99
1 box (5 count) frozen beef tamales = $4.49
1 box walnut roll pastries = $5.19
1 chuck steak @$3.99/lb = $3.19
1 gal. milk = $2.89
1 rotisserie chicken = $6.99
Total = $43.22

In addition, I bought:
1 hair conditioner = $.89
12 ct. bar soap = $8.49
1 bag (14 lb) cat food = $8.99
Sales tax on non-food items = $2.41
Total = $20.78

7/23 Receipt

With the non-food items added, I spent a total of $64.00 at the store.  But, these non-food items are not part of my grocery budget.

July Grocery Budget = $100 - $3.78 over-spent in June = $96.22
Spent to date = $27.21 + $6.49 + $3.42  + $43.22 = $80.34
Balance left in July grocery budget = $96.22 - $80.34 = $15.88

I might do a Week 4 - Part 2 shopping trip for fresh produce, either today or later in the week, with the remaining $15.88.

For last night's dinner, I made a box of macaroni and cheese and sauteed a zucchini and we had that with some of the rotisserie chicken.  My daughter, who claimed she didn't like zucchini, liked the way I cooked it (just barely cooked, so it wasn't too soft and soggy), and asked if she could finish the rest of it after I had served some for myself!  LOL.  

We still have most of the chicken left, so we'll have that with a salad or the rest of the mac and cheese, etc., during the week, (I've more zucchini I could saute) and I might freeze some of it to send back with her.

I will slice the beef steak thinly and cook it with onions and celery and chili powder to make a "devilled beef" to be served with rice for dinner, one night.  

There is also at least one serving remaining of the smoked sausage stir-fry I made and various other leftovers that daughter brought home, including a green papaya salad.  Plus all those various frozen items we bought!

Well, that might not be a proper meal plan, as such, but it is good enough for me!  I just need to know the options and, in any case, with daughter home this week, it's more like a week of vacation, so, there's always an option of indulging in a bit of going out to eat (or, more likely, getting some take out to eat at home!) 

How is your July grocery shopping spending coming along?  Are you able to keep to your budget?  Did you make a meal plan for this week?

Monday, July 23, 2018

Monday: Tree Trimming On the First Day of Pre-Retirement Vacation

Last night/early this morning, true to our night owl nature, daughter and I went to bed at 4:30 a.m.!  LOL!

The sound of the tree trimmers using their chainsaws on my neighbor's tree woke me just before 7:30 a.m.  Not a problem since I had been expecting them.   Daughter said she just turned over and went back to sleep!  I, however, got up, brushed my teeth, washed my face, and got dressed!  Then, I went outside to talk to the tree trimmers.  They were from the same tree trimming service my gardener friend M had recommended (they trim his trees, as well).  It's a family owned business, according to M.  The two men who were out were the workers; I spoke to the boss and asked for an estimate, and after speaking to his workers, he quoted $500 to trim my eucalyptus tree:

Prior to Trimming

I had expected it to be around $700, at least (which was based on an earlier quote I received from someone else, several years ago).  Neighbor T had told me she had received three estimates and these people were the cheapest.    I decided to go with them, partly because they did a good job on my neighbor's tree, they came recommended by friend M, their equipment was already here, and the workers could start right away, as soon as they had finished trimming neighbor T's tree.

Another look from the other side

I also knew that if I postponed it to get another estimate, I might take another 6 months to get to it!  How long have I been talking about getting this tree trimmed?  Seemed to me that all the stars were aligned and it was a good time to take action!

Trimming in Progress at 9:00 a.m.
It was team work: one guy did the trimming; the other guy pulled the branches to the shredder:

Branches waiting to be shredded

I offered them bottles of water before they started their work and, again, about half way through; they were very grateful for the water.

It was already quite hot, outside

I'm glad I'm getting it done now, before I planted any new plants that might have got damaged when branches came down:

More felled branches

They trimmed my neighbor's tree in about one hour.  They took about one and a half hours to trim my tree.  Afterwards, they fed all the branches through the shredder, raked, very briefly watered the front garden to control the dust, and used a leaf blower to remove the last of the debris.  By 10:30 a.m., they were done!

After the Trimming, taken at 10:15 a.m.

That's one big task crossed off my long-term do to list!    Now I won't have to peer anxiously out the front window every time there is a big wind storm!  At least, not for another couple of years, I hope!

Later in the morning, I did a load of dishes in the dishwasher and washed a few additional items by hand.  Then, I had a slice of toast with a scrambled egg for brunch.  Cousin P called and we chatted a bit.  She said she had gone to visit cousin V (the mother of the groom), last night, and cousin V had sent another couple of pieces of boxed wedding cake for me (she had ordered extra cake).  Cousin P said she'll come over later to give me the cake.

In the afternoon, I felt sleepy and took a long nap!  From about 1:30 p.m. till 5:30 p.m.  I slept longer during my nap than I did during the night!  Daughter and I had tea after I woke up and then, I took a shower to cool off.

My cousin in Florida had called and left a message on Saturday, so I called him back and chatted with him for a bit.  This cousin had been an engineer with the New York Port Authority and was working in the World Trade Center Tower 1 when it was attacked on 9/11; there was a picture of him in one of the newspapers, covered in ash as he made his way out of the devastation, that day.  I promised to come and see him and his wife one of these days, since I am now retired and have time to travel.

Afterwards, daughter and I went grocery shopping (we needed milk, instant coffee, bar soap, shampoo and conditioner) and we treated ourselves to a rotisserie chicken for dinner.  Daughter put away the groceries for me while I took the trash cans to the curb, collected today's mail from the mail box, and turned the sprinklers on at the back.  I will do a separate grocery post, although I don't have any pictures; I need to go through the receipt to separate out the grocery items (milk, beef, salad dressing, frozen tamales, frozen prepared chicken, the rotisserie chicken, instant coffee, and walnut pastries) from the non-grocery items (cat food, conditioner, bar soap; they didn't have the shampoo).  Altogether, I spent $64 at the store!

I cooked a box of macaroni and cheese and sauteed a zucchini to accompany the rotisserie chicken for dinner.  After dinner, I emptied the dishwasher and hand washed the day's dishes and the pans.  This time, I remembered to put on a pair of rubber gloves while doing the dishes, to preserve my manicure!  In the morning, when I was pre-rinsing the dishes prior to putting them in the dishwasher, I forgot to wear rubber gloves!

Today, I am grateful for:
- Being able to get the eucalyptus tree trimmed, finally!
- A productive first day of vacation
- Afternoon naps
- Daughter's company
- Cousins who call

Plans for tomorrow include:
- watering the front garden
- bringing the trash cans in
- doing a little more grocery shopping
- buying a card for Saturday's wedding
- getting a gift for Saturday's wedding
- unpacking from the weekend's trip
- laundry
- vacuuming the spot where the oil lamp sits
- setting up the oil lamp (it was taken apart for transporting to the wedding venue and back)

How was your Monday?  Have you had tree trimmers trim your trees? 

Weekend in Review

Saturday morning, daughter and I woke up at 9:30 a.m. (I had gone to sleep at 4:15 a.m.).  We had our morning coffee and then, cousin P called and came over for a few minutes.  Shortly after that, daughter and I ran a few errands.  We went to the Mall, first, because, even with all the other preparations for my cousin's son's wedding, I had put off getting a wedding gift!  In the back of my mind, I had the thought of giving them a check, but at the last minute, I decided to check the wedding gift registry.  There were several items still left on the registry, but I couldn't decide among them and so, I chose to get a gift card from the store.  That way, the young couple can choose which gift they really wanted. 

After that, we indulged in a bit of pampering!  Daughter had her eyebrows threaded ($7) and we both had manicures ($15 each, with the tip).   It was daughter's first professional manicure:

Blue to match her sari

I don't normally paint my nails and, to my frugal way of thinking, getting my nails done professionally is a waste of money.  I believe my last professional manicure was done back when I was going through my divorce; it was a very stressful period and I indulged in a bit of pampering with a facial and a manicure, one day.  That was 24 years ago!

I chose red

But, on Saturday, I excused the expense as a "retirement celebration"!  However, getting my nails done took longer than getting daughter's nails done and it delayed us.  So, we left the mall a bit later than I had intended and I still had a few things to do!

After the manicures, we put gas to the car, went to the dollar store to buy a card (I had originally planned to make a card, but I didn't make one), and got some hamburgers and fries for lunch.

Earlier in the week, my cousin had mentioned she and her daughter were considering booking a hotel room for the night so that they wouldn't need to drive home after the wedding, after having drinks and so forth.  She asked if I'd like to go with them and we can share the room (and the cost).  I could have driven us back, since I don't drink, but I knew I'd be tired and I am becoming aware that night driving is a bit of a strain on my eyes (I am developing cataracts in both eyes).  So, I had agreed to go with them and share the room.

My cousin had said we'd leave around 2:00 p.m., check into the hotel, get dressed there, and then, go to the wedding venue (wedding was scheduled to start at 5:00 p.m.)  I had wondered if 2:00 p.m. was early enough, as the drive to the hotel would take about 1 1/2 hours, which meant we'd get to the hotel around 3:30 p.m. and we'd have to leave at 4:30 p.m. to get to the wedding.  But, one hour to get dressed, including draping my daughter's sari for her, was sufficient time for me, so I figured it would be fine.

Daughter and I were still in the drive-through line at the hamburger place, when cousin's daughter called asking if we were ready to leave!  It was around 1:30 p.m. and I was nowhere ready! 

We rushed home with our hamburgers, and daughter quickly made her list of items to pack while I was driving home, but I was totally unprepared!  Then, my cousin called to ask if I had a pair of  earrings her daughter could borrow, so that one one additional item to look for and pack!   Daughter and I had less than 15 minutes to pack our overnight bags and the one thing I hate happening, keeping someone waiting, happened!  It was my turn to keep my cousin and her daughter waiting!  I did tell cousin that they could go ahead and I'll drive there in my car and meet them at the hotel, but cousin said they'll wait for us.  In hindsight, I should have done a lot of things the night before or earlier in the morning, but, as they say, hindsight is 20/20.

The drive took us 1 1/2 hours and we were at the hotel around 3:45 p.m.  I took a quick shower while the others did their faces and got into their underskirts and sari blouses.  Then, I began to put on my sari blouse and that's when I realized that I had forgotten to pack the bra that I was going to wear with the blouse!  All I had was the old, stretched out comfy bra I had been wearing, and not the one I wore when I fitted on my blouse!  As a result, the darts weren't in the right place and the blouse appeared too big!  Oops!

My cousin and her daughter had got their saris pre-draped and sewn up, so that it resembled a wrap-around skirt and they only had to wrap the piece that goes over the shoulder.  My cousin had told me she might need my help with the piece that goes over the shoulder, but, actually, she needed a lot more help with her sari than just that!  This cousin doesn't wear saris and says this is only the 2nd time she's worn one.  Even with the sari sewn up to resemble a skirt, she couldn't fasten the skirt by herself; I fastened the skirt for her and draped the rest of the sari for her.  Then, her daughter needed help, as the sari blouse she had got sewn for her had a zipper closure in the front and the zipper broke!  There was no way to fix the zipper.  Fortunately, even in my rush to get packed and forgetting my bra, I had remembered to grab the box of safety pins, just in case!  I managed to pin the blouse closed and draped the rest of the sari on cousin's daughter.  After that, I dressed my daughter, and, finally, myself!   By which time, I was already tired!  Especially after rushing around earlier!

Needless to say, the 45 minutes we had allocated for dressing ourselves just wasn't enough!  I could have dressed my daughter and myself in that time.  But I couldn't dress ourselves and dress two others and repair a sari blouse in that period of time!  I think it was already 5:00 p.m., when we finally left to go to the wedding!  We joked about Sri Lankan time and hoped that the wedding would start at 5:30 p.m., even though the invitation said 5:00 p.m.

As it was, we got there just in time to follow the bride as she walked up the aisle!  Well, at least we were in time for the ceremony to start!  LOL.

Daughter and I 

After the ceremony, we gathered in the lobby of the reception hall and feasted on appetizers until the reception hall doors were opened at 7:00 p.m. and we could all go in.  The bridal couple were led into the hall by two traditional drummers and a troupe of traditional dancers and then, they and their parents lit the oil lamp I had lent them.  I asked my daughter to take pictures, but they all show faces of people and I don't think it would be appropriate for me to post them.  There were a few speeches and a buffet dinner with dancing, afterwards.  We were served slices of the wedding cake that the bridal couple cut and there were the traditional marzipan topped rich fruit cake in boxes placed at each place setting at the tables where we all sat.   The reception went on till midnight and we stayed behind to help with the clean up.  It was about 1:00 a.m. when we left the reception.

We were all tired when we got to the hotel.  The hotel room had a king sized bed and a sofa bed which was a single bed.  Cousin, my daughter, and I shared the big bed; cousin's daughter slept on the sofa bed.  But first, we all climbed into the big bed in our night clothes and daughter took a selfie of us and I sang, "There were four in the bed and the little one said, roll over, roll over" and we all laughed!  We were being silly, of course, but it was a fun ending to a day that was a bit fraught at times!

On Saturday, I was grateful for:
- Making it to the wedding just in time!
- Safe drive to the wedding
- Pampering and manicures
- My box of safety pins!
- A family bonding experience.

Sunday morning, we got up around 9:00 a.m.  Cousin, her daughter, and my daughter went to the coffee shop in the lobby of the hotel to buy their morning coffee; I brewed the coffee that was in the hotel room. We checked out of the room at 11:30 a.m., and drove back home.  Cousin's daughter suggested stopping for breakfast or lunch on the way home, but I declined.  I was anxious to come home and check on Dancer.

But, everyone was saying that we should do this again - go somewhere together and stay the night in a hotel, and just spend some family bonding time together.  My daughter and cousin's daughter played together when they were younger (there's a 3 year age difference), but they have very different personalities and don't have much in common, anymore.  Daughter said they spent more time talking to each other yesterday, than they have in a long time.  Maybe a few more trips together might be a good thing.

After we got home, I made some egg salad and daughter and I had egg salad sandwiches for lunch.  I also did a load of laundry and hung it up to dry.  Then, I returned my neighbor T's Sunday morning phone call - she told me that tree trimmers will come over tomorrow morning, at 7:00 a.m., to trim the bottle brush tree in her front yard which leans over my driveway and is near my daughter's and my bedroom windows!  T's daughter had called and left a message on Friday, informing me and apologizing in advance for any inconvenience.  She said I could part in T's drive way on Sunday night, should I need to drive anywhere on Monday, before the tree trimmers leave, but I told T that I don't need to go anywhere that early on Monday morning.  But, of course, it would mean that I won't be able to sleep in, on my first day of vacation!  Oh, well, I can ask them for an estimate to trim my eucalyptus tree!  That was one of the items on my to do list!

My cousin in Florida had also called and left a message; I need to call him back.

In the afternoon, I took a nap and slept for about 2 hours.  Then, I made tea for us and we relaxed.  Later, daughter and I picked up some Thai food to have for dinner.

My sister called and we chatted for a bit.  I told her that I was on vacation prior to retirement and we agreed to get together for lunch one of these days.  There will be lot more time for getting together to lunch, etc., now. 

Today, I am grateful for:
- A safe drive back home
- Dancer was fine
- Afternoon naps
- Phone calls from family and friends
- More family bonding time!

Plans for tomorrow include getting an estimate from the tree trimmers, getting Italian food for lunch, more laundry, doing the dishes, and taking the trash cans to the curb.

How was your weekend?  Have you ever thought you had plenty of time and then, found yourself rushing around because you were seriously pressed for time?