Friday, October 18, 2019

What I Packed and How It Worked

When I worked in insurance, I traveled a lot for my job, and after a couple of unfortunate experiences with overloaded luggage, I embraced the idea of the travel capsule.  I still try to pack clothing and accessories that all go together, with (if possible) no more than two pairs of shoes for each trip.  I can generally travel for an indefinite period with one carry on bag and a tote, as long as I can occasionally do laundry along the way.  Our recent 22-day "retirement celebration" trip, however, was a true packing challenge.

We left the Phoenix area when the temp was 110 degrees Fahrenheit; traveled to Mexico, which was even hotter, for Lee's annual dental checkup; spent a week in cold, rainy areas of Oregon and Washington; and returned by way of California, where we started in cool, foggy weather and ended with more hot and sunny days.  In addition, although all our destinations were quite casual, the style vibe in each area was very different.  In the Cascades, for instance, everyone seemed to be wearing plaid flannel shirts and blue jeans, while the parts of California we visited had a much more urban aesthetic.  So, we had to pack not only layers, but layers that could go from rustic to chic as needed.  Not so easy.

Here is the wardrobe I packed:


The bottoms I packed were black straight-leg knit pants; dark wash blue jeans; light gray denim capris; and black linen shorts.  The tops were a roll-sleeve option burgundy silk shirt; a white cotton camp shirt; a short sleeve plaid seersucker button-up shirt; a white scoopneck tee; and a black notch neck tee.

What worked: The black pants, jeans, and most of the shirts performed like troupers, shedding wrinkles and hiding dirt between washes.  They also coordinated well enough so that I always had something to wear, no matter what I'd spilled lunch on the day before.

What didn't work so well: The gray capris were so light they picked up smudges every time I helped load the car.  I should have taken a darker pair instead.  The black linen shorts, as expected, wrinkled pretty badly; in addition, we only had three days hot enough to really justify wearing them.  Next time I would pack a second pair of capris or a lightweight skirt instead.  And the white cotton camp shirt was a big disappointment.  I bought it new from Chadwick's of Boston specifically for this trip, and the first time I washed it, it wrinkled worse than any garment I've ever owned (much worse even than linen).  After that first wash I ironed it twice but never got all the wrinkles out.  It wrinkled when packed; it wrinkled when worn; it wrinkled worse every time it was washed.  The white campshirt idea was perfect for this trip, but this particular item didn't live up to its promise.  (I will be writing a stern review at the retailer's website.)


The outer layers I brought along were a burgundy faux leather moto jacket, a heavy black hoodie, a black cashmere crewneck pullover, a black cotton cardigan, a quilted black vest, and a burgundy and black ombre scarf.

What worked: The hoodie was my go-to outerwear on chilly days in rural Washington.  I wore the burgundy moto jacket on rainy days and when I needed to look a little dressier.  I wore the cashmere crewneck by itself as a top and as a third layer over one of the collared shirts when I didn't quite need a jacket.  I wore the cotton cardigan in air-conditioned restaurants and tourist attractions throughout California.

What didn't: I never wore the vest or the scarf.  Whenever it was cold enough to wear the vest by itself, I wanted additional cover for my arms as well as my torso.  I would have worn the blanket scarf by itself if we had had colder weather in California, or over my other layers if the temp in Oregon or Washington had droppped another 10 degrees, but that was not the case.  If we were to do this trip again under similar conditions, I would take the scarf along again just in case, but leave the vest at home.


For jewelry, I wore my vintage gold-tone Seiko watch with black leather band and vintage Greek reproduction earrings with cabochon garnets.  I also brought two gold necklaces - one long and one short - and a brass repoussé cuff bracelet.  Other accessories included a white sun hat, a burgundy wool hat, burgundy wool gloves, sunglasses, folding umbrella, and a white and burgundy silk scarf that could be worn by itself or on the hat.  The two pairs of shoes I took were red faux suede ballet flats and gray Dr. Comfort sneakers with gray cotton socks.  I carried my burgundy and black leather shoulder bag and packed a gray neck pouch.

What worked: Almost everything.  Bonus points to the shoulder bag for being large enough to lug around my DSLR camera and extra lens, and to the Blunt Metro umbrella for not turning inside out in the high winds at Mt. Hood.

What didn't:  I ended up not using the wool hat and gloves because the two days cold enough to justify them were also raining sideways, and I didn't want to deal with wet wool.  I never wore the long gold necklace because we didn't go anywhere dressy enough to require it.  I also didn't need the neck pouch, which I had mainly included in case we went hiking; we didn't.  I would probably bring all these things along again, however, on a similar trip.

In case you are interested, Lee packed more clothes than I did but ended up spending most of the trip in his warmup pants or blue jeans and a tee shirt, with his navy and maroon plaid flannel shirt as a jacket.  Whatever works.

Coming up - more information on all the great stuff we saw along the way.

"Even my basic, basic wardrobe is still pathetically colour coordinated.  It just is.  That is just me."  ~Trinny Woodall

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Back Home At Last

After Lee's shoulder surgery at the beginning of June, my cat Charlie and I stayed at Lee's place for two months, until he could handle putting on shoes, basic cooking, and light laundry by himself.  We moved back to our place for the month of August, during which I worked frantically to get everything at home and in the office ready for my retirement on August 31.  This included making a slew of appointments with new doctors, since I went on Medicare at the first of the month with a Medicare Advantage plan that didn't include my old primary care group.  Then immediately after my retirement, Lee and I spent 22 days on the road, mainly seeing his friends and relatives in Washington, Oregon, and California.  (He said the plan was to get me far enough away from Arizona that no one could call me to come in to work to solve "just one last problem."  Since we were frequently in areas with no wifi and only spotty cell phone coverage, the plan worked pretty well.)

So, the next few posts will be a potpourri of different subjects (not necessarily in this order):
Well, at least one of us was having a good time!
Photo courtesy of Lee's cousin Sandy Lee.
  • What a reverse shoulder replacement is, and how the road to recovery works.
  • The challenge of selecting a travel capsule wardrobe for a trip that covered 6 different states and Mexico and weather ranging from 110 degrees Fahrenheit with very low humidity to the high 40s and low 50s in pouring rain.
  • What we saw and did during the trip, with photos.  Many photos.

"There's no time to be bored in a world as beautiful as this." ~Anonymous

Saturday, June 15, 2019

One Week and Counting

Lee does not have an Internet connection at his house, and I am hopeless at typing more than a paragraph at a time on my phone, so while Charlie and I are camping out there I will only be posting when I make brief visits home to pick up the mail, wind the grandfather clock, and feed my sourdough starter.

Ten days after surgery, Lee is doing very well.  His surgeon received ringing endorsements from all the hospital staff, and I can see why - he does joint replacements every day, and apparently has them down to a science.  The scar is much smaller and neater than I expected.  The VA hospital staff has also been very supportive.  They sent him home with an Iceman therapy machine which has done an awesome job of bringing down the swelling in that arm and hand.  After a week, they also started him on physical therapy with a Skype-like app for his Android tablet, which saves us the hassle of having to drive downtown and back for his appointments.  And, he just received a TENS unit to control pain and stimulate his muscles.

Lee was worried about being under anesthesia too long, but he was back to his old self within a couple of days.  He was also concerned about receiving opiods for pain, but he is already off everything except an occasional Tylenol; in fact, he says his shoulder already hurts less than it did before the operation.  Yay!

The last remaining hurdle is to get him to accept the PT technician's decree that he can't drive for six weeks - or get her to change her mind before he goes stir crazy.

"If you're going to have cabin fever, have a big cabin, you know." ~Joe Cocker
If you're going to have a cabin fever, have a big cabin, you know. Joe Cocker
Read more at:

Saturday, June 8, 2019


Lee had his reverse shoulder replacement surgery on Wednesday.  The surgeon said his shoulder was a real mess - ALL the tendons were torn, it was full of arthritis and fluid, and the arm bone had moved partway out of the socket.  The surgery went well, though, and although he had quite a bit of pain on Thursday (it took his nurse four hours to deliver his pain pills after he asked for them), they did let him go home that evening and he has been feeling better since.  He will be in a sling for a month and has to sleep in his Craftmatic bed with the head elevated.  Charlie and I are camping out there for the time being; I am trying to keep him from doing all the things he's not supposed to, like pulling t-shirts over his head and using his right hand "just to help."  As his son said, "Let the high maintenance begin!"

"Rotator cuff tear arthropathy (arthritis with a large cuff defect) is a devastating condition that seriously compromises the comfort and function of the shoulder. This condition is characterized by the irreparable loss of the rotator cuff tendons and destruction of the normal joint surface of the shoulder. Because these tissues cannot be restored, the shoulder is often weak, painful, and unstable. Using special techniques and a reversed total shoulder design, qualified surgeons can improve the stability of the shoulder and enable the deltoid muscle to power it, even in the absence of a normal rotator cuff." ~University of Washington Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine

Sunday, June 2, 2019

The Lure of Beauty

Today I was sharing some of the items in my Poshmark closet in a "wardrobe goals" party, and I was struck by how many of descriptions say "worn once" or "only worn twice."  How could I have purchased all this clothing and jewelry, hung onto it for (in some cases) 30 years, and never used it?

I blame the Lure of Beauty.

I'll bet you know what I mean.  The color, the fabric, the design was just so amazing I had to buy whatever it was.  The feel of the soft silk!  The saturated colors in the paisley print!  The stunning asymmetrical neckline!  Then when I took it home, it didn't go with anything else I owned.  Or it was gorgeous, but not really cut right for my body.  Or, in the case of my most recent wardrobe mistake, I realized too late that I don't feel comfortable displaying my booty in maroon pants, even though they're well cut and go with most of my other things.  Beauty on the hanger or in the jewelry case doesn't always translate to wearable.

When I was an insurance executive in New York, I could afford to buy clothing and accessories I wore only occasionally (or never).  With retirement staring me in the face, that is no longer the case.  Now before I buy something, it has to pass through these filters:
  • Is it an item I really need?  Does it fill a gap in my wardrobe AND do I anticipate wearing it frequently? 
  • Do the color and style flatter me and coordinate with the rest of my things?
  • Does it fit my body really well, or can I have it tailored cost-effectively?
  • Will it be easy to maintain?  (I rarely buy "dry clean only" any more.)
  • Can I afford it?
  • Does it make me feel fabulous?  (Those maroon pants were never more than "yeah, OK.")
I actually tried to ask some of these questions in the past - particularly "does it coordinate with the rest of my things" - but then a luxurious cashmere or a particularly beautiful semiprecious stone would convince me that surely I could wear whatever it was with SOMETHING in my closet.

Oh, the lies we tell ourselves when seduced by the Lure of Beauty.  Now when I am in danger of succumbing to it, I watch a few videos by slow fashion and sustainable style blogger Alyssa Beltempo, and eventually the moment passes.

"Fashion you can buy, but style you possess. The key to style is learning who you are, which takes years. There's no how-to road map to style. It's about self expression and, above all, attitude." —Iris Apfel

Saturday, June 1, 2019

The Grand Canyon in Winter

The first vacation Lee and I ever took together was a train ride to the Grand Canyon in January of 2016.  It snowed so hard the day before that the "train robbers" who were supposed to hold us up on our way home had to "attack" the train on foot instead of horseback, but it was a fun day anyway.  We drove home by way of Sedona, also cloaked in snow. Here is part of the trip in pictures.

“There will never be a photograph of the Grand Canyon that can adequately describe its depth, breadth, and true beauty.” ― Stefanie Payne, A Year in the National Parks: The Greatest American Road Trip

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Internal Fireworks

Last Friday evening (the start of the Memorial Day weekend, OF COURSE), Lee and I were watching a movie on TV when suddenly I started seeing flashes of light at the edge of my left eye.  They were occasional at first, but then came faster and faster, and eventually I had about 5 minutes of an intense light show going on inside my eyeball.

Well, light flashes are one of the precursors to a detached retina, so we discussed whether to head to the ER.  We decided not to go because the light flashes stopped; the hospital would not have had an ophthalmologist on duty at night on a holiday weekend; and if they had decided to keep me overnight for observation, my health insurance would not have covered the bill.

I have now seen a retinal specialist and the verdict is no retinal detachment - yay!  Apparently as the eye ages, the inner jelly shrinks and throws off floaters, and when the floaters bump against the retina, they can cause flashes.  And yes, my left eye is definitely "floatier" now than it was before Friday night.  Just another one of those annoying "at your age..." issues that no one warns you about in advance.

My sister is planning to live to 110, but I don't want to be around that long; I don't want to find out for myself what "at your age..." infirmities are lurking for centenarians.  I'm sure they're a lot nastier than fireworks inside my eye.

"In youth we run into difficulties.  In old age difficulties run into us." ~Josh Billings

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Bubby, Can You Spare a Book?

Several years ago I was given my first e-reader - an early version of the Barnes & Nobel Nook - and received it with mixed feelings.  It just didn't look and feel like a real book.  I wasn't sure I could adjust.

Since then I have grown to love traveling with an e-reader.  I load it up with novels I want to read on the plane/bus/road; travel guides for the area I'll be visiting; and (if I'm going to a foreign country) phrase books for the local language.  One small book to pack instead of an entire stack - as long as I remember the charger, I'm golden.

I've also started to use it to downsize my possessions.  Although by some definitions I'm already living in a tiny house, the day will eventually come when I'm living in a single room, and it won't have space for all my books.  When possible, I've been trying to store my favorites on the e-reader and eliminate the hard copy.

However, I have a lot of favorites, and while many classic books out of copyright are free through Project Gutenberg, most e-books are almost as expensive as their hard copy versions.  Which is why I was happy to join BookBub.

Every day BookBub emails me a list of e-books on sale.  The list is tailored to my reading tastes (I had to fill out a questionnaire), and because I have a Nook, most of the books are from Barnes & Noble, although I've also acquired some from other sources.  I have been using the list in three ways:
  • When one of my favorite books shows up free or at a low price - say, $1.99 - I buy it.
  • If something that looks like an interesting read shows up as "Free," I download it.
  • If I see a book by a new-to-me author that looks good but I don't want to spend money on it, I go to the Greater Phoenix Digital Library (through Overdrive) and see if I can check it out.
So, in addition to letting me replace some of my hard copy books, BookBub has been introducing me to a constant stream of new authors, many of whom are not available in my local brick-and-mortar library.  I'm actually on my third e-reader now (they lead a hard life in my purse), and I'm getting quite fond of the little devils.  If you have one and are looking for a good source of affordable e-books, check out BookBub - you'll be glad you did.

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King

Sunday, May 26, 2019

A Stitch (Fix) in Time

As I've mentioned before, I've spent part of the last two years downsizing and improving my wardrobe.  I did a lot of this (both disposal and acquisition) with the help of Poshmark, but I also decided to try Stitch Fix.

If you have somehow avoided being exposed to their ads, Stitch Fix is a personal styling service that will send you 5 pieces of clothing and/or accessories every 3 months to buy or return.  They charge a $20 up-front styling fee each time that goes toward the purchase of any items you decide to keep.  When you receive your Fix box, it includes a postage-paid pouch for returns.

To help determine your style, the software takes you through questions about your body type, fit and color preferences, budget, etc.  You are shown "outfit" photos and asked to rate how well you like them.  In addition, Stitch Fix suggests you set up a Pinterest board with items you like to give their stylists more specific guidance about your taste.  A few months ago they also added a feature to their website where you are shown a selection of different clothing items each day and asked whether each one is your style or not, and you can leave a short note for your stylist before each Fix.

How well does this work?

First of all, let me be clear - I do not like IRL shopping.  Occasionally I am forced to visit a brick and mortar store just to check the fit of a new clothing brand, but I was never a mall rat and prefer online ordering, so the mechanics of this process worked well for me.  If your idea of heaven is spending the day browsing the clearance racks at Nordstrom's, this may not be the right service for you.  

Over the past two years, I have been assigned a different stylist for almost every Fix.  (The last two were both by the same person.)  Two of the stylists - including the last one - nailed my style.  A couple of the early ones were really off.  I blame the vagueness of some of the initial style questions for this; for instance, I marked that I like green apparel, but the greens I typically wear are blue-greens; the olive sweatshirt in one Fix made me look newly embalmed.  Over time, as I have made online comments about what I kept and what I returned and why, the Fixes have been getting better and better.  I've also been pretty regular about going to the site for the daily "thumbs up/thumbs down" ratings on individual items.

Perhaps the biggest help, though, was when I added photos of most of my existing wardrobe to my Pinterest board so the stylists can see what I actually wear and determine where the gaps in my closet might be.  That's when I started to receive garments that worked with all my other clothing.  So, the more information you give the stylists, the better the end results.

Overall, I have been very happy with the service.  By now they have sent me several items that I would never have picked for myself, but that I adored from the minute I tried them on.  When I complained that two of the garments shrank in the wash, despite my following the laundering directions to the letter, they refunded my money with a note of apology.

Do I recommend the service?  Yes, if you are willing to do the work to show the stylists who you really are.  In fact, rating their items and uploading the pieces in my current wardrobe that I like the most helped me better define what my personal style actually is, which was wonderful.  Will I continue to use them?  Yes, but probably not as frequently - thanks in part to their efforts, my wardrobe works so well together now that I am only going to need additional pieces to replace things that wear out.

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” ―Rachel Zoe

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Singing Above My Vocal Cords

Back when I stilled worked in the insurance industry, I did quite a bit of public speaking - mostly continuing education classes about insurance coverage for property/casualty agents. Generally this meant traveling in the upper Midwest during the winter, and on one memorable trip involved losing my voice.

I had been suffering from a cold and was a little hoarse at the start of the trip. After two days of talking virtually nonstop for 6 hours each session, my voice failed. We cancelled the third speaking engagement, and after two days of rest and making my wishes known in writing, I was (barely) able to finish the fourth class before my voice checked out again for an entire week.

After yesterday's lesson with my new voice teacher, I now know what I was doing wrong. In the past, whenever I've started to get a little hoarse, I've tried to power through by speaking in a lower voice and a little more loudly. Apparently this puts a lot of tension and stress on the vocal cords, and makes a bad situation much worse.

This week I took my Dad to a walk-in clinic for tests and came home with a 48-hour stomach bug, which was not so bad in itself, but set off a nasty asthma episode. After several days of hard coughing I went to my voice lesson with a hoarse singing voice and a plea for help. Patti, my teacher, did not fail me.

All of the warmup exercises we did were designed to keep stress out of the throat and tension off the vocal cords. When I was finally ready to sing, she told me to visualize "keeping your voice as far away from your vocal cords as possible." Well, that sounds pretty weird, but in general I've been learning to sing so that my voice resonates in my head spaces instead of coming from the back of my throat, so this was more of the same, and it worked really well. In the past an hour of singing with a hoarse throat would have killed my voice completely; after yesterday's lesson my throat actually felt better instead of worse.

 I am so glad that I decided to look for a teacher specializing in problem voices; as in most areas of life, learning from a real expert pays off in many ways. I am learning to sing better, but also to breathe correctly and keep my throat healthy. Amazing!

"Crying is really bad for your vocal cords." ~Adele

Friday, May 24, 2019

Smelling Like the South of France

For the last 15 years, my favorite fragrance has been Mariella Burani, by the Italian designer of the same name.  I wore her perfume almost every day. According to, the top notes are tarragon, bergamot, brazilian rosewood, and lemon; the middle notes are iris, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lily of the valley, and rose; and the base notes are amber, sandlewood, tonka bean, patchouli, musk, benzoin, vanilla, and vetiver.  It had a very fresh, lovely scent when first applied that settled into something warmer and spicier which lasted for a long time but never turned rancid on my skin.  Over the years, many people asked me what it was so they could buy it themselves.

I am speaking in the past tense because a few months ago I finished the bottle I had been using and tried to order another, only to find that it has been discontinued.  I ordered what purported to be a NIB bottle from an online perfume warehouse with good reviews, but what arrived is not my scent.  The top note is almost all alcohol, and over time it turns into a bad copy of Obsession.  I don't know whether the manufacturer reformulated near the end to save money, or if this was a nasty knockoff in a real bottle, but I had to throw it out.

That left me on the hunt for a new signature scent.  I've made a few half-hearted trips to perfume counters without finding anything that really excited me.  Then I saw a YouTube video by Audrey Coyne that discussed, among other things, Bastide, a relatively new perfume company in Aix-en-Provence.  They now sell 5 fragrances based on the scents of southern France.  The four original scents - Ambre Maquis, Neroli Lumiere, Figue Amour, and Rose Olivier - are available as a set of four small sample sprays for $18; if you later order a full-sized bottle, you receive an $18 credit toward it.

I like all four scents.  I was prepared to hate Rose Olivier, because many rose perfumes are sickeningly sweet, but this is very light and fresh; I think I'm going to keep the sample bottle for travel.  The Ambre Maquis (amber, patchouli, labdanum) is a little heavy for my taste, but I loved both the sweet Neroli Lumiere and the fig-and-sandalwood Figue Amour, particularly when I layer them together.  And, importantly, none of these scents trigger my asthma.

Probably because they are heavy on natural ingredients and do not contain many of the chemicals found in more mainstream perfumes, these scents may need to be reapplied during the day, but that's no burden when something smells as delicious as they do.  I just ordered my two favorites and can hardly wait for them to arrive.

"We never test on animals, only ourselves. We don’t want these ingredients on us or the people we love, so we’ve left them out of our formulas to make room for more goodness from Provence. This is our Bastide Promise - 100% made with love, 0% from our blacklist." ~Bastide

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Please Hide the Clicker

If you've read my blog before, you know I have a love/hate relationship with television.  Part of the hate thing is a reluctance to spend vast sums of money on a device that eats up my precious spare time without delivering much of value.  Yes, I like shows about food and travel and home improvement, but I could get most of the same information online or from the public library for free.

I know, I know, video is sexier than merely reading - but not so sexy that I can justify paying my local cable company more than $100 a month for a fairly basic viewing package.  That's why I discontinued the TV part of my cable subscription about 2 years ago and subscribed to Netflix.

At the time, I was able to stream Netflix via the Wii connected to my home wireless network for under $10 a month, and life was good.  Until Netflix and the Wii folk had a falling out, and I was only able to access Netflix through the small screens on my tablet and smartphone.  Adding insult to injury, Netflix has since raised the subscription price twice.

So, I backed down the level of my subscription and started looking for an alternate streaming device.  After reading more Internet reviews than you want to hear about, I finally ordered a Roku Streaming Stick, which was serendipitously on sale.

The Roku arrived two days ago and I have already worked my way through the four episodes of "Cooked," Michael Pollan's amazing documentary about the history of human eating, and "Agatha and the Truth of Murder," a Netflix movie that imagines what Agatha Christie might have done during her 11-day disappearance in 1926.

The good: The Roku interface lets me access additional content channels, and a lot of the content is free.  Even the Netflix channel appears to contain considerably more content than I could access through the old Wii interface, although that may be due to global changes that occurred at Netflix during the months I was not using it.  Roku also allows me to view in HD, which the Wii interface did not.

The bad:  I could become a couch potato pretty easily with all the additional content available.

The ugly:  I have to turn off the sound on my TV when browsing the content, because unlike the old interface, this one insists on running a video trailer whenever I move to another selection.  I just want to read the quick summary provided - SILENTLY - and move on.  Still a Luddite reader at heart, I guess.

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.” — Groucho Marx

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Shoulder Replacement Blues

My SO Lee is a really active guy.  He's been a tournament volleyball player for many years, and until very recently he was earning a living flipping houses, painting, and acting as a general handyman.

However, he's not the most careful human being I've ever met.  He's fallen off roofs at least twice, and had a rotator cuff repair about 15 years ago due to the general wear and tear of his life.  About a year and a half ago, he fell in a volleyball tournament, cracked a couple of ribs, and re-injured one of the tendons in his right shoulder, which has since completely retracted.  A second tendon in the same shoulder recently gave way, and now he can't lift his dominant arm above mid-rib level.  With some reluctance, he finally decided to have a reverse shoulder replacement to cope with the pain and restore as much movement to that arm as possible.

Today we visited the hospital where the operation will be done for the usual pre-op blood tests and chest x-rays, and their joint specialists ran us through the procedures to follow before the operation and the activities he'll be allowed afterward.  This is going to be trickier than I'd hoped.

Lee will be in a sling for a month after the surgery.  After that he will be encouraged to do some simple gravity-only movement exercises for about another month, with no strength-building exercises until after that.  He is not supposed to drive for 6 weeks after the operation.  Fortunately he lives only a few blocks from a rec center with a walking track where he can work off some of his pent-up energy with his feet.

The movement restriction starts before that, though.  As of today, he's not supposed to do anything that might result in cuts or scratches on his limbs, particularly his right arm - if any are present the day the surgery is scheduled, they will cancel.

This means he won't be able to do any of the final home-improvement projects he had been hoping to complete before he goes under the knife.  I'm guessing the 3-month minimum moratorium on doing anything substantial with his hands is going to drive him (and his temporary caretaker, me) nuts.  He does like to watch financial news, car shows, and old movies on TV, and read history books - we will have to record and/or borrow as much "sitting down" entertainment as possible to see him through the duration.

I'm not sure that's enough to keep him from cabin fever, especially during the days I have to go to work.  Does Uber sell gift cards?

"There is a higher risk of shoulder dislocation following rTSA than a conventional TSA....  As such, tucking in a shirt or performing bathroom / persona hygiene with the operative arm is an especially dangerous activity particularly in the immediate peri-operative phase." ~

Monday, May 20, 2019

Cleure Sailing

I admit it, I can be really cheap.  For many years I bought the least expensive shampoo and conditioner I could find - if it was on sale, it was good enough for me.

Then a few years ago, my scalp developed a mysterious itch, which my dermatologist diagnosed as an allergic reaction to the chemicals in my hair care products.  I switched shampoo and conditioner and the itch went away, but after about a month it came back. And so on, and so on.  Even several products billed as hypoallergenic caused problems.  This was most distressing; aside from the discomfort, if I gave in and scratched, I was just begging people to assume I had lice.

Finally I turned to the Internet and read all the reviews I could find on products for people with sensitive scalp.  With some trepidation I ordered travel-sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner from Cleure, a firm specializing in non-irritating personal care.  When the trial bottles were almost empty and no itching had developed, I ordered the largest sizes of shampoo and conditioner they offered.  I've been using their products for two years now with no adverse effects.

In fact, I've had quite a few people ask about my shampoo because my hair is shinier and more manageable than it's ever been.  I was so pleased with the shampoo and conditioner that I also ordered an eyeliner pencil and tinted lip balm from them.  This summer I'm planning to try their sunscreen and mascara - because it's worth a little more money to never itch again.

And - their products are cruelty free, ecologically responsible, and help fund worthy causes.  What could be better?

"We believe you deserve to be beautiful without the risk of potential toxins and questionable ingredients. What we don’t put into our products is as important as what we do. Our focus is sensitive skin. With that in mind, our products are gluten free, salicylate free, paraben free, and fragrance free." ~from the Cleure Commitment to Sensitive Skin

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Farewell to Holland

After her fall on our day trip to Kinderdijk, Sue disconcerted the receptionist at our small hotel by asking where we could buy drugs.  Seeing the woman's eyes almost bug from their sockets, I hastily added, "Aspirin.  Tylenol.  Something for pain."  The receptionist's eyes returned to normal and she directed us to a nearby drugstore.  Amazingly in a country where marijuana is everywhere, one needs a prescription to buy a decongestant in the Netherlands - don't know if this is an indication of an existing meth problem, or a plan to avoid one.

The rest of these photos are of the older area of Rotterdam where we stayed until it was time to go home.  And yes, we had rain for part of the day - note the shower caps on the seats of some of the parked bicycles.

"It feels good, to be lost in the Rotterdam direction." ~

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Windmills in the Rain

We spent the last two days of our trip in Rotterdam.  The first of those days we took a water taxi to Kinderdijk, where 19 historic windmills, most from the late 1700s, have been gathered.  We specifically went there on a day when the windmills were supposed to be operating.  Alas, this was another day of downpours, so the mills were not working.  In addition, both Sue and I slipped and injured ourselves during the expedition - she fell on the gangplank of the water taxi, losing quite a bit of skin from her hands and legs, and I skidded on the muddy pathway between windmills and messed up my sciatic nerve.  On the upside, we had a good laugh when at one point I leaned over and a veritable waterfall gushed from the upturned brim of my hat.  The windmills were interesting, even if they weren't working, and the canals between them were populated by haughty white swans.  We also had a lovely hot lunch next to the front window at the Grand Cafe Buena Vista, where we could see and pity the tourists who were trying to bike through Kinderdijk in the mud while wearing inadequate cheap plastic raincoats.  The restaurant staff were fast and friendly, and we enjoyed the traditional Dutch decor.

"Unesco World Heritage Kinderdijk - 742 Years of Dutch watermanagement history." ~

Friday, May 17, 2019


These photos are from the day we took the Flam Railway from Flam, Norway, to the Myrdal mountain station and back again, with a stop at the Kjosfossen waterfall to watch dancers there.  We were lucky that the day was chilly but clear.  The mountains were green and beautiful but so steep we wondered how roads and homes could ever have been built there.  Please forgive the window reflections on some of the pictures.

"The Flåm Railway is one of the steepest standard gauge railway lines in the world, with 80% of the journey running on a gradient of 5.5%. The train runs through spectacular scenery, alongside the Rallar Road, vertiginous mountainsides, foaming waterfalls, through 20 tunnels, and offers so many viewpoints that, for many people, a single trip up and down is not enough." ~

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Bergen and Troldhaugen

The nicest day of our 2014 cruise was the day we docked in Bergen, Norway, and traveled to Edvard Greig's home, Troldhaugen.  We did get a little rain, but not the downpours we had experienced elsewhere.  The bus ride through Bergen itself, a UNESCO World Heritage City, was fun, especially the historic buildings in Bryggen, but the highlight of the day was a piano concert of Grieg's works at Troldhaugen, looking out over the fjord.  Unfortunately, we had to take most of our pictures from a moving bus, which did not add to their clarity, so the photographic record of the day is a little sparse.

"...Bergen, Norway's most beautiful city." ~Dave and Deb on