One of the links in the sidebar of this page is to nevadawriters.org. Besides creating literature so brilliant that Shakespeare would be jealous <grin>, I am on the board of this non-profit group dedicated to supporting writers, and writers groups, throughout Southern Nevada. In March, WSN will be presenting a workshop to the Las Vegas Writers’ Group, of which I am coordinator. I have advocated finding support on this blog before, and now I’m doing it again. I will state for the record that I get nothing financial out of support for these groups (although if there’s enough cash left over at the end of the year, Las Vegas Writers’ will have a holiday party.) What I do get is the moral and spiritual support that I need to keep plugging away at a craft that is, in all truth, a lot harder than anyone who has never tried it believes.
WSN has a lot of events planned for this year. Sometime, today or maybe tomorrow, maybe even Friday, but this week, there will appear, as if by magic, but actually by our President, Eric Miller, a calendar of these events. Some are workshops, some are Painted Stories, in which an artist or two interprets stories read by two or more writers. Some are mixers in places such as a local bar or restaurant. And we are holding a Writers’ Retreat at the Boulder Dam Hotel in Boulder City, Colorado, in September. All at affordable prices. (The March workshop, as it is also the meeting of the Las Vegas Writers’ Group, is just five bucks!) We also have a speakers’ bureau, right on the same site.
So, check out WSN at nevadawriters.org (the link is above.) Small investment, good return!
“Account Services, how may I help you?” Through the back of the phone, I could hear the hold music go silent and the account services professional join us live for the fourth time now. This is the pinnacle of our trip, the raison d’etre, the whole purpose of the plan. To hang out with a bank teller via international collect calling? No, to challenge ourselves with daily discomfort and irritation: i.e. trudge our way through tasks that would take 5 minutes if we were at home. This weekend’s lesson in patience: acquiring the purchase power to buy a 16 year old used van. We could do this one of two ways: Pay 5% off the top to use our credit card adding $330 to our purchase price straight away or transfer $4,000 US into $6,600NZ in cash. (HEY! That is like 11 bottles of delicious New Zealand wine we have planned!) We knew our bank would be monitoring large withdrawals, so before we tried anything, we gave them a call to confirm (1) yes, we are in New Zealand; (2) yes we need a pile of cash; and (3) no, we are not masked bandits or kidnapped by Pirates. After confirming each of these finer points, the person on the line confirmed she would raise the one time withdrawal limit to the number we needed and allow the transaction to go through. We approach the ANZ teller (pronounced “Aye” “Ehn” “Zed”) and request that he withdraw the requisite funds from our account. He pushes up his perfectly round glasses on his nose and taps away on the keyboard. “Blocked”. He tries again in a different denomination. “Blocked”. And again, “Blocked.” “Maybe try the ATM?” He suggests. We try the ATM. “This account has been locked. Contact your bank for assistance.” Sigh. We call back, go through the same rigamarole, and we are told that the account will work. Back to the ANZ teller…..and “blocked”. Blocked, blocked. “Maybe try the ATM?” this new teller suggests. Yeah, unlikely. But we try it anyway only to find the account has been locked again. By this time, it is 2:00 p.m. and we are both starving for lunch. So, we pack up the rental car and head back home for lunch. We spend another half hour on the phone with the bank, unlocking everything and confirming limits. This time they tell us no matter what, our withdrawal limit is only about 1/3 of what we actually need per day. We do the math and realize we will need to do two withdrawals over the course of two days from this account and either wait a third day or pull money out of a different account that only has a little bit in it. We walk down to the nearest ATM and pull out our first two withdrawals from two different accounts. I keep watch for nefarious characters in the cleanest, safest looking suburb I have ever been in. Nefarious Character: Andrew pulls money out of the ATM, and we have half of what we need. Now, we just have to wait until the next day. We pack little packs of money into various different pockets just in case: Andrew’s wallet, the water pouch of my camelback, the water pouch of his camelback, some in the cargo pockets of his pants – then walk back home. We are scheduled to pick up the van at 2:00 p.m. the next day. We spend the next morning on a Farmers’ Market odyssey. First, we head into Auckland for crisp greens, fresh avocados, ruby ripe tomatoes, rich organic whole milk, olive oil, honey, and “the worlds best strawberries”. Next, on to Matakana where Andrew read that a Farmer’s Market with wine tasting would proceed. Andrew nominated me as the driver to “help me get used to driving on the left” while he was still in the car to help. (We were going to have to split up this afternoon to get the van and the rental car back home. ) Though, in hindsight I suspect he just wanted free reign to taste wine. Just getting into the car required me to disengage 19 years worth of driving muscle memory and walk around to the other side of the car. I get settled in behind the wheel. The key is on the right hand side, the gas pedal is on the right – just like normal. But, the transmission stick is on the left and the windshield wiper/turn signals are flipped. Slowly, I back out of the driveway and onto the road. “Death comes from the right, death comes from the right.” Driving is so natural, that unless I am constantly talking to myself aloud I slip into the trance of automatic reactions we all have built into our driving psyche. In fact, even when I am talking to myself, if we are about to make a turn my left index finger reaches down and flicks on the windshield wiper. “Whap, slide, whap, slide…” I develop a strategy whereupon I grip the wheel tightly with my left and keep my right index and pinky finger resting on the turn signal. But even that doesn’t work, so I end up sitting on my left hand and steering with my right unless I really ne
Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants; money will not give him a code of values if he has evaded the knowledge of what to value; and it will not provide him with a purpose if he’s evaded the choice of what to seek. — Ayn Rand On our first full day in New Zealand, we woke up bright and early to manage some administrative tasks. Specifically, we needed to finalize a plan for accommodation, transportation, and bicycles. When we set off from San Diego in February, we knew we didn’t want to sail around the Pacific during Cyclone Season. New Zealand is famous for its beautiful countryside, camping, backpacking and mountain biking. So, we planned to stay in New Zealand for a while and tour around by Land-Wagon. We woke up bright and early to tour various used car dealerships, backpacker outlets, and bike shops. We stopped in at a used bike shop, where we are proudly presented with two bikes circa 1997, with dubious manufacturing and apparent history with an Aussie Drop Bear. Suffice it to say, they were not in top condition. We changed course and headed to a regular bike shop with designs on finding a cheap but acceptable hard tail. We wheeled our potential new bikes around on the sidewalk outside the shop and dreamed of a day next week in which we would make them ours. We ate lunch at “One of Auckland’s Best Five Sushi Restaurants,” then headed on to find more vans. We hike a nearby volcano. The City of Auckland has a tendency to poke up out of the horizon in a picturesque fashion from everywhere I look. Here it is again from the top of Mount Eden. We weigh options and makes plans as we walk. It’s the high camping season, and it seems to be a seller’s market for vehicles right now. I have bought a total of one vehicle in the course of my life with my own money. It feels irresponsible to contemplate the purchase of a vehicle in the span of 48 hours, but we only have 90 days here, so….the clock is a’tickin. The next morning, I enjoy a leisurely “moving meditation” i.e. stretch out on the back patio. We pour ourselves two cups of coffee and break out our 2016 financial spreadsheets. We need to insert our spending from the last week of December and contemplate our total burn rate for the year. Andrew reads off credit card and debit card expenditures as I type them in. His monotone drone just keeps going and going: “12/27 Amazon prime $110.27; 12/27 ITunes Store $8.08; 12/28 Amazon Prime $54.18.00; 12/30 Leisure Pro $68.02…..” This month is a nail biter. We load up a new template and prepare 2017’s tracking spreadsheet. We put in all our spending for the first few days of January, then leaned back in our chairs. The verdict is in. For September through December, we are averaging a whopping $1,500 over our intended average. I blame the SCUBA diving and the flights back to the US. If you divide up the “entertainment” category on a month to month basis for these four months, you can see it is exactly $1,503 per month. Ugh. When we did our monthly calculations for this trip, we based those calculations off of another traveler’s budget who did not scuba dive. Because we had not done much scuba diving before we left, we made the error of (1) not realizing how much we like diving; (2) not buying/installing our own air compressor; (3) not buying our own gear; and (4) not knowing how much it costs to pay for guided scuba diving as often as we want to dive. This is what happens when you add an entirely new hobby to your life, people. No new hobbies! When you look at the overall average for 2016, it isn’t as shocking as our last four months. Our total spend for 2016 turned out to be $47,908.00, giving us a monthly average of ($4,790.80) or $790.80 over budget each month. We do not expect this situation to improve much in the first quarter of 2017 given that we will be in more expensive New Zealand, but hopefully ground will be made up in some of the cheaper parts of the world we are going to from April through December. Nothing like being over budget to put you in the mood to go buy a car. We slink away from our spreadsheets and head to the spot where we found our best van option the day before. “Kick the tires, light the fires, Boss! If it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen out there.” We test drive it, and I utter my first “I don’t want to die today!” of New Zealand. Andrew attempted to pull off a U-Turn from left to left in a soccer-mom-minivan with the turning radius of a hippopotamus. It was the sound of the City Bus screeching to a halt that made me skittish. We return to the dealership, take a deep breath and fork over a deposit for purchase. We will be the proud owners of a 2000 Toyota Estima, with 110,000KM and
Despite snow accumulating around us, the take off from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles went smoothly. A cool hour and a half later, we were sitting in LAX on the edge of the US West Coast. Am I leaving home or returning home? It is odd that I am unsure. Usually, after celebrating Christmas, we would get on the road to head back to Las Vegas and return to normal life: law firm by day/week, mountain bike in the evenings, and drive to San Diego to see Sonrisa on the weekends. This year, we are flying off to New Zealand, and yet, leaving Utah to go to New Zealand feels like we are “getting back to normal.” I’m discovering that “normal” isn’t necessarily doing what everyone else is doing, or even what we usually do. We aren’t going back to sailing and Sonrisa right now. Getting back to “normal” is the feeling I get when we return to the plan: travel. A couple hours later, we take our seats in the emergency exit aisle on American Airlines flight 83 to New Zealand. Andrew stretches his lanky legs into the aisle big enough for us to swing dance. I am very happy about this arrangement until the flight attendant straps himself in backwards just across the way from us. We engage in that mass-transit moment where you don’t want to stare at a fellow traveler, but it’s hard not to because you are seated facing directly at each other. I smile and say “hello,” then stare off at the lavatory. It occurs to me that everyone will congregate in this aisle way while fidgeting and waiting for the lavatory. Hopefully, I don’t snore. Then I hear my mother say to me: “No one is ever thinking about you as much as you think they are.” As we take off, the weight and size of this trans-ocean plane feels enormous. As soon as the plane heaves itself off the ground, we are flying over the ocean. Dinner is served. Steak in a little plastic box or fish in a little plastic box. It is much better than I thought it would be, and I would go so far as to say the chocolate cherry mouse thing in a paper cup was good. Every few minutes Andrew elbows me and the lady sitting on his other side while trying to saw through his “steak”. I kept a good hold on my plastic cup of wine, just in case his elbow swung wide. After dinner, I cheated and took a Dramamine to make me fall asleep. ….. 9.5 hours later, I awoke to Andrew still watching some horrible action movie on the little screen next to me. I have no idea if any the flight attendant ever sat down across from me, or if my fellow travelers watched me snore. “Wave hi to Sonrisa!” Andrew says. We are flying directly over Vava’u Tonga. The screen in front of us says “mileage to Auckland 1500. Time to Auckland, 2.5 hours.” I laugh and think to myself, 2.5 hours or 10 days take your pick. We would have ten sailing days to go if we were sailing in Sonrisa — and that is if we made our average of 150 miles per day! Seriously, people. One or two 20 day ocean passage does wonders for your perspective on the length of a twelve hour flight. I highly recommend it. As we fly over New Zealand, the lady in the seat next to us informs us that it looks like Ireland. I have not been to Ireland, but as I look at the lushly green rolling hills, I imagine she is telling the truth. We touch down, and the giant jet-bird wobbles side to side. The air flaps fold down and the plane lets off a throaty roar as we slow down. We are led through customs where our bags are X-rayed even more carefully than when we left the United States. They look for biosecurity hazards like food, seeds, dirt, radioactive material, and my two chocolate bars. We are carrying a tent, two sleeping bags, hiking boots, mountain biking shoes and scuba gear. I can practically hear alarms going off around us: “WARNING WARNING WARNING, BIO SECURITY HAZARDS IN AISLE THREE!” But they were nice about it. They imprisoned our tent in the “lab” for testing, but cleared us to go with everything else. Fifteen minutes later, a woman slides open a window and our tent pops out. “How much do I owe you?” I ask her – signs posted everywhere about their refusal to accept cash. “No charge! Enjoy your stay in New Zealand!” Free to go, less two chocolate bars. We pile our bags onto a “trolley” and head toward the rental car vans. I take a deep breath as soon as we are outside. The air is cool, and a breeze is rustling trees, flowers, and my hair. It smells sweet and salty, a mix of ocean, flowers, grass and summer. Soon, we are on the road in our rental car. We have driven on the left in islands with 1400 people total on them, but city driving is a whole extra can of worms. “Death from the right” becomes our mantra, a reminder that we should lo
Look at that, a travel picture that actually fits the theme of the post. Will wonders never cease?
The Romans (see the post here) in Germania and Gaul used the rivers a great deal. And, guess what? The current residents still do. During our time in Europe last October, we went on several local boat trips. This particular river was one we did not go boating on, but it is a pretty one. Heidelberg wasn’t a Roman town, although that bridge in the background is a rebuilt version of one the Romans made, if I remember correctly.
When we drove from Heidelberg to Strasbourg, we crossed the Rhine, or Rin on the French side I suppose, but again, didn’t take a boat trip. However, anyone who doesn’t know that the Romans considered control of the Rhine vital to the security of the Empire doesn’t know much about Rome. And today, as then, incredible amounts of traffic travel up and down the Rhine. Someday I hope to take a cruise along it’s fabled course. But for now, let’s consider the Meuse. The Meuse begins life as a streamlet in France, flows down through Belgium, and then through the Netherlands, which is where we rode on it, in the city of Maastricht, where it looked exactly like this:
To the left of the picture you can see a boat landing, where we, in fact, landed. But not until after proceeding downriver for a while, then turning around. An interesting aspect of the rivers in Germania and Gaul (as known once) is that they tend to be navigable. One can, in fact, catch a boat to Liege, in Belgium, from a dock very near to the one shown in this picture. Or, of course, come the other way. Or, if you want, you can go to France, or down to the sea. On the Rhine, you can go a thousand miles without touching land, if you’re so inclined. It is no wonder, then, that these rivers have proved to be strategic targets in wars for thousands of years. Heck, if I invaded Europe today, I want to capture them. As did the Romans, Franks, Goths, English, French, Belgians, and William the Conqueror’s uncle Ed. (I made that last one up.) In the 20th century the World Wars were fought, literally in some cases, over these rivers. Yes, literally, on the bridges. No joke.
And then there is a tributary to the Meuse, the River Wurm, which flows through Aachen. Here’s a view of it:
Apparently there once was an occasion when the dam (still present) across the Wurm was used, when the great iron doors comprising it were closed, thus flooding an enemy. Not nice, but then maybe he shouldn’t have invaded, huh?
Did I say we didn’t boat on the Rhine? I meant upstream at Strasbourg! In Cologne (Koln) we boated indeed, and here is a snapshot taken on that voyage:
What this is, I can’t say, but I like it. Oh, you want to see the river? Oh, alright:
We visited Cologne on two different days. This is from our first visit. The second time we visited we then took Metro to Bonn, where I discovered Weihenstephaner Hefe Weiss Bier, which I recommend to anyone not especially enamored of lagers. But, that has nothing to do with rivers, so let us move on to our final river, the Main. The Main is yet another navigable river in what used to be Germania. Here’s a picture, taken from a bridge in Frankfurt:
Frankfurt is “Frank’s Ford” in modern English. The Franks forded lots of rivers, of course, and there are several Frankfurts in Germany, but this is the one that has become a major financial and commercial center. Nice city. Again, the Main river is navigable, and, with all of the other rivers that come together along the Atlantic coast, ties the area together in a web of commercial enterprise not seen since the Romans left. That was somewhere around the year 400. United Europe began to take shape in 1945. That’s 1545 years of divisive BS these people had to endure before they got their good times back. Ouch! And, now as then, a lot of it is thanks to these fine rivers.
Did you make any resolutions? Break them yet? Not me, I can tell you. For the same reason that I’ll never stop smoking, I’ll never break a New Year’s resolution. I don’t do either in the first place! Smoking is bad for you, and if you don’t believe it, you’re a smoker. Resolutions are bad for you, too. And here’s why.
When you resolve not to do something, you focus on what you’re not going to do. If that’s eat the wrong foods, then you think of the wrong foods all the time. Instead of that, just grab the right foods, and when you can’t stand it any more, indulge yourself. I cut way back on sugar and it has worked fine, except that once a week, or whenever during the holiday season, I just go ahead and eat whatever sweets I want to. I was surprised that I actually don’t want sweets the way I used to, although those peanut butter cookies with the Hershey’s Kisses on them would be the downfall of my diet, if I were trying to follow a diet.
So, you’re a writer. Maybe you’ve resolved to quit procrastinating and finish that first novel. Excellent! But now, you’re sitting there at your computer reading this, aren’t you? Reading this is not getting your novel written, is it? I guess you’re just a horrible person, then, and everybody who says you’ll never make it as a writer is correct-o-mundo! Or, you can just write what you can, when you can, not sweat the exact timing, maybe cut back on Facebook just a little, but not obsessively, and I’ll bet you that if you do those things your novel will almost magically get written!
Hell, if it’s your first novel ever, it sucks anyway (trust me,) and you’re just beginning to learn the awful truth about publishing. But that’s okay! Relax, take it easy on yourself, and plunk out the words one at a time, and in no time, you’ll be working on your second, considerably better, novel. See how easy that is?
We spent the week between Christmas and New Year visiting more friends and family. We went bowling, watched football games, made stop motion videos using stick bots, modeling clay, poor Osmond, and even some of our human friends. We soaked up as much friend/family time as we could. I teetered between anticipating homesickness for family and friends and anticipating the excitement of more travel. I am very bad at just enjoying the moment; the time I get with the people I love is bitter sweet. I experience the feeling of missing these people when I am right there with them in the room! Osmond knows how I feel. He and Radar just barely perfected the art of being a totem pole, and now we have to leave! As December 31 approached, we started to weasel out of our New Year’s Eve Tradition – the Crabcrack. With Sonrisa in Tonga, our house rented out, and our living accommodations varying between a Ford Transit Van and/or various guest rooms of friends and family, we didn’t know where to hold the Crabcrack. But, the morning of New Year’s Eve dawned with new vigor. I tried to chase down a flock of wild turkeys for a picture, and after huffing and puffing through the snow and high elevation, I was all fired up and ready to go. So, we shuffled off to Albertsons to acquire crab. If I can give you one piece of advice on New Year’s Eve-making, it is this: At about 5 p.m. drink one or two Irish Coffees. (If you imbibe in coffee and alcohol, that is. If not, I guess you are going to have to go with a jello shooter, infused with Sprite.) An Irish Coffee is the perfect treat to help you make it to midnight. A tablespoon of sugar, a pour of piping hot coffee, a shot of Irish Whiskey (I’m not going to get into the Bushmills v. Jameson fight, they both taste fine to me), and topped with homemade whipped cream. Guaranteed to help you make it to midnight. This year, our Irish Coffees were extra delicious, as our whipped cream was made with Tahaa Vanilla Extract. MMMmmmm. We ate our crab, visited with family and friends, and then as the clock struck midnight, we danced around the front yard clanging mixing bowls and drinking champagne. Someone else in the neighborhood was shooting off fireworks, a contribution for which I was most grateful. The first day of 2017 was spent completing Oddgodfrey’s Annual Analysis, preparing our goal chart and cheating on our New Year’s diet by going to Mexican Food at one of my favorite Utah eateries: The Red Iguana. But, Andrew and I did split our meal. I was a little stressed out due to the fact that we were not packed to fly away to New Zealand yet, and after six weeks near reliable internet I still could not get my collection of 2016 photographs to transfer from my computer onto the cloud or onto a hard drive. 2017 Goals: Learn to use The Snap Chat and Instagram. Saying goodbye to our parents, siblings, and the Adorable Niece was a little hard. So, to make it easier, as we left my parents house, I left them with a copy of our Trust, just in case we die somewhere in transit. “Okay now, it’s time to leave. It’s been so much fun, guys! Thanks for the beautiful Christmas. Here’s a copy of our trust in case we die…. please make sure that Sonrisa gets taken back somewhere that she will meet good new owners….Ok, bring it in for hugs everyone! Ok, we love you, bye-bye!” Then, we headed into Salt Lake to deliver the van back to Andrew’s mom, put Calamity Jane and Tang back in the garage, and eat lunch with Andrew’s family. Andrew has a cold, so he couldn’t hold the Adorable Niece, but I mugged on her as long as I could. Then we were even sent away with a selection of Adorable Niece pictures to hang on Sonrisa’s walls. Hugs all around, then out we go. While I know Sonrisa has been nervous about us visiting home, I told her she has nothing to worry about. It started to snow as we transferred our luggage to the car. The cold air bites our nose and grabs at our lungs as we give more hugs and escape to the American Airlines check In desk. As I watched the guys de-ice the plane, I happily embrace the prospect of returning to summer in the Southern Hemisphere. Here’s hoping 2017 will be another year of exploring beautiful, tropical locations and dabbling in creative pursuits to our hearts’ content. P.S.! You have two more days to get your own goal planning sheet at the discounted Skin-In-The-Game-Rate. After the fifth, you are going to have to double down to make good on your promises to yourself. We all know that the longer you put off writing your objectives down, the less likely you are to get focused, get started and get energized. Make a bet on yourself this year. sale The Plan for Overnight Success 50.00 100.00
My favorite holiday is coming up! New Year’s Day is just days away and I get to start my most favorite family tradition: annual goal analysis and planning! *insert audible snort from my boss here* No really. The start of a new year is always my favorite time. We spend a few hours analyzing how our past year went, patting ourselves on the back for being SO AWESOME, and prepping a new plan for next year. What could be more fun? The last time I peeled a fully filled out annual plan off my cork board (strategically located in my bathroom, directly in front of our commode) it was the last in a series of ten charts that led us to our castoff. The day I pulled that chart down, I had chills. It worked. All our planning led us where we wanted to go. I could hear the ironic cheer my partner yells anytime we win a case we worked on for years: “An overnight success!” People often ask how did we make this sailing trip happen? This post gives you the secret. It’s really boring! But I swear it is true. From 2005 through 2007 we wandered around blindly – happening upon sailing opportunities, finding jobs, buying a house, moving to Las Vegas. We had our big dream in mind, but we were also just letting life take us where it might. Already, the business of life and work were pulling us away from the little things that made us happy. In 2007, we hardly mountain biked or camped at all. I started to worry. If the little things we loved were falling away, what about our big dream? How would we stay focused and make that happen? We needed a system. In December of 2007, I set to making another chart. (The Oddgodfreys love charts.) I broke our categories into the major things we needed to get done in a year: (1) learn to sail; (2) get some money (3) stay healthy and strong; (4) remain sane while we wait; and (5) grow our professions and our community. I made a column for deadlines. I made a column designed to keep track whenever we made good on something we said we would do. We didn’t need a giant plan envisioning 13 years of effort all at once. I knew if we could organize and keep smaller commitments each year, we would get there. In honor of the New Year, Andrew and I sat down over a cup of tea and listed a handful of little tasks organized under each category. We asked ourselves one question: “What do we need to do this year to remain happy, keep our health strong, our finances improving and make our sailing dream happen? For 2008, we set out the following: 1. Sailing: (a) race in at least 10 races on Lake Mead; (b) buy our own boat for $5,000 or less; (c) go sail camping at least once before the end of the year; (d) Take ASA Certification Courses Levels 1 – 3 by end of the year. 2. Finances: (a) save $1500 per month toward sailing. (b) Save up six months worth of cash in an emergency fund. 3. Fitness and Health: (a) Weight train three days per week; (b) cardio three days per week. 4. Personal Sanity: (a) Go camping four times; (b) Do at least 12 mountain bike rides; (c) host at least four dinner parties; (d) Plant a spring and a fall garden; (e) write journal notes at least once per week; (f) travel to Utah to visit family at least four times. 5. Professional and Community: (a) Write at least 1 professional article; (b) Take at least three depositions (L); (c) Obtain three new customers (A); (d) Prepare Henderson Symphony Orchestra’s 501(c)(3) application. We printed out the chart and pinned it up on the wall in the bathroom on a cork board. Why the bathroom? Well, it is one of those places a person must go every single day, and it’s not quite as obnoxious for guests as the refrigerator. I tied a pen to a string and pinned it right next to the chart. No excuses due to a lost pen! Then we would track every time we did something we said we would do with checkmarks or tick marks. Whenever we would complete a task as promised, we would do a little dance. If it was a big goal i.e. the day we paid off student loans, we would make ourselves a nice dinner and enjoy a bottle of wine we had saved for such an occasion. We confronted ourselves every single day with our own high demands. We also started doing a semi-annual review at six months and a third quarter review at 9 months to check progress and re-jigger the plan. Sometimes we would overshoot, and by six months in, we realized a goal is unrealistic given time/energy/financial resources, we just don’t care about this particular goal as much as we thought we did, or there is something else more important to which we have to divert resources. When this happens, we adjust or delete the goal to realign our plan with what we really want at the end of the year. Before we remove a goal, we think about t
Writing posts will resume next week. I’m donating blood today, because the holidays are when it’s most needed. I donated about a gallon and a half in the Denver area when I lived there, and now I’m at 12 liters total donation in Las Vegas. A good vampire (their word not mine) won’t hurt a bit when they draw your blood. And, in Las Vegas, you always get some sort of reward for your generosity. If you donate in the second half of December, you get free Penn & Teller tickets! (I saw how Penn catches a bullet in his teeth the last time I attended their show. No shit!)
I’m told that every time I donate whole blood I save a couple of newborn babies. Not bad for an old man, I think. Chances are, you can save a bunch of people too. You don’t have to donate whole blood. They can take just red blood cells, or just platelets that encourage clotting (important for those on immunosuppressive therapies, don’t you know?)
You’ll write a whole lot better knowing you’ve saved a life or two! Trust me!
Dear Sonrisa, Merry Christmas, Little Lady! How are things going over there in Tonga? Everyone here is asking about you, and we are keeping tabs on your weather. No cyclones, yet, thank goodness. We also hear that Santa delivered your presents – sunbrella covers for Kitty and your life raft? I hope they fit well. We miss you, and we thought we would give you a little update on what has been going on. After mountain biking with Calamity Jane and Tang in Moab, we headed back up to Utah. We took family pictures with New Baby Niece. Thanks, Jamie Broderick Photography! Then, I flew to Spokane to meet my little sister and drive with her from college home for the holidays. The Delta Airlines Stewardess gave me two packs of Biscoff cookies! Two! You know how I love those cookies. (Remember Emily? She even has a picture of you together hanging up on her wall!) While in Spokane, a Polar Vortex arrived. At one point, it was only 3 degrees Farenheight. I was trying to keep my thin, tropical blood pumping by wearing my Dad’s puffy coat. Emily made fun of me on The Snap Chat because I looked like a burnt marshmallow with legs. We explored Gonzaga Campus and Oddgodfrey made his mark on the drawing wall. We did some Christmas shopping and went to see a movie at a theater with very comfy recliners. I do not like watching movies in comfy recliners; it is too hard not to fall asleep. Anabelle (the old Honda Accord) is having way more fun with the college kids then she did with us. She’s doing donuts in parking lots and taking road trips to Canada. She is, however, not pleased with the snow. Living her whole life in Las Vegas did not help her acclimate to her current lifestyle, at all. *Note: this is a sunroof, not a snow roof. It snowed, then the freezing temperatures hardened the snow to ice. The roads were terrifying for our twelve hour drive back to Utah. At least as scary as a moonless night watch with squalls. Emily wouldn’t let me drive, and my inner control freak was not pleased. Things got better the further south we drove, and we did survive. Once Emily and I made it home, Andrew and I made several visits to more Utah friends including a visit with one of your favorites: Mr. Elliot and his little brother, Ollie. We did Christmas projects. Finally, Christmas Eve arrived and we let the smoke out of Christmas Eve dinner. We tried to fan the smoke out of the house, but that strategy failed. In the end, we had to disconnect every smoke alarm in the house. When the dishwasher drawer sprung forth and tried to make its great escape, we knew the party was really on. *Photo credit for this moment goes to Kayla Smith. Andrew received a hooded wetsuit vest to stay toasty while scuba diving, and he was nominated the Christmas Eve Ninja. Osmond and his best friend, Radar the Teddy Bear, were reunited. Radar has been a part of our family since Christmas of 1985. Together, they watched the festivities perched in the Christmas tree. One thing led to another and Osmond ended up in a Rudolph hat. Apparently, there is more than two pirates in this family. We will bring you your set of matching jammies. It snowed like mad on Christmas Eve and in the morning we woke to a foot of freshly laid, powdery snow. Santa brought Osmond a tiki necklace to help keep him safe and sound. When Baby Niece came to visit wearing an owl outfit, Osmond was quite tickled. Santa brought Andrew a drinking horn. The drinking horn and Emily’s new set of galaxy ski under-roos paired perfectly for an impromptu manifestation of none other than OddGodfrey himself. What is a drinking horn? Well, of course it is a cow horn, hollowed out, and used as a cup from which one can drink rum. Or chocolate milk….but mostly rum. Kayla and Radar gave us all a laundry machine. (Scrubba bag and bucket – Woot Woot!) It’s hard to believe that our trip Stateside flew by and we are heading to New Zealand in one short week. Adding a trip home to visit family and friends topped off 2016, making it our best year yet! Having time to travel, explore, sail, write AND visit family and friends has been amazing. But don’t worry, we are excited to get exploring again. Our flights out are purchased and we are ready to go. Stay safe there in Tonga. Let us know if you need anything. Love, Andrew, Leslie & Osmond