Friday, August 31, 2018

Why Short Breaks are Just As Fun

Happy Friday! Happy Long Weekend! Happy post about a short travel trip, which I am in desperate need of! Happy vacation writing, which I'm about to embark on! Written by Maggie Hammond, a retired nurse and freelance writer, exploring and writing in the U.S. in retirement. An advocate for public health and nursing qualifications, she feels passionate about raising awareness of the current strain on public health organisations.

They say vacations are good for the soul, and no doubt you look forward to taking your annual week away and spending your time pleasing yourself and enjoying a change of scenery. Yet a lot of the time, you can return from your trip feeling tired, cranky, and wondering why you just blew all that money. Or maybe you felt like you couldn’t afford a proper vacation and just spent your week off mooching around your home. The week disappears all too quickly, and then it’s back to your regular routine for another eleven months. Sounds like it’s time to take a fresh look at how you spend your vacations.

Get out of the all or nothing mindset
If you tend to place all your hopes and expectations on one week away each year, you could well be setting yourself up for disappointment. It’s like putting all your money on a single bet – you risk losing it all in one go. Remember the TV shows or movies that your friends all told you were the best ever, and that you would love them – but when you watch them you feel a little let down? It’s the effect of expecting too much; if you go into something with more modest expectations, it will probably be better than you thought, whereas if you go in with high expectations, you’ll almost certainly be disappointed. It’s much better to spread your bets across a range of options, and vacation time is best thought of in a similar way. Rather than pinning all your hopes on one week away a year, plan some weekend breaks, day trips, and stay at home chill-out weekends throughout the rest of the year. That way you’ll be taking the pressure off the main vacation, and you’ll know if it doesn’t work out as well as you’d planned that you have other treats lined up not too far ahead.

Vacations can be good for your health
It’s well-known that stress has a harmful effect on your physical and mental health, and in our fast-paced modern society it’s pretty hard to lead a stress-free life. Kicking back and getting out of your routine gives your mind and body the chance to unwind and get the relaxation it needs. Spreading this healing effect across a range of different activities and time periods is far more effective than putting all your time and money into a single vacation week each year. To cope with pressure and stress, you need regular time out, as well as taking steps in your daily life to minimize the harmful effects of stress and anxiety. Having a week away is great as a highlight of your year, but having a special day or weekend break once a month or so as well will do an even better job of recharging your batteries.

How travel feeds your mind
Any kind of trip away from home gives you an opportunity to expand your mind, learn new things, meet different people, and experience the wonders of the planet. Seasoned travelers know that one of the most rewarding aspects of their trips is the exposure to new sights, histories, and cultures. Living in the heart of a different community that could be wholly at odds with your own familiar existence can be not just enjoyable, but highly enlightening. You can gain an understanding of how other people live, the fabric of the planet and all the creatures that live upon it, and the impact of historical events in shaping the world as it is today. It can make you appreciate how precious life is, and why you should be more caring both for your fellow humans and for the ecology of the planet. It can drive home the reality behind news stories of life in distant lands, give you the chance to connect with far-off friends and family members, and it will spread understanding between cultures. The positive impact of a well-spent trip can’t be overstated, and no matter how close to home or far away you go, there will still be a chance to have this mind-opening experience.

Money and time
Two of the main reasons people give as to why they restrict their traveling are time and money. You need both in order to take a trip, but even if you’re tight for time and strapped for cash, you can still find ways to get away once in a while:
·       If money is an issue, save as much as you can in a dedicated fund, and consider the credit options available to you. Obviously, you don’t want to end up with debts when you’re struggling with your finances, but if you are able to cover the monthly repayments without a problem, then paying for your vacation on credit could be seen as a valid investment into your health. If you don’t take time out, you could end up run-down or depressed, and get to a point where you can’t work, or you start to accrue healthcare bills. Studying the available financial services such as recommendations on the best secured credit card will help you choose a credit option that suits you.
·       Time is the other chief reason for not spending more time away. If you have a busy schedule of work, family, and other commitments, then taking a weekend break or needing a day out here and there can be hard to arrange, and very often trips get postponed or canceled. It might not be easy to make the time, but even a half day will be of great benefit to your health and happiness, so making an effort to fit a few short breaks into your life will be all the more rewarding.

It doesn’t matter what you do with your time away; you could spend the whole weekend stretched out on a sunny beach, or trekking through the mountains; what matters most is the way you feel while you’re doing it. Give your spirits a lift, expand your mind, and let your brain take a pleasant diversionary route for a day or two, and come back to life refreshed and reinvigorated.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Thursday Thoughts - it's those restless hearts that never mend

1. Last night I raged at Verizon's automated system (see all the zeroes?) and twitter and wasted an hour of my life only to find out freaking Bruce unplugged the big box modem. That's about where I am right now with brain power. Depleted AF. Even worse? This happened a few months ago AND I DIDN'T EVEN THINK TO CHECK THE PLUG.
2. Due to a deadline that did not work in my favor, I'm not off for the full week next week that I need to uncoil my mind but I'll take it what's left of it and working from the shore suits me fine. This is the year vacation is not going as planned from any direction - MFD is spending his birthday morning canvassing on Saturday and won't be down with los perros until Saturday afternoon and will not be staying all week. Running for office: when all your husband wants for his birthday is for you to not bitch that he's missing your vacation to knock on doors and get votes. Easiest but most non monetarily expensive gift I've ever given. If you are in Philly and want to join him Saturday morning, he'd love to have you!

3. I will do some shore chores amid book reading, dog walking, swimming, and beach sitting - priming the kitchen ceiling, washing the quilts from seven beds and the covers of both couches, and scrubbing oil stains off of the driveway. I also have appointments: exterminator, split duct system service, plumber to talk about putting a washer and dryer back in the house, and a prospective future renter. It's always nice to get back in the house and take care of some things!

4. Yesterday was Gus's birthday and he had a burger and fries but also demanded an actual dinner. The other dogs appreciated that. I appreciated that he let me hold him for a while. He’s never liked being held.
5. Scenes from my 96 degree walk around Old City yesterday. The worst day to scout Christmas Party locations that involve a mile walk each way is a humid 96 degree day. I was dripping with sweat.
6. Did you ever get a notice to pick up a hold request from the library and have zero recollection of requesting the book?

7. If you read one thing this week, read Mourning a Patriot Whose Politics You Hate by Jon Lovett via Crooked Media.

8. Remember this name: Andrew Gillum. I've typically always touched on a political or social issue in Thursday Thoughts since the beginning of them in 2011. When trump took office, I tried to mention whichever bullshit corruption and lawlessness happening in this administration was most outrageous/upsetting to me. It quickly became apparent that there was too much and I felt like I was banging my head against a wall. I'm done with that. Amy Siskind is tracking things in her Weekly List and I hope you are reading that religiously. I don't need to recreate the wheel and I need to use my energy in the best way I can, and that is finding a productive path forward and highlighting things we can do because bitching is bullshit without action. I’ve always tried to give action items too, but it got lost in ghoulish news. There have been some fucking solid progressive wins recently. Andrew Gillum is one of them. If you care about this stuff, please find a candidate you can support with a $5 or $50 donation or a few hours to knock on doors (local friends, my next door knocking with MFD is Sept 9 if you want to join me) or make some phone calls or just spread the word about them and urge people to get out and VOTE. Vote for their own interests, not big business or the rich. In the next few days, if you do not believe Kavanaugh should come to a vote until after mid-terms or ever given the legal clusterfuck around this administration, get on the phone, use ResistBot, show up at the offices of your Senators. That court appointment will impact all of us much longer than this unimaginable alleged POTUS.

9. Reminder:

10. E-card of the week: Thank the unions for weekends and holidays for workers, along with all other worker's rights. And if you're in the mood to jazz up the barbecue, ask any union people you know who vote republican why they vote for people of a party that backs right to work and has spent millions of dollars over the past few years attempting to destroy collective bargaining. You know, if you feel like inserting a lightening bolt into the place.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Lucky 13

Gus turns 13 today. Back in April I was certain he would not make it to this birthday. I was even more certain in July when we confirmed he has cancer, decided not to treat it, and were told by the vet that most dogs don't live past six months with it - it was first noted as a possibility in October.

Well here he is, turning 13 and doing what he does, which is exactly whatever the fuck he wants, on his terms. And what he wants to do is have his 13th birthday celebrated with burgers and ice cream and a million wishes damnit.

I'm grateful for every day I've had with him since we brought him home in early October 2005, even (especially) the days when his mulish orneriness reared itself. Which has basically been every day. He will be with us until he's no longer comfortable, and he'll be sure to let us know when that is. He runs the show around here and he always has. If he attempts to pull some Blaze of Glory thing and die on or around Geege's anniversary, he's going to have some explaining to do from beyond.

But he doesn't give a fuck if he has explaining to do and until he decides to go, it's Gus's world. We're all just living in it. Happy birthday to the king.

More Gus posts:
And then came Gus
From the Desk of Augustus Gloop

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

August 2018 recommendations

Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, pennies earned go to running Show Us Your Books

1. Super scissors - That's not their proper name but it's what I call them. I cut all of my crew neck tees (among other things one normally uses scissors for) and these are freaking tops.
2. Pet Buddies FurStatic Pet Hair Broom - If you deal with dog hair and/or sand and you have non-carpeted floors, you need this broom. I think I recommended this before. I've personally bought it three times but I'm saying it louder for the people in the back. If you don't believe me, buy it, vacuum your floors, and then use it. If it doesn't get even more shit up, I'll give you your money back. Just kidding this is not an infomercial and I don't have the money to make those types of offers but seriously. It's the real deal.

What are you recommending this month?

Monday, August 27, 2018

TWTW - the one where I was passing time

Friday night Bruce and I went to the shore solo, which would prove to be a huge mistake. We took an extra long walk and ogled the night gardens. I stayed up until 12:30 to finish a book.
Saturday morning we were up at 5:30 for the drive over to Dog Beach to see the sunrise. We also saw a penis sand drawing and I was laughing like a hyena on a mostly empty beach for about 10 minutes.  When we got back we sat on the porch and Bruce stared at everyone silently while I started a new book.
One of my favorite returning families checked out on Saturday. Always sad to see awesome people go, but they will be back again next year. I thought Bruce would be tired out from running on the beach and staring at people so intensely but alas I was wrong. He howled the whole time I was doing turnover shit and my nerves were shot, I could hear him on the top floor which is four floors up. I sat with him, walked him more, and fed him and escaped to the beach for an hour to start another book. He is a pack animal and needs the other dogs in the apartment when I'm not there. I was in bed reading by 9:30.
Sunday Bruce got up at 4:30 and 6:30 but since he can't tell time he missed the sunrise. After a long walk and some porch sitting and coffee, we headed to Dog Beach. There were tons of big friends there and Bruce chased and got chased.
He was content to snooze while I cleaned the apartment and made some foaming hand soap, reusing Dial containers, to take home. It was arguably one of the best beach days of the summer but I was on the road by noon to get home and do some work, pick up a few groceries, make dinner, and do laundry. Our last weekly rental checked in on Saturday and I'm just worn out by this point. I'm looking forward to being down there all week next week with no one in the house. Lots of traffic and a hanger incident on the way home but the wildflowers on the expressway are lovely at this time of year so at least there's that.
I was home by 2, got laundry going, reunited the pack, picked up some groceries, talked to my Dad to plot out shore ceiling priming and possibly painting, and did some work. National Dog Day was officially Sunday but it's every day in this house.
Sunday night MFD and I popped over to Nonno's Gelato, which is like two minutes from our house, and it was delicious. I can't believe it's taken us so long to try it. I had cherry cheesecake.

Weekly food prep - breakfast is scrambled eggs. Snack is power breakfast muffins. Lunch is tuna with celery, olives, and capers with a side of bell peppers. Sunday dinner was macaroni salad, corn, and grilled bone-in pork chops that were freaking amazing. Other dinners are leftovers of that and lemon broccoli pasta. I'm making the scrambled eggs and tuna tonight since I don't need breakfast or lunch on Monday.

Last week of work before a whole week off. It's been over a year since I've been off for a week and while I like my days here and there, I'm definitely feeling in my brain that this is due. 

How was yours? 

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Thursday Thoughts - take a load off Fanny, take a load for free

1. When it's wet and humid, which it's been for most of the summer, I don't walk around the city as much. I miss it. Some sights from yesterday's lunch time stroll: 

2. But what I really went out to see was trashcans. That's right. Read about Trashcan Takeover here, follow them on Instagram, and go off in search of them if you're in the city. Their instagram has a map and most are in the Rittenhouse area. It's like a public art scavenger hunt.

3. I dove into Brandless, and will continue to for these things pictured alone. If you click on that link, you get $6 off $39 and I get a $6 credit. I am shoving these cookies in my mouth so fast that soon I will be the Stay Puft Marshmallow Woman. In addition to the items pictured here, I love the multi-surface cleaner, the balsamic greens + grapefruit dish soap, the dijon mustard, and the mouth wash. MFD likes this coffee better than most, so that's saying something as we like what we typically use. I do not recommend the green tea & aloe body lotion unless you don't mind spending eternity trying to get lotion to sink into your skin. Everything is $3. It's wild.  
4. I'm considering doing a Riding in Cars with Dogs series. Remember that movie, Riding in Cars with Boys?

5. We've had no groceries for a while. I kept forgetting to order them and stopping at the store has seemed like a herculean task the past two weeks. So finally I place an order for Instacart yesterday for a 9-10 pm delivery. I get home at around 8 and eat the only food on hand. I pop my magnesium supplement as I'm eating because I like to take it with food and it is essential for sleep right now. Then I get a notice from Instacart saying delivery is now 10:30-11. My eyelids were propped open with toothpicks. Here the order never arrived and they never told me it wasn't coming and I missed my sleep window for nothing. Pissed is an understatement. Allegedly it will be here between 10-11 am today. Good thing I planning on working from home. Fockers.

6. On the campaign trail this week: thankful to our BFF Angie for organizing and hosting a fundraiser for MFD with the fierce AF Donna Bullock, State Rep for the 195th District at the cool spot Fare in Fairmount + a movie night screening of The Campaign at the Newtown Theatre, thanks to our friends Stacey & Joe for organizing and hosting and to my mom for helping with the dogs. If you've seen the movie, you know why the pugs were essential guests. Thanks to everyone who came out or donated or helped in any way at both events. It's nice to know people are along on this nutter of a ride. If you'd like to donate to MFD’s campaign, click here - he's not taking corporate money so it's very fucking grass roots, you guys - and if you'd like to help canvass the neighborhoods, click here. I haven't forgotten about people who volunteered to do postcards - that's still coming. If you want to make phone calls or volunteer on Election Day or to get out the vote or do community building, you can indicate those things on the same link as you would for canvassing. You don't have to live in this district to donate, help, or come to an event. Hell I've been sending money and postcards and texts all over the damn country in the past year to get progressives in office. All of us or none of us, better lives for everyone everywhere. The End.
7. As far as national politics...if you're bothered by what's going on, don't sit there with your teeth in your mouth and wait for other people to do something about it. You can do something too. 

8. White friends, we need to talk about race. And keep talking about it. And IDGAF if we are sick of hearing people say that. People are sick of living with it more. Check out When Feminism is White Supremacy in Heels by Rachel Cargle in Bazaar. If you're looking for a book, try White Fragility: Why it's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. As you start to explore where you are in this, try following Shaun King and Aja Barber on Instagram. You don't need to comment. You will recoil at some things you read. Take it in. Really, do a shit ton of reading. Listen to the lived experience of other people and let your preconceived notions of yourself and others fall away. We were all born into a systemically racist society and as white people we have privileges we don't even think about. We have all done and said things that were intentionally or unintentionally harmful. When we know better, we do better. That’s all we can ask of ourselves and each other. Don't be defensive. There's always room to grow and be better because if there isn't, that means you're dead. If you're reading this I'm assuming you're not dead. 

9. Reminder:

10. E-card of the week: weekend plans

Well that was a lot.

Now you go.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Tuesdayest Tuesday of All Tuesdays

I got up late.
I had to run for the train.

I forgot my toast was in the toaster oven and nearly set the office on fire, calling on coworkers to help me wave the smoke out of open doors.  We spent the rest of the afternoon stinking of smoke and regret.

I locked myself out of the office just before leaving.

My train home broke down and we had to get off at the North Philly station to wait for another to come and pick us up. Eau de urine permeated the air. People stood in tight clusters of rage. It took me two hours and 10 minutes to get home.

Due to the toast incident, I forgot to order groceries so I pulled open the freezer and made the grossest honey chipotle crusted salmon for dinner. Then I undercooked the rice. MFD was all what is this I said it’s just for tonight, eat it and we will never speak of it again. 

I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to welcome Wednesday, and I have a lot of Tuesdayish Tuesdays under my belt. 

Let’s make this day better than the last, friends. In my case, it shouldn’t be that hard. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The kind of person I try to be

We are always learning, growing, and evolving. At this moment in time, I try to be the kind of person who

holds the door

makes the group get together to take a photo

doesn't immediately dismiss something because it's not been my experience or is not what I want to hear

eats the ice cream and doesn't talk about calories or guilt

accepts responsibility for my part in things

encourages others

acts to improve things instead of just bitching about them

shows up for people

knows when I am not drinking enough water or getting enough sleep and then tries to get more of both

gets rid of shit I don't use

speaks up about things that are important to me even if my voice shakes

says no

says yes

won't finish the book just to say I finished the book

works towards liberty and justice for all

does the right thing even when it's painful or I don't want to

knows racism, homophobia, and misogyny passed off as opinion is just plain old racism, homophobia, and misogyny

puts in a solid day's work

accepts that I will never wash my face every night

realizes comparison is the thief of joy

gives myself the grace I urge others to give themselves

is inclusive

laughs at herself

won't sacrifice comfort for fancy footwear

does better when I know better

will speak truth to power

values opinions but won't change myself for anyone


doesn't pretend like everything is perfect

is loyal

cries when I feel the need

is protective of my energy and watchful of who and what I allow into my physical, mental, and emotional space

willingly shows home life that does not look like the Pottery Barn catalog

asks for help and says out loud when things are not going great

10 years ago I would've rather eaten my own arm than done either thing mentioned in the last line.
Cheers to growth.

I am not perfect, but I try every day and that's all we can ask of each other as human neighbors. 

What kind of person do you try to be? 

Monday, August 20, 2018

TWTW - the one where the crowd thinned

I love when work days start with a sunrise over Dog Beach. Bruce is not the only dog who goes to Dog Beach because he's the favorite. He's the only dog who goes to Dog Beach because a) he can be trusted off-leash b) he was socialized from jump with strange dogs and doesn't go after them c) he likes to run and play. Gus and Mae still go to our beach off-season but they don't really like other dogs and are too set in their ways for Dog Beach.
Work work work work work and lunch errands. Blue Lotus for soap, L.E.H. Soap to pick up a gift for guests checking in Saturday, and the used paperback book store to trade books. Fun fact: The Shell Seekers was one of Gamma's favorite books. 
Friday night I worked late, started a new paperback, painted my nails (OPI Gelato on My Mind) and toes (OPI Purple Palazzo Pants), did a face thing. and had dinner in from Bennie's Bread
I also pimped my ride (remember that show?), a hand me down bike from Carol. I gave my original yellow bike away and hope this one rusts less. I am going to clear coat Rustoleum it Labor Day week. 
Saturday I said goodbye to my favorite family, but no worries they're coming back next year. They wash my towels and leave me gifts and I love them. I also attempted to clean the ceiling water marks from the toilet overflow situation last week that came down through the floor. I was not super successful but it's hard to do it right in a four hour period with one zillion percent humidity. Nothing dries. Incoming guests were returning also and they didn't care at all, they were just so happy to be back. I love this family too. Thank God for great people. Meanwhile, knowing my ceiling doesn't look great and needing to inspect it more to see if it can just be painted or needs to be removed and repaired eats at me and I fretted via text to MFD but it is what it is and it'll get dealt with after weekly rentals are over next Saturday. Of course this is the year I have all September weekends being rented or used, my husband is an absentee shore owner due to running for office, and my Dad is laid up with a regenerating new fake knee. Bruce was insane and overtired and peed on the bed and I said fuck it and took off to the beach to chill the fuck out, jump in the ocean, eat ice cream, and cry a little. I came back, showered, ordered dinner from Randazzo's, and fell asleep on the couch with the dogs. 
The population is way down in town starting this week - see all the empty space on the beach around me on a sunny late Saturday afternoon - and that is always nice. I was up in the middle of the night twice to walk the dogs, lord give me strength. So I way eased into Sunday with coffee. Then I spent over 1.5 hours weeding the street weeds, including the big mama ones in front of my neighbor's house who I haven't seen in two years and were awful and gross. I went to Rite Aid and the library, made shower spray and foaming hand soap, cleaned out the cabinets (since it's so humid and sea-levely here the smell of mold and mildew is a constant fight), and hung out reading with los perros sleeping. 
I took a late afternoon walk on the beach. I go to the beach every day I'm here, whether it's nice or not. It's essential to my well being even if I just go stand in the water for five minutes. 
I left around 8:35 and was home doing laundry a few minutes before 10.

Weekly food prep - breakfast is scrambled eggs. I need to figure out lunches (I think tuna) and dinners (maybe Mexican stuffed shells from the freezer).

Local friends, MFD is having a fundraiser tonight, Monday, August 20, 6-8 pm at Fare Restaurant with State Rep Donna Bullock and our BFF and 29th Ward Committee Person and proprietor of Angela Vendetti Consulting, click through to purchase a $35 ticket to attend. Wednesday night is Movie Night at The Newtown Theatre on Wednesday, August 22, from 7-10 pm where our pugs will be taking photos as a goof on the movie The Campaign (suggested donation $10).

And you? Tell me about your weekend that was. 
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