St. Paddy’s Dinner, Winter Hike and Discovering Vintage Red Wines

We ended our staycation with a bunch of little things mixed with a whole lot of nothing.

Just the way I like it!

Friday night, we had my family over for some Irish Stew. To be honest, I am not a fan of stew. Or soup. On the occasion, I do enjoy a cup of soup as an appetizer, but unlike my husband or daughter, I don’t enjoy it as the main entree. My favorite for the evening was the beef bone marrow. We only had a small spoonful each but it was simply delicious!

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Beef shank bone marrow

And no, we did not use the new Ikea dishes – I’m still saving those for Easter. However, my mother did find the hand-me -down plates with the side-rust stains in a box we were ready to dispose of. She hoarded all of them. ALL OF THEM! I tried to explain to her there was rust on the side (not that she couldn’t see herself – you can’t miss it after all!) But she insisted she needed them.

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Frozen ponds are beautiful!

Being the last weekend before going back to work, I needed to make every moment count.

I did this with: a) a walk/hike; and b) red wine. Both we managed to squeeze in. In fact, we were able to go on a hike three times during our week off. I’m very happy with that. There’s something said about winter hikes – the chill in the air is refreshing, the frozen pond is still and beautiful and that feeling of warmth when you’re back indoors is just a wonderful feeling.

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SAVED Red Wine from California

The red wine was pretty much consistent every night while we were off. Our last night, we opened a new vintage find called SAVED. Very full-body and dry with a whopping 15% alcohol level. Just my type! And while they say to never judge a book by it’s cover, I totally judged a book by it’s cover. I’m glad I did – this was delicious!

 

Giacomo

I woke up this morning after dreaming of a time in my 20’s. I was on a cruise. Single, bored and hungry for an adventure.

Not long into the cruise I saw him. A head waiter (as it turns out, our head waiter) from Sicily. His name was Giacomo.

I was sitting at one of the buffet tables, finishing my lunch, plugged into my tunes and book in tow. I looked up as I was about to leave. He was standing there next to some of his fellow waiters and bus boys, chatting away. It sounds awfully cliché but I don’t know how to explain it any other way – our eyes locked. My confidence at the time was pretty high – I knew I had him right there and then. I made up my mind I was going to have my fun with him. I suppose at the time, I was preying on him. In the end, it was somewhat the other way around (not that I cared – it wasn’t a contest; we both won out in the end).

I got up and started to walk the opposite direction of him as I made my way to the pool. I glanced back over my shoulder not surprised to see him staring back at me. He smile and laughed. And I continued to walk away. I was not in a rush – the rest of the week would develop the way it should. Naturally, no pressure but paced out for the fun and excitement of the chase.

I will be honest here. While I spent most of my free time (or his free time since he had to work most days) with him, obviously, we knew nothing about each other. Why would we? What would have been the need? We were there for each other for the same reasons – to fill a gap in our lives on a very temporary basis. To create a small memory. To bide time.

We talked about ourselves, of course. But who knew if he was even telling me the truth? How old was he? I don’t know. He didn’t want to tell me – so I guessed he was younger than me and was afraid me knowing would make me retract from him. As if I cared. He was obviously in his 20’s or 30’s and not a minor.

He said he was single but I knew better than to believe that. No doubt he had a girlfriend back home. Maybe even a wife – with children? It was a possibility.

So I woke up thinking about him today since his face and the touch of his skin was so fresh in my memory. I was awake but half in that dream-state. What a glorious feeling to wake up that way. In that half-awake and half-dreaming phase.

I’m about to get personal here – nothing graphic of course. There’s a reason why I remember him. A friend of mind asked me, after I came back from the cruise and met this friend for drinks, what was it about Giacomo that had me so excited and full of life upon my return to reality.

I said, “He was in command of me.” That’s about it. Giacomo filled that fantasy of mine – of possibly most women – of being dominated. To a lesser and much softer extent, he was my Christian Grey. Minus all the heavy bondage.

It was the type of encounter which was intriguing, mysterious and perhaps a little dangerous (there were dark corners of the ship I had never been to – nor had I ever been in the Captain’s mess after hours). The risk of getting caught elevated the excitement.

Okay – I promise. That’s as personal I will get here.

It was also the type of vacation romance which was best suited for one week (okay – maybe two weeks max!) You may be wondering why I am writing about something so risque and personal after being happily married for over 13 years to my dear husband.

I suppose it’s just the side of me whom loves to wax nostalgic from time to time. There are no regrets with my experience with Giacomo. I barely can envision his face or even the sound of his voice. I have fleeting pictures of moments we’ve had in my head – but that’s about it. Fleeting.

I can’t, however, forget how alive I felt from the wilder side of my youth – perhaps, I’m also grateful for the chance to be free. Committing myself to a forever-and-ever would have not been successful if I hadn’t let Giacomo kiss me that first night.

 

Reading Has Become My Sanctuary

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My temporary mini-library

I haven’t been without a novel since our cruise in November. In fact, I’m now on my 4th read with at least two more books on my list of next reads. Both are on my new Kindle waiting for me. Currently, however, I’m trying to get through some traditional paperbacks I’ve received as gifts or bought for myself in order to decide if they should be kept in our permanent collection or if I should just give them away (we’re doing some sorting and chucking).

I know a lot of people who have read far more than I have in 3 months but for me this is pretty good. I have had to learn to make time for reading, though. Which means giving up more TV time and more screen-time. Neither of which I miss now.  In fact, I feel healthier having cut down those two pleasures altogether.

So long as no one takes away my red wine – or my latest indulgence, dry sparkling wine with strawberries.

Yesterday, I slid out just to get a wonderful pedicure. I was finishing The Girl on the Train while my feet were getting pampered. I was at the final five pages when my toes were receiving some cuticle oil massaged in – the final stage. I was so desperate not to go home yet – to just finish the novel so I could head off feeling content and accomplished!

Yes, I said accomplished. And I won’t take that back – this is, after all, a quest to get myself back on track, to reduce my stress, to allow myself a healthy outlet while rediscovering a joy I use to love doing 20 years ago.

So I walked down to the cafe a few stores away from the spa, ordered a dark roast coffee and slowly went over the words of those last five pages. I drew it out – letting each word travel from my soul to my lips. As if each of those words were delicate and needed to be handled with care. Each word was nourishment for my soul.

I came home and was greeted by my wonderful husband whom I sat to talk with before convincing him to do a 50 minute at-home yoga practice with me. Afterwards,  we finished the sparkling cava that had been chilling in the fridge, paired with organic strawberries, fluffy cream cheese and crackers.

I’m not sure how I could have made my Saturday afternoon better..

With Relief the Evening Did Not End Up Like Jar Jar Binx

I must admit, even though this past weekend had very little downtime, it was so much fun!

It got me thinking – you know how you are looking forward to something and there is a tendency to build it up in your head? Like a new person you are dating that you put up on a pedestal in your mind to the point where there’s no way that person could ever live up to your high standards? Or when they came out with Episode I, II and III after decades of the last Star Wars episodes and you’re totally psyched to watch it opening night. Yet what crap did we get from it? Jar Jar Binx!!! I’m still scarred from the whole experience.

Leading up to this past weekend I was looking forward to everything we planned on doing, especially the get-together we had with two separate groups of friends. I started to get a little anxious, though. Was I building it up to be too good to be true in my head?

Friday night, we met the two other couple at The Crow’s Nest. I was psyched for this evening. First of all, it was Friday night. We normally stay home Friday nights and for the most part we are happy with being home bodies. But sometimes, it is nice to go out for drinks with friends after a crazy work week (and what work week isn’t crazy?) I’m becoming more and more aware we are not in our 20’s. Still, we’re also just in our 40’s and isn’t the 40’s the new 30’s? Are we not a little too young to stay home EVERY Friday night? It was an excuse we used when Chaeli was little but what is our excuse now? Secondly, I had wanted to introduce Doug to one of the husband’s for a very long time. Finally, while I knew both couples separately (and they know each other), it was the first time we were getting together as a group. The potential for a good time was considerably high.

Many things could have gone wrong, socially that is. Doug might have not liked husband from couple A (or vice versa). The group dynamic might have weakened if all were together. A drunken man might have come up to me in the end and not let me leave.

Oh wait – that did happen. Luckily, the drunken man’s more sober friend, pulled him away and guided him safely to a cab. He was trying to tell me I was pretty – I think. I don’t know. It was difficult to understand him since he was slurring his speech and talking in half-sentences. I don’t, by the way, take this as a compliment and I say this knowing people will tell me to take it as a compliment. The truth is, he was drunk. Drunk people do not think or see clearly. Through really blurred vision maybe I did look smashing! More to my point, I was afraid he was going to throw up on me. I know stuff like that generally happens in the movies but with my luck, it’s not completely improbable.

Anyway – it went well. Very well. All had a good time and like I predicted, Doug got along with his now new acquaintance.

The whole evening made me think, though. As we get older, it’s not easy making new friends. Maybe it is for some. My best friends, Ada and Hoa, seem to constantly make new friends. It might be because they get out there and do a lot of active stuff. People who are that active have high energy. People who have high energy have energy to meet people and make an effort.

Still, after talking to Ada and Hoa, we came to the conclusion – new friendships can not be forced. There’s still a natural path that needs to take place. It still has to feel somewhat effortless. The only effort is getting oneself out there to meet new people but after that, it’s  either a friendship that will happen or it won’t.

This then got me thinking of all the past acquaintances I have met since my 20’s – there are still a handful I remember of wonderful people I just seemed to hit it off with. And through no fault of either parties, we never stayed in touch. There are some regrets on my part – I have found myself, once in awhile, wondering how they are, what they are up to, what they are doing in life. Shameful, but I can’t even recall their name (maybe just their first). I remember them though. Their face, a conversation, where we were… Perhaps this is a lesson in life. It’s not a bad thing to keep ourselves open and available for a connection.

In such a big and fast world with so many people around us, it can get quite lonely if we do not make these connections. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with the friends I have – I speak both in quantity and in quality. It’s just that once in awhile, I wonder if I’m holding myself back from a pretty damn cool friendship waiting to happen.

Break-up with Joel

In my previous post, I had linked to a past blog which I can not edit anymore (so it remains private for those not logged in). I’ve copied and pasted this post below:

i sat there waiting in his living room, wondering how i was ever going to make it through the evening.

he glanced over at me uneasily, and asked, “what? is something wrong?”

“no…” i replied, trying to mask any nervousness from seeping through, “i’m fine. everything’s fine.”

“something’s… different.”

“like what?”

“i don’t know… just something.”

i climbed into the passenger side and waited for him to turn on the ignition. with the engine running and the radio on, i felt, at least, we could close the silent gap.

i wanted to speak as little as possible, in fear of giving my secret away.

for tonight was the night that i decided to leave him. it hadn’t been a very long plan in the works. in fact, i had only decided a couple of nights ago. when i found myself announcing it to my friends.

are you sure this is what you want? they asked.

yes. positive.

and i meant it.

dinner was quiet. i sat there, eating my food, hardly making even an ounce of effort to the casualist of conversations. he sat there across from me, avoiding eye contact. and feeling incredibly uncomfortable.

he knew.

we had finished dinner 20 minutes earlier then his mother’s church concert. she was singing in the choir and the last thing i wanted to do was end things before the performance.

yet…

he asked me once more, “i know something is wrong so just spill it!”

“okay,” i said, “i don’t want to be in this relationship anymore.”

“i knew it.”

********

and with that, you sat there and accepted what i wanted. without a fight, without any questions, you sat there and found your glum corners of the world.

i knew it. that was what you said. it hadn’t occured to me, now years later, that those three little words meant more then just that night.

you knew for awhile, that you didn’t deserve me. you knew for awhile that the way you treated me was less then par. you were immature, selfish and insecure.

for a long time now, i had regretted not taking the chance to seek the proper closure i deserved. there were many angry nights where i hated myself for wasting so much time with you. i wanted to tell you everything you did wrong. all the malnipulation… all the bullshit i had to put up with!

and then, one day, i woke up. and realized that you’ve known all along.

i was too good for you. and your game on trying to convince me otherwise, had failed.

you once said to me, “you and i both know we’re a good catch!” deep down inside, i didn’t think this. but i didn’t want to hurt your feelings. i didn’t want to tell you how many men had tried to ask me out while we were together… nor how some of my friends expressed that i could do better.

i just want you to know…

i never stomped on your heart.

just your ego.