Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Year Ends

I've reached the end of the year and I am going to slide out with a great movie - "Casablanca".  During a normal year this last week is a reflective week for me - a week in which I consider the year that went before and the year to come. However, the visit from my brother and my niece disrupted my year end routine. (That is not necessarily a bad thing.)  Consequently, I am just now entering into the routine of self-examination and will doubtlessly spend tomorrow doing that examination.  My plan tonight is dinner at Pierre and Helen's - good food, good company, good conversation.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Day After Christmas

I closed out the day with a great little conversation with TR.  It was an excellent capstone on an otherwise beautiful day.  I started the day by sleeping late - I slept until 7:30 AM, which, for me, is late. There was no particular reason for it, other than, well, it felt like the right thing. I may have to do it again tomorrow. 

After I woke up I had a bowl of cereal, a cup of coffee, some wheat toast with jam and I eased into the day with the continuation of my Castle Christmas.  I alternated between watching items off the DVR and cleaning the house. I met Don for lunch at Outback at 12:30, up at the Great Mall, then spent an hour or so walking around the Temple of Mammon and people watching.

From there, I wandered home, stopping for a long walk at the San Tomas Aquino Park, then winding my way home.  Here at home, I took a short nap, then settled in to watch some more DVR, including a couple of Christmas specials. It was right in here that I have that great conversation with TR.  Which brings me right into this moment, here, now - where I am going to watch a little more DVR and then call it a night.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Castle Christmas

Merry Christmas.

It was a good day here, one that I enjoyed.  First, to start the day, I slept in.  Actually, I woke up about the normal time I wake up, but I stayed comfortably in bed.  Then, I was up, a bowl of cereal, a cup of coffee, and off to Christmas Mass.  After Mass I came home and slipped into a long, hot, soaking bath.  After the bath I settled down to was "Castle" on the DVR.  I decided that I was going to have a "Castle Christmas" and I've been pretty successful.

About noon I popped out and met Tony for lunch (soup and a quesadilla), and then we went and saw the new Keanu Reeves movie "47 Ronin".  It was an enjoyable movie and I am actually going to try and see it again.  Unfortunately we saw it in an overcrowded theater, one of the reasons I tend to avoid opening weekend and holiday weekends, and there were a lot of distractions going on around me.

Dinner was burgers and then Tony and I settled in and watched more episodes of "Castle".  It was a great day, all in all.  So, as I approach the end of the day let me just wish anyone who happens to read this a very Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Simple Christmas Eve

I am settled in for quiet Christmas Eve. I officially started the evening a while ago with a wonderful conversation with TR, who is settled in around the tree with her family watching classic Christmas movies. I followed up with a call to a nephew and a call to my parents. Now, my plan is simple, I'm going to settle in and enjoy a quiet serene evening. I think for tomorrow, Christmas Day, I am going to have a Castle Christmas. I have 11 episodes of the television show Castle on DVR. That will make for a very simple, easy and relaxed Christmas Day.

The run-up to Christmas has been kind of interesting.  Interesting has multiple connotations of course  and I'm using it with all those multiple connotations.  Some of the things I can't really talk about,  mainly from respect for the individuals to whom they belong, but they still fill my days.  Lt me tell you about one of them that I can talk about.

About the middle of last week my friend Tyrone  crashed his motorcycle  on Highway 85.   He was driving along and the woman in front of him  stopped without warning,  he slammed on the brakes and laid his bike down.  As far as motorcycle accidents go it wasn't too bad.  He did a couple thousand dollars of damages to his bike and he managed to smash his foot between the foot peg in the fairing.  Most importantly he walked away, well in his case limped away.  he was caught without transportation so I gave him a ride to work Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.  He was lucky.

So that event both entertained me and occupied me for the last couple of days.  Combined with work  that made the last couple of days pass quickly.  That makes me ready for the holiday.  I am looking forward to a couple very relaxed days.  On Friday my brother and his step-daughter are coming out for a three day visit. The plan is to do the tourist thing up in San Francisco.  It should be a lot of fun I haven't up to San Francisco in a while. I haven't seen my brother in a while, so that should be a lot of fun as well.

On that note, I am going to call it a night and take a long, soaking bath - that seems like a good way to slide even deeper into this beautiful Christmas eve.  For all those whom I never mention by name, and to all those strangers I simply do not know - enjoy the evening.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Two Brisk Days

Well, a brisk weekend all in all.  Saturday was pretty straightforward - breakfast at the Hickory Pit, then over to Cupertino Square to see "American Hustle", an outstanding movie.  From there, lunch at TGIF, then off to the park for a two mile plus walk on a beautiful afternoon.  Home for the evening, a call with TR, an early night curled in bed and a phone call from my friend Tyrone.

Seems that Tyrone laid his bike down on the freeway last week, catching his foot under the bike, bruising it badly - fortunately, it looks like no breakage.  He actually rode the bike for a couple of days and then put it in the shop for repairs - and the parts were late.  He was seeking a ride up to Foster City to go to his second job on Sunday.  I obliged and I will also take him up to work tomorrow as well - he's hoping he gets his bike out of the shop tomorrow, if the parts have arrived.

So, today was running Tyrone up to Foster City, then breakfast at the Classic Diner in Fremont with Tony, then home to watch a spot of TV and take a nap, then back up to Foster City, then home once more.  Whew. Upon returning home I discovered that my lights strung on the patio had given up the ghost.  Parts of the string were out for no apparent reason.  So, a quick dash out to OSH for a new string of lights (this time I went for the blue icicles), then home and restring them all.  Exchanged some text with TR, then a call with Brandy, and now, in the waning moments of the night, going to call my nephew.  Tomorrow is going to be a brisk day as well.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

When Time and Timing Go Awry

I’ve been thinking about Sunday, when I was swirled up around questions of time and timing.  As I was taking a morning walk, I came to the conclusion that part of my problem (and part of the solution) is that I don’t intervene when I see things going awry.  On Sunday, I had choices and the ability to make those choices - and yet I didn’t - I let those choices be made for me.  Consequently I had a very cranky day.  I need to make the choice to intervene when I see things going awry with time and timing.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Lunch at La Paloma

A productive and enjoyable day is winding to an end with a bit of DVR before I crawl into bed and curl up with a book.  Had a great conversation with TR, which was the capstone on a nice day. 

I had a lot of meetings at work, but they were actually mostly productive - which is rare, but great when it happens. In the middle of that productive day we had a nice Christmas luncheon at La Paloma on El Camino Real in Santa Clara. 

Dinner was an excellent salad. 

I am looking forward to a good night of sleep. I seem to have gotten over the cranky inducing day I had on Sunday, where I swirled around and around over issues of time and timing. 

I think, in the coming year, one of the things I need to focus on is being more authentically present.  It is not easy but it is worth the struggle that it takes.  The year seems to be ending well and I am looking forward to the new year, even though it is a couple of weeks out.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

In Which I Struggle With Time

It is rare that I edit an entire entry.  But, every now and then, I write something that, on reflection, I am simply not satisfied with.  When that happens, I take advantage of the ability to delete or edit that entry.  This entry was originally about my struggles with time - but my thoughts around those struggles were not complete, so I decided to declare a do over and hit the delete button. 

Let me simply start out by saying today, I struggled with time. There are days when I get harried. Basically, what happens, is that my expectation of the timing of the day does not line up with the actual timing of the day and it frustrates me.  It is one of my major stress triggers, at home and at work. Consequently, inside of me, I feel a great urge to get better control of my timing as I go through the day.

In order to do this I need to simplify, I need to de-clutter the days.  I think I am approaching a time for another wave of simplification, perhaps a semi-drastic wave of simplification.  I need to get things trimmed down to what matters to me, and then let myself focus on what matters.

Now, those three paragraphs are next to nothing like what I originally wrote, but they are closer in spirit to what I was trying to say, minus the pointless complaining and vaguely talking around the subject.  I like this entry better, it is tighter, it gets to the point, and it is a good starting point for the further conversations around time.

Popping over onto a completely different subject - I saw and enjoyed "The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug" today.  I would recommend it - a solid addition to The Hobbit series of movies.  Then, in the evening, I've watched two episodes of "Almost Human" from the DVR, which I enjoy immensely as well.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Very Nice and Easy Day

It's been a long time since I had an easy day like today.  I slept fairly well last night, waking at about my normal time (around five a.m.).  I stayed in bed, reading "White Fire", until close to seven a.m..  Then, I took a shower, shaved, made a bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee and started the day.  I spent the entire day relaxed, easy going, centered and whole. I watched a handful of sitcom's and other shows off the DVR.  I had a work meeting scheduled for 12:30 p,m,, but, ultimately, it was cancelled.  I had a lunch of homemade chicken and rice soup, with grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches. Then, I curled back up on the bed with my novel and spent the entire afternoon reading and napping, napping and reading. About four I rolled out, exchanged texts with T.R. (who was going out for the evening), and then met Tony at Chevy's in Westgate for dinner.  From there, I went over to the Hallmark store across Prospect for a walk-through. I didn't pick anything up, but there were a couple of things that caught my eye, so I might swing back there tomorrow and pick them up.  From there, I took a leisurely walk, then came home.  At home, I settled into my easy chair and watched an episode of Elementary and now, an episode of Ancient Aliens.  It was an amazingly low key and easy day.  I haven't have a day like this in a long time.  It was very nice.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Open The Window And Let The Monkeys Out

Let's start the day with a dream. I went to sleep early last night, around 8:00 PM, and slept fairly soundly through the night.  I woke up this morning from a dream. In the dream TR and I were sharing a house somewhere.  In the garage was a classic wooden speed boat, a beautiful piece of work.  I was in the garage and I could smell something shorting out, so I was investigating and discovered that some of the wires in the boat were shorting out because the ignition was turned on.  Apparently, it had been turned on by the monkey that lived in the garage.  It was a little monkey, maybe slightly larger then a spider monkey, so I don't know what the actual breed was. I turned the ignition off and pulled the burning wires.  The monkey got very upset at me, ran madly around the garage, and then found a way out and took off.  Of course, I instantly knew that I was in a dream - TR has a no wild animals in the house rule, so I knew, even as I was in the midst of the dream, that there was no way she would have a monkey in the garage.  Now, when I have a strange dream like that I really wonder - what the heck is my subconscious trying to tell me?  Open the window and let the monkeys out?  That would actually be a good, strange, thing to put on a t-shirt.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Such A Simple Sunday

I had a very simple Sunday.  I started the day with a shower and a cup of coffee, then a small raft of family calls.  From there, I went and met Tony over at the Hickory Pit, then on to AMC 14 to see Judi Dench's new movie "Philomena".  An excellent and heartfelt drama that deals with some very complicated subjects with humor, grace, and compassion.  I would highly recommend it.

Once the movie was finished I came home and settled into an afternoon of laundry. A lot of laundry.  Because of my work and travel schedule over November, I had stacked up a lot of laundry. I did it at the apartment complex, which means I did it in a set of two - three sets for a total of six loads.  I'll usually head out to the laundry, but as cool/cold as it was today, I was contented to do it hear at the apartment.

I still have another two loads to do, but they are less important things and they'll wait until one of the week nights, or perhaps next weekend.  It's a four day work week ahead of me, so I am looking forward to it. Things at work were pretty reasonable last week, so I am hoping they will be reasonable again this week.  The business rhythm usually slows down during the month of December, which is always nice.

I spoke to the folks out on the ranch tonight - they are poised to try and move into the apartment complex in town tomorrow.  They wanted to make the move last week, but that wicked ice storm that moved through the Midwest kept the temperatures down at a very cold level and they just held off.  One of the things I learned growing up in winter country was you can't fight the weather.  The weather is what the weather is and the best way to deal with it is to just hunker down and let it run its course.

This evening, my laundry done, I had pizza for dinner and then got my Christmas tree set up. I set it up near one of the patio windows so that when I turn it on, it can be seen from outside.  During the week I will get the rest of my decorations out and set up, including the lights on the balcony. A few of the apartments already have their lights up and running, so it looks like Christmas outside.  That is always pretty nice.  I sure love this time of year.

After keeping TR up late the last couple of nights, tonight she went to sleep early (after The Amazing Race finale), so we didn't get a chance to talk.  I will look forward to talking to her tomorrow. Tonight, I am going to curl up with the book I have been reading and crawl into bed early.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

This Day In The Zen Cold

It has been a nice day.  I slept very well last night, then woke and dove into the day by starting the process of cleaning the bathroom.  I would clean, watch some DVR, clean, listen to some music, clean...and well, you get the picture.

I chased that with breakfast at the Hickory Pit (a waffle and eggs), with Bob and Tony.  From there, we headed over to AMC 14 and saw "Into The Furnace" with Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson and Zoe Saldana.  It was an excellent little tale of dissolution, murder, and revenge.  I would recommend it.

From there, Bob and I ran a couple of errands (medical supply store, Home Depot, Target and the Post Office).  Then, I dropped him off and headed over to Orchard Supply Hardware to pick something up that I couldn't find at Home Depot.  I stopped for a bleu cheese burger on the way home and then spent a quiet evening watching the DVR and cleaning.

I was definitely in a zen mood while I was cleaning and embracing my inner OCD.  I think I am going to do some more cleaning in the bathroom in the morning as well.  That is one of the things about OCD - once you start cleaning you have a tough time stopping.  It is never quite clean enough!  You think - just one more go over...

My plan tonight is pretty simple.  I am hoping to talk with TR before too long (she is having a movie night there), and then I am going to watch a bit more off my DVR.  I have a tall stack of laundry to do tomorrow, so that is going to have to fit into the plan somewhere.  Other than that, the plan is to have an easy morning and repeat the breakfast and movie cycle, except with a comedy.

Later tonight I am going to curl up and read myself to sleep.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Invictus - RIP Nelson Mandela

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

~ Invictus, by William Ernest Henley.


Monday, December 2, 2013

The Return

It was my intention, while on vacation, to continue to write every day.  That intention was not realized.  As I traveled I found that I had slipped into a very “in the moment” approach to the whole vacation.  I cannot say I was authentically present in each moment, but I can say that I tried to not let myself be distracted by external things. During the course of the vacation I logged on once to send an email to TR.  (I also used my email on my iPhone to email text out, since there is still no cell phone connectivity at the ranch.

All in all it was a good trip.  The traveling portion of it, on both ends, was very smooth.  I travelled as light as I could - one change of clothes and incidental toiletries in Maximus, plus my iPhone and Kindle Fire HD table as my only electronics.  I will have to say that it worked well and I am sure the whole process of traveling light contributed to the ease of traveling. (I’ve now got a full weeks worth of clothes at the ranch, so that makes the traveling light more convenient.)

The stay at the ranch was nice, if busy.  I spent each day there, with the exception of Thanksgiving day, running errands with my folks.  They are full steam ahead on moving into the assisted living apartment complex in Winner, SD - the Golden Prairie Manor.  It is a nice facility and one of the errands was a visit there to complete some paperwork.  Most of the other errands were medical related.  The folks were getting vaccinations and copies of records compiled, sent, and reviewed. I think they have one outstanding medical errand left, which I believe they are running today - they need to go get general physicals from their doctor.  From there on out, it is just a question of moving in, which they seem to have lined up.

As smooth as the whole vacation went, it was very nice to get back to California.  The weather on Sunday was simply beautiful and I spent most of the day out wandering from place to place, doing all the assorted errands that I needed to do to start the month of December.  I had breakfast at the Hickory Pit, then stopped and got the Saturn detailed, then went on a rambling park walk at San Tomas Aquino River Park, then off to Cupertino Square to see “Homefront” with Jason Stratham, James Franco and Winona Ryder - an very little good little action movie by the way. Then a stop to get new work shirts (ten of them, with ten older ones destined either to be donated or to hit the trash bin), then a stop at the market to stock up on groceries - followed by a return to trip to the market since I forgot the most important thing - coffee! Then, home for a quiet evening, a great little call with TR, and finally “The Walking Dead”, which closed with an awesome episode.

All of which brings me here, to work, on Monday morning.  I am hammering my way through the email that stacked up while I was on vacation.  The good news is that they should be wrapped up in by later today.  The load wasn’t too bad, in part because it was a short week, but it was actually nice to come back to 100 or so email.